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  1. #1854
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default PA ties up with foreign groups

    The Straits Times
    May 26, 2010

    Embassies and cultural organisations offer native trainers to deliver 'authentic' experience
    By Melissa Sim

    THE People's Association (PA) has tied up with embassies and foreign cultural groups here to give Singaporeans a glimpse into the intricacies of, for example, Mexican dance, how to make Russian pancakes, tie a Japanese kimono or speak Italian.

    Such courses on aspects of foreign cultures, available at the PA's network of 105 community clubs, are run by people native to the country, no less.

    The PA has so far tied up with eight embassies and organisations to come up with a menu of classes far wider than when it was relying on foreign trainers on an ad hoc basis.

    It will continue to widen its list of partners, said Ms Jacinta Lim, who heads PA's Lifeskills and Lifestyle Division.

    Those already on board include the Mexican and Japanese embassies, the Swiss Association, the Turkish Cultural Centre and the Italian Cultural Centre, all of which rope in their respective countrymen who have cultural knowledge or skills to share. Ms Lim said embassies and cultural organisations are the experts on their cultures, so they would deliver an 'authentic' experience.

    The supply of trainers is also sustainable, she said, adding: 'We want to tap their expertise and networks, their members working or living here and also their visiting experts.'

  2. #1855
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Record tourist arrivals

    The Straits Times
    May 26, 2010

    April is the fifth month in a row to log record number of visitors

    By Lim Wei Chean

    THE number of tourists who came to Singapore last month shot up 20.4 per cent over that for April last year.

    In raw numbers, 938,000 foreigners came here last month.

    This rewrote the record for April, which had previously stood at 826,000, and madeit the fifth straight month in which record monthly visitor arrivals were logged.

    All but one of the top 15 markets sent more tourists this way. Thailand led the increase with 57.5 per cent more of its nationals coming here, followed by Malaysia with 50.8 per cent more, and India, 30.8 per cent more.

    Britain was the only market from which the number of visitors fell, by 1 per cent.

    The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) put the growth down to the continued improvement of the economic climate, but industry players say the two new integrated resorts have started working their magic.

  3. #1856
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Railway land deal

    The Straits Times
    May 26, 2010

    Deal with KL 'a triumph'
    KL's wish to involve Singapore in Iskandar region a factor: Analysts


    By Jeremy Au Yong

    THE resolution of the 20-year-old stalemate between Malaysia and Singapore over railway land here was a triumph of economics over politics, analysts who tracked the issue said yesterday.

    At the macro level, both countries saw the need to overcome differences and varying interpretations, and to work together to be effective regional and global competitors.

    On the micro level, they said it was Malaysia's desire to have Singapore involved in the Iskandar Malaysia economic corridor in southern Johor that was a critical factor in helping to seal the deal.

    Associate Professor Alan Chong of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, for instance, said that central to an agreement being reached was how each country could benefit economically. Politics was a secondary consideration.

    'Malaysia has seen that adopting a more positive attitude towards cooperation can pay dividends. Most people want to see South-east Asia's two most promising economies exploit economic interdependence,' the foreign policy expert said.

    It was a sentiment that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Malaysian counterpart Najib Razak alluded to on Monday when they announced the breakthrough in the impasse over the Points of Agreement (POA) signed in 1990.

  4. #1857
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Railway land deal = More leisure options

    The Straits Times
    May 26, 2010

    By Christopher Tan, Senior Correspondent

    NEWS that a rapid transit line from Johor Baru to Singapore will be up and running by 2018 has whipped up anticipation among commuters, transport industry players and academics.

    The experts, who say such a line has been a long time coming, add that it will open up a host of entertainment, shopping and leisure options for Singapore when it begins running.

    The idea of a rapid transit link between the two countries has been talked about ever since the first Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) trains started rolling in Singapore 20 years ago.

    A formal announcement was made on Monday, when a joint statement by the two countries revealed that it would connect the Republic to Tanjung Puteri, which is near the Malaysian end of the Causeway.

    When contacted yesterday, Transport Minister Raymond Lim said he was pleased that both governments had committed themselves to the project.

    'I believe that a rapid transit link will greatly enhance connectivity between Singapore and Johor Baru,' he said, adding that the Joint Ministerial Committee for Iskandar Malaysia - an economic zone in southern Johor about three times the size of Singapore - will oversee the implementation.

  5. #1858
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default S'pore ranked 17th most expensive retail location globally

    Channel NewsAsia
    25 May 2010 1837 hrs

    SINGAPORE : Singapore has moved up one spot to become the 17th most expensive retail location in the world.

    According to the latest CB Richard Ellis (CBRE) Global MarketView report on the retail sector, prime retail rents in Singapore stood at US$436 per square foot (psf) per annum in the first quarter of this year.

    It said prime retail rents in the world's leading shopping destinations have stabilised in most markets in the first quarter.

    The report said as the global economic recovery begins to gather momentum, consumer and retailer confidence have started to improve.

    While this has still not translated into retail sales growth in most markets, demand for prime retail space remains healthy and vacancy in the best locations is low, it added.

    As a result, there are a number of major cities where prime rents are rising, and many more where the rate of decline has slowed or rents are now stable.

    New York City remained the world's most expensive retail destination, with prime rents at US$1,725 psf/annum. Sydney was in second place globally at US$1,155 psf/annum, while Hong Kong ranked third at US$974 psf/annum.

    London remained in fourth place, after recording a 20 per cent annual increase in rents since the first quarter of 2009 to US$861 psf/annum. Paris rounded out the top five locations with rents of US$791 psf/annum.

    Tokyo stayed in seventh position globally, with rents of US$711 psf/annum, while Brisbane moved up one place from the fourth quarter of 2009 to rank eighth at US$668 psf/annum, and Melbourne remained in 10th place at US$568 psf/annum.

    CBRE said the Australian economy is growing strongly, with an expanding workforce and falling unemployment. However, higher interest rates have fuelled consumer caution and prevented any significant increase in retail sales.

    The report said the Asian region is helping to lead the recovery, with retail markets generally stabilising or strengthening in the first quarter.

    It added that with the exception of Japan, retail leasing activity in major Asian cities continued to pick up and a number of international retailers are looking to expand their footprint across the region, particularly in Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and Shanghai.

    Letty Lee, director, Retail Services in Singapore, CBRE, said: "The retail landscape changed dramatically over the past year. Singapore has been successful in attracting a sizeable number of global brands and new-to-market concepts due to an abundant choice of prime pipeline supply in the Orchard Road and the Marina Bay area. That in turn has put some pressure on prime retail rents."

    However, CBRE said there is a risk of supply imbalance in markets like China and India, where a large amount of shopping centre construction will be delivered over the next nine months.

    As for Latin American markets, some cities like Mexico City and Santiago have seen the strongest growth in rents, showing 12 to 13 per cent on-year growth in rentals.

  6. #1859
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default M'sians welcome news of land swap deal between S'pore & Malaysia

    Channel NewsAsia
    25 May 2010 2218 hrs

    By Channel NewsAsia's Malaysia Bureau Chief Melissa Goh

    KUALA LUMPUR : Malaysia's decision to give up its railway land in Singapore for joint redevelopment has received the thumbs up from Malaysians in general.

    Many see it as a major step towards improving bilateral ties, and resolving outstanding legacy issues that have plagued ties between the two neighbours.

    It made headlines in all of Malaysia's main newspapers - a landmark agreement between Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and his Singapore counterpart, Lee Hsien Loong that ends a 20-year deadlock.

    Malayan Railways (KTM) will move its Tanjong Pagar station near Singapore's financial district to Woodlands by July next year.

    Some industry experts have hailed it as a breakthrough, and see relations improving between Singapore and Malaysia.

    "Singapore is our number one source of tourists. (For) the development of southern parts of Johore, we will welcome it, especially... from Singapore, which is just our next door neighbour. This is very positive from Bandar Iskandar, and generally it's a good signal for better things to come," said Dr Victor Wee, chairman of the Malaysia Tourism Board.

    In Kuala Lumpur, public reaction has been generally positive, although some would rather wait for details to be firmed up.

    "In general, I would say it looks good for both countries. It's always tough negotiating with Singapore, that's my concern," said Jamaluddin Ismail, a Malaysian businessman.

    "I don't know whether it's good for us or bad for us, it needs time to tell," said another Malaysian resident.

    The railway land that has been freed up will be developed by a company that's 60 per cent owned by Malaysia's Khazanah Nasional Berhad, and 40 per cent owned by Singapore's Temasek Holdings.

    One option is to swap the KTM land for other plots of equivalent value, after a valuation has been carried out.

    "It must be very transparent. It should be a situation where both sides gain, and at the same time, not one party is having major advantage over the other," said Khoo Kay Kim, an associate professor at University Malaya.

    While all eyes are on the land swap deal, in particular the valuation of Malaysia Railway or KTMB's land in Singapore, analysts have reminded both sides to look at the big picture and decide in the interest of long term relations of both countries.

  7. #1860
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default MM Lee on what Shanghai needs to become a financial hub

    Channel NewsAsia
    25 May 2010 1956 hrs

    SHANGHAI : Singapore's Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew, has said Shanghai must groom a huge pool of English-speaking talent if it wants to become Asia's financial hub.

    Speaking at a forum on the sidelines of the Shanghai World Expo just over a week ago, Mr Lee said it is not enough for Shanghai to produce financial experts if they are not fluent in English, the international language of finance.

    He was responding to a question on what Shanghai must do to transform itself from a manufacturing economy to a service economy.

    Mr Lee said another important pre-requisite is the rule of law.

    He said: "Any contractual disputes are now resolved in Hong Kong and not Shanghai because Hong Kong recognises the rule of law. It can play the role of the arbitrator. Shanghai must achieve such a system one day.

    "If you cannot achieve the rule of law across the country, in Shanghai, when there are any contractual conflicts, you can get arbitrators to resolve these conflicts. These arbitrators must be an external party, and neutral."

  8. #1861
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    Thumbs up No Room for Slacking off and poor attitude

    Badminton players suspended
    By Lee Min Kok

    THE Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) has suspended two national shuttlers - women's singles player Zhang Beiwen and men's doubles specialist Hendra Wijaya - for three months.

    The move took effect from May 24. It comes barely three weeks ahead of the Li-Ning Singapore Open, the most prestigious badminton tournament on the local calendar this year, in which both players were entered.

    According to the SBA, world No. 31 Zhang had exhibited a poor attitude at training and tournaments and failed to comply with her coach's instructions on a number of occasions. The 19-year-old China-born player has been suspended from training, selection trials and all tournaments. She will receive no salary for the duration of the suspension.

    Hendra, 25, was punished because he was absent for three days without official approval earlier this month. He had apparently been warned by his coach for similar behaviour previously. However, the Indonesia-born shuttler, who with his brother Hendri Saputra form the Republic's top men's doubles pair, will still continue to train and receive half his salary.

    The SBA also said that both players' spots in the national team will be reviewed at the end of their suspensions.


    Zhang had exhibited a poor attitude at training and tournaments and failed to comply with her coach's instructions on a number of occasions. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE BADMINTON ASSOCIATION
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    Last edited by cooler; 05-26-2010 at 07:50 PM.

  9. #1862
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default S'pore SWFs ranked 2nd

    The Straits Times
    May 27, 2010

    Republic second only to Norway in poll on SWFs from 19 jurisdictions

    By Gabriel Chen

    SINGAPORE'S sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) have been ranked second only to Norway's in transparency, governance and independence from the Government.

    That is according to a survey conducted by communications and research strategy consultants Hill & Knowlton and Penn Schoen Berland.

    The firms polled so-called 'elites' in seven markets. They were asked about their attitudes towards SWFs from 19 jurisdictions, including Hong Kong, Singapore and Norway.

    SWFs are government-owned investment funds that invest national savings or reserves in assets such as stocks and bonds.

    The Singapore SWFs are Temasek Holdings and the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC).

    The survey found that SWFs from Russia, China and Libya were considered most likely to be motivated by political objectives, while Botswana, Singapore and Norway were least likely.

  10. #1863
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Mildly irreverent look at MM

    The Straits Times
    May 27, 2010

    US journalist shares candid insights on MM's private thoughts and beliefs

    By Zakir Hussain

    AMERICAN journalist Tom Plate, a fan of Singapore and the way the country works, has written a book that gives a personal, mildly irreverent, insight into Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and his thinking.

    The book, Conversations With Lee Kuan Yew, was launched at the Shangri-La Hotel yesterday, with Mr Lee and some 40 guests present.

    Mr Lee, who spoke briefly off the cuff, hoped the 216-page book makes for interesting reading.

    'I don't agree with all of it, but that is to be expected - the Western journalist's exaggeration of eccentricity,' he said.

    'But on the whole, he got my point of view across,' he added.

    Mr Plate, 66, a veteran journalist and former journalism professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said he wanted to take a 'fresh, unique approach' that people will remember 50 years from now.

    Journalist Tom Plate presenting MM Lee with the original caricature for the cover of Conversations With Lee Kuan Yew, done by illustrator P.K. Cheng, at the book launch in Shangri-La Hotel yesterday. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
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  11. #1864
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default JB taxi rule change hailed

    The Straits Times
    May 27, 2010

    It will save time, they say, but details unclear on fares, identification

    By Ng Kai Ling & Maria Almenoar

    2 new S'pore-JB bus routes

    TWO of eight new bus routes between Singapore and Johor Baru will start by the third quarter of this year.

    The Transport Ministry said it was studying the routes proposed by local private bus operators.

    If approved, buses will ply Pasar Bakti and Larkin in Johor and Resorts World Sentosa, Marina Bay Sands, Newton Circus, Changi Airport and bus interchanges in Boon Lay and Yishun.

    Resorts World Sentosa, which gets about 15 coaches from Malaysia every day, welcomed the plans. It said that the new transport links will 'add to the ease of commuting... and benefit the tourism sectors on both sides of the border'.

    Currently, there are eight bus services serving Singapore and Johor. They are run by local companies SBS Transit, SMRT and Singapore-Johore Express Bus Service, as well as Malaysian company Handal Indah. They ply different routes between the two cities.

    The ministry said the routes will be opened to all bus operators.

    SMRT, which operates Service 950 from Woodlands Regional Interchange to Kotaraya II terminal in Johor, said it has no plans to add more cross-border services, while SBS said 'it is exploring the possibility of increasing the number of services we operate to Johor Baru'.

    NG KAI LING




    TAXI passengers headed for Johor Baru are happy that they will soon be able to hail any of 200 authorised cabs anywhere in Singapore for that ride across the border.

    Similarly, a taxi rider in JB will be able to hop into any of 200 licensed Malaysian cabs for the journey back to Singapore.

    New rules passed on Monday during the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat between the two countries' prime ministers should make commuting in taxis to and from Malaysia easier.

    They state that taxis can now pick up and drop off passengers anywhere in their domestic countries. But they still need to go to the respective pick-up points in the other country.

    Currently, taxis plying both sides of the border are allowed to pick up and drop off passengers at just two places: Ban San Street near Bugis, and Pasar Bakti terminal in Johor.

    The new rules will save Madam Maureen Yin - a 55-year-old Malaysian nurse who lives in Yishun - a lot of time in travelling to Johor, she says.

    New rules passed on Monday during the Singapore-Malaysia Leaders' Retreat between the two countries' prime ministers should make commuting in taxis to and from Malaysia easier. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
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  12. #1865
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Smoking is biggest vice in Singapore-Pfizer survey

    Channel NewsAsia
    26 May 2010 2114 hrs

    By Ben Tan

    SINGAPORE: Smoking is the biggest vice in Singapore, according to 26 per cent of 403 smokers and non-smokers polled here.

    The Pfizer poll also found that 84 per cent of smokers started the habit in their teens, some as young as 12.

    96 per cent were aware of diseases related to smoking such as cancer, stroke and heart disease. However, knowing the potential health risks associated with smoking was not motivation enough for them to quit.

    Six out of 10 of the smokers polled had previously tried to quit smoking with 47 per cent worried about putting on weight after going cold turkey.

    Smokers polled rated cold turkey as the most effective method to quit smoking followed by the use of smoking cessation medication.

    According to Dr K C Ong, consultant respiratory physician at KC Ong Chest & Medical Clinic, most smokers find it difficult to quit smoking and remain smoke-free because of their dependence on nicotine and therefore need quit aids such as nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) and medication to curb their withdrawal symptoms and increase the chance of successfully quitting smoking.

    Dr Ong recommends Varenicline as an effective smoking-cessation drug.

    Varenicline is the first of a new class of treatments designed to block receptors in the brain that are linked to addiction to nicotine, the major ingredient in cigarettes. It is different from other treatments such as gums or patches that deliver nicotine without the use of tobacco products.

    "The success rate of quitting the habit using Varenicline is roughly double the success rate of quitting with NRT and is four times the success rate of quitting without any aid," Dr Ong said. - CNA/vm
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  13. #1866
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Roving exhibition introduced to teach people about Singapore's heritage

    Channel NewsAsia
    26 May 2010 2207 hrs

    By Jessica Yeo

    SINGAPORE: Singaporeans will be treated to a travelling exhibition that will enable them to look at the country's monuments in a different light.

    Dubbed "Of Monuments and Memories", this exhibition by the Preservation of Monuments Board (PMB) showcases 27 national monuments portrayed through the camera.

    The images are taken by avid photographer Kwek Leng Joo and his team.

    The exhibition hopes to re-introduce iconic and lesser known monuments to help people better appreciate Singapore's heritage.

    It also marked the first installation of a education and outreach series that the Board is working on.

    Members of the public can catch the exhibition at schools, shopping centres and the heartlands.

    The exhibition runs till 19 September. - CNA/fa

    Visitors outside Sri Mariamman Temple (file pic).
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  14. #1867
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Microsoft CEO visits Ngee Ann Secondary

    Channel NewsAsia
    26 May 2010 1938 hrs

    By May Wong

    SINGAPORE: Students at Ngee Ann Secondary got a treat when Microsoft's CEO Steve Ballmer visited the school in Tampines on Wednesday.

    In Singapore for a day, Mr Ballmer wanted to see how the school was making innovative use of cloud computing technologies for educational development.

    Ngee Ann Secondary School, an example of a Living Lab in Singapore, uses online software to improve teaching and learning - something that has caught the attention of software giant Microsoft.

    Ngee Ann Secondary is a Microsoft Pathfinder School, part of the company's global partners in learning initiative.

    With a software using Windows Live Messenger platform, students have been able to learn and retain information better.

    The programme, developed by Singapore-based ACP Computer Training and Consultancy, is the world's first multi-disciplinary online peer tutor.

    Using cloud computing technologies, the school's teachers are also able to conduct more personalized classes for their students.

    Cloud computing is where services and data are stored online and users access them via the internet, without having to install or maintain them on their own servers. - CNA/fa


    Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer
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  15. #1868
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Romanian officials on Ionescu case to visit S'pore from May 30-Jun 2

    Channel NewsAsia
    26 May 2010 2245 hrs

    By S Ramesh

    SINGAPORE : The visit by a Romanian team to interview witnesses related to former diplomat Silviu Ionescu's case will now take place from May 30 to June 2.

    The team from the Joint Technical Working Group had planned to be here from Wednesday to Saturday (May 26-29).

    However, Singapore's Special Envoy to Romania, Anil Kumar Nayar, on Monday informed Romanian Foreign Ministry's Secretary of State Doru Costea that as Friday is a public holiday in Singapore, the Romanian officials would only have one working day to carry out their interviews.

    A spokesman from the Foreign Affairs Ministry said Singapore welcomes the visit.

    Ambassador Anil Kumar Nayar had spoken with Mr Costea on May 24 and informed him that Singapore was ready to accommodate the visit by the Romanian officials.

  16. #1869
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default S'pore, Korea collaborate to promote travel between S'pore & Busan

    Channel NewsAsia
    26 May 2010 1708 hrs

    SINGAPORE : The Changi Airport Group (CAG), the Korea Tourism Organisation (KTO) and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) are collaborating to promote outbound and inbound traffic between Singapore and Busan in South Korea.

    A delegation of 18 members of Singapore's travel trade - comprising key tourism partners NATAS, inbound travel agents, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa - are in Busan on a 5-day visit to establish relations with their South Korean counterparts.

    This joint initiative marks the start of an exchange platform for the travel trade partners from Busan and Singapore, aimed at boosting tourism between both destinations.

    KTO and STB will undertake the marketing and promotion of Busan and Singapore respectively, and facilitate exchange between travel agents, ground operators and attractions in each destination.

    Busan is Korea's second largest city after Seoul, but it is a relatively new and undiscovered destination for the Singapore market.

    South Korea has been among Singapore's top 12 visitor source markets for the past 10 years, with an annual average of more than 300,000 visitors from South Korea.

  17. #1870
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Lessons from the downturn

    TODAY
    05:55 AM May 27, 2010

    by S Ramesh rameshs@mediacorp.com.sg

    SINGAPORE - The lessons from Singapore's experience in battling the economic downturn will be shared internationally.

    Leaders from the labour movement, employers federation and Manpower Ministry will take these lessons to the International Labour Organisation's annual meeting in Geneva next month.

    Three countries - representing Asia, Europe and Africa - have been invited, with Singapore representing Asia, said Labour chief Lim Swee Say at a book launch by the United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries (UWEEI) yesterday.

    With Singapore's electronics sector being one of the hardest hit during the recent economic downturn, the UWEEI wants to share its experiences in dealing with the situation with others.

    Its book Managing the Downturn in Singapore: Union-Management Collaboration in the Electronics Sector offers insights on how six companies helped to save jobs.

    For example, one company chief even flew to Germany with a case to stave off retrenchment at its Singapore branch.

    In his message in the book, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also chairman of the Council of Advisors to UWEEI, says he looks forward to UWEEI's participation in developing benchmarks to increase productivity in the electronics sector.

    Speaking at a separate event yesterday, Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong said Singapore's efforts to tackle the downturn was also acknowledged by the National Wages Council, which urged companies which can give pay rises, to do so in a sustainable manner.

    "We also encourage companies to consider a flexible wage system ... As we emerge from the recession, as companies introduce wage increases, we want to encourage companies and workers to consider putting more into the monthly variable component (MVC)."

    Companies which have introduced the MVC will find it easier to respond to any downturn, Mr Gan added.

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