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  1. #290
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default WEF Global Competitiveness - Singapore rises to 3rd spot

    The Straits Times
    Sep 9, 2009

    It overtakes Sweden and Denmark, losing out only to top scorer Switzerland and the United States

    By Fiona Chan

    SINGAPORE has been promoted to near the top of a league table of competitiveness, despite being mired in the global recession for much of the past year.

    It jumped two places to third spot in the latest World Economic Forum (WEF) annual Global Competitiveness Report, which was released in China on Tuesday.

    Singapore leapfrogged Sweden and Denmark and was again the highest-ranked country from Asia. It lost out only to the United States and Switzerland, which took top honours this year. The US was dragged down to second place by its weakened financial markets.

    Like the US, many other countries slid down the rankings by losing their competitive edge more quickly than others. Singapore, however, was one of the few that actually moved up by increasing its overall competitiveness score, said WEF associate director and economist Thierry Geiger.

    The reasons for this included improving the soundness of its banks - Singapore went from 13th place to eighth in this category - and enrolling more students in secondary schools and universities, he said.

    Another important advance was in the area of innovation - the main growth channel for developed countries that have exhausted productivity gains.

    In this category, Singapore rose from 11th place to eighth, a result of factors such as higher company spending on research and development.

    Another factor was the 'excellent collaboration' among universities, creating ideas for new products and the private sector implementing them, said Mr Geiger. The country also proved relatively resilient amid the global downturn.

    'We saw a generalised decrease in scores this year because of the credit situation and the turmoil in the financial markets,' Mr Geiger told The Straits Times. 'But what is interesting in the case of Singapore is that, unlike other countries, it managed to improve its score.'

    The Global Competitiveness Report is now in its 30th year and aims to gauge the productivity of a country and its capacity for healthy and sustainable growth over the next five to 10 years. It relies on publicly available data, as well as a survey of business leaders, more than 13,000 of whom were polled this year.
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  2. #291
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default MM Lee launches book which captures untold story of the ruling PAP

    ChannelNewsasia.com
    8 Sep 2009

    SINGAPORE: It's the untold story of Singapore's ruling People's Action Party through the voices of the victors and vanquished.

    The 692-page book "Men in White" has been launched by Singapore's first Prime Minister and current Minister Mentor, Lee Kuan Yew, who is very much credited for what Singapore is today.

    Writing in the book's foreward, Mr Lee said governing Singapore has become more complex. Leaders must maintain the country's security and stability, manage a more complex economy and ensure social equity between the races.

    It was a meeting of old friends for the minister mentor. They included past and present PAP politicians, and former legislative assemblymen who had fought for or against the PAP in the 1960s.

    They have shared their accounts in the book, which captures the untold stories of the PAP's struggles. In fact, Mr Lee said he is reading some things for the first time.

    Former PAP Chairman, Dr Tony Tan, said the book was not a re-telling of Singapore's transformation to a first world city, but the rise, fall, capture, split and resurgence of one of the world's most successful and longest ruling political parties.

    Dr Tan said: "Singaporeans might ask why should we know the PAP story. The 55-year-old party has ruled Singapore for 50 years. So whether you are for or against the PAP, knowing the history of the party would mean knowing the political development of Singapore and understanding how Singapore has evolved to what it is today."

    And the stalwarts agree.

    Chan Chee Seng, former MP, People's Action Party, said: "We are a small country. We must be well imbued with the understanding of the history."

    Low Por Tuck, contributor, "Men in White", said: "If the youngsters want to know the history of Singapore, they must read it - the facts and the truth."

    30,000 copies of the book have been printed and are on sale at bookstores.
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  3. #292
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Friends and foes meet

    The Straits Times
    Sep 9, 2009

    http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking...ry_427362.html

    Former leftists and MM greet each other for the first time after decades

    By Sue-Ann Chia

    IT WAS a historic moment with friends and foes gathered together under the same roof where they last met more than four decades ago - at the Old Parliament House. The occasion was the launch of a new book on the People's Action Party (PAP), which brought together Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and his former political rivals.

    Against the backdrop of the august chamber, Mr Lee rose to shake the hands of his one-time rivals: people like PAP founder turned Barisan Sosialis leader Fong Swee Suan, and Mr Dominic Puthucheary, a Malaysian lawyer who was PAP assistant organising secretary before he joined the mass defection that led to the formation of the Barisan Sosialis in 1961.

    Many of them were later detained or exiled by the PAP Government. Among the 10 or so former leftists present on Tuesday however, hardly any rancour was evident. Instead, there were smiles as one by one, they greeted Mr Lee who then requested a group photo.

    It was a kodak moment that former PAP leader and leftist unionist Chen Say Jame, 77, had been hoping for but missed as he stepped out for a toilet break. Still, he returned to the chamber in time to say in Mandarin: 'Hello, do you remember me' to MM Lee who replied: 'Of course, I do. How are you?'

    The poignancy of the bittersweet reunion was not lost on Mr Chen, who last saw Mr Lee in the House in 1961 - when the Legislative Assembly took a vote of confidence in the PAP Government. After some harrowing twists and turns, the PAP won eventually by a razor-thin margin of one vote.

    Both men went their separate ways as the former PAP assistant secretary-general was detained in 1963 under Operation Cold Store, during which more than 100 leftist leaders were arrested. When asked about the past, he said in Chinese: 'No point thinking too much, just let it go.'

    About 100 guests attended the launch, most of them former and current politicians. Apart from MM Lee, no current Cabinet minister was present.

    Former PAP MP Augustine Tan, who stepped down in 1991, described the gathering as a unique event, saying: 'Many historical figures are here, which is a once in a lifetime event. It is good as it can help bring some healing.'

    Mr Teo Ser Luck, a 41-year-old serving PAP MP, added: 'MM and the leftists opposed each other; there may be some bitterness still. But to see them bring closure today was really the best moment.' It was history in the making even as history was unveiled through the book, Men In White: The Untold Story Of Singapore's Ruling Political Party.

    The book, published by Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), chronicles the PAP's rise, fall, split and resurgence in the past 55 years since the party was formed in 1954.


    For a video clip of the launch, go to www.razortv.com.sg
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  4. #293
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore is the Easiest Place for Business

    The Straits Times
    Sep 9, 2009

    By Alvin Foo

    SINGAPORE has been ranked as the easiest place to do business by the World Bank for the fourth time in a row, due to its consistent reforms and use of electronic means to streamline some processes.

    The Republic outdid New Zealand, Hong Kong and the United States to take top spot in the annual report, which is now in its seventh year and was released on Wednesday.

    'Singapore has put a lot of emphasis on implementing e-government initiatives, making everything as transparent, easy and efficient as possible for local businesses,' said Ms Sylvia Solf, programme manager of the report.

    The report is put up by the World Bank and its private lending arm, the International Finance Corp (IFC).

    It ranks 181 economies according to 10 indicators of business regulation - from starting a business to paying taxes and closing a business.

    However, the rankings do not reflect factors such as macroeconomic stability, corruption, skill levels or security.

    The aim is to show how simplifying procedures encourages investment, creates jobs and spurs growth.


    Business-Friendly

    Top 10 economies on the ease of doing business
    (Source: World Bank)

    1. Singapore
    2. New Zealand
    3. Hong Kong
    4. United States
    5. Britain
    6. Denmark
    7. Ireland
    8. Canada
    9. Australia
    10. Norway

    The detailed list:
    http://www.doingbusiness.org/EconomyRankings/

  5. #294
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default World's largest CNG refuelling station opens in Singapore

    Channel News Asia
    9 September 2009

    By Asha Popatlal

    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stori...003833/1/.html

    SINGAPORE: The world's largest CNG refuelling station - spanning over 7,000 square metres - has opened in Singapore.

    The S$16m C-Energy station, owned by the Union Energy Group, officially opened its facility at Old Toh Tuck Road on Wednesday.

    The C-nergy, the fifth CNG station in Singapore, has 44 pump hoses for cars and two for buses. This should address the problem of insufficient refuelling stations that users of green vehicles have complained about.

    C-nergy is the brainchild of Teo Kiang Ang, who also runs TransCab, Singapore's second largest taxi company after Comfort Delgro.

    Mr Teo plans to open three more CNG stations - in Bedok-Changi area, Woodlands and Toa Payoh - within the next three years at an estimated cost of about S$6 million each, excluding land cost.

    He said: "Our projections show the need for another three to four stations to help make this industry successful. Without the additional stations in the east, south, west and north, without enough filling stations, it is hard for the CNG business to succeed. But if we are able to support it, we are assured of success."

    Builders said another issue is land availability.

    Alexander Melchers, general manager of C Melchers GMBH, said: "We hear from the operators that the acquisition of land and the pricing of land is an issue. There's an opportunity for companies to have their own stations if they have access to the pipeline.

    "But very importantly, is that we have public stations, so that heartlanders can convert their cars and heartlanders can save money."

    Currently, there are some 4,200 CNG vehicles out of over 700,000 vehicles in Singapore. About one third of the CNG vehicles are taxis.

    Still, users are hampered by a Catch-22 situation. Drivers are reluctant to switch to CNG despite the green tax rebate, because they say there are simply not enough CNG refuelling stations.

    On the other hand, CNG refuellers say they are reluctant to spend millions to build CNG stations because there are simply not enough CNG vehicles.

    But as fuel prices increase and CNG, which can halve a driver's fuel cost, becomes more easily available, Mr Teo expects more to switch to CNG vehicles. And he plans to grow his current 3,000 taxi fleet to a fully-CNG one of 8,000 within five years.

    In fact, Mr Teo predicted that by then, half of Singapore's entire taxi fleet will be CNG cabs. And going by the positive reactions of customers, he may well be on the right track.

    "Elsewhere, the queues are long, some equipment are not working, waste a lot of time!" said one customer.

    "A lot of us started buying CNG vehicles, but ended up using petrol most of the time. Now, people in our area have started going back to CNG and enjoying the savings from it," said another.

    Another plus point - the new CNG station runs 24 hours a day.



    Motoring @ AsiaOne
    Thu, Sep 10, 2009
    My Paper

    World's biggest CNG station opens

    The 7,066 sqm facility in Toh Tuck can serve up to 20,000 vehicles daily.

    http://www.asiaone.com/print/Motorin...10-166910.html

    By Koh Hui Theng

    CLEANER cars look set to get more popular, with the opening of the world's biggest compressed natural gas (CNG) refuelling station here yesterday, with others slated to follow.

    The S$60-million, 7,066 sq m C-nergy station in Toh Tuck has 46 pumps and can serve up to 20,000 vehicles daily.

    Since it started running a month ago, it has been serving 1,500 vehicles daily.

    At its official opening yesterday, C-nergy's operator, Union Energy Corporation, announced that it will open four more stations by 2012, possibly in Woodlands, Changi and Toa Payoh.

    Another CNG retailer, Smart Energy, which runs two stations in Mandai and Serangoon North, is in talks to open its third station in the eastern part of Singapore by the end of this year. That station will have two pumps and serve up to 1,000 vehicles daily.

    With these additions, the number of CNG stations here will double from five to 10 by 2012.

    CNG is gas that has been compressed so it can be transported in pressure valves instead of pipelines. It is more environmentally friendly than petrol or diesel, as it releases less emissions.

    Union Energy Corporation managing director Teo Kiang Ang, 60, said that the building of more refuelling stations is likely to spark greater demand for CNG vehicles here.

    Smart Energy general manager William Chua, 51, agreed: "As more CNG stations open, people will find it more convenient to refuel. This will improve their perception of CNG and make them more open to the idea of driving CNG vehicles."

    The number of CNG vehicles here has been burgeoning, from 119 in 2005, when there was just one CNG station on Jurong Island, to 4,200 now.

    Taxis will push the growth further. Mr Teo, who is also managing director of Trans-Cab, said that he plans to expand his fleet of CNG taxis from 1,000 to more than 8,000 in the next five years. The company now owns more than 3,000 cabs, out of Singapore's total of 24,440.

    Lawyer Raymond Fong, 47, switched from a sports utility vehicle to a CNG car last year, when petrol prices soared to more than S$2 a litre. He pays S$1.32 for 1kg of CNG.

    The Choa Chu Kang resident said: "I've saved 40 per cent in fuel costs since switching to CNG. The Toh Tuck facility is more convenient for drivers as it is near two expressways."
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  6. #295
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Merlion all decked out for F1

    The Straits Times
    Sep 9, 2009

    THE Merlion is all decked out and ready to welcome visitors to Singapore's Formula One night race later this month.

    The Formula 1 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix 2009 will also have fringe festivities such as the Singapore GP Season and F1 ROCKS, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in a statement on Wednesday.

    This year's decoration at the Merlion Park consists of a series of 20 chequered flags flanking the Merlion.

    The black and white flags are typical of a F1 race, while the red and white flags represent Singapore and the Singapore GP Season.

    'We wanted to add to the atmosphere in the Marina Bay area by creating a fun and memorable photo opportunity of one of Singapore's most popular icons standing tall amidst a wave of chequered flags,' said Mr Chang Chee Pey, STB's director of brand management.

    'Last year's Merlion dress-up proved very popular with both visitors and local residents, and we strongly encourage everyone to visit the Merlion Park today to capture a slice of the race action in the city.'

    The race-themed decorations are on display till Oct 9.


    The black and white flags are typical of a F1 race, while the red and white flags represent Singapore and the Singapore GP Season. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE TOURISM BOARD
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  7. #296
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Treat for art lovers, F1 fans

    The Straits Times
    Sep 10, 2009

    Museums and art houses are getting in on the F1 action with racing-themed exhibitions

    By Deepika Shetty

    Even as Formula One racers gear up to roar into town this month, art galleries, museums and art auction houses are in overdrive, putting on shows inspired by the sleek cars.

    Paintings and sculptures by Brazilian pop artist Romero Britto, images by French photographer Paul-Henri Cahier and stainless steel works by Bali-based sculptor Pintor Sirait are among the exhibitions timed to coincide with the Singapore Grand Prix from Sept 25 to 27.

    Not all exhibitors are selling the works on display, saying the shows are meant to raise their profile. Asian-based auction house Larasati Auctioneers, for instance, is giving the public a chance to get up close to F1 race cars which will be on show at Ion Orchard. These are not the real thing, but stainless steel replicas.

    Larasati chief executive Daniel Komala, 46, says the sculptures, worth about $500,000, are for display only. 'With the buzz around the Singapore GP season, these F1-themed artworks were a natural fit to engage Singaporeans and visitors, and pique their curiosity in art.'

    Photography buffs have a chance to see accredited F1 photographer Cahier's shots from the historic Singapore race last year, the first held at night.

    Forty of his best images will be showcased along Orchard Road in the first large format outdoor exhibition of his works.

    Opera Gallery Singapore at Ion Orchard will present the colourful works of Brazilian pop artist Romero Britto, some of which will be on sale. The 80 artworks, worth about $2 million, are priced between $2,000 and $315,000.

    'Britto has the ability to create contemporary masterpieces that invoke a spirit of hope. His art makes people happy and we hope people will enjoy what they see.'

    Last year, it brought in 10 sculptures that were displayed along Orchard Road. Of these, three, including Reclining Lady by Colombian artist Fernando Botero, were sold for more than US$1 million (S$1.43 million) each.

    Those who do not want to jostle with shoppers can opt for the museum experience. The Singapore Philatelic Museum in Coleman Street and the privately owned Mint Museum of Toys in Seah Street are telling the story of racing through toy cars and philatelic materials.


    BRITTO IN SINGAPORE. Kimi Raikkonen. -- PHOTOS: PAUL-HENRI CAHIER, OPERA GALLERY SINGAPORE, LARASATI
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  8. #297
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default School Awards

    The Straits Times
    Sep 10, 2009

    Award for innovations

    By Amelia Tan

    NORMAL (Technical) stream students at Clementi Town Secondary do not sit for mid-year exams when they are in secondary one and two.

    Instead they go for three-day, two-night, character and team building camps where they rock-climb, walk across tight-ropes and take part in team activities.

    Explaining the school's decision to scrap exams, principal Tan Jong Lek said: 'It is the the first time in their lives when they are placed in a class of 40 people who are like them - hyper-active and not disciplined. In most primary schools, EM3 students are placed in the same classes as EM2 students.

    'So, you can imagine what they are like when they are together. Fights occur and teachers cannot control them.

    'To us, teaching them to get along with one another and character building is more important than exams. After all, exams can be replaced with continuous assessments.'

    For its efforts in all-round development of its Normal stream students, Clementi Town Secondary was given the Lee Hsien Loong Award for Innovations in the Normal Course. The other recipient is Dunman Secondary School. Each school will receive $3,000 to enhance their programmes for Normal stream students.

    The award was handed out for the first time this year as part of the Ministry of Education's annual honour roll which recognises schools which do well not only in academia but also in areas such as arts, sports and physical fitness.

    MOE used to rank schools based on their results in exams, a practice which critcs said promoted elitism. Ten years ago, it started recognising school achievements in non-academic areas to give weight to achievements away from books.

    The top prize, the School Excellence Award was given to St Joseph's Institution and Rulang Primary School this year.

    The School Distinction Award, the second most prestigious award, was given to seven schools including neighbourhood ones such as Riverside Secondary and Yishun Town Secondary.

    The Lee Hsien Loong Award for Innovations in the Normal Course was one of four which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong set up over the last two years by donating $800,000 of his own money.




    Sep 10, 2009

    2 schools win excellence award

    By Leow Si Wan

    EVERY semester, students from Rulang Primary School get at least one lesson integrated with robotics.

    Their Primary 3 students, for example, learnt about distance, time and speed through playing with robots.

    Said the school's subject head of Robotics, Madam Lynn Chia: 'The students really enjoy such lessons. They like the construction, the hands-on activities and the concept of learning through playing.'

    For their efforts in coming up with innovative programmes to establish excellent education outcomes, the school was awarded the School Excellence Award (SEA) this year.

    Launched in 2004, the SEA is the highest and most prestigious award in the MOE Masterplan of Awards framework.

    Rulang Primary is only the second primary school to have received the award so far. The other SEA winner this year is St Joseph?s Institution.

    Said Mrs Cheryl Lim, principal of Rulang Primary: 'The achievement of the SEA is one of the key milestones in Rulang Primary School's journey of excellence.

    'With a proud history of 79 years, Rulang has been blessed with strong leadership, competent staff and committed stakeholders.'

    Other than integrating robotics into the curriculum, the school also has co-curricular special programmes.

    These programmes, designed by teachers and taught through teamwork, develop leadership qualities, entrepreneurship and cultural aesthetics.

    Likewise, St Joseph's Institution prides itself on a holistic and balanced education model.

    Its principal Dr Koh Thiam Seng said the school won the award because of its constant and steady progress in implementing systems and processes to achieve desired outcomes.

    Two programmes he highlighted are the individualised enrichment programme and the core skills programme.

    The former encourages Josephians to develop themselves into 'unique individuals with strong passions'.

    Students who offer sports as their CCA are required to choose a Language and Communication or Aesthetics module, while those who belong to a uniform group, club or society choose a Physical Recreational module.

    The latter is a two-year course conducted at Secondary 1 and 2. It is aimed at equipping students with the necessary basic skills to be inquirers, thinkers and communicators so that they can use the skills acquired for their academic learning, are able to develop their passion and interest and be prepared for the real world.

    Said current Secondary 3 student V. Santhosh: 'All these programmes ensure that we excel in all areas - not just in academics but also in CCA.'


    1. Nurul Syafiqah with fellow drummers, Ratanja Mukminin and Ahmad Zaki of ClemeNTstar from Clementi Town Secondary. As part of the music programme, they learned how to make music with recycled materials. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA

    2. Every semester, students from Rulang Primary School get at least one lesson integrated with robotics. -- ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG
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  9. #298
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Cable car shuts down Monday

    The Straits Times
    Sep 10, 2009

    By Jessica Lim

    SINGAPORE'S cable car system will shut down for the longest period on Monday as it gets set for a multi-million dollar makeover.

    Costing an estimated $36 million the overhaul is the biggest the attraction has undergone since it opened in 1974.

    When business resumes in the second quarter of 2010, riders can expect bigger cars, the addition of a sound system and new flip-up seats. A special VIP cabin will come adorned with crystals, and luxurious leather chairs.

    The cable system will switch from the current duo-cable to a mono-cable and be raised 20m to stand 110m above sea level.

    This is to accommodate the bigger cars - which can take up to eight people each, versus six at present.

    The system is run by Mount Faber Leisure Group and is expected to boost ridership - which has flagged recently - by 10 to 15 per cent, to 1.7 million passengers a year.

    It is not known if prices will change, but the group hinted in April that there was a possibility that rides would get more expensive.

    .
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  10. #299
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default A*Star 17 Research Grants totalling $12.2 million

    The Straits Times
    Sep 11, 2009

    $12.2m grants for 17 projects

    By Felicia Wong

    SEVENTEEN research projects have been given grants totalling $12.2 million by the A*Star's Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC).

    The grants were awarded to the National University of Singapore (NUS) and the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) to enable them to pursue 'long-term scientific goals and technological innovation' in the areas of media and entertainment, medical technologies, education, water, infocomm, chemicals, energy and electronics.

    Professor Chong Tow Chong, Executive Director of SERC, said that this year saw a record 115 grant applicants. He added that the 17 teams that ultimately secured the research grants were the 'creme de la creme' and believed that they have potential to break new ground and deliver impactful outcomes.

    The projects include advancements in digital media which can enhance learning, as well as developments in medical technology that could potentially aid surgeons in complex microsurgery.

    Another project also aims to develop a new membrane-based technology that would provide rural communities cheaper and better means of obtaining water that is free from harmful substances.

    By filtering out toxins such as arsenic, people in these communities, especially in the Southeast Asia region, can prevent effects of arsenic poisoning such as painful skin lesions, liver failure, kidney and lung diseases, cardio-vascular diseases and even multiple cancers.

    The SERC Public Sector Funding (PSF) programme seeks to cultivate research capabilities of Singapore's public sector institutions by supporting research across a wide range of disciplines.

    Since its implementation in 2001, a total of 184 research projects were given grants, of which more than half have now been completed. The findings of these completed projects have been published in more than 1330 research journals and a total of 90 primary patents have also been filed.

    The call for applications for the next round of PSF programme grants will be announced in October.

  11. #300
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default A*Star seals 2 pacts

    The Straits Times
    Sep 14, 2009

    By Grace Chua

    SINGAPORE'S national science research agency inked two separate agreements for international collaboration and technical resources on Monday.

    The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) signed a memorandum of intent with Japan's Waseda University, to foster exchanges of graduate students under an A*Star research attachment programme, and facilitate further research collaborations between scientists from the two institutions.

    'We will be looking at a broad spectrum of research areas spanning the biomedical sciences, physical sciences and engineering for possible collaborations,' said agency chairman Lim Chuan Poh.

    The memorandum was signed at the opening of the Waseda Bioscience Research Institute in Singapore (WABIOS) at Biopolis.

    The institute, which studies neuroscience, bioimaging, bioengineering and nanobiology, has an initial $2 million from Waseda University.

    Of its 10 researchers, five will be from Japan and the other five from Singapore.

    A*Star's other agreement, also signed on Monday morning, was with microscope-system manufacturer Carl Zeiss MicroImaging.

    Their memorandum of understanding means that A*Star's Biopolis Shared Facilities will get first pick of high-end light microscopy systems such as the PAL-M system, which can image cell structures many thousandths the size of a human hair.

    The million-dollar system and another such light microscopy system will be installed at A*Star within the next year.


    The memorandum was signed at the opening of the Waseda Bioscience Research Institute in Singapore (WABIOS) at Biopolis (below). The institute, which studies neuroscience, bioimaging, bioengineering and nanobiology, has an initial $2 million from Waseda University. -- PHOTO: THE BUSINESS TIMES
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  12. #301
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    Default Singapore's Healthcare system well-positioned for upturn

    The Straits Times
    Sep 14, 2009

    By Salma Khalik

    SINGAPORE'S healthcare system is well-positioned to capture the upturn in medical tourism when the region recovers from the economic downturn, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said in Parliament on Monday.

    Besides having a competent healthcare system, with world-class facilities and a well-deserved reputation for high medical and ethical standards, he said efforts to expand the capacity and raise the capabilities of healthcare services are continuing.

    Despite the economic slowdown, Singapore had to turn away foreign patients last year because the 'market was bigger than we can cope,' said Mr Khaw, responding to questions from MPs.

    To meet the higher demand, the Government has been releasing more land for hospitals and medical centres. Hiring of more foreigners and training of locals have been ramped up.

    To a query from Dr Lam Pin Min, MP for Ang Mo Kio, on medical tourism, Mr Khaw said private hospitals' performance remained fairly robust despite the slowdown, with only marginal drops in revenue compared to last year.

    'This suggests that the impact of the downturn and H1N1 so far is not as bad as originally projected,' he said.

    As the region recovers from recession, he expects medical tourism to go up, adding that Singapore is well-positioned to capture the growth.

    But he admitted that the previously announced target of one million medical tourists by 2012 was a 'stretched target' and currently appears 'unrealistic'. Nevertheless, Singapore will do its best to reach that goal, he said.

    Replying to Nominated MP Paulin Straughan's query on how the ministry will ensure that Singaporeans do not suffer from too much competition from foreigners for medical services, Mr Khaw said public hospitals are 'crystal clear' that their priority are Singaporeans, especially the poorer ones.

    He explained that there are mechanisms in place that will ensure that subsidised patients are not neglected.

    He added that it has never been the ministry's objective to chase the foreign dollar. Instead, it is 'an inevitable outcome' that foreign patients seek treatment in public hospitals as the reputation of these hospitals spread, he said.
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    Default US may invite Singapore to G-20

    The Straits Times
    Sep 14, 2009

    TOKYO - THE United States is considering inviting Singapore and Thailand to a Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh this month to reflect broader views from developing countries, Japan's Nikkei business daily reported without citing sources.

    With participation of the two Asian nations, Washington is also hoping to balance the growing influence of European countries in talks on issues such as financial regulation and global warming, the Nikkei said.

    On pay and bonuses in the financial sector, France and Germany have pushed hard for limits, while Britain, the United States and Canada have opposed caps.

    Washington is considering having Singapore represent the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and Thailand as a representative of the Southeast Asian grouping Asean, the Nikkei said.

    Their participation is expected to enable the G20 to hold substantive talks on issues including support for developing countries in cuts on CO2 emissions, and strengthening their voice at the International Monetary Fund, it said. -- REUTERS

  14. #303
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Battle of the views at Marina Bay

    The Straits Times
    Sep 14, 2009

    Observation deck atop Marina Bay Sands hotel towers set to give Flyer a run for its money

    By Lim Wei Chean

    THE public observation deck perched atop the three hotel towers of the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) could well give the Singapore Flyer a run for its money by the middle of next year.

    The 66.5m-long platform, to offer what the integrated resort has described as 'spectacular views of Singapore's city skyline', is 200m above the ground.

    This means it will tower over the 165m-tall Flyer, the world's tallest observation wheel.

    The observation deck, to be rimmed by a 2m-high glass barrier all around, will allow visitors to get right up to the edge.

    The only section of the 340m-long SkyPark open to the public, it will house a cafe or restaurant offering casual dining options.

    The deck can take up to 900 people.

    It is not yet clear whether MBS will levy an admission charge to get up there, and how much this will be.

    At a briefing last week, MBS general manager George Tanasijevich said discussions were still going on about how to manage the flow of people, and whether tickets to the attraction should be sold.

    But one thing is certain, he said, and this was that the deck's 360-degree view would be a crowd-puller among Singaporeans and tourists.

    The year-old Flyer across the highway, widely expected to be a key attraction, has not fared too well. It has not managed to attract even half the number of projected visitors in a year, noted a recent shareholders' report.

    Please refer to the following link for pictures of the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort:

    http://www.marinabaysands.com/
    http://www.marinabaysands.com/thevision.html
    http://www.bciasia.com/architecture_...@08_sample.pdf
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    Default Singapore to be at G-20 Pittsburgh Leaders Summit

    The Straits Times
    Sep 15, 2009

    SINGAPORE has been invited by the United States to participate in the Group of 20 (G-20) Leaders Summit in Pittsburgh next week.

    Singapore is the current chair of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum.

    The Ministry of Finance said that Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will be participating in the Summit as Singapore's representative, joining other G-20 finance ministers in attendance.

    Earlier, Reuters quoting from Japan's Nikkei business daily said that the US was considering inviting Singapore to the summit to reflect broader views from developing countries.

    Washington was considering having Singapore represent Apec and Thailand as a representative of the South-east Asian grouping Asean, the Nikkei said, without citing sources.

    With the participation of the two Asian nations, Washington is also hoping to balance the growing influence of European countries in talks on issues such as financial regulation and global warming, the Nikkei added on Monday.

    (Earlier, Singapore's Finance Minister, Tharman Shanmugaratnam attended the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in London, which took place from September 4th to September 5th.

    A statement from the Finance Ministry said Singapore was invited to participate in its role as the 2009 Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) chair.

    The stated aim of the meeting was for the G20 finance ministers to review the progress of commitments made at previous summits in Washington and London, as well as recommend further actions required to build a sustainable recovery and future sources of growth.

    Mr Tharman was accompanied by senior officials from the Ministry of Finance and the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

    The Straits Times, Tharman in London for G-20, 4th Sept 2009,


    http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking...ry_425387.html
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    Last edited by Loh; 09-14-2009 at 11:46 PM.

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    Default HDB flats still affordable

    The Straits Times
    Sep 15, 2009

    8 in 10 households qualify for grants; first-timers use less than 30% of household income to service loans

    By Goh Chin Lian

    AMID concerns about escalating prices of resale flats, National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan on Monday assured Singaporeans that HDB flats remain affordable to most.

    He said first-time households use on average less than 30 per cent of their household income to service their housing loans, which is within the yardstick the Government uses to measure affordability.

    Also, eight in 10 Singaporean households qualify for the various housing grants the Government gives to home buyers, even those who buy resale flats.

    He was responding to four MPs who queried the affordability of HDB flats, including Ms Jessica Tan (East Coast GRC), who was worried that young couples could not qualify for housing grants. She wanted the $8,000 income ceiling to qualify for a new HDB flat, or to be eligible for a grant to buy a resale flat, to be raised.

    Mr Mah rejected the request, saying: 'There must be a limit to the number who can qualify.'

    For households whose incomes just exceed the $8,000 cap, he said the Government would put up more executive condominium sites for sale next year. First-time buyers whose incomes are under $10,000 can get a $30,000 grant.

    Mr Mah also pointed to two other measures that make HDB flats affordable: One is the additional housing grant given to households earning less than $5,000, to help them own their first homes.

    The other is the income ceilings imposed on buyers of new two-room and three-room flats, at $2,000 and $3,000 respectively.

    But even as he stressed the affordability of HDB flats, Mr Mah conceded that households have to make trade-offs between price and location.

    For a household that earns $4,000 a month, the options are: a new five-room flat in Punggol or Woodlands, a resale five-room flat in Woodlands, a four-room flat in a popular estate like Tampines, or a three-room flat in a mature estate like Toa Payoh.
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    Default

    been to singapore many times..three things that i really love:
    1) extremely low crime rate...so i went out alone very comfortablely, unlike i went to chicago, paris, london
    2) getting superior durran in the super-market...i always go to the supermarket to buy the "meat" of durran...fresh and tasty...they will remove the "meat" and put them "bag-in-bag"...there will be no smell...so i could bring them back to hotel to enjoy with air-con on...in malaysia, i have to eat them in hot weather
    3) the night view...a pic is better than a million words:

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