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Thread: Singapore Also Can
01-02-2011, 08:48 PM #3673
'Better keep on trying to do better': PM Lee
The Straits Times
Jan 3, 2011
By Zakir Hussain
SINGAPORE students fare well internationally, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Sunday that they must continue trying to do better if they are to hold their own against fierce competition from elsewhere in the region.
He was speaking to about 600 constituents - students and their family members - at a bursary and scholarship presentation ceremony in his Teck Ghee ward.
In an off-the-cuff speech, he also stressed the importance of Singaporeans having the knowledge and skills to start them off in life, so that they can take on good jobs and improve their lives.
His comments come a month after Singapore ranked among the top performers in the Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) 2009 survey by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).
The study, which Mr Lee also cited in his New Year message on Friday, assesses the abilities of 15-year-old students in reading, mathematics and science.
Singapore students rated fifth in reading, second in mathematics and fourth in science among students from 65 economies.
'Students must continue trying to do better if they are to hold their own against fierce competition from elsewhere in the region.' said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
01-02-2011, 09:02 PM #3674
Lim Hng Kiang in Jakarta for economic discussions
02 January 2011 1539 hrs
SINGAPORE: Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang will be in Jakarta for two days from Monday to discuss progress on the six joint economic working groups.
The six joint economic working groups were formed after a retreat in May last year between Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
They were set up to enhance bilateral co-operation in areas such as cruise tourism, civil aviation, manpower and agribusiness, investments and cooperation in the special economic zones of Batam, Bintan, and Karimun (BBK).
During his trip on January 3 to 4, Mr Lim will be meeting Indonesian Co-ordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Hatta Rajasa and other senior officials. Mr Lim will also be holding bilateral meetings with Trade Minister Mari Pangestu and Industry Minister MS Hidayat.
He will be accompanied by senior officials from the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Ministry of Transport and other government agencies.
Singapore and Indonesia have been among each other's top five trading partners for many years and Singapore was the top source of foreign investment into Indonesia in 2009, amounting to US$4.4 billion.
Indonesians also account for the largest number of tourism arrivals into Singapore.
Lim Hng Kiang, Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry
01-02-2011, 10:50 PM #3675
One question Uncle Loh - aren't these news available from ChannelNewsAsia, The Straits Times et al's online sites?
01-03-2011, 04:31 AM #3676
But for those who don't have the time to go to these and other sites, this thread comprises the summaries of the more relevant news as I go through them on a daily basis. In a way this thread encapsulates the main events that happened to Singapore during the period under review.
It would seem repetitive to some, especially to those not concerned with Singapore happenings, but the fact remains that quite a number still find this thread useful judging by the number of 'hits'.
01-03-2011, 09:57 AM #3677
What cause the average earnings of Singaporeans to decline in the midst of strong GDP growth as claimed by the government?
01-03-2011, 10:07 AM #3678
01-03-2011, 08:50 PM #3679
Table tennis eyes a mega centre
05:55 AM Jan 03, 2011
Current facility at Toa Payoh too small to cater to growing popularity of the sport
by Low Lin Fhoong
SINGAPORE - Already bustling with shopping malls, eateries and a transport hub, Toa Payoh could be home to a spanking new $12 million mega training centre for table tennis.
Outlining their "dream" to redevelop their current headquarters in Toa Payoh, Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) president Lee Bee Wah told MediaCorp in an exclusive interview that the growing demands of the sport have forced the association to think big.
"I hope to get a purpose-built building for table tennis like in China, Germany, Taiwan and India," said Lee last Thursday.
"Our training hall is not big enough now that table tennis is so popular with our national team, courses and zone centre there.
"As we are also expanding the national team, I hope to have a bigger hall - one that is double the current one and can take up to 24 tables."
She said the STTA realised they had outgrown the facility and formed a committee in 2009 to look into redeveloping the site. A preliminary proposal has already been submitted to the Singapore Sports Council.
Intended as a one-stop centre, the proposed four or five storey facility will house the association's training hall, offices, hostel, sports medicine and sports science services and a clinic.
It will be modelled after training hubs like Germany's €5.8 million ($9.95 million) table tennis facility in Dusseldorf and Taiwan's National Sports Training Centre in Kaohsiung, where the Singapore men's and women's team spent over a month last May.
Looking back on a bumper year of firsts for the sport here, Lee stressed that her work was far from done.
The STTA's list of achievements last year include the women's team ending China's 17-year stranglehold on the World Team Championships in Moscow in May, Isabelle Li winning the girls' singles silver at August's inaugural Youth Olympic Games here, the men's team winning three golds (team, singles and mixed doubles) and three silvers (singles, doubles and mixed doubles) at the New Delhi Commonwealth Games in October, and a season-capping victory by world No 3 Feng Tianwei in the ITTF Pro Tour Grand Finals in South Korea last month.
It was also a great year for sponsorship, with the STTA inking deals with SembCorp Industries, Lee Foundation, QT Technology and Donic.
The association marks its 80th anniversary this year with a packed calendar. It will host a table tennis carnival with MediaCorp's Capital 95.8FM radio station this Saturday, hold a fund-raising dinner in April, launch a coffee table book in July and a fun table tennis event in August.
Local fans can also expect to see some world-class players in action at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall with the return of the Women's World Cup from Oct 28 to 30, after a lapse of eight years.
The men's and women's teams will also compete in the World Individual Table Tennis Championships in May (Rotterdam), followed by the SEA Games in Indonesia from Nov 11 to 25.
Developing young talents like Isabelle, Clarence Chew, Zena Sim and Pang Xuejie is also high on the agenda, as the STTA look to set up a national "B" team. They also plan to expand the PAP Community Foundation Programme to more kindergartens islandwide.
Said Lee: "We've put in a lot of effort and we want to groom local players but they must be good enough to get into the team on merit.
"We need to be realistic - if we also want to be world beaters we need foreign talent, but I don't see why we can't have local born players like Isabelle and Xuejie at the 2016 Olympics."
01-03-2011, 09:14 PM #3680
Hospital bills now more transparent: Khaw
Jan 4, 2011
By Jeremy Au Yong
PATIENTS can now compare prices between private and public hospitals on treatments for a wider range of common medical conditions.
On Saturday, the Ministry of Health (MOH) updated its list of hospital bill sizes to include data from private hospitals for around 40 common medical conditions.
Previously, private hospitals - save for Mount Alvernia Hospital which complied fully - submitted bill sizes for only 10 out of the 70 common medical conditions tracked by the ministry.
Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan, writing in his blog on Monday, hailed the move as a 'major achievement in our drive to promote bill size transparency'.
He added that it took much cajoling to get the private hospitals on board.
'With persuasion and hand-holding over the past year, all private hospitals are now able to comply, though to slightly different degrees of comprehensiveness. But over time, data quality will improve,' he wrote.
01-04-2011, 01:43 AM #3681
NTU's new medical school receives S$150m gift
04 January 2011 1432 hrs
By Mustafa Shafawi
SINGAPORE: The new medical school at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has received a S$150 million gift from the Lee Foundation.
NTU said half the sum will go directly to needy students. The remaining $75 million will form another endowment fund for the advancement of medical education and clinical research at the new medical school.
Together with the enhanced Singapore Government matching, NTU will receive a gift amounting to S$400 million.
The new medical school, a partnership by NTU and Imperial College London, was announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at his National Day Rally speech last August.
In recognition of the gift, the new medical school at NTU will be named the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, after the founder of the Lee Foundation.
It will admit the first batch of students in 2013.
01-04-2011, 02:29 AM #3682
Looks like Singapore is losing its brains and trying to replace them with lesser brains imports :
In a few decades time Singapore will be taken over by Malaysian PRs with some from China and India. The original Singaporeans will be a lost 'race'. Unlikely? Not so, based on future trends.
01-04-2011, 11:26 AM #3683
01-04-2011, 09:19 PM #3684
01-04-2011, 09:23 PM #3685
British pound sinks to new low against Singdollar
The Straits Times
Jan 5, 2011
By Yasmine Yahya
SINGAPOREANS visiting, investing or studying in Britain are rejoicing: The British pound has, for the first time, dipped below the psychologically key barrier of S$2.
Back in the 1960s, one pound fetched as much as $8, but now it is worth less than Singapore's smallest banknote.
The pound first dropped below $2 on Dec 29, sinking to $1.997. It slipped further to a record low of $1.9854 on Dec 31. It inched back up on Tuesday, hitting S$2.0084 in the late afternoon.
The pound last breached a key barrier against the Singdollar in 2007, when it fell - and stayed - below S$3.
So while the exchange rate used to give pause to Singaporeans mulling over a trip to Britain, many are now cheerfully signing on the dotted line for financial commitments as large as a London property.
'There are even some Singaporeans who have bought entire apartment blocks in London and are now renting them out as serviced apartments,' said property consultancy Knight Frank managing director Tan Tiong Cheng. Buyers include cashed-up savvy investors and families seeking accommodation for children studying in Britain, he said.
01-04-2011, 09:39 PM #3686
Men at work get fitting student tribute
The Straits Times
Jan 5, 2011
By Jane Ng
STUDENTS at the School of Science and Technology (SST) marked the first day of the new school year on Tuesday in a novel way - by honouring the construction workers building their new campus.
In a video tribute to the 180 mostly foreign workers from San Choon Builders who are building the campus at the junction of Clementi Road and Commonwealth Avenue West, student representatives came forward in pairs to say thanks for 'every brick you've laid' and 'every pillar you've built'.
Members of the school's Robotics Club showcased their robotic vehicle and the builders were also presented with a photo montage of their work on the site.
And the men enjoyed a buffet brunch of fried rice and finger food before resuming work on the site.
Mr Chua Chor Huat, the principal of the year-old specialised independent school now sited along Clementi Avenue 6, said the event was held to give the students a chance to show their appreciation to the workers.
'We want the students to be aware that they are privileged. There's a heavy investment in them by the Government, and a whole team of people have toiled to build them a campus. They should not take it for granted.'
School of Science and Technology students serve fried rice and finger foods to a group of 180 mostly-foreign workers from San Choon Builders who are building the campus. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
01-04-2011, 09:42 PM #3687
Record $400m for NTU's medical school
The Straits Times
Jan 5, 2011
Lee Foundation's $150m is biggest-ever private donation for education
By Amelia Tan
THE yet-to-open medical school of Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has received a record donation of $400 million, the largest contribution ever made to a tertiary institution here.
The infusion of funds was triggered by a $150 million donation from the Lee Foundation; the sum is itself the biggest private donation given to an educational cause here.
The Government responded by putting $250 million into the kitty of the school, which will open in 2013.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had announced in his National Day Rally speech last August that, instead of matching endowed donations to the universities on a dollar-for-dollar basis as previously, it will provide 1.5-to-1 matching funds for up to 20 years.
New institutions like NTU's medical school will have it better: They will get $3 from the Government for every donated dollar in an endowed fund for the first 10 years, and $1.50 for every dollar thereafter.
NTU told The Straits Times on Tuesday night that as the medical school was a new institution, every dollar in the first $16.7 million of the $150 million donation will enjoy an enhanced Government matching of $3 to every dollar given, subject to a cap of $50 million; every dollar in the remaining $133.3 million attracted $1.50 from the Government.
01-04-2011, 10:04 PM #3688
Widening income gap a concern
04 January 2011 2057 hrs
By S Ramesh
SINGAPORE: Challenges of dealing with a widening income gap in Singapore are here to stay, say political watchers and economic analysts, while MPs say the key to narrowing the gap is up-skilling low-wage workers.
They were responding to the Prime Minister's New Year's message which highlighted the issue.
Singapore experienced strong growth in 2010, and economists say one group likely to benefit is the high income earners.
CIMB regional economist Song Seng Wun said: "As a result of the very strong growth, what you normally find is that the top 20 per cent of income earners will generally ride on the growth and benefit from it far more than the lower 20 per cent.
"Benefiting them are things like wealth from appreciating assets such as properties, whereas in the lower income group, you do not have that kind of appreciation of asset.
"If you're... in the bottom 20 per cent (group), your salary is relatively stable (but) you're only getting that much, whether (the) economy is growing 15 per cent or four to six per cent.
"(But) if you're (in) the top 20 (per cent group), you'll likely ride (on) the growth and the kind of opportunity that presents much more than a bottom 20.
"... As a result after an exceptional year, you do find that income gap will widen very significantly. Perhaps with a return to normalcy, we will see a little bit of return in the gap itself".
Some of the issues which Singaporeans are always concerned about include inflation and the cost of living.
These can be a perennial concern for the lower income group.
MPs whom Channel NewsAsia spoke to say they intend to raise this issue during the Budget debate and will be calling on the government to extend whatever support it can to help lower income Singaporeans.
And this is where Workfare -- a key pillar of Singapore's social security landscape to provide support for low-wage workers so they have the best chance to progress -- comes into play.
MPs say the Workfare has been a great help in encouraging workers to be gainfully employed, to benefit from the payments.
MP for Jalan Besar GRC Denise Phua said: "What we need to do is to move from these broad-based strategies to more targeted help, for example, specific industries and specific segments of low wage workers.
"(We can) then hone in...and understand the low wage workers' families, so (as) to make sure that (the) poverty spiral can be broken.
"One area to target is to ensure that children from low-wage families have specific support in terms of tuition (and having access to) computers, to make sure they can be pulled out from the poverty spiral.
"We have sufficient numbers of helping agencies (such as) the CDCs (and) the family service centres. What we need to do now is to tighten the coordination of these helping agencies to make sure that help indeed reaches those who need to be helped."
GPC Chair for Community Development, Youth and Sports Seah Kian Peng said: "One part is to keep the economy running and booming like what it is now, just like what we have experienced last year.
"What it means is that unemployment is very low and we know that the majority of people are earning a salary and as the economy booms, the government will be in a position to also, in any budget, consider how it could possibly distribute and share the growth with as many Singaporeans as possible.
"The other part is rallying the community (including) those who have done well and are successful, (to) make life better for those (who are) not as successful.
"Singaporeans are, by and large, a generous lot; corporate philanthropy is there and I hope individual philanthropy will also be on the rise".
Meanwhile, MPs say they will urge the government to continue with measures already in place, like the GST Credits and various rebates, to help low income Singaporeans.
01-04-2011, 10:12 PM #3689
2 new schools in 2011
04 January 2011 1842 hrs
By Qiuyi Tan
SINGAPORE: Most students in Singapore on Tuesday started their first day of the new academic year, and so did two new schools, Edgefield Secondary and Cantonment Primary.
Classes at Cantonment Primary start at 8am but some students arrived as early as 6.30am, with anxious parents in tow.
The school opted for a later starting time, following a policy change by the Education Ministry in May last year that gave schools free rein to decide their operating hours.
Parent Christel Chen said: "I think it's great, my son has more time to sleep and he can have proper breakfast before he (goes) to school".
But that may not be a key factor for parents when choosing schools.
Parent Alicia Chua said the decision to enrol her second child into the school would depend on the quality of the school.
Located on the fringe of the Central Business District, Cantonment Primary plans to turn the cultural heritage sites nearby into what its principal Soh Mei Foong calls "outdoor classrooms" for the children.
Meanwhile in Edgefield Secondary in Punggol, new facilities such as an indoor basketball court and CCAs like golf, await its first batch of students.
Student Abdullah said: "I (picked) Edgefield as my first choice as it's a new school. I get to be the pioneer of the school… the first batch to this school."
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