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  1. #3843
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    Default Malaysia floods: Train services to M'sia disrupted

    The Straits Times

    Feb 2, 2011

    By Tham Yuen-C




    Passengers affected by the disruptions were given an option to either get a refund for their train tickets, or to change their travel dates. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM


    TRAIN services from Singapore to many parts of Malaysia were suspended for a second day on Tuesday due to floods.

    Earlier in the day, the Malaysian Railway (KTM) trains leaving Tanjong Pagar Railway Station were going only as far as Kluang, Johor.

    But by evening, the flooding in Malaysia had abated a little, allowing trains to go further up north to Labis, said a spokesman from KTM.

    Passengers affected by the disruptions were given an option to either get a refund for their train tickets, or to change their travel dates.

    Affected passengers can call the KTM hotline at 1-300-88-5862 (within Malaysia) or +603-2267 1200 (from overseas).

  2. #3844
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    Default Underwater World features "face change" opera

    Channel NewsAsia

    By Monica Kotwani | Posted: 01 February 2011 1833 hrs






    SINGAPORE : Visitors to Underwater World in Sentosa will be treated to a unique performance of "bian lian", or face change opera, over the next two weeks.

    The centuries old opera art form will be performed in a new platform here - underwater!

    Artist Wang Bo first performed at the Chengdu Oceanarium in China last year.

    He has perfected the art with his customised suit and special diving gear that took six months to develop.

    The diver and artists will be performing in the shark tank for two weeks from Tuesday.

    And yes, they will have fish, stingrays and sharks for company.

  3. #3845
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    The Straits Times
    Feb 3, 2011

    Battlestar Galactica ride to reopen on Feb 21

    By Ng Kai Ling

    AFTER almost a year of being shut, the Battlestar Galactica roller coaster at Universal Studios Singapore will be up and running again from Feb 21.

    Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) made the announcement on Wednesday after receiving the licence to run the ride from the police.

    It came as a surprise to fans and those in the tourism industry, as RWS had been tight-lipped about when the ride would resume.

    The roller coaster came to a halt on March 25 last year, just a week after the theme park opened on March 18.

    The reason: A seat had fallen off during routine testing on March 25, after a metal bar holding it to the chassis of the roller coaster gave way.

    Stress and vibration from the ride, which can reach speeds of up to 90kmh, had caused fatigue cracks to develop in a welded component on the ride's seat-post support, which held the seat to the chassis.

  4. #3846
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    The Straits Times
    Feb 4, 2011

    Budget to transform Singapore economy: PM Lee

    By Zakir Hussain

    THE upcoming Budget will continue to emphasise growing and transforming the Singapore economy and enabling all Singaporeans to have the skills and ability to do better for themselves, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said on Thursday.

    'Especially at the lower end, if we want to uplift people, the best way is to uplift their skills and redesign their jobs and improve what workers are able to do,' he added.

    Mr Lee was speaking to reporters at the Bukit Merah depot of waste management company SembWaste on the first day of the Chinese New Year, when he traditionally visits workers who perform essential duties to thank them for keeping Singapore going when most people are busy celebrating.

    On Thursday, he presented hongbao and mandarin oranges to some 200 waste collection truck drivers, crew and maintenance workers, tossed yu sheng and spent over an hour chatting with them.

    'It's an essential service - the rest of us are enjoying the festival, and being with our families, but they're working hard, keeping Singapore clean, keeping our systems going,' he said of his visit.

    The Government's Budget for the coming financial year will be delivered in Parliament by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Feb 18. Measures to help Singaporeans - especially low-income families - cope with the rising cost of living are expected to be a dominant feature of the Budget.

  5. #3847
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    Gardens by the Bay moves closer to completion date

    By Joanna Chan | Posted: 03 February 2011 1704 hrs

    SINGAPORE: Singapore's latest national project - Gardens by the Bay - moves closer to its November completion date.

    The large-scale green space just minutes from the city centre features 18 giant concrete trees and two special conservatories that showcase plants found outside this region.

    Rising nine to 16 storeys above ground, the 18 giant concrete trees - named the "super trees" - are probably a familiar sight to those travelling along the East Coast Parkway.

    The tallest tree will also be home to a restaurant, providing a panoramic view of its surroundings.

    For a more natural feel, the structure is covered in living matter.

    Andy Kwek, Assistant Director (Development), Gardens by the Bay, said: "The super trees are currently 40 per cent completed. We've got all the concrete cores erected and are currently putting in the steel "skins" that give the supertree its form. Thereafter, we will cover the skin with ferns, orchids and flowering climbers."

    Construction for the two conservatories are also well underway.

    The "Flower Dome", which features plants found in the Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical regions, is scheduled to be completed by November.

    More than 90 per cent of its glass panels have been fitted.

    The other conservatory - "Cloud Forest" - which features plants from the Tropical Montane region, will be ready six months later.

    Some of the plants that will be housed in the conservatory have already been brought into Singapore.

    While the local weather is not conducive for their growth, they can look forward to moving into their special climate-controlled new home in April.

    Another feature at the Gardens of the Bays will be the four heritage gardens which will be ready by November.

    The gardens showcase the important role of plants in the different cultures of Singapore.

    Once the billion-dollar first phase of Gardens by the Bay is completed, visitors can look forward to viewing the various features, as well as a series of horticulture themed events and concerts.

  6. #3848
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    The Straits Times
    Feb 5, 2011

    Souvenir book for tourists launched

    Co-creator of Mr Kiasu creates illustration book telling tourists about life in the heartlands


    By Melissa Lin

    THE use of the term 'void deck' is ubiquitous among Singaporeans but to foreigners, the term may seem, well, foreign.

    In a new illustration book targeted at tourists, author James Suresh explains the concept of a void deck and how it can be transformed into a venue for both Malay wedding ceremonies and Chinese funeral services.

    Such nuggets of information not usually found in Singapore travel guides are what Mr Suresh, 54, hopes will make On A Street In Singapore a memorable souvenir for tourists to take home. He is also the co-creator of iconic comic series Mr Kiasu.

    Launched last week, the book was put together by a team made up of four different races.

    Author Suresh is Indian, illustrator Syed Ismail is Arab-Malay, designer Suki Chong is Peranakan Chinese and editor Ilse Van Heerden, the only non-Singaporean in the team, is South African of Dutch descent.

    With their diverse backgrounds and expertise, each brought with them their own experiences to the table.

  7. #3849
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    Help for Olympian Tan Howe Liang

    By Patwant Singh | Posted: 05 February 2011 2033 hrs


    SINGAPORE: An anonymous donor has donated an undisclosed sum of money to Singapore's first Olympic medallist Tan Howe Liang.

    In a MediaCorp exclusive last December, it was reported that Mr Tan's wife had undergone surgery for breast cancer and the subsequent treatment had set the family back by almost S$100,000.

    Now an anonymous donor has come forward to present the former weightlifter with an undisclosed sum of money.

    The contribution was facilitated by the Singapore National Olympic Council, which said the amount given was sufficient to meet Mr Tan's needs.

    Other parties had earlier expressed interest in wanting to help the Olympic hero.

    NTUC FairPrice is looking into an ambassador role for the 77-year-old to promote healthy living and active ageing. An announcement on this could be made soon, said the company's chairman Ng Ser Miang.

    Mr Tan became Singapore's first Olympic medallist when he won a silver in weightlifting at the 1960 Rome Games. He currently works for the Singapore Sports Council as a gym supervisor.

    The Olympians Singapore, an exclusive group of former and current athletes, also recently said they are planning to raise funds for the former athlete.

  8. #3850
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    Wetland planting at Alexandra Canal


    By Alvina Soh | Posted: 05 February 2011 1647 hrs


    SINGAPORE: The community got together to do some wetland planting at Alexandra Canal on January 7 as part of the Active, Beautiful and Clean (ABC) Waters Programme.

    The initiative is aimed at giving the canal a makeover and be a recreational destination for the public.

    Students from Crescent Girls School and CHIJ Kellock Primary School got their hands dirty for a good cause.

    They were busy planting the wetlands along a 1.2 kilometre stretch of the Alexandra Canal - from Tanglin Road to Delta Road.

    And it was a memorable experience for them.

    "I feel really good because its like I'm giving back to society. I'm playing my part for the rest of the students, the people who live here, and the residents, so it feels very satisfying," said Lim Fang Yi, a student from Crescent Girls School.

    Another student, Ayisha Fathima also from Crescent Girls School, said: "I am extremely excited and happy because it's a great opportunity for me to learn my favourite subjects, chemistry, biology and geography outside the classroom."

    Various organisations also got into the act to beautify the place.

    Mas Shafreen, Manager, 3P Network, PUB, said: "[It is] not just about providing engineering infrastructure, beautiful spaces, but its all about getting the community involved.

    "So you're looking at secondary school students interacting with primary school students, interacting with government organisations as well as private sector organisations, so the takeaway is not just for the students."

    National water agency PUB said the project is aimed at inculcating a sense of ownership in the Canal.

    "After a few months, I'd like to come back here and see the fruits of our hard work," said Nabiha Safudi, a student from Crescent Girls School.

    More facilities such as a lookout deck at Tanglin, a shallow water play area and an educational hut are planned for the area.

  9. #3851
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    The Straits Times
    Feb 6, 2011

    Jurong Bird Park big on conservation

    By Lin Yang

    JURONG Bird Park, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, can boast a number of feathers in its cap.

    What began as a collection of 1,000 birds and 63 species in 1971 has grown into one of 4,600 birds and 380 species today. The park also treats its birds more humanely than before by building four more aviaries since 1971 that allow them to fly freely in a netted enclosure, rather than clipping their wing feathers to prevent them taking off.

  10. #3852
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    Default Being there, even when you are not

    Channel NewsAsia
    By Hoe Yeen Nie/Esther Ng | Posted: 06 February 2011 2326 hrs


    An avatar

    Video
    New centre to develop technology called BeingThere


    SINGAPORE: Imagine sending your 3D avatar to meetings or classroom lessons. This could be a reality in a not-too-distant future, thanks to a new S$23 million research facility called the BeingThere Centre.

    The centre, located at Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Institute for Media Innovation, is a joint collaboration between NTU, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) and the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETH Zurich).

    The facility will develop technology called BeingThere. This technology gives the illusion that people from afar are in the same common space and creates a feeling of "natural interaction" and being there.

    Thirty-two scientists from the three universities will work together at the BeingThere Centre to change the way people communicate - using interactive real-time 3D communication known as telepresence and telecollaboration - the same way change came with the telephone or email.

    There will be four prototypes of telepresence systems.

    For instance, if you are too busy to attend a meeting you could send an "autonomous Avatar". "This virtual human will be able to recognise the real participants in the meeting, register what is being said and report to the absentee after the meeting," said NTU's Institute for Media Innovation director Nadia Magnenat-Thalmann.

    Besides the "autonomous Avatar" and room-based telepresence systems, the scientists will be working on a roving display that brings a 3D representation of a person in a distant location to a place that can be controlled by both users.

    In other words, like a hologram in a glass panel. The display is semi-transparent and will give the illusion of the other person being present in a room, laboratory or hospital.

    The fourth project will, literally, make the film Avatar a reality by seeking to create a mobile robotic mannequin that acts as a remotely located "avatar", which can freely navigate a distant environment and takes on the appearance and gestures of its far-away human host.

    This technology could improve communication, reduce the carbon footprint, circumvent travel delays such as extreme weather conditions that ground aeroplanes and speed up decision-making, said NTU provost Bertil Andersson.

    He added that telepresence has "immense potential" for the healthcare sector - for doctors and professionals to respond faster and treat patients accurately from a distance.

    Of the four prototypes, roving hologram displays are "closest" to being commercialised, said UNC-Chapel Hill's Professor Henry Fuchs.

    All this may sound like something from a science fiction movie, but a lot of the technology is already being used in everyday applications.

    The artificial intelligence of avatars, for instance, is based on data-crunching, which is very much like what Google does.

    Type in some keywords, and Google can infer from past searches to present possible answers.

    The possibilities could be endless.

    And they could be affordable too.

    Prof Fuchs said: "What it takes are these little tiny projectors, which are a few hundred dollars now and (whose prices) are rapidly going down....(and) cameras, which are in every other pocket phone that has a camera. So there's no part of the technology that's really expensive."

    Scientists hope to take these ideas to the market in a few years.

    Professor Markus Gross from ETH Zurich expects that in five years, the team at BeingThere will be able to create 3D avatars that are of high visual quality and believability and that can be seen without the use of 3D glasses.

    Prof Gross said these can be integrated into real-world environments.

    "Further down the road, the goal would be to be fully holographic, such that you can create the avatar at any time, at any place - like the Princess Leia Star Wars communicator!" he said.

    In the next 10 years, telepresence is expected to become a multi-billion dollar market as broadband Internet networks and superfast computer chips are developed to transmit and process increasingly intensive streams of digital information.

    The BeingThere Centre will see S$23 million pumped in over four years. Of this, S$10 million will be contributed by the Media Development Authority through the National Research Foundation, as part of moves to boost Singapore's interactive digital media sector.

  11. #3853
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    Default Made-in-Singapore invisibility cloak

    Channel NewsAsia
    By Evelyn Choo | Posted: 07 February 2011 0020 hrs


    Video
    Made-in-Singapore invisibility cloak
    SINGAPORE: Harry Potter had a magic cloak, and Susan Storm of the Fantastic Four had powers that made her disappear.

    Being transparent could no longer be just a thing of the movies.

    Associate Professor George Barbastathis and co-workers at the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART) in Singapore have made a cloak that can hide objects and it has been hailed as a scientific breakthrough.

    Physics World, a renowned science publication, has hailed the cloak as one of the top 10 breakthroughs of 2010, ranking it fourth along with a similar prototype created by a different group of researchers from London.

    The cloak is built from the naturally occurring crystalline material calcite.

    The prototype can only work on a two-dimensional plane.

    While it may look simple and unassuming for now, the possibilities from here on are endless.

    Dr Barbastathis said: "In the future, it is possible theoretically and I'm certain at some timeframe, it will be possible to operate all around. So it will become what we call the three-dimensional cloak. Then it would be possible to hide objects, for example, underwater. I'm sure there are also military and security applications, and I can let your imagination run loose there."

    Partly because the prototype is easy to construct and calcite is a low-cost material,
    Dr Barbastathis said manufacturing costs amounted to no more than US$1,000 - a relatively low figure by research standards.

    Moving forward, the team is exploring ways to improve the product and make it even cheaper and more accessible.

    "At the moment, it is optimised for green visible light. It also works with other visible colours, but it is not perfect. There are things we can do to make it work even better at the full visible range. Also, I mentioned it is cheap, but one of course hopes to bring the cost down even further, if it is destined to have wider applications," said Dr Barbastathis, who is also a professor of Mechanical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

    SMART is MIT's first research centre outside the United States. The Singapore-MIT collaboration is a major research enterprise in partnership with the National Research Foundation of Singapore.

  12. #3854
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    Default River Hongbao welcomes its one-millionth visitor

    Channel NewsAsia By S Ramesh | Posted: 06 February 2011 2019 hrs


    A performance at River Hongbao


    SINGAPORE: The River Hongbao 2011 has seen overwhelming attendance since it opened on 1 February.

    And on Sunday evening, organisers welcomed the one-millionth visitor to the event at Marina Bay.

    The lucky visitor was Mr Choo Wee Boon, who went to the carnival with his 39-year-old wife and their four sons.

    The 42-year-old engineer was also acknowledged as a VIP of River Hongbao 2011, and showered with prizes.

    Among the event's highlights are cultural performances from China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Indonesia.

    The River Hongbao, now in its 25th year, is being held at the Marina Bay Floating Platform. It will last till 13 February.

  13. #3855
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    Default The lures of a dual listing on SGX

    The Straits Times

    Feb 7, 2011

    By Goh Eng Yeow


    Then local bourse has just rolled out the red carpet for one of the oldest firms across the Causeway and Thailand's largest rubber producer - and within a day of each other. -- ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG


    THE local bourse has just rolled out the red carpet for one of the oldest firms across the Causeway and Thailand's largest rubber producer - and within a day of each other.

    At first glance, nothing seemed to be unusual about the two recent events. But take a closer look, and it is apparent that both listings may be a harbinger of the seismic changes that may be about to sweep regional stock markets.

    Malaysia Smelting Corporation (MSC) and Sri Trang Agro-Industry were not strictly initial public offerings as they are already listed in their home countries.

    They instead represent a new breed of regional companies seeking a secondary listing on the SGX in order to get access to the international capital markets as well as the higher public exposure that comes with it.

    Malaysian investment bank CIMB, which was involved in both listings, is upbeat about the interest shown by foreign listed firms in seeking a dual listing here. 'CIMB is working with a number of corporate clients within our Asean network to see how best their objectives may be met through such listings,' said CIMB Singapore chief executive Mak Lye Mun.

    The dual listings by MSC and Sri Trang also represent quite a coup for the SGX

  14. #3856
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    Default Stronger glass facade for Changi

    The Straits Times

    Feb 8, 2011

    Works under way to reinforce outer walls and doors of airport's Terminals 1 and 2

    By Karamjit Kaur, Aviation Correspondent


    The security reinforcement at Changi Airport's Terminals 1 and 2 is 'to ensure that our security measures continue to be comprehensive and robust', said a spokesman. Terminal 3 already has a reinforced facade. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING


    SECURITY at Changi Airport is being beefed up, with work under way to strengthen the glass facade at the entrance of the arrival and departure halls of Terminals 1 and 2.

    The Straits Times understands that this involves replacing the existing walls and doors with stronger glass. A grid-like structure has also been erected in front of the glass, using what look like thick cables, to offer a second layer of protection inside the terminals. Terminal 3, which opened in 2008, already has a reinforced facade.

  15. #3857
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    Default NTU to build mini city on campus

    Channel NewsAsia
    By Hoe Yeen Nie | Posted: 07 February 2011 1736 hrs


    artist's impression of NTU mini city Video
    NTU to build mini city on campus


    SINGAPORE: The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has unveiled an ambitious masterplan to transform its Yunnan Garden campus into a mini city in the next 15 years.

    There is even a possibility of having a light rail system leading into the university.

    The NTU's masterplan includes provisions for a possible light rail system, which it hopes could be up in 10 years.

    Electric buses and electric bikes may also ply the campus roads. There will also be pedestrian walkways criss-crossing through a network of ponds and parks.

    The heart of the campus will be a snaking structure -- called the Campus Centre -- which would feature cafes, shops, a pub and even a cinema, all located near academic and residential facilities.

    By 2015, 5,000 more hostel units will also be built, creating enough space for all undergraduates to stay on campus if they wish.

    Guida Moseley Brown Architects Harold Guida said: "We're suggesting that carparks can be removed and landscaping can be introduced.

    "We're suggesting that certain kinds of rooms can be removed and changed very easily into residential accommodation, adding a new sense of life, activity, round-the-clock sense of purpose for these buildings, rather than turning them off at five o'clock (in the evening)".

    NTU is home to about 33,000 students and 3,000 faculty and researchers, and the aim is to create more opportunities for them to interact, not just socially but also in the classroom.

    Incoming president and provost Bertil Andersson said he hopes there would be more interaction in the university.

    There will also be a bigger focus on inter-disciplinary collaboration, and the new Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, which will be up by 2014, is one such example.

    Students will split their time between the new school at Novena and Yunnan Garden.

    "They have to learn a little bit about management in the business school; they have to learn engineering, because my belief is that in the next 10 years, one of the most key areas for medicine is inter-disciplinarity between medicine and engineering," professor Andersson said.

    And with a new CleanTech business park coming up nearby, NTU said it hopes it will create not just opportunities for industry collaboration, but also the critical mass for a new light rail system into the university.

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    Default Table Tennis: Feng Tianwei named "Player of the Year"

    Channel NewsAsia By Dylan Loh | Posted: 07 February 2011 2229 hrs


    Video
    Table Tennis: Feng Tianwei named "Player of the Year"
    SINGAPORE : Feng Tianwei's been named "Player of the Year" in an awards ceremony to honour the country's top paddlers in 2010.

    The Singapore Table Tennis Association awards were held at the Yishun SAFRA Country Club on Monday evening.

    The national womens' team was "Team of the Year", and each member will receive S$500.

    Wang Yuegu and Yang Zi bagged the special awards, while "Best Coach" was Zhou Shusen.

    The "Most Improved Player" was Clarence Chew and his fellow youth Olympian Isabelle Li was crowned "Young Player of the Year".

    Winners of the individual categories walked home with S$1,000.

    Isabelle said: "I think it is a pleasure and honour. It is always good to be recognised for my achievements."

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    Default NTU opens Asia's first solar fuels lab

    Channel NewsAsia
    By Mustafa Shafawi | Posted: 08 February 2011 1054 hrs



    SINGAPORE: Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) can now look forward to recreate an energy process that takes place in plants to produce hydrogen fuel from water and sunlight.

    NTU's new Solar Fuels Lab, which is the first of its kind in Asia, was officially opened on Tuesday morning by NTU President Designate Professor Bertil Andersson, who is a pioneer in the "artificial leaf" technology.

    Inspired by nature's ability to recreate an energy-producing process through photosynthesis, researchers at NTU will be working to find suitable combinations of chemical catalysts that can speed up the artificial photosynthesis process using minimal energy.

    This will be used in a device which will be able to extract large amounts of hydrogen from water using sunlight.

    Current technology requires huge amounts of energy to draw minute amounts of hydrogen from water which makes it commercially unviable.

    When perfected, this "artificial leaf" technology can reduce dependence on crude oil and help to ease problems caused by global warming and climate change.

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