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  1. #4030
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    Default New breakthrough in skin cancer research

    Channel NewsAsia

    By Mustafa Shafawi | Posted: 28 February 2011 1232 hrs





    SINGAPORE: An international team of scientists, including those from the Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) in Singapore, has discovered the reason why a rare skin cancer called multiple self-healing squamous epithelioma (MSSE), heals by itself.

    The scientists said understanding how tumours that lack the gene known as TGFBR1 behave will help them predict the clinical effects of drugs that target these cancer-promoting or cancer-inhibiting signals.

    But team leader and Executive Director of IMB, Professor Birgit Lane, cautioned that gene is also part of a very important cell signalling system that is essential for many normal processes.

    Though it has been implicated in many other cancers before now, she said its function cannot be blocked indiscriminately.

    Proessor Lane said she hoped the new found knowledge will open a door to new ways of tweaking the cell machinery more selectively in cancer therapy.

    MSSE is an extremely rare disease, with only a handful of new cases diagnosed each year.

  2. #4031
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    Default SIM University to offer Master of Gerontology

    Channel NewsAsia

    By Monica Kotwani | Posted: 28 February 2011 1700 hrs







    SINGAPORE: From July this year, SIM University will offer a Master of Gerontology, the first of its kind in Singapore.

    UniSIM said the multi-disciplinary programme will allow individuals to seek specialised training and upgrade their skills and qualifications.

    It said the programme will also prepare graduates for leadership roles in the eldercare industry.

    At the programme's launch, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Mr Lim Boon Heng, said the programme is a timely one.

    He said it comes as Singapore faces a rapidly ageing population, with a projected one in five residents being over 65 years old in 2030.

    The programme is already widely offered in countries like Australia, the United States and in the United Kingdom.

    UniSIM said while the programme is targeted at those with a background in areas like psychology, social work and nursing, it is also suitable for those wanting to make a mid-career switch into the eldercare sector.

    UniSIM said scholarships will also be offered for the programme.

    The Master programme, which takes between one and a half and three years to complete, is also offered as a Graduate Diploma.

  3. #4032
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    Default Merlion hotel fully booked

    The Straits Times
    Mar 1, 2011

    By Akshita Nanda

    There are no more vacancies at the Merlion Hotel, a five-star suite temporarily enclosing the tourism icon at Marina Bay.

    The reservation hotline switched on at 10am on Monday and an hour later, by 11.12 am, all nights were fully booked by guests eager to snuggle up to the half-lion, half-fish statue.

    The 'hotel', a 100 sq m luxury room built around the Merlion, is actually an art installation by Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi. It has been commissioned specially for the Singapore Biennale, which will showcase local and international artworks from March 13 to May 11. The biennale is organised by the Singapore Art Museum.

    The Merlion Hotel will host overnight guests from April 4 to May 5 at $150 nett, though daytime visitors can walk through for free for the duration of the biennale. Only 32 nights were available for public booking, with the rest set aside for winners of contests held by the biennale organisers or for sponsors and the media.

    The suite can accommodate two adults and will be operated by The Fullerton Hotel. It comes with a double bed, bathroom, amenities, as well as a dedicated Merlion Butler. Overnight guests will also get a complimentary breakfast at The Fullerton Hotel.

    Among the earliest successful callers was Madam Shana Tai, 35, who hit the redial button non-stop from 10am in the morning and got through to reservations at 10.30am.

  4. #4033
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    Default Singapore tech start-up sold for 8-figure sum

    The Straits Times

    Mar 1, 2011

    Brandtology is latest in a string of takeovers of home-grown tech firms

    By Chua Hian Hou , Technology Correspondent




    Brandtology's chief executive Eddie Chau, 49, said Australia's Media Monitors' mega takeover deal will allow his three-year-old company to expand and focus on research and development. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM


    A THREE-YEAR-OLD Singapore start-up has been snapped up by a regional media group for a tidy eight-figure sum.

    Brandtology - whose business is to keep track of what Internet users are saying about its clients, ranging from SingTel to DBS Bank - has been bought over by the Australian-headquartered Media Monitors group.

  5. #4034
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    Default PAP MPs question who WP is trying to help

    Mar 1, 2011

    PARLIAMENT
    Cutting GST to tackle inflation would benefit rich more than poor, they say

    By Jeremy Au Yong, Political Correspondent




    Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland - Bukit Timah GRC)


    PAP MPs on Monday hit back at Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang's broad-ranging attack on the Government's Budget.

    At least seven MPs from the ruling party stood up to disagree, as they questioned his call for GST cuts and rebutted his claims that the Budget had not adequately addressed issues like inflation and the influx of foreigners.

    Two MPs - Mr Christopher de Souza (Holland-Bukit Timah GRC) and Associate Professor Koo Tsai Kee (Tanjong Pagar GRC) - led the charge, devoting their entire speeches to countering Mr Low's points.

    One of their main objections was with the Hougang MP's call to cut the GST as a response to combating inflation.

    Mr de Souza and Prof Koo said that trimming GST would be more beneficial to the rich than the poor.
    Said Mr de Souza: 'Who does the Workers' Party really want to help? High income earners, we know, consume more and therefore pay higher GST. And we know that pool of tax collected gets redistributed to the lower income earners.'

  6. #4035
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    Default MPs praise Budget, call for more long-term support

    The Straits Times

    Mar 1, 2011

    PARLIAMENT

    By Li Xueying, Political Correspondent



    AGAINST the backdrop of high inflation and a looming general election, 23 Members of Parliament on Monday debated the merits of Budget 2011.

    Even as they described the Budget as 'inclusive', 'caring' and 'generous', many were seized by the issue of rising costs and several called for more formalised, long-term support for the poor.

    One such suggestion came from Madam Halimah Yacob (Jurong GRC): a one-off monetary scheme of employment credits given to companies that hire older low-skilled workers should be made permanent.

    Another idea was from Dr Amy Khor (Hong Kah GRC): Special Workfare Bonuses should be given whenever the economy performs well.

    But the sole opposition member to speak, Workers' Party chief Low Thia Khiang, wanted an immediate palliative: lower the Goods and Services Tax from 7 per cent to 5 per cent to help people cope with inflation.

    He also labelled the Budget with its goodies a pre-election sweetener that failed to combat inflation and assuage Singaporeans' worries over the influx of foreigners.

  7. #4036
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    Default More babies, better elder care needed to tackle population woes

    The Straits Times

    Mar 1, 2011

    PARLIAMENT

    By Andrea Ong




    Reviewing how employers view parents and offering more aid to stay-at-home spouses were among the ideas raised by MPs yesterday on how to encourage more couples here to have children. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA


    SINGAPORE'S twin population woes - a low fertility rate and an ageing population - found their way into Monday's Budget debate.

    And many of the nine MPs who spoke on them were brimming with ideas on ways to improve the situation.

    Sociologist Paulin Tay Straughan, a Nominated MP, believes the key to tackling the dearth of babies lies in getting more young singles to marry and have children. She called for a change to the stressful and competitive work culture, which leaves young Singaporeans with little time and energy to socialise.

    Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Hong Kah GRC) wanted a whole-of-government approach in creating a conducive and affordable environment for raising children.

    'Review all our policies in entirety, not just a few incentives such as paid maternity or paternity leave,' he said.

    He also called for a change in how employers view parents and how parents cope with the 'enrichment class and tuition arms race'.

  8. #4037
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    Default 'Seize Budget opportunities'

    The Straits Times

    Mar 1, 2011

    PARLIAMENT



    THE Malay-Muslim community should seize opportunities presented to it in the Budget, said Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Hong Kah GRC) on Monday.

    Speaking in Malay, he called on his community to take advantage of the various childcare and education subsidies and skills upgrading opportunities to improve their lot in life, such as by getting a diploma or a degree.

    Mr Zaqy added that many Malays welcomed the Budget benefits as they were feeling the impact of the rise in the cost of living, making it difficult for them to support a family and raise children.

    He called for the Government to do more to make people aware of its resources and schemes, echoing the call by Mr Zainudin Nordin (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC) for the Government to deliver help to distressed families.

    In his speech, Mr Zaqy also said the Malay-Muslim community is aware of living in a multiracial society that accepts, is tolerant of, and learns from other communities.

    He added that he welcomed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's recent comments that the Malay-Muslim community in Singapore had made special efforts to integrate with other communities.

  9. #4038
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    Default Rising cost of living a big worry

    The Straits Times

    Mar 1, 2011

    PARLIAMENT
    MPs express concern about effect of inflation on low-income families

    By Rachel Chang




    Shoppers in the fish section at the Sheng Siong supermarket in Bedok. The rising cost of living, including higher food prices, was discussed by MPs yesterday. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM


    ALMOST all the 23 MPs who spoke on the first day of the Budget debate not surprisingly zoomed in on the rising cost of living and its impact on low-income Singaporeans.

    But for several of them, the inflation of 5 per cent in recent months is most worrying for the additional stress it puts on such families who are already at risk of becoming trapped in a cycle of poverty.

    'This is the group that would be the worst affected by the higher cost of living, and who would not qualify for public assistance,' noted Madam Halimah Yacob (Jurong GRC), referring to the monthly payout given to the elderly, ill or disabled with no income or family support.

    'I think they need long-term support, not just the one-off measures provided in the Budget,' she added.
    How to provide and formalise such long-term support was also the focus of Mr Zainudin Nordin (Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC), Dr Amy Khor (Hong Kah GRC), Dr Lily Neo (Jalan Besar GRC) and Mr Baey Yam Kheng (Tanjong Pagar GRC).

    Dr Neo and Mr Baey, in particular, worried about a lack of social mobility among children from low-income families who rarely, as Dr Neo put it, 'have any chance of moving up in life'.

  10. #4039
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default SAF soldiers stand guard in quake-hit Christchurch

    The Straits Times

    Mar 1, 2011

    Singapore troops in NZ for exercise are helping to man cordons in city

    By Jonathan Pearlman, For The Straits Times




    Corporal Muhammad Amirul Ashraff Mohd Rashid, 21, who is in his second year of national service, was paired - or 'buddied' - with Private Aiden Lange of New Zealand. He said he felt sad about the disaster but proud to represent Singapore in helping the people of New Zealand. -- PHOTOS: MINDEF



    CHRISTCHURCH - ON THE streets in the devastated city of Christchurch, pairs of Singaporean and New Zealand soldiers have become a constant - and vital - feature in ongoing rescue efforts.

    Stationed around the quake-hit city, they have been working together to prevent looting and to keep people away from rubble-strewn sites where rescuers continue a frantic search for survivors.

    The Singapore Armed Forces troops had just landed on the country's South Island for a training exercise when the 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck last Tuesday. The annual bilateral training exercise, called Exercise Lion Walk, was cancelled and they were quickly assigned to help in recovery efforts after the New Zealand government accepted Singapore's offer of help.

    Deployed to help secure round-the-clock cordons around areas where many had died, the 116 Singaporeans - a mix of regulars and full-time national service Guardsmen - earned praise from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) for their vital support.

    'We were fortunate these troops were on the South Island when the quake struck,' Lieutenant-Colonel Mike Duncan, chief of staff of the 3rd Land Force Group, told The Straits Times.

    'The Singaporeans have been key to us maintaining that cordon. It is a large cordon. The soldiers are there 24 hours a day to stop people coming in so that they don't go to places they shouldn't and to places where buildings are unstable.'

  11. #4040
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    Default 5 docs back surgeon but SMC reveals more of bills

    The Straits Times

    Mar 1, 2011

    By Salma Khalik, Health Correspondent & Selina Lum





    FIVE doctors whose fees were allegedly marked up heftily by surgeon Susan Lim when she billed a patient have told the High Court that they do not believe she did anything wrong.

    In separate sworn statements, the five doctors said they did not feel cheated or deceived by Dr Lim, and felt that as the main doctor looking after a difficult patient, it was all right for her to include her own charges.

    In fact, they did not even regard what she charged her patient for their services as 'mark-ups'.
    But their statements, presented to the court by her lawyer on Monday, led the Singapore Medical Council (SMC) to make public even more details of what Dr Lim charged her patient, a member of Brunei's royal family.

    Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo, for the SMC, said Dr Lim had not only inflated the various doctors' charges when she billed her patient, but she also slapped on significant additional charges for her own services.

    The figures revealed on Monday showed that the five doctors billed Dr Lim a total of just over $104,000 for their services.

  12. #4041
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    Default Budget 2011: MPs call for more help to fight inflation

    Channel NewsAsia

    By Hoe Yeen Nie | Posted: 28 February 2011 2129 hrs


    Workers arrange packed rice at a supermarket in Singapore.


    SINGAPORE: Members of Parliament have called for more measures to alleviate the impact of the rising cost of living, with one opposition MP calling for a reduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST).

    The impact of inflation dominated much of the parliamentary debate on Budget 2011 on Monday.

    Some MPs expressed concern that the savings of retirees would be eroded over time.

    Opposition MP Low Thia Khiang suggested reducing the GST by two percentage points to 5 percent. He also called for a waiver of GST for basic necessities.

    Mr Low said: "There is a need for a concerted effort to address the rising cost of living at the fundamental level, which is to control the price increase of essential items like food, transportation, education and health care.

    "Without tackling the rising cost of living at the fundamental level, the election-year Growth Dividends will evaporate fast."

    "The GST is at the centre of everything we consume," he noted.

    But his suggestion was challenged by other MPs.

    Christopher De Souza, MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC, said: "Who does the Workers' Party really want to help? High-income earners, we know, consume more and therefore pay higher GST. In that pool of tax collected, it gets redistributed to the lower-income earners.

    "These are old issues. They've been ventilated, they've been discussed, they've been voted on and they've been implemented for the benefit of Singaporeans."

    Separately, MPs felt that measures to help the elderly and caregivers could be enhanced. MP Amy Khor felt that the 8.7 percent of Budget 2011 allocated to healthcare was "inadequate", while Nominated MP Mildred Tan said that home care services could be given better support.

    Some MPs asked if singles could also get tax breaks when they employ a foreign domestic worker.

    Halimah Yacob, MP for Jurong GRC, said: "Under this (foreign maid levy relief) scheme, only married women are eligible."

    Single or male taxpayers are not eligible for this relief.

    "So, a married woman who has grown up children but who needs help to take care of her elderly sick parents can get this relief, which amounts to twice the foreign domestic worker levy paid in the previous year," noted Madam Halimah.

    "But the poor single woman struggling on her own to take care of her sick, elderly parents and needs just as much, if not more support as she does not have a husband to support her, is not eligible for this relief. This is inconsistent and unfairly penalises singles who are filial and want to take care of their elderly parents at home."

    MPs also turned their attention to Singapore's low fertility rate.

    Some suggested ways to get singles hitched, while others wondered if building bigger HDB flats could encourage young couples to have more children.

    These issues will get a more thorough airing over the next few days when MPs debate the budgets of the individual ministries.

  13. #4042
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    Default Fourth-day hearing of Singapore surgeon Susan Lim case

    Channel NewsAsia
    By Sarah Grosse | Posted: 28 February 2011 2229 hrs



    SINGAPORE: Singapore surgeon Susan Lim's lawyer, Senior Counsel Lee Eng Beng has proposed to admit five affidavits from third-party specialists who treated Dr Lim's patient, in the fourth-day High Court hearing on Monday.

    The hearing was on the Singapore Medical Council's (SMC) decision to appoint a secondary disciplinary committee.

    The disciplinary committee is to investigate the accusation by SMC that Dr Lim overcharged her patient, by marking up medical bills to almost S$25 million while treating a breast cancer patient linked to the Brunei royal family from 2001 to 2007.

    Senior Counsel Lee said the five specialists did not feel there was any overcharging.

    Representing SMC, Senior Counsel Alvin Yeo said the third-party specialists were unaware that Dr Lim was sending separate bills for both herself and the other doctors.


    Mr Yeo argued that for every bill she submitted for a third-party doctor, Dr Lim was filing a separate bill for herself.

    Dr Lim allegedly submitted a bill of S$54,000 for radio therapist Dr Khor Tong Hong, while submitting a separate bill for her services at S$235,000.

    Two other accounts of separate billing were also brought up.

    The High Court hearing on whether the five affidavits should be admitted will continue on Tuesday.

  14. #4043
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    Default Wildlife Reserves Singapore to upgrade IT systems

    Channel NewsAsia

    By Lip Kwok Wai & Wayne Chan | Posted: 28 February 2011 2248 hrs





    SINGAPORE: Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which runs the Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park, and the upcoming River Safari attraction, will be using a new IT management system starting this July.

    The new "SAP Business All In One" (SAP BAIO) system is a million dollar investment meant to enhance the management of F&B, finance, retail and ticketing operations at WRS's parks.

    It will also reduce the need for manual data entry, increasing accuracy and speeding up operations.

    "With the SAP system, we will also be able to profile our guests spending patterns and also their experience much better so that we're able to provide a more personalised service to them", said Ms Fanny Lai, Group CEO for WRS.

    The River Safari will be ready next year.

  15. #4044
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    Default Wisma Atria to get facelift

    Channel NewsAsia

    By Stella Lee | Posted: 28 February 2011 2143 hrs







    SINGAPORE: Wisma Atria shopping mall on Orchard Road will get a facelift.

    Starhill Global REIT said it plans to enhance the mall's positioning by redeveloping its frontage.

    Phase one of the redevelopment is expected to cost about S$31 million and will in turn generate an additional net property income of around S$2.5 million a year.

    The REIT manager said this represents a return on investment of about 8 per cent and costs will be funded from the proceeds of the rights issue completed in 2009.

    Starhill said the first phase of the redevelopment will commence in the first quarter of this year and is expected to completed by the third quarter of next year.

  16. #4045
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    Default Football: Real Madrid appoints Singapore agent to represent interest in Asia

    Channel NewsAsia
    By Ian De Cotta / Wayne Chan | Posted: 28 February 2011 1927 hrs


    Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain.



    SINGAPORE: Nine-time European champion Real Madrid has appointed local company Centurion Football to represent its interest in Asia. The tie-up is expected to add some glamour to the local football scene.

    The Spanish giant is one of the best-known names to local fans who follow the European Cup and La Liga.

    A pre-season tour here planned in August between the Real Madrid stars and local players is now on hold. That is because the floating platform, the favoured venue of officials of Real Madrid, is booked for National Day Parade rehearsals.

    Meanwhile, the new 55,000 capacity National Stadium at the Singapore Sports Hub will only be ready in April 2014.

    Nonetheless, Real Madrid said it is keen to work with the Football Association of Singapore to develop football here.

    Mr Alfonso Roberes De Cominges, Real Madrid's International Sponsorship Manager, said: "We've been talking to our partner here, Centurion, about that...to have the chance to play in Singapore. It will be a great opportunity for us as well to come here and to play a match.

    "And not only to play a match but also to run different activities related to football through Centurion, as academies, as camps and as clinics, and also to strengthen our relationships with all the football clubs as well in Singapore."

    Young footballers in Singapore can also look forward to the possibility of training in Madrid.

    Mr Jon Collins, Managing Director of Centurion Football, said: "I think what has been missing is that mechanism for these players to be identified and find that way into the top clubs. If we're working with Real (Madrid) and we have some presence in Singapore, and these young players get identified, then they have a natural way now to go and be spotted by, if you like, a club like Real Madrid. I think in future, there is every chance that you can see young Singaporeans over in Madrid for a while."

    Mr Collins added that his company will work with the Spanish club to develop a stronger relationship with Singapore football and even facilitate a transfer of knowledge that can help S.League clubs.

  17. #4046
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    Default NZ residents appreciate SAF help

    Channel NewsAsia
    By Wayne Chan | Posted: 28 February 2011 2350 hrs


    SAF personnel working with New Zealand Defence Force counterpart in quake-hit Christchurch.


    CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND: Catching looters and ensuring security around Christchurch's earthquake-hit disaster zone.

    It's all in a day's work for 116 of the Singapore Armed Forces' HQ Guardsmen who are now in New Zealand helping with disaster relief.

    Corporal Md Amirul Ashraff, 22, who is working 12-hour shifts to guard a cordoned-off area there, said residents even gave them hot food and drinks to show their appreciation.

    One of these occasions saw him helping man remove his car from under the rubble.

    "I escorted a gentleman to fetch his car containing a full trolley and baby chair. The car was totally immobilised; half of the car was covered in rubble," he said.

    Corporal Md Amirul said his unit was also involved in catching looters. "One of my colleagues actually saw them running around, so they went and chased after them and pinned them down and the police came over and put him away in a cruiser."

    Another soldier, Corporal Bikremjit Singh, 21, said he noticed that shops in Christchurch were now starting to open as people began to go about rebuilding their lives.

    But some are still grieving - like a New Zealander he met who said Corporal Singh reminded him of his own son killed in the earthquake.

    Making the best of a tough situation, he said one of the things that the SAF soldiers there enjoyed was the chance to work with soldiers from the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) and to exchange stories of home

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