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Thread: Singapore Also Can
03-02-2011, 09:44 PM #4064
Football: Pele waves hello to Singapore
By TODAY | Posted: 03 March 2011 0656 hrs
Pele waves as he arrives in Singapore
SINGAPORE: Record three-time World Cup winner Pele arrived in Singapore on Wednesday to kick off The New York Cosmos Asia Promotional Tour 2011. This is the third time the Brazilian icon has visited Singapore.
Hailed by many as the greatest player in the history of football, the 70-year-old flew into Changi Airport before New York Cosmos' director of soccer, Eric Cantona, arrived.
Pele, the club's honorary president, and the Manchester United legend are in town courtesy of Courts and will be here until Sunday promoting the team and meeting fans at various activities.
The duo will watch the Courts Young Lions take on Geylang United at Jalan Besar Stadium in an S.League clash on Thursday night. - TODAY
03-02-2011, 09:50 PM #4065
Budget 2011: SAF to better its military systems and education programmes
Posted: 02 March 2011 2233 hrs
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (file picture)
SINGAPORE: The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) continues to upgrade its capabilities and military equipment as a 3rd generation army, by replacing ageing systems and beefing up its continuing education programme for servicemen.
Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean said new acquisitions, like naval helicopters and artillery rocket platform, are replacing ageing systems that have served the SAF for the last 30 years.
But the key is in attracting and retaining people with the right set of values and abilities. Regarding this, Mr Teo said that MINDEF has put in place new and enhanced career schemes to do so.
"At the same time, to increase the professional depth of our servicemen and to facilitate life-long learning, we have strengthened our professional development and continuing education programmes," added Mr Teo.
Thus, a Centre for Operational Learning will be set up this year to share operational lessons from the army, navy and air force - in an effort to help develop the servicemen professionally throughout their career.
On having women serve National Service, Second Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said he does not see any operational needs that would justify that.
"MINDEF welcomes women and others not called up for NS to volunteer their services in the SAF as well as in the support of Total Defence. For example, there are women volunteers serving as nurses in the SAF's Combat Support Hospitals, and as Community Emergency Response Team members in various constituencies," said Dr Ng.
03-02-2011, 09:58 PM #4066
Dynamics between China and US can impact regional security: DPM Teo
02 March 2011 2257 hrs
SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean warned that the dynamics between the US and China today can bring about potential competition and friction, which can in turn impact the regional security environment.
He was speaking at the Committee of Supply debate for the Defence Ministry on Wednesday.
As China undergoes a leadership transition and the US - with a presidential election next year - both sides cannot afford to appear weak, said Mr Teo.
However, as both countries want to deepen their trade relationships with Southeast Asian nations, he said this development can help to foster good relations between the US and China.
On evolving threats to Singapore's security, Mr Teo said the Singapore Armed Forces stands ready to deal with them.
"The SAF's mission has not changed. Its mission remains to deter threats to Singapore's security, territorial integrity and sovereignty; and should deterrence fail, to secure a swift and decisive victory over the aggressor. One example of the wider spectrum of operations the SAF undertakes today is in homeland security," said Mr Teo.
03-02-2011, 10:16 PM #4067
New-look wet market opens at Elias Mall
The Straits Times
Mar 3, 2011
By Jessica Lim & Neo Wen Tong
The interior of the wet market at Elias Mall, where customers can shop in air-conditioned comfort and pay via credit card. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
HEADS of lettuce are shrink- wrapped and bar-coded, payment can be made by credit card and consumers shop in air-conditioned comfort.
All these and more are on offer at the new-fangled wet market at Elias Mall in Pasir Ris, which opened two days ago. A Straits Times visit yesterday found dry floors and stalls equipped with digital cashier terminals and bar code scanners. Loose items like limes are weighed on digital scales and given bar codes.
The new wet market fills the vacuum left by the closure of White Sands New Market. Supermarket chain Sheng Siong took it over in March last year, one of several it acquired with the aim of turning them into supermarkets.
After residents raised fears that prices would rise, the Housing Board, which owns the premises, told the chain to continue operating it as a wet market.
In a statement to The Straits Times yesterday, the HDB said it will conduct regular checks to ensure compliance. 'They must operate the premises as a wet market, as stipulated in the lease agreement,' said a spokesman.
But, she added, stallholders have the flexibility to make their own decisions when it comes to pricing strategy, payment mode and presentation of produce.
03-02-2011, 10:21 PM #4068
SAF to beef up arsenal, expand peace ops
The Straits Times
Mar 3, 2011
MINISTRY OF DEFENCE
More overseas peace efforts in coming months
By Jermyn Chow
THE Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will expand its overseas operations and boost its defence capability at home by adding to its arsenal.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean yesterday unveiled its plans during the debate on the ministry's budget.
SAF servicemen will be involved in more overseas peace support operations in the months ahead.
Later this month, a Singaporean navy officer will take charge of an international patrol in the Gulf of Aden as part of international efforts to patrol the pirate-infested waters off Somalia.
He will be assisted by other officers from the Singapore Armed Forces.
In the second half of the year, a Landing Ship Tank with a helicopter task group will sail to the Gulf of Aden to beef up patrols in the area.
03-02-2011, 10:25 PM #4069
Helping seniors stay active and healthy
The Straits Times
Mar 3, 2011
Qigong is a popular exercise among seniors, and there are 86 clubs here with 7,000 members that practise this martial art. -- ST FILE PHOTO
EXERCISES such as brisk-walking and martial art forms qigong and taiji are already popular among the elderly, but a government committee is giving them a further boost to ensure seniors stay active and healthy.
Mr Heng Chee How, Minister of State (Prime Minister's Office), yesterday updated the House on the efforts of the Committee for Seniors for Physical Activity, which he chairs.
Some 500 brisk-walking clubs have been formed with about 90,000 participants. There are also 86 qigong clubs with 7,000 members. And close to 2,000 participants joined in a mass display during a taiji launch.
Mr Heng said the committee, with its partner organisations, has built up a pool of trainers. The Qigong Shi Ba Shi Association trained 170 instructors while the Health Promotion Board (HPB) trained 851 brisk-walking instructors. HPB and the National Parks Board also introduced 10 brisk-walking trails across all community development councils.
Mr Heng said the committee would work closely with the Manpower and Health ministries as well as unions to promote the three exercises in the workplace.
03-02-2011, 10:31 PM #4070
More help for elderly to live in their communities
The Straits Times
Mar 3, 2011
By Teo Wan Gek
A BISHAN block with a gymnasium, physiotherapy and reading rooms for the elderly is poised to be a model nationwide for other senior citizens' studio apartments.
These facilities will be one of many new developments under the 'City for All Ages' project announced yesterday by Mr Lim Boon Heng, the minister in charge of ageing issues.
This particular project will take a leaf from the Golden Jasmine studio apartment launched in Bishan last July for the elderly.
Like the Golden Jasmine, reading rooms, physiotherapy and gyms will be built into the void decks of studio apartments in future. More details will be released later.
The 'City for All Ages' plan will develop urban solutions for ageing. Its aim: Empower older Singaporeans and their families to live independently, stay socially engaged and enjoy a high quality of life.
Calling it a major milestone in preparing Singapore society for ageing, Mr Lim, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, said yesterday: 'It builds upon and pulls together our efforts and achievements over the last few years, especially with regard to ageing in place.'
03-02-2011, 11:15 PM #4071
Fishery shows how foreigners create jobs for locals
The Straits Times
Mar 3, 2011
By Francis Chan
Using automation, such as this machine to cut frozen tuna, has led to faster processing and cutting speeds for Chun Cheng. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING
A FISHY tale about a local company that hires foreign workers was hailed as a success story by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.
He cited Chun Cheng Fishery Enterprise, which processes and exports frozen tuna, as an example of how employing foreigners can help a company become more productive and raise its demand for local workers.
With the support of Spring Singapore, Chun Cheng last year engaged Japanese consultants to redesign its production process - potentially raising its output by a stunning 400 per cent.
Ms Tan Lay Hoon, the company's vice-president for corporate and quality management, said the game changer was the specialised automation equipment the company imported from Japan, including an ultra-low temperature freezer.
'It's not easy to automate in fishery as raw materials come in various sizes and assortments,' she said.
But with the help of the Japanese, Chun Cheng learnt how to tap automation, which led to faster processing and cutting speeds, and ultimately higher productivity.
03-03-2011, 09:14 PM #4072
Budget 2011: First-time flat buyers to get more help
By Joanne Chan | Posted: 03 March 2011 1503 hrs
SINGAPORE: National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan has announced measures to benefit first-time flat buyers.
Mr Mah said they can look forward to a larger supply of new flats, a shorter application process, and a revised income ceiling for three-room flats.
He was speaking during his ministry's Committee of Supply debate in Parliament on Thursday.
Concerns among home buyers mounted as flat prices rose quickly in the past year.
Acknowledging these worries, the National Development Minister stressed the government is committed to ensuring that public flats stay within reach of first-time home buyers.
As such, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) will bump up the supply of new flats under the Build-To-Order (BTO) system to 14,000 units in the first half of this year. This is 3,000 more than what it had planned for.
Mr Mah said if demand sustains, the HDB will offer up to 22,000 BTO flats for the entire 2011.
Mr Mah also addressed criticism about why more flats were not built in earlier years.
"The new flat supply in the past years was low not because we constrained supply, but because the demand was weak. Take 2006 for example, when HDB offered relatively lower number of new flats at 8,100. Even then, about 1,100 remained unsold," said Mr Mah.
Mr Mah added that HDB is also wary of oversupply and noted that the BTO system was implemented to prevent such a situation.
Another change is a shorter processing time for applicants of new flats.
Currently, it takes about nine weeks from launch of a BTO project to the start of flat unit selection.
With effect from this month's exercise, the process will be shortened to four weeks.
HDB said the faster turnaround will enable applicants to know their queue number for the current launch, before deciding whether to apply for the next BTO launch.
But there will be trade-offs.
Mr Mah explained: "We will not be able to conduct eligibility checks subsequently. We will have to do it concurrently with the balloting. As you ballot, we will do the eligibility checks. So it might happen (that) some applicants may receive ballot numbers and (they can) come and select (their units). But later on, HDB checks and finds out you are not eligible."
Mr Mah also announced that the income ceiling for 3-room BTO flats in non-mature estates will be raised to S$5,000 - up from S$3,000.
The aim is to provide low-to-middle income households with more housing options.
HDB said the new income ceiling is applicable for the purchase of three-room standard flats in the BTO projects at Sengkang and Bukit Panjang launched on February 28.
HDB said it received 85 appeals last year from home buyers who wanted to buy a 3-room flat, but did not meet the eligibility.
As for the long-standing appeal to raise the overall income ceiling to S$10,000m, up from the current S$8,000, - Mr Mah said the limit is still relevant as it caters to about 8 in 10 households.
He said the new measures should enable faster selection of flats.
03-03-2011, 09:20 PM #4073
New BCA standards will shake up industry
The Straits Times
Mar 4, 2011
Builders have no choice but to adopt innovations to raise productivity
By Jessica Cheam
CHANGES AT A GLANCE
THE construction industry is in for a major shake-up, which will leave contractors no choice but to drop old ways of building in favour of innovations that will ramp up their productivity.
Key to this transformation is the heavier use of regulation and enhanced financial incentives to cushion firms from the costs of becoming more productive.
From the second half of this year, all building projects larger than 5,000 sq m in gross floor area will be approved by the Government only if their plans meet a minimum 'Constructability Score', which reflects how efficient their construction processes are.
This new guideline will not affect most landed homes in Singapore. Anything larger will, however, likely need to comply.
The Building and Construction Authority (BCA), which will administer this, said contractors who fail to implement the labour-saving techniques outlined in their plans, such as using prefabricated rooms and dry walls instead of brick walls, could be fined or even have their building licences revoked.
Dry walls, made off-site, save time and manpower; brick walls are built on site and need more resources and labour.
03-03-2011, 09:26 PM #4074
July 1 'firm' date for railway station move
Mar 4, 2011
KTM will relocate ops from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands
By Rachel Chang
KTM's Tanjong Pagar station was opened in 1932. The land on which the station and railway tracks in Singapore stand is held by KTM on a 999-year lease. The deadline for KTM to vacate the station in Tanjong Pagar and move its operations to Woodlands checkpoint was decided on in talks between Malaysia and Singapore last year. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
FOREIGN Minister George Yeo said on Thursday the July 1 date for Malayan Railway (KTM) to vacate its Tanjong Pagar station and move its operations to Woodlands checkpoint was 'a firm deadline'.
The date was decided on in breakthrough talks between Malaysia and Singapore last year.
He also told the House that a schedule for implementing the move had been drawn up and some work had begun.
The development of areas along the railway line, including Silat Estate and the expansion of the One-North business park in Buona Vista, will start after July 1, he said during the Budget debate for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
With the landmark land swop deal signed last September, the two countries finally resolved the issue of Malayan Railway land in Singapore.
In the original Points of Agreement (POA) signed in 1990, Malaysia was to get three parcels of Singapore land, to be jointly developed by both countries, in return for vacating the Tanjong Pagar train station. But the deal stalled for two decades over political differences.
03-03-2011, 09:30 PM #4075
New $20,000 grant to help needy buy a flat
The Straits Times
Mar 4, 2011
By Cheryl Ong
Madam Saribanon Senin with her son Mohd Faiz Rosli, four, in their rental flat in Bukit Merah. The new special housing grant scheme will enable her family to own their home, so that money saved from rental fees can go to expenses for their children, for example. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN
POOR families who want to buy their first Housing Board flat can now get a new Government grant of up to $20,000 to do so.
Together with an existing grant of $40,000, they will have up to $60,000 to help pay for their new home.
A new two-room built-to-order HDB flat sells for between $80,000 and $120,000.
The new assistance announced by National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan in Parliament on Thursday means that a poor family can get between half and three-quarters of the price covered by government grants.
It can even mean more cash in hand for low-income families. Instead of paying to rent a flat, they will be able to repay their housing loans with their Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions.
Mr Mah on Thursday gave details of the new Special CPF Housing Grant (SHG) which will benefit one in four Singapore households.
03-03-2011, 09:37 PM #4076
MND signs lease to relocate to Jurong
By Mustafa Shafawi | Posted: 03 March 2011 1927 hrs
Aerial view of Jurong Gateway (artist impression) (courtesy of HDB and URA)
SINGAPORE: The Ministry of National Development (MND) announced on Thursday that it has signed the Heads of Terms Agreement to take up a 30-year lease for 29,300 square metres of office space in the Lend Lease's white site development at the Jurong Gateway.
This marks the first time a government agency is committing to a long-term lease with a private developer in its development project.
MND announced last year that, together with its statutory boards the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) and the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), it will relocate to Jurong Gateway by 2015.
This will free up prime office space in the Central Business District for higher-value uses, reduce occupancy costs for the government, as well as catalyze the new growth area at Jurong Gateway.
The first white site at Jurong Gateway, next to Jurong East MRT station, was awarded to Lend Lease in June 2010.
Scheduled for completion in 2014, the mixed development comprises of office and retail space.
03-03-2011, 09:45 PM #4077
Budget 2011: Special CPF Housing Grant for low-income families
By Mustafa Shafawi / Joanne Chan | Posted: 03 March 2011 1625 hrs
Photos 1 of 1
SINGAPORE: The Singapore government has announced more help for low-income families own their first flat.
From Thursday, families earning up to S$2,250 a month can now look forward to a Special CPF Housing Grants (SHG). The SHG was first announced by Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in his Budget speech.
Those with household incomes of up to S$1,500 dollars will get the maximum S$20,000 in SHG.
National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan told Parliament that the new SHG announced on Thursday is over and above the regular housing subsidy and the Additional Housing Grant (AHG).
To encourage financial prudence, families whose monthly household incomes do not exceed S$1,500 can only buy a 2-room standard flat in the non-mature estates from the HDB.
Together with the AHG, these families will enjoy a total CPF housing grant amount of S$60,000. This is on top of the price subsidy that already comes with the new 2-room flat.
Mr Mah said the SHG will make owning an HDB flat within reach of more low-income families by reducing the housing loan that they will need to take.
One possible beneficiary will be 37-year-old Saribanon Senin, who has lived in a one-room rental flat in Bukit Merah with her husband Rosli Nodin for the past 15 years.
A housewife with two children aged four and 12, Madam Saribanon depends on her husband's take-home pay of about S$1,000.
The family applied for a 3-room Build-To-Order (BTO) flat in 2008, but eventually pulled out as Mr Rosli's CPF was not enough to pay for the house.
"We had to top up cash for about S$300 (per month). So I told my husband it's not convenient for us to buy. Because S$300 is a lot of money for us and will affect our household income," said Madam Saribanon.
With the new grant, owning a home becomes a greater possibility for the family.
A 2-room BTO flat costs about S$100,000. The family qualifies for a S$40,000 subsidy under the Additional Housing Grant scheme and with the new Special Housing Grant, the family will receive another S$20,000.
This means the family only needs to take a S$40,000 loan.
With monthly instalments at S$181, Mr Rosli's CPF contribution of S$186 can cover the housing loan with no additional cash outlay.
Madam Saribanon said the S$110 they save from paying rent can be put to other uses.
"We can use the money for our household income, or to save for the children to go to school. It's quite a lot for me."
Madam Saribanon added that her family will start looking for a BTO flat soon.
MND said about one in four citizen households can potentially benefit from SHG. In addition, it is estimated that about 700 tenants currently renting flats under the Public Rental Scheme could also benefit from the SHG.
The SHG will give these rental tenants who are first-timers the opportunity to become home owners.
Some 3,500 households are expected to benefit from the SHG each year.
To qualify for the SHG, one of the flat buyers must have worked continuously for at least one year when they apply to buy the flat.
The average monthly income of the household over the one-year period will be used to determine the amount of grant the household will receive.
The SHG will also be extended to those who apply to buy 2-room and 3-room standard flats in the ongoing BTO exercise offering new flats in Sengkang and Bukit Panjang.
Applicants who have already applied for a flat under this BTO exercise will be allowed to change their choice of flat type without having to pay a fresh administrative fee.
As for households in need of a rental flat, the average waiting time has been reduced from 21 months in 2008, to just eight months this year.
Mr Mah said HDB expects the waiting time to decline further with more rental flats coming on-stream next year.
03-03-2011, 09:51 PM #4078
Budget 2011: More Home Improvement Programme projects by 2012
By Mustafa Shafawi & Joanne Chan | Posted: 03 March 2011 1757 hrs
SINGAPORE : National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan announced on Thursday that the pace the Home Improvement Programme (HIP) will be increased.
The number of HIP projects had doubled from 7 to 14 over the last two years. And HDB will increase it to 28 projects next year.
The pace will be further increased to 35 projects a year by 2014.
At this pace, about 60 per cent of eligible precincts can be offered HIP over the next 5 years.
The Ministry of National Development (MND) said this is expected to benefit around 160,000 households.
Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Mr Mah said if the pace is sustained and budget available, all eligible precincts - or about 300,000 households - should be offered HIP in about 10 years.
79-year-old Sun Peng Kheang has been living in this Yishun flat with his wife since 2003.
His block was selected for HIP last year and Mr Sun opted to get both the essential and optional improvements.
This includes refurbishing both toilets, installing laundry racks, and fixing spalling concrete.
Mr Sun said he's happy with the works, as it costs a lot less than paying a private contractor for the renovations.
He had previously thought about doing up his toilet and was quoted S$2,000.
Under HIP, Mr Sun only had to pay about S$600 for all the renovations.
The government will spend $10 billion to upgrade homes and rejuvenate estates over the next 10 years.
Under the various upgrading programmes like the HIP, Neighbourhood Renewal Programme (NRP) and Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP), the government will be spending up to $55,000 per flat.
In 2011 alone, around 50,000 flat owners will benefit from these programmes.
In the next five years, from 2012 through 2016, another 300,000 will benefit from the upgrading programmes.
An estimated 700,000 residents in Jurong Lake, East Coast, and Hougang will also benefit from the Remaking our Heartland (ROH) initiatives. These rejuvenation and upgrading projects will be implemented in phases across the island.
HDB residents living in flats built in 1986 or before and have not undergone the Main Upgrading Programme (MUP) are eligible for the HIP.
In total, around 300,000 flats are eligible for the HIP.
Since the HIP was introduced, a total of 41 precincts have been selected.
03-03-2011, 09:55 PM #4079
Football: Pele and Cantona in attendance as Young Lions beat Geylang 3-2
By Patwant Singh | Posted: 03 March 2011 2235 hrs
Eric Cantona (top) and Pele (R) mingling with fans at the Jalan Besar Stadium.
SINGAPORE: Visiting football legends, Pele and Eric Cantona, were at the Jalan Besar Stadium on Thursday evening, to watch the Courts Young Lions beat Geylang United 3-2.
The heated match also saw three red cards issued.
Geylang United defender Kim Jae Hong was sent off early in the match while red cards were also shown to the Young Lions' Irwan Shah in the 78th minute and Geylang's Stanley Ng in the 90th minute.
An early goal by Fazli Ayob and a Shahfiq Ghani brace sealed the points for the Young Lions while Yasir Hanapi and Syed Thaha scored for Geylang.
The event also gave fans a chance to see their idols up close.
Courts, which recently signed a deal with the Young Lions, is also a sponsor for the New York Cosmos Asian Tour.
The furniture retailer is making sure fans get enough opportunities to catch their football heroes while they are in Singapore.
03-03-2011, 10:17 PM #4080
Child protection to be improved
Channel News Asia
By Monica Kotwani | Posted: 03 March 2011 1304 hrs
SINGAPORE : The number of child abuse cases in Singapore went up nearly 50 per cent to 247 in 2010 compared to the year before.
But Minister for Community Development, Youth, and Sports, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said the system of child protection in Singapore is "generally strong and robust".
Speaking at a children's conference on Thursday, he also spoke of improvements that can be made.
Dr Balakrishnan said the issue of ensuring protection for child abuse victims is a long-term concern and a necessary investment for Singapore.
He said this was especially so when dealing with victims of extreme abuse from "deeply dysfunctional" families.
He said one proposal under consideration was to come up with a therapeutic small group home concept for such children, as an alternative to foster homes.
Dr Balakrishnan said: "At the domestic level, you have to protect your most vulnerable, the most needy people in your society. And at the heart of that, surely, it must be children. So this is one area where I've told myself - I don't believe in headcount freezes and measuring productivity; this is something you have to do. And if there's increased demand, we just allocate more resources."
The minister also revealed three areas for improvement which the review highlighted.
These included improving collaboration among relevant agencies such as the Ministry of Community Development, Youth, and Sports (MCYS), the courts, schools, family service centres and the Ministry of Education (MOE), as well as training professionals to detect cases at an earlier stage.
"We feel that there's a greater need, even more so now than ever before, to ensure that the different stakeholders are able to talk, communicate, to ensure that when we pass cases from one agency to the other, we don't accidently drop the ball, or an email gets forgotten and not followed up," said Dr Balakrishnan.
He also said stakeholders need to stay relevant in terms of training and competency, and ensure that services stay child-centric to support abused children and their families.
On the increase in such cases last year, greater awareness has been cited as a reason.
"There might be an increase in the of cases reported, not because there is an increase in the number of perpetrators out there, (but) there could be more community awareness of family violence in general. And the community could have, as a result of public education, rallied together to make sure that the protection of children is also in place," said Patricia Wee, deputy head of the Ang Mo Kio Family Service Centre.
The conference on Thursday was attended by some 500 experts.
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