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  1. #4557
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Healthcare institutions feed back concerns to Minister Gan

    Channel NewsAsia

    By Vimita Mohandas | Posted: 31 May 2011 2120 hrs


    A hospital in Singapore
    SINGAPORE: Health Minister Gan Kim Yong says stakeholders he met have stressed the need for an efficient and quality healthcare system.

    They also flagged various concerns amid a changing healthcare landscape, like delivering quality healthcare services in an affordable manner and the availability of manpower.

    As such, capacity planning is one area the new minister for health is studying carefully.

    "There are some common challenges like manpower needs but in terms of operation, each of them will also have a unique challenge and we will be engaging them and see how the Ministry of Health will be able to provide greater support so that they are more effective in delivering healthcare services which will benefit the patients in the long term," said Mr Gan.

    He was speaking to reporters at the Healthcare Humanity Awards at the Istana on Tuesday.

    Mr Gan said there's a need to plan ahead not only in terms of physical capacity but also human resource development to ensure sufficient supply of healthcare professionals and workers.

    He said his ministry will continue to provide quality healthcare services.

    It will also recognise those who have gone the extra mile - like the 60 workers honoured for their dedication at the Healthcare Humanity Awards.

    They were selected from a pool of 118 nominations from 28 hospitals and institutions.

    The Humanity Awards were launched in 2004 to continue the legacy of the Courage Awards which were first given out in 2003 to honour healthcare workers who fought the SARS virus.

    The Humanity Awards recognise healthcare professionals who display values such as dedication, compassion and courage.

    Jasmine Kang, an Advanced Practice Nurse at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, is one of those recognised.

    Her role - which is a mix of doctor and nurse - sees her diagnosing patients and planning their treatment.

    She also helps seek out affordable elderly care equipment for those financially strapped and visits them after they are discharged.

    Amid her heavy responsibilities, it's the simple gestures that go a long way.

    She said: "There was once when I was caring for this patient....she was dying. She told me she wanted to eat a 'muah chee'. So I went to find a 'muah chee' for her and I gave it to her. And she told me it was the best 'muah chee' she has ever eaten.

    "Eventually she was discharged....which I was glad. And it feels really good. I feel that I have helped someone and it makes me want to do more, especially for other more unfortunate patients."

    Each of the Healthcare Humanity Awards winners receives S$1,500 and a silver medallion.
    Last edited by Loh; 05-31-2011 at 09:08 PM.

  2. #4558
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Strength of 3G army lies in ability to network: Defence Minister

    Channel NewsAsia

    By Dylan Loh | Posted: 31 May 2011 1214 hrs


    Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen (2nd R) & Snr Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Maliki Osman (2nd L) being briefed on the capabilities of the first Motorised Infantry Battalion. (MINDEF Photo)


    SINGAPORE: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said the strength of Singapore's third generation military lies in its ability to network an array of systems, not just individual hardware.

    He was speaking at a parade to mark the operational readiness of Singapore's first motorised infantry battalion - the 2nd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment.

    This marks the first time in 54 years that the country's infantry forces are officially riding into battle with armour.

    The unit uses the Terrex armoured vehicle to transport troops into the battlefield. It can be used for urban as well as conventional warfare.

    The vehicle offers greater mobility and protection for soldiers in the heat of war. The unit can also call on other air and land forces for support to deliver a bigger fight in the battlefield.

    There are plans to equip more army units with this fighting capability.

    Dr Ng said: "The army's motorised infantry battalion can now function at much higher tempo and longer ranges, covering a wider area of operations. Specifically, the Terrex enhances the army's capabilities in intelligence gathering of the battlefield as well as precision manoeuvre and firepower."

  3. #4559
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default OCBC Bank scores with plain English

    The Straits Times

    Jun 1, 2011

    Its efforts to kill 'bank-speak' in documents pay off

    By Lorna Tan, Senior Correspondent


    'Bank-speak'

    'The facility shall cease to be available upon the expiry of four months from the date of this letter of offer or three months from the issuance of separate title to the property, whichever is the later, or on such other date/period as the bank may approve, failing which the bank shall be at liberty to cancel the undisbursed portion of the facility and a fee shall be paid by you to the bank immediately.'

    Plain English
    'You have four months from the date of this letter or three months from the date the separate title to the property is issued, whichever is later, or any other period we may approve, to draw down the facility. After this, we may cancel any part you have not drawn down and charge you the cancellation fee.'







    Mr David McQuillen, who led the OCBC team pursuing the Crystal Mark, holding up a marketing document that the bank has simplified. He had heard about the Plain English Campaign while at his previous job with Credit Suisse in Switzerland. -- PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO


    SOME may call it achieving the impossible. But OCBC Bank has taken its Housing Board mortgage application documents and shaken the 'bank-speak' out of them.

    The result: customers taking OCBC loans to buy HDB flats can read the documents in plain language without tripping over mystifying jargon and technicalities that only bankers and lawyers understand.

    For trying to make its documents easily understood by just about anyone, the bank has become the first financial institution in South-east Asia to receive the Crystal Mark.

    This is an internationally-recognised standard for plain English, used by many leading financial institutions in Britain and Australia.

    It is given by a British-based body, the Plain English Campaign, set up in 1979 to persuade organisations to communicate to the public in plain language. OCBC's success with its HDB documents was several months in the making.

    As part of its efforts to be more customer-friendly, the bank has a 14-strong team, set up last year, scrutinising all aspects of the customer experience to spot areas for improvement. The group's projects range from redesigning product brochures to how the furniture is arranged at a branch. There is even a customer lab where clients can be interviewed to find out how their banking experience can be improved.

  4. #4560
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default S'pore an 'ideal vantage point' for German firms

    Jun 2, 2011

    IN THE ST NEWSPAPER TODAY
    'Vast potential' of EU-Asean ties also still to be tapped, says Merkel during visit here

    By Cassandra Chew




    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the Istana yesterday, where they had an hour-long meeting. -- ST PHOTO: BRYAN VAN DER BEEK



    SINGAPORE'S considerable economic clout and reach into South-east Asia makes it an ideal vantage point for German companies, visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday.

    Following discussions with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong shortly after she arrived here, the German leader said she also saw a need to enhance cooperation between the European Union and Asean.

    'We see it as a vast potential that has yet to be fully realised,' she said after their hour-long meeting at the Istana.

    'The relationship between the EU and Asean needs to be further developed because these are two economic regions that wield quite considerable economic clout and therefore lend themselves ideally to cooperate even more in the future.'

    PM Lee, recalling that he was Dr Merkel's first foreign visitor in 2005 when she became Chancellor, said he was pleased to welcome her, in turn, as his first foreign guest following his May 7 re-election.

    Dr Merkel arrived from India for a two-day visit, and also called on President S R Nathan and met former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew on Wednesday.

  5. #4561
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Military might to be NDP 2011 show opener

    The Straits Times

    Jun 2, 2011

    By Cheryl Ong




    These are the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars) and Unmanned Surface Vessel, as well as the Singapore Civil Defence Force's Multi-Utility Vehicle. -- PHOTO: MY PAPER/JAMIE KOH


    THE Navy's brand new submarine-hunting S-70B Sikorsky Seahawks naval helicopters will make their grand debut at the National Day Parade this year, among other new acts set to wow the audience.

    Besides the Seahawks, which are armed with sonar equipment to detect objects underwater, three other vehicles will be in action for the first time too.

    These are the Singapore Armed Forces' (SAF) High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (Himars) and Unmanned Surface Vessel, as well as the Singapore Civil Defence Force's Multi-Utility Vehicle.

    They are all part of the so-called Dynamic Defence Display (or D3), which will start the parade off with a bang.

    This year's NDP is themed 'Majulah! The Singapore Spirit', and features a five-act musical, of which the nation's military might will be the show opener.

    Lieutenant Colonel Kelvin Fan, who chairs the D3 committee, said the defence show, a synchronising act between land, air and sea vehicles and teams, will be told through the tale of a boy dreaming he is a task-force commander.

  6. #4562
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default PM Lee says Singapore must study nuclear option

    Channel NewsAsia

    By Hoe Yeen Nie | Posted: 01 June 2011 2136 hrs

    Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during their meeting at the Istana.


    SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong again stressed that Singapore has not made a decision on nuclear power but it is an option that must be studied.

    He said this at a news conference on Wednesday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is in Singapore for a two-day visit.

    Germany had on Monday announced it would shut down its nuclear reactors by 2022.

    It is Dr Merkel's first visit to Singapore as German Chancellor.

    Mr Lee also noted that she is his first foreign visitor after he was re-elected to Parliament, just as he was her first foreign guest when Dr Merkel became Chancellor in 2005.

    Both leaders made clear that Singapore-German relationship is an important one for the two countries.

    Singapore is Germany's main trading partner in Southeast Asia, while German companies have long made their presence felt here, particularly in manufacturing.

    Latest figures show that bilateral trade amounted to some S$20.5 billion in 2010.

    Germany is also Singapore's biggest trading partner among the EU countries.

    Both leaders agreed over the hour-long discussion to increase cooperation in R&D and support for enterprises.

    They also agreed on the importance of ASEAN and the EU ties.

    Dr Merkel said: "Cooperation between the EU and ASEAN needs to be further enhanced, needs to be further developed to the benefit of both, because these are after all two economic regions that wield quite considerable economic clout, and therefore lend themselves ideally to co-operate even more in the future."

    What was not on the table was nuclear energy. He said Singapore is still exploring the option.

    Prime Minister Lee said: "We need to understand it, because I think this is something which will not go away. And even if we don't do nuclear energy, our neighbours will do nuclear energy, and we need to understand the implications for us."

    Asked about his choice for the post of IMF chief, Mr Lee said this would be decided on merit.

    He said: "I would not say that I'm looking for an Asian candidate. I think we want to look for the best person who can do a very difficult job, which is crucial towards the stability of the global monetary system."

    Asked by German media about the significance of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's retirement from the Cabinet, Prime Minister Lee said that even when Mr Lee Kuan Yew was still in the Cabinet, decisions were already being made by PM Lee and the younger ministers. The senior Mr Lee would interject and express his views at times.

    "What has happened is that now that he has retired, this has become more visible, and that's all," he said.

    Dr Merkel also met President SR Nathan at the Istana, as well as Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

    The German Chancellor was also hosted to a state dinner by Prime Minister Lee. Her visit ends on Thursday.

  7. #4563
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default NTUC to focus on better employment for Singaporeans

    By Joanne Chan | Posted: 01 June 2011 1434 hrs


    NTUC chief Lim Swee Say


    SINGAPORE: Labour chief Lim Swee Say has outlined the new focus of the Labour Movement - to ensure Singaporeans come first in local employment, while maintaining the country's competitiveness and pro-business stance.

    He said beyond full employment, citizens want better jobs.

    His comments came as the Labour Movement undergoes a re-shaping exercise, ushering in new leaders.

    Mr Lim said this year's General Election has shown full employment is not enough to satisfy the aspirations of Singaporeans.

    With the current tight labour market, he said the focus would shift to helping Singaporeans find better employment.

    "Given the full employment situation, I think it's only natural that Singaporeans expect that more can be done to enable them to take on better employment in Singapore," Mr Lim said.

    "Low-wage workers want higher wages. For PMETs (professionals, managers, executives, technicians) they want better and faster career advancement and so on.

    "I think this is only natural, and this is something the Labour Movement recognises and accepts."

    Noting ground sentiments that "Singaporeans should come first", Mr Lim said more must be done to protect all segments of workers -- and not just rank-and-file workers, but also mature workers, women returning to the workforce, and PMETs.

    He indicated foreign labour policies may have to be tweaked.

    One of the suggestions brought up was setting a cap on foreign PMETs.

    "To avoid the situation whereby certain industries (or) companies are overly dominated by foreign PMETs... some unions suggested introducing some dependency ceiling for PMETs," Mr Lim said.

    Another suggestion thrown up by unions was giving higher access to foreign workers to companies who hire mature workers, or to firms that are committed to improving the skills and productivity of locals.

    Mr Lim said being pro-business and pro-worker is not "mutually exclusive" and neither should come at the expense of the other.

    Mr Lim stressed that these ideas are not cast in stone, and the Labour Movement wants to engage the public and businesses in debate to reflect their concerns.

    This represents a new direction for the Labour Movement - greater transparency over policy formulation.

    Mr Lim said while many Singaporeans may be familiar with the various policies, they may not know the rationale behind them.

    A third aspect of re-shaping the Labour Movement is to broaden the pace of change.

    Mr Lim said outreach to the non-unionised sectors must be increased to get them on board as early adopters of new policies.

    Mr Lim also announced new leaders at the NTUC.

    Mr Ong Ye Kung has been promoted to deputy secretary-general, replacing Madam Halimah Yacob.

    "I think the key is still raising productivity first, and second, having an understanding with employers that when companies do well, and productivity goes up, they must have a formula and have a way to share the gains with workers," Mr Ong said.

    "I think that's the most sustainable way to ensure that workers' lives improve."

    Meanwhile, Ms Cham Hui Fong takes over from Mrs Josephine Teo as assistant secretary-general.

    In an email reply, Ms Cham said she's "humbled" by her new appointment and will "work closely with unions and union leaders to further the interests of the Labour Movement and workers".

    Minister for Manpower Tharman Shanmugaratnam welcomed the new leaders at NTUC.

    In a statement, Mr Tharman said he and his team at the ministry look forward to working closely with the NTUC team and employers.

    -CNA/wk

  8. #4564
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default NDP defence display set to thrill

    By Alvina Soh | Posted: 01 June 2011 2015 hrs


    A helicopter hovers over Marina Bay


    SINGAPORE: This year's National Day Parade is set to thrill spectators with an action-packed Dynamic Defence Display that will see four new additions.

    For the first time, the display will feature an S-70B Sikorsky naval helicopter, a high mobility artillery rocket system, an unmanned surface vessel and a multi-utility vehicle.

    The 10-minute performance by the Singapore Armed Forces and the Home Team aims to highlight a different aspect of Singapore's defence.

    More than 100 personnel will be taking part in the display, including six divers from the Republic of Singapore Navy.

    Spectators will be treated to a sight of them in full combat gear, jumping from a Chinook helicopter into the Marina Bay.

    Dynamic Defence Display chairman Kelvin Fan said: "Our hope is that the new features, the new assets, will showcase a side of Singapore's defence that Singaporeans will reflect upon, such that they know the importance of defence and they reflect upon their own role in defending Singapore".

    -CNA/wk

  9. #4565
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Bring on the Koreans

    Singapore hand Malaysia a rugby lesson but a bigger test lies ahead this Saturday



    by Tan Yo-Hinn
    04:46 AM Jun 02, 2011

    ARFU Div 1 S-Finals

    Singapore 52 Malaysia 17

    SINGAPORE - The Singapore Rugby Lions are a step closer to gaining promotion to the continent's top tier - next year's HSBC Asian Five Nations - after registering a 52-17 victory over Malaysia yesterday.

    The lunch-time kickoff at the Ansa-wa Stadium near Incheon, South Korea, ensured the Republic will be in Saturday's Asian Rugby Football Union (ARFU) Division 1 final against the hosts, who defeated the Philippines 32-20 in a later match.

    Singapore, who brought a 24-strong squad to Korea, were expecting a far stiffer test from the Malaysians, particularly after only edging them 25-23 last year.

    But Singapore seized the early initiative with first-half tries from scrum-half Azmi Suliman and No 8 Peter McFeely.

    Further tries after the break from second-row Marc Warburton, winger Alex Chew, substitute Jonathan Chen, full-back Nicholas Groen and second-row Gabriel Lee, and a penalty try from fly-half Suhaimi Amran, who also kicked five conversions, completed the rout.

    "We knew Malaysia have huge skills with the ball and a very dynamic backline, so we kept the ball close until we created opportunities and could apply pressure, or 'line breaks', and get inside them," said Singapore coach Des Thornton in a telephone interview.

    "But we moved away from that a bit in the first-half, and (before the) second half had a talk about it.

    "We needed more composure, especially from the younger guys. It's different from club rugby, so they needed to be confident that it will work.

    "We also needed to dominate their forward pack ... that had an influence and was an area we targeted."

    Singapore last played in the top flight in 2009, and Thornton believes they can build on the win over Malaysia.

    "They're a totally different sort of opposition," he said. "The Korean forwards are very strong and dominant. We will have to play differently, and key for us is getting quality possession to apply pressure.

    "That's an area we've discussed and will have to work on, and hopefully, our forwards can play a notch higher than they played today."






    Singapore full-back Nicholas Groen in action during their 52-17 win over Malaysia in an Asian Rugby Football Union Division 1 clash at the Ansa-wa Stadium near Incheon in South Korea. Photo courtesy of the Singapore Rugby Union.
    Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd

  10. #4566
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Tan back in contention, thanks to Ong

    by Philip Goh Haw Hann
    04:47 AM Jun 02, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Some choice words from Singapore Bowling Federation's new associate coach Remy Ong was all it took for national bowler Jazreel Tan to make the right adjustments and regain her feel.

    After being out of touch in other competitions the past fortnight, the 21-year-old is back in business at the 44th Singapore International Open championships, chalking up a three-game total of 716 pinfalls in her only block at Orchid Bowl yesterday.

    That was enough to propel her to second in the local women's qualifying pool (at press time) and away from the cut line above which she was hovering just 24 hours earlier.

    "I knew what my problems were ... my swing and my facing towards the target were a little off," said Tan, a Wichita University sophomore who is back in Singapore for her summer break. "Remy helped with tips on how to slow my action down and not rush my footsteps."

    And she thinks her national team-mate of seven years is a natural in his new role.

    "He's still an active player, and it seems he connects better," Tan added.

    "There's a difference in the way he explains things and the players look up to him."

    Tan's performance earlier in the week was steady but unspectacular, with a high-game of just 225 pinfalls.

    But her block yesterday was much improved, opening with a high of 255 before following up with 227 and 234.

    Her two-block total of 1,364 pinfalls (average 227.3) puts her just 19 pins adrift of Fok Ka Wai.

    The women's overseas pool is headed by Malaysia's Zandra Aziela (1,367).

    Ong still leads the local men's pool with 1,419 (average 236.5), ahead of Benjamin Lim (1,380) and national rookie Leong Ho Yun (1,377).

    Hong Kong's Wu Siu Hong sits atop the men's overseas pool with 1,387.

    Sweden's Marcus Berndt claimed the honour of bowling the tournament's first perfect game yesterday, but he did not win the S$5,000 bonus as the feat was not achieved during a pre-designated squad.





    Singapore national bowler Jazreel Tan is third overall in the local and qualifying pool in the women's draw at the Singapore International Open 2011 bowling championship. Photo courtesy of the Singapore Bowling Federation.
    Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd

  11. #4567
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore visitor arrivals in Q1 rises 15.7% year-on-year

    The Straits Times

    Jun 3, 2011






    Singapore's tourist arrivals in January-March totalled 3.12 million, up from 2.69 million in the same period last year, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said in a statement. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI


    SINGAPORE - INTERNATIONAL visitor arrivals to Singapore in the first quarter rose 15.7 per cent from the year-ago period, helped by stronger arrivals from Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand, the city-state's tourism authority said on Thursday.

    Singapore's tourist arrivals in January-March totalled 3.12 million, up from 2.69 million in the same period last year, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said in a statement.

    Indonesia contributed the largest number of visitors with 577,000 in the first quarter, while Hong Kong was the fastest-growing market for Singapore's tourism industry, with visitor arrivals jumping 42 per cent to 100,000.

    STB said average occupancy rate at Singapore hotels in January-March was 85 per cent, compared to 83.7 per cent last year. -- REUTERS

  12. #4568
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    Default S'pore is largest tourist market for Malaysia in 2010

    By Vimita Mohandas | Posted: 02 June 2011 1613 hrs


    Malaysia's Homestay Programme
    SINGAPORE: Malaysia saw about 13 million tourists from Singapore last year - an increase of 2.4 per cent compared to 2009.

    That makes Singapore their largest tourist market, generating about 28.4 billion ringgit in tourist receipts last year.

    The Malaysia Tourism Board added that Malaysia's Homestay Programme are getting more popular among Singaporeans.

    The board also said Singaporeans account for almost half of all homestay tourists. That makes Singapore the top foreign market for the programme.

    The homestay tourism product was introduced in 1995 as a means to elevate the socio-economic standing of the rural people in Malaysia. Currently, more than 140 villages in Malaysia offer this programme at 3,009 kampong homes.

    "What's important is that this homestay programme gives tourists something special which is more like the kampong lifestyle. When they stay at the kampong together with the family, like the Japanese tourists for example, they won't eat sushi and teppanyaki but instead go for goreng pisang and nasi lemak," said Acting Director-General for the Malaysia Tourism Promotion Board, Azizan Noordin.

    Singapore is Malaysia's largest tourist market and the country wants to increase this number with new events.

    Shopaholics can look out for the 1Malaysia Mega Sale Carnival that will kick off on June 15 and last till August 31.

    In July, there will be the launch of the 1Malaysia Contemporary Art Tourism Festival - a three-month celebration of Malaysia's talents filled with exciting art exhibitions highlighting Malaysian contemporary artists, art auctions and creative festivals.

    Meanwhile, foodies can look forward to the Fabulous Food 1Malaysia in October where they can savour gourmet cuisine, local street food and ASEAN flavours.

    The Malaysian Tourism Board said it is also encouraging Singaporeans to apply for the Malaysia Automated Clearance System (MACS) pass.

    This allows them to "fast track" through immigration without having to fill up the white immigration card. As the sticker is embedded with a radio frequency identification chip that is stuck in the passport, they can zip through immigration clearance in Malaysia without worrying if their passport has been stamped.

    The Board said if more sign up, it may dedicate one lane for MACS holders. Some 1,000 Singaporeans are already using MACS.

    The announcements were made at the Islamic Fashion Festival which makes its debut in Singapore. The festival showcases designer Islamic attire by 12 designers from France, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

    - CNA/cc/ac

  13. #4569
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    Default Singapore, US reaffirm defence ties

    The Straits Times

    Jun 3, 2011






    Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen meeting with the United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates on the sidelines of the tenth Shangri-La Dialogue. -- PHOTO: MINDEF


    SINGAPORE and the United States reaffirmed their long-standing bilateral defence relationship on Friday when Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen met his US counterpart, Secretary of Defence Robert Gates.

    During their meeting, Mr Gates and Dr Ng also welcomed the substantial progress made in deepening bilateral defence cooperation since the signing of the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) in 2005, which 'underscores both countries' shared belief that a strong US presence in the region has enhanced regional peace and stability'.

    Both Mr Gates, who is in Singapore to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue, and Dr Ng supported the US' 'continued engagement in the region, and the need for both sides to continue working together to address transnational security threats and enhance regional security'.

    'Secretary Gates and Minister Ng were pleased to note the useful contributions made by Singapore on the stabilisation and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and on the international counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden,' a Mindef statement said.

    Mr Gates and Dr Ng also reaffirmed their commitment to further strengthening bilateral defence cooperation, in line with the spirit and vision of the SFA.

    In particular, they 'agreed to work towards more tangible cooperation at the operational level, including through expanded training, improved command and control capabilities, and deployment opportunities', the statement said.

  14. #4570
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    Default Kallang Theatre to reopen in August

    By Teo Xuanwei, TODAY | Posted: 03 June 2011 0646 hrs


    Kallang Theatre (TODAY File Photo)
    SINGAPORE: In its heyday, the Kallang Theatre was the setting for the Prime Minister's annual National Day Rally speech as well as original local works and world class musicals such as Les Miserables and Phantom of the Opera.

    But the curtain came down on the 1,800-seat theatre on March 31, 2007, amid dwindling utilisation rates, as new venues such as the Esplanade-Theatres on the Bay moved into the spotlight.

    Come August, the Kallang Theatre will come alive after a four-year hiatus with the ambitions of becoming a regional arts and culture hub
    .

    For starters, it will stage a 80-minute musical primarily targeted at tourists and foreigners about the Republic's history from Sang Nila Utama days to modern day, titled Singapura - The Lion City Show.

    Its operator, Asia Arts & Culture (AAC), which made the announcement yesterday on the sidelines of performing arts trade exhibition LIVE! Singapore, said it will also market its in-house group of performers and shows for external events, both locally and elsewhere in Asia.

    The Singapore Land Authority offered the Kallang Theatre building for tender in January. After a successful tender to operate and manage the premise, AAC - a Singapore-China joint-venture with the Yunnan Provincial Performing Arts Group - will be working with the Singapore Tourism Board to turn Kallang Theatre into an "Asian Arts and Culture hub", the operator said in a press release. It added that it was also tasked to "strongly promote Kallang Theatre as a preferred venue" for the arts and MICE events.

    The theatre will also have facilities such as dance halls and F&B outlets. Booking slots for the use of Kallang Theatre auditorium and various other facilities will be available from next month.

    Arts groups here welcomed the re-opening. Said The Substation artistic co-director Audrey Wong: "It will be a good alternative venue that fills the gap left by Victoria Theatre while it undergoes renovations."

    But she felt the theatre's reopening would have "no big impact on the local arts scene, in terms of creating original content" otherwise.

    Few local arts groups would be able to hold shows there as well because the capacity was too large, she added.

    The Necessary Stage's founder and artistic director Alvin Tan hoped that the iconic theatre would go beyond being just a venue to hold shows.

    "If it can have an artistic vision of encouraging intercultural work, such as showcasing the different cultural traditions we have here, then it will be more meaningful," he told Today.

    "We don't have a strong historical culture like Japan because we are a migrant country but we have cultures like Peranakan and the theatre can work towards supporting works showcasing a uniquely Singapore identity."

    The Kallang Theatre was built in the 1970s as a cinema but was converted into a performing arts venue in 1986 to replace the National Theatre, which was demolished in the same year.

    The theatre's then-operator National Arts Council decided to shut it down after its utilisation rate dropped from 80 per cent to only 33 per cent in 2005 - catering mostly to schools and non-arts-related hirers. - TODAY

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    Default Germany for speedy conclusion of proposed EU-S'pore FTA

    By S Ramesh | Posted: 02 June 2011 1053 hrs


    Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers her keynote address during the 31st Singapore Lecture (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
    SINGAPORE: Germany supports a speedy conclusion of the proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and Singapore.

    This was in view of the non-conclusion of the Doha round of talks, which has been going on for the past 10 years.

    Speaking at the 31st Singapore Lecture, the German Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel, hoped that the EU-Singapore FTA would spur even greater levels of cooperation between German and Singapore companies which are working closely in the areas of research and development and scientific matters.

    She said: "Singapore and Germany are pinning their hopes on an open economy and free trade. So we are convinced on our side that there should be a speedy completion of the Doha round, the world trade round because that is the most reliable pre-condition for growth.

    "So it is really a pity that after ten years we have not been able to complete this round and it is a very bumpy road. There are only a few metres or few miles yet to go but whether we are able to muster the strength to cover that distance is still not clear."

    Despite this and the global financial crisis of 2009, Singapore-Germany trade volume has increased. Some 1,200 German companies are active here and investments from Germany amount to nearly S$14 billion.

    Regarding the best person for the top job at the International Monetary Fund, Dr Merkel said her country backs French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde for the job, but is not opposed to a non-European in future.

    She said: "What's important is that the best possible candidate ought to become the head of these important global institutions. It's a much more open issue as to how you decide. Since the IMF is very deeply involved in the Euro matter, there could be good reasons for not saying right away a European candidate is out of the question.

    "If you look at the personality, Christine Lagarde, as a finance minister, enjoys an excellent reputation worldwide and in many ways, she is an ideal embodiment of economic experience and political experience."

    Dr Merkel also sees opportunities for German educational institutions to work closely with the Nanyang Technological University.

    And one area which is being explored is an electro-mobility centre between the research institutions of both countries.

    She said: "We ought to be partners in trying to manage our resources more efficiently and I think mobility, electro-mobility is something that is most interesting not only for us but also for you here in Singapore.

    "We shall earmark a sizeable one billion euros from 2011 to 2013 for research and development in this area and Singapore is a strong partner in this area."

    Another area of interest is Germany's decision to phase out the use of nuclear power.

    She said: "Phasing out more rapidly already shows that we already had taken the basic decision to use nuclear power only as a bridging technology. What we were debating was whether we have a period of ten years or a longer period of time available to phase out nuclear energy."

    Dr Merkel also believes that Singapore can play a key role in enhancing ASEAN's effectiveness.

    Turning to reports that Myanmar has expressed interest to chair ASEAN, Dr Merkel said Germany is concerned about this development. It expects a clear commitment to human rights from the ASEAN member states.

    Dr Merkel's lecture was attended by some 600 people, from top CEOs and politicians to student leaders.

    Earlier at the National Orchid Gardens, an orchid, the Dendrobium Angela Merkel, was named after the German Chancellor.

    - CNA/cc/ac

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    Default

    Jun 4, 2011

    ITE top student beats the odds to reach the top

    By Amelia Tan




    On Friday, Mr Teo, 26, left all his setbacks in life behind and was named this year's (2011) ITE top student at the ITE's graduation ceremony held at the National University of Singapore. He also received the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal which is given to each year to ITE's most outstanding graduating student. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG


    AFTER failing his O-levels twice, Mr Aloysius Teo felt that he had hit rock bottom and decided to stop studying.

    He worked for a year as a waiter and embarked on his National Service. It was during his time in the army when he had the time to reflect and he realised that his future was bleak with his poor educational qualifications. He set his heart on going to the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) and acing his studies.

    On Friday, Mr Teo, 26, left all his setbacks in life behind and was named this year's (2011) ITE top student at the ITE's graduation ceremony held at the National University of Singapore. He also received the Lee Kuan Yew Gold Medal which is given to each year to ITE's most outstanding graduating student.

    He got a perfect Grade Point Average (GPA)of 4.0 for his Higher Nitec in business studies (administration) course. In fact, this is the second time that he has aced his course at ITE. In 2007, he also got a perfect GPA of 4.0 for his Nitec in service skills (retail) course.
    Over the last month, about 11,700 students graduated at decentralised ceremonies held in their respective colleges.

    Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister of State for Defence and Education, the guest of honour at the ceremony, said in his speech on Friday that ITE students have defied stereotypes of what they are capable of and have proven that 'progression up the technical path is no less a success than moving up the academic pathway.'

    Read the full story in Saturday's edition of The Straits Times.

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    Default S'poreans conquer Mt Everest

    By Low Mei Mei | Posted: 04 June 2011 1953 hrs


    Kenneth Koh climbing at about 8,700m on the North Ridge of Mt Everest, on the way to the summit (photo: Kenneth Koh).
    SINGAPORE: Two Singaporeans conquered Mount Everest in separate expeditions held last month via the North Ridge from Tibet, a route which has never been taken by any Singaporean.

    All Singaporeans who previously reached the summit of Mount Everest had done so from the South, via Nepal.

    Seasoned adventurer Khoo Swee Chiow reached summit on May 21.

    The 47 year old is now the first Southeast Asian to have made it to the summit of Mt Everest three times.

    His first was in 1998 and second, 2006.

    Meanwhile, the other climber is 46-year-old freelance travel and adventure writer and photographer Kenneth Koh.

    Mr Koh made it to the top on May 27.

    -CNA/wk

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