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  1. #4574
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    Default US to send combat ships to S'pore

    By Saifulbahri Ismail | Posted: 04 June 2011 1859 hrs




    SINGAPORE: US Defence Secretary Robert Gates has said the US military had plans to deploy littoral combat ships to Singapore.

    Dr Gates said this on Saturday, at the Shangri-la Dialogue, an international security conference held in Singapore.

    Littoral combat ships are speedy, lighter ships designed to operate in shallow waters.

    "We're examining other ways for our two militaries to train and operate together to include pre-positioning supplies to improve disaster response, improving command and control capabilities and expanding training opportunities to help prepare our forces for the challenges both militaries face operating in the Pacific," Dr Gates said.

    Singapore's Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen said: "The US's strong presence and continued engagement in this area has been, and will continue to be a critical force of stability and progress for this region.

    "In that spirit, we are open to his proposal for forward deployment of the littoral combat ships in this area, so that it allows them to achieve that purpose of having a strong presence, a continued presence in the Asia Pacific region".

    Dr Ng also hosted his first ministerial lunch at the Shangri-La Dialogue, as defence minister.

    During informal discussions, the defence ministers agreed that the economic and political weight and modernisation of the military is increasingly shifting to Asia.

    Thus, Asia will have a more strategic importance in the next few decades.

    Dr Gates, who said he is stepping down at the end of the month, left Singapore for Afghanistan on Saturday, on a farewell visit.

    -CNA/AFP/wk

  2. #4575
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    Default NTU showcases innovations

    Posted: 04 June 2011 2023 hrs


    Screen grab of the NTU Engineering Innovation and Design Open House.
    SINGAPORE: Some 88 innovations by enterprising students were showcased at the Nanyang Technological University's (NTU) Engineering Innovation and Design Open House.

    One such innovation is a laundry-hanging device which automatically retracts when it rains.

    The device is materialised by students from NTU's School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering.

    NTU School of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering associate professor David Butler said: "The objective of today is to really give students a chance to showcase their creativity and innovation.

    "They've been given two semesters or one year to identify a problem and come up with a solution.

    "A lot of them are very close to being commercially viable and very, very practical".

    More than 750 students tackled issues such as safety, recycling, transportation and the environment.

    They also took on various challenges posed by the Housing & Development Board, including refuse collection and aids for the elderly.

    Some inventions include a first-of-its-kind roller blade braking system, an electricity-free sliding door and a fuss-free self-cleaning rubbish chute.

    -CNA/wk

  3. #4576
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore star Hariss breaks new ground

    Vanda Sports signs job deal with 20-year-old Courts Young Lions skipper



    by Shamir Osman
    04:46 AM Jun 04, 2011

    SINGAPORE - He eclipsed Fandi Ahmad's mark in 2007 when he became the youngest Singapore international at 16 years and 217 days old, when he took to the field against North Korea.

    Now, Hariss Harun (picture) hopes to break new ground and open up a route for other young Singapore footballers.

    The Sports and Wellness Management graduate from Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) will start work in Vanda Sports' marketing department after the national under-23 team return from their training tour to Sydney (June 8-15).

    Speaking to MediaCorp yesterday, the Courts Young Lions skipper said: "I'm very excited and looking forward to it. I'm going to go back to juggling two things again, but this time with Vanda in the real world of sports marketing.

    "The fact that I'll be using what I studied at Vanda means I will gain invaluable experience.

    "I hope I'll be able to give them as much as they are giving me."

    The agreement with the sports marketing company will allow Hariss time off for training and matches for his club, and will also meet national team requirements.

    The 20-year-old is still waiting to know if he will be allowed to defer his National Service (NS) in view of November's Southeast Asian (SEA) Games, but Vanda is committed to keeping the player after he completes his NS.

    "We're not hiring Hariss Harun the footballer, we're hiring someone who has qualifications that are relevant ... and elite athletes generally bring characteristics that you would want in successful business: The dedication to a cause, the consistency, the willingness to improve on a daily basis, the competitive spirit," said Vanda's chief executive Ian Mullane, who declined to reveal the financial details of the deal.

    "If we can promote it as an outlet, I think in the longer term we can see the benefits ... when Hariss' football career is over in 10, 15 years, hopefully Vanda is something he'll look back on and maybe still be a part of."

    The company already have national boxer Mohammed Ridhwan Ahmad in their books.

    Ridhwan became the first Singaporean to venture into the SEA Games boxing ring in 14 years when he flew the Republic's flag at the Vientiane Games in 2009.

    They have also hired another boxer, Michelle Thavasi and former Singapore softball player Ivy Lim.

    Ridhwan has worked for Vanda for the last 12 months while still in NYP's Sports and Wellness programme and training for his second shot at the SEA Games in November.

    "Ridhwan has been a phenomenal success for us - we've been able to allow him to balance his academic needs with his sport and work ... And why not look at giving Hariss the same opportunity," added Mullane.

    Vanda have recently signed agreements with the Singapore Polo Association, Asean Basketball League side Singapore Slingers as well as Extreme World Races, and Hariss will be working on these projects, including getting involved with Vanda's football community projects and its social and digital media ventures.

    Courts Young Lions team manager Eugene Loo is delighted with the development.

    "This is a fantastic opportunity for an athlete to be groomed to be involved in the off-the-field side of sports, and we hope Hariss can be a flagbearer of sorts," he said.






    National football player Hariss Harun. Photo by DON WONG
    Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd

  4. #4577
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    Default 'Half-pats' find grass greener in Singapore

    Jun 5, 2011

    By Lydia Vasko


    Safety net
    'I came back to Singapore knowing I could (afford to) get a minimum wage job because I'd be living with my parents.'

    BRITON OLIVER HUGHES, 23

    Nice place to work in
    'When they've been overseas for a while... they realise that (Singapore) is a nice place to come back to work.'

    MR DAVID SHEPHERD, director of college advancement at United World College

    South East Asia
    Like being at home
    'I missed being in Asia and missed being around other people who had a similar background and an international lifestyle. I guess Singapore has kind of become home.'

    AMERICAN ASHLEY MCADAM, 23, whose family moved here from Tokyo when she was 16

    Don't really belong anywhere
    'The thing about being an expat and growing up outside of your country is that you don't really belong anywhere. Even in the place that I consider home, where I've lived for over half my life, without a visa I can't stay.'

    BRAZILIAN CLARISSA CAVALHEIRO, 25, who moved here at the age of 10

    Not jaded
    'It's not jaded like London or the States... You can make an impact just by doing something a little new.'

    AMERICAN CHRISTOPHER FUSSNER, 23, who was born and raised here






    The work opportunities and cultural diversity here are some reasons why children of expats such as Mr Hughes and Ms McAdam have returned and found jobs here. Mr Hughes is now the duty manager and music director at the Prince of Wales bar, a live music haunt in Little India, while Ms McAdam is a business analyst with Accenture here. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN


    THEY are the 'half-pats' - children of Western expats, raised here but not sure where to call home.

    For decades, these youngsters have tended to up sticks after school to study or seek work back in their countries of origin, with Singapore filed away as a diverting Asian interlude.

    But this neither-here-nor-there generation is increasingly realising that the grass might just be greener in Singapore after all.

    The sea change is the result of some harsh realities: Many Western economies are flatlining, and the future is looking bleak, with good jobs - and even entry-level ones - out of reach.

    For many half-pats in this cold, new world, Singapore suddenly looks like a lifeline, with loads of work opportunities, low taxes and, if your luck is in, a spare room in Mum and Dad's condo unit.

    There are also sentimental and cultural reasons behind the move back for many half-pats, but the economic pull factor is the hardest to resist. Just how many people have made the passage back is uncertain as no figures are available. Tracking those who were previously here on student visas or as permanent residents is near impossible.

    Read the full story in The Sunday Times.

  5. #4578
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    Default People's safety top priority, says Vivian

    The Straits Times

    Jun 6, 2011

    Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan toured flood-hit areas such as Tanglin Mall and spoke at a press conference yesterday. This is an edited transcript of his comments:


    'I think most of us were woken up this morning by the thunder and lightning and we knew we would have a busy day today.'

    Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan, who had spent most of yesterday surveying areas affected by the floods, before hosting a press conference






    Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan at Tanglin Market Place, where part of the ceiling collapsed, during his visit to Tanglin Mall. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM


    'I WANT to make points in five areas: One, has the weather changed? Two, do our planning norms need to be modified? Three, safety. Four, roads, and five, buildings.

    The first question, has the weather changed? This is not an easy question to answer from a scientific point of view. It will require long-term analysis but, as far as the operational aspect goes, we can't wait for the answer to be finalised.

    But as far as I'm concerned, I'm going to work on the presumption that our weather has changed.

    A related question is, what is the likely outcome for the future? With global warming, we can expect higher evaporation and precipitation, especially in the tropics. So we have to assume that, in fact, it may get worse in future.

    I think our planning norms have served us well for at least three decades. And that's why... we have the luxury of largely having been flood-free for the last three decades. That's a remarkable achievement for which the PUB deserves full credit.

    But we're now at a point where we must review all our planning norms, taking into account the very high probability that our weather patterns have changed.
    Last edited by Loh; 06-05-2011 at 09:38 PM.

  6. #4579
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    Default Govt to review drainage after year's worst flood

    Jun 6, 2011

    By Chua Hian Hou


    Related Link
    Five hours of rainfall






    A stretch of Bukit Timah Road unpassable to traffic yesterday. Without the railings, the flood made it impossible to tell where the deep canals were. The road was one of several areas in eastern and central Singapore hit by flash floods yesterday morning after intense rain. -- PHOTO: DAWN TAN

    View more photos



    THE Government is warning of possibly worse floods this week, even as it ponders the need to relook Singapore's drainage systems and building codes after intense rain caused heavy flooding yesterday.

    The five hours of rain led to floods in the eastern and central areas, and inundated several floors of Tanglin Mall in Cuscaden Road.

    Speaking after the year's worst flood so far, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said that all planning norms must be reviewed, 'taking into account the very high probability that our weather patterns have changed'.

    'If we are going to expect sudden and intense precipitation, then it is very likely that our drainage systems must be redesigned to cope with such intense pressures,' he said.

    The Government will also be looking at building codes, possibly requiring building owners to do more to flood-proof their buildings if they are located in a flood-prone area.

    Meanwhile, national water agency PUB is embarking on an 'exhaustive and comprehensive check on all flood-prone areas focusing on human safety', he said.

    chuahh@sph.com.sg
    Read the full story in Monday's edition of The Straits Times.

  7. #4580
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    Default Changi set to see 50m passengers by 2014

    By Vimita Mohandas | Posted: 05 June 2011 2045 hrs


    Passengers at Changi Airport.


    SINGAPORE: Changi Airport Group said passenger traffic at Changi Airport is expected to exceed 50 million by 2014.

    Passenger traffic stands at 42 million as of 2010.

    Changi Airport is ranked the seventh busiest airport for international traffic.


    The others are London Heathrow Airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle, Hong Kong International Airport, Dubai International Airport, Frankfurt Airport and Amsterdam Schipol.

    The group said it is looking at four main thrusts to achieve this target.

    One of it is to continue to enhance the Changi experience for passengers.

    For example, the iChangi application was launched last year to allow users to obtain the latest flight updates on the go.

    It also aimed to leverage on new tourism products such as the Gardens by the Bay and the Singapore International Cruise Terminal.

    Discussions with various airline partners, both foreign and Singapore based carriers, are also underway.

    For example, after trade shows were carried out to promote traffic flow between Singapore and Turkey in both directions, Turkish Airlines has upped their services from five to seven weekly.

    With the significant growth of low-cost carriers (LCC), the group said "it won't come as a surprise" if it would make up about 30-35 per cent of the total market share in the next five years.

    Currently, LCCs account for about 22 per cent of passenger traffic at Changi Airport.

    Changi Airport Group air hub development executive vice-president Yam Kum Weng said: "If you look at the experience in Europe, the LCC growth can be as much as 30 per cent of market share.

    "So we do see the LCCs playing an important part in achieving our target".

    But the group said the target will be re-looked if faced with various challenges such as increasing fuel prices and natural disasters.

    Other challenges include geopolitical shocks and the weak global economic environment.

    The group also said it hopes to strengthen its global network by collaborating with key partners.

    "The pace that we're looking at for growth is stronger than our historical average," Mr Yam said.

    "We will strengthen our connectivity to points in China and India, in particular the secondary cities where there's a lot of potential for growth, and also to long-haul markets like Europe, US and Russia".

    -CNA/wk

  8. #4581
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Smokers don't care about your health: poll

    By Ibrahim Sawifi | Posted: 05 June 2011 1756 hrs



    SINGAPORE: Smokers in Singapore are not concerned about the negative health impact of smoking on others around them, according to the findings from a poll conducted by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day.

    A total of 450 respondents, comprising smokers and non-smokers, were polled.

    Almost all (97.1 per cent) smokers polled were aware of the harmful effect of secondhand smoke to others, but 58.8 per cent said they continued to smoke in front of their families and friends who do not smoke.

    While unconcerned by the impact on secondhand smoke they leave behind, they were self conscious about the odour left behind by smoking.

    More women smokers (79.6 per cent) tend to mask the smell as compared to men. 57.1per cent said they sprayed some perfume after smoking.

    These however, will not eliminate the toxic residue from the smoke, which clings on to the skin, hair and clothes.

    This phenomenon is known as third hand smoke, and it's especially harmful to babies and children, who are more likely to touch the contaminated surfaces and bring them in contact to their mouth.

    Health Promotion Board deputy director (substance abuse) V Prema said: "Smoking is a harmful habit, whether it's to the smoker or to those around him (or her).

    "So you find the effect spread beyond just the smokers themselves.

    "That is why we keep wanting to stress that it's important to not even start to begin with, and (for) those who have started smoking, it's very important that they quit as soon as possible, not only for their own sake, but also for the sake of their family and friends.

    "They actually will find it a lot easier to quit smoking if they get the support of their family and friends to do so as well".

    -CNA/wk

  9. #4582
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    Default Li Ning Singapore Open venue

    Kallang is where the Singapore Indoor Stadium is located. This is where the Li Ning Singapore Open will come alive in about a week on Tuesday, June 14, 2011.

    In about three years' time the SIS will have a giant and attractive neighbour - the Kallang Sports Hub, which replaces the National Stadium currently being demolished to make way for it. The new venue will also have facilities for water sports as it is just overlooking the Kallang River. The new retractable-roof stadium will once again provide the avenue for the famous Kallang Roar when soccer matches are

    Transportation to the venue is now made easy with the operation of the Stadium MRT line and in time to come, Kallang will become the premier sports hub with attendant recreational and entertainment facilities.

    I visited the Ministry of National Development at Maxwell Rd recently to look at the new site and the models of the Sports Hub and its surroundings, connecting to the Singapore River and Marina Bay.

    BTW the red markings are for the F1 Night Race.
    Attached Images Attached Images                            
    Last edited by Loh; 06-06-2011 at 02:42 AM.

  10. #4583
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    Default NTU set for a sports R&D centre

    By Tan Yo-Hinn, TODAY | Posted: 07 June 2011 0644 hrs


    The NTU campus is Jurong West. (TODAY File Photo)

    SINGAPORE: Over the next few months, fans here will be served up a treat.

    Badminton's best will hit town next week for the Li-Ning Singapore Open, the 23rd Canon Lion City Cup following the badminton showpiece will feature some of the world's best young footballers.

    The best teams will lock horns at the Mission Foods World Netball Championship in July and September will see Formula 1's fastest and loudest cars roar around Marina Bay once again.

    Table tennis will take centre-stage in October at the Volkswagen Women's World Cup.

    The Lion City has increasingly become an attractive venue for regional and international sporting events and, soon, it could be home to Asia's largest sports research and development centre.

    MediaCorp has learnt that a new facility, provisionally called the Institute for Sports Research (ISR), will be set up to conduct research and development work in sports.

    It is part of a joint-collaboration between the Economic Development Board (EDB), the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and England's Loughborough University, an internationally renowned centre for sports research.

    Details of the project have yet to be confirmed, but the EDB are expected to fund the project for five years, and the proposed facility will be housed within the NTU's sprawling 200-hectare campus in Jurong West.

    While an official announcement is expected later in the year, several companies, including a number from the sports industry, have already indicated they are keen on being part of the project, whose objectives include developing state-of-the-art innovations and technology, including the design, development and testing of sports equipment like balls and boots, as well as work on areas such as robotics and sensor technology.

    Presently, some of the world's leading sports research facilities include the adidas Innovation Team in Herzogenaurach and Portland, the Gatorade Sports Science Institute in Barrington, and the Sports Turf Research Institute in West Yorkshire.

    Last month, MediaCorp reported that the EDB were negotiating with the Sanchez-Casal tennis academy to set up a facility here as part of the Kallang Sports City project, which could also boast similar research and development capabilities.

    The Kallang Sports City is the first of the three-tiered Sports Facilities Master Plan which was announced in Parliament in March by the-then Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports Teo Ser Luck, who is now Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry.

    Singapore swimming icon Ang Peng Siong believes moving towards research and development in sports is the right step forward.

    "It would benefit Singapore as a whole," said Ang, 49, who competed at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics.

    " ... If we look at the sports industry itself, having R&D is an additional step forward, and if it does attract the big research companies and laboratories specialising in sports, then definitely it'll attract the big names."

    Singapore's move towards becoming a sports research and development hub will also complement the upcoming S$1.33 billion Sports Hub - which will be ready by April 2014 - and the Singapore Sports Institute that will be housed at Kallang.

    "With the establishment of the Singapore Sports Institute, it will all grow nicely together," said Ang. "It's really part of the sporting culture where being able to do research and support will produce findings that will go towards our daily affairs."
    - TODAY

  11. #4584
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default MND looking at solutions to inconveniences of HDB living

    By Mustafa Shafawi | Posted: 06 June 2011 1829 hrs


    HDB flats
    SINGAPORE: National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan is roping in members of the public and market players for solutions to some of the inconveniences of HDB living.

    Some inconveniences cited are: putting out the laundry to dry, which can be dangerous; and rain coming in from under the front doors of HDB flats when there are strong winds.

    In his latest blog entry, Mr Khaw said he has asked Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan to lead the initiative.

    A sum of money will be set aside to fund the promising ideas.

    They will be piloted in some flats and assessed by the users themselves. For example, Residents Committees (RCs) can assemble residents and maids to test out the ideas and evaluate them.

    If the ideas are found to be practical, they can be replicated in other estates.

    Mr Khaw said that where relevant, the ideas can also be included in new housing codes and tender specifications for new building projects.

    He said that to be useful, the ideas "must be buildable and maintainable".

    And if done well, they can bring so much benefit to so many people.

    While the HDB has a research unit - the Building Research Institute - which is tasked to look at problems and come up with innovative solutions, Mr Khaw feels the ministry can also tap on the expertise and creativity of the public.

    He said Mr Lee will be inviting volunteers, inventors, academics and practical people to contribute to this cause.

    Mr Khaw hopes to have some early wins.

    He said anyone with ideas can get in touch with Mr Lee at http://www.facebook.com/leeyishyan.

    - CNA/ir

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    Default A smash for Yao Lei, Shinta's Olympic dream


    by Tan Yo-Hinn
    04:46 AM Jun 06, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Yao Lei and Shinta Sari Mulia have received a major boost ahead of the defence of their doubles title at the Li-Ning Singapore Open badminton championships from June 14-19: The duo can now tap into the Republic's Olympic Pathway Programme (OPP) in their build-up to the 2012 London Olympics.
    They become the first shuttlers to be included in the multimillion-dollar programme, which has a war chest of S$6.3 million to help selected national athletes at the Olympics.

    "They have performed well and met the qualifying mark, and we should give them that "final-stretch" support. I," OPP steering committee chairman Teo Ser Luck told MediaCorp recently.

    World No 11 women's doubles pair Yao Lei, 21, and Shinta, 22, are Singapore's highest-ranked players for the upcoming US$200,000 (S$245,579) Li-Ning Singapore Open at the Indoor Stadium.

    Said Singapore Badminton Association (SBA) chief executive officer Bobby Lee: "We've planned with the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) what competitions they will go for as well as funding for physiotherapy and other sports science (services)."

    The SBA will send them to as many top-tier international meets as possible, including the remaining nine Super Series events to allow them to earn ranking points and qualify for the London Games. "The idea is for them to chalk as much points as possible to be within the top four seeds and avoid facing the top two pairs early in the (Olympic) competition," said Lee.

    Their inclusion means the OPP now funds eight elite athletes: Table tennis players Feng Tianwei, Wang Yuegu, Sun Beibei and Yu Mengyu, shooter and newly-minted Sportswoman of the Year Jasmine Ser and 2008 Beijing Olympics swimming finalist Tao Li.

    Launched in May 2009, the OPP is funded by the Government and Tote Board, and provides additional logistical, technical and financial support to the athletes in their quest for Olympic glory. Added Teo: "The (OPP's) current athlete base is still small and we have to select athletes for the Olympics (in Rio)." Tan Yo-Hinn






    National badminton players Yao Lei (left) and Sari Shinta Mulia (right). Photo by Tan Yo-Hinn
    Last edited by Loh; 06-06-2011 at 09:19 PM.

  13. #4586
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    Default S'pore, Mauritius to deepen ties

    By Lynda Hong | Posted: 05 June 2011 2030 hrs


    President SR Nathan meets Mauritian Prime Minister, Navinchandra Ramgoolam.
    SINGAPORE: Singapore and Mauritius are exploring ways to deepen their long-standing relationship.

    This was discussed when President SR Nathan on Sunday met Mauritian Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam.

    Mr Nathan also met President Anerood Jugnauth.

    Mr Nathan is in the African country for a four-day state visit.

    Earlier Sunday morning, Mr Nathan visited the Sir Seewoosagur Ramgoolam Botanic Gardens, named after the founding father of Mauritius, and laid a wreath in his honour.

    Sir Ramgoolam is the first post-independent prime minister of Mauritius and father of the current prime minister.

    Mr Nathan planted a rare coffee tree, and writing in the guestbook later, said he believed it will flourish, just like bilateral ties.

    Mauritius lies in the Indian Ocean just off Madagascar, and even in colonial times, it was seen as a gateway to Africa.

    It has now caught the eye of Singapore companies looking for new markets, ranging from spices to financial services.

    -CNA/wk

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    Default SIA and Virgin Australia unveil long-term partnership

    By Jonathan Peeris | Posted: 07 June 2011 0807 hrs





    SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia group of airlines have signed a landmark agreement which will enable them to establish a long-term alliance.

    Under the agreement, the two airlines propose to code-share on each other's international and domestic flights and offer reciprocal frequent flyer programme benefits and lounge access.

    They will also co-ordinate schedules between Singapore and Australia and beyond to provide seamless connections and engage in joint sales, marketing and distribution activities.

    The alliance will also connect Singapore Airlines' extensive international network with Virgin Australia's wide range of Australian and Pacific destinations.


    Through the Singapore Airlines network, Virgin Australia customers will have access to some 70 more destinations, while through the Virgin Australia network Singapore Airlines customers will have access to some 30 more destinations.

    Members of Singapore Airlines' KrisFlyer frequent flyer programme will be able to earn and redeem miles on Virgin Australia flights, while Virgin Australia's Velocity members will be able to earn and redeem miles on Singapore Airlines-operated flights.

    The two airlines will lodge an application with the relevant regulatory authorities to enable them to co-operate across a broad range of commercial functions.

    Approval will allow the airlines to build a deep and integrated alliance with seamless service offerings to the travelling public.

    Singapore Airlines CEO Goh Choon Phong said the partnership presents a significant opportunity for Singapore Airlines to drive growth as well as enhance the attractiveness of Australia as a travel destination.

    As part of the announcement, Singapore Airlines and Virgin Australia have agreed that from August 1, SIA customers will be able to interline on Virgin Australia's domestic network, allowing them to travel through to a range of destinations with just one ticket, through-checked baggage, terminal transfers and inclusive of meals.

    Virgin Australia Velocity Gold members and Singapore Airlines KrisFlyer Gold members will have reciprocal access to each airline's airport lounges.

    Subject to approval from the relevant regulatory authorities, customers should be able to experience the full benefits of the alliance from late this year.

    - CNA/cc

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    Default S'pore firms look to Mauritius as springboard into African market

    By Hoe Yeen Nie | Posted: 06 June 2011 2150 hrs


    President SR Nathan (3rd L) observes signing of MOU between Singapore Business Federation and Mauritius Board of Investment. Video
    S'pore firms look to Mauritius as springboard into African market
    PORT LOUIS, Mauritius : The economic slowdown in the US and Europe has led some Singapore companies to look beyond traditional markets towards Africa for new opportunities.

    They are exploring ways to use Mauritius as a springboard into the region.

    Mauritius and Singapore share many similarities - both are small island economies, dependent on international trade and boast a multi-racial population fluent in English.

    Both have also positioned themselves as gateways into their regions.

    On Monday, business leaders from both sides inked agreements to explore activities into third countries.

    Two memoranda of understanding were signed - one between the Singapore Business Federation and the Mauritius Board of Investment, and another between the Singapore Business Federation and the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

    It is just the first step, said President SR Nathan, who was present at the signing ceremony, and who voiced his support for closer economic ties.

    Mr Nathan said: "Governments like ours and the one in Mauritius, we can only facilitate that get-together. But ultimately, the translation of the MOUs into deeds depends on you."

    Mauritius has long relied on tourism, textiles and agriculture for its economic growth, but it is diversifying into services and knowledge-based industries.

    It is also looking beyond its traditional markets in the EU, and into emerging markets in Africa, and is offering Singapore companies the opportunity to come along for the ride.

    It is what Maurice Lam, chairman of Mauritius' Board of Investment, describes as perfect timing.

    Mr Lam said: "Africa has been developing, in particular, they're changing the way they're governing their country - there's more good governance there. And also they have opened up their countries to foreign businesses and foreign direct investment.

    "So it's the right time for Singapore companies to look at Africa and to be there in the beginning of the transformation - that's going to happen to the African economies."

    Mauritius' membership of regional trade bodies means preferential access into Africa, and its favourable tax regime means potential savings.

    It currently has double taxation avoidance treaties with 36 countries, out of which 14 are with African states. It also has a similar treaty with Singapore.

    For Singapore retailer Crocodile, the push to seek new manufacturers in Mauritius is partly due to rising costs in traditional supplier China and high cotton prices.

    Lim Keng Boon, assistant general manager, Crocodile International, said: "If I get my local source, I can manufacture here. I don't have to pay the tax and it'll be better that way - it'll bring down the price further."

    Mauritius' established legal framework and stable government also provide safe harbour for Singapore firms.

    Graeme Robertson, chairman and CEO, Intrasia Capital, said: "Make sure that you rely on the Mauritius system, in terms of arbitration, in terms of getting into agreements, (and) in terms of the security against appropriation of developments that you do in African countries."

    Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, the vice-prime minister of Mauritius and its minister of finance and economic development, said the country has also cut down on the red tape for businesses. For example, a company can be incorporated within an hour, and can become operational, with relevant permits sorted out, within three days.

    However, challenges remain.

    Ray Ferguson, regional CEO, Standard Chartered S'pore & SEA chairman, Standard Chartered, said: "Mauritius is a long way from anywhere, so the air links, the connectivity internationally, could be better.

    "We have a limited number of flights every day, in and out of Mauritius, and that restricts the ability of people to get in and out of here."

    Observers said the lack of high-speed connectivity and a shortage of skilled manpower might also hamper the country's drive to be the business capital of Africa.

    - CNA/al

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    Default S'pore, UK hold defence talks

    By S Ramesh | Posted: 06 June 2011 1611 hrs


    UK Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Defence Ursula Brennan (L) and Permanent Secretary for Defence Chiang Chie Foo (R) (photo: Mindef)
    SINGAPORE: Singapore and the United Kingdom on Monday held their 5th Defence Policy Dialogue at the Ministry of Defence (Mindef).

    Taking part were the British Permanent Under-Secretary of State for Defence Ursula Brennan and Singapore's Permanent Secretary (Defence) Chiang Chie Foo.

    Mindef said the Defence Policy Dialogue serves as a regular forum for the two countries to exchange views on strategic security issues of mutual interest, as well as discuss areas for further defence collaboration.

    The bilateral talks also underscore the good and long-standing defence relations between Singapore and the UK.

    Mindef added the armed forces of both countries interact regularly through a wide range of professional exchanges and exercises, both bilaterally and under the ambit of the Five Power Defence Arrangements.

    -CNA/wk

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    Default S'pore tops air quality survey

    By Julie Quek | Posted: 06 June 2011 1907 hrs


    Singapore skyline
    SINGAPORE: Singapore's air quality has come out tops in Asia, beating business powerhouses like Hong Kong and Shanghai.

    That's according to a research survey from workplace solutions provider Regus, which polled more than 220 business leaders in Hong Kong, and 250 in China.

    Regus said this speaks well for Singapore's plan to attract top international business talent, and maintain a 'liveable city' reputation.

    The report found three out of four companies believe the air quality in a city affects the company's ability to attract and retain international talent.

    When asked to rank a number of Asian cities in terms of the air quality, respondents ranked Singapore as tops.

    Coming in at second spot is Hong Kong followed by Bangkok.

    Meanwhile, Shanghai and Beijing were judged to have the poorest air quality.

    Regus regional vice-president for Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia William Wiillems said: "These results show that Hong Kong and China's business decision makers rank Singapore far above the competition (when) it comes to air quality".

    Mr Wiillems added he can foresee further growth in the short term, as Singapore asserts itself as the cleanest and best place for international businesses in Asia.

    -CNA/wk

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