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  1. #4591
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Take a bow, Singapore

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Size:  9.9 KBThe Straits Times
    Review

    June 7, 2011

    Robert Markow of The Strad

    In 1973, Singapore's then Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister, Dr Goh Keng Swee, declared it a "scandal" that the country had no professional orchestra.

    Just six years later, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) gave its first concert. "There can't have been many national symphony orchestras born in a defence ministry," says Mr Bernard Tan, an SSO board member. When support for classical music comes from the highest levels of government, is it any wonder that Singapore, an island city-stae of nearly five million people, has become a nursery for top musical talent? When I visited in January, I heard three concerts on successive nights that compellingly underscored this observation, with a superior level of string playing commanding the greatest attention.

    On the first night, Singaporean violinist Siow Lee-Chin appeared as soloist with the visiting Oberlin Orchestra from the United States on its Asian tour. Her ravishing performance of Vaughan Williams' The Lark Ascending and viscerally thrilling rendition of Ravel's Tzigane revealed a charismatic artist who infuses meaning into every note and whose playing is full of elegance and finesse. Her story is in many ways a dream come true.

    In 2000, as a talented young soloist, she was invited to play for the late former president of Singapore, Mr Ong Teng Cheong, at the Istana, the presidential palace. While chatting over tea afterwards, she mentioned that if she were to ever realise her ambition of pursuing an international career, she would need a better instrument.

    "The president was astounded to learn what a really good instrument costs," she recalls. "He was totally sympathetic to my case, and the next day I got the incredible news that he had found two donors to help me and I could go shopping."

    Siow eventually found the instrument she wanted, a Guadagnini, in New York. Now valued at a cool US$500,000 (S$615,000), it was bought for her through Singapore's National Arts Council and remains state property.

    The following night I heard the SSO, led by guest-conductor Gennady Rozhdestvensky, give an impressive performance of Tchaikovsky's Manfred Symphony. The power, glow and depth of sound emanating from that orchestra's string section brought back memories of what used to thrill me about the strings of the Philadelphia Orchestra in the Eugene Ormandy years and, for its incredible level of discipline, the Cleveland Orchestra under George Szell.

    And on the third evening I heard an equally committed performance by another of Singapore's many orchestras (10 at last count), the Orchestra of the Music Makers, (the name derives from a poem by Arthur O'Shaughnessy).

    Its musicians have an average age of around 20, they meet intermittently, and for most of them music is a hobby. But it was the kind of concert where you cheer and clap your hands raw.

    Strong government support

    In all three concerts, it was string players who left the most vivid and indelible impression - full, rich, with hardly a ragged edge or slopppy entrance. What, then, accounts for this exceptionally high level of string playing Singapore, a country with no extensive history of classical music? The short answer is a government committed to education and the arts, strong string programmes in schools, a deep vein of competitiveness among its people, a new generation of top-quality teachers, and robust parental support.

  2. #4592
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Take a bow, Singapore (2)

    In the minds of many Westerners who have not been thee, Singapoer means a repressive, quasi-police state where you can be fined just for chewing gum. (Actually, it is not illegal to chew gum, only to import or sell it.) Some still remember the much-publicised case of American teenager Michael Fay who was sentenced to caning for vandalism. Despite pleas from the highest levels of American government, Singaporean law prevailed.

    The Western perception of law in Singapore underscores an undeniable point: When the Government there decides to do something, it gets done. "If Singapore has one thing to teach America," wrote Mr Thomas Friedman recently in the New York Times, "it is about taking governing seriously...Politics here is not treated as sports or entertainment."

    In the early 1980s, Singapaore began rapidly transforming itself into a skills- and knowledge-intensive economy. The Ministry of Education (MOE) designed a curriculum that ensures nearly all Singaporeans leave school with skills to find a job. That includes those looking to a future in music.

    The curriculum incoporates not only core subjects like mathematics and science, but also "co-curricular activities" (mostly sports, clubs and the performing arts), which are offered at the elementary school level and are required at the secondary level. Here is where many children get their first taste of music.

    "It's much easier to teach them when they're young," says cellist Leslie Tan of Singapore's T'ang Quartet. "They're like sponges. They're hungry for knowledge. Their eyes pop. They'll try anything."

    In 1982, MOE also instituted a Music Elective Programme (MEP) in select schools to provide an in-depth, extended programme of musical development for academically qualified, talented students. A simlar programme exists for art.

    To date, more than 5,000 students have graduated from these two programmes. The 10 MEP schools include some of Singapore's finest, including the prestigious Raffles Institution, Raffles Girls' School, Anglo-Chinese School, Dunman High School and Methodist Girls' School. From this richly nurturing environment have come many, probably most, of Singapore's top string players, with the pool growing every year.

    Violin as popular start

    Why strings? Because the violin is the instrument many children in Singapoe begin with (they often learn the piano too), some starting as young as four. By the time they come to choose a co-curricular activity in school, they have already established their priorities in this direction. To fill out the viola, cello and double bass sections in the string ensembles at the MEP schools, some violinists are persuaded to switch, lured by free tuition and the loan of an instrument.

    Competition to play in these school orchestras is keen. Every two years they are judged by an international jury, which hands out coveted awards. Foreign tours sometimes follow. Teamwork, peer pressure, bonding and hard work drive these teenagers to the point where the spirit of music-making sometimes gets lost in the pursuit of winning.

    The best string players at secondary-school level compete for membership in the Singapore National Youth Orchestra (SNYO).

    This ensemble is funded and managed by MOE, to the extent that the Government subsidises private tutors for most students accepted into the orchesgtra. These tutors tend to be of high quality - many come form the SSO and Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music - another component fertilising the soil from which the country's string players arise. Most Singaporeans in the SSO at one time played in the SNYO.

    A culture of competitiveness is deeply embedded in the Singaporean psyche, a quality readily apparent in the determination parents have for their children to succeed.

    Drill, drill, drill is the approach instilled by these parents, be it in maths or music. Parents seek out the best teachers so their children can be in front in the race to win the top prizes.

    Yong Siew Toh Conservatory associate director Chan Tze Law notes: "There has been a huge improvement in the quality of teaching since I was at school. My contemporaries and I had to travel abroad to become professionals. We returned to share what we learnt, so now the younger generation can leapfrog over what my generation went through, saving tremendous amounts of time."
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  3. #4593
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    Default Take a bow, Singapore (3)

    Outstanding Role Models

    The trailblazing role model for string players, and for violinists especially, is Siow Lee-Chin, the first Singaporean to win multiple gold medals internationally (including at the 1994 Szeryng Competition), the first Dinapaorean to study at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia, and the first Singaporean violinist to combine a solo career with a tenured faculty position abroad.

    More recently, another vioinist who has helped put Singapore on the map is Kam Ning, second-prize winner at the 2001 Queen Elisabeth International Music Competition of Belgium. Other young violinists to watch include Grabriel Ng, now studying at the Yehudi Menuhin School in England; Ike See, currently at Curtis; Edward Tan at Yale University; and Loh Jun Hong from Yong Siew Toh Conservatory. All have concertmaster or solo experience under their belts.

    Any overview of the excellence of string playing in Singapore must take into account the contribution of Yong Siew Toh Conservatory. Opened only eight years ago, it quickly became the benchmark for music schools in Asia. The language of instruction is English, which means graduates can pursue careers almost anywhere in the world. Already, students have scooped up a dozen international prizes and awards. Others have secured postions in important orchestras or participated in leading festivals.

    Among the newest members of the SSO, six are Yong Siew Toh graduates, five of them string players. The school is now turning out so many high-level wiolinists that the SSO does not advertise abroad unless suitable candidates cannot be found locally.

    The conservatoire is named in honour of a music teacher in whose name it received an initial gift of $25 million. MOE matched the gift, a further mark of the Government's investment in arts education. In 2008 the conservatoire received a second gift of $25 million from the same family, which was again matched by the ministry.

    Further strong government support of music education came this year with the funding of a new music degree programme at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, developed in collaboration with Britains's Royal College of Music (RCM). The 20 or so students beginning the programme in August will follow the London conservatoire's curriculum and spend seven weeks at the RCM during the final year of the course.

    Singapore has no natural resources. Instead, it invests in its people. "Education is the currency of Singapore," noted Yong Siew Toh Concervatory's founding director, the late Dr Steven Baxter.

    Singapore's former ambassador to Japan, Mr Lim Chin Beng, accurately places the country in the context of First World nations when he observes: "You cannot consider Singapore to be fully developed as a world-class city unless its children want to become musicians, painters, actors and dancers, and unless their parents want this for them."

    As Singapore approaches the half-century mark as an independent nation in 2014, it is safe to say the country has already and admirably reached this goal.


    This feature was printed in this month's issue of The Strad magaazine, voice of the string music world since 1890. To find out more and to subscribe, visit www.thestrad.com.
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    Default Singapore to overtake Las Vegas this year

    The Straits Times

    Jun 8, 2011






    Singapore is set to overtake Las Vegas as the world's second-largest gambling hub this year, a US gaming industry head said on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS


    MACAU - SINGAPORE is set to overtake Las Vegas as the world's second-largest gambling hub this year, a US gaming industry head said on Tuesday, as Asia cements its place as a major betting market.

    Singapore has emerged as Asia's hottest new gambling destination with a revamped cityscape and billions of dollars pouring into the economy, after the opening of two resort casinos in 2010.

    The strong growth came after Macau - the world's biggest gaming hub - leapfrogged Las Vegas in gaming revenue and continues to post record-breaking growth, thanks to burgeoning numbers of wealthy Asians.

    The two resort casinos in Singapore posted US$5.1 billion (S$6.3 billion) in gaming revenues in 2010, a figure forecast to rise to $6.4 billion this year, according to Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association.

    A report citing research by the Royal Bank of Scotland has suggested Las Vegas will take $6.2 billion this year.

    'Now more than a year old, the two integrated resorts in Singapore have exceeded all expectations and turned the nation into Asia's second global gaming superpower,' said Mr Fahrenkopf. 'The country's gaming market will likely overtake Las Vegas as the world's second-largest gaming centre as early as this year,' he told a news conference at the sidelines of the Global Gaming Expo Asia which opened on Tuesday in Macau. -- AFP

  5. #4595
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default WSQ framework for clinical research launched

    By Evelyn Choo | Posted: 06 June 2011 1620 hrs





    SINGAPORE: In an effort to groom more Singaporeans in clinical research, the government is investing S$6 million to develop a Workforce Skills Qualifications framework.

    This is made up of three training programmes to allow professionals to attain a postgraduate clinical research degree - the first of its kind in Singapore.

    As more global pharmaceutical companies set up clinical trial centres here, there will be an increased demand for clinical research assistants (CRAs).

    Anil Das, senior director of industry skills and planning at the Workforce Development Agency (WDA), said: "We have about 400 CRAs, but many of them have actually acquired their skills on the job.

    "We are going to train another 360 in the next three years and with the pool of investments coming in, we expect the pool to grow by about 15 per cent year-on-year."

    The framework consists of three programmes - each costing S$12,000 - in the form of a diploma, specialist diploma and graduate diploma. When completed, CRAs can proceed to complete a dissertation and eventually attain a postgraduate degree.

    The Master of Science in Clinical Research, offered by the Edinburgh Napier University, has all of its competency units endorsed by the Clinical Research Consortium to ensure its relevance to the industry.

    Some 30 clinical research assistants have expressed interest in the training course. With the masters qualification, they can expect to earn about 30 per cent more than their non-trained counterparts.

    Some see this initiative as a significant milestone for the industry. It comes at a time where there are no structured programmes for such professionals in local institutes.

    Minister of State for Manpower and National Development, Brigadier-General (NS) Tan Chuan-Jin, said: "Currently, most top positions in the industry are held by foreigners, given their expertise and experience in the field.

    "With the new WSQ framework in place, we will be able to see more locals assuming such positions."

    To encourage companies to send employees for the courses, WDA will provide 70 per cent funding support, capped at S$8,400 per qualification.

    The Biomedical Sciences industry in Singapore accounted for four per cent of Singapore's GDP last year.

    - CNA/cc/al

  6. #4596
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    Default From athlete to manager

    TODAY


    Thrower Wong to rejoin SAA as head of sports performance


    by Low Lin Fhoong
    04:47 AM Jun 08, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Barely two months after he quit as honorary secretary of the Singapore Athletic Association (SAA) to focus on qualifying for November's SEA Games, national discuss and hammer champion James Wong (picture) is set to rejoin the association as their chief of sports performance.

    The winner of nine SEA Games gold medals will start work next month - a decision that could put his quest for a 10th Games gold on the backburner.

    The 42-year-old kinesiology (science of human movement) graduate from the United States was chosen from a shortlist of three candidates and his appointment has been endorsed by the Singapore Sports Council.

    Wong replaces former high performance chief David Yeo, who left the association in March.

    Confirming the appointment last night, SAA president Tang Weng Fei told MediaCorp he is confident Wong is the right man for the job.

    "We are in the midst of drafting the contract and, hopefully, he can join us in July," said Tang.

    "I observed him while he was chef-de-mission of the Youth Olympic Games contingent last year. He led the team well and was quite good in a leading role. That was one thing that impressed me quite a bit.

    "Hopefully, he will bring us to the next level. Right now, he's got to change his attitude from that of an athlete to that of manager."

    Wong's portfolio as head of sports performance will include three key areas: Overseeing the performance of national athletes, sports science and athlete management. He will also be in charge of the athletic team's performances at major meets this year, such as the 6th SEA Juniors in Jakarta next weekend, the 7th IAAF World Youth Championships (July 6 to 11) in Lille, France, and the Nov 11 to 22 SEA Games.

    Said Wong, currently a lecturer in sports and wellness studies at Nanyang Polytechnic: "I'm happy for the opportunity to serve the association in another capacity. I look forward to working with the management committee again, and, hopefully we can create more opportunities for athletes to perform and shine."

    One of the Republic's most successful athletes at the biennial regional games, Wong clinched his eighth gold in the discus at the 2009 SEA Games in Vientiane, Laos, with a throw of 53.60m. His SEA Games record stands at 59.50m. He also won a SEA Games hammer gold in 1997 in Jakarta (58m).

    The national record-holder in the discus (59.87m) and hammer (58.20m) had quit his honorary secretary's post in April to concentrate on qualifying for the SEA Games. But his best of 48.44m this season is way off the 52.02m qualifying mark.

    Asked if his appointment could jeopardise his dream of winning a 10th SEA Games gold, Wong said: "I have not qualified yet and the qualifying window is narrowing. If I do not qualify, I will concentrate on my work with the SAA."

    Added Tang: "This is one of the reasons why we took so long to come to a decision. James wants to win at the SEA Games but he's got to decide for himself."





    TODAY FILE PHOTO

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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default NDP 2011 gets first female regimental sergeant-major

    Jun 9, 2011



    By Kimberly Spykerman




    Master Warrant Officer Jennifer Tan, 45, is the parade's first female regimental sergeant-major. Her job is to ensure all 29 contingents execute their drills with precision on Aug 9 at Marina Bay. Her 21-year-old twins Jeffrey (R) and Jason Ong (L) are army regulars. They have volunteered to be lance guards, whose role is to protect the president. -- PHOTO: JENNIFER TAN


    FOR the first time, a woman will be responsible for putting the entire National Day Parade through its paces.

    Master Warrant Officer Jennifer Tan, 45, is the parade's first female regimental sergeant-major. Her job is to ensure all 29 contingents execute their drills with precision on Aug 9 at Marina Bay.

    'To level up every single one of them to a certain standard, that is my challenge,' MWO Tan told reporters yesterday morning.

    She added that she was 'honoured and proud' to be assigned the duty, and emphasised that the pressure on her to do well is no different from that faced by her male predecessors.

    And for her, this year's parade will be a family affair: MWO Tan's three sons will also be taking part.

    Her 21-year-old twins Jeffrey and Jason Ong are army regulars. They have volunteered to be lance guards, whose role is to protect the president.

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

  8. #4598
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default NDP 2011 to feature first female Parade Regimental Sergeant Major

    By Joanne Chan | Posted: 08 June 2011 1808 hrs

    MWO Jennifer Tan
    SINGAPORE: In preparation for this year's National Day Parade, military personnel have been toiling under the sun to get their drills right.

    And getting them into shape is the Parade Regimental Sergeant Major, Master Warrant Officer Jennifer Tan, who is also the first woman appointed in the parade's history.

    She will also call out the commands for the 29 contingents to march onto the stage.

    MWO Tan said: "Anyone appointed in this role, regardless of gender, the same pressure, the same pride will take place."

    Asked about the challenges she faced, MWO Tan said that while she is a contingent trainer, being in-charge of 29 contingents and ensuring that all the participants are up to the mark has been a challenge.

    Another challenge - learning the Malay commands - where she sought help from her Malay colleagues to get the pronunciation right.

    In addition to being the first woman to hold this role, this year's parade is also special for MWO Tan as she will be joined by her three sons. Two of her sons will serve as lance guards for President S R Nathan, while her third son will be a crowd motivator.

    Five of the marching contingents will be involved in the "Onward March".

    This year's parade segment will see some 500 personnel from the Singapore Armed Forces and Home Team marching up these stands, which will be filled with spectators. They will be singing a national song while keeping in step.

    Another highlight of the parade segment - the "Majulah Moment".

    Chairman of the Parade & Ceremony, Chia Chien Wei, said: "The uniform groups will receive the flag and raise the flag on the platform. This will be synchronised with the Chinook fly past. And at the end of the "Majulah Moment" will be the fly past of the F-15s, where they execute the salute to the nation."

    The parade segment will also feature other traditional favourites, such as the Feu-de-Joie or rifle salute, and the Presidential 21-Gun Salute.

    -CNA/ac

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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default S'porean in finals of Google Science Fair

    Jun 10, 2011

    IN THE ST NEWSPAPER TODAY
    Student's natural herbicide project up against 14 others in international competition

    By Feng Zengkun




    Shaun's project, started as part of his school curriculum, is a type of herbicide created from plants such as sunflowers and casuarinas. It can be used to replace current herbicides which contain chemicals harmful to people. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM


    A SINGAPOREAN student has made it to the finals of the first Google Science Fair.

    The global competition is for budding young scientists aged 13 to 18. Fifteen finalists will present their projects at Google's headquarters in the United States next month.

  10. #4600
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Jayakumar reflects on career in new book

    The Straits Times

    Jun 10, 2011



    By Amresh Gunasingham




    Recently retired Cabinet minister Professor S.Jayakumar on Thursday launched a new book on his glittering career as a foreign diplomat. -- PHOTO: SPH


    RECENTLY retired Cabinet minister Professor S.Jayakumar on Thursday launched a new book on his glittering career as a foreign diplomat.

    In the 316-page book titled Diplomacy - A Singapore Experience, Prof Jayakumar reflects on several episodes during his 30-year career in politics, with a particular emphasis on his tenure as Minister for Foreign Affairs.

    Some of these episodes, which include relations with Singapore's neighbours, Malaysia and Indonesia, has shaped the country's path since independence.

    Yet, much of it was previously known only to a handful of senior government officials - till now.

    The book was launched on Thursday at a ceremony held at the Ministry of Foreign Affair's Tanglin Road premises. The launch was attended by over 200 guests, including members of the diplomatic corps, former politicians and government officials.

    The book is available at leading bookstores at $34.75 (GST inclusive). It can also be ordered from the Straits Times Press Online Bookstore at: www.stpressbooks.com.sg from Thursday.



    Jayakumar's book launched

    Channel News Asia

    By S Ramesh | Posted: 09 June 2011 1806 hrs


    SINGAPORE: A book written by former senior minister S Jayakumar was launched on Thursday by Singapore Press Holdings chairman Tony Tan.

    Dr Tan said the 316-page book -- "Diplomacy - A Singapore Experience" -- covers a momentous period in Singapore's history, when professor Jayakumar was the country's foreign affairs minister.

    "With insight and sound judgement, prof Jayakumar quickly grasped the key issues and the implications of the available courses of action," Dr Tan said.

    "With his clear-eyed approach to problem-solving, together with his persuasive abilities, prof Jayakumar won over hearts and minds to resolve disputes and build consensus and understanding with other countries."

    For prof Jayakumar, his involvement in the Pedra Branca case was most memorable, as it spanned some 30 years, starting from his university days as a law lecturer.

    "From time to time, you will have hiccups and little problems here and there, you have to manage those problems from time to time, but you have to do it in a way that while you protect your sovereignty and national interest, the entire tenure of the overall relations with the country is never lost sight of," prof Jayakumar said.

    Prof Jayakumar also cautioned those who think Singapore will always be able to punch above its weight, saying this is not a given.

    He said if the Republic has done well, it's because of a combination of factors.

    Prof Jayakumar explained Singapore is viewed as a success story not just in economic terms, but also other spheres, such as meritocracy, multi-racial harmony, and a world acclaimed legal system.

    Secondly, the quality of the people who represent the country on the world stage -- from the past and present prime ministers and ministers -- all are highly regarded and whose views are sought after.

    When prof Jayakumar started penning his thoughts on the Singapore experience on diplomacy, he had not planned to produce a book.

    But he was encouraged by many -- both in the Foreign Affairs Ministry and also outside the Ministry -- to come up with a book, so that there would be a point of reference for young MFA officers and the civil service, on the intricacies of diplomacy and foreign policy.

    -CNA/wk
    Last edited by Loh; 06-09-2011 at 09:01 PM.

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    Default Chinese official visits S'pore

    Channel NewsAsia By Lynda Hong | Posted: 09 June 2011 2116 hrs


    Mr Edmund Ho (L) and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong
    SINGAPORE: The visiting Vice Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Edmund Ho called on Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday morning, at the Istana.

    The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference is a multi-party cooperation and political consultation under the leadership of the Communist Party of China.

    It is made up of political parties, mass organisations, different ethnic groups and representatives from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau as well as of returned overseas Chinese.

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    Default Badminton, football ... and now hockey

    S'pore to host Asian tournament for under-18 boys in what will be a busy few weeks for sports




    by Low Lin Fhoong
    04:47 AM Jun 09, 2011


    SINGAPORE - It looks as if sports fans in the country are set for a bumper few weeks of entertainment. Most of the world's best shuttlers will do battle at the Li-Ning Singapore Open, which will be held at the Indoor Stadium from June 14 to 19, and the Singapore under-15 and under-16s will aim to roar at the 23rd Canon Lion City Cup (June 18 to 26) when they take on the top under-15 sides from Everton, Newcastle, Juventus and Flamengo.

    It's going to get even busier, after the Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF) announced yesterday that the Republic will host the 3rd Boys' under-18 Asia Cup at the Sengkang Sports and Recreation Centre from June 18 to 26.

    Some of the continent's top hockey nations like Pakistan and South Korea will compete in the eight-team tournament will compete for honours in the nine-day tournament.

    Singapore have been drawn in Pool A against defending champions Pakistan, Taiwan, Kazakhstan and Brunei, while South Korea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and China are in Pool B.

    The top two teams from each pool will advance to the semi-finals, with the remaining countries vying for the minor positions.

    National coach Solomon Casoojee will announce his final list of 18 players today, with the majority of the squad expected to come from last year's Youth Olympics team. Australia-based Muhammad Haseef Salim and Nur Ashriq Ferdaus Zul'kepli, who competed at the 2009 FIH under-21 World Cup, are expected to lead the team.

    At the last Asia Cup in Myanmar in 2009, Singapore finished sixth out of nine teams, and Casoojee, who joined the SHF about two months ago, is aiming for a spot in the top four this year.

    Speaking to MediaCorp yesterday, the South African native said: "This is the team's biggest tournament since the Youth Olympics, and it will be a real test for them to see how they've implemented the changes we've asked of them."

    "We are working on refining the defensive structure, set-plays and game play.

    "Pakistan will be tough because they are traditional powerhouses, and Kazakhstan and Taiwan will be difficult games. But we are going to be competitive."

    SHF president Annabel Pennefather believes the tournament is a feather in the cap for Singapore.

    "SHF was approached to be the host as the AHF (Asian Hockey Federation) and FIH (International Hockey Federation) recognise that we now have excellent facilities to host events.

    "The Asia Cup is an excellent follow through as most of the Youth Olympic players will be able to play. We hope to develop a strong pool of senior players from this group in eight years' time."

    Defender Muhammad Zulfadli Jasni is looking forward to a rematch with the Pakistanis, after their 4-1 loss at the group stage at the Youth Olympic Games.

    Said the 18-year-old Nanyang Polytechnic student: "They are one of the top teams in the world and are known for their dribbling. We are watching videos of their matches and have to find a way to stop them. I think we can finish in the top four because we had good results during our Perth tour last month, and confidence is high among the team."

    What: 3rd Boys' U18 Asia Cup

    When: June 18 to 26

    Where: Sengkang Sports and Recreation Centre

    Teams: Pool A: Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, Kazakhstan, Brunei; Pool B: South Korea, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, China

    Ticketing: S$5 (11 to 16 years old), S$10 (adults), S$60 (season pass), free entry for children below 10. Buy online at http://singaporehockey.org/asia18/purchase-your-tickets-online-2





    Centreback Muhammad Zulfadli Jasni (right) can't wait for the tournament to begin. PHOTO COURTESY OF SINGAPORE HOCKEY FEDERATION
    Last edited by Loh; 06-09-2011 at 09:16 PM.

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    Not a perfect 10 yet


    But fighting Tao Li will be 'psyched' up for the big ones


    by Tan Yo-Hinn
    04:46 AM Jun 10, 2011

    SINGAPORE - The Fina World Championship (July 16-31) is six weeks away but Singapore swimming star Tao Li (picture) would only rate her current form as seven out of 10.

    The 21-year-old is seen as having an outside chance of a medal in Shanghai, following stellar performances at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 2010 Guangzhou Asian Games.

    But speaking to MediaCorp at the Singapore Sports School earlier this week, Tao Li said her assessment was done with the 2012 London Olympics in mind.

    "To be 10 out of 10 means there is no room for improvement," said the swimmer, who will compete in the 50m and 100m butterfly in Shanghai.

    "I give myself a seven because I still have plenty to work on, like my turns, kicks and general fitness. This World Championship is a stepping stone to the Olympics … I must be 10 out of 10 (by the London Olympics). I always demand a lot of myself."

    Added coach Barry Prime: "You might ask why isn't it 10 out of 10 now? But we have to realise we always want room for improvement."

    Despite her modest rating, Tao Li insists she will be ready for next month's World Championship, where her main target is to improve on her 50m and 100m fly world rankings - she was eighth and 14th respectively last year.

    But she needs nothing less than a repeat of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where she finished fifth in the 100m fly, and at last November's Asian Games in Guangzhou, where she defended her 50m fly crown.

    The Netherlands' Inge Dekker and Australia's Alicia Coutts are raging favourites in the 50m and 100m fly respectively.

    Current world No 1s in their respective events, Dekker clocked 25.57sec at the Elite French Championship in March, while Coutts turned in 57.25sec at April's Telstra Australian Open.

    Tao Li's personal bests for the two events are 26.10sec, registered in Guangzhou, and 57.54sec at the Beijing Olympics.

    An ankle injury and poor health following the Asiad meant she only resumed full training in March. But, a three-week high altitude stint in Kunming last month have raised the level of optimism.

    "It's coming back: My kicks are good. I can also hold my breath a lot better, and breathe one-in-two strokes for the whole 100m," she said.

    Tao Li, who will compete at the June 21-26 Singapore National Swimming Championship, added: "Seeing other (top) swimmers doing around 57.20sec means I need to improve by about 0.3sec to get there."

    Prime warned that Shanghai could be a "reality check", and Tao Li, who thrives on the big occasions, must push herself in training.

    "She probably doesn't find the day-to-day stuff exciting, but so do many senior elite athletes," said the Briton.

    "But she's done the day-to-day groundwork, it's now up to her to get herself psyched up to perform, and that's a quality she has."

    Next week will be a year since Prime became Tao Li's coach, and she said: "Barry says I always push him to the edge."

    Sneaking a quick peek at her coach's expression, she added: "But he's very concerned about me. He likes to talk a lot like a "nanny", but he wants me to do well at the World Championship and Olympics."





    Singapore swimming star Tao Li says she will be ready for next month's Fina World Championship in Shanghai. Photo by TAN YO-HINN
    Last edited by Loh; 06-09-2011 at 09:25 PM.

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    Jun 10, 2011

    Presidential election: Jayakumar's reality check for candidates

    By Elgin Toh & Andrea Ong


    'I'M NOT A CANDIDATE'

    'No, I am not a candidate. I don't intend to run for the elected presidency. So that will put an end to that speculation.'

    Professor S. Jayakumar, when asked during an interview with Insight if he will join the presidential race



    What he said about president's role

    'AS MINISTER for Law in the 1980s (and 1990s), I was very much involved in the drafting of the two White Papers and the constitutional amendments which brought about the elected president. In fact, I'm thinking of writing one of my next books about the making of the elected presidency.

    So with that background, having been so closely involved, I must say I'm a bit surprised and disappointed over some of the statements and claims made by some of the would-be candidates about what they intend to do if they get elected.

    Some of their statements seem to imply that the president is a centre of power unto himself, distinct from the government of the day, and implies that he has certain executive powers. That is not the case.

    The president does have some discretionary, custodial powers in a few areas, mainly the protection of reserves, on key appointments, and he also has some custodial powers in ISA detentions, CPIB investigations and the restraining orders under the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act.

    But even in those few areas, the president has no power to initiate decisions or policy. He only has blocking powers.

    Other than those specified areas, in all other areas, the president, under the Constitution, must act on the advice of the Cabinet. That is the clear legal position.
    I think it is good if all Singaporeans, especially candidates, are very clear about what exactly the role of the president is, what he can do, what he cannot do. I say that because I do worry that otherwise, there may be wrong expectations about the role of the president, and we should avoid that.'







    Professor S. Jayakumar (above) signing Sembawang GRC MP Ellen Lee's copy of his book at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday. Prof Jayakumar recounts the development of Singapore's foreign policy in Diplomacy - A Singapore Experience. The guest of honour at the book launch was Dr Tony Tan, chairman of Singapore Press Holdings. -- ST PHOTO: LIM WUI LIANG



    FORMER senior minister S. Jayakumar delivered a reality check to prospective presidential candidates yesterday, suggesting that some of them had inflated views of what the president could do.

    Reiterating the legal limits to presidential powers, he said it would be good for all Singaporeans - especially candidates - to understand the president's role, so that nobody held wrong expectations.

    'I am a bit surprised and disappointed over some of the statements and claims made by some of the would-be candidates about what they intend to do if they get elected,' he said.

    These statements, he noted, implied that they thought the president was 'a centre of power unto himself, distinct from the government of the day', and had 'certain executive powers'.

    As former law minister, Professor Jayakumar said, he had been intimately involved in the drafting of the two White Papers (in 1988 and 1990) mooting the elected presidency and the constitutional amendments that created the new institution in 1991.

    He pointed out that the president had only 'discretionary, custodial power' in five areas:


    The protection of reserves.

    Key public sector appointments.

    Internal Security Act (ISA) detentions.

    Investigations by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB).

    Restraining orders under the Maintenance of Religious Harmony Act.

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

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    Default DPM Tharman now heads National Productivity CEC

    Posted: 10 June 2011 0032 hrs


    Tharman Shanmugaratnam (file picture)
    SINGAPORE : Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam is now the new chairman of the National Productivity and Continuing Education Council (NPCEC) - taking over the post from Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

    The change, which took effect Thursday, is in line with recent changes to the Cabinet line-up.

    Mr Tharman said in a statement: "We will keep up the momentum created by the NPCEC in its first year. Where necessary, we will simplify processes to improve the accessibility and outreach of our schemes.

    "We will also look into effective ways of engaging the public to foster a culture of continuous improvements as a way to benefit both workers and companies.


    "The NPCEC will work closely with businesses and workers to raise productivity on a sustainable basis, so that all Singaporeans can share in the nation's progress."

    Mr Teo said: "It has been a fruitful start for the council in its first year. Plans for key sectors have been drawn up - which are meaningful to the industry players and workforce in these sectors.

    "The strong economic recovery last year brought with it a cyclical upturn in labour productivity of 10.7 per cent.

    "While we have seen some encouraging stories of productivity successes, what is more important is to stay focused on long-term, sustainable productivity growth - through product, system and process innovation, and skills upgrading.

    "We also need to integrate our framework for pre-employment and continuing education."

    Besides Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang and Minister of State for Trade and Industry and National Development Lee Yi Shyan who remain in the council, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Tan Chuan-Jin, and Minister of State for Finance and Transport Josephine Teo will join the council as new government representatives.

    Mr Teo said of the 12 sectors identified for productivity growth, eight are ready to undergo the implementation phase, while the council is working on the other four sectors.

    He said: "I'm quite confident that Mr Tharman will be able to move forward the agenda, together with the NPCEC members. Productivity is a long-term goal. It's not something that can be finished in one year or two years.

    "It's something which we have to keep on doing, so I likened it to brisk walking, pick up the habit, keep going all the time, do it every day, several times a week and then you build up your capabilities."

    Mr Teo was speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the Singapore Hotel Association's 50th Anniversary dinner, where he also launched a commemorative book "The Heritage of Hospitality - A History of the Singapore Hotel Industry", which looks at the hotel industry from the days of Sir Stamford Raffles.

    The event saw some 680 guests from the hotel and tourism sectors.

    In his speech, Mr Teo said the sector is doing well - with tourism receipts for the first quarter of this year estimated to reach nearly S$5 billion - a 36 percent growth from a year ago.

    - CNA/al

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    Default Artificial cornea transplant brings new hope to patients

    By Wayne Chan | Posted: 10 June 2011 2119 hrs



    SINGAPORE : There is now new hope for patients who suffer from an infected cornea.

    Doctors in Singapore have performed a landmark operation to reconstruct and replace parts of a patient's eye with an artificial cornea.

    A 39-year-old patient, who wants to be known only as Ms Lin from Taiwan, became blind four years ago after developing what's known as the 'Stevens Johnson Syndrome' due to severe allergic reactions to medication.

    But she can now see again, just three days after undergoing an operation at The Eye & Cornea Transplant Centre in Singapore in January.

    Ms Lin said: "After I regained my sight, I found that people I knew now look different, because my memory 'stopped' four years ago. I now have to be careful not to get my eye infected and I have to avoid the heat so as not to affect my reconstructed eye."

    Doctors said before her surgery, Ms Lin's infected eye was disintegrating. So they had to reconstruct the surface of her eye and replace the diseased cornea with an artificial one.

    Dr Leonard Ang, medical director of The Eye & Cornea Transplant Centre, said: "The artificial cornea is made of a very bio-compatible material which sandwiches normal cornea tissue. And when we stitch it in place, there is a clear window in the centre.

    "And patients look through the clear window. So sometimes the surrounding area may become hazy, but the patient is still able to see well, so there is no issue of graft rejection.

    "A normal cornea transplant in these patients usually is associated with very poor results and almost all of these cornea grafts will eventually be rejected by the body and fail within two years."

    According to the doctors, 80 per cent of patients who have received the artificial cornea say they can see better.

    The four-hour procedure costs between S$20,000 and S$30,000.

    The complex operation can only be carried out by fewer than 20 doctors in the world.

    - CNA/al

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    Preservation of Monuments Board launches tours on local monuments
    By Sharon See | Posted: 11 June 2011 1952 hrs
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    Photos 1*of 1

    Central Fire Station
    * *
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    *Video


    Preservation of Monuments Board launches tours on local monuments


    SINGAPORE: Did you know the watch tower of the Central Fire Station was once the tallest monument in Singapore when the station was completed in 1909?

    At 110 feet, it was also the ideal height for fire-fighters to dry their fire hoses.

    And just a stone's throw away is the MICA Building, which was formerly the Hill Street Police Station. It used to house 1,000 people, including policemen and their families.

    These are some nuggets of history that volunteer guides like 32-year-old Jill Wong uses to weave together a rich narrative about Singapore's national monuments.

    Most of these monuments are found in the civic district - one of the oldest parts of Singapore.

    Organised by the Preservation of Monuments Board, the tours are meant to give participants a flavour of the past lives these buildings led, decades before their current form.

    For Jill, Singapore's short history is just as colourful and fascinating as those of older cities like London and New York.

    She said: "I am kinda hoping that through these tours, whether it's through PMB tours or museum tours, that people get that sense that this place, even though Singapore is not very old at all, is fascinating and there are cool stories if you just try and look for them."

    This year, the board is going all out, with four times as many volunteer guides and tours compared to last year. Last year, there were only four guides and five tours, compared to 16 adult guides and 20 tours this year.

    PMB said these tours attract a mix of participants from students to retirees, and tourists. People can learn more about Singapore's history through the 20 new Monumental Walking Tours held two days a week, from June till July 2011.

    -CNA/ac

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