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  1. #5067
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default PhD student here went from exam flop to cream of the crop

    27-year-old student among small number of polytechnic grads who go on to take PhD

    Published on Sep 12, 2011

    Mr Rashid failed his exams all through primary school, and it was only as his N levels neared that he started studying hard. He later won a place in Nanyang Polytechnic's biotechnology course, and is now researching immunology as a PhD student at NTU. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN

    By Amelia Tan

    Student Abdul Rashid Mohammad Muzaki knows all about failure.

    All through primary school, he flunked his exams. Known for being playful, he would neglect his homework or not pay attention in class.

    However, as his N-level exams loomed, it finally dawned on him that he would have no future if he did not get his act together.

    Now, the 27-year-old has turned failure into success after joining the small number of polytechnic graduates who reach what is widely considered to be the pinnacle of higher education - a PhD programme. Universities say it is rare for Normal stream students to pull off this feat.
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  2. #5068
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    Default Is MacRitchie Reservoir Park too popular for its own good?

    Some users say crowds shatter the peace and block running trails

    Published on Sep 12, 2011



    Park users enjoying the sights at MacRitchie (above). Some visitors are put off by monkeys, which pester them for food and seize items such as drink cans. -- ST PHOTOS: KEVIN LIM

    By Feng Zengkun

    With its still waters and lush forests, MacRitchie Reservoir Park is a magnet for nature lovers keen to relax and soak up the great outdoors.

    For some, however, the reserve has become a little too popular for its own good. They say the peace has been shattered by hikers and runners cramming the footpaths and boardwalks. One long-time visitor even compared MacRitchie to an amusement park.

    And its popularity is likely to rise further after construction work to improve its facilities is completed next month. 'As it is, I already have to run around couples who hold hands while hiking and block half the path,' said Mr Patrick Poon, 35, an IT analyst who jogs at the park three times a week.

    Engineer Lloyd Tan, 29, said the number of hikers and casual strollers has surged. He added that a steady stream of new nature attractions islandwide has boosted enthusiasm for outdoor pursuits. Among them are the HSBC TreeTop Walk, launched at MacRitchie in 2004, and HortPark, at the Southern Ridges in 2007.
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  3. #5069
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore's Green Mark building scheme gets UN attention

    Published on Sep 12, 2011


    Across the island, 840 have been awarded the Green Mark - which certifies them as environmentally friendly. The programme has come a long way since it was launched in 2005. That year, only 17 buildings were given this stamp of approval. -- PHOTO: SPH


    You might not have noticed, but Singapore's buildings have been getting greener.

    Across the island, 840 have been awarded the Green Mark - which certifies them as environmentally friendly. The programme has come a long way since it was launched in 2005. That year, only 17 buildings were given this stamp of approval.

    But since then, more offices and homes - both existing and new - have been brought up to standard, adopting measures such as energy efficient air-conditioning and meeting targets on recycling.

    The United Nations was so impressed by the Green Mark scheme, it wants to work with the Building and Construction Authority, which runs it. This tie-up could involve research and training programmes to promote environmentally friendly buildings, and an agreement is due to be signed on Wednesday.
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  4. #5070
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    Default National Parks team tags 500 birds yearly to track population

    It uses rings to track migration, population

    Published on Sep 12, 2011

    The programme runs every September to March and the green and white rings mean a bird was tagged here. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

    By Feng Zengkun

    The bird was panicking, so Mr David Li covered its eyes and stroked it gently.

    After a while, the bird stopped moving and allowed him to fasten two small rings to one of its feet. The rings, green on top and white below, meant the bird had been tagged in Singapore.

    Mr Li, a conservation officer with the National Parks Board (NParks), is one of only 10 active 'bird ringers' here.

    Every September to March, NParks sends the team to track the migration of birds here. The team tags the birds with the rings to find out how the populations of various species change over the years, and whether environmental changes may affect their flight patterns.
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  5. #5071
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    Default

    Plans to make every household CPR-ready get new boost

    By Ng Jing Yng, TODAY | Posted: 12 September 2011 0705 hrs


    Photo by NG JING YNG (TODAY)


    SINGAPORE: Having at least one CPR-ready responder in every household by the next decade will be an ambitious task but community partners are chipping in to achieve this goal.

    According to the August issue of the Singapore Medical Journal, the National Resuscitation Council (NRC) plans to equip the 1 million households here with one trained cardiopulmonary resuscitation giver each by 2020.

    This group will act as first responders before professional help arrives, improving out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rate which currently stands at only 2 to 3 per cent out of an annual 1,400 cardiac arrest cases.

    The journal said that 67 per cent of these cardiac arrests occur in residential areas but only 20 per cent of bystanders are able to respond with CPR.

    To achieve this 2020 "bold target", as council chairman V. Anantharaman puts it, he cited the need to tap into schools, the community and the military forces.

    Prof Anantharaman, a senior consultant in emergency medicine at Singapore General Hospital, told TODAY: "We should make use of our strengths such as having all these available channels and having a well-educated population to improve the first response rate towards emergencies."

    The Singapore Management University (SMU) is the first and only university here to have an accredited training centre to conduct CPR and basic lifesaving courses.

    After gaining the accreditation in June, there are now 44 SMU staff and students who are qualified to administer CPR. Two of its staff are also certified CPR instructors with another two undergoing instructors training.

    In addition, it will soon be mandatory for all student leaders and freshmen camp facilitators to be CPR-qualified, said SMU Office of Student Life director Bernadette Toh.

    On the ground, the People's Association (PA) trains an average of 1,300 volunteers in CPR and basic first aid skills annually.


    It also plans to teach more volunteers how to use automated external defibrillators - a portable electronic device used during cardiac arrests to stabilise the patient's condition. It has set a goal of getting one in three households trained by 2015, said the PA spokesperson.

    Prof Anantharaman has suggested establishing training centres in all constituencies to train at least 87,000 people annually.

    However, the most crucial component lies in schools, Prof Anantharaman told TODAY, citing the importance of inculcating a life-saving culture from a young age.

    He also suggested that the National Institute of Education train all teachers to be CPR instructors so they can impart their expertise to school children.

    While the Singapore Armed Forces has embarked on training all their recruits in CPR and using automated external defibrillators since last year, Prof Anantharaman also recommended a refresher training and two-yearly certification to be included into the reservist programme.

    Mindef Public Affairs director Desmond Tan said that such refresher training and certification are extended to NSmen from selected vocations during In Camp Training and SAF will continue to "review ways to enhance the life-saving skills of our servicemen". - TODAY
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  6. #5072
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    Default Croatian couple defends world title at S'pore World DanceSport Championship

    By Evelyn Choo | Posted: 11 September 2011 1727 hrs


    A record 92 couples from 51 nations competed at the Singapore 2011 World DanceSport Championship

    SINGAPORE: They danced with all their might but only one winner could emerge at the Singapore 2011 World DanceSport Championship.

    The event, which came to an exciting end on Saturday night, saw Croatian couple Zoran Plohl and Tatsiana Lahvinovich defended their title successfully.

    But it wasn't a stroll in the park, as they pitted their skills against crowd favourites Andrey Zaytsev and Anna Kuzminskaya from Russia, who came in second.

    Italian duo Aniello Langella and Krystyna Mososhenka took the bronze medal.

    The event, which was held in Asia for the first time, saw a record 92 couples from 51 nations competing - the highest ever participation numbers since its inception.

    - CNA/fa

    (The competition was held at the Suntec City and I happened to be around to snap some pictures of the atmosphere outside the dance hall.)
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  7. #5073
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    Default S'pore to help cable wakeboard get into 2020 Olympics

    By Patwant Singh | Posted: 10 September 2011 2242 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Cable wakeboard is one of the sports being considered by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the 2020 Olympics.

    A task force has been set up by the International Waterski and Wakeboard Federation, (IWWF), to drive the programme, and Singapore has shown a keen interest to contribute to this effort.

    Singapore Waterski & Wakeboard Federation's general manager, Paul Fong, said: "We might be asked to put on an event here for IOC members to check it out. We are organising the Mettle Games at the end of the year and that could be an event to show them that it is exciting, can be run well, spontaneous, attracts a good crowd and the athletes are fun to watch."

    The Mettle Games, which started in 2010, showcase a host of extreme sports including cable wakeboarding and it is set to return this December.

    Cable wakeboarding, which can train more people at any one go compared to the boat version, also has other advantages.

    Gerald Foo, who is a cable wakeboarder, said: "I tend to learn faster on cable. The tension is slightly more consistent compared to boat. It's not as strong and the crashes hurt less so I tend to learn a lot more on cable than boat."

    And already some youngsters who follow the sport are hoping they can represent Singapore at the Olympics.

    Another cable wakeboarder, Caley Yew, said: "With eight years to go, there is actually a lot of time for us to train and build up our trick list. So this eight years if we actually focus, we won't be in any disadvantage."

    Currently, Singapore's only cable ski park is located in East Coast Park but more cable wakeboard facilities could be built if the sport becomes an Olympic mainstay.

    Mr Fong said more international athletes could also head here to train, especially during the winter months.

    - CNA/fa
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  8. #5074
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    Default Singapore's Daphne Tan strikes another silver


    by Low Lin Fhoong
    04:46 AM Sep 12, 2011

    SINGAPORE - All hopes of a gold medal for Team Singapore at the 2011 Women's World Bowling Championships rested on Daphne Tan (picture) on the final day of competition in Hong Kong yesterday.

    In the end, the 20-year-old had to settle for a silver after a 3-1 loss to United States' Shannon Pluhowsky in the Masters final.

    Daphne overcame South Korea's Kim Moon-Jeong (3-1) to reach the last eight and duly defeated American bowler Kelly Kulick by the same scoreline to make the top four.

    Despite starting poorly with a 199 and losing the first game of the semi-final to Denmark's Mai Ginge Jensen, the gutsy Singaporean fought back with scores of 278, 220 and 232 against 214, 206 and 210, respectively, and advanced to a final showdown with Pluhowsky.

    The American proved too strong for Daphne, one half of Singapore's doubles gold medallists at the 2011 Asian Championship. The scores were split at 1-1 early on, but Pluhowsky's class told in the end when she claimed the next two games for the title.

    Speaking to Today in a phone interview, Daphne said: "I think I did pretty well, kept up with her and did all I could. But my opponent was just too good today after that perfect first game. Of course when you go all the way to the final, you want to win gold instead of silver and it's disappointing.

    "But the team did well, and it's one of the best performances at the world championships."

    The Singapore women finished the 10-day tournament with three silvers (doubles, team, masters) and a bronze in the women's singles.


    PHOTO COURTESY TERENCE YAW


    Last edited by Loh; 09-12-2011 at 04:03 AM.

  9. #5075
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    Default US ambassador calls for S'pore-US ties to be "institutionalised"

    By Saifulbahri Ismail | Posted: 12 September 2011 2129 hrs


    SINGAPORE: US Ambassador to Singapore David Adelman said Singapore and America should work towards institutionalising the "excellent relationship" between both sides.

    This includes more efforts to regularise political and strategic dialogue.

    Mr Adelman said he intends to put in place such formal dialogues next year.

    Speaking at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, on his one year in office, Mr Adelman believes the US and Singapore can do better on law enforcement cooperation.

    Mr Adelman pointed out there's a gap between what the US sees as an opportunity to disrupt the transport of illicit goods and Singapore's culture of convenience at the port facilities. He stressed there's a need to close the gap, preferably with increased two-way information sharing.

    He pointed to the extradition treaty between both countries, which he said needs to be updated.

    Turning to Singapore's recent general and presidential elections, Mr Adelman said he was impressed with how they were conducted.

    He described the elections as free and fair, with a viable opposition.

    Mr Adelman also believes the US-Singapore friendship is at an all time high.

    He said the excellent state of the bilateral relationship is the result of years of commitment from Singaporeans and Americans. The relationship has been built incrementally, and now is both "broad and deep and as a result enduring". He said it's a good example of America's commitment to Asia.

    On the recent Wikileaks cable reports, Mr Adelman stressed that communications with the US government is secured, and the issue has not affected bilateral ties.

    Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Information, Communications and the Arts Minister Yaacob Ibrahim had both come out to clear the air over comments recorded in some 700 leaked United States' diplomatic cables.

    He added the friendship between Singapore and the US is based on the three pillars of security cooperation, commercial ties, and people-to-people programmes.

    "We have all heard the somewhat tired boxing metaphor of Singapore as the country that punches above its weight. I think Singapore and the US-Singapore relationship, as close as it is, it's time that maybe we can move up a weight class," said Mr Adelman.

    "By this I mean Singapore is in a strong position to leverage its obvious influence in this region and around the world to take on a leadership role in efforts jointly with the United States."-

    CNA/cc

    David Adelman, US Ambassador to Singapore
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  10. #5076
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    Default S'pore scientists develop building blocks for cartilage repair

    Posted: 12 September 2011 1652 hrs

    SINGAPORE: Scientists at the Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) in Singapore have developed new ultra-small peptides that can be used as building blocks for a wide range of regenerative applications such as spinal disc replacement and cartilage repair.

    These peptides spontaneously assemble in water to form hydrogels, which resemble collagen, a major component of connective tissues found in cartilage, ligaments, tendons, bone and skin.

    IBN said its latest discovery offers promise for orthopedic patients, such as those suffering from degenerative disc diseases.

    It said degenerative disc disease is currently the predominant cause of disability among the adult population, affecting 85 per cent of the population by the age of 50.

    There is a strong market demand for orthopedics and in particular for spinal replacement.

    The worldwide spine market has been growing at a compound annual growth rate of about 8-10 per cent over the last seven years.

    IBN team leader and principal research scientist Dr Charlotte Hauser, said: "Our biocompatible peptide hydrogels could be injected into the body to stimulate disc regeneration or used for artificial disc replacement. This peptide-based approach could offer an alternative to spinal surgery by delaying or even abolishing the need for invasive surgery."

    - CNA/cc
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  11. #5077
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    Default Now they set their sights on SEA Games

    After women's success at the world championships, bowling fraternity hope for a clutch of golds in Indonesia


    by Tan Yo-Hinn
    04:46 AM Sep 13, 2011

    SINGAPORE - The Republic's keglers returned last night from the Women's World Tenpin Bowling Championships in Hong Kong with three silver medals and a bronze in their treasure chest.

    It was the best performance by a Singapore bowling team in the history of the event
    .

    The 2011 SEA Games is the next big outing for Singapore's bowlers and much will be expected of the men and women when competition gets under way in Jakarta and Palembang from Nov 11 to 22.

    The last time bowling featured at the biennial SEA Games was in 2007 in Korat when the team won three golds.

    Talk to those in the fraternity and the feeling is the bowlers could better the haul in Indonesia. Co-national head coach William Woo, though, was unwilling to reveal an exact target.

    Woo, who returned with the team last night, told Today: "Of course we will be looking to medal at the SEA Games.

    "Coming back from the world championships with three silvers and one bronze, the confidence level is very high.

    "However, the SEA Games is a new event, so we have to get the bowlers back on track again. What happened in the past is in the past."

    The SEA Games bowling competition will be held at Jakarta's Jaya Ancol Bowling Centre.

    The Singapore Bowling Federation (SBF) will have to trim a 30-strong squad (15 men and 15 women) down to 12 (six men and six women) by next week for the Games.

    The stars from Hong Kong - Jazreel Tan, Shayna Ng, New Hui Fen, Geraldine Ng and sisters Cherie and Daphne Tan - will surely be favourites to make the cut in the women's team.

    Said Woo: "The chance of this group being picked for the SEA Games is very high but we'll have to wait and see."

    The women were welcomed home at Changi Airport by some 50 well-wishers, team-mates, coaches and officials from the SBF and Singapore Sports School.

    Jazreel, who turned 22 yesterday, was also presented with a birthday cake.

    Apart from a silver in the team event, Jazreel and New finished second in the doubles, while Daphne won a silver in the masters. Shayna claimed a bronze in the singles.

    "That shows our depth at the Worlds and our readiness, and the whole bowling fraternity was talking about Singapore's showing in Hong Kong," said Woo.

    "The United States (the top team in Hong Kong) were afraid of us and their first bowler tried to 'intimidate' us. It showed they recognise Singapore as a powerhouse.

    "It's the little things, like the ability to focus throughout, that the Americans were able to do better. We are getting there. We should be on par in another two years," added the coach.

    Said birthday girl Jazreel: "It's also down to experience and who finds the line first ... If we can keep this team together for the next few years, I'd like to believe there's so much more we can achieve."



    (From left) Bowlers Shayna Ng, Geraldine Ng, Cherie Tan, New Hui Fen, Daphne Tan and Jazreel Tan arriving at Changi Airport from Hong Kong after taking part in the Women's World Championships. Photo by OOI BOON KEONG
    Copyright MediaCorp Press Ltd

    Last edited by Loh; 09-12-2011 at 09:11 PM.

  12. #5078
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    Default An easier way to breathe

    By Sharon See | Posted: 13 September 2011 1250 hrs



    A 3M staff wears a N95 mask while holding a N100 (AFP PHOTO/Ahmad YUSNI)


    SINGAPORE: Lecturers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic have designed a mobile air purifying system that can be fitted to an N95 mask to improve air circulation.

    The new MASK-AID developed by the four lecturers features a nozzle and a silicon tube that supplies fresh air from a portable air filtering system to the wearer.

    The N95 mask is said to be 95 per cent effective in filtering out particles of 0.3 microns, making it helpful in preventing the spread of airborne germs.

    But the mask, which was popularly used during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARs) crisis, can be uncomfortable and stuffy to wear over long periods especially for healthcare workers who may need to use them throughout an eight-hour shift.

    - CNA/fa
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  13. #5079
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    Default S'pore, Australian armies conduct bilateral armour exercise

    By Ambiga Raju | Posted: 13 September 2011 1516 hrs


    SINGAPORE: The Singapore and Australian armies have been conducting a bilateral armour exercises in Darwin since August 28.

    Singapore's Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said Exercise Matilda at Mount Bundey Training Area in Darwin is scheduled to end on Friday, September 16.

    The exercise involves 100 personnel from the 48th Battalion, Singapore Armoured Regiment (48 SAR) and the Australian Defence Force (ADF) from the 1st Armoured Regiment.

    During the exercise, both sides conducted a series of tactical missions together and exchanged information on operations and tactics.

    The exercise culminated on Tuesday in training that involved the Main Battle Tanks of both armies.

    Lieutenant Colonel Lim Kah Keng, Commanding Officer of 48 SAR, said: "Exercise Matilda 2011 is important because it provides an opportunity for the SAF armour to operate alongside the ADF in vast manoeuvre space and challenging live firing conditions to hone gunnery competencies. The exercise also allows soldiers from both armies to interact and learn from each other."

    Mindef said the exercise is "testament to the close and long-standing defence relations between Singapore and Australia".

    Both armies interact extensively through multilateral training exercises, visits, professional exchanges, and military courses, and work together in close partnership in the multinational reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan.

    - CNA /ls


    Singapore (right) and Australian Main Battle Tanks involved in manoeuvre training. (Photo: Mindef)
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  14. #5080
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    Default

    Singapore offers helping hand to Indonesia to stop fires

    Published on Sep 14, 2011


    Singapore has offered its help to Indonesia to stop the fires causing the haze here, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said. -- PHOTO: AP

    By Feng Zengkun

    Singapore has offered its help to Indonesia to stop the fires causing the haze here, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said on Tuesday.

    The ministry has also conveyed its concerns about the fires to its Indonesian counterpart at an ongoing Asean meeting, he said.

    'Several weeks ago we knew were going into the dry season... so I wrote to the Indonesian environment minister to offer our assistance,' he said.

    This includes having a team on standby to help Indonesia put out fires and to help with cloud seeding, an artificial way of inducing rain.

    'So far they have not called on it... but at this point in time they seem to be taking whatever action they can on the ground,' Dr Balakrishnan said.

    The Pollution Standards Index (PSI) hit a daily average of 57 on Tuesday, down from the previous day's 62 reading, but Dr Balakrishnan said the haze could worsen if wind conditions changed.



    S'pore ready to assist Indonesia tackle forest fires: Dr Balakrishnan

    04:46 AM Sep 14, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Environment and Water Resrouces Minister Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said the Republic is ready to assist Indonesia to cope with the forest fires and tackle the haze, as hazy conditions in Singapore remained moderate yesterday.

    Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a community event yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan said: "We have a team on standby to help with putting out fires as well or even with cloud seeding, as well as technical assistance. But really it depends on whether the Indonesians request or require our assistance. We'll just put ourselves on standby."

    Smoke from fires set by slash-and-burn farmers to clear land has forced the closure of at least one airport in western Indonesia, AP reported.

    Airport official Abiyoso said yesterday that the smoke was so thick that the authorities had no choice but to shut down Sultan Taha airport on Sumatra island, a day after flights were disrupted due to the thick haze covering much of Jambi, Indonesia.

    Flights bound for Jambi had to land in Palembang on Sunday after thick smog pushed visibility below the required level under national flight safety regulations, with visibility at just 500 to 1,000 metres, reported the Jakarta Globe.

    As of 4pm, Singapore's 24-hour PSI reading was 57 - within the moderate range - but Dr Balakrishnan warned that the haze may return early next week should there be changes in wind direction.

    "I just came back from Africa. I saw them burning agricultural land as well. They find it a quick and cheap way to clear agricultural land," he said. "But one particular problem we have in this part of the world is that the land has a lot of peat in it. So once you start a fire, even after fire has gone out, the peat in the soil continues to smoulder for a very long time. And that contributes to an increased haze and smokiness that you see in our part of the world.

    "So there's still a lot of education and persuasion that's needed on the ground as well as enforcement by the relevant authorities," he added. CHANNEL NEWSASIA, AP
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    Last edited by Loh; 09-13-2011 at 09:52 PM.

  15. #5081
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    Default S'pore companies in joint roadmap for Russian projects

    By S Ramesh | Posted: 13 September 2011 2155 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Singapore companies will be involved in a joint roadmap with their Russian counterparts in several projects in Russia, in sectors such as transport, power, e-government, environmental and engineering solutions.

    This after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Russia's Ministry of Economic Development and Singapore's Trade and Industry Ministry.

    Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam co-chaired the second High-Level Russia-Singapore Intergovernmental Commission (IGC) with Deputy Prime Minister and Chief of Staff of Russia Vyacheslav Volodin in Moscow on Tuesday.

    The IGC was set up in 2010 following the state visit of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to Singapore in 2009 to enable the two countries to forge broad-based collaboration across different sectors, including trade and investment, industrial development, information technology, tourism, science and education, and culture and the arts.

    A Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement said several Singapore companies are currently active in Russia across different sectors and regions.

    The meeting also underscored the importance of the Russia-Singapore Business Forum (RSBF) as an annual platform to foster greater awareness among businesses of opportunities in Russia and promote bilateral business collaborations.

    The next forum will be held on September 25 to 28 in Singapore.

    -CNA/ac

  16. #5082
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    Default Youth advocate and student group clinch Asean awards

    Published on Sep 15, 2011

    Ms Lina Chong Lin Lin, an advocate for youth leadership and community development, and student group National University of Singapore Students' Union (NUSSU) Volunteer Action Committee (NVAC) were among those honoured for outstanding contributions by a young person or a youth organisation with their efforts to their community. -- ST
    PHOTO: MALCOLM KOH

    By Janice Tai

    Mentoring troubled youths and fostering volunteerism among youths have helped Singapore to bag two Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) awards.

    Ms Lina Chong Lin Lin, an advocate for youth leadership and community development, and student group National University of Singapore Students' Union (NUSSU) Volunteer Action Committee (NVAC) were among those honoured for outstanding contributions by a young person or a youth organisation with their efforts to their community.

    Nominees for the award, from the 10 member countries, are chosen for their regional contributions, leadership skills and length of voluntary service.

    Both were previously winners of the Singapore Youth Award (SYA) - with Ms Chong honoured in 2009, and the NUSSU NVAC receiving an SYA team award winner in 2002.
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    Default Lee Kuan Yew emphasises importance of balanced budget

    By S Ramesh | Posted: 14 September 2011 2202 hrs

    SINGAPORE: Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew has cautioned against using hard-earned reserves to balance the country's budget.

    He was speaking on Wednesday at a dialogue session organised by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy to celebrate its seventh anniversary.

    It was his first dialogue in his new position as "Distinguished Fellow" of the School of Public Policy named after him.

    Emphasising the importance of having a balanced budget, Mr Lee said: "I hope the prime minister and his Cabinet ensure that Singapore veers on the side of prudence and balance the budget, and not raid on its reserves which have been protected by a separately elected president.

    "Otherwise you have the opposition saying, 'if you vote for me, I'll give you all these things.' Where will the money come from? Not from taxes, but our reserves.

    "Then you have to see the president to release the money and I hope the president will know that if he releases the money this time, there will be many more releases and it will soon deplete the reserves."

    With Singapore just having gone through two elections, it was also opportune to tap into Mr Lee's views on the future of Singapore politics.

    He said: "A generation that grows up in a period of affluence believes that we have arrived and as the saying goes the 'First World Parliament' must have a 'First World Opposition'.

    "So the restlessness, whether that leads to better governance, I am not able to say. We will wait and see - how constructive the opposition can be, or will be."

    Mr Lee doubts Singapore can produce two top-class teams to govern the country. But he thinks the opposition can play a competitive role in Parliament.

    He also disputed a participant's claims that his appearances during the General Election impacted the prime minister's overall performance at the polls.

    Mr Lee said: "I did not appear so often anyway. I have stood down and I don't know who gave you the impression I appeared so frequently. I have stood down and I am off the press as a focus of attention, and off the electronic media."

    At the end of the dialogue, Mr Lee also unveiled the French version of his memoirs.

    On Singapore's ties with Malaysia
    , Mr Lee feels they are improving with Prime Minister Najib Razak's leadership.

    Speaking to the media after the dialogue, Mr Lee said he believes the momentum created by the Iskandar project will lead to more successful co-operation between the two countries.

    He said: "There is now a prime minister in Malaysia who wants to get on with the job, so he settled the railway land, the points of agreement, and he wants to develop Iskandar Malaysia which requires good connection with Singapore, and they are talking about a mass transit."

    As for furthering cooperation with Malaysia, Mr Lee said: "I think one step at a time, there is a lot of baggage."

    - CNA/al
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