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  1. #5441
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    Default Helping maids adapt to Singapore society


    by Saifulbahri Ismail
    04:46 AM Dec 02, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Maids in Singapore should go through training under the Settling-In Programme (SIP) to help them adapt to life here, instead of sitting for the current mandatory entry test, says the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Skills Training (FAST).

    In an interview with Channel NewsAsia, FAST president Seah Seng Choon said that the current entry test - which tests numeracy and literacy skills - could be made voluntary instead.

    The SIP - which ran as a pilot programme from May to August last year - was launched by FAST to help maids adapt to living and working here.

    It tries to relieve some of the culture shock of working in Singapore, with participants learning about the various religious celebrations and social norms like how to behave in public places. Other elements of the SIP include coping with stress and learning how to save money.

    Mr Seah said: "It will certainly help the foreign domestic workers to adapt better in our environment. They are all new entrants into a country and many of them are here for the first time, and they come from backgrounds that are very different from ours. So I find it important to get this going."

    The Ministry of Manpower is currently studying the next step for the SIP and reviewing the mandatory entry test for maids.

    About 1,300 maids have gone through the fully-subsidised SIP pilot phase.

    Participant Evangeline Simacio, 35, who came to work in Singapore from the Philippines two years ago, said the programme helped maids "become emotionally stable". "Even though we are far from our families, we will be able to cope with everything," she said.

    Employer Armida Diano felt the money management skills taught by the programme was the most important aspect. "(My maid) had nothing when she started, no savings at all. But now she has a bank account and she has some money in it."

    If the SIP is adopted by the Government, FAST will need to ensure it has the resources and funding to ramp up training, said Mr Seah.

    Employment agencies support the call to make the SIP mandatory and believe it can boost the image of Singapore.

    Said Best Home Employment managing director Tay Khoon Beng: "When the programme is very well run, it helps the helpers adapt well into our society, then there will be less return problems, early repatriation. All this will help in our image and hopefully it will help solve recruitment problems."
    Last edited by Loh; 12-01-2011 at 08:35 PM.

  2. #5442
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default ITE's new course a boost for tourism sector

    Programme aims to feed demand for skilled manpower

    by Sumita Sreedharan
    04:45 AM Dec 02, 2011

    SINGAPORE - With the tourism industry facing a labour crunch and high manpower turnover, the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) has launched a new full-time course that it hopes will feed the demand for skilled manpower.

    The course in Attraction Operations will start in January next year, said the ITE, which signed a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday with Sentosa Development Corporation (SDC) to train and develop its students.

    Tourism currently accounts for 3 per cent of Singapore's gross domestic product and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) hopes to create 100,000 more jobs in the service sector by 2015.

    ITE chairman Bob Tan felt that employers needed to change their mindset about entry-level pay and offer more attractive salaries, which would in turn help them to attract and retain their staff.

    According to the 2010 ITE Graduate Employment Survey, the gross monthly salary of an ITE graduate who has completed National Service (NS) is S$1,636, while graduates without NS receive S$1,325.

    Other factors such as the working environment, job titles and career progression play a part as well. "They must have the passion to go the distance and, if you do not love your job, no matter the industry, it just becomes part of the daily grind and mundane," said Mr Albert Toh, director of the School of Hospitality at Republic Polytechnic.

    He suggested a rotation of jobs and letting employees take on more responsibilities within the organisation as a way to constantly challenge employees and ensure they are excited about their jobs.

    Ms Joan Ha, 22, is a good example of such passion. The ITE graduate is an attractions host at Sentosa Nature Discovery. Although there are many opportunities in the industry, she plans on staying put and upgrading her skills.

    "Even though I did not take a tourism and hospitality course, we did have courses that helped hone my communication skills and taught me how to interact with people," said Ms Ha, who graduated with a certification in Building Services Technology and has been working at SDC for four years.

    At present, 10 per cent of SDC's full-time staff have an ITE background and it has 62 ITE interns on board. SDC CEO Mike Barclay said that SDC is working on improving the working environment in a bid to retain staff. Uniforms will be redesigned to become more comfortable and more rest and meal areas are now available for staff.

    The initial intake of ITE's new course will be 80. Potential students will have to go through an interview before being accepted into the course as the ITE is looking for students with the right temperament for the industry. The two-year course will include an 18-week industry attachment with companies such as SDC and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
    Last edited by Loh; 12-01-2011 at 08:42 PM.

  3. #5443
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Have a suggestion for Budget 2012? Share it

    by Channel NewsAsia
    04:46 AM Dec 02, 2011

    SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Finance (MOF) has kicked off the feedback exercise for Budget 2012 with the launch of the Budget 2012 website.

    The aim is to garner public views ahead of Budget 2012. Through this exercise, the MOF wants to reach out to Singaporeans and businesses and receive their feedback on issues and suggestions relating to taxes and public spending for Budget 2012.The MOF will also organise the online Budget Quiz and Budget Challenge, which received an overwhelming response from the public and schools respectively this year.

    Through such activities, the MOF hopes to increase awareness of the Budget process and public financing issues. The activities will also provide an interactive way for Singaporeans to experience the challenges that the Government faces in managing and allocating the country's resources.

    Budget Challenge 2012 will be open to university and polytechnic students, in addition to students from junior colleges and the Millennia Institute.

    Feedback channels made available include new media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as discussion forums on REACH's Budget microsite, said the MOF.

    On Tuesday and Wednesday next week, the public can share their views at the REACH roving exhibition at the National Library Building at Victoria Street.

    Furthermore, from Jan 4, weekly quizzes will be held every Wednesday, covering themes ranging from the budget process to economic, tax and social policies.

    Participants will stand to win prizes each week if they answer all the questions correctly. Those who answer all questions correctly from the seven rounds of quizzes will also be able to participate in the grand lucky draw.
    Last edited by Loh; 12-01-2011 at 08:48 PM.

  4. #5444
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    Default S'pore-bred pomfret to be in stores soon


    by Joanne Chan
    04:45 AM Dec 02, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Expect to see Singapore's first batch of locally-bred golden pomfret at supermarkets and restaurants come May next year, as the authorities continue in efforts to boost productivity at local fish farms and improve food security.

    The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) hopes that local production of the golden pomfret will rise from 20 tonnes this year to 80 to 100 tonnes next year - equivalent to 350,000 golden pomfrets.

    Singapore fish farms have made headway towards producing 15 per cent of the fish consumed in Singapore by 2015, with the percentage now at 7 per cent from 4.5 per cent two years ago.

    To improve the productivity of farms breeding golden pomfret, the AVA introduced a programme to produce "fry" - baby fishes - in Singapore, instead of importing them from Taiwan and China. It successfully bred the first batch of golden pomfret fry at Rong-Yao Fisheries in July, after intensive research into the correct diet and spawning methods.

    Imported golden pomfret fry is subjected to seasonal constraints but, with the AVA's assistance, Singapore farms are assured of a consistent supply, said Mr Alawn Koh, business development manager at Rong-Yao Fisheries.

    The eggs from the brooding stock are harvested and brought to a hatchery on another island, where they grow to 1.5 to 2 inches before being brought back to the fish farm. The fingerlings will be bred for another four to five months before they are harvested for the supermarkets.

    Mr Koh expects the quality of golden pomfret to be better with locally-produced fry: "Fry that comes in from China and Taiwan ... it is a long flight, by the time they reach here, there may be some effect."

    Local fry means shorter transport times and better ability to monitor the quality of the fish, he said.

    Added Ms Wee Joo Yong, assistant director of aquaculture technology at the AVA: "In the event that there is a supply disruption from external sources, then our local consumers will have some degree of assurance that we can still depend on local production."

    Meanwhile, a new branding campaign called "SGfish - Fresh in Singapore" has been introduced to distinguish locally-farmed fish from foreign imports.

    Said NTUC FairPrice chief executive officer Seah Kian Peng: "Local fishes which are grown here, they will be fresher. Price is a consideration, no doubt, but we have to start somewhere."




    The AVA successfully spawned golden pomfret fry at local fish farm Rong-Yao Fisheries in July. Photo by WEE TECK HIAN
    Last edited by Loh; 12-01-2011 at 08:54 PM.

  5. #5445
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    Default S'pore says UK embassy attack "unacceptable"

    Posted: 01 December 2011 1312 hrs




    SINGAPORE: Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has described the attacks against the UK embassy in Tehran on 29 November as unacceptable behaviour for any state that desires an honourable place in the community of nations.

    Responding to media queries, an MFA spokesman said the international obligations for all states -- as set out in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations on the protection of diplomatic property and personnel -- are clear.

    To flout them undermines the very foundations of international relations and thus, threatens all nations, particularly small states for which the rule of international law is a vital national interest.


    The spokesman stressed that Singapore condemns the attacks against the UK Embassy in Tehran.

    He said MFA strongly urged Iran to live up to its own traditions, respect international law, restore order and prevent a repeat of the attacks against diplomatic missions in Tehran.

    - CNA/wk
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    Last edited by Loh; 12-01-2011 at 09:03 PM.

  6. #5446
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default SMU plans expansion of study space to house more students

    Work to start late next year as varsity looks to raise undergrad intake

    Published on Dec 2, 2011


    Work is expected to start late next year to create more room at Singapore Management University (SMU) to house more students. -- PHOTO: SMU


    Work is expected to start late next year to create more room at Singapore Management University (SMU) to house more students.

    The space crunch comes after just six years of operating at its current premises in Bras Basah.

    The school is also looking to expand its undergraduate intake from 1,750 this year to about 1,900 next year.

    SMU president Arnoud De Meyer acknowledged that physical space has become an issue, with the library, for example, proving to be a busy spot.
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  7. #5447
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore, China scientists perform study on spine disease

    10:38 AM Dec 05, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Singapore and China scientists have performed the first Asian genome-wide association study on spine disease.

    They have identified new genes associated with the spine disease ankylosing spondylitis (AS).

    The discovery, reported in the advanced online issue of Nature Genetics, brings scientists closer to understanding the disease and working towards its cure.

    AS is a progressive autoimmune disease, characterised by inflammatory low back pain partly accompanied by peripheral arthritis and even spinal deformity and ankylosis.

    It can cause eventual fusion of the spine, a condition known as "bamboo spine".

    Its prevalence is 2.4 per 1,000 in the Chinese population, similar to that in populations of European ancestry.

    The study was headed by Dr Liu Jianjun, Senior Group Leader and Associate Director of Human Genetics at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and Dr Gu Jieruo, a rheumatologist at the 3rd Affiliated Hospital of the Sun Yat-Sen University.

    They carried out the genome-wide association study of AS in the Chinese Han population. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

  8. #5448
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default English entry test for maids to be scrapped

    Move could increase supply of foreign domestic workers

    by Tanya Fong
    04:45 AM Dec 05, 2011

    SINGAPORE - In a move that would not only alleviate the stress faced by foreign domestic workers (FDWs) seeking a living here - but also ease the supply crunch hitting the industry - the English entry test for FDWs will be scrapped.

    From the middle of next year, the mandatory test will be replaced by a Settling-In Programme (SIP), Minister of State (Manpower) Tan Chuan-Jin announced yesterday.

    Among other things, the SIP will include modules on adapting to life and work here, including stress management, as well as the responsibilities of domestic workers. It will not train the FDWs on language skills, which can be picked up over time, or domestic skills such as cleaning or cooking, which tend to vary according to the needs of individual households. Further details for the SIP, such as its duration, are being worked out.

    The changes to the entry requirements come after extensive consultation with various stakeholders.

    According to Mr Tan, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has, over the past year, interviewed more than 900 FDWs and 500 employers to understand their concerns on a range of issues. Speaking at the annual Foreign Domestic Workers' Day, Mr Tan noted that, based on MOM's surveys and consultations, four out of five FDWs faced "initial problems settling in to life and work" here. Mr Tan added: "While the entry test was introduced with good intentions, we've heard from you that it is not a meaningful measure of quality and does not guarantee that the worker understands the English language. We're also aware that it discourages some good foreign domestic workers from wanting to work here, while others spend valuable training time mugging for the test."

    While the English entry test has a high passing rate of 95 per cent, Mr Tan noted that it "can cause distress to those who fail after having incurred recruitment fees on their home country".

    In 2005, the English entry test was introduced as part of a package of new entry requirements to raise the quality of FDWs. The test is mandatory for first-time applicants, who have to pass the test within three days of arrival before a work permit was issued. Applicants are allowed up to three attempts to pass the test, failing which they are repatriated.

    However, the English test was reportedly a source of stress for prospective FDWs, with the suicide of a FDW in June linked to her inability to pass the test.

    A spike in supply of FDWs?

    Miss K Jayaprema, president of the Association of Employment Agencies (Singapore) (AEAS), told Today that the scrapping of the English entry test could result in a "remarkable increase (of) between 20 and 25 per cent" in the number of FDWs applying to work here.

    Said Miss Jayaprema: "We have had feedback from our members that the entry test has been a major deterrent in attracting FDWs to Singapore."

    In particular, the number of FDWs from Sri Lanka - which have become nominal after the entry test was introduced - is likely to pick up, she added.

    A pilot of the SIP was conducted by non-profit organisation Foreign Domestic Workers Association (FAST) between May and August last year. Some 1,300 FDWs took part in the pilot programme, which was held once a month.

    Miss Ngatiyah, a 23-year-old Indonesian FDW, told Today that it was more effective to pick up languages over time, rather than sitting for a written test. She said: "I learnt English, Mandarin and Hokkien from speaking with employers. I wanted to learn the languages because I want to do my work well."

    Employers and employment agencies which still prefer FDWs to undergo language assessment can do so via tests administered by AEAS. The association can also arrange interviews or video conferences with FDWs to gauge their language competency.

    Mr Tan also announced that the MOM, in collaboration with the AEAS and CaseTrust, will be introducing a standard bio-data template for all employment agencies.

    The AEAS is also working with MOM to develop a voluntary trustmark scheme. Before April this year, it was mandatory for employment agencies which are members of AEAS to join its accreditation scheme. According to Miss Jayaprema, the requirements of the voluntary scheme will be "more stringent".

    Mr Seah Seng Choon, who is president of FAST and executive director of the Consumers Association of Singapore, added: "When it was mandatory, the agencies may have just been going through the motion." Making the scheme voluntary, as well as raising the bar, would solicit greater commitment from employment agencies seeking to distinguish themselves in the industry, Mr Seah added.

    The changes
    by Tanya Fong
    For foreign domestic workers:

    - In place of the English entry test, a new mandatory Settling-In Programme (SIP) will be rolled out by middle of next year

    - Programme includes modules on basic safety awareness, adapting to life and work here but not language training and domestic skills training such as cooking or cleaning
    .

    - SIP will be conducted by MOM-appointed accredited training providers in English or the FDWs' native language



    For employers:

    - To facilitate better matches, a standard template for FDWs' bio-data containing information such as employment history and skill sets - as well as how the information is verified - will be introduced

    - A voluntary trust mark scheme to differentiate better employment agencies and promote best practices
    Last edited by Loh; 12-04-2011 at 10:57 PM.

  9. #5449
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    Default London's Dulwich College to open in August

    by Tan Weizhen
    04:45 AM Dec 06, 2011

    SINGAPORE - A prestigious international school will open its doors on Singapore's shores next August, as part of efforts to meet the demand for such schools from the expatriate community.

    Founded in London in 1619, Dulwich College (Singapore) will offer a British curriculum resulting in international baccalaureate (IB) diplomas and International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) - similar to its other campuses in Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou and Seoul.

    In response to queries, Mr Christian Guertler, chief executive officer of Dulwich College Management International, said the school will start operating at a temporary one-hectare campus from August - the location of which is currently being approved by Singapore Land Authority.

    While at its temporary campus, it will accept only 550 children from the age of two for pre-school education, up to 13 years old for Grade 8 English National Curriculum studies.

    It will increase its intake to 2,500 and accept students up to age 18 for the IB diploma in 2014, when the school moves to a plot of still-undeveloped land five times larger at Bukit Batok West Avenue 8, said Mr Guertler.

    Dulwich made the winning bid for the plot of land designated for international schools following a Request For Interest issued by the Economic Development Board last year. Before that, in 2008, the Government had released seven sites for up to four international schools to ease the supply crunch, after several international schools in Singapore reported full capacity and long waiting lists.

    Mr Guertler added that Singapore was chosen due to its strength as a key economic hub. "Singapore is a modern and influential economic centre in Asia and ... our parents come from executive backgrounds in Fortune 500 companies, so Singapore's strength as a key regional financial centre and future growth projections are in line with demand for high-quality education," he said.

    The most recent international school to open here is the Stamford American International School, in June last year.

    Today understands that the cost of building a good international school, going by winning proposals, could be upwards of S$100m.

    This will be the 33rd international school in Singapore. There are five other international schools catering to the British community here, with United World College and Tanglin Trust School among them.

    According to Mr Guertler, the school fees will be in line with these two British international schools.

    Describing how Dulwich will be differentiating itself from the other schools, he told Today: "Dulwich education places a strong emphasis on academic excellence and opportunity, a strong arts programme - music, visual and performance, competitive sports and an emphasis on community engagement and service."

    Facilities at both the temporary and permanent campuses will include "state-of-the- art" classrooms and laboratories, theatres for the dramatic arts, and an "aquatic centre" for water sports like swimming and water polo.At a later stage, it could add boarding facilities.

    The target community in Singapore will mostly be British, with a sprinkling of other nationalities which also take the IB, such as the Americans and the Japanese.

  10. #5450
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Challenges ahead for NTUC's new leadership


    by S Ramesh
    04:45 AM Dec 06, 2011

    SINGAPORE - The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) will set another milestone on Thursday, if it elects a woman as its next president.

    That is the view of outgoing president John De Payva, who, together with nine others, will make way for new blood at the movement's central committee this year.

    One candidate vying for the post is Diana Chia, from the Healthcare Services Employees Union.

    Speaking to Channel NewsAsia, Mr De Payva said unlike today, things were not that rosy 30 years ago for the labour movement, who employers distrusted. But tripartism started to take hold in 1972 after the National Wages Council was set up between employers, the trade unions and the Government to formulate wage guidelines.

    The recession in 1985 also helped to cement tripartism in Singapore, when the Government gave assurance that the sacrifices of workers - cuts in wages and employer CPF contributions - would not be forgotten, said Mr De Payva.

    Outgoing central committee member Ameer Hamzah said he hoped more can be done for low-wage workers. "This group of workers are actually living hand-to-mouth. And they do not really look that far ahead to say that 'if I go for training and upgrading, I can get a pay increase'. To them, any day they are not able to earn, is a loss," said Mr Ameer, the general secretary of the Singapore Port Workers' Union.

    "We need to sit down and see how to overcome this situation, perhaps, coming up with schemes where they are not totally losing out during their training period."

  11. #5451
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore take the Asian champs to school


    by Low Lin Fhoong
    04:45 AM Dec 06, 2011

    SINGAPORE - They had waited three years to taste victory over arch-rivals Sri Lanka, and what a moment to savour, when it finally came. The Republic's netball team finally ended their losing streak against the reigning Asian champions at the 2011 FairPrice Foundation Nations Cup yesterday, posting a comprehensive 73-36 victory in their opening match at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall.

    Before the match, memories of their 62-51 loss to world No 18 Sri Lanka at July's Mission Foods World Netball Championships were still fresh on the hosts' minds, following consecutive defeats at the 2008 Nations Cup (66-63) and Asian Netball Championships (77-48) a year later.

    Stopping Sri Lanka's 2.06m-tall goal shooter Tharjini Sivalingam proved to the key for Singapore, ranked world No 21.

    The team put up a formidable defensive wall comprising 1.96m-tall Chen Li Li, Lin Qingyi and Nurul Baizura Abdul Razak.

    Chen, 21, had only received her Singapore citizenship 11 days after the world championships and the rookie was delighted with the win.

    Said Chen: "I was very nervous going into the game as I didn't know if I would play well. I was very disappointed missing the world champs but I just focused on my next tournament and I'm very happy to win this."

    Said co-captain Lin: "Victory is really sweet ... coming into this game, we weren't sure if Li Li would match up (to Tharjini) but she did really well.

    "At the team briefing we said this is an Asian (level) game and we're looking forward now to the Asian Championships next year."

    With four new players on the roster, Singapore turned on the heat from the first quarter, with sharpshooters Chen Huifen and Cassandra Soh sinking 20 out of 25 attempts for the home side to lead 20-8. They went into half-time up 34-17 and never looked back.

    Tight mid-court defending and repeated turnovers helped the Singaporeans restrict the Sri Lankans, who had no answer.



    For more information, go to www.netball.org.sg. Follow Netball Singapore on Facebook and Twitter (Netball_SG).



    Other results yesterday

    Papua New Guinea 55 Namibia 48, Fiji 61 Malaysia 37

    Today'S FIXTURES

    Namibia vs Malaysia (4pm), Singapore vs Papua New Guinea (6pm), Sri Lanka vs Fiji (8pm)










    Singapore (in red) came out tops against Sri Lanka (in yellow) yesterday. Photo by OOI BOON KEONG

  12. #5452
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    Default Singapore senior counsel Davinder Singh scores a first

    Davinder Singh argues for Brunei's A-G in Brunei's highest court

    Published on Dec 6, 2011

    By K.C. Vijayan, Law Correspondent


    Lawyer Davinder Singh has become what is believed to be the first Singapore senior counsel to represent a foreign government in a court case abroad.

    Senior Counsel Singh, chief executive of Drew & Napier, last week defended Brunei's Attorney-General before its highest court, in a civil suit that tested the Sultan's powers.

    He successfully argued that the sovereign's right to discharge military officers cannot be challenged in law.
    Background story

    SOURCE OF PRIDE

    'It is a source of pride to have a Singapore lawyer arguing a case on the foreign government's behalf in a foreign court.'

    Global Law Alliance's senior director Niru Pillai, noting that the Brunei authorities had opted for Senior Counsel Singh (right) despite their longstanding links to Britain's equivalent, the Queen's Counsel.




    Legal experts said that while senior Singapore lawyers have advised foreign governments in civil matters in the past, none has done so in court.
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    Default New alignment for road cutting through Bukit Brown?

    By Hoe Yeen Nie | Posted: 05 December 2011 2030 hrs


    SINGAPORE: It is likely that the proposed new road that cuts through Bukit Brown cemetery in central Singapore will get a new alignment.

    Channel NewsAsia understands that the road could bypass a cluster of graves belonging to key historical figures.

    The announcement of plans for the road in September triggered an uproar among some Singaporeans, who said the cemetery should be preserved.

    But authorities said the road can't wait, as congestion in the area needs immediate relief.

    It is expected that the dual four-lane road will slice through a portion of the 80-hectare cemetery site, affecting 5 per cent of the 100,000 graves.

    Construction of the road will begin in 2013.

    In land-strapped Singapore, there are very few places immune to the forces of development. And a central theme in the Singapore story is the constant tussle between land for the living and space for the dead.

    Since 1965, for instance, 156 cemeteries have been cleared for development, according to figures from the National Environment Agency.

    One can also see that tension played out in Bukit Brown, which itself houses many graves shifted to the cemetery from private burial sites that had been acquired by the government throughout the 1900s.

    Between 1922 and 1973, Bukit Brown was the only public Chinese cemetery in Singapore, and received the graves of many who were re-interred from other cemeteries.

    Among those moved to the cemetery were graves of prominent men like Tan Kim Cheng and Cheang Hong Lim.

    Charles Goh, an amateur historian, said: "It is not just a cemetery of dead people. It is a cemetery of the early Singaporeans that came, and in a way built up to what we are now. If you understand the heritage value, you will say, let's not do it."

    The proposed road alignment led to concerns over the future of the graves.

    But according to Mr Goh, who is in the construction business, survey pegs in the area now suggest that the alignment has changed.

    The Land Transport Authority's original plan indicated a route that would require many iconic tombs to be cleared. These are located on a hill known commonly as Hill Three.

    But the construction corridor appears to have shifted closer towards Lornie Road, raising the possibility that the graves of Ang Seah Im, Tan Kheam Hock and many others will be spared - for now.

    The construction corridor measures about 130 metres wide, and delineates the area needed to be cleared for construction purposes. The actual width of the road will be about 40 metres, and - according to Mr Goh - appears to skirt around a few of the hills in the area.

    In response to queries by Channel NewsAsia, the Land Transport Authority said the final alignment will only be fixed in February.

    But the news is of little comfort for Tan Seok Bee.

    The grave of her grandfather-in-law, Tan Boon Hak, will have to go. He was a wealthy timber merchant and the cousin of noted philanthropist Tan Kah Kee. He died in April 1923, and was one of the first to be buried at the cemetery.

    Mrs Tan said: "He stays here, in a good place, under a good shade, so his descendants all have good jobs. So it is best that we still keep him here. (If) you suddenly move him, he may not be happy."

    The controversy over Bukit Brown isn't just about a road.

    In 40 years' time, the rest of the cemetery and the surrounding land, about 200 hectares, will be cleared for a new housing estate.

    Plans for the future town, which will take up the 200-hectare site, have been contained in the Urban Redevelopment Authority's masterplans since 1998. The road will eventually serve the new town.

    Land south of Bukit Brown, near the old Police Academy, will be developed sooner, in about 10 to 15 years' time. Conservationists object to this, saying the area is a carbon sink and an important feeding ground for birds.

    Along with heritage groups, they want the land to be preserved.

    Dr Ho Hua Chew, a member of the executive committee of the Nature Society, said: "People's needs can change. They may value the wooded area more, the cultural heritage more 20, 30 years down the road. So why destroy that option for the younger generation? Leave it open."

    Dr Terence Chong, a member of the executive committee at the Singapore Heritage Society, said: "It is because we agree with the idea that land is scarce that we think it is so important not to just think in the old paradigm. I think some concessions should be made for heritage concerns."

    Dr Chong added: "Right now, the rest of Bukit Brown has a window of about 30 years. They are not specific because they want the flexibility to decide depending on future needs. This means that the fate of the cemetery is not assured. As such, gazetting parts of the cemetery as heritage parks to ensure preservation regardless of changing circumstances is crucial."

    Authorities said the road will go ahead. But they are open to ideas on what to do with the remaining space, and have started discussions with various groups.

    For Mrs Tan, all this talk is far removed from her family's immediate concern.

    They have started preparations to exhume their ancestor's grave, knowing that the Qing Ming Festival next year will be their last at Bukit Brown.

    - CNA/ms
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    Default Granary Burial Ground 1660, BOSTON

    Boston was the start of our US trip in October 2011.

    We joined the "Freedom Trail to Beacon Hill" on the 10th and our tour guide brought us to see many historical buildings and locations along the way.

    The most memorable place was Granary Burial Ground which is situated in an exciting and busy location with lots of human traffic. People are free to walk within Granary everyday and it has become a tourist attraction. The Suffolk University Law School is just opposite across the road.

    Burial grounds or cemeteries in our part of the world seem to be less frequented except on designated days like "Ching Beng" for the Chinese. So Singapore's Bukit Brown must have been long forgotten until recently when the burial ground was the subject of intense debate over the government's intention to take away part of its grounds to build a highway. For in Bt Brown, some of Singapore's famous early settlers were buried there and taking away their tombs would mean a loss of history and heritage for the future generation.

    Boston's Granary Burial Ground is a great example of how cemeteries could be well-maintained and the exciting history of its past, the famous names that were buried there and historical events like the Boston Tea Party, can be narrated within its premises to make them come alive even in the present time. The deeds of Boston's leaders like Samuel Adams, John Hancock, James Otis and other famous graduates of Harvard University can also be remembered.
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    Default Anonymous HIV testing on-the-go

    01:33 PM Dec 07, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Action for AIDS Singapore has launched a mobile testing service (MTS) van that will conduct HIV tests and counselling service without the need for the person to provide any personal particulars.

    This is the first such service in Singapore and in Southeast Asia.

    The van for the test will be equipped with clinical facilities to conduct HIV and syphilis tests and it will travel with two specially-trained staff.

    The results of the tests will be disclosed within 20 minutes and in the strictest confidence.

    When in the van, the person being tested will be given a serial number for registration before the quick HIV test is administered.

    If found to be positive, the person will be recommended to go for a full blood test at an anonymous clinic.

    Members of the public can get the test done for free in December.

    After which, it will cost S$30 per test.

    Once launched the service will run five days a week.

    A monthly schedule showing the venues and times that the van will be deployed can be found online at www.afa.org.sg.

    Action for AIDS said the aim of the mobile service is to make testing accessible to the public and to address a barrier that stops people from going to clinics for HIV testing.

    The group said early detection of HIV will reduce the chances of people spreading the infection unknowingly.

    And it said this is important because 54 per cent of HIV infections last year were already in the late-stage before they were diagnosed.

    The M.A.C AIDS Fund is supporting the pilot programme with a seed fund of S$250,000.

    Action for AIDS has budgeted S$191,000 towards the annual operational costs of the mobile testing service.

    It plans to work with community-based groups and companies to bring the service to as many venues as possible. CHANNEL NEWSASIA
    Last edited by Loh; 12-07-2011 at 02:04 AM.

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    Default Singapore trumps PNG for second straight win

    by Philip Goh Haw Hann

    Updated 11:12 AM Dec 07, 2011

    SINGAPORE - The Republic stayed on target for a top two finish at the FairPrice Foundation Nations Cup 2011 after defeating another higher-ranked opponent for a second day in a row.

    Against world No 17th Papua New Guinea (PNG) at the Toa Payoh Sports Hall yesterday, Singapore (No 21) built a nine-point half-time lead before surging in the fourth quarter for a 54-36 win.

    The Republic's cause was aided by the departure in the first quarter of PNG goal shooter Michelle Gietzel who suffered a knee injury. Up until then, both teams were neck and neck with one goal separating them.

    PNG coach Pole Kassman said Gietzel's early exit was a turning point.

    "I think we lost the game rather than (Singapore) won it. Our tallest girl picked up a nasty injury, and she's going for a scan," said Kassman. "I've got four young girls in there playing their first international, and when the adrenaline wore out and they realised they were playing a real match, I think they were shaken up," she added.

    For a second straight game, Singapore's shooting pair of Cassandra Soh and Chen Huifen put on a polished performance with Soh sinking 31 of her 39 shots. Coach Kate Carpenter even had the luxury of sitting out Soh and goal keeper Jean Ng in the third quarter during which Papua New Guinea managed to narrow the gap to within five points.

    They returned in the fourth quarter and helped the side score nine unanswered points to seal a comfortable win.

    "It was a tough match for us and we had some different combinations that were far more successful than others, but I'm happy with the result," said Carpenter, who singled out 21-year-old Soh for praise.

    "Cassandra had a great game combining with Hui Fen, and the ability to leave and re-enter when she was needed, I thought she did well."

    After demolishing 18th-ranked Sri Lanka 74-36 in their opener, Singapore line up against Namibia today and a win will likely seal their place in the match for first and second on Sunday, even with group matches to come against Fiji tomorrow and Malaysia on Saturday.

    SFairPrice Foundation Nations Cup 2011

    Day 2 results


    Namibia 57-54 Malaysia

    Singapore 54-36 Papua New Guinea

    Fiji 81-24 Sri Lanka



    Today's fixtures

    4pm Fiji vs Papua New Guinea

    6pm Malaysia vs Sri Lanka

    8pm Singapore vs Namibia



    Singapore (red and white) vs Papua New Guinea at the FairPrice Foundation Nations Cup yesterday. Photo by OOI BOON KEONG
    Last edited by Loh; 12-07-2011 at 02:25 AM.

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    Default Work begins to identify, document graves at Bukit Brown

    By Hoe Yeen Nie | Posted: 06 December 2011 2346 hrs
    SINGAPORE: Work has begun to prepare Bukit Brown cemetery for a future road.

    Contractors hired by the Land Transport Authority have been identifying affected graves while volunteers have also started to document the site.

    In the last few weeks, a forest of wooden pegs has sprung up at Bukit Brown.

    These pegs are in fact serving notice to the public that the affected graves will be cleared within a year.

    Volunteers led by Dr Hui Yew-Foong, Fellow and Coordinator of the Regional Social and Cultural Studies Programme at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, have also moved in to document the site. The information is expected to be made available online.

    Dr Hui said: "Every grave here is important. Every grave tells a story and every story is worth recording and taking down. We want to reconstruct what life was like in this place in the past; what the social life was like and what was the cultural life."

    The volunteers work in pairs - one will jot down the inscriptions on tombstones while the other takes photographs.

    The images are captured from right to left and every 45 degrees around the grave so that a 3D image can be created if needed.

    It is not an easy task as some graves are overgrown and some tombstones have collapsed.

    Time and weather have also worn away the inscriptions but the volunteers pressed on.

    Some volunteers, like Michelle Teoh, have family members buried there.

    Ms Teoh said: "For me it's very important that my children know about where they come from. By being involved (in the project), hopefully they'll get interested in their great-great-great grandfather."

    Some members of the public said that a cemetery needs to be appreciated in its context and want Bukit Brown to be gazetted as a heritage park.

    The Singapore Heritage Society, for instance, is working on a policy paper on how this can be done with input from stakeholders.

    Ideas that have been proposed include erecting signs to help visitors navigate the site with information boards that explain the history and significance of certain graves.

    Dr Terence Chong, an executive committee member of the Singapore Heritage Society, said the society is open to having something similar to Bidadari Memorial Garden.

    At the Bidadari Memorial Garden at Mount Vernon Road, the tombstones of 21 prominent Christians, Hindus and Muslims - like Dr Lim Boon Keng, Sir David James Galloway and Haji Abdul Rahim Kajai - can be found there.

    While their remains have been cremated, the tombstones serve to remind visitors that the site was once a cemetery.

    But Dr Chong noted that "if you were to remove tombs, then the significance of this place would be reduced. And the greenery, as well, is quite important in contextualising the cemetery."

    Time is also pressing on Dr Hui and his team of about 300 volunteers.

    They have to document several thousand plots before the list of affected graves are made public in March.

    The team also plans to record the rituals of ancestor worship, the process of exhumation, as well as the history of the old cemetery village.

    With so much to do, volunteers have to work as fast as they can before the bulldozers roll in in 2013.

    Members of the public who are looking for someone buried in Bukit Brown can now do so on the website of the National Archives.

    The records are in English and the names are listed according to the date of burial.

    Members of the public who wish to locate the burial records of their ancestors buried at the Bukit Brown cemetery will need to first determine their ancestors' names and dates of death before searching the uploaded records.

    Those who need more information will still have to make a trip to the National Archives near Fort Canning Park.

    - CNA/fa
    A elaborate grave in Bukit Brown Cemetry
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