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  1. #5492
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    Default World's largest floating book fair in S'pore for first time

    By Wayne Chan | Posted: 16 December 2011 1753 hrs
    SINGAPORE : The Logos Hope, a ship carrying the world's largest floating book fair, is in Singapore for the first time.

    The 132.5-metre-long ship will be celebrating "Christmas around the world" in Singapore.

    It carries 400 volunteer crew members from 45 countries. Also among the crew this time are 11 Singaporeans who are excited to be home this Christmas.

    The ship's first visit here was officiated by Minister of State for Transport and Finance, Josephine Teo.

    Logos Hope offers over 5,000 titles of books at a fraction of their original cost to people in developing countries.

    This is thanks to publishers who donate books that have been removed from circulation in first-world countries when new editions are released.

    The goal of Logos Hope is to help people through social service projects and good literature.

    Logos Hope is operated by GBA Ships e.V., an international charitable organisation in Germany.

    Over 40 million visitors have passed through the organisation's onboard book fairs in over 160 countries and territories since 1970.

    Mrs Teo said the ship was more than just a floating book fair.

    She said: "I hear that the crew and staff of Logos Hope also help those in need through a range of activities wherever you call at a port. You donate supplies, help build infrastructure, and engage in community interaction through sports, origami, educational exhibitions, workshops and conferences on diverse issues such as marriage, AIDS awareness and healthcare."

    Logos Hope will open to the public at The Promenade, VivoCity from December 17 until December 29.

    Entrance is free, but children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.

    The ship will be open from 10am to 10pm from Tuesday to Saturday, and from 3pm to 10pm on Sunday and Monday.

    - CNA/ms

  2. #5493
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    Default Top N-level student juggles studies, CCA, part-time work

    Published on Dec 20, 2011
    • Adalene Chua is top Normal (Technical) course student at Riverside Secondary School.



    -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN


    By Amelia Tan

    Plucky student Adalene Chua, 16, juggled part-time work, co-curricular activities and emerged as the top Normal (Technical) course student in 2011.

    The Riverside Secondary student scored As in six NT subjects and a Grade 2 for Normal (Academic) mathematics.

    She juggled studies and work, taking on part-time jobs as a cashier and waitress in restaurants and hotels after school and during the school holidays. She had to help her parents, both of whom have health problems.

    Adalene is also a member of her school's modern dance group and has represented Singapore in tchoukball competitions overseas. Tchoukball is an indoor team sport similar to handball.
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  3. #5494
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    Default Singapore to house regional transport hub

    Published on Dec 21, 2011



    Singapore will be home to a centre that will provide support to land transport administrators in the region. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN



    Singapore will be home to a centre that will provide support to land transport administrators in the region.

    The facility, called Centre for Transport Excellence for the Asia-Pacific Region, will be set up by the middle of next year.

    A memorandum of understanding was signed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) on Tuesday.

    The centre aims to be a one-stop hub where transport knowledge and research will be shared via conferences, training programmes and study visits.

    With growing populations, cities will have to find new ways to meet the travel needs of their residents to enhance mobility and livability.

    Based at the LTA Academy in Hampshire Road, near Little India, the centre will focus on issues of public transport and sustainable mobility.

    A joint news release on Tuesday stated that UITP chose Singapore to base its research and activities because the country had demonstrated excellent public transport development and continued innovation.

    UITP is an international network of players in the public transport industry, including authorities and operators as well as policymakers and scientific institutes.

    It has 3,400 members from 92 countries.

    One initiative by the centre will be to organise the first Singapore International Transport Congress in October 2013.

    The biennial event will gather international speakers to share insights on urban transport issues and solutions.

    Participants will include policymakers and industry players.

    At the signing on Tuesday, UITP's secretary-general Hans Rat said: 'Ever-evolving societies, changing commuters' behaviour and escalating expectations make managing transportation in a city a work in progress.'

    LTA's chief executive Chew Hock Yong said the collaboration would help Singapore acquire new knowledge to build a people-centred land transport system that would meet diverse needs and provide for a livable environment.

    FIONA LOW
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  4. #5495
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    Default All I want for new year ...

    04:46 AM Dec 21, 2011

    Some 160 beneficiaries - including elderly and children from Voluntary Welfare Organisations - were invited to the Esplanade yesterday to pen their hopes and wishes for the New Year on 'wishing spheres'.

    The wishing spheres were then launched into Marina Bay. A total of 20,000 wishing spheres carrying the hopes of more than 500,000 people in Singapore are part of the display. The wishes were collected from various wishing stations across the island over the month. The annual event is part of the Esplanade's community engagement programme for the Marina Bay Singapore Countdown, taking place at the end of the month. Channel NewsAsia




    Some 160 beneficiaries - including elderly and children from Voluntary Welfare Organisations - were invited to the Esplanade yesterday to pen their hopes and wishes for the New Year on 'wishing spheres'. Photo by OOI BOON KEONG
    Last edited by Loh; 12-20-2011 at 08:21 PM.

  5. #5496
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    Default Help for migrant workers during economic slowdown next year

    by Nurul Syuhaida Bte Akmar
    04:45 AM Dec 21, 2011

    SINGAPORE - The Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) is gearing up to help migrant workers who may be affected by the economic slowdown next year.

    Noting that migrant workers may be "bearing the brunt" of companies winding up or employers not having enough money to pay salaries, MWC's executive director Edwin Pang said it is preparing to house them at the centre's premises.

    "We will have a ready supply of beds," he added. "So that should there be any migrant workers (who are) unable to have a roof over their heads, we are able to provide them with one."

    During the 2009 economic downturn, some 2,600 workers were found housed in 16 unapproved dormitories during joint swoops carried out by several government agencies.

    Since it began operation in April 2009, the MWC has assisted about 2,700 migrant workers in distress. Of these, more than 240 homeless migrant workers were provided with shelter. The Centre, a joint effort between the National Trades Union Congress and the Singapore National Employers Federation, has also reached out to about 80,000 through its integration events and other programmes to educate workers about fair employment practices.

    MWC said yesterday it was making progress in helping migrant workers integrate into the Singapore society and workplaces. To mark International Migrant's Day, which was last Sunday, a three-day photo exhibition on the lifestyles of migrants was launched yesterday. The exhibition, which is open to the public till Friday, aims to promote greater understanding between Singaporeans and migrant workers.










    Migrant workers at the photograph exhibition which marks International Migrant's Day. Photo by DON WONG


    Last edited by Loh; 12-20-2011 at 08:47 PM.

  6. #5497
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    Default Cruising into town ...

    04:45 AM Dec 21, 2011

    AidaDiva, a cruise ship carrying more than 2,000 German-speaking passengers, called on Singapore for the first time on Monday. The ship, which has a passenger capacity of 2,050, is part of the Singapore Cruise Centre's efforts to attract cruise passengers from Europe.

    Since 2006, Singapore has seen a more-than-140 per cent increase in cruise passengers from Europe. AidaDiva would previously turn around in Bangkok.

    The ship, which departed yesterday, would be calling in Singapore nine times over the next six months.
    PHOTO COURTESY CATHERINE ONG ASSOCIATES

  7. #5498
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    Default Water taxis soon for commuters along Singapore River, Marina Bay

    URA calls for tenders for Singapore River and Marina Bay routes

    Published on Dec 21, 2011




    Passengers alighting at the water taxi stand near the ArtScience Museum. Two companies, Duck & Hippo and Singapore River Cruise, currently offer water taxi and recreational cruises along the Singapore River and Marina Bay. Their customers are mainly tourists. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM


    By Amelia Tan & Melissa Pang

    The water taxis that ply the Singapore River should not be for tourists only, but also regular commuters who prefer getting to work by boat.

    For that to happen, they will have to be more frequent and affordable.

    That is the vision set out by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), which is looking for two operators to provide water taxi and recreational water transport services for two routes running all the way from Marina Barrage to the Zouk nightspot near Kim Seng Road.
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    BOAT LANDING POINTS FOR NEW RIVER TAXI SERVICE

    Tender documents released on Tuesday describe a comprehensive and efficient water transport system providing a 'reliable source of daily transport' and quality leisure services that are affordable, frequent and safe.

    URA will pick two successful operators by February, and the new services will be introduced by Jan 1, 2013.

    The river taxis must run from 7am to 10pm daily, and at intervals of no more than 15 minutes during the morning and evening peak hours.

    Fares should be no more than $3 a trip for a regular service and up to $4 for an express service, where passengers can get on or off at designated points.

    Like for regular taxis, passengers will be able to book river taxis in advance.

    The operators must also run leisure and recreation services such as cruises for sightseeing and festive occasions.

    The two routes cover 16 landing points along the Singapore River and eight in Marina Bay.

    Ferries are a popular mode of transport in Hong Kong, where the Star Ferry service takes thousands of people between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

    Unlike those large ferries, which can hold hundreds of people, the water taxis here take no more than 60 because the Singapore River is narrow and meandering, and bridges over the river impose a height limit.

    Currently two companies, Duck & Hippo and Singapore River Cruise, offer water taxi and recreational cruises.

    They charge $4 to $16 for water taxi rides, depending on distance, with the boats arriving at intervals of about 15 to 20 minutes. Most of their customers are tourists.

    URA's deputy director of place management, Mr Mark Goh, told The Straits Times that residents in the River Valley and Robertson Quay area, which are not near MRT stations, might find the new water taxi services a good alternative form of transport.

    'We estimate that it will take about 30 minutes to get from the start of the routes in Jiak Kim Street to the end at Marina Barrage,' he said.

    'People can use it to go to work, during lunch time and after work. We expect that businesses along the routes will benefit too.'

    Ms Sylvia Ng, marketing communications manager at Duck & Hippo, said: 'We spent $1 million last year on four boats that offer water taxi services. We are committed to making our services attractive both to locals and tourists, and will put up a bid for the tender.'

    Mr See Toh Yew Leong, general manager of Singapore River Cruise, said the company will also submit a proposal.

    American investment banker David Moritz, 42, who lives in Kim Seng Road and takes the bus to work at the Marina Bay Financial Centre, said: 'The boat would be nice once in a while and could help avoid traffic.

    'But after the novelty wears off, it would depend on the frequency of the water taxi. My bus is very convenient and comes every five minutes.'

    Mr Roel Quimba, general manager of Sque Rotisserie & Alehouse, an eatery at The Central along Eu Tong Sen Street, said: 'The water taxi service should have a positive effect on business as it would increase accessibility.

    'Our customers are mostly tourists and people who work in the area.'
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    Default Night Safari's lanky newcomer

    Posted: 20 December 2011 1557 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Singapore's Night Safari welcomed a lanky newcomer this festive season - a 1.88-metre tall baby giraffe.

    Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS), which owns and operates the Night Safari, said on Tuesday that the male calf was born on December 5.

    It got on its feet moments after a two-metre drop from its mother, Dobeni, which gave birth standing up.

    The birth is the first after three years.

    The 75-kg baby, which is still unnamed, is the third South African giraffe born at the Night Safari.

    Its father, Pongola, and mother are also proud parents of female giraffe Kayin which was born at the park in 2008.

    "We hope that the birth of this South African giraffe sub-species at Night Safari will continue to increase the gene pool of the species for global zoological institutions through animal exchanges and breeding programmes," said Mr Subash Chandran, assistant director of zoology at the Night Safari.

    "In the wild, young giraffes often fall prey to lions, leopards and hyenas. It is estimated that only a small percentage of baby giraffes reach adulthood. We are happy to see that our healthy calf is suckling from its mother and galloping in its yard. The first few weeks are very important milestones in a giraffe's growth," he said.

    The baby giraffe should be open to the public for viewing in February 2012.

    - CNA/ck

  9. #5500
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    Default SMU business school earns EQUIS accreditation

    Posted: 21 December 2011 1650 hrs


    SINGAPORE: The Singapore Management University (SMU) Lee Kong Chian School of Business (LKCSB) has become one of the youngest institutions in the world to be conferred the prestigious EQUIS accreditation.


    It now sits alongside leading business schools around the world, such as the London Business School in the United Kingdom, IE Business School in Spain, IMD in Switzerland and INSEAD in France.

    The accreditation is awarded by the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), covering all programmes offered by the LKCSB from the undergraduate degree up to the Ph.D. Level.

    It's synonymous with high international standards of quality, a significant level of internationalisation and professional relevance to the corporate world.

    An institution is awarded an EQUIS accreditation for a period of five years (versus a three-year accreditation period) if it is assessed to be good in all the EQUIS Standards and excellent in some.

    There are 21 business schools in Asia which had attained the EQUIS accreditation, but only five had achieved five-year accreditation.

    Dean of SMU LKCSB, Professor Howard Thomas, said the school has built up its global standing in a short span of 11 years since its establishment in 2000.

    "It takes a great deal of determination and self-assessment to achieve accreditation, which, in itself, is a rigorous process of evaluation and review. To be able to attain a five-year accreditation demonstrates EFMD's strong confidence in the holistic nature and high quality of our undergraduate and post-graduate programmes," he said.

    - CNA/cc
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  10. #5501
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    Default Researchers use recycled glass to filter raw water

    By Wendy Wong | Posted: 21 December 2011 1749 hrs



    SINGAPORE : A team of researchers from Ngee Ann Polytechnic has found a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly way to filter raw water - using recycled glass.

    The project, called GLASSwater, has helped the polytechnic's Environmental & Water Technology Centre of Innovation (EWTCOI) secure S$10.3 million for more such industry projects over the next three years.

    Central to the process is a porous ceramic membrane made of recycled glass.

    Dr Gurdev Singh, who is leading the research team, expects the technology to drive down production costs considerably.

    He said the current production cost of ceramic membranes is about S$100 to S$200 per square metre, as they are made from natural raw materials.

    With the GLASSwater membrane, it will be two to three times cheaper, costing only S$50 to S$100 to produce.

    Waste glass is also usually dumped and melted at high temperatures (1,600 degrees Celsius), consuming a lot of energy and emitting large amounts of carbon dioxide and other toxic gases.

    With the new invention, waste glass will no longer be dumped and melted. Instead, GLASSwater can treated further before it is safe to consume.

    Dr Singh said it is ideal for other applications where the water does not need to be so pure.

    Car-wash companies can use the membrane to recycle water to wash cars.

    The water can also be used for irrigation.

    Dr Singh elaborated: "Besides its ability to eliminate solids and pathogenic bacteria that cause diseases like typhoid and cholera, the glass ceramic membrane also has a high flux, meaning water can flow through it very quickly. All you have to do is insert the glass ceramic membrane into a bottle cap and pour.

    "Car-wash companies, for example, can recycle the huge amount of used water they generate by channelling it through the glass ceramic membrane system. Another possible application is to collect rainwater on rooftops, run it over a battery of glass ceramic membranes in the storage tanks, and channel it to a tap for gardening.

    "GLASSwater is also suitable for irrigation where the prime concern is to remove the turbidity and bacteria. Ultimately, our project will help to maximise usage of a very precious resource - water."

    The next stage is to improve the purification properties of the glass ceramic membranes to produce drinking water.

    The latest S$10.3 million in funding for EWTCOI comes from SPRING Singapore and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

    Set up in 2006 under a strategic partnership between the polytechnic and SPRING Singapore, the EWTCOI serves as a one-stop centre to catalyse the growth of small and medium enterprises which tap on its technological capabilities to develop commercially-viable solutions.

    To date, the EWTCOI has provided consultancy services to more than 150 companies and has also secured S$5 million to work on 18 research and development projects.

    Koh Lee Chew from the Water Quality Monitoring and Detection Centre at Ngee Ann Polytechnic said: "We are trying to work with industry partners and hopefully, we can commercialise it. And of course, we would like ultimately for this system to be housed inside central kitchens like your canteens and food courts, and whatever energy that is harvested from this system can be plowed back to the kitchen again."

    - CNA/ms
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  11. #5502
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    Default MOE releases national exam performance data

    Posted: 22 December 2011 1302 hrs


    SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education (MOE) has released data on the performance of the major ethnic groups in national examinations annually. It said this is to provide feedback to the communities on how their children fared in the examinations.

    MOE said PSLE results have remained stable over the last 10 years, both in terms of overall percentage of passes and the proportion of PSLE students who scored A* to C in each subject.

    Over the 10 years in terms of overall percentage passes at the PSLE, Chinese students improved further from 98.4 per cent in 2001, to 98.8 per cent in 2010.

    Indian students improved from 93.7 per cent in 2001 to 95.3 per cent in 2010 while Malay students also improved, going from 92.0 per cent in 2001 to 92.5 per cent in 2010.

    In the GCE O Levels, progress has been made in the overall percentage of students with at least three O-level passes and at least five O-level passes over the last 10 years.

    Chinese students improved on this score, from 95.3 per cent in 2001 to 96.9 per cent in 2010.

    Malay students improved as well, going from 83.9 per cent in 2001 to 87.1 per cent in 2010, while Indian students went from 89.1 per cent in 2001 to 91.7 per cent in 2010.

    The percentage of GCE 'O' Level students who passed English Language has also increased.

    At the GCE 'A' Level, the overall percentage of students with at least 3 'A'/'H2' Passes and a pass in General Paper or Knowledge and Inquiry has improved over the last 10 years, from 85 per cent in 2001 to 91 per cent in 2010.

    Malay students improved on this, going from 71.8 per cent in 2001 to 82.9 per cent in 2010.

    Chinese students and Indian students, who were at 85.4 per cent and 85.8 per cent respectively in 2001, have both improved. Chinese students pulled up their scores to 91.5 per cent in 2010 while Indian students pulled theirs to 88.3 per cent in 2010.

    -CNA/ac

    Students use computers in a classroom
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    Last edited by Loh; 12-22-2011 at 08:05 PM.

  12. #5503
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    Default A look-back at S'pore politics

    By S Ramesh | Posted: 22 December 2011 1702 hrs
    SINGAPORE: It was a year of surprises for Singapore politics in 2011 with a watershed general election (GE) and the retirement of several ministers.

    The May 7 GE led to the defeat of three ministers at the polls.

    Singapore also saw the retirement of several ministers including two former prime ministers, Lee Kuan Yew and Goh Chok Tong, and a new leadership team at the helm of the nation.

    GE 2011 saw 82 out of the 87 constituencies contested on Nomination Day.

    And after the vote count on May 7, the People's Action Party (PAP) returned to power with a two-third majority, winning 81 seats but with a reduced percentage of votes.

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged party activists to be prepared for tougher elections in future, when he spoke at a party convention in November.

    "I don't expect any more clean sweeps and I don't believe we can expect any more safe wards anywhere in Singapore," Mr Lee said.

    "That's the way our society is moving, that's the way our politics will evolve, and that's the way we must prepare ourselves from now."

    The opposition Workers' Party (WP) won six seats, including the five-member Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC).

    It is the first GRC defeat for the PAP since GRCs were introduced in 1988.

    WP Chairman and MP for Aljunied GRC Sylvia Lim said: "Certainly the General Election this year has seen Singaporeans being prepared to use the vote to send certain signals to the establishment, and I think this culture would probably continue.

    "To me, it is a clear desire for greater accountability. Definitely, we want to live up to our voter expectations both inside and outside of Parliament. And we do not intend to let them down.

    "In terms of town management and also issues that we canvass in Parliament, we would pay attention to convince the voters they made the right choice."

    Observers said politics in Singapore and in particular parliamentary sessions can be expected to be more robust over the next few years under this trend of what's been called the "new normal".

    Parliamentary sessions in the new year are expected to see debates on some hot-button issues which concerned voters during the hustings.

    One of them would certainly be the issue of ministerial salaries.

    At the swearing-in ceremony of his new Cabinet, PM Lee announced a committee to review the salaries.

    The committee was expected to submit its report before the end of 2011.

    Political observer Gillian Koh from the Institute of Policy Studies said: "The first point about the unhappiness is that it is pegged to private-sector salaries, pegged to the best earners.

    "It's always like a casino -- you step out, you always peg it to the people who win.

    "So the bottom line is that we need to understand, discuss further what is the best position we should have in Singapore, a unique system."

    Government agencies and parliamentarians have also been busy responding to calls from the public for greater engagement online.

    Feedback portal REACH chairman Amy Khor said: "We continue to try all-and-sundry ways to close the feedback loop and to affirm to our feedback contributors that REACH is not a black hole where no light escapes.

    "Instead, the government reads and considers all feedback.

    "But I think it is also useful to highlight to the public and our feedback contributors that we would have to be realistic.

    "While the government can consider all feedback received, it is not possible for the government to take action on every suggestion and ideas and implement them.

    "Policy making always involves trade-offs. So ultimately, the government would have to make a judgement call, take a decision based on what it sees beneficial to Singaporeans and Singapore and sustainable in the long term."

    Meanwhile, Young PAP chairman Teo Ser Luck said the PAP is taking a hard look at the way it does things on the ground.

    "Working the ground is to resolve issues on the ground, is to really engage the citizens -- not just shaking hands or just smiling, but to really listen, talk less and listen, understand their issues and see if you can really resolve it," Mr Teo said.

    "...It is important to know that each time we listen, we must make sure there is a mechanism and system that such issues are followed up and addressed.

    "If we can't do it, we should also acknowledge it and respond."

    While Singapore's next GE is not due till 2016, the search for potential candidates has already started both within the PAP and among the opposition.

    - CNA/wk

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    Default Time to reconsider the N-word?


    by Conrad Raj
    04:46 AM Dec 23, 2011

    Although nationalisation may be a dirty word to many these days, I think it is time to revisit its benefits in the wake of the recent transport debacle.

    Although the free market has been a boon to the majority, there are some essential services that I think need to be in the public domain. Public transport, especially on a small island like ours, is one of them.

    The last few days have been trying for many of us here, with the breakdown of parts of the subway system coming in the wake of higher taxi prices.

    And with two security lapses occurring at two MRT train depots within the past two years, the Government has to seriously relook at how our transport system is run.

    There is an obvious need for a comprehensive public transport policy that gives greater priority to addressing the needs of the commuter rather than other stakeholders, such as shareholders. What the commuter wants is to be taken to his or her destination in the shortest possible time, at the lowest possible price.

    Private companies, like the SMRT and ComfortDelGro, with shareholders to answer to - and therefore motivated by the need to produce ever-increasing profits - just can't or don't seem to be able to do that.

    What we need is a single entity - either a statutory board or a state corporation that is completely in charge of Singapore's transport system. While the taxi service could be run separately, perhaps in the manner of the Hong Kong system, it should be regarded as an integral part of our public transport system. It is not as if a taxi takes the place of just one car as it takes multiple riderships on any single day.

    The nationalisation concept is not something new. At one time, the Government took control of all our bus companies. And Temasek Holdings still has substantial stakes in SMRT and ComfortDelGro, the two main public transport providers.

    With one entity running our rail and bus services, there could be a rationalisation of routes and costly duplication, not only of routes but also of staff, could be avoided.

    Any blame for poor or unreliable service could then be directed to just one entity. Pricing can be benchmarked against similar corporations elsewhere.

    Each Singaporean will be able to save at least S$100 a year on public transport - based just on the profits in the last financial year of the two companies, S$161 million for SMRT and S$220 million for ComfortDelGro. More savings can come from greater efficiency.

    Why should all that money go to a few thousand shareholders when it could result in lower fares for all?

    It is not fair that while public funds are used to build the infrastructure, the profits go into the pockets of a relatively few shareholders. In any case, there's no real competition between the two operators as they do not ply identical routes.

    And when it comes to apportioning blame, it is sometimes difficult, as the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is responsible for building and owning the infrastructure. SMRT and ComfortDelGro - which lease the infrastructure from the LTA for 30 years - are mere operators of the system and only own the rolling stock, buses and taxis.

    So while the two operators are responsible for the maintenance of the system, it becomes a bit murky in terms of responsibility when the fault lies with the infrastructure.

    Much of the blame for the recent train problems has been placed on "collector shoes" that pick up electrical power from the third rail and "claws" that keep the third rail stable.

    To reduce vibration to surrounding buildings, some sections of the tunnels have been installed with floating slab tracks. If these devices were not working properly, where does the blame lie?

    There was also an attempt to push the blame, at least some of it, on increased train frequencies to cater to the rapid rise in population, which was said to have left less time for the train operators to carry out inspections and maintenance.

    With one, single entity there can be no passing of the buck. We won't need a Public Transport Council to decide on fares - which should be based on the actual cost of running the system, plus some surplus for a rainy day or for certain stated purposes.

    The problem with our two listed companies is that they are often distracted from their main goals in order to increase yields. With SMRT, the main concern was on how to maximise its rental yields from the shops and stalls at the MRT stations.

    A Commission of Inquiry is being established. It should not only look into the recent problems but expand its scope to review the entire transport system and come out with something better.

    And by the way, imposing fines for the problems caused by the train delays only benefits the Government and not the commuter who had been inconvenienced. Better perhaps to roll back for a period of time the fare increase the operators were recently granted as a penalty.



    Conrad Raj is Today's editor-at-large.



    Bishan MRT depot. TODAY FILE PHOTO


    Last edited by Loh; 12-22-2011 at 09:24 PM.

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    Default How the Motorsports Hub saga unfolded


    by Shamir Osman
    04:46 AM Dec 23, 2011

    March 2009 Singapore Sports Council (SSC) launches Request for Proposal to build Changi Motorsports Hub (CMH) along Aviation Park Road. It will include a permanent FIA grade 2 and FIM grade 1 track of at least 3.5km, a 1.2km grade 1 karting track, a quarter-mile drag race track, a 20,000-seater main grandstand and 10,000-seat temporary grandstand.

    March 2010 SG Changi wins tender, ahead of two other consortiums, and then recruits Fuminori Murahashi as director with a 10 per cent stake. The three directors who led the tender bid were local businessman Thia Yoke Kian, whose share was 40 per cent, former Japan Super GT driver Genji Hashimoto (30 per cent) and Singapore lawyer Eddie Koh (20 per cent).

    April 2010 Hashimoto removed as director.

    June 2010 Murahashi pays the full sum of about S$40 million for cost of 41 hectare plot of land at Aviation Park Road to build permanent track. Takes over SG Changi as executive chairman and confirmed in the position two months later.

    July 2010 Groundbreaking ceremony of CMH facility.

    August 2010 Moto Sakuma and Ryui Doi come on board as directors with nominal shareholding of less than 1 per cent.

    November 2010 Thia assists in Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau probe into possible irregularities on tender bid.

    December 2010 CSC Holdings begins piling work at a cost of S$50 million.

    January 2011 Piling work halts after SG Changi could only pay half of S$10 million in advance payment to CSC. Koh resigns as director. Murahashi's stake increases to 65 per cent with Thia owning 35 per cent.

    August 2011 Work on CMH still yet to restart and SSC issue SG Changi show-cause letter. Thia removed as director of SG Changi.

    November 2011 Thia returns shares to SG Changi. Murahashi, who has so far poured more than S$55 million into project, becomes majority stakeholder with 99.99 per cent shares.

    Dec 12, 2011 SSC announce termination of SG Changi's contract to build hub.
    Last edited by Loh; 12-22-2011 at 09:54 PM.

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    Default How Motorsports Hub crashed ...

    SG Changi executive chairman Murahashi finally speaks up


    by Ian De Cotta
    04:46 AM Dec 23, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Fuminori Murahashi did not expect his involvement with the Changi Motorsports Hub to turn into a nightmare when he was asked to become an investor by the consortium contracted to build what was then a S$330 million project.

    With a passion for motorsports and expertise in constructing temples and shrines in Japan, he joined SG Changi just after they won the tender from the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) in March last year.

    The consortium's other directors were then local businessman Thia Yoke Kian, former Japan Super GT driver Genji Hashimoto and Singapore lawyer Eddie Koh (see box for share breakdown).

    But three months later in June, Murahashi had to bear the full weight of the project and part with S$40 million of his own money for the cost of the 41 hectare site along Aviation Park Avenue reserved for the track, even though he was a minority stake holder.

    The 51-year-old was speaking during a Christmas lunch he held for the media at Sheraton Towers yesterday, to give his side of the story after the SSC terminated SG Changi's contract 10 days earlier, as they were unable to raise sufficient funds to restart construction that halted in January.

    The hub was slated to be operational by the end of this month and both parties are now working on a termination agreement before the New Year.

    Speaking in Japanese through translators Fukiko Kimura, his personal assistant, and SG Changi directors Moto Sakuma and Ryui Doi, he said: "Within a week of winning the tender, I was told we had to first pay 5 per cent of the total amount for the land, and I had to give the company the money to pay for it.

    "I know the project would cost more than S$300 million, but I was told my investment would not be more than 10 per cent."

    He was made executive chairman for his efforts, but more trouble lay ahead.

    The agreement he assumed responsibility for required raising funds to complete the project, originally the responsibility of the other directors, and he was not prepared for the task.

    To start construction last December, Murahashi had to dig deep into his pockets again but it came to a halt a month later when he could only pay half of the S$10 million in advance payment due to piling contractors CSC Holdings.

    Murahashi had struggled to understand what he had inherited from the directors of the consortium, added Sakuma, before he and Doi came on board in August 2009.

    Said Sakuma: "The English language is a huge barrier for Murahashi and the agreement was not explained to him in a way he could appreciate fully what he had inherited.

    "From a business point, a few issues in the agreement were tough, it was tough to make money. But it was a legacy that we had been committed to follow through. It was challenging, we can't tell you the details, but it was not easy.

    "It is an internal problem that I am ashamed to share with you, but when Murahashi received the project delivery agreement, it was four months after it was signed in March 2010."

    With Hashimoto dropped as director in April last year, Koh resigning in January, and Thia removed in August for failing to pay for his allotment of shares, Murahashi is left to count his losses.

    It has amounted to close to S$60 million and does not include the S$6.9 million still owed to CSC, but the Japanese businessman intends to find a way to fulfil his obligations and help Singapore get a permanent track.

    Said Murahashi: "I have considered all possible options to fund the CMH project, including trying to finance the entire sum myself. But it is a rather complicated transaction and not so easy to put together, but Singapore deserves this project and I still want to help in any way I can."



    From left: Murahashi, along with director Doi, SG Changi head of people innovations Andrew Ujiie, and director Sakuma, met the media to give their side of the story. Photo by IAN DE COTTA

  16. #5507
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    Default Dreaming to be among Asia's elite

    Men's waterpolo team aim for bigger things after SEA Games success


    by Tan Yo-Hinn
    04:45 AM Dec 23, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Fresh off their latest SEA Games success, Singapore's national men's waterpolo team are now targeting a top-five finish at next year's Asian Championships.

    They captured a 24th consecutive gold medal at last month's SEA Games in Indonesia, but moments after the win, Singapore Sports Council chief executive Lim Teck Yin said they needed to aim beyond regional success - the men's waterpolo team have not been able to replicate their regional dominance in the continent, apart from a bronze medal finish at the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul which Lim was a part of.

    A month on, national men's coach Lee Sai Meng told Today they are working towards that, with the Asian Championships next November in Dubai as their top priority in 2012 and a vital step towards the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, where they aim to better their sixth-place finish at last year's Guangzhou Asian Games.

    "We're trying to keep this team together all the way until 2014 (at least), so that we can put up a good fight against the other teams there," he said.

    "... Aiming for fifth (at the 2012 Asian Championships) is a realistic target as there will be a transition after the SEA Games. Some of the players may not continue, and with new players coming in, the team will need time to gel again."

    As such, a packed calendar has been scheduled for next year, including April's FINA World Developmental Cup - a meet for second-tier teams - in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, and the All-China National League in May.

    Also pencilled in is the inaugural South-east Asian Waterpolo Championships, to be held at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex in June, and is likely to feature Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines and possibly South Korea as well as club sides from China.

    Lee hopes such competitions will help build on performances over the past two years, including a fifth-place finish at the 2009 Asian Championships in Changsha, China, and their appearance in the final of the 2009 FINA World Developmental Cup.

    "We don't want to limit it to just South-east Asian teams, but want to open it up to countries like (South) Korea," he said.

    "More competition is needed so that the waterpolo scene in the region is more vibrant, instead of waiting for the SEA Games to come around once every two years."

    Lee was speaking at the K K Women's and Children's Hospital yesterday, where he joined about 20 past and present members of the national men's and women's waterpolo teams to help bring Christmas cheer to children warded there.

    They also donned life-sized mascots of popular cartoon characters Garfield, Captain America, Batman and Angry Birds, and handed out gifts.

    "It was conceived by past and present players as a way of giving back to the community for all the support we received over the years," said ex-national player Yip Ren Kai.

    Lin Diyan, part of last month's SEA Games gold-medal-winning side, added: "It's not nice being stuck in hospital during this festive period, so it's great that we could put a smile on the children's faces."




    Members of the waterpolo team visiting K K Women's and Children's Hospital. Photo by WEE TECK HIAN


    Last edited by Loh; 12-22-2011 at 10:06 PM.

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    Default Goh, Yip going all out for 2012 Paralympics


    by Low Lin Fhoong
    04:46 AM Dec 23, 2011

    SINGAPORE - All eyes will be on swimming's golden girls Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu next year when they take on the world's best athletes at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London from Aug 29 to Sept 9.

    Both athletes returned home yesterday with Team Singapore's 32-strong contingent at the 6th ASEAN Para Games. After 10 days of competition in Solo, Indonesia, the Singaporeans had reaped a total haul of nine gold, 10 silver and nine bronze medals in four sports - athletics, badminton, swimming and bowling.

    Leading the gold medal rush was 24-year-old veteran Goh, who bagged three gold medals (women's 50m breaststroke (SB5), 50m and 100m freestyle (S5)) in all her events at the Tirtomoyo Menahan Aquatic Centre.

    Republic Polytechnic student Yip, 19 - who won the Republic's first gold medal in the women's 50m backstroke (S3) at the 2008 Paralympic Games in Beijing - won a silver and two bronze medals despite competing in the higher S5 classification class
    .

    While the women's 50m backstroke (S3) is not included in the swimming programme at the 2012 London Paralympics, Yip is gunning for glory in the 50m freestyle (S3).

    Speaking to Today at the welcome reception at Changi Airport's Terminal 2, the world record holder in the 50 and 100m backstroke (S3) said: "From now till London, my main priority is swimming and I hope to put up a fight. This time, it will be tougher because of the stiffer competition but I'm going to try to improve on my time. I want to be even better than my standard at the 2008 Games."

    Added team-mate Goh, who will also compete in the 50m freestyle (S5) at next year's Paralympics: "I'll definitely try to go all out for the Paralympics but I have to be more realistic with my target because I have to finish my final year studies and won't be able to train as much. A medal at the Rio de Janeiro Games in 2016 is more realistic and I'm hoping to train full-time for it for four years."

    Other top performers in Team Singapore's ASEAN Para Games contingent were double gold medalist (bowling mixed doubles TPB1+TPB2/B3, TPB3 mixed singles) Mohamed Ismail Hussain and swimmer Benson Tan, who won two golds (men's 50m butterfly ID and 100m freestyle ID) and a silver in the 50m freestyle ID. LOW LIN FHOONG




    Swimmers Theresa Goh and Yip Pin Xiu (front row, second and third from left) with the Singapore contingent and MG (NS) Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports. PHOTO COURTESY OF SDSC


    Last edited by Loh; 12-22-2011 at 10:13 PM.

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