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  1. #5679
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    Default 'Meeting Dr Toh Chin Chye changed our lives'

    Published on Feb 5, 2012

    Madam Sim and her son Han Hai Kwang, with the 1967 news article on his winning a $1,000 scholarship, which was presented by Dr Toh. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG By Phua Mei Pin and Janice Heng


    When Madam Sim Suo Ngoh heard the news of Dr Toh Chin Chye's death on Friday, the 81-year-old insisted that her son Han Hai Kwang take her to the wake.

    Yesterday, dressed in her finest, she was among the first to pay respects to the one-time Deputy Prime Minister and the founding chairman of the People's Action Party (PAP) at his wake.

    It was 45 years ago when Madam Sim, then a hawker, first met Dr Toh; the encounter was to change the lives of her children.

    Dr Toh was presenting a scholarship from the then Singapore Chamber of Commerce Rubber Association to Mr Han, the second of Madam Sim's six children.

    Mr Han, who was 16 then and now a company director, recalled: 'My mum was very touched by Dr Toh. She never had the chance to be educated, and she was thrilled that I was given this scholarship.'

    The $1,000 scholarship allowed him to go to Singapore Polytechnic, get a job with Dunlop Rubbers, and make enough to send a younger brother abroad for university.

    Yesterday, Dr Toh's house on a sleepy street off Dunearn Road saw visitors ranging from ministers and retired MPs, to academic colleagues and neighbours who recalled a quiet, humble man.

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid his respects. So did former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, in whose Cabinet Dr Toh served for 21 years.

    There were former Cabinet ministers S. Jayakumar, Lee Boon Yang and Lee Yock Suan, who arrived with his son, Jurong MP Desmond Lee.

    And there were Dr Toh's loyal grassroots volunteers, who kept in touch with him long after he left politics in 1988.

    One of them, Mr Robin Lim, 53, remembers a sharp but 'very kind old man' who would lunch with them every Sunday after his Meet-the-People session in Rochor. 'When he quizzed you on economics, if you said the wrong thing, he'd scold you like crazy,' he recalled with a smile.

    Even after Dr Toh left politics, the Sunday lunches continued - until a few years ago: first in Rochor, then at Dr Toh's house in later years. And each year, the former grassroots helpers would celebrate Dr Toh's birthday on Dec 10 and visit him on the second day of Chinese New Year.

    Mr Lee Khoon Choy, who was a senior minister of state in the 1970s and 1980s, said: 'I respect him because he had no political ambition of his own.'

    He cited as an example Mr Lee Kuan Yew's 1961 offer to resign as PAP chief and prime minister, which Dr Toh declined. 'He wants to serve the people. It's hard to get a leader like that - who will move in to serve, not (do it) for the position or anything like that.'

    Dr Toh's funeral will be held at Mandai Crematorium on Tuesday. PM Lee and former PAP MP Loh Meng See, who succeeded Dr Toh as MP in the Rochor area after 1988, will deliver eulogies.

    But those whose lives Dr Toh touched already have simple eulogies of their own.

    Ten years ago, Mr Han decided to track Dr Toh down to thank him for the scholarship that changed his life.

    Acting on news about Dr Toh's monthly lunches, he found him one Sunday in a restaurant in Victoria Street.

    When he showed Dr Toh the clipping of the newspaper report on the scholarship ceremony in 1967, 'tears came to Dr Toh's eyes'.

    Mr Han was glad to have had that chance. 'I was very happy to be able to tell him what he meant to my family.'

    Additional reporting by Elgin Toh
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  2. #5680
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    Default Of superpowers and the small boat S'pore

    TODAY

    04:45 AM Feb 07, 2012

    IN AN interview on CNN's 'Fareed Zakaria GPS', Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong talks about US overtures in Asia, China's economic growth and military profile, and how Singapore addresses inequality. Here are excerpts from the interview:



    ON CHINA'S ROUGH LANDING

    MR FAREED ZAKARIA
    : One of the great concerns people have, looking out this year, is that the Chinese economy is going to slow down ... that in order to get out of the financial crisis, the government overspent, over-lent, and that these excesses are now going to begin some kind of a tough landing, if not a hard landing. What do you think?

    MR LEE HSIEN LOONG: I am an optimist on this, fundamentally. I can't say that there will be no bumps in the short term. But I think in the long term, the trend will be up. They've built a lot of infrastructure. They have built a lot of capacity in many industries, autos, some of the electronics industries. But it's an economy which is growing very rapidly, urbanising very rapidly, needing a lot of facilities, whether it's roads, hospitals, schools, houses, by the millions. And every year, 1 per cent of the population is moving into cities, which means 13 million people needing all this infrastructure.

    So I think that there may be a rough landing, but they will get through it.



    ON US, CHINA AND REGIONAL SECURITY

    The United States went through a flurry of diplomatic activity over the last three months - the East Asian Summit, ASEAN, the proposal for the Trans-Pacific Partnership and a kind of military cooperation arrangement that could be described as a military base in Australia. Now the Philippines is talking about perhaps having American troops back. Do you think these moves are stabilising the Asia-Pacific region?


    We fundamentally think it's good that America is interested in Asia and in the Asia-Pacific region and that their presence since the Second World War has been a tremendous benign influence. It's generated peace, stability, predictability and enabled all the countries to prosper, including China.

    And I think it's good that America continues to take a close interest in the region, not just on security issues, but also economic issues and cultural and on a broad range of areas.

    But it cannot be for a few months at a time in a spasmodic style. It has to be sustained over a long period of time, really, over many administrations and decades. And America has got many preoccupations around the world, so we hope, on your busy plate, Asia doesn't fall off the edge ...

    But we are naturally very happy that President Obama and Hillary Clinton have made the effort and have put Asia quite high on their agenda. We hope it will be sustained.



    The Chinese reaction to this flurry of diplomacy and these new agreements has been somewhat cautious, in some cases, hostile.

    The official position is that they are very happy to have more members join the East Asia Summit. And America is welcome to join, Russia is welcome to join, Europe is welcome to join, the more the merrier ...

    Their private position probably is a wariness. They are watching. They think that there will be people in America who are not quite happy that China is prospering and would like to hinder that process. And they will not want to let those people succeed.

    So I think that there is cooperation, but there's also watchfulness on both sides.


    Do you think China will be trusted as the dominant power in Asia
    ? If you look at the last year, where China made these pushes in the South China Sea ... it seemed like it provoked a very strong backlash in Asia.

    Well, every superpower or big country has to be looked on with a certain careful respect by others not quite so huge. Even the United States. But the US, after 70, 60-plus years in the Pacific, since the war, is still welcomed and is still considered benign. And that's really a good example for the Chinese to seek to emulate.



    ON HIS WORRY FOR SINGAPORE

    What keeps you up at night?

    I think Asia will boom. There will be ups and downs. We will be affected by Europe if Europe goes bump in the night. But if it doesn't, well, there's a certain momentum ... in China, in India, in South-east Asia which will help to carry us forward.



    What worries us in Singapore is not that the world will not prosper, but (whether) in the ups and downs of the world, a small boat like Singapore, with not very much room to maneuvre, can you make sure that every time you catch a wave head-on you are not flipped over? Because once you are flipped over, that's it.



    ON MINISTERIAL PAY CUTS AND SOCIAL INEQUALITY

    The World Economic Forum has this list of global risks. And I was struck by the fact that the number one risk on its list is rising inequality ... I was wondering if you would reflect on what it means and what you can do about it, because you, yourself, have had to deal with this in Singapore, where you have had to cut the salaries (of ministers) including your own. Why did you do it?

    It became an issue during the elections. The reasons for needing to pay people well, or pay people properly, are well established, because you must pay commensurate with the responsibility of their job and commensurate with the quality of the person you are looking for to do that job.

    And the job is vital because you make a wrong decision, it's billions of dollars. And you put the wrong man in, that's a disaster. And anybody who comes in ... must think what are the financial implications, not just for him but for his spouse and children.

    But when you are talking about salaries which are S$1 million or S$2 million, to the man in the street earning a few thousand dollars a month, it's an incomprehensible sum. I mean it's defensible, but he cannot wrap his mind around it.

    So it became an issue in the elections. And after the elections, I appointed a committee to review it and look at it dispassionately. And they decided that the principles were sound. You have to pay competitively, but they recommended a different benchmark and a different number and we've accepted that. I don't think that it will be the last word on the matter, but it's a very difficult issue because it is important to get the right quality of people into government.



    What do you do about inequality in Singapore? Your top people are world class. They make millions and millions of dollars. At the bottom, your workers are facing pressures from India, China, Bangladesh -


    It is a problem, like it is in India and China, like it is in every other country. First of all, we make sure that everybody gets very good education. So no matter which school you go to, you get a first-class education. And if you are bright and able, you have every chance of rising all the way to the top, never mind what your background is.

    Secondly, through our public housing program, through our other public subsidies, particularly on health care and education, we make sure that everybody starts with some chips in life. You don't start with zero. So if you are poor in Singapore, that's no fun. But I think you are less badly off than if you were poor nearly anywhere else in the world, including in the US.

    Thirdly, we have to encourage people to try their best to not be satisfied with where they are, but to upgrade themselves, not just in school but all their lives.



    ON HIS FAMILY

    You are the son of a prime minister and founder of your nation. What is it like to follow in his footsteps? I realise it was not an immediate secession, but still, what is it like to have that legacy or shadow?

    Well, I don't know. I've never not had it. It's tough enough, but you get to live with it.



    I've had the honour of meeting your father many, many times ... He would strike me as an extraordinary leader. He'd be a tough dad. Was he a strict disciplinarian?

    He had expectations. But he left me to do my own thing and he didn't push me into this. And neither would it have worked had he done so. I had to make up my mind whether I wanted to go this way or not. My siblings didn't decide to go this way, I did.



    Do you think your children are likely to go into politics?

    They will have to decide, but if you ask me now, I think the odds are not on it. It's a different generation. It's a new world. There are so many opportunities, opportunities in Singapore, opportunities abroad. For the talented, the whole world is their oyster.

    If you are in an Ivy League university in your first year, you are already talent-spotted. In your first vacation, you are already offered internships. After your internship, you are offered, more or less ... 'When you graduate, please call this telephone number'. And if you are working in Wall Street or in Silicon Valley or one of the startups, you feel like you are the cat's whiskers because ice cream any time of the day is the least of the perks. They need talent. They treat talent well.

    And Singaporeans, having been well-educated and completely comfortable in this world, are going in significant numbers in these directions. We have many students studying in America in the best institutions. We have many students in Oxbridge, some on the continent. And I am sure many of them will be tempted by these opportunities.

    And it is a great challenge for Singapore to make sure that enough decide that despite this, we will be in Singapore and we will make the system work.



    With your children, do you still maintain the high expectations?

    They have to find their own path in life.

  3. #5681
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    Default Learning many languages 'no problem for infants'

    TODAY

    by Sumita Sreedharan 04:46 AM Feb 07, 2012

    SINGAPORE - A child's language learning ability is not hindered even if he or she is taught multiple languages, according to a landmark study here.

    The study of 100 infants, aged between 18 and 30 months, found they could coordinate different sets of rules when learning different languages. The infants were taught a new word using a video display, and then an element, for example, the tone, would be changed. Researchers would track the children's eye movements to see if they thought the meaning of the word had changed.

    Associate Professor Leher Singh from the National University of Singapore's Department of Psychology found that children aged 18 months could differentiate words using vowels and tones in the languages that they are learning, and it did not matter if they were monolingual English learners or English-Mandarin bilinguals.

    When children reached the age of 24 months, English learners were able to identify that a vowel change means a change in meaning for English words. English-Mandarin learners, meanwhile, were able to consider both vowel and tone changes when identifying that there was a change to the meaning of Mandarin words.

    She also found that children aged 30 months were able to translate between English and Mandarin but could only do so from the language that they were dominant into the non-dominant language. For example, if an infant learns 60 per cent English and 40 per cent Mandarin, the child can translate rapidly from English to Mandarin but not vice versa.

    The landmark study did not come without its own challenges. "When working with children ... you are not sure if you caught the child in a bad or uncooperative mood," said Assoc Prof Singh.

    Her team is looking to study this area further and are recruiting about 200 children between the ages of two to four. Parents can contact Ms Calista Chan at psycjc@nus.edu.sg.

  4. #5682
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    Default Budget should do more for elderly and those with low incomes: AWARE

    TODAY

    04:46 AM Feb 07, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Ahead of the Budget to be delivered next Friday, the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) has unveiled its wish-list, with an emphasis on supporting the elderly and the low-income, and also better subsidies for infant care and childcare.

    Noting that caregivers are mainly women, AWARE proposed that subsidies should be given for the long-term care of elderly family members and that all Singaporeans over 85 years old should be provided with free MediShield coverage for life.

    Medisave accounts should be periodically topped up from budgetary surpluses, in proportion to the age of the recipient as well as household income, said AWARE in a statement yesterday.

    It also suggested that a specified percentage of a husband's Central Provident Fund monies be deposited into his stay-at-home wife's Medisave account, or incentives be given for the husband to top up his stay-at-home wife's Medisave account.

    "Most caregivers in Singapore are women, who often experience adverse results for professional advancement and long-term financial security, due to lack of support. The Budget needs to reflect the state's commitment to supporting women in both the workplace and at home," the association said.

    Other proposals include revising upwards the eligibility criteria for ComCare and Public Assistance to include household incomes of more than S$1,500 per month up to the 30th percentile, and restoring public spending to up to 25 per cent of the gross domestic product as the population ages.

    AWARE also proposed that access to childcare subsidies, motherhood benefits and housing benefits should be widened to include all mothers, without discrimination against unwed or stay-at-home mothers.

    Paid paternity leave of two weeks should be made mandatory, while one month of the current four-month maternity leave should be converted to parental leave to be taken by either spouse, it suggested.

    Meanwhile, there should also be free or subsidised medical benefits for persons with disabilities, including financial support for the cost of rehabilitation, medicine, treatment and health insurance.

    This is the second year AWARE is submitting feedback for the Budget. The full report can be found at http://www.aware.org.sg/2012/02/awar...gapore-budget/.

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    Default Local budget carrier Scoot adds Gold Coast destination

    Published on Feb 7, 2012


    Singapore Airlines' new long-haul budget carrier Scoot said on Tuesday Australia's Gold Coast would be its second destination, having already announced routes to Sydney. -- PHOTO: SPARKFURY


    SYDNEY (AFP) - Singapore Airlines' new long-haul budget carrier Scoot said on Tuesday Australia's Gold Coast would be its second destination, having already announced routes to Sydney.

    Scoot will begin flying from mid-2012 with a fleet of four Boeing B777-200s bought from parent company Singapore Airlines in a challenge to Australian carriers Qantas and Jetstar.

    'Scoot's all about offering great value, fun and a unique attitude, 'Scootitude',' the airline's chief executive Campbell Wilson said on the Gold Coast as he announced the new destination.

    'Direct access to one of the world's premier air hubs for Queensland and north New South Wales, and to one of the world's best holiday destinations for Singapore,' added Mr Wilson, who turned up in a wetsuit and carrying a surfboard
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  6. #5684
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    Default 'An education system for every student'


    by Ng Jing Yng
    04:45 AM Feb 08, 2012

    WASHINGTON DC - Developing an education system that caters to every student while providing each of them many pathways would be essential for Singapore to remain relevant in a changing world, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

    Speaking to Singaporean students studying in the US on Monday (yesterday morning, Singapore time), Mr Heng noted the current "challenging and exciting times" and added that Singapore can play a role in linking Asia with other parts of the world. As Singapore has limited resources, Mr Heng felt the key would be to develop the quality of its people and education can play "a very critical role".

    The education system, however, cannot only cater to the top profiles or to certain segments of the population. "It is about developing the entire (education) system so that every child is given an opportunity whether they go to ITE or polytechnic or university,
    " said Mr Heng. "It doesn't matter as long as we help everyone to be the best that they can be and we give them the opportunity to grow and to develop."

    Students raised concerns on the rigour and rote learning nature of Singapore's education regime during the dialogue with Mr Heng. Mr Chua Ee Chien, a student at Brigham Young University, shared how he was able to spend more time in his stronger humanities subjects after switching to an international school. The 23-year-old suggested striking a better balance between students taking core subjects and studying those they are good in. Other students also pointed out the "trade-offs" in the in-depth focus within the local curriculum, which they feared may stifled students' creativity.

    Georgetown University undergraduate Nicole Yi, however, stood by the academic rigour in Singapore, especially during her junior college's education. It gave her a headstart in research as compared to some of her university peers, she said.

    In response, Mr Heng noted that the students' feedback - though mostly critical - reflected confidence and analytical skills brought about by the students' past education journey. "By acquiring the rigorous foundation, it sets our students up for success later," he said. "The rigours that we have, the standards that we have, are things we should not be apologetic about because that really builds our foundation for whatever learning that we want."

    Mr Heng also responded to a question on Singapore's future higher education landscape, noting that institutes such as the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University are moving towards helping students acquire knowledge across various faculties.

    In the polytechnics and Institutes of Technical Education, he added that the facilities and education gave pupils there a strong standing and this has resulted in overseas interest from the US and other countries
    .

    "For us, a country with very limited resources We have to design a system that serves not just one or two students but serves the entire population and gives everyone a solid grounding that allows them to move forward," he said.

    Mr Heng is on a visit to the US and he will witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding on collaboration in the education sector between the two countries.

    Education Minister Heng Swee Keat (left) with Singaporean students in the United States. Photo by NG JING YNG

  7. #5685
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    Default S'pore Government most trusted: Survey

    by Amir Hussain
    04:46 AM Feb 08, 2012

    SINGAPORE - The Government registered the highest amount of trust than the media, businesses and non-governmental organisations, according to the latest Edelman Trust Barometer survey of 1,000 citizens.

    Some 73 per cent of Singaporeans polled between October and November last year said they trusted the Government, compared with the global average of 43 per cent.

    Amid declining trust levels globally, Singapore's steady scores across its key institutions saw it ranked third among 25 countries ,behind China and the United Arab Emirates.

    Singapore was ranked seventh in the previous survey.

    Edelman president and chief executive officer (Asia Pacific) David Brain suggested that the continued high trust in the Singapore Government "to do what is right" has a direct correlation to public perception of government performance.

    "Even though Singaporeans may not be happy with the Government at times and on specific issues, there is an overall trust in the Government to get them through tough times," he said.

    The Singaporeans polled were also the most trusting globally of government leaders to tell the truth. Some 15 per cent said they do not trust Government leaders here to tell the truth, compared with the Asia Pacific average of 35 per cent and a global average of 46 per cent.

    In terms of confidence in the future, three in four respondents agreed that "things in your country are going in the right direction" compared with 35 per cent in the European Union and 24 per cent in the United States.

    Edelman's findings also showed an overall steady trust level in Singapore's media. While trust in newspapers increased from 35 to 48 per cent, trust in social networking sites doubled to 18 per cent. But they also appeared sceptical: seven in 10 respondents needed to hear information three to five times in order to believe it to be true.

    Singapore ranked fifth in its steady trust level in business, amid drops in business trust in several mature economies. But the gap between public expectations of business and its performance in Singapore is amongst the widest in Asia.

    Industry-wise, technology ranked as the most trusted, followed by food and beverage and telecommunications. Despite being more trusted than the previous year, financial services ranked last.

    CEO credibility fell behind "a person like me", which trailed only academics and technical experts, while financial/industry analysts fell to the bottom of the credible spokespeople list. Moving ahead, Mr Brain suggested that "CEOs have to recognise that they are accountable" in rebuilding credibility.

    Edelman Southeast Asia managing director Bob Grove said: "In Singapore, there has been an obsession in business to drive operational success and efficiency." But he added that future business success would be "underpinned by the marriage of operational success, societal interest and customer engagement".

  8. #5686
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    Default Singapore, US sign MOU to enhance collaboration in education

    Posted: 08 February 2012 0503 hrs


    WASHINGTON: Singapore and the United States have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to enhance collaboration in education between the two countries.

    The MOU builds on the first US-Singapore MOU on education signed in 2002, which focused primarily on the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Science.

    The three key areas of collaboration in the 2012 MOU are the teaching and learning of Mathematics and Sciences; teacher development and school leadership; and education research and benchmarking studies.

    The extension in scope of collaborations reflects the significant expansion in cooperative efforts and exchanges in education between the two countries since the signing of the first MOU.

    Singapore's Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who signed the MOU with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, said: "Whether in the US or Singapore, we all want our children to be well prepared for the future.

    "To provide our children with a good education, we need good teachers and good school leaders, working together to deliver a holistic and future-oriented curriculum.

    "Learning from the experiences and achievements in other countries and deriving insights from research and benchmarking studies will also stimulate us to explore areas of improvement."

    Singapore's collaboration with other countries is part of the country's continuing effort to provide the best possible education for our children.

    The Education Ministry says the US and Singapore view teacher development and school leadership as critical in establishing a world-class education system.

    Both countries are committed to working together to share best practices and experiences in these areas to improve both our education systems.

    To that end, the National Institute of Education (NIE) and Columbia University's Teachers College are launching a joint Masters of Arts in Leadership and Educational Change.

    This joint Masters programme will take in up to 30 students from January 2013.

    The programme aims to equip leaders in education with the necessary skills and knowledge to take on curriculum leadership roles in their schools.

    The closer collaboration in education research and benchmarking studies will help both countries deepen their understanding of best practices in education. This will support Singapore's increased emphasis in holistic education.

    The Education Ministry says the measurement of student development outcomes in non-academic areas is at the cutting edge of educational research and benchmarking efforts.

    NIE Director, Professor Lee Sing Kong says NIE's partnership with Teachers College will result in a new generation of educators and educational leaders re-envisioned for the 21st century.

    Professor Lee adds that the educators will also have a dynamic understanding of cross-cultural contexts, curriculum development and school-policy making endeavours on a regional scope that can affect sustainable and effective change in the community.

    - CNA/de

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    Default Singapore, US reaffirm long-standing ties

    Posted: 07 February 2012 1456 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Singapore and the United States have reaffirmed the long-standing and excellent ties between the two countries.

    Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K Shanmugam met US Deputy Secretary of State William J Burns on Monday, as part of his introductory visit to the United States of America.

    The ties between the two countries will be further strengthened by the institutionalised Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs and US Department of State Strategic Partnership Dialogue and the Singapore-US Third Country Training Programme.

    Both men also exchanged views on a wide range of issues including the US' engagement of Asia as well as recent developments in ASEAN and in the Middle East.

    The warm bilateral ties between Singapore and the US, and key developments in Asia and in the US, including the US's intensified and comprehensive engagement with countries in the Asia Pacific also featured during Mr Shanmugam's meeting with the US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Representative Howard Berman, on 3 February.

    Mr Shanmugam and the Singapore delegation, including Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, Second Minister for Trade and Industry and Second Minister for Home Affairs S Iswaran, also met more than 300 members of the Singapore community.

    The Singaporeans there shared their experiences in the United States and were also updated on the latest developments in Singapore.

    In a separate meeting, Singapore and US reaffirmed the strong bilateral economic relationship.

    Mr Iswaran and the US Trade Representative Ambassador Ron Kirk exchanged views on ways Singapore and the US can further collaborate on economic platforms such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

    - CNA/ck/wk

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    Default Thousands take part in Thaipusam festival

    Posted: 07 February 2012 1548 hrs


    A devotee carrying a kavadi during Thaipusam


    SINGAPORE: The annual Thaipusam festival got under way at the stroke of midnight Tuesday and by the time the day is over, thousands of devotees would have completed their walk.

    The devotees take part in Thaipusam by carrying kavadis and milk pots as a form of thanksgiving to Lord Murugan, the principal deity of Thaipusam.

    By the end of Tuesday, some 8,000 devotees would have carried the milk pots and another 600, the heavier kavadis.

    They do so along a four-and-a-half kilometre route from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple at Serangoon Road to the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road.

    Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing witnessed the proceedings at both temples.

    "It is important for the different races to come together to appreciate each other's religions, religious practices. I'm very happy to be here today. I learnt a lot about the traditions and practices of the devotees in this temple."

    - CNA/wk
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    Default SAF takes part in joint military exercise in Thailand

    Posted: 07 February 2012 1743 hrs


    The opening ceremony of Exercise Cobra Gold 2012 conducted in Korat, Thailand (photo: MINDEF)


    SINGAPORE: The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) is participating in Exercise Cobra Gold from February 7 to 17, 2012 in Korat, Thailand.

    The United States Pacific Command (US PACOM), Royal Thai Armed Forces (RTARF), Indonesian National Defence Forces, Malaysian Armed Forces, the Republic of Korea Armed Forces and Japan Self-Defence Force are also taking part in the military exercise.

    This year's multi-lateral exercise, the 31st in the series, focuses on peace support and stability operations
    .

    The 59-member SAF contingent will be led by Commander 9th Division Colonel Chia Choon Hoong.

    SAF personnel will undertake the role of staff planners for the Multi-national Force Headquarters, alongside their American, Thai, Indonesian, Malaysian, Korean and Japanese counterparts.

    An SAF team will also construct a multi-purpose hall and a sanitation facility for a local school, together with their US and Thai counterparts as part of a civic action programme.

    Exercise Cobra Gold promotes mutual understanding, friendship and professionalism among the personnel of the participating armed forces.

    - CNA/wk
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    Default 3 in 10 engineering students are female

    More young women taking up the subject as varsities' efforts pay off

    Published on Feb 8, 2012


    Temasek Junior College students (from left) Claris Liow, 17, Li Dan, 18, Varun Patro, 17, and Wang Zirui, 19, working together at SUTD's engineering workshop last month, which was aimed at attracting more female students to join the field. -- ST PHOTO: SAMUEL HE


    By Stacey Chia

    Female students are making inroads into the traditionally male-dominated field of engineering, as initiatives to attract them start to pay off.

    They make up three in 10 of those studying the subject at Singapore's universities and polytechnics, up from 15 per cent a decade ago.

    In the United States, the figure is about two in 10, according to the Institution of Engineers Singapore. Universities here have been going all out to attract young women to join the field, said the institution's vice-president, Mr Chong Kee Sen.

    Since 2007, the National University of Singapore (NUS) has organised a programme targeted at female students. Called Women in Engineering, it highlights interesting elements of the subject. Nanyang Technological University's College of Engineering has also been organising talks for female students in junior colleges.
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    Default RSAF aerial display at Singapore Airshow

    04:46 AM Feb 09, 2012

    SINGAPORE - More thrills await those planning to visit the Singapore Airshow. The Republic of Singapore Air Force will display its newly acquired F-15SG jet in an aerobatic display, together with the F-16C. It will also be the first time its F-15SG and F-16C jets will fly in an aerial display together.

    A total of 13 manoeuvres will be performed during a 14-minute segment at the Singapore Airshow. And the RSAF's F-15SG jet is not the only one making its air show debut.

    Major Yip Chiang Syn will also be making his debut as part of the aerial display team for the Singapore Airshow.

    "In terms of the manoeuvres that we try for the air show, it's not much different from what we do in our day-to-day flying. I guess it's just part of being able to fly and be a part of the air show that makes it exciting," he said.

    Major Yip will be joined by Major Desmond Too, who will pilot the F-16C jet. Collectively, they have chalked up some 3,000 flying hours. Training for the air show started in October last year.

    The aerobatic display is on throughout the week of the air show but the public can catch it on Feb 18 and 19, at 11am and 3pm.



    An F-15SG Multi-role Aircraft (back) and F16 C and D Block 52+ Fighting Falcon (front) executing the integrated vertical punch formation at a media preview on Monday. Photo by OOI BOON KEONG








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    Default Singapore warns US on anti-China rhetoric

    01:19 PM Feb 09, 2012

    WASHINGTON - Singapore has warned United States politicians not to bash China during the election campaign.

    Foreign Minister K Shanmugam told a Washington think tank on Tuesday that anti-China rhetoric could spark reactions that affect the wider Asia-Pacific region.

    Both Democratic and Republican lawmakers and Republican presidential contenders have taken aim at China, accusing it of discriminatory policies that cost Americans their jobs. Lawmakers also have voiced misgivings about China's military build-up.

    "Domestic pressures in the US and the demands of elections have resulted in some anti-China rhetoric in domestic debates. We in Singapore understand that this is electioneering," Mr Shanmugam told a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

    "But Americans should no underestimate the extent to which such rhetoric can spark reactions that create a new and unintended reality in the region," he said, without specifying what the consequences might be.

    The Chinese and US governments have deepened ties in the past year and have a mutual interest in stability. Still, uncertainty remains about the future of the relationship, particularly the emerging rivalry between their militaries, the world's two largest.

    On both sides of the aisle in the US Congress, there has been a drumbeat of criticism against Beijing, and an inconclusive legislative push to punish China for undervaluing its currency, thereby hurting American trade.

    Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney has promised to cite Beijing as a currency manipulator on his first day in office should he win the November election. It is a step the Obama administration and the Republican Bush administration before it have resisted.

    Some of the China-bashing has drawn strong criticism in the US

    A recent campaign ad by Republican Senate hopeful Pete Hoekstra featured a young Asian woman talking in broken English about China taking away American jobs. Some said that risked reviving discrimination against Asian-Americans.

    Mr Shanmugam, on his first official visit to Washington since becoming foreign minister last year, offered some gentle criticism of the Obama administration's success in selling its China policy, even as he supported its efforts to step up its engagement in Asia.

    He said US policymakers understand the need to cooperate with China, but in public debate and the media, the administration's new emphasis on Asia is often perceived as an attempt at containment of the rising power, which he said was not feasible anyway.

    "To me, it's a no-brainer. Twenty-five hundred Marines stationed in Darwin does not really amount to containment," he said, referring to US plans announced by President Barack Obama in recent months to station troops in northern Australia.

    Shanmugam noted that the US military presence still would be far less in Asia than it was in the 1970s through to the early 1990s.

    Singapore is a long-standing US ally and trading partner. The city-state has offered to berth US Navy vessels to help boost America's military presence in Southeast Asia.

    But the prosperous city-state also has good relations with China. Despite Beijing's assertive behavior that has spooked some countries in the region, Singapore, like many of its neighbors, looks to maintain positive ties with both of the powers.

    Shanmugam urged the US and China to ensure their relationship is based on cooperation, not confrontation. "The rise of China does not imply the decline of the US," he said
    . AP t



    Law Minister K Shanmugam said other Asian nations could react negatively to anti-China statements from the US. BLOOMBERG

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    Default Eight in ten Singaporeans feel they need to do something about climate change: survey


    by Esther Ng
    11:29 AM Feb 09, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Incorporate climate change issues formally into the school curriculum. Enhance energy labels on household appliances to help consumers make more informed buying decisions.

    These are just some of the 1,000 suggestions the National Climate Change Secretariat (NCCS) received from the public and industry stakeholders from last September to last month, as part of a national effort to engage Singaporeans on climate change-related issues.

    The NCCS also commissioned another survey from last October to December to gauge levels of public awareness and attitudes towards climate change-related issues in Singapore.

    Of the respondents, about seven in 10 expressed interest in the science and impact of climate change, and the practical measures that individuals could take to address climate change.

    86 per cent said they felt a sense of responsibility in playing their part to address climate change. About 75 per cent of the respondents indicated they were concerned about climate change while three in four were motivated by the need to preserve the environment for future generations.

    Some 1.000 Singaporeans took part in the survey

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    Default More family service centres, S$30 million more in funding, in next 3 years

    by Neo Chai Chin
    Updated 11:39 AM Feb 09, 2012

    SINGAPORE - The Government will pump in S$30 million more in funding for family services in the next three years, bringing total government funding over the next three years to S$100 million, said Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing.

    And starting April, each of the 39 Family Service Centres (FSCs) will receive funding to hire an additional social service professional to improve outreach to vulnerable families, said the MCYS in a media release.

    From October, caseloads of FSC social workers will be reduced 20 per cent, from the current one worker for every 50 cases, to one worker to 40.

    The MCYS also plans to build 10 more FSCs here over the next three years - in addition to the 39 currently and the two in the pipeline in Admiralty and Punggol - to enhance accessibility to family services.

    Speaking at the FSC Seminar this morning, Mr Chan also said the National Council of Social Service will work with the committee for practice standards - one of two committees formed last July - to develop a Code of Professional Practice for FSCs to standardise FSC operations and level up practice standards.

    Mr Chan said FSCs in a geographical area will be encouraged to cluster and work with community partners to provide more integrated services to those who need help.


    Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing. TODAY FILE PHOTO

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    Default S'pore hands over police vessels for first time

    Posted: 09 February 2012 1522 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Singapore's Police Coast Guard (SPCG) has presented five coastal patrol crafts (CPC) to the Indonesian Marine Police (POLAIR), as part of efforts to enhance regional maritime security and increase collaboration between the two maritime forces.

    This is the first time the SPCG is handing over vessels or craft to a foreign agency.

    The CPC will be deployed by POLAIR to step up patrol on Indonesian territorial waters including areas between Indonesia and Singapore.

    With the five boats, POLAIR will be able to enhance its presence and maritime policing capabilities, contributing to greater maritime security in this region.

    The five CPC used to form part of Singapore Police Coast Guard's flotilla.

    Although they are no longer operated by SPCG, the boats are still in good working condition, have been well maintained and have many years of operational life.

    Commissioner of the Singapore Police Force (SPF), Ng Joo Hee and the Police Commissioner General Drs. Iman Sudjarwo of the Indonesian National Police (INP) officiated at the handover ceremony.

    They also witnessed the signing of a Deed of Grant to mark the milestone in the close working relationship between the SPF and the INP.

    Commissioner Ng said protecting common waters and making them inhospitable to terrorists, pirates, sea robbers and other criminals can only be the collective task of law enforcement on both sides of the Singapore Straits.

    The Singapore Police Coast Guard and the Indonesian Marine Police are long-time partners and are active participants in the Indonesian-Singapore Co-ordinated Patrol, or ISCP.

    The ISCP, established since 1992, brings the Singaporean and Indonesian marine police, and their respective naval counterparts, together in coordinated operations to secure our shared waters.

    Commissioner Ng noted that the Scheme has succeeded in keeping the Singapore Straits and the Phillip Channel largely free of sea robberies for many years.

    - CNA/ck

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