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  1. #5696
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    Default Singapore set to play key role in space flights

    Companies here will build 'demonstrator' model for French firm

    Published on Feb 10, 2012

    An artist's impression of a space plane. If the deal is finalised, local researchers and engineers will design the avionics of the plane and test its aerodynamics. -- PHOTO: EADS ASTRIUM

    By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent


    Singapore will play a key role in helping a French space company launch its first commercial space flight.

    For starters, home-grown companies will be roped in by Astrium, the space arm of French aerospace giant European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, to build and launch the 'demonstrator' model of the space plane by the end of the year.

    Next month, Master of Business Administration (MBA) students from four business schools here will compete to come up with the best business model for the space plane operator.

    Astrium, which aims to launch its first commercial space flight by 2017, is turning to Singapore because of the Republic's 'significant potential' to grow space tourism, said the firm's Asia representative, Mr Martin Robillard, on Thursday.
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    Default Continuous improvements in education system needed: Heng


    by Ng Jing Yng
    04:46 AM Feb 10, 2012

    WASHINGTON DC - The Singapore education system believes in continuous improvements to stay updated with societal needs, even as educational experts from the United States gave it a stamp of approval during a panel session at yesterday's Singapore Conference.

    In the session titled, "Partnerships in Education: Preparing Students for a 21st Century Economy", US Department of Education's chief of staff Joanne Weiss commended Singapore's efficiency in adapting overseas practices and replicating across schools quickly.

    Having visited Singaporean schools like Tampines Primary and Secondary in October last year, she noticed how every school was using PowerPoint presentations.

    Ms Weiss, who led the "Race to the Top" movement to spur innovation in US schools, felt what she saw in Singapore represented a "level of alignment and coherence that is quite stunning" between schools, the Government and the community.

    Singapore's commitment in recruiting teachers was also highlighted by fellow panel member Linda Darling-Hammond, who noted the difference between teachers' salaries in Singapore and the US. She also highlighted the Government's spending on teachers to equip schools, whereas there is inequitable spending on education across the US.

    Despite the affirmation, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat noted that students' and parents' expectations of the education system "are very high".
    This could be a good thing, he told reporters, but at the same it would mean that "there are areas that we can be confident of that we are on the right track".

    Mr Heng feels there is a need for constant improvements, even as parents and students come to terms with its frequency. He explained that this would enable Singapore to stay ahead in changing economic times, and the key would be to communicate regularly with parents and students on the changes.

    Said Mr Heng: "I am very much struck by the fact that the US has many peaks of excellence in their education system, many areas that we can continue to learn from them ... For us to run our system well, we need both a system wide improvement as well as to develop our own peaks in our schools or universities." Ng Jing Yng in Washington DC

  3. #5698
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    Default Law firm launches pro bono practice

    04:46 AM Feb 10, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Enhancing its efforts in pro bono work, law firm WongPartnership launched a dedicated pro bono practice yesterday.

    Senior Partner Alvin Yeo, Senior Counsel and chairman of the exco, said the firm's pro bono work for non-profit organisations and charities will be channelled to this new dedicated pro bono practice.

    It covers areas such as volunteering at certain legal clinics and representing needy individuals referred through the Government's legal aid scheme and the Law Society's criminal legal aid scheme.

    The pro bono practice will also adopt various charities and Institutes of Public Character (IPCs) to carry out their advisory and transactional work on a non-fee paying basis.

    Making the announcement during the firm's 20th anniversary celebrations yesterday, Mr Yeo said the move would widen the firm's service offering and "better match the lawyers to the causes they wish to volunteer for". He said: "In this focused way, the firm will intensify its contribution towards pro bono efforts."

    The pro bono practice will be led by the firm's head of litigation and dispute resolution group Andre Maniam, Senior Counsel, and head of corporate group and corporate/mergers and acquisitions practice Ng Wai King.

    The firm yesterday also launched its inaugural WongPartnership Thought Leaders Forum, which is held today.

  4. #5699
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    Default Singaporean student numbers at US varsities hit 10-year high

    Published on Feb 10, 2012

    Singaporeans are flocking to study in the United States, drawn by the weaker US dollar and high-ranking universities.

    More than 4,300 of them were enrolled in institutions there last year, the highest figure in 10 years.

    Tellingly, the universities with the most Singaporean students are among the most prestigious. They include Stanford, Harvard, Cornell and Berkeley.

    Education Minister Heng Swee Keat told The Straits Times: 'The number of Singaporeans who are accepted into top universities around the world is an affirmation of the quality of the education we offer in our schools.'

  5. #5700
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    Default 'Every child must be trained for the future': Heng Swee Keat

    World economy will get even more complex, says Education Minister

    Published on Feb 10, 2012

    Mr Heng Swee Keat (left) said that while Singapore was admired for its high student achievement rates and top-notch teaching force, it now had to make sure students could keep up with the fast pace of change in the world today. -- PHOTO: MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRSBy Sandra Davie, Senior Writer


    WASHINGTON - Every child must be educated and equipped with the skills that will let him thrive in the economy of the future, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

    While Singapore has built an education system admired for its high student achievement rates and top-notch teaching force, it must now align its system to cope with the fast pace of globalisation, technological change and innovation.

    The world economy will become even more complex and jobs do not have clearly defined boundaries, Mr Heng told an audience of 200 participants at the Singapore Conference here on Wednesday.

    Elaborating, he said that the line between manufacturing and services has blurred. And both are also overlaid with the digital economy, he added, noting for example that IT giant Apple sells 'an experience, not just a product'.
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    Default Cheaper inflight SMS may take off soon, thanks to A*Star scheme

    Published on Feb 13, 2012


    By Goh Chin Lian


    Exchanging SMSes from a plane with your darling Valentine will cost just a few cents instead of several dollars now, if a small aerospace firm here makes headway in computer software design with the help of government researchers.

    Flight Focus on Sunday signed an agreement with the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) to study technology that could cut the cost of flight communications, the result of joining the agency's expanding aerospace research programme.

    Started in 2007 for industry players big and small to cooperate in technological research where competitors do not mind sharing the results, the programme has grown from the founding big four in aviation - Boeing, EADS, Pratt & Whitney, and Rolls-Royce - to 18 members, A*Star announced at a press conference on Sunday.

    New members include big names in engineering and aviation such as General Electric, Honeywell, Embraer and Safran, as well as government-linked organisations ST Aerospace and the Defence Science & Technology Agency.

  7. #5702
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    Default No exams, no worries

    'Yes' to P1, P2 Holistic Assessment

    by Sumita Sreedharan
    04:46 AM Feb 13, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Madam Junaidah Hameed had expected a rough induction for her daughter when she started Primary 1 in 2010. "She cried every day for six months when she had to go to kindergarten. I was expecting the same," the 41-year-old told Today.

    But to her surprise, her daughter did not raise a whimper. In fact, now in Primary Three, she looks forward to school, thanks to a new initiative piloted in 16 schools by the Ministry of Education (MOE) two years ago.

    Mdm Junaidah's daughter was among the first batch of pupils to undergo Holistic Assessment (HA) - a departure from the exam-based system - where students in Primary 1 and Primary 2 are assessed via tools such as show-and-tell, drama, theatre and role play. The pupils sit for only one round of formal examinations towards the end of Primary 2.

    The system was extended to another 67 schools last year, and this year, 54 more schools came on board.

    Parents and teachers Today spoke to gave it a thumbs up, despite initial reservations. Said Mdm Junaidah: "Exams are important in Singapore, and I wondered how we would gauge how my child was doing and if she would be on the losing end."

    Mdm Lee Kee Hua, 38, had similar concerns: "They all have to sit for the PSLE, so I was worried how my child would do compared to others who would have been trained from P1 to be exam-smart."

    Their worries were alleviated when they saw the positive effect that the HA system has on their children.

    Mdm Lee, whose son is in Primary 4, noted that with HA, "it is easier for parents to zoom in on (their children's) problem areas".

    "The topics are taught in bite sizes, so my child knows exactly where he is weak. This is different from my older child, who needs to wait for exams and common tests to see where he needs to improve."

    The system also increases communication between parents and teachers to the point where, for instance, parents know specifically which word their child has problems with.

    Initial concerns that it would mean an increased workload for teachers were also unfounded. Haig Girls' School principal Constance Loke said the workload was "reviewed and streamlined", and that teachers were gratified by the impact they now have on their students.

    Concord Primary School principal Tonnine Chua added: "Teachers now see pupils as partners in the teaching and learning process."

    The MOE is expected to unveil a progress report in the coming weeks. A spokesperson told Today that over the past year, the ministry has "made available more professional learning resources and tools to support principals and teachers to plan, implement and review" the HA system.

    Da Qiao Primary School pupils taking part in one of the HA activities,the readers' theatre. Photo courtesy Da Qiao Primary School

  8. #5703
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    Default Singapore Airshow opens to the public at weekend


    by Dylan Loh
    04:46 AM Feb 13, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Some 70,000 tickets to this year's Singapore Airshow have been snapped up, and organisers expect the remaining 20,000 tickets to sell out over the next three days.

    Besides these tickets for the public, 10,000 have been set aside for corporate partners for the event, which opens to trade visitors tomorrow and to the public on Saturday and Sunday, with 45,000 public tickets allocated for each of the two days.

    The first day is close to being sold out, said organisers.

    The world's biggest aerospace players are gearing up to tap this growing sector in Singapore, which created 8,000 jobs in the last decade, of which four in five went to locals, according to the Economic Development Board.

    "The maintenance, repair and overhaul sector will continue to be a key focus. We want to deepen capabilities and move up the value-chain in this," EDB executive director (transport engineering) Lim Kok Kiang said yesterday.

    "Manufacturing is emerging as another key pillar of growth for the aerospace industry ... We're also expanding and extending into after-market services, such as aircraft leasing and training, pilot training. All these will create good job opportunities for Singaporeans."

    Singapore Technologies Engineering has the biggest presence at the airshow, showing off its defence and aerospace wares, plus ideas for a greener future.

    Mr Jimmy Lau, managing director of Experia Events, the organiser of the airshow, said accessibility to the event venue - Changi Exhibition Centre - will be better this year.

    "What we've done is to create more access for everyone ,and at the same time, improve on the shuttle service. The frequency has been increased to every two minutes," he said.

    Around 140,000 delegates and public visitors are expected for the event.

    This will include European Commission vice-president and Commissioner for Transport Siim Kallas, who arrives today for a three-day visit at the invitation of Transport Minister and Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Lui Tuck Yew.

    The two men will sign a Memorandum of Understanding for cooperation on intelligent transport systems and will witness the signing of other cooperation agreements in aviation.

    The visit comes under the Transport Ministry's Distinguished Visitors' Programme, in which key international transport leaders and eminent personalities come to Singapore, and in conjunction with the Singapore Airshow and Aviation Leadership Summit.



    Royal Malaysian Air Force jets performing a manoeuvre during a media preview yesterday. REUTERS

  9. #5704
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    Default Relive 'Battle for Singapore' during WWII with NHB app

    09:07 PM Feb 12, 2012

    SINGAPORE - This year marks the 70th anniversary since Singapore fell to the Japanese Army during World War II.

    And to rediscover Singapore's war history, the National Heritage Board has developed a new mobile application, together with the National Archives of Singapore, and Learning & Development Resources (LDR).

    NHB has also partnered the National Cadet Corps to complement the launch of the app.

    National Cadet Corps members have been trained (by NHB and LDR) to conduct tours for some 130 schools islandwide.

    "This experience has taught me a lot about the history of Singapore, especially about the Japanese attack plans and British defence plans. It's very comprehensive. Before this experience, I knew very little about the specifics of Singapore history, especially during World War II," said NCC member Keith Chong
    .

    Through the "Battle for Singapore" app, users are taken on a learning journey to experience Singapore's war history.

    The app offers four different trails - named Western, Eastern, Northern and Southern trails.

    For example, in the Western trail, users discover historical sites in places such as Labrador Park, Fort Siloso and Bukit Chandu.

    The app will serve as a companion guide to 32 historical World War II sites all over Singapore.

    Upon completion of each trail, users are "promoted" in rank and get the chance to unlock weapons.

    Mr Alvin Tan, director of Heritage Institutions at the National Heritage Board, said: "We believe that the free application will appeal to today's tech-savvy youths and offer experiential learning for students beyond the classroom."

    Mr Png Bee Hin, CEO of Learning and Development Resources, said: "I previously conducted trails for my cadets when I was a commander for OCS. I didn't quite connect with them. So the idea came to my head that I should make use of technology."

    The app is available for free download at iTunes from Feb 10. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

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    Default Mardan owes his wife

    He thought of becoming a coach, now Singapore's No 1 is back in winners' circle


    by Tan Yo-Hinn
    04:46 AM Feb 13, 2012

    SINGAPORE - After going nearly six years without a win, he thought of quitting his sport.

    Mardan Mamat has wife Siti Nazariah to thank for talking him out of it, after the Singapore No 1 finally ended his long barren spell with victory at the US$300,000 (S$378,360) ICTSI Philippine Open yesterday.

    The 44-year-old shot a final round 1-under-par 71 for a four-round 280-total at Manila's Wack Wack Golf and Country Club to pocket the US$47,550 winner's cheque.

    He finished five strokes ahead of South Korea's Mo Joong Kyung, with the Philippines' Antonio Lascuna and Japan's Azuma Yano settling for a two-way tie for third (287).

    "My wife (Naz) encouraged and pushed me a lot in practice. She said you love the game so much and why must you quit," said a teary-eyed Mardan, decked out for the final round in his customary yellow shirt.

    "There was a time when I said it was time for me to be a golf coach, but she said not in your dreams."

    Regaining his composure, Mardan added: "It feels great. It's always good to win a tournament, especially the oldest national open in Asia. I didn't make any stupid mistakes and kept my ball in play all the time. The whole week I was very patient and hit the ball good."

    The result pushed Mardan to the top of the Asian Tour's Order of Merit with US$49,860 in prize earnings so far this season, ahead of Australians Kieran Pratt (US$47,550) and Adam Blyth (US$34,875).

    The win also earned him a spot at this week's Avantha Masters at the DLF Golf and Country Club in India.

    After winning the 2004 Royal India Open for his first Asian Tour title, he followed that up with an emotional win at the US$1 million Singapore Masters in 2006, becoming the first Singaporean to win a European Tour-sanctioned tournament.

    That was his last Asian Tour title, until yesterday.

    Mardan led in the Philippines from the opening round, but it wasn't until the par-3, 191-yard eighth on Wack Wack's tricky 7,222-yard, par-72 East course yesterday that he knew his long wait was about to end.

    "That hole, you can pick up a big number and I managed to get a par. It may have looked easy but it wasn't. There was pressure, especially at the start of the round," he said.

    "All the good memories from winning the Singapore Masters (in 2006) came back.

    "When I won then, I'd led from the first day to the end. That gave me a lot of memories which boosted my confidence."


    Leading final scores:

    280 Mardan Mamat (Sin) 69 70 70 71
    285 Mo Joong Kyung (Kor) 72 71 68 74
    287 Antonio Lascuna (Phi) 71 71 76 69; Azuma Yano (Jpn) 69 75 73 70
    288 Ben Fox (US) 69 73 74 72
    289 Adam Blyth (Aus) 73 70 75 71; Paul Donahoo (Aus) 71 72 74 72
    290 Arnond Vongvanij (Tha) 73 72 74 71; Kim Gi Whan (Kor) 71 75 72 72; Hwang Inn Choon (Kor) 77 72 67 74



    Mardan Mamat with the ICTSI Philippine Open title, his first victory on the Asian Tour since 2006. PHOTO COURTESY ASIAN TOUR

  11. #5706
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    Default Singapore builds 1st LNG terminal, 80% completed

    Published on Feb 13, 2012

    The first liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Singapore is 80 per cent complete, and is expected to 'enhance Singapore's energy security,
    ' said Mr S. Iswaran, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade & Industry.

    Located on Jurong Island, Mr Iswaran paid a visit to the 30ha site on Monday which, when completed, will have a capacity of 3.5 million tonnes per annum.

    The terminal will help Singapore supplement its energy needs once completed in 2013, and protects the local market against price and supply risks at the international level.

    It is also in line with Singapore's goal to become a regional gas hub.

  12. #5707
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    Default More Singaporeans signing up for 'living wills'

    15,000 have opted for Advance Medical Directives, waiving life support to keep them alive

    Published on Feb 13, 2012


    Dr Lam Pin MinBy Poon Chian Hui

    A GROWING number of Singaporeans are making the difficult decision not to be put on life support when the end comes.

    By last December, about 15,000 had signed up for 'living wills', which aim to minimise suffering by instructing doctors not to use artificial means, such as respirators, to keep them alive. This is a steady increase from the 10,100 Advance Medical Directives (AMDs) made by 2008.

    The rise may be due to an increased awareness of living wills, said Dr Lam Pin Min, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health.

    Background story

    'I believe Singaporeans are generally still quite traditional and conservative... Speaking about death and end-of-life issues remains a taboo subject.'

    Dr Lam Pin Min, chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health, on the need for greater public awareness.

    Mr J. Lee made a living will eight years ago after deciding he would like to die with the minimum of suffering. He went to his doctor to sign up, after reading about AMDs in the newspapers.

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    Default Cherie Tan wins International Bowling Championships in Japan

    Published on Feb 12, 2012


    National bowler Cherie Tan was victorious at the International Bowling Championships in Japan on Saturday morning. -- ST PHOTO: TED CHENBy Lee Min Kok


    National bowler Cherie Tan was victorious at the International Bowling Championships in Japan on Saturday morning.

    The 23-year-old ousted Malaysian top seed Dayang Khairuniza in the women's step-ladder final 218-179 at Fukuoka's Hakata Star Lanes to snag the winner's cheque of six million yen (S$97,500).

    It is the biggest prize purse any Singaporean bowler has won.

    The Feb 7 to 11 event is the fourth-leg of the World Bowling Tour, which boasts a total prize money of more than US$380,000 (S$480,000).
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    Default Singapore honours celebrities, dignitaries with orchids

    Published on Feb 12, 2012

    (AFP) - Cuddly pandas are China's ambassadors of soft power and other countries use money or culture to enhance bilateral ties, but Singapore prefers to say it with flowers - orchids, to be exact.

    The tropical city-state cultivates special orchid varieties and names them after a motley mix of foreign leaders and celebrities as part of its diplomatic repertoire.

    What is striking in the VIP and Celebrity Orchids sections of the National Orchid Garden - part of the 63-hectare (156 acre) Singapore Botanic Gardens - are the famous names rather than the variety of blossoms.

    There's the pastel-white Dendrobium Memoria Princess Diana named after the tragic British royal and the star-shaped Paravanda Nelson Mandela in honour of the South African freedom icon. More recently, the bright pink Ascocenda Yingluck Shinawatra was presented to the Thai prime minister.

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    Default Aussie becomes overnight millionaire at Changi Airport

    Published on Feb 12, 2012

    Australian Jessica Down (centre) reacting with joy as she emerged the big winner of Changi Airport?s 'Be a Changi Millionaire' Draw, out of a field of seven finalists, yesterday. The 26-year-old materials engineer from Perth was one of 46.5 million passengers who passed through the airport last year. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIMBy Lim Yan Liang


    With the tug of a string and a shower of silver and gold confetti, Ms Jessica Down of Australia became an instant millionaire on Sunday afternoon at Changi Airport.

    Ms Down, a 26-year-old materials engineer, emerged the big winner of the airport's 'Be a Changi Millionaire' Draw, out of a field of seven finalists. Sunday's event was the culmination of the promotional campaign.

    'It's unbelievable. You don't think this can happen to you and then it does, and everyone here's been so great,' said Ms Down immediately after her million-dollar win. 'I am speechless; I am laughing so much I've got a sore tummy already.'

    Ms Down, who is from Perth in Western Australia, was one of 46.5 million passengers who passed through the airport last year. The record figure represents an 11 per cent growth in passenger traffic from 2010.
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    Default S'pore-China cooperation to be beefed up: Shanmugam

    Foreign ministry officials to hold regular consultations: Shanmugam

    Published on Feb 12, 2012

    By Ho Ai Li, China Correspondent


    Beijing: Officials from the foreign ministries of Singapore and China will hold regular consultations in a move to beef up contact and cooperation, said Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam on Sunday.

    'We will set up a mechanism for that,' he said at the end of his introductory visit to China. 'This is important because it allows us a direct and bilateral way of dealing with or discussing issues of common interest.' Such consultations are expected to be held this year.

    China's Vice-Premier Li Keqiang affirmed the role played by both countries in preserving peace and stability in the region when he met Mr Shanmugam, Xinhua news agency reported.


    Background story

    Need for framework to resolve issues peacefully

    'When China progresses, it benefits all of us. In fact, through this crisis, China's stability and continued progress have helped tremendously. At the same time, between neighbours, time to time, there will be issues that arise. And the real question is how do you have a framework that allows for resolution of these issues in a peaceful way that doesn't increase tensions. China recognises the need for that, Asean countries recognise the need for that, and we'll work at it.'

    Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam

    The move comes after Mr Shanmugam's introductory visit to the US earlier this month, during which Singapore and the US signed an agreement to hold an annual strategic dialogue between senior officials

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    Default US, China welcome Shanmugam's remarks

    Published on Feb 12, 2012


    Mr Shanmugam meeting Chinese Vice-Premier Li Keqiang at the central headquarters in Beijing of China's leadership on Friday. China's leaders said they appreciated the clarity and frankness shown in Mr Shanmugam's speech. -- PHOTO: XINHUA


    BEIJING - Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam said on Sunday that both China and the United States had responded positively to comments he made about US-China relations.

    In a speech at a conference in Washington on Wednesday, he set out Singapore's long-standing support for American engagement of Asia but also pointed out that it was not tenable for the US to contain China.

    Anti-China rhetoric might 'spark reactions that create a new and unintended reality in the region', he added.

    The Americans understood and accepted this, while the Chinese appreciated Singapore's clarity and frankness, he said.
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