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  1. #5917
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    Default

    Speak out but work together, says PM



    by S Ramesh
    04:46 AM Apr 05, 2012

    PHNOM PENH - Almost a year after what has been described as a watershed General Election, a "certain stability" has been restored in the mood of the electorate and its expectations, according to Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

    Speaking to the Singapore media at the end of the 20th ASEAN Summit, Mr Lee gave his observations on post-GE 2011 Singapore - where there is a new compact between the Government and the people - but cautioned against a situation where the population relinquishes its strength of being able to move together, even on issues where there might not be unanimous consensus.

    Mr Lee pointed out that the Government has changed its approach in many ways. "You have seen that in outcomes of policies as well as in terms of the process in engagement. It's a necessary change - I think it has been helpful," said Mr Lee.

    But Mr Lee reiterated that it takes two hands to clap: "It's not just what the Government does, it's also about how the electorate see its role in the new environment, and how it sees it can contribute and what it thinks its responsibilities (are) towards making the system work in a different way."

    Mr Lee added: "Because this is not about what more the Government can do - of course the Government must do all it can, that is its responsibility. But it's also how we can work together to make Singapore succeed. And that calls for Singaporeans to not just speak out, but also to participate and to feel the responsibility to do their part to make things happen the right way."

    And while that process is under way, "the balance between speaking out and working together is something which still needs to be worked upon", Mr Lee noted.

    He cited the example of how some residents reacted negatively to the Government's plans to build more amenities in housing estates for senior citizens - including the building of studio apartments at Toh Yi for the elderly.

    Mr Lee said: "People respond more articulately now, they organise together more easily, the Internet has enabled this to happen much more readily than before, and also people are much more educated and vocal. And so we have to manage this."

    Cautioning Singaporeans against adopting a not-in-my-backyard attitude which would "stymie ourselves", he added: "If we take this self-centred approach to problems, we will not be able to do the best for ourselves as a community."

    Mr Lee added: "It's one of our major strengths over the years - that we have been able to take it overall, rough and smooth. So on a particular project, one group may gain more than another, some groups may have some adverse effect, because there are some consequences and side effects that you live with - noise, dust, or inconvenience.

    "But taken as a whole, because we have been able to go on this broad approach, Singapore has made a lot more progress and you have a much better Singapore than if we had stayed put and everything had been 'no'."

    Referring to the Government's consultation efforts to develop the Bukit Brown area, Mr Lee said: "We have to consult, we have to adjust - you look at Bukit Brown, you have to talk, you have to explain. But if at the end, we cannot move at all, you will not only not have tomorrow's Singapore, we wouldn't even have today's Singapore."

    He added: "You will be where you were in the 1960s, and I think it will be a very unhappy state."

    Another concern for the Prime Minister is the need for Singaporeans to remain united such that they are not divided by issues of race, language and religion, especially in the Internet age.

    Citing the furore over blog posts by National University of Singapore scholar Sun Xu, who is from China, Mr Lee said: "He shouldn't have made that blog post. He did. He has been chastised. He has been disciplined. He has expressed his contrition. He's sorry about it. And I think we should accept that. We should have been able to move on from that and deal with it as one person who mis-spoke."

    He added: "We should not because of one incident make that into an issue - that all immigrants are like that, or all Singaporeans should feel like that towards not even immigrants, but towards non-Singaporeans who are in Singapore, either studying or working here."



    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. BLOOMBERG

  2. #5918
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    Default Escape Chapel Party organiser apologises to Archbishop

    04:46 AM Apr 05, 2012

    SINGAPORE - The organiser of the cancelled Escape Chapel Party met Archbishop Nicholas Chia yesterday afternoon to apologise in person for upsetting the Catholic community, even as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) cautioned organisers to respect the law, as well as racial groups and religions, when organising their events.

    The party, which was supposed to be held at Chijmes Hall on Saturday over the Easter weekend, came under fire for using publicity material deemed offensive to Catholics.

    This included posters of a model dressed in a nun's habit and party dress. It was cancelled on Tuesday night, following intervention by the venue's landlord.

    Mr Aaghir Yadav, director of Creative Insurgence, which organised the event, said they used yesterday's meeting to "express how deeply remorseful we are for all the upset we've caused to the Catholic community in the days leading up to their most holy of weekends".

    In a statement to the media, he said that the company "never intended to offend or mock the Catholic faith and chapel" and is "very sorry for the poor judgement we've displayed in our marketing decisions".

    Following the meeting, the organiser also delivered a letter of apology to the Archbishop, where he expressed remorse and assured Archbishop Chia that "such an incident will never happen again".

    Responding to Today, Archbishop Chia said the in-person apology was "appreciated". "We have accepted his apology and assurance that such an incident will not happen again," he said.

    The Archbishop added that the incident serves as a reminder "of the need for mutual respect for all religions in our multireligious country."

    Meanwhile, MHA issued a statement yesterday, cautioning organisers that while they "can be creative in organising events, there is no excuse for breaking the law, or for insulting or denigrating any racial group or religion in Singapore".

    "If the event had been carried out as originally publicised, the organiser could also have breached one of the conditions of his licence and be liable for sanction, in addition to the licence being revoked," said the MHA.

    Stressing that it "does not condone any behaviour that denigrates any religion in Singapore", the ministry said that "mutual respect, tolerance and restraint are critical to maintaining communal peace and harmony".

    A police report has been made against the organiser for the controversial advertisements. The police are currently investigating the matter.


  3. #5919
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    Default NYC charting new path to better nurture youth leaders, says Chan Chun Sing

    by Syed Amir Hussain
    04:46 AM Apr 05, 2012

    SINGAPORE - To better nurture youth leaders, the National Youth Council (NYC) is charting a new path as it moves away from just organising events, to becoming an "integrator" and "incubator" for youths and youth sector organisations.

    This is in line with the NYC's vision of "building inspired and committed leaders and youth for our country", said NYC Chairman Chan Chun Sing (picture) yesterday.

    While he is happy the youth sector has become stronger and more vibrant, there is tremendous potential to do much better, said Mr Chan, who is also Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

    To achieve this change in direction, the NYC will undertake a two-pronged approach. Firstly, it will provide more platforms to develop youth leaders and encourage them to network with each other.

    One of which is the Community of Young Leaders network to be launched next Tuesday. Some 120 young working adults, aged between 28 and 35, will be nominated as youth leaders who will advocate for youth interest on community and national issues and champion youth causes.

    Mr Chan said: "What we want are leaders who are not just deep in their own domain knowledge, in their respective causes, but we want a community of leaders that can share each other's perspective, so that in the diversity of ideas, in the diversity of causes, there are also grounds for us to find convergence to take the country forward."

    The NYC's second thrust will be "to incubate and groom new start-up youth sector organisations" by providing them with resources and avenues to develop.

    This includes funding and space at *SCAPE to promote youth causes. The NYC will also collaborate with schools to link youths up with these organisations.

    A final-year Singapore Management University undergraduate, who only wanted to be known by Gabriel, suggested the NYC could have more grassroots engagement.

    "Perhaps the NYC could consider having chapters within the tertiary institutions so that there is a closer connection with youths on the ground," he said.

    The NYC's current engagement platforms include the Youth Expedition Projects, which encourage volunteerism, the National Youth Forum, which allows youths to debate national issues, and the SHINE Youth Festival, which allows youths to organise events and showcase their talents.

  4. #5920
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    Default Civic centre is named Wisma Geylang Serai

    by Channel NewsAsia
    04:45 AM Apr 05, 2012

    SINGAPORE - The civic centre in Geylang Serai, which will be completed by 2016, will be known as Wisma Geylang Serai.

    The name was finalised by a panel chaired by former Member of Parliament Yatiman Yusof, after taking into consideration the vision and intended uses for the centre, as well as the results of the online public voting in February from a shortlist of 10 names nominated by the public.

    The panel felt that "Wisma" reflects the distinctive cultural identity of Geylang Serai, and is also forward-looking and cosmopolitan.

    Mr Yatiman said: "The panel had considered the fact that 'Wisma' had been used as the working name for the civic centre. However, we decided that this should not prejudice our choice, as the final chosen name should be based on what best represents the civic centre as a distinctive and progressive cultural and community hub in Geylang Serai.

    "This process has also unveiled the deep interest that the Malay community has in the cultural identity of the civic centre. I hope that the Malay culture and heritage will be expressed through the architecture and streetscape of the Geylang Serai precinct when it is fully developed."

    The 10,000 sq m centre, which was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last August, is expected to house a Malay Heritage Gallery, the Geylang Serai Community Club, South East Community Development Centre, as well as some arts groups.

  5. #5921
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    Default Former train stations open for events

    Public can now make use of the buildings for ad-hoc activities

    04:45 AM Apr 05, 2012

    SINGAPORE - The public can now make use of the two former Malayan Railway stations in Bukit Timah and Tanjong Pagar for ad-hoc activities and events.

    And the first event to be staged at the former Tanjong Pagar station will be a fashion show on April 25, organised by Female and Nuyou magazines.

    The Singapore Land Authority (SLA) said yesterday it hopes such events and activities will inject vibrancy and life to the two buildings and the surrounding area.

    The authority has received "several requests" from the public over the past few months to use both railway stations for community events, sports activities and exhibitions. So it opened the two former Malayan Railway stations for ad-hoc activities and events, subject to its terms and conditions.

    Besides the fashion show in three weeks, other events being planned include exhibitions and art performances.

    Both stations are on land formerly occupied by Malayan Railways. Since the land was returned to the Singapore Government in July last year, the SLA has carried out improvement work at the sites.

    The Tanjong Pagar railway station has been gazetted as a national monument, while the Bukit Timah railway station has been conserved.

    The SLA is carrying out improvement work at three sites along the 26km Rail Corridor and adjacent vacant state land which was identified for interim community use in January.

    The sites, which are located near Jalan Hang Jebat, Ghim Moh Road and Kampong Bahru Flyover, will be progressively opened to the public from this month. "The public will be able to enjoy free access to these sites for recreational activities until such time when the land is required for development," said the SLA. Channel NewsAsia



    The former Malayan Railway station in Tanjong Pagar. TODAY FILE PHOTO



    File photo of the Bukit Timah railway station on the KTM. Photo by ERNEST CHUA

  6. #5922
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    Default S'pore, US, reaffirm bilateral defence ties

    Posted: 05 April 2012 1047 hrs

    SINGAPORE: Singapore and the United States reaffirmed the excellent and long-standing bilateral defence ties between the two countries when Singapore Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen met his US counterpart Leon Panetta at the Pentagon on Thursday.

    The two countries also underscored the shared belief that a strong US presence in the Asia Pacific enhances regional stability and security.

    In a joint statement after their meeting, both ministers said they recognised the value of the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus and the Shangri-La Dialogue as important forums to build the confidence and mutual understanding needed to address regional security challenges.

    Dr Ng, who is on his first official visit to Washington DC, welcomed Mr Panetta's commitment to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue this year.

    Both sides also recognised the importance of practical cooperation -- such as military exercises and exchanges -- among regional militaries, which complements the role of dialogue in building trust and confidence in the region.

    During the meeting, Mr Panetta and Dr Ng discussed a wide range of defence and security issues, including a proposal for the US to deploy up to four littoral combat ships to Singapore.

    The warships will be deployed on a rotational basis and will not be based in Singapore.

    The ministers noted that the deployment of the warships signals US commitment to the region and enhances its ability to train and engage with regional partners.

    Both sides also noted the substantial progress made in deepening bilateral defence cooperation since the signing of the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA) in 2005.

    Dr Ng and Mr Panetta also agreed to increase the complexity of existing bilateral exercises, such as Exercise Commando Sling, to enhance inter-operability and promote greater cooperation between both armed forces.

    Additionally, the US and Singapore will enhance joint urban training opportunities through the use of Singapore facilities, such as the Murai Urban Training Facility.

    The US and Singapore will continue to explore additional joint initiatives to further operationalise the SFA and facilitate US engagement in the region.

    Earlier in the day, Dr Ng delivered a speech to an audience of officials and strategic thinkers at an event organised by Washington DC-based think-tank, the Center for a New American Security.

    In his speech, Dr Ng emphasised the importance of evolving a regional security architecture for the Asia-Pacific region that brings together all key stakeholders in the region, and accommodates their interests and aspirations.

    Stable military-to-military relationships were needed to maintain peace in the region.

    Dr Ng said, "It is vital to evolve a regional security architecture which accommodates all stakeholders and rising aspirations. Relationships marked predominantly by strategic rivalry will increase the risks of friction and conflict. We must therefore engage in ways to increase understanding and confidence among defence establishments."

    Dr Ng also noted the importance of the US' continuing role in maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific.

    Dr Ng will also meet with Secretary of the Air Force Michael B Donley and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan W Greenert, while he is in Washington DC

    Thereafter, Dr Ng will visit the Republic of Singapore Air Force Peace Carvin V F-15SG fighter detachment at Mountain Home Air Force Base in Idaho.

    - CNA/wm

  7. #5923
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    Default PAP has to engage a lot more, says Tharman

    by Tan Weizhen
    04:46 AM Apr 05, 2012

    SINGAPORE - The People's Action Party (PAP) in the past had been too "in-your-face" and had taken its incumbency "for granted", Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said yesterday. And while the PAP will evolve, it is also a question of how Singaporeans evolve in their political thinking.

    Mr Tharman made this point during a question-and-answer session at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum - attended by about 200 undergraduates - held at the National University of Singapore.

    During the session, an undergraduate asked what the PAP could do to overcome what he observed as greater "cynicism" towards Government policies among a population which is becoming increasingly educated. An "overly sympathetic press" was cited by the student as one of the factors for the cynicism.

    In response, Mr Tharman said: "How the ruling party responds to this is one very important question. I think we have to engage a lot more. We took our incumbency too much for granted in the past, and we were also a bit too in-your-face."

    Mr Tharman, who is also the Finance Minister and Manpower Minister, called on Singaporeans to take it upon themselves to increase the level of civic activism.

    Adding that civic society here has been more active than given credit for, Mr Tharman said: "If you can keep up the system where people have a say ... they feel they have a role to make things better, then the situation of trust between Government and people would be better preserved, and Singapore would be better for it."

    On the mainstream media, he said: "I speak quite frankly as a politician myself - I don't think I get any great advantage from the (mainstream media). The opposition voices that exist get a good spread, second only to online media, which is even more overly sympathetic towards the alternatives."

    Responding to a question on whether the result of the General Election last year has influenced this year's Budget initiatives, Mr Tharman noted that, while many things have been done since the GE to reflect sentiments on the ground, the major themes of the Budget had been worked on for the last few years - for example, the expanded ComCare, Workfare and Medifund schemes. "Not everything starts and ends with the GE of 2011, and quite frankly, this has been an oversold story." Mr Tharman said.

    Earlier, in his speech, Mr Tharman spoke on the challenges of coping with an ageing population, as well as retaining the social compact amid the growing income disparity faced by countries around the world.

    Mr Tharman warned against passing burdens on to succeeding generations. A key strategy for policymakers is to find ways to ensure social mobility among Singaporeans in every generation, he said.



    Undergraduates concerned about bread-and-butter issues

    by Tan Weizhen

    Bread-and-butter issues - jobs, the prices of property and car ownership - were also on the minds of the undergraduates at the ministerial forum.

    Responding to a question on housing prices, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam (picture) acknowledged that "we are not in a very happy part of the cycle ... because prices have risen faster than income in the last four years".

    But Mr Tharman reiterated that, compared to other countries, Singapore has done more to intervene in the market. Apart from cooling measures, the Government is also ramping up the supply of Build-to-Order flats. "It takes a bit of time ... My advice to you is, wait a little bit," Mr Tharman told the undergraduates.

    Another student expressed concern on the rising Certificate of Entitlement premiums, arguing that the high cost of car ownership has not alleviated the traffic situation.

    Mr Tharman replied that the congestion will be "far worse if we didn't have COE and ERP". The challenge is to improve the public transport system over the long term, he added.

    On concerns about competition with foreigners in the job market, Mr Tharman reiterated that "whether we have foreigners here with us or not, we are still competing with them" - many companies, including those in the finance, hospitality and manufacturing sectors, are competing on the global stage, he added.

    In response to a question, Mr Tharman also spoke of the need to "treat blue-collar workers with respect". Raising the quality and productivity of such jobs will change people's perception, he added.

    "We cannot just be a society of insurance agents, real estate agents and bankers and office workers," Mr Tharman said. AMANDA LEE


    Photo by OOI BOON KEONG

  8. #5924
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    Default NTU tops Asia for accounting research output

    Updated 03:07 PM Apr 05, 2012

    SINGAPORE: The Nanyang Technological University's accounting research has come out tops in Asia, according to the latest ranking by Brigham Young University.

    NTU is ranked seventh in the world based on the productivity of its accounting researchers across 11 top accounting journals in the last six years.

    NTU researcher Professor Tan Hun Tong retained his standing as the world's top accounting researcher, followed closely by Professor Clive Lennox, making them Asia's top two accounting researchers.

    Both researchers are based at NTU's Nanyang Business School.

    Professor Gillian Yeo, interim dean of Nanyang Business School said, "The strong endorsement by the BYU's latest Accounting Research Rankings reaffirms the position of Nanyang Business School as Singapore's premier business school.

    "This outstanding result, combined with the strong showing by our MBA programme in this year's Financial Times ranking, and by NTU in other world league tables, is another firm endorsement of our standing among the world's elite higher education institutions," she added.

    NTU said its strong showing was achieved largely on the back of relatively recent research by its faculty.

    In terms of research output over the past 20 years, NTU was placed at 25th position.

    By contrast, the six universities that were ahead in the global rankings - University of Texas at Austin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Stanford University, Michigan State University, Ohio State University and University of Chicago -- all ranked within the top 15.

    However, when research output over the last 12 years was considered, NTU was ranked ninth globally. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

  9. #5925
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    Default No plans for Singapore to host US troops: Ng Eng Hen

    Published on Apr 5, 2012


    Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen (right) meeting with US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta at the Pentagon. -- PHOTO: MINDEF


    By Chua Chin Hon

    WASHINGTON - Singapore is not considering plans to host troops from the United States, visiting Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in response to a question at a forum here.

    As the first batch of US Marines began arriving in Australia this week as part of the Obama administration's strategic 'pivot' to the Asia Pacific, Dr Eng was asked if Singapore would consider a similar request from Washington.

    'No, we are not considering the deployment of troops from the US,' the minister said unequivocally, adding that Singapore's scarce land resources and growing population made it ill-suited for such initiatives.

    A far better option, he stressed, has been to give US military ships and aircrafts access to Singapore's facilities, which the Republic has done since 1990 when it signed a memorandum of understanding with the US.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  10. #5926
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    Default NS enlistment hits 900,000th man milestone

    MP urges each soldier to do his part for SAF to remain an effective force

    Published on Apr 9, 2012


    The latest batch of 3,462 recruits graduating as privates at the end-of-course parade held at Marina Bay's floating platform. The parade was held on Sunday morning after the men had completed the nine-hour, 24km route march, the traditional final phase of Basic Military Training. -- ST PHOTOS: CHEW SENG KIM


    By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent

    Singapore reached a milestone on Sunday - the 900,000th man to undergo national service (NS) since it was introduced in 1967.

    Joining the previous generations who have gone through the familiar rite of passage in the last 45 years were 3,462 recruits, who became newly minted soldiers after they successfully completed their Basic Military Training (BMT).

    They graduated as privates in an end-of-course parade held at Marina Bay's floating platform on Sunday morning, after completing the nine-hour, 24km route march, the traditional final phase of recruit training.

    The parade's reviewing officer, MP Intan Azura Mokhtar, said the route march served as a timely reminder to the citizen soldiers about NS.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

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    Default S'pore heartlands set to get sporty

    More than 1,000 teams expected to participate in first Singapore National Games


    by S Ramesh rameshs@mediacorp.com.sg
    04:45 AM Apr 08, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Sports is moving into the heartlands in a big way to help build community ties, with the inaugural Singapore National Games (SNG) to kick off in September.

    Preparations are now in full swing, and more than 1,000 teams are expected to take part in 10 games.

    The qualifying round for the SNG, called the Community Games, will be held from April 15 to July 29 as teams compete in sports such as badminton, basketball, bowling and football at the Community Clubs, sports halls and sports facilities across the island.


    The teams are made of up residents of various races and ages, who live in public and private estates within the same cluster.

    Two winning teams in every sports category will emerge from each of the 15 participating clusters to qualify for the SNG, which runs from Sept 1 to 9. A total of 360 teams from the Community Games will participate.

    Ahead of the Community Games, Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer and his team of Members of Parliament from Pasir Ris-Punggol yesterday played a five-a-side game against the women's football team. The match ended goalless, but organisers hope to score in community bonding.

    "It is something we internalise and build up over a period of time. If we have events like this - community sports games - you get to know a few more people, you get to understand what they are like, you build up a stronger network ... Then, over a period of time, people get to know each other better," said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

    This is what the SNG, organised by the People's Association and Singapore Sports Council, aims to achieve.

    "Initially, many people thought it would be quite difficult to pool teams together. But it is indeed wonderful to see residents start calling their friends and neighbours to form (teams)," said Mr Yam Ah Mee, chief executive director of the People's Association.

    For more information, visit www.pacsc.org.sg and www.singaporenationalgames.sg.




    The football team led by Speaker of Parliament Michael Palmer with Yuhua Cheergroup yesterday. Photo courtesy People's Association







  12. #5928
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    Default Team led by S'pore researchers makes gene breakthrough

    04:45 AM Apr 09, 2012

    SINGAPORE - An international team of scientists - led by researchers here - has identified hundreds of novel genes that are mutated in stomach cancer, paving the way for treatments tailored to the genetic make-up of stomach tumours in individuals.

    The Singapore researchers who led the study were from the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and the National Cancer Centre Singapore.

    The study was published online yesterday in Nature Genetics. Its senior co-author, Duke-NUS Associate Professor Patrick Tan, said: "Until now, the genetic abnormalities that cause stomach cancers are still largely unknown, which partially explain the overall poor treatment outcome."

    Assoc Prof Tan also leads the Genomic Oncology Programme at the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore and is a group leader at the Genome Institute of Singapore.

    In the United States, for instance, less than a quarter of patients survive more than five years after diagnosis, even after treatment.

    Stomach cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death globally, with more than 700,000 deaths each year, and is particularly common in East Asia.

    The study's reach team used state-of-the-art DNA sequencing technology to analyse tumour and normal tissue from stomach cancer patients.

    The team included scientists and clinicians from three research groups affiliated with Duke-NUS, including one headed by senior co-author Professor Teh Bin Tean, director of the NCCS-VARI Translational Research Laboratory at the National Cancer Centre Singapore.

    Prof Teh said that the study had screened 18,000 human genes and identified more than 600 genes that were previously unknown to be mutated in stomach cancer.

    According to the researchers, two of the 600 stomach cancer-associated genes identified, FAT4 and ARID1A, proved to be "particularly interesting": A further analysis of about 100 stomach tumours found these genes to be mutated in 5 per cent and 8 per cent of stomach cancers, respectively. In some patients, portions of the chromosome containing the two genes were found to be missing, further evidence that genetic defects affecting these genes occur frequently in stomach cancer.

    The team is actively working on translating the results of the study into clinical applications. Said Assoc Prof Tan: "More research is required to realise the clinical implications of these findings. ARID1A and FAT4 are likely also involved in many other cancer types, not just stomach cancer."

  13. #5929
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    Default Arts with a passion

    04:45 AM Apr 09, 2012

    The PAssionArts Month came to a close yesterday, with a seven-hour music festival featuring 30 music acts, including community bands. The animated silhouettes of dancing residents were projected onto the facing HDB block near the Punggol Waterway. Residents also got the chance to submit artworks which were projected across 12 storeys of the nearby HDB flat. WEE TECK HIAN



    Photo by WEE TECK HIAN

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    Default Unfazed by criticism, bullish about Yale-NUS college


    by Derrick Paulo
    04:45 AM Apr 09, 2012

    When Yale University president Richard Levin visited Singapore last month, the resolution by faculty members who wanted to express concern about the planned Yale-NUS College was gathering steam.

    But such criticism, even if it has been persistent from some quarters, is not something that fazes Professor Levin. Neither has it surprised him.

    "Vigorous debate is just a way of life in American universities. It's the way that faculty express their views and with wide differences of opinion," he said in a recent interview with Today.

    "Some of our faculty had concerns about the project from the beginning, and we had some debates and discussions about it last year before we signed the agreement with NUS ... (but) we've got many faculties deeply engaged in this project."

    And ahead of the college's opening in August next year, Prof Levin declares that "there's a high level of commitment in Yale to make sure this will be a great success".

    The two universities have high hopes that their liberal arts college will give students "a broad multidisciplinary perspective on the world" through an interactive pedagogy "that encourages students to think for themselves".

    But there are certainly risks for both parties, as in any venture, Prof Levin admits. And for Yale, the biggest risk is simply to its reputation.

    "That's why it's really important to us that this project succeeds. Our reputation as one of the world's great universities is at stake. We have to deliver and make this worthy of Yale," he said.

    "Any kind of partnership has risks if the two parties don't end up seeing eye to eye on something. But we think that NUS has terrific leadership."

    Despite the rumblings on Yale's home campus, when asked if there have been any differences between NUS and Yale, Prof Levin was positively bullish.

    "So far, there's very strong convergence of NUS and Yale leaders and faculty involved in the way we think of this project. There's a great excitement," he said.

    Today had previously reported that up to 50 per cent of the college intake could be foreign students, although NUS has also said that up to 80 per cent of the places will be available to Singaporean students.

    While not going into the specifics, Prof Levin is clear on how the college's admissions approach will be.

    "In the first years, the emphasis will be heavily to establish ourselves in Singapore. So the majority of students will come from Singapore in the first years," he said.

    "We do want a strong representation of international students because the experience of any one student is made richer by the presence of students of different types. I see this at home all the time."

    With the funding for the college coming from the Singapore Government, the project could not have come at a better time for Yale, Prof Levin also said.

    "It came at a time that made it particularly attractive to us because in the fall of 2008, when the financial markets collapsed, Yale lost a quarter of its endowment. We lost over US$6 billion (S$7.57 billion)," he said.

    "That created for us a necessity to rein back on some of our expansion plans, to freeze all of our new construction projects."

    And even as Yale began to adjust its budget due to the loss, NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan approached Prof Levin in January 2009 to propose the partnership.

    "It worked out very serendipitously ... at a time when all Yale could offer was the energy and enthusiasm of its faculty and staff," said Prof Levin.

    The economics professor, who has been the university's president since 1993 and was recently appointed to serve on the United States President's council of advisers for science and technology, was unequivocal about his faith in Prof Tan's leadership at NUS.

    The latter, said Prof Levin, is especially keen about one aspect of the college and the partnership: Helping students to see the world from the perspective of both Asia and the West.

    "(While) those are simplified stereotypes - there is no one Asia, there is no one West - there are intellectual traditions," said Prof Levin.

    And while he is full of praise for the education system in Singapore and in Asia, this is also where he thinks going global will work for Yale.

    "We're going directly into the areas that are most crucially in need of attention, that is, to move a society from the level of training excellent specialists who can be effective in their roles in society but don't necessary have the vision and creativity to innovate and to lead in new directions - that's what we're trying to bring."


    Derrick A Paulo is senior editor (Voices) at Today.



    Prof Levin thinks NUS has terrific leadership. Photo courtesy of Yale-NUS

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    Default Does Singapore need Economic Restructuring II?

    by Lim Chong Yah 04:45 AM Apr 10, 2012

    As a solution to the new problems of increasing income inequality and the excessive reliance on cheap foreign labour import, I would like to propose Economic Restructuring II, operational for three years, with the following six features.

    Sizable pay increase

    for lowest income workers

    One, that all workers' pay below S$1,500 per month be cumulatively increased by 15 per cent in year one, 15 per cent in year two and 20 per cent in year three.

    This increase is applicable to all workers, local or foreign, if he or she draws a pay of less than S$1,500 per month. A dollar quantum is also to be included in the increase pay package.


    Part of pay increase to Skills

    Development Fund and CPF RA

    Two, that one-third of the increase pay package be channelled to the Skills Development Fund (SDF), one-third in the form of take-home pay and the other third to the CPF Retirement Account.

    For foreign workers, it will take the form of ex-gratia payment upon leaving Singapore on expiry of tenure.

    The SDF should be reactivated, revitalised and reinvigorated to perform the functions of training and retraining of workers, mechanisation and technological upgrading, and better employment of labour through redesigning in labour use.

    The restructuring momentum has to be regenerated and sustained. The buzzwords should continue to be "use one worker instead of two".


    Moratorium on pay

    of highest income groups

    Three, those who receive S$15,000 a month or more will have their wages or salaries frozen for three years only during Economic Restructuring II.

    There is no proposal for a pay cut or a pay ceiling or super-taxes for high-flyers, only a moratorium on pay increase for three years.

    The intention is not to frighten the geese that lay the golden eggs. No Wall Street protests of the kind in the United States should ever be envisaged.


    Moderation for middle income groups

    Four, those whose pay is between $1,500 and $15,000 a month will receive a quarter to a third of those less than $1,500 a month. A portion should still go to the much inadequate CPF Retirement Account.


    Government co-payment of SDF

    Fifth, the state (or the Government) should contribute to the SDF on a 1-to-1 quid-pro-quo basis to demonstrate tripartite commitment, participation and responsibility in the new economic restructuring process.



    Involvement of National Wages Council

    absolutely necessary

    Six and lastly, like in Economic Restructuring I, the modus operandi of Economic Restructuring II - including the operational details - should be discussed and decided upon by the tripartite National Wages Council, which has to forge consensus by the three tripartite social partners, as in 1979.



    AIMS OF Economic restructuring II

    The basic objectives of Economic Restructuring II are:

    To check and to halt and, if possible, to reverse somewhat the disturbing increasing income inequality trend;

    To increase productivity, total factor productivity, as a growth target; and

    To check and to halt the trend towards increasing reliance on very much cheaper imported labour to generate quantitative GDP growth.

    The overall objective must be, and should be, to enhance further the quality of life of all those who live and work in Singapore and, in particular, for those whose home and country is Singapore.

    With Economic Restructuring II, we will have a stronger, more robust, and more productive economy, and a fairer, more just society.



    NOT EASY BUT ...

    It is much more difficult to have national economic restructuring now than three decades ago. The politico-economic and the socio-economic environment have changed.

    But what has not changed, however, is that we still have effective tripartism and we still have a government and the Civil Service that are among the best in the world in cleanness, integrity and ability.

    Economic restructuring needs a national will. Do we have it now - as we had it then, a little more than three decades ago - but now, we are faced with a new set of economic problems, which may be called the problems of economic success?

    Previously, we called (it) Growth with Equity. Now, we call (it) Inclusive Growth. I have no doubt that Economic Restructuring II will bring Inclusive Growth to a more respectable and a more meaningful level.

    I recognise, however, that Economic Restructuring II as proposed by me is but one way of achieving the aims of Inclusive Growth - probably, in my view, the best way.


    Lim Chong Yah is Albert Winsemius Chair Professor of Economics and Director, Economic Growth Centre, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Nanyang Technological University. The article is an excerpt of a speech, Does Singapore need Economic Restructuring II or another 'Wage Revolution'?, which he gave at the Economic Society of Singapore Distinguished Speaker Public Lecture Series at the Orchard Hotel yesterday. The views expressed are his own.


    BETWEEN 1979 and 1981, Singapore went through its first formal economic restructuring exercise. With Singapore's political, economic and social conditions having undergone tremendous changes in the past 33 years, it may be time for Economic Restructuring II.



    'Only way out is to restructure again':
    ProfessorEconomics prof says income gap approaching dangerous levels

    The Straits Times

    Published on Apr 10, 2012

    Prof Lim presenting his radical proposal at a lecture organised by the Economic Society of Singapore on Monday. He maintained that the economic restructuring he had helped orchestrate in the late 1970s had turned out well, despite critics who questioned whether the acute pain of the subsequent recession was worth it. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN


    By Melissa Tan

    One of the architects of an economic restructuring exercise that overhauled Singapore's wage system in the late 1970s said on Monday that the country now 'needs shock therapy to wake up its economy'.

    Professor Lim Chong Yah pointed to growing income inequality, which he says is approaching dangerous levels, and the nation's overdependence on cheap foreign labour.

    Prof Lim, who is 80 next month, said 'the only way out is to restructure again', in the area of pay for low earners.


    Background story

    Prof Lim said the pay rise for low-income earners would have 'hardly any impact' on inflation as a significant portion of the increment would be 'mopped up for training and retraining and for retirement'.


    The economics professor at Nanyang Technological University knows a thing or two about radical reform.
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    Last edited by Loh; 04-09-2012 at 10:44 PM.

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    Default MOE 'to continually review GEP to ensure relevance'


    by Ng Jing Yng
    04:45 AM Apr 10, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Almost two decades after the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) was introduced in 1984, questions are still being raised about it: Yesterday, Members of Parliament (MPs) wondered if it gives rise to an uneven playing field for students here and also questioned the efficacy of assessing students at such a young age for the GEP.

    Said Mountbatten MP Lim Biow Chuan: "Why not classify them after PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination), when most of the students are slightly more mature after going through their first major exam?"

    Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Intan Mokhtar was also concerned if the increasingly tricky questions in the PSLE favour GEP students, who are taught higher-order thinking skills.

    In response, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Education and Law) Sim Ann reiterated that the PSLE is based on the primary school syllabus which all students undergo. As such, GEP students are not given an advantage over their peers, she said.

    Said Ms Sim: "The GEP is not a programme that is intended to prepare children for exceptional performance at the PSLE. Its goals are to develop intellectual depth, high-level thinking and to nurture creativity, among others."

    Each year, about 500 students are selected for the GEP. Ms Sim noted that these students generally perform well in the PSLE as they were selected out of the top percentile in the Primary 3 cohort and already have strong academic abilities. Still, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will continually review the GEP to ensure its relevance, Ms Sim said.

    Responding to a question by Nominated MP Yee Jenn Jong, Ms Sim also revealed that, since 2000, there are about fewer than 20 students who have been identified as exceptionally gifted.

    Ms Sim noted that, for this group, they are assessed via stringent criteria, including aptitude tests. The oldest among the group - at 18 - is currently enrolled in the National University of Singapore (NUS). One has gone overseas for studies, while the rest are in the schools here, she said.

    On the tertiary institutes' ability to accommodate exceptionally gifted students, Ms Sim added that the MOE works closely with the universities to determine the pupil's readiness, and that includes social-emotional preparedness.

    MPs also asked about the Integrated Programme (IP), which allows students to bypass the O-level examinations.

    According to Ms Sim, among the 2004 to 2006 cohorts, 6 per cent withdrew from the programme. And among these, more than half of the pupils remained in the same school to take the O-level exams. The majority of the remaining IP students also qualified for the publicly-funded universities, she said.

    While the IP has achieved its intended outcome, the O-level track remains relevant, she noted.

    Said Ms Sim: "What is important is for students and parents to recognise which style of learning suits the individual student best. Is it one which is more self-directed and independent or would it be one which is more structured?"

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    Default First restructuring exercise (1979-81)

    by Lim Chong Yah
    04:45 AM Apr 10, 2012

    Wage rates were increased across the board cumulatively by 20 per cent a year;

    A portion of the increase went to the CPF through increases in employers' and employees' contributions;

    Another portion of the wage increase, 4 per cent of wages below a certain level, went to a newly created tripartite-run Skills Development Fund (SDF);

    The new SDF Advisory Council oversaw the administration of the fund with twin objectives:

    (i) Substantial across-the-board subsidy for training and retraining of employees at all levels opened to all employers in Singapore;

    (ii) A common-playing-field substantial subsidy for the mechanisation of the production processes opened to all employers in Singapore.

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