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  1. #5951
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    Default 300 attend first public forum on Vision 2030

    By Patwant Singh | Posted: 11 April 2012 2245 hrs


    SINGAPORE : The first public forum on Vision 2030 - the government's long-term blueprint for Singapore sports - was held on Wednesday.

    Some 300 people from the sports and non-sports industries gathered for the forum at the Scape Park at Orchard Road.

    And to ensure everyone had their say, participants were divided into groups of 20. They gave feedback on the 19 preliminary recommendations released in February.

    The discussion also touched on other ideas and suggestions related to sports.

    The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports said the Super Sports Clubs idea has generated the most buzz so far.

    Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, said: "It shows that Vision 2030 is not just an exercise at a certain point in time, but it is also a continuous journey where everybody participates in the generation of ideas and as we go along in the implementation, there will be many opportunities for people to continue to contribute to the whole process - either by giving us new ideas or refining the implementation details of some of the existing ideas."

    This is the second phase of public consultation on the preliminary recommendations and it is expected to end by May, after which the ministry will submit the final recommendations to the government for endorsement. It hopes a few will be implemented before the end of the year.

    - CNA/ms
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    Default Travelling heritage exhibition celebrates the void deck

    By Qiuyi Tan | Posted: 12 April 2012 2125 hrs


    The National Heritage Board's latest travelling exhibition celebrates the form and uses of the HDB void deck.


    SINGAPORE: The form and uses of the HDB void deck have evolved over the years, but it remains a keystone in Singapore's heartland heritage.

    And that's what the National Heritage Board's latest travelling exhibition is celebrating.

    The void deck was first introduced in the 1970s as a gathering spot for the community.

    It was home to the small provision shops, and the space was used for weddings and funerals.

    More recently, some void decks have also become the community's art gallery.

    "These days void decks have sort of moved out of HDB flats. You find other shared common spaces such as rooftop gardens, even precinct pavilions where residents can gather to know each other, to bond over common activities," said Alvin Tan, director, Heritage Institutions, National Heritage Board.

    - CNA/cc
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    Default Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre to close March 2013

    By Ng Puay Leng / Hon Jing Yi | Posted: 12 April 2012 2158 hrs



    Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre

    SINGAPORE: The Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC) will be shutting its doors in March 2013, as the Urban Redevelopment Authority will develop the land for other purposes.

    The centre currently sits on prime land in the Central Business District, and tenants said they have been told to move to other venues, such as the National Library or community centres.

    However, they are hoping for a dedicated space for their groups.

    Meanwhile, the National Arts Council (NAC) said it has identified a site for its new arts centre which will be ready by 2013. It will call for applications from all interested groups, including tenants from the Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre.

    Savinder Kaur, managing director of The Writers' Centre, said: "All of us in TAPAC have come together to create a series of events, performances. We are calling it 'Goodbye TAPAC', to celebrate the spirit here.

    "And we are hoping that we'll create enough awareness, and hope that the NAC will relocate all of us to new premises. And that premises should be something similar to this."

    -CNA/ac
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    Default Yale-NUS a timely, visionary initiative

    Four reasons why resolution adopted by Yale faculty is disappointing

    The Sunday Times
    April 15, 2012

    By Tommy Koh

    Yale University is a great university. When I was living in Nre York city, I often commuted to New Haven to teach at Yale. In 1982, I was invited to deliver the Stimson Lectures. In 1984, I was conferred an honorary of doctor of laws by Yale. As a graduate of Harvard Law School, I was very pleased to quote President Kennedy and say to my wife that I have the double benefit of a Harvard education and a Yale degree.

    I am a proud member of the Yale family. It was with disappoint that I read the text of the resolution adopted by the Yale College faculty on the Yale-National University of Singapore (NUS) College, which will be located in Singapore and begin operation next year. Let me explain why feel disappointed.

    First, the resolution completely ignores the potential benefits of this visionary joint venture, for the two universities, and for Asia and America. The new college will enable the students to read, learn and discuss the great books of the West and the East, the great philosophical traditions of Asia and the West, and the great poets and writers of two civilizations.

    I hope that the college will offer a congenial and inspiring environment for mutual learning. I also hope that the intellectual engagement between American and Asian students and faculty will take place on the basis of equality and mutual respect. The Yale faculty resolution seems to be inconsistent with this spirit and smacks of cultural arrogance and superiority. The message seems to be that the American way is the only way.

    Second, Asia is on the rise. It is the home of the world's second (China) and third (Japan) largest economies. India will soon catch up. Asia is also the home of some of the world's most ancient and richest civilizations, such as, the Chinese, Indian and Japanese. Asean is the world's second most successful region organisation, after the European Union. south-east Asia is the poster child of successful multiculturalism.

    America's engagement with Asia must reflect this changing reality. It is not a relationship patron and client, or of a superior an an inferior. It is,with every passing day, becoming a ratioship between equals. The Yale faculty should, therefore, be more humble.

    After the failure of the attempt to remake Iraqin America's image, America's intellectuals should reflect deeply on that experience. One lesson learnt should be that while America can and should help, it cannot prescribe the future for other countries.

    Third, NUS and Yale share many common values and ambitions. They are both dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. They believe freedom. They subscribe to the internationally recognized human rights, both the civil and political rights as well as the social, economic and cultural rights.
    In Singapore, unlike the United States, racial and religious harmony are prized above the freedom of speech and freedom of the press. If there is a contradiction between them, the US would give primacy to the freedom of speech and freedom of the press, whereas Singapore would give primacy to racial and religious harmony.

    This does not mean that one side is right and the other side is wrong. What it means is that we are different because of our different histories and circumstances. It is not fair for the Yale faculty to criticise Singapore for it's "lack of respect for civil and political rights" without acknowledging that it is only 47 years old and that, in that short time, it has transited from the Third World to the First.

    Singapore is certainly not perfect, but, I dare say it, neither is America. Singaporeans have enjoyed the right to vote since 1959. When I was a student at Harvard, the black citizens of the American south were still denied their right to vote. Even now young black men, such as Trayvon Martin, are viewed with suspicion because of racial prejudice.

    Fourth, Singapore is seriously committed to upholding the principle of non-discrimination. Any form of discrimination based on race, colour, religion, gender is unacceptable to Singapore.

    We have one of the world's most diverse populations. The miracle is that we have learnt to live in harmony. There are no ethnic or religious conflict in Singapore. Women have gained parity with men.

    We are not yet as tolerant as the West towards sexual minorities, but we have to progress at a pace acceptable to Singaporeans. Yale should respect that.

    In conclusion, I would say to my friends in New Haven that the Yale-NUS College is a timely and visionary initiative. I am confident that it will be a success and it's success will have a strategic significance in the partnership between Asia and America in the 21st century.

    (The writer, a Singapore diplomat, is Rector of Tembusu College, NUS.)

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    Default Yale-NUS a timely, visionary initiative

    I was watching the Axiata Cup finals and at the same time trying with some difficulty to key-in Prof Tommy Koh's comments from my i-phone, thus resulting in my making a few errors and omissions, which I now correct in red below. My apologies.


    Four reasons why resolution adopted by Yale faculty is disappointing

    The Sunday Times
    April 15, 2012

    By Tommy Koh

    Yale University is a great university. When I was living in New York city, I often commuted to New Haven to teach at Yale. In 1982, I was invited to deliver the Stimson Lectures. In 1984, I was conferred an honorary degree of doctor of laws by Yale. As a graduate of Harvard Law School, I was very pleased to be able to quote President Kennedy and say to my wife that I have the double benefit of a Harvard education and a Yale degree.

    I am a proud member of the Yale family. It was with disappointment that I read the text of the resolution adopted by the Yale College faculty on the Yale-National University of Singapore (NUS) College, which will be located in Singapore and begin operation next year. Let me explain why feel I disappointed.

    First, the resolution completely ignores the potential benefits of this visionary joint venture, for the two universities, and for Asia and America. The new college will enable the students to read, learn and discuss the great books of the West and the East, the great philosophical traditions of Asia and the West, and the great poets and writers of two civilizations.

    I hope that the college will offer a congenial and inspiring environment for mutual learning. I also hope that the intellectual engagement between American and Asian students and faculty will take place on the basis of equality and mutual respect. The Yale faculty resolution seems to be inconsistent with this spirit and smacks of cultural arrogance and superiority. The message seems to be that the American way is the only way.

    Second
    , Asia is on the rise. It is the home of the world's second (China) and third (Japan) largest economies. India will soon catch up. Asia is also the home of some of the world's most ancient and richest civilizations, such as, the Chinese, Indian and Japanese. Asean is the world's second most successful regional organisation, after the European Union. South-east Asia is a poster child of successful multiculturalism.

    America's engagement with Asia must reflect this changing reality. It is not a relationship between patron and client, or of a superior and an inferior. It is, with every passing day, becoming a relationship between equals. The Yale faculty should, therefore, be more humble.

    After the failure of the attempt to remake Iraq in America's image, America's intellectuals should reflect deeply on that experience. One lesson learnt should be that while America can and should help, it cannot prescribe the future for other countries.

    Third, NUS and Yale share many common values and ambitions. They are both dedicated to the pursuit of knowledge. They believein academic freedom. They subscribe to the internationally recognised human rights, both the civil and political rights as well as the social, economic and cultural rights.

    In Singapore, unlike the United States, racial and religious harmony are prized above the freedom of speech and freedom of the press. If there is a contradiction between them, the US would give primacy to the freedom of speech and freedom of the press, whereas Singapore would give primacy to racial and religious harmony.

    This does not mean that one side is right and the other side is wrong. What it means is that we are different because of our different histories and circumstances. It is not fair for the Yale faculty to criticise Singapore for it's "lack of respect for civil and political rights" without acknowledging that it is only 47 years old and that, in that short time, it has transited from the Third World to the First.

    Singapore is certainly not perfect, but, I dare say it, neither is America. Singaporeans have enjoyed the right to vote since 1959. When I was a student at Harvard, the black citizens of the American south were still denied their right to vote
    . Even now young black men, such as Trayvon Martin, are viewed with suspicion because of racial prejudice.

    Fourth, Singapore is seriously committed to upholding the principle of non-discrimination. Any form of discrimination based on race, colour, religion, gender is unacceptable to Singapore.

    We have one of the world's most diverse populations. The miracle is that we have learnt to live in harmony. There are no ethnic or religious conflict in Singapore. Women have gained parity with men.

    We are not yet as tolerant as the West towards sexual minorities, but we have to progress at a pace acceptable to Singaporeans. Yale should respect that.

    In conclusion, I would say to my friends in New Haven that the Yale-NUS College is a timely and visionary initiative. I am confident that it will be a success and it's success will have a strategic significance in the partnership between Asia and America in the 21st century.


    (The writer, a Singapore diplomat, is Rector of Tembusu College, NUS.)

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    Default 4,900 celebrate all things Singaporean in New York

    04:45 AM Apr 16, 2012

    NEW YORK - About 4,900 Singaporeans living in the United States gathered on Saturday in New York to catch up on the latest developments in various aspects of life in Singapore and to celebrate all things Singaporean.

    This was more than the 4,000 expected for Singapore Day 2012, which was celebrated under the theme of "My Home, My Future".

    It marked the second round of the event that had previously been celebrated in Melbourne, London and Shanghai, which together with the Big Apple, are the Overseas Singaporean Unit's four key markets.

    The Melbourne and London editions drew up to 12,000 people, while 5,500 Singaporeans attended it last year in Shanghai.

    Some 6,000 people were at the first Singapore Day held in New York in 2007.

    Changes in Singapore's arts and cultural scene, presented as "Arts and culture for everyone, everyday, everywhere", were among the developments featured this time.

    In an effort to deepen engagement with the overseas Singaporeans, the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts showcased the Singapore Memory Project.

    The initiative "tells the story of our nation through collecting shared memories from Singaporeans, including those who are overseas, about what Singapore means to us", said a spokesperson.

    Local comedian Hossan Leong and Singaporean hawkers flew 15,000 km to entertain the crowd and cook various dishes, respectively, with the latter the real "star" of the culture-cum-cuisine event
    .

    Postgraduate student Crystal Neo, 26, said: "I have really missed local food such as chicken rice and black pepper crab.

    "Singapore Day reminds me of home, tucking into yummy hawker fare and hearing Singaporean accents all around."

    Local food consultant K F Seetoh said: "When it comes to food ... Singaporeans (and) certain flavours just resonate ... The sound of, say, laksa, just tingles."

    Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is in the US on an official visit, flew into New York for the event and took the chance to reconnect with the overseas Singaporeans.

    In his remarks, he highlighted the need for an inclusive society and a stronger Singapore.

    Mr Teo, who is also Minister-in-charge of the National Population and Talent Division, said that amid the changes evident in Singapore's transformation into a global city, it remained a home for Singaporeans to build their future.

    Then he told the crowd to "enjoy the music, finish up all the food, don't leave anything behind, and have a great time".





    PHOTO COURTESY THE NATIONAL TALENT AND POPULATION DIVISION

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    Default Logo, mascot for National Games

    by Amanda Lee
    04:45 AM Apr 16, 2012

    SINGAPORE - When 10,000 people from across the island compete in 10 sports later this year, one figure will be cheering them all on: A lion mascot named after the legendary founder of Singapura.

    The mascot and logo designs of the Singapore National Games (SNG) were unveiled yesterday after more than 4,000 votes were cast online earlier this year.

    It marked the start of the Community Games 2012, which serves as the qualifiers for the inaugural event to be held from Sept 1 to 9.

    Badminton, basketball, bowling and football kicked off yesterday, while netball, sepak takraw and table tennis will commence next month.

    Two students will be ever-present at the games, through their design entries.

    "The 'S' in the design represents a person running and the 'G' represents a person swimming," said logo design winner Yong Wen Yeu, a second-year graphic design student at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

    He added that the "S", "N" and "G" characters in the logo "represent the spirit of sports - the energy and passion that bonds people when they play sports together".

    The logo and mascot design contest held in February received 35 and 16 entries, respectively, submitted from design schools and tertiary institutions. The winners each received S$1,000 and an internship opportunity at advertising firm Publicis Singapore.

    The lion mascot garnered more than 70 per cent of the votes. "I named the mascot Nila as the founder of Singapore is Sang Nila Utama," said its creator, Ms Beatrice Cho, a first-year visual communications student at Singapore Polytechnic.

    "The heart-shaped face displays love, which represents how people interact with one another and come together as a community."

    Minister of State (Trade and Industry) Teo Ser Luck, who is adviser to the SNG Steering Committee, said the "logo and mascot really do reflect what these games are about".

    There has been feedback to add more sports to the SNG - athletics, dragon boat and swimming round up the final 10 - and to have "informal group" sessions, such as for alumni to play games together.

    The feedback is being taken seriously for future games, he said.


    Nila, mascot of the inaugural Singapore National Games. PHOTO COURTESY SINGAPORE NATIONAL GAMES ORGANISING COMMITTEE


    Mr Teo Ser Luck (left), adviser to the Singapore National Games Steering Committee, unveiling the logo for the inaugural games at Senja-Cashew Community Club yesterday in North-West District, where Dr Teo Ho Pin (right) is Mayor. Photo by ERNEST CHUA


  8. #5958
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    Default Sultans of Science exhibition makes Asian debut in Singapore

    by Nursha Ismail
    04:45 AM Apr 16, 2012

    SINGAPORE - A global touring exhibition that not only features the scientific contributions of early Islamic scholars but also highlights that advances in science and technology did not begin only in the West, is making its Asian debut today - at the Science Centre.

    The message from the Sultans of Science exhibition is that science and technology is a universal language.

    Using interactive games and touch-screen displays, the exhibition celebrates the Golden Age of Islam, when Muslim scholars as far back as the 7th century made groundbreaking discoveries and inventions.

    From aviation to medicine, their contributions laid the foundations for Europe's Renaissance.

    For instance, the world's first aviator, Abbas Ibn Firnas, was a Muslim scholar. In 875 AD, he flew across Spain in a glider made of bamboo slats, stretched fabric and eagle feathers.

    Famed Chinese admiral Zheng He, whose ambitious expeditions stretched as far as Africa, was also Muslim.

    Singapore is the exhibition's first stop in Asia. Mr Ludo Verheyen, director of exhibition creator MTE Studios, said: "We collectively decided that Singapore would be a great venue to kick-start the whole exhibition. It has a strong Muslim community and I also think that Singapore is a very multi-cultural society."

    Science Centre chief executive officer Lim Tit Meng said: "Regardless of what culture you come from, which background you come from, science and technology is a universal language."

    The exhibition runs until July 16. Tickets start from S$8 for children and S$12 for adults.

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    Default Indian Heritage Centre launches exhibition

    10:11 PM Apr 15, 2012

    SINGAPORE - The Indian Heritage Centre (IHC) is helping to keep Indian trades and professions alive.

    It will showcase how Singapore's Indian forefathers lived and worked when they arrived in the country.

    Visitors will be able to see standees which are on display throughout Little India and its surrounding streets.

    The community exhibition, entitled 'Our Indian Forefathers and Their Trades in Singapore', will feature 14 trades and professions, including garland makers, plantation workers and goldsmiths.

    The Indian Heritage Centre will also take visitors on guided tours every Saturday, from April 21 to July 14.

    'Our Indian Forefathers and Their Trades in Singapore' is on until July 17. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

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    Default Campus Spotlight: NUS UTown revolutionises campus life

    NUS' University Town provides an innovative model of living and learning with its residential colleges

    Published on Apr 16, 2012


    NUS' University Town provides an innovative model of living and learning with its residential colleges. -- PHOTO: NUS


    University Town (UTown) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) provides more than your traditional educational facilities.

    For those living in UTown's residential colleges, academic discourse is not limited within the four walls of a tutorial room or lecture theatre.

    Jonathan Ong Chong Han, a first-year Business student and Tembusu College resident, believes that UTown's educational concept has revolutionised campus life by marrying academia with social life.

    'If I were to describe the spirit or character of UTown, it would be 'Breaking the Work-Life Dichotomy', an assimilation of passions, interests, academics and relationships,' said Jonathan.
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    Last edited by Loh; 04-16-2012 at 02:16 AM.

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    Default Singapore Street Festival 2012 kicks off with hip-hop dance finals

    By Melissa Chong | Posted: 15 April 2012 2251 hrs


    It was the final showdown for lockers, poppers and break dancers, as they battle it out at this year's Singapore hip-hop dance competition


    SINGAPORE: It was the final showdown for lockers, poppers and break dancers, as they battle it out at this year's Singapore hip-hop dance competition.

    The winners will go on to represent Singapore at the annual R16 Southeast Asia Competition organised by South Korea in Taiwan.

    Minister of Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, was the guest of honour at the event.

    The event marks the launch of this year's Singapore Street Festival, which will kick off in July with a series of activities islandwide.

    About 230,000 people are expected to attend the month-long event.

    Budding performers can look out for competitions in bellydancing, breakdancing and even yoyo tricks.

    Other highlights include a street graffiti competition, performances by J-Rock bands, and a workshop for aspiring magicians.

    Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, the festival aims to be a training hub for youths with a passion in the performing arts.

    Participants can register for the competitions and workshops at www.singaporestreetfestival.com.

    - CNA/fa
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    Default Megachurch goers 'less likely to exercise moral influence publicly': Survey

    ISEAS study examined attitudes on various issues among Christians who attend different types of churches

    by Syed Amir Hussain
    04:45 AM Apr 17, 2012

    SINGAPORE - A survey of church-going Protestants by the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS) has found that those who attend megachurches were, among other things, "less likely to view the moral character of public policy in Singapore with concern" compared to other church goers. They are also less likely to publicly support "intervening in public policy matters" in comparison.

    The survey was conducted between December 2009 and January last year. Respondents were asked to fill up a questionnaire. The findings - released yesterday at a press conference - were based on 2,663 questionnaires from respondents at 24 churches here. According to the ISEAS researchers - Dr Terence Chong and Dr Hui Yew-Foong - the survey's objectives were to understand the "socioeconomic profiles of Protestant churchgoers" and their "attitudes towards finance, politics, sexuality and other communities".

    Speaking to Today, Dr Chong said that the reason behind the survey was to collect "qualitative data" on the growth of Christians in Singapore, since none existed.

    According to the latest census, the proportion of Christians among the citizen population increased from 14.6 per cent in 2000 to 18.3 per cent in 2010.

    In 2009, there was a leadership tussle in the Association of Women for Action and Research (AWARE) which cast the spotlight on religious activism.

    When queried, Dr Chong told Today the ISEAS survey was not linked to the AWARE saga.

    According to common definition - which was also used for the survey - a megachurch is a Protestant church that draws a weekly attendance of at least 2,000 or more, is non-denominational, and identifies itself as Pentecostal, evangelical or charismatic. Examples here include City Harvest Church and New Creation Church.

    Independent churches were defined by the researchers as those "not embedded in the organisational structure of any established denomination".

    Among the findings: About one-third of respondents who attend megachurches agreed that "Christians should collectively express their views on public policy issues in public", compared to 49.2 per cent of those who attend independent churches, 52.1 per cent of those who attend Anglican churches and 56.7 per cent of those who attend Methodist churches.

    Follow-up focus group sessions with respondents from megachurches found that, to them, "morality was articulated as a private matter" and "moral influence is to be exercised through one's private capacity in spheres that one is active in, rather than by imposing values through the church as a civic organisation".

    Nevertheless, more than eight in 10 of the respondents from all the various types of churches agreed that their Christian values influence their views on public policy issues such as abortion and casinos.

    Compared to other church goers, 28 per cent of those who attend the megachurches agreed with a statement that the Government "is becoming too liberal in terms of moral values". The figure contrasts with 46 per cent of those who attend Methodist churches, 42.7 per cent of those who attend Anglican churches and 45.2 per cent of those who attend independent churches.

    The survey also indicated that, while the respondents from megachurches are as conservative, if not more, compared to other churchgoers with regard to values related to *** and sexuality - such as pre-marital ***, the moral status of homosexuality and abortion - they are more willing to interact with, and have friends who are homosexuals.

    It also found that those who attend a megachurch tend to give more to their church in the form of tithes, come from the emergent middle class and be more likely to view wealth as an indicator of a person's faithfulness.




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    Default MediaCorp to bring best of London Games

    04:45 AM Apr 18, 2012



    SINGAPORE - Viewers can expect at least 21 hours of daily coverage of the London Olympics on Channel 5, and an additional six hours on Channel U and Okto.

    Channel NewsAsia, Channel 8, Suria and Vasantham will also carry reports on the Olympics in news bulletins and breakfast shows.


    This newspaper, which is owned by MediaCorp, will carry dedicated pages focusing on Team Singapore while radio listeners can also get updates from all 13 MediaCorp stations.

    MediaCorp is the official free-to-air broadcaster for the London 2012 Games, held from July 27 to Aug 12.

    MediaCorp deputy chief executive Chang Long Jong said: "MediaCorp is proud to bring Singaporeans the best of the London 2012 Olympic Games, through our multiple platforms via TV, radio, newspaper, completely free.

    "With extensive Olympics coverage over two weeks on our Free-To-Air platforms, we want to capture the special moments of Team Singapore and share the sporting camaraderie to cheer our athletes on."

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    Default Singapore remains top city for Asian expats

    Published on Apr 18, 2012


    By Anita Gabriel , Senior Correspondent

    Singapore remains the most liveable city among Asian expatriates, according to a new study, but cracks are appearing.

    The excellent infrastructure and low crime rate have long been two of the most compelling reasons cited by expats for liking Singapore.

    However, there are strains from the rising population and increased tourist numbers being lured by the integrated resorts, said Mr Lee Quane, Asia regional director of expatriate location advisers ECA International, which conducted the annual study.

    He told The Straits Times that these issues and problems like the recent flash floods do not threaten Singapore's position at the top of the league table, one it has held for the past 13 years.


    Top 10
    Most liveable locations for Asians
    Global rank

    Locations (2011) 2012

    Singapore (1) 1
    Sydney (2) 2
    Adelaide (4) 3
    Brisbane (3) 3
    Kobe (4) 5
    Perth (6) 6
    Canberra (9) 7
    Dublin (12) 8
    Melbourne (10) 8
    Copenhagen (10) 8

    Source: ECA International

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    Default Employment Act to be reviewed

    by Woo Sian Boon
    04:45 AM Apr 18, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Greater protection and better working conditions could be on the cards for several categories of workers, as the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) undertakes a review of the Employment Act this year.

    "There is a need to ensure that the EA (Employment Act) keeps up with the times and changes in employment practices," Minister of State (Manpower) Tan Chuan-Jin said yesterday, as he outlined how the changing manpower landscape has impacted Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) as well as contract and freelance workers.

    The Employment Act was last reviewed in 2008.

    Mr Tan, speaking at the MOM's Workplan Seminar, pointed to the rise in the number of PMEs, from 27 per cent of the resident workforce in 2001 to 32 per cent today.

    And while numbers are expected to increase further, Mr Tan said, "income levels have also risen, reducing the coverage of workers under the Act".

    He also highlighted the evolving employment norms and practices, with non-traditional work arrangements such as outsourcing and short-term contracts emerging over the years.

    The third group of workers under consideration during the review would be the low-wage workers.

    "As we are looking at improving the wage conditions for low wage workers, we should also look at how the EA (Employment Act) can better look after workers where the relationship with employers is less than balanced," said Mr Tan.

    The MOM will work with its tripartite partners and other stakeholders to ensure amendments take into account the interests of workers and employers. It will also seek public feedback.

    Several labour Members of Parliament and industry players Today spoke to shared the changes they hope to see.

    Under the Act, junior managers and executives earning up to a basic monthly salary of S$2,500 are protected against the non-payment of salary and can pursue their salary claims at the MOM Labour Court.

    Given that median income has increased across the board, Mr Mohd Shahar, human resource manager at the Association of Muslim Professionals, suggested that those earning more than S$2,500 a month should not be barred from seeking redress at the Labour Court.

    Executives, regardless of income level, should be given the liberty to decide whether they wish to seek redress at Labour Court and get claims capped up to six months' salary or to seek redress in civil court to get full claim as decided by the hearing court, he said.

    MP (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) Zainul Sapari also highlighted the difficulties low-wage workers face in salary disputes. There are currently no punitive measures for companies who delay or do not pay up employees' salaries even when ordered by the Labour Court to do so, he noted.

    Mr Zainul also called for an increase in the salary cap under part four of the Act, which provides for rest days, hours of work and other conditions of service. It currently covers only workmen earning not more than S$4,500 basic monthly salary and employees earning not more than S$2,000 basic monthly salary.

    "Given the increase in the number of PMETS in our workforce, it is important that there is an increase in the scope of coverage for this group of people," he said, hoping that junior executives can be covered under this section of the Act.

    He also hopes that 60 per cent of the entire workforce will be represented by the Act after the review.

    Former NMP and The Substation's former artistic co-director Audrey Wong, who had lobbied for the betterment of freelance workers, wants more recognition given to the fact that freelancers are often on the losing end of salary disputes.

    She said it is timely to address this issue and "perhaps measures with more bite can be introduced so that people know that they cannot get away with not paying their free-lancers".







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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Sustainable wage policies preferred: SNEF chief

    by Woo Sian Boon
    04:45 AM Apr 18, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Foreign investors do not react well to shock treatments but, instead, prefer steady and sustainable policies, said Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) President Stephen Lee yesterday, in response to former National Wages Council chairman Professor Lim Chong Yah's proposal for wage reform.

    "Our economy is very open and some 40 per cent of our GDP is in the hands of MNCs. Foreign investors like to see a steady and sustainable policy, and they don't react very well to shock treatments," Mr Lee told the media after a Ministry of Manpower workplace seminar.

    Prof Lim had proposed that those earning below S$1,500 a month have their pay increased by 50 per cent over three years, while wages of those earning S$15,000 or more should be frozen.

    While he "respected" Prof Lim's personal views, Mr Lee felt the proposal would not be workable because it concentrated only on changes made on a wage level, without considering the "competitiveness and flexibility of the market".

    Companies are very worried about losing their top talent and capping their pay could result in this talent "mov(ing) next door", he said, calling for a more "stable and sustainable" way to raise wages.

    Speaking at the seminar, Minister of State (Manpower) Tan Chuan-Jin suggested a range of reforms and initiatives to "boost productivity, increase the quality of workforce, and move up the value-chain in the goods and services that we produce, and the jobs that we create".

    "Robust job creation in a tight labour market will cause real wages to rise in the medium term," he said, adding: "Economic restructuring cannot be achieved by raising wages alone.

    "It must be carried out sensibly so that we do not adversely tilt our economy over."

    Mandating a minimum wage or percentage wage growth could result in "a loss of competitiveness and jobs", he said.

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    Default Older women can reduce fracture risk

    by Ashley Chia
    04:45 AM Apr 18, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Many post-menopausal women here are leaving it till after their first osteoporotic fracture before taking preventive action.

    Flagging this as a concern, and against a backdrop of an ageing society, the Osteoporosis Society of Singapore (OSS) yesterday called on post-menopausal women, usually those above the age of 55, to take two clinical risk estimation tests.

    The first, an Osteoporosis Self-Assessment Tool for Asians, determines if one has a high, moderate or low risk of having low bone mass density.

    The second, a FRAX test which can also be conducted online, estimates the 10-year-fracture probability of an individual.

    Post-menopausal women lose up to 20 per cent of their bone mass five to seven years after menopause, placing them at a higher risk than their male counterparts of developing bone fractures due to osteoporosis.

    Patients with pre-existing osteoporotic fractures may heighten their risk of further fractures by two to four times, warned OSS president Lau Tang Ching.

    Therefore, Associate Professor Lau, who is a senior consultant at the National University Hospital, felt it would be prudent for patients with high risk of fractures to seek medical attention before their first fracture.

    Studies showed that one in every five patients usually die within the first year after a hip fracture, while one in four of those who survive are either bedridden or in a wheelchair.

    The International Osteoporosis Foundation, however, said patients who go on medication reduce their risk of fracture by about 30 to 70 per cent.

    But to achieve that, patients must take their medication regularly - a common problem doctors here face in treating patients with the condition.

    Dr Leong Keng Hong, adjunct associate professor at Yong Yoo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore, warned: "Without medication, their risks of further fractures double or rise as high as four times."

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