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  1. #6002
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    Default 'Island hop' at Jurong Lake Park when makeover completed

    NParks to carve out islets and streams for visitors to enjoy at this Destination Park


    Published on Apr 29, 2012



    The makeover of Jurong Lake Park will also include more nature spaces and trails to support the rich biodiversity there, Mr Tharman said. The park is one of three Destination Parks announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last month. -- ST FILE PHOTO



    By Miranda Yeo

    'Island-hopping' inland in Jurong will be possible when the Jurong Lake Park gets a makeover.

    The National Parks Board (NParks) will draw inspiration from the local terrain and the park's water features to carve out islets and streams so visitors can enjoy island-hopping.

    This vision of an adventure playground was mapped out by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at the media launch of the Jurong Lake Run 2012, which will take place on July 8.

    In his speech at the JCube mall on Saturday, Mr Tharman, who is an adviser to Jurong GRC's grassroots organisations, revealed that the new developments will also include more nature spaces and trails to support the rich biodiversity in Jurong Lake Park.
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    Default SUTD takes in pioneer batch of students

    Updated 12:07 PM Apr 30, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Three hundred and forty applicants have been enrolled as the pioneer batch in the new Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD).

    The university received a total of 4,150 student applications.

    Some 91 students were awarded scholarships from organisations such as the Defence, Science & Technology Agency, and Keppel group.

    More than 40 per cent in the freshman cohort are female.
    CHANNEL NEWSASIA

  3. #6004
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    Default A piece of security for retirees

    Let us create and reward a civil corps of elder citizens who can be 'samaritans' to the frail, poor and illiterate

    by Kalyani Kirtikar Mehta
    04:45 AM Apr 30, 2012

    There was an elderly man on public assistance whom I interviewed when I was an undergraduate. He told me that his relatives and friends would shun him, especially when it was the middle of the month. He laughed as he explained that they probably thought he was approaching them because he had run out of money and wanted to borrow from them again.

    His tone of voice changed, as he continued to observe that even friends do not want to know you when you have financial problems.

    When retirees see their bank accounts get depleted over time, they may become depressed and suicidal, especially when they have a small social support network to depend on.

    It is a daunting challenge for any government faced with a fast-ageing population to ensure that its seniors are not left without a safety net.

    The Singapore Government is known for its foresight and political will to tackle even the most intricate Gordian knot.

    The recent announcement that the Minimum Sum Topping-Up Scheme would be extended to parents-in-law and grandparents-in-law from January is another attempt by the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Board to enable inter-generational transfer, with an incentive for the younger generation. This is a tax relief of up to S$7,000; the donor can also use his or her Ordinary Account savings to do the top-ups, provided the Minimum Sum requirement is met.

    The use of CPF as an inter-generational transfer tool, albeit a voluntary one, has an additional positive aspect: It encourages younger relatives to be generous towards their older family members and show reciprocity.



    THOSE WHO FALL THROUGH CRACKS

    The fact is that only 45 per cent of active CPF members who turned 55 year old last year were able to meet the Minimum Sum.

    With CPF Life taking effect next year, those between the ages of 40 and 65 will be automatically saving towards their Minimum Sum.

    But there is the group that lies in between - those who do not have enough for retirement, partly due to having used their CPF funds to pay for a home or for their children's tertiary education.

    They may also be low-wage earners, housewives or family workers. If they are single and living alone, they would be highly vulnerable. What can be done for them? If they are healthy, they can work longer, provided there are jobs for them.

    Why not think of a creative way to turn silver into gold?

    As I was searching for a creative way to help older people who are still capable of contributing to society, I thought of the term "social ambassador".

    If seniors who are still able can be tapped to be companions, or "samaritans", to the frail, poor or illiterate, our community would become more caring.



    PEOPLE WANT TO BE VALUED

    Why is the concept of seniors helping seniors not catching on? Firstly, it is the branding. Here is where the term "social ambassador" is impressive (just like its counterpart, "health ambassador").

    People wish to be valued, and if an organisation such as the Active Ageing Council (under the People's Association) could train able and mobile elders to get certified as Social Ambassadors, a new civil corps would be created. In the United States, this group is called the Experience Corps.

    The Active Ageing Council should capitalise on Senior Citizens' Clubs to relay the message that ageing is a more meaningful journey when we make the lives of others happier.

    It is also crucial to build into the whole scheme the concept that in-kind gifts would be attached for regular work - such as home visits, "elder sitting", companionship to visit the library or even grocery shopping. These gifts could be dental vouchers, meal voucher at hawker centres, movie tickets or even telephone cards.

    Such small gestures ensure that the voluntary efforts are appreciated, recognised and made sustainable.

    It is time that issues are not separated into economic, social or medical categories. Ageing issues are multi-dimensional and their solutions have to be multi-focused. If we continue to view the problem of the low percentage of elders not meeting the Minimum Sum requirement as an economic issue, the solution will continue to evade us.

    The actual issue is that these people need the attention of their neighbours and other concerned members of society. If their social capital is built up, the lack of economic capital can be compensated to some extent.

    A holistic perspective should be taken on issues facing a greying society and the solutions can be found.



    Associate Professor Kalyani Kirtikar Mehta is head of the gerontology programme at the School of Human Development and Social Services, SIM University.




    Seniors who are still capable of contributing to society can become companions to the frail and the poor, building a more caring community. TODAY FILE PHOTO

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    Default ElderShield scheme review will not be rushed

    It will consider public feedback, be carefully calibrated: Health Minister

    by Tan Weizhen
    04:45 AM Apr 30, 2012

    SINGAPORE - The ElderShield scheme has to be calibrated "very carefully" to ensure it remains affordable while, at the same time, effective in easing Singaporeans' financial burden in old age on long-term care expenses, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said yesterday, as private insurers here lent their voice to pressing concerns that the decade-old scheme is inadequate.

    According to a recent internal survey by Aviva - one of three private insurers appointed by the Government to offer the scheme - the average amount spent by claimants on long-term care is about S$2,000 a month, five times the ElderShield payout.

    The same survey also found that a majority of the 550 respondents grossly underestimated the expenses.

    Last week, Today reported the concerns by academics - including prominent healthcare expert Phua Kai Hong - and industry players who called on the Government to urgently review ElderShield, which is the country's sole national insurance scheme for intermediate and long-term care.

    In response, Mr Gan - who was speaking to reporters at the sidelines of a community event - reiterated that the review of ElderShield will have to wait for now.

    Said Mr Gan: "This year, we are reviewing MediShield, so next year we will be reviewing ElderShield."

    Nevertheless, the ElderShield review will "take into account feedback from Singaporeans as well as industry players, to see how we can enhance the scheme", he said.

    Mr Gan added: "But we also have to bear in mind that, with enhancement, the cost of the insurance will go up, so we have to calibrate very carefully to ensure that Eldershield remains affordable and, at the same time, the benefits remain effective to help our seniors."

    The ElderShield scheme was launched in 2002 as an affordable severe disability insurance scheme that provides basic financial protection to those who need long-term care.

    In 2007, the Government increased the monthly payout from S$300 to S$400, and the maximum payout period from 60 to 72 months. Singapore citizens and permanent residents with Medisave accounts are automatically covered under ElderShield at the age of 40, unless they opt out.


    'S'poreans unaware of financial impact of long-term care'

    In October last year, Aviva conducted a survey of 550 customers aged above 30 with varying income levels.

    The survey, which included focus groups, found that a third of the respondents thought that expenses for long-term care would reasonably fall between S$800 and S$1,000 each month, while another 24 per cent felt it would fall between S$600 and S$800.

    However, a smaller sample of its claimants showed the actual average cost is about S$2,000 a month.

    According to Aviva, about 24 per cent of long-term care expenses for the ElderShield claimants were spent on therapy, while almost 19 per cent went to their medical bills. Transportation costs took up about 14 per cent, and the remaining expenses went to items such as food, domestic help and equipment.

    The insurer, which has a market share of about 50 per cent for ElderShield coverage, said that the top claims for the scheme are for stroke.

    Speaking to Today, Aviva Singapore director of product and marketing Daniel Lum said that, from the insurer's discussions with the Government, it is clear that ElderShield is "at the top of the agenda". He noted that ElderShield is meant for basic coverage and, for those who want higher coverage, there are supplements to the scheme.

    But in general, consumers here "are not ready, they still do not think it is important in terms of priority", Mr Lum noted.

    Former NTUC Income CEO Tan Kin Lian suggested tax or fiscal incentives to encourage Singaporeans to have adequate coverage for long-term care. The current practice of allowing Singaporeans to use Medisave to pay for premiums is "helpful but not sufficient", he said.

    Mr Tan added: "In many countries, the government has found that some form of tax or fiscal incentives is helpful to develop the insurance market and to overcome the resistance of consumers to set aside money for their future needs."

    Great Eastern and NTUC Income are the other insurers offering ElderShield.

    A case study from Great Eastern showed that, for a married, 48-year-old ElderShield claimant with stroke, the expenses would come up to about S$2,900 a month.

    A Great Eastern spokesperson noted that a "significant number of severely disabled people live for more than five years".

    She added: "With the trend in rising medical costs, it would be prudent to gain more assurance with the knowledge that the life insured is covered for a longer period of time, or at a higher monthly payout."

    NTUC Income vice-president (public relations) Karen Yew reiterated that disability among the elderly is "a very real and growing issue".

    Said Ms Yew: "We support the review and enhancement of ElderShield, and this is urgent and necessary."

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    Default Free expression online - up to a point

    Early intervention better, before emotions get inflamed and it gets hard to calm people down: DPM Teo


    by Teo Xuanwei
    04:45 AM Apr 29, 2012

    SINGAPORE - It is easy to call for the Internet and social media to be open and free from regulation - but when someone "dear and near" gets affected because of it, most people would want intervention, said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean.

    Speaking yesterday at the National Community Engagement Programme (CEP) dialogue, Mr Teo highlighted the Internet and social media as one of three driving forces whose impact on the cohesion of our society can be "double-edged".

    The Internet and social media can be "an enabler of active citizenry and positive change" but "can (also) disrupt social order and harmony", he said.

    "You will have people who can conduct themselves properly, and you can have a good, civilised society ... but you will always have people who exploit the orderliness for their own purposes," said Mr Teo, who is also Home Affairs Minister. "I think when things do become disorderly, uncivil or bordering on extremism or violence, then there's usually a necessity, and even a desire on most people's part, to want something to be done."

    Hence, a fine balance has to be struck between allowing free expression online and exercising some check, he said.

    "At some point in time, there is a need for some organisation - whether it is self-policing or the state to step in," said Mr Teo. Early intervention is better because "if we take a step too late ... emotions would have already been inflamed and it would be hard to calm people down again."

    Since last November, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, has been encouraging the Internet community here to come up with a code of conduct as a means to self-regulate. But several well-known bloggers and owners of socio-political websites have opposed such a move, with some saying they saw it as a way for the Government to control free speech online.

    Speaking to reporters yesterday, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing said: "We must agree that (the Internet) is our space ... so I would encourage everyone using and interacting in that space to come forward and define that space. Collectively, we will define the norms that we would like to see being exhibited in that space."

    About 600 community and grassroots leaders attended the annual National CEP dialogue to discuss ways to strengthen the Republic's social cohesion and resilience to crises.

    Along with Mr Teo and Mr Chan, Dr Yaacob, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Swee Say and Minister of State for Manpower and National Development Tan Chuan-Jin also held discussions with the participants.

    The question of how free the Internet should be cropped up in Mr Tan's session. He said differing levels of maturity and sensitivity among netizens throw up questions worth pondering on, such as whether the voices online represent the majority - and, if not, should we allow the minority to dictate our views and lives.

    The other two driving forces that Mr Teo highlighted were globalisation and extremism.

    Increased flows of people and ideas across the world can improve cross-cultural understanding, but more diverse peoples living in a dense city like ours can also result in "greater consciousness of the differences in behaviour and norms", he said.

    Terrorist groups can also spread their ideological messages more quickly and further today - but the threat of extremism can also rally people to collectively fight for peace and harmony, he added.

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    Default He volunteered to serve NS

    By Teo Xuanwei, TODAY | Posted: 29 April 2012 0557 hrs



    SINGAPORE: He was then a Permanent Resident, but Mr Han Dong voluntarily signed up for National Service (NS), simply because he felt that it was the "natural thing to do".

    "It wasn't because I wanted to get citizenship," the 23-year-old National University of Singapore student, who emigrated here with his parents from Hebei, China when he was six, told TODAY.

    "We chose to remain as PRs during that period of time. I just didn't see myself as an immigrant because I came here a long time ago."

    He obtained citizenship in 2009, while he was serving NS.

    And when he was still in junior college, Mr Han got involved in grassroots work.

    "It started when I was just trying to fulfil my Community Involvement Programme hours but I found the work very meaningful, and I haven't looked back since."

    For instance, residents have become closer after attending activities that he and fellow grassroots leaders organised, said the vice-chair of the Sembawang Youth Executive Council and member of the Sembawang Zone 'B' Residents' Committee.

    Some neighbours have even formed their own interest groups, such as in brisk walking, taichi, and soccer workshops for youths.

    He added: "Personally, being involved in grassroots work also helped me relate to the Singapore identity more because I could play an active role in shaping how the community is."

    Of the People's Association's 31,800 grassroots leaders, 20 per cent are new citizens and permanent residents like him.

    The PA's new Integration Council, which was launched on Saturday at the Integration Carnival 2012 at the Singapore Zoo, will coordinate grassroots efforts to get new immigrants integrated with the local community.

    Earlier this week, the Singapore Hua Yuan Association opened its second New Immigrant Outstanding Contribution Awards to candidates of all races, regardless of their countries of origin, to recognise their contributions to Singapore.

    In addition, the association - with the Tan Kah Kee International Society and support from the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and the National Population and Talent Division - is giving out Friends of Immigrants Awards to Singaporeans who have helped to foster social integration between locals and new immigrants. - TODAY

    Mr Han Dong (wearing red polo tee and spectacles, talking to students), has been involved in grassroots work since he was in junior college. (Photo courtesy of Han Dong)
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    Default Wage shock therapy too risky, says PM Lee

    Bad experience in the '80s is instructive and times have also changed


    by Cheow Xin Yi
    04:45 AM May 02, 2012

    SINGAPORE - The last time the Republic tried to raise wages sharply for workers, it backfired: Wages shot up, productivity did not improve and the country lost its competitiveness, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong recalled yesterday.

    "So in 1985, when the winds changed, when the conditions turned difficult, we plunged into a very deep recession," said Mr Lee.

    Wages and CPF contributions had to be slashed in order for the economy to recover. "It was scary. The older unionists will remember - in fact we'll never forget," said Mr Lee, who was speaking at the May Day Rally.

    He recounted the circumstances about three decades ago in response to a much-publicised proposal by former National Wages Council (NWC) chairman Lim Chong Yah, which Mr Lee acknowledged was made with "good intentions".

    Nevertheless, times are different: In the 1980s, Singapore's only competitors were the "three dragons" - South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan - and multi-nationals were coming in to create thousands of jobs. Coupled with the fact that the NWC had restrained wages in the late 1970s, there was room for salaries to increase sharply, Mr Lee said.

    "But even then, we overdid it," he noted.

    Today, wages are no longer dictated by the NWC - which Prof Lim chaired from 1972 to 2001 - but by forces of globalisation, technology and competition. Companies now also face much harsher external conditions. Small and medium enterprises, for instance, will either have to pass on costs to consumers or close down if wages go up, Mr Lee added.

    Prof Lim had suggested increasing the salaries of low wage workers by 50 per cent in three years, while freezing the wages of top earners.

    Various government leaders, including Cabinet ministers Lim Swee Say and Lui Tuck Yew, had since responded to Prof Lim's proposal.

    Mr Lee, who met union leaders last week to understand workers' concerns, said that the "drastic" proposal had raised expectations and put unionists "under pressure" from their members.

    Mr Lee said: "It's important for me to spend some time to explain to you why we have to move carefully ... (and) why we should not confuse our workers. Better aim for what is sustainable, don't take a big risk with short-term jump in wages."

    Reiterating that wages have to rise in tandem with productivity, Mr Lee also outlined the various measures to help low-wage workers including the S$100-million Inclusive Growth Programme which will upgrade the skills of 100,000 workers, as well as cash transfers and wage subsidies.

    Prof Lim could not be reached for comment yesterday. Nevertheless, he had earlier issued a statement which, among other things, said it was a fallacy to say that the 1985 recession was triggered by his wage shock therapy that was implemented between 1979 and 1981.

    He said that the recession was "regional, not national, Singaporean only" and that Singapore's economic growth had increased between 1979 and 1983 as a result of his shock therapy, compared to the preceding five years.

    Union leaders Today spoke to said that discussions among members about Prof Lim's proposal were rife. Some members also came up to them and said that they liked the idea, the unionists said.

    Chemical Industries Employees' Union president Rajendran Govindarajoo said: "We'll explain to them, to get 3 per cent or 4 per cent (wage increase) is not easy from company. If you suddenly increase to 50 per cent, can the company afford?"

    Mr Rajendran said he also explained to the members that some companies in the chemical industries are already not doing well and would move out - taking hundreds of jobs with them - if unions "ask a lot from them".

    United Workers of Electronics and Electrical Industries president Francis Lim pointed out that companies have cheaper alternatives in neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Vietnam.

    The union leaders said, however, they understood the members' concerns. "In the case of low-wage workers, they will say, the higher income are getting more every day while the lower wage ones just get a little every year - S$40 to S$50," said Mr Rajendran.

    National Transport Workers' Union president Mohd Rasi Taib said that, for instance, the typical salary of bus drivers is between S$1,000 and S$1,300 even after more than 10 years of service.

    Mr Taib nevertheless reiterated that wage increases should be in tandem with productivity improvements.

    He said: "We should work on productivity first and then the (higher) wages will come later ... because after giving wage increase, nobody will work harder."





    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong leading union members and Parliament members at the May Day Rally yesterday. Photo by DON WONG

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    Default Table Tennis: Singapore's men paddlers shine in Chile

    Posted: 01 May 2012 0717 hrs


    SINGAPORE: The Republic picked up two titles on the latest stop of the 2012 ITTF Pro Tour with Gao Ning winning the men's singles crown, while the fast-improving pairing of Yang Zi and Zhan Jian won the men's doubles.

    At the Chile Open on Sunday (Monday morning, Singapore time), Gao made light work of Japan's Kazuhiro Chan, winning 4-1 for his second career Pro Tour title.

    "I think the key today in the final was that I was positive and when I needed to absorb his attacks my blocking play was consistent," said the 29-year-old.

    Yang and Zhan improved on their runner-up finish at the Spain Open last week by beating South Korea's Kim Dong Hyun and Li Jung Woo 4-2.

    This was the maiden win for the fast-improving pairing and the men's performance brought relief to the Singapore camp after their women paddlers failed to deliver.

    Li Jiawei made the final of the women's singles event, but was defeated 4-0 by South Korea's Kim Kyung Ah.

    On Saturday, Feng Tianwei's quarter-final exit to a lower-ranked opponent continued the world No 9's uncertain form this year, and deepened worries for the Beijing Olympic silver-medal winning women's team ahead of the 2012 London Games.

    - TODAY

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    Default S'pore is 4th most desirable place to live & work: survey

    Updated 02:49 PM May 02, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Singapore has moved up two spots to become the fourth most desirable place in the world to live and work, according to a survey by recruitment firm Hydrogen and business school ESCP Europe.

    This is because Singapore has become an increasingly popular destination for multinational corporations over the past few years, said Hydrogen.

    "We have seen companies from sectors as diverse as technology, energy, pharmaceutical and wealth management open offices here. The big question here is whether Singapore will become Asia's Silicon Valley or its Switzerland," said Mr Simon Walker, Hydrogen's Asia MD.

    While the three most popular places for survey respondents to live and work remain the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, their dominance is waning.

    The report showed that 12 per cent picked the US as the top relocation destination, down from 18 per cent last year.

    The UK and Australia each got 9 per cent of the votes, down from 10 per cent and 11 per cent respectively.

    As Singapore becomes an increasingly attractive relocation destination for expatriates, Hydrogen said employers in the city state are finding that they have the pick of the world's top professional talent.

    Mr Walker said: "Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, and it offers a clean and healthy environment free from traffic pollution.

    "So it is not surprising that 88 per cent of those who have moved to Singapore feel that their living conditions have improved."


    The report - which interviewed 2,353 people globally - also showed that the workforce was getting more internationalised. For example, 72 per cent of respondents said their employers see international experience as important or very important, up from 63 per cent last year. CHANNEL NEWSASIA







    TODAY File Photo

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    Default S'pore to be second biggest gaming destination after Macau

    By Thomas Cho | Posted: 02 May 2012 1340 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Singapore is poised to be the second biggest gaming destination in the world after Macau.

    Last year, analysts had made the same prediction but the outcome from the two integrated resorts in Singapore fell short of this expectation.

    Analysts are confident that after Marina Bay Sands (MBS) strong numbers, gross gaming revenue from the two local integrated resorts may overtake Las Vegas Strip by end of this year.

    MBS raked in gross gaming revenue of over US$2 billion last year.

    Meanwhile, its rival Resorts World Sentosa recorded net gaming revenue of close to US$2.6 billion in 2011.

    Analysts said the combined gross gaming revenue of Singapore's two casinos is about US$5.7 billion.

    This is just a shy away from the total gaming revenue of US$6.1 billion collected from more than 20 casinos along Las Vegas Strip.

    With MBS's recent strong first quarter showing, some analysts are upbeat that Singapore's gaming industry will overtake Las Vegas this year.

    MBS posted net revenue of US$848.7 million in the first quarter this year. Its casino earnings rose 51 per cent to US$701.3 million.

    Terence Wong, co-head of research at DMG and Partners Research said: "For this year, it should be able to take over Las Vegas as the number two top gaming spot globally and that is on the back of huge masses going over there (Marina Bay Sands) and on top of that, I think VIPs are much sort after. RWS already has their own international marketing agents which bring them (patrons) over here."

    Analysts expect Singapore's gross gaming revenue to hit US$6.5 billion this year versus the Strip's US$6 billion.

    Experts said Singapore remains attractive to the high rollers because it offers more than just gaming.

    Unlike Macau where gaming accounts for 90 per cent of its economy, there are other tourist attractions and activity for the family too.

    Director of corporates at Fitch Ratings Nandini Vijayaraghaven added: "Gaming in Singapore is stable to positive, it is a preferred tourist destination. It is a regulated market with two casinos, both operating under long licence period and in exclusivity period build within the licence period."

    Casino patrons' stay in Singapore is usually longer on each visit of around four days.

    This helped boost income from the integrated resorts as well.

    In the fourth quarter last year, data from the tourism authority show that tourists spent S$1.3 billion in sightseeing and entertainment including gaming.

    Richard Linstrom, dean at University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Singapore Campus, said: "Las Vegas Sands has a kind of unique expertise in the high rollers upscale market, I think it'll be difficult for regional operators over the short term to match that. I think over the longer term there'll be adjustments by all the companies in Asia and there'll be room for everyone to compete."

    Genting Singapore will report its earnings, which includes Resort World Sentosa on 10 May.

    Analysts expect gaming revenue from Resorts World Sentosa to increase but it may fall short of the performance shown by MBS.

    - CNA/ck

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    Default Preschool kids learn how money works

    3 friends start Kindernomics to teach four- to six-year-olds economics in bite-sized chunks


    Published on May 2, 2012


    Kindernomics founders (from left) Chan Yun Cheong, 34; K.H. Yeo, 28; and Janet Chia, 33, started the programme to help children make sense of the world around them. The programme uses interactive e-books and even has its own automated teller machine 'Kinderbank' to teach the children that the ATM is not a free money machine. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE



    By Joyce Teo

    Parents who struggle with economics and the basics of how money works will be able to turn to their children for help, thanks to a new business that mixes fun and finance for preschoolers.

    Kindernomics, as the programme is called, was started about two months ago by three young, single and ambitious friends to help children make sense of the world around them by teaching them essential economic concepts in simple bite-sized chunks.

    'We want to transform the preschool landscape and early childhood education. It's very important for kids to make independent choices,' said co-founder Chan Yun Cheong, 34, who has an MBA from Cornell University and has worked in London and New York.



    Background story


    VITAL LIFE SKILLS

    'We see so many people getting into financial difficulties at a younger and younger age, so it's very important to me to teach my children how to handle money.'

    Ms Paula Robinson, whose four-year-old son Garrett went to a Kindernomics camp

    At an office space in the Forum shopping mall on Orchard Road, four- to six-year-olds can attend weekly classes that cost $550 for a 10-lesson term, with each lesson lasting about 90 minutes with up to 12 children at a time.
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    Default Iggy's, Singapore, ranked best restaurant in Asia, 26th in the world

    Published on May 1, 2012


    Sanma with wild rice and crispy rice from Iggy's restaurant at The Hilton. Iggy's was ranked the best in Asia, coming in at No. 26 on the coveted World's 50 Best Restaurants list. -- THE BUSINESS TIMES PHOTO: JOHN HENG


    By Rebecca Lynne Tan

    Singapore restaurant Iggy's was ranked the best in Asia, coming in at No. 26 on the coveted World's 50 Best Restaurants list, the Oscars of the global restaurant industry.

    It edged out Tokyo restaurants Les Creations de Narisawa (No. 27), and Nihonryori RyuGin (No. 28), both of which had placed above Iggy's last year.

    Waku Ghin, another Singapore restaurant, made its debut on the list at No. 39. The restaurant is run by Sydney-based celebrity chef Tetsuya Wakuda, whose restaurant Tetsuya's fell 18 spots to No. 76 this year.

    The top three restaurants in the world remain the same as last year - Noma in Denmark is at No. 1, El Celler de Can Roca in Spain at No. 2, and another Spanish restaurant, Mugaritz, is No. 3.
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    Default $8m sponsorship for 2 attractions at Gardens by the Bay

    Aerial walkway and the light and sound show will carry OCBC name for 18 years


    Published on May 1, 2012


    Visitors on a media tour at the OCBC Skyway, a 22m-high bridge linking two of the Supertrees in the Supertree Grove at the Gardens by the Bay. It will offer a panoramic view of the Marina Bay area. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG



    By Ng Kai Ling

    More sponsors are expected to come on board to help meet the cost of running and maintaining the soon-to-open Gardens by the Bay.

    The latest sponsorship was put up by OCBC Bank, which is giving $8 million to be spent on an aerial walkway and a new light and sound show.

    For the money, the two attractions will be named OCBC Skyway and OCBC Light and Sound Show for a duration of 18 years.

    Public relations professionals said that this is a small price to pay considering that the attraction is set to become one of Singapore's main attractions, with about five million visitors expected a year.


    Background story

    Sponsored attractions

    •Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) spends about $200,000 a year on conservation efforts at the Singapore Zoo and Jurong Bird Park. This includes sponsoring polar bear Inuka and the proboscis monkeys at the SPH Foundation Conservation Centre.

    •A $7.3 million children's garden at the Botanic Gardens was named after one of its donors. It was called the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden in memory of the late stockbroker and his philanthropy.


    •The $6 million 110m-high Sky Tower on Sentosa has been named after two sponsors since it opened in 2004. It was first called Carlsberg Sky Tower after the beer company. The name was changed in 2008 to Tiger Sky Tower, after Tiger Beer.
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    Default OCBC world's No 1 bank again; Singapore's big 3 all make top 10

    Updated 09:15 AM May 03, 2012



    TORONTO - Singapore's Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) has retained its title of the world's strongest bank for the second year, according to the Bloomberg Markets' second annual ranking of the world's strongest banks.

    BOC Hong Kong Holdings was ranked No 2. Two other Singaporean lenders - United Overseas Bank (No 7) and DBS Group Holdings (No 8) - were also ranked among the strongest.

    "Singapore's economy has performed quite stably and quite well, and for the Singaporean banks, we have real economic activities to finance," said OCBC CEO Samuel Tsien, who credited the bank's strength partly to its risk management practices.

    Meanwhile, no other country dominated the list as did Canada: The nation of 34.7 million people has only eight publicly-traded banks, two of which are regional lenders.

    But Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce was No 3 in the list, followed by three of its Canadian rivals: Toronto-Dominion Bank (No 4), National Bank of Canada (No 5) and Royal Bank of Canada (No 6), the country's largest lender. Bank of Nova Scotia ranked 18th, and Bank of Montreal was 22nd.

    Only three United States banks - JPMorgan Chase (No 13), PNC Financial Services Group (No 17) and BBandT Corp (No 20) - made the top 20.

    Four European banks were included: Two from Sweden and one each from the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

    For the ranking, Bloomberg considered only banks with at least US$100 billion (S$124 billion) in assets. It weighed and combined five criteria, comparing Tier 1 capital with risk-weighted assets, for example, and nonperforming assets with total assets.

    Tier 1 capital includes a bank's cash reserves, outstanding common stock and some classes of preferred stock, all of which combine to act as a buffer against losses.

    Banks that posted an annual loss for last year or failed government stress tests were not eligible for consideration. BLOOMBERG



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    Default Emma Yong dead at 36

    Stage actress loses 16-month battle with cancer

    Updated 10:09 AM May 03, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Top theatre actress Emma Yong, one-third of the popular musical comedy Dim Sum Dollies, has died after a protracted fight with cancer.

    Ms Yong, who died aged 36, is survived by her husband, interior designer Jerry Lim, whom she married last year.

    Tributes to Ms Yong flowed on Twitter as the news broke after midnight. Nominated Member of Parliament and fellow actress Janice Koh tweeted: "We have lost a beautiful actress and one of our most talented performers and singers tonight. Rest in peace, my dear Emma. Miss you ..."

    Actress Neo Swee Lin tweeted: "RIP darling Emma. Angels bear you aloft. our performing family has lost one of our greatest talents."

    Fellow thespian Hossan Leong added: "I love you, Emma. Heartbroken."

    Actresses beyond the stage joined in the chorus of tribute for Ms Yong. Said host and film-maker Michelle Chong on Twitter: "You will be missed. And remembered for your passion and dedication. RIP."

    Actor Tay Ping Hui said that "Singapore has lost one of its most talented actresses", while actress Rebecca Lim tweeted: "Your talent, strength, optimism and determination will forever be remembered. Thanks for being an inspiration."

    Added Gurmit Singh: "Us and the arts have lost a dear, talented lady."

    Ms Yong, 36, was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer last January, but appeared to have recovered by the middle of the year, appearing in Dream Academy's Into the Woods in July. However, she pulled out of the Crazy Christmas musical to undergo chemotherapy after she suffered a relapse in September.

    An established name in Singapore's theatre scene, Ms Yong's acclaimed career spanned a diverse range of roles, from serious drama in Blackbird to lighter fare like Cinderel-LAH and Boeing Boeing, as well as film (The Blue Mansion).




    Emma Yong. TODAY FILE PHOTO

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    Default Engineering's many choices

    New book showcases range of careers available to engineers

    04:46 AM May 03, 2012

    SINGAPORE - With today's graduates being offered a variety of careers, the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has launched a book to highlight the appeal of engineering.

    Called One Degree, Many Choices, the book by NTU's Alumni Club traces the lives and careers of more than 200 of the 557 pioneer engineering students from the Class of '85. It also showcases the range of career options available to future graduates.

    Noting that engineering is no longer the degree of choice, book committee chairman Liu Fook Thim said: "Considering how Singapore's success is founded on the infrastructure laid by engineers ... the need to inspire future generations to take up engineering is a pressing matter."

    Speaking at the book's launch last night, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said Singapore-trained engineers are in demand, not just for their skills but also for their values and work attitudes.

    An engineer by training, Mr Teo said an engineering education opens up many career options.

    The book was co-published by the Institute of South-east Asian Studies. It will be distributed to about 20,000 final-year International Baccalaureate and junior college science students every year.

    Mr Teo also applauded the Alumni Club's initiative to raise S$500,000 for the university's next generation of leaders. The money will be used to send student leaders to leadership development programmes and to represent NTU in student programmes here and overseas. It can also be used to finance community projects initiated by student leaders.

    Together with the Government's matching grant, some S$1.1 million has been raised so far. The club hopes to raise another S$400,000.


    NTU Alumni Club president R Sinnakaruppan and DPM Teo at the launch of the book last night. Photo by DON WONG

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    Default Community events along KTM site on track with new partnership

    04:45 AM May 03, 2012

    SINGAPORE - A Rail Corridor Partnership looking into the programming and promotion of community activities along the former KTM railway land has been established, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday.

    The partnership, chaired by Minister of State for National Development Tan Chuan-Jin, is an expansion of the Rail Corridor Consultation Group which was formed last July to provide input to the Government on charting the future development of the 26km stretch, which runs from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands.

    With representatives from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports, Singapore Sports Council and the People's Association, the partnership will look for opportunities to promote community use of the space.

    "The expanded role of the Rail Corridor Partnership will see a stronger collaboration between public sector agencies, interest groups and individuals to promote and support suitable activities and events along the Rail Corridor," said Mr Tan.

    The URA added it will work closely with partner agencies to assess the range of possible community uses and events, as well as the necessary infrastructural requirements needed to support these activities along the Rail Corridor.

    The URA's announcement came as President Tony Tan visited the "Journey of Possibilities" exhibition yesterday. The exhibition showcases some of the interesting feedback and suggestions received on the Rail Corridor, as well as winning ideas on what could be done with the land.

    The partnership will also provide advice on the public engagement efforts and proposed activities for the Rail Corridor. Such activities could span from community-level events to national events that utilise the entire Rail Corridor.

    The URA said the feedback gathered from these events would be used to draw up the design specifications and requirements that will form part of the brief for the Rail Corridor Master Plan and Design Competition that is being considered at the moment. CHANNEL NEWSASIA





    Mr Tan Chuan-Jin (second from left) and President Tony Tan (third from left) viewing a model of Singapore that shows the Rail Corridor yesterday. Photo by DON WONG

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