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Thread: Singapore Also Can
05-09-2012, 02:05 AM #6053
Singapore-born teen discovers tree pulp's anti-ageing benefits
Published on May 9, 2012
Singapore-born teenager Janelle Tam who recently moved to Canada won a national science award on Tuesday for her groundbreaking work on the anti-ageing properties of tree pulp, officials said. -- PHOTO: AFP
OTTAWA (AFP) - A Singapore-born teenager who recently moved to Canada won a national science award on Tuesday for her groundbreaking work on the anti-ageing properties of tree pulp, officials said.
Janelle Tam, 16, won the US$5,000 (S$6,240) award in the 2012 Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada for showing that cellulose, the woody material found in trees that enables them to stand, also acts as a potent anti-oxidant.
'Her super anti-oxidant compound could one day help improve health and anti-ageing products by neutralising more of the harmful free-radicals found in the body,' Bioscience Education Canada said in a statement.
Tam's work involved tiny particles in the tree pulp known as nano-crystalline cellulose (NCC), which is flexible, durable, and also stronger than steel.
05-09-2012, 02:12 AM #6054
Campus Spotlight: Overseas experience nurtures award-winning start-up
NUS multi-disciplinary team thrives in Silicon Valley's entrepreneurial environment
Published on May 9, 2012
Winning idea: (Left to right): National University of Singapore students Mr Julian Koo, Ms Amanda Lim and Mr Tay Kah Hong at Stanford University. They have come up with an award-winning location-based smartphone app called Surveylicious. -- PHOTO: NUS
Filling out survey forms can be a chore. Many people are only moved to do so by extremely good (or bad) service. Yet customer feedback is necessary for service-oriented businesses to improve.
Three undergraduate students from the National University of Singapore (NUS) came up with a solution that makes filling out surveys fast and rewarding - and turned that solution into a start-up company.
'We were tired of filling up paper surveys at restaurants, so we wanted to make it easy, engaging and more fun for surveys to be done on the spot,' explained Miss Amanda Lim, 22, a psychology major from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Her collaborators are Mr Tay Kah Hong, 24, who is completing an honours degree programme in communications and media at the School of Computing, and Mr Julian Koo, 24, who is pursuing his honours in mechanical engineering at the Faculty of Engineering.
Their start-up, Surveylicious, took off during their one-year stint in Silicon Valley as part of the NUS Overseas Colleges programme.
05-09-2012, 02:18 AM #6055
3 more seniors service centres to open next year
Published on May 9, 2012
File photo of patients at Ling Kwang Home for Senior Citizens in Serangoon Garden taking part in a physiotherapy session. Following a successful pilot at a seniors service centre in Bishan earlier this year, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports announced on Wednesday that it will open three more such centres by the end of next year. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA
By Janice Tai
Following a successful pilot at a seniors service centre in Bishan earlier this year, the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports announced on Wednesday that it will open three more such centres by the end of next year.
The plans to expand the number of seniors service centres here to support the elderly who are cared for at home or in the community were revealed at the opening of the second such centre at Ang Mo Kio.
Called the 'One Care Zone Seniors Service Centre', it will be run by Orange Valley Healthcare, a provider of private nursing homes.
Two other centres are slated to open in the next few months at Kang Ching Road and Strathmore Avenue.
05-09-2012, 02:59 AM #6056
ESM Goh to attend InterAction Council meeting in China
Posted: 08 May 2012 1817 hrs
Emeritus SM Goh Chok Tong
SINGAPORE: Emeritus Senior Minister (ESM) Goh Chok Tong will visit Beijing and Tianjin in China from May 9 to 12 to attend the 30th Annual Plenary Meeting of the InterAction Council (IAC).
The IAC is an independent international organisation that counts more than 30 former heads of state and heads of government as its members. It meets periodically to develop recommendations on how to overcome some of the world's foremost political, economic and social challenges.
In Beijing, ESM Goh and a select group of IAC members will jointly call on Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping on May 9. He will also have a bilateral meeting with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in Tianjin on the same day.
Mr Goh will deliver the keynote address on "The Present State of the World" at the opening plenary session of the IAC on May 10.
Issues that will be discussed include the global financial crisis, global security imperatives and the global water crisis.
Mr Goh will be accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
05-09-2012, 10:59 PM #6057
Here's to more good years
Amid a greying society, the concept of successful ageing has to be redefined
by Kua Ee Heok
04:45 AM May 10, 2012
The first cohort of baby boomers turned 65 last year.
This chronological age categorises them as senior citizens and they pose a challenge to the biblical calculus that life span is three score years and ten.
The greying of the population is probably the most significant demographic phenomenon in the 21st century.
Growing old is sometimes viewed in sheer economic terms as the phase when decrements outweigh increments - a bleak prediction of financial woes.
The 3Ds - despondency, dependency and decrepitude - define societal perception of ageing. Such prejudices arise from unfounded notions about elderly people.
Ageism is a set of stereotypes about growing old and it permeates subtly through remarks and caricature in the mass media. Ageists have contemptuous attitudes towards the elderly whose needs are belittled because they are apparently no longer economically productive and are dependent members of the society.
We will soon realise that ageism is a pernicious attitude because the elderly are our future selves and if we harbour such negativity towards them, we may encounter the same prejudice later.
NOT AN ILLNESS
In Singapore, the Gerontological Society has waged a campaign spearheaded by the late Mr Henry Lim, its past president, who was always quick to admonish any hint of ageism in the media.
Ageing is a normal biological process affecting both the body and mind. Old age is not an illness - it is a truism that growing old is a state of mind.
An important fact supported by research is that the ageing process is not necessarily in pace with our chronological age and varies with individuals and communities. Of critical importance is functional capacity or the ability to engage in purposeful activity.
The Gerontological Research Programme in the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, has conducted a longitudinal study on resilience in the Singapore populace, including the baby boomers.
The studies have confirmed that the majority of people between 65 and 74 are still independent and not frail. The baby boomers interviewed in Singapore and Batu Pahat, Malaysia, have not fully retired and are still working full-time or part-time.
Significantly, the "new-old" simply need new roles to redirect their energy for a new sense of identity like when there were 17-year-olds struggling through Erikson's phase of identity.
Nevertheless, today, Erickson's theory is incomplete. Many baby boomers do not just sit back and contemplate but they are planning their lives and looking forward to the next stage, not backward.
VALUABLE HUMAN RESOURCE
There is not only a third age but also a fourth age - there are now in Singapore 1.8 per cent or 70,000 people who are 80 years and above.
We have discovered that the majority of the "new-old" are not retiring as early as expected. They are better educated and should be viewed as a valuable human resource - an asset that can benefit the larger community.
The potential of this burgeoning group is phenomenal and the challenge for policymakers is to harness the energy and skills of the "new-old".
Indeed, the economic equation will not be in dire straits if their skills and talents are recognised for gainful employment or volunteerism. Working in retirement, an oxymoron, may in fact be a reality.
Many experts believe that, given the right policies, the effects of ageing of the baby boomers, though momentous, need not be catastrophic.
The silver enterprise can benefit the economy - there will be more shops with a plethora of merchandise for the elderly, such as food, medications, insurance, books, clothing and special beds.
Travel agencies, education centres and the new media can increase the quality of life. Tools for independent living in the correction of sensory deficits, home needs, architectural design and furniture can assist the elderly live independently.
To prevent dependency of the frail elderly who live alone, tools for independent living and home-care help are necessary. Information technology must be exploited to improve the quality of life and assist in caring for the elderly at home.
Assuredly, new studies have shown that the natural history of depression and dementia has changed. Early treatment means good prognosis for late-life depression.
Dementia patients today live longer with better quality of life. It is possible to embark on an interventional programme on resilience for elderly people to lower the incidence of depression and dementia in the community.
Imperatively, the concept of "successful ageing" has to be redefined. The baby boomers at 65 are still in a gregarious mood, and they don't want to slide into ennui and wish to confound the ominous prediction:
Last scene of all
That ends this strange eventful history
Is second childishness and mere oblivion
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste and sans everything.
(From Shakespeare's As You Like It)
The message should be: "Don't identify being 65 with imagery of decrepitude, but more good years to enjoy old age!"
Dr Kua Ee Heok is a Professor in the Department of Psychological Medicine, National University of Singapore, and Senior Consultant Psychiatrist in the National University Hospital. He is the president of the Pacific-Rim College of Psychiatrists and president of the Gerontological Society of Singapore. He is also author of a new book, Ageing Baby Boomers: The Most Pressing Issue of the Age.
Studies by the Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine have confirmed that the majority of people between 65 and 74 are still independent and not frail. TODAY FILE PHOTO
05-09-2012, 11:40 PM #6058
More support and facilities for elderly with 7 new centres
By Sara Grosse | Posted: 09 May 2012 1320 hrs
The elderly doing an exercise (TODAY File Photo)
SINGAPORE: The government is stepping up efforts to provide more support and facilities for the elderly by opening social, recreational and rehabilitation hubs for the elderly.
By the end of this year, it will have four seniors service centres, with three more to open next year in Havelock, Woodlands and Choa Chu Kang.
Two centres have already opened in Bishan and Ang Mo Kio, with another two in the pipeline at Strathmore Avenue and Kang Ching Road.
The Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) announced the initiative at the official opening of a senior service centre in Ang Mo Kio on Wednesday, which is situated at the foot of Block 307D in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1.
Called One Care Zone, the centre serves elderly residents living in HDB studio apartments and other residences in the vicinity.
With One Care Zone in the estate, 80-year-old Susie Tan has been making use of its facilities every day.
"I come down here and spend my time here. So "hide-out" place (laughs)."
Besides board games, arts and crafts and computer terminals, One Care Zone also provides chargeable services of physiotherapy and occupational therapy treatments.
There are also plans to bring medical services to One Care Zone. While the centre may look a little bare, it will soon operate as a clinic, making it more convenient for residents to see a doctor.
All the studio apartments have an alert alarm system installed, which staff at the centre monitor in case of an emergency, which resident Lydia Soekartijah finds useful.
"I stay alone. I'm very old. Maybe if something happen to me I can just press the bell," she said.
Currently there are about 35,000 elderly living alone today.
And the government expects this number to increase to 83,000 by 2030.
Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports Halimah Yacob said: "That's quite a staggering number. So we have to do everything possible to support them so that many of them do not have to go to the nursing homes. They can live in their own homes or with the support of their family members. But in the community, supported by the community facilities."
She added that such assisted living housing models will allow seniors to maintain their own independence.
MCYS plans to build two new Integrated Daycare Facilities (IDF) - one in Tampines and another in Bishan/Toa Payoh area - and upgrade six existing Day Care/Day Rehabilitation Centres to IDFs by this year.
05-11-2012, 01:03 AM #6059
S'pore scientists find new way to boost body's immune response
Updated 12:07 PM May 11, 2012
SINGAPORE - Scientists from Singapore's Bioprocessing Technology Institute (BTI) have discovered a new way to boost the body's defence against infectious diseases.
The scientists have identified for the first time the molecular "switch" which directly triggers the body's "innate immunity", or first line of defence against pathogens, announced the Agency of Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) today.
This "switch" is called Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK).
When turned on, it activates the production of a potent class of virus killers, called interferons, that enables the body to fight harmful pathogens, such as dengue and influenza viruses.
A*STAR said while there are anti-viral drugs to treat influenza, the high rates of mutation that are characteristic of the influenza virus have made it difficult to treat influenza with one universal drug or vaccine.
As for dengue, there are currently no clinically-approved vaccines or cures.
A*STAR said this discovery paves the way for developing anti-viral drugs that target the "switch" to fight infectious diseases.
The research team extracted a class of innate immune cells known as macrophages from both normal mice and from mice deficient in BTK and challenged them with the dengue virus.
It found that the BTK-deficient immune cells were unable to produce interferons.
Hence, they had much higher viral counts, compared with the healthy immune cells that had high-levels of interferons to fight the virus effectively.
Professor Kong-Peng Lam, acting executive director of BTI and the head of the immunology group that conducted the research, said: "This study adds new insights to the understanding of how the body's innate immunity is triggered to create an effective immune response."
"It is a prime example of how better understanding in basic biological systems brings us a step closer to understanding the mechanism of human diseases, and enables us to find more effective treatment strategies to combat deadly viral diseases, which we have yet to find cures for," he said. CHANNEL NEWSASIA
05-11-2012, 03:07 AM #6060
Two Singaporean students win Angus Ross prize
Posted: 11 May 2012 1418 hrs
SINGAPORE: Two Singapore students who took the 2011 GCE A-Level English Literature examinations have been awarded the Angus Ross Prize by University of Cambridge International Examinations.
Nandini Jayanthinathan, from National Junior College, and Darren Wan Jian Yong, from Raffles Institutions, both won prizes.
The Angus Ross Prize is awarded every year to the best performing non-British candidate in the GCE A-Level English Literature examinations.
About 10,000 worldwide entries are received each year from candidates outside the United Kingdom who take the various A-Level English Literature syllabuses examined by University of Cambridge International Examinations.
The Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board said on Friday that Singapore students have been winning the prize almost every year since its inception in November 1987.
Each prize winner will receive a letter of commendation from the University of Cambridge International Examinations and a bank draft of S$200.
"The prize winners were selected by a group of senior examiners who look for, amongst other criteria, maturity of thought and brilliance of expression in the students' scripts," said Ben Schmidt, regional manager for Asia Pacific, University of Cambridge International Examinations.
"It is impressive that Singapore students have once again stood out from other worldwide candidates outside the United Kingdom."
The Angus Ross Prize was named after Dr Angus Ross in honour of his long association with University of Cambridge International Examinations as Chairman of the A-Level Literature in English examiners.
Dr Ross retired from his involvement with University of Cambridge International Examinations in 1988.
He was Professor of English Studies at the University of Sussex until 1993.
Dr Ross has published a number of critical works, particularly 18th century literature, and has edited a number of major English texts, including Swift's Gulliver's Travels, Richardson's Clarissa and Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy.
05-13-2012, 08:40 PM #6061
Olympics: Balancing the beam and hopes of Singaporeans
By Leong Wai Kit, channelnewsasia.com | Posted: 11 May 2012 1815 hrs
SINGAPORE: Dressed down in a dark hooded sweater and a pair of shorts, gymnast Lim Heem Wei looks no different from the other young patrons at the cafe in Holland Village.
Catching up with school work since 8am that morning, the National University of Singapore business administration student certainly doesn't look like she's shouldering the hopes of Singaporeans.
Come July, she will represent the republic at the London Olympics in the women's individual all-around event, comprising vault, uneven bars, beam and floor.
The gymnast, whose neatly-tied hair and makeup lend her a regal look during competitions, has let her hair down during this interview.
"Must be the cosmetics and hair," the 23-year-old undergraduate says abashedly when told she looks years younger in person.
Doing the balancing act
Apart from doing her parents proud by day as a dutiful daughter and student, Heem Wei is doing Singapore proud -- every weekday evening and Saturday mornings, to be exact, as she trains at the CCAB gymnasium at Evans road.
The petite 1.51-metre girl made history in January by becoming the first Singaporean gymnast to book a spot in the Olympics, after qualifying for the Games at the London Test Event.
And since then, the gymnast has been striking a balance between lecture notes and balance beam.
"During my school term, my time is packed and even if I do have a few hours before training, I'd rather not do anything and just conserve energy.
"My favourite days are Saturdays because training's in the morning and after that, I have the rest of the afternoon till Sunday to myself," she says.
Such packed schedules aren't new to Heem Wei, who has been juggling school work and sport since she was a seven year old, when she picked up gymnastics.
"It would be a lie if I said I hadn't been envious of other children but when I look back, I've led a fulfilling life, and I've gained a lot in these 23 years, so it's a fair exchange," she reasons while reflecting on the sacrifices she's made for her sport - from deferring her studies, to time away from her family and friends, and missing out on parties and shopping sprees that come with growing up.
Not too pressured even under pressure
On a scale of one to 10, Heem Wei gives herself "five or six", not for her routines but the amount of pressure she's allowing herself to feel as Singapore's hope for a medal.
"As long as I give it my all and compete with integrity, conduct myself well as an ambassador to Singapore and display qualities as a sportsman, I don't think I would be too pressured," she says.
But what if she doesn't return with a medal?
"If I know I've worked hard, I won't have any regrets regardless of whether I win any medals or not.
"Letting people down is not measured by medals. It's when I don't live up to the expectations, and I'd like to think that the expectations for me to live up to, are to do my best to be a good sportsman, and an ambassador to Singapore."
Heem Wei has been competing locally since she was seven, taking her first big leap into the regional competition scene when she was aged 12, at the SEA Games.
"When you're competing at that age, it's the body that takes control of the mind -- so you just go through your routine and deliver, without thinking much," says Heem Wei of her first SEA Games outing.
"But as an adult, it's the mind that takes control of the body, in that I can conceptualise my routine and try to be rational right before the competition."
Heem Wei won her first award at age 15 -- the 2004 SNOC Meritocracy Award (Junior), which recognises athletes' performance for the year. She went on to win the same award between 2006 and 2009.
And on the international arena, the medals under Heem Wei's belt include a silver at the Commonwealth Games Delhi 2010, as well as three medals -- gold, silver and bronze -- at the 2011 SEA Games.
Of course, Heem Wei's biggest sporting achievement would be qualifying for the big O.
Come July, Heem Wei will square her shoulders and do Singapore proud at the Olympics in London.
"On one shoulder, I'll be carrying the weight of my personal expectations, that of my coach and my family for without them, I wouldn't have come so far.
"On the other shoulder, I'll be carrying the hopes of Singapore, because if not for Singapore, there wouldn't have been Heem Wei at the Olympics."
Despite having come so far in her sport, Heem Wei humbly downplays her achievements.
She doesn't want to be remembered as the first Singaporean gymnast who made it to the Olympics, she says. Instead, Heem Wei wants to be remembered as the untalented gymnast.
"Honestly, I'm not the most talented gymnast, and I want people to see that. Because I'd like people to know that even without a lot of talent, there are many factors that can contribute to success -- one of them is hard work.
"There'd be times when things don't go your favour (despite your hard work), and you might be uncertain of your next move. But if you know that you have a dream, go for it.
"Take calculated risks, and chase that dream."
05-13-2012, 09:45 PM #6062
Sprint quartet smashes national record
by Low Lin Fhoong
04:45 AM May 12, 2012
SINGAPORE - They have been chasing 39.82sec for over two years, after setting the national record time in the men's 4x100m relay at the Laos SEA Games in December 2009.
The Singapore quartet of Calvin Kang, Gary Yeo, Lee Cheng Wei and Muhd Amirudin Jamal almost tasted success on Tuesday, when they clocked 39.83 - just 0.01 shy of their silver medal winning time in Vientiane - at the first leg of the 2012 Asian Grand Prix in Bangkok.
There was no letting up from the sprinters at yesterday's Grand Prix in Kanchanaburi, as anchorman Amirudin finished fifth and set a new national record time of 39.58.
There was also joy for the Chinese sprinters, who claimed a new meet record en route to the gold in 38.65. Hong Kong and Taiwan were second and third respectively in 38.71 and 39.19.
Speaking to Today in a phone interview from Thailand, Yeo was delighted to finally break the 39.82sec barrier.
"He said: "The potential was always there as we have improved over the years and we just needed the correct push. I'm very happy and we aim to do better in future."
The pain of losing the gold medal to Indonesia in a photo-finish final at last year's SEA Games was still very much on Yeo's mind, as he added: "Of course we will be aiming for gold at the SEA Games next year, because that's what we were looking to do last time."
Said relays coordinator and coach Melvin Tan: "Everything went smoothly today and I think they have the potential to go faster. It's a really good feeling to see them break the national record ... but they still have to catch up with the rest of Asia."
The relay squad will compete in the third and final leg of the Grand Prix in Chonburi on May 14, and are penciled in for the Taiwan Open on May 25 and 26, Singapore Open at Bishan Stadium (Aug 25-26) and the ASEAN University Games in Laos at the end of the year.
Singapore Athletic Association president Tang Weng Fei has already outlined a new record for the quartet to achieve next year, saying: "I spoke to the boys after their race and told them that now the target is to break 39 next year.
"This is a very encouraging sign especially with our rivals Indonesia and Thailand also competing at the Asian Grand Prix. This speaks well for them and I think we have a good chance for gold at the SEA Games."
05-13-2012, 11:26 PM #6063
Students unfazed by Yale-NUS controversy
by Sumita Sreedharan
04:45 AM May 14, 2012
SINGAPORE - Despite the controversy surrounding the Yale-NUS College, its prospective students - about 50 of them took part in activities over the weekend, together with their parents - are unperturbed by the negative publicity.
Ms Venezia Lim, 19, felt that the clash of views was inevitable. "You are looking at Yale which is so liberal ... and they are coming to an Asian country ... Two cultures wanting to come together, there will definitely be some conflicts here and there, but I think a healthy, open debate about it is a very good thing."
Mr Khoo Zile Willie, 20, a full-time National Serviceman, even felt that any kind of publicity was good. He said: "It brings up the name of the school and also brings up the level of applicants as there is more interest."
The students at the "Experience Yale-NUS Weekend" were among the first batch that have been offered places at the liberal arts college. According to the college, the number of applications in the first exercise were in the "high hundreds". After an interview process, about 10 per cent of the applicants were offered a place.
On the profile of the prospective students, Yale-NUS Dean of Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said that they are "bold, daring and (are) risk takers".
The admissions will be done in four batches, with the second exercise taking place in the second half of this year.
In all, Yale-NUS College will take in 150 students for its inaugural cohort, who will begin their studies next year.
Ms Lim, who has not decided whether to take up the offer of a place in Yale-NUS college, said her parents were worried about the risk she might be taking. "They are worried as there are no benchmarks and no seniors to depend on," she said.
05-13-2012, 11:57 PM #6064
The best place in the world to be creative
Why would an international best-selling writer on creativity live here? Because while New York may call itself 'the capital of the world', Singapore is the world
by Fredrik Haren
04:45 AM May 14, 2012
I have lost count of the number of times I have been asked: "As an author of creativity books, how on earth can you live in Singapore?"
And when I reply, "Because I think it is the best place in the world to live for a creative person", most people think I am kidding and everyone asks me to explain.
But no, I am not kidding. And yes, let me explain.
I moved to Beijing from my native Sweden in 2005 because I wanted to be in Asia when Asian countries truly started to embrace creativity.
The defining moment for me was when Hu Jintao gave a speech to the Chinese people in which he said that "China should be an innovative country 15 years from now".
Since I write books on business creativity, I just had to move to Asia and see this shift happen.
After two years in Beijing, I learnt two things: Firstly, I wanted to leave Beijing, which is a fascinating city, but has too much traffic, too much pollution and too little water for a Swede brought up in the Stockholm archipelago; and secondly, I wanted to remain in Asia.
So I went on a grand journey. While doing research for my book The Developing World, I constantly travelled over a period of more than 10 months.
I went to 20 developing countries and when I came to each new city that I thought had potential to become my new home, I made sure my schedule allowed me to stay a few extra days to get a feel of life there.
I spent two weeks each in Seoul, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Istanbul and Singapore.
Then I made a list of positives and negatives about each city. Obviously, Singapore won in the end.
Why? Well, for many reasons.
Such as quality of life - I now drink as much fresh mango juices in Singapore as I did beers in Beijing, weather (no, I do not mind the heat; I love it), security (I love countries where there is a good chance you will get your iPhone back if you left it behind in a restaurant) and convenience (like the fact that Changi Airport has extensive connections to the world, since my work involves a lot of travelling to different countries on a frequent basis).
Those are the usual reasons that attract most people to Singapore.
But the main reason I live in Singapore is because this city-state, to me, is the one place on earth where it is the easiest to have a globally-creative mindset.
Some people say Singapore is "Asia for beginners". I do not agree. I think Singapore is "globalisation for beginners", or rather, "globalisation for early adopters".
With a diverse mix of races, religions and nationalities, Singapore not only represents the cross-section of the world, it is also a time capsule of what the world will look like in the future.
And I love that.
New York may call itself 'the capital of the world' but Singapore is the world. Unlike New York, which is a global city in the United States, Singapore is a global city - a global city-state. Singapore is a city in the world, not a city in a country in the world.
And this makes it easier to have a global outlook here since nationalistic barriers do not block the view as much.
A BEAUTIFUL MIX
A positive side-effect of this is that Singapore is one of the least racist countries in the world.
Now, that does not mean that there is no racism in Singapore, but I have worked in more than 40 countries, and I have never experienced less racism than I do in Singapore.
That is important to me. Not only because we are a mixed-race family - I am from Sweden, my wife from the Philippines and my son a happy mix of Stockholm, Manila and Singapore.
As an European, I am ashamed and disappointed when European leaders recently proclaim that "the multi-cultural society does not work". I just wish they would come to Singapore.
To live in a place that is celebrating "Western New Year" and "Chinese New Year" is not only twice as fun, it also gives you the feeling that there is more than one way of doing things.
On a recent New Year's Eve party, we realised our group consisted of 10 people with 10 different passports.
A friend told me how they had had an after-work beer at his company and 14 people - from 14 different countries - showed up.
At our wedding, we had 40 guests from eight countries, comprising at least four religions and four races, and, at the time, no one was counting.
It all just felt as if it was the most natural thing in the world. The point, of course, is that it is not the most natural thing in the world. Unfortunately, in most places in the world, it would be rare, strange and exotic to have such a natural mix of backgrounds.
For people living in Singapore, it is so natural you do not grasp how unnaturally natural it is, and how valuable.
OF ROOTS AND BRANCHES
Now, do not get me wrong. I am not saying that knowledge of your own culture and background is not important. It is.
It is often said that a person without roots is fickle, doesn't know how to connect to who he is and can be easily manipulated, because there are no basic values keeping him grounded. Roots are important.
But if one is going to use a metaphor (in this case, of likening a human being to a tree), one has to use the whole metaphor. Because it is equally true that a tree without branches also perishes.
A tree that does not spread its branches out in all directions to gather as much sunlight and energy as possible might have deep and strong roots, but it will eventually still wither and die.
In other words, to be rootless is dangerous, but so is being branchless.
And if your own culture is the roots, the cultures of the rest of the world is the energy that your branches need to reach out to, so that you can get new ideas and ways of doing things by learning from others, be inspired to try new foods, acquire new habits and try new customs.
It will make you curious of other ways of doing things, be inspired by different ideas and energised by alternate points of views. And that is what creates creativity.
And nowhere in the world is it easier to let your branches spread out than in Singapore.
Want some exposure to American influence? Watch American Idol the day after it airs in the US.
What about a dose of Indian culture? Join in the Deepavali celebrations together with thousands of Indians in Little India.
Want to practice your Chinese language? Go and order frog in Geylang.
HEIMSKUR MEANS 'MORON'
The Icelandic Vikings, who lived a thousand years ago, had a word for people who never left their farms on Iceland and never ventured outside. The word was heimskur. It means moron.
As they saw it, a person who did not open up to the world to find new ideas from other cultures was a moron. I think the Vikings would have loved Singapore. I sure know that I do. It is the one place with the fewest heimskurs that I have found .
Too many people limit their potential, their creativity - and in the end - their lives, because they are not embracing the whole human spectrum of creativity.
They are not taking full advantage of the potential of the world, because they are not living in the world. They are stuck in their own corner, looking inwards, seeing whatever that is different as "foreign".
And I think that answers the question of why I am living in Singapore - because Singapore makes me more human by making me more a part of the world, a part of humanity. And by being part of the world, I have a bigger chance to be inspired and have new ideas.
Ideas that will benefit us all.
Fredrik Haren, an author and speaker on business creativity, has lived in Asia since 2005, and has been in Singapore since 2008. His work The Idea Book has been included in The 100 Best Business Books of All Time. This article appears in the Singapore International Foundation's book aimed at bridging communities, Singapore Insights from the Inside.
05-14-2012, 12:06 AM #6065
S'pore could see more MMA fighters coming here to train
Updated 04:50 PM May 13, 2012
SINGAPORE - Rich Franklin might look like Hollywood comedian Jim Carrey, earning him the nickname "Ace". But don't fool around with the 1.85 metre tall, legendary mixed martial artist.
An Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion in 2005, Rich Franklin could be setting a trend of more US fighters coming to Singapore to train, and there are good reasons as to why Franklin flew halfway around the world to use Singapore to prepare for his next fight in July.
"I was really impressed with the amount of talent they have here. They have a tonne of Muay Thai champs, BJJ World Champs and they have really started building a wrestling programme since the time I was here last year," said Mr Franklin.
"I have trained in many places in the US and like I said, I thought I could really run a great camp down here."
In the US, the Ohio native has to travel to a few places to get the right support, while it's a one-stop centre for the various MMA disciplines at Evolve Gym.
Franklin admits the sport has huge potential in Asia, and unlike professional wrestling, the matches are not fixed.
"If you are talking set-ups like WWF or WWE, absolutely not. There can be corruption in any sport but I have never come across anything like that," said Mr Franklin.
The growing popularity has resulted with some 15 gyms now offering MMA, and more are joining the bandwagon.
Chatri Sityodtong, CEO, Evolve MMA, said: "Out of a population of roughly five million, there are (about) 7,000 MMA enthusiasts, practitioners or fans in Singapore. The base is very small but it is exploding. Our youngest student is a six-year-old girl and our oldest is a 64-year-old man."
While the American-based UFC is the largest MMA promotion company in the world, Singapore company One Fighting Championship, formed in 2011, is hoping to satisfy that demand in Asia.
Professional fighters like Rich Franklin could get the opportunity to fight right here in Singapore. That is because the UFC is looking at expanding in Asia, and Singapore is one of destinations being considered. An event as early as 2013, could be staged in the Lion City. CHANNEL NEWSASIA
05-14-2012, 11:21 PM #6066
SSO "Classics in the Park" at Botanic Gardens
It was last Sunday and the Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) dedicated the evening to all mothers by staging the "Mothers' Day Concert" at the ever popular "Classics in the Park".
Our very talented local-born conductor, Darrell Ang (Biography http://darrellang.com/biography/), was in charge with the following programme:
13 May 2012 – Shaw Foundation Stage, Botanic Gardens, Singapore (6pm)
Singapore Symphony Orchestra
* Antonin Dvořák – Carnival Overture
* Frederick Delius – Summer Night on the River
* Aram Khachaturian – ‘Waltz’ and ‘Galop’ from “Masquerade” Suite
* Pyotr Tchaikovsky (arr. D. Ellington & B. Strayhorn) - ‘Overture’, ‘Toot Toot Tootie Toot’ and ‘Peanut Brittle Brigade’ from “The Nutcracker Suite”
* Johann Strauss, Jr. – On the Beautiful Blue Danube
* Kelly Tang – 月亮代表我的心 [The Moon Represents My Heart]
True to what Fredrik Haren has commented in his article "The Best Place in the World to be Creative" (Post #6064 above), one can find nationalities from many countries mixing around with locals, relaxing on the expansive "Palm Valley" that overlooks the impressive Shaw Foundation Stage which is surrounded by a narrow moat.
It was a delightful sight which I wish to share with you although I was already late (after my Sunday game) and only managed to enjoy the last part of Johann Strauss' "Blue Danube" and "The Moon Represents My Heart".
Surprisingly our President Tony Tan was also present and a lucky mother was also invited on stage to receive a bouquet of flowers from our handsome conductor.
Last edited by Loh; 05-14-2012 at 11:25 PM.
05-14-2012, 11:30 PM #6067
'Open justice is a cherished principle'
by Ng Jing Yng
04:45 AM May 15, 2012
SINGAPORE - The Republic could have either secret trials or open justice and there would be trade-offs to both.
But in most cases, open trial is preferable, as justice must be seen to be done in most cases, said Law Minister K Shanmugam yesterday.
He was responding to a question by Member of Parliament (Mountbatten) Lim Biow Chuan, who asked if the Law Ministry would consider introducing a law to ban the publication of photographs and details of any accused person until the accused person is convicted in court.
In his written reply, Mr Shanmugam said he assumed that Mr Lim's question was prompted by the recent publicity over the 40-odd men who were accused of having commercial *** with a minor.
The solution to adverse publicity during ongoing proceedings must be to increase public awareness that a charge is not the same as a conviction, and that an accused person is presumed to be innocent until he is found guilty by a court of law, he said.
Mr Shanmugam laid out possible ways of preventing an accused from being publicly identified until he is convicted, but pointed out the downsides.
For instance, the court could impose a gag order against publication of information which may identify the accused, but the person's identity would still be known to court attendees and this could be leaked later on.
Another way is to hold court proceedings in camera and bar the media and the public from attending the hearings, but Mr Shanmugam said that "open justice is a cherished principle".
There are exceptions in cases which involve young victims of sexual offences or to protect sensitive information relating to national security, but Singapore's legal system runs on the principle of public justice, where accused persons are publicly tried and the verdict of the court is publicly announced, he said.
05-14-2012, 11:40 PM #6068
The population numbers challenge
by Channel NewsAsia
04:45 AM May 15, 2012
The population challenge facing Singapore is "serious", but "not insurmountable", said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean in Parliament yesterday.
Mr Teo, who is also minister in charge of population policies, noted that the citizen population will shrink and get older if Singapore's fertility rate remains low and the country closes its doors on immigration. The number of elderly Singaporeans above 65 years old is projected to triple by 2030, to about 900,000 from 340,000 today.
Mr Teo said the National Population and Talent Division has started engaging Singaporeans on these issues and he believes most Singaporeans can accept a population that is complemented by a certain amount of immigration, and a foreign workforce of "some numbers".
The issue, Mr Teo felt, is so discuss what these numbers are. Mr Teo said the Government is taking Singaporeans' concerns into account as it prepares a White Paper on Population, to be released by year's end.
He acknowledged more can be done to communicate the need for immigration more effectively.
"If we're going to have 900,000 people over the age of 65, compared to 340,000 that we have today ... then we really need to ask ourselves who are going to staff up the nursing homes and community step down facilities that we need?" said Mr Teo.
"We may not be able to have enough Singaporeans to do that. Therefore even just in these sectors alone, we're going to need many more people in order to make sure that our older population will be properly looked after.
05-15-2012, 09:31 PM #6069
Clementi Town mixed development wins prestigious award
Posted: 16 May 2012 0945 hrs
The mixed development of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in Clementi Town.
SINGAPORE: Singapore's first development with public housing, commercial facilities and a bus interchange built together in one complex has won a prestigious international award.
The mixed development of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) in Clementi Town was Runner-Up under the Master Plan Category of the FIABCI Prix d'Excellence award.
The awards ceremony was held on May 15 in St Petersburg, Russia.
The award recognises projects that display distinction in aspects such as overall concept, architecture and design, development and construction, community benefit, environmental impact, as well as financial and marketing aspects.
The HDB said on Wednesday that its project injected new life into a mature town.
It optimised land use by turning an old bus interchange site into a modern mixed development that's well integrated with its surroundings and transport nodes.
The development, completed in November 2011, is a 40-storey mixed development.
It has two blocks of 40-storey high residential blocks, air-conditioned bus interchange, a community library, a new Town Council office, and a modern shopping mall.
The residential component consists of 388 units of new HDB flats.
The new flats were built under the HDB's Selective Enbloc Redevelopment Scheme (SERS) programme for home owners from within the same township.
The HDB highlighted the challenges of breathing new life into the mature town, much of which was built during the 1970s.
It transformed the existing Town Centre and old bus interchange into a modern shopping mall, with residential units above.
An air-conditioned transport hub was integrated with the mixed development to provide residents with seamless connection to the rest of the island.
As Clementi is already a developed town with existing infrastructures, the HDB had to make sure it did not disrupt the existing amenities, as well as minimise inconveniences to residents.
Due to the odd shape and tight space, the challenge was to design a complex and carry out construction without disrupting public access to existing shops and Clementi MRT station.
A temporary bus interchange had to be built nearby during construction so that bus services for residents will not be disrupted.
Another challenge was to complete the commercial development first for business, while continuing with the construction of the residential units above.
HDB's group director (Development & Procurement), Mr Fong Chun Wah, said: "Being committed to provide quality living for Singaporeans, the development is in line with the first thrust of HDB's Roadmap for Better Living - to develop 'Well-designed Towns'.
"With good planning and design, we have added vibrancy and improved the living environment of residents residing in an established town like Clementi."
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