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  1. #6121
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    Default Portugal, Singapore sign 3 bilateral agreements

    By Olivia Siong | Posted: 28 May 2012 1808 hrs


    Portugal's President Anibal Cavaco Silva (AFP PHOTO/POOL/Rob Griffith)


    SINGAPORE: Portugal and Singapore signed three bilateral agreements on Monday.

    They are aimed at improving cooperation in the fields of education, science and technology among others.

    An Agreement on Air Transport was also signed. This will allow carriers of both countries to fly between both countries via and beyond to any third country without restrictions in capacity, frequency, and aircraft type.

    Singapore and Portugal also signed a Protocol to incorporate the internationally agreed standard for the exchange of information for tax purposes, upon request, in their standing Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation.

    The signing was witnessed by the President of Portugal Anibal Cavaco Silva and Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

    The agreements were signed by Minister of State for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs Mr Masagos Zulkifli and Portuguese Secretary of State of Portuguese Communities Abroad Mr José Cesário.

    The Portugese President was also greeted with an official welcome ceremony at the Istana.

    He is on a two-day state visit to Singapore.

    He also met Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Monday.

    - CNA/ck
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  2. #6122
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    Default Joseph Schooling, Fu Mingtian are top athletes of the year

    Published on May 30, 2012



    Joseph Schooling (left) and Fu Mingtian (right) were selected as the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year respectively at the Singapore Sports Awards held at Swissotel the Stamford on Tuesday night. -- PHOTOS: COURTESY OF CANON SINGAPORE AND LAU FOOK KONG


    By FABIUS CHEN

    Making sporting history and sitting for his maths exam at the same time - on Tuesday was a big day for Joseph Schooling.

    The 16-year-old swimmer was one of the big winners at the Singapore Sports Awards at Swissotel the Stamford, beating shooter Zhang Jin, who won the 10m air rifle gold at the SEA Games, to the accolade.

    It makes Joseph the first swimmer since Mark Chay in 2002 to win the award, in addition to being its youngest recipient.

    Kegler Lim Zhong held the previous mark. He was 18 when he won the award in 2000.



    Channel NewsAsia

    Best of S'pore athletes honoured at S'pore Sports Awards

    Posted: 29 May 2012 2218 hrs


    SINGAPORE: It is the time of the year when the best in Singapore sports are honoured. This year the organisers decided to do things differently with the winners revealed only at the ceremony.

    Joseph Issac Schooling became the youngest Sportsman of the Year. Schooling's mother collected the award on his behalf as he is currently training in the US.

    Sportswoman of the Year went to badminton player Fu Mingtian. Fu had won the Republic's first SEA Games women's badminton gold last year.

    Meanwhile, Coach of the Year went to William Woo of the Singapore bowling tea
    m.

    Team of the Year was awarded to the Wushu Women's Duilian, who won gold in the 2011 SEA Games. The trio consists of Tao Yi Jun, Tay Yu Juan and Emily Sin.

    Sportsboy of the Year went to swimmer Quah Zhen Wen, while another swimmer, Amanda Lim, was Sportsgirl of the Year.

    This year the organisers also included a few new categories, like Sports Event of the Year, local and international.

    The 2011 Singapore F1 race got the honours for the international category, while the OCBC Cycle Singapore race took the local category.

    The celebrations were held at a local hotel.

    -CNA/ac
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    Last edited by Loh; 05-29-2012 at 09:24 PM.

  3. #6123
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    Default Scientists develop bird flu test kit

    Posted: 29 May 2012 1147 hrs

    Made-In-Singapore H5N1 Bird Flu Diagnostic Kit, which can detect all known strains of H5N1 virus with a single test.


    SINGAPORE: Scientists have developed a H5N1 bird flu test kit that can now rapidly detect all existing strains of the H5N1 viruses in a single test with almost 100 per cent accuracy, within a few hours.

    The scientists are from the Experimental Therapeutics Centre under the Agency for Science and Technology Research and clinicians from Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

    A joint statement by the various parties including A*STAR said the kit was co-developed by Dr Masafumi Inoue, a senior research scientist and project director of Technology Development from ETC and Dr Timothy Barkham, a senior consultant of Laboratory Medicine from TTSH.

    This newly launched H5N1 test kit has been clinically validated by several hospitals in Southeast Asia.

    Dr Timothy Barkham, senior consultant of Laboratory Medicine at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, said: "The viruses that we're trying to detect have changed significantly, which would have meant that the old version of the test would not have done a good job if used today.

    "The test will help people make the diagnosis which will: (a) help the patient, and (b) treat it properly but also help us make the right infection control decision to stop it from spreading to other people.

    "We have to keep checking that the reagents will detect new variations of the virus because the virus changes as time goes by. So although this is an update, we have to keep checking."

    Local small and medium enterprise, AITbiotech, a regional provider of genomic services and molecular diagnostics kits, has recently signed a licence agreement with Exploit Technologies, the technology transfer arm of A*STAR, to market this H5N1 kit regionally.

    - CNA/cc/ac
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  4. #6124
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    Default ASEAN defence ministers sign joint declaration

    Posted: 29 May 2012 2132 hrs



    Defence Ministers and representatives from ASEAN nations join hands as they pose for a group photo at the 6th ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting in Phnom Penh on May 29, 2012.


    SINGAPORE: ASEAN defence ministers on Tuesday signed a joint declaration reaffirming their commitment to enhance regional peace and security.

    The signing took place at the 6th ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, which was attended by Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

    The gathering saw the region's defence ministers discussing security issues.

    They welcomed the good progress in practical cooperation among member states and also noted the success of the inaugural ASEAN humanitarian assistance and disaster relief exercise, conducted in Indonesia and Singapore in 2011.

    The ministers also adopted the concept paper reviewing the frequency of ADMM-Plus Meetings, which shortens the interval of ADMM-Plus meetings from once in three years to once in two years.

    Separately, the ministers jointly called on Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen.

    Dr Ng held bilateral meetings with Cambodia's Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister General Tea Banh, Brunei Minister of Energy Yasmin bin Haji Umar and Vietnam Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh.

    Dr Ng also had a bilateral meeting with the Chinese Defence Minister Liang Guanglie, who was visiting Cambodia at the same time.

    - CNA/wm
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  5. #6125
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    Default S'pore zoo welcomes 4 new additions to marsupial family

    Posted: 29 May 2012 0949 hrs


    Photo: Wildlife Reserves Singapore


    SINGAPORE: The Singapore Zoo welcomed the arrival of four new additions to its marsupial family recently.

    They are two Eastern grey kangaroos and two Agile wallabies.

    The Wildlife Reserves Singapore, the parent company of the Singapore Zoo, said Bella, a year-old Eastern grey juvenile is coping well despite having lost her mother, Boo Boo, earlier this year.

    Another Eastern grey, Tayla, gave birth in December last year and is now nursing a joey in her pouch.

    The Wildlife Reserves Singapore added that one wallaby has been fondly christened "Krookie" due to its crooked tail, while the other younger addition has yet to be named.

    "While the Eastern Grey kangaroo and Agile wallaby are not endangered species, their presence in our zoo allows our visitors to see animals not usually found in our climate and learn more about wildlife in general. In the long run, we hope to cultivate a love for the environment and all creatures, endangered or not," said Mr Alagappasamy Chellaiyah, assistant director, Zoology, Singapore Zoo.

    - CNA/cc
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    Default Prof Pericles Lewis named president of Yale-NUS liberal arts college

    Published on May 30, 2012


    By Sandra Davie, Senior Writer

    A Yale University literature professor, Pericles Lewis, was named as the inaugural President of Yale-National University of Singapore (NUS) liberal arts college which will open next year.

    Prof Lewis has been on the faculty of Yale since 1998 and is a full professor in both the English and Comparative Literature departments. A distinguished scholar of British and European literature, he is recognised internationally as a leader in the field of modernism.

    The governing board of the college which made the announcement on Wednesday morning said he had been extensively involved in planning the new curriculum for Yale-NUS College and has chaired the committee responsible for recruiting the humanities faculty.

    The Governing Board also announced that NUS Professor Lai Choy Heng will become Yale-NUS Executive Vice-President (Academic Affairs) on July 1.

  7. #6127
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    Default Singapore's women's waterpolo team beat Malaysia to continue title march




    by Tan Yo-Hinn
    Updated 01:23 AM May 31, 2012

    SINGAPORE -- Reigning South-east Asia (SEA) Games champions Singapore have underlined their status at top favourites in the women's waterpolo competition at the inaugural SEA Swimming Championships.

    In a one-sided contest at the Toa Payoh Swimming Complex on Wednesday, the hosts beat neighbours Malaysia 17-1, which means Singapore's clash against Indonesia on Friday could potentially be the title decider.

    Despite the loss, the Malaysians were not disheartened as they continue their build-up to next year's SEA Games in Myanmar.

    "Actually, I don't feel much pressure," said Cheryl Khoo, a 12-year-old from Malacca.

    "The team have all been like older sisters to me, and I've already learnt a lot from this competition. I want to represent Malaysia in next year's SEA Games, and follow after the footsteps of my elder brother and sister, who are both with the national team."

    In last night's other games, Indonesia stretched their unbeaten run to three games with a tense 13-8 victory over Thailand, which saw the Indonesians had their centre-back Annisa Nadhilah Utoro ejected and captain Kezzie Ali, a winger, having to fill in in defence.

    After three days of competition, Indonesia lead the five-team standings with a maximum nine points from three games, followed by Singapore which is on six points but have a game in hand, and Thailand which has three points.

    Wednesday's final fixture saw Thailand edge Malaysia 11-9 in the men's under-23 waterpolo competition, despite having their marksman Sornthum Wongpairoj ejected for three major fouls.

    In the four-team men's under-23 standings, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore are all level on three points, with Malaysia yet to get off the mark.

    Day Four of competition on Thursday will see Malaysia take on the Philippines, and Singapore face Thailand in the women's draw, while in the men's under-23 competition, Thailand is up against Indonesia, and Malaysia clash with Singapore.



    Singapore (in blue cap) beat Malaysia (in white cap) to keep their title hopes on track at the inaugural South-east Asia Swimming Championships women's waterpolo competition. Photo coutresy of Vanessa Lim.



    Singapore (in blue cap) beat Malaysia (in white cap) to keep their title hopes on track at the inaugural South-east Asia Swimming Championships women's waterpolo competition. Photo coutresy of Vanessa Lim.
    Copyright © MediaCorp Press Ltd









    Last edited by Loh; 05-30-2012 at 08:55 PM.

  8. #6128
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    Default A shop window for Singapore sports


    by Tan Yo-Hinn
    04:45 AM May 31, 2012

    SINGAPORE - While we are not yet a first-world sporting nation, I was glad a lot more effort was put into organising this year's Singapore Sports Awards on Tuesday night at the Swissotel the Stamford.

    Occasions like these offer a snapshot of where sports stand in the scheme of things in the country.

    Many of us who have attended the awards in the past decade at least thought it felt like a procession.

    Results were publicised weeks in advance, and it was difficult to get excited when the cat was already let out of the bag.

    The awards themselves became a formality - somewhat a sideshow - when the fraternity finally gathered, with attendees content to reminisce and network on the big night, somewhat disappointing for an occasion supposedly the "Oscars" of Singapore sports.

    So the introduction of several changes to this year's awards was definitely a good move.

    The "quantum leap", as organising committee chief Low Teo Ping described it, was to withhold the results until the awards night itself to not only heighten the suspense, excitement and interest but to also do justice to the one evening where Singapore's best athletes were honoured for their sacrifices, effort and tears the previous year.

    For once, an air of expectancy enveloped the ballroom as each recipient was announced.

    There was also a formal dress code, and all awards were presented before dinner was served - a move to ensure all the attention was the real stars of the night, the athletes. Even dessert came in the form of the five Olympic rings.

    Award recipients were also asked to stand up to receive a round of applause before the guests-of-honour, President Tony Tan and Mrs Mary Tan, took their leave. I was told Mrs Tan was impressed by the attention to detail.

    Perhaps next year, the organisers could get winners of the top awards, like the Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year, to give a short speech.

    Critics may say that the Singapore Sports Awards is just a "show", but its ramifications could be significant.

    The sports scene is even more likely to be impacted by changes in the global economy - just this week, Barclays announced they would end their title sponsorship of the US$6 million (S$7.7 million) Singapore Open golf championship after this year.

    So occasions like the Singapore Sports Awards are valuable opportunities to put Singapore sports on the shop window, and send the right signals to all, including sponsors.

    And also, hopefully inspire the next Fu Mingtian or Joseph Schooling.






    Athletes such as newly minted Sportsboy of the Year Quah Zhengwen and Sportsgirl of the Year Amanda Lim were the centre of attention at the Sports Awards. Photo by WEE TECK HIAN

  9. #6129
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    Default New college well on its way

    Top candidates appointed as faculty members, says inaugural Yale-NUS president


    by Ng Jing Yng
    04:45 AM May 31, 2012


    SINGAPORE - With about 15 months to go before the Republic's first liberal arts college opens its doors, it is still looking for key members of its leadership team.

    But Professor Pericles Lewis, 43, who was introduced to the media as the inaugural Yale-NUS College president-designate, assured that the team will be ready in time for the college's opening in August next year.

    Prof Lewis will take office in July and his immediate priority is to recruit key faculty members to complete his administrative team, he said.

    Asked by TODAY whether the recent controversy over the college might have affected its faculty recruitment efforts, he reiterated that it was "not a problem at all".

    In fact, it received about 2,500 applications and "hired the top 30", the professor in English and Comparative Literature said.

    "The new faculty members continue to be attracted to the opportunity and excitement of creating a liberal arts and sciences education for the 21st century, innovating pedagogy, experience living and learning, and deepening academic research and interest in Singapore and the region," Prof Lewis said.

    Nevertheless, he added: "One of my first priorities will be to appoint certain key positions, including a dean of students and a dean of international experience and education, because I am very interested to start building our co-curricula and student activity programmes."

    Prof Lewis described the faculty which have come on board as people who "want to be out there with students and involve students in the process of learning and knowledge creation". Among them is Prof Lai Choy Heng, 59, who hails from the National University of Singapore and will be executive vice-president of academic affairs.

    While the college is a tie-up between a Singapore and an American institution, Prof Lewis said it aims to recruit the best administrative leaders and the selection will not be "restricted by geography or institution".

    Outlining his vision for the college, the doctorate holder from Stanford University said he hopes to provide a liberal arts and science education for the 21st century, where pupils are given the breadth of knowledge to ask questions in any discipline, while also having the rigorous training to go deep into a particular field.

    Prof Lewis, who holds American and Canadian citizenship, has been involved with the college since the initial planning stage. He will be relocating to Singapore with his wife and two children from next year.

    Speaking on the recent controversy, he acknowledged that his fellow professors in the United States might not be up to date with the rapid developments in Singapore.

    Still, he said: "It is not the job of an educational institution to tell other people what to think politically ... It is the job of an institution to encourage dialogue. The dialogues and conversations … that contribute to the development of the society."






    Students with (second from left) Mrs Doris Sohmen-Pao (executive vice-president, administration), Prof Pericles Lewis and Prof Lai Choy Heng (executive vice-president, academic affairs). PHOTO COURTESY YALE-NUS

  10. #6130
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    Default Is S'pore losing its edge?

    Republic falls from third to fourth in annual world competitiveness ranking

    by Alicia Wong
    04:46 AM May 31, 2012



    SINGAPORE - The Republic has dropped a notch to fourth place in an annual world competitiveness ranking, with a weaker showing in areas like cost of living and immigration laws pertaining to employment of foreign labour.

    In Swiss business school IMD's annual World Competitiveness Yearbook ranking this year, Singapore fell out of the top three, coming in behind Hong Kong, the United States and Switzerland. Last year, the Republic was third, with Hong Kong and the US tying in first place.

    The report listed 40 factors that it considered were the Republic's strengths. These included the unemployment rate, social cohesion, transparency, higher education achievement and finance and banking regulation. In these 40 areas, Singapore was ranked between 1st and 6th place, out of 59 countries.

    It also cited 24 areas of "weaknesses" - in these areas, the Republic ranked between 34th and 57th place.

    In particular, Singapore was ranked 57th out of 59 countries under the cost of living index, while the Republic also ranked 41st for immigration laws and 48th in pupil-teacher ratio in primary education.

    All these factors were part of four main categories - economic performance, government efficiency, business efficiency and infrastructure - used to score a country's competitiveness.

    The report used statistical indicators to measure quantifiable issues and drew from its annual Executive Opinion Survey for qualitative issues, such as labour relations. The survey had 4,210 respondents from 59 countries. The respondents - executives in top- and middle-management with global exposure - were nationals or expatriates in the country, representative of the economy, the report said.

    The report also surveyed respondents on what they perceived were the "key attractiveness factors" of the economy: "Policy stability and predictability". "competency of Government", and an "effective legal environment" were the top three factors cited.

    "Effective labour relations" received among the least responses as being a key attractive factor.

    CIMB regional economist Song Seng Wun felt labour relations ranked lowly as "it was never an issue" and, hence, was not considered by respondents as a key attractiveness factor.

    However, other analysts said the low ranking could be indirectly linked to the Government's moves to tighten foreign labour policies. DBS economist Irvin Seah added: "Low-wage Singapore workers also continue to face a strain and the help given so far, to some extent, is rather limited."

    Apart from the IMD report, other globally recognised competitiveness rankings include the World Bank Doing Business report and the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy (PERC) survey. In this year's World Bank report, Singapore ranked first, while in the PERC survey between November last year and March this year, Singapore and Australia generally received the most favourable assessments.

    On the low rating for Singapore's immigration laws, Mr Song attributed it to the Government's recent moves to tighten the foreign worker policy, which has made it more expensive to bring in foreign workers. "Going forward, you probably find that wage cost will climb, and this is where businesses may have a bit more gripe in the next survey," he added.

    Ang Mo Kio Group Representation Constituency Member of Parliament Inderjit Singh said he was "surprised" that pupil-teacher ratio was considered a weakness in the economy. Still, he acknowledged the ratio in schools here is high compared to schools in Australia, the US and other Western countries.

    Respondents in the survey were also asked to score their country's attitude towards globalisation. In this regard, Singapore came in 7th, behind places such as Malaysia (4th), Hong Kong (5th) and Taiwan (6th).

    Mr Singh said: "In terms of venturing into a more diversified group of markets, the Malaysians seem to have done much more than Singaporeans."

    He noted that Malaysians have ventured to as far as Africa, while Singapore companies are "concentrated in a smaller base of countries overseas".

    The IMD report also identified challenges that Singapore has to tackle this year, including adjusting to a slower workforce growth and helping small and medium enterprises with productivity and innovation. The Republic also needs to encourage internationalisation and develop new competitive strengths, while building a fair and inclusive society, said the report.

  11. #6131
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    Default A*STAR institute, Hitachi tackling genome data storage

    04:45 AM May 31, 2012


    SINGAPORE - As scientists increasingly turn to genome sequencing to help them the causes of common genetic disorders, an "overwhelming increase" in genome data is expected to be created.

    So to tackle the massive growth of such data in the healthcare and biomedical industries - forecast to double annually - leading Japanese global electronics company Hitachi and Singapore's Data Storage Institute (DSI) are now working on an innovative method to compress genome data.

    They aim to speed up the process of compressing the data and lower storage costs, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) announced yesterday. DSI is a research institute of the agency.

    Genome sequencing helps scientists better understand the human anatomy and how genes affect the growth and development of an organism. This helps them to identify the causes of common genetic disorders.

    For example, sequencing the genes of tumour cells can help doctors study mutations and differentiate cancerous cells from normal tissues. This will then enable them to more accurately prescribe appropriate drugs.

    It is a data-intensive process as an individual's human genome contains over three billion genetic letters and occupies up to 725MB of uncompressed data.

    This multiplies when they are replicated, processed and shared globally among researchers.

    "The use of genetic analysing tool is becoming more widespread and is likely to lead to an overwhelming increase in the velocity, volume and variety of genome data being created," said A*STAR.

    The agency cited the challenges this poses for data centres, from slowing down performance levels to the cost of the infrastructure.

    Said A*STAR: "Existing data compression methods are unlikely to manage current workloads due to inefficiencies and heavy demands for larger memory storage."

    Building on an earlier project collaboration, Hitachi and DSI are now working to tackle the current shortfalls in data storage models.

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    Default Singaporean is first foreigner to be tops at US naval academy

    Published on May 31, 2012


    US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta congratulating Lieutenant Sam Tan Wei Shen at the USNA Graduation and Commissioning ceremony in Annapolis on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE



    By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent

    Naval officer Sam Tan Wei Shen won top honours at the prestigious United States Naval Academy (USNA), beating 1,099 American and foreign cadets.

    Lieutenant Tan, 24, is the first-ever foreigner to top a batch of naval cadets in the academy's history.

    The naval officer is part of a cohort that included 14 cadets from 12 countries, including Pakistan, Taiwan and Romania.

    Speaking to The Straits Times last night from his hotel in Maryland's Annapolis city in the US, Lt Tan said: 'I was surprised because the guys I was training with were Navy Seals and some were even going to be astronauts. To be training with the best and brightest, and still come up tops is pretty amazing.'

    Top honours at USNA are a rare prize as condidates vying for the honour are cadets handpicked by American and selected foreign navies worldwide.

    Lt Tan, who spent four years in USNA, is a recipient of a Singapore Armed Forces scholarship. He began his training at USNA in 2008, after graduating from the Officer Cadet School here that same year. The Singaporean officer is also the first foreign cadet i the USNA's history to take charge of the administrative duties of the 4,400 cadets. As the brigade adjutant, he was tasked to command the 4,4000-strong cer4monial parades.

    "That's the size of the Republic of Singapore Navy," said Lt Tan, the eldest of four siblings.

    His mother is a housewife and his father owns a cleaning firm. Both parents were at the full-regalia parade in the academy, where he received his award from US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta on Tuesday. He was also awarded a Bachelor or Science in Ocean Systems Engineering.

    "I was put in an environment in which I challenged and pushed myself beyond my limits and became stronger physically and mentally," said Lt Tan, who said he hopes to take part in international peace support operations like the anti-piracy operations in the Gulf of Aden.

    Of his experience, Lt Tan said he will miss the friends who helped him cope and assimilate in the US. He is flying back to Singapore tomorrow.

    "We shared jokes, helped each other do laundry or iron our clothes...these were small gestures that mattered a lot and kept us going for so long."
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    Default READ! Singapore 2012 aims to get more children to love reading

    By Hanna Begam | Posted: 31 May 2012 1718 hrs


    SINGAPORE: The National Library Board (NLB) wants to reach out to more children in this year's READ! Singapore initiative.

    It's focusing on children who're between seven and 14 years old and is offering them a selection of interesting international and local works.

    Previously, the selection was aimed at youths above 15 years.

    CEO of the NLB, Mrs Elaine Ng, said it's important to reach out to children during their foundational years to cultivate a love for reading.

    The selection for READ! Singapore aims to link people of different cultures and backgrounds, with the theme, "Bridges".

    Readers can expect a selection of works, comprising eight novels, 12 short stories and four poems.

    These include popular folk tales, illustrated novels and science fiction essays.

    Some of the featured works for children include a book tackling issues like Alzheimer's disease.

    And a book about a family of otters written by Edmund Chen.

    Edmund Chen, author of "Little Otters to the Rescue", said: "Basically it's about a tribe of otters. They've been forced to migrate, because of deforestation. So it fits the theme of READ! Singapore, because not just we bridge generation gaps, different boundaries, different languages, and cultures, but this time around, we're trying to bridge the animals!"

    Author of "Where's Grandma" Edmund Lim said: "It's about how Luke deals with Grandma's Alzheimer's disease. So this book helps children to better understand the condition of Alzheimer's, and it also enables children to examine ways in which they can reach out to the elderly. At the same time, it will help serve as a bridge between the family members of different generations."

    The works will be available in English, Malay, Tamil and Chinese at all 24 public libraries.

    The READ! Singapore initiative, into its 8th year, will run from 15 June to 28 September.

    - CNA/ck

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    Default NTU ranked 16th among top 100 of world's major young universities

    Posted: 31 May 2012 0241 hrs



    SINGAPORE: Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has been placed 16th among the top 100 of the world's major young universities - those below 50 years old - in the ranking by Times Higher Education.

    Earlier this week, NTU was ranked 4th in the world among universities aged 50 and below by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

    NTU President, Professor Bertil Andersson, said: "It is clear that NTU is a rising young star in higher education. An ambitious university and fast growing, we have strengthened our reputation as a major force in education and research.

    "While the methodologies are different, these two new rankings from QS and Times Higher both demonstrate NTU's rapid growth as a university that is well recognised internationally.

    "With NTU's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine that is enrolling its first students from next year, it will enable NTU to further increase recognition in related areas, such as biomedicine and life sciences in the years ahead. NTU is also one of the youngest among the young universities, which means that we have the potential to grow our standing further."

    The Times Higher Education Top 100 Under-50 Ranking draws on the same data used to compile the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, but only ranks those founded in 1962 or later.

    The QS Top 50 Under-50 uses a different methodology that surveys the views of academics and employers around the world. The rankings are based on four key pillars: research, teaching, employability and internationalisation.

    -CNA/ac

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    Default Stricter rules to bring in Indonesian maids

    By Saifulbahri Ismail | Posted: 30 May 2012 1817 hrs



    SINGAPORE: Maid agencies in Singapore will now have to apply online for employment contracts for Indonesian foreign domestic workers with the country's embassy.

    The change takes effect on Wednesday.

    The new online system will help the embassy compile data and track the domestic workers from the time they leave Indonesia for Singapore.

    The Indonesian embassy held a briefing for employment agencies on Wednesday to explain the changes.

    In the past, the embassy said it does not have full information of all its domestic workers in Singapore.

    This is because the data was just shared between employment agencies in Indonesia and Singapore.

    Now, both Indonesia and Singapore employment agencies must key in the necessary data into the online system.

    The embassy said having such information will help it safeguard the welfare of its citizens.

    Sukmo Yuwono, counsellor, Indonesian Embassy in Singapore, said: "Based on all that data, I'm very confident it will give protection in the beginning when the Indonesian domestic helper has problems in Singapore.

    "Because if I have a call from the police, for example, if I don't have any data, I have to find out by myself. I need to search through Indonesia, search all the agencies... but if they are already keyed in to our system, I will just find out from the system."

    Employment agencies said the online process may be more tedious.

    This is because even after the online process, agencies have to print out the Employment Contract and submit it to the embassy for endorsement. Agencies then need to send the Employment Contract to their counterparts in Indonesia.

    This new system is also expected to put a stop to the practice of some employers who hire maids directly from Indonesia.

    K Jayaprema, president, Association of Employment Agencies, said: "So we are looking at more business for the local employment agencies because it looks like only the accredited agencies with the Indonesian embassy will be able to download the employment contract.

    "So definitely employers have to go to a local agency to help them with this contract. And it's not going to just stop with new girls coming in, I think it's also for renewal, also for the transfer of girls."

    The Indonesian government said it wants to stop sending domestic workers abroad as of 2017. It wants to provide comprehensive training so that workers are ready to enter more competitive industries. Stricter requirements may also be applied by 2017.

    "But it's something we have to wait and see how effective this is going to be because definitely, they see anybody working overseas as a better source of income. So unless they are able to earn equally good salaries, I don't think the ban is going to work," said K Jayaprema, president, Association of Employment Agencies.

    The Indonesian government had previously imposed a moratorium on sending migrant workers to Saudi Arabia due to the implementation of the death penalty on a number of Indonesian workers there.

    - CNA/cc
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    Default Maids -"Singapore has much to learn from the successful countries of Europe"

    Recently Singapore's Ambassador-At-Large, Professor Tommy Koh, commented on "Singapore has much to learn from the successful countries of Europe", such as Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden, whose populations are below 10 million.

    Since Singapore is very concerned about not being able to reproduce itself and has resorted to immigration, Prof Tommy Koh made the following comments relating to Higher Fertility:

    "One of our challenges is our low fertility rate. For a country's population to remain stable, it needs a total fertility rate (TFR) of 2.14. Singapore's current TFR is 1.2. Our population experts tell us that our population will begin to shrink by 2025. They have, therefore, argued that, to make up the deficit, we need to import foreigners to add to our population.

    Importing foreigners is the second best solution. The best solution is to raise our TFR. On this point, our policymakers seem to have run out of ideas. The various incentive schemes such as baby bonus, do not seem to be productive. It is time to look at our four European countries for inspiration. Their 2010 TFRs were as follows:

    Denmark: 1.87 (Per Capita Income 2010: S$69,249)
    Finland: 1.87 (S$54,584)
    Norway: 1.95 (S$105,096)
    Sweden: 1.98 (S$60,613)
    Singapore: 1.2 (S$59,813)

    The four Nordic countries have TFRs which are close to the replacement level. This achievement seems extraordinary. They do not have the benefit of maids. There are over 200,000 foreign domestic workers in Singapore. They also do not have grandparents who help with child-rearing. At the same time, they have very high participation of women in their workforces. In terms of availability of time and help for child-rearing, common sense would suggest that the TFR in Singapore should be higher than those in the Nordic countries. How do we explain this paradox?

    Our population experts cannot explain this paradox. I will venture a hypothesis. I believe that the high TFR in the Nordic counries could be due to four factors: The availability of convenient, affordable and good childcare; good work-life balance; an excellent and relatively stree-free education system; and the relative absence of male chauvinism.

    Let me say a few words on each of the four factors.

    First, one of the missing links in Singapore is the inadequate supply of conveniently located, good quality and affordable childcare for infants and young children.

    Second, the work-life balance in Singapore, especially for many young professionals such as lawyers, architects and teachers, is poor. Singaporeans work one of the longest hours in the developed world. They have little energy for life other than work and thus little time for meaningful family life.

    The Government and our employers should reflect on whether the existing climate of encouraging or requiring our young professionals to work late into the night is necessary or desirable.

    Third, sociologists like Paulin Straughan have pointed out that Singapore's highly competitive and stressful education system is also a deterrent to working parents having more children. The Nordic countries, on the other hand, are famous for their high quality, egalitarian education which fulfills the children's aspiration for a happy childhood. It is a paradox that Finland, with no streaming, no elite schools and no private tuition industry, is ranked as having the world's best education system.

    Fourth, it is significant that the developed countries with low TFRs include Japan, Korea, Italy and Spain, which have a high degree of male chauvinism. Is it possible that Singapore too has a high degree of male chauvinism? The women of Singapore are often blamed for not marrying and having children. Perhaps, the main problem is not our women but our men. Perhaps, what we also need is a mindset change on the part of our men towards the status and role of our women and the shared responsibilities of the husband and wife, and father and mother in domestic chores and child-rearing."


    (The above extracts were from an article which first appeared on 19 May in the Straits Times.)

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    Default NUH clinician-scientist makes discovery on ovarian cancer cells

    Posted: 31 May 2012 1914 hrs


    SINGAPORE: A clinician scientist from the National University Hospital (NUH) made a discovery about ovarian cancer cells that could pave the way for personalised treatment and new diagnostic tests.

    Dr Ruby Huang identified five new ovarian cancer cellular sub types that could be used to predict the prognosis of ovarian cancer patients
    .

    She's a clinician scientist with the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at NUH and a senior research fellow with the Cancer Science Institute (CSI) at the National University of Singapore.

    She worked with Professor Jean Paul Thiery and Dr Seiichi Mori from the CSI.

    Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among Singaporean women.

    It accounts for 5.5 per cent of all female cancers diagnosed from 2006 to 2010.

    The rate of this cancer increases greatly after the age of 35.

    Most ovarian cancers occur on the epithelium, the surface of the ovary.

    Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is characterised by a high degree of genetic damage and multiple genetic alterations.

    The study used more than 1,500 gene expression cell data to identify five major sub types of EOC.

    These tumours have varying abilities in undergoing epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT).

    When Dr Huang's team reclassified the 1,500 micro-array samples, it concluded that EMT contributes to the aggressiveness of solid tumours.

    The team is now aiming to develop novel treatment strategies to achieve personalised medicine in ovarian cancer.

    - CNA/ck

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