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Thread: Singapore Also Can
07-30-2012, 04:45 AM #6359
Singapore to meet water target before deadline
Updated 01:11 PM Jul 30, 2012
SINGAPORE - Singapore will be able to meet its water requirements independently ahead of the 2061 expiration of a century-long supply agreement with Malaysia "if need be", the head of the city-state's water utility said.
Desalination and recycling plants produce 40 per cent of the 380 million British gallons of water companies in Singapore and its 5.2 million population use daily, Mr Chew Men Leong, chief executive of PUB, said in an interview on July 27. A downtown dam adds a further 10 per cent, with the remaining coming from its reservoirs and imports from Malaysia.
"We have made progress to the point that we are now much more confident in terms of water security and sustainability," said Mr Chew, 44, a former naval chief who joined the utility about a year ago. "If you're asking me this question about when will we ever get self-sufficiency, I will put it this way that we can be self-sufficient if need be."
Singapore, which relied on Malaysia for its water needs, spent S$600 million to S$800 million a year since 2006 on new technologies to boost its supply. The push to develop the industry has drawn businesses including General Electric and Siemens to invest, and created local water companies such as Hyflux that have expanded overseas.
"What they are looking to do is create a virtual market for the water business which is much larger than Singapore," said Mr Glen Daigger, chief technology officer of CH2M Hill, an Colorado-based industry consulting firm. "By becoming a thought leader for water in Asia, then they really create a market which is orders of magnitude bigger than Singapore itself."
Chew said his main worry is climate change and how that lowers water levels at reservoirs. Changing weather patterns also led to heavy rainfalls and flash floods that added stress to its drainage systems, where parts of the Orchard Road shopping belt were affected over the past two years.
PUB is also working on reducing water consumption, he said, with measures ranging from mandatory dual-flushing systems for toilets and automatic faucets in all public restrooms.
The average usage per person is now 153.4 litres a day, down from 165 litres nine years ago, he said. That's expected to fall to 147 litres by the end of the decade and 140 litres in the following 10 years, he said.
"Here, water is an issue of life and death," Mr Chew said. "That's always been the message." BLOOMBERG
07-30-2012, 10:28 PM #6360
Our women paddlers could set a record
From Tan Yong Chuan
04:45 AM Jul 31, 2012
The playing techniques of national paddlers Wang Yuegu, Feng Tianwei and Li Jiawei have improved compared to the past, when Jing Junhong and Li were our respective solitary stalwarts.
Moreover, Feng seems to be training hard these days against defensive paddlers and "choppers", whom the Singapore Table Tennis Association has been assigning for her.
Should the trio play to the their fullest potential, they could be up against China in the Olympics' table tennis singles semi-finals and team final.
The only true obstacle would be the likely nail-biting, semi-final clash between Singapore and Japan in the women's team event. Should they prevail, it would mean a silver medal, like in Beijing 2008.
If either Feng or Wang could add a second medal in the Singles event, this Team Singapore would be the most successful ever since Rome 1960, when weightlifter Tan Howe Liang won silver, and since our independence. It is possible.
Should national paddlers Li Jiawei (left), Wang Yue Gu (centre) and Feng Tianwei play to their full potential, they could be up against China in the Olympics. Today File Photo
07-30-2012, 10:32 PM #6361
Paddler Gao out, but Wang into last eight
by Tan Yo-Hinn
Updated 09:57 AM Jul 31, 2012
LONDON - Gao Ning's dreams of glory at the London Olympics are over after a 4-1 loss to China's Wang Hao in the last 16 of the men's singles table tennis competition.
The Singaporean went down 9-11, 7-11, 9-11, 11-7, 3-11 in 38 minutes to the world No 4, a silver medallist at the 2008 Beijing Games, at London's ExCel Arena yesterday.
"Mentally I was alright, but technically, I was probably a bit too impatient which led to mistakes," he said. "The key was the first set. I knew if I'd lost the opening set, the next three would be very difficult ... I also probably gave Wang Hao too much respect. But he was the better player."
Meanwhile, Wang Yuegu produced a gutsy come-from-behind performance to edge Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus 4-3 (11-8, 7-11, 4-11, 12-14, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8) in a thrilling 61-minute clash at the ExCel Arena last night to reach the quarter-finals of the women's singles.
Wang, the world No 11, will meet Japan's Kasumi Ishikawa in the last eight today, where team-mate Feng Tianwei will face South Korean veteran Kim Kyung Ah.
Gao Ning said his impatience led to mistakes against his opponent Wang Hao. TODAY FILE PHOTO
07-30-2012, 10:39 PM #6362
Olympics: Wang Yuegu completes Singapore's quarter-final lineup
Published on Jul 31, 2012
By May Chen, In London
Singapore paddler Wang Yuegu takes on Belarus' Viktoria Pavlovich on July 30 at the ExCel Arena in London, UK. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN
LONDON: Paddler Wang Yuegu left it late to take down Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus on Monday in the women's singles fourth round.
The Singaporean world No. 11 beat her 23rd ranked opponent 11-8, 7-11, 4-11, 12-14, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8.
This means both Singapore's representatives in the singles event will feature in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Wang will play Japan's world No. 6 Kasumi Ishikawa while Feng Tianwei will play Kim Kyung Ah of South Korea.
The table tennis team has targeted two medals at this Olympics. On top of defending their silver in the women's team event, it is also hoped one will come from the women's singles event.
07-30-2012, 10:45 PM #6363
Olympics: Feng Tianwei battles through to table-tennis quarters
Published on Jul 30, 2012
By May Chen, In London
Singapore paddler Feng Tianwei (right) has booked a place in the quarter-finals of the table tennis women's singles, after battling past Germany's world No. 16 Wu Jiaduo (foreground). -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGARAN
LONDON: Singapore paddler Feng Tianwei has booked a place in the quarter-finals of the table tennis women's singles, after battling past Germany's world No. 16 Wu Jiaduo 11-6, 7-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6 in the fourth round on Monday afternoon.
Feng, ranked eighth in the world, has targeted a medal in the individual event.
She will meet either Spain's Shen Yanfei or South Korea's Kim Kyung Ah in the next round.
Both are tricky opponents she has fallen to before - Shen stood between Feng and a world No. 1 ranking last year while the Singaporean is known to be weaker against defensive players like Kim.
07-30-2012, 10:51 PM #6364
Late hiccup scuppers Schooling's hopes
Chef-de-Mission Phua leads inquest into mix-up over youngster's goggles and cap
by Tan Yo-Hinn
04:45 AM Jul 31, 2012
LONDON - He got a hug from his idol Michael Phelps, but Joseph Schooling must have wished it was a congratulatory one.
The Singaporean was consoled by the 14-time American Olympic gold medallist after a last-minute hiccup dashed the Olympic debutante's dreams.
Minutes before his 200m butterfly heat at London Olympic Park's Aquatic Centre yesterday, Joseph was told by an official his TYR cap and goggles were not on the list of approved equipment, forcing him to scramble for replacements.
The incident affected him so much he ended up posting a poor 1min 59.18sec - a far cry from his personal best of 1:56.67 - and missed out qualifying for the event's semi-finals.
The incident provoked an angry response from Jessie Phua, Singapore's Chef-de-Mission to the London Games, who has filed an official complaint to the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The IOC said it will pursue the matter with world swimming body FINA.
"It messed my whole game plan. I had to scramble and ask if I could (use) this or that (cap and goggles)," Joseph told reporters afterwards.
"… I was panicky. So I asked (the officials) what's my next option, and they told me they'd give me a free cap (that was approved). That made me deviate from my game plan."
The 17-year-old and his coach Sergio Lopez were unaware his TYR-branded cap and goggles were not approved.
"I'm not making any excuses, but they are telling me (so close to my race), it shocked me," said Joseph. "I just couldn't focus on my race ... It was just a very weird experience."
He finished 26th out of 36 competitors in the 200m fly. Austria's Dinko Jukic reached the semi-finals as the fastest qualifier in 1:54.79, and Phelps was the fifth fastest in 1:55.53.
Joseph's personal best time of 1:56.67 - it would have put him fourth in the United States Olympic trials earlier this month - saw him placed in the final heat, which included swimmers with the fastest times, including Phelps, Jukic and Australian Nick D'Arcy.
Not surprisingly, Phua is not letting the matter rest.
"We have been robbed. To do this to him so close to such a big race, how could he not have been affected?" Phua told TODAY.
"We will lodge a complaint. It will not change the result, but at least we want it on record that this happened."
TODAY understands the Singapore National Olympic Council and the Singapore Swimming Association had checked to ensure the equipment was legal, and sources believe the problem may be due to a mis-communication between FINA and the merchandiser on the list of approved caps and goggles.
FINA Executive Director Cornel Marculescu said while TYR is on the list of approved brands for swimwear for this year, it is not so for caps and goggles.
"The specifications, which is on our website, were sent to all National Olympic Committees, manufacturers and national associations, so this is very strange," he told TODAY.
When pointed out some other teams also used TYR caps and goggles, Marculescu insisted: "FINA rules are very clear. It doesn't matter which country you're from, if you are not wearing approved equipment, you cannot race."
While the inquest continues, Joseph's mother May said: "This must be sorted out quickly, because the swimmer should only be thinking about his race, not such things.
"He was very chirpy the night before, and aimed to clock about 1min 55secs. Now it's over for another four years, at least."
The 1.82m-tall teenager, a student at the Bolles School in Florida, said with the encouragement from his idol Phelps, he is determined to bounce back for Thursday's 100m fly heats.
"He looked at me and asked 'what's wrong?', and I told him what happened," said Joseph. "He gave me a hug and said I'm still young and I've got a long to way to go, just keep my head high and keep going on."
He added: "Champions don't give excuses. That's the past. I'm just going to focus and get ready for the 100m fly."
Joseph Schooling's TYR cap and goggles were not approved by London 2012 officials. GETTY IMAGES
07-31-2012, 10:55 PM #6365
Cabinet change sees new faces Lawrence Wong, Tan Chuan-Jin
Published on Aug 01, 2012
By Goh Chin Lian
A new Cabinet lineup sees first-termers Lawrence Wong head a new Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and Tan Chuan-Jin the Manpower Ministry.
Ms Grace Fu will be promoted to full minister - the second woman in Singapore's history to hold such a post. Joining her is lawyer Indranee Rajah, who leaves the backbench to take on a new appointment as Senior Minister of State from Nov 1.
This round of change includes a reorganisation of the Ministries of Community Development, Youth and Sports and Information Communications and the Arts from Nov 1. As a result, Acting Minister Chan Chun Sing will head the Ministry of Social and Family Development.
The promotions list includes Mr Masagos Zulkifli and Mr Lee Yi Shyan, who move up a rung to Senior Minister of State, while backbencher Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary. Together with Mr Tan and Ms Fu, they will assume their new appointments on Aug 1.
A new Cabinet lineup sees first-termers (1) Lawrence Wong head a new Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth and (2) Tan Chuan-Jin the Manpower Ministry. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN
Ms (3) Grace Fu will be promoted to full minister - the second woman in Singapore's history to hold such a post. Joining her is lawyer (4) Indranee Rajah, who leaves the backbench to take on a new appointment as Senior Minister of State from Nov 1. -- ST PHOTO: MG SOR LUAN
Acting Minister (5) Chan Chun Sing will head the Ministry of Social and Family Development. -- ST PHOTO: JOHARI RAHMAT
The promotions list includes Mr (6) Masagos Zulkifli and Mr (7) Lee Yi Shyan, who move up a rung to Senior Minister of State, while backbencher (8) Muhammad Faishal Ibrahim has been appointed Parliamentary Secretary. -- ST PHOTO: JOHARI RAHMAT
07-31-2012, 11:03 PM #6366
PM announces MCYS and MICA to be restructured; a new ministry to focus on culture, community and youth
by Neo Chai Chin
04:45 AM Aug 01, 2012
SINGAPORE - In one of the Government's biggest moves in recent years, two existing ministries will be restructured and a new ministry will be created to focus on culture, community and youth.
The rationale is to bring social and community issues, as well as the need to effectively engage the public, into sharper focus, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday in a press statement.
"Singapore is in a new phase of development. Social and community issues are increasingly important in our shared home," Mr Lee added.
From November, the work of the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) will be overseen by three ministries.
A new ministry, the Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) - to be headed by Mr Lawrence Wong, who will be appointed Acting Minister - will take charge of strengthening community bonds and the development of sports, arts and heritage.
The MCYS will be renamed the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), while MICA will be renamed the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).
Outlining three priorities, Mr Lee said Singapore needs to strengthen its families and enhance its social safety nets for the needy. The Republic also needs to foster the arts and sports and build social capital through volunteerism and engage youths.
And in the age of social media and swift technological progress, the Government needs to improve public communications and engagement to reach out more effectively to an "increasingly diverse society", said Mr Lee.
In response to media queries, Mr Lee reiterated that all three ministries - the MCCY, MSF and MCI - "will have to break new ground, try fresh approaches and keep up with rapidly changing conditions and needs".
A notable result of the restructuring is the omission of "sports" and "arts" from the names of the new ministries, which have sparked concerns among some in the sports and arts communities whom TODAY spoke to.
But Mr Lee noted: "The name 'Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth' does not identify all these areas explicitly, but that is only to keep the ministry name reasonably concise."
Members of Parliament felt that the onus will also lie with the Minister-designate for the MCCY to ensure sports and the arts remain priorities.
Marine Parade Group Representation Constituency Member of Parliament Seah Kian Peng, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Community Development, Youth and Sports, said: "I'm quite sure those in the sports fraternity will not be left out. If they are, I will make a lot of noise. Like many others, I feel sports is a great way to bring people together."
Mr Baey Yam Keng, deputy chairman of the GPC for Information, Communications and the Arts, noted that there was public discussion when the word "culture" was dropped during ministry restructuring exercises in the past. "The name is of course important, but I think we need to get the substance of the ministry," he said, adding that it was up to the new Minister to address the concerns of some parties.
On his Facebook page yesterday, Mr Wong said that Singapore stands to benefit from a more holistic approach to culture and the arts, community engagement, and sports and youth affairs. He added that having a single ministry serving "these different spheres of public life will encourage synergies that benefit one and all".
National Family Council chairman Lim Soon Hock felt that the Government was giving "greater focus on family in light of challenges like the declining fertility rate, later marriages, the bearing of children at a later age and rising divorce rates".
Political analysts TODAY spoke to felt that events during last year's General Election (GE) had a bearing on the Government's moves.
Institute of Policy Studies Senior Research Fellow Gillian Koh felt that the mandate of the MCI would allow the Government to boost its capacity to deal with public engagement, given the general sentiment in the run-up to the GE that the authorities needed to connect better with the public.
Singapore Management University law lecturer Eugene Tan felt the greater prominence given to family and social issues could be due in part to key issues that emerged from the GE. "While last year's General Election was not totally about social issues, they were a key issue," said the Nominated Member of Parliament.
07-31-2012, 11:13 PM #6367
2 new faces in the Cabinet
by Amir Hussain
Updated 07:43 AM Aug 01, 2012
SINGAPORE - Two first-term politicians - who were part of the group dubbed the "fabulous five" in last year's General Election (GE) - will be promoted to Acting Ministers in the Cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday, as political analysts noted the quickening pace of leadership renewal.
Mr Tan Chuan-Jin and Mr Lawrence Wong will join Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing and Education Minister Heng Swee Keat in helming a ministry each.
The four - along with National Trades Union Congress Deputy Secretary-General Ong Ye Kung who was not elected - were identified as new faces to watch during the GE last year.
From today, Mr Tan will be Acting Minister for Manpower, while Mr Wong will be appointed as Acting Minister for the new Ministry for Culture, Community and Youth with effect from Nov 1.
In response to media queries, Mr Lee noted that the new ministers "have performed well".
He said: "They plunged deep in right from the start and have tackled their tasks energetically and imaginatively.
"They have learnt quickly and become more confident and familiar with the issues."
Adding that he expects "to do further reshuffles from time to time during this term", Mr Lee said: "The ministers have settled down and gained experience in their new roles. Enough time has passed for me to assess their performance and abilities. It is timely to adjust the Cabinet line-up to better address our priorities and challenges."
Singapore Management University (SMU) law lecturer Eugene Tan felt that the latest political appointments "suggest that the pace of (leadership) renewal has quickened".
Still, he noted that this was not surprising, given that the men were among those identified during the GE last year as being slated for high political office.
Concurring, Institute of Policy Studies Senior Research Fellow Gillian Koh said the announcements were "absolutely no surprise; it's about time".
Dr Koh added: There is also some urgency to ensure that the political succession takes place."
She noted that Mr Lee had said in 2010 that he envisaged handing over to a fourth-generation leadership by 2020.
Citing the Bukit Brown episode - where Mr Tan had spearheaded the Government's engagement efforts - SMU political science professor Bridget Welsh said: "For the new people, it's going to be a baptism of fire because they all have very limited experience (in their fields), and not all the experiences have been successful ones."
When contacted by TODAY, Mr Tan said of his new appointment: "One is never ever fully ready for anything, but we equip ourselves as best we can. Always observing, listening and learning ... and reflecting. When the time comes and the call is sounded, you step forward and serve to the best of your ability."
Mr Wong said on his Facebook page that he was excited about the opportunity to engage and work with Singaporeans.
Noting that his new ministry's mission was to build cohesion and a strong sense of national identity, he said: "In the coming months, I look forward to meeting with many of you - our young people, our arts and sports groups, as well as our civic and community volunteers - to get your ideas and views on how we can keep Singapore strong."
08-01-2012, 01:27 AM #6368
Gu Juan into the knockout rounds
04:45 AM Aug 01, 2012
SINGAPORE - The Republic's shuttler Gu Juan is through to the round of 16 of the women's singles competition after posting a second straight win to top Group D.
At London's Wembley Arena, she took 25 minutes to complete a 21-10, 21-7 win over Australia's Victoria Na. On Sunday, she beat Slovakia's Monika Fasungova in straight games.
Singapore team manager Chua Yong Joo said that, despite playing lower-ranked opponents at the group stage, Gu Juan did not take things easy ahead of today's round of 16.
"From now on, we will take one match at a time and we hope that she will be able to maintain her performance in the knockout matches," said Chua.
Over in sailing, Elizabeth Yin closed her second day of competition in the women's Laser Radial with a 13th place finish in Race 4, her best result of four races so far.
She is in 29th position out of 41 sailors in the overall standings, with Ireland's Annelise Murphy the favourite to win gold after winning all four opening races.
In men's Laser, Colin Cheng is in 20th position overall after finishing 26th and 20th in Races 3 and 4 respectively. Agencies
Gu Juan. GETTY IMAGES
08-01-2012, 01:35 AM #6369
Wong, Yao and Shinta bow out
by Tan Yo-Hinn
Updated 03:43 AM Aug 01, 2012
LONDON -- Singapore shuttler Derek Wong's London Olympics adventure is over.
The 22-year-old lost 21-17, 21-14 to Denmark's Jan Jorgensen in their final Group I match of the men's singles badminton competition at the Wembley Arena in London on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, Singapore time).
The result means the Dane tops the group, and advances into the last 16.
Also out of the badminton competition is Singapore's women's doubles pairing of Yao Lei and Shinta Mulia Sari.
They lost 21-16, 21-15 to India's Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa to finish bottom of Group B.
It means Gu Juan is the only Singaporean shuttler left in the Olympics, and she will face Taiwan's Cheng Shao-chieh in the last 16 today.
08-01-2012, 01:39 AM #6370
Wong's Olympic debut over
by Tan Yo-Hinn
Updated 08:47 AM Aug 01, 2012
LONDON - The adventure was fleeting, but nonetheless fruitful.
Top Singapore shuttler Derek Wong's Olympic debut ended after a 21-17, 21-14 loss to Jan Jorgensen in his final Group I match at London's Wembley Arena last night (this morning, Singapore time) to finish second in the three-man group.
Speaking afterwards, the 23-year-old admitted the Dane was simply a class above him.
"In terms of speed and power, I felt I could match him," Wong told TODAY. "However, he was a lot more experienced than me, and stayed patient throughout the game even though it was very intense and when the points weren't coming. That was the crucial difference between us.
"Of course, I wanted to play more games instead of just two. But being in my first Olympics has been a huge experience, and one that I will use for my career."
Wong, whose next assignment is next month's Vietnam Open, had earlier beaten Israel's Misha Zilberman 21-9, 21-15 on Sunday, and a win over Jorgensen would have seen him top the three-strong group and advance into the last 16.
The result followed Singapore's Yao Lei and Shinta Mulia Sari also exiting the Olympics in the women's doubles. The world No 13 duo lost 21-16, 21-15 to India's world No 20-ranked pair of Jwala Gutta and Ashwini Ponnappa to finish bottom of the four-strong Group B with three losses.
It means Gu Juan is the only Singaporean left in the badminton competition at the London Games. She will face Taiwan's Cheng Shao-chieh in the last 16 today.
Wong admits his opponent was a simply class above him. REUTERS
08-01-2012, 10:51 PM #6371
A 'historic day' for S'pore sports
by Tan Yo-Hinn
04:45 AM Aug 02, 2012
LONDON - "Inspire a generation" goes the motto for the London Olympics, now the hope is that national table tennis star Feng Tianwei's exploits will serve to inspire Singaporeans.
Yesterday, she beat Japan's Kasumi Ishikawa 4-0 (11-9, 11-6, 11-6, 11-5) to claim the bronze medal in the women's singles competition at the London Games.
It also meant she became the first Singaporean since weightlifter Tan Howe Liang at the 1960 Rome Games to win an individual Olympic medal, and only the country's third at the Olympiad - she was also part of the women's team which won a silver at the Beijing Games four years ago.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sent a congratulatory message to Feng on his Facebook page. He wrote: "Congrats to Tianwei for a resounding 4-0 win over Ishikawa of Japan. Singapore's first individual Olympic medal in 52 years! We are all proud of you."
Reflecting on her victory, a visibly delighted Ms Feng said there was "a lot of pressure to get the medal".
"I was really nervous since yesterday, and I was eager to get over it," she said. "But I guess that's the beauty of the Olympics."
The result is an early birthday present for Ms Feng - she turns 26 on Aug 31 - as well as for Singapore's 47th National Day celebrations next Thursday.
She had lost 4-2 to China's world No 1 Ding Ning in Tuesday's semi-finals, but her win over Ms Ishikawa yesterday will see her receive S$250,000 under the Singapore National Olympic Council's (SNOC) Multi-Million Dollar Awards Programme (MAP).
Among those in the 3,000-capacity crowd at London's ExCel Arena were President Tony Tan, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, Team Singapore's chef-de-mission Jessie Phua and Singapore Table Tennis Association chief Lee Bee Wah.
Said Dr Tan: "Tianwei's victory today is a historic day for Singapore table tennis and Singapore sports ...
"Her victory, I'm sure, will inspire the other members of the table tennis team to do their best in the team competition next week. This shows Singapore can achieve the excellence in sports at the highest level.
"What Tianwei has achieved today shows what is possible and I hope it will inspire more Singaporeans to achieve likewise."
Ms Feng was Singapore's flagbearer at last Friday's opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium and Mr Teo was visibly delighted at her justifying the SNOC's decision to grant her that honour.
"It was in her heart, which was why she wanted to carry the flag for us at the opening ceremony," said Mr Teo. "I'm really very happy for her that she's been able to do this for all of us."
Feng Tianwei became the first Singaporean to win an individual Olympic medal in 52 years after her victory over Japan's Kasumi Ishikawa in their women's singles bronze medal match yesterday. REUTERS
08-02-2012, 02:49 AM #6372
Motivating future Olympians at Singapore Sports School
Published on Aug 02, 2012
By Sharon Lee
Singapore Sports School sports psychologist Dr Jaylee Longbottom (centre) with junior swimmers, Constance Lien, 13 (left) and Hoong Enqi, 13 (right). The school's various programmes during the Olympic period have motivated them to work harder, say Constance and Enqi. -- ST PHOTO: SHARON LEE
The pinnacle of sporting excellence - the Olympics - might be a distant dream for any person but it's very much a reality at the Singapore Sports School.
The school boasts of four Olympians so far, the most notable being Singapore's swim queen Tao Li.
For the London 2012 games, eight athletes from the school were shortlisted by the Singapore National Olympic Council. Three - swimmers Tao Li and Mylene Ong and hurdler Dipna Lim-Prasad - were selected.
The wheels were put in motion six years ago after London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics here in Singapore.
The Dream 2012 Award, initiated by the British Chamber of Commerce in Singapore and endorsed by running great Lord Sebastian Coe, encourages its students to aspire to become Olympians. Since 2006, the annual award has supported 14 students and alumni to the tune of $91,000.
It's all part of the plan to motivate its students to aim for the stars, in this case, the Olympics.
The Singapore Sports School has taken an organic approach to inspiring its athletes during this period, said its sports psychologist, Dr Jaylee Longbottom in an interview with The Straits Times Online.
'Rather than providing formal workshop sessions, we've decided to put together Olympic-inspired music to be played during assembly. We've also put together images and video clips of past Olympic Games. This is to help athletes develop their own connections to the Olympic Dream,' she explained.
Dr Longbottom, 29, whose job entails equipping students with mental skills to enhance their performance, works with coaches to help athletes maximise their potential.
When faced with a discouraged athlete, she would try to find out what connected them to their chosen sport in the first place.
'We'll try to find out what they loved about their sport and bring it back into their training environment. Then we set some new goals. Often, these athletes have just lost sight of the bigger picture,' said Dr Longbottom, who hails from Australia.
During this Olympic period, students have easy access to television screenings broadcasting Olympic coverage throughout the sprawling 7ha campus.
On July 19, the school also hosted an Olympic roadshow. Inspirational talks, including one with British swimming Olympian Mark Foster, were held to motivate students as part of its Lessons From Champions sports education programme.
These have spurred on junior swimmers Hoong Enqi, 13, and Constance Lien, 13.
'It really motivates us as we see how they conquer their fears during competitions,' said Enqi, who counts American swimmer Ryan Lochte as one of her favourite athletes.
'I didn't know who Lochte was at the last Olympics in Beijing. But he trained really hard after being motivated by Michael Phelps who won eight gold medals and broke quite a few records. For London, Lochte was probably training very hard and beat Phelps in the 400m IM.'
For Constance, her sporting hero comes closer from home in the form of local swimmer and Singapore Sports School graduate Mylene Ong.
'Mylene has never complained about training. She showed perseverance during training and qualifying for the London Olympics. And she's always very happy,' said the chirpy Secondary 1 student.
SSS director of sports Dr Irwin Seet said: 'The Olympics represent a dream. It's the greatest honour for an athlete to represent his or her country at the Olympics, so we want to inspire this generation of students to aim for the Olympics one day.'
'If you look at the stories of Mylene and Dipna, you might not have predicted six to seven years ago that they would be at the Olympics. But through resilience and perseverance, they have overcome many odds and stuck on to their dreams.
'They are now in London representing their country, so it's inspiring for kids who may not be overflowing with talent at this point of time, to keep working hard so that their day may come in the future.'
08-02-2012, 03:19 AM #6373
Changes reflect a maturing S'pore's priorities
by Eugne K B Tan
04:45 AM Aug 02, 2012
Some have described the Cabinet changes announced on Tuesday as a manifestation of the "politics of appeasement". That would be reading too much into the so-called "new normal".
Regardless, two things stand out for me in the Cabinet changes. First, the restructuring of the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) and the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) to form the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI), as well as the establishment of the new Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY).
The second is the quickened pace of the leadership transition and renewal.
Taken together, the changes demonstrate how government and governance in Singapore have to evolve since the May 2011 General Election. The Government is called upon to be more responsive and sensitive to the intangibles like society and community issues as they impact profoundly upon the well-being of Singaporeans.
Such issues are now given the due recognition as being fundamental to the legitimacy of the Singapore-style governance. All these against the pressing need to prepare the putative fourth-generation leadership to assume greater responsibility.
Singapore society continues to evolve, necessitating the government machinery not only to adapt to the rapid changes but, where possible, to engage in pre-emptive management of key issues.
The formation of MCCY and MSF reflects the omnibus ministry that MCYS is, which may have inadvertently resulted in a perception that MCYS has an inherent diffused focus given its multi-faceted suite of portfolios. MCCY and MSF represent quite contrasting imperatives of a maturing Singapore.
On the one hand, the creation of MCCY signifies, among other things, the growing importance of the post-material needs and aspirations of Singaporeans and the desire to be a gracious and cultured society.
Thus, against the backdrop of a more complex and increasingly diverse society, the need for Singaporeans to develop a robust sense of belonging and rootedness - manifested in strong civic bonds and a cohesive national identity - becomes no longer a luxury but a necessity.
Sports, arts, heritage, volunteerism and philanthropy are invaluable platforms by which a vibrant national culture can be developed, nurtured and sustained. As such, the sports and arts communities need not fear that sports and the arts are now shunted aside. Instead, the role of sports and the arts in Singaporean society is now so well established such that there is no need to specifically mention them.
Contrast this with the specific reference to youths in the MCCY name. It underlines the recognition and commitment to engage and develop our youths. More so than ever for Gen Y and Gen Z Singaporeans, the world is their oyster. Opportunities abound for them outside our borders. Whether they will feel committed to Singapore cannot be left to chance.
The establishment of MSF reiterates the centrality of family and society in Singapore. In this regard, how we handle bread-and-butter concerns even amidst plenty, to having a robust and principled social safety support system, will continue to have a deep bearing on the kind of society we are.
Having a dedicated ministry to focus solely on social and family issues reflects the urgency and importance of not relegating these issues as a poor cousin to the pervasive economic imperative.
The changes to the Cabinet line-up highlight the quickened pace of leadership transition and renewal. By Nov 1, leaders first elected in May 2011 will helm four out of 16 ministries, covering education, social, and manpower portfolios.
Their learning curves will be steep as the wheels of government will not slow down on account of their being new to their portfolios.
In the so-called "new normal" political landscape, the office-holders will have to demonstrate not just technocratic know-how, skilful problem solving but also sophisticated political nous and sensitivity to competing and even conflicting interests and needs.
They will have to become more politician-like even as they deep dig into their technocratic expertise. As policy trade-offs are already becoming more evident and will have to explicitly laid out, how the political leadership stewards the country through the various policy options will be an integral part of the governance agenda.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has indicated that the latest changes to the Cabinet line-up will not be the last during this term. It's a deliberate process of leadership renewal as we transition from the third- to the fourth-generation political leadership.
More than ever, Singaporeans and non-Singaporeans alike will closely assess how the new line-up performs.
After all, how our political leadership performs will bear heavily on the destiny of Singapore and Singaporeans.
Eugene K B Tan is Assistant Professor of Law at the Singapore Management University School of Law, and a Nominated Member of Parliament.
08-02-2012, 10:08 PM #6374
Indranee Rajah feels it's right time to join Cabinet
By S Ramesh | Posted: 02 August 2012 2212 hrs
Ms Indranee Rajah in an interview with Channel NewsAsia on August 2, 2012. (Photo: Channel NewsAsia)
SINGAPORE: Exciting times are ahead for Singapore, especially with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's new ministries and policies, and that is one reason Ms Indranee Rajah decided to step up and join the Cabinet.
Speaking to Channel NewsAsia on Thursday, Ms Indranee said: "If there is a time for people to step up for the government, this is the time, and to be part of that change, the new direction, that is very exciting.
"You can see, for example, the creation of the new [Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth]. That is, I think, an important new initiative.
"You can see the emphasis on the need to reinforce our sense of identity. You can also see it in the appointment of new Cabinet ministers, or the promotions within the Cabinet."
"(There's) just the general sense that Singapore is moving in a new direction," she added.
Ms Indranee will become Senior Minister of State for Law and Education from November 1. As an office-holder, she has to leave her 25-year law career.
Minister for Law K Shanmugam has described Ms Indranee as a great addition to his ministry, saying that she brings with her a wealth of experience.
Ms Indranee, who has been a Member of Parliament for Tanjong Pagar GRC since 2001, is a top lawyer and Senior Counsel in private practice at Drew & Napier.
Commenting on the legal profession in Singapore, she said there is room for lawyers to grow on the international stage, not just in the area of arbitration but also in other legal work.
Ms Indranee will also be looking into education issues as part of her future role as Senior Minister of State for Education.
She feels that students should be moulded into global citizens, in addition to getting good grades.
"The purpose of education is not just to churn out students with good grades," Ms Indranee said.
"The grades are important because they get you somewhere, but the real purpose behind education is... a great emphasis on their character, their sense of country, of community.
"You want them to be people who develop their fullest potential and after developing the potential, not to just use for themselves but use it for the benefit of the community and others as well."
"That's the kind of Singaporean we want to produce from our education system, somebody who is Singaporean at heart and a global citizen and that's the big picture where we should be and the kind of policies should head in that direction," she added.
Over the years as a backbencher in Singapore's Parliament, Ms Indranee has also helmed several Government Parliamentary Committees, among them Defence and Foreign Affairs, and Home Affairs and Law.
Many have known Ms Indranee as someone who speaks her mind and speaks from her heart, and that is how she intends to make the shift from a backbencher to the front bench.
"People respond when you don't try to sugar-coat something, when you don't try to pretend that something is other than it is, and I guess that has always been my style as a backbencher, even when I am speaking with people," she said.
"There are many ways to tell a difficult hard truth. You can do it rudely, impolitely, arrogantly or you can do it sensitively, with compassion and the sense that this is a hard message to deliver. These are things that we need to talk about."
Ms Indranee added: "I don't think I would dilute the content. Just that now that you are on this side, you are trying to explain a different perspective. As a backbencher, you are coming and saying: 'this is what my residents are saying, this is what I am hearing from the ground and I need you - the government - to address it.'
"If I am now on the front bench side, you want to explain to people: 'I can do this, and there are these things you have asked which I either may not be able to do or cannot do now and these are the reasons', and to say that plainly as well."
For now, Ms Indranee said she has got some court work to handle before she leaves the law firm where she works, at the end of October.
08-03-2012, 02:00 AM #6375
Olympics: Feng Tianwei to "do her best" in women's team event
By Patwant Singh | Posted: 02 August 2012 2156 hrs
Singapore's Feng Tianwei poses with her medal after her women's table tennis bronze medal singles match against Japan's Kasumi Ishikawa at the London Olympics. (AFP PHOTO/SAEED KHAN)
SINGAPORE: She was carrying the hopes of a nation. And 25-year-old paddler Feng Tianwei kept her composure to deliver Singapore's first medal at the London Olympics - a bronze in the women's singles event.
"I have been very nervous since yesterday. I wanted to get this bronze medal very much. To win this bronze means a milestone has been reached. There is still the team event to come and I will strive to do my best in this competition," she said.
Singapore Table Tennis Association President Lee Bee Wah said she was quietly confident that Feng would beat her higher ranked Japanese opponent in the play-off for the bronze medal.
Kasumi Ishikawa is Japan's top paddler and ranked sixth in the world, while Feng is two spots lower at 8th, but the Singaporean peaked at the right time.
The National Sports Association has now set its sights on the women's team competition to deliver that targeted second medal at this Olympics.
"Feng Tianwei performed above her normal self. Anything can happen because anyone who takes part in the Olympics (is a) good player... It is the same advice that we have been giving to the players. Every point is important, go for every point," Ms Lee.
Many Singaporeans caught the historic match on TV.
But Feng also had support in the stands in London, among them Singapore President Tony Tan.
"This shows that Singapore can achieve excellence in sports at the highest level. I would also like to acknowledge the very hard work put in by SNOC and as well as by the Singapore Table Tennis Association in grooming our players. I think what Tianwei has achieved shows what is possible. I hope it would inspire others to aspire to do likewise," said Mr Tan.
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