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  1. #6461
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Paralympics: Laurentia Tan wins Singapore's 1st medal at London Games

    Published on Sep 03, 2012


    • Equestrain rider Laurentia Tan has won a bronze in the Paralympics Grade IA individual championship dressage test, Singapore's first medal at the London Paralympic Games. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM


      By May Chen


      Equestrain rider Laurentia Tan has won a bronze in the Paralympics Grade IA individual championship dressage test, Singapore's first medal at the London Paralympic Games.

      The 33-year-old, who suffers from cerebral palsy and profound deafness, scored 73.650 points to finish behind Sophie Christiansen of Britain (82.750) and Helen Kearney of Ireland (76.700).

      Tan, who is based in the United Kingdom, also won a bronze in the same event at the 2008 Beijing Games. She also won another bronze in the individual freestyle to music dressage event then.

      The Republic's other representative in the event, 16-year-old Gemma Rose Foo, finished in 13th place with a score of 65.050.

    Laurentia Tan wins Singapore's first medal at 2012 Paralympics

    TODAY
    Updated 08:46 AM Sep 03, 2012


    Dressage rider Laurentia Tan has won Singapore's first medal of the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, to add to the two bronzes she won in Beijing four years ago.

    The 33-year-old, on her horse Ruben James 2, clinched bronze in the Dressage Individual Championship Test - Grade 1a with a score of 73.650.

    Equestrain rider Tan, who has cerebral palsy and profound deafness, will be awarded S$50,000 for her achievement.

    Britain's Sophie Christiansen took gold, with Helen Kearney of Ireland settling for silver.

    Gemma Foo, the other Singapore rider in the competition, finished 13th with a score of 65.050. AGENCIES






    Laurentia Tan of Singapore celebrates winning Bronze during the Dressage Individual Championship Test Grade Ia. GETTY IMAGES
    Last edited by Loh; 09-02-2012 at 10:48 PM.

  2. #6462
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Team Singapore stars shine at National Games


    by Low Lin Fhoong
    04:45 AM Sep 03, 2012



    SINGAPORE - Team Singapore athletes continued to dominate in the Singapore National Games' athletics competition at Bishan Stadium yesterday, a day after 10-time SEA Games champion James Wong - representing Marine Parade cluster - claimed the first gold medal of the inaugural SNG by winning the Men's Masters discus.

    First up on the podium was thrower Scott Wong (Jurong cluster) who finished first in the Men's Open discus throw with a distance of 47.77m. Landdis Su (Chua Chu Kang) and Zheng Jing Hao (Marine Parade) were second and third respectively with 40.56m and 26.92m.

    Even though he won, Wong felt his performance could have been better. Said the 22-year-old who won a bronze in the event at the 74th Singapore Open Track and Field Championships last weekend with an effort of 48.50m: "I was feeling a little tired from last week's competition. I felt a bit stiff during my throws today."

    Aside from gunning for his second gold in the shot put this coming Sunday, the University of Manchester student is also eyeing a SEA Games spot in 2013.

    He told TODAY: "I'm going out to better my personal best (15.89m) and I want to hit 16m. It will be a step forward in qualifying for the SEA Games mark of 17m."

    Over on the track, it was a lung-bursting sprint to the finish for national athletes Lee Cheng Wei, Gary Yeo and Muhammad Elfi Mustapa in the Men's Open 200m final. Lee - who was competing for Tampines - won the gold in 21.97sec, just ahead of Yeo and Elfi who claimed the silver and bronze in 22.09 and 22.50, respectively.

    Speaking to TODAY after his SNG debut, Lee - who won a silver in the men's 4x100m relay at last year's SEA Games - said: "It's a new experience for me, and the way they set it up and organised it is nice."

    Jointly organised by the Singapore Sports Council, People's Association, grassroot organisations and the national sports associations, the first Singapore National Games from Sept 1 to 9 features residents from the 15 community clusters competing in 10 sports.

    Medals were also awarded in dragon boat and bowling yesterday, with former national bowlers Adam Chew and son Helmi - along with Cashew team-mates Paiman Dali and Daphne Aw - providing the thrills with a gold medal performance in the team event.

    The foursome stormed into the lead from Game 1 with a tally of 786 pins, eventually clinching the gold with a total of 2,302 pinfalls from three games to finish ahead of Admiralty (2,261) and Hong Kah North (2,188).

    Said 57-year-old Chew, who represented Singapore at the 1998 Asian Games in Bangkok: "Bowling is a part of our family life as my wife and two sons are also involved in the sport. This is a very good experience for us and we like being involved in community events like this."



    From left, Landdis Su, Scott Wong and Zheng Jing Hao posing behind Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Lim Swee Say and Chief Executive Director of the People's Association Yam Ah Mee. PHOTO SINGAPORE NATIONAL GAMES

  3. #6463
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Thrills and spills

    TODAY

    Contestants put on their brave pants and silly costumes at Race Me - A MediaCorp Soap Box Derby over the weekend


    Updated 09:57 AM Sep 03, 2012


    SINGAPORE - Soap box derbies are based on the idea that teams have a limited time to build a car from scrap. This year, MediaCorp brings the event to Singapore for the first time.

    Race Me will be broadcast on Channel 5 on Sept 21 after the Formula 1 race, as well as on Channel U and Channel 8 on Sept 22 and 23, respectively.





    The TODAY team at the MediaCorp Soapbox Derby at the Singapore Expo.








    A 'baby' in a 'pram' racing at the MediaCorp Soapbox Derby at the Singapore Expo.



    The TODAY soapbox car capsizes during the MediaCorp Soapbox Derby at the Singapore Expo.



    Soapbox derby racers dressed as the Super Mario Brothers at the MediaCorp Soapbox Derby at the Singapore Expo.

  4. #6464
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Chinatown Point to reopen with new look, tenant mix

    Published on Sep 03, 2012




    An artist's impression of the new Chinatown Point retail mall and office tower. When the mall officially reopens in the first quarter of next year, new tenants will include Daiso, Cortina Watch and NTUC FairPrice. -- PHOTO: PERENNIAL


    By Amanda Tan


    One of Chinatown's most recognisable buildings, Chinatown Point, is set to reopen with a snazzy new look in the coming months.

    Retail mall veteran Pua Seck Guan, executive chairman of Perennial Real Estate Holdings, put together a consortium that includes German fund manager SEB, NTUC FairPrice and Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) for this venture.

    SPH also has stakes in The Clementi Mall, among others.

    Located at the junction of New Bridge Road and Upper Cross Street, Chinatown Point was bought for $250 million from City Developments in July 2010.

  5. #6465
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default More underground pedestrian links proposed for malls

    URA also doubles grant for building these walkways

    Published on Sep 01, 2012




    The URA has identified the walkway between Tangs Plaza and Shaw House for upgrading. It also lists 12 proposed underground links in Orchard Road that it wants to encourage building owners to construct. -- ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG


    By Janice Heng



    More underground pedestrian links between buildings are being proposed in an attempt to make the city a more pedestrian-friendly one in all kinds of weather.

    Most of these new walkways will be in the main shopping belt of Orchard Road, where many malls are still unconnected.

    To encourage building owners to construct these underground links, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) will double an existing grant that helps them defray construction costs.

    It will also withhold permission to redevelop or make major alterations to any building where it wants an underground link, unless part of that walkway is built.

  6. #6466
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Sentosa military barracks to become a heritage hotel

    It will help to meet demand from soaring visitor numbers

    Published on Sep 01, 2012





    The site on which a heritage hotel is to be built was once home to artillerymen defending Singapore during World War II. -- PHOTO: DESMOND LUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES



    By Jessica Lim



    They were once home to artillerymen defending Singapore against seaborne invaders during World War II.

    Now, the former British military barracks on Sentosa are set to be turned into a rather more comfortable form of accommodation.

    A heritage hotel is due to be built on the site, which is the size of four football pitches.
    Companies keen to take on the project are being asked to submit tender bids to the island's dedicated statutory board, the Sentosa Development Corporation.

  7. #6467
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default PM Lee meets Sichuan party secretary in Chengdu

    By Kristine Lim | Posted: 02 September 2012 2319 hrs

    CHENGDU, CHINA - Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is in Chengdu on the first leg of a six-day visit to China, at the invitation of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.

    Prime Minister Lee was met on arrival at the Chengdu Airport on Sunday by Sichuan Executive Vice-Governor Wei Hong.

    In a meeting with Sichuan Provincial Party Secretary Liu Qibao, Mr Lee described Sichuan as an environment favourable for both living and doing business.

    He noted the steady flow of investment across sectors from Singapore to Sichuan.

    Recent projects include Raffles City Chengdu opening this month, as well as the Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park - a private sector-led project supported by the two governments.

    PM Lee said that the government will support such projects heading into the western part of China, which is also in line with the Chinese government's plan to develop its western area.

    Until now, a lot of Singaporean investment in China has concentrated on coastal regions.

    Mr Lee also welcomed the upcoming arrival in Singapore of two pandas from China as a symbol of prospering bilateral ties.

    On Monday, Mr Lee will visit Singapore businesses in Sichuan, as well as the reconstructed Yingxiu Town, the epicentre of the 2008 Wenchuan earthquake.

    From Chengdu, PM Lee will travel to Beijing where he will meet President Hu Jintao, Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress Wu Bangguo, Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice-President Xi Jinping and
    Vice-Premier Li Keqiang.

    Mr Lee will also deliver a speech at the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China.

    - CNA/ir


    TODAY

    Singapore and China can work together

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says that both economies can complement each other


    04:45 AM Sep 03, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Given Europe's "deep-seated" economic problems and America's weak recovery, Singapore and China can work together to make the economies of both countries more resilient, Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.

    Speaking in an interview with Chinese correspondents based in Singapore ahead of his official trip to China, Mr Lee said Asia is now "the brightest spot in the global economy".

    He pointed to how Singapore and China can work together to develop capabilities and upgrade each other's economies for the long term, but also noted how this pattern will change as China progresses to a more highly skilled economy.

    "And I think Singapore is moving forward, because we also do not want to remain where we are indefinitely. We have to have better standards of living, higher skills, more productive workers, more competitive economy," said Mr Lee.

    "So I see ourselves developing more capabilities and we hope that these will also be capabilities which will have a market in China and which will complement what China is doing. There will always be room for different economies to do different things; it is a very big world."

    Mr Lee arrived in Chengdu yesterday on the first leg of a six-day visit to China at the invitation of Premier Wen Jiabao. He was hosted to dinner by Sichuan Provincial Party Secretary Liu Qibao last night, and the Prime Minister will visit the Singapore-Sichuan Hi-Tech Innovation Park, which is a private sector-led project supported by the two governments.

    During the interview, Mr Lee was asked about the South China Sea maritime dispute between China and some ASEAN member countries. He said that, while Singapore is not a claimant state, the country has an interest in ASEAN being strong, cohesive and effective in solving issues to maintain peace in the region. There is also interest in freedom of navigation since Singapore is heavily dependent on international trade.

    Mr Lee pointed out that it is important that disputes are settled in line with international laws, particularly that of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

    He explained that Singapore is a small country and, if arguments are settled by force, it would create a "very disorderly international environment" which would prove to be "bad for all countries".

    Mr Lee also responded to a question on how far Singapore needs to go before achieving its aim of being an offshore international centre for renminbi (RMB), the Chinese currency.

    Mr Lee felt there is "some distance to go". So far, it is understood that Singapore will be an RMB centre and one of the Chinese banks will be designated an RMB clearing bank. As to which is the bank, he said it is up to China to decide.

    On a lighter note, Mr Lee said he is looking forward to the two Chinese pandas - Jia Jia and Kai Kai - which are expected to arrive in Singapore from Chengdu on Thursday. He said their arrival is a sign of friendship between Singapore and China.

    "I hope two will come, and maybe three will go home," added Mr Lee. Channel NewsAsia



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  8. #6468
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default SAF officer training series launched on YouTube

    Mindef's second season of Every S'porean Son may also make it to TV

    Published on Sep 04, 2012





    Among the men featured on the show are (from left) Lt Syafiq Utama, 27, platoon commander at Officer Cadet School; 2nd Lt Shawn Chng, 23, platoon commander (Armour), 2nd Lt Muhammad Zacky Razali, 23, platoon commander (Infantry), and 2nd Lt Jai Ganesh, 23, platoon commander (Combat Engineers). -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM



    By Jermyn Chow, Defence Correspondent


    Following the success of a reality series on young national servicemen who go through basic military training, the Defence Ministry has launched an online series on young men who train to become commissioned officers.

    A second season of the series Every Singaporean Son: The Making of an Officer has been launched on video-sharing portal YouTube on Mindef's CyberpioneerTV channel.

    The 20- to 25-part series follows 13 army officer cadets during the 38-week stint from entering the Officer Cadet School (OCS) to the completion of their course when they are commissioned as officers at a ceremonial parade.

    The series captures OCS milestones like the officer cadet initiation ceremony, gruelling field camps and even one cadet going to Germany to train.

  9. #6469
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Paralympics: Yip Pin Xiu places 4th in 100m freestyle (S3)

    Updated 07:58 AM Sep 04, 2012

    LONDON - Singapore swimmer Yip Pin Xiu came in fourth in the women's S3 100-metre freestyle final at the London Paralympics last night.

    She missed out on a bronze with her time of 2 minutes, 9.41 seconds, similar to her qualifying heat time of 2:09.74, when the 20-year-old also qualified as fourth overall.

    Taking gold was China's Xia Jingbo, who clocked a world record time of 1:44.32.

    Sweden's Olga Sviderska was unable to match her qualifying world record time of 1:45.34, instead taking silver in 1:52.91, while Mexico's Patricia Valle (1:59.76) won bronze.

    The "S" in the S3 classification represents Freestyle, Backstroke and Butterfly strokes. Swimming classifications are then placed on a gradient, with one being the most severely physically impaired. At the 100m women's freestyle in the London Paralympics, athletes have been placed in categories ranging from S3 to S13.

    Yip, who graduated from Republic Polytechnic and is now pursuing a degree in Social Sciences at the Singapore Management University, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at the age of two. By age 13, she had lost the ability to walk and has to use a wheelchair to move around.








  10. #6470
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    Default Scientists identify genes linked to glaucoma in Chinese

    Published on Sep 03, 2012




    An eye that is afflicted with glaucoma. -- PHOTO: MOHAMAD ROSMAN OTHMAN



    Feng Zengkun


    SINGAPORE scientists have identified three new genes that are linked to a higher risk of blindness in Chinese people.

    They discovered that the genes are associated with primary angle closure glaucoma, which causes blindness. The disease affects 15 million people worldwide, 80 per cent of whom live in Asia.

    The research was published in science journal Nature Genetics last week (Aug 26) and could help identify at-risk people earlier and lead to new treatments.

    The work was a collaboration between the Singapore Eye Research Centre, Singapore National Eye Centre, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's Genome Institute of Singapore, National University of Singapore, National University Hospital and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

  11. #6471
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    Default Laurentia Tan bags bronze medal

    33-year-old, who won bronze in Beijing Games, comes in third again in equestrian event

    TODAY

    by alywin chew
    04:46 AM Sep 04, 2012



    SINGAPORE - Equestrian rider Laurentia Tan created Singapore sporting history early yesterday morning when she became the most bemedalled Singapore Paralympian since the Republic's 1988 debut at the quadrennial Games.

    The 33-year-old won a bronze in her Grade 1A Individual Championship Dressage Test at London's Greenwich Park with a score of 73.650 to bag the third Paralympics medal of her competitive career.

    Tan, 33, had also won bronze in the same event as well as another bronze in the Grade 1A Individual Freestyle test at the 2008 Beijing Games, an achievement which led to her receiving the Public Service Medal that same year.

    Yesterday's bronze also marked Singapore's first Paralympics medal at this year's London Games.

    Britain's Sophie Christiansen won the gold (82.750) and Ireland's Helen Kearney the silver (76.700). Tan's team-mate Gemma Foo finished 13th with a score of 65.050.

    With her latest feat, Tan, who suffers from profound deafness and cerebral palsy, edged ahead of compatriot Yip Pin Xiu in the overall medals tally, beating Yip's total of two medal from the 2008 Beijing Games - a gold in the women's 50m (S3 category) backstroke and a silver in the 50m freestyle.

    Yip, however, was in contention for her third medal earlier this morning in the 100m freestyle final.

    She had finished second in Heat 1, qualifying for the final with a time of 2min 09.74sec, behind China's Xia Jiangbo who clocked a world record time of 1:49.01. Yip's time was the fourth fastest among all the other contestants in the other heats.

    Monique Heah, team manager for the equestrian riders, said of Tan's achievement: "The competition standard is higher and much tougher compared to the last Paralympic Games, but both horse and rider performed very well to clinch the bronze medal."

    Tan was glad that the ride with her horse Ruben James 2 went well and thanked her team-mates Maximillian Tan and Gemma.

    "I'm happy that I got the medal as the competition standard is higher and harder this time," said the London-based athlete, who has a degree in hospitality management and tourism.

    "I'm really happy and it hasn't quite sunk in yet. I have worked hard and I am grateful to the team and all the members for all the help and support provided."

    Tan's achievement was also lauded by Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, who expressed his delight on his Facebook page: "Congrats to Laurentia for your hard work," he wrote.

    "Thank you also to the entire team of support staff, volunteers and supporters who made this possible.

    "Thank you for flying the SG flag high."

    Tan and team-mate Gemma will next compete in the Individual Freestyle Test tonight at 11pm, Singapore time.

  12. #6472
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default $200 million research fund set aside for air traffic management

    Published on Sep 03, 2012





    Air traffic controllers work inside the iconic Changi Airport control tower. Singapore has set up a $200 million kitty to fund research into air traffic management. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM


    Karamjit Kaur


    Singapore has set up a $200 million kitty to fund research into air traffic management.

    Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew who announced this on Monday said there is a need to develop new technology and solutions to cope with an expected increase in the demand for air travel.

    Speaking at the Singapore Aviation Academy, he said: "To meet this demand and manage the complexities associated with the increased air traffic, we need to enhance our aviation system's capacity and put in place the right air traffic management solutions."

    Singapore aims to be a centre of excellence for air traffic research by attracting research institutes and think tanks to set up shop here, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said.

  13. #6473
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Golf: Jonathan Woo wins Putra Cup individual trophy

    By Geoffrey Lip | Posted: 03 September 2012 2142 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Singapore's Jonathan Woo is following in the footsteps of the Republic's top amateur golfers who have since turned pro.

    Like Mardan Mamat and Quincy Quek before him, Woo blazed a trail to become the fifth Singaporean to win the Putra Cup individual trophy.

    "It's very humbling because a lot of these guys have been household names, like Mardan... And these guys, they were really good amateur players before they turned pro, so it's always good to follow in their footsteps... It shows that you're kind of on the right track to becoming a better golfer," said Woo.

    Known as the official Southeast Asian team golf championship, Woo carded an impressive six-under-par 66 in the final round in Jakarta for his biggest-ever win.

    The 21-year-old University of Oregon student will next lead Singapore at the World Team Amateur Championships in Turkey at the end of month.

    "The event itself is a really prestigious event... The biggest amateur event in the world. So I'm looking forward to playing with the guys there," said Woo.

    - CNA/cc
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    Default Committee on enhancing pre-school education to visit centres in Nordic countries

    By S Ramesh | Posted: 03 September 2012 1551 hrs



    File photo: A kindergarten class in Singapore (Channel NewsAsia)



    SINGAPORE: The Implementation Committee for enhancing Pre-School Education in Singapore plans to visit three Nordic countries at the end of the year to examine the pre-school centre models there.

    Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Madam Halimah Yacob who also sits on the national committee, gave an update on the sidelines of an event on Monday.

    The committee would be looking at how countries such as Finland, Norway and Sweden run pre-school centres and their modes of teacher training.


    "If you look at the Nordic countries, because of the quality of their pre-school education, it is also something that encourages the women to go to work," said Madam Halimah. "They have a high labour force participation rate."

    "Parents feel, 'I feel comfortable putting my child in a pre-school centre and then I can go to work'," said Madam Halimah. "We need not copy wholesale, what is workable in their countries may not be workable for us. What we need to do is to extract useful, relevant principles and apply (them) to our system."

    Madam Halimah added that affordability is another important area for the committee.

    The Committee is jointly helmed by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat and Acting Minister for Community Development Youth and Sports, Chan Chun Sing.

    Also in the committee are Madam Halimah Yacob and Senior Minister of State-Designate for Education and Law, Ms Indranee Rajah.

    - CNA/xq
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    Default Paralympics: Equestrian rider Laurentia Tan wins 2nd medal

    The Straits Times

    Published on Sep 05, 2012




    Laurentia Tan of Singapore during the Dressage Individual Championship Test Grade Ia on day 4 of the London 2012 Paralympic Games at Greenwich Park on Sept 2, 2012 in London, England. Already a bronze medallist at the London Paralympics, para-equestrian rider Laurentia Tan outdid herself early on Wednesday morning when she took a silver in the Grade Ia individual freestyle test. -- PHOTO: Singapore National Paralympic Council


    By May Chen


    Already a bronze medallist at the London Paralympics, para-equestrian rider Laurentia Tan outdid herself early on Wednesday morning when she took a silver in the Grade Ia individual freestyle test.

    She scored 79.000 points, behind Britain's Sophie Christiansen and ahead of Ireland's Helen Kearney (78.450).

    This is Tan's second medal at the London Paralympics, having already taken bronze in the individual championship test earlier. It is also Singapore's second medal at the 2012 Paralympics.

    London-based Tan was born with cerebral palsy and profound deafness.



    TODAY

    Paralympics: Laurentia Tan scores a silver

    Success in Individual Freestyle Test makes Tan Singapore's most bemedalled Paralympian ever


    Updated 07:40 AM Sep 05, 2012


    LONDON - Singapore's equestrian rider Laurentia Tan added silver to her collection of three Paralmypic bronze medals - two won four years ago in Beijing, and one won a day before here in London - with a commanding performance atop her horse Ruben James 2 in the Individual Freestyle Test (Grade 1a) last night.

    A near performance f
    rom Britain's Sophie Christiansen, on her horse Janeiro 6, gave her a score of 84.750, put her ahead of Singapore's Tan (79.000), with Helen Kearney from Ireland third with 78.450.

    Finishing 12th in the field of 14 riders was Singapore's Gemma Foo. The 16-year-old bowed out with a score of 65.800.

    Tan - who is still the only Asian Para-Equestrian athlete to have won medals at the Paralympic Games - said after the medal ceremony: "I'm over the moon, I didn't expect another medal."

    The 33-year-old, who won a bronze medal yesterday in the individual Championship test, has cerebral palsy and is also deaf. In the Paralympics equestrian events, riders are placed in five categories, with Grade 1a meant for athletes "whose impairment has the greatest impact on their ability to ride", according to the official Paralympics website.

    Tan is now the most bemedalled Paralympian from Singapore, and said she was aware of the magnitude of her achievement. Said the London-based rider: "So many people come up to me and say 'wow' and how much I've inspired them."






    From left: Silver medallist Laurentia Tan of Singapore, gold medallist Sophie Christiansen of Great Britain and bronze medallist Helen Kerney of Ireland. GETTY IMAGES
    Last edited by Loh; 09-04-2012 at 09:00 PM.

  16. #6476
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    Default All set for panda craze with arrival of Kai Kai, Jia Jia on Thursday

    Arrival of giant pandas to be marked with souvenirs such as bags, stamps and coins


    Published on Sep 05, 2012






    The panda memorabilia that will eventually go on sale at the zoo. Visitors will be able to see the pandas at the River Safari in Mandai from December. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM


    By Feng Zengkun


    It's not quite panda-monium yet - but some companies are already all geared up to jump on the panda bandwagon.

    They are rolling out souvenirs, such as panda-inspired bags and toys, to coincide with the arrival of Singapore's giant panda couple Kai Kai and Jia Jia tomorrow.

    The animals are on loan from China for 10 years and will be housed in an enclosure at the new River Safari in Mandai. The safari officially opens next year but visitors will be able to see the pandas from December.

    When Chinese giant pandas An An and Xin Xing were on display for 100 days in 1990 at the Singapore Zoo, they attracted more than 400,000 visitors.

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    Default Singapore REITs yield world's best returns

    Growth is twice that of advanced economies including the US, Britain and Japan

    Updated 09:00 AM Sep 05, 2012


    SINGAPORE - The Republic's real estate investment trusts or REITs - the best performing in the world this year - are luring investors after a shopping spree for properties across Asia gives them a broader stream of rental income.

    Singapore's US$38 billion (S$47.4 billion) REIT market has returned an average 37 per cent in 2012, twice the gains in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

    Australia, the largest REIT market in the Asia-Pacific region with US$86 billion, advanced 24 per cent.

    Growth among Singapore REITs was led by asset acquisitions and rental appreciation, with total rental revenue increasing 5.8 per cent annually between 2008 and 2011, according to property broker CBRE Group.

    In the first half, Singapore REITs were the second-most active purchasers after Japan in Asia, buying assets in Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia and South Korea, and accounting for 33 per cent of acquisitions by the region's REITs since 2009, CBRE said.

    "Singapore remains among the last few AAA rated economies," said Regional Director Priyaranjan Kumar of the capital markets group at broker Cushman & Wakefield.

    "Its real estate market has received unprecedented attention from most investors as it's seen to offer a good proxy for the increasingly recognised strength of the Asian consumer."

    The gap between their yield and interest rates is double that in Australia, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Property trusts in Singapore offer an average 413 basis-point income return premium relative to 10-year government bonds, while in Australia they average 192 basis points, data compiled by Bloomberg showed. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

    Singapore's REITs have a dividend yield of 6.46 per cent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. That compares with to 4.93 per cent in Hong Kong and 5.01 per cent in Australia.

    Economic growth in Singapore will probably accelerate to 3.9 per cent next year from 2.7 per cent in 2012, the International Monetary Fund forecast in its World Economic Outlook report in April. The advanced economies, including the US and UK, are estimated to expand 2 per cent in 2013.

    "The game has changed from capital appreciation to capital preservation,"
    said Mr Tim Gibson, a Singapore-based fund manager for Asia-Pacific property equities at Henderson Global Investors.

    Singapore REITs also have a liquid secondary market, low transaction costs, and low leverage compared with Japan and other large REIT markets, added Mr Kumar from Cushman & Wakefield's.

    Four of the top 10 best-performing REITs with assets of more than US$250 million in the region are from Singapore, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Including dividend yields, Frasers Commercial Trust has returned 57 per cent this year, AIMS AMP Capital Industrial REIT 48 per cent, and Keppel Land's K-REIT Asia 46 per cent.

    Singapore REITs have outperformed the city-state's benchmark Straits Times Index, which has climbed 14 per cent this year.

    The 10-year government bond yield in Singapore was 1.38 per cent as of Aug 29. Adjusted for inflation, Singaporean savers currently receive a negative real return on their savings of 4.79 per cent.

    The REIT market in the Asia-Pacific region is worth US$205 billion, more than before the global financial crisis, according to the Asia Pacific Real Estate Association. European REITs are below the levels before the crisis, while North America, the world's largest REIT market, has seen assets climb 82 per cent from December 2007, the data showed.

    Singapore is the region's third-largest REIT market after Australia and Japan's US$45 billion, according to Bloomberg data. BLOOMBERG





    Singapore's REIT market is South-east Asia's third largest after Australia and Japan. . BLOOMBERG

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