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Thread: Singapore Also Can
03-14-2013, 10:55 PM #6937
RSS Intrepid open for visits
Photo: Ooi Boon Keong SOURCE:MediaCorp Press Ltd
6 hours 41 min ago
The stealth frigate RSS Intrepid, which spent a three-month stint in pirate-infested waters off Somalia last year, has been berthed along VivoCity as part of the Republic of Singapore Navy’s community outreach effort this year.
The 114m-long warship will be open to the public for visits, with Chief of Navy Rear-Admiral Ng Chee Peng launching the event today. RSS Intrepid was involved in international counter-piracy efforts in the Gulf of Aden last year.
03-14-2013, 11:10 PM #6938
Shanmugam in meetings with various US leaders and officials
Published on Mar 15, 2013
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K. Shanmugam catches up with former Utah Governor and former US Ambassador to Singapore and China Jon Huntsman. -- PHOTO: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K. Shanmugam meets with Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Bob Menendez (right) and Ranking Member Bob Corker (left). -- PHOTO: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Singapore.
Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Law K. Shanmugam was up on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on Thursday for meetings with various Congressional leaders, including Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Bob Menendez and Ranking Member Bob Corker.
Mr Shanmugam also met with Ranking Member for the House Foreign Affairs Committee Representative Eliot Engel, and Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific Representative Steve Chabot, Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Friday.
Mr Shanmugam also had the opportunity to catch up with former Utah Governor and former US Ambassador to Singapore and China Jon Huntsman.
Mr Shanmugam also met with senior Administration Officials in charge of Asian affairs from the National Security Council, Department of State, Department of Defense, and Department of Homeland Security.
03-14-2013, 11:44 PM #6939
National paddlers visit four schools as part of outreach programme
By Patwant Singh | Posted: 14 March 2013 1937 hrs
SINGAPORE: Five national paddlers took a break from training on Thursday to spend time with students. The local school visits are intended to share the spirit of good sportsmanship and inspire the youngsters to pick up the game.
Pathlight School, which caters to autistic kids, was one of the four schools the paddlers visited, and there was lots of excitement as the students gamely took on the pros in friendly competition.
The table tennis ambassadors included rising star Clerence Chew, Feng Tianwei, Yu Mengyu, Isablle Li and Yang Zi.
Previous school visits seem to have helped promote the sport.
Lee Bee Wah, president of the Singapore Table Tennis Associate, said: "Since four years ago, we have been actively looking into expanding our zone training centres. Originally we had four. I am very happy that today, we have seven and certainly we would like to have more zone training centres.
"I am in discussions with the Singapore Sports Council and they are also very supportive, so we are exploring new venues for new zone training centres."
Paddler Feng Tianwei playing a friendly game with one of the students at Pathlight School.
03-18-2013, 10:33 PM #6940
Oilfield giant opens new centre in Singapore creating 800 jobs by year-end
Published on Mar 18, 2013
One of the largest oilfield service providers in the world, Halliburton, officially opened a new centre in Jurong Industrial Park on Monday. Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean (above), who was the guest of honour at the event, said that opening of this centre was yet another step another step towards cementing Singapore's position as the leading hub in Asia for oil and gas equipment manufacturing and innovation. -- PHOTO: HALLIBURTON SINGAPORE
By Hoe Pei Shan
One of the largest oilfield service providers in the world, Halliburton, officially opened a new centre in Jurong Industrial Park on Monday.
Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who was the guest of honour at the event, said that opening of this centre was yet another step another step towards cementing Singapore's position as the leading hub in Asia for oil and gas equipment manufacturing and innovation.
The new facility for the American company will create around 800 jobs by year-end with positions as managers, engineers and skilled production craftsmen opening up. Mr Teo noted that Singapore's oil and gas industry has grown rapidly over the last five years with a compound annual growth rate of 10 per cent and currently employs over 8,500 persons in Singapore.
Currently, 80 per cent of careers offered by the industry are skilled, and the remuneration per worker is $62,000, 37 per cent higher than the manufacturing average of $45,000 in 2011.
03-18-2013, 11:07 PM #6941
Cornea surgery by S’porean specialist a groundbreaking success
Assoc Prof Leonard Ang successfully restored Adelyn Koh’s vision last November through a highly specialised eye reconstruction operation. Photo: Parkway Pantai Group
By Louisa Tang
6 hours 42 min ago
SINGAPORE — A Singapore eye specialist has performed groundbreaking surgery to restore vision in two children with cornea diseases. It was the first time the operation — which has better long-term success than conventional cornea transplants — had been done in South-east Asia.
The children, 23-month-old Hoang Binh Minh and 11-year-old Adelyn Koh — the former developed blindness in his right eye, while the latter was born blind — had their sight successfully restored last November through a highly specialised and complex eye reconstruction operation known as the Paediatric Boston Keratoprosthesis (KPro) surgery.
The operations were performed by Associate Professor Leonard Ang, Medical Director and Senior Consultant of the Lang Eye Centre. He is the first local surgeon and one of only a few surgeons in the world specially trained to do so.
Corneal blindness is the second most common treatable cause of blindness in the world, with over 20 million cases recorded globally. Cornea transplants had been the conventional but less effective option for restoring vision before the improved surgery was introduced, with more than 80 per cent of paediatric cornea transplants failing within three years.
The KPro surgery “has a much lower rate of graft rejection and is associated with better long-term success”, said Assoc Prof Ang at a press conference yesterday.
He hopes to restore up to 30 per cent of Adelyn’s vision, compared to zero before the surgery, and up to 70 per cent of Binh Minh’s, from less than 5 per cent previously.
Said Adelyn: “Last time, when I climbed steps, all I saw were countless things mounting up. I wouldn’t know how many steps there were. Now I can count up to a maximum of five steps.
“Every time I see something (I couldn’t see before), I get excited, like the colour of MRT seats,” she added.
The procedure is also less costly than cornea transplants. Most patients undergo three or four transplants, each costing S$15,000 to S$20,000, while the KPro surgery costs about S$30,000 and needs to be performed only once.
Other advantages include much faster visual rehabilitation and recovery, the elimination of the need for body-harming immunosuppressants and medication and better quality of vision.
Fewer than eight KPro surgical operations have been performed in Asia.
03-18-2013, 11:33 PM #6942
Is Singapore really short of doctors?
Is Singapore really short of doctors?
By Jeremy Lim -
Singapore’s healthcare system is creaking under the triple challenges of ageing, increase in chronic diseases and population growth.
The National Population and Talent Division estimates the need for an additional 32,000 (a 70-per-cent increase from present) healthcare professional workforce numbers by 2030 to cater to the growing demands, while the Ministry of Health is building new hospitals in Jurong and Sengkang.
How do we measure up internationally? Singapore has 1.9 doctors per 1,000 population, which is the same as South Korea but lower than countries like Japan (2.2) or the United States (2.4).
Yes, we have some catching up to do compared with other developed nations, but perhaps the more important question for the here and now is whether we are utilising our existing pool the best we can.
The chart shows the breakdown of cases for seven common surgeries by whether they are performed in a public or a private hospital. Superimposed on the bars are the proportions of specialists in the public and private sectors.
The data reveals the magnitude of the imbalance in our healthcare eco-system. Let us just take two examples from the chart.
In the public sector, 25 knee replacements were performed over an 11-month period for every orthopaedic surgeon; in the private sector, it was only three.
The public sector ophthalmologist performs on average over 234 cataract surgeries a year; her private sector counterpart? Only one third, or 80 cases.
SHORTEN THE WAIT
Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam declared two years ago that the private sector should be “taking on a share of the load to treat subsidised Singaporean patients”. While this has inched forward in primary care through the expansion of the Community Health Assist Scheme, efforts in specialist care have fallen woefully short.
This load-balancing is crucial to mitigate excessive waiting times and overstretched infrastructure in the public sector.
It would be facetious to rebut by saying there is little waiting in the public sector for joint replacements, as the time freed up can improve care of other patients, such as those with hip fractures who can hopefully get into surgery within 24 hours of the fall as per international guidelines.
Eye surgeons in the public sector reducing their commitments in cataract surgery can focus on research and teaching, as well as pay more attention to Singaporeans with complex eye diseases.
Why has this not happened? Amid the myriad calls to improve productivity, why have we not asked whether we can distribute workload throughout the entire healthcare eco-system to benefit Singaporeans?
Is it a question of administrative difficulties? Perhaps, but this answer is not good enough for the frustrated 80-year-old Singaporean waiting impatiently for surgery. We have a world-class public service and we should have every confidence that if political will is not lacking, it can be done.
Is it a function of money? Unlikely, as the Government has announced a doubling of the healthcare budget. I personally know also of at least two private specialist groups which have offered to treat subsidised patients for the same subsidies that the Restructured Hospitals receive from the Government.
What about the accusation that the private sector will “profiteer”? This boil down to trust, but surely private surgeons — at least some, if not all — can be trusted to do the right thing.
Many private surgeons were luminaries in the public sector — Dr Seow Kang Hong, a renowned orthopaedic surgeon, was deputy head in the Singapore General Hospital Department of Orthopaedics and Director of its Adult Reconstruction Service. Dr Chan Wing Kwong was formerly the head of the Refractive Surgery Service at the Singapore National Eye Centre. Furthermore, many private surgeons have assumed leadership roles in the political realm.
Can the issue be institutional inertia and turf issues? Let us put the welfare of Singaporeans at the forefront. We are struggling with an over-strained public healthcare system. Doctors in public hospitals are over-worked. Mr Tharman has exhorted: “We need all hands on deck.” What are we waiting for?
Dr Jeremy Lim has held senior executive positions in both the public and private healthcare sectors. He is writing a book on the Singapore health system. This is part of a series on health policies here.
Last edited by Loh; 03-18-2013 at 11:42 PM.
03-19-2013, 02:42 AM #6943
Singapore Polytechnic to train Indonesian universities in engineering framework
Published on Mar 19, 2013
By Amelia Teng
Singapore Polytechnic (SP) has sealed agreements with two Indonesian varsities to train 70 faculty in an educational framework to make the study of engineering more hands-on and less theoretical.
SP inked the memorandum of understanding with University of Muhammadiyah Surakarta and University of Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta on Tuesday morning.
The method, called conceive-design-implement-operate (CDIO), was originally conceived by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the late 1990s.
The training, consisting of a two-year series of workshops which started in February this year, will be funded mainly by a $453,780 grant from the Temasek Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Temasek Holdings, and another $146,250 from the two Indonesian universities.
03-19-2013, 02:48 AM #6944
NUS to offer undergraduate programme in Global Studies
Published on Mar 19, 2013
The National University of Singapore (NUS) is launching a new programme for students interested in international affairs this August.
The Global Studies major, which will be part of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, is a multi-disciplinary course which covers areas including political science, economics and sociology.
As part of the course, students will be exposed to at least two years of intensive language training, depending on the region they have chosen to focus on.
The NUS spokesman said that the programme is expected to prepare students for careers in foreign service, and in the private sector, by raising their awareness of global concerns, such as global financial flows and global health issues. Separately, the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences will also offer two new minor programmes in film studies and, health and social sciences. For more information visit www.fas.nus.edu.sg
03-19-2013, 03:13 AM #6945
Why I’m coming back to you, Singapore
TODAY file photo.
- By Charles Tan Meah Yang
10 hours 43 min ago
In Singapore, as in life, change is the only constant. I am reminded of this fact every time I come home for Chinese New Year, looking out at the CBD skyline as I travel over the Benjamin Sheares Bridge.
More recently, however, it is our politics that have undergone a fair bit of change, and my worry is that the path we are heading down is an all-too-familiar one that democracies lean towards over time — but one that Singapore cannot afford to follow.
The saying “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone” is particularly poignant for me. My grandfather, who practically raised me, passed away just before Chinese New Year, and it evoked strong feelings of regret and guilt, for not having spent more time with him while he was alive.
The event was particularly distressing because I was unable to attend his funeral, being stranded in the United Kingdom, waiting for my visa to be renewed — a process that was already four months in, and would have taken two months more, if not for the unfortunate circumstances which enabled me to expedite my application.
I never appreciated the importance of an efficient public sector, until I actually found myself at the mercy of such inefficiency in a foreign land; such woefully long waiting times are unheard of in Singapore, and even if some might protest that standards are slipping across quasi-public services such as SingPost and SMRT, at least we appear to be addressing these issues, which is more than I can say for my temporary country of residence.
MOVING THINGS FORWARD
Undoubtedly, it will take time to implement improvements and, yes, the populace will suffer certain costs in the meantime as a result of these policy shortfalls. But hindsight is 20/20 and it is all too easy to criticise.
I am not saying that we should “cut the Government some slack” —we have a right to expect more from those elected to public office, and as public servants they should not be beyond reproach when they let us down.
However, the time for protest is done, and the time for constructive dialogue is now; the electorate and the elected alike need to engage to move things forward instead of allowing populist rhetoric to set us back.
There are two points I would like to make: One, Singaporeans should stop making emotionally-charged, one-sided complaints if they are unwilling to offer pragmatic suggestions/solutions and defend them vigorously against scrutiny. And two, politicians need to avoid making unilateral decisions without due communication to the electorate; they too must be prepared to justify and defend their policies instead of waving off concerns.
On the first point, an interesting anecdote of a conversation with a taxi driver comes to mind. The encik began his tirade with the usual lines about inflation, immigration and income disparity and concluded that the Government was conspiring to subject the masses to a vicious circle of debt and depressed wages.
To be fair, I have yet to meet a taxi driver that did not harbour some misgivings about the “gahmen”, but what struck me was that I had heard all this just shortly before, from my friends, who shared his sentiment despite coming from what some might consider a different socio-economic strata. “Stay in the London, lah,” the cabby advised, espousing the virtues of Europe, to which I countered with points about high tax rates, crumbling infrastructure, rising unemployment and an unsustainable, widely-abused welfare system (to name a few).
I prodded further, “so, what do you think the Government should do?”, hoping he would share some of his insights with me. The response, however, was classic. “We already pay the MPs so much money! Why should we also do their jobs for them?” — which I have come to understand is code for “I don’t know either, but I’m just unhappy with the status quo”.
This attitude, in my opinion, is plain wrong. If we, the citizens, want to be treated like adults, we have to stop behaving like petulant children. One of the Government’s functions is to improve the lives of its people, and much like a visit to the doctor’s, feedback is a vital part of the process.
A CLOSER LINE OF COMMUNICATION
On the second point, I believe that politicians need to be more upfront and maintain a closer line of communication with the people.
Gone are the days when the Government could claim intellectual and moral superiority as “philosopher kings”. An increasingly educated and politically aware population demands more say and respect than that.
In this vein, I found reassuring Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s acknowledgement of the changing political landscape, in an interview in The Washington Post last week. “It’s a different generation, a different society, and the politics will be different. We have to work in a more open way. We have to accept more of the untidiness and the to-ing and fro-ing, which is part of normal politics,” he said.
A good analogy, perhaps, is that of one’s journey towards maturity. We all start out young and vulnerable, and in these formative years, benefit from a strong, if often controversial or unpopular, authority figure.
But as time goes by, greater autonomy must be given, and the relationship shifts from one of pure instruction to mutual consultation. While I would not go so far as to let referendums dictate policy direction, the introduction of a regularly-scheduled, televised forum along the lines of BBC’s Question Time could be something to consider. (We have already started one on TV.)
Another issue to consider is that of social justice. It is imperative that we not continue pushing blindly for economic growth — as several leaders have acknowledged — but to consider how the distribution of that growth impacts the stability and, therefore, sustainability of our ecosystem.
The Government has a duty to bridge the wealth divide by extending short-term transfers (such as taxes on the rich, subsidies for the poor) so as to preserve our long-term ideology, that of levelling the playing field for a truly meritocratic society.
More fundamentally, the Government must demonstrate that they understand what their role entails — they are there to inspire, to lead and to empower, but ultimately, to serve.
Small gestures to help make everyday life easier may seem pointless to the privileged, but can make a significant difference to middle- and low-income households: One idea (since taxis are expensive and cars now priced out of the reach of many) is to give all Singaporeans access to free public transport by giving them special, non-transferable EZ-Link cards.
But we must never take what we have for granted.
The never-ending torrent of news about economic despair and political turmoil across the world serves as a reminder of what an enviable position we occupy in the global context, and how fragile and fleeting success can be when met with complacency and a sense of entitlement.
Ours is a position that has been achieved through the hard work and tireless struggle of those that came before us, and it is our shared responsibility to preserve and grow this brilliant legacy for our children to inherit.
This is why, even as some around me contemplate emigration, perhaps facetiously, I am coming back to you, Singapore.
Charles Tan Meah Yang is an Investment Analyst working in London and intends to return in the near future.
This is the first of several personal essays exploring the evolving engagement between citizens and Government in the national conversation.
- By Charles Tan Meah Yang
03-19-2013, 10:58 PM #6946
Singapore’s lessons for an unequal America
Singapore realised the key to future success was heavy investment in education, meaning all citizens — not just children of the rich — would need access to the best education for which they were qualified. TODAY file photo
By Joseph Stiglitz
6 hours 1 min ago
Inequality has been rising in most countries around the world, but it has played out in different ways across countries and regions. The United States, it is increasingly recognised, has the sad distinction of being the most unequal advanced country, though the income gap has also widened to a lesser extent in Britain, Japan, Canada and Germany. Of course, the situation is even worse in Russia and some developing countries in Latin America and Africa. But this is a club of which we should not be proud to be a member.
Some big countries — Brazil, Indonesia and Argentina — have become more equal in recent years, and other countries, like Spain, were on that trajectory until the economic crisis of 2007-2008.
Singapore has had the distinction of having prioritised social and economic equity while achieving very high rates of growth over the past 30 years — an example par excellence that inequality is not just a matter of social justice but of economic performance.
Societies with fewer economic disparities perform better — not just for those at the bottom or the middle, but overall.
It is hard to believe how far this city-state has come in the half-century since it attained independence from Britain in 1963. (A short-lived merger with Malaysia ended in 1965.) Around the time of independence, a quarter of Singapore’s workforce was unemployed or underemployed. Its per-capita income (adjusted for inflation) was less than a tenth of what it is today.
There were many things that Singapore did to become one of Asia’s economic “tigers”, and curbing inequalities was one of them. The government made sure that wages at the bottom were not beaten down to the exploitative levels they could have been.
The government mandated that individuals save into a “provident fund” — 36 per cent of the wages of young workers — to be used to pay for adequate healthcare, housing and retirement benefits. It provided universal education, sent some of its best students abroad, and did what it could to make sure they returned. (Some of my brightest students came from Singapore.)
There are at least four distinctive aspects of the Singaporean model, and they are more applicable to the US than a sceptical American observer might imagine.
First, individuals were compelled to take responsibility for their own needs. For example, through the savings in their provident fund, around 90 per cent of Singaporeans became homeowners, compared to about 65 per cent in the US since the housing bubble burst in 2007.
Second, Singaporean leaders realised they had to break the pernicious, self-sustaining cycle of inequality that has characterised so much of the West. Government programmes were universal but progressive: While everyone contributed, those who were well off contributed more to help those at the bottom, to make sure that everyone could live a decent life, as defined by what Singaporean society, at each stage of its development, could afford. Not only did those at the top pay their share of the public investments, they were asked to contribute even more to helping the neediest.
Third, the government intervened in the distribution of pre-tax income — to help those at the bottom, rather than, as in the US, those at the top. It weighed in, gently, on the bargaining between workers and firms, tilting the balance towards the group with less economic power — in sharp contrast to the US, where the rules of the game have shifted power away from labour and towards capital, especially during the past three decades.
Fourth, Singapore realised that the key to future success was heavy investment in education — and more recently, scientific research — and national advancement would mean all citizens — not just children of the rich — would need access to the best education for which they were qualified.
Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore’s first Prime Minister, who was in power for three decades, and his successors took a broader perspective on what makes for a successful economy than a single-minded focus on gross domestic product, though even by that imperfect measure of success, it did splendidly, growing 5.5 times faster than the US has since 1980.
More recently, the government has focused intensively on the environment, making sure that this packed city of 5.3 million retains its green spaces, even if that means putting them on the tops of buildings.
In an era when urbanisation and modernisation have weakened family ties, Singapore has realised the importance of maintaining them, especially across generations, and has instituted housing programmes to help its ageing population.
Singapore realised that an economy could not succeed if most of its citizens were not participating in its growth or if large segments lacked adequate housing, access to healthcare and retirement security. By insisting that individuals contribute significantly towards their own social welfare accounts, it avoided charges of being a nanny state. But by recognising the different capacities of individuals to meet these needs, it created a more cohesive society. By understanding that children cannot choose their parents — and that all children should have the right to develop their innate capacities — it created a more dynamic society.
Singapore’s success is reflected in other indicators as well. Life expectancy is 82 years, compared with 78 in the US. Student scores on maths, science and reading tests are among the highest in the world — well above the average for the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development, the world’s club of rich nations, and well ahead of the US.
The situation is not perfect: In the last decade, growing income inequality has posed a challenge for Singapore, as it has for many countries in the world. But Singaporeans have acknowledged the problem, and there is a lively conversation about the best ways to mitigate adverse global trends.
Some argue that all of this was possible only because Mr Lee, who left office in 1990, was not firmly committed to democratic processes. It is true that Singapore, a highly centralised state, has been ruled for decades by Mr Lee’s People’s Action Party. Critics say it has authoritarian aspects: Limitations on civil liberties, harsh criminal penalties, insufficient multiparty competition, and a judiciary that is not fully independent. But it is also true that Singapore is routinely rated one of the world’s least corrupt and most transparent governments, and that its leaders have taken steps towards expanding democratic participation.
Moreover, there are other countries committed to open, democratic processes that have been spectacularly successful in creating economics that are both dynamic and fair — with far less inequality and far greater equality of opportunity than in the US.
Each of the Nordic countries has taken a slightly different path, but each has impressive achievements of growth with equity. A standard measure of performance is the United Nations Development Programme’s inequality-adjusted Human Development Index, which is less a measure of economic output than it is of human well-being. For each country, it looks at citizens’ income, education and health, and makes an adjustment for how access to these are distributed among the population. The Northern European countries (Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway) stand towards the top.
In comparison — and especially considering its No 3 ranking in the non-inequality-adjusted index — the US is further down the list, at No 16. And when other indicators of well-being are considered in isolation, the situation is even worse: The US ranks 33rd on the United Nations Development Programme’s inequality-adjusted life expectancy index, just behind Chile.
Economic forces are global; the fact that there are such differences in outcomes (both levels of inequality and opportunity) suggests that what matters is how local forces — most notably, politics — shape these global economic forces. Singapore and Scandinavia have shown that they can be shaped in ways to ensure growth with equity.
Democracy, we now recognise, involves more than periodic voting. Societies with a high level of economic inequality inevitably wind up with a high level of political inequality: The elites run the political system for their own interests, pursuing what economists call rent-seeking behaviour, rather than the general public interest. The result is a most imperfect democracy.
The Nordic democracies, in this sense, have achieved what most Americans aspire towards: A political system where the voice of ordinary citizens is fairly represented, where political traditions reinforce openness and transparency, where money does not dominate political decision-making, and where government activities are transparent.
I believe the economic achievements of the Nordic countries are in large measure a result of the strongly democratic nature of these societies. There is a positive nexus not just between growth and equality, but between these two and democracy. (The flip side is that greater inequality not only weakens our economy, it also weakens our democracy.)
A measure of the social justice of a society is the treatment of children. Many a conservative or libertarian in the US assert that poor adults are responsible for their own plight — having brought their situation on themselves by not working as hard as they could. (That assumes, of course, that there are jobs to be had — an increasingly dubious assumption.)
But the well-being of children is manifestly not a matter for which children can be blamed (or praised). Only 7.3 per cent of children in Sweden are poor, in contrast to the US, where a startling 23.1 per cent are in poverty. Not only is this a basic violation of social justice, but it does not bode well for the future: These children have diminished prospects for contributing to their country’s future.
Discussions of these alternative models, which seem to deliver more for more people, often end by some contrarian assertion or other about why these countries are different, and why their model has few lessons for the US. All of this is understandable. None of us likes to think badly of ourselves or of our economic system. We want to believe that we have the best economic system in the world.
Part of this self-satisfaction, though, comes from a failure to understand the realities of the US today. When Americans are asked what is the ideal distribution of income, they recognise that a capitalist system will always yield some inequality — without it, there would be no incentive for thrift, innovation and industry. And they realise that we do not live up to what they view as their “ideal”. The reality is that we have far more inequality than they believe we have, and that their view of the ideal is not too different from what the Nordic countries actually manage to achieve.
Among the American elite — that sliver of Americans who have seen historic gains in wealth and income since the mid-1970s even while most Americans’ real incomes have stagnated — many look for rationalisations and excuses. They talk, for instance, about these countries’ being homogeneous, with few immigrants. But Sweden has taken in large numbers of immigrants (roughly 14 per cent of the population is foreign-born, compared with 11 per cent in Britain and 13 per cent in the US). Singapore is a city-state with multiple races, languages and religions. What about size? Germany has 82 million people and has substantially greater equality of opportunity than the US, a nation of 314 million (although inequality has been rising there too, though not as much as in the US).
It is true that a legacy of discrimination — including, among many things, the scourge of slavery, America’s original sin — makes the task of achieving a society with more equality and more equality of opportunity, on a par with the best performing countries around the world, particularly tricky. But a recognition of this legacy should reinforce our resolve, not diminish our efforts, to achieve an ideal that is within our reach and is consistent with our best ideals.
THE NEW YORK TIMES
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joseph Stiglitz is a Nobel laureate in economics, a Columbia professor and former Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers and Chief Economist for the World Bank.
03-19-2013, 11:21 PM #6947
Orchard Rd set to welcome new mall
By Wong Siew Ying | Posted: 19 March 2013 2349 hrs
SINGAPORE : Singapore's prime shopping belt Orchard Road is set to welcome a new mall, Orchard Gateway, around November this year.
Its marketing agent Savills said 80 per cent of the retail space has already been pre-committed.
And there will be a few new-to-market brands that will appeal to fashion-forward shoppers.
The mixed-development straddles both sides of Orchard Road and has 172,000 square feet of net lettable retail space.
Savills said the mall has managed to snag some big international names.
They include American chain Crate & Barrel, which will open its five-storey flagship store there, spanning over 20,000 square feet.
There is also multi-label fashion company I.T Hong Kong and Swatch - which will open its third mega store in Asia at Orchard Gateway.
Sulian Claire Tan-Wijaya, senior director at Savills, added: "Some of the other brand names will include J.Lindeberg, which is a fashion brand from Sweden. They will be introducing their ladies range for the first time in Singapore. There is also the US shoe brand Red Wings shoes - they will be opening their first concept store in Singapore.
"Also coming in to Orchard Gateway is Nike - they are introducing a new concept called Amplify women. We have also dedicated the entire fourth floor just for men, so it's...very much skewed towards men's fashion. There is also UK brand Religion, which has never been to Singapore."
To cater to younger shoppers, Savills said the mall also has up-and-coming fashion blogshops.
Aside from the retail offerings, Orchard Gateway also has 37,000 square feet of office space and a 500-room hotel.
Some analysts said nearly 2 million square feet of retail space will come on stream in Singapore this year. About 18 per cent of the space will be located along Orchard Road, with the rest to be built in the suburban areas.
In recent years, retail rents between malls in the regional centres and Orchard Road have narrowed.
CBRE said prime Orchard Road rents were around S$31.60 per square foot per month compared to S$29.75 in suburban malls in the fourth quarter of last year.
Desmond Sim, associate director at CBRE Research, said: "The past two years, the rental premiums for Orchard Road and suburban malls, they have probably compressed from 20 over per cent to close to 10 per cent.
"Although the rents have been compressed quite a fair bit, at the end of the day, Orchard Road with the tourists influx still commands a premium."
Barring any unforeseen events, analysts expect retail sales to remain healthy this year, supported by tourism and domestic demand.
Ku Swee Yong, CEO of International Property Advisor, said: "Retailers should not have problems with getting the revenue part of the business in place, the issue in the past two years has been the curb on employment of foreigners, the foreign worker levy has gone up, foreign worker ratio has gone down, and so for the retail players, it is more of an issue of manpower and manpower cost."
Market watchers added that the labour shortage and increasing resistance against further rental increase from tenants will also affect retail rents going forward.
The mixed-development Orchard Gateway straddles both sides of Orchard Road and has 172,000 square feet of net lettable retail space. (Photo: Savills)
Aside from retail offerings, Orchard Gateway also has 37,000 square feet of office space and a 500-room hotel. (Photo: Savills)
03-19-2013, 11:26 PM #6948
S'poreans appear to be happiest people in Asia
Posted: 19 March 2013 1921 hrs
SINGAPORE: Singaporeans appear to be the happiest people in Asia, going by what they are saying on social media.
According to the Asia Happiness Index 2013 of Eden Strategy Institute, a social innovation player, Singapore is ranked first among five countries in the region.
It has an index score of 518, followed by Malaysia with 245.
The Philippines is third with a score of 90, followed by India 29, and Indonesia 11.
The index covers over 200 million social media accounts.
03-19-2013, 11:30 PM #6949
NUS sets aside $750,000 to promote aerospace research
Published on Mar 20, 2013
The National University of Singapore (NUS) has set aside $750,000 to promote aerospace research.The initial funding will support the work of the university's new Centre for Aerospace Engineering (CAE) over three years, NUS said on Wednesday. -- FILE PHOTO: ST AEROSPACE
By Karamjit Kaur
The National University of Singapore (NUS) has set aside $750,000 to promote aerospace research.The initial funding will support the work of the university's new Centre for Aerospace Engineering (CAE) over three years, NUS said on Wednesday.
It will partner SIA Engineering, ST Aerospace and Singapore's national defence research and development organization, DSO National Laboratories, in the venture.
The centre will work on different projects, for example, how to reduce aircraft drag to save fuel.
Minister of State for Transport Josephine Teo, who was the guest of honour at the launch of the new centre, it was a timely initiative. She noted that the local aerospace sector is a key pillar of Singapore's economy.
03-19-2013, 11:37 PM #6950
Singaporeans among Asia’s happiest, says social media survey
The survey noted that, while Singaporeans can be reticent, they are particularly vocal during festive periods and special occasions. TODAY file photo
By Amanda Lee
7 hours 22 min ago
SINGAPORE — Contrary to perception — backed up by a Gallup poll last year that claimed the fewest number of adults here experienced positive emotions — a survey based on what people are saying on social media claims that Singaporeans are among Asia’s happiest people.
The survey is conducted by Eden Strategy Institute (ESI), a consultancy on social innovation, and tracks the use of predetermined words since Monday by users of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs and online forums. The list of words includes “thank you”, “the best”, “grateful”, “hopeful” and “positive”.
The institute said the survey covers more than 200 million social media accounts in five countries, namely Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, India and Indonesia.
It calculates the Happiness Index score by taking into account the social media population in each country and the number of hits generated by a search engine when the researchers key in the predetermined words.
As of yesterday, Singapore scored 518 on the index to come out tops among the five countries. Malaysia was a distant second with a score of 245.
The institute said it launched the survey to commemorate the inaugural International Happiness Day, which takes place today.
ESI partner Calvin Chu Yee Ming said: “There have been many surveys on happiness, but we are excited about this unprecedented opportunity to allow people from different countries to benchmark their true happiness levels against one another, over time, and in real-time.”
He added that the institute was “surprised by some of the results, which reveal the national psyche of these countries and will be of strong interest to citizens, policymakers, and businesses alike”.
Asked how this survey gels with previous ones, such as the Gallup poll, Mr Chu said he felt that it was “more scientific” and “looks at the drivers of happiness on a much wider population”.
The survey noted that Singapore tops the list “despite a looming perception of dissatisfaction over rising costs of living, recent infrastructure breakdowns and the style of governance in the mass media”.
Adding that any “such negative sentiment appears to be voiced by a vocal minority”, it said: “While Singaporeans can be reticent, they are particularly vocal during festive periods and special occasions like birthdays or anniversaries, and express their encouragement for each other, especially among the youth.
“Singaporeans love to send funny pictures or pictures of food, as a means of reaching out and sharing.”
03-20-2013, 02:02 AM #6951
NTU scientists develop new water filter with significant cost savings
Published on Mar 20, 2013
By Feng Zengkun
Scientists at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have developed a new type of water filter using a cheap and abundant material called titanium dioxide.
The filters are able to reduce the amount of energy needed to treat seawater by more than half.
The titanium dioxide seawater filters can generate hydrogen as energy and are hydrophilic, which means they allow water to flow through quickly - about twice as fast compared to traditional filters - while still rejecting contaminants.
This could lead to cost savings of at least 30 per cent, said the NTU scientists. The scientists' work can also be used to filter waste water and to improve solar cells and batteries.The team has set up a company and are in talks with other firms and national water agency, PUB.
03-20-2013, 02:12 AM #6952
New infectious diseases hospital in the works
TODAY file photo.
By Tan Weizhen
47 min 51 sec ago
SINGAPORE - A new infectious diseases hospital will soon be developed, which is expected to ramp up Singapore's capability to manage infectious diseases significantly.
Speaking to reporters today on the sidelines of a SARS commemorative ceremony, TTSH CEO Prof Philip Choo said that this new hospital is likely to have more than 300 beds - although the final number is still being confirmed - and it will be situated opposite TTSH in Novena.
The new centre is a government effort, but TTSH is involved in its development. It is expected to incorporate the current Communicable Diseases Centre.
Prof Choo said more details will be announced in due time.
03-20-2013, 02:32 AM #6953
S’pore Youth Olympic Festival set to grow: Ng
A taekwondo demonstration at the Singapore Youth Olympic Festival yesterday. Photo: Wee Teck Hian
By Charles Ong
10 hours 10 min ago
SINGAPORE — Thirteen years after the flames went out on the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, athletes continue to converge on the Australian city every two years for the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF).
Two months ago, some 1,700 youth athletes from 30 countries took part in the sixth edition of the AYOF to remember the Games many regard as the friendliest ever, and its legacy continues to burn bright.
To a large extent, the AYOF provides the benchmark for the Singapore Youth Olympic Festival (SYOF), building on the legacy of the inaugural Youth Olympic Games held here in August 2010.
Despite it being the March school holidays, 1,230 youths are competing across six sports in the second edition of the SYOF (March 16-23), which was officially opened yesterday by International Olympic Committee (IOC) Vice-President Ng Ser Miang at Anglican High School.
Ng, Chairman of the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games organising committee, said the SYOF is set to grow and future editions could be hosted at the Singapore Sports Hub that is scheduled to be completed next April.
“Like Australia’s, ours would similarly grow over time and it can become an event for South-east Asia or even Asia,” said Ng, who has been touted as a candidate for the IOC presidency.
“But I think we want to start on a firm footing. We are doing it with a school this time and it’s proven to be very workable. But we definitely want to scale it up. In the future, there can be more schools, more sports events.
“The Sports Hub is a very big stadium, but I hope one day we will be able to utilise its capacity to host some of the sports.”
The SYOF seeks to promote Olympism and its values of excellence, respect and friendship, though Ng believes that youth should be the central theme, with participants urged to kick-start and pursue their Olympic dreams.
“The Olympic movement serves everyone, especially the youth,” said Ng. “The real legacy of our work is that so many of the Young Olympians from the Singapore Games continue to unlock their potential and excelled on the world stage.
“(South African swimmer) Chad le Clos is one such example. At 12, he watched the 2004 Athens Games and saw Michael Phelps winning six gold medals. Last year, he pipped Phelps to win an Olympic gold himself.
“Like Chad, all dreams begin somewhere, and I hope our athletes’ Olympic dream can begin here at the SYOF.”
With the second Youth Olympics scheduled for August 2014 in Nanjing, China, Ng said the inaugural game here set a good standard to be matched or bettered.
“Nanjing will look at our experience and build its own, and create something of its own that’s unique to China,” Ng said. “That’s the fantastic part of the Games, something that you can innovate and create, harnessing the energy of the city and the youth and the world ... I hope there will be good representation from Singapore. It’s going to be another good experience.” Charles Ong
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