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  1. #7124
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default HDB launches 8,000 flats for sale under joint BTO and SBF exercise

    POSTED: 30 May 2013 11:22 AM

    SINGAPORE: The Housing and Development Board (HDB) has launched 8,000 flats for sale under the joint Build-To-Order (BTO) and Sale of Balance Flats (SBF) exercise.

    Three new housing measures to help first-timers, second-timers, divorcees, and the elderly will also take effect from this sales exercise.

    To help more first-timers buy a flat earlier, HDB will extend the Parenthood Priority Scheme (PPS) to married first-timers who are expecting a child.

    For second-timers who are right-sizing, HDB will double the quota of two-room and three-room BTO flats for second-timers in non-mature estates from 15 per cent to 30 per cent.

    Out of the 30 per cent quota, five per cent will be set aside for second-timer applicants who are divorced or widowed with children below 16 years old under the Assistance Scheme for Second-Timers (Divorced/Widowed Parents), also known as ASSIST.

    HDB will reserve 50 per cent of the studio apartment (SA) supply in BTO and SBF exercises for eligible elderly applicants under the Studio Apartment Priority Scheme (SAPS). This will provide greater assurance of success for elderly who want to right-size to an SA near their current flat or private property, or near their married children.

    HDB will offer 4,900 BTO flats over eight projects in five non-mature towns, namely Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong West, Sembawang, and Woodlands. The projects are EastBrook @ Canberra, EastWave @ Canberra, Golden Mint, Hougang Crimson, Keat Hong Crest, Spring Haven @ Jurong, and Woodlands Pasture I & II.

    The Multi-Generation Priority Scheme (MGPS) for parents and married children to apply jointly for flats in the same BTO project will be available to those applying for flats at EastBrook @ Canberra and Spring Haven @ Jurong. 50 per cent of the SAs in Golden Mint will be set aside for eligible elderly flat applicants under the SAPS.

    HDB will offer another 3,100 balance flats in 11 non-mature and 15 mature towns/estates under the SBF Exercise. The non-mature towns are Bukit Batok, Bukit Panjang, Choa Chu Kang, Hougang, Jurong East, Jurong West, Punggol, Sembawang, Sengkang, Woodlands, and Yishun.

    The mature towns
    are Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bishan, Bukit Merah, Bukit Timah, Central, Clementi, Geylang, Kallang Whampoa, Marine Parade, Pasir Ris, Queenstown, Serangoon, Tampines, and Toa Payoh.

    Applications for new flats launched in the May 2013 BTO and SBF Exercises can be submitted online from May 30 to June 5. Applicants can apply for only one flat type/category in one town under either the BTO or SBF Exercise.

    In the next BTO launch in July 2013, HDB will offer about 3,800 BTO flats in Bukit Merah, Sengkang, and Yishun.


    - CNA/ac



    HDB flats (Photo: Hester Tan, channelnewsasia.com)
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  2. #7125
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default 2015 SEA Games in Singapore to be held from 5 to 16 June

    By Patwant Singh and Sok HweePOSTED: 29 May 2013 2:39 PM


    The 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore will be held from 5 to 16 June. The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) said the number and type of sports will be finalised at a later date.






    SINGAPORE: Come mid-2015, expect plenty of sporting action in Singapore.

    That's when the 2015 South-East Asia Games will take place - from the 5th to the 16th of June.

    The Singapore Sports Council said it picked the dates for several reasons - one of which is the mid-year school holidays.

    The last two times that Singapore hosted the SEA Games - in 1983 and 1993 - it was also in the middle of the year.

    According to the Singapore Sports Council, the favourable weather in June and the school holidays will make it easier for families and students to be part of the event.

    The Singapore Sports Council (SSC) said the number and type of sports will be finalised at a later date.

    SSC added that football will start its preliminary rounds a few days before the opening ceremony on 5 June 2015.

    Mr Lim Teck Yim, CEO of Singapore Sports Council, said: "How can we get families to think about vacations in Singapore during the school holidays through working with different agencies and different parties to create staycation packages? So the SEA Games becomes more than the Games."

    The dates for 2015 will also mean that the Games will end before the start of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.


    Instead of an athletes' village, organisers are considering housing the athletes in hotels within the city to give them easier access to the main venue, the Singapore Sports Hub.

    All in, some 7,000 athletes and officials will be in Singapore for the 12 days of competition and festivities.

    And the Singapore Sports Council is optimistic that it will stay within budget.

    Mr Lim said: "One of the strategies that we are trying to use to manage our budget is to come out with our procurement early enough so that if we need to look for alternatives which are more cost effective, we will be able to do so and have time to do so."

    Due to the unique branding of the SEA Games, organisers feel that the corporate sector in Singapore too can play a bigger role.

    Local businesses can contribute through partnerships and sponsorships to the success of the Games.

    Meanwhile, response has been mixed over having the 2015 SEA Games during the June school holidays.

    Some observers say doing so would enable more children to be involved in related activities, but others are concerned parents may already have other plans during this period.

    But they believe the Games will help to get even more Singaporeans excited about sports, and on the whole stimulate the economy.

    One sports equipment store has 31 branches islandwide.

    It said sales have been brisk in the past whenever a major sports event is in town.

    The outlet is planning to have in-store promotions once the dates draw near.

    Teddy Lin Zhen Jiang, Deputy CEO of SportsLink, said he expected to see many Singaporeans making their plans for holidays. But he hopes Singaporeans will support their own country and make adjustments to their travelling plans.

    Vincent Ng, founder of Wufang Singapore and former wushu athlete, said he hopes the Games will inspire more Singaporeans to take up sports.


    - CNA/xq/de



    Artist's impression of Singapore Sports Hub (photo: Singapore Sports Council). The 2015 SEA Games in Singapore will be centred at the Sports Hub.
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  3. #7126
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default LTA wins award for the Circle Line Marina Bay Station design

    POSTED: 30 May 2013 5:50 PM

    The Marina Bay Station, which won the Asia Pacific Level for the Design Innovation category, received recognition for its unique station design that blends with its surroundings.


    SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) has won another international award for the Circle Line Marina Bay Station design.

    The UITP "Grow with Public Transport" award was announced at the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) World Congress & Exhibition in Geneva this week.

    The Marina Bay Station is the winner at the Asia Pacific Level for the Design Innovation category. The station received recognition for its unique station design that blends with its surroundings.

    This is LTA's second win at the UITP award.

    Its mobile application "MyTransport.SG - Your One-Stop Integrated Transport Companion" edged out two other finalists from Germany (Daimler AG) and the United Kingdom (Transport for London) to win the Integrated Mobility Innovation category.



    - CNA/fa


    The Marina Bay station received recognition for its unique station design that blends with its surroundings for the Design Innovation category. (Photo: Land Transport Authority
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  4. #7127
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    Default Rediffusion returns as digital-only service

    By Christopher Toh

    6 hours 8 min ago

    SINGAPORE — After 11 months of work, Rediffusion, the once-popular radio broadcaster now revamped as a digital-only service, made its official comeback yesterday.

    The announcement culminates a roller-coaster year for the station, a staple for many families in the ’70s and ’80s, during which it closed down, was bought over and brought back to life.

    At a press conference, Rediffusion Chairperson and CEO Eva Chang Mei Hsiang said there will be four main programmes delivered via its website and a mobile device app: An Internet radio programme called Radioffusion, an educational television channel called Teleffusion, a podcast channel called Rediffusion On Air featuring talk shows, interviews and playlists, and a mobile device app, Rediffusion Classic, that features Mandarin and Chinese dialect programmes.

    Rediffusion, which shut down in April last year due to financial woes, was bought over by Ms Chang for an undisclosed sum, with financial backing from food tycoon Sam Goi, also known as the Popiah King.

    Ms Chang, who was a Rediffusion DJ from 1985 to 1991, said the relaunch was the result of 11 months of brainstorming.

    “All the things we want to do is quite new (for Rediffusion),” she said. “I tried to find the right business model … I studied other programmes every day. I also had to find a good team — the right people to do the right things.”

    She also said that she faced a lot of pressure and had to deal with rumours about her financial situation as she kept postponing the relaunch. “There was a bit of a rush to push everything together, but there’s no point launching unless everything is ready.”

    One of the people who helped her was Mr Dick Lee, who is Rediffusion’s Creative Director. “I never thought that I would be back in Rediffusion, where I started,” he said, relating how he joined a talent contest organised by Rediffusion 40 years ago. “The judge at the contest asked me to come back as a guest performer instead … and that’s how my career took off.”

    Mr Lee said that it was Ms Chang’s enthusiasm to revive the brand that struck him.

    “When she explained what she wanted … to revive Rediffusion in such a way, it blew my mind,” he said. “My job is to make sure it looks great and looks fresh.” CHRISTOPHER TOH


    Rediffusion returns online



    By Han Wei Chou -

    15 hours 16 min ago


    SINGAPORE — Singapore cable radio broadcaster Rediffusion, which fell silent on April 30 last year amidst financial difficulties, was officially re-launched today (May 30).

    The revamped Rediffusion, now a digital service, will deliver both new content as well as content from its archives to audiences via its website and mobile device app.

    Former radio deejay Eva Chang, who had acquired the rights to the Rediffusion brand in Singapore, along with some of its assets last year, now heads the company as its Chief Executive and chairman, with veteran Singapore singer Dick Lee as its creative director.

    Ms Chang, who also runs a chain of language schools, described the re-launch as “a big day” for Rediffusion.

    “The past 11 months have been very difficult journey, and a roller-coaster ride,” she said, during the re-launch event.

    “I hope Rediffusion can become a media outlet that carries the voice of everyday Singaporeans, and is a part of their lives.” CHANNEL NEWSASIA
    Last edited by Loh; 05-30-2013 at 09:49 PM.

  5. #7128
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore backs call for pact on S. China Sea

    Published on Jun 02, 2013
    7:33 PM




    Singapore is supporting a call for claimant states to sign an agreement that forbids the first use of force in the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea, revealed Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen at the closing session of the Shangri-La Dialogue on Sunday, June 2, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG


    By Jermyn Chow

    SINGAPORE is supporting a call for claimant states to sign an agreement that forbids the first use of force in the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

    Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed this at the closing session of the Shangri-La Dialogue on Sunday, making him the first Asean defence minister to publicly back such a proposal.

    This came on the back of Vietnamese Defence Minister Phung Quang Thanh's suggestion at the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting (ADMM) on May 7 that nations in the 10-member Asean grouping should consider adopting the "no first use of force" agreement.

    Addressing top defence officials from the region, Europe and the United States, Dr Ng said this was one "practical way" in which Asean countries and its dialogue partners can settle disputes peacefully.

  6. #7129
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    Default Singapore backs ‘no first use of force’ agreement

    TODAY


    Defence Minister Ng calls it ‘practical’ way to settle disputes peacefully


    By Amir Hussain
    6 hours 24 min ago

    SINGAPORE — With rising nationalism in Asia and as tensions run high over the recent shooting of a Taiwanese fisherman by the Philippine Coast Guard in the South China Sea, where there are various competing territorial claims, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday that mechanisms to prevent or mitigate the escalation of tensions need to be established quickly.

    And one “practical way” to the peaceful settlement of disputes is Vietnam’s suggestion at the 7th ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting (ADMM) last month for claimant states to enter into a “no first use of force” agreement, said Dr Ng as he laid out Singapore’s support for the idea.

    He also noted Brunei’s proposal, raised at the same meeting, for the setting up of “hotlines to quickly defuse tensions at sea”.

    “We welcome these ideas, and encourage regional militaries to see what more can be done on this front — for instance, increased information sharing, especially between regional navies, on their Standard Operating Procedures in the event of incidents at sea,” Dr Ng said.


    He was speaking at the 12th Shangri-La Dialogue’s final plenary session titled Advancing Defence Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific.

    Dr Ng also noted the importance of economic and social cooperation to regional security. Increasing security cooperation, while needed, cannot be the predominant focus of cooperative efforts, he said.

    Existing regional and global networks play a “crucial role to help balance rising nationalism and keep, if not expand, our global common space”, he noted.

    “While we must have security cooperation, we need to premise our terms of engagement on areas of common interests in vital economic and social domains,” Dr Ng said, as he cited Singapore’s push for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership — comprising ASEAN’s 10 member states and its six Free Trade Agreement partners — and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

    “Socio-cultural exchanges such as those that take place under the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community, must be enhanced to provide opportunities for stronger ties to be forged between countries,” he said.

    He also called for practical cooperation, especially between militaries, to be stepped up and for defence communities to effectively tackle common security threats, “which are increasingly non-traditional in scope and transnational in reach”.

    Dr Ng sketched out these frameworks for cooperation against a backdrop of rising nationalism within individual countries that could create “win-lose constructs”.

    He noted that the sustained economic progress of many Asian nations have bolstered their confidence and provided the means to modernise their economies and militaries.

    “The growing confidence and resulting assertiveness of Asian countries to project both soft and hard power is an inevitable consequence of their growth and is of itself not a win-lose formulation,” he added.

    Speaking at the same plenary session, Vietnamese Deputy Minister of National Defence Nguyen Chi Vinh said he shared “concerns about the regional situation”.

    He said: “Our region has not enjoyed absolute stability, not to mention the durable architecture stability.

    “The increase of military engagement and the competition for influence of nations are driving the region to new challenges, of which the arms race is one example.”

    He called on all parties in the South China Sea “to respect and protect the fishermen; absolutely avoid the use of force against the fishermen by all means, including military and non-military means”.

  7. #7130
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Fifa elects first Singaporean to leadership role

    Published on Jun 03, 2013
    8:22 AM




    FAS vice-president Lim Kia Tong was appointed deputy chairman of Fifa’s disciplinary committee. -- TNP FILE PHOTO


    By Sanjay Nair

    Football Association of Singapore (FAS) vice-president Lim Kia Tong
    has become the first Singaporean to assume a leadership role on a Fifa committee. The lawyer was appointed deputy chairman of the disciplinary committee at world football's governing body during its congress in Mauritius last Friday.

    Mr Lim, 59, who has been a member of the 20-man committee since 2011, takes over from Venezuela's Rafael Esquivel.

    He told The Straits Times last night: "I was extremely honoured and humbled when I learnt that I had been put up for a position on such a busy and important committee in world football. To have been endorsed by the majority of the member associations gives me a lot of pride."

    Mr Lim, who was selected internally to stand as the deputy chairman, was voted in en-bloc by the 208 Fifa member associations along with the rest of the new committee on a four-year term.

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    Default Students today need to have critical and inventive thinking skills: Indranee Rajah

    Published on Jun 03, 2013
    1:31 PM




    Ms Indranee Rajah sits down with pupils of Admiralty Primary School to discuss their roles in the game of slap ball. Students today need to have critical and inventive thinking skills to thrive in a complex world, where jobs now require "non-routine analytical and interactive tasks", said Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah on Monday. -- ST FILE PHOTO: JAMIE KOH


    By Amelia Teng

    Students today need to have critical and inventive thinking skills to thrive in a complex world, where jobs now require "non-routine analytical and interactive tasks", said Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah on Monday.

    To develop students in this manner, "we need to rethink our beliefs, classroom practices and learning environments", she told participants at the opening ceremony of a global educational research conference, the Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference.

    Organised by the National Institute of Education (NIE), the conference, which takes place every two years, drew more than 1,700 participants. More than 100 overseas researchers from 17 countries including Australia, Denmark and Japan will also be presenting their findings. The three days of the conference will bring together educators, researchers and policy makers to learn more about new research and discuss policies and practices. More than 375 papers on topics such as early childhood education and curriculum development will be presented.

  9. #7132
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Rethinking Singapore’s housing policies

    Commentary





    Photo by Wee Teck Hian, 17 Jan 2013.


    TODAY

    • By Donald Low

      5 hours 21 min ago
      Public housing policies in Singapore have been highly successful in enabling home ownership for the majority of Singaporeans and in giving citizens a stake in the country. The provision of affordable public housing is perhaps the clearest manifestation of Singapore’s “growth with equity” story.

      But the social contract that has enabled this is now coming under stress. In recent years, house prices have risen at a much faster rate than median or average incomes. Most agree the explanation may lie in part with wider economic and policy factors — rapid economic growth, more liberal immigration policies and low interest rates.

      One response would be a combination of well-timed policy interventions. On the demand side, this involves prudential or anti-speculative measures aimed at cooling the property market. On the supply side, the Government will release more residential land and ramp up the development of public housing flats.
      While these policy interventions are useful, a more fundamental rethink of public housing policies is also necessary. This is because alongside the cyclical factors, there are significant changes to many of the socioeconomic and demographic assumptions that guided the formulation of public housing policies in the first 40 years of nationhood.

      For instance, while Singapore’s population was young and growing rapidly up to the 1990s, the growth of the population is likely to be more moderate (if we exclude the impact of immigration).

      Singapore is also ageing rapidly. This will have far-reaching implications not only on the rate of household formation, but also on the types of public housing we provide, the community-based services that have to be developed to help older Singaporeans age in place, and the ways in which older households are helped to monetise their housing assets.
      QUESTIONABLE SECURITY

      Beyond demographic changes, in the context of greater inequality, slower income growth for the lower and middle strata of society, and increased economic and employment volatility, it is by no means clear that home ownership is still the most appropriate way for the state to redistribute incomes or to provide a measure of retirement security to Singaporeans.

      The primary way in which home ownership might contribute to retirement security is if house prices appreciate over time. The Government assumes that rising house prices represent an increasing store of wealth that can be unlocked by home owners to finance their retirement needs. But this assumption can be seriously questioned on at least two levels.

      First, in view of how volatile house prices can be, it is by no means assured that the elderly who need to monetise their housing assets can do so at the right time in the housing cycle. As the population ages rapidly in the next two decades, a surge of elderly Singaporeans (the population above 65 is expected to more than triple in the next 20 years) seeking to monetise their housing assets might easily cause prices to fall sharply.

      INEQUITABLE

      A second and more fundamental objection to the use of housing as a form of retirement security is that it is highly regressive and inequitable. The people who benefit the most from housing as a form of social security are those who have the means to own more than a single property.

      The Government has a general aversion to inter-generational transfers through the fiscal system (of taxing the young to pay for the benefits of the old); this is why Singapore does not have the tax-financed pensions found in most developed countries.
      But the current approach of relying on house price appreciation to finance the retirement of the elderly is, de facto, a form of inter-generational transfers too, since it is always the next generation that has to bear the burden of rising house prices. It is by no means obvious that the current strategy of providing retirement security via housing is more sustainable or superior.

      The collapse of the housing bubble in the United States in 2007-09 also provides a cautionary tale of how an unhealthy fetish for home ownership, combined with relatively weak social safety nets and low interest rates, can be a source of economic and financial instability.
      The former Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund, Mr Raghuram Rajan, argues that the main governmental response to rising inequality in the US was to expand lending to households, especially the low-income, to support the expansion of home ownership. He suggests that promoting home ownership became a convenient substitute for the policies that really address the problem of inequality. It fuelled increasing leverage and drove financial deregulation, setting the stage for the collapse of the housing bubble and the financial crisis.

      UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES

      Policies to promote home ownership in Singapore are mostly still prudent and financially sustainable; Singaporean households are also not heavily leveraged in making their home purchases. Nonetheless, the US experience suggests that home ownership is not an unambiguously good thing that the Government should aim to maximise.

      As the majority of Singaporeans became homeowners, policymakers may have also conflated the goal of home ownership with that of asset appreciation. This is mostly misguided.

      While house price inflation provides a boost to consumption because of the wealth effect, this benefit has to be weighed against its costs. Not only do rising house prices cause anxiety for new households looking for a home, they also have socially corrosive effects.

      For example, if house prices increase more rapidly than wages over a sustained period, people may begin to view financial speculation or investing in property as a more reliable way of securing income gains than through their own labour. This would erode society’s work ethic, increase status competition and envy, and divert society’s resources from productive activities to less productive and potentially destabilising ones.
      The basic dilemma for our housing policymakers is that as a global city with liberal immigration policies for highly skilled individuals and open capital markets, high-end private property prices in Singapore will rise towards those in other global cities. These forces in turn exert upward pressure on mass market private home prices, and to some extent, Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale prices. The Government has to be a lot more deliberate and activist in managing both HDB and overall house price appreciation.

      A NEW PARADIGM

      These structural changes suggest that a new paradigm in public housing is needed, and it should include the following features.
      First and foremost, the board should once again embrace affordable housing for the majority of Singaporeans as its primary mission. While improvements in the design of HDB flats are desirable, they should not come at the expense of affordability.

      The Government should strive to keep the house affordability index (which is the ratio of house price to the buyer’s annual income) well below four, preferably around three. New entry-level three-room flats in non-mature estates should be affordable for the 21st-30th percentile of households with annual incomes of around S$40,000. This suggests a new flat price of around S$120,000, which was the price of such flats about a decade ago.

      Given the real possibility of slow median wage growth relative to house prices, the first order of business for the HDB should be to restore and maintain the affordability of housing for the majority of citizens. Indeed, the prices of new Build-To-Order (BTO) flats and recent announcements by the Minister for National Development strongly suggest that this is the direction the Government is already taking.

      Second, the Government should discard its implicit goal of asset appreciation and end its reliance on housing as a de facto form of retirement funding.
      Relying on such a volatile market to deliver retirement security — where one of the key goals of public policy must be to insulate citizens from the vagaries of the market — not only creates too much risk to citizens, but is also highly regressive and inequitable.

      The proper goal of housing policy should be to maintain price stability. The lesson from Japan’s lost decade in the 1990s and 2000s is not that a country is destined to stagnate because of its ageing demographics — but that a real estate boom often has long-lasting, deleterious effects on the economy.

      Third, public housing policy needs to be rethought in the context of significant demographic and economic changes. When the population was young and incomes were rising across the board, public housing was an efficient and incentive-compatible way of spreading the fruits of economic growth. It was also a good way of helping Singaporeans achieve social mobility and build up their assets for retirement. But the rapid ageing of the population suggests that focus of government policy has to shift from enabling asset accumulation to helping Singaporeans unlock and monetise their housing assets.

      Just as importantly, slower income growth and relative wage stagnation for a sizeable segment of our workforce highlight the need for more social transfers and direct redistribution via the conventional route of taxes and social transfers. Public housing can no longer effectively serve as the de facto instrument of income redistribution.

      RENTAL HOUSING

      Fourth, the Government also needs to ensure an affordable rental market for a wider range of households (and not just lower income groups).

      The undersupply of housing in recent years, combined with liberal immigration policies, has made rental housing in Singapore increasingly unaffordable. This risks making Singapore unattractive to the middle-skilled immigrants that it wants to attract. The relative dearth of affordable rental options also makes it harder for young Singaporean couples to settle down and raise families.
      Given the country’s global city ambitions and its desire to encourage Singaporeans to marry and have children, the single-minded obsession with home ownership is becoming quite anachronistic. More than before, housing policies need to offer a greater variety of options to meet the increasingly diverse needs of its population.

      All the changes proposed here require us to discard our old paradigms about housing, and recognise that the context Singapore faces today is quite different from the context it faced in the 1960s when the country’s policies and institutions in housing were first established.

      While these worked remarkably well in the first 40 years, they are becoming increasingly ill-suited for the country in light of rapidly changing social, economic and demographic realities.

      This gap between what the context requires and what policy delivers cannot be closed simply by the property cooling measures (there have been seven rounds in the last two years); nor are the laudable efforts by the Government to increase supply and maintain the prices of new BTO HDB flats likely to be sufficient.
      Instead, what is required is quite a fundamental and thorough relook at the goals and principles that underpin housing policy in Singapore.

      ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

      Donald Low is Senior Fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and a vice president of the Economic Society of Singapore. This commentary is abridged from a longer article first posted on IPS Commons.

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    Default Lee Kuan Yew receives honorary degree from NUS



    President Tony Tan (right) conferring the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the ceremony at the Istana. Photo: Don Wong


    The National University of Singapore (NUS) has conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws on Singapore's first Prime Minister. The award is in recognition of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's (centre) achievements as a visionary statesman who transformed education in Singapore and led the nation to first-world status on the global stage. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

    Former Minister Mentor is the oldest person to be conferred the highest form of recognition from the university


    TODAY

    By Eugene Neubronner
    5 hours 53 min ago

    SINGAPORE — He has been conferred some 15 honorary degrees from foreign universities, but yesterday, former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew received his first honorary degree from a Singapore university — the National University of Singapore (NUS).

    Mr Lee, 89, who attended the special ceremony marking the occasion at the Istana yesterday evening, is the 24th person to be conferred a Doctor of Laws, which is the highest form of recognition from the university, and the oldest person to be conferred an honorary degree from NUS.

    The Doctor of Laws is awarded to outstanding individuals who have rendered distinguished service, and had a great impact on the university and Singapore community. The previous recipient was former Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong in 2010.

    Presiding over the ceremony yesterday was President Tony Tan, the Chancellor of NUS, and NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan.

    Present were Mr Lee’s family — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching, Mr Lee Hsien Yang and Professor Lee Wei Ling — as well as Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, and business leaders, NUS trustees, professors, students and alumni.

    In his speech, Prof Tan described Mr Lee as a “deep thinker” and an “immensely practical leader”, who could see the big picture and had the “boldness” to pursue an “unconventional course”.

    “While always realistic about Singapore’s limitations and vulnerabilities, his leadership was always marked by hope and a sense of collective purpose, qualities that have continued to the present day and which energise all of us to do even better for Singapore for the future,” he said.

    Mr Lee, who did not speak at the ceremony, made his way into the Istana Banquet Hall with a steady step to receive his 16th honorary degree. In a statement issued by NUS, he said: “Education has been critical to the growth and success of Singapore. I hope that Singaporeans will continue to seek out an education that nurtures them to think critically and innovatively to meet the diverse and complex challenges ahead. I thank NUS for conferring on me this honorary degree.”

    NUS Law Faculty Dean Professor Simon Chesterman praised Mr Lee’s contributions to Singapore, noting that dignitaries such as former United Kingdom Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Chinese President Xi Jinping regarded him with respect. “(Mr Lee’s) success launched a country, inspired a continent and earned admiration from around the world,” he said.
    Last edited by Loh; 06-04-2013 at 09:07 PM.

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    Default S'pore retains position as most competitive city in Asia

    POSTED: 05 Jun 2013 9:23 PM


    Singapore retains position as most competitive city in Asia and third most competitive city globally, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

    SINGAPORE: Singapore retains position as most competitive city in Asia and third most competitive city globally, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

    Commissioned by Citi, the report "Hot Spots 2025: Benchmarking the Future Competitiveness of Cities" forecasted the competitiveness of 120 cities in 2025 based on their projected ability to attract capital, business, talent and tourists.

    This year's report built on the inaugural EIU report released in 2012.

    According to the report, Singapore ranked third overall in the index, coming just after New York and London.

    Hong Kong came in fourth, while Tokyo took the fifth place.

    The report said Singapore's strong showing in these categories is a result of its transport system, lean bureaucracy, safe and clean environment, and increasingly high international reputation.

    Meanwhile, the report said São Paulo, Incheon and Mumbai will surge in global competitiveness between 2012 and 2025.

    Ranked 36th, Brazil's commercial and financial capital, São Paulo, is also the most improved city in the index.

    This can be attributed to the city's young and rapidly growing workforce, solid telecommunications infrastructure, well-established democratic institutions and financial maturity.



    - CNA/xq
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    Default ST bags photography award at top Asian competition

    Published on Jun 07, 2013
    7:31 AM




    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...A_3692675e.jpg
    ST photographer Desmond Lim was the first runner-up for the Sopa award for Excellence in Feature Photography. He had moved into The Hiding Place, a halfway house, last year to capture daily life there before it made way for a road expansion. One of the pictures was of resident Caleb Tan tending to birds (above). -- ST PHOTOS: DESMOND LIM, NEO XIAOBIN




    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...7_3692671e.jpg
    ST photographer Desmond Lim (above) was the first runner-up for the Sopa award for Excellence in Feature Photography. He had moved into The Hiding Place, a halfway house, last year to capture daily life there before it made way for a road expansion. One of the pictures was of resident Caleb Tan tending to birds. -- ST PHOTOS: DESMOND LIM, NEO XIAOBIN





    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...3_3692692e.jpg
    Photojournalist Kelvin Chng from The New Paper was the first runner-up for Excellence in News Photography, for his image (above) of the LionsXII football team huddled in a dugout as Sarawak fans hurled abuse after a match. -- PHOTOS: TNP



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...C_3692693e.jpg
    Photojournalist Kelvin Chng (above) from The New Paper was the first runner-up for Excellence in News Photography, for his image of the LionsXII football team huddled in a dugout as Sarawak fans hurled abuse after a match. -- PHOTOS: TNP


    By Grace Chua


    Three weeks before his wedding last year, Straits Times photographer Desmond Lim moved into a halfway house.

    But Mr Lim, 31, was not at The Hiding Place as a delinquent or recovering drug addict.
    He had got wind that the building at Jalan Kayu - a halfway house for 22 years - was going to make way for a road expansion and wanted to capture its daily life and final days there.

    Last night, the package saw him finish in second place with an "honourable mention" in the annual Society of Publishers in Asia (Sopa) award for Excellence in Feature Photography at a ceremony in Hong Kong.

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    Default MOE looking to expose students to ‘range of possibilities’

    Minister Heng quizzed on present, future education system during Q&A session

    TODAY

    By Eugene Neubronner

    6 hours 10 min ago

    SINGAPORE — Improving students’ understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, as well as providing better educational and career guidance — perhaps by bringing in the private sector to expose them to the “range of possibilities” — are among various initiatives his ministry will be looking at, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat yesterday.

    He was responding to a question from Nanyang Polytechnic student Lim Wei Liang, 23, on whether more could be done to help students decide on their school path earlier. Mr Heng was speaking during a 40-minute question-and-answer session at the close of the Pre-University Seminar at the National University of Singapore.

    Students quizzed the minister and two Our Singapore Conversation panellists, President of the Society of the Physically Disabled Chia Yong Yong and President of the Singapore Eurasian Association Benett Theseira, on a range of questions, mostly centred on the present education system in Singapore and that in the future.

    Nanyang Polytechnic student Ng Aik Wei, 20, asked whether more places could go to polytechnic students for more “niche” courses, such as law or political science.

    Mr Heng replied that one of the first things he did upon being appointed was to look into that possibility. But, he cautioned that any such move had to be done “very carefully”.
    He noted how other countries had also expanded their number of university slots, but rather than creating more opportunities for youths, “it ended up creating problems … with high levels of youth unemployment”.

    He added that the Government is aiming to have 40 per cent cohort participation rate, or four in 10 of every student year, headed to university by 2020, 50 per cent, he said, if one includes part-time courses.

    Other participants questioned the current education system. Jurong Junior College (JJC) student Tay Yu Xuan, 17, asked if the current education system’s focus on exams was “killing passion for learning”, “hindering creativity” and “creating robots”.

    The question was met with thunderous applause and cheers from students in the audience.

    Mr Heng agreed that, while “too much emphasis” may have been placed on grades and exams, more could be done to encourage students to explore the range of possibilities. He noted schools are changing to “a more inquiring method” but there are challenges to overcome. Project work, he said, is intended to “provide that wider range of learning, stimulate team work and creativity”, but some students might have found it uninteresting.

    Despite this, Mr Heng cautioned that “we should not throw the baby out with the bath water”, pointing out how other countries also “mugged” — or crammed — for exams. He cited China and Finland as among countries which focused on exams.

    Mr Heng was also asked about the reasoning behind the subject social studies, which JJC student Tan Kok Xuan, 17, felt was “propagating their political agenda … (through) emphasis on the effectiveness of the Government”.

    Mr Heng noted that every country teaches about its own history, founding and “sense of shared memories”. Singapore’s history is also “special”, he added, with several prominent figures shaping Singapore. While it is important for students to appreciate it, he added, it should not be done in an “uncritical way”, with broad-based questions that ask students to assess the reliability of sources.

    Estelle Tai, 17, from River Valley High School, asked if the Special Assistance Plan (SAP) schools programme could be abolished as it limits interaction of such students with other races and its ideas of bilingualism could be replicated without the need for a specific school for it.

    Mr Heng agreed that when creating specialised environments, such as SAP or the School of the Arts, “something gets lost”, such as students interacting more widely with those from different backgrounds.

    The MOE is open to the idea of “mixing” students
    , as Mr Heng called an earlier student’s suggestion on inter-zonal meetings between schools as one such “interesting idea”.

    More than 540 students from 29 pre-university schools, including junior colleges, the Millennia Institute and polytechnics, spent four days discussing the theme Singapore 2030: Our Future, Our Home.

    The top action plan from each sub-theme as voted by participants was presented to Mr Heng at the close of the ceremony. All action plans, representing their contributions to Our Singapore Conversation, will also be forwarded to the relevant government agencies for their consideration.

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    Default Sons with a hard act to follow

    Football




    Irfan Fandi (right) and Adam Hakeem (left) are put through their paces during a rainy training session yesterday. (Ribiyanda not in picture)



    Irfan, Adam and Ribiyanda have tough acts to follow


    TODAY

    By Amir Yusof

    06 June

    SINGAPORE — When reminded that his father’s journey to stardom began in the 1978 Lion City Cup, Irfan Fandi seemed unfazed. The son of local football icon Fandi Ahmad aims to kick-start his own journey, beginning with the Singapore under-16s in the 2013 Canon Lion City Cup, which starts on Saturday.

    “I try not to think too much of my Dad’s achievements and I just want to play my best,” said the forward, who recently spent two months in Spain attached to the youth side of second-tier team Hercules CF.

    “This tournament is an opportunity for me to learn and develop myself as a footballer.”
    Irfan’s teammates Adam Hakeem and Ribiyanda Saswadimata also have fathers who are former Singapore Internationals: Adam is the first-born of former Lions captain Nazri Nasir, while Ribiyanda is the son of defender Saswadimata Dasuki.

    Adam is determined to emulate his father — Nazri is currently coach of the Singapore U-15s, also part of the Lion City Cup.

    “Knowing that my Dad once played in this tournament is a morale booster as it shows that I am on track in my development as a footballer to one day be just as good or even better than him,” said Adam.

    Ribiyanda, meanwhile, enjoys watching YouTube videos of his father in the 1994 Malaysia Cup.

    He said: “It motivates me to one day represent the senior team. We have seen how players like Adam Swandi shone in the 2012 tournament and, a year later, get called up for the senior team.”

    Commenting on the trio, Singapore U-16 coach Robin Chitrakar said the boys have been humble despite their well-known fathers.


    “The three of them are calm, down to earth and train just as hard,” said Chitrakar, whose side will face Arsenal in their opening match on Saturday.

    “We played three warm-up games in Japan, beaten twice by under-18 sides and won our only match against an under-16 side. The boys have only been together for five months but we are, after all, at home and we want to win the tournament.” AMIR YUSOF

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    Default NTU hosts first international symposium on languages in Asia

    Published on Jun 10, 2013
    1:32 PM

    By Pearl Lee

    The Nanyang Technological University hosted Asia's first international symposium on languages on Monday morning.

    The four-day conference was attended by 600 experts, including sociologists, psychologists, linguists and educationists from more than 45 countries who will focus on bilingualism and multilingualism topics.

    The conference will also feature a workshop on Early Childhood Bilingualism, sponsored by the Lee Kuan Yew Fund for Bilingualism.

    Led by a panel of experts, the workshop will discuss issues on language acquisition and literacy in the early years, focusing on Singapore's education environment.

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    Default Sports Hub on track for April opening






    Photo: Wee Teck Hian



    Project 70 per cent complete, retailers set to move in after January



    By Tan Yo-Hinn

    5 hours 43 min ago

    SINGAPORE — After nearly three years of construction, the Sports Hub is on track to open its doors to the public by April next year.

    About 70 per cent of the S$1.33 billion facility has been completed, including the installation earlier this month of the highest truss at the new 55,000-seater National Stadium.

    So far, several events have already been pencilled in, including next year’s ASEAN Football Federation Suzuki Cup and the Women’s Tennis Association Championship.

    “We’ve reached this critical milestone where we’ve completed the highest point of the (National Stadium) roof, and that’s the critical thing,” said Lawrence Wong, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, after a visit yesterday to the 35-hectare site in Kallang.

    “I’m sure many would say ‘are you sure this is going to be completed by next year because it still looks quite raw’. But the key parts are in place, and now it is the final stretch. In fact, progressively from January next year, they will be taking TOP (Temporary Occupation Permit) ... and retailers will start to move in. We’re quite confident we’re on track and on schedule.”

    The highest truss of the National Stadium will measure about 77.5m above pitch level, and will be part of the world’s largest free-spanning dome roof at 310m wide when completed — eclipsing the Dallas Cowboys Stadium (275m) — and its retractable roof will be installed by the fourth quarter of this year, with the project completion date set for March 25.

    More top-class events may follow, including the 2017 World Youth Athletics Championship and the 2018 Rugby Sevens World Cup.

    And boosting those plans is confirmation that the National Stadium’s pitch will be made of natural grass woven with synthetic fibre.

    In March, TODAY reported that a fully synthetic pitch was being considered, raising concerns over the Sports Hub’s ability to attract top-draw events as many top teams like Real Madrid and the New Zealand All Blacks are reluctant to play on artificial surfaces, claiming the risk of injury is higher on such pitches, while cricket’s Indian Premier League prohibits its games to be conducted on artificial turf.

    “We need a pitch that can accommodate many different events, which can be used for entertainment and a football or rugby game after that,” said Ludwig Reichhold, Managing Director of Dragages Singapore, a partner of SportsHub responsible for designing and constructing the facility.

    “We want to avoid (the situation) where we cannot use the stadium because the pitch is not in a good condition. That would be the worst thing that can happen.”

    Next year’s National Day Parade may also take place at the Sports Hub, but Wong said a key consideration is whether there is enough time as it normally takes a year to plan and prepare.

    Wong also re-iterated that except for individual facilities, the entire Sports Hub and National Stadium will not be put up for naming rights — TODAY reported in November last year that OCBC Bank had put in a bid for the entire facility except its National Stadium.

    “We want corporate involvement ... at the same time, the Sports Hub is not just a commercial project. It has to be a national icon and we want it to have that national identity and character, so we’ve to find some way to balance that,” said Wong.

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    Default NTU now 10th-best university in Asia

    By Victoria Barker
    My Paper
    Tuesday, Jun 11, 2013

    THE Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has climbed seven spots to break into the Top 10 list in the latest global ranking of Asian universities to be released today.

    In the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) University Rankings: Asia, the university takes 10th position, together with Japan's Kyoto University. It is the NTU's highest position since the first edition of the annual rankings was published in 2009.

    The National University of Singapore (NUS) maintained its spot as the second-best university in Asia, sharing the position with the University of Hong Kong.

    Meanwhile, the top spot for the third year running went to the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

    The ranking exercise by London-based education and career consultancy QS lists Asia's top 300 universities based on criteria such as academic reputation, number of papers per faculty and ratio of students to faculty.

    QS head of research Ben Sowter said: "Singapore's universities are embracing the new possibilities of today's globalised higher-education landscape in innovative ways, and are now clearly established as international centres of excellence.

    "The influx of international campuses, tech start-ups and multinational investor+s means Singapore is well placed to become Asia's Silicon Valley."

    NTU president Bertil Andersson said in a statement: "NTU has become a talent magnet, attracting more top students and some of the world's best professors."

    He said that the university saw an increase of 60 per cent of top A-level students enrolling this year, over 2011.

    NTU also performed well in another QS ranking of international universities under 50 years old - it came in at No. 2, after Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

    Meanwhile, NUS also ranked first in Asia for employer reputation and second in Asia for academic reputation.

    The provost and deputy president of academic affairs at NUS, Professor Tan Eng Chye, said: "This is firm recognition of the high-quality education and research work by our faculty, staff and students.

    "We will continue our pursuit of transformative advances in education and research to bring about a lasting impact in Singapore, Asia and the world."
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