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  1. #7158
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    Default Haze hits levels not seen since 1997 record

    TODAY




    Haze over Singapore, view from Upper Thomson Road on June 17, 2013. Photo: Ernest Chua.


    PSI reading hits 155, air quality plunges to ‘unhealthy’ for first time in almost three years



    By Alfred Chua

    Low Jen Thye Kenneth

    5 hours 13 min ago


    SINGAPORE — After the haze had seemingly moderated over the weekend, it came back with a vengeance yesterday, shrouding the city throughout the day, affecting visibility and causing respiratory problems for some, as the air quality plunged to unhealthy levels for the first time in almost three years.

    At 3pm, the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading reached 105, which falls within the “unhealthy” range. The situation deteriorated rapidly and at 10pm, the three-hour PSI was 155 — the highest since September 1997 when it reached 226. The last time the haze hit such levels was in 2006, when the PSI peaked at 150. At press time, the reading was 145.

    The poor air quality prompted the Ministry of Manpower to remind employers to minimise outdoor work involving strenuous activities and put in place a system that regularly updates their workers on the measures being taken to ensure their safety and well-being, and allow employees to report any adverse effects on their health.

    Under existing guidelines, uniformed services such as the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) are also to reduce physical and outdoor training.

    Ministry of Defence Director of Public Affairs Kenneth Liow said: “The health and safety of our servicemen are of paramount importance to the SAF. We monitor air quality closely, and have in place a set of PSI-Activity Guidelines under the SAF Medical Directives and Training Safety Regulations to calibrate our outdoor activities and training according to the PSI reading.”

    An SCDF spokesperson said that in addition to the guidelines, “officers will exercise discretion to suspend training when deemed necessary in view of the haze situation at their location”.

    The National Environment Agency (NEA) attributed the haze to drier weather conditions, which led to “an escalation in hotspot activities” in parts of Sumatra in Indonesia, adding that the situation was expected to persist over the next few days
    .

    On Saturday and Sunday, 101 and 138 hotspots were detected respectively. Yesterday, another 113 hotspots were detected.

    Minister for Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said in a press statement that the Government was “deeply concerned” about the latest number of hotspots in Sumatra which have “led to such a bad haze” here. “We are in touch with the Indonesian authorities to register our concern, and renew our offer of assistance. I will also speak to the Indonesian Minister for the Environment personally to convey the seriousness of the situation,” he said.

    NEA also said that it has alerted Indonesia’s Ministry of Environment “on the haze situation experienced in Singapore, and urged the Indonesian authorities to look into urgent measures to mitigate the transboundary haze occurrence”. It added that it will “continue to monitor the situation closely and provide further updates when necessary”.

    Given the hazy conditions, the NEA has advised children, the elderly and those with heart or lung diseases, to “reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor activities. Everyone else should limit prolonged or heavy outdoor activities”.

    Daily routines affected, GPs seeing more patients

    Barclays economist Wai Ho Leong noted that the economic cost for Singapore can be “significant” if the haze persists, particularly in the services sector. “It could cast a pall on the Great Singapore Sale and divert would-be visitors to other parts of the world,” he told Bloomberg. Nevertheless, the effect of the haze was already felt by many on the island.

    Deliveryman Lim Keng Hua, 50, said that visibility inside the Chin Swee Tunnel - where he was driving through yesterday afternoon - was “poor”. “I could not even see the lane markers,” he added.

    The haze was the talk of town yesterday as the topic trended on social media with many netizens lamenting its adverse effects and sharing pictures of the hazy skies on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

    While the haze disrupted some people’s daily routines - as they chose to stay indoors - there were others who carried on their activities. For instance, when TODAY visited MacRitchie reservoir yesterday afternoon, some students were spotted undergoing their Co-Curricular Activity trainings during the school holidays - despite the Ministry of Education’s existing guidelines that outdoor physical education, sports and games are to be cancelled once the PSI reading hits the unhealthy range. Nevertheless, the teachers overseeing the trainings said that the students would not be asked to do any strenuous activity. One of them noted that they would exercise their own judgement on whether the training should be cancelled.

    Still, canoeist Lum Tze Tian, a 23-year-old Nanyang Technological Undergraduate, abandoned his plans to train because of the haze. “I also advised my juniors to stop training because the situation is quite bad,” he said.

    Some general practitioners whom TODAY spoke to also reported seeing more patients with haze-related ailments.

    Noting the difficulty of identifying patients who are suffering ailments caused solely by the haze, Dr Choong Sheau Peng said that he has recently been seeing “about six to eight more cases per day” of patients who have asthma and skin problems.

    Another GP, Dr Victor Teo, noted that conditions such as eczema, asthma and eye irritations- including like conjunctivitis- have been made worse by the haze. The proportion of patients with such issues has increased over the past one week.”

  2. #7159
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore urges Indonesia to take immediate measures over worsening haze

    The Straits Times
    Published on Jun 17, 2013






    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...thaze1706e.jpg
    Picture of Klang Lane taken at 9.20 pm. The SINGAPORE government has urged the Indonesian authorities to take urgent measures to halt transboundary haze, as the haze clouding Singapore's skies crossed into the unhealthy range on Monday. -- PHOTO: VICTOR TAN JUN YANG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...8327936e_0.jpg
    Picture taken from Esplanade bridge about 12.40pm on June 17, 2013. The haze clouding Singapore's skies crossed into the unhealthy range on Monday. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...hazer1706e.jpg
    The haze at Botanic Gardens around 7pm on Monday, June 17, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...azer17062e.jpg
    Pedestrians wait at a traffic light along Orchard Road around 6pm on Monday, June 17, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...azer17063e.jpg
    The haze seen from Raffles City Tower at 6.09pm on Monday, June 7, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...azer17064e.jpg
    The haze seen from Pinnacle @Duxton at 6pm on Monday, June 17, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...azer17065e.jpg
    The haze seen from Toa Payoh North at 7pm on Monday, June 17, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN


    The haze seen from Raffles City Tower at 6pm on Monday, June 17, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...haze17063e.jpg
    Chinatown Point. Photo taken at 11am. -- PHOTO: CAROL HO



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...haze17064e.jpg
    Millenia Tower. Photo taken at about 3pm on Monday. -- PHOTO: VERON C



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...haze17067e.jpg
    Photo taken from Twin Regency condominium towards Tiong Bahru Plaza. -- PHOTO: JEAN PONG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...haze17068e.jpg
    Photo taken from Tanjong Pagar Int'l Plaza at about 1pm. -- PHOTO: LOI MOOI LENG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...aze170610e.jpg
    Bukit Batok. Photo taken at about 1.48pm on Monday. -- PHOTO: TWITTER USER VANNVANZ



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...aze170612e.jpg
    Ngee Ann Polytechnic. Photo taken at about 2pm on Monday. PHOTO: TWITTER USER fashioncancer



    By Grace Chua

    THE SINGAPORE government has urged the Indonesian authorities to take urgent measures to halt transboundary haze, as the haze clouding Singapore's skies crossed into the unhealthy range on Monday.

    At 11pm, the PSI was 150 - the highest since 1997, when the index peaked at 226.
    Any reading above 100 is considered unhealthy.

    Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said he is "deeply concerned that the 113 hotspots detected over Sumatra (on 17 June 2013) have led to such a bad haze in Singapore".

    He said the Government has been in touch with the Indonesian authorities "to register our concern, and renew our offer of assistance".

    He will also speak to the Indonesian Environment Minister personally "to convey the seriousness of the situation".

    The National Environment Agency (NEA) said it will continue to monitor the situation closely and provide further updates when necessary.

    The haze was visible across the island, shrouding landmarks like Marina Bay Sands and the Singapore Flyer on Monday. NEA said hazy conditions are expected to persist for the next few days.

    People with heart and lung disease; children and older adults are advised to reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion.

    Smoke from forest fires in Indonesia's Sumatra island, some deliberately started to clear forests for planting, has been carried by winds from the west and south-west to Singapore this week and to Malaysia, where it reached unhealthy levels over the weekend.

    The number of Sumatran hot spots has been rising: on June 15, there were 101 hot spots, while on Sunday there were 138.

  3. #7160
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    Default NTU appoints new dean for business school

    Published on Jun 18, 2013
    3:28 PM




    The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has appointed a new dean for its business school. Professor Ravi Kumar, 61, former vice-dean for international programmes and graduate programmes at the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School, will take over as dean of Nanyang Business School. -- PHOTO: NTU


    By Pearl Lee

    The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has appointed a new dean for its business school.

    Professor Ravi Kumar, 61, former vice-dean for international programmes and graduate programmes at the University of Southern California's Marshall Business School, will take over as dean of Nanyang Business School.

    His appointment came after a comprehensive review of international candidates by a six-member search committee, led by Insead professor Gabriel Hawawini.

    Previously, Prof Kumar also served as the dean of the College of Business at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. In a statement to the media, NTU provost Freddy Boey said: "Prof Kumar has a strong record of global and cross-cultural business leadership spanning many continents."

  4. #7161
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    Default Businesses gearing up for more early birds ahead of free MRT travel scheme

    POSTED: 18 Jun 2013 11:58 PM



    SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and train operators are gearing up for the free pre-peak MRT travel trial next monday. Some businesses too have jumped on the bandwagon to offer freebies and tap into the enlarged pool of early commuters.

    While it might be a comfortable ride for train commuters at 7.15am, the number of commuters travelling after 7.45am doubles, according to the LTA.

    To ease congestion, LTA wants to get some 10 to 15 per cent of commuters to start their ride earlier. From June 24, those who do so will get a free ride -- if they exit at any of the 16 stations in the city before 7.45am.

    Besides posters, the LTA is also running TV advertisements to nudge commuters into making the move.

    However, not everyone is waking up to the idea.

    One member of the public said: "I'll try it, maybe try it a few times to see how it goes and if it is good maybe I will adopt it. Good as in, whether it's smoother traffic, whether it's worth waking up earlier."

    Early birds will get more than just a free ride, at least for the first three days of the trial.
    They will be able to redeem a free cup of coffee from 15 selected McDonald's restaurants in the city between 7 am and 8.15am. The redemption coupon will be published in the TODAY newspaper on Monday, June 24.

    Ms Phyllis Cheung, managing director of McDonald's Restaurants (Singapore), said: "We believe more Singaporeans would be starting their day earlier with the launch of the free pre-peak travel trial here in Singapore. And we know how difficult it can be to drag ourselves out of bed sometimes, so the coffee giveaway is McDonald's way of applauding and rewarding office workers who are making a conscious effort to become the early birds at work.

    "It's all about making these early mornings brighter and better for this group of commuters, and helping to fuel them up to get up and go."

    Some 250,000 cans of the energy drink Redbull will also be given out at Raffles Place MRT.

    Mr Lam Pin Woon, director of Allswell Trading, Singapore's distributor for Red Bull, said:

    "The free MRT rides initiative is commendable and those taking action deserve some recognition, because overcrowding is an issue many Singaporeans who take public transport face daily. In fast-paced Singapore, it takes a lot of energy to work towards improving the community together.

    "As such, Red Bull wants to take the initiative and do our part too, and we hope that our giveaway of the new Red Bull Less Sugar will provide commuters who have made the effort to change their travel schedule to head earlier into the city, a much-needed morning boost and keep them energised throughout the day!"

    Mr Lam will also be on the ground to personally hand out cans to commuters.

    Smaller food outlets however, are not planning to cash in on the early crowds just yet.

    Some of the food and beverage outlets in Raffles Place said they will wait and see if the free travel scheme takes off before making any adjustments to their opening hours or offering special promotions to the early birds. Others said they are already open as early as 7am and do not see the need to adjust.

    Train operator SMRT said it will monitor any significant changes in passengers' travel patterns before making adjustments.

    These include increasing train frequencies and deploying more staff, as well as setting more fare gates at city stations to "exit" mode to allow more passengers to exit at any one time.

    - CNA/ac
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    Default Over $1b given to low-income to buy HDB flats

    Published on Jun 19, 2013
    8:07 AM




    HDB flats in construction. More than $1 billion in grants has been given out by the Government to help low-income households get on the property ladder by buying their first HDB flat. -- ST FILE PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG


    By Daryl Chin Property Correspondent

    MORE than $1 billion in grants has been given out by the Government to help low-income households get on the property ladder by buying their first HDB flat.

    This has benefited close to 60,000 first-timer households since 2006, the Housing Board said in a statement to The Straits Times.

    There are two types of HDB housing grants available to citizens who earn less and whose needs are seen as greater when it comes to securing a permanent roof over their heads.

    For instance, the Additional Housing Grant (AHG), introduced in 2006, gives up to $40,000 if the applicant's household income is less than $1,500 a month.

  6. #7163
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    Default NTU rises to top 10 ranking among young universities

    22-year-old university is No. 8 in Times list of varsities under 50 years


    Published on Jun 20, 2013
    7:59 AM




    NTU students studying in the Lee Wee Nam Library before their examinations. The university took the No. 2 position in a similar ranking by London-based educational consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds last week. -- ST FILE PHOTO



    By Amelia Teng

    The Nanyang Technological University has made the top 10 in a ranking released yesterday for universities under 50 years old.

    It came in eighth, moving up from the 16th spot last year, in the rankings published by Times Higher Education.

    Its rise in the ranks comes about a week after the 22-year- old Singapore university took the No. 2 position in a similar ranking by London-based educational consultancy Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

    The QS study released last Tuesday also ranked universities worldwide aged less than 50.

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    Default Haze update: Palm oil companies listed in Singapore deny using fire to clear land

    Published on Jun 20, 2013
    7:53 AM




    A fire blazes on peatlands on the outskirt of Pekanbaru in Indonesia's Riau province on June 19, 2013. Palm oil companies listed here have denied that they are using slash-and-burn practices on their plantations in Indonesia. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS


    By Jonathan Kwok And Feng Zengkun


    Palm oil companies listed here have denied that they are using slash-and-burn practices on their plantations in Indonesia.

    The land-clearing technique is seen as a key cause of the haze crisis now engulfing Singapore and Malaysia, but the companies say they opt for a mechanical approach that includes using excavators and bulldozers.

    Some companies added that they monitor contractors and sub-contractors to ensure they comply with the no-burn policy as well.

    Singapore-listed First Resources, which has over 158,000ha of oil palm plantations, said yesterday that it adopts a zero-burning policy for new plantings and uses mechanical methods to clear land.

    Its plantations are mostly in Riau, as well as East and West Kalimantan. "We are supported by contractors who are contractually bound to comply with the group's zero-burning policy," said a spokesman.

    Indofood Agri Resources,
    with more than 230,000ha of oil palm plantations, mostly in Sumatra, and over 20,000ha of rubber trees, said sustainable agriculture is at the core of all its operations.

    "I can confirm that IndoAgri has a zero-burning policy," chief executive Mark Wakeford said yesterday.

    Wilmar International and Golden Agri-Resources
    , the two largest palm oil companies listed here by market value, also emphasised their zero-burning policies in statements to The Straits Times on Tuesday. Wilmar's plantations are in Sumatra, West Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan.

    Golden Agri, with a planted area of about 464,000ha across Indonesia, added yesterday that it monitors its processes stringently to ensure its contractors comply.

    United States commodities giant Cargill, which is privately held, said it has a no-burn policy, and added that there are no hot spots or fires at its oil palm plantations in South Sumatra and West Kalimantan, which together cover close to 55,000ha.

    It added that it uses heavy equipment like excavators to clear the land, with Cargill employees overseeing the entire process.

    Environmental groups noted that while companies may have no-burn policies, they also buy palm oil from third-party suppliers. "What they need to do is check whether the third-party suppliers are involved in the burning or not," said Mr Bustar Maitar, head of Greenpeace's forest campaign in Indonesia.

    Dr John Payne, executive director of the Borneo Rhino Alliance, said palm oil companies and those in other sectors need to know how their raw material suppliers are behaving.

  8. #7165
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    Default Haze in Singapore hits new high, PSI at 321 at 10pm

    Published on Jun 19, 2013
    11:04 PM




    HDB flats in Toa Payoh shrouded in haze at 9.10pm on Wednesday, June 19, 2013. Singapore's air is now "hazardous" as the Pollutant Standards Index soared to 321 at 10pm, the worst reading in its history. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN



    By Feng Zengku

    SINGAPORE'S air is now "hazardous" as the Pollutant Standards Index soared to 321 at 10pm, the worst reading in its history.

    Air becomes "hazardous" when the index passes 300. The previous worst reading was 226, in 1997.

    The Singapore Armed Forces has stopped all outfield training until further notice. Several other organisations such as the Singapore Civil Defence Force and Ministry of Home Affairs all reduced physical and outdoor training when the index crossed 100, while NTUC FairPrice has issued face masks to all of its pump attendants at its petrol stations.

    Earlier on Wednesday, Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan acknowledged that Singaporeans are "very frustrated, angry and distressed about the situation".

    Both Dr Balakrishnan and Foreign Minister K. Shanmugam spoke to their Indonesian counterparts on Tuesday to urge them to take tougher action against companies responsible for the illegal burning.

    The National Environment Agency said on Tuesday night that haze is likely to last for the next few days, and is the result of fires in Sumatra, Indonesia.

  9. #7166
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    Default AirAsia to fly direct to two more cities in Indonesia from Singapore

    Published on Jun 19, 2013
    7:49 PM




    An AirAsia Airbus A320 passenger jet lands at Sukarno-Hatta airport in Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta on Jan 30, 2013. Low-cost carrier AirAsia has announced they will now fly direct from Singapore to two more Indonesian cities, Medan and Surabaya. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS



    By Stacey Chia


    Low-cost carrier AirAsia has announced they will now fly direct from Singapore to two more Indonesian cities, Medan and Surabaya.

    There will be two flights every day to and from Medan, and one flight daily to and from Surabaya.

    The AirAsia spokesman said the expansion into Indonesia is a result of the demand the airline has been witnessing so far, among both leisure and business travellers.

    Chief executive of Indonesia AirAsia, Mr Dharmadi, said more routes to Indonesia can be expected in the years to come.

  10. #7167
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    Default Singapore to get respite from the haze for a few days

    Change in wind direction sends the worst of the pollution to Malaysia



    Published on Jun 24, 2013
    8:00 AM




    Generic shot of bluish- gray sky on Sunday afternoon, which saw the haze slowly dissipate. Singapore can expect to see clearer skies and healthier air for the next few days than it did last week, while Malaysia bears the brunt of the haze, as the wind is projected to blow the bulk of it there. -- ST PHOTO: EDWARD TEO FOR THE STRAITS TIMES




    By Feng Zengkun Environment Correspondent


    SINGAPORE can expect to see clearer skies and healthier air for the next few days than it did last week, while Malaysia bears the brunt of the haze, as the wind is projected to blow the bulk of it there.

    Weather services director Patricia Ee at Meteorological Service Singapore said air quality improved here yesterday because low-level winds over the Republic changed direction from southwesterly to southerly, and these conditions are expected to persist for the next few days.

    Thus, air quality here is expected to remain "moderate" today, with the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) projected to be in the 51-100 range.
    Even so, because the levels of small, toxic particles called PM2.5 are still quite high,
    the Government is sticking to a stricter health advisory.

    Thus, pregnant women, the elderly and children are still advised to curtail outdoor activities that last several hours, while those with chronic lung and heart diseases should avoid all outdoor activities if possible.

    Ms Ee said "very unhealthy" air was initially forecast for yesterday, but the projection had to be revised when the change in wind direction led to cleaner air.

    She said Singapore is so small that even minor shifts in wind direction will result in the haze being blown over to Malaysia.

    Ministers and experts here warned that Singapore was not out of the woods yet.

    Speaking to reporters earlier yesterday, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin noted that Indonesia was only at the start of its dry season.

    "The season extends all the way to September, and that's a few more months."

    Nanyang Technological University's Professor Euston Quah, who has published groundbreaking studies on air pollution and transboundary haze, said: "Whenever you have an intense dry season, there is a fear that nature itself could spark a fire."

    Dr Benjamin Grandey from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology was sceptical about Indonesia's attempt to artificially create rain.

    "Deep convective clouds and clouds in general are very complicated. I do not believe cloud-seeding can be used with any degree of skill to influence the weather in the way people want."

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    Default Japanese tomatoes, grown in Singapore

    Japanese start-up's new technique uses little water and no soil



    Published on Jun 24, 2013
    8:00 AM






    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...1_3715049e.jpg
    A tomato farm in Isehara city which uses the Imec technique (above), where Mr Iimura grows sweet mini tomatoes. -- PHOTOS: GINZA NOEN, KWAN WENG KIN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...2_3715050e.jpg
    A tomato farm in Isehara city which uses the Imec technique, where Mr Iimura (above) grows sweet mini tomatoes. -- PHOTOS: GINZA NOEN, KWAN WENG KIN




    By Kwan Weng Kin Japan Correspondent In Tokyo

    Growing sweet mini tomatoes without soil or copious amounts of water?

    That's what one Japanese agricultural start-up plans to do in Singapore.

    "We have been growing tomatoes successfully on an experimental basis in Japan using a new farming technique," said Mr Kazuki Iimura, 38, who heads the start-up called Ginza Noen.

    "So we figured we could do the same in Singapore."

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    Default Youths get taste of Parliament with Model Parliament programme

    SINGAPORE: About 100 tertiary students got a chance on Sunday to feel what it's like to be a Member of Parliament.

    The 2013 Singapore Model Parliament allows youths to gain an insight into the policy making process in simulated parliamentary settings.

    Participants debated on various national issues such as transport, workplace productivity and the quality of pre-school education.

    Chipping in with their experience were Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Minister of State for Health and Manpower Amy Khor.

    The three-day event was organised by REACH Youth Ambassadors from NUS, the NUS Political Science Society, and the Pro Bono Office of the NUS Faculty of Law.

    Dr Khor said: “Policy making goes way beyond parliament sittings. A lot of work is involved in preparing for the Bills before they are actually tabled, a lot of discussion, a lot of research, a lot of analysis and actually a lot of public consultations too… It is also useful, in terms of helping the public to better understand some of these issues and some of these concerns."


    - CNA/jc
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    Default Another record for hurdler Lim-Prasad

    Lim-Prasad, who missed out on SEA Games qualification by 0.90sec, will have another attempt at this week’s Hong Kong Inter-City Athletics Championship. Photo: Wee Teck Hian


    James Wong at the 75th Singapore Open Track and Field Championships 2013. Photo: Wee Teck Hian


    But SEA Games qualification eludes her this time


    TODAY

    ByAmir Yusof

    8 hours 44 sec ago

    SINGAPORE — It was only her second competitive outing in the event, but that did not prevent Dipna Lim-Prasad from setting a national record in the women’s 400m hurdles.

    The national hurdler yesterday clocked 60.58secs to win the final at the 75th Singapore Open Track and Field Championship at the Choa Chu Kang Stadium. In the process, she bettered the previous mark of 61.69sec set by T Piriyah at the 2010 Asian Junior Vietnam Open.

    Lim-Prasad told TODAY that her performance took her by surprise, considering she had only switched from the 100m recently.

    “My focus for now is to qualify for the upcoming South-east Asian (SEA) Games at the end of the year,” said Lim-Prasad, 22, who competed at last year’s London Olympics.

    The athlete, who edged out runner-up Airi Ito of Japan (61.41sec) and third-placed W P E R Dulakshi of Sri Lanka (62.17sec) to win the race, also owns the national women’s 100m hurdles record of 14.23sec set at the 2011 Taiwan Open.

    But the Nanyang Technological University undergraduate missed out on qualifying for the event at this December’s SEA Games in Myanmar by 0.90sec, and will have another attempt at this week’s Hong Kong Inter-City Athletics Championship.

    Her Russian coach Viatcheslav Vassiliev felt Lim-Prasad’s form was remarkable given the “unfavourable conditions” caused by the haze, which caused organisers to postpone Saturday’s programme to yesterday.

    “The haze disrupted Dipna’s training over the past week and the uncertain scheduling of the Singapore Open brought unnecessary pressure on her,” said Vassiliev, 49. “I’m confident she can better her timing with a better frame of mind.”

    Also missing out on SEA Games qualification yesterday was nine-time SEA Games men’s discus champion James Wong, whose best throw of 48.13m was short of the qualifying mark of 50.26m. “I just did not feel the intensity. The release just wasn’t there. But with better preparation, I will make the mark in time. The Vietnam Open in July is a good opportunity,” said Wong, 44.

    Others who missed out were the national women’s 4x400m team of Wendy Enn, Shanti Pereira, Lim-Prasad and Piriyah and the national men’s 4x100m relay team of Muhd Elfi Mustapa, Calvin Kang, Lee Cheng Wei and Muhd Amiruddin Jamal.

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    Default Haze update: Indonesia's Yudhoyono apologises for haze

    Published on Jun 24, 2013



    President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has apologised for the haze that had blanketed Singapore and Malaysia in recent days and continues to remain a threat in coming days. -- FILE PHOTO: AP



    By Zakir Hussain

    JAKARTA - President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has apologised for the haze that had blanketed Singapore and Malaysia in recent days and continues to remain a threat in coming days.

    “For what has happened, as President, I say sorry and seek the understanding of our relatives in Singapore and Malaysia,” he said.

    “Indonesia had no intention to cause this. And we will continue to bear responsibility to overcome what has happened,” he said in a televised press conference at his office on Monday evening.

    Dr Yudhoyono’s comments came as Indonesia stepped up its response to the haze with forest fires in Riau continuing to spread, amid efforts to control them by cloud-seeding and water-bombing, and after some of his ministers had hit out at neighbouring countries’ reactions to the haze.

    “There are statements from several office-holders that I feel need not be put across that way,” he said.

    “Sometimes the facts have not been checked, and that becomes an issue. This has become a concern from Singapore and also Malaysia,” he added.

    “There are statements that contradict one another. I have instructed officers that there is no need to give statements like these.”

    “If there are companies at fault – whether they are from Indonesia, or foreign companies, there’s no need to say that,” he added.

    “What is needed is to focus all efforts on overcoming the haze and burning. Enforcement action will continue – we leave that to police and the authorities. There is no need to discriminate.”

    “Whether it is an Indonesian company or foreign company, the law will be applied firmly and fairly.

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    Default A test for S’pore: Not being hazy about the haze

    Commentary


    It’s time for MPs and grassroots leaders to be seen rallying and helping people. This is also a test for Singapore society - how much are we willing to do for each other?



    By Devadas Krishnadas

    21 June

    Singapore is facing a multi-dimensional crisis due to the haze. The crisis has an environmental origin but it is manifesting itself upon several planes – health is the most obvious.

    However, given the acute and protracted nature of the phenomenon, we will soon see the effects on social, economic and political dimensions as well. How will we, as a nation, cope with the haze? What needs to be done?

    First, the nature of the challenge must be recognised by the political, corporate and social leaders. The haze poses structural and persistent risks to Singaporeans and the Singaporean economy. It is likely to disrupt the economic, educational and social routines and for a protracted period of time, measured in months, not weeks or days.

    Second, the Government must recognise that its responsibility is first and foremost to the well-being of its people and not the important but ultimately secondary consideration of maintaining good international relations.

    If required, we can afford to tear and repair the bilateral relationship with Indonesia, but what we cannot expect is to tear and repair the relationship of trust between our leaders and Singaporeans. That has much more divisive and insidious consequences.

    Singapore has to get tough with Indonesia to ensure that the effective action is taken at the origin of the problem. What good is a long working relationship if it is of little help when we need it most? Financial sanctions and diplomatic action at international forums such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the United Nations should be considered, should our entreaties to the Indonesian government be met with further recalcitrance or petulance as evident by comments by certain Indonesian politicians.

    A TEST FOR SOCIETY AND LEADERS

    Third, the Government needs to get ahead of the crisis and not play catch up. It should mechanise to deal with the anticipated economic and social fall-out from the haze. The economy, already performing only marginally, may need buttressing. Social cohesion will need reinforcing through active leadership at the ground level.

    It is time for Members of Parliament and grassroots leaders to be seen and not hidden by the haze, in rallying the people and helping to make adjustments or provide assistance at the local level. In this respect, it is important for Government and opposition leaders alike to go beyond partisanship and be leaders not of party but of people – come together and work for the common good.

    Fourth, this is a test for Singapore society. This crisis shows us that as much as we have differences, our lot is fundamentally a common one.

    The haze does not recognise political or wealth boundaries. We are in this together and because of which, how we come out of it will be less a measure of our external actions as our internal ones. How do we empathise with each other? How much are we willing to do for each other?

    Can we get along well enough so that at the person to person, family to family, neighbour to neighbour level, we make accommodations so we can adapt to survive? To put it bluntly, we cannot ‘wayang’ our way through this – it is going to require genuine and sincere social inclusiveness and cohesion from the individual level up for us to tough this out till clearer days.

    We can use the haze crisis to leave Singapore better, but only if we want to be the best for Singapore.


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Devadas Krishnadas is the Founder and Director of Future-Moves, and the Editor of IPS Commons. This article first appeared at future-moves.com.

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    Default A call to boycott firms responsible for haze

    By Amanda Lee

    7 hours 52 min ago

    SINGAPORE — The Singapore Manufacturing Federation (SMF) will be urging its members against doing business with “culprit organisations” which are contributing to the haze situation, and called on the Indonesian government to investigate and reveal the identities of perpetrators of the haze. The federation — one of two local business associations to speak out about the haze yesterday — said it will encourage its members to purchase from organisations with “proven effective ‘no burn’ policies”.

    “We strongly disapprove of the irresponsible burning in Sumatra that has caused the severe haze in Singapore and the region. The ramifications are not only on the manufacturing sector, but also on other industries in Singapore and regionally,” the SMF said.

    The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) on its part called on companies to implement appropriate risk mitigation measures and put workers’ safety and welfare as the priority. It also urged companies to follow Ministry of Manpower guidelines on protecting employees against the effects of haze at the workplace.

    It has also proposed a collaboration with its Indonesian counterpart to develop innovative solutions to the annual haze problem. SBF Chairman Tony Chew said the Indonesian association leader, Mr Suryo Sulisto, is supportive of the idea. The SBF has also sought the assistance of the association in a joint initiative to promote and institutionalise healthy and sustainable environmental practices in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

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    Default Singapore cannot ‘do nothing and say nothing’ about haze: Shanmugam

    Photo: Sion Touhig


    Despite sovereignty issues, Govt’s duty is to safeguard citizens’ health and security, says minister


    22 June

    SINGAPORE — Noting that the raging forest fires in Sumatra have a “global environmental impact” - on top of the choking haze that has shrouded the Republic for the past week - Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam urged Indonesia to take “decisive action” and repeated Singapore’s commitment to offer assistance “at all levels” to address the situation.

    Speaking at a press conference today held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Shanmugam also responded to criticisms that the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has been ineffective in fixing the longstanding haze issue.

    He added that he has directed the Attorney General to look into what actions Singapore can take against errant companies that were proven to have “contributed in some way” to the problem. By this weekend, the authorities will have a clear idea of what is within their powers.

    On the provocative remarks made by some Indonesian ministers towards Singapore’s reaction to the haze, Mr Shanmugam reiterated that it is “not so productive to be trading accusations”. “We are used to being called a little red dot,” he said. Referring to comments made during the 2006 haze episode by Indonesia’s then-Forestry Minister M S Kaban, Mr Shanmugam added: “Previously... another Indonesian minister said that we should be thankful for the oxygen that the Indonesia’s forests give us so why are we complaining about the haze. Those sorts of attitudes, I think people can see are not best designed to deal with the problem.”

    “Likewise, comments to say we are childish because we are complaining when the haze reaches hazardous levels... people can judge for themselves. Our primary focus really is, solve the problem.”

    Still, he pointed out that these comments - which do not carry “the same tone of cooperation” which Singapore has enjoyed with Indonesia over the years - do not “characterise all of our dealings with Indonesia”.

    In response to Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa’s latest remark that Indonesia will not apologise for the haze, Mr Shanmugam said that Singapore is not looking for an apology. “What we want is for the problem to be solved and that’s really the point,” he said.

    Mr Shanmugam stressed that the haze was a transboundary problem and the Singapore Government’s “primary duty has to be safeguarding the health and security of Singaporeans. We cannot allow this situation to continue and do nothing and say nothing”.

    Outlining all the steps that Singapore has taken over the past few days to engage the Indonesian government - including trips to Jakarta made by ministers and officials to attend meetings and speak with their counterparts - Mr Shanmugam noted that to date, the Republic’s offer of assistance such providing resources to put out the fires has not been taken up by Indonesia.

    Nevertheless, Indonesia has agreed to bring forward a meeting of ASEAN environment ministers which was originally scheduled to be held in August.

    Mr Shanmugam said that he will also be bringing up the haze issue at an ASEAN ministerial meeting held in Brunei next week. He will be accompanied by Second Minister for Foreign Affairs and Environment and Water Resources Grace Fu.

    Mr Shanmugam said: “Depending on what steps are taken - because we have to see concrete results in terms of the impact on us - we’ll have to decide what other fora this has to be discussed.”

    DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND’ INDONESIA’S NON-RATIFICATION OF TREATY
    When asked to comment on criticisms on the lack of concrete actions over the years and the perception of ASEAN as a “paper tiger” which is toothless to take member states to task, Mr Shanmugam said that he understood such sentiments and conceded that “there are limits to what regional bodies can do”.

    “Nevertheless, ASEAN and international organisations prove a useful and important platform for issues to be raised and countries have to then account for their actions and that by itself has had in the past, effect (and) impact in the conduct of countries,” he pointed out.

    He noted that Indonesia remains the ASEAN member state which has not ratified the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution that was inked in 2002.

    “But for some reason which is difficult for us to understand, the Indonesian parliament has taken the view that this treaty is not in the interest of Indonesia. I say difficult to understand because it helps the Indonesian people as much as it helps anyone else because they are also suffering from the haze.”

    On whether there was a need to bring up the haze problem to international bodies such as the United Nations, Mr Shanmugam said that the option was open and it has “not been ruled in or out”.

    Turning his attention to the errant companies - the Indonesian government has identified eight firms, including Jakarta-based Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Asia Pacific Resources International which also have links to Singapore - Mr Shanmugam said the Singapore authorities will know “what we can or cannot do by this weekend”.

    He added that first and foremost, he hoped to see “strong firm effective action” taken against errant companies in Indonesia as “that’s where the actions are taking place”.

    “We would really like to see firm quick action, and any assistance we can render in that respect, we will do so, there’s no doubt about that,” he said.

    On the mitigation measures rolled out domestically, Mr Shanmugam assured Singaporeans that there will be enough N95 masks as they are being manufactured here. “Let’s not underestimate the problem, it has serious consequences, both economically and for the country as a whole. That’s why... we have been taking this seriously.

    In response to criticisms made by some who questioned why the Singapore Government cannot do more about the situation, Mr Shanmugam said: “If it was within our control we will never allow this to happen. My point to Singaporeans is we will continue to do our best, please understand the limitations of international relationships and foreign policy and the fact that every country is sovereign and we have limited control over what happens in Indonesia.”

    “The deep unhappiness of Singaporeans over what is happening is entirely understandable, and my own belief is that most Singaporeans also understand that Singapore is doing what it can and these are not being caused within Singapore.”

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