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  1. #7379
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    Default 21,000 Mt Vernon niches to make way for Bidadari estate

    Smaller complex will replace current one; niches will be relocated to 3 places



    Published on Sep 02, 2013
    7:39 AM




    Part of the existing Mount Vernon columbarium complex site has been set aside for a new and modern Mount Vernon Funeral Parlour. Bidadari is set to offer 10,000 new public homes and 1,000 private units. -- ST PHOTO: MUGILAN RAJASEGERAN


    By Poon Chian Hui


    A cloud of uncertainty is hanging over affected funeral agencies following news that the Mount Vernon columbarium complex will have to make way for the new Bidadari estate.

    The move affects some 21,000 niches there and may force two private operators out.
    A smaller complex will be built to replace the current one, but it is unclear whether private operators will still be allowed to run funeral services there.

    Bidadari is set to offer 10,000 new public homes and 1,000 private units, with the first few Housing Board flats to be ready in 2015.

  2. #7380
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    Default 3 shifts in S’pore’s political future



    Central Business District skyline. Photo: Ernest Chua




    The Prime Minister's choice of venue for the National Day Rally, his emotive language and the emphasis that the Government is listening to concerns as a predicate for policy action might signal a shift in communication style. TODAY file photo

    By Devadas Krishnadas

    8 hours 26 min ago

    This year’s National Day Rally (NDR) has been celebrated by the official media as a watershed and a mark of how much the Government has changed and, importantly, changed because it has listened to the people. The Prime Minister has said that Singapore is in a new phase.

    The key question, though, was left unasked and thus unanswered — a phase towards what?

    If we are to make better sense of the “shifts” announced by the Prime Minister, we need to put them into the context of a larger direction. That direction continues to be ambiguous and the revealed approach seemingly a sum of tactical adjustments.

    On close inspection, the adjustments to housing and healthcare appear to be incremental changes, albeit non-trivial increments. But do they suggest a departure from past policies at the level of principle? This is not clear. Perhaps announcements in the remaining years leading to the next General Election will add more clarity.

    MORE, BUT NOT DIFFERENT


    The Government will make more public housing available through increasing supply. This is nothing new and merely a reflection of the catch-up it needed to do because of its own deficit in past planning.

    It will make public housing more affordable through the provision of more subsidies and make these available to more Singaporeans. Subsidies are nothing new either and expanding this intervention does not fundamentally tackle the question of why housing is so difficult for even the middle class to afford.

    The basic question of why housing has become a problem is a combination of the action of three drivers — stimulation of demand, failure to ensure adequate supply and lagging incomes relative to prices. Attacking only the supply question while using a subsidy “band-aid” on the income issue is insufficient to adequately deal with the problem.

    Indeed, the “band-aid” comes with a high sticker price — some S$440 million annually. Who is to pay for this? “The Government”, we are told.

    On healthcare, the innovation of MediShield Life is a step to match the changing life-span parameters. It is not in itself a departure from policy as the Government has previously made adjustments with the same motive.

    The premiums for this new scheme will be more costly. The formula for cost-bearing is to be consistent with the long established co-pay principle — part of the added costs is to be borne by households, while the remainder will be borne by “the Government”.

    On education, the details are to be worked out over a period of years, but the proposals to lower teacher-to-student ratio and additional investments in neighbourhood schools so they are all “good schools” is arguably only a continuation of an existing policy trajectory. Who will pay for this? “The Government”.

    More interesting will be the changes to the scoring and educational pathways model. Singaporean children should theoretically benefit from more choices, less harsh selection and greater flexibility in education routes.

    However, the Government remains committed to maintaining its distinction between “top” and “good”; one assumes this is now the preferred language in place of “neighbourhood” schools, elite streams and all others.

    The adjustments, such as they are, will come with a price tag. In sum, will these changes in the education system improve social mobility? Will they ease the pressure on Singaporean families? Will this enable Singaporean children to have an education and enjoy their childhoods? The answers remain to be seen.

    A BIGGER STATE

    Despite this ambiguity, there are three shifts which we can discern about our political future.

    First, while the recent announcements may be substantial, though still incremental, adjustments, they may represent a “wedge” that is suggestive of future progressive deviations from past policy trajectories. If we take this view, then certainly, in hindsight from several years down the road, NDR 2013 will have lived up to the hype of being a watershed speech.

    Hence, the first shift may be not so much about what was said, but what was implied that remains to be said. And this is that Government policy will continue to shift to the left in successive steps and, consequently, the role of the State will expand dramatically over the course of the foreseeable future.

    A MORE EXPENSIVE STATE

    What is also clear is that the added costs of this expansion will not be trivial and it will have a very long tail. This is the second shiftthe days of surplus budgeting may soon, if not already, be behind us.

    We are entering a new phase in public finance characterised by barely budget-balancing and then only with recourse to boosting revenues. It is critical for the public to understand that when the Government says it will pay for something, it means that the public will be paying for it through higher taxation. To the Prime Minister’s credit, he did not sugar-coat this reality but dealt with it head on.

    There are ways to avoid or reduce the pressure to raise taxation. These include diverting resources from other expenditure priorities to these new ones. But this would result in trade-offs which may not be trivial — for instance, if the defence budget was reduced, are we prepared to make our sovereignty more vulnerable?

    It could be possible to increase the non-household or individual taxation — principally corporate taxation — but this would reduce our attractiveness to businesses.

    It could be possible to adjust the Net Investment Returns Contribution framework to increase the contributions from our sovereign wealth funds. But would this ultimately be starving the geese which are laying golden eggs for the longer term?

    This second directional “shift
    ” is a point that the public needs to understand well now, before the bills pile up — this is that good things cost money, their money in one form or another. Further, there must be the recognition that each option or any combination of options for added fiscal supply come with trade-offs and risks. There is no free ride, nor is there a risk-free path to fulfilling our needs and wants.

    Everyone has a responsibility in exercising good judgment on how to distinguish between needs and wants if we are to have any hope of moderating the expenditure curve, which is arching more steeply each year. Going forward, our politics will be a function of the tension between needs and wants and the inevitable collar — how to pay for it all.

    A MORE NOISY STATE

    The third directional “shift”
    revealed itself in the Prime Minister’s style of delivery.

    The choice of venue, the emotive language, the emphasis that the Government has and is listening to concerns as a predicate for policy action, were presumably all intended to demonstrate empathy between a democratically elected leader and the electorate.

    This is a novel departure from not only the Prime Minister’s earlier style but the style of his predecessors, which characterised as top-down the communication between a paramount leader and the led.

    Of particular significance was the emphasis in his conclusion on the need for faith. The People’s Action Party (PAP) has long prided itself on forming governments of technocrats who preferred evidence-based action and cut-and-dried pronouncements. However, this speech may herald a “shift” to a more American style of politics, where form is as important as substance and where style is as critical as details.

    If this is so, Singaporeans will find the political road to the next election punctuated with not just more heartwarming verbiage but more verbiage, period, as every Member of Parliament strives to up their “communication quotient”. In other words, it is going to get noisier.

    This may be welcomed by younger Singaporeans enamoured by the attractiveness of American political theatre that they have experienced only vicariously through television, the Internet and even Hollywood. So our politics may well shift from boring to become more fanciful.

    However, we must be conscious of the power of incentives — emotive channels have a way of bypassing the head in their appeal to the heart.

    Today, the Government decides on policies but then makes a more deliberate effort to emphasise its effectiveness of communication. If, in future years, this emotive channel becomes disproportionately influential, then politicians may invert the process by deciding on the communication first, then formulating policies to fit the messaging intent — which, in a democracy, tends to have only one vector: Getting votes.

    ONE CAR, MANY DRIVERS

    The dichotomy between our political past and our political future may be the difference between the Government doing all the driving and steering in the past, and these functions being more shared between Government and electorate in the future.
    If the State were a car, one may be prompted to ask whose hands will prove stronger on the gear knob and steering wheel — the Government or the electorate? Will we find the right balance of tension between these forces?

    Can the Opposition play a constructive role in Parliament?
    Can the electorate educate itself on the issues and thus make reasoned judgments about policy proposals? Will we see more public intellectuals stepping forward with ideas and constructive criticism to help massage the political process in a positive direction? Will we become like other democratic governments, which are forced by electoral pressures to think short term and be populist?

    The interplay of the answers to all these questions will be what determines the shifts that will drive the State into the future.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Devadas Krishnadas, a Risk Consultant, is Managing Director of Future-Moves.

  3. #7381
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    Default A focus on bilingualism and “Singapore flavour” for MOE kindergartens



    An example of an activity under the Starlight Literacy Programme for the English language. The programme is a story-based curriculum that develops children’s language skills through a rich variety of songs and stories. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF EDUCATION

    • By Amanda Lee
      31 August

      SINGAPORE — When the five Ministry of Education (MOE) kindergartens begin classes in January next year, children can expect to spend at least a quarter of each day on Mother Tongue lessons, as part of the kindergartens’ focus on bilingualism.

      This will make up to about 30 per cent of the curriculum time, said the ministry’s Director of Education Services Loke-Yeo Teck Yong, at a media briefing on the kindergartens’ curriculum on Thursday.
      The Starlight Literacy Programme — one of two flagship programmes designed using principles in MOE’s kindergarten curriculum framework for all schools — will be offered in both English and Mother Tongue Languages — Chinese, Malay and Tamil.MOE Programme Director (Literacy Development) Dr Elizabeth Pang said that language development has to be “daily, frequent (and) regular”. “In some centres, not every day is dedicated to ... literacy but … what we know from the research is that it needs to be … daily,” she added.

      When contacted, the PAP Community Foundation, which operates 235 kindergartens island-wide, said it offers Chinese, Malay and Tamil as second languages, with classes ranging between 40 minutes to an hour a day. “In centres where there is insufficient children to make up a class or often in case of Tamil language, we group the students who have opted for this language together for their lesson in a nearby centralised location,” a spokesperson said.

      During the Budget earlier this year, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat announced MOE’s re-entry into the preschool sector, with 15 kindergartens to be opened over the next three years. Registration for the first five took place in April, but the 560 places available received mixed responses. The MOE said that there are about 250 children enrolled in the MOE Kindergartens.

      “As this is the first year that MOE is setting up the kindergartens, the number of children enrolled is a good start. It will allow time for refinement and review of the programme to ensure that it best meets the needs of our children,” added its spokesperson.

      The ministry will provide about six to eight teachers for a K1 cohort of up to 120 children. The number will be dependent on actual enrolment and the demand for mother tongue language.

      All teachers must have a professional diploma in early childhood education, and the ministry hopes to hire suitable candidates early as there are still another 10 kindergartens slated to open, said Mrs Loke-Yeo.
      The ministry also shared more details of how it has sought to infuse the curriculum with a “Singapore flavour”. Noting that there is a lack of resources with local flavour in the current kindergarten curriculum, Director of Curriculum Planning & Development Division Chua-Lim Yen Ching said:

      “When you have materials that (are) related to Singapore, (it) is something that the children can identify.”

      Agreeing, Mrs Loke-Yeo added: “It is really about exposing the child from young what is it like to be a Singaporean and the common experiences.”

      For example, children will learn about hawker centres through picture books created by the MOE, visit hawker centres and talk about what they saw, and sing songs like “Our Hawker Centre Food” - sung to the tune of “Are you sleeping”.

      Materials like enlarged picture books were also created for the Starlight Literacy Programme, which will use a story-based curriculum to develops a child’s language skills.
      The other flagship programme — the HI-Light Programme — is aimed at the holistic development of children and features themes such “What are the places around me?” where teachers will bring children on a neighbourhood walk, and discuss topics like road safety.

      During each term, children will embark on a Week of Wonder project to investigate topics of their interest, so that they experience “self-directed learning” and build their confidence.

      The MOE also held two information sessions on the curriculum for parents and children who are enrolled in the kindergartens today (Aug 31). Another three will be held on Sept 21. Details can be found at

      http://www.moekindergarten.edu.sg/others/events-n-news

  4. #7382
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    Default Healthcare hub to be built in central district

    Aerial view of the 17-hectare Health City Novena. Image: Tan Tock Seng Hospital






    Health City Novena, to be developed around TTSH, will link up facilities to offer acute, intermediate, long-term care


    By Vimita Mohandas

    31 August

    SINGAPORE — Come 2030, Novena will boast a 17-hectare integrated healthcare hub built around Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH), which will encompass health services, research and education, commercial, leisure and public spaces.

    Called Health City Novena, the development — spearheaded by TTSH, the National Healthcare Group (NHG) and the Health Ministry — will serve as the healthcare anchor for the Central Singapore district and link up healthcare facilities to offer acute, intermediate and long-term care.

    More resources will be channelled to intermediate care — which includes rehabilitation, sub-acute care and palliative care — to facilitate the transition of patients back to the community.

    On the cards is an Integrated Intermediate Care Hub comprising Dover Park Hospice and a proposed second community hospital for patients who need step-down care.

    Launching the masterplan yesterday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong noted the increasingly complex healthcare needs of an ageing population. “The population of seniors age 65 and above in the (Central Singapore) region is around 15 per cent, compared to the national average of 10 per cent,” he added.

    When completed in 2030, Health City will increase healthcare-related space in the area by 150 per cent. Its total bed capacity is expected to increase by 12 per cent for acute care and 60 per cent for intermediate step-down care.

    This means that for every 10 acute beds, the number of step-down beds in Health City will increase from four to six. “This facilitates patients’ transition back to the community,” Mr Gan said.

    The first phase of construction is targeted for completion between 2018 and 2020
    . When the second phase is completed in 2030, some 30,000 people — patients, staff and visitors — are expected to pass through the premises daily.

    Currently, TTSH sees 15,000 people passing through every day.

    Mr Gan said effort will be made to make moving from one part of Health City to another easy, safe and pleasant through a network of walkways, bridges, roads and interconnected basement carparks.

    Professor Chee Yam Cheng, NHG’s Group CEO, added that the billing system should be integrated throughout the various facilities to make the process a seamless one for patients.

    Also part of Health City is the new National Centre for Infectious Diseases. It will also collaborate with the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine on research.

  5. #7383
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    Default Low unemployment rate cannot be taken for granted, says Heng



    Mr Heng interacting with NUS students at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum yesterday. Photo: NUS Students’ Political Association


    Education Minister stresses need for graduates to possess attributes such as innovation to prepare for the future


    • By Kok Xing Hui -31 August

      SINGAPORE — Finland has “one of the best education systems in the world” but a youth unemployment rate of over 20 per cent, while China produces 7 million graduates each year in an economy that is doing well but has a jobless rate of 16 per cent for those aged below 25, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

      Addressing some 270 university students at the Kent Ridge Ministerial Forum at the National University of Singapore last night, he said Singaporeans have been conditioned to think that they will be able to get jobs, and even better jobs with better qualifications. However, the Republic’s low unemployment rate is an “extremely unusual situation” and cannot be taken for granted.

      Mr Heng stressed the reality of “global forces driving change”, and noted how Detroit, once regarded as the Silicon Valley of America with its innovation companies, is now bankrupt.

      Just 10 to 15 years ago, when discussing with colleagues about the development of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, a fellow member said: “We would like to be the Detroit of the East.”

      “Now, to say that I want to be the Detroit of the East carries a very different meaning,” said Mr Heng.

      Detroit, he pointed out, is 3,300km away from Silicon Valley and San Jose.

      Within a 3,300km radius of Singapore lie 12 other cities — Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Hanoi, Bangalore and Chennai, to name a few — which too have the ambition to become the Silicon Valley of Asia.

      Will Singapore remain a vibrant hub of innovation and job creation, “or will we go the way of Detroit?”, he asked.

      The fall of cities is “extremely sobering”. “Jobs will move across cities, jobs will move across nations and the nature of jobs will change,” he added.

      Jobs of the future will be polarised, he said. On one end there will be abstract tasks that require problem-solving, persuasion and creativity. On the other end, there will be manual tasks which require in-person interaction, situational adaptability, language recognition — jobs which many people have the skills for and hence attract low wages.

      To prepare for the future, graduates need certain attributes — to be alive to ideas, innovate and invent things, have good interpersonal and communication skills. In addition, Singaporeans need to have values, such as being trustworthy and respecting intellectual property, he said.


      Mr Heng’s speech was followed by a question-and-answer session, during which students asked about difficulties in implementing new education policies, how schools can better teach communication skills and what the Ministry of Education has done to encourage innovation.

      In response, Mr Heng said that change “is not something that you can do overnight”. “The primary school system is connected to the secondary school system, the PSLE system is connected to the system of posting to schools, in turn the secondary school system is connected to JCs, to the ITEs, polys, even the universities,” he said. “What we need to do is to be able to think through this whole chain of events.”

      He added that the ministry employs 33,000 teachers and that “the changes don’t take place in my office, real changes take place when things happen in the classroom”. Moreover, the Government also has to consider if the changes will be better for students and how parents will react to the changes.

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    Default China, Singapore to seek out new areas of cooperation



    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang at the welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 26 Aug 2013. Photo: Ministry of Communications & Information


    Environmental collaboration, yuan clearing centres among areas discussed as PM Lee meets Chinese leaders

    • By Teo Xuanwei
      27 August
      BEIJING — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Chinese President Xi Jinping yesterday pledged to grow bilateral ties, as both countries seek out new areas of cooperation beyond traditional ones like the development of industrial parks.

      At their meeting at the Great Hall of the People, Mr Lee noted both countries’ wide-ranging and growing cooperation, both at the national and provincial levels. “Our bilateral relations are in very good shape,” he said. “And we’ve made good progress on the proposals that President Xi made when he was in Singapore to enhance bilateral relations.”

      Mr Lee, who will today visit the autonomous region of Xinjiang in western China for the first time, said he hopes to understand the conditions “in a very different part of China from the coastal area which we are familiar with”.
      In a welcome speech earlier, Mr Xi cited the raft of projects the two governments have collaborated on and how the Republic is the only Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) member to have signed a free trade agreement with China, to underscore the excellent state of China-Singapore relations.

      He also spoke about the need for the two governments to ensure the success of existing bilateral projects — Suzhou Industrial Park, Tianjin Eco-City and Guangzhou Knowledge City, among others — and for these successes to be replicated in other parts of China. “I believe the two sides should continue to work together to build on past successes and open up new dimensions for the future,” said Mr Xi.

      “We need to further deepen mutual political trust and enhance pragmatic cooperation and raise our bilateral relations to a higher level from a new historical starting point.”

      Mr Lee is on a week-long official visit to China at the invitation of Mr Xi. It is their first meeting since Mr Xi became President in March.
      Speaking to reporters after his talks with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang earlier yesterday, Mr Lee said they held substantive discussions, which touched on new areas of cooperation between the two countries such as the yuan clearing centres in Singapore, the social management exchanges started last year and environmental cooperation.

      Both leaders also agreed that the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation, which was set up a decade ago to oversee all areas of cooperation between the two countries, also “has a clear mandate to work not just on existing areas but also new areas of cooperation”, said Mr Lee.

      Mr Lee invited Premier Li to visit Singapore and deliver a lecture and “make an exposition of how China sees the world and how it can foster closer relations between China and ASEAN”, which the Chinese leader accepted
      . On Friday, Mr Lee will tour Liaoning, which he visited in 2005 when Mr Li was then the province’s Party Secretary.

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    Default S’pore-based start-up sold for rumoured S$255m



    The home page of Singapore-based video-streaming online service Viki.


    Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten inks agreement to buy video-streaming site Viki for undisclosed sum


    ByTan Weizhen

    6 hours 9 min ago

    SINGAPORE — In what is said to be the biggest acquisition deal of a Singapore-based start-up, Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten has inked an agreement to buy video-streaming site Viki for a rumoured US$200 million (S$255 million) — a deal which a Viki co-founder said proves that one does not have to be in Silicon Valley to “build a world-class team”.

    News of the acquisition broke yesterday on technology blog All Things D. In an interview with TODAY, Viki Chief Executive Officer Razmig Hovaghimianwho hails from Egypt and has been raising a family here for the past four years — said he has found the technology community here “very helpful and supportive” since he incorporated the company here in 2010.

    His free video site, which has about 22.9 million users monthly, operates on an advertising-supported, crowd-sourcing model where subtitles to streamed television shows and movies are added by users in the same collaborative manner as Wikipedia.

    This allows, for instance, Korean shows, to break into the American consumer market, overcoming language barriers.

    Rakuten Chief Executive Hiroshi Mikitani said in a statement: “Viki is a one-of-a-kind company with an entirely unique approach to video streaming that is truly global and truly engaging.”

    Mr Hovaghimian, 38, was tightlipped on the size of the deal, only saying it was confidential. Analysts said the US$200 million figure was about right, based on the number of users and the nature of its offerings.

    Viki hires 50 employees, one-third of whom are Singaporeans and permanent residents, Mr Hovaghimian said. Among the company’s leadership team, the head of products and the head of community products are Singaporean while the head of engineering is a PR, he said.

    “This (the deal) really proves you don’t have to be in Silicon Valley to build a world-class team. I can, and did, hire a good team here,” he said.

    He met many of his engineers and staff at Hackerspace, a physical space in Bussorah Street here where white-hat hackers — who specialise in non-malicious hacking, usually to detect system flaws — meet to network or work on projects.


    Mr Hovaghimian was working for American media and entertainment giant NBC Universal when he was posted here in 2009. He later decided to base himself here after his children were born here.

    “I also loved the fact that the government was very supportive (of start-ups) and it was close to Asian countries, a strong growth market,”said Mr Hovaghimian, whose wife is also working here. Singapore telco SingTel is among his local investors — the only company to have invested, with the rest being individuals. The start-up also received some government subsidies.

    The idea for Viki was conceived as a “class project” when he was studying at Stanford University in the United States, and he worked on it even when he was working at NBC Universal.

    The deal could give Rakuten, traditionally an e-commerce provider, a deeper foothold in the digital content market, which it wants to gain ground in.

    Mr Hovaghimian said the deal came together after what was initially a discussion for partnership.

    “We met like, 10 times, and clicked. We found that our vision aligned … they like the fact that we know mobile very well, and we like the fact that they know social very well. They are strong in community building, and e-commerce, an area we might be looking at in the future,” he said.

    The site will primarily be free for users, but the company is considering some “phenomenal” paid content. Viki’s users come mostly from Asia and the US, with the rest split between Latin America and Europe.

    Mr Ajay Sunder, Senior Director of Telecoms for the Asia-Pacific for research firm Frost & Sullivan, said the size of their user community justifies the rumoured price tag. “They have a good strategy, primary ad-driven, but also crowd-sourced which explains how they have grown so fast,” he said, adding the company is poised to grow as consumers become used to paying for content.

    He also noted that more within the start-up-community are creating products for an audience beyond the Singapore market, which is something investors look for.

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    Default Growing interest in aviation industry in schools




    Photo: Ooi Boon Keong


    Some secondary schools are offering aviation courses so students can experience what the sector has to offer


    By Amanda Lee

    02 September

    SINGAPORE — At Hillgrove Secondary School, aerospace is not just a specialty for a few — every student has a chance to experience what the sector has to offer, be it through instructional programmes, co-curricular activities (CCAs), or learning journeys to aviation centres and training centres to experience the industry first-hand.

    And the school — which received special mention by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally last month for developing aerospace as its niche — has seen its efforts take off. Since 2007, 43 graduates have gone on to pursue aviation courses at Singapore Polytechnic (SP), Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic and the Institutes of Technical Education (ITEs). Nine went on to take the Basic Flying Course and obtained their Private Pilot Licence with the Singapore Youth Flying Club, while one, Mr Aditya Sharma, is now an RSAF Apache helicopter pilot.

    The school’s endeavour is part of the wave of growing interest in the aerospace and aviation industry. In July this year, a new scheme to support the setting up of key laboratories by industries in local universities was launched by the National Research Foundation. The programme is set up by aerospace company Rolls-Royce and Nanyang Technological University, and will focus on three core research areas: Electrical power and control systems, manufacturing and repair technologies, and computational engineering.

    Polytechnics, ITEs, universities and industry partners said they have generally seen an increase in applicants for places in aviation and aerospace courses. Out of 10 organisations contacted, seven said intakes have increased. For example, Temasek Polytechnic, which offers a Diploma in Aerospace Engineering, has seen its intake more than double since it rolled out the programme in 2009.

    Northbrooks Secondary School, which has also developed aerospace as a niche, has weaved the industry into its curriculum for all Secondary One, Two and Three Express and Normal (Academic) students.

    At the Sec 1 level
    , students acquire basic knowledge in general aerospace topics, such as the discovery of flight and early flight machines, basic aerodynamics of flight and flight control surfaces, as part of the semester’s interdisciplinary project work. The school also has Youth Flying Club as a CCA to cater to students with interest and talent in the area.

    At Hillgrove, the theories and principles of flight, aero-modelling and kite-making and flying are part of Design and Technology lessons, which is customised and funded by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) Aviation Youth Outreach Seed Fund. Sec 2 students learn about flight and aerospace in Science, Mathematics and Social Studies through project work.

    The school is currently collaborating with SP and the Education Ministry’s Educational Technological Division to further develop flight and aerospace lessons and resources. At the lower secondary level, students will be introduced to elementary science and maths concepts such as speed and area, so they can construct and fly airplane models.

    Upper secondary students
    will learn how to apply physics and mathematical concepts to construct simulations in rocket science. For example, Sec 3 students will apply aero-engineering concepts such as vectors and acceleration to construct computer simulations in the different phases of a rocket’s flight.

    The school has also offered Youth Flying Club as a CCA since 2001, and the club now has 60 members who get to learn how to fly an aeroplane through a flight simulation programme.

    Sec 3 student Iqbal Rosli, 15, a member of the club, said he hopes to be a pilot in future. He participated in the Singapore Amazing Flying Machine Competition this year with two other team-mates, and clinched Silver in the Theory of Flight category.

    “We learnt a lot in YFC (Youth Flying Club), like the different parts of a plane and how to fly a remote-controlled aeroplane. I learnt a lot and it helps me (in my path) to be a pilot in future,” he said. AMANDA LEE

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    Default Casa Clementi and Punggol Breeze bag HDB awards for design and construction

    Published on Sep 02, 2013
    12:58 PM




    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st.../26953441e.jpg
    Children in the playground near the recently completed Punggol Breeze. -- ST FILE PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st.../18314116e.jpg
    Casa Clementi, along Clementi Avenue 1, under construction. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KEVIN LIM



    By Charissa Yong

    Singapore's biggest public housing project is also one of this year's best.

    Casa Clementi
    , a 10-block development of 2,234 flats, has picked up two top Housing Board awards this year for being well designed and well built. Its features include 15,000 sq m large landscaped deck with playgrounds and exercise corners for residents. The contractor, Straits Construction, was also commended for minimising noise pollution to the nearby Nan Hua High School by installing curtains and barriers.

    A total of 18 HDB awards will be presented to architects and contractors on Tuesday.

    Punggol Breeze, a 12-block HDB project of 964 units with a long roof garden, also bagged two design and construction awards.

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    Default More can still be done to make use of underground spaces: Minister Khaw

    Published on Sep 03, 2013
    11:34 AM



    An underground linkway between Orchard Central and The Centrepoint. There is still scope to do much more in terms of making use of underground spaces in Singapore, said Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan on Tuesday. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND LIM


    By Melissa Lin

    There is still scope to do much more in terms of making use of underground spaces in Singapore, said Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan on Tuesday.

    In his latest blog entry, Mr Khaw noted other countries who have done much more with their underground space to enhance their residents' quality of life. Examples include Canada and Japan, whose cities have extensive pedestrian passages, shopping malls and offices underground. One of the "largest and most well-known" underground city is Montreal's RÉSO, he wrote. "It comprises 32km of tunnels covering about 12sq km in downtown Montreal, linking a wide range of facilities such as offices, hotels, retail shops, cinemas, universities and train stations. It is easily accessible and half a million people use it every day."

    Singapore has made good use of underground spaces with shopping malls, MRT lines and expressways located underground. But more can be done and the ministry is "thinking about the possibility of developing an underground equivalent of the Master Plan" even though these developments do cost more, wrote Mr Khaw.

    He added: "Taking reference from other cities, there are possibilities of creating underground transport hubs, pedestrian links, cycling lanes, utility plants, storage and research facilities, industrial uses, shopping areas and other public spaces here."

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    Default Criticise a minister but don't sling mud: Shanmugam

    Defamation laws 'not there to stop political discussion'


    The Straits Times
    Published on Sep 03, 2013
    7:13 AM




    Law Minister K. Shanmugam. -- PHOTO: REUTERS


    By Tham Yuen-c And Maryam Mokhtar

    As Singaporeans become more politically engaged, they should feel free to discuss politics and even criticise ministers and policies, provided they do not make spurious allegations they cannot substantiate, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday.

    Responding to law students' questions about Singapore laws and their impact on free speech at a dialogue organised by students from the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law, Mr Shanmugam signalled that the Government was not about to soften its stance on defamation laws, even as he said the laws do not curtail political discussion.

    Defamation laws, he said, are not there to stop people from criticising the Government, but exist to protect personal reputations.

    "If you make a personal allegation of fact, if you say I took money, I am corrupt, I will then sue you and ask you to prove it. But if you say I am a stupid fool who doesn't know what I'm talking about, and the Government comprises ministers who don't know what they're talking about and you criticise every policy of the Government, no one can sue you," he said.


    Background story

    DRAWING A LINE

    Every country imposes restrictions on speech, it's a question of where you draw the line and whether you have a clear rationale for it.
    - Law Minister K. Shanmugam, citing the example of how it is an offence to deny the Holocaust in Austria
    Last edited by Loh; 09-03-2013 at 12:06 AM.

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    Default Nine private bus operators bid to run City Direct routes

    Published on Sep 03, 2013
    7:12 AM


    The bus stop opposite Gek Pok Shopping Centre is one of the stops on the Jurong West City Direct route. The two-year contract for the route was won by ComfortDelGro Bus, which launched City Service 651 yesterday. -- ST PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN


    By Royston Sim

    Nine private bus operators have bid to run nine City Direct bus services which will give heartland commuters an extra option in and out of the city.

    The nine routes, which will be rolled out from next January, will serve residents in Ang Mo Kio, Bedok, Bukit Batok, Eunos, Hougang, Jurong East, Sembawang, Sengkang and West Coast.

    The Land Transport Authority (LTA), which called for tenders for the routes in June, can award the services individually or in packages, which means there could be multiple private operators getting deals.

    Bidders were free to submit proposals for one or more of the routes before July's deadline. Ng Ing Tsair Bus Service,for instance, put in a bid to operate only the Bedok route.

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    Default Commuters give new City Direct bus service the thumbs up

    They say paying 30 cents more for new City Direct service is worth it



    Published on Sep 04, 2013
    7:22 AM



    All of the commuters who spoke to The Straits Times praised the City Service 651 for the convenience and comfort the ride offers them. The service starts from Jurong West Avenue 3 and takes the Ayer Rajah Expressway to Marina Boulevard. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO


    By Jermyn Chow

    The daily work commute to Marina Bay used to be a stifling 1 1/2-hour feeder bus and train journey for Jurong West resident Xu Huimei.

    "The chance of getting a seat was zero," the bank analyst said.

    But for 30 cents more yesterday morning, the 27-year-old had a stress-free journey in a relatively empty 40-seater bus, taking an hour to get to work.

    She was one of around 50 commuters to hop on the new City Service 651, launched on Monday by ComfortDelGro Bus after it won the tender for $1.06 million in June.

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    Default SJI launches booklet of former campus at Singapore Art Museum

    Published on Sep 03, 2013
    10:20 PM





    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...okTwo0309e.jpg
    An art exhibition in the chapel at the Singapore Art Museum featuring works of former St Joseph's Institution (SJI) students. SJI launched a guide booklet on Tuesday, Sept 3, 2013, for visitors to navigate their way through its former campus in Bras Basah, which now houses the Singapore Art Museum. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...okOne0309e.jpg
    Mr Foo Chee Cheng (right), 70, former History teacher at St Joseph's Institution (SJI), gives a guided tour about the heritage of the former SJI campus to Mrs Louise Grant (centre), Principal of SJI International Elementary School, and Mrs Susi Teo, Vice principal of SJI International Elementary School. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING


    By Maryam Mokhtar


    St Joseph's Institution (SJI) launched a guide booklet on Tuesday for visitors to navigate their way through its former campus in Bras Basah, which now houses the Singapore Art Museum.

    Produced by a team of students and teachers from the school, the booklet is available for free to visitors of the museum, whose building has been gazetted a national monument by the National Heritage Board.

    Among iconic parts of the 161-year-old school's original premises is the second-floor chapel, which continues to retain basins that once held holy water, a pressed steel ceiling and the original multi-coloured concrete floor tiles.

    The launch of the booklet was held concurrently with the opening of the school's first public visual art exhibition - Creation. Also located at the Singapore Art Museum from Tuesday till Friday, the exhibition showcases the works of 12 former SJI boys, two of whom were past winners of the UOB Painting of the Year Award.

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    Default Singapore still 2nd most competitive economy: World Economic Forum

    Today File Photo


    Republic retains second place in the Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Report, ahead of Finland


    3 hours 32 min ago

    GENEVA — Singapore has retained its number two spot in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, behind Switzerland and ahead of Finland, said the Geneva-based body yesterday (Sept 3).

    Switzerland has kept its title as the world’s most competitive economy for the fifth year running, though it needs to resist any temptation to protect its core banking sector if it wants to stay top, the Forum added.

    The Geneva-based body, most famous for gathering politicians and billionaires at an annual shindig in the Alpine resort of Davos, revealed that the same economies made the top 10 as last year, but in a different order.

    Germany, the United States, Hong Kong and Japan all edged up while Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom all slipped by two or three notches.

    The United States’ flair for innovation helped it reverse a four-year downward trend, although serious concerns remained over its macroeconomic stability, the Forum said, ranking it 117 out of 148 countries in that category.

    The Forum bases its assessment on a dozen drivers of competitiveness, including institutions, infrastructure, health and education, market size and the macroeconomic environment.

    The report also factors in a survey among business leaders, assessing the government’s efficiency and transparency.

    Switzerland scored well across the board, but the report said it needed to guard against complacency.

    “Its banking sector is ... Under scrutiny, and this traditional economic engine is necessarily undergoing great change,” the report said.

    “In the future, it will be important for the country to continue to build on its competitive strengths and resist over regulation and protectionism,” it added.

    Switzerland has been hit hard by a global crackdown on tax havens, succumbing to pressure from the EU and the United States to give up a centuries-old tradition of banking secrecy.

    While most of the top 40 remained relatively static, South Korea slid six places to 25th, weakened by its poorly functioning financial market, quality of its institutions and extremely rigid labor market, said the report.

    China remained in 29th place and again led the BRICS pack, while Indonesia climbed 12 places to 38th, helped by a 17-place jump in infrastructure and other advances.

    “After years of neglect, Indonesia has been boosting infrastructure spending to upgrade roads, ports, water facilities, and power plants, and our results suggest that these improvements have started to bear fruit,” the report said.

    It also made a big improvement in labor market efficiency, but was let down by bribery, security and a worsening health picture.

    India slipped one position to 60th
    while Russia edged up three spots to 64th, helped by an improving macroeconomic environment.

    There was also little change at the bottom of the list. The overall wooden spoon went to Chad, just behind Guinea and last year’s loser Burundi.

    The report defines competitiveness as “the set of institutions, policies, and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country”. REUTERS

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    Default Govt mulling large-scale underground developments



    Jurong Rock Caverns will be South-east Asia’s first underground storage facility for oil and petrochemical products. Photo: JTC


    Subterranean transport hubs, public spaces could be on the cards for Singapore, says Khaw


    By Kok Xing Hui
    7 hours 9 min ago

    SINGAPORE — Signalling for the first time that urban planners are exploring the possibility of large scale underground developments that further “push the boundary of usage”, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday that a subterranean statutory land use plan could be on the cards.

    Policymakers are currently in the midst of updating the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s Master Plan and a draft will be put up for public consultation via an exhibition soon, Mr Khaw noted. “In parallel, we are thinking about the possibility of developing an underground equivalent of the Master Plan to see how practical underground plans can complement the above ground Master Plan to make our city even more exciting and liveable,” he revealed.

    Writing on his blog, he added: “We will not rush to do this underground Master Plan. We will also not be able to formulate a comprehensive underground Master Plan in our initial attempt(s). But the earlier we begin this process, the faster we will learn and the easier it would be for us to realise these plans.”

    Citing cities in the Scandinavian countries, Canada and Japan, Mr Khaw said there was a full range of possibilities such as underground transport hubs, pedestrian links, cycling lanes, utility plants, shopping areas and other public spaces.

    Tokyo, for instance, has automated underground bicycle parking systems while in Oslo, Norway, an underground sports hall and swimming pool double as civil defence shelters during emergencies.

    Every day, half a million people pass through the “underground city” at Montreal’s RESO, which comprises 32km of tunnels covering an area of 12 sq km, linking facilities, including offices, hotels, retail shops, cinemas, universities and train stations.

    Mr Khaw noted that the Republic has “made good use” of underground spaces for shopping malls and underpasses, as well as 12km of expressways and almost 80km of MRT lines. It has also used subterranean spaces for storage: When it comes into operation next year, JTC’s Jurong Rock Caverns will be South-east Asia’s first underground storage facility for oil and petrochemical products.

    The Singapore Armed Forces has also relocated its Seletar East Ammo Depot to an underground ammunition facility — a world’s first when it was unveiled in 2008 — built under a former quarry site in Mandai.

    “Still, there is scope to do much more,” Mr Khaw pointed out.

    He acknowledged the higher cost of underground developments, “especially if the cheaper alternative of using surface land is available”. Still, “we can try to push the boundary of usage — to experiment, to learn and to evolve practical innovative solutions — so as to prepare for the future”, he said.

    Members of Parliament (MPs) and architects whom TODAY spoke to welcomed the possibility of creating “more common space beyond the physical limitations of land”, as Marine Parade GRC MP Seah Kian Peng put it.

    Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP Gan Thiam Poh noted that not only will underground developments help address the land scarcity, a subterranean Master Plan will also provide opportunities for architects, engineers and builders here to “try building new things beyond what we already have”.

    Mr Frven Lim, Director of Architecture at building consultancy Surbana, said a coordinated approach will give Singapore’s underground ambitions a “greater chance to succeed”.

    Still, Mr Seah reiterated that underground projects come with huge price tags. “I support the idea, but it must be used in places where the costs can be justified by the benefits it creates,” he said.

    Apart from costs, architect Victor Lee noted the design challenges to maximise the supply of natural air, light and greenery to these “controlled environments”. For starters, Mr Lim suggested that the Government build automated underground car parks. “Parking does not require a high quality space — you don’t need the space to be well lit, you don’t have to walk into it,” he said, adding that these car parks will also generate revenue to offset the costs.

    Such car parks are present in France, where motorists leave their cars in a building and the vehicles are moved underground, he said.

    “This will be the first trigger to get people to start thinking about how else the underground space can be used.”

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    Default HDB launches landscape design guide to showcase good work

    Published on Sep 04, 2013
    11:31 AM



    A spread inside the Housing Board's new landscape design guide. -- PHOTO: SCREENGRAB OF HDB'S LANDSCAPE GUIDE


    By Charissa Yong

    The Housing Board (HDB) has launched a landscape guide to showcase current good designs and spur future ones.

    "Good landscape design in the spaces is important, especially in a high density environment...open spaces and lush greenery offer residents respite from high-rise surroundings," said HDB chief executive Dr Cheong Koon Hean. Minister of State for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman, who launched the 134-page guide, added that paying attention to such design from the start "will ensure that landscaped areas are easy to maintain and at minimal cost".

    Both were speaking on Wednesday at the HDB Peak forum for building and construction industry professionals.The guide describes how HDB designs public housing estates, including the evolution from simple tree planting and small playgrounds during its early days to current extensive use of rooftop greenery and exercise facilities in newer precincts like the upcoming Bidadari estate. It includes reference standards for the industry such as structures and plant types that can be used. The guide may be viewed at www.hdb.gov.sg/landscapeguide

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