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  1. #7532
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    Default ASEAN leaders approve haze monitoring system



    Singapore experienced harmful levels of haze from forest and plantation-burning in Sumatra in the middle of this year, with the Pollutant Standards Index exceeding 400. Photo: Reuters


    Adoption of the system a concrete example of cooperation: PM Lee

    By Neo Chai Chin
    7 hours 28 min ago

    Bandar Seri Begawan — Efforts to tackle regional haze took a step forward yesterday, after Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders formally adopted the Singapore-developed haze monitoring system for five-member states.

    The monitoring system — which all participating countries will have access to — will feature satellite images of hot spots overlaid with concession maps, and enable those responsible for the haze to be tracked down.

    ASEAN’s adoption of the haze monitoring system for Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and Thailand paves the way for its implementation. What is needed now is data in the form of accurate, digitised concession and land-use maps — for this, more cooperation and information are needed from various agencies of different countries
    , Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said.

    In his speech at the ASEAN Summit opening session, Mr Lee called the adoption of the system a “concrete example of cooperation”, and said it was important for ASEAN’s credibility to collectively address the transboundary haze issue.

    Mr Lee met Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on the sidelines of the summit to discuss the haze problem.

    Speaking to Singapore reporters after the meeting, Mr Lee said he expressed to his Malaysian and Indonesian counterparts further willingness to collaborate. Specifically, Singapore is keen on trilateral projects such as the sharing of sustainable farming practices, to resume collaboration with Jambi province in Sumatra, and to work with other Indonesian provinces.

    “They generally agreed with me, so I hope we’ll be able to make some progress,” Mr Lee said.

    The Foreign Ministers of the three countries, as well as Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan, were present at the meeting.

    “So, I think the ministers know that there is such an understanding among the leaders,” Mr Lee added.

    With the adoption of the monitoring system, Dr Balakrishnan and Singapore Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam said “concrete steps on the ground” — local investigations and enforcement — will be essential for it to be effective. “It’s a step-by-step process,” said Mr Shanmugam. “What we’re trying to do is to … keep the process moving along, making sure that everyone understands what the issues are and what needs to be done. And we’re constantly taking that up, which is what Singapore can and should be doing.”

    Dr Balakrishnan said he hoped to see the monitoring system implemented “as soon as possible”. Calling it a “necessary complement” to existing measures, he hoped for “an improvement” of the haze situation next year.

    Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia experienced harmful levels of haze from forest and plantation-burning in Sumatra in the middle of this year, with the Pollutant Standards Index exceeding 400 in Singapore.

    Indonesia, the only ASEAN member that has yet to ratify the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, is expected to do so early next year.

  2. #7533
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    Default Three priorities for ASEAN: PM Lee



    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has proposed three priorities for ASEAN to continue strengthening. TODAY file photo


    Community building, regional peace and stability, and strengthening ASEAN are 3 areas of importance, he says



    By S Ramesh
    11 hours 29 min ago

    BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — Pressing on with community building, maintaining regional peace and stability, and strengthening the Association of South-east Asian Nations (ASEAN) as an organisation. These are the areas which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has proposed the 10-member grouping continue strengthening.

    South-east Asia is doing relatively well against the backdrop of many uncertainties in the world, like the United States political gridlock and an uncertain situation in the Middle East, said Mr Lee.

    As an institution, ASEAN is gaining credibility, and this positive reputation benefits all member countries.

    Nonetheless, Mr Lee emphasised the importance of the grouping remaining relevant.

    He said: “The countries have to be strong, the cooperation has to be developed, and we must be able to overcome problems and to make progress which will make a difference to our people’s lives and make us a valuable partner which other countries would want to cooperate with.

    “Then you can be relevant. It’s not what you say, it’s what you do.”

    One major project in that direction is the ASEAN Economic Community blueprint due by 2015, with 80 per cent of the economic blueprint implemented.

    Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam said: “The last 15 per cent or 20 per cent is the most difficult and can in fact make substantive impact on people and this is the part we need to push and PM (Lee) made a very strong point on that.

    “A number of leaders recognise that this is important. But of course every country will look at the consequences of opening up and there needs to be a meeting of minds.

    “The leaders agreed on the setting up of a high level task force because we in Singapore and others have said it’s time to look at the mechanisms of ASEAN, the processes, the procedures and see how we can do better, make it more efficient, particularly in the run-up to 2015 and post 2015.

    “For ASEAN to do all these things, it needs an effective functioning secretariat.”

    As a next step forward, a high level task force has been set up to look at the challenges of implementing the blueprint beyond 2015.

    The year-end ASEAN summit also allows ASEAN’s leaders to update themselves on the cooperation programmes the grouping has with its dialogue partners, and reinforce the message that ASEAN and its partner nations have key roles to play in maintaining the peace, security and stability of this region.

    Some of the newly-appointed leaders attending the meeting include South Korea’s president and China’s newly appointed premier.

    During the ASEAN-China summit, Mr Lee said that Singapore welcomed China’s recent proposal to set up an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, adding that Singapore was open to taking part the same way it does in the Asian Development Bank and the ASEAN Infrastructure Fund.

    Turning to talks on the South China Sea disputes, Mr Lee said ASEAN should continue to call for the early conclusion of a Code of Conduct (COC).

    Singapore also welcomed the start of official consultations on the COC in September, with Mr Lee adding that ASEAN must work on a roadmap to begin formal negotiations on the COC soon.

    On his part, China’s Premier Li Keqiang said a peaceful South China Sea is a blessing for all and he wants to work towards making the area a sea of peace, friendship and cooperation.

    At the ASEAN-US Summit, Secretary of State John Kerry stressed that US ties with ASEAN remained a key priority for the US At the meeting, Mr Lee also emphasised that the continued presence of the US in the region is essential to ASEAN’s continued shared prosperity and security

  3. #7534
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    Default NUS to expand residential college living to other residences outside UTown

    Published on Oct 11, 2013
    12:52 PM




    The National University of Singapore (NUS) will expand residential college living to other residences on campus, following the success of the system at the University Town (in picture), said NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan on Oct 11, 2013. -- ST FILE PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG


    By Amelia Teng

    The National University of Singapore (NUS) will expand residential college living to other residences on campus, following the success of the system at the University Town, said NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan on Friday morning.

    By 2016, the university will also have "hubs" across its main campus, similar to the interaction and learning spaces at UTown. Such spaces can "spark new ideas and collaborations, and enhance experiential learning,"
    he said during his annual state of the university address. The first such hub will be sited at the faculty of arts and social sciences.

    Starting next year, the existing Ridge View Residences will offer similar programmes to the UTown residential colleges like inviting guest speakers.

    The Ridge View Residential College, as it will be known, will house 700 students from different faculties, who will take three multi-disciplinary modules in the college. In his hour-long speech, Prof Tan also outlined the efforts in education and research his university will take in the years ahead, including setting aside $1 million for a fund that supports student-led community projects.

  4. #7535
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    Default URA portal on heritage buildings proves a hit

    Site shares wealth of info like archive photos, significance of buildings


    Published on Oct 11, 2013
    7:37 AM


    11


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    Purchase this article for republication
    Buy SPH photos




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    The Cundhi Gong Temple at 13 Keong Saik Road is just one of about 7,100 heritage buildings in Singapore, and is featured on the URA's newly launched My Conservation Portal. -- PHOTO: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

    - PHOTOS: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY











    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...1_3876435e.jpg
    The Cundhi Gong Temple at 13 Keong Saik Road is just one of about 7,100 heritage buildings in Singapore, and is featured on the URA's newly launched My Conservation Portal. -- PHOTO: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...K_3876443e.jpg
    The temple, boys' home and cultural centre of the Ramakrishna Mission at 179 Bartley Road. The buildings were given conservation status in October 2006. -- PHOTO: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY








    By Melody Zaccheus







    The first public database detailing the history, architecture and stories behind more than 7,100 of Singapore's heritage buildings is proving a hit with users.
    The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) launched the portal on its website last week.
    Properties such as conserved shophouses, structures and national monuments are tagged on an interactive map according to, for example, location and historical district.
    A pop-out menu allows users to pull up exterior and interior shots, conservation guidelines and procedures as well as past and present publications and photos of the properties. Never-before-seen URA archive photos from the 1960s also feature, including one of 13 Keong Saik Road in Chinatown where a 1928 Nanyang-style temple stands.


    Background story

    STORIES TO SHARE
    If they have lived in a particular shophouse or if they owned a stall or shop there, these are stories that we want them to share.
    - Ms Yeo Su Fen, senior architect at URA's conservation department and project team leader

  5. #7536
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default URA portal on heritage buildings proves a hit

    Site shares wealth of info like archive photos, significance of buildings



    Published on Oct 11, 2013
    7:37 AM





    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...1_3876435e.jpg
    The Cundhi Gong Temple at 13 Keong Saik Road is just one of about 7,100 heritage buildings in Singapore, and is featured on the URA's newly launched My Conservation Portal. -- PHOTO: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...K_3876443e.jpg
    The temple, boys' home and cultural centre of the Ramakrishna Mission at 179 Bartley Road. The buildings were given conservation status in October 2006. -- PHOTO: URBAN REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY


    By Melody Zaccheus

    The first public database detailing the history, architecture and stories behind more than 7,100 of Singapore's heritage buildings is proving a hit with users.

    The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) launched the portal on its website last week.

    Properties such as conserved shophouses, structures and national monuments are tagged on an interactive map according to, for example, location and historical district.

    A pop-out menu allows users to pull up exterior and interior shots, conservation guidelines and procedures as well as past and present publications and photos of the properties. Never-before-seen URA archive photos from the 1960s also feature, including one of 13 Keong Saik Road in Chinatown where a 1928 Nanyang-style temple stands.


    Background story

    STORIES TO SHARE

    If they have lived in a particular shophouse or if they owned a stall or shop there, these are stories that we want them to share.

    - Ms Yeo Su Fen, senior architect at URA's conservation department and project team leader

  6. #7537
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    Default RI principal Lim Lai Cheng stepping down

    Likely replacement is VJC principal; MOE to issue new postings list soon



    Published on Oct 11, 2013
    7:36 AM




    • http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...1_3875943e.jpg
      (Above) Mrs Lim is believed to be leaving MOE for another position. -- PHOTO: BT FILE



      http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...8_3875944e.jpg
      VJC principal Chan Poh Meng is likely to be her replacement at RI. -- PHOTO: ST FILE



      By Sandra Davie And Amelia Teng

      Raffles Institution's first woman principal, Mrs Lim Lai Cheng, is stepping down.
      Sources close to the school said Mr Chan Poh Meng, the principal of Victoria Junior College, will take over when she leaves at the end of the year.

      The confirmation will come when the Ministry of Education (MOE) reveals its latest list of school heads as part of an annual rotation exercise.

      Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said yesterday that the list, which could be out as early as today, will see MOE send some of its most experienced principals to head schools in the heartland.


      Background story

      CHANGING OF GUARD

      I am pleased that we are sending some of our most experienced and well-regarded principals to head schools in our heartland. This is yet another tangible way for us to make every school a good school.

      - Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, on the latest round of posting of principals, to be announced by the ministry soon.

  7. #7538
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    Default New principal for Singapore Sports School

    Sports





    Current Physical Education and Sports Teacher Academy principal Tan Teck Hock will take over on Dec 15


    4 hours 38 min ago

    SINGAPORE — The Singapore Sports School (SSP) will have a new principal from December, the institution announced today (Oct 11).

    Mr Tan Teck Hock, 49, currently the principal of the Physical Education and Sports Teacher Academy (PESTA), will take over from Mrs Deborah Tan on Dec 15.

    Mrs Tan, 54, who joined the SSP in Dec 2007, will be returning to the Ministry of Education to take up a senior appointment.

    During her time at the Sports School, Mrs Tan spearheaded the development of the “School within a School” programme for selected student-athletes in badminton, golf and table-tennis who have the potential and performance to become elite athletes.

    She also led the School in developing two extended academic pathways for its student-athletes that bypassed the GCE “O” Levels.

    The first is the six-year International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma pathway, while the second is a seven-year pathway in collaboration with Republic Polytechnic leading to a customised Diploma in Sports and Leisure Management.

    Both pathways are aimed at giving Sports School students greater flexibility in achieving sporting and academic excellence.

    Ms Yeoh Chee Yan, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth, the parent ministry of the Sports School, thanked Mrs Tan for her work at the Sports School.

    “Under her watch, Scott Ang, an alumnus of the School, was awarded the President’s Scholarship,” noted Ms Yeoh. “Indeed, the Sports School has achieved much under her leadership ... We wish her all the best as she takes up her new appointment in the Ministry of Education.”

    Prior to heading PESTA, Mr Tan was the principal of Yishun Town Secondary School (1999-2005) and Serangoon Junior College (2006-2010). Described as a dynamic leader, he is credited with raising the quality of education in both schools.

    He also has a Level 3 Certification in the National Coaching Accreditation Programme (NCAP) and also coached Jurong Secondary’s track and field, and cross-country teams when he was teaching there in the 1990s. He was also the secretary and subsequently the chairman of the North Zone School Sports Council from 2002-2010.

  8. #7539
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    Default Some well-regarded principals to head schools in heartlands: Heng Swee Keat



    TODAY file photo.


    The move is part of MOE’s efforts to make every school a good school



    By Melissa Chong
    19 hours 32 min ago

    SINGAPORE — Some of the Education Ministry’s most experienced and well-regarded principals will be sent to head schools in the heartlands as part of efforts to make every school a good school, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat today (Oct 10).

    He said his ministry will be announcing the latest round of posting of principals soon.

    School leaders must play a critical role in implementing the upcoming changes to the education system, he added.

    Mr Heng was speaking to graduates of this year’s Leaders in Education Programme at the National Institute of Education.

    The changes include two new distinctive programmes, Applied Learning and Learning for Life, which are aimed at nurturing well-rounded students and which will be implemented by 2017, as well as the broadening of the PSLE scoring system.


    The selection criteria for Direct School Admissions will also be adjusted, and subject offerings in secondary schools will be more flexible.


    Mr Heng said that implementing these changes will be challenging, but he has confidence in the new cohort of school leaders.

    He said: “I know that if there is one community which can succeed with passion and purpose, it is the education community.

    “You will need to understand the reasons for these changes at the national level, and as each school is an integral part of the larger education system, I hope that you will share and collaborate with others so as to bring the entire education system forward.”

    CHANNEL NEWSASIA

  9. #7540
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    Default New integrated ticketing system for Singapore Sports Hub launched



    By the end of the year, customers will have up to seven ways to buy tickets to events held in the Singapore Sports Hub. Photo: Singapore Sports Hub



    Customers will be able to buy e-tickets on their phones, on top of the pick-up and mailing services provided




    ByJohn Leong
    18 hours 47 min ago


    SINGAPORE — It will soon be a lot easier to buy and collect tickets for events at the Singapore Sports Hub, after an integrated ticketing system was launched on today (Oct 10).

    Up to seven options will be made available for the public to choose from, including a paperless mobile system by the end of the year.

    The new system allows patrons to purchase e-tickets on their phones and they would just need to scan their devices to gain entry to the venue.

    Tickets can still be bought over-the-counter at the Singapore Indoor Stadium box office and at selected SingPost outlets as well as over the phone and online.

    There will also be a range of options for the collection of tickets. Besides picking them up in person, patrons can choose to print out the tickets at home, or have them mailed or couriered to their doorstep for a fee.

    The company offering these ticketing solutions is Sports Hub Tix, an entity of Singapore Sports Hub.

    Managing director of Singapore Sports Hub Mark Collins said: “It is the first time that we’ve combined all of the delivery methods as an option, versus making you choose from a select few. We’ve given the consumer the ability to choose up to seven.

    “There was a lot of research into what ticketing platforms were in the market that were customisable and would be available for us to use in Singapore. Flexibility, consumer-friendly options and expandability, were our three main considerations.”

    The system will be ready in a week’s time, when tickets for internationally-renowned violinist Andre Rieu go on sale.

    The performance will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in April next year.

    All ticketed events at the indoor stadium will be sold by Sports Hub Tix, instead of SISTIC.

    SISTIC will continue to sell tickets for events at other venues.

    CHANNEL NEWSASIA

  10. #7541
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    Default S$148m nutrition research centre to open in Singapore

    Science



    Centre’s research programmes will focus on nutrition, human development and metabolic diseases


    By Sara Grosse
    23 hours 15 min ago

    SINGAPORE — A multi-million dollar centre to study the role of nutrition and early development in health and disease in Asia was announced today (Oct 10) by the National University of Singapore and A*STAR.

    The first of its kind, the Singapore Centre for Nutritional Sciences, Metabolic Diseases, and Human Development (SINMed) will receive a funding of S$148 million over the next three years.

    Key research programmes will focus on nutrition, human development and metabolic diseases.

    It is hoped the centre will lead to novel discoveries to improve the health of Asians and also attract industry investments.

    SINMed aims to be the single point of contact for industry partners, like the Food and Nutrition industry and a focal point for talent development in nutritional sciences.

    CHANNEL NEWSASIA

  11. #7542
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    Default Ngiam Tong Dow says his recent comments on ministers unfair and illogical

    Published on Oct 11, 2013
    6:37 PM




    Former top civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow said he gave the wrong impression in a controversial interview last month in which he said current ministers are afraid to speak up and elitist. -- ST FILE PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN


    By Robin Chan

    Former top civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow said he gave the "wrong impression" in a controversial interview last month in which he said current ministers are afraid to speak up and elitist

    On Thursday, Mr Ngiam sent a clarification statement to the editor of the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) News which had published the interview.

    In this statement, Mr Ngiam retracted his earlier charge that today's ministers are afraid of speaking up in Cabinet because of their high salaries, saying it was "illogical" and unfair. He also said that ministers are not elitist, as he had spoken without realising many in fact come from humble backgrounds.

    "I retired from the civil service in 1999. Since then I have not attended any cabinet meetings, and have never seen one chaired by PM Lee Hsien Loong. Thus my statement that ministers will not speak their minds before PM Lee is unfair as it was made without knowing what actually happens at cabinet meetings today," he said.

    "I have been told by civil servant colleagues that cabinet discussions are robust - as robust as they were when I attended cabinet meetings as PS (PMO), when Mr Goh Chok Tong was PM, and Mr Lee Hsien Loong DPM."

    Mr Ngiam added that he knows some ministers have given up successful and well-paying careers in the private sector to join politics at lower pay, while others could have chosen to join the private sector to make more money but did not.

    "They have no reason not to speak their minds when they are convinced that they are doing right by Singaporeans," he said.

    Mr Ngiam also stirred up controversy with remarks suggesting that the certificate of entitlement (COE) system was introduced to "collect more money" for the government.

    In his letter, he clarified that "it was not the case".

    "The fundamental purpose of the COE scheme was to limit Singapore's car population. If the intent had been to raise revenue, I would not have supported the policy as permanent secretary at the Finance Ministry," he said.

    Mr Ngiam is the former chairman of the Economic Development Board and was permanent secretary of several ministries before he retired in 1999.

    Here is Mr Ngiam's clarification statement in full:

    From the feedback from friends and colleagues who read my interview published in SMA news, September 2013 Issue, it has come to my attention that I had given the wrong impression in several ways.

    I had described my discussions with Mr Lee Kuan yew about the COE scheme as an example of Mr Lee's openness in discussin policies, even with officials. I realise that my comments might suggest that the COE scheme was implemented to raise funds. That was not the case. The fundamental purpose of the COE scheme was to limit Singapore's car population. If the intent had been to raise revenue, I would not have supported the policy as Permanent Secretary at the Finance ministry.

    I also realise on re-reading the interview that I had not been fair in what I had said about Ministers and discussions in Cabinet. I retired from the civil service in 1999. Since then I have not attended any cabinet meetings, and have never seen one chaired by PM Lee Hsien Loong. Thus my statement that Ministers will not speak their minds before PM Lee is unfair as it was made without knowing what actually happens at Cabinet meetings today. I have been told by civil servant colleagues that Cabinet discussions are robust - as robust as they were when I attended cabinet meetings as PS (PMO), when Mr Goh Chok Tong was PM and Mr Lee Hsien Loong DPM.

    I also realise that my claim that Ministers may not speak up because they earn high salaries is illogical. I know that some Ministers have given up high-flying and well-paid careers in the private sector in order to serve the public at a fraction of their original or potential income. Others could have gone to the private sector to make more money but have chosen to be in the public service. They have no reason not to speak their minds when they are convinced that they are doing right by Singaporeans.

    I had also said that the current crop of leaders is elitist. I had spoken without realising that many had in fact come from humble backgrounds.

    I had the privilege and honour of working with Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Dr Goh Keng Swee, Mr Hon Sui Sen and Mr Lim Kim San. I have said many times that Mr Lee is my hero and that Singaporea was lucky to have had such a team to steer it from third world to first.

    The Cabinet today faces different and less straightforward challenges, having to deal with globalisation and more intense international competition
    . However, as I had mentioned in my interview, we are starting from a good position - for example, in healthcare, one of the main subjects of the interview

  12. #7543
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    Default Annual Kusu pilgrimage season losing devotees

    Published on Oct 13, 2013
    8:00 PM








    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...01Pic1310e.jpg
    A man prays to the Guan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) at Kusu Island's Da Bo Gong Temple on Oct 13, 2013. The annual Kusu pilgrimage season, which coincides with the ninth lunar month and is ongoing from Oct 5 to Nov 2, appears to be losing its lustre. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEON



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...02Pic1310e.jpg
    A man places incense sticks at the alter after prayers at Kusu Island's Da Bo Gong Temple on Oct 13, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...03Pic1310e.jpg
    A child looks at the mini tortoise enclosure at Kusu Island's Da Bo Gong Temple on Oct 13, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...04Pic1310e.jpg
    Ms Prasanna Reddy (foreground), reaches out to touch a sculpture of several turtles at Kusu Island's Da Bo Gong Temple on Oct 13, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...05Pic1310e.jpg
    Caretaker Hussin Bin Hashim (left), 62, attends to a devotee at one of the three Kramats situated atop a hillrock on Kusu Island, on Oct 13, 2013. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG



    By Walter Sim


    The annual Kusu pilgrimage season, which coincides with the ninth lunar month and is ongoing from Oct 5 to Nov 2, appears to be losing its lustre.

    Last year, some 47,000 devotees made the 15-minute ferry trip to Kusu Island, according to the Sentosa Leisure Group, which manages the island located 5.6km away from Singapore.

    This year, about 14,000 people have made the pilgrimage so far, said Mr Ryden Fang, general manager of Singapore Island Cruise & Ferry Services, which exclusively runs scheduled ferry trips to Kusu.

    He added there has been a drop in visitorship of about 5,000 people each year since 2007.

  13. #7544
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    Default PM Lee welcomes Ngiam Tong Dow's clarification of comments on ministers

    Published on Oct 11, 2013
    7:57 PM


    By Tham Yuen-c

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has welcomed former top civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow's clarification of several negative comments he made recently about the current crop of ministers.

    Mr Lee issued a short statement on Friday which said: "I am glad Mr Ngiam has clarified the statements in his interview in the Singapore Medical Association's newsletter, especially his comments about my ministers.

    "Mr Ngiam served as my permanent secretary in MTI years ago. I hope that in retirement he will continue to support the institutions and systems that he helped build during his long and illustrious career."

    Mr Ngiam was the permanent secretary of several ministries and chairman of the Economic Development Board before he retired in 1999.

    On Thursday, Mr Ngiam said he had given the "wrong impression" in his interview published in the September issue of the Singapore Medical Association (SMA) News.

    In his statement which he sent to the editor of SMA News, Mr Ngiam retracted his earlier charge that today's ministers are afraid of speaking up in Cabinet because of their high salaries. He also said that ministers are not elitist, adding that he had made the comments without realising that many ministers come from humble backgrounds.

    "I retired from the civil service in 1999. Since then I have not attended any cabinet meetings, and have never seen one chaired by PM Lee Hsien Loong. Thus my statement that ministers will not speak their minds before PM Lee is unfair as it was made without knowing what actually happens at cabinet meetings today," he said.

  14. #7545
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Can Singapore 'electrify' the world?

    BY INVITATION

    It should lead by being first nation to switch to all-electric fleet of vehicles



    Published on Oct 12, 2013
    6:00 AM




    Singapore's great weakness is that it is an absurdly small nation. Paradoxically, one great strength of Singapore is that it is an absurdly small nation. Hence, Singapore can try things out on a national scale that few other nations can dream about. -- ST ILLUSTRATION: MIEL



    By Kishore Mahbubani, For The Straits Times


    SINGAPORE’S great weakness is that it is an absurdly small nation
    . Paradoxically, one great strength of Singapore is that it is an absurdly small nation. Hence, Singapore can try things out on a national scale that few other nations can dream about.

    Let me suggest one such bold national project. Let Singapore become the first country in the world to have an all-electric fleet of vehicles: cars, trucks, taxis, buses, etc.

    Singapore can create a new chapter in world history by becoming the first country in the world not to have petrol-fuelled engines on the road. And why should Singapore do this?

    There will be at least three massive benefits from doing so.

    Healthier population

    FIRST, Singaporeans will breathe much cleaner air. Without petrol and diesel engines, there will be much less carbon monoxide, nitrous oxide, particulate matter and other pollutants in the air. As a result, I have no doubt that the health of Singaporeans will improve. There will be fewer instances of asthmatic attacks, and incidents of cancer may also go down. Singapore will also become the quietest city in the world.

    Economists have not yet established simple and easy ways of measuring such “positive externalities” that will flow from an all-electric fleet in Singapore. Yet, there is no doubt that the environment will improve massively. Singaporeans will become a happier nation and Singapore will become an ever more attractive destination for the best global talent. (Oops, maybe I shouldn’t say this!)

    Second, Singapore would be positioning itself for the day when a global carbon tax or emissions trading system is introduced.

    The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
    just released its latest climate change report. The evidence is now irrefutable. Human activity, especially in the form of greenhouse gas emissions, is warming the planet.

    Many countries will suffer the negative effects of rising sea levels and bouts of extreme weather. Singapore will be one of the biggest losers if the worst-case scenario unfolds. While Singapore is too small to make a large difference to climate change mitigation efforts, an all-electric fleet would help us deal with a global carbon tax, thus boosting national competitiveness.

    Delay climate change

    BY CREATING an all-electric transportation system, Singapore can help to delay climate change. How? Singapore’s behaviour alone will not make a massive difference. But bear in mind that the Asian middle-class population is about to explode, from about 500 million now to 1.75 billion by 2020. If these new middle-class citizens begin buying petrol-burning cars, the planet will be literally, not metaphorically, fried. Clearly, some powerful examples will be needed to demonstrate that the world would be better off not buying petrol-burning cars. By going all-electric, Singapore will act as a key catalytic agent to help to prevent global warming.

    The manufacture of electric cars emits more carbon than that of traditional vehicles because of the energy-intensive methods used to mine, smelt and process the iron, lithium and rare earth elements that go into the batteries and other components of electric cars. But studies have shown that electric vehicles make up for this by having much lower carbon emissions when they are in use.

    Most of Singapore’s electricity is generated from natural gas, a relatively clean fossil fuel. Using electric cars will result in an effective 66 per cent reduction of carbon emissions in comparison with petrol- and diesel-powered cars.

    Cars as status symbols

    THE third benefit of creating an all-electric fleet is that it will help to reduce the obsession with cars as a status symbol, as electric cars will simply be seen as functional vehicles to get from point A to point B. For the few Singaporeans who insist on having status symbols like Maseratis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis, I would like to strongly recommend the Tesla, the environmentally friendly status symbol. By moving to an all-electric fleet, we shift the status competition in Singapore away from having the most powerful and fastest cars to having the most environmentally friendly ones. So who should lead the charge to convert Singapore’s car fleet into an all-electric one? I think I know what is going on in the mind of any Singaporean who is reading this sentence.

    Every Singaporean will expect the Government to take the lead. Unfortunately, this is the wrong answer. If the Government tries a top-down strategy, there will be a lot of resistance. The only way such a massive change can take place smoothly is for it to be a bottom-up initiative.

    New developmental approach

    INDEED, as Singapore approaches the 50th anniversary of its independence and Singaporeans ponder on the next 50 years, the country should consider a major change of approach to the future development of the country. Singapore has been extraordinarily successful in our first 50 years because of a remarkable number of government-initiated policies. Let me just cite Singapore Airlines, Changi Airport, PSA, and the Singapore Newater story as a few examples. None of these were citizen initiatives.

    However, for the next 50 years, we will need a balance of government-led and citizen-led initiatives. Making Singapore the first electric vehicle nation should be the first citizen-led initiative in the nation’s history.

    Anyone who thinks that a single citizen cannot make a significant difference should look at the record of Tesla Motors and its chief executive Elon Musk. Mr Musk is giving a personal guarantee (including with his personal money) that the Tesla will retain as much second-hand value as the equivalent Mercedes.

    Even more astoundingly, he has begun building charging stations so that you can drive from Los Angeles to New York in a Tesla. If you can drive across a large country like the United States in an electric vehicle, it is surely possible to do so in Singapore. No charging station in Singapore will be more than a few kilometres away. In fact, charging stations could even be installed in private parking lots and driveways.

    The Government
    can help by creating an infrastructure that supports electric vehicles. It could also provide tax and other benefits. Currently, because of the high cost of electric vehicle batteries, such cars cost more, thus placing the vehicle in a higher tax bracket than cheaper but less environmentally friendly cars.

    Even the recently introduced Carbon Emissions-Based Vehicle Scheme does not offset the higher costs. Sadly, Tesla had to close its dealership in Singapore without selling a single fully electric car after less than a year because it was not able to receive “green tax benefits” from the Government.

    But the benefits that would flow from the creation of an all-electric fleet would be far greater than the tax revenues that the Government stands to lose in giving out tax benefits.

    In short, it is a “no-brainer” for Singapore to become the first country in the world with an all-electric vehicle fleet. No other country can do it as easily as Singapore.

    The benefits in all dimensions – environmental, health, social – will far outweigh any costs.
    Indeed, I cannot think of any real cost to making the change. So the big question is: Which citizen of Singapore will stand up and take the lead? If the movement succeeds, it will “electrify” both Singapore and the world. The hour has come. Let the right man or woman stand up and lead the movement.

    stopinion@sph.com.sg

    The writer is dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. He drives a hybrid vehicle.

  15. #7546
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default HDB to build 4 new neighbourhood centres

    Photo: David Ngiau


    Younger estates Punggol, Hougang and Sembawang to get 4 centres; HDB also announces changes to tenancy policies.


    21 min 40 sec ago

    SINGAPORE — The Housing and Development Board (HDB) announced today (Oct 14) that it will be building four new neighbourhood centres in Punggol, Hougang and Sembawang, and that it is making changes to its tenancy policies to rein in unhealthy speculation over HDB shops.

    The HDB said it will be building the new neighbourhood centres over the next five years in the younger estates of Punggol, Hougang and Sembawang, to increase the supply of HDB shops and ensure that residents will have “access to adequate facilities when they move into their new homes”.

    The new neighbourhood centres will also offer residents purpose-built public spaces for daily activities or regular community events, with a community plaza featuring in each new centre “to increase opportunities for community bonding”,
    the HDB said.

    Further details of the neighbourhood centres will be announced later, the statement added.

    REVISED ASSIGNMENT POLICY

    The HDB also announced changes to its tenancy policies to disallow the assignment of both commercial and industrial tenanted properties, in a move aimed at weeding out rising assignment fees and unhealthy speculation.

    Assignment will not be allowed for new tenancies with effect from this Wednesday, Oct 16, 2013. Tenants wishing to exit their businesses must now return the premises to HDB for re-tender.

    The HDB has about 8,000 commercial tenants and 10,700 industrial tenants
    . Currently, commercial and industrial tenants in HDB properties are allowed to assign their tenancies in order to facilitate the exit of marginal tenants and to minimise disruption of services.

    However, the HDB said that it has seen an upward trend in the average assignment fee and tendered rent in recent years, contributing to higher operating costs which may be passed on to residents and consumers and could also encourage unhealthy speculation.

    In its statement today, the housing board said that its commercial and industrial properties are meant to serve estate residents and consumers and are not meant to serve investments or speculative purposes.

    For existing tenancies, a three-year window period will be given to help existing tenants make business adjustments. Up to tomorrow (Oct 15), existing tenants can continue to assign their shops or industrial premises. However, their assignees can no longer further assign the premises as they are considered new tenants.

    The HDB said that the new measure is aligned with the market practice of other government agencies and private landlords.

    To help shop tenants who wish to scale down their business operations, HDB will continue to allow shop tenants to sublet up to 50 per cent of their shop space. However, only one sub-tenant is allowed.

    HDB tenants can call 1 800 866 3073 (Commercial properties) or 1 800 866 3077 (Industrial Properties) for further enquiries on the new measure.

  16. #7547
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore must guard against going the way of Venice



    In a 1988 speech, then-Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo compared the rise of Venice and Singapore. With two years to Singapore’s 50th birthday, the nation could probably learn more from Venice’s decline. Photo: Reuters


    By Tan Sheng Hui
    7 hours 21 min ago

    As our water taxi pulled away from the Rialto Bridge stop along Venice’s world-famous Grand Canal, our audio guide sounded a warning: “Venice is in decline. Once Europe’s largest financial centre, it dominated trade in the Mediterranean with a population of 175,000 at its peak. Now though, this historic city has under 60,000 residents with a quarter of these aged over 64. There could be no more full-time, native-born inhabitants by 2030.”

    “Venice”, he added, “might be just a floating museum by then. A shadow of its glorious past”.

    In a 1988 speech, Mr George Yeo who was then Singapore’s Foreign Affairs Minister compared the rise of Venice and Singapore. Two years to our nation’s 50th birthday, we could probably learn more from Venice’s decline.

    EXTERNAL COMPETITION

    Venice’s decline could be attributed to events after the fall of Constantinople to the Turks in 1453. Its trade routes were under threat with Columbus’ discovery of America in 1492 and Vasco de Gama routing trades via the Cape of Good Hope to Asia in 1498.

    These events significantly reduced Venice’s trade with the Levant or eastern Mediterranean and boosted the fortunes and relevance of emerging maritime powers such as Spain, Portugal and other nations west of Italy.

    Singapore faces similar competition. Last month, a Chinese container ship became the first commercial vessel to travel through the Arctic via the Northern Sea Route (NSR). It skipped Singapore and reached Rotterdam from Dalian on Sept 10. The journey took 34 days — 11 days shorter than if it had used the Suez Canal.

    If the NSR eventually becomes commercially viable, ships may bypass Singapore (a key shipping hub on the route via the Suez Canal). Singapore has responded by gaining a permanent observer seat on the Arctic Council and diversifying its port businesses.

    Meanwhile, the potential construction of Thailand’s own “Suez Canal” across the Isthmus of Kra could save ships up to four days and render Singapore and the Straits of Malacca potentially irrelevant.

    Venice also had to compete with neighbouring financial centres like Genoa and Florence. Although it had pioneered the issuance of government bonds and dominated finance and commerce in the 15th century, it was overshadowed by Genoa in the 16th century and, by the 17th century, Amsterdam, which had become the world’s leading financial centre having developed central banking, the stock market and financial derivatives.

    In Asia, competition between Hong Kong and Singapore as regional financial hubs has been well-documented, but both should keep a keen eye on Shanghai’s emergence. On Sept 29, China launched a free trade zone in Shanghai with the goal of making it a world financial centre by 2020, going beyond greater trade liberalisation to include investment, financial services and free currency convertibility.

    INTERNAL FISSURES

    Fissures within society probably also contributed to Venice’s eventual decline.In Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity and Poverty, economists Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson argued that while upward mobility drove Venice’s wealth and power through the commenda (a partnership where capital-poor sailors and rich Venetians shared profits from voyages), this eventually threatened the established elite.

    From 1315, the Venetian elite “pulled up the ladder” by instituting a political shift which led to Venice’s transformation into what the authors call an “extractive state”, where ruling elites extract as much wealth as they can from the rest of society. Such states, they argue, are more inclined to fail than “inclusive states”, which give everyone access to economic opportunity.

    Singapore must guard against such fissures and remain “inclusive”. We have done well to promote meritocracy in our society. However, as income inequality widens, society must play a bigger role alongside Government to prevent fissures from destroying our societal fabric.

    Last month, speakers at a National University of Singapore forum advocated for more targeted measures to address poverty here. In a survey of 383 Singaporeans led by Associate Professor Irene Ng, 60 per cent felt the amount spent on assistance to the poor was inadequate and 70 per cent did not see poverty as the individual’s fault.

    Assoc Prof Ng — who concedes her results are not fully representative — also found that less than half surveyed were willing to pay more taxes in return for greater government spending to help the poor. While there is no evidence to suggest that Singaporean elites are “pulling up the ladder”, the need to be “inclusive” is arguably greater than ever before, as the divide between rich and poor widens and our society ages.

    Singapore will do well to learn from Venice’s decline or risk becoming irrelevant, broken and a shadow of what our forefathers worked so hard to build.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Tan Sheng Hui was an International and Global Affairs Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University. He now works in financial services in Singapore.

  17. #7548
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default An expression of thanks and gratitude for the million

    Oh, how time flies!

    I started this "Singapore Also Can" thread on 5 May 2009, almost 4 1/2 years ago. It consists mainly of local newspaper reportings of this small nation's development, progress and achievements in many fields of human endeavour and also some of its failings.

    Thus far, I believe that Singapore has achieved more than before despite a much more challenging world which she depends on for her economic survival and well-being.

    The journey ahead will be tougher for Singapore but our resolute government has been prudent in investing much of its reserves in human resources development to equip our people with useful knowledge and skills to face an ever changing and demanding world.

    The stability and cohesiveness that come with one dominant political party government that Singapore has all these years have helped us to move faster ahead than many other countries. But this cannot be achieved without the trust and support of the people in making our dreams come true.

    So as Singapore moves ahead in the next decade, after we celebrate our 50 years' birthday in two years, I hope our people will continue to gel and contribute to making Singapore a better, stronger and more dynamic nation, doing and achieving as best as it can and playing a useful role in our united world of nations.

    Therefore, I wish to thank all BC members here and especially our benefactor, for their interest and support and for helping to breach the one-million-mark in readership - something that I did not foresee when I first started this thread.

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