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  1. #8399
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default 1.6 million S’poreans to receive GST Voucher letters this month

    Published: July 1, 4:03 AM

    SINGAPORE — About 1.6 million Singaporeans will receive letters this month informing them of their GST Voucher (GSTV), as well as other benefits announced during Budget 2014 earlier this year.


    The benefits include 2014 GSTV Special Payments, the 5-Year Medisave top-up, as well as the Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) rebates,
    the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said yesterday.

    Most Singaporeans will automatically receive their GSTV payouts and 5-Year Medisave top-ups, the ministry said. Those who have not signed up for past government payouts and/or are not Central Provident Fund (CPF) members will receive letters informing them of the actions they need to take by Dec 31 to receive their benefits.

    About 1.3 million Singaporeans will receive the GSTV – Cash on Aug 1. Of this group, about 660,000 Singaporeans aged 55 and above will also receive the GSTV – Cash: Seniors’ Bonus, which will see them receiving double the GSTV – Cash amount this year.

    About 380,000 Singaporeans aged 65 and above will also receive the GSTV – Medisave top-up on the same day.

    The regular GST Voucher – U-Save will be given out quarterly, the MOF said. In addition, a Special Payment will be given out this month and in January next year. These vouchers will offset utilities directly.

    About 800,000 households will be getting S$90 to S$195 each in rebates this month, depending on the type of flat they live in.

    As announced in Budget 2014, Singaporeans born on or before Dec 31, 1959, and who do not enjoy Pioneer Generation benefits, will receive Medisave top-ups of S$100 or S$200 annually over the next five years.

    Those who stay in homes of annual value above S$13,000 or who own more than one property will receive S$100 a year.

    “The vast majority — those living in HDB flats who do not own more than one property — will get the higher top-up of S$200 a year,” the MOF said.

    More information on the GST Voucher can be found at
    www.gstvoucher.gov.sg.

    For more details on GSTV – Cash, GSTV – Medisave and the 5-Year Medisave top-up, call 1800 2222 888 or email gstvoucher@cpf.gov.sg.

    For details on GSTV – U-Save, call 6671 7117 or email spservices@singaporepower.com.sg. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

  2. #8400
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Cultivating self-confidence in students

    Imaging studies and careful assessment are used to understand dyslexia. Unfortunately, studies in languages other than English are very limited. TODAY file photo


    By K Ranga Krishnan

    Published: July 1, 4:03 AM

    All of us in life face tasks that we are called upon to do, but how motivated we are to accomplish them varies. Figuring out what factors are linked to motivation and confidence is especially crucial in the arena of academics, because these are both important in promoting positive learning outcomes.

    When we are more confident about our ability to do something, we are more likely to readily engage in that activity and we will work longer and harder at it than when we doubt our capability. This sense of self-confidence in our ability to accomplish tasks is a very important driver in building motivation.

    So, where does self-confidence in our ability come from?

    The biggest single factor is, of course, how well we do. We consider how well we performed similar or related tasks in the past. Success raises self-confidence and failure lowers it, but once confidence is developed, failure has less impact.

    The second most important influence is observing people we know perform the same task. However, just seeing others undertaking the task and succeeding is less persuasive than our own performance.

    Persuasion or feedback from others also influence our self-confidence. When we want to try something new, we often find friends and family cheering us on: “You can do it.” Such encouragement is initially important in helping someone to try or to start a new task, but alone is not enough to build confidence unless the person actually performs the task well.

    BOOSTING STUDENTS’ CONFIDENCE

    For students, self-confidence is an important element in learning. At the start of a new course, students vary in their beliefs about their competence to obtain knowledge, develop or perform skills and master the subject.

    Initially, self-confidence varies as a function of aptitude (for example, skills, gifts and attitudes) and most importantly, prior experience. Once the course starts, other factors come into operation, including one’s real ability. From these elements, students develop indications as to how well they are learning, which influences their self-confidence for further learning.

    We can help students increase their self-confidence and, ultimately, their motivation for learning. Goal-setting is particularly important.

    Students have expectations about how they are likely to do in a course. If the expectation or goal is too high then when success is slow or not as anticipated, confidence and interest wane. Goal-setting is an important cognitive process affecting self-confidence and motivation.

    When students who set a goal for themselves or are given a goal by others such as a teacher, they experience an initial sense of confidence and achievement when they reach the goal. Success in attaining the initial goal reinforces their commitment to continue with the course.

    As students work on the course, they immerse themselves in activities that will lead to goal attainment: Read, practise and extend their knowledge. This increased effort and persistence leads to further progress and increase in confidence.

    Self-confidence is validated as students observe their progress, which signals to them that they are becoming skilful.

    Thus, setting the right goals is the key to enhancing confidence. There are three simple rules. The first is that goals should be achievable within a short time frame. Goals that are too far out in time do not easily build self-confidence since it will take a long time to achieve them and students are likely to lose interest before then.

    Second, goals should be specific — goals that are general do not help. Lofty, but vague injunctions such as “be like Michael Jordan” or the very common prodding parents will frequently offer to kids, “perform to the best of your ability” are not useful. These have no specifics and are therefore not measurable, which means that children do not know how or when to achieve them. Specific goals are measurable and it is evident when they are met.

    The third rule relates to the difficulty level of goals. At the start of a new activity, goals should be geared towards lower levels of difficulty. Pursuing easier goals increases confidence when starting out, but setting more difficult goals as skills and ability develop helps increase learning.

    Besides goals, immediate and direct feedback help build confidence and motivation. What is of interest is giving children specific performance objectives plus an indication of how well they are doing relative to peers, which indicate that the goal was attainable and led to higher achievements. This is better than just giving goals or providing feedback.

    The two together seemed to be more effective. A particularly illustrative study had a person model either confident or pessimistic behaviour while attempting to unsuccessfully solve a puzzle, before the children tried to solve the puzzle. When the person showed high confidence and persistence, children’s motivation increased whereas the opposite behaviour lowered motivation. Seeing how others handle tasks can also be drivers that build confidence and motivation.

    So, for children, appropriate goal-setting, immediate feedback and observations of others doing similar tasks combine to give them the necessary tools and confidence to accomplish ever more complex problem-solving. By incorporating appropriate goals and feedback into our educational systems, we can help drive a cycle of increasing self-confidence and therefore motivation.


    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Prof K Ranga Krishnan is dean of the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore. A clinician-scientist and psychiatrist, he chaired the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Sciences at Duke University Medical Centre from 1998 to 2009.

  3. #8401
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    Default Funpack for NDP 2014 unveiled



    This year's National Day Parade funpack comes in six colours and is designed for practical use. Photo: Naadiah Badib


    By Paul Lim
    Published: July 2, 11:38 AM


    SINGAPORE — For the first time, this year’s National Day Parade (NDP) funpack will come in six different colour combinations.

    Containing a slew of items, such as button badges, a clap banner and an LED bracelet that lights up according to the tempo of music, the funpack was designed by 15 students from the Institute of Technical Education College Central’s School of Design and Media under the guidance of experienced lecturers.

    The funpack has a colourful “NDP 14” print on the front created from the handprints of the NDP executive committee, and will include other items such as a Singapore scarf, light stick, foldable fan and tattoo sticker.

    It can also carry a weight of more than 6kg and is water resistant.

    “The bold design of the Funpack and the engaging items are testament to our people’s passion for Singapore. The end product is one that celebrates Singaporeans and our nation’s vibrancy,” said Military Expert 6 Tan Boon Hong, Chairman of the Logistics and Finance Committee.

  4. #8402
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    Default 10 things to do at new Singapore Sports Hub

    http://www.redsports.sg/2014/06/29/s...-things-to-do/

    By Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports


    Enjoying a game of basketball is one of the many things you can look forward to at the new Singapore Sports Hub. (Photo © Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports)

    With the official opening of the new Singapore Sports Hub, access to facilities will be made free for general public use until July 31. Here are the 10 things that you can check out at the new Sports Hub.

    1. Play indoor sports
    Look forward to playing popular indoor sports such as badminton, basketball, netball and volleyball at the new OCBC Arena.

    2. Play outdoor and water sports
    Two sand courts by the waterfront are available for beach volleyball, netball and frisbee games. Other sports such as futsal and rugby can be played on these courts as well. Basketball and tennis enthusiasts can play at the hard courts along the Stadium Promenade. Canoes and kayaks will be available for public rental at the soon-to-be-opened Water Sports Centre.

    3. Swim
    The OCBC Aquatic Centre, a world-class swimming facility featuring a 50-metre competition pool, a 50-metre training pool and a 5-metre deep diving pool, is open daily for public use.

    4. Walk, run, jog and cycle
    Visitors can take a leisurely walk or run along the Stadium Riverside Walk, which boasts a scenic view of the city skyline.

    5. Skate
    For skateboarding enthusiasts who are in the area, there is a skate park along the Stadium Promenade. The skate park is catered with features to suit both beginners and professionals.

    6. Rock climbing
    Rock-climbing enthusiasts can visit the indoor rock-climbing wall at the new Kallang Wave retail mall, which is now open to the public with free trials every weekend until the end of July.

    7. Shop and dine
    The Kallang Wave retail mall has shops featuring sports themes, including popular well-known fashion retailers and local and international eateries.

    8. Visit the library and museum
    The Sports Hub Library has an extensive collection of sports and recreation related resources. At the soon-to-be-opened Sports Museum, visitors can take a walk down memory lane and revel in the past achievements of our athletes.

    9. Visit the new National Stadium
    Bask in the grandeur of the new National Stadium with guided tours which will commence in July.

    10. Watch sports, events and concerts
    The different state-of-the-art venues will host international and world-class competitions, including the 28th SEA Games come June 2015. The National Stadium will also play host to ‘live’ entertainment shows and concerts by international artistes.

    Prior booking is required for some facilities and tours.

    For more information on the Singapore Sports Hub, visit: http://www.sportshub.com.sg

  5. #8403
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    Default Sports Hub opens doors to Singapore residents

    Story by Jiexin Neo/Red Sports. Photos by Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports

    A family poses for a photo at the new National Stadium during the Sports Hub Community Open House at the Singapore Sports Hub. (Photo 1 © Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports)

    Members of the public participated in a mass K-PopX Fitness session during the Sports Hub Community Open House at the Singapore Sports Hub. (Photo 3 © Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports)

    The “Nothing Beats Live” campaign activation team pose for a photo during the Sports Hub Community Open House at the Singapore Sports Hub. (Photo 7 © Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports)

    Colouring activities were available for children who sought an alternative to sport during the Sports Hub Community Open House at the Singapore Sports Hub. (Photo 10 © Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports)

    Dance and fitness instructors lead a mass bokwa session during the Sports Hub Community Open House at the Singapore Sports Hub. (Photo 2 © Lim Yong Teck/Red Sports)


    Singapore Sports Hub, Saturday, June 28, 2014 — Members of the Singapore public explored the sports, entertainment and lifestyle facilities during the Community Open House at the new Singapore Sports Hub.

    The Open House was held over two days, allowing the public a peek at the facilities and to gain first-hand experiences of a wide range of sports in the different parts of the Sports Hub, like the Stadium Roar and OCBC Arena.

    Families and friends came together to explore the newly-opened Sports Hub and immerse themselves in the happy atmosphere. Resident Mdm Kamisah dropped by with three of her kids on the first day of the Open House, and marvelled at the place. “We heard about it and decided to come down, since we have not been here before. We are thinking of coming back again tomorrow for the games as my kids are looking forward to play.”

    Among the many Singapore athletes, tracker Dipna Lim-Prasad and fencer Ann Lee were also present to show support for the event.

    “I was really quite excited to see so many people here, and I like how everyone’s participating. It’s like how Singaporeans were thought to be really shy to go on stage or to participate in stuffs, but it’s not what I see here. Everyone is really friendly and open,” said Dipna.

    On the new Sports Hub, Dipna added, “Compared to our old stadium, it looks very modern and it’s more extensive here. All the venues are here, so people can like support track in the morning and go off for swimming after that, or to grab some lunch. It’s more convenient and also facilitates the support for the local talents.”

    Ann Lee felt that it was really heart-warming to see such a big crowd. “Everyone’s dressed in red, in Singapore colors, and people are here to support sports, so I find it extremely encouraging and exciting. I think it’s really beautiful here and I like the idea of having all the sports together here in the same place, showing unity within Team Singapore itself. I think this place will not only attract our locals to participate in sports more and have a more active lifestyle, it can also be a tourist attraction.”

    On the second day of the event, the public were given the opportunities to engage in SEA Games sports like basketball, boxing and football alongside some of the Singapore athletes. There were also sports demonstrations around the area, like the Water Polo competition at the OCBC Aquatic Centre where the public were invited to watch from the spectators’ stands.

    Members of the Singapore Slingers, including Kyle Jeffers, Hassan Adams and Wong Wei Long, played a mini game of basketball as part of a “Nothing Beats Live” campaign activation during the Open House. The campaign is an initiative by Sport Singapore, and strives to establish ‘live’ sports as an alternative choice of leisure and entertainment for residents.

    Michael Johnson, assistant coach of the Slingers, was excited to have the cagers be a part of the activation. “We’re happy to be involved in this. It’s great to have some of our players here to add a sporty feel to the opening promotion.”

    “We’ll be playing in the new OCBC Arena this year, and I think this is a great start to promote the facilities. Hopefully, plenty of people turn up and see the beautiful facilities here and the sporting events that are coming up,” added Johnson.

    Wong Wei Long, a member of the Singapore Slingers, said, “I think it’s really cool and it’s my first time here. I appreciate the environment and it’s a fantastic experience. I think it’s awesome, especially the stadium. I’ve been around and I also went all the way to the OCBC Arena and saw those courts, they were really really beautiful.”

    The public can use the facilities for free until the end of July.

  6. #8404
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    Default Malaysian MPs express concern over increase in entry permit fees

    The entry permit fees for foreign-registered cars and goods vehicles entering Singapore will be raised from Aug 1. TODAY FILE PHOTO


    Published: July 3, 4:03 AM

    PETALING JAYA — Several Malaysian Members of Parliament (MPs) and the country’s lorry association have expressed concern over the impending increase in the entry permit fees for foreign-registered cars and goods vehicles entering Singapore, reported a news website.

    From Aug 1, the Vehicle Entry Permit (VEP) fee for foreign-registered cars entering Singapore will be raised from S$20 to S$35 a day, while the Goods Vehicle Permit (GVP) fee for foreign-registered goods vehicles will be raised from S$10 to S$40 per calendar month, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced in Singapore on Tuesday.

    The VEP fee increase would not affect buses or taxis, and the fee for foreign-registered motorcycles will remain unchanged at S$4 per day, reported Channel NewsAsia.

    The LTA said the fee increase is part of its periodic review to ensure that “the cost of owning and using a foreign-registered vehicle in Singapore is commensurate with that of owning and using a Singapore-registered vehicle”.

    The Malay Mail Online yesterday quoted Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong as saying that the increase would greatly impact Malaysians who travel to and work in Singapore.

    Mr Liew noted that about 300,000 vehicles crossed the Johor-Singapore Causeway daily, most of which were Malaysian-owned. “The increase in the charges will put additional stress on the livelihood of Malaysians in Singapore,” he told the website, calling on the Malaysian and Singaporean governments to come up with a solution.

    The Pan-Malaysia Lorry Owners’ Association told the Malay Mail that lorry operators would suffer the most as they have to bear the cost of the increase directly.

    “Even if Singapore wants to increase the fees, it does not need to increase it by 400 per cent,” said the association’s secretary Anthony Tan.

    He said local lorry operators were already suffering due to long queues at the customs checkpoint, where they have to wait for as long as four hours, burning costly fuel.

    “The additional costs will have a trickle-down effect,” Mr Tan said, pointing out that between 3,000 and 4,000 trucks and lorries entered Singapore daily.

    Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching said those who work across the Causeway and Malaysian children who are schooling in Singapore would be greatly affected by the increase.

    “The negative impact will be felt especially by Johor residents as they are more likely to drive to Singapore, compared with other Malaysians who would prefer to fly there,” she said.

    However, Tebrau MP Khoo Soo Seang believed it would not have a major impact on Malaysians because those who needed to travel to Singapore, such as businessmen, would have to accept the charges, while holidaymakers could choose to avoid the Republic and stay in Malaysia.

    “The Singapore Government might have increased the fees to reduce congestion and there’s nothing we can do as it is their policy,” Mr Khoo said.

    Mr Tony Yee, who is in the interior design business in Johor, feels the fee hike can add up to quite a big sum for him. Apart from his own car, he uses two other cars to ferry his workers into Singapore whenever there is a job to do.

    With a S$15 increase in the VEP per car, this amounts to S$45 more for his three cars, which is a fair bit of money every month, Mr Yee told TODAY.

    MALAY MAIL ONLINE, WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAN GUEN CHIN

  7. #8405
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    Default MediShield Life Review: Tables of premiums and subsidies

    Published on Jun 27, 2014 1:45 PM




    The increase in premiums which people will have to pay for the better benefits under MediShield Life will not be more than $355 a year, with most of it absorbed by various government subsidies and top-ups. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

    The increase in premiums which people will have to pay for the better benefits under MediShield Life will not be more than $355 a year, with most of it absorbed by various government subsidies and top-ups.

    This is according to the report of the MediShield Life Review Committee which was released on Friday. The committee also added that all premiums are expected to remain within Medisave contributions and inflows and there will be no additional cash outlay required.

    Here are the full tables of premiums and subsidies.











    Click here to use the MediShield Life Premium calculator to estimate your premium amount.


    - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/the-big-....mbtmPHH7.dpuf

  8. #8406
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    Default Be the first to visit the Singapore Garden Festival

    Published on Jul 4, 2014 1:44 PM




    The Modernist Garden is a creation from one of the winners of the Singapore Gardens Festival 2012. This year, visitors can expect more exquisite displays and structures at the Singapore Garden Festival, which will be held at Gardens by the Bay from Aug 16 to Aug 24. -- PHOTO: National Parks Board



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...4/sgfest3e.jpg

    Floral Kaleidoscope is a creation from one of the winners of the Singapore Gardens Festival 2012. This year, visitors can expect more exquisite displays and structures at the Singapore Garden Festival, which will be held at Gardens by the Bay from Aug 16 to Aug 24. -- PHOTO: National Parks Board



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...4/sgfest2e.jpg

    Garden of Tales is a creation from one of the winners of the Singapore Gardens Festival 2012. This year, visitors can expect more exquisite displays and structures at the Singapore Garden Festival, which will be held at Gardens by the Bay from Aug 16 to Aug 24. -- PHOTO: National Parks Board



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...4/sgfest1e.jpg
    I Can Fly is a creation from one of the winners of the Singapore Gardens Festival 2012. This year, visitors can expect more exquisite displays and structures at the Singapore Garden Festival, which will be held at Gardens by the Bay from Aug 16 to Aug 24. -- PHOTO: National Parks Board


    This year's Singapore Garden Festival promises to be an event of many firsts.

    For the first time since the biennial event started in 2006, it will be held both indoors and outdoors, with Gardens by the Bay as the backdrop.

    The tropical garden and flower show will run from Aug 16 to 24. Highlights include plant structures towering nine metres high and over 2,000 varieties of orchids in the indoor Flower Dome. Miniature gardens with tiny plants and furniture will also debut at this year's garden show.

    The Straits Times is the official media partner of this year's festival, which is jointly organised by NParks and the Gardens by the Bay.

    For more information on the Singapore Garden Festival, go to

    www.singaporegardenfestival.com or visit their Facebook page.

    Win tickets to special preview

    Here's your chance to be one of the first 150 readers to win tickets to the preview of the Singapore Garden Festival on Aug 15, a day before it opens to the public.

    As part of The Straits Times Appreciates Readers' (Star) programme, the winners will be invited to attend the awards ceremony honouring international designers and top gardeners on the same day.

    To take part, answer this question:

    Which is not a competitive category in this year’s Singapore Garden Festival?

    A. Fantasy Gardens
    B. Balcony Gardens
    C. Miniature Gardens

    SMS your answer to 14607-7877 in this format:

    STARSGF<space>answer<space>NRIC<space>e-mail<space>name
    Example: STARSGF A S1234567D marytan@gmail.com mary tan

    Deadline: July 11, 11.59pm

    Terms and conditions

    All correct entries will be eligible for a lucky draw on July 12 at SPH News Centre.
    Winners will be notified by email on the ticket collection details.

    SMS entries sent via automated applications on or from computers, mobile apps or any kind of device are ineligible for the contest.

    Each SMS costs $0.21 (with GST).

    Those below the age of 18 must seek parental consent.

    By participating in the lucky draw, each participant agrees that:

    1. Any and all personal data submitted may be collected, used and/or disclosed to SPH and its related corporations (collectively “SPH Group”) for various purposes, including to communicate with the participant for purposes related to the lucky draw, to provide goods and services to the participant upon request, and such other purposes SPH Group may reasonably deem appropriate, or in relation to which the participant has otherwise provided SPH Group with consent;

    2. SPH Group may collect, use, disclose and share amongst themselves and their respective service providers, the participant’s personal data, including the photographs or audio-video or other recordings of these participants (“Material”) for publicity and/or use in advertisements across all media, including, without limitation, in SPH Group’s publications, presentations, promotional materials on their websites, in its original or edited format, and whether to promote the Lucky Draw or otherwise without further notification, remuneration or compensation.

    In the event the winner is unable to attend the event, the organisers reserve the right to select another winner.

    We reserve the right to substitute, withdraw, add to or alter any of the prizes offered without notice to the participants and to amend the terms & conditions of the contest without prior notice


    - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/sin....dtYIUuAQ.dpuf

  9. #8407
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    Default Redhill site to be place for disabled people to connect

    One-stop help centre, art gallery among facilities at Redhill site


    Published on Jul 4, 2014 7:44 AM



    Madam Marsita Rubianti (left) helping her son Mohammad Farhan (right) to place a pebble with the words "Thank you so much" in the heart shape formed by other messages for SG Enable, which yesterday unveiled plans for a new centre in Redhill offering community and recreational space and services for people with disabilities. -- PHOTOS: ONG WEE JIN, SG ENABLE




    By Priscilla Goy

    DISABLED people can look forward to more opportunities for socialising among themselves and with the wider community.

    A new site in Redhill, to be ready in the second half of next year, will have an art gallery featuring works by the disabled, and could offer activities such as flea markets and urban farming.

    It will be a one-stop centre where the disabled and their caregivers can get information, referral and employment services as well as apply for grants.

    Yesterday, plans for the 30,000 sq m site, as big as four football fields, were unveiled by government-established agency SG Enable, which offers services for people with disabilities


    - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/sin....Rct7tLQH.dpuf

  10. #8408
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    Default Nathan pays tribute to friends and family

    Former president recalls ringside seat to nation's growth and people who made an impact on his life



    Published on Jul 4, 2014 7:37 AM


    Mr S R Nathan waving as (from left) President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Mrs Nathan and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong joined the more than 700 people at the celebration last night at Shangri-La Hotel, in applauding the former president. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA


    By Rachel Au-Yong

    SURROUNDED by the warmth and well-wishes of family and friends, former president S R Nathan celebrated his 90th birthday last night with a heartwarming recollection of the many friendships in his long and fulfilling life.

    The people who made a difference to his life included former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew as well as the late deputy prime minister Goh Keng Swee, senior minister S. Rajaratnam and former president Devan Nair, he said.

    "I count among my greatest privileges the opportunity I had to work among our founding leaders at various stages of our young nation's history," he told more than 700 people who attended the celebration at Shangri-La Hotel.

    "I had a ring-side seat," he said, aware of "the courage, even the daring, with which our leaders worked to build the foundations of today's Singapore".

    But amid his numerous encounters and experiences, "there is one consistent thread: the importance of friendship". Said Singapore's longest-serving president: "I felt the absence of friends during my school life and as a runaway... During the war, I had many friends but some turned out to be 'fair-weather' ones."

    In university in the 1950s, he formed many friendships, including two special buddies to whom "I regret being unable to express my gratitude directly".

    They were the late Tay Seow Huah and Chia Cheong Fook, two top civil servants who "stood by me at moments of uncertainty".

    In thanking his family, especially his late father-in-law and mother, he paid special tribute to his wife of almost 60 years, Urmila, now 85. "When we met, I had virtually no prospects. She had many suitors, but she stuck to me."

    Mrs Nathan is a source of great strength, "always supporting me in her quiet way", he said. "Whatever life threw at us, we weathered together."

    The celebration last night was a lively affair. People from all walks of life, including students, shared the joyous occasion with Singapore's top leaders. They included President Tony Tan Keng Yam, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and Deputy Prime Ministers Teo Chee Hean and Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

    Among the many who wished Mr Nathan "happy birthday" was former US president Bill Clinton, whose greeting was read out by corporate leader Jennie Chua, who helped organise the party.

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, in his speech, recounted Mr Nathan's "long and full" life that, in many ways, reflects the many key events in Singapore's modern history.
    In his roles in government, PM Lee said, his actions showed the "quintessential Mr Nathan: Always placing country before self".

    As president, Mr Nathan helped avert what could have been the country's worst economic recession in 2008. The Government had sought his permission to draw on the reserves for the $20 billion Resilience Package.

    Said Mr Lee: "He understood the gravity of the situation, studied the issue carefully and approved the request decisively."

    But his most important role was as a tree planter, he added.

    "Wherever he went, he nurtured young seedlings into mature trees," he said, citing how Mr Nathan built up young, nascent organisations such as the NTUC and the Foreign Affairs Ministry into mature institutions.

    "He also mentored promising young officers to help them to fulfil their potential, and I count myself a beneficiary," he added, visibly moved.

    But Mr Nathan also literally planted trees, Mr Lee said, showing a photograph of a large Japanese maple in Washington, DC, that Mr Nathan planted when he was ambassador to the US.

    Mr Lee had taken the photograph last week when he was in the US on a work visit.
    "I'm sure Mr Nathan will be happy to see that the tree is lush and thriving, as are the many other trees that Mr Nathan planted in the organisations he led and the people he touched," he said.

    As the party came to a close, Mr Nathan blew out the candle on the cake. Ambassador to Turkey S. Chandra Das said in a video tribute: "I'd like to assure Mr Nathan that we will be here to organise his 95th birthday."


    - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/sin....J6SZHgbf.dpuf

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    Default Five milestones in the development of Singapore's satellite technology

    Published on Jul 3, 2014 3:23 PM




    Director of NTU Satellite Research Centre Assoc Prof Low Kay Soon (centre, standing) with some of his students who built the VELOX-I. Locally-built satellites VELOX-I and VELOX-PIII were launched into space by a rocket from India at 12.21pm Singapore time on Monday. We take a look at five other milestones in Singapore's space industry. -- PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN


    By Ng Huiwen

    SINGAPORE - It's another small step for Singapore, and one giant leap for the country's efforts in space research technology.

    Locally-built satellites VELOX-I and VELOX-PIII were launched into space by a rocket from India at 12.21pm Singapore time on Monday.

    VELOX-I is a 7-kg nano-satellite and VELOX-PIII will piggyback on VELOX-I as one unit, before being separated two to three months later as planned.

    The satellites were designed and built by students and researchers from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Satellite Research Centre.


    - See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/news/sin....Bu9hYJXA.dpuf

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    Default Film-maker, Paralympian among six youths honoured for excellence



    (From left) Dr Iain Tan, Dr Kumaran Rasappan, Mr Ismail Abdul Hakim and Mr Mohammad Hairil Johari from 4pm, Ms Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha, Ms Jane Lee, Mr Edward Chia and University-YMCA’s Mr Terence Khoo Kang Ming and Mr Zhao Wen Wei were some recipients of the award. Photo: National Youth Council


    By ALICE CHIA
    Published: July 7, 4:03 AM


    SINGAPORE — Their achievements span the fields of film, enterprise, sports, charity and medical science, where they made their mark and did Singapore proud.

    For this, they received the Singapore Youth Award (SYA) from Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday at a ceremony at the Istana.

    The six individuals to be recognised were film-maker Anthony Chen, Jane Lee, the first female mountaineer from Singapore to conquer the Seven Summits, Timbre Group co-founder Edward Chia, Paralympic Games gold medallist Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha, Dr Kumaran Rasappan, who scaled Mount Everest for a charitable cause, and respected clinician scientist Iain Tan.

    The SYA is the highest accolade for youth, conferred on those who have excelled in their fields of pursuit and made significant contributions to society.

    For Dr Kumaran, 29, “No mountain too high”, the name of a fund-raising project he started, is also his personal mantra.

    Having encountered many patients who could not afford their healthcare bills in the course of his work, he decided to take no-pay leave for a year in 2011 and scaled seven mountains, including the world’s tallest peak, Mount Everest, to raise funds.

    He managed to raise more than S$40,000 for needy patients. Since then, he has delivered numerous inspirational talks on his endeavours and volunteers regularly at a programme to help inmates.

    “With my experiences and sharing my stories on Everest, I can maybe get youths to see beyond the classroom and organisations to look at the bigger picture, not just Everest as a metaphorical mountain that they’ve got to climb but other challenges that they might face,” said Dr Kumaran.

    Ms Nurulasyiqah said winning the award was more than just an acknowledgement of her achievements. “I feel that it’s an affirmation for the people who have supported and helped me to get to where I am today,” said the 30-year-old, who won two gold medals in boccia at this year’s ASEAN Para Games.

    Ms Nurulasyiqah, who also volunteers with the Muscular Dystrophy Association (Singapore), first became interested in the ball game of boccia in 2003 as a freshman in university. She now holds a Sports Excellence scholarship that enables her to train full-time.

    “I need a lot of assistance, especially with daily activities. However, through boccia, I am able to execute shots and make my own decisions and achieve whatever I set out to do, so that’s the kind of mental empowerment that I want fellow youths and others to be able to experience as well,” she said.

    In the Team Award, University-YMCA Singapore was recognised for its exceptional community work efforts and for cultivating in youths a spirit of leadership and volunteerism.

    For its community empowerment initiatives, the Malay Youth Literary Association (4PM) was awarded the Medal of Commendation.

  13. #8411
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    Default 5 interesting facts about the Singapore River clean-up

    Published on Jul 5, 2014 6:00 AM





    The Singapore River and the Central Business District (CBD) skyline in 2013. -- PHOTO: ST FILE


    By Felicia Choo

    The heavily polluted Ganges River made headlines recently, but this time for the right reasons. India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised a clean-up of the river - and the rest of the country - by the 150th anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi's birth in 2019.

    Nearly four decades ago, our very own Singapore River was in need of an extreme makeover. Back in the 1970s, squatters, hawkers and manufacturing industries crowded the banks of the river, leading to severe pollution. The government eventually mounted a large-scale clean-up, with enhancements over the years, forming the vibrant waterway that we know today.

    We pick out five facts you should know about the Singapore River clean-up and improvements made to it over the years.


    An aerial view showing a concentration of barges and sampans along the Singapore River on Oct 30, 1961. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

    1. It was then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who called for the clean up of Singapore's rivers in 1977

    Mr Lee said in February that year: “It should be a way of life to keep the water clean. To keep every stream, culvert and rivulet, free from pollution."

    "The Ministry of Environment should make it a target: In 10 years let us have fishing in the Singapore River and Kallang River. It can be done," he added.

    The water-witch is used to scoop up all the flotsam brought down by the current and empties its "bucket" into large rubbish bins on a barge. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

    2. The Singapore River clean-up took 10 years and cost the government $170 million

    The clean-up involved a massive relocation of about 4,000 squatters, along with hawkers and vegetable sellers, whose daily waste flowed into the river. Public housing was found for the squatters, while street hawkers were persuaded to move to hawker centres.

    Hundreds of bumboats ferrying goods from warehouses along the river to cargo ships out at sea were moved to a new lighter anchorage at Pasir Panjang by the Port of Singapore Authority.

    Foul-smelling mud also had to be dredged from the banks and the bottom of the river, and debris and other rubbish cleared.

    Former Public Utilities Board (PUB) chairman Lee Ek Tieng, 81. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
    3. The clean-up was spearheaded by the former chairman of the Public Utilities Board and then Environment Ministry Permanent Secretary Lee Ek Tieng

    The 81-year-old civil engineer and his team were handed the task of ensuring fishing and other recreational activities would be possible along the Singapore River and Kallang Basin in 10 years’ time. The Kallang Basin was being polluted by nearby pig and duck farms and cottage industries. Mr Lee's successful completion of the project within the deadline earned him a gold medal in 1987, and an acknowledgement from Lee Kuan Yew himself in his personal memoir.

    Flotsam, jetsam and debris found in the Singapore River. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

    4. The government started the Clean Rivers Education Programme in 1987
    The programme's goal was to raise awareness of the negative effects of dumping waste into Singapore's waterways, and to encourage people to keep the waterways clean. The programme is still running today and is undertaken by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC).

    The Marina Barrage as seen from the Singapore Flyer. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

    5. The Marina Barrage, a new addition to the Singapore River, was completed in 2008

    The Barrage is a dam across the Marina Channel, used to control floods and create the reservoir. It has nine gates and seven pumps which pump sea water out to the sea, while keeping rainwater in. Costing $226 million, the dam was also a visionary idea for the river from Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

  14. #8412
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Little India Riot: Government accepts all 8 recommendations from the COI

    Published on Jul 7, 2014 3:14 PM




    A police team patrolling Kerbau Road in Little India on Saturday, 14 December 2013, the first day of alcohol ban in Little India and also the first weekend after the riot. The eight recommendations set out by the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the Little India riot in its report last week have been accepted by the Government. -- PHOTO: ST FILE


    By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

    SINGAPORE - The eight recommendations set out by the Committee of Inquiry (COI) into the Little India riot in its report last week have been accepted by the Government.

    Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, who is also the Minister for Home Affairs, announced this in a ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday, as he laid out the steps the Government would take to meet these recommendations.

    "A riot on the streets of Singapore is unacceptable. We have to take preventive action to minimise the likelihood of such a riot occurring, and improve our capability to deal effectively with a riot if one does occur," he said. "Anyone who takes part in a riot must know that he will be dealt with firmly in accordance with our laws."

    The COI's eight recommendations focused on ways to strengthen the Home Team and to better manage congregation areas. The Ministry of Home Affairs will look after seven of them, while the Ministry of Manpower will take charge of one - making more services and amenities available to foreign workers outside of congregation areas, and working with community stakeholders to thin the crowds at these areas out.



    Measures to enhance security in Little India. -- SOURCE: MINISTRY OF HOME AFFAIRS

    These recommendations, said Mr Teo, address weaknesses and areas the Government has to work on, validates several ongoing efforts, and provides an impetus to ramp up and speed up efforts as well.

    And the Government has not waited for the COI's report to act, said Mr Teo. It has already taken taken steps to improve certain areas since the riot on 8 Dec - some in the days immediately following the incident, such as a ban on the public consumption of alcohol in Little India on weekends and public holidays.

    The COI's first recommendation was to improve command, control and communications, or C3
    , capabilities to help ground officers get a better grasp of the situation on the ground, especially when faced with rapidly-changing scenarios.

    Police, said Mr Teo, have been working on a major upgrade of its C3 systems for the past few years, and two key aspects are almost ready: a new Combined Operations Room and C3 system due to make their debut at the end of the year. Body and vehicle-mounted cameras are also in the trial stages.

    Other recommendations from the COI are to train and equip frontline officers to deal with public order incidents, and to increase the Singapore Police Force's (SPF) manpower resources - including the its Special Operations Command numbers - so they can better manage congregation areas like Little India and handle large-scale public order incidents.

    The COI also suggested that the SPF and the SCDF continue to work together so they can respond in a concerted and co-ordinated manner to public order situations, and that the SPF look at cutting red tape so essential resources can be activated more quickly.

    Police have already been on track to step up surveillance in Little India, in line with another of the COI's recommendation to install more lights and cameras in areas where large crowds of foreign workers gather.

    Before the riot, there were 113 police cameras in public areas and HDB blocks in Little India. Since then, the number of police cameras has more than doubled to 250, with all 41 HDB blocks equipped with police cameras.

    Police, said Mr Teo, will be installing another 88 cameras in public areas between now and next December(2015) - trebling the overall number of cameras "beyond what was initially planned within this time frame".

    The COI's final recommendation was to more strictly enforce against public drunkenness,
    and to set in place alcohol restrictions in hotspots where large crowds typical gather for drinks - "where a triggering incident could spark a breakdown of public order".

    The Government will introduce the necessary legislation within the next six months, said Mr Teo, before the Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Act expires next March.

    "While the COI found that the Home Team had generally performed well in quelling the riot, it has also identified areas for improvement, and put forth recommendations which the Government accepts," said Mr Teo. "We will implement all the recommendations. Since the riot, we have already started to strengthen our capabilities, and enhance our operational effectiveness."

  15. #8413
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Little India rioter jailed two and a half years

    Published on Jul 7, 2014 12:57 PM




    SARANGAN KUMARAN, who was convicted on July 7, 2014, for a duration of 30 months’ imprisonment and 3 strokes of the cane. A construction worker was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and three strokes of the cane on Monday for rioting and setting fire to property during the Little India riot. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE


    By Elena Chong

    SINGAPORE - A construction worker was sentenced to two and a half years in prison and three strokes of the cane on Monday for rioting and setting fire to property during the Little India riot.

    The court heard how Sarangan Kumaran, 36, was in the Race Course Road area on Dec 8 last year when he saw a group of workers surrounding and hitting the bus that had knocked down an Indian man, sparking the unrest.

    The Indian national joined the unlawful assembly to scold police officers and throw projectiles including rocks, large concrete slabs and beer bottles at them and nearby police cars.

    Sarangan threw various burning items onto the bus. He was also photographed hurling a large rock at an overturned police car and he threw a large green plastic rubbish bin at the windscreen of a police vehicle, causing it to crack.

  16. #8414
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default NEA to relocate more than 600 coral colonies to Sisters' Island to make way for landf

    Published on Jul 7, 2014 7:49 PM





    The surrounding coral colonies from a lagoon at Pulau Semakau will be relocated to Sisters' Island to make room for more waste, said the National Environment Agency (NEA). -- PHOTO: ST FILE


    By Lee Jian Xuan

    SINGAPORE - The National Environment Agency (NEA) will relocate more than 600 coral colonies from a lagoon in Pulau Semakau to Sisters' Island to make room for more waste.

    The move is part of development works at Semakau Landfill to meet waste disposal needs in Singapore up to 2035 and beyond, said the NEA in a statement on Monday. It has called a tender for the relocation, which is expected to take four months.

    The NEA had earlier commissioned an independent coral reef survey, which recommended that 27 types of corals be transplanted.

    Successful bidders will need to conduct surveys to ensure that transplanted corals survive. They must also monitor water quality and sediment conditions at these sites. Interested applicants can submit their proposal on government tendering website Gebiz by July 24.

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    Default Little India Riot: MOM survey shows foreign worker satisfaction levels remain high

    Published on Jul 7, 2014 3:52 PM





    Foreign workers relaxing over liquor at a beer garden in Little India on 22 December 2013. The root cause of the Dec 8 riot in Little India was not foreign workers' systemic dissatisfaction with employment and living conditions here - and preliminary findings of a new survey of such workers here this year is evidence of this. -- ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG



    By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh

    SINGAPORE - The root cause of the Dec 8 riot in Little India was not foreign workers' systemic dissatisfaction with employment and living conditions here - and preliminary findings of a new survey of such workers here this year is evidence of this.

    Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said this in Parliament on Monday in response to findings released last week by the Committee of Inquiry into the Little India Riot. "The COI has rightly pointed out that the riot was a unique event, perpetuated by individuals who were not representative of the majority of responsible and law-abiding foreign workers.

    The COI's findings have made clear that negative generalisations about the foreign workforce have no place in our society," he said.

    This, he added, was supported by the preliminary results of a survey commissioned by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) and the Migrant Workers Centre after the riot broke out.

    The survey of 4,000 workers started this March and is slated to wrap up in July or August. But interim findings based on surveys with nearly 930 Work Permit holders, mainly Bangladesh, China and India nationals working in the construction, marine or process sector, show that their overall satisfaction levels remain high, comparable to the first such survey conducted in 2011.

    More than 90 per cent of foreign workers here said they were satisfied, or very satisfied, to work in Singapore, the new survey found. Just 2.3 per cent said they were dissatisfied or very disatisfied, and about 92 per cent of the respondents plan to continue working here even after their current employment stint.

    Some 80 per cent of those surveyed also said they would recommend Singapore to their friends and relatives as a place to work, citing reasons like good pay - the top pick - and working and living conditions. And on top of these survey findings, said Mr Tan, over 70 per cent of foreign workers renew their contracts after the first two years.

    "Taken together, these pieces of evidence suggest that the majority of foreigners continue to consider Singapore an attractive place to work," said Mr Tan.

    "Ultimately, what the workers themselves say and do matters. The COI report puts to rest the more speculative causes for the riot that were offered by some critics, and that were echoed blindly by some sections of the foreign media."

    But while the COI report acknowledged that there was no systemic mistreatment of foreign workers here, it pointed out that improvements can still be made.

    MOM will look at ways to further improve the well-being of workers here by setting aside more recreational spaces and building more dormitories, as well as by better educating foreign workers on their rights here and the local customs, among others.

    And even as Singapore works to manage foreign workers here more effectively, said Mr Tan, it must recognise that the growth in foreign worker numbers cannot go unchecked.

    In line with recommendations made by the Economic Strategies Committee in 2010, said Mr Tan, the Government has begun to moderate the growth of foreign workers to more sustainable levels.

    Foreign worker growth, excluding construction and domestic workers, has been on the decline in recent years: dropping from 9.4 per cent in 2011 to just 2.3 per cent in 2013, he said.

    "I believe that Singaporeans genuinely appreciate the contributions of these workers and wish to co-exist harmoniously with them," said Mr Tan. "On our part, the Government will continue to manage such shared spaces, as well as manage the overall numbers to minimise impact on local communities."
    Last edited by Loh; 07-08-2014 at 12:07 AM.

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