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  1. #8416
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default CPF monies are safe: DPM Tharman

    [B][SIZE=1]POSTED: 08 Jul 2014 14:55Risk on GIC investments are wholly borne by the Government, said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Parliament.



    File photo of DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

    SINGAPORE: Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (July 8), reiterated that CPF members’ investments are guaranteed, regardless of the returns on investments made by GIC, the Government's investment arm.

    He also clarified that Temasek Holdings does not manage any CPF monies.

    "CPF members bear no investment risk at all in their CPF balances. Their monies are safe, and the returns they have been promised are guaranteed," he said in response to questions from Members of Parliament. "Neither does the CPF Board bear any risk, regardless of whether GIC’s investments earn or lose money in any particular year. The risk is wholly borne by the Government, on its own balance sheet."

    HOW CPF MONIES ARE INVESTED

    Mr Tharman said that the CPF Board invests CPF members’ monies in Special Singapore Government Securities (SSGS), issued specially by the Government to the Board. The payout from the SSGS is pegged to the interest rates that the the Board is committed to pay its members.

    "The Government guarantees these SSGS bonds, so that the CPF Board faces no risk of being unable to meet its obligations to its members. This is a solid guarantee, from a triple-A credit-rated government. The triple-A credit rating reflects Singapore’s very strong financial position, with the Government’s assets comfortably exceeding its liabilities," said Mr Tharman, who is also Minister of Finance.

    SSGS proceeds are then pooled them with the rest of the Government’s funds, such as proceeds from the tradable Singapore Government Securities (SGS), any government surpluses as well as the proceeds from land sales. These comingled funds are first deposited with Monetary Authority of Singapore as Government deposits, which the MAS then converts into foreign assets through the foreign exchange market.

    A major portion of these assets - those of a longer term nature - are transferred over to be managed by GIC.

    GIC 'A FUND MANAGER'

    "The GIC does not in fact manage SSGS monies on their own, separate from the Government’s other assets," Mr Tharman said. "GIC is fund manager for the Government, not owner of the assets and liabilities. It seeks to achieve the Government’s mandate of achieving good long-term returns, without regard to the sources of the funds that the Government places with it – for example, whether they are proceeds from SGS, SSGS or government surpluses."

    Over the past 20 years, there were eight years in which GIC's investment returns were below what the Government pays on SSGS. However, the Government has a "substantial buffer of net assets" which ensures it can meet its obligations, said Mr Tharman. As a result, "no extraordinary measures" have been necessary to enable the Government to meet its SSGS obligations in the years when GIC’s returns fall short.

    "The Government has been absorbing that volatility, and protecting CPF members," he added. "Our CPF system is hence sustainable, so long as the Government continues to run prudent budgets, and invest the reserves wisely."

    - CNA/es
    Last edited by Loh; 07-08-2014 at 03:36 AM.

  2. #8417
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default CPF remains 'key pillar' of Singapore's social security system: Tan Chuan-Jin

    • POSTED: 08 Jul 2014 13:55
    • UPDATED: 08 Jul 2014 15:11


    Manpower Minister speaks in Parliament to clarify "misconceptions and myths" surrounding the CPF Minimum Sum scheme.

    The CPF building at Robinson Road. (Photo: TODAY)

    SINGAPORE: Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (July 8), sought to "dispel misconceptions and myths" surrounding the Central Provident Fund (CPF) Minimum Sum scheme.

    Responding to a series of questions raised by Members of Parliament, Mr Tan said: "For us in Singapore, assurance in old age revolves around a few key considerations: Healthcare, housing and retirement needs. The CPF is our key pillar in the social security system. It is a mandatory savings account that helps us put aside money today to cover our needs in old age.

    "While some argue that as individuals we should be left to sort our own lives out, in reality it often doesn't work out that way. Almost all developed countries have some form of pension or retirement system because most people generally don't save regularly nor do they effectively plan for their own retirement."


    THE NEED FOR THE MINIMUM SUM SCHEME

    The calculation of the Minimum Sum has to change over time because life expectancy as well as living costs are increasing, compared to when the CPF system was first introduced almost 60 years ago.

    "I am aware that some members may find the CPF system difficult to understand because policy changes over the years means that different rules may apply for different cohorts. But it would not be responsible of this Government to leave unchanged the CPF rules for those who are younger, when the situation around us has changed dramatically," he said.

    "Allowing a full withdrawal from CPF at age 55 will put us at real risk of outliving our savings in old age. To blindly keep to the earlier model of full withdrawal at age 55 would be wrong and irresponsible," he said.

    "The idea is to stream out our CPF savings every month to meet living expenses instead of having them all withdrawn in a lump sum. Neither do we need to set aside all our CPF savings to be streamed out in this way. Only a basic amount necessary for retirement expenses is required, and you can withdraw your CPF savings above that in a lump sum. This basic or minimum amount is known as the Minimum Sum."

    HOW IS THE QUANTUM SET?

    Mr Tan said the Minimum Sum has been increased over the past decade as part of a planned, gradual adjustment that started in 2004. The crux: How much will a middle-income household need in retirement?

    The current S$155,000 is calculated as the amount needed to get a payout of S$1,200 a month in 10 years' time, when the current cohort reaches the age of 65, the Manpower Minister said.

    He clarified that those who do not have enough in their CPF account to meet the Minimum Sum do not have to top up the shortfall in cash, or sell their property to make up the shortfall.

    USING PROPERTY TO OFFSET THE SUM

    Also, a married couple that owns a property can use that property to offset half the Minimum Sum, such that each individual need only set aside S$77,500 in their CPF account. Their combined payout will be S$1,200 a month, "just adequate for basic living expenses", Mr Tan said.

    He also clarified that only half of the Minimum Sum needs to be set aside in cash. Beyond that amount, the CPF savings can be used to finance housing purchases or be withdrawn through a property pledge. The remaining S$77,500 will translate to a CPF LIFE payout of about S$600 a month in retirement, a figure which Mr Tan said "is not excessive".

    Responding to a query by MP Gan Thiam Poh, Mr Tan said that half of active CPF members met the Minimum Sum in 2013, including 15 per cent who used their properties to support up to half the Minimum Sum. About one-fifth of the entire cohort who turned 55 in 2013 had balances above the Minimum Sum that were not withdrawn, possibly to enjoy the "risk-free returns on their CPF savings", Mr Tan suggested.

    MEETING THE MINIMUM SUM

    In response to MP queries on whether Singaporeans had enough in their CPF accounts to retire on, Mr Tan said the Government was "even more optimistic" about the ability of younger workers to meet the minimum sum, due to growing wages, increasing labour force participation rates and enhancements made to the CPF system, such as interest rate tweaks, Workfare top-ups and higher contribution rates for older workers.

    "Over half of all members earn 3.5 per cent on all their Ordinary Account savings. This is superior to what is earned on bank deposits and comparable financial instruments," Mr Tan said.

    The majority of older citizens who are concerned about insufficient CPF balances own their homes, with fully paid up housing loans, he said. Only 1 in 10 of those aged between 55 and 65 are still using the CPF to pay monthly instaments on their homes, he said. With property values appreciating, the value of the home asset can potentially be used to supplement such seniors' retirement income, through schemes such as the Lease Buyback Scheme and Silver Housing Bonus.

    Those above 55 who are not working may require assistance, either in the form of family support or social safety nets, Mr Tan said. Of Singaporeans who turned 55 last year, 23 per cent did not have an income, he said in response to a query from MP Lina Chiam.


    - CNA/es

  3. #8418
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default CPF issue: GIC manages CPF monies along with other govt funds: DPM Tharman

    Published on Jul 8, 2014 4:40 PM





    Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies are not managed as a separate entity by the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), they are pooled and invested with the rest of the Government's funds, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE


    By Tham Yuen-C

    SINGAPORE - Central Provident Fund (CPF) monies are not managed as a separate entity by the Government of Singapore Investment Corporation (GIC), they are pooled and invested with the rest of the Government's funds, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam on Tuesday.

    This allows GIC to invest for the long term, including investing in riskier assets like equities, real estate and private equity, he said, shedding light on how the Government invests CPF monies, and the role that GIC plays as the Government's fund manager.

    Having the GIC manage CPF monies as a standalone fund would require it to be more conservative, and thus make it harder for it to earn as good returns as it currently does.

    "It would not be aimed at accepting risks that enable good long-term returns, but at avoiding any short-term shortfalls," he said, responding to questions from four MPs on how CPF monies are invested.

  4. #8419
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default CPF issue: Retirement scheme fair and one of world's safest: DPM Tharman

    Published on Jul 8, 2014 3:45 PM





    Madam Tan Kim Hing, 66, a housekeeping attendant at Royal Plaza on Scotts. The Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme may not provide the highest returns, but the returns are fair, and it is also one of the safest retirement funds in the world, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Parliament on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE


    By Tham Yuen-C

    SINGAPORE - The Central Provident Fund (CPF) scheme may not provide the highest returns, but the returns are fair, and also one of the safest in the world, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in Parliament on Tuesday.

    This is because CPF interest rates are pegged to comparable investments in the market, and are also guaranteed by the Government, he said, in a statement that explained how CPF monies are invested and why the interest rates are set where they are.

    The questions had been asked by four MPs.

    "The CPF is not a perfect retirement savings scheme, but it is among the better regarded internationally," he said.

  5. #8420
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default CPF issue: More meeting CPF Minimum Sum due to wage growth, policy improvements

    Published on Jul 8, 2014 2:48 PM




    The Central Provident Fund (CPF) building on Robinson Road. More members in each cohort reaching the age of 55 have been able to meet their Central Provident Fund (CPF) Minimum Sum over the years, despite this threshold having increased over the years, said Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin on Tuesday. -- ST PHOTO: MALCOLM MCLEOD


    By Charissa Yong

    SINGAPORE - More members in each cohort reaching the age of 55 have been able to meet their Central Provident Fund (CPF) Minimum Sum over the years, despite this threshold having increased over the years, said Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin on Tuesday.

    This is due to improvements to the CPF system, and also because wages have been growing and more are participating in the labour force, he added.

    His statement on CPF was given in Parliament response to 10 MPs' questions on the compulsory savings scheme from 10 MPs.

    The Government is "even more optimistic" that younger workers can attain the Minimum Sum, he said. He cited a 2012 study by two local economists which estimated that about 70 per cent to 80 per cent of new entrants to the workforce would be able to meet the Minimum Sum for their cohort fully in cash.

  6. #8421
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default CPF issue: Only one in 10 use CPF for housing after 55; flexibility given in using RA

    CPF issue: Only one in 10 use CPF for housing after 55; flexibility given in using RA savings


    Published on Jul 8, 2014 2:35 PM


    Of the Central Provident Fund members aged 55 and above, only one in 10 are still using their CPF to pay their monthly instalments for housing, and only one in 20 may have to use some cash for their instalments, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said in Parliament on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. -- PHOTO: ST FILE


    By Janice Heng

    SINGAPORE - Of the Central Provident Fund members aged 55 and above, only one in 10 are still using their CPF to pay their monthly instalments for housing, and only one in 20 may have to use some cash for their instalments, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said in Parliament on Tuesday.

    For those who face difficulties with housing loan repayments, the Government has exercised flexibility "where a case merits it", he added. Contrary to usual policy, such members have been allowed to use part of their Retirement Account savings for housing even if they do not meet the requirement of having half the Minimum Sum in cash.

    About 500 requests to use more Retirement Account savings for housing are received each year from CPF members aged 55 and older, and about two-thirds of these appeals are approved, said Mr Tan. "For cases that are not approved, we also work closely with HDB to explore alternative financing or housing options for the CPF member."

  7. #8422
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default CPF issue: 15 per cent use properties to meet up to half of Minimum Sum

    Published on Jul 8, 2014 2:18 PM




    About 15 per cent of active Central Provident Fund members used their properties to help meet up to half of the Minimum Sum last year, Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin said in Parliament on Tuesday, July 8, 2014. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG


    By Janice Heng

    SINGAPORE - About 15 per cent of active Central Provident Fund members used their properties to help meet up to half of the Minimum Sum last year, Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin said in Parliament on Tuesday.

    He gave this figure when pointing out that, contrary to what some might believe, only half the Minimum Sum needs to be set aside in cash. Savings above that amount can be used to finance housing purchases, or be withdrawn through a property pledge.

    The Minimum Sum is the amount a CPF member must set aside in his Retirement Account on turning 55.

    In 2013, 50 per cent of those who turned 55 that year met the Minimum Sum. That includes those who did not have enough savings in their CPF and thus had their housing withdrawals pledged to meet it, as well as those who did meet it but pledged their property so they could withdraw CPF savings above half the Minimum Sum.

  8. #8423
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default CPF system has shielded members from risk, says DPM

    TODAY file photo


    By Xue Jianyue

    Published: July 9, 4:03 AM

    SINGAPORE — Laying out the risks that individuals undertake if they choose their own investment plan — as is the case with pension schemes in some other countries — Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday sought to explain why the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system has, in his words, “worked well and provides a strong foundation for the future”.

    Unlike the CPF, pension schemes in some countries — such as the 401(k) schemes in the United States — allow workers to choose from various investment options and decide whether they want a higher return by investing in a more risky fund or prefer a safer fund that provides steady returns.

    However, Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister, pointed out that evidence shows most individuals “underperform the market, even when they invest in funds rather than doing their own stock-picking”.

    “Some individuals do well, but most face daunting and unfamiliar investment choices, and are swayed by sentiment.
    They tend to buy into the funds after gains have been made and sell after losses,” he added. In the US, for example, individual investors in equity funds earned only one-third of what the market index earned over the past 30 years, he noted.

    There is also the risk of retiring when financial markets are down or when interest rates are low. He cited an Economist article published in May that described a typical retirement scheme as a lottery because the size of an individual’s retirement nest egg when he stops working depends on the state of the markets at the time.

    He added that low interest rates mean retirees will receive less income even if they invest on their own in suitable retirement portfolios.

    In comparison to pension schemes in other countries, the CPF system — aimed at meeting basic retirement needs — has protected members from risk, Mr Tharman said. He said: “As many members have had relatively small balances, it has been right to shield them from risk. The CPF has also avoided imposing risk on taxpayers, unlike many countries where ordinary citizens face a much larger tax burden in future.” He added: “The CPF is not a perfect retirement savings scheme, but it is among the better-regarded internationally.”

    Mr Tharman underlined the CPF’s basic strengths, which he said must be retained while the Government seeks to improve the system: It is sustainable and offers some flexibility for members to withdraw savings. It also gives fair returns and is “certainly one of the safest in the world”.

    He noted that few systems around the world offer guaranteed floors for interest rates, which stand at 3.5 per cent for the Ordinary Account (OA) and 5 per cent for the Special, Medisave and Retirement Accounts (SMRA).

    On top of guaranteed interest rates, the Government also subsidises CPF members; for instance, via housing grants and the Workfare Income Supplement scheme. Members of the Pioneer Generation will also get lifetime annual Medisave top-ups. “We provide significant help to lower-income members to build up retirement assets,” Mr Tharman said.

    In response to Mountbatten Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan’s question on whether CPF interest rates could be pegged to those of 10-year Singapore Government Securities (10Y SGS), Mr Tharman said the OA interest rate, currently pegged to market deposits that can be withdrawn any time, is “fair”. “However, for several years now, the OA has earned the floor rate of 2.5 per cent to 3.5 per cent, well above the market rates. The OA has in fact been earning more than what 10Y SGS pays,” he said. The average yield on the 10Y SGS over the past decade has been around 2.4 per cent. The SMRA interest rate is pegged at one percentage point above the 10Y SGS.

    Mr Tharman said that, for the SMRA, the best peg would have been the 30-year government bond because the typical duration for which SMRA monies are held is around three decades.

    However, as the Government had not started issuing a 30-year SGS in 2007 — the year when the new basis for SMRA rates was set — SMRA rates were pegged to the yield of 10Y SGS plus one percentage point to approximate the 30-year rate, Mr Tharman explained.

    “As I told the House then, the 1 per cent spread on top of 10-year government bonds was in fact a little generous, as it was higher than what has been observed for 30-year bonds in international markets,” he said. “However, it was fair and reasonable, giving allowance for future economic and market uncertainties, such as if inflation picks up sharply over the long term.”

  9. #8424
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Temasek’s S$24b in new investments last year its most since 2007

    (From left) Temasek’s Rohit Sipahimalani, co-head of investment and Middle East and head of India, Wu Yibing, head of China, and Pek Siok Lan, senior managing director of general counsel and investment, at the launch of the Temasek Review 2014 yesterday. Photo: Temasek



    By Wong Wei Han
    Published: July 9, 4:03 AM


    SINGAPORE — Temasek Holdings’ portfolio value rose at a slower pace in its last financial year, as its assets in key Asian markets such as Singapore and China took a hit from stock market volatilities during that period.

    But the state investor remains confident in Asia’s long-term prospects and will continue to invest in the region’s growth sectors, including in China’s financial institutions, despite concerns of a banking crisis and economic slowdown, its key figures said at a full-year review briefing yesterday.

    Temasek’s net portfolio value rose 3.7 per cent to a record S$223 billion in the financial year ended March, less than half the 8.6 per cent gain seen in the previous year. Group net profit held steady at S$11 billion.

    The lacklustre growth came as the Hang Seng China Enterprise Index and the benchmark Straits Times Index — where about half of Temasek’s assets are listed — lost about 7.3 per cent and 3.2 per cent during the period.

    “We, however, saw the weakness in the markets as an opportunity to significantly step up our investments. Last year was the most active year for us in terms of new investments since the global financial crisis,” said Mr Rohit Sipahimalani, co-head of Temasek’s investment group.

    Temasek poured S$24 billion into new investments last year, the most since 2007, increasing its holdings in AIA and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, among others.

    The vote of confidence on China’s banking sector is justified even though fears over shadow banking and slower economic growth in the country led to short-term fluctuations in asset value, said Mr Wu Yibing, Temasek’s head for China. “The financial institutions will have ample capability to handle the current storm and adjust to the risks,” he said. “We remain comfortable with our stakes and will continue to invest in financial institutions because they are good proxies for long-term growth.”

    Temasek’s strategy works for them because of their fundamental holding power, Barclay senior economist Leong Wai Ho said. “Temasek is not part of the short-term investment community — it has the deep pocket and holding power to see long-term opportunities realise,” he said.

    Banking is only part of Temasek’s focus in Asia, where the investor is also bullish on the consumer market. In April, Temasek paid US$5.7 billion (S$7.1 billion) for a 24.95 per cent stake in A.S. Watson, whose portfolio includes health and beauty store Watsons and Hong Kong supermarket chain ParknShop.

    “We remain anchored in Asia (and) ended the year with 72 per cent of portfolio exposure to Asia. This is because we continue to see long-term growth in Asia and the softer markets gave us the opportunity to add on our positions, especially in China,” Mr Wu said.

    Temasek’s assets in China and Singapore
    — where it is a major investor in key institutions such as DBS, SingTel and Singapore Airlines — makes up about 56 per cent of its portfolio.

    Further afield, the company has also grown its exposure in North America and Europe. “(The two regions) are showing signs of economic improvement … Europe has good companies with solid fundamentals and global reach, while North America remains the centre stage for innovation,” Mr Wu noted. “This will lead to opportunities in energy, resources, life sciences and technologies.”

    Among the investments are US$1 billion in biotechnology firm Gilead Sciences and US$500 million in lab equipment provider Thermo Fisher Scientific. Another £235 million (S$500 million) was invested in British oil and gas company BG Group, while S$2 billion was poured into Temasek-owned liquefied natural gas company Pavilion Energy.

    “We have invested in opportunities that are driven by urbanisation and increasing life expectancies. Rapid advances in technology have transformed the global marketplace,” Temasek president Lee Theng Kiat said. “As an owner-investor for the long term, we are ready to support new ideas to address emerging needs and opportunities, such as healthcare for an ageing population, personalised medicine or e-commerce.”

    At the same time, divestments amounted to S$10 billion as Temasek exited investments in Chinese Internet firm Youku Tudou, Tiger Airways and Cheniere Energy, and reduced holdings in Bharti Telecom and Seoul Semiconductor.

    Temasek’s one-year total shareholder return was 1.5 per cent in Singapore dollar terms.

  10. #8425
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore to get top-notch karting track

    By Ian De Cotta
    POSTED: 10 Jul 2014 08:05


    Businessman Richard Tan gets lease for Woodlands site with World Championship capability.

    The coach bay at the Singapore Turf Club will be converted to a karting site. (Photo: TODAY/Ian De Cotta)


    SINGAPORE: Singapore will soon boast a world-class 950-metre karting track capable of hosting world championships. TODAY has learnt that the international-standard track on the western fringes of the Singapore Turf Club (STC) grounds at Woodlands will be completed by mid-September.

    Based on STC’s tender documents, the new circuit will be built by Arina International Holding, a construction company. It will be the second permanent karting track here, after the opening of the 750m Kartright Speedway in Jurong in 2010.

    The site at Jurong, however, is unable to host international championships as the sport’s world governing body CIK-FIA’s regulations require that competition tracks are at least 800m in length.

    The Turf Club leased the plot of land to Arina in April for three years at a cost of S$450,000, with an option for another three.

    Arina is headed by Mr Richard Tan, who has been running the KF1 Corporate Challenge karting event – usually held a week before the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix – here since 2011.

    Mr Tan declined to be interviewed, but it is believed he aims to get the track ready before this year’s Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, which takes place from Sept 19 to 21.

    “He wants to time the opening around when the motor racing season hits the country, and get some F1 drivers who will be in town by then to kart at the track,” a source close to him told TODAY.

    “Richard operates a construction company and the only major works needed to get the facility ready on time are building the paddock area and resurfacing the track.” It will cost Mr Tan, added the source, about S$1.5 million on top of the land cost.

    This is not the businessman’s first foray into the world of sport.

    In 2011, he funded the building of the S$1.5 million, state-of-the-art Singapore Badminton Hall in Geylang, after the nearby original building had closed down three years earlier. An ardent badminton player, he also sponsored national shuttlers Danny Wong and Terry Yeo to the tune of S$10,000 each in 2012.

    Mr Tan runs Arina Hogan Builders, which helped set up the track lighting of the Marina Bay street circuit for the Singapore Grand Prix. The company also put up temporary facilities for golf’s Barclays Singapore Open, HSBC Women’s Championships at Tanah Merah Golf Club and the WGC-HSBC Champions in Shanghai.

    But like the badminton hall, the karting track in Woodlands is a personal investment and Mr Tan is banking on the ever-growing wave of motorsport’s popularity, which has increased since the inaugural F1 night race was held here in 2008
    .

    The Woodlands facility will feed a growing demand from racing enthusiasts, especially after plans for a permanent track in Changi were scrapped last year in the wake of investors running out of money.

    Singapore ace racing driver Ringo Chong told TODAY karting is a key building block for a racing driver, and that the new facility is an important step to continue in the development of local talent.
    “It is the ABC of driving that all the top drivers in the world, especially in F1, start with,” said Mr Chong, who was the 1984 national karting champion and will be racing in the Carrera Cup at the Singapore Grand Prix in September.

    “If you don’t start in karting, you are unlikely to make the cut in motor racing. It is where you learn from mistakes and hone your skills before getting behind the wheel of faster machines.”


    -TODAY/cy

  11. #8426
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    Default Athletes from Sports School, regular schools ‘on level playing field’

    By Alfred Chua
    POSTED: 10 Jul 2014 07:33


    The Sports School competes in less than half of 28 sports offered at the National School Games, according to the Ministry of Education.

    File photo of students taking part in the annual National School Games.




    SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education (MOE) has sought to allay concerns that student athletes from regular schools are not competing on a level playing field with their counterparts from the Singapore Sports School.

    Numbers revealed in Parliament on Wednesday (July 9) showed the Sports School competes in less than half of 28 sports offered at the National School Games. Last year, of the 110 championships organised for the ‘B’ and ‘C’ Divisions at the secondary school level, the Sports School contested in 46 and won 16 National titles.

    “(This) … shows that other schools can also perform well when pitted against the Sports School,” said Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Education and Manpower) Hawazi Daipi in Parliament.

    Mr Hawazi was responding to a question tabled by Non-Constituency Member of Parliament Lina Chiam, who had asked if the MOE would consider re-looking the competition framework for inter-school games to ensure “a level playing field” between athletes from regular schools and the Sports School.

    Mr Hawazi noted that, where appropriate, the Sports School “deliberately sends relatively junior players to compete (in the games), as part of their development”. He also assured that funds are allocated to schools to “develop their Co-Curricular Activities, including sports.”

    -TODAY/cy

  12. #8427
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    Default 12 sanctioned yearly for not serving NS on religious grounds

    POSTED: 10 Jul 2014 07:07

    Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen says there has not been an increasing trend of such cases.

    File photo of National Service recruits at SAF Basic Military Training camp. (Photo: TODAY)


    SINGAPORE: About a dozen national servicemen have been court-martialled and sentenced to detention every year for refusing to serve National Service (NS) on religious grounds in the past 10 years, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen.

    In a written reply to a parliamentary question from Nominated Member of Parliament Eugene Tan Kheng Boon, Dr Ng said there has not been an increasing trend of such cases.

    Assoc Prof Tan had asked for the number of full-time and operationally-ready national servicemen who have been detained or sanctioned for their objection to performing NS on moral or religious grounds, and whether there was a trend of such objections. He also asked whether alternative forms of NS could be considered, subject to stringent requirements being satisfied.

    In response, Dr Ng said under the Enlistment Act, all male Singapore citizens and permanent residents have to perform NS within the Singapore Armed Forces, the Singapore Civil Defence Force or the Singapore Police Force.

    “This requirement, applied to all without exception, is fair and necessary to maintain strong support for NS,” he said.

    “Only a small number are exempted for medical reasons based on professional assessment by an independent panel. Allowing individuals to opt out or choose alternative forms of NS because of moral or religious reasons will weaken support for NS,” Dr Ng added.


    -TODAY/cy

  13. #8428
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    Default SEA Games as springboard for greater sporting culture

    POSTED: 09 Jul 2014 21:15


    Beyond ensuring a successful 2015 SEA Games, the Government is taking specific measures to develop the sports culture here, said Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong in Parliament.



    The 6,000-seat OCBC Aquatic Centre. (File photo: John Leong)


    SINGAPORE: Singapore will be hosting the 28th Southeast Asian Games next year, but Culture, Community and Youth Minister Lawrence Wong said the Government is focusing on more than just ensuring a successful Games.

    Speaking in Parliament on Wednesday (July 9), Mr Wong said the Government is also working with stakeholders to further develop the sporting culture here.

    "Through the SEA Games, we want more Singaporeans to participate in sports," said Mr Wong.

    "(We) will ensure that there are as many opportunities as possible for Singaporeans to get involved in the Games, whether as volunteers or spectators... We will build on this to create a broader following for sports and for our Team Singapore athletes."

    The Government is also taking specific measures to develop the sports industry. This includes working with the National Sports Associations (NSAs) at the SEA Games to deepen the expertise of existing sports officials and train new ones. This will allow Singapore to build a pool of experienced officials who can officiate at sports competitions.

    Through the Games, the Government is also engaging corporate partners to cultivate a healthy level of corporate sponsorship for athletes and sporting events here. In training athletes, Mr Wong said the Government has also improved the High Performance Sports system in areas such as coaching, sports science and medicine, in the run-up to the SEA Games.


    - CNA/ec

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    Default S'pore is no. 1 in Asia for international visitor spending

    POSTED: 09 Jul 2014 22:59

    Singapore overtook Bangkok to take the top spot for international visitor spending in the Asia Pacific, MasterCard said on Wednesday.



    File photo: Pedestrians cross the street along the Orchard Road shopping area in Singapore. (AFP/Roslan Rahman)


    SINGAPORE: Singapore overtook Bangkok to take the top spot for international visitor spending in the Asia Pacific, MasterCard said on Wednesday, highlighting the city-state's growing prominence as one of the world's "destination cities".

    The credit card company estimated overnight visitors to Singapore will spend US$14.3 billion this year -- a rise of 7.6 percent from 2013.

    In contrast, Bangkok is expected to suffer a 17.7 percent drop in spending by overnight visitors to US$13 billion, on account of the political unrest that has plagued Thailand since the latter part of 2013.

    Matthew Driver, MasterCard's president for Southeast Asia, said Singapore offers a diverse mix of attractions to visitors in multiple segments, thanks to close collaboration between the government and industry.

    Dr Yuwa Hedrick-Wong, global economic advisor to MasterCard, said international visitors constitute a powerful transformational force that impacts businesses as well as culture.

    "Since 2009, we've seen cross-border travel and associated spending growing at faster rates than real world GDP," he said.

    In terms of visitor numbers, Singapore ranks fourth globally with 12.47 million international overnight visitors expected this year.

    London topped the list with an expected 18.69 million international overnight visitors, followed by Bangkok in second place and Paris in third.


    - CNA/xq

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    Default SIA Engineering Company in joint venture with Boeing

    By Kevin Lim
    POSTED: 09 Jul 2014 22:01

    To be called Boeing Asia Pacific Aviation Services, the venture will provide engineering, spare parts, and repair and maintenance services for Boeing airplanes across the region.




    SINGAPORE: US airplane maker Boeing said on Wednesday that it is enhancing its support to customers in Southeast Asia through a joint venture with SIA Engineering Company (SIAEC).

    To be called Boeing Asia Pacific Aviation Services, the venture will provide engineering, spare parts, and repair and maintenance services for Boeing airplanes across the region.

    SIAEC will hold a 49 per cent equity stake, while Boeing will own the remaining 51 per cent.

    Formation of the joint venture is expected to occur by the end of 2014.

    Boeing said it has signed contracts for maintenance and engineering services to cover Scoot's fleet of 20 B-787 Dreamliners currently on order as well as Singapore Airlines' fleet of 27 B-777-300ERs. The services will be provided through the new venture.

    Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran, who was at the signing ceremony, said the joint venture will boost Singapore's ability to tap growth opportunities in the Asia Pacific where aircraft fleets are expected to triple in size over the next 20 years.


    - CNA/ms

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    Default Singapore food product centre launched in Zhejiang

    POSTED: 09 Jul 2014 14:21
    UPDATED: 09 Jul 2014 20:02

    The Tasty Singapore Food Product Centre will benefit SMEs in the food and beverage sector looking to venture into China, according to IE Singapore and SFMA.



    Singapore Minister Lim Hng Kiang (front, right) and Zhejiang Vice Governor Liang Liming (front, left) at the official opening of Tasty Singapore Food Product Centre in Yiwu, Zhejiang province. (Photo: IE Singapore)


    The Tasty Singapore Food Product Centre will benefit SMEs in the food and beverage sector looking to venture into China, according to IE Singapore and SFMA.

    SINGAPORE: Trade promotion agency International Enterprise (IE) Singapore is partnering the Singapore Food Manufacturers Association (SFMA) to promote the local food and beverage industry in China.

    The Tasty Singapore Food Product Centre, an initiative by the SFMA and supported by IE Singapore, was launched in Yiwu, Zhejiang province, on Wednesday (July 9). The centre’s opening ceremony was officiated by Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang and Zhejiang Vice Governor Liang Liming.

    The centre showcases Singapore food products within the Yiwu International Commodity Trade Mart, the world's largest commodity wholesale market.

    In a joint statement, IE Singapore and SFMA said the Centre will benefit small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the food and beverage sector looking to venture into China. It will also provide an additional marketing channel for companies that are already established in the market, the statement added.

    Currently, the centre features a group of 20 food and beverage companies with products such as cooking oils, desserts, frozen foods, instant beverages and sauces.

    IE Singapore's Assistant CEO Yew Sung Pei said in the statement: "For F&B companies to succeed in China, brand-building and promotion are as critical as building strong distribution networks. This initiative provides a platform for the industry to collectively promote its products to the market, and can be a particularly valuable resource for an SME navigating China's highly-competitive consumer market."


    - CNA/cy

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    Default KL has reassured Singapore over reclamation concerns: MFA

    Published on Jul 10, 2014 8:53 AM



    The strip of land where reclamation works were going on off the shores of Johor, as observed last month. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

    By Charissa Yong

    Malaysia has assured Singapore that no reclamation is taking place for its two controversial projects near the Johor Strait, said Senior Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Masagos Zulkifli yesterday.

    It remains committed to fulfilling its obligations under international law and will take all necessary measures to avoid any adverse transboundary impact, he said in Parliament.

    "Singapore is very concerned about the potential transboundary impact on Singapore from reclamation projects in Malaysia that are in close proximity to Singapore," he said in response to questions from Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Nee Soon GRC) and Mr Ang Wei Neng (Jurong GRC).

    The Republic has conveyed its concern on a number of occasions to Malaysia, asking for more information on these reclamation and construction works, he added.

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