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  1. #8569
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    Default Foreigners will pay more to use sports facilities



    Singapore Team training at OCBC Arena during the 6th World University Floorball Championship on June 17, 2014. TODAY file photo


    Published: 4:03 AM, August 15, 2014


    SINGAPORE — Foreigners will have to pay more to book public sports facilities here, under Sport Singapore’s new fee structure.

    First to come under the new structure is the Singapore Sports Hub, which yesterday posted on its website rates for the use of its facilities. Singaporeans and permanent residents will pay S$8 an hour during peak hours to use badminton facilities at the OCBC Arena, compared with S$13 an hour for foreigners. To play basketball at the arena during peak hours, Singaporeans and PRs will pay S$40 an hour, while foreigners will pay S$52.
    The new rates will be implemented on Monday, after more than a month of free use in celebration of National Day.

    Singaporeans and PRs will continue to pay the prevailing rates for the rest of Sport Singapore’s facilities, while new fees for foreigners will be introduced early next year, with details to be released then.

    Announcing the changes in a statement yesterday, Sport Singapore chief executive officer Lim Teck Yin said: “This move signals our commitment to provide sporting opportunities and programmes that are affordable and easily accessible to all.”

    The new fee structure was benchmarked against other government-subsidised efforts to ensure the sports facilities remain affordable to everyone, he added.

    Sport Singapore — previously known as the Singapore Sports Council — also said that ActiveSG, the national movement launched in April to promote sports, has since attracted close to 500,000 members. Gym and pool visitorship has also risen by an estimated 20 per cent following the introduction of creative concepts such as outdoor poolside gyms.
    More than 60 per cent of members, who receive 100 ActiveSG dollars upon signing up, have gone on to use their credits, it added.

  2. #8570
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default New urban warfare facility gives soldiers experience on larger scale


    The MULFAC allows for up to one company, or 100 soldiers, to move...

    [More]

    ...

    By Xue Jianyue

    -
    xuejianyue@mediacorp.com.sg -

    Published: 4:03 AM, August 15, 2014


    SINGAPORE — Soldiers of the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) will be able to hone their skills in urban warfare — storm a building, fire live ammunition at close quarters and throw multiple grenades — on a larger scale than before at a new facility designed to simulate realistic conditions for urban fighting.

    The Murai Urban Live Firing Facility (MULFAC) comprises five buildings for soldiers to move around in a full-scale urban assault operation.

    Located at Lim Chu Kang, it allows for up to one company, or about 100 soldiers, to practise seizing buildings with the support of armoured vehicles. In contrast, urban live firing in the past was conducted with one section — which comprises seven men — within one building.

    The facility is also wired with cameras to record operations so soldiers can review their performance.

    The cost of building the facility was not revealed. Speaking at the official opening of the facility yesterday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said soldiers today were more likely to fight in urban scenarios. “In this generation, where cities are built up, whether it’s for humanitarian missions or even what we call guerilla warfare, fighting in built-up areas will be the more likely scenario,” he said.

    When asked if training in jungle warfare was still relevant, Dr Ng said: “A good maxim from any military strategist is ‘never say never’, and we don’t want to discard our skills in other areas such as jungle missions and jungle terrain,” he said. “But at the same time, I think we have to train in what we feel are realistic scenarios, and built-up areas is certainly the focus of training in many, many militaries.”

    The new facility will also house a sixth building, the Hand Grenade House, which will be completed in December, adding to the existing live grenade training site in Pulau Tekong. Unlike the latter, soldiers will be allowed to throw more than one grenade at the Murai facility.

    With the MULFAC’s opening and the launch of the Multi-Mission Range Complex last year, the SAF will be able to conduct 50 to 60 per cent more live firing exercises, chief infantry officer Brigadier-General Chiang Hock Woon told reporters. “At the end of the day, we can do a lot of training, but live firing is the most important part because that is as realistic as you can get before you submit and subject a soldier to an operation,” he said.

    BG Chiang said soldiers needed to be more careful in urban environments as the nature of the terrain could lead to more crossfire. “There are a lot of blind angles and you do not know whether people in an adjacent room are your friend or foe,” he said.

    He added that the SAF was reviewing the curriculum to ensure soldiers are effectively trained in urban warfare.

  3. #8571
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Peter Lim completes final hurdle before fully taking over Valencia: Reports



    The Singaporean businessman looks poised for a full takeover of the debt-laden Spanish club


    Published: 9:29 AM, August 15, 2014
    Updated: 9:32 AM, August 15, 2014

    VALENCIA – Singaporean businessman Peter Lim has reached an agreement with Spanish bank Bankia for the takeover of Valencia CF, the Inside Spanish Football website reported yesterday (Aug 14).

    In June, Bankia announced it had reached an agreement with Mr Lim’s Hong Kong-based investment company Meriton Capital over the restructuring of Valencia’s debt.

    Football fans the world over thought this was the green light needed by the Singaporean businessman to fully take over the debt-laden football giant. However, it has since emerged that what the two parties signed was a “term sheet” – a legal document that gives both parties basis for further discussions, and crucially, giving Meriton exclusive rights to negotiate – until Aug 15 – Valencia’s debt.

    Had this deadline passed without any agreement being reached with the Spanish club, Mr Lim would have had to walk away from the 2004 La Liga winners. Although reports of the agreement have emerged, there has been no official announcement from the parties involved.

    CHANNEL NEWSASIA

  4. #8572
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default



    The scholarship recipients (from left): Mr Eugene Lim Zhi Wei, Mr Brendan Dean Zhi Min, Mr Arturo Neo Yong Yao, Ms Lee Zi Xin and Mr Tommy Koh Kit Shaun. PHOTO: Public Service Division

    Published: 4:03 AM, August 14, 2014


    SINGAPORE — With increasingly complex issues confronting the Republic in future, public servants must engage the public constructively, especially at the early stages of policymaking, and keep an open mind to the increasingly diverse views that Singaporeans hold, said President Tony Tan yesterday.

    He was speaking at the President’s Scholarship award ceremony last night at the Istana.

    The scholarship was awarded to five of the most outstanding students from their cohort, Mr Arturo Neo Yong Yao, 19; Mr Brendan Dean Zhi Min, 20; Mr Tommy Koh Kit Shaun, 19; Ms Lee Zi Xin, 19; and Mr Eugene Lim Zhi Wei, 19.

    Noting that the onus is on the five, as recipients of the President’s Scholarship, to help tackle the challenges Singapore faces, he said: “Doing this will require not only intellect, but empathy with those in our community.

    “Be sure to consult a wide range of stakeholders, hear the voices of our citizens and keep an open mind to the increasingly diverse views that Singaporeans hold. Build relationships with all communities and leverage the diversity that makes Singapore unique in so many ways. Above all, remember that everyone has a part to play in creating a better, brighter future for Singapore in the years ahead.”


    Mr Dean, who is the first President’s Scholar from NUS High School of Mathematics and Science, will study biological sciences at Harvard University after he finishes his National Service stint.

    Ms Lee will read economics at the University of Pennsylvania, Mr Koh will major in political science or psychology at Johns Hopkins University, while Mr Lim will read global affairs at Yale University. All three of them were from Raffles Institution.

    Only Mr Neo, from Hwa Chong Institution, will pursue his studies locally. He will read medicine at the National University of Singapore.

    All five have also been awarded Public Service Commission scholarships.

    CHANNEL NEWSASIA

  5. #8573
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Religious melting pot in Waterloo St

    ]Proximity of two temples encourages cross-worshipping


    Published on Aug 15, 2014 6:05 AM



    (Above) Besides Hindu worshippers, the Sri Krishnan Temple in Waterloo Street also sees devotees from the Chinese temple next door stopping by to light joss sticks and say quiet prayers. -- PHOTOS: CHEW SENG KIM, SRI KRISHNAN TEMPLE



    Crowds thronging the 130-year-old Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple last weekend. -- PHOTOS: CHEW SENG KIM, SRI KRISHNAN TEMPLE



    Besides Hindu worshippers, the Sri Krishnan Temple in Waterloo Street also sees devotees from the Chinese temple next door stopping by to light joss sticks (above) and say quiet prayers. -- PHOTOS: CHEW SENG KIM, SRI KRISHNAN TEMPLE

    By Cheryl Faith Wee

    It is after midday on a Friday and the Sri Krishnan Temple in the Bugis area is closed for the afternoon. But this does not stop a constant stream of Chinese devotees from stopping in front of it, murmuring silent prayers.

    Tendrils of incense rise from joss sticks in an urn with the inscription "Waterloo Chicken Rice" in front of the entrance to the Hindu temple, two doors from the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple known to many as the Simalu Guanyin Temple.

    Waterloo Street, where the two venerable places of worship meet, is arguably the best showcase of Singapore's religious melting pot.

    The main deity at one temple is Guanyin or the Goddess of Mercy, while Krishnan, a god known to destroy evil and spread love, watches over the other.

    But devotees of one temple spill over to the other; the area overflows with fortune tellers, sellers of fresh chrysanthemum and lotus flowers, and cheerful refrains of "Miss, do you want to buy flowers?"


    Background story



    RAIN OR SHINE

    When it rains, my shop stays open and I use my umbrella to keep my flowers from getting ruined.

    - Madam Catherine Teo, who inherited the family flower business started by her grandmother

  6. #8574
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Thomson-East Coast Line, connecting North and East, ready by 2024

    By Saifulbahri Ismail
    POSTED: 15 Aug 2014 14:02

    Singapore's sixth rail line will start at Woodlands before heading towards the East Coast, and will have 31 stations spanning about 43km, Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew announces. New stations include Marine Parade, Siglap and Tanjong Rhu.


    A map showing the East Coast stretch of the Thomson-East Coast Line.



    A map of the Thomson-East Coast Line. Graphic LTA



    Thomson-East Coast Line: Alignment of Downtown Line 3 Extension. Graphic: LTA

    Estimated time savings for commuters when the Thomson-East Coast Line starts operation. Graphic: LTA


    SINGAPORE: The country's sixth rail line - the Thomson-East Coast Line (TEL) - will be fully operational by 2024, the Land Transport Authority announced on Friday (Aug 15).

    The previously-announced Eastern Region Line and the Thomson Line will be joined to form the single, continuous line, which will span about 43 kilometres with a total of 31 stations, seven of which will be interchanges.

    Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew, speaking at a visit to the soon-to-open Marina South Pier Station on Friday, said that when fully operational in 2024, the TEL will serve about 500,000 commuters daily. This could rise to 1 million passengers daily in the longer term.

    FROM THE NORTH TO THE EAST

    The line will provide direct connectivity for commuters in the north and the east of Singapore - starting at Woodlands and heading south through the Central Business District, then turning east at Gardens by the Bay station and travelling along a East Coast stretch that will be fully underground.

    One of the nine stations on this stretch will serve as an interchange with Downtown Line 3 Extension (DTL3e) - a 2.2km line consisting of two stations, meant to improve accessibility to the Changi Business Park and Expo areas.

    The East Coast stretch will also cover areas not currently served by the rail network such as Siglap, Marine Parade, Upper East Coast and Bedok South. Seven of the stations, from Tanjong Rhu to Bayshore, will be ready by 2023, while remainder of the line, as well as the DTL3e, will be completed the year after.

    Also scheduled for completion in 2024 is a new 36-hectare depot, touted by the LTA as "the world's first four-in-one train and bus depot". The new structure will be able to house a total of 220 trains for the TEL, DTL and East West Line, as well as 550 buses.

    To build the line, the Government will need to require six land properties along Amber Road and one three-storey apartment along Tanjong Katong Road, as well as nine partial lots elsewhere. The Singapore Land Authority on Friday gazetted the properties affected by acquisition, and said it would work closely with landowners throughout the process.

    CONVENIENCE A CONSIDERATION

    The LTA said that with the TEL, someone going from the East Coast to Orchard MRT station will have his travel time cut by half an hour, from 75 minutes to 45 minutes. A Republic Polytechnic student will be able to travel to Marine Parade in an hour, 20 minutes faster than the current bus ride would take.



    Also, stations along the TEL will see longer underpasses of up to 400m long, as part of efforts to improve "first and last mile connectivity", particularly for the elderly and children, the LTA said. Four of the stations along the East Coast stretch will also see Singapore's first underground bicycle parks.


    - CNA/es
    Last edited by Loh; 08-15-2014 at 03:40 AM.

  7. #8575
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default 6 lesser-known facts about Sentosa

    Published on Aug 16, 2014 12:00 PM




    An aerial photo of the Merlion at Sentosa. -- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE



    The crowd at the SEA Aquarium in Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) watching the Diver Talk show where divers speak to visitors through a special underwater microphone. -- PHOTO: ST FILE



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...sa03-1408e.jpg

    Customer service officer Peter Lee (right) explaining the lifecycle of a butterfly at Sentosa’s Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom. -- PHOTO: ST FILE

    Sentosa, Singapore’s resident beach getaway, is set for a major makeover, which will take place in three phases over the next five years.

    Activities and attractions for visitors will be grouped according to various themes and assigned areas within the sunny island. The facelift aims to attract more people to Sentosa, as well as help better manage the growing crowds that the island sees these days. Already, six existing sites have been marked for change.

    They are: the North-South Link Precinct, Fort Siloso and Siloso Point, Siloso Beach, Palawan Beach, Tanjong Beach and Imbiah Lookout.

    With all the changes in store for Sentosa, here are six lesser-known facts about the island:

    1. It is home to the world's largest oceanarium

    The S.E.A Aquarium at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) is the biggest oceanarium on the planet.

    Its 45 million litres of water is home to more than 100,000 sea creatures, spread across over 800 species. From hammerhead sharks to puffer fish, if it is marine life you are looking for, you can most likely find it here.
    The attraction even has the world's largest viewing panel, which stands at 36m wide and 8.3m high.

    2. The island's iconic Merlion statue is one tough clean-up job

    On the Merlion's last scrub in 2012, it took a team of cleaning professionals 10 days to tidy up the 37m-tall statue.
    Armed with jet sprays, the cleaners rappelled down from the Merlion's head to wash away dirt and apply preservative chemicals.

    3. It once housed the coldest playground feature in Asia.

    In 2012, as part of Sentosa's 40th-anniversary celebrations, kids were given the chance to whizz down Asia's first-ever ice slides by the beach.
    Measuring 5m and 8m long, the slides were a welcome cool-off for the sunny island's younger guests.

    But the fun lasted for only a day, as by Sept 2, barely a day after the slide was constructed, it had all but melted.

    4. It had a rather unattractive name in the past.

    Before it became associated with sandy beaches or a great day out in the sun, Sentosa went by the name of Pulau Belakang Mati, which translated from Malay means "The Island After Death".

    The name was perhaps fitting, as the island used to house prisoners of war during the Japanese occupation.

    In 1972, with the Singapore Government's decision to develop it as a tourist attraction, the island was renamed Sentosa, which in Malay means "peace and tranquility".

    Talk about a turn around.

    5. For all its urbanisation, Sentosa is still a pretty wild place.

    Sentosa is full of wildlife.

    Around 70 per cent of its land is covered by secondary rainforest, and is home to critters such as monitor lizards, peacocks, and monkeys.

    If that is not enough to convince you, consider this: The Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom house more than 15,000 live butterflies and over 3,000 species of insects respectively.

    6. Its distance from Singapore measures less than a quarter of the length of Orchard Road.

    Everyone knows that Sentosa is close to the main land, but did you know it is actually only 500m away?

    That is less than a quarter of the length of Orchard Road, which stretches for 2.2km.
    Last edited by Loh; 08-16-2014 at 11:02 AM.

  8. #8576
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    Default President Tony Tan meets China's Xi in Nanjing

    By John Leong
    POSTED: 16 Aug 2014 19:25

    President Tony Tan Keng Yam met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Nanjing on Saturday (Aug 16). Both leaders expressed satisfaction with the substantive and multi-faceted bilateral cooperation, which has progressed with the times.



    Singapore's President Tony Tan Keng Yam (L) and Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) lead their delegations in a meeting at the Purple Palace in Nanjing on August 16, 2014. (AFP/Pool/Rolex Dela Pena)


    SINGAPORE: President Tony Tan Keng Yam met his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Nanjing on Saturday (Aug 16). Dr Tan is in Nanjing for the second Youth Olympic Games (YOG) at the invitation of President Xi.

    He congratulated Mr Xi on the excellent arrangements for the Games and expressed confidence that it would be a success. Both leaders also expressed satisfaction with the substantive and multi-faceted bilateral cooperation, which has progressed with the times.

    They are also confident that bilateral ties will continue to broaden and deepen, particularly in areas like financial services, science and technology, education and research, and in the new government-to-government project in China's Western Region.

    Dr Tan later attended a welcome dinner hosted by Mr Xi for about 70 other VVIPs, including UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

    DR TAN VISITS SINGAPORE YOG TEAM

    President Tony Tan also gave encouragement to the Singapore contingent at the YOG. He visited the Youth Olympic Village, where Singapore's athletes are staying. There, he was given a tour of the village by athletes and Singapore officials, including Chef de Mission, Mark Chay - who is a former national swimmer.

    Chay is well-versed in the rigours of international competition, having taken part in both the Southeast Asian Games (SEA Games) and Summer Olympics. And these are valuable experiences that he hopes to pass on to his young charges.

    "It can be quite intimidating, coming to a multi-sports event, with all these large venues, with thousands of people cheering. So, if I'm able to impart these values on how to compete as well as how you carry yourself and excel and have that consistency of performance, I think I've done my job," he said.

    That advice holds for many of Singapore's 18 budding athletes at the YOG. For instance, Jonathan Chan has been into diving just four years ago, having been a gymnast for the previous eight years. He is now Singapore's only diving hopeful in Nanjing, competing in the 10m individual platform event.

    "I guess I'll just do my best and not worry too much about trying too hard. (Otherwise) I may stress myself out. I'm hoping to reach the top 10 this time, because I've competed with people before and they're all very strong. But I've also improved since then, so hopefully I can aim higher and score better," said Jonathan.

    Chay insists there is no medal target for Singapore in Nanjing, despite the country winning seven medals when it hosted the inaugural Games in 2010. Instead, he believes it is about upholding the Olympic spirit, getting to meet competitors from other countries and building camaraderie.


    - CNA/ir

  9. #8577
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    Default National Day Rally 2014: New Jurong Lake Gardens part of Lakeside transformation plan

    Published on Aug 17, 2014 9:53 PM


    A view of the Jurong Lake and its vicinity. A new Jurong Lake Gardens will be created in western Singapore by combining the existing Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden and Jurong Lake Park, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. -- ST PHOTO: SAM CHIN

    By Charissa Yong

    SINGAPORE - A new Jurong Lake Gardens will be created in western Singapore by combining the existing Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden and Jurong Lake Park, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

    The upcoming "people's garden" will also include a new Science Centre which will be completed around 2020.

    These developments are about "making every corner of Singapore an outstanding living environment", he said as he sketched plans to transform the Jurong Lake District in his National Day Rally speech on Sunday night.

    The area has come far from its origins as a swamp decades ago, he said. Part of the area - Jurong Gateway - is now a new commercial region with several institutes and shopping malls.

    But the other part, known as Lakeside, has gardens which have not changed much in years and seem under-utilised, despite being pretty and peaceful, PM Lee said.

    He spoke on some transformations he had in mind, including reshaping the lake and merging the gardens to "create one beautiful set of gardens in the heartlands".

    A call for garden design ideas will go out in 2015, and PM Lee encouraged Singaporeans to chip in: "These are your gardens; we want to hear from you."



    He promised that the new gardens will be well-integrated with its surroundings, including the park connector network, spruced up Jurong River, and housing.

    There are some flats in the area, and there are plans to build more Housing Board homes to the north. More housing will also be built around Pandan Reservoir when some of the industrial leases there run out over the next 20 to 30 years, he added.

    The Jurong Region Line and Cross-Island Line will improve traffic flow in Jurong, he said, as will the ongoing improvements to the North-South and East-West MRT lines.

    PM Lee also spoke about "even bolder possibilities" such as shifting the Ayer-Rajah Expressway southward to create more lakeside housing. Singapore's terminal of the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail may even be situated in Jurong.

    "One day, the High Speed Rail may come to Jurong ... and I've told (Malaysian) Prime Minister Najib (Razak) that in Singapore, why don't we site the terminus in the Jurong Lake District. So we're discussing with the Malaysians," he said.

    "We haven't settled this yet, but if we get the High Speed Rail terminus in the Jurong Lake District, then that will make Jurong a truly exciting gateway to Singapore."

  10. #8578
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    Default National Day Rally 2014 wrap:

    National Day Rally 2014 wrap: PM Lee on changes to CPF, emphasis on deep skills rather than degrees, and honouring pioneers

    Published on Aug 18, 2014 12:23 AM


    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during his annual National Day Rally at the Institute of Technical Education's College Central campus on Aug 17. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN


    SINGAPORE - Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced significant changes to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) at his annual National Day Rally on Aug 17.

    CPF members will soon have the option of making lump sum withdrawals from their CPF accounts after they retire.

    But these withdrawals will be capped and cannot be excessive, and it should only be for those who have hit retirement age of 65, he said, adding that the purpose of the CPF scheme is to provide a steady income stream in old age.

    A possible cap could be 20 per cent of the CPF savings
    .

    He said the move to allow lump sum withdrawals, besides the monthly payouts, will help CPF members do things that they have long wanted to do, like going on a haj, or dealing with family emergencies.

    But he warned that CPF members have to understand the impact of the withdrawals: a lump sum withdrawal means a reduction in the amount left in the CPF and smaller monthly payments.

    Speaking at ITE College Central campus in Ang Mo Kio, Mr Lee said the CPF Minimum Sum will be raised from $155,000 to $161,000 for those turning 55 next July, ending uncertainty over the final figure which has been increased over the last decade. He added that he does not see a need for further major increases.

    The PM pledged that the Government will build more flexibility into the CPF system and give CPF members more choices. He said that the Manpower Ministry (MOM) is looking at changes to the CPF system and these changes are complex. An advisory panel has been set up to study the issues. MOM will announce details of the panel soon.

    He also announced that more must be done to help about 10 to 20 per cent of elderly Singaporeans who do not have enough savings in their CPF accounts and lack other means of financial support.

    The Government has decided that they will get an annual bonus when they turn 65. The yearly bonuses will be handed out as part of a new financial assistance scheme named Silver Support.

    To also help retirees, the lease buyback scheme, which allows flat owners to sell a part of their home to the Government and receive a regular income in return, will be extended to 4-room flat owners.

    This means it will be available to more than half of the flat owners in Singapore.

    Mr Lee spent much of his speech talking about improving opportunities for ITE and polytechnic students.

    A tripartite committee of government, employers and unions chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam will be set up to help ITE and polytechnic students match their skills to the right jobs and move up.

    He stressed that having relevant and deep skills can lead to good jobs that pay well, and this lies at the heart of the recommendations drawn up by the Applied Study in Polytechnics and ITE (Aspire) committee which recently completed an extensive review of tertiary technical education.

    Mr Lee also paid tribute to many Singaporean pioneers, including Singapore's first President, the late Yusof Ishak.

    A new mosque in Woodlands will be named after him, as well as a professorship in social sciences at the National University of Singapore. The Institute of South East Asian Studies (ISEAS) at NUS will now be known as ISEAS - The Yusof Ishak Institute.

    Mr Lee described Mr Yusof as an outstanding pioneer in his Malay speech, noting that he was committed to progress through education, and helped strengthen Singapore's ties with its neighbours.

    He also gave special thanks to Mr Yusof's widow, who was in the audience, saying: "Puan Noor Aishah, we are grateful for all the contributions and sacrifices made by your late husband to the nation. Thank you."

    On Singapore's future, he said a new Jurong Lake Gardens will be created in the western part of the island by combining the existing Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden and Jurong Lake Park. The upcoming "people's garden" will also include a new Science Centre which will be completed around 2020.

    These developments are about "making every corner of Singapore an outstanding living environment", he said, even as he announced the setting up of a new Municipal Services Office to serve residents in a more seamless way.

    He ended his speech by noting how everyone had contributed to the Singapore Story. "At the heart of the Singapore Story is our belief in Singapore," he said, and urged them to create a better future for all.

  11. #8579
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    Default Lease buyback scheme extended to 4-room flats



    HDB housing at Bishan. TODAY file photo


    More than half of all flat owners will be able to tap scheme after the change



    By Amanda Lee -
    leeguiping@mediacorp.com.sg -

    Published: 4:04 AM, August 18, 2014


    SINGAPORE — Following long-standing calls, the Enhanced Lease Buyback Scheme has been extended to owners of four-room flats.

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong last night announced the change, which will open up the asset monetisation option to more than half of all flat owners here.

    RelatedNews

    Singapore

    Experts optimistic about take-up rate of buyback scheme
    August 18


    Noting that many seniors still prefer to age in the comfort of their own homes despite regarding the Silver Housing Bonus that comes with downsizing to a studio apartment as an attractive option, Mr Lee said: “I fully understand that the surroundings are familiar, your old friends are around you, your neighbours you’ve known ... for so long you don’t want to uproot yourself, move somewhere else unfamiliar, set up and then have to establish your networks and your links all over again.

    “So HDB (Housing and Development Board) had studied this carefully and I’m happy to tell you ... we will extend the Lease Buyback Scheme to four-room flats.”

    The scheme, which was introduced in 2009, currently allows elderly owners of three-room or smaller flats to retain 30 years of their lease and sell the remainder to the HDB, in return for a lump sum and monthly payouts.

    Although the take-up rate has been low, the Government said previously that it would consider extending it to those who own four- and five-room flats.

    Earlier this month, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said a total of 367,000 households here had at least one flat-owner aged 55 years and above. Of these, 32 per cent live in three-room flats, 44 per cent in four-room flats and 24 per cent in five-room flats.

    However, only 326 households have signed up for this scheme since it was updated in February last year.

  12. #8580
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    Default CPF system ‘should be more flexible, help lower-income’



    TODAY file photo


    ByXue Jianyue

    xuejianyue@mediacorp.com.sg

    Published: 4:04 AM, August 18, 2014


    SINGAPORE – While the Central Provident Fund (CPF) system has worked well for most Singaporeans, the scheme alone is not enough to ensure Singaporeans have enough money for retirement, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

    Polling the audience at the National Day Rally held at ITE College Central on how much money they thought a typical couple would require to get by during retirement, Mr Lee concluded that CPF savings and the public housing programme go hand-in-hand in providing for retirement and the current Minimum Sum is “not too much”.

    I have seen so many sad cases: Seniors who have cashed out unwisely, cheated of all their money, sometimes even turfed out by their children...So it's better to keep your property. Even if you rent out the whole flat, it doesn't matter. It is yours, and you can fall back on it in your old age, in case anything happens.


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    He noted that, by and large, seniors here are doing well, with many having savings, investments and support from their children or happily working.

    Mr Lee acknowledged that the CPF system could be improved in two aspects: Making sure the lower-income has enough to get by in retirement and making the system more flexible.
    Still, he felt the CPF system had served Singaporeans well: It is fair as savings are for a member’s retirement only; not for someone else. Also, it is based on personal responsibility — the more or longer one works, the more he saves and the more he will have in retirement. Members get a lifelong stream of income under the CPF LIFE scheme too, said the Prime Minister.

    Still, he acknowledged the reactions triggered by this year’s adjustment in the Minimum Sum to S$155,000. Citing the experiences of several Members of Parliament (MPs), he noted that, for example, some Singaporeans had said they wanted all their CPF money back.

    In June, Toa Payoh-Bishan GRC MP Hri Kumar held a CPF dialogue. “He had a participant say, ‘Give me back my CPF! I want to spend it all.’ Hri Kumar, who is a very mild man, said, ‘Then, who will take care of you if your money runs out?’ So, the participant said, ‘God will help me.’ But another participant put his hand up and said, ‘What he means is the Government will help him’,” said Mr Lee, to laughter from the audience.

    He noted that others had taken a more balanced view. A volunteer at the Bukit Timah constituency of Minister of State (Education and Communications and Information), Ms Sim Ann, pointed out that employers and the Government help CPF members save for retirement, via employer CPF contributions as well as housing grants, Medisave top-ups and Workfare respectively, said Mr Lee.

    He cited an example of a typical Singaporean household comprising a 54-year-old man earning S$4,500 a month, a housewife and two school-going children living in a fully paid four-room flat. He asked the audience how much they thought the man would need to get by each month in retirement. Among three options (S$3,000, S$2,000 and S$1,000 a month), most in the auditorium chose, by a show of hands, the second option.

    Mr Lee said assuming the man would pledge his property to meet the Minimum Sum of S$155,000, he would be required to leave S$77,500 in his CPF account, meaning he would receive only S$600 a month from CPF payouts when he retires.


    “So if you need S$2,000, this is not going to be enough and you have to think of some other sources of income when you reach 65,” added Mr Lee.

    To supplement the CPF payouts, he said the man could continue working, draw on his personal savings or get support from his working children.

    I have seen so many sad cases: Seniors who have cashed out unwisely, cheated of all their money, sometimes even turfed out by their children...So it's better to keep your property. Even if you rent out the whole flat, it doesn't matter. It is yours, and you can fall back on it in your old age, in case anything happens.

    He could also get a stream of money from his house: By renting out a room, he could receive S$700 a month from his tenant. If he could move in with his children, he could get more by renting out his flat for about S$2,500 a month.

    He could also sell the flat and move into a smaller unit. By doing so, he could tap the S$20,000 Silver Housing Bonus. Should he move to a studio apartment, he would receive S$210,000 in cash and S$800 additional monthly income, in addition to CPF Life payouts.

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    Default National Day Rally 2014: PM Lee pays tribute to Lee Kuan Yew's former driver, Rahmat

    Published on Aug 17, 2014 11:18 PM




    Mr Rahmat Yusak (left) with former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. Mr Rahmat was Mr Lee's driver when the latter was visiting constituencies around the island in the battle against the communists. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF ZULKIFLI RAHMAT




    Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew visiting constituencies in the fight against communism in Singapore, with Mr Rahmat Yusak in the driver's seat. In his National Day Rally speech, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he was the boy whose face was hidden by the windshield. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF ZULKIFLI RAHMAT



    Mr Rahmat Yusak receiving his Public Service Medal (Bronze) from then President Yusof Ishak. -- PHOTO: COURTESY OF ZULKIFLI RAHMAT

    By David Ee


    SINGAPORE - Mr Rahmat Yusak, who died two weeks ago aged 95, helped in his own way to drive Singapore forward.

    In the 1960s, he was assigned to drive an open-topped Land Rover carrying former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew in the back seat. Mr Lee was visiting constituencies to rally supporters against the communists.

    Mr Lee paid tribute to Mr Rahmat in 1980, writing in the People’s Association 20th anniversary magazine about how the cheerful man had sacrificed many weekends for his work. “I cannot adequately express my abiding gratitude... he drove that exposed Land Rover with full confidence, bringing me to all 51 constituencies. (He) understood what was at stake.”

    For his services, Mr Rahmat was awarded a Public Service Medal (Bronze) by late former president Yusof Ishak. A widower who left behind six children when he died on Aug 5 from pneumonia, he shared Mr Lee’s belief in a good education.

    At the National Day Rally on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid tribute to Mr Rahmat, whose son, Mr Mohamed Zulkifli, a senior journalist at Berita Harian, had written to the PM to say: "My father was only a driver, but I hope people like him will not be forgotten when Singapore honours its Pioneer Generation."

    PM Lee said: "We will never forget your father, Mr Rahmat Yusak, nor the many pioneers who built Singapore."

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    Default 5 remarkable facts about National Day Rally 2014

    Published on Aug 17, 2014 11:19 PM




    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’ at National Day Rally (NDR) in ITE College Central. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAO BIN


    By Chua Mui Hoong, Opinion Editor

    1. PM Lee Hsien Loong didn’t wear red or pink.

    He wore blue, or rather, teal.

    The shirt came from local shirtmaker CYC.

    Some tweets to the hashtag #ndrsg remarked on the choice of colour.

    It was by no means the first time PM Lee wore blue, so those wondering if there was a subliminal message to Workers’ Party fans can scrub that thought out.

    PM Lee chose blue, or shades of it, in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2011.

    2. Jurong is going to be the new Marina.

    Exciting plans are in store for the Jurong Lake and Jurong Gateway area.
    A new lakeside garden will be developed, joining the existing Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden and Jurong Lake Park.

    There are plans for lakeside and parkside residential developments fringing the new garden.

    More commercial developments will come up.

    A new Science Centre will pop up.

    And most of all, the High Speed Rail from Kuala Lumpur may well terminate in the Jurong Lake area.

    PM Lee has told Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak he thinks the high speed train can have its Singapore terminus in the Jurong Lake area.

    3. The Lease Buyback scheme will be extended to four-room flats.

    Now, it’s an option only for those who own three-room and smaller flats.

    The extension means over half of Housing Board (HDB) flat owners stand to have this option when they retire.

    They can sell back the last decades of their HDB flat leases to the government, and get a lump sum, plus monthly cash payments.

    A flat of $450,000, with 35 years of lease sold back to the government, nets a family $27,500 in a lump sum, and $900 cash a month.

    4. PM Lee turned interviewer.

    He was so taken with Keppel Offshore and Marine, he went down to do a group interview with three of their employees.

    All three are folk who started with ITE certificates or poly diplomas who climbed the career ladder in Keppel.

    He screened snippets of the video interviews in his National Day Rally speech. His point was that you don’t need a degree to do well at work in Singapore.

    As a journalist who’s conducted many interviews (including with PM himself), I can say he did a good job. He established rapport and asked questions that elicited candid and open responses.

    We know this PM can take selfies and he snaps good photos. He even showed some of them off at the NDR.

    Now, we know he can also do interviews.

    5. PM Lee sang.

    He sang one line from a Chinese xinyao song, on dreams.

    Okay, it was just one line.

    Okay, while he can make it as a new media journalist, he may not make it as a singer.
    But at least the man tried.

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    Default National Day Rally 2014: New centre to promote 'Nanyang' style Chinese culture

    Published on Aug 17, 2014 8:43 PM




    Members of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) performing at Singapore Sports Hub on 28 June 2014. The republic has developed its own "Nanyang" style of Chinese culture and a new centre will promote it, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his speech in Mandarin on Sunday. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE


    By Lim Yan Liang


    SINGAPORE - The Republic has developed its own "Nanyang" style of Chinese culture and a new centre will promote it, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in his National Day Rally speech in Mandarin on Sunday.

    The new Singapore Chinese Culture Centre in Shenton Way will also promote traditional and modern Chinese culture and enjoy the Government's backing.

    Calling the project a deeply meaningful and far-reaching one for the Chinese community here, he urged supporters of Chinese culture to partner the new centre.

    He also highlighted works by Singapore's Chinese dance troupes which incorporate elements from other cultures, and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) as examples of the Nanyang style.

    He said Singapore-style dance performances are well received overseas and the SCO has become a multi-cultural Chinese orchestra. " While using traditional Chinese music instruments, they have made their mark with performances in 'Nanyang' style," he added.

    He also made the point that a shared cultural heritage is one reason why Singapore businesses have generally done well in China.

    "Singaporean Chinese share a similar cultural background, are bilingual and can integrate in Chinese society more quickly," he said.

    "This gives us some advantage, (and) to take advantage of this opportunity, we need to help our young understand their culture better, help them connect internationally, while ensuring they remain rooted to Singapore and our culture," he added.

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    Default Science Centre to still nurture 'spirit of inquiry, exploration and discovery': Heng

    POSTED: 18 Aug 2014 13:53

    A committee comprising a "diverse group of talented and passionate people" will be set up to plan the development of the "jewel" of Jurong, says Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.


    An aerial view of the Science Centre. (Photo: Science Centre Singapore)


    SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Education and the Science Centre team are "eager to get to work" in re-imagining and developing the new Science Centre, which Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong dubbed the "jewel" of Jurong during his National Day Rally speech, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat.

    In his Facebook post on Monday (Aug 18), Mr Heng wrote that the Science Centre is a "good place where generations of Singaporeans have been able to imagine, experience, discover and dream". It has played, and will continue to play, an important role of nurturing a "spirit of inquiry, exploration and discovery", he added.

    The minister said science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are a critical part of our lives, and all these aspects will be integral when imagining, designing and building Jurong Lake District.

    "So how great it will be to have a brand new Science Centre to ignite our children's imagination to create, invent, problem solve and transform the way we live and work," Mr Heng wrote.

    To that end, he said a committee will be set up to "imagine all the ways to make the Science Centre even better". He added that he hoped to attract a diverse group of talented and passionate people - such as the best educators in sciences and maths, overseas scientists and researchers, industry practitioners and technologists and people with a deep sense of wonder - to be on the committee.

    "I hope our new Science Centre will appeal to all ages - and inspire everyone to retain this child-like sense of wonder all our lives," Mr Heng stated.


    - CNA/kk

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    Default Son of Lee Kuan Yew's former driver pays tribute to late father

    Published on Aug 18, 2014 2:37 PM



    Berita Harian's night editor Mohamed Zulkifli Rahmat reacts when Prime Miniser Lee Hsien Loong spoke of his late father, Mr Rahmat Yusak, the former driver of Mr Lee Kuan Yew at National Day Rally on Aug 17. -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN



    SINGAPORE - At the National Day Rally on Sunday, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong paid tribute to Mr Rahmat Yusak, former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's driver in the 1960s.

    On Monday night, Prime Minister Lee wrote about Mr Rahmat on his Facebook, saying: "If you watched my Rally last night, you will remember my tribute to Mr Rahmat Yusak, who drove Mr Lee Kuan Yew around all the constituencies in a Land Rover in the 1960s. Mr Rahmat passed away two weeks ago. His son, Mr Zulkifli Rahmat, a senior journalist at Berita Harian, wrote a moving piece about his father in the paper today.

    "Mr Rahmat made his own contribution to the Singapore story, driving Mr Lee on an exhausting campaign trail, often returning home late at night, with bits of firecrackers in the Land Rover. Like other Pioneers, he believed in Singapore, and worked hard to give his six children a better future. We will never forget him, nor his fellow Pioneers, who have done so much for Singapore."

    Mr Mohd Zulkifli Rahmat, night editor of Berita Harian, had written an e-mail to Prime Minister Lee to say: "My father was only a driver, but I hope people like him will not be forgotten when Singapore honours its Pioneer Generation."

    Mr Zulkifli said that he wrote to the Prime Minister on the spur of the moment, when his ailing father, 95, was into his fourth week in hospital for lung infection. "On the night I was alone with him, watching him sleep, I felt so sorry that we could not do much to help him recover. Doctors had given him only days to live."

    Mr Zulkifli then picked up his mobile phone and wrote an e-mail to PM Lee about his father's condition on Aug 4. His father died the next day. The spontaneous e-mail got a response from the PM, who asked Mr Zulkifli's permission to mention his father in the National Day Rally speech.

    PM Lee's moving tribute during the Sunday speech was "truly unexpected", said Mr Zulkifli, whose father died on Aug 5. Mr Zulkifli then wrote about his late father in an article published in Berita Harian a day after PM Lee's National Day Rally speech.
    Here is a translation of the article.

    By Mohd Zulkifli Rahmat

    In Kampung Chantek Lama, which was also called Kampung Wayang Satu, in the early 1960s, a Land Rover was often parked along the road near my house.

    I felt excited every time I saw it. As a child, I waited for a chance to go for a ride in the Land Rover, even for just a short trip. We could not afford to own the vehicle then.

    The Land Rover which belonged to the Primary Production Department (PPD) was driven by my father, Mr Rahmat Yusak, to take PPD staff to crop and livestock farms.

    He drove the vehicle home when he was able to return for lunch.

    Sometimes, the Land Rover was driven home late at night or early in the morning. Inside, there were pieces of firecrackers and garlands.

    I was too young, so I did not understand the circumstances then. My father seldom talked about his job.

    When I got older, I knew that the Land Rover with firecrackers and garlands were used during the then-Prime Minister’s general election campaign.

    It turned out that my father was the driver of a very famous individual – Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
    But my father never boasted about his job.

    He also did not tell other people. He did not share private matters that I am sure he knew while he was in service.

    Even if he did, it was just to express his gratitude that he was well-treated by Mr Lee and his wife, and how they were always concerned about his welfare.

    Also fresh in my father’s memory was when our current Prime Minister, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, as a child, also accompanied Mr Lee Kuan Yew during his general election campaign.

    While his father made speeches to would-be voters, Mr Lee Hsien Loong usually sat still beside my father in the Land Rover.

    Although he was not boastful, my father was proud of his job and diligent in carrying out his duties.

    I could see his pride from the way he carefully kept old photographs and documents.

    Among the materials I discovered my father had kept: an official employment letter from the PPD, an invitation card and a ceremony programme booklet when he was conferred a medal by Mr Yusof Ishak in 1964, several invitation cards to dinner events at Sri Temasek at the Istana, a letter of appreciation from the Defence Minister for his excellent service as a driver for dignitaries during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in 1971, and a Hari Raya card and a personal letter from Mr Lee Kuan Yew in 1998.

    With his job as a driver, my father, together with my mother, Madam Tafilah Said, brought up six children.

    He did not have a formal education but still wanted his children to study at the highest level possible.

    When I failed to get a scholarship and refused to go to the university to avoid burdening the family, my father, at 62, was willing to pay for my studies for the next four years.

    He was firm in wanting his children to avoid negative influences. For example, when we just moved from the village to a public flat in Tanglin Halt in the late 1960s, he quickly warned us “not to mix with the drug addict kids at the void deck”.

    Throughout his career, his work ethic was recognised by his colleagues and supervisors. It was said he almost never took medical leave.

    According to a former colleague, when Minister E.W. Barker needed a driver, he once looked for my father. When he was told that my father had retired, Mr Barker said: “How can Rahmat retire?”

    How true - after he retired from public service at 60, my father became the driver of a surgeon for around 10 years.

    In his old age, he was always active, preferring to be self-reliant and moving around without anyone’s help.

    “I don’t want to burden my children,” he said.
    He died on Aug 5. He was 95.

    As a member of the pioneer generation, my father’s sacrifices and hard work in successfully raising a family, I think, also benefited the community.

    He too had certainly contributed to the country’s well-being.

    Translated by Norzulriyah Haron

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