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Thread: Singapore Also Can
03-02-2010, 09:45 PM #1293
Farther down the road, towards the sea where the monorail station stands solid and tall, is a place of great interest and activity. There are eateries here and a souvenir shop but the more popular attraction is The Luge where many eager fans are waiting for their turn. They will not be disappointed!
03-03-2010, 03:07 AM #1294
My last stop was the famous Siloso Beach.
Despite Singapore's lack of space and sandy beaches, Sentosa managed to carve out this niche for enthusiasts of the sun, sand and sea and became quite famous for its beach games, parties and 'Zouk out'.
This place was alive with all sorts of beach activities for the young and not so young and will continue to attract greater numbers when more facilities are installed. A great place to relax and frolic under the sun.
03-03-2010, 08:23 PM #1295
Ex-Romanian diplomat had several drinks before hit-and-run accident: court witness
03 March 2010 1418 hrs
By Shaffiq AlKhatib,
SINGAPORE: The former Romanian charge d'affaires to Singapore, Dr Silviu Ionescu, had been drinking alcohol the night his embassy car was involved in a fatal hit-and-run accident.
This was revealed at a coroner's inquiry on Wednesday by a witness who said she was with Dr Ionescu that night.
Korean opera singer Jeong Ae Ree cut a glamorous figure in court as she detailed her night out with Dr Silviu Ionescu on December 14.
Ms Jeong said they went to the Shangri-La Hotel for a function, where the former diplomat had a few glasses of white wine.
Next, they went to Clarke Quay, where he downed two shots of tequila outside a Turkish restaurant.
After that, they proceeded to the Legend Palace KTV lounge at Peace Centre off Sophia Road.
Ms Jeong testified that Dr Ionescu had a few glasses of what she said was "probably a mixture of coke and spirits" at the lounge.
Finally, he drove her home to the Hillcrest Arcadia condominium at three in the morning.
The state coroner was shown CCTV footage of the two together at the Shangri-La Hotel and Peace Centre.
There was also footage of them meeting at the lobby of Ms Jeong's apartment building the next day, on December 16, where she said Dr Ionescu explained he had only drunk juices and coke on their night out.
He even showed her medication for his diabetes.
All this puzzled Ms Jeong, who told the court she did not know why he did so.
The coroner's inquiry is not a criminal trial.
Its role is to establish the facts surrounding the death of the hit-and-run victim, Tong Kok Wai.
However, if the coroner rules otherwise, no charges will be made against him.
The Malaysian died after being run over by a black Audi belonging to the Romanian embassy on December 15 at Bukit Panjang.
Two others were injured.
Dr Ionescu has maintained the vehicle was stolen, but evidence presented in court showed the car could only be unlocked by its original key.
Police have also determined that Dr Ionescu was behind the wheel at the time of the accident.
Dr Ionescu has been asked to attend the inquiry not as a "potential defendant", but as an "interested person". However he has so far not said he will do so.
Also present at the Coroner's Inquiry were Subhas Anandan and Sunil Sudheesan, lawyers for Mr Tong's widow, and the Romanian Embassy's Economic Counsellor and Charge d'Affaires Alexander Nicolae Coseru.
About 50 witnesses are due to give testimony at the inquiry.
The Romanian Embassy has said the former diplomat's driver Marius Trusca will "assist the state coroner" in investigations.
1. Silviu Ionescu (file picture)
2. Jeong Ae Ree
03-03-2010, 11:25 PM #1296
Loh, diplomats have immunity from any civil or criminal prosecutions. There is nothing the Singapore government can do about it. It would have been better for the Singapore government to ask Romania to waive diplomatic immunity for their diplomat so that he can be tried in Singapore. If not then Romania obviously think any diplomatic fallout is minimal.
03-04-2010, 01:18 AM #1297
SGH doctors perform Singapore's first dual-kidney transplant
03 March 2010 1706 hrs
By Dylan Loh,
SINGAPORE: Doctors at the Singapore General Hospital successfully performed a dual-kidney transplant last December, in what's believed to be a first for Singapore.
Housewife Susan Ong finally got a new lease on life, after waiting eight years for a transplant.
The 54-year-old mother of two had kidney failure and had to undergo 12 hours of dialysis treatment every week.
It all changed last December, when she became Singapore's first dual-kidney transplant success story.
Ong said she was scared and worried, but placed her trust in the medical team and went ahead with the operation.
"We performed a dual-kidney transplant because we anticipated that the functional capacity of a single kidney from an older donor will not be enough for our recipient," explained Dr Terence Kee, a consultant at the Department of Renal Medicine at the Singapore General Hospital.
"So with careful assessment of the donor, with respect to function and structure, we decided that we would place two kidneys into this recipient."
This is made possible by changes to the Human Organ Transplant Act last November, with more kidneys made available for transplants. Doctors can now harvest kidneys from a person who has died and is above 60 years old but did not pledge organs for donation.
In such an operation, doctors remove two kidneys from a deceased donor and transplant them.
This usually takes one to two hours more than a single-kidney transplant surgery.
Following Ong's successful transplant, doctors have performed another such procedure last month.
More kidney patients like Ong will benefit from the availability of dual-kidney transplants as an option.
Going forward, doctors say they expect to perform more of such procedures.
03-04-2010, 01:41 AM #1298
We need to wait for the outcome.
03-04-2010, 05:00 AM #1299
I hope this will not get out of hand.
03-04-2010, 10:19 AM #1300
03-04-2010, 07:35 PM #1301
Singapore says terror attacks planned on oil tankers
04 March 2010 1644 hrs
SINGAPORE - An unidentified terrorist group is planning attacks against oil tankers in the Malacca Strait, one of the world's busiest shipping lanes, a shipping association said Thursday.
The Singapore Shipping Association said it had received an advisory from the Singapore Navy Information Fusion Centre about "an indication that a terrorist group is planning attacks on oil tankers in the Malacca Strait."
It said "this does not preclude possible attacks on other large vessels with dangerous cargo."
"The terrorists' intent is probably to achieve widespread publicity and showcase that it remains a viable group," the navy said in its advisory.
It reminded shipping operators that the militants could use smaller vessels such as dinghies and speedboats to attack oil tankers.
Pirates and robbers have also used small fishing vessels to board ships during previous attacks in the Malacca Strait.
More than 30 per cent of world trade and half the world's oil shipments pass through the strait, which is shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore.
The navy recommended that ships should "strengthen their onboard security measures and to adopt community reporting to increase awareness and strengthen the safety of all seafarers," according to the association.
One of the plots foiled by Singapore authorities was a plan by Islamic militants to hijack an airliner in Bangkok and crash it into Changi airport in 2001 following the September 11 attacks that year in the United States.
Singapore has also arrested several militants involved in a plot to bomb the US embassy and other targets in the city-state.
An armed marine policeman stands guard on the deck of his Malaysian patrol boat in the Malacca Strait (file picture)
03-04-2010, 07:46 PM #1302
Govt to spend S$100m over 5 years to tackle challenges on ageing
04 March 2010 2132 hrs
By Hoe Yeen Nie/Ting Kheng Siong,
SINGAPORE: The government will be pumping in S$100 million over the next five years to tackle the problems of an ageing population.
The bulk of it will go towards taking care of the physical, social and emotional needs of the elderly and avert the social isolation of the elderly.
Walking has been difficult for 82-year-old Fong Foon Yee since she fractured her hip in 2008. A year later, she was diagnosed with intestinal cancer.
But she's been able to get by, thanks to her friend, Lim Ah Lek. Madam Lim cooks for her and helps her with her groceries.
For this, Madam Lim was given a Good Neighbour Award by Hong Kah Division in 2009.
But she said that she was just returning a kind deed.
Madam Lim added: "She came to visit me when I had an operation. It was in the morning and she was there that afternoon. She's so old yet, she went to the hospital. Now she needs help. I must think of her help in the past."
They're now constant companions but there are many others who have no one to turn to.
And numbers show those who are isolated get depressed more easily.
According to the Ministry for Community Development, Youth and Sports, those who live alone and have weak social networks have a 25 per cent chance of suffering from depression while those who have friends and family to rely on, have a nine per cent chance.
With more senior citizens living alone, the government wants to ensure that there are enough community networks to support them.
Figures from the Department of Statistics show that the number of senior citizens aged above 65 living on their own went up from about 15,000 in 2000 to 22,000 in 2005.
Plans include S$77 million to expand its Wellness Programme which organises social activities and health screenings.
This will mean tripling its presence from the current 12 sites. Another 25 will be set up in constituencies from this year.
S$20 million will also be pumped into a fund to support active lifestyles and lifelong learning among the elderly.
Money will be injected over five years.
The fund, called the Active Ageing Capability Fund will replace the current Golden Opportunities (GO!) Fund, and will be administered by the Council for Third Age (C3A).
Announcing this in Parliament on Thursday, the Minister-in-Charge of Ageing Issues said he wants to give the elderly more options on how to live their lives.
He called this the "Active Ageing Model" after a similar practice in Australia.
Minister-in-Charge for Ageing Issues Lim Boon Heng said: "Our approach is to enable people to take care of themselves for as long as possible. And for those who need support to enable them to do as much as possible themselves."
And the Centre for Enabled Living aims to do just that with a new S$3 million fund infusion.
Among other plans, it will partner voluntary welfare groups to help the elderly and family members work out care arrangements to avoid checking into a nursing home prematurely.
03-04-2010, 07:57 PM #1303
Productivity push is govt's commitment to Singapore's future: Tharman
04 March 2010 1748 hrs
By Hoe Yeen Nie,
• Singapore Budget 2010
SINGAPORE : Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam has said the push for greater productivity will only yield results in the long term, and urged Singaporeans to play their part.
Wrapping up the Budget debate on Thursday, he said the Budget represents a major commitment to Singapore's growth.
In the past week, some MPs had argued that low-income families had been hurt by what they saw as a "growth at all costs" policy - a criticism which the Finance Minister said is "wrong and misleading".
Mr Tharman said: "Our growth strategy in the past decade was not wrong-headed. It illustrates the very real trade-offs we face in practice when deciding whether to allow the economy to grow rapidly and above its potential for a period."
He said the economy was allowed to expand rapidly in the second half of the decade, because growth in the first half had been weak. This meant average incomes and employment could go up, but it could only be done by allowing businesses to bring in more foreign workers.
But the government knows this is not a sustainable solution, because Mr Tharman said it will reduce the incentive for employers to upgrade their operations and raise productivity levels. An indiscriminate increase in the foreign worker population would also put pressure on Singapore's social and physical limits.
That is why the government is getting companies to reduce their dependence on cheap labour, by raising levy rates.
Mr Tharman said the move is not aimed at fattening government coffers. Instead, the money will be used on schemes to help companies boost productivity.
The Finance Minister said: "It is not like one of those slimming adverts where on the left hand side, it is someone who is sort of a little larger than normal, and then the right hand side is much slimmer. We are slim all the way. Because I do not take the money in and keep it, without giving it out."
On concerns over rising inequality, Mr Tharman said the solution is not slower growth, as this will have the hardest impact on those at the bottom.
He said that slowing down the economy will lead to job losses and falling incomes for those at the lower end of the workforce; while at the top end, those with the talent and entrepreneurial ability will move to cities where opportunities are.
Instead, the approach must be to first grow the economy, by allowing those with higher skills and entrepreneurial abilities to do well.
Mr Tharman said: "Our ultimate aim, as MPs Josephine Teo, Muhammad Faishal, Ong Ah Heng and several others recognised, is to raise the incomes and sense of self-worth of our citizens, including those at the lower end of the income ladder.
"In order to achieve this, we have to make a sustained effort to grow skills, to innovate and to raise productivity. We must also ensure that all Singaporeans are included in growth and, as MP Jessica Tan put it, feel that they have a fair chance of success and that they can achieve more for themselves and their families through their own efforts, helped by the government."
He said this will be a long-term process and he urged Singaporeans to play their part in the productivity push.
03-04-2010, 08:01 PM #1304
2 taxi drivers saw ex-Romanian diplomat in same area where car was found
04 March 2010 2118 hrs
By Lynda Hong,
SINGAPORE: Two cabbies said they saw Romania's former Charge d'affaires to Singapore, Dr Silviu Ionescu, in the vicinity of Sungei Kadut Avenue in the early hours of 15 December 2009.
That's where the said stolen Romanian Embassy car which was involved in a hit-and-run accident was later found.
The coroner's inquiry also saw one of the surviving victims testify on Thursday.
Life hasn't been the same for Mr Bong Hwee Ha ever since he was seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident. His friend, 30-year-old Tong Kok Wai died.
At the coroner's inquiry, Mr Bong recounted what happened when they were crossing the road at the junction of Bukit Panjang and Bangkit Roads.
Meanwhile, cabbie Mohd Salihen Wahab said he saw Dr Ionescu walking towards him near Sungei Kadut Avenue at around 3.20am, some 10 minutes after the accident.
He said Dr Ionescu was about three metres away from a stationary black car at the front gate of a building.
He said he found it "unusual" to see a well-dressed man at a deserted road in the wee hours of the morning.
Cabbie Neo Hock Beng said Dr Ionescu hailed his taxi at the junction of Woodlands Road and Sungei Kadut Avenue at around 3.30am.
And during the trip to Grange Heights Condominium in River Valley, he heard Dr Ionescu calling the police to report his missing car.
Mr Neo suspected his passenger was in trouble and printed a receipt which was presented in court.
The inquiry continues on Friday
03-04-2010, 08:09 PM #1305
Schools plan to devote 20% of curriculum to use ICT to support learning
04 March 2010 1629 hrs
By Jeremy Koh,
SINGAPORE : Over the next five years, schools will progressively devote at least 20 per cent of their curriculum to use information and communication technologies (ICT) to support learning.
They will also train cyber wellness student ambassadors to teach fellow students how to use the net safely.
These are the key thrusts of the Education Ministry's third ICT Masterplan, which aims to prepare students for the 21st century workplace.
North Vista Primary School has been using SMART boards since 2008 to teach subjects like English, Science and Mathematics.
Suriana Mohamed, teacher, North Vista Primary School, said: "Because this is a multi-sensory tool, the kids will definitely be excited to come to class, to learn. "
But as ICT-enabled learning becomes more commonplace in schools, the Education Ministry is also determined to ensure that students are discerning and responsible users.
And so one key support structure is to have a trained teacher in every school to implement cyber wellness programmes.
S Iswaran, Senior Minister of State for Education, said: "By the end of this year, we would have trained cyber wellness student ambassadors in 50 per cent of our schools and by 2013, we will have such student ambassadors in every school."
While schools will continue to be the main driver of ICT innovations, the Education Ministry will work alongside them to develop lessons.
It will also link schools with institutes of higher learning and industry partners to test-bed emerging technologies for learning.
In addition, there will be a new online platform called ICT Connection, which will engage teachers on the effective integration of ICT.
Mr Iswaran said: "As we make changes to the way we teach, we are also stepping up our efforts to change the way we assess learning. Over the next two years, we will explore, develop and conduct trials of new assessment approaches which are applicable to 21st century skills."
The Education Ministry will also develop a group of expert practitioners called ICT mentors who will guide teachers on the effective use of ICT for learning and teaching.
By 2013, the Ministry expects to have an average of four trained ICT mentors in every school
03-04-2010, 08:32 PM #1306
Lifting ban on chewing gum sale could result in return of gum litter problem
04 March 2010 1617 hrs
By Imelda Saad,
SINGAPORE: The ban on the sale of chewing gum in Singapore stays as the government is concerned that lifting the ban could see a return of the problem of gum litter.
Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Dr Maliki Osman said this in response to a question on the appropriate time to do away with the ban.
Dr Maliki said gum litter has not been a significant problem since the ban took effect in 1992 but is worried that this may change if the ban is lifted.
He explained: "We remain concerned that lifting the ban on the sale of chewing gum could result in chewing gum litter resurfacing as a problem and undermine our ongoing efforts to curb littering.
“As the rationale for the imposition of the ban is still valid at present, the government's position is that the ban should remain.”
The government decided to impose a complete ban on the sale of chewing gum in 1992 due to problems arising from the indiscriminate disposal of gum litter such as difficulty and costs incurred in removing gum litter from public places, vandalism and service disruptions caused by gum being stuck between the doors of MRT trains.
The government made an exception in 2004 for the sale of chewing gum with therapeutic value as defined under the Medicines Act. These include those that help smokers quit as well as products of dental hygiene.
03-04-2010, 08:41 PM #1307
Foreign worker levy changes aim to motivate companies to increase productivity
04 March 2010 1723 hrs
By Imelda Saad,
SINGAPORE: Singapore's Manpower Minister Gan Kim Yong has defended moves to raise the foreign worker levy to moderate the growth of such workers.
Mr Gan told Parliament that the levy changes are to ensure balanced economic growth and prevent over-reliance on foreign manpower.
The decision to raise foreign worker levies got much airing in Parliament this week. MPs were concerned with the impact on small businesses and sectors which already find it hard to hire locals.
One suggestion that fuelled the debate came from opposition MP Low Thia Khiang.
He said: “Scrap the foreign worker levy and just use the dependency ratio to calibrate foreign worker numbers.”
This was shot down.
Mr Gan explained: "If we only have a Dependency Ratio system with no levy, it would not make much of a difference to a company whether it hires one foreign worker or 10 foreign workers.
“In the end, most companies may well decide to hire as many foreign workers as they can up to the limit of their Dependency Ratios. This will be contrary to our objective to moderate demand and facilitate efficient allocation of foreign manpower resources."
Mr Gan said the government is not in the position to decide which industries should have more foreign workers.
He added: "For example, how do we determine whether the pharmaceutical industry requires more or fewer foreign workers than say, the Food Manufacturing industry? Even within the same industry, Food & Beverage, for example - how do we decide whether a coffee shop requires more or fewer foreign workers than, say, a French restaurant?
“Instead of the government making decisions on the number of foreign workers in each industry and business, we should leave it to market forces to do that through a pricing mechanism.”
On concerns that companies may not be able to find enough locals to take over the jobs of foreign workers, Mr Gan said the levy changes aim to motivate companies to increase productivity, with fewer workers.
Mr Gan said: "Let me borrow a phrase from my colleague Mr Lim Swee Say with - same same input and same same output, productivity will remain same same with no real improvements.
“Companies should consider how they can streamline business processes, improve their products and services, explore new higher value markets and upgrade the skills of their workforce. This way, they will see real productivity gains."
And because of the three-year phased period of increments, companies will have time to adjust.
"We need to get companies to start thinking about improving their productivity and take steps to reduce their dependency on foreign manpower now so that they have enough time to realise productivity gains. The longer we delay, the more painful the adjustments will be later," said Mr Gan.
The Manpower Minister acknowledged that the system is not perfect but stressed that it is practical and has worked relatively well so far.
He noted that companies will find it a challenge to adjust but for those who make the effort, they will be in a stronger position to seize opportunities and be more competitive in the long run.
Mr Gan Kim Yong
03-04-2010, 11:57 PM #1308
I am merely taking the same position as your honourable minister-no trial through the media.
03-05-2010, 12:07 AM #1309
Your remarks below do not help in the matter and your uncomplimentary choice of words certainly will not be the type used by our Foreign Minister!
"So shaming the diplomat, and indirectly the Romania government, by splashing Singapore's version of the injustice is what we are seeing now."
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