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Thread: Singapore Also Can
03-25-2010, 11:20 PM #1497
The Straits Times
Mar 26, 2010
Engage 'heart and spirit'
By Sue-Ann Chia, Senior Political Correspondent
MENTION Singapore and chances are most people would think of a country that has sound policies, good infrastructure, is safe, reliable and efficient.
But such core strengths are no longer sufficient to set Singapore apart in the global war to woo talent and investments, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew noted yesterday.
He revealed that Singapore intends to embark on a new national effort to brand the country differently, with a message that goes beyond those which just appeal to the intellect and the mind.
'We need also to have a message that reaches out, that touches the heart, moves the spirit and stirs emotions...,' he said at a public communications conference organised by the Civil Service College.
'These are the qualities we need to work on. We need to better strengthen and position ourselves going forward. It is not to dilute the brand we built up over the years, for which people know us well. But it is evolving the brand so that it offers far more than what people know of us in the 80s and in the 90s.'
Agencies have already branded Singapore in various ways, with taglines such as 'Uniquely Singapore', and 'Your Singapore, City in the Garden, World of Opportunities'.
Mention Singapore and chances are most people would think of a country that has sound policies, good infrastructure, is safe, reliable and efficient. -- ST PHOTO: SAMUEL HE
03-26-2010, 11:26 AM #1498
SG Changi wins bid to build Changi Motorsports Hub
26 March 2010 1531 hrs
By Patwant Singh
SINGAPORE : The Singapore Sports Council has declared SG Changi the winner of the race to build Singapore's first permanent racing track.
SG Changi was one of three consortiums that submitted bids for the Changi Motorsports Hub. The other two bidders were Singapore Agro Agriculture and Sports Services.
SG Changi's plan features a S$280 million facility, which can seat 20,000 spectators.
The centrepiece is a four-kilometre track, which is longer than the current 3.7-kilometre one, and is good enough to meet FIA requirements.
It will be divided in half, so that separate races can take place.
It also has a 1.2-kilometre karting track.
Away from the track are lifestyle attractions like food and beverage outlets, a beach front and a museum.
SG Changi's the design and look were deemed innovative, flexible and functional.
SG Changi topped it up with an assurance that it has secured sound financing.
The next step is to start work and get it ready on time, by the end of 2011.
Vivian Balakrishnan, Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister, said: "Although it is a significant investment, nevertheless I think it is still of a size which can be executed fairly rapidly, and I am hoping that there would be no undue delays. We will now help facilitate all their approvals for building permits and the rest of it."
The government hopes the Hub will promote and develop motor sports and groom home grown talent.
A racing academy is one way to achieve this goal.
As the work begins to get the Hub up and running, the work also goes on to deliver quality track action.
Eddie Koh, director, SG Changi, said: "There are many international races and we have been in contact with some of these companies that run races. We are looking at GT races from Japan, from Europe, maybe from Asia also."
The Grade 2 track cannot host the Formula One race - which will continue to be a street race in Singapore for now - but there are plans to bring the Moto GP, which is the F1 of motor bikes.
Like the Singapore Formula One night race, the permanent track too will host events under the stars. And there are also plans to build a 120-room hotel, once the authorities give the green light. After all, the facility is being promoted as a tourist attraction.
03-27-2010, 04:40 AM #1499
PM Lee on govt's approach in engaging S'poreans in new media
27 March 2010 1143 hrs
By Imelda Saad
SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has spoken of the government's approach on how it engages Singaporeans in the new media.
Speaking at a forum for the national feedback arm, REACH, Mr Lee noted how easy it is to mount online campaigns.
He cited the example of the AWARE saga, where he said he received many emails from opposing camps.
But the Prime Minister said he noticed many emails were identical and obviously cut and pasted from a template.
He said the government cannot make decisions simply based on the volume of emails supporting or opposing a particular situation.
Mr Lee noted the government must also be cautious of what he calls "Astroturfing" campaigns.
That's where individuals or groups fake identities and orchestrate online movements.
He pointed to another example - recent emails criticising the government on property prices were circulated.
He said upon verifying the emails, the names and phone numbers attached turned out to be fake.
Mr Lee said the campaign was clearly a covert attempt to pressure the government for personal benefits.
So authorities must assess such attempts critically and carefully.
Mr Lee noted, though, that online feedback can be useful, as seen in REACH's digital platform.
He said REACH has also found that the best way to engage Singaporeans is a combination of online and face-to-face engagement.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (file picture)
03-27-2010, 11:16 AM #1500
Focus on moving up the bottom
The Straits Times
Mar 27, 2010
By Sue-Ann Chia , SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
WORRIED about income inequality? What's important is not the absolute gap between the top and the bottom, but whether those at the bottom are being helped to move up.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong made this point at a dialogue on Saturday, in response to a question on income inequality in Singapore.
'Supposing the world's richest man, Carlos Slim, comes to live in Singapore. The Gini coefficient will get worse. But I think Singapore will be better off. Even for the lower income Singaporeans, it will be better,' he said.
This is because people like Mr Slim, a businessman and philantrophist, could start businesses here and create more jobs and prosperity for Singaporeans. The Mexican tycoon heads this year's Forbes list of the world's top 100 billionaires. He beat Americans Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
The Gini coefficient measures the income distribution within a country. Singapore's has been inching up in recent years but government aid measures have also brought it down somewhat.
Mr Lee pointed out: 'What really matters is whether we can benefit the low income Singaporeans so that they have a decent standard of living, and hope for a better future, for themselves and their children.'
03-27-2010, 11:20 AM #1501
Yes to community alliance
The Straits Times
Mar 27, 2010
By Sumathi Selvaretnam
COMMUNITY partnerships have gotten the thumbs-up from Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.
He was speaking on Saturday at the launch of two projects - the Community Rehabilitation Support Service (CRSS) and the Temasek Cares Employment Support Services (ESS) - in Bukit Batok East.
The CRSS, an initiative by the Singapore Anglican Community Services (SACS), is supported by the National Council of Social Services and the Ministry of Health.
Its mobile team of a nurse, a social worker and counsellors will reach out to persons in the community with mental illnesses.
The ESS, a programme of the SACS, is supported by Temasek Cares, which was set up last year to commemorate the 35th anniversary of Temasek Holdings. It aims to provide social support to those who are working and who have mental illnesses, as well as their employers.
Said Mr Tharman: 'What this shows is how community partnership - where the grassroots, a social service provider and a corporate philanthropic organisation come together - can lead to new and effective ways to improve the lives of those in need, in this instance, people with mental illnesses and their families.'
03-27-2010, 11:25 AM #1502
Malls gear up for Circle Line
The Straits Times
Mar 27, 2010
By Goh Chin Lian
WHAT a difference two new MRT stations make.
For commuters getting off at City Hall station, their long and winding walk to Suntec City, Marina Square and Millenia Walk will soon be over.
The new Esplanade and Promenade MRT stations are at these malls' doorsteps. These stations are among the 11 on the Circle Line that will open on April 17. 'It's a 10-minute walk now from the nearest MRT station at City Hall,' said a spokesman for ARA Trust Management, the manager of Suntec Real Estate Investment Trust.
Suntec City's mall and some of its offices come under this trust. 'With the two new stations, Suntec City is less than a minute's walk away,' the spokesman said.
She added that Suntec City is building a sheltered walkway linking Promenade station to an entrance of the mall, where the Carrefour hypermarket is located.
Commuters using the sheltered link can stop for food and drinks at two new outlets, Old Town White Coffee and Japanese food chain Shin Sapporo Ramen, while a new glass facade will make the entrance to the mall more prominent, she said.
03-27-2010, 11:35 AM #1503
Honest feedback welcomed
The Straits Times
Mar 27, 2010
By Sue-Ann Chia , SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT
THE Government welcomes honest public feedback on policies and issues, but is wary of online campaigns that pressure leaders to take certain actions, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday.
One such campaign took place recently regarding the sizzling property market. A flood of emails called on the government to lower property prices, and threatened to withdraw support for the ruling party at the next general election if this was not done.
The emails, sent to many recipients in and outside government, were 'well-written and cogently argued', obviously by someone with knowledge of the property market, said Mr Lee.
But the identities of the writers proved to be fake. They included names of grassroots leaders purportedly from Yio Chu Kang and Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, but these people did not exist. In the case of one who did, he was Chinese-educated and could not have written the letter.
Said PM Lee, to laughter: 'We were a bit suspicious, because the language was excellent. There was no use of Singlish.'
He was was speaking at a dialogue with about 100 active contributors to the Government's feedback arm, Reach. 'I do not know who was behind this campaign, but this was clearly not a straightforward effort to give the government honest feedback.
'Rather, it was a covert attempt to pressure the government, perhaps for personal benefit,' he said. He added: 'We must expect to see such astroturfing campaigns from time-to-time, and learn to assess online content critically and carefully.'
Minister Lee was was speaking at a dialogue with about 100 active contributors to the Government's feedback arm, Reach. 'I do not know who was behind this campaign, but this was clearly not a straightforward effort to give the government honest feedback. -- ST PHOTO: STEPHANIE YEOW
03-28-2010, 02:23 AM #1504
Govt to explore ways to increase use of CPF for buying HDB flats
27 March 2010 2131 hrs
By Hoe Yeen Nie
SINGAPORE: The government is exploring how it can further tie a person's CPF to the purchase and sale of an HDB flat.
The aim is to strengthen the message that property is an asset for one's old age.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said this at a forum organised by REACH, the government's feedback unit.
It is a growing trend that has got authorities concerned: Home-owners selling HDB flats to pay off debts, only then to ask their MP for help in getting a rental unit.
Prime Minister Lee said this goes against the aim of these homes as assets for life.
"When we help people to own a home, it's really for you for life," Mr Lee said. "When you're not so old, and you've bought the house, and now you see that the pot of gold is down there and you ignore the 'please don't break the glass sign' and you break the glass and take the money out straightaway, then what happens to you? Or more importantly, your children and your dependents? Where do they go?"
Hence, the government wants to strengthen the CPF route in the buying and selling of flats.
"Like what we've been doing with the Additional Housing Grant - that grant we give you into your CPF, you can use it to buy a house," explained the Prime Minister.
"If you sell the house, the money goes back into the CPF. So if you're buying another house, you can use that for another house. If you're not buying another house, the money is there for your old age."
On tackling income inequality, the Prime Minister said the point was not to measure the size of the gap, but to look at how the poor can be made better off.
Access to a good education and a high rate of home ownership are two of the best things the government has done.
However, Mr Lee noted there are some people who will be left behind.
"And my advice is, please try to help yourself. And particularly, please help your children to break out of this cycle," he said. "The government will help them, but you must help them too."
Said Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports: "It's not just about dollars. It's how you deliver the dollars, how you deliver assistance so that people make the right decisions for themselves and their children.
"If you were a poor person, anywhere on this planet, Singapore is the one place where you will have a roof over your head, where you will have food on the table. Even if you can't afford it, we will have meals delivered to you. You will get healthcare.
"Do not lose sight of the fundamentals. And I am confident that we have done our duty for the people who need our help."
The hour-long dialogue also saw questions on the teaching of the Chinese language, and more help for singles.
In response to a question on casino entry fees, Mr Lee said the aim was not to prevent Singaporeans and permanent residents from gambling. He added that gambling was not harmful if seen as a form of entertainment, but it does become a concern when people get addicted.
The dialogue session is part of a forum on securing Singapore's future.
03-28-2010, 11:24 AM #1505
Mah Bow Tan sketches his vision of Singapore in 2020
05:55 AM Mar 27, 2010
by Loh Chee Kong
WITH the exception of our urban planners who have meticulously mapped out the island's transformation for the decades beyond, for most of us, the Singapore of 2020 will be almost unrecognisable from today - even though the metamorphosis is already very much underway.
Who would have thought the once-sleepy and dusty Jurong will be turned into an enchanting lake enclave, lined with waterfront housing and al fresco eateries? Few could have envisaged the Kallang Basin as a tourist magnet or the Rochor-Ophir corridor as home to commercial skyscrapers amid lush greenery.
But with the transformation of the Marina Bay area almost complete - with the Marina Bay Sands soon to follow the Marina Barrage as imposing landmarks - the future could come sooner than you think.
And you would not have to step out of your homes to notice the difference, as HDB flats start to match the aesthetics of private condos. Think The Pinnacle@Duxton.
But all this is only one part of the equation.
Over the next decade, national development policymakers will face a myriad of intertwining challenges stemming from the forces of globalisation and an ageing population - issues faced by every major developing city, but given an added dimension by Singapore's drive to be a top-class global city without the comforts of a hinterland which will provide its people a respite from the constant reurbanisation.
"As everybody gets plugged into the (global) network, you get the high net worth (individuals), the middle class and the lower income. Globalisation also brings with it other issues like immigration ... As a global city, how do we deal with property prices rising sharply in future?" National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan said as he gazed out of a glass window in a meeting room on the 22nd floor of the MND offices on Maxwell Road.
The picturesque view of The Pinnacle towering over rows of conserved shophouses and pockets of construction sites offered a snapshot of the opportunities and challenges ahead - little wonder that this is one of Mr Mah's favourite vistas, one he has always shown foreign visitors over the last 11 years he has served as National Development Minister.
He was speaking to Weekend Today as part of a series of reports exploring Singapore's development path in the decade ahead.
03-28-2010, 11:32 AM #1506
Mah Bow Tan sketches his vision of Singapore in 2020 (Continued)
'We are not starting from scratch'
Come what may, Mr Mah reiterated the Government's "guarantee" that there will always be a sufficient supply of flats - be it new public units or existing ones on the resale market - to ensure that every newly-married couple can buy a new home. What it cannot promise is that it will be a unit of their choice.
"One new challenge we need to deal with is the challenge of rising expectations, as people don't just look for any roof over their heads - now they want a comfortable home, they want a home in a good location, they want to be able to upgrade to a private property - so they look for a HDB flat which they can monetise quickly."
Having seen several property cycles during his time at the helm, Mr Mah was unfazed with the current property frenzy - driven by a combination of pent-up demand, an influx of immigrants and panic-buying - which he believes will "die down ... and reach a certain level".
What is important, he says, is not to lose sight of the tenets of Singapore's public housing programme: Providing access to public housing for a large majority of the population; allowing Singaporeans to own their homes; and sustaining the value of their flats over a lifetime - thus enabling owners to monetise their units.
Mr Mah stressed that no other country runs a public housing programme successfully on those three counts - a fact he believes is sometimes lost on Singaporeans.
Typically, countries provide public apartments for between 20 and 30 per cent of their population - 50 per cent in the case of Hong Kong - and newlyweds find themselves staying in rented homes for several years.
Said Mr Mah: "What we have to recognise and understand is that we are not starting from scratch; we are not dealing with these challenges from a standing start. We have had 50 years of very successful public housing programmes."
Currently, more than 80 per cent of the population here lives in HDB flats - a figure that has been steadily dipping from around 90 per cent a few decades ago.
And as private housing becomes attainable to a larger segment due to rising affluence, Mr Mah expects the proportion to go down further, hitting a stable level of around 75 per cent in the decade ahead.
Said Mr Mah: "I can't see it coming down too much because then the private housing will not be able to cope" - there's only so much space designated for such property in Singapore - "and the gap between private and public housing will be even bigger".
03-28-2010, 11:38 AM #1507
Mah Bow Tan sketches his vision of Singapore in 2020 (Continued)
Flat for newlyweds 'in 2, 2.5 years'
Despite the rising aspirations and an increasingly fragmented population, Mr Mah was confident that the Government can meet expectations - its products.pointing to The Pinnacle and the premium Dawson projects as examples of how HDB would "differentiate"
While some have argued that such projects would compromise the social objective of public housing - as it is generally defined elsewhere - they are in line with the Government's stance of "extensive coverage".
Said Mr Mah: "Within the HDB (flat-buying) chunk, you still have huge disparity ... if I were to build a three-room for a person with (an income of) $8,000, he will probably turn his nose up at it."
Pointing out that prices in the private and public property markets are interlinked, Mr Mah reiterated the Government's principle of letting the market set the prices. However, it will sieve out speculators and push out more supply from time to time to ensure the prices are in sync with fundamental demand.
The Government will also strive to bring down the waiting time - which stands at around three years - for newlyweds to get the keys to their new flats.
Mr Mah noted that, as recently as the late '90s, young couples had to wait five years for their flats to be ready.
With property cycles shortening and the economy becoming increasingly volatile, it was simply impossible for the Government to predict demand and build flats in advance, said Mr Mah.
It tried to do that in the past - to "huge" consequences, with new flats sitting empty for years, Mr Mah noted.
"Because HDB has been able to plan - but not build - the projects in advance, we've have been able to cut the process. We can't achieve zero waiting time ... If we can bring it down to two to two-and-a-half years, by all means," said Mr Mah.
And it is not just the economic forces that are shaping housing policies.
The strong trend towards the nuclearisation of the family structure means that the policymakers have had to provide a greater array of options, to cater for various living arrangements.
Noting that the elderly are becoming more socially and financially independent, Mr Mah said the Government will be building more studio apartments, either as standalones or attachments in the form of multigenerational flats. It will also be experimenting with new housing typologies, including variations of the existing models.
While more nursing homes will be introduced into housing estates, Mr Mah added that the existing self-contained layout of each estate will continue to serve the population well.
03-28-2010, 11:45 AM #1508
Mah Bow Tan sketches his vision of Singapore in 2020 (Concluding)
'Polar bears don't hit home'
For a resource-scarce country like Singapore, it is perplexing that its population are not quite seized by the issue of sustainable development.
Mr Mah, who co-chairs the inter-ministerial committee on sustainable development with Environment and Water Resources Minister Yaacob Ibrahim, said: "On a day-to-day basis, people do not feel the shortage (of resources). So if you talk about global warming, climate change, ice caps and polar bears ... it doesn't hit home."
Still, the Government will continue its educational efforts and incentivise the population to reduce their energy consumption.
Yet, as environmentalists have pointed out, the country's rapid pace of urban renewal only enhances a "use-and-throw" mentality among Singaporeans.
Mr Mah acknowledged the legitimate concerns but he reiterated the economic case for tearing down buildings, instead of repairing and refurbishing them.
"It's a pure economic argument. Why? Because land cost has gone up so much and the zoning allows you to redevelop," said Mr Mah, pointing to how the plot of land The Pinnacle sits on now houses 1,800 units - as compared to just 200 flats in the old development.
Still, environmentalists will be glad to know that the Government has every intention of preserving Singapore's "Garden City" status, with parks and greenery to remain a key feature ***- which Mr Mah described as a competitive advantage in the global hunt for talent.
'We are not farmers'
Recently, much focus have been centred on the construction industry, which has been cited as a sector that needs to overhaul itself and improve productivity.
And Mr Mah reckoned it would take the industry "a minimum of 10 years" to achieve that, though he said he was encouraged by a general consensus in the industry that such an overhaul was absolutely necessary.
Stressing that the increase in foreign levy would just be a means to an end, Mr Mah said the industry must ultimately turn to improved technology, prefabrication and better project management.
Said Mr Mah: "It starts off with the developers. The developers must be prepared to specify things which allow for higher productivity. The designers, architects, engineers must put in place more buildable designs, then the contractors and sub-contractors come in ... then the Government comes in with incentives."
Yet for all the remarkable strides that Singapore has made since independence, it can never run away from its intrinsic vulnerabilities - and the sobering truth is underlined by the fact that there is still one basic area where Singapore would, in all probability, never be self-sufficient: Food.
Some 70 to 80 per cent of the population's food supplies are imported.
And it is not planning to acquire land in other countries, as some rich countries have done.
A Guardian report last year pointed out that the acquisition of farmland from the world's poor by rich countries and international corporations was accelerating at an alarming rate. Some of the largest deals include South Korea's acquisition of 700,000 hectares in Sudan and Saudi Arabia's purchase of 500,000ha in Tanzania.
Citing the political sensitivities involved, Mr Mah said the Government will not go down that road.
"The Government are not farmers," he quipped.
The writer is a freelance correspondent.
03-28-2010, 09:44 PM #1509
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital holds open house
28 March 2010 2149 hrs
By Sharon See
SINGAPORE : Part of the new Khoo Teck Puat Hospital in Yishun will open on Monday, and residents living in the area were given a glimpse of the facilities during its open house on Sunday.
The S$800 million hospital took some three and half years to build.
For now, only its Specialist Outpatient Clinics will open, as the rest of the hospital - including inpatient wards - will be ready from July.
The hospital is also starting slow - seeing about 200 patients a day rather than the 2,000 it is designed to take when fully functional.
It is about the same size as Changi General Hospital, but has fewer beds, numbering 555.
Liak Teng Lit, CEO, Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, explained: "What has happened is that more healthcare has been shifted out to day surgery, to day care. We do not need to admit patients into the ward to do a lot of the surgical procedures, for example.
"We have many more clinics, and we also have more facilities for outpatient care, day surgery and so on. And we also have more isolation rooms because (of lessons learnt) from SARS, and...the last infectious disease outbreak. We know that we need to have...isolation rooms."
Visitors were also pleased with the convenience of having a hospital in the heartlands.
One visitor said: " (This is) very convenient for all nearby residents; (we) do not need to go downtown to see a specialist."
Another commented: "Even though I live in the Ang Mo Kio area, it is not really that far. My first impression is that it is really spacious. What I like very much is the pond outside."
Architects also put much thought into the hospital's design to reduce energy usage - by having solar panels and harnessing natural breezes.
Mr Liak said: "We also built a rooftop garden, mainly to reduce the heat-load and basically to improve the whole ambience. We have planted a lot of fruit trees; we have over a hundred fruit trees on the roof...and we are planting vegetables."
Residents who are helping to plant the vegetables will get half the harvest, while patients will enjoy the other half.
Khoo Teck Puat Hospital
03-28-2010, 09:47 PM #1510
1st made-in-S'pore satellite
The Straits Times
Mar 29, 2010
Fridge-sized satellite, called X-Sat, will collect environmental data
By Jermyn Chow
SINGAPORE is ready to head to space with the country's first satellite built from scratch here.
The Straits Times understands that the X-Sat, a micro-satellite about the size of a refrigerator, will be launched in June or July from India's Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Andhra Pradesh, 100km north of Chennai.
With the launch of the 120kg satellite, Singapore is believed to be the first Southeast Asian country that will have its own locally built satellite in space.
Scientists and engineers from the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and DSO National Laboratories - Singapore's national defence research outfit - are putting the finishing touches on the X-Sat.
Work began as early as nine years ago, with a reported plan to launch it in 2007. That deadline came and went without any launches, but no reasons were given for the delay.
The Defence Ministry's permanent secretary for defence development, Dr Tan Kim Siew, revealed at a scholarship tea session earlier this month, that the satellite 'will be launched later this year'. Dr Tan is also chairman of the Defence Science and Technology Agency and DSO.
03-28-2010, 09:53 PM #1511
Boost for foreign schools
The Straits Times
Mar 29, 2010
Up to 3 schools can be built to ease shortage
By Amelia Tan
MORE public buildings and land will be released by the Government for up to three more foreign schools to meet the schooling needs of the growing expatriate community.
At full capacity, the three schools can take in between 4,500 and 7,500 students.
Currently, there are 94,000 international students enrolled in government and private schools here.
More public buildings and land will be released by the Government for up to three more foreign schools to meet the schooling needs of the growing expatriate community. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
03-28-2010, 10:02 PM #1512
CCTV to bust crimes
The Straits Times
Mar 29, 2010
But they're not a magic bullet; growing use also raises issues of privacy
By Teh Joo Lin & Kimberly Spykerman
FOOTAGE recorded by electronic eyes, in addition to witness testimony, enabled the police to piece together a hit-and-run accident that happened last December.
Cameras captured the alleged driver, then Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu, at the Shangri-La Hotel and a karaoke lounge off Selegie Road.
Another camera showed the Romanian embassy car hitting a pedestrian along Bukit Panjang Road later.
These recordings were among those screened at this month's coroner's inquiry into the death of Mr Tong Kok Wai, a 30-year-old who was one of three victims in the Dec 15 accident.
The findings are expected on Wednesday.
The role played by closed-circuit television (CCTV) footage is a growing one in criminal investigations.
These cameras at Toa Payoh MRT are not police cameras, but the two major transport providers SBS Transit and SMRT do supply camera footage to the police to aid investigations into cases such as molest on buses or falls onto train tracks. -- ST PHOTOS: CHEW SENG KIM
03-28-2010, 10:23 PM #1513
218 km in 31 hours, 28 mins
The Straits Times
Mar 29, 2010
By LIN XINYI
TOENAIL problems, blistered feet, a hurt knee, strained left quadriceps and diarrhoea were just some of the challenges that Yong Yuen Cheng overcame to complete the 218km (equal to five marathons) Run Round Singapore yesterday.
The 38-year-old physics teacher crossed the finish line at Nanyang Technological University in 31hr 28min 51sec - without any sleep. He was one of nine runners representing their alma mater, NTU, in the run to celebrate its 55th anniversary. Only five completed the run.
They helped to set three records in the Singapore Book of Records - the longest ultra-marathon, the fastest 218km ultra-marathon runner (male), set by Mr Yong, and the longest ultra-marathon runner (female). The last milestone was set by Miss Adeline Yong, who did not finish the run but still clocked 129.3km.
The event raised $218,000 for the university's bursaries base to help future generations of students.
A lesson in effort
PHYSICS teacher Yong Yuen Cheng gave a lesson in effort at the 218km Run Round Singapore yesterday by finishing the course in 31hr 28min 51sec.
The 38-year-old took on the challenge of running a distance longer than five marathons because he wanted to show the country's future generation what it means to give of one's best.
Over two days, he walked the talk - literally at one stage, when running proved too painful.
With 30km to go, he had to fight off thoughts of giving up because every step was excruciating.
He persevered, but needed painkilling injections 18km later in order to continue.
Despite problems with his left hamstring, left quadricep, toe nails, right knee, and right heel, he was the first 'core runner' to cross the finish line.
So tough was the run that four of the nine 'core runners', including six-time Ironman finisher Adrian Mok and the lone woman, Adeline Yong, did not last the distance.
In order to spur them on, the 'core runners' - representing Nanyang Technological University's alumni, students and staff members - were accompanied by relay runners.
A total of 9,021 runners took part in the non-competitive mass relay run.
They ran parts of the 218-km route which featured 68 relay stations - with the distance between the stations averaging 3km.
Mok, 34, said the run posed numerous problems, including the heat and injuries, to the extent that staying awake was the least of his worries.
'The body doesn't even feel like sleeping because it's just so painful,' he said.
The long hours on the road were also an issue for Yuen Cheng. For most of his run, he harboured few thoughts as his mind drifted in and out.
But he was all too clear about what drove him on.
'I do endurance races to let people know that no matter how ordinary you are, you can do something extraordinary,' said Yuen Cheng, who described himself as a very slow runner.
'You don't need to be fast because the long distance levels the playing field. If you work hard enough, you will succeed even though you're not as talented.'
The sense of satisfaction from surviving a challenge that he deemed more difficult than the 217km Death Valley Challenge he completed in 54hr 39min in 2007 left him overwhelmed with emotion at the end point at NTU's Sports and Recreation Centre.
Likewise, Chua Kok Chiow, 35, shared that sense of accomplishment when he finished the run in 32:32:05.
'This is easily the most physically gruelling challenge I've ever taken on,' said Chua, who has done the 84km Sundown Ultramarathon. 'I'll probably stop running for six months just to recover from this.'
But neither Chua nor Yuen Cheng will attempt such a feat again.
'I don't know if I can still continue to run,' said Yuen Cheng.
'I've a lot of injuries now and today, I really pushed myself to the limit.'
Results of the nine core runners
1. Yong Yuen Cheng: 31hr 28min 51sec
2. Chua Kok Chiow: 32:32:05
3. Melvin Lee: 33:10:35
4. Lim Nghee Huat: 34:35:39
5. Teng Teck Hou: 34:36:32
6. Chin Kok Kai: Did not finish
7. Adeline Yong: Did not finish
8. Adrian Mok: Did not finish
9. Ng Junwei: Did not finish
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