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  1. #1514
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    Default Research on green technology

    The Straits Times
    Mar 29, 2010

    By Lin Yingxin

    THE Singapore Institute of Manufacturing Technology (SIMTech), a research institute of the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), will collaborate with Sweden's Linkoping University to pursue research on environmental technologies.

    The research areas are remanufacturing, clean production technology processes and industrial symbiosis.

    The collaboration will facilitate the sharing of research expertise from both institutes in joint academic meetings, symposia, exchange of students and senior researchers as well as research projects to advance the development, implementation and commercialisation of environmental technologies which are broadly defined as technologies that reduce Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and waste in manufacturing.

    Technology advancements in environmental technologies are in line with the Singapore government's long term vision to help build a greener, more energy efficient and sustainable nation. The government committed US$692 million (S$1 billion) in April 2009 to implement Singapore's blueprint for sustainable development to create new technologies and alternative sources of energy.

    Dr Lim Ser Yong, Executive Director of SIMTech said: 'We are excited about the partnership as we can tap on the vast experience and track records of Linkoping University in environment technologies to complement and strengthen our research in sustainable manufacturing.'

    Professor Mille Millnert, rector of Linkoping University said: 'Seeking highly qualified international partners is for us a key to the continued development of excellence in strategic areas such as environmental technologies and industrial ecology.'

  2. #1515
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    Default Stronger family ties

    The Straits Times
    Mar 29, 2010

    By Wendy Lim


    FAMILY ties among Singapore residents have become stronger, with more married couples choosing to live near or with their parents.

    The percentage of younger married couples who live with or in close proximity to their parents rose from 29.3 per cent in 1998 to 35.5 per cent in 2008, according to a Housing Board sample household survey released on Monday.

    Another indicator of strong family ties is the frequency of visits between children and their parents, which has remained consistently high through the years. Ninety per cent of married residents visit their parents at least once a month while 20 per cent visit daily.

    During these visits, the most common activities they engage in include having meals, exchanging suggestions and advice about personal problems, and going on outings.

    Family support is also strong among residents, with support and care mainly coming from their spouses and children.

    More than nine in 10 married residents feel that family life is important and are satisfied with it, with happiness in family life coming mainly from good parent-child relationships, family members being in good health, and love and affection between spouses.

    And 91.2 per cent of residents said they have family members to care for them when they are ill.


    Family support is also strong among residents, with support and care mainly coming from their spouses and children. -- ST PHOTO: ALBERT SIM
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  3. #1516
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    Default Classes to help PMETs

    The Straits Times
    Mar 29, 2010

    By Lin Yingxin

    A SERIES of executive seminars and master classes will be rolled out over the next 12 months to help senior managers and executives in enterprises to chart their roadmaps towards productivity improvements.

    These classes will be organised under the THINK Innovation! banner to inspire them to consider new approaches and effective practices for adoption to achieve innovation-driven productivity growth.

    Organised by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency (WDA) and The Logistics Institute - Asia Pacific (TLI - Asia Pacific), the target is to reach out to more than 2,000 Professionals, Managers and Executives (PMEs) across the services and logistics sectors in Singapore.

    Speakers under the THINK Innovation! Series, including distinguished corporate captains, thought leaders, productivity experts and practitioners from around the globe, will share best-in-class strategies and perspectives to enhance productivity and organisational excellence.

    Professor Tan Eng Chye, chairman of TLI - Asia Pacific's Advisory Board and Deputy President for Academic Affairs and Provost at National University of Singapore, said: 'Building on its (WDA's) broad network engagements with local and overseas universities, global training partners and the industry, the institute will be able to adopt an integrated approach that adds breadth and depth to the programme structure through broad business perspectives with operational development and industry best practices, particularly in the services sector.'

    Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State for Manpower, Trade and Industry said at the launch of the series that the Government will set aside S$5.5 billion over the next five years to help enterprises and workers raise productivity. Also, the capacity for Continuing Education and Training (CET) will be increased from 500,000 to 720,000 by 2015.

  4. #1517
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    Default New *SCAPE building to unveil new facilities catered to youth

    The New Paper
    Sun, Mar 28, 2010

    PAUSE to pay for a Big Mac and you will be doing your bit for a good cause.

    Hang out in a mall-like building in the heart of Orchard Road without fear of being shooed away.

    Play, perform or just have fun in a place specially tailored for the young.

    Sounds good?

    That's *SCAPE, a $50-million non-profit collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS).

    Officially opening in June 2010, it is a platform for youths to hone and showcase their skills and exchange ideas.

    The funky lighting system at the balcony of the new *SCAPE building located next to Orchard Cineleisure.

    The outdoor sporting arena will be able to hold 4000 people standing. Street sports, movie screenings and other activities can be carried out there. It will play host to the inagural Youth Olympic Games 3-on-3 basketball.

    The Street and Market area located next to the carpark of the new *SCAPE building, which is still undergoing construction.
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  5. #1518
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    Default $90m cleantech building

    The Straits Times
    Mar 29, 2010

    By Jessica Cheam

    INDUSTRIAL landlord JTC Corp on Monday unveiled the first cutting-edge building to be built on Singapore's Cleantech Park at Jalan Bahar.

    The $90 million building - called Cleantech One - will offer about 404,000 sq ft of office space that could house up to 50 green businesses when it is completed by December 2011.

    The building will incorporate green features such as solar systems, rainwater harvesting, sky gardens and green construction, said JTC at a briefing on Monday.

    'If the solutions we implement are successful, we will replicate this throughout the rest of the Cleantech Park and share it with the rest of Singapore and the region,' said JTC director (Aerospace, Marine and Cleantech cluster) Tang Wai Yee.

    JTC launched a design competition for the building last December and local architecture firm Surbana International Consultants emerged the winner from 31 entries.

    JTC said Surbana's entry won for its highly compact design and ecological features, it said.


    Park to create 20,000 jobs

    THE industrial landlord had announced the masterplan for the 50 ha Cleantech Park last month.

    To be built in three phases at an infrastructure cost of $52 million, the park will help to create 20,000 'green-collar' jobs by 2030.

    The park will also serve as Singapore's first large-scale integrated development, allowing firms to test-bed cleantech products and solutions - especially those catering to the tropics - before they are commercialised for the market.

    The park is located next to the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), which will be Cleantech One's first tenant.

    Discussion is ongoing with other companies to locate there, said JTC.

    Construction of the six-storey building will begin in June.


    The $90 million building - called Cleantech One - will offer about 404,000 sq ft of office space that could house up to 50 green businesses when it is completed by December 2011. -- PHOTO: JTC
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  6. #1519
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    Default Feng shows no let-up

    TODAY
    05:55 AM Mar 30, 2010

    by Low Lin Fhoong

    SINGAPORE - Barely 24 hours after defeating South Korea's Seok Ha Jung 4-0 for the Asian Cup bronze medal, Singaporean paddler Feng Tianwei (picture) was back on court at the US$250,000 ($349,900) Volkswagen 2010 Cup at Guangzhou Gymnasium yesterday.

    Singapore's world No 5, seeded second behind China's world No 1 Liu Shiwen, showed no signs of fatigue in the quarter-finals yesterday when she demolished Japan's Ai Fukuhara 4-0 (11-5, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8). She will face Hong Kong's Jiang Huajun (world No 10) in the semi-final today, and a match-up against either Liu - who boasts an unbeaten 2-0 record against Feng - or Kim Kyung Ah of South Korea awaits in the final.

    National women's team head coach Zhou Shusen gave his young charge the thumbs up for her performance. "She played a quick, fast game today and put a lot of pressure on Fukuhara," he told MediaCorp in a telephone interview.

    "She has a 50-50 chance against Jiang Huajun as she is one of the veterans on the national team, and is a confident, experienced player. But we will be studying Jiang's game and working on our strategy at the team meeting tonight."

    An invitation-only event, the Volkswagen Cup features 16 of the world's top players competing for the US$50,000 top prize and Volkswagen Tiguan car. Each country is only allowed to enter one player each for the men's and women's singles events.


    Feng Tianwei. PHOTO: DON WONG
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  7. #1520
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    Default Ready to battle China

    TODAY
    05:55 AM Mar 30, 2010

    By Low Lin Fhoong

    Hosts are favourites, but S'pore's sailors want to stay as Asian Games kingpins

    SINGAPORE - They topped the 18-nation field at the Asian Games in Doha, Qatar, in 2006, returning home with five gold medals.

    With just 10 months to go to the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou from Nov 12 to 27, Singapore's sailors are looking to cement the Republic's position as the continent's top sailing nation.

    Judging from the results at the 14th Asian Sailing Championships, which was held at the Games' sailing venue at Shanwei, they will face a formidable challenge from host nation China.

    The regatta ended yesterday with China topping the table with four gold, five silver and four bronze medals, while the Republic took second spot with two golds, two silvers and three bronzes.

    But Mark Robinson, SingaporeSailing's head of high performance, believes the Republic's sailors can pip the Chinese in the big one.

    Speaking to MediaCorp from Shanwei, Robinson said: "China will be tough to beat on home ground as they are used to the conditions and environment ... but the signs are promising for our team, and beating them is still possible."

    SingaporeSailing president Low Teo Ping feels the sailors are on track to deliver a good performance in November.

    "Preparations are very much in full swing ... they've done fairly well at the Asian Championships and they've soaked in the conditions there, which will prepare them much better for November," he told MediaCorp yesterday.

    "From now till the Asian Games, the plan is for them to stay focused and sail in conditions that simulate what they can expect in Shanwei."

    Veteran sailor Koh Seng Leong (Laser Radial) and the men's 420 pair of Justin Liu and Sherman Cheng took top honours for Singapore, sealing their victories with one race to go on Sunday.

    Yesterday's races saw the Keelboat team going down 3-0 to Japan in the final, while the Singapore women's 420 pair of Rachel Lee and Benita Chua finished second behind Malaysia's Mohd Afendy Khairunnisa and Mohamad Sayed Norashikin.

    Women's Optimist sailor Kimberly Lim, women's 420 pair Daniella Ng and Cheryl Yee and men's 470 sailors Roy Tay and Terence Koh all took home bronze medals.

    According to Robinson, the sailors know more work lies ahead before the Games begin.

    "We came here to see what the opponents are like ... we also need to sail a bit more in big waves and we'll look at adjusting the competition schedule when we get back to Singapore," he said.

    Training camps at the Guangdong Ocean Sports Training Centre in October have been earmarked to allow the sailors to acclimatise to the weather, wave and wind conditions.

    Veteran sailor Koh Seng Leong made sure of victory with one race to spare. SINGAPORESAILING
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  8. #1521
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    Default JTC unveils cleantech building (additional news)

    The Straits Times
    Mar 30, 2010

    $90m Cleantech One will offer space for up to 50 green businesses

    By Jessica Cheam

    INDUSTRIAL landlord JTC Corp has unveiled the first cutting-edge building to be built at Singapore's recently announced Cleantech Park for green businesses on Nanyang Avenue.

    The $90 million building - called Cleantech One - will offer about 404,000 sq ft of office space that can house up to 50 green businesses when it is completed by December next year.

    The building will incorporate state-of- the-art green features such as solar energy systems, rainwater harvesting, sky gardens and sustainable construction, said JTC at a briefing yesterday.

    'If the solutions we implement are successful, we will replicate this throughout the rest of the Cleantech Park and share it with the rest of Singapore and the region,' said JTC's director of aerospace, marine and cleantech cluster, Ms Tang Wai Yee.

    The masterplan for the Cleantech Park - which will be Singapore's first business park catering to green firms - was announced last month by JTC and the Economic Development Board (EDB).

    When fully completed in 2030, the 50ha park will create 20,000 'green-collar' jobs. It will be built in three phases at an infrastructure cost of $52 million, which does not include buildings.

    Cleantech One on Nanyang Avenue will incorporate state-of-the-art green features such as solar energy systems, rainwater harvesting, sky gardens and sustainable construction. -- PHOTO: JTC
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  9. #1522
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Ngee Ann Kongsi donates S$8.1m to School of Science and Technology

    Channel NewsAsia
    29 March 2010 1621 hrs

    By Hoe Yeen Nie

    SINGAPORE: Philanthropic foundation Ngee Ann Kongsi has announced a donation of S$8.1 million to the School of Science and Technology Singapore.

    The money, to be given over five years, will be used for annual scholarships and bursaries. This translates into an annual sum of S$1.62 million.

    The school broke ground on Monday on its new S$49 million campus in Clementi.

    By 2012, students will be ready to move into the high-tech campus where they will take classes on art and design on top of the traditional sciences.

    About 15 scholarships and 50 bursaries have been awarded to its pioneer batch of Secondary 1 students who started classes in January at their temporary campus at Clementi Avenue 6.

    Each scholarship is awarded for a year and is worth about $2,400.

    The money will pay for the bulk of school fees but recipients will foot the remaining S$600 required.

  10. #1523
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    Default NUS' new University Town to admit 3,000 students next year

    Channel NewsAsia
    29 March 2010 1906 hrs

    By Dylan Loh / Zul Othman

    SINGAPORE: The National University of Singapore's (NUS) new University Town (UTown) will admit some 3,000 students in August 2011.

    The UTown is the university's first residential college, offering an integrated and multi-disciplinary setting for student learning.

    It will open in scheduled phases, starting with two undergraduate residential colleges and one graduate residence next year.

    Each undergraduate college will admit up to 600 students who will stay for up to two years.

    The graduate residence will house about 1,700 students.

    There will also be customised academic programmes focusing on writing and critical inquiry.

    "The learning is going to be done in actually small groups... of 12 to 15 people," said Professor Tan Eng Chye, deputy president of academic affairs at NUS. "And we find that that will be a very effective, very personalised, very engaging form of learning for the students."

    Artist impression of UTown.
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  11. #1524
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    Default HP to set up new R&D lab

    The Straits Times
    Mar 30, 2010

    By Chua Hian Hou

    AMERICAN tech giant Hewlett-Packard is setting up a new R&D lab in Singapore that will focus on improving the navigation and design of its printers.

    HP is currently looking for a site for its new Inkjet Web Solutions Global Design Center, which is expected to be up and running by early next year, said the company's executive vice-president for its imaging and printing group, Mr Vyomesh Joshi, in an interview with the Straits Times on Tuesday.

    Within the centre - HP's only such facility outside the United States - its researchers will look for ways to improve the company's upcoming web-enabled printers, from more intuitive touch-screen menus to allow users to select pictures from online photo galleries, to connecting the printer to networking devices like home wireless routers with fewer clicks.

    HP, which has a 46 per cent market share of the global printer market, will also be hiring experts in industrial design, ergonomics, and materials science to improve the look-and-feel of its printers, so they do not look out-of-place in modern designer living rooms, said Mr Joshi, a member of HP's executive team, who received the Friend of Singapore award from President SR Nathan earlier on Tuesday.

    The prestigious award is given out to senior business leaders in recognition of their contributions to Singapore's economic growth.

  12. #1525
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    Default Don't politicise healthcare

    The Straits Times
    Mar 30, 2010

    By Salma Khalik, Health Correspondent

    THE key to a sustainable healthcare system is to take politics out of it, minimise market distortion and to let it function like other economic activity.

    This is what Singapore is trying to do, said Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan at the Economist conference on Tuesday.

    Mr Khaw emphasised that it was important for politicians to tell the truth, and not promise free health for all. There is no such thing as free healthcare. 'Every healthcare service is eventually paid for by the patient, either through taxes, or reduced wages. Ultimately, patients and their families pay for the bills,' he said.

    In the past, with a largely young population, countries could afford to spend money on 'high-tech, high-cost healthcare'. But ageing populations and slower economic growth makes this unsustainable. The health reform in the United States is 'an important step forward,' but 'is clearly not deep enough,' he added.

    On the Singapore experience, Mr Khaw said the its total national healthcare spending was below US$8 billion (S$11.2 billion) - which is less than 4 per cent of its GDP.

    But he hastened to add that in the past decade, while the annual Consumer Price Index rises averaged 1.5%, the annual health inflation was 2.9 per cent. 'So our National Health Expenditure would not stay at 4 per cent of GDP. With the ageing of our population, it will rise further. But if we could sustain it at a single digit per cent of GDP, it would be a remarkable achievement,' said the minister.

    In his speech, Mr Khaw also cautioned against over-specialisation. 'For the elderly with several chronic illnesses, treatment by multiple sub-specialists is often not the best approach. This often ends up as fragmented care without necessarily better outcomes,' he explained.

    Every healthcare service is eventually paid for by the patient, either through taxes, or reduced wages. -- ST PHOTO: BRYAN VAN DER BEEK
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  13. #1526
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    Default One flat, 6 applicants

    The Straits Times
    Mar 31, 2010

    There are six applicants vying for each available flat at its latest launches
    By Jessica Cheam

    FRESH evidence has emerged of Singapore's red hot property market with the Housing Board's (HDB) latest launches attracting six applicants for every available flat.

    A staggering 5,015 bids were received for 828 new flats in Sengkang and Sembawang by the application deadline of midnight on Monday.

    The high level of interest outstrips that of recent years, when about four applications were typically received for each new flat, according to housing analysts.

    Demand was particularly intense for five-roomers in Sengkang, where 1,341 applied for the 126 flats on offer - more than 10 applications for each flat.

    This high level of interest follows January's launch of four-roomers at Limbang Green at Choa Chu Kang, which attracted 14 applications for every flat.

    The blistering demand for the developments at Fernvale Ridge in Sengkang and Sembawang RiverLodge is being attributed to the escalating prices of resale flats, which set a fresh record in the last quarter of last year.


    OVERWHELMING RESPONSE

    FERNVALE RIDGE

    Five-roomers: 1,341 applications for 126 flats
    Four-roomers: 1,671 for 216
    Three-roomers: 491 for 180

    SEMBAWANG RIVERLODGE

    Four-roomers: 1,234 applications for 220 flats
    Three-roomers: 278 for 86

    *Another 126 two-roomers not for sale, but will be set aside for lower-income families at a later date


    Demand was particularly intense for five-roomers in Sengkang, where 1,341 applied for the 126 flats on offer - more than 10 applications for each flat. --PHOTO: HDB
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  14. #1527
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    Default Training workers to move up

    The Straits Times
    Mar 31, 2010

    Just like education, investing in people should be a leap of faith

    By Radha Basu, Senior Correspondent

    THEY'RE all around us: bottom-of-the-heap workers with low pay, long hours, few skills and even fewer prospects.

    Just don't write them off in front of Mr Zee Yoong Kang, who reckons there is a way out of that low-pay dead end. It's called training.

    Mr Zee, who lacks neither managerial skill nor zeal for the cause, believes better trained workers can be more productive, earn more, and move up the value chain.

    Training is the key and the Government is on board, investing $2.5 billion over five years on continuing education and training (CET).

    But while that is a a good start, it's not nearly enough, says Mr Zee, who as chief executive of NTUC LearningHub is at the very sharp end of the training industry.

    The institution is the largest training provider in Singapore and last year trained about 66,000 individuals in short courses ranging from a few hours to a few weeks. Many attended multiple courses.

    THE ST INTERVIEW

    Q&A WITH CEO OF NTUC LEARNINGHUB

    Chief executive officer Zee Yoong Kang, 41, of NTUC LearningHub, Singapore's largest training provider, believes continuing education and training is the best way for workers to increase both pay and productivity.

    Excerpts of Q&A:

    Q: Why is it necessary to restrict the in-flow of foreign workers to increase the skill levels of the local workforce?

    A: What is scarce is valued. If we let in more and more foreign workers, the scarcity value of all workers, local and foreign, diminishes.

    Employers will only invest in what is valued. It is much harder to train your workforce and improve productivity than to play the numbers game and throw cheap bodies at the task. Why bother to invest in your workforce by training them when you can petition MOM to raise the foreign-worker quota?

    I have seen this happen in so many sectors. A few years ago NTUC, together with the Restroom Association, tried to bring in Japanese standards of training. It failed. Bosses of cleaning companies tell me buyers mainly award contracts based on low price, not quality.

    So the few cleaning companies that are brave enough to compete on quality and professionalism, and who train their cleaners and pay them more, become uncompetitive the next time they bid. The 'cheap-source' player wins by bidding a lower price .

    This happens not just in sectors perceived as low end. NTUC sent many local workers to be interviewed by hotels, restaurants and retailers. The success rate was low. Employers come back to us: 'Your workers are too old, not presentable, not educated enough.' Then we hear down the grapevine that they went to MOM appealing for more foreign workers.

    I started out in NTUC promoting job re-design to improve productivity and pay for low wage workers. The big lesson I learned was without restrictions on foreign workers it is really tough.

    Q: What do you say to people who think it's self-serving for a training provider like you to push for more funds? Also, aren't some jobs just lost causes that should be phased out?

    A: Some may see it as self-serving, but I think it's worth the investment to train the entire workforce. A fully trained workforce is superior to one that has only pockets of excellent training. The whole, in this case a trained workforce, is infinitely more than the sum of its parts. Not only will this benefit low-wage workers, it could also increase Singapore's overall competitiveness when it comes to attracting foreign investments.

    Q: Do we need to do more to train the trainers?

    A: Absolutely. Unfortunately, many trainers right now see training as a 'second career', when they want to slow down. Right now their pay cheques depend on demand for their courses, which is very volatile. There is no income stability right now in the profession. This has to change.

    For more on why more resources need to be spent on training, read The ST Interview in The Straits Times today.


    Mr Zee pictured with course participants undergoing 'experiential learning'. here, they take turns being blindfolded and depend on their partners to guide them along. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN
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  15. #1528
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    Default HEALTH CARE IN SINGAPORE: Challenge to control costs

    The Straits Times
    Mar 31, 2010

    By Salma Khalik , HEALTH CORRESPONDENT

    THERE is no such thing as free health care.

    This is a key tenet that makes Singapore's system among the most cost-effective in the world - and politicians, especially, should take note.

    Touching on the hot topic of health- care reform in his keynote speech at a two-day Economist conference yesterday, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said politicians bore part of the blame for rising costs.

    They have to tell the truth, and not promise free health care for all if ballooning costs are to be controlled.

    In Singapore, patients know they have to shoulder part of the cost for health- care services, and thus look for value for money and do not over-consume.

    But when politicians promise free health care, they distort the market, and set the table for over-consumption, resulting in higher costs for governments.



    Keep politics out of healthcare, minimise market distortions: Khaw Boon Wan

    Channel NewsAsia
    30 March 2010 1517 hrs

    By Lin Jiamei

    SINGAPORE: Keep politics out of healthcare and minimise market distortions so as to create a sustainable healthcare system - this was the Singapore Health Minister's prescription at the Healthcare in Asia conference.

    Governments the world over are dealing with having to keep healthcare costs down, and yet providing quality care.

    In Singapore, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the principle is to keep to the basics. This means recognising that healthcare can never be free, making sure people take charge of their own health, and keeping politics out.

    He said: "The more politicians do not speak the truth...for example, 'healthcare is free, vote for me, I will give you free medicine'......(By saying this), you distort the market because you do not allow facts and rational thinking to surface.

    "I gave a few examples of how healthcare need not fail. Not that it is possible to achieve a perfect market, but as a stretched target, I think, we must be clear which direction we must be going.

    "Today all our healthcare systems are heavily distorted, Singapore included. But at least if you know the direction forward, I think each time whoever is in charge, you try not to bring in new distortion and try to remove as much distortion as you can."

    Vijay Vaitheeswaran, health correspondent, The Economist said: "The thing to remember about Singapore is that it has an extraordinary value conscious health system with a relatively low spending per GDP and a high contribution by the individual.

    "These things, sometimes called "Skin in the game", mean that individuals actually see the effects of cost increases and they are more likely to make smarter choices about what healthcare they want and what they don't want.

    "So I think relative to other countries in the region, Singapore is well poised to manage health inflation."

    Singapore's total healthcare spending is currently less than four per cent of its GDP, which is a relatively low figure compared to other countries. But Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said he expects the figure to continue to go up, especially with Singapore's ageing population.

    He added that it would be a remarkable achievement if Singapore could sustain its healthcare spending at a single digit percentage of its GDP.


    Touching on the hot topic of health- care reform in his keynote speech at a two-day Economist conference yesterday, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said politicians bore part of the blame for rising costs. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default NParks study shows dragonflies can thrive in urban environment

    Channel NewsAsia
    30 March 2010 1830 hrs

    By Mustafa Shafawi, Sharon See

    SINGAPORE: A two-year study by the National Parks Board (NParks) has found that a considerable number of dragonfly species are able to thrive in an urban setting.

    Previously, they were more commonly found in the nature reserves and rural areas.

    In addition, the study also discovered a rare species, the Pseudagrion rubricep, at Toa Payoh Town Park.

    It is closely related to the dragonfly and was first recorded in Singapore as a single species found in the nature reserves in 1993.

    Now, it is also found in Toa Payoh Town Park, along with the other common species such as the Crocothemis servilia, a bright red dragonfly.

    Other rare species include the Ceriagrion chaoi and the Pseudagrion australasiae, both of which were found in Bishan Park.

    For two years, NParks combed 19 parks, nature reserves as well as about 30 water habitats that dragonflies frequent.

    "We found 40 species, which is about one-third of all the dragonflies in Singapore living within our parks," said Dr Geoffrey Davison, assistant director (terrestrial) of the National Biodiversity Centre at NParks.

    "And why we're doing this - first, we want to find out the facts, secondly, we want to increase the number of dragonflies if we can within our parks so the visitors can see them as one more attraction."

    The study found that 40 of the more than 120 species in Singapore are living in park ponds, with the majority found at Bishan Park, Kent Ridge Park, and Toa Payoh Town Park.

    Dragonflies are known to play important roles in urban ecology, said Robin Ngiam, the officer-in-charge of the project.

    "They are top predators in the insect web. They hunt all sorts of insect pests, including mosquitoes," he explained. "And because their larvae lives in water and requires that the water is unpolluted to survive, we can use them as a good bio-indicator of a good fresh water system."

    The study will help NParks further enhance and protect dragonflies, and create new habitats for them.

    Davison said that rather than having homogeneous open water, a variety of habitats can be provided in future parks using different plants as well as ponds of different depths to enable dragonflies to thrive.

    NParks is currently working on a book to document the findings and share with the public about the dragonfly diversity in Singapore's parks and gardens.

    The book will be published by the end of the year.

    In addition, NParks will also be publishing "A Selection of Plants for Greening of Waterways and Waterbodies in the Tropics" next month.

    The book, which is the first of its kind, features plants suitable for aquatic landscapes in the tropics, including a selection of plants that can attract dragonflies, cleanse the water and absorb specific chemical elements from the environment
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    Default SGH upgrades robotics equipment to conduct 2 procedures in one operation

    Channel NewsAsia
    30 March 2010 1944 hrs

    By Dylan Loh

    SINGAPORE: More Singapore surgeons are being trained to perform robotics surgery, using upgraded equipment that allows two surgical procedures to be conducted in one operation with more precision.

    The Singapore General Hospital (SGH) will train 12 more doctors next month to handle such surgeries.

    They will then be able to fully utilise the latest equipment brought in to perform complex operations. This is expected to improve patient treatment and recovery. It would also reduce the risks of complications during the surgery.

    Associate Professor Christopher Cheng, head and senior consultant, Department of Urology, Singapore General Hospital, said: "Instead of the standard machine with only a solo console, only one surgeon is able to do the operation at one time.

    "With the dual console, now surgeons from different disciplines can actually participate in the same surgery, same patient, real time."
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