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  1. #1548
    Regular Member chris-ccc's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Whichever developer wins the tender can tear down Capitol Centre

    Quote Originally Posted by Loh View Post

    Stamford House, Capitol Building and Capitol Theatre are part of a huge land parcel that will go on sale in two weeks' time, after a property developer agreed to put in a bid of at least $100 million for the commercial site.

    The bid triggered a public tender for the 1.43ha plot, which is located at the key junction of Stamford Road and North Bridge Road, and also includes Capitol Centre, said the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) yesterday.

    Whichever developer wins the tender can tear down Capitol Centre, a dingy three-storey complex with shops, offices and schools opposite St Andrew's Cathedral, and best known for its Gramophone and TMC Academy tenants. In its place, a new development of up to 10 storeys can be built, said the URA.

    But the other three 'historically and architecturally significant buildings' will have to be retained and restored, it said.

    Stamford House was built in 1904 in a neo-classical style by Mr Regent Alfred John Bidwell, the architect behind the Raffles Hotel. Capitol Theatre, which housed Singapore's first cinema, was built in 1929, and Capitol Building, previously known as Shaw Building, was built in 1933.

    .
    It's a shame to tear down the Capital Centre; as it is to tear down the Great Wall of China and/or the pyramids of Egypt one day.
    .

  2. #1549
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chris-ccc View Post
    .
    It's a shame to tear down the Capital Centre; as it is to tear down the Great Wall of China and/or the pyramids of Egypt one day.
    .
    I think this part of the complex, the Capital Centre, as described in the report above is not really that historical, unlike the Capitol Theatre, Stamford House and Capitol Building, which have to be retained as heritage sites I suppose.

    The transformation will perhaps ensure that this part of Singapore's urban history will remain and the buildings upgraded to harmonize with the generally more modern buildings in the vicinity.

  3. #1550
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default 'Your S'pore' in NYC

    The Straits Times
    Apr 3, 2010

    Tourism board launches new brand in Big Apple with street dances and online contest


    SINGAPORE wants to set the Big Apple abuzz and drum up excitement that the Republic is a great travel destination.

    On Thursday, at New York City's famous Times Square, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) launched the Republic's new brand identity 'YourSingapore'. Several thousand people attended the event.

    At the launch, Mr Matt Harding - the star of Visa's Travel Happy campaign - led dances with passers-by who were encouraged to perform their own personalised dance moves, which were recorded and uploaded to online video site YouTube.

    The top 20 most viewed videos will be up for voting at the website YourSingapore.com. The winner, whose video garners the most votes, will win an all-expenses-paid holiday for two to Singapore. A lucky voter will also be picked to win the same prize.

    The United States is one of the Republic's top 10 markets in terms of visitor arrivals and generating tourism receipts.

    The new campaign, which replaces the Uniquely Singapore brand, uses social media and viral marketing to make the Republic a prime destination for Web-savvy tourists.


    Fans of Internet celebrity Matt Harding dancing at the launch of the YourSingapore brand in Times Square, New York, on Thursday. Passers-by were invited to perform personalised dance moves which were recorded and uploaded to YouTube. -- PHOTO: CRAIG RUTTLE
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  4. #1551
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default MOH to double number of psychologists, therapists in special needs sector

    Channel NewsAsia
    02 April 2010 1746 hrs

    By Hoe Yeen Nie

    SINGAPORE : The Health Ministry plans to double the number of psychologists and therapists working with special needs children by 2013.

    This is up from the current 32 working in the public sector.

    Last month, Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan announced an additional S$46 million for the sector over four years, after concerns were raised over long waiting times at its child developmental clinics.

    Five-year-old Zhong Hao Peng has an hour of speech therapy every two weeks, at the National University Hospital's (NUH) Child Development Unit, located in Jurong Medical Centre.

    His father, Douglas Zhong, took him there nearly two years ago because he had difficulties learning.

    But friends warned Mr Zhong of long waiting times.

    He said: "We were a bit anxious because we think that to get an earlier intervention for the kid's development is very important. And we wanted the kid to get the necessary actions in terms of his speech and development as soon as possible."

    Hao Peng saw a doctor within a week, and started therapy two weeks later.

    But his experience may be the exception rather than the norm, as average waiting times at NUH and the KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) can be about three months.

    At the NUH Child Development Unit, patients can wait two to three months to see a doctor, and another four months for a psychologist or therapist.

    Over at KKH, the queue for a doctor is about three to four months. It did not give waiting times for a therapist, but in Parliament last month, MP for Hong Kah GRC, Amy Khor, said that the wait for a speech therapist at KKH can take "up to six to nine months".

    Hospitals said this is due to a jump in patient numbers in recent years.

    KKH, for instance, logged in about 5,900 doctor visits, and 11,300 therapy attendances in 2009 - a 20 per cent increase from 2007.

    NUH has seen an increase of about 15 per cent - from 1,700 patients in 2008 to nearly 2,000 in 2009.

    One reason for the increase is a growing awareness among parents and teachers of such conditions. More kids too are surviving chronic childhood diseases, but this leaves them with developmental problems later.

    In Parliament in March, Mr Khaw said that numbers were about 50 per cent higher than what his ministry had earlier projected, resulting in a shortage of psychologists and speech therapists".

    Mr Khaw said at the time that his ministry had only catered to a projected total caseload of 3,200 patients for services like psychological counselling and speech therapy, with 1,200 or so new cases a year.

    This was the global norm as recently as three years ago. But the public sector clinics here are seeing about 5,200 patients, including 2,000 new cases a year.

    Doctors said the time needed for a thorough assessment limits the number of patients doctors can handle.

    Dr Chong Shang Chee, head, Child Development Unit, National University Hospital, said: "For example, some children with learning issues, they actually need to spend at least three to four hours with a psychologist. (This) effectively means the psychologist can only see about two patients a day, doing a thorough and proper assessment."

    In order to cope, NUH trains healthcare workers to manage basic behavioural programmes, to ease the load off its psychologists.

    It also trains parents to help their kids with speech exercises at home while waiting to start therapy.

    Dr Chong said: "Once they do get to see the doctor, the whole process kicks in and things are starting already for the child. From the doctor's point of view, we are not waiting for the psychologist to issue a report that confirms the diagnosis. When we are fairly sure of the diagnosis, we are already starting the referral process for placement in an early intervention school."

    Over at KKH, cases are assessed to ensure that more urgent cases are attended to as soon as possible.

    Professor Ho Lai Yun, senior consultant of KKH's Department of Child Development, said the hospital also contacts parents within two weeks of receiving a referral to gather information and address any questions before their child sees the doctor. There are also training workshops for parents and caregivers.

    But hospitals said better long-term solutions are needed to bring down waiting times. And raising manpower numbers is an important first step.

    The Health Ministry told MediaCorp that a large part of its additional S$46 million will go into training and recruitment. And besides hiring trained professionals in Singapore and from overseas, it will also increase the number of scholarships in the field. - CNA/ms
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  5. #1552
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Full house at Universal Studios as visitors head to Sentosa during long weekend

    Channel NewsAsia
    02 April 2010 1944 hrs

    SINGAPORE: It was full house at Universal Studios Singapore on Friday as visitors took advantage of the long weekend to check out Sentosa's latest mega attraction.

    The thousands who got their tickets expected the weekend crush and did not take chances.

    One visitor said: "I bought my tickets in Hong Kong about three days ago because I was afraid that I couldn’t get any tickets here."

    "I expected it to be sold out so we booked it two weeks earlier," said another visitor.

    All tickets were sold out by 11am. Those who failed to get the tickets got the tickets for another day.

    One tourist said: "Can you imagine we travelled all the way from Brunei just to realise that the tickets are sold out? So we just bought for tomorrow."

    Visitors who had tickets were rewarded with a day of thrills and spills.

    And for those who are planning to go to Universal Studios Singapore this weekend, Resorts World Sentosa said tickets fast selling out.
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  6. #1553
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default SAF team in Afghanistan

    The Straits Times
    Apr 3, 2010

    Team will provide support for international security forces at field hospital
    By Lester Kok

    Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) medical personnel transferring a casualty flown in by helicopter to a waiting ambulance in Oruzgan, Afghanistan. -- PHOTO: MINDEF

    THE Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has deployed a surgical team to war-torn Afghanistan for the first time.

    The eight-man team comprises two surgeons, a general practitioner, an anaesthetist and four other medical personnel. Three of the team members are operationally ready servicemen.

    The Singaporeans will be based at a field hospital in Tarin Kowt, the provincial capital of Oruzgan, for two months.

    They will give medical and surgical support to the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel deployed there, and provide emergency medical care to the locals.

    News reports cite improvised explosive devices as the biggest threat to both locals and foreign peacekeepers there.

    The surgical team will be replacing a 13-man medical team which is on its way home after providing emergency medical support, primary health care, and pre- and post-operative medical care to the ISAF personnel and Afghans.
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  7. #1554
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Nat'l Library launches exhibition on S'pore's first resident, William Farquhar

    Channel NewsAsia
    03 April 2010 1858 hrs

    By Joanne Chan

    SINGAPORE: The National Library has launched an exhibition on William Farquhar, Singapore's first resident and commandant.

    It traces Major-General Farquhar's military career, his role in the history of Malacca and contributions to the development of early Singapore.

    Close to 70 exhibits are on display.

    Visitors can expect to view original artifacts loaned to the library by his descendants.

    The items include a writing box used to keep Major-General Farquhar's stationery, original letters written to family members and a colour portrait.

    The exhibition is held at the National Library Building and will run until the 31st of August.

    William Farquhar
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  8. #1555
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default COMMENTARY: Odd silence in Romania

    The Straits Times
    Apr 4, 2010


    Media reports on ex-envoy's hit-and-run case extensively but is quiet on implications


    LONDON - THE media in Romania had reported extensively throughout last week on the conclusions of the Singapore Coroner's Court regarding the two hit-and-run accidents committed by Dr Silviu Ionescu, the country's former envoy.

    But there was no attempt to analyse the legal consequences of this case, and no debate about the damage Dr Ionescu's conduct may have caused to Romania's international reputation.


    And not one of the country's politicians or diplomats offered any comments.

    All of Romania's five national TV channels included in their evening news bulletins a report on the Singapore Coroner's findings on Wednesday.

    However, the reports were brief and factual, either accompanied by just a still photograph of the envoy, or a video clip showing Dr Ionescu emerging from a preliminary hearing at Romania's public prosecutor's office.

    The printed media did better. Adevarul ('The Truth') - one of Romania's top daily newspapers - published on Wednesday a large article retelling the story of the car accident in Singapore, with the aid of a detailed map showing the place of the incident, the location where Dr Ionescu's car was subsequently found, pictures of the Romanian Embassy, and an extensive chronology of the events since last December.

  9. #1556
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Forget school, play tennis: STA's $500,000 offer

    TODAY
    05:55 AM Apr 02, 2010

    by Ewan Mah

    SINGAPORE - If your child is aged between 12 and 14, and so passionate about tennis you are willing to forgo the next three years of school for him or her to focus on the sport - and hopefully go on to turn pro - the Singapore Tennis Association (STA) wants to bankroll two such court prodigies.

    STA president Edwin Lee told MediaCorp yesterday: "We have $500,000 set aside for two players who are willing to train up to 10 times a week. All they have to do is commit."

    The youngsters will have to pull out of school and rely on personal tutors. Each will get a personal coach. They will travel abroad to train and spar, and possibly play in 10 overseas tournaments a year.

    The bold move by the association comes as it seeks to solve Singapore's dearth of success at the international level of the sport.

    Despite the proliferation of tennis courts here - at condominiums, private clubs and neighbourhood schools for a start - and the sport's huge popularity among youngsters, medals have been scant.

    The last international achievement was a men's team bronze at the 1995 SEA Games in Chiangmai. In the Davis Cup, the men are ranked 107 out of 135 teams. There are 94 teams in the Fed Cup, and the Singapore women are at No 61.

    Pulling a child out of school is a huge decision for parents, but STA general manager Gilbert Ng said the rich prizes for top level pros make it worthwhile.

    "The problem is, we don't have anybody who wants to play full-time. To be as good as our (world-class) Thai neighbours, you must do what they are doing, which is play full-time," he insisted.

    "If we find someone who is around 12 and wants to commit (to turning professional), we'll sit down with his or her parents and work things out."

    Mr Ng admits the STA does not have a plan if the player fails to make the grade after three years. "We won't pull the wool over parents' eyes. We have to tell them the other side of things like (it's a) lonely life and that there's a high chance their child won't make it."

    So, would Singapore parents buy in?

    Housewife Lee Sok Khim, the mother of Raffles Institution student Lee Kai Yi, 14 - who was ranked No 4 in the under-16s last year - said: "I believe that in this day and age, school can come at a later time in life. So the answer is 'yes', if playing full-time is what he wants."

    Bank officer Steven Seah, the father of Bryan Seah, 13, from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) - ranked No 6 in the under-14s this year - said he would consider the offer, but only if "there's some sort of back-up plan if Bryan doesn't make it, like being a coach".
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  10. #1557
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Bradley has them singing Majulah Singapura

    TODAY
    05:55 AM Apr 05, 2010

    by Ian De Cotta

    SEPANG - For the first time since the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999, fans got to hear the Singapore national anthem twice in the span of two days at the Sepang International Circuit, thanks to Singapore-based teenager Richard Bradley.

    Competing in the supporting Formula BMW Pacific race, the 19-year-old English lad captured the first two rounds of the 16-leg championship held over the weekend.

    Bradley, who was making his debut in open-wheel racing with the Eurasia team, won the first round on Saturday when he crossed the finish line ahead of Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr, son of two-time World Rally Champion of the same name, and Fahmi Ilyas of Malaysia.

    Bradley finished the 10-lap race in 22min 2.686sec and also set the fastest lap (2:11.139). He repeated the feat in the second round yesterday, clocking 22:20.522, ahead of Colombian Oscar Tunjo of the Meritus team and Japan's Kotaro Sakurai (Eurasia).

    "I am really thrilled. To win the first two rounds and setting the fastest lap times in both of them in my open-wheel debut is more than what I had expected," said Bradley.

    "I hope Singaporeans are just as proud that the national anthem was played twice for the first time at the Malaysian Grand Prix here."

    Bradley arrived last November to join dad Edward, a lawyer in Singapore, and with experience in karting since the age of eight, immediately got down to training aspiring young racers at the new karting track in Jurong.

    He was granted a racing licence by the Singapore Motor Sports Association when he applied to compete in the Formula BMW Pacific championships.

    Asked if he intends to continue flying the Singapore flag well into the future, he replied: "Well I love every bit of Singapore, even if I have been there only a short time, and that is something I won't mind considering."


    Bradley set the fastest lap times in the first two rounds of the Formula BMW Pacific race. PHOTO COURTESY OF RICHARD BRADLEY
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  11. #1558
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default S'pore schools score wins

    The Straits Times
    Apr 5, 2010

    By Jennani Durai

    IF RESULTS of recent international competitions are anything to go by, then Singapore's education system seems to be doing all right with the holistic development of its students.

    In the past month alone, Singapore schools won at least four international titles in debates, choir and dance.

    Leading the way was Singapore Management University's (SMU) three-year-old Law School, which snagged the university's first international law moot title. Then, choirs from Catholic Junior College (CJC) and Anderson Secondary School, both not typically known as choir schools, clinched gold awards in international choral competitions, while Victoria Junior College's (VJC) dance ensemble similarly beat international rivals to win in Italy.

    SMU's team, comprising third-year students Chang Zi Qian, Eng Cia Ai, Sheryl Lee and Michael Ng - all from its pioneer law batch - emerged the champion at the Monroe E. Price International Media Law Moot, organised by Oxford University, on March 27. A moot is a mock trial in which participants argue a case as if in court. The SMU team defeated more than 20 others from all over the world in seven rounds of simulated court debate.

    This particular moot centred on media law issues, and this year's hypothetical problem involved a clash between the press and the state on the issue of press freedom, said Assistant Professor Tay Eu-Yen, a litigator with law firm Drew and Napier, who helped coach the team.

    The SMU team beat the defending champions from the Cardozo School of Law in New York in the finals to clinch the title.


    In the past month alone, Singapore schools won at least four international titles in debates, choir and dance. -- PHOTO: CATHOLIC JUNIOR COLLEGE
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  12. #1559
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default 50,000 preview Circle Line

    The Straits Times
    Apr 5, 2010

    By Carolyn Quek

    A SOON-TO-BE operational stretch of the Circle Line opened its doors for several hours to the public yesterday.

    More than 50,000 people turned up to take free train rides through the 11 new stations from Dhoby Ghaut to Bartley.

    The 11km-stretch, which links Suntec City and Bras Basah to the heartlands in Lorong Chuan, Serangoon and MacPherson, is the second phase of the 33km MRT line to be opened. The line would be fully completed and running by next year.

    When the second phase goes operational on April 17, people living in places like the north, north-east and east will be able to head to the city without passing through the crowded City Hall and Raffles Place interchanges.

    For example, a Bishan resident travelling to Paya Lebar would currently take about 35 minutes to get there by train but this trip will be shortened to 17 minutes with the Circle Line.

    The new line will also connect with five existing stations from Bartley to Marymount which have been running since last May.

    More than 50,000 people turned up to take free train rides through the 11 new stations from Dhoby Ghaut to Bartley. -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI
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  13. #1560
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Bishan flat sold for $900k

    The Straits Times
    Apr 5, 2010

    A RARE penthouse maisonette in Bishan Street 24 has become the most expensive HDB flat ever to be sold in Singapore.

    Its owner has accepted an offer for $900,000 for the 1,860 sq ft flat - $170,000 above its valuation.

    The buyers are an Indian Singaporean couple, according to a report in Lianhe Wanbao yesterday evening.

    It said the flat, which is on the 24th floor, was bought by the current owner 10 years ago for $750,000 and has been renovated since then.

    The valuation for the 18-year-old executive maisonette, which comes with a roof terrace, was about $730,000. But the owner, a Singaporean, had put it up for sale with an asking price of $950,000.

    This transaction just pips the last highest price on record for an HDB flat. In 2008, a 1,614 sq ft executive flat in Queenstown's Mei Ling Street changed hands for $890,000.


    A rare penthouse maisonette in Bishan Street 24 has become the most expensive HDB flat ever to be sold in Singapore. -- PHOTO: WANBAO
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  14. #1561
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default SMRT wins "Most Innovative Use of Technology Award"

    Channel NewsAsia
    04 April 2010 2058 hrs

    By Lin Jiamei

    SINGAPORE : Public transport operator SMRT wanted to use creativity and technology to cut cost and maximise efficiency, and thus came up with two innovative systems to make the ride more pleasant for commuters.

    For its efforts, the company garnered the "Most Innovative Use of Technology Award" for the first time at the International Metro Awards in London.

    For many MRT users, passing by ticketing gantries is an everyday affair.

    Once in a while, passengers would try to sneak past with a free ride - by tailgating the person in front.

    SMRT is hot on their trail, with a new gantry that has more sophisticated sensors.

    David Ho, senior manager, Fare System Development, SMRT, explained: "We have more sensors, so they actually better detect the different passenger profile, for example children, adults and passengers with trolley and prams. So with a more accurate detection, it increases the throughput of passengers."

    The sensors are better able to detect if someone is trying to tailgate, or is simply taking a little longer at the gantry.

    Currently, there is only one such gantry at the Somerset MRT station.

    SMRT hopes to replace its 20-year-old gantries with the new ones over the next four years.

    The train operator also hopes to improve its track maintenance work through a set of cameras tucked underneath a train car. The aim is to record images of foreign objects or detect problems with the tracks.

    Ng Chong Joo, senior manager, Permanent Way Branch, SMRT, said: "With the real vision system, we can pick up track abnormalities, which include uneven surfaces.

    "With this system, we are able to pick up the defects earlier, so that we can schedule out maintenance activity to smoothen the rail surface in a (speedy) manner."

    Currently, SMRT deploys about 60 staff every alternate day to check the tracks manually, using a torch light. This approach is labour intensive and time consuming. With the new camera system, the company hopes to reduce such checks from every alternate day to just once a week.

    SMRT has installed the cameras on two trains and hopes to use them more extensively from next week.
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  15. #1562
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    Default City Harvest Church responds to questions over non-disclosure of Suntec deal

    Channel NewsAsia
    04 April 2010 2239 hrs

    By Joanne Chan

    SINGAPORE : City Harvest Church has sought to clear the air surrounding the confidentiality of its deal to co-own Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

    In a two-page notice to its members on Sunday, it explained that it had signed a non-disclosure agreement.

    This makes the megachurch a party to the Shareholders Agreement.

    It has to keep confidential all matters and details relating to the Suntec transaction, including the share price and the percentage of shares acquired.

    However, the church was entitled to, and did, disclose details of the transaction to the relevant authorities, namely the Commissioner of Charities and the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

    The notice added that when the church tried to give its members some information about the transaction, other shareholders felt that doing so would be a breach of the church's obligation of confidentiality.

    On April 1, the Board of City Harvest Church received a letter from solicitors acting for various other shareholders, reminding the church of its obligations of confidentiality and the need to adhere to them.

    The church has since engaged law firm Drew and Napier to review the situation and was advised that further disclosures may be regarded as an "Event of Default".

    And there is a possibility that the church will be obliged to sell its shares to the non-defaulting shareholders at a substantial discount.

    The church also said there is a "strong and unfounded allegation" floating online that the Management Board and Reverend Kong Hee are "deliberately concealing a number of embarrassing facts from its members".

    It said the allegation is "furthest from the truth".

    Turning to the sum of S$310 million which has been at the centre of much debate, the church explained that the money was spent on eight expenditure items, including the shares bought, renovation costs, and committed rentals.

    The church noted that its only continuing financial liability will be the committed rental costs for the use of Suntec Convention Centre.

    In the event of non-payment, creditors have a cause of action against the assets of the church, but members are not personally liable.

  16. #1563
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    Default 'Superscale' teacher at top

    The Straits Times
    Apr 6, 2010

    By Leow Si Wan

    SHE started her career as a science and English language teacher at Queenstown Secondary School in the early 1970s.

    After almost 40 years in education, Madam Aw Wai Lin, 60, has become the first teacher here to be promoted to the pinnacle grade - Superscale H - of the teaching track.

    Addressing more than 300 Ministry of Education (MOE) officers at Suntec City yesterday during the first of six promotion ceremonies, Education Minister Ng Eng Hen said of Madam Aw's promotion: 'We want to recognise this as a signal that...if you find an area which you are strong in, build on it, MOE will create space for you to grow professionally in that area.'

    In all, 6,513 MOE staff - including teachers, principals, allied educators and executive and administrative personnel - will be promoted this year.

    Madam Aw, currently a principal master teacher - one of four teachers to hold the highest position on the teaching track, equivalent to a school principal in terms of salary and standing - now works closely with other teachers to help them improve.

    When asked about the significance of being the first on her track to enter Superscale H, she said: 'It is a delight. I have chosen to stay on the teaching track because I enjoy classroom teaching and believe that a teacher can play a role in developing other teachers.'


    After almost 40 years in education, Madam Aw Wai Lin, 60, has become the first teacher here to be promoted to the pinnacle grade - Superscale H - of the teaching track. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG
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  17. #1564
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    Default Young Singaporeans should have confidence in their future, says DPM Teo

    Channel NewsAsia
    06 April 2010 0043 hrs

    By Imelda Saad

    SINGAPORE: Singapore's Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean says young Singaporeans should have a well-founded confidence in their future.

    He pointed out that even though Singapore has vulnerabilities, the country has strong anchors that will keep it stable.

    Mr Teo was speaking at a wide-ranging dialogue session at a forum attended by more than 250 undergraduates.

    The forum was organised by the National University of Singapore (NUS) Student's Political Association.

    The forum was an opportunity for young Singaporeans to highlight their concerns about Singapore's future.

    One point raised - is it possible for Singapore to fall, despite the progress so far.

    Mr Teo was frank - saying yes, there is that possibility, if Singapore is not careful.

    He said as a small nation the margin for error is much less compared to bigger countries. And being trade-dependent, Singapore is also vulnerable to external factors.

    That is why there are buffers - such as the country's strong reserves and investment in defence.

    Mr Teo said: "So what am I putting to you? I'm telling you we worry, we have vulnerabilities. So the question is should all of you be so frightened that all of you abandon ship straightaway? No, the answer is no, because in fact what I'm trying to put to you is, you should have a well-founded confidence in our own future, and why? Because even though we have vulnerabilities, we have anchors against these vulnerabilities, and indeed we have many, many strengths for the future."

    One student urged leaders to do away with what he calls "the culture of fear" in politics.

    Farouk Osman, an Undergraduate, said: "It's regarding a statement made by the Minister Mentor that if the opposition wins in a GRC contest then Singaporeans should better sell their flat because they would no longer be of any value. I think that's bad. He's basically saying don't vote the opposition and my feeling is that most Singaporeans don't like being told what to do, especially regarding political stuff and this is especially so for people like us, the younger generation."

    Responding, Mr Teo said he agreed that how the government engages the people is important.

    Mr Teo said: "People are sensitive. I mean I don't like being told what to do. I prefer to think that I make up my own mind and so do most Singaporeans. But you know Minister Mentor. He's got a wealth of experience, he's probably heard this question multiple times and he is famous for telling it like it is."

    On Singapore's "secret weapon" in the event of an economic crisis, Mr Teo said that would be its people.

    The questions flowed easily in the highly interactive dialogue with Mr Teo himself seeking clarifications and feedback to some of the questions posed to him. In fact one of the issues that got the audience in stitches was a call for longer maternity leave which prompted Mr Teo to get his young audience to think about loosening up and not to over-plan parenthood.

    Mr Teo said: "You want to wait for perfection before you decide to get married, you want a perfect man or this perfect woman to come along but this doesn't exist! It just doesn't exist! You're looking for this 10 which doesn't exist maybe 8.5 will do or 7.5 will be alright and then you just adapt to each other.

    "Then you want to wait for this perfect house to come along before you actually tie the knot. Then you want to wait for this perfect moment in your married life before you have your first child, and you don't want to have your first child unless you're sure your child can score 250 points in PSLE. Nobody can guarantee that! I'm not suggesting that we all become promiscuous but we can all loosen up a bit."

    And with reports of opposition figures conducting their walkabouts, one undergraduate wondered if 'election fever' was heating up.

    Mr Teo said: "You cannot watch the PAP and know if the elections are coming. Once the elections are over, we already start working the ground. It becomes so boring and so routine the media never reports on it."

    This is unlike the opposition which Mr Teo said is "hardly" seen walking around.

    "I don't know when the elections will be. I can only tell you that with each passing day, the elections come one day closer," he said.


    The Straits Times
    Apr 6, 2010

    Have more faith in system

    SINGAPOREANS should be more confident in their country and not be swayed by outsiders who have no stake in how society here works, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said.

    Responding to a student who asked if Singapore would adopt a new political attitude or stick to its Asian values stance, he said: 'We need to be more self-confident.'

    He related how when he became education minister in 1997, he was surprised to find that teachers lacked confidence in themselves, even though they were doing a great job.

    'Everybody was telling them that they were doing the wrong things,' he said. 'I said: How can this be? People are coming to learn from us, see how we teach, why we are successful. Yet our teachers don't have self-confidence.'

    It led to Mr Teo resolving to set up a unit at the National Institute of Education for teachers to study why Singapore's education system works and how it can be improved further.

    Highlighting another Singapore strength, he said Singapore leaders are able to discuss issues like race openly, where in other countries they would get swept under the carpet.
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