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  1. #1633
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default A World Heritage Site in S'pore?

    TODAY
    15 April 2010 0821 hrs

    By Leong Wee Keat,

    SINGAPORE : Cambodia has Angkor Wat, Malaysia boasts the town of Malacca as one and the Great Wall of China is one of the best well known - so why can't Singapore have a world heritage site too?

    According to a tender that closes on Thursday, the Government is on the search for possible United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) World Heritage Sites. It is looking to engage a contractor to undertake "a comprehensive study to assess the feasibility of selected heritage sites ... as possible World Heritage Sites and to recommend a suitable tentative list".

    There are 890 sites around the world, but Singapore has none. Neighbouring countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia have three, five and seven sites, respectively.

    Ministry of Communication, Information and the Arts (Mica) deputy secretary Sim Gim Guan said the study is aimed at exploring whether Singapore has potential sites and if there were benefits of nominating one for listing. If feasible, this would help develop a process for nomination, evaluation and selection of suitable cultural landmarks and districts of historical significance for a listing.

    "The entire nomination process is rigorous, and we envisage the entire process, should we proceed, will take three to five years, based on the experience of some countries that have succeeded in World Heritage Site listing," said Mr Sim.

    The move has been lauded by observers and conservation advocates who in turn, have suggested the Singapore Botanic Gardens - founded in 1859 - as the sole candidate that would meet Unesco's criteria.

    The Botanic Gardens has strong connections with the history of global colonial economy in the past, given its links to Britain's Kew Gardens, said Associate Professor Johannes Widodo, a jury member of the Unesco Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation. "In addition, the Gardens have very important ecological value at present and in the future, not just for Singapore but also globally."

    Singapore Heritage Society president Kevin Tan said that if the Gardens succeeded in being listed, perceptions of Singapore "being a very young city with no history and large green spaces, a bit of a concrete jungle," will change. Listing it "will showcase a very significant jewel in our midst".

    But observers warned that the benefits of having a site need to be balanced against potential pitfalls, such as a surge in mass tourism, over-commercialisation, and erosion of dignity. Mr Tan Wee Cheng, who has visited 247 sites worldwide, launched a Facebook group to canvass support and raise awareness. Such pitfalls can be avoided with careful planning, and it is important "not to be overly ambitious," he said.

    For the study, Mica requires that the contractor identify potential threats and evaluate the implications of future re-development plans within and in proximity to the heritage sites.


    Singapore Botanic Gardens
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  2. #1634
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default No immunity for Ionescu

    The Straits Times
    Apr 15, 2010

    By Teh Joo Lin

    SINGAPORE has told Romania that its former charge d'affaires Silviu Ionescu does not enjoy diplomatic immunity for his alleged offences on Dec 15 last year. Based on Article 39.2 of Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, a diplomat loses immunity for non-official acts when his posting ends and he leaves his host country.
    'Dr Ionescu was using the Embassy vehicle in his private capacity and for his private purposes', said the Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement on Thursday. 'As such, with effect from Dr Ionescu's recall, he no longer enjoys diplomatic immunity for the acts in question.'

    The Coroner had found that Dr Ionescu, who turned 50 last week, was behind the wheel when the Romanian embassy's Audi A6 hit three pedestrians on Dec 15, killing one of them. The evidence showed that the Romanian had removed the state flag from the car before attending a birthday party at a karaoke lounge off Selegie Road. After the accident, Dr Ionescu was removed from his position and returned to Romania.

    The MFA statement was in response to the Romanian authorities, which said it cannot arrest Dr Ionescu as he enjoys diplomatic immunity which Romania has not waived. Neither has Singapore sought a waiver.

    Earlier this month, Singapore issued a warrant of arrest against Dr Ionescu, who is wanted for 13 criminal charges to do with the hit-and-run accident. This led to an Interpol red notice, which requests member countries to arrest Dr Ionescu with a view to his extradition.

    While Romania is a member of Interpol, the country's Ministry of Justice said it could not arrest Dr Ionescu because there is no extradition treaty with Singapore.

    Dr Ionescu was using the Embassy vehicle in his private capacity and for his private purposes', said the Foreign Affairs Ministry in a statement on Thursday. 'As such, with effect from Dr Ionescu's recall, he no longer enjoys diplomatic immunity for the acts in question.' -- SHIN MIN PHOTO: SHIN MIN
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    Last edited by Loh; 04-15-2010 at 03:39 AM.

  3. #1635
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default 'Desperate and cowardly'

    The Straits Times
    Apr 15, 2010

    By Teh Joo Lin

    SINGAPORE'S Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday responded to the latest comments made by suspended Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu in an interview with the Romanian media, calling them "wild babblings of a desperate man".

    Dr Ionescu had claimed he had been set up by the Singapore government and had earlier requested for a change of posting - even to Moldova. Pointing to how Dr Ionescu has now "dragged in Moldova, a neighbour of Romania", an MFA spokesman said: 'He is only hurting himself and embarrassing his own government and all Romanians. We cannot take the wild babblings of a desperate man too cowardly to face up to his own responsibilities seriously.

    "As you are aware, we have informed the Romanian authorities that they have an obligation to ensure that Dr Ionescu, who has only been suspended but not dismissed from the Romanian Foreign Ministry, refrains from making outrageous and inappropriate statements and that it is in their own interest that they do so.

    "The Romanian Foreign Ministry has told us that Dr Ionescu, as a Romanian citizen, has the right to say what he pleases and that they cannot stop him. We have to respect this position. And the Romanian government has quite properly disassociated itself from his comments. Dr Ionescu is not hurting Singapore. If you follow what Romanian netizens are saying, it is clear that even his own compatriots do not believe him. He is only hurting himself and embarrassing his own government and all Romanians."

    The spokesman noted that in his latest comments, Dr Ionescu has dragged in Moldova, a neighbour of Romania, 'in a less than flattering way '. In some of his previous comments, he has even mentioned the EU," added the spokesman.

    On Dr Ionescu's comment that he would be hanged if he returned to Singapore, the MFA spokesman said: "This is a complete red herring. None of the charges against Dr Ionescu is a capital offence."


    Dr Ionescu had claimed he had been set up by the Singapore government and had earlier requested for a change of posting - even to Moldova. Pointing to how Dr Ionescu has now "dragged in Moldova, a neighbour of Romania", an MFA spokesman said: 'He is only hurting himself and embarrassing his own government and all Romanians. We cannot take the wild babblings of a desperate man too cowardly to face up to his own responsibilities seriously. -- SHIN MIN PHOTO: CHAN BEE LENG
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  4. #1636
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Labour movement calls for CPF contribution rate to be restored

    Channel NewsAsia
    15 April 2010 1134 hrs


    SINGAPORE : Singapore's labour movement has called for a restoration of the employer's CPF contribution rate in the wake of the strong rebound of the Singapore economy in the first quarter of this year.

    Singapore's economic growth for this year is expected to come in at between 7 and 9 per cent.

    The current total CPF contribution rate is 34.5 per cent with employees contributing 20 per cent and the rest from employers.

    The CPF contribution rate was last restored in 2007 after it was cut in 2003.

    Speaking to reporters after a company visit on Thursday, NTUC Chief Lim Swee Say noted that the long term target of the CPF contribution rate is 36 per cent.

    However, he would like to leave it to employers to channel their feedback to the government before a final decision is made on the restoration rate.

    Mr Lim hoped that a decision on this can be made before the NWC recommendations are out by the end of May.

    Mr Lim explained, "In about 2003, we have set ourselves the target of keeping the CPF in the range of about 30 to 36 per cent. Since the last few years, it had been kept at 33 per cent, and the last time the adjustment was made in 2007 when we adjusted the CPF rates from 33 to 34.5 per cent. At 34.5 per cent obviously there is a 1.5 percentage point from the longer term target of 36 per cent.

    "On the part of the labour movement, we feel that given the strong recovery and performance of the economy in the first quarter as well as the healthy outlook for the rest of the year, and given the healthy low unemployment situation, we think that, in a way, this is a good opportunity for us to consider some form of CPF restoration.

    "In other words, as we continue to grow our economy and upgrade our productivity, wage pressure will go up, but it's important that we don't put all these wage increases into our pockets and spend them for today."

    He added, "We must recognise that with longer lifespan and with programmes like CPF Life and the Ministry of Health has highlighted many times that we need to have more money for healthcare in the future, when the situation is right we should consider to increase further the CPF contribution rate, moving towards to 36 per cent.

    "So on the whole, the three areas of focus as we go through this upturn is, firstly, continue our focus on productivity revival to ensure that the healthy rebound can be sustained for the rest of the year and 2011 and beyond.

    "Secondly, workers deserve a better wage reward this year but at the same time let us ensure that our flexible wage system remains flexible.

    And thirdly, recognise that we do need to save more for the future. So given the strong performance of the economy and the healthy outlook, we hope the government will consider a partial restoration of the CPF and the employers will support this move."
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  5. #1637
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Ionescu used embassy car in private capacity: MFA

    (A clearer and more detailed report below

    Channel NewsAsia
    15 April 2010 1643 hrs

    SINGAPORE: Singapore's Foreign Ministry spokesman said it is clear from the findings of the Coroner's Inquiry that the acts for which Dr Ionescu has been charged were not pursuant to his official functions.

    Dr Ionescu was using his embassy car in his private capacity and for his private purposes.

    As such, with effect from Dr Ionescu's recall, he no longer enjoys diplomatic immunity for the acts in question.

    The spokesman added that as Dr Ionescu was recalled by his government on January 5 this year and is no longer serving as a diplomat in Singapore, his immunity for acts performed outside of his function as a diplomat would have lapsed as provided for by Article 39.2 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

    The spokesman also explained that as a result, there was no need for a waiver of diplomatic immunity by Romania and no need for Singapore to seek waiver.

    The spokesman also referred to the Romanian Ambassador to Singapore Aurelian Neagu's comments to Singapore's Foreign Ministry during a meeting on February 11 that the events of December 15 last year were "the responsibility of Ionescu as a person and not a Romanian diplomat".

    The Coroner had ruled that Dr Ionescu, Romania's former Charge d'Affaires was the driver of the car that hit three pedestrians on December 15.

    Singapore has issued a warrant of arrest against the former Romanian Charge d'Affaires Dr Silviu Ionescu, and Interpol has issued a Red Notice against him.

    The red notice allows the warrant to be circulated worldwide for the wanted person to be arrested with a view to extradition.

    The Romanian Justice Ministry had on April 9 issued a press statement suggesting that Romania is unable to arrest Dr Ionescu and extradict him as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, which Romania has not waived and Singapore has not sought such waiver.

    Singapore's Foreign Ministry's spokesman said that the Romanian government's position was that it could not compel Dr Ionescu to return to Singapore not because he enjoyed diplomatic immunity, but because there is no Extradition Treaty between Singapore and Romania.

    The spokesman added that Singapore has taken the Romanian government at its word that it cannot compel Dr Ionescu to return to Singapore.

    That is why Singapore has asked the Romanian government to do what it can to persuade (and not arrest or compel) Dr Ionescu that it is in his own interest and in Romania's interest, to return to Singapore to stand trial.

    The Romanian Ambassador had informed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that the relevant Romanian officials were prepared to visit Singapore at any time to begin its work with the Joint Technical Working Group.

    Singapore is waiting for the Romanian government to propose dates for the visit.

    Singapore will facilitate the visit of these Romanian officials, and assist them to gather the necessary evidence.

    Such evidence will, amongst other things, show that Dr Ionescu was acting in his private capacity and for his private purposes when the accidents took place.


    On April 12, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) had forwarded a copy of the official records of the Coroner's Inquiry pursuant to the request for mutual legal assistance by the Romanian Ministry of Justice to the Romanian Embassy in Singapore.

    These materials contain all the evidence heard by the Coroner's Inquiry.

    The MFA spokesman added that the Romanian government has consistently assured Singapore, most recently through its Ambassador on April 9 and later that same day by the Secretary of State (Permanent Secretary) of the Romanian Foreign Ministry himself, that the Romanian government is committed to seeing that justice is served.

    Based on these assurances, Singapore understands the obligations of the Romanian government to be:

    Firstly, to do all it can to persuade Dr Ionescu to stand trial in Singapore;

    Secondly, if it is not possible to persuade Dr Ionescu to return to Singapore to stand trial, to investigate and prosecute Dr Ionescu under Romanian law, as the Romanian authorities have repeatedly said they will do.

    When asked by the media on Dr Silviu Ionescu's latest interview with Libertatea, the MFA Spokesman said: "We cannot take the wild babblings of a desperate man too cowardly to face up to his own responsibilities seriously.

    "As you are aware, we have informed the Romanian authorities that they have an obligation to ensure that Dr Ionescu, who has only been suspended but not dismissed from the Romanian Foreign Ministry, refrains from making outrageous and inappropriate statements and that it is in their own interest that they do so.

    "The Romanian Foreign Ministry has told us that Dr Ionescu, as a Romanian citizen, has the right to say what he pleases and that they cannot stop him. We have to respect this position. And the Romanian government has quite properly disassociated itself from his comments.

    "Dr Ionescu is not hurting Singapore. If you follow what Romanian netizens are saying, it is clear that even his own compatriots do not believe him. He is only hurting himself and embarrassing his own government and all Romanians.

    "In his latest comments, Dr Ionescu has now dragged in Moldova, a neighbour of Romania, in a less than flattering way. In some of his previous comments, he has even mentioned the EU."

    On Dr Ionescu's comment that he would be hanged if he returned to Singapore, the MFA Spokesman said: "This is a complete red herring. None of the charges against Dr Ionescu is a capital offence."
    Last edited by Loh; 04-15-2010 at 05:13 AM.

  6. #1638
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Marina Bay Sands ropes in external vendors in preparation of opening

    Channel NewsAsia
    15 April 2010 1821 hrs

    By Imelda Saad

    SINGAPORE: With just two weeks to spare, Marina Bay Sands is gearing up for its opening on April 27.

    It has roped in external vendors which have invested millions of dollars to help the Integrated Resort (IR) run with clockwork precision.

    For example, a laundry company has been commissioned to not only handle soiled towels once Marina Bay Sands opens, it will also be taking care of all the IR's laundry needs - from guest requirements to F&B, from rooms to staff uniforms.

    Marina Bay Sands will have a total staff strength of about 8,000 during its first phase of opening.

    The project is so massive that the laundry company has invested S$12 million on new equipment and to set up a new plant in Tuas, in the western part of Singapore.

    It has also recruited some additional 50 workers, who have been busy prepping for the IR's opening.

    "They actually have to know what are the items coming in, the time, the turnaround, how to manage these products because they are made of different fabrics and things like that," said Alex Teo, general manager of Zero Spot Laundry Service.

    "So there will be some in the laundry, some in the dry cleaning. (The workers also need to know) how do we get it cleaned in the correct manner, how do we press it in a correct manner, how do we hang it in a correct manner and how do we deliver it in a correct manner."

    The new plant will be ready by the end of the month solely to serve the needs of Marina Bay Sands, and it is estimated that plant will be handling about 25,000 to 30,000 kilograms of laundry every day.

    With Marina Bay Sands coming on board, the company anticipates a yearly revenue of up to S$8 million, about a 50-per-cent growth.

    For a Small and Medium Enterprise (SME), the project is a coup for Zero Spot Laundry.

    "It actually helps our company to grow in the sense that we get a chance to participate in such a project," said Teo. "This helps us to understand the operations of a casino or even the operations of a close to 2,600 room kind of hotel.

    "If you are involved in such a mega project I think when you go out overseas, you have a very good profile. It actually brings us to another range of skills. We will have a competitive edge over other companies."

    There will be a 24-hour Marina Bay Sands shuttle bus from the airport, running at intervals of 15 minutes during peak periods and 30 minutes during off-peak periods.

    Apart from the airport, there will also be shuttle buses linking other parts of Singapore to the IR.

    Local transport company Sun-Gee Travel has invested S$5 million to buy and retrofit 20 buses that come with special features, such as coloured interior lights and spacious cargo compartments.

    Furthermore, the buses can be lowered to make it easier for the elderly to step on board.

    The company has also recruited about 50 extra staff, most of them, bus captains.

    "We send all of them for the safety courses as well as courtesy courses and at the same time we also let them familiarise with the route," said Neo Chin Keong, director of Sun-Gee Travel.

    "With the help of Marina Bay Sands, we hope we can improve our service as well as the quality of our bus captains."

    The company, which has a total staff strength of about 130, expects business to grow by up to 30 per cent by servicing the Integrated Resort.
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  7. #1639
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default New HDB gallery opens

    The Straits Times
    Apr 15, 2010

    By Esther Teo

    AFTER a $3.8 million year-long major revamp, the Housing Board reopened its gallery on Thursday, with a greater interactive and multi-sensory platform to showcase the evolution of public housing as part of celebrations to mark its 50th anniversary.

    'The HDB gallery provides a canvas for HDB to portray not only the bricks and mortar, but also the heart and soul of public housing,' Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Mohamad Maliki Osman said at its opening ceremony at HDB Hub in Toa Payoh.

    The HDB expects to receive more than 70,000 visitors a year, 20 per cent more than the average monthly visitors who went to the old gallery which was closed last May - after drawing over 330,000 local and foreign visitors since it opened in 2003.

    The new gallery will showcase special features such as the first life-sized hologram in Singapore and a circular 360 degree theatre experience. Visitors can also bring home a photo memory of their visit, which is expected to last between 30 to 45 minutes.

    HDB said that it expects visitors to the 750 sq metre gallery - about the size of two basketball courts - to include students and also foreign governments and delegations curious about Singapore's housing programmes and policies.

    As part of the World Cities Summit to be held here in June this year, the gallery will also be one of the designated sites for delegates, said Dr Maliki. The gallery is open to the public from Mondays to Saturdays. Admission is free.


    The new gallery will showcase special features such as the first life-sized hologram in Singapore and a circular 360 degree theatre experience. Visitors can also bring home a photo memory of their visit, which is expected to last between 30 to 45 minutes. -- PHOTO: HDB
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  8. #1640
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default HIT-AND-RUN CASE: 'No diplomatic immunity'

    The Straits Times
    Apr 16, 2010

    By Teh Joo Lin

    SINGAPORE has informed Romania that its former charge d'affaires, Silviu Ionescu, is not protected by diplomatic immunity over a hit-and-run accident he was responsible for on Dec 15.

    His immunity against any personal acts committed while in office lapsed after he was recalled from his embassy post on Jan 5, said a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman yesterday.

    This is according to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, an international agreement on diplomatic rules, said the ministry.

    It was responding to a statement from Romania's Ministry of Justice last Friday, which suggested that the lack of an extradition treaty between the two countries was not the only barrier to Ionescu returning here to answer charges relating to the accident.

    The statement noted that diplomatic immunity also prevented Ionescu from being arrested and brought back to Singapore to stand trial.

    The Romanian Ministry of Justice said: 'Romania, as the sending state, has not waived immunity from criminal jurisdiction in this case, and the Republic of Singapore as the receiving state has not submitted any written request to that effect.'


    Ex-envoy continues to slam S'pore in interview

    SILVIU Ionescu has continued his tirade against Singapore to the Romanian press in comments labelled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) yesterday as 'wild babblings'.

    In his latest interview with Romanian tabloid Libertatea, the former charge d'affaires said he would be hanged if he returned to Singapore, where the prosecution has prepared 13 criminal charges against him. He claimed to have been targeted by the Singapore Government and had long asked for a transfer to a new posting - even if it was Moldova, Romania's smaller neighbour in Eastern Europe.

    He said he was terrified of falling victim to a revenge killing, insisting he had nothing to do with the Dec 15 hit-and-run case and that Romania, as part of the European Union, would find him innocent.

    An MFA spokesman said yesterday: 'We cannot take the wild babblings of a desperate man too cowardly to face up to his own responsibilities seriously.'

    For example, the charges against Ionescu are not capital offences. The spokesman also noted that Ionescu had 'dragged in Moldova... in a less than flattering way', as well as the EU.

    It is not the first time Ionescu has made himself out to be a victim of the Singapore court. His earlier remarks invited a sharp response from the MFA, which last week told Romania it had an obligation to ensure that the suspended diplomat stopped making inappropriate statements while he remained a Romanian Foreign Ministry employee.

    The MFA spokesman said: 'If you follow what the Romanian netizens are saying, it is clear even his own compatriots do not believe him. He is only hurting himself and embarrassing his own government and all Romanians.'

    Meanwhile, the Romanian Prosecutor's Office said it had ordered a 'provisional seizure' on Ionescu's apartment in Bucharest, with a view to satisfy any potential claims.

    International law expert Mahdev Mohan said this move was 'significant' as the Romanian court can order that the proceeds from the property be paid as compensation to the victims should Ionescu be convicted.

    TEH JOO LIN

  9. #1641
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Pm Lee's Interview On Us Tv

    The Straits Times
    Apr 16, 2010

    PM Lee on nepotism

    VETERAN television journalist Charlie Rose had an exchange with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong over the way the Singapore leadership dealt with insinuations of nepotism.

    He also asked Mr Lee about the legacy of his father, and the biggest lesson the Minister Mentor has taught him.

    Excerpts from the interview:


    Your father is enormously respected around the world. You are his son. Your wife is important in Singapore as a business person, correct?

    I'm not sure you'll call her a business person. She's an employee, but you can call her what you want.


    You seem to be sensitive to the issue of what's called nepotism.

    We are very sensitive.


    Tell me about this sensitivity.

    The whole of our system is founded on a basic concept of meritocracy. You are where you are because you are the best man for the job, and not because of your connections or your parents or your relatives.

    And if anybody doubts that I as Prime Minister am here not because I'm the best man for the job but because my father fixed it, or that my wife runs Temasek because I put her there and not because she's the best woman for the job, then my entire credibility and moral authority is destroyed because I'm not fit to be where I am.

    And it is a fundamental issue of fitness to govern.

    First, you must have the moral right, then you can make the right decisions. It's a basic Confucian precept.

    Only when you have the moral right then can you govern and make the country right. In Singapore, people expect that. And if there's any doubt that this is so, and people believe that I'm there because my father fixed it, or the whole system is just make-believe, then the system would come down.

    It's not tenable. If it's true, it'd better be proven and it better be kicked out. If it's not true, it'd better also be proven to be not true and the matter put to rest.


    So if some journalist writes about nepotism and you think it's not true...

    Well, then we sue him, as we did recently.


    Why?

    Well, we raised the matter with the International Herald Tribune, and they paid damages and apologised and didn't go to court. They could have gone to court.


    But you thought what was written in the IHT would somehow attack the moral fibre of your trust with the people you govern.

    Yes of course. They compare... They put us in the same list as Kim Jong Il.


    Because he inherited his power from his father.

    Yes indeed. And in a similar way.


    And you say we won't stand for that because it goes to the essence of our moral authority to govern.

    Yes, and in this case, in fact, the same journalist and the same newspaper had made the same allegations and apologised and paid damages, and promised never to do it again. And they did it again.


    Are you also anxious to send a signal that 'You don't dare write about nepotism in Singapore because the Singaporeans would sue you'?

    No. The signal we want to send is that if you want to make an allegation, make sure it is true, and be prepared to prove it.

    We were prepared, when we sued them, to go to court, give evidence, enter the witness box and be cross-examined under oath.

    And they can bring their lawyers and demolish us and prove that what they said is true. What more can you ask?


    What's the legacy of your dad?

    He made a state where there was none, a country which would become a nation, which nobody believed could succeed. And he made a system which can run without him and will endure beyond him.

    What's the most important lesson he's taught you?

    Never say die, however desperate the situation. If you think hard enough, you will find the resource and you will find a way out of it. And don't forget where you came from. It could all be very different.
    Last edited by Loh; 04-15-2010 at 10:57 PM.

  10. #1642
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default No safety net for S'pore

    The Straits Times
    Apr 16, 2010

    By Chua Chin Hon, US Bureau Chief



    WASHINGTON - SINGAPORE cannot afford to ever land in the kind of debt crisis that Iceland and Greece found themselves in, as no white knight will come to its rescue, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said.

    He said: 'We can't afford to have a disastrous bump in the night, whether it is a financial crisis, government misbehaviour, or a security problem.

    'We have only one chance to make a go of it. You can succeed in many battles, but if you fail once, it is finished.'

    Mr Lee was speaking during an hour- long interview in Washington with veteran television journalist Charlie Rose which was broadcast in the United States on Wednesday night and in Singapore on Bloomberg Television last night.

    Mr Lee said that while he is happy that Singapore is often held up as an example of good governance, he and his colleagues remind themselves constantly that the country has no safety net, and that the consequences of a wrong decision can be severe.

    He said: 'Supposing we were in the situation of Iceland or Greece, where would we be? 'Iceland is a friend of the European Union. Greece is in the EU. So the Germans come riding to the rescue. But Singapore... how would you ever come back?'


    Singapore cannot afford to ever land in the kind of debt crisis that Iceland and Greece found themselves in, as no white knight will come to its rescue, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said. -- PHOTO: ZAO BAO
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  11. #1643
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Bowling: Another strike for Jazreel

    TODAY
    16 April 2010 0737 hrs

    By Low Lin Fhoong,

    SINGAPORE: Bowling ball in hand, kegler Jazreel Tan was poised to make her debut for defending college champions Wichita State University at the 2010 United States Bowling Congress Intercollegiate Team Championships at El Paso, Texas.

    And the 20-year-old freshman received a boost just hours ahead of the tournament, as she was named the Rookie of the Year (women) by the National Collegiate Bowling Coaches Association at the Night of Champions banquet on Thursday.
    Mark Scuderi of Rochester Institute of Technology was also named Rookie of the Year (men).

    Besides nailing the country's top sports award, Jazreel was also named in the association's All-Americans women's first team.

    The Singaporean bowler, a 2007 World Women's Championship Masters silver medallist, earned the Most Valuable Player (MVP) honours in her first collegiate competition at the Midwest States tournament in October last year.

    She posted an average of more than 200 in nine tournaments and made five All-Tournament teams throughout the season, and was named the Bowling Writers Association of America Player of the Year Runner-Up.

    "I am delighted to hear of Jazreel's outstanding achievements in the US," said Jessie Phua, President of the Singapore Bowling Federation.

    "She has definitely done Singapore proud and has proven to be a role model for her peers in Singapore."

    Added national head coach Mervyn Foo: "This is a very good thing for Singapore bowling and sports in Singapore as she's the first bowler from Singapore and Asia to win this award. She was able to maintain her GPA (grade point average) and compete almost every weekend, and she's really managed her time very well."

    Jazreel could not be reached for comment on Thursday as she is competing in the collegiate nationals.

    One of the most successful US college bowling teams, the Wichita State University men's and women's teams - known as The Shockers - own a record nine national titles, and are looking to defend both titles in El Paso.

    The sports management student also clinched the academic All-American award for US college student-athletes after posting a 3.7 GPA in her first semester. The maximum GPA possible is 4.0.

    Next up on the international competition schedule for the national kegler are the Bowling World Youth Championships in Helsinki, Finland, from July 23 to Aug 1, and the 2010 Asian Games, which will be hosted in Guangzhou from Nov 12 to 27.

    Jazreel Tan
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    Default Two sculptures commissioned for YOG

    Channel NewsAsia
    16 April 2010 1958 hrs

    By Patwant Singh

    SINGAPORE : Sports will take centrestage at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG).

    So will the arts, and half a million dollars will be spent to achieve this.

    The idea is to show that the Games are more than just sports, and everyone can be part of the YOG.

    Two Olympic-themed sculptures have been commissioned and they are the latest YOG installations at the Marina Bay Promenade.

    The two pieces of art will be ready by July, and greet athletes and Singaporeans during the Youth Olympic Games in August.

    These two artists are working to deliver it, despite having only three months to craft them.

    22-year-old Huang Yifan is incorporating the 26 sports of the games.

    "(I) have to do a bit of research on the sports first... And after that, I try to combine it into a circular form. It's quite a challenge but it takes time," said Huang, artist of the YOG sculpture.

    Huang's art work "A World United " - a stainless steel structure measuring four metres in diameter - symbolises peace and mutual respect of different cultures.

    36-year-old artist Edwin Cheong's 10-metre tall art piece called "Breathe" resembles moving trees.

    "The site has an abundance of wind, and also in terms of the sculptures available in the surrounding, they are rather static, so I wanted to do certain sculpture that is kinetic," explained Cheong.

    The project is a collaboration between the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), City Developments Limited (CDL) and the Singapore Youth Olympic Organising Committee (SYOGOC).

    Meanwhile, the countdown clock has recently been shifted to One Fullerton.

    There will be also be a host of YOG-related activities - from the opening and closing ceremonies at the Floating Platform, to the official media centre and Marina Bay Sands.


    'Breathe' by Edwin Cheong

    'A World United' by Huang Yifan
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    Default 11 new stations of Circle Line to operate from April 17, fare savings of up to 41%

    Channel NewsAsia
    16 April 2010 2207 hrs

    By Hetty Musfirah Abdul Khamid

    SINGAPORE : Eleven new stations of the Circle Line, stretching from Dhoby Ghaut to Bartley, will begin operations on April 17.

    It promises faster and cheaper travel - with fare savings of up to 41 per cent for commuters.

    Transport Minister Raymond Lim officiated the opening ceremony at Bras Basah Station on Friday.

    The Bras Basah Station is described as an "architectural marvel". It is said to be the deepest underground MRT station ever built in Singapore.

    It boasts of a 41-metre escalator - the longest in any MRT station - and a unique reflecting pool on the roof.

    Commuters will save time, and money.

    For example, the journey to Paya Lebar from Bartley takes about 38 minutes and costs about $1.61.

    But with the opening of the stretch of new Circle Line stations, it will take just 6 minutes and will save commuters 66 cents of fares - which is over 40 per cent cheaper than the previous fare.

    Culture buffs will also be pleased with the stops.

    "The stretch of the Circle Line also connects us to the doorstep of major culture destinations, such as our museums, as well as recreational and sporting venues like Fort Canning Park and the stadium, and for those headed to destinations around Suntec and the Esplanade. Whether for work or for leisure, the Circle Line provides an additional and convenient transport option, including those who currently drive," said the Transport Minister.

    The 11 new stations, along with five others that are already operating, are expected to bring ridership to about 200,000 a day.



    Bras Basah Station
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    Default Singapore places great emphasis on governance & transparency: PM Lee

    Channel NewsAsia
    16 April 2010 1620 hrs

    SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said Singapore places great emphasis on corporate governance and transparency because it needs to set itself apart from other countries.

    Otherwise, no one would set up banks or base their headquarters in Singapore.

    In a half-hour interview in Chicago, Mr Lee was asked why Singapore introduced the Integrated Resorts with casinos.

    He explained that the benefits outweighed the costs, and added that the downside was not absolute but it was something Singapore had to manage.

    When asked what advice he would give to US decision-makers when reforming the American financial system, Mr Lee said the key is to learn lessons from the crisis and prepare for the next problem, rather than focus the last one.

    "One of the problems the last time round was that you knew what the banks were, but there were things you didn't count as banks like Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, which were not subject to rules and some of them got into trouble," he said.

    "And then you have the shadow market... depositors were not involved but when the shadow market crashed, that brought down the whole financial system. It became big, people took risk too lightly, and after the problem happened... it spread to the whole system.

    "So you've got to find a way to have a supervision which is going to adapt because whatever rules you make, the people who are operating - the bankers, the financiers - will find a way to optimise."

    The Prime Minister also defended the high salaries paid to top government officials in Singapore.

    "Our attitude is: you must pay for the quality of the person you want, and pay for the responsibility of the job which you want the person to do," he explained.

    "And what can be more responsible than running a central bank or running an economy or running an education system, where you're not only dealing with billions of dollars but where you make a mistake, the livelihoods and the futures of millions of people will be at stake.

    "You want the best person and you want him to be properly motivated and focused on his job and not based on a revolving door.

    Mr Lee also spoke about how he wants others to view Singapore.

    "We want people to think of Singapore as representing quality, excellence, initiative and creativity," he said. "So when you think of Singapore, you think of Singapore Airlines, you think of Singapore companies which carry certain reputation when they go abroad, you think of our education system, which does a good job in educating a wide range of students.

    "It's a place which works, it's a place which people are proud to belong and it's Singapore so say Singapore Changi Airport, or the Singapore Airshow, or the Singapore Grand Prix. So it means something positive.

    "Once upon a time, (when) you say Singapore, at best (others will) ask, 'Where is that? Somewhere in China?' Now I think that won't happen quite so often. But you want to go beyond that recognition to also a certain respect and regard."

    In Chicago for a two-day visit, Prime Minister Lee met Chicago's Mayor, Richard Daley.

    He is also expected to meet with the President of the University of Chicago, Robert Zimmer, as well as some Singaporeans based in Chicago.

  15. #1647
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    Default MFA reiterates that Ionescu cannot now claim immunity for accident

    Channel NewsAsia
    16 April 2010 2304 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Romania's former Charge d'Affaires, Dr Silviu Ionescu, does not now enjoy and cannot now claim immunity for last December's accident.

    Singapore's Foreign Ministry (MFA) responded on Friday to media queries as to why if Dr Ionescu does not enjoy diplomatic immunity as the MFA spokesman had said on Thursday, he was not prevented from leaving the country or arrested after the accident of 15 December 2009.

    The MFA spokesman replied: "We should not confuse the privileges and immunities which diplomats enjoy during their posting in a country to which they are accredited, with the privileges and immunities they enjoy after leaving the country of accreditation at the end of their postings."

    He added that they are different situations and the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations clearly recognises these differences.

    Article 39.1 of the Vienna Convention states that a diplomat's privileges and immunities begin from the moment he enters the receiving state to take up his post.

    These privileges and immunities include freedom from detention and arrest (Article 29) and immunity from the jurisdiction of the criminal courts of the receiving state (Article 31.1).

    "As long as a diplomat remains accredited to a receiving state, his privileges and immunities in that state would apply to all his actions, whether official or private," the spokesman said.

    The MFA spokesman added that even if Dr Ionescu did not leave Singapore after the accident, as an accredited diplomat, Singapore cannot arrest him unless the Romanian government waives his immunity. His immunity then covered anything he did, whether official or private.

    Dr Ionescu left Singapore on December 18 last year, three days after the accident. The MFA spokesman pointed out that at that time, he was still a diplomat officially accredited to Singapore and therefore could not be prevented from leaving.

    Furthermore, the police had, at that time, not completed their investigations and it was not yet established that Dr Ionescu was the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident on December 15.

    "The situation now is different and a different provision of the Vienna Convention now applies," the spokesman said.

    "Article 39.2 of the Vienna Convention stipulates that, after a diplomat's posting ends and he leaves his country of accreditation, some of his privileges and immunities would also end.

    "To be more specific, while he would still enjoy immunity for official acts, he would no longer enjoy immunity for private acts."

    The Romanian government has now officially withdrawn Dr Ionescu from Singapore, thus ending his posting with effect from January 5 this year.

    "He is now no longer an accredited diplomat in Singapore," the spokesman added.

    The Coroner's Inquiry has concluded that Dr Ionescu was the driver of the vehicle that caused the accident and that he was acting in a private capacity and engaged in private and not official activity at that time.

    The ministry's spokesman explained that therefore, Dr Ionescu does not now enjoy and cannot now claim immunity for the accident. Diplomatic immunity is no longer a relevant issue.

    The spokesman said Singapore's high international reputation as a country that respects the law is a precious asset and it must always observe the law and due process.

    "We have stressed to the Romanian government many times that it should persuade Dr Ionescu to return to Singapore to stand trial or, if this is not possible, to expeditiously investigate and prosecute him under Romanian law," the spokesman said.

    Singapore is ready to assist the Romanian authorities to the fullest extent under its law.

    The ministry's spokesman added that Singapore is waiting for the Romanian authorities to propose specific dates for their relevant officials to visit Singapore so that it can share the evidence it has with them.

    The spokesman said the Romanian authorities have acted entirely properly so far and have repeatedly stressed that they share Singapore's interest in seeing justice served.

    "It is not in Romania's own interest to allow the actions of one individual to continue to disgrace the entire country," he said

  16. #1648
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    Default PM Lee meets Singaporeans in Chicago

    Channel NewsAsia
    17 April 2010 1345 hrs

    By May Wong

    CHICAGO: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong hopes that Singaporeans based overseas will realise the country's developments and economic growth particularly after the financial crisis and return home soon.

    He was speaking to some 150 Singaporeans who are studying and working in Chicago. Mr Lee was wrapping up his trip to the US, where he had also visited Washington DC.

    Mr Lee told the Singaporeans in Chicago that Singapore is on a stable platform to transform itself, illustrating that with a slideshow of the country's latest additions such as Ion Orchard and The Pinnacle@Duxton.

    ".....A snapshot of what Singapore is, some of the happening things which have been going on (which hopefully) give you a feel of what Singapore is like and some nostalgia, homesickness so that you'll come back and visit (soon)," said Mr Lee.

    "I think a lot of the (Singapore) story also has to do with the Singaporeans who are overseas who are studying, working, (they are) part of our community, part of our family. So (do) keep in touch with home, keep in touch with each other," he added.

    Mr Lee later mingled with the crowd of Singaporeans and they were glad they had a rare chance to talk to the Prime Minister.

    In fact, some said Mr Lee gave them a sense of optimism about Singapore's future, while others felt that the Prime Minister could come up with more programmes to help Singaporeans based overseas to better integrate when they return home.

    Ricky Tay, a manager of Audit and Enterprise Risk Services at Deloitte and Touche, has been in Chicago for six years. He said, "The Prime Minister has painted a very positive picture and the upside for Singapore is tremendous. I think a lot of students and professionals living overseas will consider returning to Singapore to look for opportunities."

    Chong Siew Gan, a consultant who has been living in Chicago for 10 years, said, "For older Singaporeans who have families here, I think we want more than just a professional job, buildings, shopping and F1 (racing). We need to grow and to have a better quality of life."

    Hatim Thaker, a student, said, "I'm getting a very different perspective here in the US and not being trained in Singapore like everybody else. It gives me a very unique angle, through which I can contribute and participate, as the Prime Minister said, (in) Singapore activities."

    Aktar Thaker, a property investor, said, "It's quite obvious to me that he (PM Lee) is trying his best to ask fellow Singaporeans to return home and contribute to the country, which is the right thing for him to do but as individuals, it's also important for us to do the right thing for ourselves."

    Prime Minister Lee also met the president of the University of Chicago, Robert Zimmer, before leaving Chicago after a two-day visit.

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    Default S'pore is top training spot (for China)

    The Straits Times
    Apr 17, 2010

    By Kueh Xiu Qing


    SINGAPORE is the top choice when it comes to selecting a place to train top Chinese government officials.

    This was what Mr Li Yuanchao said in his address at the inaugural opening ceremony of the Master in Public Administration & Management (MPAM) programme on Saturday.

    It is a joint effort by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and the NUS Business School.

    'Out of all the destinations where we send our leading officials to receive training, Singapore is the top choice, because Singapore is the most sincere in helping China develop, due to our longstanding warm relationship,' said Mr Li.

    Mr Li, Minister of the Central Organisation Department of China's Communist Party, was the guest of honour at the ceremony at the LKY School in the Bukit Timah campus of the National University of Singapore.

    Targeted at senior Chinese government officials and business leaders, the 10-month MPAM programme started last month with its first batch of 57 students. It is the first Chinese-language programme offered by the LKY School.


    Mr Li Yuanchao, Minister of the Central Organisation Department of China's Communist Party, was the guest of honour at the ceremony at the LKY School in the Bukit Timah campus of the National University of Singapore. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
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