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  1. #307
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    Quote Originally Posted by zard. View Post
    been to singapore many times..three things that i really love:
    1) extremely low crime rate...so i went out alone very comfortablely, unlike i went to chicago, paris, london
    2) getting superior durran in the super-market...i always go to the supermarket to buy the "meat" of durran...fresh and tasty...they will remove the "meat" and put them "bag-in-bag"...there will be no smell...so i could bring them back to hotel to enjoy with air-con on...in malaysia, i have to eat them in hot weather
    3) the night view...a pic is better than a million words:
    Thank you zard for your kind words. I hope we can continue to make improvements all round.

    And I hope you will continue to drop by Singapore as often as possible. As I have shown in my thread, many more attractions and items of interest have been added and next year will be an exceptional year for Singapore as the Integrated Resorts at Marina Bay and Sentosa resort island will be almost in full swing.

    Next week will be an awesome week for motorsports fans and music lovers as the F1 Night Race will once again grace the Marina Bay street circuit and to brighten up the scene, famous Rock bands and other equally renowned artists and musicians will provide first-class entertainment within the circuit, at the Padang in particular and at our famous elevated, picturesque and historical Fort Canning Park.

    From the organizers:

    "Both before and after the race, and across the entire Grand Prix weekend, artistes led by rock band Travis, Chaka Khan, Backstreet Boys and Youssou N’Dour will add even more excitement. Large-scale theatre acts and top DJs will further ensure a weekend to remember."

    In view of the recession, the organizers are targetting a reduced 83,000 visitors (against 100,000 for the inaugural event last year) and so far it seems they have already achieved above 80% and last-minute attendances could well shore up the remainder and make F1 Singapore another spectacular and successful event. No doubt, as with last year, the race will be brought live to TV viewers in Europe as well as to millions around the globe.

    Even I, as a motorsports greenhorn, have been drawn into buying a walkabout ticket for Saturday, 26 Sep. I'm looking forward to it and hope that both my legs and my trusty camera will carry me through.

    Some pictures of Fort Canning Park:
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  2. #308
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    Default Youth Olympic Games (YOG) preparations on track

    The Straits Times
    Sep 15, 2009

    By Diana Othman

    PREPARATIONS for the Singapore 2010 Youth Olympic Games (YOG) are on track, said Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sport Dr Vivian Balakrishnan.

    Key plans such as sports competitions and venues, the Culture and Education programme, Youth Olympic Village, transport, logistics and games operations, have all been approved by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), he said.

    Upgrading of venues and procurement of equipment and support services are also well underway and on schedule.

    Added Dr Balakrishnan, replying to a question from Ms Penny Low, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC: 'The IOC has commended SYOGOC for making good progress despite the very hectic timeline. We will only be able to provide an update on the budget after we have obtained approval from the IOC and the Cabinet for the standard of services to be provided.'

    Singaporeans from all walks of life are also pitching in as volunteers.

    'To date, about 15,000 people have signed up to be volunteers and will begin their training from September. Our youth are actively engaged,' revealed Dr Balakrishnan.

    Some 210 schools have also been twinned with schools from 112 National Olympic Committees in the Friends@YOG Programme.

    On the corporate side, three local companies have come on board as sponsors. Changi Exhibition Centre will provide a logistic hub during the Games; KhattarWong will provide legal services; and Crocodile International will be the Official Apparel Sponsor.

    Dr Balakrishnan also said that more local companies are expected to come on board in the near future and encouraged more companies to sponsor and invite more people to register online to be volunteers for the YOG.

    He stressed that the Government will make the YOG as 'inclusive as possible.'

    For the official YOG Opening Ceremony, there are also plans to bring it to the masses through community celebrations at the different CDC districts.

    Dr Balakrishnan added that he hopes the inaugural Youth Olympic Games will be the 'People's Games'.

    'The competition venues are in our local neighbourhoods. We need our local residents to take pride in and ownership of the Games. People from all over the world, and the cameras of the world will be in our neighbourhoods,' he said.

    'We need every single resident to proudly showcase Singapore at its best, in our usual understated but dignified way.

    'We need Singaporeans to get involved by decorating their estates, taking part as spectators to cheer the athletes on, as community volunteers to welcome the visitors, as well as participating in the numerous community and city celebrations that are being planned.'
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  3. #309
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Moves to forge bonds between new immigrants and citizens

    The Straits Times
    Sep 17, 2009


    $10m fund will help promote intermingling with new citizens

    By Sue-Ann Chia

    A DAY after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke of helping new citizens adjust to life here, a Government-led panel has released recommendations to promote integration between immigrants and citizens in the community, schools and workplace.

    A key plank is a $10 million fund that organisations can tap over the next three years for projects - cultural gatherings, seminars, social outings and the like - to help immigrants and Singaporeans mingle and get to know each other.

    The Community Integration Fund, which will cover up to 80 per cent of a project's cost, will be a boon to groups keen on holding events but which lack the resources to do so.

    Other measures announced include getting newcomers to attend basic English courses to improve their command of the language in order to better communicate with Singaporeans.

    A third major recommendation is for an updated orientation programme for new citizens to learn about key historical landmarks and institutions, and to be introduced to grassroots communities here.

    Some aspects of this new Naturalisation and Integration Journey could be made mandatory for permanent residents (PRs) before they are given citizenship - but no details have been released yet.

    These moves by the National Integration Council come five months after it was set up in the wake of increasing numbers of foreigners coming here to work or study. Some Singaporeans found the influx worrying and were concerned about competition for jobs and school places, and the impact that foreigners were having on the social fabric of society.

    The council, chaired by Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, included five other ministers and 75 members from the public and private sectors.

    At a press conference on Wednesday, flanked by 11 council members, Dr Balakrishnan outlined integration ideas and urged Singaporeans to adopt 'an open heart and mind, and an attitude of helping and accepting each other'.

    The varied approaches include programmes to get Singaporean and foreign students to take each other home for meals or to eat out together; seminars to exchange ideas on integration; and paying tribute to new citizens who have done volunteer work here.
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  4. #310
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    Default Open Doors, Open Minds, Open Hearts

    The National Integration Council recommends:

    Open Doors: Increase interation

    * $10 million fund for groups to hold integration activities, providing funding of up to 80% for projects over the next three years.

    * Have organisers of community and festive events focus on integration activities.

    *Promote collabration and activities that involve schools.

    * Meals@Home programme for local and international students to share meals at home or eat out together.

    Open Minds: Better communication

    * Get newcomers to attend English classes; have companies hold in-house classes for foreign workers.

    * Organise dialogues for schools, the community, and companies; share ideas and experiences on integration.

    Open Hearts: Country connection

    * Update orientation programmes for new citizens; have more engaging citizenship ceremonies.

    * Prepare students for a globalised world; help them recognise the need to be open and integrated.

    * Work with the media to build community spirit, challenge stereotypes and celebrate diversity.

    * Have threatre and arts groups communicate the integration message in interesting ways.

    Picture above shows Singaporeans and new citizen Kai Lin (second from right) mingling in May. Organisations can tap into a new $10 million fund for projects to help immigrants and Singaporeans get to know each other. -- PHOTO: MY

  5. #311
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    Default $10m fund for integration

    The Straits Times
    Sep 17, 2009

    New $10m fund will come in handy for promoting integration

    By Cai Haoxiang

    THE Tian Fu Club, an association for Chinese immigrants, aims to hold a bigger Mid-Autumn festival next month and get its older members to mingle with more-recent Chinese immigrants. It will be the biggest event Tian Fu has organised, costing around $20,000.

    Club president Tony Du, 53, has jumped at the opportunity to tap into the just-announced $10 million Community Integration Fund (CIF) to help co-fund the gathering.

    'If our financial burden is lightened, we can organise more outstanding activities,' he said of the gathering, which will be co-organised with the Amoy Association.

    The Oct 3 event is expected to attract 500 Singaporeans, clan and immigrant association members and new arrivals, for discussions on the immigrant experience. 'We hope the old and new immigrants can communicate, break down walls and build friendships,' said Mr Du, the managing director of Asia-Link Technology.

    He is also a member of the National Integration Council, set up five months ago to promote social integration among Singaporeans and new immigrants.

    Among the measures announced by council on Wednesday was the CIF. It will help groups fund activities aimed at bringing locals and newcomers closer together. Funding can also be sought for gatherings such as a lunch in July that Keat Hong resident Arumai Chandran, 35, helped to organise.

    While it was aimed at bringing together some 250 residents, mostly new immigrants from India, the event involved non-Indian friends, residents' committee members and neighbours. 'After this event, we made a lot of friends,' said the businessman, a permanent resident originally from Tamil Nadu in India.

    Held at a cost of $3,000, the event was sponsored by the Keat Hong Citizens Consultative Committee and the People's Association.

    Mr Ed Ng Ee Peng, 53, a member of the National Integration Council who is on the panel that approves applications for CIF funding, welcomes requests from groups that hold community-based activities.

    But he would like to see more 'structure' in such events, so that they can have a greater impact. 'For example, I would introduce multiracialism - have a panel display of the social customs of different races,' he said.

    Institutions like Temasek Polytechnic also welcomed the announcement of the CIF.

    International students make up about 10% of its 15,000-strong student population and they come mostly from such countries as China, India and Myanmar.

    "The fund will be helpful to us in organizing events for international students. Temasek Polytechnic has been very much involved in integration activities for them since our founding in 1990," deputy principal Edmond Khoo, 56, said yesterday.

    "From time to time, we run residential programmes or courses. These activities have really drawn local and international students together. The fund will allow international students more opportunities to participate, as many of them come to Singapore on a shoestring budget."

    One annual event it organises is styled after the popular reality show The Amazing Race. In the Temasek Polytechnic version, new foreign students race around the city and get an introduction to historical landmarks as well as heritage buildings. Senior foreign and local students act as buddies for the event.

    Mr Ng described the fund as a catalyst that could help kick-start integration projects. But he said that over the longer term, such projects are expected to be sustainable and self-funded.

  6. #312
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore computer games get a boost

    The Straits Times
    Sep 17, 2009

    By Diana Othman

    MADE-IN-SINGAPORE games will get a boost in a new push to promote local titles.

    The Singapore Game Box, a one-year pilot was officially launched by Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew at the opening of the Games Convention Asia 2009 on Thursday, in an initiative to raise awareness of local game titles and allow game developers to test and gather feedback for their protptypes.

    The initiative was jointly mooted by the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and the Media Development Authority (MDA).

    The first manifestation of this initiative is the Singapore Game Box@E2Max, located at Orchard Cineleisure, a popular venue where gamers can try out locally produced titles at no cost.

    This initiative also promotes interaction between gamers and developers.

    The Singapore Game Box also serves as a showcase for potential publishers to get acquainted with Singapore game developers.

    'The initiative is in line with the IDA Connected Games Programme that aims to develop Singapore as a regional centre for developing, managing and distributing games content and related service,' said Mr Lui.

    'Besides levelling up the capabilities of game developers in Singapore, this initiative will provide a platform for more Made-By-Singapore game titles to be established both locally and internationally.'

    Added Dr Christopher Chia, MDA's CEO: 'The Singapore Game Box provides local game developers an opportunity to showcase their newly developed games or game prototypes, in order to gauge gamer reactions to their work.'

    'As part of our effort to grow the local games industry, the Singapore Game Box is one of our initiatives to raise awareness and appreciation of locally produced game titles.'

    Twenty Singapore-based game companies are taking part in this initiative to exhibit over 20 games.

    Interested gamers may visit the Singapore Pavilion (Booth No 316) at the Games Convention Asia to experience first-hand the games that will be showcased at Singapore Game Box@E2Max from Thursday to Sunday.
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  7. #313
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    Default $30m digital lab for gamers

    The Straits Times
    Sep 17, 2009

    By Chua Hian Hou

    A NEW $30 million R&D lab is being set up here to help gamers conquer the universe - without repetitive stress injury.

    When it is set up, the Interactive Digital Media Lab will see 100 engineers looking for new and better ways for gamers to interact with their fix: think using your hands to manipulate virtual objects a la Minority Report or better yet, stepping into a virtual world to become Conan The Cimmerian, instead of relying on a keyboard and mouse.

    Said the lab's newly appointed honorary advisor, renowned games guru Chris Taylor: 'There has been an explosion of new interface devices and technologies on all the major gaming platforms, making this one of the most exciting new areas of interactive entertainment research.'

    The success of the Nintendo Wii gaming console, for instance, is directly linked to its innovative controller. Unlike traditional game controllers which rely on a gamer's fingers to move or shoot, the Wii's controller has a set of motion-sensors on it, allowing the gamer to simulate boxing punches and tennis serves with hand or body movements.

    Before it launched the Wii, Nintendo's fortunes had been lagging players like Sony and Microsoft, the makers of the Playstation and Xbox game consoles respectively.

    'Having been in the business for over 20 years, this kind of innovation is very exciting to me, and yet still remains a largely undiscovered frontier in our (gaming) business,' said Mr Taylor, chief executive officer of US-based video games studio Gas Powered Games and the man behind the popular Dungeon Seige and Supreme Commander video game franchises.

    This gap means there are huge opportunities for those who can come up with a successful patent for such technologies, said Razer's chief executive Tan Min Liang.

    The video games peripherals company, one of the world's biggest makers of gaming peripherals like mice and audio headsets, together with the Government's Interactive Digital Media R&D Programme Office (IDMPO), is shelling out the cash to fund the Lab.

    Razer is owned by a group of Singapore investors, including prominent Singapore Inc names like DBS chairman Koh Boon Hwee.

    It currently has 100 staff in its Chai Chee office, and another 100 staff in its California office. The Lab is among the IDMPO's biggest investments into the area, it said in a statement.
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  8. #314
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    Default Singapore museums impress

    The Straits Times
    Sep 16, 2009

    SEVEN in 10 people polled in an inaugural survey were impressed with the wide range of museums in Singapore.

    They were also delighted with the high curatorial standards, which they said were comparable to top museums overseas, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and the National Heritage Board (NHB) in a joint statement on Wednesday.

    The survey, conducted by both organisations, also studied the visitor demographics and perceptions of selected institutions under the Museum Roundtable (MR), a grouping of over 50 local museums here.

    The survey revealed that 37 per cent of museum-goers were from overseas, of whom 11 per cent were repeat museum visitors.

    Britons made up the bulk of museum visitors followed by Australians, Americans, Indians and Filipinos. Most were aged 25 years and above and 59 per cent of the tourists were women.

    'Museums mirror the growth of our city and present to the world various perspectives of the Singapore Story. The number of overseas visitors to museums has shown an encouraging increase over the past years,' said Ms Jeannie Lim, director of attractions at the STB.

    'Of the ten million tourists who came to Singapore last year, close to one million visited our national museums.'

    Over 6.5 million people visited the museums here - a 26 per cent jump from the year before. The National Museum of Singapore topped the list with 871,800 visitors. The other three most visited museums were the National Library Gallery, Asian Civilisations Museum and Images of Singapore.

    Some boutique museums also made it to the top 20 list, including The Changi Museum and The MINT Museum of Toys.

    Collaborations with other institutions worldwide are also in the works to boost Singapore's aim of being a cultural gateway to Asia.
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  9. #315
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    Default Many foreign-born do NS yearly

    The Straits Times
    Sep 16, 2009

    By Kor Kian Beng

    PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Tuesday addressed a pet peeve among Singaporeans, that new immigrants do not do national service (NS) or are called up for reservist training.

    Mr Lee said every year, hundreds of foreign-born youths do their NS as new citizens or permanent residents (PRs).

    'They come from different races and countries, but they have consciously committed themselves to do NS, and march together with Singaporeans,' he said at a dialogue with students of Nanyang Technological University.

    In July, Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean had said in an interview the number of such youths is in the 'high hundreds every year'.

    On Tuesday, PM Lee also said a 'good number of these new citizens' excel in NS, attending Officer Cadet School or topping their cohort and being awarded the Sword of Honour.

    Some have signed on to be regulars in the Singapore Armed Forces while others have won SAF scholarships, he said.

    Mr Lee cited Lieutenant Kok Khew Fai, 21, a Malaysian-born officer, who became a citizen in May 2007. Lt Kok received the SAF merit scholarship last month and will be an air engineering officer after completing his aeronautical engineering studies at Britain's Imperial College.

    He was awarded the SAF Medal for Distinguished Act last September for shielding a recruit from a grenade blast during an exercise in March last year.

    Besides defence, PM Lee said new citizens and PRs also contribute in other areas. 'They not only contribute to our economy, they also enrich our society and make up for our population shortfall.'

    Singapore made sure these newcomers raised the population's quality in terms of education, skills and drive, he added.
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  10. #316
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    Default Temasek portfolio slumped from $185 billion to $130 billion

    The Straits Times
    Sep 17, 2009

    By Alvin Foo

    TEMASEK Holdings net portfolio slumped from $185 billion to $130 billion in its latest financial year ended March 31, rocked by the global economic tsunami which left fund managers and investors alike in its wake.

    However, this has since recovered by $42 billion, or 32 per cent, to $172 billion as of July, as world stock markets have rebounded sharply since March. This brings the sovereign wealth fund's portfolio up to 93 per cent of its peak year end value.

    These figures were revealed by Temasek when it released its latest annual report on Thursday.

    Its net profit slumped from $18 billion in the previous year to $6 billion.

    Temasek said this was due to weaker operating performances of its portfolio companies and realised gains and losses from its divestments during the year.

    Its CEO, Ms Ho Ching, told reporters at the media conference that 'we certainly did not anticipate the speed or the depth of last year's global financial crisis. Nor did we expect the crisis to originate from the US.'

    But she added that Temasek raised its cash position early on.

    'We have been building up our liquidity methodically over the last two years, as we were mindful of a possible downturn. This gave us a good net cash position, and a lot of flexibility during a time when credit was very tight around the world.'

    She said Temasek sees itself as a 'long-term owner of our assets,' and its returns have been creditable over various time periods and over different parts of the market cycle.

    'This is largely because we have grown with Singapore and Asia, and we have a robust portfolio underpinned by our core blue chips.

    'In terms of our investment posture, we have stayed the course with a focus on the long term.'

    Ms Ho also revealed that Temasek's earlier push into Asia over the last five to seven years has paid off. The investments it made after 2002 gave annualised returns of 19 per cent as of March this year, compared to 9 per cent before 2002.

    She was also upbeat about the outlook for Asia and Singapore, saying 'we believe the worst of the global meltdown risk are behind us.' But she cautioned that while there are some 'green shoots of growth', some structural risks still remain for the medium term.

    'These include the deleveraging that is taking place. Supply and demand also need to adjust to a new base in the real economy. This will take time,' she said.

    Ms Ho also pointed to protectionism as a medium term risk, adding that the global economy is expected to have a sluggish recovery in 2010.

    Against this backdrop, she said Temasek will continue to review its portfolio regularly, rebalancing it where necessary.
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  11. #317
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    Default HDB flats linked to mall

    The Straits Times
    Sep 18, 2009

    Clementi integrated estate will also feature library and interchange

    By Jessica Lim

    IN A push to adapt to the modern needs of Singaporeans, a community library, air-conditioned bus interchange and even a shopping mall have been added to the list of public amenities at a new government housing estate.

    The 40-storey integrated complex - located at the former Clementi bus interchange - will be the first of its kind for public housing here, said the Housing Board, which on Thursday called for tenders for the sale of the complex's 25,000 sq m mall.

    It will be ready by August next year, with 388 HDB flats - ranging from three-bedroom to five-bedroom units - on offer.

    Jones Lang LaSalle (JLL), the marketing agent appointed to sell the mall, is confident that it will be sold by the time the tender period ends at noon on Nov 10.

    'Suburban malls have stable returns, even during poor economic years,' said Ms Stella Hoh, the company's head of investments, who added that JLL has already received a few queries from mall operators and private investors. 'The fact that it is linked to HDB flats and transport links means it has a direct catchment area, making it very attractive to buyers.'

    The only other [B]similar existing integrated project is Centrepoint Properties' Compass Heights in Sengkang[/B], which combines a shopping mall, public transport hub and 536 private residential units.

    Such mixed developments are a win-win, said experts: They help urban planners make efficient use of land and increase convenience for flat-dwellers.

    'By building a mall between blocks of flats, it frees up more land for other uses like landscaping,' said Mr Colin Tan, director of research and consultancy at real estate consultancy Chesterton Suntec International. 'This is a model that urban planners have been pursuing. It is compact and efficient.'

    'It is likely to be popular with city dwellers and should boost property prices in the area,' he added, pointing out that the model is likely to become more widespread.

    HDB hopes the complex will 'provide a new buzz and add vibrancy to the Clementi Town Centre'.


    An artist's impression of the upcoming Clementi Town Centre. -- PHOTO: HDB
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  12. #318
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    Default Uniquely Singaporean Dishes - Satay Bee Hoon, etc

    The Straits Times
    Sep 20, 2009

    Malaysia may claim others have hijacked its dishes, but there are others indisputably made in Singapore

    By Shuli Sudderuddin

    MALAYSIA has staked a claim on chilli crab, bak kut teh, laksa and Hainanese chicken rice, with its Tourism Minister saying that other countries had 'hijacked' these dishes.

    Singaporean foodies have already disputed the claim. But food critics here are unfazed by barbs about 'cultural theft'. They point to uniquely Singaporean dishes that no other country can 'own'.

    Top of the list would be yu-sheng, lor mee, bak chor mee, satay beehoon, and fried Hokkien prawn mee.

    Some, like satay beehoon, were inspired creatively, while others, like lor mee, were invented out of need. Others, like yusheng, are indisputably Singaporean and have been 'exported' to become popular elsewhere.

    'Singapore has its own style with food dishes and we should be proud of what is truly unique,' said food critic K.F. Seetoh.



    Mr Ng Siaw Meng, 60, preparing a batch of Satay Bee Hoon at his East Coast Lagoon stall. His father learned the recipe from an older brother who learned it in China. However, his father tweaked it, made it unique, and Mr Ng has been preparing this recipe since the 60s. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
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  13. #319
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    Default MM Lee gets 'personal'

    The Straits Times
    Sep 22, 2009

    He recounts experiences at tea session with students in Moscow

    By Jeremy Au Yong

    MOSCOW - WHILE the dialogue a day earlier had focused on the big picture and global policies, 10 students handpicked to attend a tea session with Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew in Moscow on Monday had very different sort of questions on their minds.

    They were more interested in his personal experiences.

    And MM Lee obliged, speaking frankly about the challenges he faced in his early years, his regrets in life and his approach to politics.

    He also responded to a question on whether he had anything to do with his son, Mr Lee Hsien Loong, becoming prime minister. But he could not resist taking a jab at the student asking it.

    MM Lee said: 'That question has been thrown at me a 1,001 times. I did not appoint my son. I appointed somebody else prime minister, who was my successor, and he stayed in the job for 14 years. And he chose my son to be his deputy. I did not arrange that.

    'After five years, nobody doubts that he is able to do his job better than anybody else, so the question has stopped being asked.'

    On Sunday, MM Lee was at a dialogue with students from the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management as he attended the opening of its new campus. One of the first questions posed was about his secret to motivating people. His answer: Speak their language.

    He spoke of his attempt to learn all the major languages in Singapore during the early days of the PAP: 'I learnt to speak the languages of the common man, which was Malay and basic English - not BBC English. In other words, disjointed grammar, Malay sentences with English words.'

    It was the same with Chinese. But he told students on Monday that the need to campaign in all three languages during the elections was exhausting, and it took its toll on him.

    He recalled an occasion when he did a multilingual broadcast at a radio station. He was so tired at one point that the staff thought he had disappeared from the studio: 'I was missing. They came to look for me. I was lying on the floor to recover my breath. It was really an effort,' he said.

    On Sunday, MM Lee (left) was at a dialogue with students from the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management as he attended the opening of its new campus. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
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  14. #320
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    Default GIC profits from Citi stake

    The Straits Times
    Sep 23, 2009

    It makes US$1.6b from selling part of its holdings in US bank

    By Fiona Chan

    THE Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) has sold about half its stake in United States banking giant Citigroup over the last week, reaping a profit of US$1.6 billion (S$2.3 billion).

    It plans to hold onto its remaining 4.9 per cent stake, which has a US$1.6 billion paper profit at current prices, GIC said in a statement on Tuesday.

    The state investment firm sold shares amounting to a 4.5 per cent stake in Citi on the open market between Sept 11 and Monday. Citi shares traded at US$4.12 to US$4.61 in that period, having quadrupled since March as global stock markets rallied on increased investor confidence.

    GIC said the sale was meant to trim its holdings in Citi to about 5 per cent - the stake it had originally intended to have.

    'A stake below 5 per cent reflects GIC's goals and desire to be a portfolio investor,' it said. 'GIC will continue its investment in Citigroup as we are confident of its long-term prospects.' Including the paper gain, this means that GIC has made a profit of almost 50 per cent on its original investment in Citi 20 months ago, despite the bank's turbulent performance since then.

    In January last year, GIC had invested US$6.88 billion in Citi, only to face a potential huge paper loss when Citi shares plunged to below US$1 apiece in March this year after the bank bled heavily in the financial crisis. At one point, GIC was staring at US$5.5 billion in potential unrealised losses, according to reports then.

    GIC's happy ending is the result of two judgment calls that turned out to be the right ones, said GIC's chief investment officer Ng Kok Song on Tuesday.

    The first was choosing to invest in a bank too big to fail. 'We had assessed that, in a crisis, Citigroup would receive US government assistance because of Citigroup's systemic importance in the US financial system,' he said. This proved true when the US government injected billions to rescue the beleaguered bank late last year.

    The second good judgment call was in the kind of shares that GIC bought: perpetual convertible preferred stock, which paid quarterly dividends and could be converted into common stock. 'We did not invest directly in the common stock. We wanted some protection against downside risk because of the uncertain economic outlook,' said Mr Ng.

    This meant that when Citi issued more shares to sell to the US government in return for the capital injection, severely diluting the stakes of common stock holders, GIC's stake was protected.
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    Default S'pore falls to 26th spot

    The Straits Times
    Sep 22, 2009

    By Joyce Teo

    THANKS to a sharp fall in rents, Singapore has fallen right off the ranking of the world's top 20 most expensive office locations to 26th spot at end June - from the 6th position half a year ago.

    According to a global office report released on Tuesday by Colliers International, Singapore has slipped while Hong Kong continues to hold the Number One spot, ahead of major cities like London, Moscow, Tokyo.

    The Singapore office property market was one of the most severely hit by the lingering global financial crisis in the first half of the year, the report said.

    It registered the second biggest drop of 42.3 per cent in Grade A office rents to US$55.53 psf per annum.

    Riga, the capital of the Republic of Latvia, ranked first with a 49.6 per cent in monthly Grade A office rents in the first half of the year, while New Delhi came in third with a 38.6 per cent fall.
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    Default SINGAPORE F1 RACE - F1 circus hits town

    The Straits Times
    Sep 23, 2009

    Hamilton and drivers meet fans as excitement builds towards weekend

    By Terrence Voon

    DESPITE Renault's shame, Formula One fever is alive and well in Singapore.

    Just ask Lewis Hamilton, the reigning world champion who was left dazed and dazzled after his first public appearance here ahead of the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix.

    A 30-minute session by the McLaren driver at a Mercedes-Benz event nearly sparked a stampede at Paragon Shopping Centre yesterday, as more than 300 fans and cameramen jostled for a piece of the F1 superstar.

    'This is the biggest crowd I've ever seen,' he remarked. Hamilton may have been exaggerating, but there was no underestimating the mayhem that ensued when the affable Brit approached supporters to give out autographs.

    Several other drivers - most of whom arrived just on Tuesday - also made their rounds across Singapore.

    At ExxonMobil's refinery in Jurong, Hamilton's teammate Heikki Kovalainen played host to 20 children from low-income families.

    Williams drivers Kazuki Nakajima and Nico Rosberg were also on the move, with the German meeting about 40 fans at the Cortina Boutique at Raffles City.

    Even without the mega-wattage afforded by driver appearances, Singaporeans seem to be getting into the F1 groove.

    There are reports of traffic jams around the Marina Bay area, as curious motorists slow down to gawk at the preparations for the night race.

    About 90 per cent of the 83,000 passes for the race weekend have also been sold. Although this pales in comparison to last year's sold-out event, organisers are taking into account the poor economic climate and the second-year blues that host cities usually suffer from.


    McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton being mobbed by what he jokingly called 'the biggest crowd I've ever seen' at the Paragon on Tuesday. -- ST PHOTO: BRYAN VAN DER BEEK
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    Default Mega-hits at Sentosa IR

    The Straits Times
    Sep 25, 2009

    Madagascar and Shrek form themes at six attractions

    By Lim Wei Chean

    RESORTS World at Sentosa (RWS) is banking on the appeal of two mega-movie franchises - Shrek and Madagascar - to draw the crowds to its theme park when it opens in first quarter of next year.

    Six attractions at the integrated resort's (IR's) 20ha Universal Studios theme park will be based on the storylines of the two DreamWorks Animation films, according to details released on Thursday by the developer.

    Visitors will get to see sets and characters from Shrek come to life, including the Far Far Away Castle belonging to Princess Fiona's father.

    They will also get to experience rides based on the adventures of four animals from New York's Central Park Zoo who are shipped to Africa by accident and left stranded on Madagascar.

    There will be more than 10 retail and dining outlets done up in the same themes as the two respective zones.

    The two movies are among DreamWorks' most successful box office hits, with Shrek and its two sequels grossing over US$2 billion (S$2.8 billion) worldwide, and the first Madagascar film alone taking in $500 million.

    RWS chief executive officer Tan Hee Teck said the films are popular with Asians.

    Prices for the theme park will be announced later, but The Straits Times understands they are likely to be on par with, or even cheaper than, tickets to Universal Studios theme parks elsewhere. A day pass to the park in Orlando costs US$70 and Osaka charges 6,000 yen (S$92).

    The theme park - the first of its kind in South-east Asia - is expected to be one of the IR's biggest draws. The second IR, the Marina Bay Sands, is gunning for well-heeled business travellers.

    Details of 18 other attractions at the Sentosa IR's remaining five zones - Sci-Fi City, Ancient Egypt, The Lost World, New York and Hollywood - will be announced later. An RWS spokesman said the IR is on track for its soft opening in first quarter of next year.

    Resorts World at Sentosa is banking on the appeal of two mega-movie franchises - Shrek and Madagascar - to draw the crowds next year. - PHOTO: SENTOSA RESORTS WORLD
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