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  1. #5135
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Our CBD is losing its green edge

    As parks disappear, Singapore's downtown loses part of what makes it so attractive

    by Richard Hartung
    04:46 AM Sep 23, 2011

    "Great cities are defined as much by their parks and open spaces as they are by their architecture," New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said when plans for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation were announced in 2003. The city spent more than US$100 million (S$129 million) on 20 parks in that downtown area.

    In Seoul, the government spent about US$280 million on the Cheonggyecheon Restoration Project and created a new park in the middle of the city.

    In contrast, patches of green here in Singapore seem to keep disappearing. One of the latest is Robinson Green, in the heart of the Central Business District.

    At the end of June, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced that it had launched the commercial site at Robinson Road/Cecil Street for sale. A sign invites companies to submit a bid to the URA so they can turn the park into an office building.

    While Robinson Green is tiny, it's an oasis of trees and flowers that brings a brief respite to workers pausing for a break or rushing past. And despite plans for small "pocket parks" in the urban centre, Robinson Green's demise seems emblematic of a continuing loss of greenery in the CBD.

    Singapore used to seem more focused on greenery. Indeed, the National Parks Board states that "Singapore's development into a Garden City started four decades ago with the establishment of the greening programme. The driving force behind this was the former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew who identified a green Singapore as a key competitive factor in attracting foreign investments to the country".

    New plans, however, have brought change. The end of Robinson Green is part of Master Plan 2008, which the URA says will guide Singapore's development "over the next 10 to 15 years".

    The Master Plan is in turn part of the Concept Plan, a "strategic land use and transportation plan to guide development in the next 40 to 50 years".

    When the URA released the Master Plan in 2008, few other than developers may have looked seriously at what would change in the coming decade. The Plan shows that Robinson Green, along with nearby Telok Ayer Park, are among the "interim green" areas slated for redevelopment. The lawns above Tanjong Pagar MRT station, in contrast, are "park/open space" areas. Even some of that greenery seems to be disappearing, though, following the sale of land at Peck Seah Street earlier this year.

    It is easy to sell off green spots and build buildings. It's far harder to retain the greenery that differentiates Singapore's downtown from the many drab valleys of skyscrapers elsewhere in Asia.

    By eliminating these pocket parks, Singapore seems out of sync with trends in other cities and risks losing the greenery that makes it so attractive. The Sustainable Cities database says that Copenhagen and Chicago, for example, are among a number of cities actually acquiring more land to create small parks.

    An increasing body of research also shows the importance of urban parks. Georgia Institute of Technology professor Joe Hughes, for example, found that "parks play a role in market restoration, value creation, job creation, green space development and neighbourhood stabilisation". Other research shows that urban parks are part of what attracts everyone from Fortune 500 companies to knowledge workers.

    Admittedly, it can be hard to prove the value of these green spots. As former mayor of Bogota Colombia Enrique Peñalosa said, "we cannot prove mathematically that wider sidewalks, pedestrian streets, more or better parks make people happier, much less measure how much happier. However if we reflect, most things that are important in life cannot be measured either: Friendship, beauty, love, loyalty are examples. Parks and other pedestrian places are essential to a city's happiness".

    Studies by Rotman Research Institute researcher Marc Berman do, however, help demonstrate that parks benefit people. The Wall Street Journal reports that Mr Berman found "performance on memory and attention tests improved by 20 per cent after study subjects paused for a walk through an arboretum" whereas "no cognitive boost was detected" when they strolled down a busy street. Even "a quieter city street with interesting natural elements to look at" can help, Mr Berman found. A stop in a place like Robinson Green might actually improve performance.

    Rather than losing the tiny parks and open spaces in the CBD that help make Singapore green and bring so many benefits, perhaps it's time to re-examine the headlong rush into building and consider how to preserve or expand what makes Singapore so attractive.



    Richard Hartung is a consultant who has lived in Singapore since 1992.


    Last edited by Loh; 09-22-2011 at 08:42 PM.

  2. #5136
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Unlikely for S'pore, Malaysia to merge: Lee Kuan Yew

    By Hoe Yeen Nie | Posted: 22 September 2011 2207 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Singapore's former minister mentor Lee Kuan Yew said it is unlikely that Singapore and Malaysia will merge in the future.

    He was speaking at the Singapore Global Dialogue, held at the Shangri-La Hotel, on Thursday evening. The dialogue was attended by some 400 participants from all over world.

    Mr Lee was asked by a Malaysian citizen if he foresees both countries coming to a political or economic union in the future, given the growing strength of Indonesia.

    Mr Lee said having gone through a failed merger in the 1960s, such a move is not likely.

    But he also gave a positive outlook of bilateral relations, noting the efforts of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

    These include developing the Iskandar region in southern Johor, which will complement Singapore's own economic growth.

    "Najib has brought forth a positive view of bilateral relations and the desire to develop southern Johor, the Iskandar region, using Singapore as a kind of Shenzhen. (This) means a complementary set of forces will be let loose, which will make it unprofitable for either side to be unfriendly," said Mr Lee.

    He added: "You want our investments, we want to invest. Having invested, we don't want problems with Malaysia, and Malaysia which wants more investments will not give us problems. So that's a positive development."

    Mr Lee also said it is in the country's best interest to spread its wealth, to maintain "national solidarity".

    "If you have fast growth, and it's confined only to one section of society, particularly the Chinese, and the Malays are left behind, I think it's not sustainable," said Mr Lee.

    "It is in our interest to maintain national solidarity, to ensure there is a spread of the wealth that comes with growth, to the disadvantaged in the population."

    The 40-minute dialogue saw wide-ranging questions from the audience.

    Among them, what Mr Lee Kuan Yew thought were the key qualities that will keep Singapore going.

    Mr Lee said factors such as meritocracy, pragmatism and a clean government have taken Singapore to where it is, and losing sight of any of them will cause the country to lose momentum.

    Asked about his thoughts on Singapore's recent general election in May, where the ruling People's Action Party saw its vote share dip, Mr Lee said the "result was bound to happen".

    "Our total dominance was not sustainable, a younger generation wants to see competition, they voted in an opposition party... (but) to have a two-party system is another matter. It depends on the performance of the opposition, the response of the government, and the mindset of succeeding younger generations that come with every general election."

    When asked on how he hoped to be remembered, Mr Lee said he has no desire to be remembered for any particular reason, but he has a job to do - that is to maintain a fair distribution of growth for the country, and to maintain good relations with neighbours.

    - CNA/cc

  3. #5137
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default F1: A race for the tourism dollar

    By Vimita Mohandas | Posted: 22 September 2011 1912 hrs


    SINGAPORE: It's been four years since Singapore first hosted the inaugural Formula One night race. And the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is convinced that the iconic event is reaping in benefits for the country.

    STB expects this year's Formula One night race to generate incremental tourism receipts of about S$100 million, with overseas visitors making up about 40 per cent of the total number of spectators.

    Last year, the event raked in about S$160 million and attracted some 96,000 visitors of which about 40 per cent were overseas visitors.

    The annual F1 event has become a race for the tourism dollar, with each new season billed to be bigger and better.

    This year, international acts like Shakira and Linkin Park are set to heat up the stage.

    The performances will be held within the circuit to make it more convenient for spectators.

    This was a key lesson the STB and Singapore GP learnt, after organising the F1 Rocks concert held at Fort Canning Park two years ago.

    Logistical issues aside, the leisure element has also been enhanced.

    More F&B and retail outlets within downtown Marina Bay have fine-tuned their promotions to attract a larger crowd.

    World-renowned nightspots have also made their way - with the opening of the Avalon nightclub and Pangea at Marina Bay Sands
    .

    With the night race broadcast globally, the STB said it is these softer elements that elevate Singapore's status as a vibrant city.

    And work has never stopped to improve the consumer experience.

    Ms Lynette Pang, executive director, F1 & Sports, Singapore Tourism Board, said Singapore has fine-tuned the race over the years, even in smaller details such as "the accessibility in procuring and buying a drink".

    STB added that more high-level board meetings were also held during this period.

    "What we have observed is really about the quality of delegates. The meetings are usually very high-level board meetings with key decision makings from CEOs, CFOs... the C-suite executives. So the meetings might be smaller but the quality of the clientele and delegates is extremely high", said Ms Pang.

    On recent concerns over the weather, the STB said authorities are monitoring the haze situation.

    But rain or shine, the race will go on.

    - CNA/cc
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  4. #5138
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Calling S'pore youth to "Be the Change!"

    Posted: 22 September 2011 2046 hrs


    SINGAPORE: A group of young Singaporeans have set up "Be the Change!" - an initiative to gather ideas on how to make Singapore better, evaluate the ideas and look for ways to turn them into reality.

    The project kicks off on September 24 with a conference at the *SCAPE Warehouse, where participants will brainstorm ideas under five themes: Live, Work, Learn, Play and Give.

    The action will go online to engage youths through Facebook and the website www.bethechange.sg, as well as offline, through forums and street outreach.

    Mr Chan Chun Sing, Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports said: "I commend the team of dynamic young volunteers who have stepped forward to organise this project. While there is already a growing community of active youth today, I hope more will gather their peers to come forward and share ideas, and also become the owners of these ideas and translate them into action."

    Ideas will be collected from now till November for the first phase, and further developed by youth work groups from December to March next year.

    Selected projects will then be implemented with support from public and private sector agencies.

    - CNA/cc
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  5. #5139
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Miss Universe 2011 revs up F1 festivities

    By Avelyn Ng | Posted: 22 September 2011 2118 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Miss Angola, Leila Lopes made an appearance Thursday evening, at the F1-themed "The Finish Line Bar", located at Marina Bay Sands.

    She's here to drum up some excitement for the upcoming Formula One night race.

    This is Ms Lopes' first public appearance since she was crowned in Brazil last week.

    It was a rare opportunity for fans to get up close to the statuesque beauty who was accompanied by other Miss Universe finalists.

    For Ms Lopes, just being in Singapore was a treat in itself.

    "It's great. It's really very beautiful, small but very beautiful, so very clean," she said.

    - CNA/cc
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  6. #5140
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Govt responds to ex-ISA detainees

    16 who were detained involved in subversive activities, says MHA
    by Tanya Fong 04:46 AM Sep 24, 2011

    SINGAPORE - The 16 ex-detainees, who had issued a joint statement earlier this week to call for the abolishment of the Internal Security Act (ISA), were "not detained for their political beliefs", the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a three-page statement yesterday.

    They were detained "because they had involved themselves in subversive activities which posed a threat to national security", MHA reiterated.

    According to MHA, nine of them were "actively involved in Communist United Front (CUF) activities in support of the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM), which was committed to the violent overthrow of the constitutionally-elected governments in Singapore and Malaysia".

    The ministry added: "They infiltrated legally-established organisations like trade unions and student associations, and instigated illegal strikes and demonstrations to cause mayhem and civil strife, to complement the CPM's armed revolution. In 1974, one of them provided medical assistance to a CPM saboteur who was hiding in Malaysia. The saboteur had been conveying a bomb for an attack in Singapore, and was travelling along Still Road (Katong) when it detonated prematurely, injuring him and killing his two accomplices."

    Noting the "volatile and dangerous security situation" then, the MHA said that following the CPM's call in 1968 to its underground networks to return to armed struggle, "new CPM organisations were formed in the 1970s which included killer squads to carry out sabotage, assassinations and other acts of violence".

    The MHA said that, in the 1980s, seven of the 16 ex-detainees were involved in a Marxist plot to subvert and destabilise Singapore - with five of the seven swearing statutory declarations concerning their past activities.

    "Three of them infiltrated and manipulated several religious organisations and, exploiting the religious cover, pursued activities towards subversive ends. They worked with others, including leftist elements from the CPM era, to build a covert network to promote a Marxist agenda, using united front tactics to control and influence organisations engaged in religious and social activism."



    MHA REJECTS EX-DETAINEES' CLAIMS

    MHA also rebutted the ex-detainees' claims that the protection - against abuse of the ISA - accorded to detainees by the ISA Advisory Board is "spurious, if not a farce".

    The allegation is "baseless and unwarranted", said MHA. It noted that the board is chaired by a Supreme Court judge and "scrutinises every detention case to satisfy itself that there are valid grounds which warrant detention".

    The board "examines representations from detainees and their legal counsel, studies the evidence including classified intelligence, and examines witnesses including senior ISD officers when it deems necessary", MHA reiterated.

    These safeguards were enhanced in 1991, when the Elected President was given the power to veto the Government's decision to detain a person against the recommendation of the board.

    In fact, the board had recommended the early release of three of the 16 ex-detainees, among the recommendations it had made for other detainees through the years, the ministry noted.

    MHA also addressed the issue on the length of detention under the ISA, which was raised by the ex-detainees in their statement.

    The ministry explained that the extension of detention depends on whether she or he poses a security threat.

    It added: "For example, detainees who refused to renounce violence were detained for longer periods until they were assessed to no longer pose a security threat to society, whereas others who renounced violence and no longer posed a security threat were released much sooner."



    'ISA AND ITS USE HAVE EVOLVED'

    In their statement, the ex-detainees referred to Malaysia's recent move to abolish the ISA and cited then-Deputy Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong saying in 1991 that the Republic "will seriously consider abolishing the Internal Security Act if Malaysia were to do so".

    In response, the MHA reiterated that ISA "remains relevant and necessary". It added that, while the Government "certainly monitors developments in the laws and systems of other countries, on a matter as important as security it ultimately has to decide what is prudent and necessary in Singapore's context and is in Singapore's interest".

    From the communist threat, to espionage and racial and religious extremists, Singapore - as a small country "open to external influences and located in a turbulent region" - will always face security threats, MHA pointed out.

    "Their nature will evolve over time. The ISA and its use have likewise evolved as Singapore's circumstances, vulnerability and risk tolerance change," MHA added.

    "Today, we face the threat of jihadist terrorism, not only from Al-Qaeda-linked clandestine groups like the Jemaah Islamiyah but also from self-radicalised individuals."


    Some of MHA's responses

    What the ex-detainees say
    :

    The MHA claims that 'a person arrested under the ISA in Singapore may be held in custody for up to 30 days, after which an Order of Detention or Restriction Order must be issued or else the person must be released unconditionally. In Malaysia, the period of custody is up to 60 days.'

    This comparison is irrelevant because political detainees in Singapore have been imprisoned for periods which far exceed those in Malaysia.



    What the MHA says:

    Whether a person's detention is extended depends on whether he still poses a security threat. For example, detainees who refused to renounce violence were detained for longer periods until they were assessed to no longer pose a security threat to society.



    What the ex-detainees say:

    The protection accorded by the ISA Advisory Board is spurious, if not a farce. Several of them have appeared before such a board and can confirm that the board did not examine witnesses and evidence against the detainee. In 1987, appearances before the board lasted not more than a few minutes each.



    What the MHA says:

    The allegation is baseless and unwarranted. The board is chaired by a Supreme Court judge, and scrutinises every detention case to satisfy itself that there are valid security grounds which warrant detention. The board examines representations from detainees and their legal counsel, studies the evidence including classified intelligence, and examines witnesses, including senior ISD officers, when necessary.

    In 1991, the Elected President was given the power to veto the Government's decision to detain a person against the recommendation of the board. The board has, on several occasions, made independent recommendations for the early release of detainees, including three of the 16 ex-detainees.

  7. #5141
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default S'pore to host nuclear safety seminar next year

    04:46 AM Sep 24, 2011

    SINGAPORE - The Republic will host a nuclear safety seminar next year to address regional cooperation on emergency preparedness and response capabilities.

    Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K Shanmugam made the announcement in New York yesterday where he attended the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety.

    According to a Foreign Ministry statement, Mr Shanmugam also mentioned at the meeting that Singapore and ASEAN have pledged to support the International Atomic Energy Agency's efforts to strengthen the global nuclear safety framework.

    Mr Shanmugam also met leaders of Pakistan, Panama and Portugal on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

  8. #5142
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Smoking can blind you

    By Alvina Soh | Posted: 24 September 2011 2004 hrs



    SINGAPORE: A new study has shown that nearly six in 10 or 57.5 per cent of smokers in Singapore are blind to the fact that smoking can cause blindness.
    The findings, conducted by local doctors and researchers, covered 200 smokers aged between 14 and 83.

    Blindness is a disability widely feared by most
    , yet only about four in 10 smokers here are aware of this risk of lighting up.

    In fact, the study showed that the link between smoking and Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD) - a form of eye disease - is the least recognised, among five other smoking-related diseases.

    These include lung cancer and heart attack, which each has more than a 70 per cent awareness rate.

    The study though showed that the fear of blindness is the second biggest motivating factor for smokers to quit the habit, after lung cancer.

    More than half of the respondents also felt that graphic health warnings were effective in getting them to stub it out.

    Medical experts said this showed a need to raise public awareness on blindness as a smoking-related disease.

    The Minister of State for Health, Dr Amy Khor, who was speaking at the AMD Awareness week said there are now more than 30 million people worldwide suffering from some form of AMD. This figure is likely to triple over the next 25 years.

    Dr Khor said this makes the disease a "significant public health concern" as the population ages.

    Experts said apart from quitting smoking, preventive steps can be taken, such as having a diet rich in vegetables and vitamins.

    - CNA /ls
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  9. #5143
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default FM Shanmugam meets foreign ministers at UN General Assembly

    Posted: 23 September 2011 0036 hrs


    NEW YORK: Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam, who is in New York for the 66th Session of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly, has met foreign ministers from several countries.

    They include ministers from Iran, Cuba, Fiji, Jamaica, Suriname, the Marshall Islands, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Timor Leste.

    During his meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Dr Ali Akbar Salehi, MFA said Mr Shanmugam was briefed on developments in Iran and the potential for further developing economic relations between Iran and Singapore.

    In his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cuba, Mr Bruno Rodriguez, Mr Shanmugam was briefed about developments in Cuba. Mr Rodriguez also welcomed greater cooperation from Singapore in areas like tourism, water treatment and airport management.

    Elsewhere, Fijian Acting Minister for Defence, National Security and Immigration Joketani Cokanasiga expressed his appreciation for Singapore's leadership and contributions to the Forum of Small States (FOSS).

    With Jamaica, Mr Shanmugam and Jamaican Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Dr Kenneth Baugh, affirmed the strong bilateral relations between both countries.

    The Minister for Foreign Affairs of Suriname, Mr Winston Lackin, and Mr Shanmugam agreed that there was potential for enhancing bilateral relations, in particular, cooperation between the private sectors of both countries.

    The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Marshall Islands, Mr John Silk, updated Mr Shanmugam on the economy of the Marshall Islands and potential investment opportunities. He welcomed Singapore companies to look at investing in the country.

    Mr Shanmugam and the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, National Security, Labour, Immigration and Social Security of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Mr Sam Condor, discussed ways of enhancing cooperation between their countries.

    - CNA/de
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  10. #5144
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Vettel sets Singapore GP pace, coy on title chances

    Published on Sep 24, 2011


    Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel (below) set the fastest time in Friday's practice sessions for the Singapore Grand Prix. -- PHOTO: AP


    (AFP) Sebastian Vettel posted the fastest time for Red Bull in Friday's second free practice session but played down its likely impact on his chances of retaining his title in Singapore.

    The 24-year-old German, who could become the youngest two-time champion in Formula One history this weekend, said he expected a tight contest ahead and suggested his early edge in speed meant little.

    'I wouldn't call it an advantage, I think it looked pretty tight. It depends where and when and who was out, we have to wait and see,' he said.

    'It is Friday. Tomorrow is Saturday and then we worry about FP3 (third practice). Then it is qualifying and then the race. The feeling in the car was all right.

    'We have to look how the others were, do our homework tonight and then see what we can do tomorrow. We did work quite a bit, the car was good though.'

    The reluctant championship favourite added that he was not yet clear on who his main rivals would be - but pointed out that Ferrari looked strong.

    He added: 'I don't know. I didn't have as much time as you to look at the times so I was busy when I was on the track, but surely Ferrari looked quite competitive, Felipe (Massa) as well at some stage, so we need to see.'

    Vettel clocked a fastest lap of 1min 46.374sec to finish the day two-tenths of a second ahead of his nearest rival, two-time champion Fernando Alonso of Ferrari.

    Lewis Hamilton of McLaren was quickest in an incident-packed opening session - delayed because of problems with kerbing and then punctuated by red-flagged interruptions for various minor incidents He was third-fastest in the later evening run ahead of Massa in the second Ferrari.

    Mark Webber was fifth in the second Red Bull ahead of seven-times champion Michael Schumacher of Mercedes, who was two seconds off Vettel's pace.

    Another German, Adrian Sutil of Force India, was seventh ahead of Sergio Perez and his Sauber team-mate Kamui Kobayashi with Jenson Button down in 10th place in the second McLaren, his session ruined by a braking problem.

    The second period of action was more straightforward than the first as the teams acclimatised to temperatures of 32 deg C and heavy humidity.

    Vettel was fastest early on to establish his supremacy before Massa and then Alonso made the most of moving early to soft tyres, each going fastest before the defending champion switched rubber and reclaimed his spot.

    The Red Bull driver is seeking his ninth win of the season and could lift the title if he comes first and keeps Alonso off the podium.

    To boost his chances his father Norbert gave him a new lucky charm in the shape of a bronze-coloured model pig.

    According to sources at Red Bull, the gift of a pig is quite common in Germany.

    While Vettel enjoyed his day, Button was out of luck and his participation in the session ended after he almost lost control of his McLaren under braking at Turn 14.

    A pair of lurid tyre skid-marks on the circuit suggested he had locked up as he battled to keep the car under his guidance.
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  11. #5145
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    Default A race that should go well beyond 2014


    by Leonard Thomas
    04:46 AM Sep 24, 2011

    More than 200,000 fans would have thronged the Marina Bay street circuit by the end of the 2011 SingTel Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix tomorrow night.

    Over the last few days, hotels have been operating at more than 90 per cent capacity.

    Downtown Singapore is all dolled up in glittering lights, Shakira's bewitching hips and Linkin Park's muscular rock will entertain thousands of locals and tourists. The rich and glitzy set have paid top dollar to book for nights out at super-exclusive parties and the main actors of the whole extravaganza, the Formula 1 pilots, are primed to put on a show under the stars which will be watched "live" by more than 100 million fans worldwide.

    Surely, Singapore's biggest annual event has to remain on the calendar well beyond 2014.

    The five-year contract between Singapore GP Pte Ltd and the Formula One Management (FOM) ends with next year's Grand Prix. Worked into the agreement is an option for Singapore to stage the sport's only night race for a further two years.

    I believe the option will be taken up, while the analysts and number crunchers at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) figure out if races beyond 2014 will continue to boost the country.

    According to the MTI, the economic impact of last year's race was S$150 million. Interest does not seem to be wavering, as the fourth edition of the Grand Prix this year is a sellout.

    Yesterday, Mr Teo Hock Seng, chairman of Singapore GP, described the night race as a world-class show where the Formula 1 drivers stood at the top of the bill, supported by the various international recording artistes and concerts dotted around the 5.073km street circuit.

    He was clearly proud of the successful formula.

    The entertainment package served up during Formula 1's race weekend in Singapore's is unprecedented and envied by so many around the world.

    The challenge for the organisers is to continue to spice up the race with a supporting cast of big acts, and unveil unique entertainment each year to keep titillating fans.

    Do so and Singapore's Grand Prix will easily remain a huge hit.

    Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and a whole host of other drivers enjoy Singapore's night race.

    The teams, officials and foreign journalists love the organisation and the atmosphere in the country.

    Obviously, local organisers will have to be mindful costs do not escalate to the extent fans at home and even from abroad baulk at the prices. It is believed FOM receive US$35 million (S$45.7 million) from the organisers for every race here under the terms of the agreement in the current five-year contract.

    FOM chief executive Bernie Ecclestone is well-known as a shrewd and ultra-tough negotiator. He will know how successful this Grand Prix is, and will also know how much Formula 1 gains from such a spectacular stage.

    I am almost certain he will not want to price Singapore out.

    I met Mr David Sonencher at the paddock last night during the lull before the second practice session.

    The Englishman is the managing director of the Asian Festival of Speed, the company that organises the support races for the Formula 1 events in Malaysia, China and Singapore.

    He said: "That picture of the cars hurtling along the Marina Bay streets against the city skyline, under the lights at night, you cannot put a price tag on that.

    "This race is fantastic. The organisation, the city atmosphere, everything about it. This race has been a game-changer."

    I couldn't have said it any better.



    Leonard Thomas is sports editor at Today.



    Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel signing autographs for fans yesterday. REUTERS
    Last edited by Loh; 09-24-2011 at 10:18 AM.

  12. #5146
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    Default Webber fastest in final Singapore GP practice

    Published on Sep 24, 2011

    Red Bull driver Mark Webber set the fastest time in Saturday's pre-qualifying practice session for the Singapore Grand Prix. -- PHOTO: AFP


    SINGAPORE (AFP) - Australian Mark Webber left it late to top the times for Red Bull on Saturday evening's final free practice ahead of this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix.

    The 35-year-old Australian, watched from the pits by his father Alan, clocked a fastest lap time of one minute 46.081 seconds round the floodlit Marina Bay street circuit.

    His time was two-hundredths of a second faster than second-placed rival Briton Jenson Button of McLaren, the 2009 champion, who recovered splendidly from a frustrating Friday to reproduce his best form.

    Championship chasing German Sebastian Vettel, in the second Red Bull, was third fastest after failing to find an outstanding clear lap in the closing seconds of the session on soft tyres.

    This left him ahead of his nearest championship rival, two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, with Briton Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 champion, down in fifth in the second McLaren.

    Defending title-holder Vettel can clinch the title on Sunday if he wins and Alonso is off the podium.

    The session was run in steaming heat with a temperature of 35 deg C and humidity levels of 68 per cent.

    German Nico Rosberg was sixth fastest
    ahead of his Mercedes team-mate and compatriot seven-times champion German Michael Schumacher, 42, with Brazilian Felipe Massa eighth in the second Ferrari.

    Japanese Kamui Kobayashi was ninth for Sauber ahead of German Adrian Sutil in a Force India car.

    The Saubers were fast in the opening laps before Button went quickest, only to be replaced by a sequence of drivers including Rosberg and Vettel.

    Button regained the top spot again, before Webber laid down his marker in the final minutes.

    Schumacher's best hopes were dashed when he was blocked by Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado of Williams - not the first time this season that the Latin American has been in similar trouble.

    The incident saw the German pit after raising a red-gloved fist at his tormentor.

    Hamilton also had a difficult session and had to make use of an escape road when he locked up while pushing to find greater performance in his car.
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    A circle of life

    by Cheow Xin Yi 04:46 AM Sep 25, 2011


    With the Circle Line opening fully on Oct 8, there are a multitude of gems to discover and explore in the industrial and HDB heartlands and parks within walking distance of the MRT stations.

    Today on Sunday sets out to give you a taste - and it's just a little sampling - of the good food, unusual sights, nature trails and shopping available if you're in an adventurous frame of mind to hop on the train and explore. Here's what you can look for in the vicinity of 20 of the 28 stations.



    TELOK BLANGAH

    At this first stop after HarbourFront, almost anything your stomach craves can be had in unassuming Telok Blangah: Chicken feet noodles, curry rice, fish head bee hoon, vegetarian food ... A stone's throw from the MRT station you'll come across the aroma of Block 46's char kway teow (not too oily and it melts in your mouth). Walk on a bit and the food centre at Block 79 has other local favourites.

    For nature enthusiasts, the station is the gateway to the magnificent Southern Ridges, which incorporates the Telok Blangah Hill Park, connected to Mount Faber Park via the Henderson Waves. If you're up for a very long ramble, follow the Alexandra Arc to HortPark (a one-stop gardening hub) and Reflections at Bukit Chandu (a World War II memorial centre housed in a colonial bungalow), then catch the train home from Pasir Panjang station.



    LABRADOR PARK

    The station is an obvious gateway to its namesake - a quiet park boasting pavilions and barbecue pits with fantastic views of the sea. For retiree Mrs P Yeong, 65, and her 72-year-old husband, a walk through the flora and fauna of Labrador Nature Reserve has became an almost-daily affair. "There aren't many people here - it's always just us and a few other familiar faces jogging, but we do see quite a few wedding solemnisations and even production shoots for Tamil dramas!" Mrs Yeong quipped.

    The trail, with its shrubs and forest canopy walks, is also the site of the former Fort Pasir Panjang and several World War II relics, including a 6-inch quick firing cannon barrel. Secret tunnels used by the British were opened to the public for a while but are now closed for maintenance.

    Legend has it the tunnels lead to Sentosa, but this is debunked by Mr Jeyathurai Ayadurai, director of the Changi Museum and general manager of The Singapore History Consultant. The passageways, he says, lead to magazines that were used to store cannon ammunition. What probably gave rise to the myth was the electrical mine system on the bed of Keppel Harbour, a defence against enemy ships. "When they were doing this work in the 1890s, it might look as if they were building a tunnel," he explained.

    The bolted doors of the tunnels can be seen opposite the newly-opened Eco-Gourmet Café (30 Labrador Villa Road).



    PASIR PANJANG

    Attractions and great eats abound near this station, which means "long sand" in Malay. Worth a trudge up a hill on Chwee Chian Road is the Poh Ern Shih Temple, reputed as the first temple in Singapore to incorporate eco-friendly features. Up to 80 per cent of the temple's electricity needs are powered by rooftop solar panels and wind-turbine generators, and it has a rainwater harvesting system.

    The temple's green features are the brainchild of its founder's grandson, Mr Lee Boon Siong, 71, who lived in Canada for three decades. Built in 1954 to commemorate those who died in the famous Battle of Pasir Panjang in World War II, the temple was home to Singapore's first Western abbot, the Venerable Sumangalo, in 1959. Mr Lee, a retired lawyer and the temple's honorary chairman, said his grandfather was "very farsighted" in appointing the abbot. "He felt that with Sumangalo, he could reach out to the English-speaking community."

    The temple will become a nunnery and inaugurate its first abbess next month. It offers free tours to the public (call 6473-7098 to book an appointment). Those on the World War II trail can also hike up another hill to Reflections At Bukit Chandu, at Kent Ridge Park.

    More basal pleasures are to be found at South Buona Vista Road. At Lim Seng Lee Duck Rice Restaurant, famous for its Teochew style braised duck, Mr Lim Ah Too, 65 - who started the family business in the late 1960s - says he has entertained customers from America who got off the plane and came straight here clutching newspaper clippings about his place.

    A few shops down is Lee Eng Siah Roasted Food, which also sells braised duck and roast meats. Owner Lee Hock Soon quashes any hints of rivalry, cheerfully proclaiming that both restaurant's employees sometimes patronise each other's establishment.

    In the same row of shophouses is a Scandinavian supermarket which imports almost all its supplies from Denmark. Owner Bernadette says 80 per cent of her customers are Danes, along with a smattering of Finns and Norwegians. Look here for canned and chilled herrings, self-freeze ice cream, and the liquorice and fried snacks that Danish national Linda Algreen says remind her of home.



    HAW PAR VILLA

    It is impossible to miss, with its vibrant exterior and many statues, but people tend to pass by Haw Par Villa without stepping in to explore - which is a pity. Entry is free but the displays are not for the faint of heart. At the 'The Ten Courts of Hell', for instance, gruesome and violent depictions of the punishments meted out in the underworld fill the cave like a scene out of a horror movie.

    Like ascending from hell to heaven, the way to the little-known Norwegian's Seamen's Mission (300 Pasir Panjang Rd) is up what some say is the steepest hill in Singapore. At the top, the spectacular view of Pasir Panjang Port makes you forget the aches from the 10-minute climb. The church itself is beautiful and serene, with warm brick walls, fresh flowers and Scandinavian-styled interiors that remind one of Beatrix Potter's illustrations.

    Greeting visitors, managing director Martin Jansvik has dedicated his life to the church. The non-profit organisation's original purpose was to serve Norwegian seafarers. Today it is a gathering place for Norwegian and Swedish expatriates, who celebrate events like the Midsummer's Festival each June. Singaporeans are warmly welcomed. "This is an open place, and we love to socialise and meet other people. It's also important for us to talk to locals and understand the culture in Singapore," said Mr Jansvik.

    After nourishment for the soul, those looking for wholesome food for the body can head to Pasir Panjang Wholesale Centre, with its overwhelming smells, sights and tastes. ZenXin Organic Park is the only wholesaler of organic food. The Malaysia-based company sells its farm-grown produce and other interesting products like buckwheat ramen and raw organic chocolate.





    KENT RIDGE

    Unless you need to visit the National University Hospital, the area's only other notable landmark is a long and winding trail on South Buona Vista Rd - called "99 Turns" for the many deadly curves that take a dizzying five minutes to navigate by car. Adventurous folk game to walk the trail do so at their own peril - it is an accident-prone stretch and an illegal racing hotspot at night. The South Buona Vista trail terminates at Pasir Panjang Rd, where stands a zi char restaurant aptly named "99 Kitchen".



    ONE-NORTH

    This up-and-coming R&D hub is worth a visit for the 21st-storey skygarden offering unobstructed views of the south-west. Save for the lone A*Star researcher taking a break along the gravel paths winding through the shrubs and calming water features, the garden - perched on top of the Fusionopolis building - was practically deserted when Today visited on a weekday afternoon.

    A picture map identifies the various research landmarks in the area, including the Insead campus and Biopolis. On a clear day, you can even see the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands on the horizon. Entrance is free - just surrender your ID for a visitor pass at the lobby.



    BUONA VISTA

    A tip for karaoke enthusiasts - a short stroll away is a cheap and wholesome KTV joint called Teo Heng. Housed within the Nanyang Technological University Alumni Club on Slim Barracks Rise (which also hosts restaurants, bars and a spa, all open to the public), the rate for a medium karaoke room for seven is just S$16 an hour after 7pm, which means a four-hour session can cost as little as S$10 per person. Soft drinks are S$1 a can.

    Just opposite is the Rochester Park enclave which rivals Dempsey as a fine-dining destination. Established favourites like Da Paolo Bistro Bar and One Rochester are housed in conserved black-and-white bungalows.

    Nature Society Singapore vice president Leong Kwok Peng singled out the station as a good starting point for a trek to the old Bukit Timah Railway Station and its surrounding railway land - just head north through Ghim Moh.



    HOLLAND VILLAGE

    This foodie haven needs no introduction. But amid the array of restaurants and shops, two humble entities have stood the test of time: Thambi Magazine Store and Holland V Fried Bee Hoon.

    What started out as a newspaper vendor business for Mr P Senthilmurugan's grandfather in the 1950s, has become an icon at the junction of Holland Avenue and Lorong Liput. Although the number of magazine titles has shrunk from 7,000 to about 2,000 due to the lack of space, it is still a formidable collection that includes publications dedicated to specific luxury car brands and paranormal sightings.

    Mr Senthilmurugan, 36, a father of two, says 40 per cent of his customers are well-heeled expats, "luxury housewives" and foreigners who travel to Singapore monthly to pick up a list of magazines that can total "over S$1,000". Singaporeans, too, have be known to request hard-to-get foreign titles which he sometimes obliges by bringing in.

    At the market and food centre, singled out by regulars is the beehoon - which is always piping hot because it's fried on the spot. Paul Lim, 52, who was born and bred in Holland Village, has manned the stall since 1972 and says customers (usually former residents) come from as far as Pasir Ris, because they "say our beehoon tastes different from those elsewhere".



    FARRER ROAD

    Meet Empress Road Market and Food Centre's "celebrity": Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan's spitting image can be found working as a fishmonger (stall #01-11/12). Mr Teo Chwee Heng's quirky reputation has drawn visitors from as far as Australia and Africa, who greet him with a "hey, Jackie!" and ask for the obligatory picture.

    The 49-year-old has, however, tired of the uncomfortable fame (he has been featured extensively by the Chinese newspapers and had a cameo in the movie hit I Not Stupid as - what else - Jackie Chan). While it might be good for business, it's a hassle when people "point and comment", he said in Mandarin. The father of three declined to be photographed, worried that people might think he was "boasting".

    Good eats in the area include the famous pork buns at Westlake Restaurant (4, Queen's Rd). Land Transport Authority engineers Ng Nam Seng and Teo Lay Beng, who worked on the station's construction, vouched for the tender meat and hot buns.



    BOTANIC GARDENS

    Besides its eponymous attraction, the commercial centres around the station offer a cosmopolitan shopping and dining experience. One can find a German supermarket here and, despite the district's upmarket vibes, the delicacies - from authentic Penang fare to western bistros - are cheaper than at fine-dining restaurants in town.

    Besides dishes like duck mee sua and assam laksa, Penang Kitchen (5 Coronation Plaza) boasts a mean selection of Penang products with an emphasis on nutmeg, whether in rojak paste or medicated oil. Then there is La Petite Cuisine, a small French eatery at Serene Centre (#01-05) that had Woollerton Park resident Mrs Ong waxing lyrical about its duck confit at only S$16.50 (and no GST or service charge). So popular is the place that she recalls how chef and owner Bernard Sautereau would wave customers away with a French-accented: "No more customers!" (but in less busy times, she adds, he will leave his kitchen to greet patrons amiably).

    For a different cultural experience, Impressions Art Studio at Cluny Court lets children and adults paint their own ceramic vase or batik, for anywhere between S$9 and S$40. Customers are guided by staff as well as founders Anna Peterson and Raquel Ner. There are batik lessons every Wednesday by Ms Imelda Zahry, daughter of legendary local batik painter Sarkasi Said.



    CALDECOTT

    To splash your home with flowers, check out Far East Flora at this stretch of Thomson Road known for its many nurseries. It has a cold room three chambers deep filled with a kaleidoscope of fresh-cut flowers, from a dizzying variety of orchids to more exotic blooms.

    Determined stargazers have been known to make the 20-minute trek uphill to the gates of MediaCorp, in hopes of catching a glimpse of their favourite local celebrity.



    MARYMOUNT

    There are plenty of coffeeshops and good eating places in the estate, but look no further than Shunfu Mart at Blk 320 Shunfu Road for hot muffins made with imported ingredients at hawker prices. Owner Mary Chan, 33, started Chocolat N' Spice when she was 24, having worked as a pastry cook at hotels like the Mandarin Oriental and The Fullerton.

    Those in the never-ending queue include dapper executives and tai-tais with designer bags who buy the muffins by the boxes. Ms Chan strives to stay affordable - most of her muffins sell at S$1.20, up only 20 cents from a decade ago - though it's tough when ingredients are imported from the United States and Europe. She has opened branches in Tanjong Pagar and Telok Blangah.



    Another cheap and good find at Shunfu Mart is Malay food stall Dapur Asiah, which sells almost everything (lontong, gado gado, nasi lemak, mee rebus ...) at S$2. Madam Shima, 44, the younger of two sisters helming the store, said their secret to keeping it cheap is by doing their own shopping at wet markets in the wee hours of the morning instead of relying on suppliers. Though only two years old, Dapur Asiah has quite a following, and Mdm Shima said 99 per cent of her customers are Chinese (the duo banter a little in dialect with their regulars)



    SERANGOON & LORONG CHUAN

    For youngsters, Serangoon is known mainly for one thing: The modern NEX shopping mall. But go off the beaten track and you'll find a quirky ode to history at the Red Panther Barber Shop (756 Upper Serangoon Road). It has stood for over 30 years and is run by Mr Ali Yusof who still cuts hair using an old-fashioned shaving blade for those sideburns and a large powder brush. "I cut hair for generations," said Mr Yusof. "First for the fathers, and now their sons."

    Adorning the walls are decades of memorabilia - some collected, others gifts from loyal customers. There are car wheels, deer horns, movie and band posters from the 1960s, even a vintage SLR-camera collection. There is even a collector's Hawaiian lap-steel guitar, which patrons have offered to buy. Mr Yusof has firmly said 'no' each time. "It's given by friends, so how can you sell?"

    Another bit of generational trivia: In the Serangoon Gardens estate between both stations is the bohemian Fat Cat Bistro run by Gina Kunalan, daughter of Singapore Olympian and track legend C Kunalan.



    BARTLEY

    A five-minute walk takes you to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The paint is fading and the structures old, but it has been a sanctuary for thousands of animals. You can visit the cattery and dog pounds, help by making a donation or buying the merchandise, sign up as a volunteer - or better still, adopt one of the animals.

    Further up Mount Vernon Road, past the Gurkha training camp and nestled among greenery, is the Mount Vernon Sanctuary - a former state-run crematorium recently transformed into a "six-star" privately-run funeral parlour. Sunlight streams in through high-arched windows in its spacious halls. It's a tranquil oasis to seek out if you want to be alone with your thoughts.



    TAI SENG

    It may be a mass of warehouses and industrial buildings today, but - as residents will tell you - the area used to be a notorious gangster hangout and a gathering point for night-soil carriers (those who collected human waste for disposal in the days before modern plumbing). If you're lucky, on a trip there you might come across the likes of former secret society member Cheang Jing Hai.

    The 60-year-old contractor, who grew up in the area, said it was "very common to join, in those days". Sitting at a table at Kay Lee Roast Meat Joint - a household name for its roast duck and crispy barbequed pork - Mr Cheang regaled companions with legends of triad boss Lim Ban Lim (one of Singapore's most wanted in the 1970s) and other gangsters with monikers such as "big head soldier" and "black head devil".

    Kay Lee owner Betty Kong chipped in with tales of night soil carriers in the 1950s loading buckets of waste into "big trucks with 36 doors" to be ferried to the disposal point. Today, that area which straddles Kim Chuan Road, Kim Chuan Drive and Tai Seng Avenue is occupied by headquarters of companies such as Sakae Holdings, Tata and Charles & Keith. Seasonal warehouse sales take place here, and there are some perennial factory outlets too.

    Wong Brothers Shoe Factory, for one, offers shoes from brands like Hush Puppies to Aigner at 80 per cent off in a drab building at 78, Playfair Road, on weekdays. Director Ricardo Wong says: "If you want Converse warehouse sales, come in December and try a few buildings down the road."



    MACPHERSON

    MacPherson's residents have little reason to venture out of the estate - they point out there is much to do and eat here. Circuit Road Food Centre serves the widest selection of vegetarian food under one roof in Singapore. The nearby Ubi Industrial Park plays host to some of the biggest warehouse sales, from furniture to electronics and designer clothing brands.

    Don't let the industrial facade fool you: MacPherson has a surprisingly artistic soul. In the middle of Ubi TechPark is the Art Retreat Museum, the first private art museum in Singapore, which houses a gallery dedicated to the late Wu Guanzhong, often said to be the father of modern Chinese paintings.

    Meanwhile, at Block 56 Pipit Road is a unique community void-deck art gallery. The walls are splashed with the vibrant colours of Van Gogh's paintings, and the artwork is the joint effort of students, residents and volunteers. One child passing by, for instance, saw the painting in progress and simply stopped, picked up a brush, and began painting too.



    PAYA LEBAR

    Ask any workshop employee in the labyrinthine Eunos industrial estate where the "fish soup stall" is, and they will lead you to Thye Hwa Heng Canteen (Blk 29, Eunos Avenue 6). There, a snaking queue forms religiously at lunchtime at the Bee Huat Fish Soup stall, with customers shouting their orders in Mandarin in a combination of colours. (Red for fish soup with salmon, white for sliced fish, black for fried fish).

    The stall's fans come in all shapes and sizes - from delivery man Steven Lim, who was recommended the place by a cabby, to well-coiffed ladies in high heels (one an Australian company director working in the nearby Singapore Post Centre). All swear by the taste. Mrs Phua, wife of the 56-year-old stallholder, said they had rejected offers to expand their business outside the area. "We are familiar with the customers here, we are short-handed, and I can't drive - how to open another store?"

    After lunch, you can pick up something for the house from the numerous workshops - perhaps drawer handles, a door, a metal sign, weighing scales or DIY tools.



    DAKOTA & MOUNTBATTEN

    For sports enthusiast, the Mountbatten station is at the heart of a cluster of facilities from tennis and netball courts to a cricket field. Architecture buffs, on their part, can check out several conserved bungalows in the Victorian and Art Deco styles.

    The two-storey Sing Hoe Hotel, for instance, has a quaint white-and-beige colonial façade with fresco carvings of birds and fauna. You step through the doorway into a scene from the 1960s, with elderly gentlemen sipping tea on rosewood furniture, and a narrow passage leading to the reception desk manned by an uncle in T-shirt and shorts. Hotel manager Raymond Ong said the building has been around for "at least 70 to 80 years", and backpackers make up a third of the clientele; half are locals.

    For foodies, of course, there is the Old Airport Road Food Centre with its mind-boggling
    array of stalls, many of which have earned commendations. Every regular here has their own opinion of what's the most delicious fare - ranging from the rojak to which of two highly-decorated rival wonton mee stalls.

    IT consultant and Mountbatten resident SS Lee, for instance, points to the lor mee at Xin Mei Xiang (#01-116) which uses a "special sauce and delicious fried fish chopped into little pieces". Hougang Jing Jia Mutton Soup (#01-123) garnered repeat mentions from patrons.
    Last edited by Loh; 09-24-2011 at 09:28 PM.

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    Default I was in total control, says Singapore GP champion Vettel

    Published on Sep 26, 2011


    Sebastian Vettel said he was in total control as he claimed victory at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday under the lights despite Jenson Button cutting his lead to less than two seconds. -- PHOTO: AP


    SINGAPORE (AFP) - Sebastian Vettel said he was in total control as he claimed victory at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday under the lights despite Jenson Button cutting his lead to less than two seconds.

    The 24-year-old German, who moved within a point of winning his second drivers' title in succession, said: 'First of all, I am very, very pleased with the result.

    'The car was fantastic all the way through. When we could push we could pull away easily.

    'Towards the end, I faced five cars with lots of groups, so it was not that big a margin, but I was in control.

    'And this was such a fantastic result. I really love the track, I love the challenge, I think it is the longest race.

    'The car was fantastic. Engine-wise everything was fantastic, we were in a comfortable position for most of the race, which is handy around here.

    'For the championship it looks like we have another chance at the next race.' Vettel, who still needs a point from the remaining five races to win a second title, refused to get carried away.

    'I feel capable, but I still have to do it,' he said.

    'With the races we had so far, it should not be a problem. But it is over when it is over.

    'The team is doing a great job. I am feeling very comfortable with the team, with the car and we are on top of our game.

    'There is no secret, but it is just everyone is able to rely on the other one and together we are pulling in the same direction, one direction. I think it is very enjoyable at the moment.

    'The car is fantastic and most of the time I have good Sunday afternoons or Sunday evenings.'


    Motor Racing: Peerless Vettel wins Singapore Grand Prix

    Posted: 25 September 2011 2215 hrs


    SINGAPORE - Sebastian Vettel demonstrated his
    vast supremacy on Sunday when he won the Singapore Grand Prix to move within a point of becoming the youngest double world champion in Formula One history.

    The 24-year-old German, the defending champion and runaway leader of this year's one-man title race, drove from pole position to the chequered flag in flawless style in his Red Bull car.

    He won the floodlit 61-lap night race at the Marina Bay street circuit by a controlled 1.7 seconds.

    Briton Jenson Button finished second in his McLaren to keep the title race just about alive with five races remaining. Australian Mark Webber in the second Red Bull finished third.

    Vettel now requires a solitary point to claim his second title in succession and can only be beaten to the crown if Button wins all the remaining races while the German fails to score a further point.

    With the next race the Japanese Grand Prix October 7-9, there is every chance the peerless Vettel will seal his triumph -- and make history -- at the Suzuka circuit.

    "Obviously I am very pleased with the result and the car was great for me all the way through. I pulled away easily at the start and had a good gap, but the safety car was not in our plans," said Vettel.

    "I was lucky again to have a good re-start and I was soon back in the rhythm and I had a huge gap again, even with the traffic.

    "I was in control at the end and it is a great feeling to win this race -- I love the track here and it's such a challenge.

    "As to the championship? Ah, well, I guess I have another chance at the next race."

    Button revealed his frustrations with slower rivals on the Singapore circuit, which is notoriously hard to overtake on.

    "I can understand that's it's difficult to move over here and most people are fighting out there, but the backmarkers have got to respect that the cars that are lapping are lapping for reason," said the Briton, who became world champion in 2009.

    "I feel like I got everything out of the car, especially in the last part of the race, I was able to push on tyres to see what the car had. We weren't quick enough to win today, but it's something to build on."

    Two-time world champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso, who needed to finish on the podium to keep his own challenge for the drivers' title alive, came home fourth ahead of Briton Lewis Hamilton in the second McLaren.

    Hamilton produced a typically spectacular drive including five pit-stops, a collision and a charge from 16th through the field.

    Another Briton, Paul Di Resta, came home sixth for Force India, his best result to date in his rookie season in Formula One, ahead of Germans Nico Rosberg in seventh for Mercedes and Adrian Sutil in the second Force India.

    Felipe Massa of Ferrari, who was the victim of a collision with Hamilton in the early stages of an incident-filled contest, came home ninth.

    Mexican Sergio Perez, whose collision with Michael Schumacher saw the German eliminated from the race, finished 10th.

    It was Vettel's ninth win this season and the 19th of his career. His Singapore triumph in sweltering humidity was heralded by an explosion of dazzling fireworks over the brightly lit cityscape.

    Vettel won in a victorious time of one hour, 59 minutes and 6.757 seconds, a time that signalled the longest and most arduous race of the year.

    He, Button and Webber stood still, drained and dripping with sweat on the podium at the end.

    Vettel, from his 11th pole position, pulled clear with apparent ease to take control early on, leaving the rest to scrap for places in a flurry of action into Turn One, Sheares Corner.

    He stretched his lead to 20 seconds by lap 30, when the race was red-flagged for the first time after Schumacher ran into the rear of Perez's Sauber car and made an airborne collision with the barriers.

    This brought out the safety car and signalled a spate of pit-stops while Schumacher's wrecked Mercedes was lifted clear. The 42-year-old German was unhurt.

    It gave Button a sniff at Vettel, and although he ran him close he never looked like denying the German the victory he deserved.

    - AFP /ls


    Magnificent Vettel



    24-year-old world champion on course to make history after his first win at Marina Bay


    by Ian De Cotta
    Updated 11:56 AM Sep 26, 2011

    Formula 1

    SingTel Singapore Grand Prix



    SINGAPORE - At the fourth time of asking, Sebastian Vettel produced a vintage drive under the stars to claim his first drivers' title in the SingTel Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix last night.

    The 24-year-old world champion was magnificent, leading from start to finish in his Red Bull over 61 laps around the 5.073km Marina Bay street circuit in front of more than 80,000 fans.

    The fireworks that lit up the night sky after he crossed the finish line was a fitting tribute to Vettel, who is now just one point away from successfully defending his world title.

    McLaren's Jenson Button, who finished second, is 124 points behind with 125 left in the remaining five races.

    Barring an absolute meltdown, Vettel will surely be crowned the youngest double world champion in the history of Formula 1 in Japan in a fortnight.

    The German collected his ninth win on a track he regards as one of his favourites in Singapore last night, and he acknowledge the feat, when he said: "There are no secrets or magic, but it has been an incredible year for us, an incredible record for me and Red Bull.

    "In terms of reliability we had no problems with the car and engine. It was perfect from start to finish ... nothing's gone wrong this year so far ... it does need a lot of smoothing for everything to come together to ensure the incredible run we've had."

    Vettel came here with Toro Rosso in the inaugural race in 2008 and finished fifth. A fourth and a second followed in the next two editions after he moved to Red Bull.

    Now, he is a winner of a race widely regarded as the toughest on the Formula 1 calendar because of the heat and humidity, the 23 turns - the most in the sport - and the two-hour duration of the Grand Prix.

    Last night, he also had to overcome the appearance of the safety car halfway through the race after Michael Schumacher's Mercedes collided with Sergio Perez's Sauber.

    While Button did try to turn on a late charge, the Englishman knew it was an impossible task to chase down Vettel.

    "I am pretty happy to be second," said the Englishman. "I felt pretty good after 10 laps, I could start pushing, but there was really no catching Seb for most of the race."

    Vettel shed some tears when the German anthem rang out along Marina Bay to salute his victory.

    "There was something in my eyes," he said, grinning.

    "Like I said. I really like this track.

    "It means a lot to me. It is one of the hardest challenges we face all year, so it is good to come out of that as a winner.

    "In the toughest race, I would say we had a perfect day at the office."

    But the job isn't done yet, and the Red Bull pilot vowed to keep his eye on the ball and clinch the final point.

    "I feel capable, but I still have to do it. Statistically, the chances are on our side and it should not be a big problem, but it is over when it is over, not before," he said.


    More photos:
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    Last edited by Loh; 09-26-2011 at 02:31 AM.

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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Singapore studying benefits before signing new F1 contract


    by Tan Yo-Hinn
    Updated 11:56 AM Sep 26, 2011

    SINGAPORE - Formula 1 has benefitted the Republic but there is "no hurry" to extend the race beyond its current contract, Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran said yesterday.

    The SingTel Singapore Grand Prix - the world's only F1 night race - yesterday successfully concluded its fourth season of a five-year deal between race promoter Singapore Grand Prix (SGP) and Formula One Management.

    While no timeline has been given, Mr Iswaran hopes a decision will be reached soon. "At the end of the day, we do have five years on the contract and there is no need to be hurried about it," he told reporters at a community outreach event at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) yesterday.

    "We should be deliberate and measured in the way we go about this ... taking into account all factors. It's not about delaying, but about everyone making sure they have carefully studied it and there is time.

    "My own sense is that we need to have some kind of closure on this, certainly before next year's race, and I'm hoping we can find a mutually beneficial agreement sooner rather than later, where all parties can say this is something that is of value to them," he added.

    If no deal is reached after next year's race, Singapore will have to continue staging the event until 2014 as part of the current agreement.

    It costs about S$150 million annually to stage the race, with the Singapore Government footing 60 per cent - or S$90 million - of the bill.

    Since the inaugural race in 2008, the Singapore Grand Prix, staged on the 5.073km Marina Bay street circuit, has raked in about S$100 million in tourism receipts each year,

    More than 110,000 international visitors came to Singapore to watch the race in the first three years, generating over S$420 million in tourism receipts. Another 300 million television viewers globally watched the race over the past three years.

    Following last year's race, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) began a feasibility study on Singapore continuing to stage the race.

    Giving an update yesterday, Mr Iswaran said: "The principal negotiation is between SGP and the F1 administration what could be the possible terms to continue the race. On the Government's side, we're doing our own preparation work to make sure we have a clear sense of what the dimensions of the race are for us economically and what we can and should be willing to do if we want to go forward."

    The MTI and the Singapore Tourism Board will also continue working with businesses in and around the Marina Bay area to mitigate any disruptions there.

    He said: "F1 has been good to Singapore on several fronts … and Singapore has been good for the F1 … It's a good partnership that we would like to see it continue on a mutually beneficial basis."

  16. #5150
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Vietnam president to make state visit to Singapore

    Posted: 25 September 2011 1856 hrs

    SINGAPORE: Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang will make a state visit to Singapore from September 26-28.

    Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said the visit underscores the strong relations and reaffirms the close ties between Singapore and Vietnam.

    President Sang will be accompanied by his spouse Madam Mai Thi Hanh, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Nguyen Thien Nhan, Chairman of President's Office Dao Viet Trung, Minister of Labour War Invalids and Social Affairs Pham Thi Hai Chuyen, as well as senior officials and a business delegation.

    He will be given an official welcome ceremony at the Istana.

    He will then call on President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who will host a state banquet for him and his spouse.

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will also meet President Sang and host him to lunch.

    President Sang will also meet former minister mentor Mr Lee Kuan Yew and be hosted to breakfast by Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

    He will attend the Singapore-Vietnam Business Dialogue and Dinner hosted by Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang.

    He will also unveil the Ho Chi Minh Statue and Commemorative Marker at the Asian Civilisations Museum Green, visit the Urban Redevelopment Authority, as well as the Singapore Botanic Gardens where an orchid will be named in his and Madam Hanh's honour.- CNA /ls
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    Default

    Todt confident Formula 1 will stay in S'pore


    FIA chief says country has committed and innovative people and could even stage a WRC race


    by Ian De Cotta
    07:02 AM Sep 26, 2011

    Formula 1

    2011 SingTel Singapore Grand Prix



    SINGAPORE - As the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix heads into its fifth year in 2012, there is already much speculation over whether there will be an extension of the sport's only night race.

    Jean Todt (picture), president of the FIA, wants the Republic to be a long-term venue for Formula 1.

    The Frenchman also told Today over the weekend that he will look into the possibility of the Republic hosting a stage of the World Rally Championship (WRC), as long as the authorities here are interested.

    Arguably the biggest reason why Singapore clinched a Formula 1 race was due to the close personal relationship between local tycoon Ong Beng Seng and Bernie Ecclestone, the chief executive of Formula One Management (FOM), the rights holders of motorsports' premier event.

    Ecclestone turns 81 next month, and Todt dismissed the notion that the Englishman will retire anytime soon.

    Said the FIA president: "Everybody gets old. You get old, I get old, that is life. But Bernie is very fit and could probably go on in the job for 10 to 15 years, so we have plenty of time in front of us.

    "He has been doing a great job and is still very healthy and motivated, I think he will be in Formula 1 for many years."

    Singapore GP signed an agreement with FOM in 2007 to host a round of the Formula 1 world championship for five years, with a two-year option incorporated into the contract.

    It is believed the FOM receive US$35 million (S$45.7 million) from the organisers for every race here under the terms of the current agreement.

    While Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry study what kind of impact the race has had over the last five years, Todt is optimistic an agreement will be reached between Ecclestone and local organisers here.

    "I am confident," said the FIA president. "I hope to see Singapore as a long-term event, because it has been a very strong Grand Prix in the calendar with committed people who are innovative and demanding on themselves, and everybody has enjoyed it."

    Todt, 65
    , who is in a long-term relationship with Malaysian actress Michelle Yeoh, was team principal of Ferrari from 1993 to 2007. Those were heady days for the storied Italian outfit, who plundered six drivers' titles - five through German legend Michael Schumacher and one through Finn Kimi Raikkonen - and eight constructors' crowns.

    He became FIA chief in 2009.

    With the innovation of the night race here, Todt feels Singapore could next host a stage of motorsports' other big series, the WRC. Each round of a WRC event consists of different stages of racing in various areas of a host country, and he claimed Singapore can overcome its small size by co-hosting with Malaysia.

    "Singapore is a small country like Monaco and if you look at WRC's Monaco Rally, it starts in Monte Carlo and the rest is in France. We shall think about this and ask Tan Teng Lip (Singapore Motor Sports Association president) to follow up on it," he revealed.




    during practice for the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 23, 2011 in Singapore.


    Last edited by Loh; 09-26-2011 at 02:50 AM.

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