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  1. #6393
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    Default Punggol Waterway 1st in Asia to win top IWA award

    The Straits Times

    Published on Aug 15, 2012





    The 4.2km Punggol Waterway which connects the new Punggol and Serangoon reservoirs, runs through Punggol housing estate and provides residents with waterfront living and water activities. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE






    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...golww-g05e.jpg
    Longest man-made waterway at Punggol Waterway. It was opened in October 2011 and is the focal point of the 12.3ha Waterway Park. -- ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM










    The Housing Board announced on Wednesday that it has won the Global Superior Achievement Award for the Punggol Waterway project, the highest honour awarded by the International Water Association (IWA) for the most outstanding project in all categories.

    It is the first time an Asian country has clinched this award. The IWA Project Innovation Award was established in 2006 to recognise excellence and innovation in water engineering projects worldwide.

    Besides this, Punggol Waterway also clinched the Global Grand Winner in the planning category. Thirteen prizes were given out for six different categories. The award ceremony will be held in Busan, Korea, in conjunction with the eighth IWA World Water Congress and Exhibition on Sept 19.

    The Waterway is Singaporeís longest man-made waterway at 4.2km long. It functions not just as a pipeline to connect two reservoirs but is also a recreational green space for the local community with features such as a landscaped promenade, five footbridges, as well as cycling and jogging paths.

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    Default Photo gallery: 2 Singapore girls launch music careers with k-pop group

    Published on Aug 16, 2012




    Newly launched K-pop band Skarf includes the first-ever Singaporeans in Korean pop music, Ferlyn (2nd from left) and Tasha (4th from left). -- PHOTO: DREAMS STATION



  3. #6395
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    Default 4 in 5 Singaporeans see migrants as short-term fix for birth rate

    Published on Aug 16, 2012




    Four in five Singaporeans felt that bringing in migrants is a short term solution, and for the long term, Singaporeans must decide whether to replace themselves in the next generation. -- ST PHOTO: CAROLINE CHIA



    Four in five Singaporeans felt that bringing in migrants is a short term solution, and for the long term, Singaporeans must decide whether to replace themselves in the next generation.

    The sentiment arose even as nearly one in two of them agreed that the stark picture of a shrinking and ageing population has made them realise the need to change mindsets regarding marriage and parenthood.

    The opinions came as Government feedback agency Reach released the results of a snap poll on the reactions to former Prime Minister, Mr Lee Kuan Yew's speech on Aug 11 about marriage and parenthood issues.

    The poll, which covered 106 Singaporeans aged 18 and above, also found that 88 per cent of respondents agree or strongly agree that it is important for Singaporeans to have children as there will not be enough original citizens left to form the majority if we do not do so.

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    Default Five awarded President's Scholarship

    by Melissa Chong
    04:45 AM Aug 16, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Five students received the prestigious President's Scholarship yesterday.

    Among them is 19-year-old Adil Hakeem Mohamad Rafee, who was the top PSLE scorer in his year, a national debater and a recipient of the Prime Minister's Book Prize.

    "I wasn't expecting to get this at all, I wasn't even expecting to get a PSC (Public Service Commission) scholarship," said Adil Hakeem, who studied at Raffles Institution. "I've been given an opportunity that not many people will have, so I can't afford to waste it."

    The other four are Jarret Huang Jinghao, Shaun Lim Yung Shen, Moses Soh Juen Wei and Alicia Tee Ren Ling.

    The five recipients received their awards from President Tony Tan at the Istana.

    Moses, who was also from Raffles Institution, grew up as the eldest child in a single-parent family and had to juggle schoolwork while taking care of his three siblings.

    "You just learn to be a lot more independent because you're quite quickly aware of the fact that your mum has a lot on her plate. She works hard ... and makes sure she's there academically, emotionally, all the time for her kids," he said.

    The scholars will be working at different ministries after they graduate. Melissa Chong







    (From left) Moses Soh Juen Wei, Shaun Lim Yung Shen, Alicia Tee Ren Ling, Jarret Huang Jinghao and Adil Hakeem Mohamad Rafee with President Tony Tan and his wife.

  5. #6397
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    Default Five awarded President's Scholarship

    By Melissa Chong, Vimita Mohandas, Karen Ng | Posted: 15 August 2012 2004 hrs


    Nineteen-year-old Adil Hakeem Mohamad Rafee is Singapore's second ever Malay President's Scholar.



    SINGAPORE: Five young individuals have been chosen as this year's President's Scholars.

    They are Mr Adil Hakeem Mohamad Rafee, Mr Jarret Huang Jinghao, Mr Shaun Lim Yung Shen, Mr Moses Soh Juen Wei and Ms Alicia Tee Ren Ling.

    Mr Adil Hakeem, Mr Jarret Huang and Mr Moses Soh were from Raffles Institution and had a clean sweep of 'A' grades in their 'A' Level subjects.

    Nineteen-year-old Adil Hakeem was also the top PSLE scorer in his year, a national debater, and a recipient of the Prime Minister's Book Prize.

    He is the first Malay recipient of the scholarship in more than 40 years, and Singapore's second ever Malay President's Scholar.

    The first Malay President's Scholar is Mohd Ismail Ibrahim who was awarded the prestige in 1968. He studied Mechanical Engineering at the University of Surrey.

    Mr Adil Hakeem said: "I wasn't expecting to get this at all, I wasn't even expecting to get PSC scholarship, don't talk about President's Scholarship."

    "I've been given an opportunity that not many people will have, so I can't afford to waste it. Hopefully 10 to 20 years down the road, the expectation will no longer be on me because by then, we would have many more successful Malay scholars. When the pressure is off me, it's a sign of success," added Mr Adil Hakeem.

    Minister-in-Charge of Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim has praised Mr Adil Hakeem.

    He told reporters on the sidelines of a community event on Wednesday evening that Mr Adil Hakeem's achievement shows it is possible for the Malay-Muslim community to produce talented individuals.

    And he hopes more Malay-Muslim students will be motivated to excel.

    "This is a very proud moment for the community. It's been a long time. I've always believed that if you look at the data, at least ever since I've been in charge over the last five, eight years, the data has been showing an upward trend. I've always believed it's only a matter of time that one of us would sort of make the breakthrough and I'm glad that it has come sooner than expected," said Dr Yaacob.

    Mr Adil Hakeem's course of study is still pending.

    Mr Moses Soh will study Economics at America's Wharton School of Business.


    Mr Soh grew up as the eldest child in a single-parent family. He had to juggle his school work while taking care of his three siblings.

    "You just learn to be a lot more independent because you're quite quickly aware of the fact that your mum has a lot on her plate. She works hard... and makes sure she's there academically, emotionally, all the time for her kids. In all honesty, I would not be where I am today if these giants had not helped me along the way," he said.

    Mr Jarret Huang will pursue Law at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.


    Mr Shaun Lim, who took top grades in the International Baccalaureate as a student of Anglo-Chinese School (Independent), is heading to study Liberal Arts at Harvard University in the United States.

    Ms Alicia Tee, from Hwa Chong Institution, will also be in America to take Political Science at Yale University.

    The scholars will be working at different ministries after they graduate.


    President Tony Tan Keng Yam presented the scholarships to the five recipients at the Istana on Wednesday evening.

    President Tan said Singapore will continue to need visionary, brave and passionate leaders with the ability and heart to bring the nation forward.

    "The global environment will be more volatile and unpredictable. We also need to address the changing aspirations of our citizens. As recipients of the President's Scholarship, I hope that you will carry that torch of our pioneers, and be the new generation of leaders who will bring Singapore to even greater heights," he said.

    - CNA/cc
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    Default Learn more on Singapore's history with 12 new walking tours

    Two synagogues and a 19th century house open to public for the first time


    Published on Aug 16, 2012



    By Jennani Durai


    History will be brought to life in a new series of walking tours that aims to help Singaporeans get the most out of their national monuments.

    Visitors will be offered a rare peek into the former home of a wealthy 19th century businessman and a chance to stroll around two Jewish synagogues.

    None of these buildings have been open to the public before, said the Preservation of Monuments Board. It added that the 12 new tours, which start this weekend, will give more Singaporeans a chance to experience their heritage first hand.

    The businessman whose home will be on display was Tan Yeok Nee, a towkay in the pepper and gambier trade. His traditional Teochew house near Dhoby Ghaut has been used as a railway station master's residence and a school, and is now the Asian campus of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business. Visitors will also be given access for the first time to the Chesed-El and Maghain Aboth synagogues in the Bras Basah area.

  7. #6399
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Icing on the cake as students bake for President Tan

    Published on Aug 16, 2012




    President Tony Tan talking to Ms Charlotte Lee, 31, a teacher at Assumption Pathway School. Students showed off their baking skills with several treats, including prettily decorated cupcakes, at an event to mark the completion of the school's new facilities at its Cashew Road campus. -- PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG


    Fancy a cupcake, Mr President?

    Aspiring chefs looked dressed to impress as they showed off their baking skills during an event at Assumption Pathway School.

    The students, aged 13 to 16, whipped up the treats before presenting them to President Tony Tan Keng Yam on Wednesday.

    Meanwhile, their classmates served their guests fruit juice, pastries and finger food. All of the children are on the food preparation and services course at the school for less academically inclined youngsters.

  8. #6400
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Info on the Singapore National Games

    04:45 AM Aug 16, 2012



    The inaugural edition of the Singapore National Games (SNG) will see more than 300 teams, or up to 5,000 people, competing in 10 sports.

    The sports are: Athletics, badminton, basketball, bowling, dragon boat, football, netball, sepak takraw, swimming and tennis. They will be held at various venues around Singapore.

    Participation is open to citizens, permanent residents and expatriates.

    National athletes are also eligible to compete. However, national athletes and non-citizens can only form up to 20 per cent of the team size.

    The competition schedule and venues are as follows:

    Athletics (Sept 1, 2 and 8) - Bishan Stadium

    Badminton (Sept 1-7: Preliminaries; Sept 8: Finals) - Pasir Ris Sports Hall

    Basketball (Sept 1-8: Preliminaries) - Singapore Basketball Centre; (Sept 9: Finals) - Woodlands Sports Hall

    Bowling (Sept 2) - Orchid Country Club

    Dragon Boat (Sept 2) - Bedok Reservoir

    Football (Aug 24-Sept 6: Preliminaries) - Bukit Gombak Stadium, St Wilfred's Field, Serangoon Stadium; (Sept 7-8: Finals) - Jalan Besar Stadium

    Netball (Sept 1-8: Preliminaries) - Kallang Netball Centre); (Sept 9: Finals) - Jurong East Sports Hall

    Sepak Takraw (Sept 1-8: Prelimimaries; Sept 9: Finals) - Bedok Sports Hall

    Swimming (Sept 7-9) - Singapore Sports School

    Table tennis (Sept 1-8: Preliminaries; Sept 9: Finals) - Toa Payoh Sports Hall



    For more information, go to www.singaporenationalgames.sg

    There will also be a special Spot the Nila contest from Aug 27-31 to mark the five-day countdown to the SNG. Nila is the mascot for the SNG and there are 15 versions of the mascot, each representing a cluster.

    The mascots will be making appearance all over Singapore during this period.

    To take part in the contest, snap a photo of yourself with Nila and post it on the SNG Facebook page - www.facebook.com/singaporenationalgames

    There will be daily hints on the mascots' whereabouts on 987FM every evening from 4-8pm. The first 10 fans to submit their photos each day will each win an SNG goodie bag.

  9. #6401
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    Default S'pore to host world youth climbing c'ships


    by Low Lin Fhoong
    04:45 AM Aug 16, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Sport climbers worldwide will have Singapore to thank if the sport is successful in its bid for inclusion in the 2020 Olympic Games.

    The Republic will host the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) World Youth Championships from Aug 29 to Sept 1 at Siloso Beach.

    The event - along with the IFSC World Championship in France next month - will feature in the federation's presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for assessment at the next IOC Session in Buenos Aires next year.


    Sport climbing will face competition from seven other shortlisted sports - karate, baseball, roller sports, softball, squash, wakeboard and wushu - in the battle for only one vacancy in the 2020 Games sports programme.

    IFSC President Marco Scolaris said: "After the inclusion by the IOC of our sport in the shortlist for the 2020 Olympic Games, Singapore is an important step in this hardest climb. The event will show the world our constant growth and the fantastic atmosphere that reigns in our (vertical) world."

    Held in Singapore for the first time, the IFSC World Youth Championship - jointly organised by the IFSC and the Singapore Mountaineering Federation (SMF) - will see record participation from 540 athletes between the ages of 14 and 19 from 46 countries.

    There will be two competitions, Lead and Speed. Each will feature three categories: Juniors, Youth A and Youth B.

    Singapore will be fielding 38 climbers. Leading the charge for the hosts are speed climbers Mohammed Hanzalah - who finished eighth in the men's junior speed at the 2011 Asian Youth Championship - and 2011 SEA Games bronze medallists (team relay) Zhang Binbin and Janice Ng Li.

    Asian Youth champion (female junior speed) Li, 19, is hoping to win a medal on her second outing at the world youth competition.

    "The Russians and Indonesians will be strong in the speed category as many of them train full-time," she told TODAY after a media conference at Outram Secondary School.

    "My result at the 2008 World Youth was not so good and I'm hoping to get a good result this time."

    Added 17-year-old Binbin, a first-year student at Temasek Polytechnic: "I'm really looking forward to it. This is going to be my biggest tournament to date and it'll definitely be a lot tougher, because I will be going up against 45 climbers, whereas the SEA Games had only five countries.

    "I'm hoping to get into the semi-finals and make the top 16."

    The SMF are also looking to ramp up interest in the sport as it bids to be part of the 2015 SEA Games, which will be hosted here.

    SMF Event Director and executive committee member Rasip Isnin said: "This event will give the youths the opportunity to compete with the world's top climbers and prepare them for international competition."







    National youth climbers Zhang Binbin (left) and Janice Ng Li. Photo by WEE TECK HIAN

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    Default More than just a multi-sports festival

    S'pore National Games will build social ties and promote sporting excellence


    by Ian De Cotta
    04:45 AM Aug 16, 2012



    SINGAPORE - It first entered the public imagination when the Singapore Sports Hub won the tender in January, 2008, to build the country's new stadium and sports complex at Kallang, which will be ready in two years' time.

    Four years, the Singapore National Games (SNG) is no longer just an idea, or part of a consortium's proposed calendar of sports events for when the Sports Hub is finally up and running.

    It will become a reality in 15 days' time with the opening ceremony at Punggol Waterway, and the SNG will be more than just a biennial multi-sports festival.

    The guest of honour for the opening ceremony at Punggol Waterway on Sept 1 will be Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, while President Tony Tan Keng Yam will preside over the closing ceremony at Bishan Stadium on Sept 9.

    The organisers - the People's Association and the Singapore Sports Council (SSC) - promise the National Games will be a key component in the national effort to build bridges in the community among citizens, permanent residents and foreigners who work and live here.

    Already, it appears that the multi-sports festival has gone some way in achieving its aim in building relationships in communities.

    Co-Chairman of the SNG steering committee, Yam Ah Mee, said he witnessed this himself during the three-month Community Games (CG) from April to July that served as qualifiers for the SNG.

    "I am very excited by what I have seen," he said at a media conference yesterday, referring to the more than 11,000 people who formed over 1,000 teams for the CG. "Besides the participants themselves, supporters also came down to cheer them on.

    "I am sure the strong community spirit will continue throughout the SNG as we see more sporting heroes from different communities coming together to participate in the friendly Games."

    After three months of competition, a total of 300 teams and close to 5,000 athletes representing 15 geographical clusters across the island have qualified to compete for medals in 10 sports. The youngest competitor is eight years old, while the oldest is 80. Again, as Yam pointed out, the range in age represents what the SNG is all about - getting every segment of the country's community involved in the SNG.

    But the SNG will also be more than just the friendly Games.

    It will serve the SSC's Vision 2030 in two ways: By giving former school athletes the chance to continue competing actively in sports after leaving school and providing others who were not able to get into institutions like the Singapore Sports School new opportunities to excel in sport.

    With national athletes forming a maximum of only 20 per cent in each team, it paves the way for other talents to prove themselves before selectors of the various national sports association.

    Said SSC Chief Executive Officer Lim Teck Yin, who is also Co-Chairman of the steering committee: "Together with other initiatives like super clubs and corporate leagues, the SNG will evolve to fill the gap between school sports and sports at the elite level.

    "People like James Wong (nine-time SEA Games discus champion) and former national athletes will lead the way by coming together with the community to take part. In due course, I think you will start to see an increasing number of youth athletes taking part.

    "It's timely that we are having the national Games. Sports is growing among Singaporeans and from what I heard, the following on television for the recent Olympics in London was huge, comparable with other shows in prime-time slots.

    "I think that people are now itching to play. I've been getting lots of email from people asking where they or their children can play, or take up a sport.

    "The SNG will contribute to this growing interest. I expect it to grow in importance and flavour with each subsequent edition."







    SSC CEO Lim Teck Yin (left) and Co-Chairman of the steering committee Yam Ah Mee (second from right) presenting a cheque to one of the winners of a mascot design competition. Photo by HIRANAND SUNNY NARESH

  11. #6403
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default The Armenian Church

    The Armenian Church was the first to be built in Singapore and is the oldest surving Christian church here.

    Apparently funds were raised from the Armenian communities in Singapore, India and Java as well as from local European and Chinese residents.

    There were only about a dozen Armenian families in Singapore when they commissioned Irish architect, George Coleman, of which Coleman Street was named after, in 1834 to build the Armenian Church of St Gregory the Illuminator. It was completed in 1835 and consecrated on 26 March 1836.

    Prominent Armenians in Singapore include the Sarkies brothers who established the Raffles Hotel and Agnes Joaquim, who discovered Singapore's national flower "Vanda Miss Joaquim", an orchid.

    Last week during our National Day holidays, I visited the church, as well as the Civic District around Hill St. that surrounds it. Here are some pictures.
    Attached Images Attached Images                                            

  12. #6404
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    Default S'pore "world's healthiest country": survey

    Posted: 16 August 2012 1318 hrs

    SINGAPORE: A Bloomberg survey has ranked Singapore as number one in its study of the world's healthiest countries.

    The survey looked at factors such as average life expectancy, cigarette smoking rates and mortality, among others.

    Singapore's health grade was 89.45 per cent, putting it at the top of 145 countries surveyed.

    Singapore's total health score was 92.52 per cent, and its health risk penalty was at 3.07 per cent.

    To get the health grade score, Bloomberg subtracted the risk score from the health score to determine the country's rank.

    To identify the healthiest countries, Bloomberg Rankings said it created health scores and health risk scores for countries with populations of at least one million.

    Five-year averages, when available, were used to mitigate some of the short-term year-over-year swings.

    Italy was second with a health grade of 89.07 per cent, Australia ranked third with 88.33 per cent, Switzerland came in fourth with 88.29 per cent and Japan in fifth place with 86.83 per cent.

    The other countries making the top ten are Israel (6th), Spain (7th), Netherlands (8th), Sweden (9th), Germany (10th).

    - CNA/ck

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    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Smile S'pore disturbed by "double standards" shown in US human rights report

    By Imelda Saad | Posted: 16 August 2012 1934 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) has issued a strongly worded statement rebutting the US State Department's 'Human Rights Practices 2011' report.

    MFA said it is disappointed that the report again includes the "same gross inaccuracies and misrepresentations of the Singapore Government's policies".

    It added it is "disturbed by the double standards" applied to the US' criticism of the Internal Security Act (ISA), which is meant to address threats to internal security, including threats to public order, communal and religious harmony, and subversive and terrorist activities.

    MFA said: "The US, in its own fight against terrorism, has come to realise that trade-offs between rights are inevitable. In this context, we fail to understand how the US reconciles its criticism of the ISA with the continued existence of its own detention facilities at Guantanamo without applying a double standard. By contrast to the Guantanamo detention facilities, which exist outside the framework of US law, the ISA provides a proper legal framework and prescribes rules for preventive detention."

    It added as the same misrepresentations and inaccuracies are repeated year after year, it does not appear that the US State Department has paid any attention to the points repeatedly made in response to past years' country reports.

    MFA said: "This seems to suggest that the US Department of State is really not interested in the facts, and indeed does not want the facts to come in the way of the conclusions it wishes to reach, pursuant to its own ideology. This approach undermines the objectivity of the report."

    It added: "Singapore does not claim that our system is perfect, or that our system would necessarily work in other countries. Our government is held accountable to the public through democratic elections and the rule of law. We will adapt our policies in the interests of our people and as the balance of rights and obligations evolve in our society."

    - CNA/fa

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    Default NTUC FairPrice Foundation to raise S$1.5m to help low-income union workers

    Updated 06:08 PM Aug 16, 2012



    SINGAPORE - NTUC FairPrice Foundation aims to raise S$1.5 million for the labour movement's U Care Fund to help low-income union workers.

    Called "Breadwinners - We Care, U Care", the campaign will donate S$5 for each loaf of FairPrice housebrand bread sold over the next two weeks.

    The NTUC U Care fund aims to raise S$10.5 million in total this year, which will go towards helping some 100,000 beneficiaries.

    Last year, the fund raised S$10.26 million, which benefited 90,000 beneficiaries.

    Director of NTUC's Care and Share, Zainal Sapari, said there are various assistance programmes in place to help the needy, through the U Care Fund.

    "We have actually started various programmes -- (an) example would be our U Stretch (Vouchers) Programme where we give them vouchers, which will help them cope with the purchase of their daily necessities," he said. "We also support them in terms of their children's education, through our Back to School Voucher Programme, where if they are eligible, each of their children, up to a maximum of two, will be given S$125." CHANNEL NEWSASIA



    The Straits Times


    NTUC FairPrice to donate $5 for every loaf sold

    It aims to raise $1.5m from sale of house-brand bread within 2 weeks


    Published on Aug 17, 2012





    Madam Swee (left) shopping on Thursday at nex's FairPrice Xtra with her husband Ho Kin Onn, 42, and two of their children - Rou En (front), nine, and Rou Xuan, 11 - as FairPrice employee Chan Jia Xin attends to them. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING


    By Lua Jia Min


    NTUC FairPrice is donating $5 to charity for each loaf of its house- brand bread sold.

    In its second run, the Breadwinners - We Care, U Care campaign aims to raise $1.5 million through the sale of 300,000 loaves within two weeks. Each loaf costs $1.25 to $2.65, depending on type.

    Mr Zainal Sapari, director of NTUC Care & Share, said at the campaign's launch on Thursday that these programmes are important to ensure everyone benefits from Singapore's growth.

    The MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC added: "We want to help with sustainable assistance programmes... so that no one falls through the cracks
    Last edited by Loh; 08-16-2012 at 09:33 PM.

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    Default Geylang Serai's numerous bazaars

    Published on Aug 17, 2012

    (Celebrating Hari Raya/Ramadan)



















    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...iles/gey1e.jpg
    Slower foot traffic to stalls at Geylang Serai and an overall reduced festive mood in comparison to the past. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI



    There are numerous bazaars this year at Geylang Serai - with a total of 1,700 stalls in different areas selling items from food to furniture, clothes to rugs. Is there enough business to go around?

    We look at the stallowners who have set up shop here. And, with bazaars in Arab Street, Woodlands and Jurong West too, is Geylang Serai still the place to be this Ramadan?
    What keeps people coming back?

  16. #6408
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    Default President's Scholarship for Aidilfitri

    Second Malay awardee in history credits grandma's nagging for win

    Published on Aug 16, 2012




    Presidentís Scholar Adil Hakeem Mohamad Rafee with his parents, Mr Mohamad Rafee Salleh and Madam Zulinah Mooksan, both 51, at the Istana, where Mr Adil Hakeem received the coveted award yesterday. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN


    By Stacey Chia


    There are many people Mr Adil Hakeem Mohamad Rafee should thank for his President's Scholarship, but the first that comes to mind is his grandmother.

    If not for her, the avid footballer said he probably would not have studied very hard, if at all.

    Growing up, he said, his grandmother would nag his brother and him to finish their homework. Both his parents, a project manager and marketing manager, would often be at work when the siblings returned home from school.

    "My success has now put more pressure on my brother - my grandmother keeps telling him to study harder for his exams," he laughed. His younger brother, Arif Izzuddin, 16, is a Secondary 4 student at Chung Cheng High School (Yishun).


    Background story

    A MATTER OF TIME

    'Have always believed it was only a matter of time that one of us could make the breakthrough, and I am glad that it has come'.

    - Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Yaacob Ibrahim, on a Malay winning the President's Scholarship


    A GIFT TO CELEBRATE

    'This is a Hari Raya gift because for 44 years, we have waited. The Malay community will be delighted'.

    - Former MP Wan Hussin Zoohri

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    Default Singapore named healthiest country

    But some healthcare experts and MPs are sceptical of finding by Bloomberg Rankings

    by Tan Weizhen
    04:45 AM Aug 17, 2012


    SINGAPORE - A report by financial data agency Bloomberg that ranked Singapore as the healthiest country out of 145 nations came as a surprise to some healthcare experts and Members of Parliament, who were expecting other nations such as Japan, Switzerland or the Nordic countries to come out tops.

    The report, released by Bloomberg Rankings on Wednesday, used three main indicators for countries with a population of at least one million to tabulate its total health score.

    Ten per cent was placed on life expectancy at birth and infant mortality. Another 10 per cent went to survival to 65 years and life expectancy at that age.

    The bulk of the weightage - 40 per cent each - went to causes of death by disease and death rates according to three age groups.

    Professor Phua Kai Hong, of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, and MP Dr Lam Pin Min pointed out that the Japanese, for instance, are ahead in terms of life expectancy, a common benchmark when it comes to measuring the health of a nation.

    "It is not unexpected that Singapore will rank high as one of the healthiest nations in the world but being in the pole position did come as a pleasant surprise to me," said Dr Lam, who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health.

    Prof Phua noted that, in the yearly World Health Organization indicators, Singapore is not in top position, although it is among the top.

    In determining the rankings, the Bloomberg report used a "health risk penalty" on countries with populations that led unhealthy lifestyles.

    These indicators included the percentage of the population that smokes, has high blood pressure and high cholesterol, is infected with HIV or does not exercise. It also included environmental factors such as sanitation and pollution.

    Despite the people in Singapore leading better lifestyles than those in other countries, Prof Phua said this is not determinative of the health of the population.

    He found the study wanting in that it largely measures deaths, with 80 per cent going to such indicators.

    "If you are talking about poor health, death is the ultimate climax, of course. But, in between, are we really creating the conducive environment for good health? Such a method doesn't say if people actually live healthy lives. They can live longer but, perhaps, they are kept alive because of good medical treatment."

    Prof Phua felt that a better, although more difficult, way would be to measure disease rates rather than deaths.

    Dr Lam was also sceptical about indicators such as smoking, HIV infection and alcohol consumption, and how these findings are obtained.

    "Very often, these may be under-reported as such social behaviours can be a taboo in our culture," he said.

    Both Dr Lam and MP Fatimah Lateef also said that the study did not take into account mental health, an aspect that most experts deem important in measuring the health of a population - and an area that Singapore could do more in.

    While many experts welcomed the ranking, they also drew attention to areas that the Republic could improve on.

    Dr Jeremy Lim, Chief Executive of Fortis Colorectal Hospital, named end-of-life care, control of chronic diseases and healthcare affordability as areas to be focused on, while Dr Lateef pointed to preventive and sexual healthcare.






    Despite the people of Singapore leading better lifestyles than those in other countries, experts say this in itself does not determine the health of the population. TODAY FILE PHOTO

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