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  1. #6631
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    Default Chingay Parade wins "Leisure Event of the Year" title

    Published on Oct 15, 2012




    Dragons wove their way through the streets along Marina Bay at 2012's Chingay Parade. Chingay Parade clinched the "Leisure Event of the Year" title at the Singapore Experience Awards 2012 tonight. -- NEW PAPER PHOTO: GAVIN FOO


    By Jalelah Abu Baker


    Chingay Parade clinched the "Leisure Event of the Year" title at the Singapore Experience Awards 2012 tonight.

    It beat Universal Studios Singapore's Halloween Horror Nights and ZoukOut Singapore to emerge top for the catergory at the annual awards organised by the Singapore Tourism Board.

    Other winners include Marina Bay Sands, the newest player in the meetings, incentive travel, conventions, and exhibitions (MICE) industry, which clinched the "Best Business Event Venue Experience" award. It took the top spot from Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre which has held on to the title since STB started to hand out the awards in 2009.

    The MBS venue, which has been open since 2010, has a capacity for 45,000 delegates, 2,000 exhibition booths, and accommodates 250 meeting rooms.

  2. #6632
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    Default Govt tables changes to death penalty regime

    Less-serious homicides could see discretionary sentences of life imprisonment, for example


    by Teo Xuanwei
    04:45 AM Oct 16, 2012



    SINGAPORE - Three months after the Government floated the idea of legislative changes that would "temper justice with mercy", the wheels to a historic change were set in motion yesterday: Amendments to two hefty statutes were introduced in the House, removing the mandatory death penalty for some types of homicide and drug trafficking offences.

    Specifically, proposed changes to the Penal Code will see only those convicted of Section 300(a), or intentional killing, sentenced to death. For less serious types of homicides - for instance, acts committed with the intention of causing bodily injury that the offender knows is likely to cause death - the Government wants to give judges the discretion to impose life imprisonment with caning.

    In the Bill tabled to amend the Misuse of Drugs Act, the death penalty will not be automatic for convicted drug traffickers when two "specific, tightly-defined conditions" are both met.

    First, the trafficker must have only played the role of courier and must not have been involved in any other activity related to the supply or distribution of drugs. Second, he must either suffer from a mental disability which substantially impairs his appreciation of the gravity of the act, or he has cooperated with the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) in a "substantive" way.

    Judges can order life imprisonment with at least 15 strokes of the cane, instead of death, for traffickers who meet both requirements.

    The "substantive cooperation" criterion had caused some concerns, with some lawyers questioning if the bar had been set too high based on Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean's definition - when he mooted the proposal in July - that it must lead to "concrete outcomes, such as the dismantling of syndicates or the arrest or prosecution of syndicate members".

    The Government softened its stance on this in the legislative changes proposed yesterday, which defined, as the benchmark, "substantively assisting in CNB's operations to disrupt drug trafficking activities within or outside of Singapore".

    The Public Prosecutor will be the gatekeeper to decide, based on the evidence collected and inputs from CNB investigators, whether to issue a "Certificate of Cooperation" to a suspected drug trafficker. These may include, for example, the provision of information leading to the arrest or detention or prosecution of any person involved in any drug trafficking activity, according to a joint statement by the Ministry of Law (MinLaw) and the Ministry of Home Affairs.



    LAWYERS' CONCERNS ON EARLIER DEFINITION



    Commenting on the less restrictive definition that was tabled, lawyers said that it makes it "less onerous" for a drug trafficker to prove he had cooperated substantively. Mr Amolat Singh, who runs his own law firm, said lawyers had, during earlier consultation sessions with the ministries, raised concerns that "the previous phraseology was too conjunctive - 'A' plus 'B' must lead to 'C'".

    "But the reality is less definitive than that; good information doesn't always lead to arrests or prosecutions for different reasons," he said. "But it's the first time something like this is being proposed and we're all still grappling with it, so we'll have to see as we go."

    Drew & Napier director Wendell Wong added: "The legal test of substantive cooperation is being introduced in Singapore for the first time. Coming up with a definition for substantive co-operation was always going to be a challenge but we all need to work off a base."

    Mr Wong, who chairs the Law Society's Criminal Practice Committee, said it had met with MinLaw several times on the proposed legislative changes. And among the feedback it gave was its concern with the definition of "substantive cooperation".

    National University of Singapore law don Michael Hor pointed out another potential pickle: How the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) would exercise its prosecutorial discretion if Parliament passes the amended laws.

    Noting that the penalties are "more severe" for someone facing a capital charge but is deemed to have cooperated, as compared to someone facing a non-capital charge, Professor Hor said: "The question is, in view of the difference in disposition, whether the Public Prosecutor will use the cooperation avenue in situations where he would not have agreed to reducing a charge."

    Currently, prosecutors have the discretion to press a non-capital charge even if a case involves drugs exceeding the 15-gram threshold.

    The penalty for a non-capital trafficking conviction can be as low as 20 years' imprisonment, while a trafficker deemed to have cooperated can only escape with the minimum of life behind bars.

    The Bill also provides for defendants in ongoing cases, if they meet the conditions, to elect to be considered for resentencing under the new law. So too can convicted persons who have already exhausted their appeals, as well as the 34 prisoners on death row currently.

    All existing cases will also be re-considered for clemency. All executions have been suspended since July last year and will remain so until the proposed changes are enacted.

  3. #6633
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    Default Young ones for the future

    STTA plans for local players to take centre stage at the 2013 SEA Games


    by Low Lin Fhoong
    04:46 AM Oct 16, 2012



    SINGAPORE - The Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) aims to field more local-born paddlers at major competitions like the next Commonwealth and Asian Games - both in 2014 - in Glasgow and Incheon respectively, and the 2015 SEA Games in Singapore.

    To help achieve that, a new-look side could feature at next year's SEA Games in Myanmar.

    Already, the STTA have taken steps towards that by omitting senior players like world No 6 Feng Tianwei, Li Jiawei, Gao Ning and Zhan Jian from last week's 8th South-east Asian Championship in Vientiane, Laos.

    Younger foreign-born players Li Hu and Yu Mengyu assumed the captaincies for the men's and women's team respectively but the teams also included youth paddlers Pang Xuejie, Clarence Chew, Zena Sim, Isabelle Li and debutant Yee Herng Hwee.

    Despite the absence of the seniors, the Republic still ended up topping the eight-nation South-east Asian Championship with five gold, two silver and two bronze medals.

    "It was a move to provide more exposure to the local young players and prepare some of the players that we intend to nominate for the 2013 SEA Games," said STTA President Lee Bee Wah yesterday.

    "All of them will be considered for the 2013 SEA Games, but it will depend on their commitment and progress.

    "Out of eight players (at the South-east Asian Championships), five are local young players. I am very happy with the performance, especially Clarence (Chew) and Yee Herng Hwee, who is from the Singapore Sports School's School-Within-A-School programme.

    "Clarence (also) partnered with Li Hu to beat reigning SEA Games doubles gold medallists Xuejie and Ma Liang."


    Although the youth paddlers are aged 21 and below, some of them have already represented Singapore at the SEA Games.

    Republic Polytechnic student Pang, 19, is already a veteran with three outings in 2007, 2009 and last year. He also claimed two golds in the men's team and doubles - with partner Ma Liang - at last November's SEA Games in Jakarta.

    Team-mate Isabelle, 18, also made her mark at the regional games on her debut in Indonesia, winning the silver in the women's singles after a 4-0 loss to Feng in the final.

    Others like 16-year-old Clarence - who represented Singapore at the 2010 Youth Olympic Games - are also gearing up for their shot at the SEA Games next year. "Of course, it will be a great honour if I am able to represent Singapore. There is still a lot to be done but I hope to get a chance," said the Singapore Sports School student, who won gold medals in the men's team and doubles at the SEA Championship.

    "I learnt a lot from the players and my team-mates at this tournament … currently there is a gap between me and them but it gives me a clearer idea of what to work on."

    STTA chief Lee is confident that the youngsters can deliver in Myanmar next year in the absence of top players like Feng and Gao Ning.

    "We have been sending Xuejie, Isabelle and Clarence to more ITTF Pro Tours to prepare them for the 2013 SEA Games," she said.

    "They have also played in the 2011 and 2012 World Championships and we are confident that they can handle the pressure at senior events."





    Photo by KOH MUI FONG

  4. #6634
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    Default 9 teachers win the Inspiring Teacher of English award

    They use tools as varied as YouTube, philosophy and technology in class.




    Five of the award winners (from left): Ms Ignatia Wong, Mr Jared Quek, Ms Rosvinder Kaur, MrMuhammad Ahmad and Ms Chia Hui Ping. Of the nine winners, five teach in primary schools. --PHOTO: DESMOND LUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES



    By Matthias Chew


    Fuhua Secondary's head of English, Mr Jared Quek, believes all students can write well - as long as they have a clear mind that thinks through the issues at hand.

    So he introduced thinking skills and moral reasoning into his upper secondary English language classes - and won the Inspiring Teacher of English Award on Tuesday.

    He was one of nine winners of the award presented by the Speak Good English Movement and The Straits Times. The award, in its fifth year, recognises teachers who use innovative methods to improve students' English.

    Mr Quek, 31, said his fusion of philosophy and English works - even in classes for academically weaker students.


    Background story

    COMPLEX ENVIRONMENT, CHALLENGING TASK

    Our English teachers have to be skilled practitioners, with a wide repertoire of teaching methodologies to suit the variety of abilities and learning styles within the classroom.

    - Senior Minister of State for Education Lawrence Wong, who handed out the award to the teachers at a ceremony yesterday

  5. #6635
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    Default Photo gallery: 7 more waterfront housing districts in Punggol

    Published on Oct 17, 2012


    Old Punggol Road which was a key route for farm and fishing goods transportation. -- PHOTO: HOUSING DEVELOPMENT BOARD (HDB)



    Heritage Trail (Old Punggol Road) will be kept as a heritage trail while Old Punggol Road will be pedestrianised. -- PHOTO: HOUSING DEVELOPMENT BOARD (HDB)



    Green Fingers, built in tandem with housing developments will take residents from the centre of Punggol to waterfront promenades. -- PHOTO: HOUSING DEVELOPMENT BOARD (HDB



    Signature Waterfront Housing Districts. -- PHOTO: HOUSING DEVELOPMENT BOARD (HDB)



    Waterway West District -- PHOTO: HOUSING DEVELOPMENT BOARD (HDB)



    Waterway East District. -- PHOTO: HOUSING DEVELOPMENT BOARD (HDB)



    Northshore District. -- PHOTO: HOUSING DEVELOPMENT BOARD (HDB)



    By Daryl Chin


    The Housing Board (HDB) has unveiled the next phase of development for Singapore's hottest new town - Punggol.
    Estimated to be twice the size of Ang Mo Kio when it comes into fruition, the eco-precinct is expected to have seven new districts for waterfront housing, as well as abundant greenery to soften its projected high density.

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    Default New heart centre will 'wrap services around the patient'

    Published on Oct 17, 2012





    An artist's impression (above) of a specialist outpatient clinic at the new National Heart Centre Singapore. The clinics will use accent colours such as orange, which are easy to spot for the elderly. The department entrance is marked by a panel that is lit up, with the same colour to tell the patient he is heading the right way. -- PHOTOS: NATIONAL HEART CENTRE SINGAPORE




    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...9_3344903e.jpg
    When registering or making payment, there will be a lower counter (above) with a recessed bottom for wheelchair users. A higher counter beside this will be for caregivers who are standing. There will also be partitions to help block out sound, as elderly patients may be hard of hearing. -- PHOTOS: NATIONAL HEART CENTRE SINGAPORE



    A new 12-storey, $266 million building set to open at the end of next year will mean that patients at the National Heart Centre Singapore will no longer have to go on an "Amazing Race" around the campus to get the services they need.

    The building will operate on a new concept that "wraps services around the patient", said its chief operating officer, Mr Alson Goh.

    This means that patients can see a doctor, have a blood test and an electrocardiogram (ECG) on the same floor, he explained.

    "A lot of elderly people get disoriented and lost easily, especially if they have to walk from place to place for services."

  7. #6637
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    Default Punggol: From pungent pig farms to hot new eco-town

    Published on Oct 18, 2012




    Punggol Point in 1986. Punggol Point was famous for its seafood, and people would travel there to tuck into seafood dishes in one of the three restaurants at the spot, amid the exhaust fumes from buses turning around at the end of the road. -- ST FILE PHOTO




    Punggol used to be home to pig farms but they were cleared out by 1989 as they were considered dirty and used too much land and water. -- ST FILE PHOTO



    By Melissa Lin


    Retired air force officer Y.C. Teo still remembers the days when his house used to stink. The 78-year-old has lived in a bungalow just off Old Punggol Road since the 1970s, when the area was populated by pig, chicken and fish farms.

    "It was a horrible place," he said. "On rainy days, there would be a great stench. Nobody wanted to take a second look at the place."

    These days, the farms are gone and Punggol is Singapore's hottest new estate. High-rise buildings have taken over the land that used to house the farms and their neighbouring attap- and zinc-roofed shophouses.

    Phase two of plans to transform Punggol into a waterfront town was unveiled by the Housing Board on Tuesday. Public consultation began yesterday at the HDB Hub and will end on Oct 28.

  8. #6638
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    Default Goodbye to Block 25 Owen Road as demolition beckons

    Building that houses Singapore's first post-war flats will be torn down

    Published on Oct 18, 2012




    Ms Mary Pereira, 70, returned the keys to her flat at Block 25 on Monday after living there for 65 years. The two-storey block was built after World War II. It is to be demolished from next month. -- PHOTO: MIKE LEE FOR THE STRAITS TIMES



    By Lim Yan Liang


    Singapore's first post-World War II flats will soon become another footnote in history. The squat, two-storey Block 25 Owen Road, built by the Housing Board's predecessor, the Singapore Improvement Trust, is slated to be demolished from next month.

    An HDB spokesman said the flats were "no longer offered for letting under the Public Rental Scheme". The last tenant, Ms Mary Pereira, returned her keys on Monday. "It's a building with so much history," said the 70-year-old. "I think it's a real pity they are demolishing it."

    Ms Pereira, whose last neighbour moved out in May, said there was a glimmer of hope that the shophouses would be conserved when the HDB re-roofed the entire block with curved, russet clay tiles in the mid-1990s.

    She recalled growing up in her two-bedroom flat with her brothers, and later raising her own family there. As well as old-style fixtures such as high ceilings and a spiral staircase linking the second floor to the street level at the back, her home of 65 years had a spacious attic that she transformed from a rat's nest of wires into a plywood-and-linoleum study and storage space.

  9. #6639
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    Default Matilda House gets new life as condominium clubhouse

    Published on Oct 18, 2012





    Today, Matilda House stands amid a busy worksite for Sim Lian condo project A Treasure Trove. It will be the development’s clubhouse, featuring a gym, function room and lounge. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM



    The sprawling building had six bedrooms, attached servants’ quarters and stables, and was set in orchards which had mangosteen, durian and rambutan trees. -- PHOTO: ST FILE, URA



    Matilda House in its former glory. It was built in 1902 and used as a weekend resort by the Cashin family. -- PHOTO: ST FILE, URA



    By Lim Yi Han



    Matilda House, the only remaining historical bungalow in Punggol, will get a new lease of life in 2015 as a condominium clubhouse. It had been left abandoned for more than two decades.

    The 417 sq m single-storey property opposite Punggol MRT station will house amenities such as a function room, a lounge and a gym for residents of A Treasure Trove condominium.

    Two years ago, property developer Sim Lian Group had clinched the condo site when it was put up for sale. The sale conditions included the need to retain and restore Matilda House according to conservation guidelines, and integrate it as part of the housing project.

    According to an earlier report, well-known lawyer Howard Cashin, who died in 2009, said the bungalow was built in 1902 by his father Alexander, the son of Mr Joseph Cashin.

  10. #6640
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    Default End-of-life care survey top wish: Being free from pain

    People also prefer to die at home than to prolong life for another year

    Published on Oct 18, 2012





    For one in five people surveyed, all above the age of 50, cost was the most important factor in determining their choice of end-of-life treatment. -- ST FILE PHOTO



    By Salma Khalik Health Correspondent



    A survey of more than 500 people here has found that they value being able to die at home more than an extra year of life. But right at the top of their list is being free from pain, the findings of a survey by the Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and Lien Centre for Palliative Care showed.

    They were willing to pay $24,000 a year to relieve severe pain, but only $9,100 to prolong life for another 12 months. In presenting the findings at a Lien Centre for Palliative Care conference on Wednesday, Dr Chetna Malhotra, an assistant professor at the centre, said what people value has implications on where government subsidies should go.

    She asked: "Does it make sense for the Government to pay for expensive therapies to extend life?"

    Based on the findings, she said "subsidies for end-of-life treatments may not be a good use of scarce resources". "Pain management is at least as critical as prospects for extending life when deciding treatment options."

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    Default Singapore's highest cultural honours for 14 artists

    Published on Oct 17, 2012




    Cultural Medallion awards ceremony at the Istana. Cultural Medallion recipients (front row from left): Thirunalan Sasitharan, Ho Ho Ying, Jennifer Tham, J.M. Sali and Milenko Prvacki. Young Artist Award recipients (back row from left): O Thiam Chin, Darren Ng, Brian Gothong Tan, Zhuo Zihao, Genevieve Chua, Zizi Azah Bte Abdul Majid, Liao Jiekai, Tan Wee Lit and Looi Wan Ping. -- ST PHOTO: NURIA LING


    By Corrie Tan


    In a ceremony at the Istana earlier this evening, 14 Singaporean artists were honoured for artistic excellence in their fields.

    President Tony Tan Keng Yam awarded the prestigious Cultural Medallion to five individuals: artist and critic Ho Ho Ying, 77; artist and educator Milenko Prvacki, 61; writer Jamaludeen Mohamed Sali, 73; theatre practitioner Thirunalan Sasitharan, 55; and conductor Jennifer Tham, 50.

    At the same ceremony, nine Young Artist Awards were also handed out by Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts. This is the most number of Young Artist Award recipients in a single year since the award's inception.

    These awards are given to those aged 35 or below, who have shown promise in artistic excellence.

  12. #6642
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    Default Let's talk about race

    Politicians at forum wonder if new approach needed to address multi-racialism


    by Neo Chai Chin
    04:46 AM Oct 18, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Given the string of incidents over the years where hurtful comments have been made about various races and religious communities here, should Singapore change the way it practises multi-racialism from an approach of seeing it as "a problem that needs to be managed", to one that celebrates the different races and cultures?

    The question was posed yesterday at a National University of Singapore forum on the Government's engagement of the public after last year's General Election.

    The forum featured People's Action Party Members of Parliament (MP), Edwin Tong and Indranee Rajah, and four Opposition politicians - Workers' Party (WP) Non-Constituency MP Yee Jenn Jong, Singapore Democratic Party member James Gomez, National Solidarity Party Secretary-General Hazel Poa and Reform Party Secretary-General Kenneth Jeyaretnam.

    In the latest incident, former NTUC employee Amy Cheong was sacked after she made disparaging remarks about Malay weddings held at void decks of HDB blocks.

    Could Singapore move towards multiculturalism that celebrates the different races and cultures, asked Mr Walid Jumblatt Abdullah, who is a tutor from the NUS Political Science Department.

    He noted that some politicians including former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew had made insensitive comments about Malay Muslims previously. Last year, Mr Lee was quoted as saying Muslims integrated less easily here than other communities in his book Lee Kuan Yew: Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going. He later issued a statement saying his call was "out of date" and that he stood corrected.

    While Mr Yee felt Singapore needs to take into account those who were not born here in its celebration of diversity, Ms Poa felt the current environment towards race and religion is "hypersensitive" and aggravated by the strong reactions provoked when certain boundaries are breached. She said the Amy Cheong incident could have been an opportunity for mature and calm discussions on different cultural practices.

    Mr Gomez said Singaporeans have their race and ethnicity reinforced through its display on their identity cards, the racial quota policy in public housing and ethnic self-help groups.

    Mr Jeyaretnam who agreed with Mr Walid, felt that Ms Cheong had been "in a sense made a scapegoat" - as "some of our leaders have said worse things in the past".

    He supported removing institutional biases or racism in the local system, including the removal of race from one's identity cards. But Ms Rajah noted that this would not remove racism, given how some attitudes need to change.

    Ms Rajah said the emphasis on racial harmony stems from the historical context of racial tensions in the 1960s. "It's not an easy thing to get over but in answer to your question of whether we will work towards multiculturalism, my answer is that's what we've been working towards from Day One. But it's just that the way society is, you'll inevitably have tensions that pull us apart. So it's a work-in-progress and you have to just keep on working at it."

    Other questions posed at the forum, attended by about 200 people, included how the Opposition would conduct the ongoing Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) project and how they would engage the young.

    Mr Yee clarified a media report on Sunday about his Party Chairman Sylvia Lim and Hougang MP Png Eng Huat being unable to attend an OSC dialogue session.

    Ms Lim and Mr Png were invited in their personal capacities, and not in their capacities as members of the WP, said Mr Yee.

    Ms Poa, who was also invited but unable to attend due to work commitments, said she hoped to reschedule a date to participate.

    She also suggested, among other things, that a Freedom of Information Act be in place in order for more open discussion. A quota could be put in place on the number of views that would be implemented from the conversation, suggested Ms Poa.





    Photo by ERNEST CHUA

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    Default First purpose-built hangar on campus

    04:46 AM Oct 18, 2012

    A new aerospace training facility opened yesterday at the Republic Polytechnic's campus, is the first purpose-built hangar at an institute of higher learning here.

    The hangar, which houses the polytechnic's newly acquired Learjet aircraft, will be used to enhance the school's teaching capabilities by equipping its aviation and aerospace students with in-depth and hands-on opportunities to study aircraft structures, systems and engines.

    To commemorate the opening of its new hangar, the polytechnic yesterday signed memoranda of understanding with three leading players in the aerospace and aviation industry - Diethelm-Keller Aviation, SATS and Hawker Pacific Asia. Photo Republic Poly




    PHOTO COURTESY REPUBLIC POLY

  14. #6644
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    Default Dolphins cleared for export

    Philippine court rejects application by rights groups to bar their move to Singapore


    by Ng Jing Yng
    04:46 AM Oct 18, 2012



    SINGAPORE - A Philippine court yesterday denied an application by environmental and animal rights groups to extend a temporary court order, which it had granted last week to prevent the export of 25 dolphins to the Marine Life Park at Singapore's Resorts World Sentosa (RWS).

    The court's decision clears the way for RWS to bring the dolphins here, amid protests by animal rights groups. An RWS spokesperson welcomed the decision and criticised the parties which initiated the court action for "perpetuating the same falsehoods that we had repeatedly made numerous clarifications and corrections to in the past". The groups intend to file an appeal later this week.

    The mammals, which were caught in waters off the Solomon Islands, are being kept and trained at Subic Bay, Philippines. Last Friday, the court had issued a 72-hour "temporary environmental protection order" on the grounds that the exportation will "result in grave and irreparable damage to the population of the dolphins from the Solomon Islands".

    Slated to lapse yesterday, the order was granted after 13 Philippines-based groups - including Earth Island Institute Philippines (EII-Phils) and the Philippine Animal Welfare Society - had banded together to file a civil suit against the Philippines' Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, the Department of Agriculture, and RWS.

    Yesterday, Quezon City court judge Evangeline Castillo-Marigomen rejected the application for an extension of the order, "as the petitioners have not proved any violation of law committed by the concerned government agencies", according to a media release that EII-Phils put up on its website.

    EII-Phils Regional Director for Asia-Pacific Trixie Concepcion said that scientific studies were produced in court during the hearing yesterday, arguing that the survival rates of the dolphins would be threatened after their capture. "(But) the judge did not consider this as evidence," she said.

    Ms Concepcion said the petitioners also took umbrage at comments by the judge when she likened the dolphins to "pets". Ms Concepcion said: "This is a very, very sad day for conservation, for all animals in general, because this may set a precedent where animals from unsustainable sources can be traded by the Philippines."

    In response to media queries, the RWS spokesperson said: "We are pleased that the court has decided to lift the temporary environment protection order. Our dolphins are doing well under the care of our team of experienced experts, and we look forward to welcoming them to Singapore".

    She added: "We regret that the group which initiated this court action had gone on various public platforms with inaccurate statements pertaining to our dolphins, perpetuating the same falsehoods that we had repeatedly made numerous clarifications and corrections to in the past."

    The spokesperson reiterated that the acquisition of the dolphins adheres to regulations governed by the United Nations Environment Programme under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Marine Life Park is also preparing for accreditation with international accreditation bodies on its standards of animal husbandry, veterinary care and facility, she added.

    In Singapore, the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES) has been campaigning against RWS' move to keep the dolphins in captivity. ACRES Chief Executive Louis Ng was disappointed at the Philippine court's latest decision. He said that the "fight is far from over" and that ACRES will soon launch the next phase of its campaign to "increase the pressure on RWS to respond positively to public concerns about the plight of the dolphins".

    Marine Life Park, scheduled to open by December, will house more than 100,000 marine animals. Dates to bring over the 25 dolphins have not been confirmed but according to the RWS spokesperson, the "dolphin interaction programmes" would begin next year.





    Environmental and animal rights groups, dismayed by the decision of a Philippine court to release the dolphins for export, intend to file an appeal later this week
    Last edited by Loh; 10-17-2012 at 09:30 PM.

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    Default Let's stop conflating wealth with worth

    by Teo You Yenn and Kamaludeen Mohamad Nasir
    04:45 AM Oct 18, 2012

    We can tell a lot about what people regard as right or wrong by their responses to transgressions. In the case of the Amy Cheong incident, it is interesting to note that the primary focus has been on her racial prejudices - while almost nothing has been said about her presumptions about class.

    Her presumption that one's right to marry depends on the amount of money one has is as troubling - if not more so - than her narrow presumptions and negative feelings toward Malays. The relative silence about the relationship she draws between money and marriage reveals our deeper common sense: One where wealth, worth and deservedness are tightly tethered.

    In The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, Max Weber argues that people born into modern capitalism are trapped in an "iron cage" - unable to decide their paths, and compelled to work hard, be frugal and accumulate wealth for its own sake rather than as a means to larger goals.

    He perhaps underestimated the degree to which the pursuit and accumulation of wealth can take on tremendous meaning and normative value, with disturbing consequences for human beings' sense of themselves and their regard for each other.



    THE VALUE OF BEING RICH



    In Singapore, the recent debates over social spending, education and meritocracy, and population and immigration have brought to the fore the need to narrow the gaps between the rich and the poor and to ensure social mobility. This seems to be the consensus, even if there is disagreement as to how these goals are to be achieved.

    What is less explicit, and where there might be lower degrees of consensus, pertains to how the state and society perceive the value of being wealthy. That discussion has not found a big place at the table of national conversations.

    We seem to have accepted too easily that what people can and cannot do in life - including when they can marry or how many children they can have - depends on whether they can afford it.

    It is apt for society to place this worldview under scrutiny. Two recent pieces of news add to the urgency of this.

    First, in the Wealth Report 2012, Singapore sits prettily at the top with the highest gross domestic product per capita - a situation that is expected to remain until 2050.

    Second, the Prime Minister revealed in his National Day Rally Speech that, by 2020, 40 per cent of every Singaporean cohort will comprise of graduates, a significant increase from the 27 per cent today.

    These achievements and targets come at a time when the Singapore Government acknowledges that we are experiencing a widening income gap. This intensifies the unequal starting point among the haves and the have-nots, harming the meritocratic ideals of our system.



    DANGEROUSLY NARROW BAR



    With increasing affluence and educational attainment among a significant proportion of society, what is traditionally considered status goods, such as the often talked about 5Cs in Singapore, is constantly being redefined.

    The bar for "success" is increasingly high and, yet, also dangerously narrow. We seem to have a situation where certain sections of society feel a sense of entitlement to various status goods.

    Significantly, their practices and values shape social norms that presume certain acts - whether spending on weddings or luxury goods - mark people as superior and of higher (human) worth (it is telling and problematic that rich people are now referred to as "high net worth individuals").

    Ms Amy Cheong's remarks should be read as being as much class snobbery as racial prejudice. Class snobbery concerns are not unique to Singapore: England's Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg recently warned that "class snobbery is holding Britain back by creating a society divided between those born with a sense of entitlement to succeed and others who are 'permanently excluded'."

    It is heartening to witness Singaporeans being comfortable enough to air difficult issues on race, but it would be unfortunate if important observations on social class divisions take a backseat.

    The Amy Cheong episode presents Singaporeans with an opportunity to openly debate the ethics of living in a generally affluent society that has widening inequality.

    How should we value wealth? How do we make sure citizens' rights to fulfilling and meaningful lives are not heavily dependent on their abilities to generate wealth? Given that no individual can become rich independent of what society provides, what are the social responsibilities of the haves towards the have-nots?

    In a quote attributed to Karl Marx, he mentioned that in examining social inequality, "the least advantaged are the eyes that matter when it comes to looking at justice". A truly national conversation will have to examine the category of "least advantaged" through multifarious lenses - whether race, age, gender or social class.

    It is time to talk about whether the positions and worldviews of the privileged should be a standard for the rest.



    Teo You Yenn and Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir are both assistant professors in the Division of Sociology at the Nanyang Technological University.





    BLOOMBERG
    Last edited by Loh; 10-17-2012 at 09:41 PM.

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    Default Safer, well-lit bus stops

    LTA to also install sensors, energy-saving LED lights on more overhead bridges

    by Sumita Sreedharan
    04:45 AM Oct 18, 2012



    SINGAPORE - Work is underway to ensure that physical infrastructure, such as bus stops and pedestrian overhead bridges, keeps pace with the improvements made to the public transport network here.

    The work, which will be conducted island wide, will include the installation of sensors that activate lights on pedestrian overhead bridges, the use of energy-saving LED lights along pedestrian underpasses and linkways, as well as more safety bollards being built at bus stops.

    All new overhead bridges are currently installed with sensors which switch off most of the lights after midnight when there are no pedestrians using them.

    The sensors will be gradually implemented to existing overhead bridges, said a Land Transport Authority (LTA) spokesperson.

    Under this system, a pedestrian's movement will trigger the sensors, located at the entry points of the overhead bridge, which will in turn activate the lights.

    Between midnight and 7am, only lights at the entrances and staircases will remain switched on for security reasons, while the rest will be turned off.

    More than 180 of the about 500 pedestrian overhead bridges here have thus far been fitted with the system.

    The LTA, however, said these sensors will not be extended to bus stops due to the constant movement around it, which frequently activates the light sensors and thus rendering them ineffective.

    "Bus shelters have to be well-lit at night to ensure safety and easy navigation by commuters. As there may still be commuters passing through the bus shelter after midnight, switching off the lights may pose a safety concern," added the LTA spokesperson.

    To ensure the safety of commuters, the LTA is also rolling out its installation of safety bollards at all bus stops. These barriers were first introduced in 1999 at selected bus stops, such as those located along roads with speed limits of 60kmh and above.

    The implementation started from the Central Business District and is currently being installed in residential areas in the heartlands.

    The use of these bollards will eventually be extended to bus stops in industrial areas as well. The LTA has installed 12,900 safety bollards as of Oct 1 at 2,960 bus stops.

    And in an effort to promote environmental sustainability in the transport network, the LTA has also begun to use LED lights in all new commuter facilities, such as pedestrian overhead bridges, pedestrian underpasses, linkways, bus shelters, and taxi stands.

    LED lights will also be installed at existing commuter facilities when the lighting is due for replacement.

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    Default Singapore bags Asia's top city attraction award

    Published on Oct 19, 2012





    Singapore on Thursday won awards for being Asia's top city attraction and the best meetings and conference destination at what is touted as the tourism industry's Oscars. -- ST PHOTO: YEN MENG JIIN



    By Walter Sim


    Singapore on Thursday won awards for being Asia's top city attraction and the best meetings and conference destination at what is touted as the tourism industry's Oscars.

    The Republic lost out in both these categories last year to Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok respectively at the World Travel Awards.

    "Winning awards is always a nice icing on the cake but at the end of the day, sometimes we win some, sometimes we don't," said Ms Jeannie Lim, executive director of conventions, meetings, exhibitions and conferences at the Singapore Tourism Board.

    "More important to us are the pillars we are building to sustain ourselves as a vibrant destination for the future."

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