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  1. #6733
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    Default S'pore-M'sia joint ventures working out well: Tharman

    04:46 AM Dec 05, 2012



    JOHOR BARU - Both Singapore and Malaysia are happy with joint ventures on both sides of the Causeway, and steps will be taken to improve connectivity, cross-border trade facilitation and immigration processes, according to Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

    Speaking after the World Islamic Economic Forum yesterday, Mr Tharman, who met Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak on the sidelines of the forum, said Mr Najib expressed interest in moving ahead with discussions concerning the proposed high-speed rail link between both countries.

    He added that Mr Najib was keen to see a joint launch of projects in Iskandar and Singapore in conjunction with the next annual bilateral meeting between the two Prime Ministers.

    "As PM Najib himself put it, at many different levels - politically, economically, it is a relationship that is working out well," Mr Tharman said, adding there has been "a sense of momentum" from the business community.

    "There will, over time, also be increasing pressures on our smaller and medium-sized businesses because of shortage of labour in Singapore and shortage of land. And increasingly, they will assess where best to base their operations, particularly those that require more labour and more land. And Malaysia is, of course, a very logical hop away, very easy in terms of operational flexibility and logistics," said Mr Tharman, who is also Finance Minister.

    While it is ultimately up to businesses to make their decisions, it is the job of governments to ensure connectivity is enhanced, he said. "On the Iskandar side, they themselves are taking security very seriously," he said.

    "They get feedback from the businesses and they are trying to raise security one whole level higher. So they are responsive. And the businessmen that you speak to are appreciating this responsiveness."

    On whether there was any progress on the high-speed train connecting Singapore and Malaysia, Mr Tharman said Malaysia has been doing studies and will present details soon.

    "It is clearly a very exciting vision, but technical details and the financial details will have to be studied, as well as the question of exactly what land corridors are required within Singapore itself," he said. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

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    Default Healthy Lifestyle Centre brings health professionals to heartlands

    Published on Dec 09, 2012
    5:35 PM

    A resident receiving his goodie bag at the launch of the Healthy Lifestyle Centre, located within the Hong Kah North Zone 6 Residents' Committee's premises. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG




    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...es/hlc309e.jpg
    Mr Rahman Ahmad, 68, gets his blood pressure checked at the launch of the Healthy Lifestyle Centre at Hong Kah North. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...es/hlc409e.jpg
    The Healthy Lifestyle Centre will provide customised health programmes and services to residents who have been identified to have a higher risk of chronic conditions. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...es/hlc509e.jpg
    Mdm Neo, 76, gets checked for carbon monoxide levels in her body as well as her lung capacity by a Health Promotion Board worker. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG



    By Jennani Durai

    Health professionals will now be at the doorstep of residents in the Hong Kah North neighbourhood, as Singapore's first Healthy Lifestyle Centre was launched on the morning of Dec 9.

    Located within the Hong Kah North Zone 6 Residents' Committee's premises, the centre will provide customised health programmes and services to residents who have been identified to have a higher risk of chronic

  3. #6735
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    Default Flats may get more elderly-friendly features

    HDB calls tender with possibilities such as monitoring system, automation and fingerprint door lock system

    by Ashley Chia
    04:45 AM Dec 10, 2012



    SINGAPORE - Under a proposed monitoring system, family members can be notified by Short Message Service (SMS) if panic buttons around their elderly relative's flat are activated, or when smoke is detected in the home.

    Automation could also feature in elderly-friendly homes, enabling seniors to control household appliances - such as air-conditioners, fans and lights - using a portable handheld device, an iPad or a Samsung Galaxy Tab, for instance. And in case keys are misplaced, a fingerprint door lock system storing a minimum of 10 fingerprints could be relied on to unlock apartment doors.

    These are some possibilities the Housing and Development Board (HDB) has listed on an eldercare home solution tender it put up on the Government's e-procurement website GeBIZ on Nov 22.

    In response to TODAY's queries, the HDB said one in five Singaporeans will be aged 65 or above by 2030. "Hence, it is increasingly apparent that new initiatives pertaining to assisted elderly living need to be considered in public housing to facilitate ageing-in-place," said a HDB spokesperson.

    Current elderly-friendly features in about 2,400 HDB studio apartments include pull cords connected to an alert alarm system manned by voluntary welfare organisations, wheelchair-accessible common toilets and lever handles for doors, among others.

    The HDB said the proposed eldercare home solution will be test-bedded at its Centre of Building Research to assess its reliability and suitability. "The collaborative test-bedding of the eldercare home solution is in the preliminary stage," said a HDB spokesperson. "More information will be shared when the assessment is completed."

    According to tender documents, the chosen supplier must maintain the systems for two years after the eldercare home solution has been commissioned and installed.


    Ms Angie Ng, Centre Manager of Joy Centre Neighbourhood Link, which serves elderly residents in Chong Pang, felt the proposed solution better suits ageing baby boomers rather than the current elderly as the latter group may not be as accustomed to the use of technology. "The elderly are very cautious of their use of electricity. I think they will be more receptive of these systems if they do not add to their electrical bills," she added.

    Mr Wee Lin, Chairman of the Sunlove Abode for Intellectually-Infirmed which runs eldercare services, felt that money spent developing the solution could be used on "more useful things" such as food, healthcare and education for the elderly.

    "Even if you have a good alert system, can you get enough volunteers to man it?," he wondered.

    To enhance the safety and comfort of elderly residents, the Enhancement for Active Seniors (EASE) programme was introduced by the Government in March. Under it, seniors can opt for subsidised improvements to their flats, such as slip-resistant treatment to floor tiles in the toilet and installation of grab bars and ramps to negotiate level differences in the flat.

    Besides the two pilot towns of Bukit Merah and Kallang/Whampoa, the EASE programme has been rolled out as additional optional improvements under the enhanced Home Improvement Programme (HIP), aimed at fixing problems in older flats, from July.

    The HDB will also consider direct EASE applications received from outside the two pilot towns on a case-by-case basis. As of last month, about 8,500 households have opted for HIP with the EASE programme, while another 400 were direct applications for EASE.





    The EASE programme helps seniors get subsidised improvements to their flats, such as the installation of grab bars. TODAY FILE PHOTO

  4. #6736
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    Default Singapore's chance, in an era of business as unusual

    by Malcolm Preston
    04:45 AM Dec 11, 2012

    The current economic conditions have been described by PricewaterhouseCoopers' (PwC) UK economic analysts as the "new normal". It's a period of high uncertainty, subdued growth and volatile commodity prices. Put climate change in the mix and it is business as unusual.

    If the findings of this year's Carbon Disclosure Project's (CDP) Global 500 report are anything to go by, we had better get used to it. Even if we took a positive outlook on economic growth, the implications of this year's report are that while growth might be good news for the economic environment, it is less encouraging for the physical one.

    Fewer than half of responding companies in this year's report show a decline in their emissions solely attributable to emission reductions activities. The economic slowdown led to staff reductions, closure of plants, offices and shops, reductions in output, manufacturing and business travel, not to mention corporate and consumer spending.

    So, while the recession has been good for carbon emissions, it is the right result for the wrong reasons.

    Companies are making short-term operational or efficiency investments to reduce emissions but are holding back on longer-term capital investments. Underlying technology, investment or strategy issues have yet to be addressed wholesale.

    Any economic recovery will be matched by a bounce-back in emissions as well and with it we are seeing the goal of limiting climate change to 2°C slipping further out of reach.

    In fact, as discussed in our Low Carbon Economy Index, we believe governments and business should start building 4°C and even 6°C scenarios into their forward planning.



    FAST-TRACK CLEAN TECH




    In fairness to business, companies are responding as best they can in the current legislative and regulatory environment.

    In their responses to CDP, 49 per cent of companies state that regulation is an important driver of corporate action.
    And regulatory uncertainty is a barrier to action. CEOs are rational people. They need investment-grade policies, at a national level, to get backing for the kind of game-changing low-carbon investments needed.

    This is where Singapore can play an important role in the global sustainability and climate change agenda.

    With the right policies and incentives, the upheaval thrown up by the current uncertain economic climate and regulatory environment might allow Singapore to fast-track its development of clean and renewable technologies in the areas of energy, food and water, by attracting even cleaner tech firms to set up their operations here.

    The Singapore Government has projected that by 2015, the clean energy industry could contribute S$1.7 billion to the nation's gross domestic product and create 7,000 jobs across a broad range of areas, including solar power, fuel cells, wind power, energy efficiency and carbon services.

    They have done a remarkable job of initiating a programme for attracting renewable energy and clean tech companies to base their operations here. But to achieve their ambition, they will need to continue this programme with an integrated mix of public and private initiatives including R&D support; policies to allow development and testing of more new technologies in Singapore; and financial incentives, to name a few.

    With the global population expected to hit eight billion by 2030, I expect the demand for expertise in clean tech and energy efficiency, particularly as climate and energy security issues escalate, to rise exponentially as nations struggle to provide their citizens with the basic needs of energy, water, sanitation and food. The issues extend well beyond clean and renewable energy.

    Singapore, compared to many other nations, has already set out its stall to be a leader in these sustainability issues. The opportunity that lies ahead for Singapore is to attract and nurture industries that will deliver high-value and specialised jobs across the range of clean-tech industries well into the foreseeable future. And in so doing, enable our global society to transform to a world of business as unusual.



    Solar panels on South-east Asia's first Zero Energy Building in Singapore, which produces enough energy to run itself. By 2015, the clean energy industry could contribute S$1.7 billion to the country's GDP. TODAY FILE PHOTO


    Malcolm Preston is the Global Head and UK leader of sustainability and climate change at PricewaterhouseCoopers. He was in Singapore as one of the speakers at the recent Bloomberg Businessweek Global Green Summit.

  5. #6737
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    Default Paddlers take surprise gold in women's doubles


    by Low Lin Fhoong
    04:45 AM Dec 10, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Paired together for the first time, Feng Tianwei and Yu Mengyu delivered a surprise gold for Singapore at the 2012 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Hangzhou yesterday.

    Originally excluded from the women's doubles line-up, the duo had found themselves in the US$1 million (S$1.20 million) tournament after the withdrawal of European champions Daniela Dodean and Elizabeta Samara of Romania.

    Up against second seeds Cheng I-Ching and Huang Yi-Hua of Taiwan in the gold medal match, it looked like all was lost for the eighth-seeded Feng and Yu after their rivals stormed to 13-11, 13-11 wins in the first two games of the best-of-seven final.

    But the Singapore pair rebounded to win the next three games 11-8, 11-4, 11-3 for a 3-2 lead.

    Cheng and Huang levelled matters at 3-3, but Feng and Yu took the deciding game 11-2 to claim the US$50,000 winners' cheque.

    On Saturday, Gao Ning and Li Hu took the men's doubles crown after they routed Japan's Seiya Kishikawa and Koki Niwa 4-0 in the final at Zhejiang Huanglong Sports Centre. LOW LIN FHOONG

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    Default STTA sets gold medal target for local born players at 2015 SEA Games

    By Patwant Singh | Posted: 11 December 2012 0034 hrs


    SINGAPORE: The Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) wants its local born players to win medals at the Olympics, and has set an interim target for them to win gold medals at the 2015 SEA Games.

    Singapore has relied on foreign born paddlers to deliver gold medals at the regional South East Asian Games since the mid-nineties.

    However STTA is now looking to the sport's long term development and wants its local players to step up.

    "We would like to see them play in the 2013 SEA Games. By the 2015 SEA Games when it is held in Singapore, we would like to see them getting the gold medals. So as to prepare them for the Olympics, our ultimate aim is to see them featured in the Olympics and get medals for Singapore," said President of STTA Dr Lee Bee Wah.

    That aim seems to be on track.

    Local talent Pang Xue Jie partnered China-born Ma Liang to win an unexpected gold medal in the men's doubles at the 2011 SEA Games.

    Now STTA is hoping to replicate that regional success with young players like Clarence Chew and Isablle Li.

    17-year-old Chew broke into the national team just a year ago and he's game for the gold challenge.

    "For the past few months I have been training full time with the national team and hopefully next year, I can get to go for more overseas competitions for more exposure and experience," he said.

    The Sports School student is not ruling out the possibility of training full time to enhance his medal prospects closer to the 2015 SEA Games.

    STTA says that besides the current crop of youngsters, it has also identified a few more young local born players who have the potential to represent the national team.


    That is because of a comprehensive youth development programme put in place to identify players as young as 5 years old.

    - CNA/jc

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    Default S'pore students score high marks in international tests

    Two global studies released amid debate on how much emphasis to place on academics


    by Ng Jing Yng
    04:46 AM Dec 12, 2012



    SINGAPORE - Amid the ongoing debate about the education system here, two international studies released yesterday ranked Singaporean students highly for their ability in reading, science and mathematics.

    While observers noted that the results show that Singapore's education system "must be doing something right", as National University of Singapore sociologist Tan Ern Ser put it, they reiterated the need to move away from an emphasis on academic success.

    Mountbatten Member of Parliament Lim Biow Chuan
    , who chairs the Government Parliamentary Committee for Education, said: "The studies showed that we are doing well, the system does work and we shouldn't veer away from the current system just because of the fear of stress. However, mindsets must be changed from looking at academic performance as the only measure of success … and there also many different pathways to succeed."

    The Ministry of Education's Director-General of Education Ho Peng
    said as much: "Going forward, we would want to pay greater attention to the acquisition of 21st century competencies, as well as strengthening character and citizenship education. These are important for the future. However, we would not want to lose the academic rigour we currently have in our education system."

    While Mr Lim felt that factors such as the rising education levels of parents and tuition classes could have contributed to the overall academic improvement, the Ministry of Education said that among other things, the results affirmed its effort to create room for self-inquiry skills over the years. For example, while the study found that Primary 4 science students did not fare as well in the "Knowing" category as before, they made up for it in the "Applying" and "Reasoning" categories - mean scores in the "Reasoning" component saw an increase of more than 20 points.

    The 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) showed that Singapore's education system has helped students across all abilities do better.

    PIRLS, which assesses literacy of 10-year-olds, found that the percentage of weaker students has fallen to 13 per cent from 24 per cent in 2001.

    TIMSS, which evaluates students' application and knowledge of science and maths, found that the number of Secondary 2 students who achieved the "Advanced" benchmark has risen to 40 per cent - an 8 per cent increase from 2007.


    Both TIMSS and PIRLS were administered by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, and they are in the fifth cycle and third cycle, respectively.

    Singapore has taken part in all editions of the studies. This time round, 6,500 Primary 4 pupils took part in TIMSS and PIRLS while 6,000 Secondary 2 pupils participated in TIMSS. Internationally, more than 50 countries were involved.

    Singapore led the pack for Primary 4 maths and Secondary 2 science, ahead of countries like South Korea and Finland. For reading abilities among 10-year-olds, Singapore was ranked fourth after Hong Kong, Russia and Finland. It took first place among all countries who took the test in English Language.

    In each level and subject, Singapore had among the highest proportions of very highly-competent students compared to other education systems. For example, more than two-fifths of Singapore's Pri 4 students were very highly competent in Mathematics, a third in Science, and a quarter in Reading.

    Almost half of Singapore's Secondary 2 students were very highly competent in Mathematics and 40 per cent were very highly competent in Science. Singapore also had a higher number of students in the top performing students categories in most of the subjects across all age groups. In science, for example, the proportion of Primary 4 pupils who attained the "Advanced" benchmark was 33 per cent, compared to 29 per cent in South Korea.

    The MOE said: "Unlike some other education systems, even as we helped to raise the performance of academically-weaker students, we have at the same time improved the outcomes for academically-stronger students."

    It added that initiatives such as learning support programmes in schools have helped to level up weaker-ability students.









    The Straits Times

    Singapore students shine in international benchmarking tests


    Published on Dec 11, 2012
    5:02 PM





    Singapore students remain world beaters in mathematics, science and reading, according to the results of two international benchmarking studies released on Tuesday with youngsters across the academic streams chalking up higher scores than their predecessors. -- ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH



    By Sandra Davie


    Singapore students remain world beaters in mathematics, science and reading, according to the results of two international benchmarking studies released on Tuesday with youngsters across the academic streams chalking up higher scores than their predecessors.

    More significantly, the two tests indicate that the move by the Education Ministry to cut academic content to create space for schools to develop critical thinking is paying off. MOE said the detailed test scores indicate that Singapore students are moving away from rote learning to applying higher order thinking skills.

    In the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) Singapore's 10-year-olds in Primary 4 achieved the highest mean score of 606 in mathematics, beating South Korea and Hong Kong and the second highest score in science, behind South Korea .

    Secondary 2 students who took the test were ranked No. 2 in maths and No. 1 in science.



  8. #6740
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    Default Singapore the city of choice for Asia's 'mobile millionaires'

    Updated 09:01 AM Dec 12, 2012

    HONG KONG - Singapore topped Hong Kong as the most desired place in Asia for so-called mobile millionaires to reside, with quality of life cited as the main attraction, a RBC Wealth Management survey showed.

    Almost a third of the millionaires in Asia who live, work or spend more than half their time outside their countries of origin prefer Singapore, while 24 per cent pick Hong Kong, the second most popular in the region, RBC and the Economist Intelligence Unit said in a research report on Monday.

    Real estate led the list of preferred assets for the internationally mobile wealthy, according to the survey, which showed that 23 per cent of those in Singapore reporting a "high propensity" for property investment, compared with 7 per cent in North America.

    Mr Eduardo Saverin, the co-founder of Facebook, moved to Singapore in 2009, two years after investor Jim Rogers, Chairman of Rogers Holdings, relocated to the Republic.

    "Singapore always has this quality as a safe haven, not just for your money but also for your family," said Mr Wai Ho Leong, a senior regional economist at Barclays in Singapore.

    For mobile millionaires who moved to Singapore, 89 per cent ranked quality of life as important and 83 per cent cited the country's political stability as important, the survey showed.

    Infrastructure and educational opportunity were also given as reasons to live there.

    Singapore posted a 14-per-cent increase in millionaire households to 188,000 last year, when the Asia-Pacific region countered a decline in wealth in Western Europe and the US, according to a Boston Consulting Group report published on May 31.

    The proportion of millionaire homes in the Republic was 17 per cent, the highest in the world, followed by Qatar and Kuwait, according to Boston Consulting Group.

    "High-net-worth individuals with global outlooks for their businesses and families are choosing Singapore to live and invest in," said Mr Barend Janssens, the Singapore-based head of RBC's wealth-management unit for emerging markets.

    Hong Kong is the best place to do business, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The city of about 7 million people secured the top position in an index based on six criteria, including the degree of economic integration and labour costs.

    Singapore ranked ninth in the index published in March by Bloomberg Rankings. BLOOMBERG





    TODAY file photo

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    Default A garden for all

    04:46 AM Dec 12, 2012

    Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan at the Gardens by the Bay with children from the Down Syndrome Association Singapore after launching the Gift of Gardens yesterday.

    The Gift of Gardens is a community outreach programme which gives disadvantaged children, youth, families and the elderly the opportunity to enjoy the Gardens through specially tailored visits. It aims to reach out to 1,000 beneficiaries. Photo OOI BOON KEONG





    Photo by OOI BOON KEONG

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    Default Half of survey respondents had thought of divorce

    by Desiree Tay
    04:46 AM Dec 12, 2012



    SINGAPORE - About half the respondents in a survey of married individuals here have considered divorce at some point.

    While the finding appears startling, amid rising divorce rates over the past decade, counsellors and observers noted that it reflected reality as people become more open to acknowledging and talking about marriage problems. At the same time, it underlined the resilience of marriages here given that the respondents did not eventually go down that path, they said.

    The survey, which involved 408 married individuals in total, was commissioned by Marriage Central - a work group under the National Family Council - and conducted by the Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

    It was part of a study that aimed to find out "resilience factors that can mitigate marriage crises, as well as acceptance towards the use of social service interventions for marital problems", according to Marriage Central.

    IPS research fellow Mathew Mathews, who led the study, noted the survey's small sample size and said it was not meant to be representative of the state of marriages here.

    Between February and May, in-depth interviews were conducted on 85 couples and 15 spouses. The researchers found from these that a "good proportion" of this group had contemplated divorce at some point during marriage. This prompted them to conduct a self-administered survey with 108 of the initial respondents, as well as another 300 married persons - from various ages, racial and religious backgrounds - via door-to-door visits.

    The result: Almost 52 per cent of the total number of married persons surveyed had considered divorce at some point.

    According to the study, common marital stressors were interference by in-laws, sexual impropriety and infidelity, communication and personality difficulties as well as misaligned priorities and different aspirations.

    Marriage Central Chairperson Anita Fam said: "The findings from this study, especially the stories of couples who went through very challenging periods but persisted in working on their marriages, show that there is hope for troubled marriages."

    Ms Celine Edmund, a marriage counsellor at Singapore Counselling Centre, said she was not surprised at the findings.

    "All these marriage problems have been ongoing for a long time - only (the subject) has always been a taboo," she said. "It is coming to the surface because people are more willing to talk about it now."

    Nevertheless, she said that "more people still need to know that there is nothing wrong with seeking marriage counselling
    ".

    Jalan Besar GRC Member of Parliament Lily Neo, who sits on the Government Parliamentary Committee for Social and Family Development, said she was initially surprised by the survey findings but pointed out that, "despite considerations of divorce, these marriages stayed committed and resilient".

    Among other things, the study found that family, friends and religious advisors are often primary informal sources of help that couples reach out to when faced with marital issues. It also found that couples opt for counselling too late into their conflict "which makes progress through counselling difficult".

    It recommended that training opportunities be made available for family and friends of couples whose marriages are on the rocks. One complimentary post-marriage counselling session should also be included in marriage preparatory packages, the study suggested.

    Ms Edmund felt that the cost of counselling - which can go up to more than S$100 per hour at private counselling centres - could deter couples from seeking help.

    But Ms Chong Cheh Hoon, who heads the Family Education and Promotion Division at the Ministry of Social and Family Development, pointed out that voluntary welfare organisations (VWOs) offer counselling services at affordable rates.

    The fees are even waived at some VWOs, depending on the couples' monthly household income, she said.

    Ms Chong noted that the imposition of a fee helps to ensure that the couples are committed to undergo counselling.

    Compared to a decade ago, the general divorce rates last year were significantly higher.

    The rate for males rose from 6.3 in 2001 to 7.6 last year, while that for females climbed from 6.4 in 2001 to 7.2 last year.

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    Default EM3 boy makes it, and he's only 25

    Despite his 'difficult academic start', Adler Poh's Chinatown hostel is already earning rave reviews online


    by Neo Chai Chin
    04:46 AM Dec 13, 2012

    chaichin@mediacorp.com.sg



    SINGAPORE - Studying was not a priority for Mr Adler Poh in his younger days. But despite what he calls a "difficult academic start" through the EM3 stream in primary school and the Normal (Technical) stream in secondary school, he did not let less-than-encouraging reactions of relatives and others get him down.

    Instead, he revelled in the non-academic opportunities offered at Anglo-Chinese School (Barker Road) - being a prefect and participating in drama and swimming - before going on to pursue his interest in Hospitality and Tourism Management at Temasek Polytechnic.


    And now, at the age of 25, he has added a new feather to his cap: Setting up a 32-bed hostel in Chinatown with start-up capital loaned from his parents.

    Mr Poh said he was inspired by a month-long backpacking trip to Europe after graduating from polytechnic in 2009, but had to put his business plan on hold to do National Service.

    His parents thought his enthusiasm would not last - until he drew up a business plan to exploit what he felt to be the gap here in hostels with a touch of luxury.

    He initially thought S$300,000 would be sufficient to get the three-storey shophouse space in South Bridge Road set up. But fire safety and conservation-building requirements jacked costs up to S$500,000, and Mr Poh said he nearly gave up.

    "I felt we were investing too much," he said. But his father, flight-steward-turned-property-investor Alex Poh, 59, urged him to see the project through.

    Adler Hostel opened one month ago and has welcomed 600 guests from abroad so far. Rates are S$60 per night, with discounts for booking early and a longer stay.

    Mr Poh said he created an environment that he himself would have wanted when travelling - custom-built cabin beds, security lockers within each cabin, and privacy afforded with a draw of the curtain.

    It cane at a price, said he got little sleep in the first fortnight, rolling up his sleeves to wash the toilets and change the sheets before a housekeeper and part-time staff were hired.

    But the response from guests has been encouraging - one Taiwanese tourist initially found the hostel pricey and booked a single night there, only to stay for another three nights, he said. Seven in eight reviews currently on TripAdvisor have rated it "excellent".

    Mr Poh intends to repay his parents the loan, with interest and a cut of the profits, in five years.

    "I've never seen myself as a Normal (Technical) student," he said. "Dream big, and don't let anyone hold you down."


























    photo don wong

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    Default Rediffusion gets new home, seeks fresh talent

    by Han Wei Chou
    04:46 AM Dec 13, 2012



    SINGAPORE - Rediffusion, which was saved from closure in April by Mdm Eva Chang Mei Hsiang, a former radio DJ, is now on the hunt for talent.

    Unveiling Rediffusion's new premises at the Tee Yih Jia Food Building along Burn Road yesterday, Mdm Chang said the radio service will hold "The Host of Rediffusion Global Search" from Dec 18, where winners will be groomed by the company to become Rediffusion hosts.

    Unlike other talent searches, this talent search costs nothing to join.

    All an applicant needs to do is to send in an audition video clip to its official website, said Mdm Chang.

    "There is no application fee. Applicants who are selected will also receive free training," she said.

    "We are really sincere about finding the next Rediffusion host," said Mdm Chang, adding that the talent search is open to everyone, regardless of age, looks, nationality or ethnicity.

    "We are looking at just one thing - personality."

    The former radio icon bought the rights to the Rediffusion brand in Singapore, its content archives, and its equipment in April earlier this year.

    Mdm Chang also revealed that she planned to make Rediffusion a "multi-platform media company" instead of just a radio station.

    Once the talent search is concluded, Rediffussion plans to create a digital platform called Rediffusion Classic.

    The platform will allow the public to listen to digitised recordings of archived Rediffusion programmes, possibly through mobile phone apps sometime in February next year.

    With a floor area of about 10,000 sq ft, Rediffusion's new home contains three radio studios, an activity area, offices and an archive room, where recordings of past Rediffusion radio programmes are stored.

    "Having a new home puts everyone's minds at ease and makes them more focused," said Mdm Chang. "When we try to attract talent, this facility also shows our commitment, and lets people know we are not playing around."


    She declined to reveal how the cost of Rediffusion's new home, only saying that it was "a lot of money".

  13. #6745
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    Default Singapore, EU successfully conclude FTA talks

    Published on Dec 16, 2012





    Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Lim Hng Kiang and the European Union (EU) Trade Commissioner Mr Karel de Gucht at the successful conclusion of the EU-Singapore Free Trade Agreement negotiations in Singapore on 16 December 2012. -- PHOTO: MTI



    By Alvin Foo


    SINGAPORE has successfully concluded talks on a landmark free trade agreement (FTA) with the European Union (EU) today, a deal which will offer companies from both parties better access to each other's markets.

    The Republic is the first country in South-east Asia to clinch an FTA with the EU.

    The agreement will see the EU eliminating tariffs on all imports from Singapore over five years. A total of 80 per cent of tariff lines will be covered upon entry into force of the agreement.

    Singapore exporters of electronics, pharmaceuticals, chemicals and processed food products in particular will benefit from the removal of the EU's tariffs. Singapore will grant immediate duty-free access for all imports from the EU.

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    Default L'Oréal opens advanced research centre in Biopolis

    Published on Dec 17, 2012
    1:38 PM



    French cosmetics giant L'Oréal Group has opened an advanced research centre in A*star's Institute of Medical Biology (IMB) to leverage on the world-class research environment in Biopolis and Singapore.

    IMB's expertise in skin biology research, together with the ethnically diverse population in Singapore, complements L'Oréal's interest in understanding human skin diversity, L'Oréal and A*star said a joint press release issued on Monday.

    The advanced research centre currently houses eight scientists. The project follows encouraging results from IMB's first partnership with L'Oréal in 2010, which aimed to reconstruct Asian skin from cultured cells.

    Said Stéphane Ortiz, head of L'Oréal's Asia R&I: "We are more than happy with the results we are getting with IMB and thanks to the local scientific and technological expertise in Singapore, we have extended our range and network of collaborations and widened the new centre's field of research to "Skin biology"."

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    Default Yale-NUS College starts third round of admissions for 2012

    Published on Dec 17, 2012
    11:49 AM




    Artist's impression of the Yale-NUS College which will be built in Clementi Road. -- PHOTO : YALE-NUS COLLEGE



    Yale-NUS College has opened its next round of admissions after receiving close to 2,600 applications from two earlier rounds this year.

    Applications came from students across 72 nationalities.

    The admissions committee admitted 96 students in May, of which more than 60 have accepted a place at the College, Yale-NUS College said in a statement on Monday.

    Another 65 students were offered a place in December, and they have until May 1 next year to reply with their decisions.

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    Default Singapore takes No. 2 spot for best taxi services in travel survey

    Published on Dec 14, 2012
    3:43 PM




    Taxi queue at Singapore's Changi Airport Terminal 1 on July 11, 2012. Singapore came in second for best taxi services, cleanest streets, and safest streets, in a survey conducted by travel site TripAdvisor. -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM




    By Pearl Lee


    Singapore came in second for best taxi services, cleanest streets, and safest streets, in a survey conducted by travel site TripAdvisor.

    The Cities Survey by TripAdvisor looks at how travellers and locals view 40 key tourist cities in various categories, including best public transport, friendliest people, and friendliest taxi drivers.

    The 40 cities were compiled by World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) in 2010, based on countries which receive the largest number of international visitor arrivals.

    The online pop-up survey collected more than 75,000 responses, from people who had recently written reviews on the TripAdvisor site on the featured cities, such as Tokyo, Zurich, and Dubai.

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    Default Baby shark born at Underwater World

    The Straits Times
    Published on Dec 20, 2012
    5:30 AM




    Undated file photo of a pair of white tip reef sharks ignoring the feeding frenzy that is going on above them. Underwater World Singapore (UWS) is proud to welcome its latest arrival of a baby White Tip Shark. -- ST PHOTO: ALPHONSO CHAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...watrwrld4e.jpg
    Visitors to Underwater World Singapore (UWS) taking a photo of a diver dressed as Santa Claus during a feeding session where rays, sharks and schools of reef fishes are fed. Underwater World Singapore (UWS) is proud to welcome its latest arrival of a baby White Tip Shark. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...watrwrld3e.jpg
    Visitors to Underwater World Singapore (UWS) taking a photo of diver Loh Hsu Fern dressed as Santa Claus during a feeding session where rays, sharks and schools of reef fishes are fed. Underwater World Singapore (UWS) is proud to welcome its latest arrival of a baby White Tip Shark. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...watrwrld2e.jpg
    Underwater World Singapore (UWS) diver Adeline Yeo handling a 50cm baby white tip reef shark in a holding tank at UWS. The shark was discovered by Adeline on the 11th of December while vacuming the Reef Colony Section of the Tunnel. The 9 day-old female shark was named Sharline, a combination of the word shark and name Adeline, the diver who discovered her. Sharline does not mind being handled by Adeline and was unafraid of visitors taking photos of it when it was first discovered. She will be on display at the rocky pool from the 19th to the 31st of December before being brought back to quarantine until she reaches maturity and will then be released in the Reef Colony. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN



    Underwater World Singapore (UWS) is proud to welcome its latest arrival of a baby White Tip Shark.

    The shark was discovered when one of their divers, Ms Adeline, was vacuuming the reef tank on Tue, Dec 11, 2012. She was vacuuming the area near to the acrylic and was astonished to see a newborn white-tip, whose length is as long as her arm approximately 50cm.

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