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  1. #6767
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    Default Higher cash payout for elderly households

    Schemes tweaked so seniors have to put less proceeds from sales of HDB flats and leases into CPF accounts


    by Neo Chai Chin
    04:46 AM Dec 28, 2012

    SINGAPORE - Two schemes aimed at enabling senior citizens to monetise their flats have been made more attractive following public feedback.

    With the makeover announced yesterday and to be implemented from Feb 1, the Silver Housing Bonus and Lease Buyback Scheme will now offer more enticing cash components, even as they require participants to shore up Central Provident Fund (CPF) retirement savings.

    The changes were prompted by public feedback, conducted in recent months via focus group discussions and briefings with grassroots leaders, and which included suggestions to lower the CPF top-up requirements.

    National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan yesterday said the authorities believe more Singaporeans will now take advantage of the schemes with a better balance between improving retirement adequacy and allowing for "adequate cash proceeds", but analysts do not expect sharp increases in take-up rates.

    The Silver Housing Bonus, first announced in February by Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam, rewards elderly Singaporeans who put mandated sums into their CPF Retirement Accounts after downsizing from a larger flat to a smaller one.

    Among other tweaks, the required sum from sales proceeds used to top up CPF accounts is now lower at S$60,000, and the bonus of S$20,000 for doing so will be given fully in cash (previously, S$5,000 would be used for CPF top-up).

    The Lease Buyback Scheme was launched in 2009, with 466 households - about 2 per cent of those eligible - taking it up since. Open to lower-income households in three-room or smaller flats, the scheme entails owners selling the tail-end of their leases back to the Housing and Development Board (HDB). But observers have previously noted limitations such as the lack of a get-out option, the wish of some elderly to leave their homes to their descendants, as well as the fear of outliving the 30 years' lease they are left with.

    From February, the scheme's criteria will be relaxed to allow ex-private property owners, households that have enjoyed more than one housing subsidy and those with over S$5,000 outstanding loan to qualify.

    Net proceeds from selling a portion of the leases will be used to top up CPF Retirement Accounts to the prevailing Minimum Sums, with a higher sum that households could potentially keep in cash.

    To increase outreach and awareness of the schemes, the HDB will be mailing out brochures in four languages which will be ready by March.

    The MND will brief grassroots leaders and produce a video to be broadcast at locations such as polyclinics.

    From today, the public may also call the toll-free hotline 1800 555 6363 from 8am to 5pm on weekdays to find out more.

    Financial counsellors will be stationed at HDB branch offices from next February to counsel elderly applicants, who will be encouraged to have a younger relative present.

    Senior citizens told TODAY that the schemes could unlock some value in their homes. Signboard company employee Hoy Siew Mun, 76, lives alone in a three-room Commonwealth Drive flat and is keen on the Lease Buyback Scheme. Mr Hoy said his expenses sometimes exceed his wages of about S$1,000 per month, but wants to remain in his home of over 40 years. Selling part of his remaining lease would allow more cash in hand, he said.

    Logistics supervisor Indarani, 56, said she and her retired husband would like to downsize to a three-room flat from their five-room flat in Bukit Batok in the next few years. Two of her three children are abroad and another is marrying and moving out soon. "My income may not be enough because of the rising cost of living," said Ms Indarani, who takes home about S$1,800 per month.

    Property consultancy SLP International's research head Nicholas Mak said the Silver Housing Bonus would appeal to those who are down sizing and do not need as much cash in hand from the sale of their larger flats, but would not attract those confident of managing their own investments.


    Mr Mak felt the Silver Housing Bonus was more appealing than the Lease Buyback Scheme, given the fear among some that they would outlive their homes' reduced leases and the desire of others to pass an asset on to their descendants.

    ERA Realty Network's Key Executive Officer Eugene Lim said sentimentality could prevent some seniors from taking up the Silver Housing Bonus.

    But more flats could be released into the resale market if more owners of larger flats take up the scheme, he said.

    If one in five eligible households in four-room and larger flats take up the scheme, 47,440 of such flats could potentially be up for resale
    , Mr Lim projected. This would help stabilise resale prices and cash over valuation levels, he added.






    Mr Hoy Siew Mun in his three-room Commonwealth Drive flat. He is keen on the Enhanced Lease Buyback Scheme. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong

  2. #6768
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default Photo gallery: City Plaza is biggest fashion wholesale mall in Singapore

    The Straits Times

    Published on Dec 28, 2012
    5:30 AM




    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...lcity2712e.jpg
    Shop-owner Helen Chua, in her 60s, has been at City Plaza for more than 10 years. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...city22712e.jpg
    Shop-owner Richard Loh, 57, met his wife Elaine Tan, 51, at City Plaza when both of them were working there. They now have their own shop selling shoes and their son, Edwin Loh, 26, helps with the business.-- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...city32712e.jpg
    Jasmine Lim, 28, sews sequins onto dresses in her shop at City Plaza. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...city72712e.jpg
    Jasmine Lim, 28, with dresses that she designs and decorates at her shop in City Plaza. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...city42712e.jpg
    Shop-owners unpack new stock that arrives on a Monday. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...city52712e.jpg
    Shoppers check out shoes on display as a shopkeeper rushes by, on Dec 24, 2012. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...city62712e.jpg
    Fashion wholesale centre at City Plaza. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...city82712e.jpg
    Fashion wholesale centre at City Plaza. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...city92712e.jpg
    Shoppers at City Plaza on Dec 24, 2012. -- ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG


    It is about 1pm on a Monday afternoon at a shopping mall. Shop owners are sitting on the cement floors of their shops, unpacking plastic-wrapped clothes from cardboard boxes and laying them into piles on the floor. Plastic bags filled with clothes are stacked atop one another.

    While this is unseen at most shopping malls, it is an everyday affair at City Plaza.

    Standing between Guillemard Road and Tanjong Katong Road, the mall has gained a reputation since the late nineties for being the biggest fashion wholesale mall in Singapore. Within the mall are mainly shops selling women’s clothings.

  3. #6769
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    Default World's top paddlers could do battle here

    STTA to submit bid to host 2014 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals at Sports Hub


    by Low Lin Fhoong
    04:46 AM Dec 29, 2012



    SINGAPORE - The most prestigious tournament of the International Table Tennis Federation's World Tour series could be staged in Singapore at the Sports Hub in two years' time, if the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) has its way.

    This is just one of several ambitious plans the STTA has made for the next few years as it seeks to take the sport to new heights following the women's national team's capture of a historic two bronze medals (singles and team) at the London Olympics.

    In an interview with TODAY, STTA President Lee Bee Wah revealed that the national body will be submitting a bid to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), the world body, to host the 2014 edition of the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, and will hold the competition at the 3,000-seater multi-purpose indoor arena at the S$1.33 billion Sports Hub in Kallang - which opens in April 2014 - if its bid is successful.

    Said Lee: "We cannot bid for events that are too big like the World Championships. We have done the Women's World Cup and the next one is this … we feel it is a good tournament for 2014, and that is subject to funding from the Singapore Sports Council (SSC). It will cost us more than S$1 million to organise this. If Singapore wants to host it, the ITTF is willing to support (our bid)."

    According to her, the STTA is currently in discussions with the SSC about the bid.

    Held in Hangzhou, China, this year, the season-ending tournament is an invitation-only event that features the top players in the world competing in the men's and women's singles and doubles.

    Regarded as the most prestigious stop on the ITTF World Tour, the event boasts the biggest prize purse of US$1.016 million (S$1.24 million), and past champions include world No 6 Singaporean Feng Tianwei (women's singles, 2010), China's Liu Shiwen and Ma Long.

    Hosting the World Tour Finals aside, the STTA will also be overseeing the construction of a new S$12 million mega training centre near its current headquarters at Toa Payoh in 2015.

    Modelled after training hubs in Germany and Taiwan, the proposed five-storey building will house a training hall, offices, hostel, facilities for sports medicine and sports science services and a clinic.

    This will be part of the Toa Payoh mini-hub redevelopment plan that will include the stadium, swimming pool and neighbouring park, and work is expected to begin only after the SEA Games in 2015. TODAY understands that the National Parks Board and SSC are working together on the project, with the SSC footing the cost of the STTA's new centre.

    Work for the next four-year Olympic cycle also begins for the national sports association, as the STTA looks to rebuild the national women's team after the retirements of senior players Li Jiawei, Wang Yuegu and Sun Beibei.

    While the association received over S$1.5 million in funding from the SSC for FY2012/13 - which accounts for just 50 per cent of the requested funds - Lee has been hard at work roping in corporate sponsors to help fund the players' overseas competitions, training camps, and the STTA's youth development programmes.

    And even though the STTA have banked some S$3.75 million from sponsorship deals in the last two years, the money is never enough.

    Said Lee: "We have been very successful, but there is a lot of room for improvement. A lot of people think the STTA is very rich, but our expenses are very high with players training overseas, and we also have 60 to 70 staff and coaches for our PCF (PAP-Community Foundation) programme and zone training centres. The biggest worry for me is always money … I have to take every opportunity to chase after every sponsor."




    Top players such as China's Ding Ning (left) and Li Xiaoxia could feature at Singapore's Sports Hub in 2014. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

  4. #6770
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    Default Lee's London high and low


    by Low Lin Fhoong
    04:46 AM Dec 29, 2012

    SINGAPORE - There were highs aplenty for Singapore table tennis in 2012.

    But the women's team's shock 3-0 loss to Japan in the semi-final of the London Olympics, which saw them miss out on the silver medal, remains seared in the memory of Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) President Lee Bee Wah.


    The trio of Feng Tianwei, Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu eventually bounced back to claim the bronze after an emphatic 3-0 victory over a determined South Korea.

    "If winning the bronze medal was the high point, our loss to Japan was the lowest point for me. Looking at how demoralised the players were after losing to Japan, I felt I needed to help them rebuild their confidence," said Lee, who comforted the players after their defeat.

    "We decided to change the strategy for the bronze medal match. We told the players that everyone had to win a point and I'm very glad they bounced back within such a short time to dispense South Korea in style."

    The London Games also provided the highs for Lee, who took extra joy in celebrating Feng's historic bronze medal in the women's singles. Feng's 4-0 drubbing of Ishikawa Kasumi saw the 26-year-old winning the nation's first individual Olympic medal since weightlifter Tan Howe Liang's silver in the men's lightweight category at the 1960 Games in Rome.

    "We had a few historic achievements in 2012: Two bronze medals in London, the men's doubles winning gold at the Asian Championships and the men's team finishing in the top eight at the Olympics," said Lee.

    "But the most memorable was Tianwei's match against Ishikawa. She performed beyond expectations and it was a historic achievement for Singapore." LOW LIN FHOONG





    STTA president Lee Bee Wah (centre) was on hand to console paddlers Wang Yuegu (left) and Feng Tianwei after their semi-final loss to Japan. Photo: Tan Yo-Hinn

  5. #6771
    Regular Member Loh's Avatar
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    Default 800,000 HDB households to receive S$90m worth of U-Save vouchers

    Posted: 31 December 2012 1101 hrs



    SINGAPORE: About 800,000 Singaporean HDB households can expect to receive S$90 million worth of GST Voucher - Utilities-Save (U-Save) rebates in January 2013.

    An eligible Singaporean household can receive one U-Save voucher of up to S$130 depending on their HDB flat type.

    There is no sign-up required for the rebates, and utilities charges of households will be offset directly.

    The voucher is paid out in January and July each year.

    Those living in one to two-room HDB flats can offset about three to four months of utilities bills on average with their voucher. Those living in three to four-room HDB flats can offset up to two months of utilities bills on average.

    The voucher is a household benefit under the permanent GST Voucher scheme. It was introduced in Budget 2012 to provide continuing assurance that lower-income Singaporeans benefit from the fiscal system.

    Taking into account the other components of the GST Voucher, which include the GST Voucher - Cash and Medisave, Singaporean lower-income and retiree households would have received a significant offset for their GST expenses this year.

    Middle-income families would also have received a GST Voucher that will partially offset their GST expenses.

    -CNA/ac
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  6. #6772
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    Default S'pore's top education issues in 2012

    By Sharon See | Posted: 30 December 2012 1716 hrs




    SINGAPORE: Some parents have said Primary One registration is a harrowing experience, while others offer to be volunteers at primary schools years in advance.

    That has eased somewhat, after the Ministry of Education (MOE) tweaked the process for Primary One registration, giving Singaporeans absolute priority over permanent residents.

    It is a move that observers say reflects feedback from the 2011 general election.

    Lim Biow Chuan, Government Parliamentary Committee chair for education said: "That's a message that got through from the last elections. I think some of the feedback is that there's no difference between a Singaporean and PR, and also the foreigners. So I think MOE has taken this approach that there should be a greater distinction so that the privilege of being a Singaporean is more distinct."

    Also in 2012, for the first time, MOE decided not to name the top student of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE), fuelling much public debate.

    But the ministry has held fast to its message -- that there is more to education than just grades.

    In pursuit of its vision of "Every School is a Good School", the ministry has abolished secondary school banding -- a system that ranks schools based on academic results at the 'O' Level examinations.

    "The fact is there is no single yardstick to measure how 'good' our schools are," said education minister Heng Swee Keat.

    But with only the top 10 per cent of each cohort qualifying for the Integrated Programme (IP), many have come to regard schools offering the IP track as "top schools" in Singapore.

    "The 'Every School is a Good School' concept does not mean that you take away this concept of distinguishing between stronger students and weaker students in terms of academic performance. But 'Every School is a Good School' concept should be that every school is equipped to do well and perform for the students," explained Mr Lim.

    "There is no material distinction in the ability of the staff to be able to help the students to excel in their work. It doesn't mean that all schools will be equal because I don't think you can equalise them completely. But what every parent and every student should be assured of is that whatever school they go to, they will not be penalised or they will not be disadvantaged in that they have less resources or they have got all the not-so-good teachers being posted there."

    To further drive home the point, MOE has committed S$55 million over the next five years to help schools develop niche areas in the arts or sports.

    More opportunities for tertiary education have also been created.

    With growing demand for university places, the government has increased full-time places for applied degrees at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and SIM University.

    This brings the total number of national universities to six, and it will also allow four in 10 students to get a university education by 2020. While some cautioned against vocationalising university education, many are of the opinion that having applied degrees would ensure industrial relevance.

    2012 has also seen more educators hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons, with several charged for personal indiscretion.

    Mr Lim said: "This year has not been a terribly good year for some of the cases that we're seeing. There has been some misbehaviour among teachers and I think it bears repeating to teachers that they hold a heavy responsibility of nurturing our students."

    While the court cases remain a minority, Mr Lim expects the newly-developed code of conduct for educators to provide guidelines on appropriate interaction in school and online.

    Mr Lim said: "Currently, many teachers feel: 'I don't have to keep my distance. I can be not just a teacher to my students, but also a friend - a friend that the students can come to if they're in trouble'.

    "I think the intent is good but sometimes, teachers who become friends to the students may forget that their role is still to be role models, as teachers do, their students. And when that friendship becomes too cosy, complications may arise."

    In 2013, MOE is also expected to release a curriculum framework for Mother Tongue for preschools, which observers say could ensure a smoother transition into primary school.

    - CNA/xq

  7. #6773
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    Default Highlights of S'pore sports in 2012

    By Patwant Singh | Posted: 30 December 2012 2207 hrs



    SINGAPORE: 2012 was a significant year for Singapore sports, both on the international and home fronts.

    Singapore's Olympic double bronze medals at the London Games was the highlight of 2012.

    The women's table tennis team delivered the targeted two medals.

    But now Singapore wants local-born youngsters to step up.

    Intermediate targets have been set for them over the next few years, including winning gold medals at the 2015 SEA Games.

    Lee Bee Wah, president of Singapore Table Tennis Association said: "Our ultimate aim is getting them featured in Olympics and getting medals for Singapore. If they are ready, it is 2016, if not latest 2020, we would like to see them play for Singapore... We want them to be able to get medals for Singapore."

    In Formula One, the contract was renewed, with the night race to be staged for another five years, till 2017.

    After putting Singapore on the global sporting map, industry players feel more can be done to engage the local community.

    Marcus Lim, co-founder of Formula Drift Asia suggested: "A CCA (co-curricular activity) programme for F1 throughout the year. Get the students into it from a technical standpoint. The technical student to learn more about the vehicles... There are really a lot of aspects that can be very educational. (For instance), event management, team management, marketing."

    On grassroots sports, the Singapore National Games was launched - part of Vision 2030 - to make sports a part of everyday life.

    The inaugural event saw more than 5,000 athletes of all ages and races, compete in 10 sports.

    The Singapore Sports Council is looking to stage the next run at the Sports Hub, which should be ready by March 2014.

    That would also allow it to be used as a test event for the 2015 SEA Games, which Singapore is hosting.

    Singapore also made a return to the Malaysia Cup competition after 17 years, with the LionsXII finishing a credible second in the league.

    But the year ended on a high, with Singapore being crowned ASEAN champs for a record fourth time, by winning the AFF Suzuki Cup competition - a fitting finale for coach Raddy Avramovic who was in-charge for the last time.

    - CNA/xq

  8. #6774
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    Default TOPH to manage 10 arts spaces by 2014

    By Sara Grosse | Posted: 29 December 2012 2243 hrs




    SINGAPORE: The Old Parliament House Limited (TOPH) turned 10 on December 11.

    Incorporated by the National Arts Council in 2002 to open the former parliament building as an arts venue, the company now oversees six art centres in Singapore.

    It has plans to expand this portfolio to 10 arts spaces over the next two years.

    Turning a 200-year-old building into an arts venue did not come without challenges.

    Besides having to open The Arts House during the SARS period in Singapore, the team at TOPH also had to be sensitive to how old rooms were converted, as they each carried historical significance.

    The theatre for concerts and performances was formerly the office of then-Chief Minister David Marshall.

    Since then, it has been used for a multitude of events, including book launches, dialogue sessions and even fashion shows.

    Over the years, the team has gone on to manage other art centres, including Sculpture Square - an art space dedicated to contemporary 3-dimensional art and Goodman Arts Centre, which facilitates rental of spaces for the arts community, including a Black Box theatre, multi-purpose hall, gallery, rehearsal studios, music and art studios, and seminar rooms.

    TOPH also manages The Little Arts Academy and ARTrium@MCI.


    In 2013, it will open a new arts centre in Arab Street called Aliwal Arts Centre.

    "What I think we have learned in the last ten years is how to make spaces alive, how could spaces itself be used for the community to ignite or to generate creativity," said Colin Goh, CEO of TOPH.

    "When the company was first formed in 2002 and it was named The Old Parliament House Limited, it had a little limitations but at that time, what was good was that we had a dream, which says that whether these expertise, whether we could actually influence a community by having more art spaces that we could manage."

    TOPH has also lent its advice on converting spaces for art overseas.

    - CNA/xq


    A general view of the Old Parliament House.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  9. #6775
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    Default Photo gallery: Spectacular fireworks at Marina Bay ushers in 2013

    Published on Jan 02, 2013






    Singapore rang in the new year with a string of spectacular fireworks displayed across the skyline. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YI HA




    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st.../26556830e.jpg
    Skyscrapers are illuminated with laser lights to usher the new year at the Marina Bay in Singapore on Dec 31, 2012. The spectacular fireworks burst across the skyline as ten of thousand people watch the eight minutes display. -- PHOTO: AFP



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st.../26556775e.jpg
    Fireworks illuminate the sky to usher the new year at the Marina Bay in Singapore on Jan 1, 2013. The spectacular fireworks burst across the skyline as ten of thousand people watch the eight-minute display. --PHOTO: AFP



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st.../26556821e.jpg
    Fireworks illuminate the sky to usher the new year at the Marina Bay in Singapore on Jan 1, 2013. The spectacular fireworks burst across the skyline as ten of thousand people watch the eight-minute display. --PHOTO: AFP



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st.../26557581e.jpg
    The New Year Countdown party held at Marina Bay next to the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre on Dec 31, 2012. --ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN




    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...abayny231e.jpg
    Hundreds of white spheres bobbing in the bay, each containing different wishes for 2013 that revellers had penned. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YI HAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...inabay501e.jpg
    Singapore rang in the new year with a string of spectacular fireworks displayed across the skyline. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YI HAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...abayny101e.jpg
    Singapore rang in the new year with a string of spectacular fireworks displayed across the skyline. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YI HAN



    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...abayny131e.jpg
    Hundreds of white spheres bobbing in the bay, each containing different wishes for 2013 that revellers had penned. -- ST PHOTO: LIM YI HAN



    By Lim Yi Han


    Singapore rang in the new year with a string of spectacular fireworks displayed across the skyline.

    The display, which lasted a total of eight minutes, lit up the night sky as strains of music by Cultural Medallion winner Iskandar Ismail filled the air.

    The fireworks, which illuminated the sky, also provided a backdrop for the hundreds of white spheres bobbing in the bay, each containing different wishes for 2013 penned by revellers.

    Watched by tens of thousands of attendees at the Marina Bay countdown party, the atmosphere was electric as the crowd counted down the seconds in unison.

  10. #6776
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    Default Singapore ushers in 2013 with fireworks display at Marina Bay

    TODAY
    Updated 10:01 AM Jan 01, 2013

    SINGAPORE - It was a celebration full of song, dance and a magnificent display of fireworks as Singapore ushered in 2013 at the Marina Bay countdown.

    Singaporeans thronged the Marina Bay area to soak up the celebrations as the nation counted down to the New Year despite a rain soaked evening.

    Spectators were also entertained with a slew of performances, whether it was grooving to the beats of regional acts like Korean Hip Hop group MI. or homegrown talents like Taufik Batisah and John Klass and his band The Professionals.

    One of the highlights of the night was from award winning musical group Jersey Boys.


    Mr Grant Almirall, one of the cast of the Jersey Boys, said: "It's an amazing opportunity to perform for Singapore. It's raining at the moment but it's a rain or shine event so we still will be performing anyway. Hopefully, the crowd will be cheered up and ready for us. So yeah, it's going to be awesome."

    Right after that, spectators were treated to an eight-minute fireworks display at the stroke of midnight. CHANNEL NEWSASIA






    New Year's Day fireworks display at the Marina Bay. Photo: Loke Kok Fai

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    Default Boot camp for young scientists in Singapore

    Published on Jan 03, 2013
    1:40 PM



    The inaugural Global Young Scientists Summit from Jan 20 to 25 will include talks and master classes by eminent speakers, among them Nobel laureates like Sydney Brenner (above). -- THE BUSINESS TIMES PHOTO: ARTHUR LEE CH



    By Grace Chua


    In three weeks, Singapore will host a boot camp for top young scientists from around the world.

    The inaugural Global Young Scientists Summit from Jan 20 to 25 will include talks and master classes by eminent speakers, among them Nobel laureates like Sydney Brenner and Yang Chen Ning, who received the prize for physiology or medicine, and physics, respectively.

    The 280 participants of the camp will come from Singapore, the United States, Europe and other parts of Asia.

    They will be from institutions and firms that have close ties to Singapore with their home institutions nominating them to attend the summit.

  12. #6778
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    Default Ngee Ann Polytechnic designs navigation app for visually impaired

    by Monica Kotwani
    05:57 PM Jan 03, 2013

    SINGAPORE - A team of Ngee Ann Polytechnic lecturers and students has designed a mobile application for the visually impaired to help them navigate their way to their destination.

    The app, called the Travel Assistant for the Visually Impaired (TAVI), is believed to be the first of its kind in mapping specific locations into an app.

    TAVI was created early last year by lecturers and students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of InfoComm and Technology.

    There are other apps in the market that use GPS technology to help the visually impaired get around but these have some limitations.

    Guide of Dialogue in the Dark Muhammad Zahier said: "It was an interesting journey, because the app could tell me where I am at currently, and it could tell me how far should I walk before I turn somewhere. Those GPS devices don't really guide me in a walking sense. It's more like they tell me how far I am from my destination."

    TAVI's student developers were inspired after a visit to Dialogue in the Dark, a social enterprise that aims to create an awareness of the challenges faced by Singapore's visually impaired. It took many interviews with Dialogue's guides to understand exactly what was needed in an assistive app.

    Mr Yong Shan Xian, TAVI developer at the School of InfoComm and Technology, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, said: "When we spoke to them, they actually said they needed something that is more cost-effective. In fact, because TAVI is funded by the Tote Board, it comes free."

    The team received S$118,000 in funding from the Tote Board.

    The app is still being tested, but developers hope to have it ready for use in the next two months.

    They also hope to eventually upload it on iTunes, customised with more locations.

    Developers say they are in talks with Singapore's bus operators to customise transport features into the app.

    The idea is to let visually impaired commuters know how far away the bus is.

    When on board the bus, the app would tell them when they are approaching their desired bus stop number.

    Developers say they also hope to include other features like a directory for certain buildings in the next two years.

    CHANNEL NEWSASIA




    A visually-impaired man demonstrates how he uses the Travel Assistant for the Visually Impaired (TAVI) app to make his way around Ngee Ann Polytechnic on 3 Jan 2013. TAVI is an app that uses built-in maps of a particular locality, GPS navigation system, simple touch functions as well as audio and vibration features to help the visually impaired reach their destination independently without the assistance of passer-bys or guide dogs. It is developed by three students from Ngee Ann Polytechnic's School of InfoComm Technology. Photo: Ooi Boon Keong

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    Default Most singles want to get married, have two or more children: Study

    03:23 PM Jan 03, 2013

    SINGAPORE - Most singles desire to get married and most wish to have two or more children, according to key findings of a Marriage and Parenthood study commissioned by the National Population and Talent Division.

    The study involved more than 4,600 people, aged between 21 and 45 years old.

    It aims to understand the attitudes and motivations behind Singapore residents' marriage and parenthood trends.

    83 per cent of single respondents indicated that they desired to get married, little changed from the 85 per cent in the last study done in 2007.

    Respondents said they were not married because they had not met a suitable partner, they wanted to concentrate on their careers or studies, and they did not have enough money.

    For those in serious relationships, they said they were not marrying yet because they wanted to save money for housing and the wedding, and that they were too young to get married.

    The study found that parenthood aspirations remained strong.

    80 per cent of singles who indicated a desired number of children wanted to have two or more children. This is comparable to 84 per cent in 2007.

    Among married respondents, 84 per cent intend to have two or more children, unchanged from the 84 per cent in 2007.

    Both male and female respondents intend to have an average of 2.2 children.

    Those who are unlikely to have any more children cited practical concerns like financial cost and good child care arrangements.

    79 per cent of singles in the study felt that they had good work-life balance but said some areas could be improved.

    However, 65 per cent were exhausted when they came home from work, 42 per cent had insufficient time to date, and 50 per cent had insufficient time to meet new people.

    Among married respondents, 82 per cent reported good work-life balance.

    However, 62 per cent of them were exhausted when they came home from work, and 54 per cent felt their job prevented them from spending as much time with their families as they would like.

    These findings suggested that while Singaporeans generally perceive themselves as having good work-life balance, they may have accepted that achieving work-life balance requires trade-offs in other aspects of their lives.

    In other findings of the survey, most respondents viewed having children as taking place within the institution of marriage.

    80 per cent of single and 85 per cent of married respondents agreed or strongly agreed that only legally married parents should have children.

    Many felt that more could be done to improve awareness and address misconceptions regarding fertility issues.

    About 70 per cent of singles and 77 per cent of married respondents assumed that couples would have little problem having children, even when they were over 35 years old.

    This indicated that many were unaware that male and female fertility declines with age, and assisted reproduction technology cannot compensate for the age-related decline in fertility.

    The study also found that women desired family and employment at the same time.

    80 per cent of single female respondents indicated their preference to be working mothers, comparable to 81 per cent in 2007 and 79 per cent in 2004.

    Respondents were quite equally split between part-time and full-time employment options, although the percentage preferring part-time employment has increased to 40 per cent in 2012, compared to 19 per cent in 2007 and 21 per cent in 2004.

    This suggested that part-time opportunities and more workplace flexibility could encourage women to remain in or return to the workforce. CHANNEL NEWSASIA





    Children trying out one of the activities at the National Family Day Out Carnival 2011 organised by the National Family Council.Photo by Syafiqah Hamid

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    Default Satay by the Bay to open Jan 15

    Published on Jan 03, 2013
    6:21 PM


    By Melissa Lin



    An open air foodcourt, slightly modelled after the old Satay Club and selling local hawker fare, will be opening at Gardens by the Bay on Jan 15.

    The 2,000 sq m Satay by the Bay with eight pushcarts selling satay, will have an outdoor area where diners can sit at low tables and stools.


    This is reminiscent of the former Satay Club which closed in 1995, said Mr Alex Neo, managing director of Planar One & Associates, the company that runs the place.

    There will be 26 other carts selling among other things, seafood and barbecued chicken wings.

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    Default NYP students to get a taste of running own their restaurant on campus

    Published on Jan 03, 2013
    12:37 PM



    Chef Vangie Josol, shows NYP students (from left), Vivien Liew, 19, Siow Min Yee, 18, and Stellar Hiu, 18, the finishing touches to desserts preparations. Students from Nanyang Polytechnic will be running their own restaurant in school to get hands-on experience at managing a food business. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM




    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...Gal031306e.jpg
    Teaching associate, Chef Nicholas Low (far left), speaking with NYP students, Kennard Soh (second from left), 19, and Nicholas Png (third from left), 18. Students from Nanyang Polytechnic will be running their own restaurant in school to get hands-on experience at managing a food business. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM







    http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/st...Gal031304e.jpg
    Artist illustration of the training restaurant to be opened in Apr 2013. -- PHOTO: NANYANG POLYTECHNIC



    By Lim Yi Han


    Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP) students can look forward to running their restaurant on campus from April this year.

    This will give final-year students a taste of what it is like to work in the food and beverage industry.

    The 120-seater restaurant, set up by the polytechnic's School of Business Management and School of Chemical and Life Sciences, will serve fusion cuisine.

    Students studying for their diploma in Food and Beverage Business, will design the menu with their lecturers.

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    Default Young scientists to be mentored by internationally-renowned scientists at summit

    by Sara Grosse

    07:31 PM Jan 03, 2013



    SINGAPORE - Young scientists in Singapore will get a chance to rub shoulders with internationally-renowned scientists this month.

    300 international participants under the age of 35 will be mentored by scientists, including Nobel Prize winners at the Global Young Scientists Summit.

    Participants are nominated by academic and research institutions with significant presence in Singapore. Those selected to attend must show passion and interest in research and be the top 5 to 10 per cent of their cohort.

    27-year-old Han Rui is one of the 64 participants from Singapore nominated to attend panel discussions and informal sessions with guest speakers at the summit.

    The 15 speakers at the summit comprise winners of the Nobel Prize, Fields Medal, Millennium Technology Prize and Turing Award. Lecture topics include "Humans in a Dish" by Dr Sydney Brenner, and a discussion on how long a person can live by Dr Ada Yonath, who has a Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

    The PhD student is a quantum physics researcher at the National University of Singapore.

    Ms Han said: "What we want to learn from those Nobel Prize winners are not how to really win the Nobel prize, because when they do this, they are really not thinking, 'Oh I'm going to get a Nobel Prize out of this', but it's the mind that they actually have to create such brilliant ideas."

    There will be a Singapore Challenge competition during the five-day summit, where 10 finalists will present solutions for challenges faced by global cities.

    Mr Tan Kuan Tak, PhD candidate at Nanyang Technological University's School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering said: "We are proposing an energy box which is installed in every household in the HDB flats and it will help to educate the consumers how are they going to use energy and when and what time they can use their energy at a cheaper price."

    The finalist with the most compelling idea stands to win a cash prize of over S$122,000 (US$100,000) and a medallion.

    Organisers hope the summit will inspire the next generation of scientists to not only network, but also make breakthroughs.

    "We hope that it creates a certain buzz for us in Singapore," said Professor Low Teck Seng, organising committee co-chair of the summit.

    "In due course, hopefully we (will) build a reputation that we are the place in Asia that science and technology is being executed, research is being done, some of the most exciting research questions are being asked."

    The Global Young Scientists Summit will be evaluated to see whether it will be a yearly or bi-annual event. Its committee also said it hopes to add more smaller group discussions next time. CHANNEL NEWSASIA

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    Default Marine Life Park dolphins released from quarantine


    by Saifulbahri Ismail
    Updated 08:15 PM Jan 03, 2013

    SINGAPORE - The dolphins at Resorts World Sentosa's Marine Life Park have been released from quarantine, and members of the public can soon view them.

    The park said the 24 dolphins have received the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore's (AVA) approval for their release.

    It added the mammals have adjusted well to their new home through the care of its staff and veterinary professionals.

    The park looks forward to introducing the dolphins to the public in progressive stages.

    It also gave updates on the laboratory tests on the male dolphin that died on the flight to Singapore from the Philippines.

    The final pathology report indicated that Wen Wen had succumbed to an acute bacterial infection.

    There was, however, no evidence on the origins of the infection.

    Medical examinations prior to the transport indicated that all animals were healthy prior to the move.

    The park believes the infection was an isolated incident.

    Recently, the park attracted controversy for its import of dolphins. CHANNEL NEWSASIA





    These four dolphins are undergoing acclimatisation in their new residence at Marine Life Park. (Photo from RWS' Marine Life Park blog)

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