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Thread: Singapore Also Can
02-27-2013, 07:13 PM #6903
Singapore Budget 2013: What I Got
Published on Feb 26, 2013
By Melody Zaccheus & Janice Tai
Last week, The Straits Times asked various Singaporeans for their Singapore Budget 2013 wish list.
We return to them to ask: Did Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam grant your wish in his Singapore Budget 2013 speech?
Mr Darren Wong, 38, a medical sales personnel, lives in a four-room flat in Balestier with his 35-year-old wife Hannah, a housewife, and their two young children. The family income is $4,000 to $5,000 a month. She had quit her administrator job to look after the family. He noted the pressure of striking a balance between nurturing a family and being the sole breadwinner.
What he had hoped from Budget 2013: He had hoped the Government would lighten the burden of families with single incomes beyond schemes like the Baby Bonus.
What young families got in Budget 2013: Low-income and middle-income families will get an additional Goods and Services Tax (GST) voucher in addition to the permanent GST voucher scheme introduced last year.
All Housing Board households will also get a reprieve on their service and conservancy charges. Households living in three- to four-room flats will get two months rebate.
From March 1, families with young children, elderly dependents and persons with disabilities will get a concession on foreign domestic worker levy. The levy will be cut from $170 to $120 a month, saving them $600 a year.
More than $3 billion will also be spent to improve the quality of the pre-school sector over the next five years. Money will go to increasing the number of pre-schools and improving the quality of pre-school education.
His reaction: The tweaks will help defray some of the expenses that weigh down a single-income household like mine. For instance, the reduction in maid levies may be of use should my wife decide to return to the workforce a few years down the road.
Other forms of assistance - for instance the GST vouchers, personal income tax rebates and Service and Conservancy Charges rebates - will go some way in defraying our expenses.
I am also looking forward to the improvement in standards of pre-school education. As a young parent, we want to know that we are placing our children in a system where they will benefit the most from. The changes give us the confidence that the Government is doing what it can for our little ones.
I am disappointed that no direct help was given to stay home mothers, but am grateful for the general financial assistance that will be disbursed over the course of the year.
Miss Nurulasyiqah Mohammad Taha, 29, works at the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore. She has spinal muscular atrophy and makes her way around in a motorised wheelchair.
She lives in a five-room flat in Pasir Ris with her younger brother and parents, who own the flat. The family income is $6,000 a month.
What she had hoped from Budget 2013: More subsidies to help defray the transport costs of the disabled.
What the disabled community got in Budget 2013: An agency dedicated to persons with disabilities so that there is a focal point for all their needs.
Her reaction: I am disappointed that there is no direct assistance given to alleviate the rising cost of living such as transport costs for the disabled. But I am heartened that an agency for us is being set up. I hope it will serve as a one-stop centre that will collaborate across the different agencies as our needs are varied, from education to housing to transport to caregiving.
Mr Georgie Chng, 71, a retired army warrant officer, lives with his 63-year-old wife in a three-room flat they own in Waterloo Street. They have two children and one grandchild who do not live with them. The couple get $1,200 a month from his pension.
What he had hoped from Budget 2013: More GST and utility vouchers to combat the rising cost of living, and top-ups to Medishield.
What elderly Singaporeans got in Budget 2013: There will be a $1 billion top-up to Medifund to provide extra help with healthcare bills, and a $250 million top-up to the Eldercare Fund to support patients tapping on subsidised nursing homes and other long-term care services.
Seniors who need to buy assistive devices such as hearing aids and motorised wheelchairs can tap on the Senior's Mobility and Enabling Fund, which will be topped up to $50 million. Pensioners like Mr Chng will also get more allowance. The Singapore Allowance will be raised by $20 a month to $280 and the monthly pension ceiling will be increased to $1,210.
His reaction: I have no complaints. Getting half a loaf is better than none. My increased pension will go to household expenses such as buying basic essentials like oil and rice. It is a pity that nothing was done to help with transport fares. They are rising year on year even though we already have senior citizens' concession fares.
Miss Linah Lui, 44, an administrator who is single, lives in a three-room flat in Toa Payoh with her 66-year-old widowed mother, a housewife. Miss Lui owns the flat. She has two younger brothers, one of whom is married. Her family income is $6,000 to $7,000 a month. She was concerned about singles having to look after aged parents even as they themselves grow older.
What she had hoped from Budget 2013: She wanted policies to be tweaked to better cater to singles and to signal how their needs are not forgotten. There could be, she said, subsidies when singles apply for maids that look after aged parents, and it should be mandatory for employers to grant singles leave to take care of parents when the latter are ill.
What singles got in Budget 2013: There was nothing specifically for singles, although three-room households like hers got two months of service and conservancy rebates.
From March 1, families with young children, elderly dependents and persons with disabilities will get a concession on foreign domestic worker levy. The levy will be cut from $170 to $120 a month, saving them $600 a year. She does not believe she is eligible for the maid levy due to her income level, but she is awaiting more details on the scheme which will cost the Government $73 million a year.
Resident individual taxpapers aged below age 60 as at Dec 31, 2012, will get a 30 per cent income tax rebate, capped at $1,500 per taxpayer.
Her reaction: The tax rebate is a negligible amount but it's still better than nothing. I wish that the service and conservancy charges rebates could have been further extended beyond the two-month period for three-room flats, as the rebate is the same amount of money I got last year. Conservancy charges are going up but the rebate period has stayed the same. The Budget is very skewed towards the family. It's the same thing every year and there's nothing much for us singles to look forward to.
LOWER INCOME FAMILY
Mr Tay Keng Leong, 60, a cleaner, lives in a one-room rental flat in Hougang with his wife, 44, a housewife, and their three children aged 13, 11 and nine. He earns $640 a month. The family is on various financial aid schemes which help them with about $520, and also get supermarket vouchers and canned food.
What he had hoped from Budget 2013: He wanted help coping with the higher cost of living, in particular transport subsidies and vouchers.
What low-income families got in Budget 2013: A 25 to 50 per cent increase in Workfare Income Supplement payouts. At present, Mr Tay gets about $1,760 in cash and CPF money a year.
Low-income and middle-income families will get an additional Goods and Services Tax (GST) voucher on top of the permanent GST voucher scheme which was introduced last year. This means a doubling of the amount that eligible households get, which is $1,480 a year for regular households.
Singaporeans aged 45 and above will also get $200 CPF Medisave Top-up.
His children will benefit from the expansion of the Opportunity Fund by $72 million, and a top-of up of the Edusave Endowment Fund by $300 million. These will be for programmes which encourage students to do better in school and participate in subsidised school-based enrichment programmes.
His reaction: Any help from the Government is appreciated. Although I'm disappointed that transport subsidies are not included in this year's Budget as it costs us about $120 every month paying for our children to go to school, I'm appreciative of the other forms of financial assistance.
The 25 per cent increase in Workfare Income Supplement payouts and the additional GST voucher will make a significant difference to me.
I like that the Government is focusing on the young. Likewise, I've pinned my hopes on my children. I always remind my elder son to
03-01-2013, 02:14 AM #6904
Special "benches" as tribute to former National Stadium
Published on Feb 28, 2013
(Left to right) Terence Tang, Rico Firmansyah, Sapp Cheng, Raymond Hon and Donovan Soon Chong Siong were the five winners were honoured on Thursday, Feb 28, 2013, in the design contest entitled "bench", to remember the former National Stadium. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
'Bench' by Raymond Hon, a student of the Department of Industrial Design at the National University of Singapore. Five winners were honoured on Thursday, Feb 28, 2013, in the design contest entitled "bench", to remember the former National Stadium. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
'Plack' by Rico Firmansyah, an interior and product designer. Five winners were honoured on Thursday, Feb 28, 2013, in the design contest entitled "bench", to remember the former National Stadium. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
'Bond' by Sapp Cheng, a product designer from Immortal The Design Station. Five winners were honoured on Thursday, Feb 28, 2013, in the design contest entitled "bench", to remember the former National Stadium. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
'Aesop/Unbreakable' by Donovan Soon Chong Siong, an architect at WOHA. Five winners were honoured on Thursday, Feb 28, 2013, in the design contest entitled "bench", to remember the former National Stadium. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
'Full Circle ' by Terence Tang, a student from the National University Of Singapore. Five winners were honoured on Thursday, Feb 28, 2013, in the design contest entitled "bench", to remember the former National Stadium. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
By Melissa Pang
Five winners were honoured on Thursday in a design contest to remember the former National Stadium.
The competition "bench" invited members of the public to submit designs for benches using seating planks from the former National Stadium.
The winners, selected from a pool of 130 entries, are: Mr Raymond Hon Sui Ming, 25; Mr Rico Firmansyah, 25; Ms Sapp Cheng Si Hui, 24; Mr Donovan Soon Chong Siong, 36; and Mr Terence Tang Wei Ming, 24.
Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Mr Lawrence Wong, presented the winners with a $2,000 cash prize at a ceremony and launch of the bench exhibition today.
- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/breaking....Y6yD5919.dpuf
03-01-2013, 02:38 AM #6905
Photo gallery: Flying drones light up the night sky
Published on Mar 01, 2013
A group of about 20 enthusiasts meet every week at Marina Bay to fly radio-controlled kites, the brainchild of Mr Michael Lim, who started a business selling "stringless kites" since 2000. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM
(From left) Mr Dimitri Kouchnirenko, 38, Mr Jimmy Chiam, 43, Mr Suan Cui Fu, 18, Ms Chan Xinyin, 18, Mr Darren Suan, 18, and Mr Selamat Salim, 50, set up their drones against the night view of the MBS. A group of about 20 enthusiasts meet every week at Marina Bay to fly radio-controlled kites, the brainchild of Mr Michael Lim, who started a business selling "stringless kites" since 2000. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM
(From left) Mr Darren Suan and Mr Suan Cui Fu, both 18, look at the night sky as they fly their drones with their friends. A group of about 20 enthusiasts meet every week at Marina Bay to fly radio-controlled kites, the brainchild of Mr Michael Lim, who started a business selling "stringless kites" since 2000. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM
(From left) Mr Darren Suan, 18, Mr Selamat Salim, 50, and Ms Clareta Lim, 13, launch their drones together. A group of about 20 enthusiasts meet every week at Marina Bay to fly radio-controlled kites, the brainchild of Mr Michael Lim, who started a business selling "stringless kites" since 2000. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM
Close up of Mr Jimmy Chiam, 43, sets up his drone. A group of about 20 enthusiasts meet every week at Marina Bay to fly radio-controlled kites, the brainchild of Mr Michael Lim, who started a business selling "stringless kites" since 2000. -- ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM
Some thought the dancing lights in the night sky were UFOs. They are actually radio-controlled kites, the brainchild of Mr Michael Lim. The 53-year-old started a business selling them since 2000, as he was passionate about flying radio-controlled aeroplanes but felt that they were too expensive.
Now, there is a group of about 20 enthusiasts who meet every week at Marina Bay to fly these "stringless kites" using controllers.
- See more at: http://www.straitstimes.com/breaking....bnsC8N0h.dpuf
03-04-2013, 02:39 AM #6906
White Tiger Swims
My favourite white tigers at the Singapore Zoo are also a favourite with many visitors judging from the numbers who remained at the enclosure for a relatively longer time.
Their patience and interest paid off on that wet day when one of the tigers decided to take a dip in the moat and played with some hanging air roots with its powerful jaw and paws. A rather rare sight to behold!
Last edited by Loh; 03-04-2013 at 02:42 AM.
03-04-2013, 08:31 PM #6907
NUS and NTU move up in global university rankings
Published on Mar 05, 2013
Both the National University of Singapore (above) and Nanyang Technological University have made steady progress in a global ranking of universities this year. -- ST FILE PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
By Amelia Teng
Both the National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have made steady progress in a global ranking of universities this year.
NUS climbs one place to 22nd, from 23rd in 2012. NTU is placed in the 71st to 80th band this year, up from the 81st to 90th band in 2012, making it one of the universities which made the most improvement in the ranking.
The 2013 World Reputation Ranking - in its third year running - is based on 16,639 responses from senior academics from 144 countries, and is a measure of academic prestige rather than actual performance.
Mr Phil Baty, editor of the magazine's rankings, said in a statement: "A university's reputation is subjective, but it matters deeply in today's highly competitive global marketplace, and it has serious real-world impact - helping to attract top student and academic talent, and encouraging industrial investment and benefactions."
03-04-2013, 08:39 PM #6908
Singapore signs open skies agreement with with Tonga
Published on Mar 04, 2013
Singapore has signed an Open Skies Agreement (OSA) with the South Pacific island nation, Tonga. Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew (right) and Tonga's Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Information and Communication, Lord Tu'ivakano (left) signed the agreement in Singapore on Monday. -- PHOTO: MINISTRY OF TRANSPORT
By Melissa Lin
Singapore has signed an Open Skies Agreement (OSA) with the South Pacific island nation, Tonga.
The agreement allows airlines of both countries to fly between Singapore and any points in Tonga without restrictions in capacity, frequency or aircraft type.
Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew and Tonga's Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Defence, and Information and Communication, Lord Tu'ivakano signed the agreement in Singapore on Monday.
Mr Lui said that the agreement reflects the warm bilateral ties between the two countries and underscores the countries' commitment to establish a "full liberal air services framework" that will allow carriers to respond quickly to market demand when opportunities arise.
03-04-2013, 08:43 PM #6909
SIA and Virgin America deepen ties
Published on Mar 05, 2013
By Karamjit Kaur
Singapore Airlines and Virgin America have deepened ties with a frequent flyer programme partnership.
This will allow their customers to earn and redeem miles for travel on both airlines.
In December, SIA and Virgin America inked a codeshare deal which means a passenger holding an SIA ticket can be on a flight operated by the American carrier, and vice-versa.
03-04-2013, 09:02 PM #6910
NUS, NTU move up in world reputation rankings
6 hours 46 min ago
SINGAPORE — The reputations of local universities have risen among academics again, according to the 2013 Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings released this morning.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) inched up a spot to 22nd, while Nanyang Technological University (NTU) moved to the 71th-80th band, up from the 81-90th band last year. Among universities in Asia, NUS ranked second behind Japan’s University of Tokyo, with NTU coming in 13th.
The rankings are based on 16,639 responses from senior academics around the world. The poll asked academics to nominate no more than 15 of the best institutions in their narrow field of expertise, based on their experience and knowledge.
American universities dominated the rankings this year, taking seven of the top 10 places. Harvard University took the top spot, followed by Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cambridge University, while Oxford University climbed two places to finish fourth. The University of Tokyo was the top-ranked Asian institution at No 9, after it slipped one spot in this year’s rankings.
According to Times, the top six’s membership has remained consistent since the first rankings were conducted in 2011, with the gap between it and the chasing pack widening each year.
The latest rankings, however, showed the two local universities making steady improvements over the past three years. In 2011, NUS was ranked 27th, while NTU was placed in the 91-100th band.
Professor Tan Chorh Chuan, President of NUS, felt the latest ranking was a strong recognition of the university’s commitment to delivering “high quality education and research of global impact”. With two Singapore universities in the top 100, NTU President Professor Bertil Andersson said it shows that the Republic is known for being “a knowledge-based city driven by innovation and technology” despite being a small country.
Mr Phil Baty, editor of the Times Higher Education Rankings, added: “It seems clear that Singapore’s academy is increasingly recognised by scholars as a world-leading destination for research and innovation. Both universities are rising in the reputation table and in the overall World University Rankings, which are based on objective performance indicators.
“Now is clearly a very exciting time for Singapore, which is establishing itself at the heart of the boom in East Asian higher education and gaining ground on the traditional Western elite.” Louisa Tang
03-04-2013, 09:10 PM #6911
NUS first local varsity to offer free online courses
By Woo Sian Boon
SINGAPORE — The National University of Singapore (NUS) will be the first university here to hop onto the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) bandwagon — a move the two other local universities told TODAY they may also consider making in the future.
MOOCs are a recent and growing phenomenon in distance education, where participating universities offer some of their courses for free online.
Its name reflects its emphasis: “Massive” number of students, because courses are conducted via the Internet; and “open”, because courses are all free, meaning that they are widely accessible.
NUS said yesterday it will offer two such courses, for a start, beginning from January next year, in partnership with Coursera, a fast-growing MOOC provider.
Started by Stanford computer science professors Andrew Ng and Daphne Koller in April last year, Coursera has registered 2.8 million students and sees 1.4 million course enrolments each month. It announced on Wednesday partnerships with 29 new universities globally, bringing to 62 the total number of institutions it offers courses with.
Other renowned universities that offer such online courses include Stanford, Brown, Harvard, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
NUS’ first course, which will run for eight weeks, is under the NUS Centre for Quantum Technologies, where students will learn about the “randomness” concept and its usefulness.
The second, a six-week course offered by the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, will teach classical musical composition.
NUS Provost and Deputy President (Academic Affairs) Tan Eng Chye said that “the availability of academic content on an open online platform will accelerate knowledge sharing in higher education globally”.
The move will mean “more students can now have access to, and benefit from, NUS’ educational offerings”, he added.
Asked if more courses will be offered as MOOCs in the near future, an NUS spokesperson said it is “keen” to explore such options and plans to “offer about two or three courses on Coursera every year”.
Meanwhile, the Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Management University said that they were also exploring the possibility of offering their courses via MOOC providers.
The universities did not say when they could do so.
03-05-2013, 11:36 PM #6912
NTU to offer new public policy and global affairs degree programme
Published on Mar 05, 2013
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is offering a new undergraduate degree programme in public policy and global affairs. -- SCREENGRAB: PPA.HSS.NTU.EDU.SG
By Walter Sim
Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is offering a new undergraduate degree programme in public policy and global affairs.
The four-year direct honours programme is touted to be the first of its kind in Singapore.
Students will focus on global Asia and Asian regionalism, and public policy in science and technology.
The course will enrol its pioneer cohort of 55 students this August and graduates from the programme can look to jobs in the civil service, policy analysis and public management among other things. More information on the programme is available at: ppa.hss.ntu.edu.sg.
03-06-2013, 12:42 AM #6913
Govt studying foreign talent hiring process to ensure S'porean core: Tan Chuan-Jin
Posted: 05 March 2013 1437 hrs
SINGAPORE: Acting Minister for Manpower Tan Chuan-Jin said the government's focus is to look after the interest of all working Singaporeans.
He outlined two broad issues for his ministry to tackle in the long term.
The first being how to raise the capabilities of Singaporeans.
Mr Tan said this should be addressed through training, working with agencies to nurture young Singaporeans in various sectors, and strengthening government employment facilitation for the unemployed and those hoping to change careers.
And secondly, how the country calibrates its work pass framework to ensure that foreign workers complement and not just substitute Singaporeans.
Mr Tan pointed out that changes have been made to the foreign worker levy and the dependency ration ceilings.
He said a new area that his ministry is looking at is how other countries implement their entry of foreign talent at the employment pass level category, to ensure that Singaporeans are given fair consideration in the hiring process.
Mr Tan was responding to a question filed by MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC Yeo Guat Kwang who asked what the government was doing to ensure that the Singaporean core will not be eroded during an economic downturn, or during significant downsizing of companies.
Mr Tan said in previous downturns, employers have cut back more sharply on foreign manpower, compared to local manpower.
He added the government had also started programmes like the Skills Programme for Upgrading and Resilience (SPUR) and the Jobs Credit Scheme to help workers stay employed.
"These are tools in our tool box that we can draw on, or variants of that as the case may be, depending on the economic situation in our years to come. But I think the most important point to emphasize really is that the best way to ensure that Singaporean workers, Singaporean PMEs, remain meaningfully employed, is really to make sure that our economy remains healthy and vibrant. That Singaporeans are also equipped with the right attitude and aptitudes and skills," he said.
03-06-2013, 08:03 PM #6914
Endangered Mekong giant catfish splashes into River Safari
Published on Mar 06, 2013
Aquarists prepare to move the Mekong giant catfish, one of the world's largest species of freshwater fish, into its aquarium at the Mekong River zone of the soon-to-be-opened River Safari. -- PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
Despite its extraordinary size, the Mekong giant catfish, that can be seen at the soon-to-be-opened River Safari, is a herbivore that lives on a diet of algae and other plants on the riverbed. -- PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
A man carrying a baby admires the Mekong giant catfish, one of the largest species of freshwater fish, on the day it moved into the soon-to-be-opened River Safari. -- PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
A group of school children were among the first to marvel at the aquarium, which houses the Mekong giant catfish, one of the largest species of freshwater fish, on the day it moved into the soon-to-be-opened River Safari. -- PHOTO: WILDLIFE RESERVES SINGAPORE
By Charissa Yong
One of the many giants of the River Safari, the Mekong giant catfish, moved into the soon-to-be-opened wildlife park's aquarium on Wednesday.
The herbivorous species, which is critically endangered, is one of the world's largest freshwater fish. It can grow up to 3 metres in length and nearly 300kg in weight.
The River Safari, Asia's first river-themed wildlife park, will feature animals which live in freshwater habitats. This includes the giant freshwater stingray.
This Mekong giant catfish was obtained from the only captive breeder in Thailand. These fish are found mainly in the lower Mekong River in Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
03-07-2013, 11:07 PM #6915
Singapore in 'critical period of transition': Tharman
Tharman assures SMEs, workers that Govt will help them through
Published on Mar 08, 2013
Economic restructuring will be painful but it cannot be put off any longer, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday, as he presented the choice confronting Singapore. Noting that Singapore is at a critical period of transition, or an "inflection point in our history", he said the push for an economic metamorphosis is not just an economic issue but also a "key social pillar". Raising productivity would benefit both firms and workers, through higher incomes. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN
By Aaron Low Assistant Money Editor
ECONOMIC restructuring will be painful but it cannot be put off any longer, said Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday, as he presented the choice confronting Singapore.
Noting that Singapore is at a critical period of transition, or an "inflection point in our history", he said the push for an economic metamorphosis is not just an economic issue but also a "key social pillar". Raising productivity would benefit both firms and workers, through higher incomes.
"If we do not achieve momentum in the next three years, there's a real risk that three years from now, we will be in exactly the same position.
"Both workers and businesses will be worse off. There is no choice," he said in Parliament.
03-07-2013, 11:14 PM #6916
Breitling Jet Team to fly over Siloso Beach this weekend
Published on Mar 07, 2013 4:53 PM
The Breitling Jet Team, one of the world’s top civilian aerobatics teams, will perform in Singapore for the first time on March 9, 2013. Aviation enthusiasts have a chance to catch the aerobatic antics of the Breitling Jet Team this weekend. -- PHOTO: BREITLING
JET TEAM By Bryant ChanAviation enthusiasts have a chance to catch the aerobatic antics of the Breitling Jet Team this weekend.
First formed in 2003, the Breitling Jet Team is the largest professional civilian aerobatics team in Europe, comprising of seven men with over 50,000 hours of flight time between them.
The team will perform a 20 to 25-minute display of aerobatics in the skies above Siloso Beach in Sentosa at 2 pm on March 9. It is the team's maiden performance in Singapore.Previously having performed at locations all over Europe, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Lebanon, the team is now flying across Southeast Asia as part of a five-week tour. Singapore marks their third stop after the Philippines and Indonesia.
03-07-2013, 11:22 PM #6917
SAF takes over command of multinational anti-piracy task force
The Straits Times
Published on Mar 07, 2013
By Walter Sim
FOR the third time, Singapore will head Combined Task Force 151, a multinational effort to fight piracy.
The task force will be led by Rear Admiral Giam Hock Koon from the Republic of Singapore Navy. For the next three months, the Singapore Armed Forces will lead and coordinate CTF 151's efforts to deter and disrupt piracy in the Gulf of Aden, which is located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen and Somalia.
Said RADM Giam, after taking over command from Commodore Muhammad Hisham of the Pakistan Navy at a ceremony held on Thursday in Bahrain: "As a maritime nation dependent on the sea for our security and economic well-being, Singapore is honoured to play her part and contribute towards the freedom of navigation and safety of shipping at sea."
As part of the command tour, the SAF will also coordinate counter-piracy operations with task forces from the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation and the European Union, as well as navies from other countries.
03-09-2013, 02:33 AM #6918
I visited Singapore recently and stayed a few days.
I was stopped at the Singapore Immigration and taken away in a waiting area while two officers went through my passport. I was frankly very nervous and thought of the worse, handcuffs and etc. However, they finally let me go, perhaps due to some mistaken identity or a machine malfunction with the passport scanner. It was not quite the welcome I was expecting.
Anyway, we went on a City sightseeing tour, river cruise, Little India, China Town, etc., etc. Had Indian food at an Indian vegetarian restaurant has has been operating for 60 years in Little India. The food was not good. It did not taste like the real McCoy.
The Garden by the Bay was impressive. However, the place must be running at huge losses as attendance was very low. Perhaps it costs too much for the average Singaporean. Access to the Garden by the Bay could be improved. Parking bays are almost empty and public transport entails a long and uncomfortable walk.
Had dinner at the Udin Seafood restaurant. It was a rather expensive meal for six with a bill coming close to S$700. But the crabs, prawns, fish, and Angus steak were a big letdown.
Also I have never seen so many mainland Chinese in almost every corner in Singapore. We see them in clubs, restaurants, buses, resorts, hospitals, etc., etc. They seem to outnumber the Indians and Malays. And where are the Malays?
Despite the huge population rise in Singapore we do not see or feel we are being in a densely populated country, unlike Hong Kong. Singaporeans told me this is due to the larger land area used for residential use in Singapore whereas in Hong Kong residential areas are actually much smaller because of too many country parks.
03-09-2013, 11:24 PM #6919
Travelling by buses in Singapore is excellent for the passenger with so many empty seats to choose from. On average occupancy rate is less than 20%, sometimes almost empty especially on buses that take you to the various sights. On the flip side, you can say what a waste of idle capacity but I have no complaints as a happy passenger. What a difference vs Hong Kong!
I spent the same number of days in Penang before Singapore. Surprisingly, I find Penang more interesting and more authentic and I may go back for a week or two soon for the Char Keow Teow in Lorong Selamat and the oyster omelette and Hey Mee! The Indian vegetarian food at the Woodlands in Little India Penang is far better. Also the bus rides in Penang are very interesting but full of passengers.
Will I visit Singapore again? Perhaps if I don't think too much of what to expect at the Immigration counter.
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