Singapore Also Can

Discussion in 'Chit-Chat' started by Loh, May 4, 2009.

  1. badlove

    badlove Regular Member

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    Thank you for the invites Uncle Loh, would love to play badminton with you and your buddies someday. I haven't been back since they finished Gardens By The Bay, so there's another one thing I would do in my visit list. :)
     
  2. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Good, the Gardens By The Bay is modern and refreshing in that they change the flower exhibits in the Flower Dome regularly with different themes. I think they are having the Tulips (from Holland) again this time.

    And if you still haven't visited our Botanic Gardens, which is now our only UNESCO Heritage site, please do so and see the difference.
     
  3. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Good politics, policies must go together for S'pore's success: PM Lee

    [​IMG]
    It is important that the political leadership and civil service continue to work hand in hand with each understanding its respective role, says PM Lee. Photo: Wee Teck Hian/TODAY

    Republic cannot become 'normal' like other nations or it will lose its edge, he adds

    Published: 8:53 PM, April 26, 2016
    Updated: 8:21 AM, April 27, 2016

    SINGAPORE — While Singapore is “in a sweet spot” where its politics and policies have worked constructively together, such a scenario is neither a matter of course nor one that is fail-safe judging by the experience of several European countries, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong cautioned on Tuesday (April 26).

    The system has worked so far because political leaders and civil servants — particularly at senior levels — share the fundamental beliefs, values and ideals that see them pull in the same direction. And in a new environment where expectations from a new generation of Singaporeans have shifted and politics is “no longer dormant” as compared to the past, it is important that the political leadership and Civil Service “continue to work hand in hand ... with each understanding its respective role”, said Mr Lee.

    The Prime Minister was speaking at a promotion ceremony and dinner for the Administrative Service held at the Shangri-La Hotel. Reiterating the importance of “good politics and policies” — something he touched on when he announced a review of the Elected Presidency scheme in January, and separately by President Tony Tan at the opening of the 13th Parliament days earlier — Mr Lee said Singapore cannot become “normal” like any other country or it would lose its edge, perhaps for good.

    Mr Lee said the Civil Service’s primary responsibility is coming up with policies that are borne of political objectives because in Singapore’s system, it must serve the elected government of the day. Nevertheless, the Service should be politically impartial and not shy away from carrying out their duties “without fear or favour” when a matter could be politically controversial, he added.

    “There will always be a fine balance — between the Civil Service being neutral and non-political, and being politically sensitive and responsive,” said Mr Lee.

    Singapore must maintain this constructive system if it were to retain its competitive advantage instead of becoming “normal” like other countries, which has seen “the politics of division take hold, and policies oscillate from one end to another with the political winds”.

    In explaining the need for political leadership and civil servants to “mesh together, with each one fulfilling its respective role and yet syncing smoothly”, Mr Lee cited cases in several countries where systems have malfunctioned when either politics or policies went wrong.

    In Europe, many countries with a history of consensus politics have formed coalition governments clustered around the centre, he noted. But this does not hold true anymore because policies have not achieved the desired outcomes, leading people to lose confidence in politicians, political parties, and even the whole system, he said. This has led to extreme and breakaway parties gaining support in countries such as France, Germany and Spain by feeding the restiveness among the populace. As a result, some of these countries, including Spain and Belgium, were unable to form governments months after elections.

    These European countries have longer histories and better-established institutions than Singapore, Mr Lee pointed out. “No system is fail-safe, and impossible to crash,” he said. “We have been very lucky but it can happen, and more quickly than most of us imagine.”

    It is a “complacent and mistaken view” that with a system in place, all that is needed is to hold elections so that those who win will automatically be able to lead and run the country while the Civil Service will always be there to make things work, he added.

    Mr Lee stressed that Singapore’s founding batch of political leaders made a conscious decision to create a “high quality, clean, effective and efficient” Civil Service where officers are properly rewarded and paid, as well as focused on producing good policies, said Mr Lee.

    In the early years, Singapore’s political leaders and civil servants were cut from the same cloth, with many being close personal friends who had a shared mission of building a nation from scratch, Mr Lee said.

    Some civil servants, such as Mr Hon Sui Sen and Mr Howe Yoong Chong, not only identified officers suitable for politics — talent they suggested include Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong and former Cabinet Minister S Dhanabalan — but became political office-holders themselves subsequently.

    Mr Lee also cited a suggestion by former Katong Member of Parliament Joe Conceicao in 1976 for civil servants to sit in on Meet-the-People sessions so that they would not be so “unfeeling and bureaucratic”.
    Although the idea was rebuffed initially, the Government adopted the suggestion eventually to help civil servants understand the issues which MPs deal with.

    In his speech at the event, Head of Civil Service Peter Ong said it is important to build a diverse leadership corps within its ranks to meet the challenges Singapore faces in a sophisticated external environment, as well as to find solutions palatable to a population with more varied values and aspirations. While there are programmes for officers to learn from diverse areas, deeper and more extensive partnerships must be cultivated with stakeholders so as to make sure “the people we serve are much more engaged”, Mr Ong said.

    Mr Lee also touched on the results of last year’s General Election (GE), which the ruling People’s Action Party won by a landslide. He noted that many people were watching to see which way Singapore would go after the 2011 GE where the PAP lost a Group Representation Constituency for the first time — if it would see more divided politics feeding on angry voters or pull together and face challenges as one people.

    Having been elected, the Government now carries “an extra heavy responsibility” to fulfil voters’ expectations, Mr Lee said. “Our task is more challenging because having reached this level of development, we have no signposts, no roadmaps, no models to follow or adopt wholesale,” he said. “And with growth harder to come by, and constraints more binding, we must make tougher trade-offs than before.”
     
  4. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Research centre aims to grow food and nutrition industry

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    Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat sampling a cordial made with a non-nutritive sweetener at the Clinical Nutrition Research Centre. Photo: Robin Choo/TODAY

    By Iliyas Juanda
    Published: 11:21 PM, April 29, 2016

    SINGAPORE — Chocolates containing mangosteen skin, and a type of sugar that helps to lower blood-glucose levels are among the food products that have been studied by a research centre that focuses on nutrition.

    The Clinical Nutrition Research Centre (CNRC) — a joint initiative by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and National University Health System — was visited by Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat on Friday (April 29). He wanted to know more about the efforts of the CNRC, which opened in 2014, to grow the local food and nutrition industry.

    The centre, together with a local company, had conducted an experimental study on chocolate with mangosteen rind, which is said to be more nutritious due to its increased polyphenol content.

    Another study involved palatinose, a type of sugar that can be extracted from honey, and is beneficial for people suffering from diabetes.

    Its lower glycemic index means that the sugar will be digested slowly, helping to lower blood glucose levels.

    While palatinose is being used in Japan by Suntory Beverage & Food, local companies have not yet picked up on it, said Professor Jeya Henry, the CNRC’s director.

    Mr Heng said: “Singapore does have a reputation for food safety and food quality. So by adding this layer of nutrition - and how nutrition affects human health — I think it will give our food companies, especially our SMEs (small and medium enterprises) an important competitive edge.”

    Meanwhile, Dr Benjamin Seet, executive director of A*STAR’s Biomedical Research Council, said beyond nutrition, the industry also has to look at food safety and creating higher-value food products in Singapore.

    In January, A*STAR partnered with the United States Environmental Protection Agency to develop new ways to detect harmful chemicals to ensure food safety.

    A*STAR is also working with several companies, such as Khong Guan Corporation and Mr Bean, to put in place modern manufacturing processes and methods to increase productivity, Dr Seet added.

    Mr Heng called on the manufacturing food industry to bring local flavours to their products.

    “I think they need to also innovate and create new products, new food that can appeal to the Asian consumers,” he said.
     
  5. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    840,000 households to receive S&CC rebates of one to three months

    [​IMG]
    TODAY file photo

    Published: 12:41 PM, April 29, 2016
    Updated: 12:50 PM, April 29, 2016

    SINGAPORE — Some 840,000 households living in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats will be receiving between one and three months of service and conservancy charges (S&CC) rebates this year, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said on Friday (April 29).

    The rebate each household will be receiving is dependent on their HDB flat type. For example, smaller flat types like 1- and 2-roomers will get three months, while those in larger flats will get less.

    [​IMG]

    The first tranche of the rebates, which were announced in this year’s Budget, will be given out next month, followed by in July and October.

    Eligible households would have received a letter earlier this month with details on the rebate. The MOF said the rebates will offset a household’s S&CC payment directly, including for those paying through GIRO.

    In total, S$86 million in rebates will be disbursed.

    For enquiries on their S&CC payment and account status, residents can contact their respective town councils. Residents can also call 1800-866-3078 (Mondays to Fridays, 8.30am to 5pm), or email sccrebates@mailbox.hdb.gov.sg regarding their household’s S&CC rebate eligibility.
     
  6. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    S’pore, Australia to jointly develop military training areas
    [​IMG]
    TODAY file photo


    Published: 12:25 PM, May 6, 2016
    Updated: 1:13 PM, May 6, 2016

    CANBERRA — Australia and Singapore will jointly develop military training areas and facilities in Australia as part of a deal that expands defence cooperation between the two countries and improves economic ties.

    Singapore will spend up to A$2.25 billion (S$2.25 billion) to double the capacity of its military training facilities in northern Australia under a new bilateral deal, Australia’s prime minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Friday (May 6).

    RelatedNews

    Singapore and Australia reach landmark agreement to deepen ties
    May 6
    Coming soon: Easier travel for Singaporeans to Australia
    May 6

    A spokesperson for Singapore’s Ministry of Defence said that the amount was “indicative and sets a cap on the life-cycle costs over 25 years for advance training facilities to be jointly developed and used by both militaries.”

    Singapore currently trains at Shoalwater Bay Training Area which allows thousands of soldiers from infantry, armour, artillery, aircraft and helicopters to hone their skills together, over an area three times the size of Singapore.

    On Facebook on Friday morning, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen described the new arrangement as a wish come true. “For the SAF, it means we have secured another 25 years to train in an even larger area, and to build state-of-the-art training facilities for combined arms and joint exercises.

    “This training will sharpen the SAF to one of the most well-trained and proficient militaries in the region, to keep Singapore and Singaporeans well protected.”

    The full details of the redevelopment of military training areas at Townsville and Shoalwater Bay in Queensland state had yet to be finalized but Mr Turnbull said that up to 14,000 Singaporean troops would train in Australia for up to 18 weeks a year.

    The deal is part of the recently concluded landmark agreement between Singapore and Australia to deepen ties and strengthen cooperation in multiple areas ranging from defence, trade to innovation and people-to-people ties, building on a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership (CSP) agreed by both countries less than a year ago.

    “I am delighted that we have concluded this landmark agreement with Australia. It is a win-win deal that will cement relations and benefit Australians and Singaporeans for years to come,” said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a press statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Friday.

    As part of the military component of the agreement, Exercise Trident - a component of the two-month long Exercise Wallaby, will also be elevated to a signature joint bilateral military exercise. Military personnel exchanges will be enhanced while civilian personnel exchanges will be initiated.

    Both countries also pledged to enhance intelligence and information sharing, such as in counterterrorism.

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    Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the package of bilateral cooperation initiatives agreed by Singapore and Australia will put both countries “on a completely new trajectory for the next generation”.

    When asked by reporters on how other countries in the region will perceive the growing defence ties between Singapore and Australia, Dr Balakrishnan said “it shows the level of strategic trust between us.”
     
  7. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore and Australia reach landmark agreement to deepen ties

    [​IMG]
    Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop (3/R) shakes hands with Dr Vivian Balakrishnan (2/R) as they stand together with Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo (3/L), Singapore's Trade and Industry Minister Lim Hng Kiang (C), Australia's Defence Minister Marise Payne (2/L), Singapore's Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen (L), and special envoy Andrew Robb (R) after they disembarked a ferry on Sydney Harbour on March 18, 2016 during the ninth Singapore-Australia Joint Ministerial Committee meeting in Sydney. Photo: AFP

    By Albert Wai

    “Our two countries are politically like-minded, strategically-aligned and economically complementary. We have much to gain by working closely together,” added Mr Lee.

    He noted that the CSP – first agreed during the visit of then Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott to Singapore last June – is an ambitious package covering many aspects of bilateral ties.

    “The CSP will draw our two countries closer, economically, politically and at the people-to-people level,” said Mr Lee. “We will move quickly to implement the various measures, although some will take time to bear fruit.”

    Since both sides agreed to elevate ties to a Comprehensive Strategic Partnership last June, officials with both sides have been ironing out the details that led to the agreement this week.

    Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan, together with Minister for Trade and Industry Lim Hng Kiang and Minister for Defence Ng Eng Hen had also travelled to Australia in March to meet their respective counterparts for discussions on the CSP.

    Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Dr Balakrishnan said the package of bilateral cooperation initiatives agreed by Singapore and Australia will put both countries “on a completely new trajectory for the next generation”.

    “This (package of initiatives) sets out an unprecedented level of economic integration, unprecedented expansion of defence cooperation and collaboration, as well as joint pursuit of new areas involving innovation and enterprise,” said Dr Balakrishnan.

    He noted that Singapore and Canberra are strategically aligned on many issues, including the way they viewed the world and common defence interests.

    He outlined four pillars in the latest agreement under the ambit of the CSP. A key outcome is the decision to update and modernise the Singapore-Australia Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA) signed in 2003.

    “As part of the Third Review of the SAFTA, both countries will adopt a package of measures to increase trade and investment flows. These measures will reinforce Singapore’s position as a trading and investment partner for Australia. It will also enhance Singapore’s position as a hub for Australian businesses and service providers to access expanding opportunities in Asia,” said the MFA statement.

    Singapore is Australia’s fifth largest trading partner, with bilateral trade last year amounting to S$20.2 billion. The Republic is the fifth largest foreign investor in Australia, with total investments amounting to A$80.2 billion (S$81.4 billion). Total stock of Australian investments in Singapore in 2014 was A$50.7 billion.

    Dr Balakrishnan said on Thursday that the Australian and Singaporean economies can complement each other. He noted that the Republic’s role as a global hub, logistics center and a portal into South-east Asia is viewed as essential to Australia’s economic growth.

    “For Singapore, (the partnership with Australia) gives access to a continental size economy with natural resources. It is also a sophisticated economy that gives us many opportunities.”

    Another key agreement reached this week between both countries is the joint development of more military training areas and facilities in Australia. This will provide Singapore troops with greater access to military training areas down under over a period of 25 years.

    Exercise Trident - a component of the two-month long Exercise Wallaby, will also be elevated to a signature joint bilateral military exercise, according to MFA’s statement, which added that military personnel exchanges will be enhanced while civilian personnel exchanges will be initiated.

    Both countries also pledged to enhance intelligence and information sharing, such as in counterterrorism.

    When asked by reporters on how other countries in the region will perceive the growing defence ties between Singapore and Australia, Dr Balakrishnan said “it shows the level of strategic trust between us.”

    “It also shows everyone that we take the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) seriously… We live in an uncertain, troubled and sometimes difficult world but we have to do our best to stay strong individually, as well as to build a network of friends and good partners,” he added.

    Besides trade and defence, a third pillar where both countries will deepen cooperation is in innovation and entrepreneurship.

    “ There is great alignment in our policies and synergy to be gained from closer cooperation,” said the MFA statement, adding that both sides have agreed to bring together their research and scientific bodies and support their collaboration through matching funding provided by both governments to the tune of about S$50 million over five years.

    The details will be worked out by the respective agencies, MFA added.

    To build stronger innovation linkages, Australia has also decided to establish a “landing pad” to facilitate high tech Australian start-ups in Singapore.

    “This will assist start-ups to “think global” by linking them into entrepreneur and capital networks and industry value chains, accelerating their business development and growth,” said a joint announcement by both countries.

    Dr Balakrishnan said that greater cooperation in innovation will generate opportunities for cross-fertilisation of ideas.

    “We are a city and we are in pursuit of urban solutions to meet the challenges of a city constrained by (lack of) natural resources, energy and space. They (Australia) have people, resources, ideas and the fact that we are different will also give our companies an opportunity to pick their brains and ideas.”

    The fourth pillar of the agreement reached this week will see both countries strengthen people-to-people ties by facilitating tourism, cultural exchanges and educational opportunities.

    Notably, Singaporeans will soon enjoy improved terms of entry into Australia through the implementation of multi-year visa arrangements. Youth exchanges will also be strengthened with the adoption of a 12-month arrangement for youths to travel and do short term work in both countries.

    When asked if Canberra might change its mind about the deals reached given that federal elections are scheduled to be called in early July, Dr Balakrishnan expressed optimism that Australia would adhere to what has been agreed.

    “We know that Australians are good for their word… There is also broad bipartisan support (in Australia) on the importance and relevance of the relationship with Singapore,” he pointed out.

    “I am confident that they will fully commit to this agreement and our relationship will grow regardless of political changes in Australia.”

    According to MFA’s statement, PM Lee and Australian Premier Malcolm Turnbull earlier this week re-affirmed the strength of bilateral relations based on strategic convergence and economic complementarities.

    “They were pleased that the CSP and the successful negotiations for this agreement set out a long-term vision and roadmap for a major upgrade across all aspects of bilateral relations,” the statement added.
     
  8. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Sembawang Hot Spring: Singapore’s next park, spa or water-themed attraction?


    With authorities working on redeveloping the 108-year-old locale, MPs and regular visitors alike are hoping the spring will avoid commercialisation and preserve its rustic quality.
    • By Justin Ong
    • Posted 18 Apr 2016 07:45
    • Updated 18 Apr 2016 21:28

    [​IMG] The only natural hot spring on the main island of Singapore, located at Sembawang. (Photo: Justin Ong)


    SINGAPORE: The potential redevelopment of Sembawang Hot Spring into a national park has drawn mixed reactions from Members of Parliament (MPs) and regular visitors - but calls for the 108-year-old locale to resist commercialisation and retain its rusticity have been unanimous.

    On Friday (April 16), the National Parks Board’s (NParks) senior director of Parks Development Kartini Omar confirmed the statutory board was working with the Urban Redevelopment, Singapore Land Authority and Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) on “the feasibility of using the area as a park”.

    This came after Sembawang MP Lim Wee Kiak suggested in Parliament on Tuesday (April 12) that the hot spring - one of only two such natural sources in Singapore, with the other located offshore on Pulau Tekong - could be converted into a park and a popular attraction for Singaporeans.

    In response, Senior Minister of State for National Development Desmond Lee said his ministry was exploring how to “sensitively enhance the area, in line with existing natural features, heritage and land use", while preserving its rustic characteristics.

    [​IMG]

    The entrance to the Sembawang Hot Spring.

    MORE CAN BE DONE: MPS

    Dr Lim and his fellow Sembawang MP Ong Ye Kung echoed this sentiment in rallying against the commercialisation of the spring and its “kampung” setting. But both agreed that “more can be done” for the place in terms of accessibility, amenities and awareness.

    “You may find information on the Internet, but many are still not aware of the existence of a hot spring in Singapore and even if they know, many have not visited it,” said Dr Lim. “It is currently on MINDEF land and relatively inaccessible. Although MINDEF allows limited public access, the place also does not have any toilet facilities.”

    The spring, which sits in a fenced-off area part of Sembawang Air Base, can be found by entering a small side gate along Gambas Avenue and walking down an approximately 100m-long path. MINDEF allows public entry between 7am and 7pm daily, free-of-charge.


    Added Dr Lim: “The current setup of taps is not conducive to visitors. I hope NParks can upgrade the place to let the hot spring flow into shallow pools for the public to enjoy in a relaxing garden environment.”

    [​IMG]

    The central "collection point" for the spring water.

    Mr Ong, meanwhile, revealed that the Sembawang MPs have been working with various Government agencies, including the Ministry of National Development, to “beautify the place and put in some amenities”. During last year’s General Election, he had suggested to residents that toilets, vending machines and benches could be added to the location.

    [​IMG]

    One of three areas in the compound where taps dispense spring water.

    According to electoral boundaries, the spring falls under the Nee Soon area and the care of MP Lee Bee Wah. “But because its name and history is associated with Sembawang, it has been the Sembawang MPs that have been talking about it and adopting the project. We are not so boundary conscious on this,” said Mr Ong.

    Nonetheless, Ms Lee told Channel NewsAsia that before finalising any plans, the Government should speak to the people who frequent the spring as well as residents of the area.

    If it is developed, it should retain its character as an open, public space for all,” she said. “We can provide useful facilities like a bathroom for people to change before and after soaking. But we should not over-develop the place and lose the sense of community - for example, some people leave buckets there for public use.”

    “People go there to enjoy the nature around too and the developments should not overwhelm the natural surroundings and biodiversity,” Ms Lee added.
     
  9. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    [​IMG]

    The spring's caretaker Ah Hua attempts to chase a monitor lizard out of the compound (Photo: Justin Ong)

    BURNISHING SINGAPORE’S REPUTATION AS A WATER HUB?

    Dr Chang Tou Chuang, a tourism geographer and associate professor at the National University of Singapore, also weighed in with suggestions on how to draw crowds to the Sembawang Hot Spring.

    “The area is undeveloped and hence can only support a small crowd of visitors. It needs a larger critical mass of attractions in order to attract more people, including tourists,” he said, proposing a “nature-themed attraction that perhaps complements the spring with other water-related amenities and facilities”.

    Dr Chang explained: “As Singapore is considered a water-technology hub with its water purification methods and development of urban reservoirs, something that enhances this reputation and is linked to the hot spring will be smart. Many places in our neighbouring countries have converted their tin mine wastelands into ponds, recreational sites and waterside hotels and restaurants. The water theme is highly appropriate for spas too.”

    [​IMG]

    A visitor dipping her feet in a pail full of spring water. (Photo: Justin Ong)

    “Having said this, Singapore does not have a reputation for being a spring water destination, like many parts of Japan and Taiwan as well as Baden-Baden (in Germany), Bath (in England) or Rotorua (in New Zealand),” he cautioned. “We therefore have to ensure that any new development does not come across as inauthentic and a pure fabrication of place and history.”

    The Sembawang Hot Spring was once a thermal bathhouse for Japanese soldiers, after their occupation of Singapore during World War II. Later in the 1960s, local media reported suggestions made to develop the area into a tourist spa resort, restaurant, miniature golf course or nature reserve - but none came to fruition.

    These ideas were put forth to local food and beverage conglomerate Fraser and Neave (F&N), who had acquired the land in 1921 after buying over an on-site spring water bottling plant established by the grounds’ original owner, Seah Eng Keong. According to a signboard at the entrance of the spring, it was not the Chinese merchant who first discovered the water in 1908, but a British soldier named William Arthur Bates Goodall.

    MINDEF acquired the land in 1985, and in 2002 built much of the present infrastructure, including the entrance gate, perimeter fence, cemented walkway, concrete floor and standpipes.

    [​IMG]

    This red building houses the well from which the spring water flows.

    KEEP IT PRISTINE: VISITORS

    At the height of the spring’s popularity in the early 2000s, it would register hundreds of visitors daily, claimed 72-year-old retiree Mr Chen. Speaking in Mandarin, he said he has been bathing in the spring since he was a child living in a nearby kampung.

    Mr Chen then related how the public were spooked and eventually left disinterested by the spring after an incident in 2002, when an elderly man lost six toes to gangrene after dipping his feet in the water - which was measured at a steaming 131°C in the late 1990s.

    [​IMG]

    For safety reasons, the well is kept behind double lock-and-key.

    These days, about 10 people - mostly senior citizens - drop by on weekdays while Saturdays and Sundays can see up to 100 visitors, said caretaker Ah Hua, 65, in Hokkien dialect. For three years now, he has been paid an undisclosed sum by MINDEF to keep the place clean and running.

    [​IMG]

    Caretaker Ah Hua declined a close-up photo for fear of "being scolded by the officer", he said in Hokkien.

    Both Ah Hua and Mr Chen were adamant that the spring be left untouched - unlike another regular visitor, 73-year-old Yong Guo, who said in Mandarin that it was important the place be enhanced to attract more people.

    [​IMG]

    Mr Yong visits the spring six times a week in a bid to improve his eczema and shoulder pains (Photo: Justin Ong)

    Sisters Jessie and Stella Buck, who are in their 50s, were at the spring for only their second and first time respectively. While they agreed with Mr Yong, they said that if the area were to be converted into a park, it should still remain free-of-charge and “low profile”, as the latter was what made the “environment enjoyable”.

    Also enjoying their virgin experience at the spring was the married couple of Hisham and Sofia Rafi, who are Indian citizens on a work attachment in Singapore. “There is not much information on the place from Singapore tourism sites. I learned about it through a friend,” said Mr Hisham, 33. “It’s also not that easy to find. There should be a sign on the main road.”

    [​IMG]

    A signboard inside the compound warns against washing clothes and selling ice-cream, amongst other curiosities.

    Another husband-and-wife duo, Mr and Mrs Tang, said they were drawn to the spring after hearing stories of the water’s supposed health benefits for those with skin, muscle and joint problems. Mr Tang, who has eczema and back pain, insisted that after soaking in the spring for the past half year, his condition is “getting better”.

    He also said that because the Sembawang Hot Spring is “so rare and the only one in all of Singapore, it should be kept pristine and raw, with not many people knowing about it”.

    “We don't want crowds,” added Mr Tang. “If it’s too popular, then maybe we won't come anymore.”

    [​IMG]

    (Photo: Justin Ong)

    - CNA/jo
     
  10. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Sports festival to be launched as part of National Day celebrations

    The festival, to take place from Jul 30 to Aug 7, will have three components: The Singapore National Games, nationwide family sporting events and a new grant to fund ground-up initiatives.
    • By Holly Matthews
    • Posted 10 May 2016 12:39
    • Updated 10 May 2016 15:38

    [​IMG] Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu with FedEx employees before a media briefing on the GetActive! Singapore initiative. (Photo: Sport Singapore)


    SINGAPORE: A week-long sports festival called GetActive! Singapore will be launched in the lead up to this year’s National Day celebrations, Sport Singapore (SportSG) announced on Tuesday (May 10).

    The festival, to take place from Jul 30 to Aug 7, will have three components: The Singapore National Games (SNG), nationwide family sporting events and a new grant to fund ground-up initiatives.

    The SNG, into its third edition this year, will include for the first time five para sports such as archery, swimming and tenpin bowling. It will also include four other sports, bringing its total to 21, up from 12 sports in 2014.

    Family sporting events will be held at the 15 ActiveSG centres around Singapore, and will include activities for children and families, as well as people with disabilities.

    "After the (ASEAN Para Games 2015), we realised that sport is a great way to get people with special needs involved in the society. It's a great way for them to realise their potential," said Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu at the media briefing for the festival.

    A new grant called Active Enabler will help fund sport-focused creative activities, ranging from mass participation events to workshops or seminars. It will subsidise up to 90 per cent of the event’s qualifying costs, capped at S$25,000 for projects and S$50,000 for mass events.

    The grant can also provide sport experts such as fitness instructors or coaches, sport and snack packs and even venues for events. Ten partners have already come on board, including FedEx and ComfortDelGro, SportSG said.
     
  11. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    IMF chief cites Lee Kuan Yew’s 'zero-tolerance' stance towards corruption as example for rest of world

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    Christine Lagarde. AP file photo


    Published: 7:53 AM, May 12, 2016
    Updated: 7:59 AM, May 12, 2016

    WASHINGTON — The International Monetary Fund said Wednesday (May 11) that bribery sucks up between US$1.5-US$2.0 trillion (S$2.04-S$2.73 trillion) annually around the world, dragging down economies and worsening social services for the poor.

    In a new report on the economic impact of corruption, the IMF said that bribery, graft and other cheating common in both rich and poor countries limits economic growth and undermines sound government policies.

    In a speech prepared for the global Anti-Corruption Summit in London Thursday, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said that more and more leaders are openly seeking help to fight the scourge.

    “Both poverty and unemployment can be symptoms of chronic corruption,” she said, according to the text of her speech.

    “While the direct economic costs of corruption are well known, the indirect costs may be even more substantial and debilitating, leading to low growth and greater income inequality.”

    Ms Lagarde dismissed the idea that corruption is a stubborn cultural phenomenon in many countries. In fact, it is common across cultures, and countries with diverse backgrounds have found ways to address it, she said.

    The late Singapore leader Lee Kuan Yew “was very effective in both signalling a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption and building competent institutions at a time when corruption was pervasive in Singapore,” she noted.

    The economic impact of corruption is hard to quantify, according to the IMF report released Wednesday. But despite claims that it helps “grease the wheels” to make economies work, the overall impact is very negative.

    The cost of bribery alone tops more than two percent of global gross domestic product — a broad measure of economic output — and because it is tainted, that money is often sucked out of economies to offshore havens, meaning it does not contribute to growth.

    Corruption perpetuates economic inefficiency, undermines public policy, and exacerbates inequality, the report says. It also scares off both domestic and foreign investors.

    “Investors actually seek out countries that can give them the assurance that, once an investment is made, they will not be blackmailed into providing bribes,” Ms Lagarde said.

    The report says that data shows that higher corruption generally correlates with lower social services for the poor. That in part is because government budgets in more corrupt countries get loaded up with the kinds of spending — like big-ticket projects — that offer greater graft opportunities.

    Ms Lagarde said that the IMF includes guidance on anti-corruption measures in its support programs for governments, because “pervasive corruption makes it harder to conduct sound fiscal policy.”

    Certain approaches have proven effective in a number of countries: paying civil servants more; setting up special anti-corruption courts; punishing companies for corrupt practices in other countries; and creating special offices to collect taxes from the largest taxpayers, to improve compliance.

    But Ms Lagarde also stressed the need for rule of law and firm leadership.

    “Prosecuting the powerful ‘big fish’ — which is necessary in order to send a clear signal of commitment and change — can only be achieved if a country’s leaders visibly support the process,” she said. AFP
     
  12. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Wah — there is Singlish in the Oxford English Dictionary
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    Singapore English phrases such as 'wah' and 'lepak' have been added to the Oxford English Dictionary. Photo: Screenshot from the Oxford English Dictionary website

    Several words and phrases commonly used in Singapore have been included in its lexicon

    By Christopher Toh
    christophert@mediacorp.com.sg -
    Published: 6:53 PM, May 11, 2016
    Updated: 7:00 PM, May 11, 2016

    These words include “char siu”, which the OED has defined as “In Cantonese cookery, roast pork marinated in a sweet and savoury sauce, typically served sliced into thin strips. Also used in char siu bun, char siu pork, char siew rice”; hawker centre, a term first used in 1966 to denote “a food market at which individual vendors sell cooked food from small stalls, with a shared seating area for customers); and killer litter, defined as “objects thrown or falling from high-rise buildings, endangering people below”, which was first coined in 1984.

    Along with these are words that offer new senses of common English words, such as “blur”, meaning “slow in understanding; unaware, ignorant, confused”; loanwords from Chinese, such as ang moh (“a light-skinned person, esp. of Western origin or descent; a Caucasian”); loanwords from Malay, such as shiok (“cool, great; delicious, superb”); and formations in English that are only used in Singapore, such as sabo (“to harm, inconvenience, or make trouble for (a person); to trick, play a prank on”) and HDB (“a public housing estate”).

    And of course, wah — “used (esp. at the beginning of a sentence) to express admiration, encouragement, delight, surprise, etc” — and lepak, which has been defined as a verb meaning “to loiter aimlessly or idly; to loaf, relax, hang out”. (Incidentally, this word was first used in an English sentence in 1993.)

    Apart from including these words and phrases, the OED is also asking for the public to help trace the history of two Singapore English words in this update (sabo and shiok) through OED Appeals, a dedicated community space on the OED website (http://public.oed.com/appeals/).

    The dictionary’s editors are soliciting help to unearth new information about the history and usage of these words and have asked the public to post evidence online, in order to foster a collective effort to record the unique contributions of Singapore to the evolving vocabulary of English.

    The appeal will remain open until June 10.

    Here is the list of all new Singapore English items in the OED in the March update (you can view the definitions here):

    ang moh
    blur
    char siu
    chilli crab
    Chinese helicopter
    hawker centre
    HDB
    killer litter
    lepak (as a noun)
    lepak (verb)
    lepaking
    shiok
    sabo (noun)
    sabo (verb)
    sabo king
    sotong
    teh tarik
    wah
    wet market
     
  13. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Many businessmen in S’pore, but few are like Dr Lee Seng Gee: PM


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    By REGINA LEE
    reginamariel@mediacorp.com.sg -
    Published: 2:29 PM, May 11, 2016
    Updated: 12:49 AM, May 12, 2016

    Mr Goh recounted this incident on Wednesday (May 11) at the wake of Dr Lee, who died on Tuesday at the age of 95. The wake at his home on Meyer Road, which began on Wednesday, drew politicians, Chinese community leaders, academics and students, among them President Tony Tan, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean and Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong.

    In his condolence letter to Dr Lee’s wife Della Lee, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong credited Dr Lee for continuing the family tradition of giving. Dr Lee was the eldest son of prominent businessman and philanthropist Lee Kong Chian, and the grandson of Tan Kah Kee.

    Under his watch, Lee Foundation became the largest private charitable foundation in Singapore, donated close to S$1 billion to causes “regardless of race, language and religion”, and “transformed countless lives”, said PM Lee.

    “There have been many successful businessmen in Singapore. But very few are like Mr Lee Seng Gee, who was even more successful as a philanthropist,” said PM Lee.

    “His life reminds us that success is not defined by the wealth you amass, but by your contributions to society ... Mr Lee’s life sets an example for us all.”

    ESM Goh said Dr Lee had been a modest and generous man. “Despite the wealth he had, you would never know because he never flaunted it. He channelled his wealth from Lee Rubber and OCBC into needy causes such as education and the poor,” said ESM Goh.

    Mdm Halimah Yacob, Speaker of Parliament, acknowledged Dr Lee’s generous contributions to Jamiyah Singapore in supporting the Malay community.

    “It showed the measure of the man, who really believed in supporting members of society to improve themselves,” she said.

    The Anglo-Chinese schools (ACS) also sent student leaders and principals from its six schools, and the group sang the ACS anthem as they gathered around the casket of Dr Lee, a former student.

    ACS chairman Richard Seow said the Lee family had been tremendous supporters of ACS. “Many of the Lees have also attended ACS schools, so there’s a multigenerational bond between the ACS schools and the Lee family, something that we’re grateful for,” he added.

    Others who attended the wake include Acting Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung, businessman Chua Thian Poh, Dr Lee Suan Yew, former Senior Ministers of State Zainul Abidin and Chng Jit Koon, former Cabinet minister Mah Bow Tan and Member of Parliament (Aljunied GRC) Pritam Singh.

    The wake ends with a funeral service on Thursday at 12.30pm, and the cremation to be held at Bright Hill Temple at 3pm.
     
  14. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    S’pore English part of language’s history, says Oxford editor

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    Dr Danica Salazar, World English Editor at the Oxford English Dictionary. Photo: Raj Nadarajan


    By Regina Marie Lee
    reginalee@mediacorp.com.sg -
    Published: 4:15 AM, May 18, 2016
    Updated: 10:07 AM, May 18, 2016

    SINGAPORE — For Dr Danica Salazar, world English editor at Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the Singaporean expression “blur like sotong” is like poetry to be proud of, and not something to be embarrassed about.

    “I think the phrase is wonderfully evocative. When I hear it, I think of this squid lost in a cloud of its own ink. It’s so creative,” said Dr Salazar, who is Filipino. “It strikes me as strange when people think of (such words) as things that are ruining the language.”

    Like creole in almost all countries, such “Singapore English” words and phrases reflect the speaker’s creativity and add to the richness of the English language, she said, noting that language is a convention where people agree to use words for specific meanings.

    “As long as these words have fulfilled a need, something that Singaporeans needed to express, there is nothing wrong with them,” added Dr Salazar in an interview at Lau Pa Sat yesterday. She is in Singapore for two talks happening today and this Saturday about the inclusion of Singapore English in the OED.

    She cited that while only Singaporeans use “HDB” to refer to public housing, the emergence of this word was a legitimate linguistic process, similar to how the British use “flat” and Americans use “apartment”.

    These indigenous variations were the spark for the OED to start a dedicated project in 2013 to add words to the historical dictionary from the English lexicology of different countries. With English now a global language spoken in different places, people will have different things to talk about and the vocabulary will adapt, said Dr Salazar.

    In varieties of English used across the world, new words are often borrowed from other languages, such as from Malay and Chinese in Singapore, she said.

    However, Dr Salazar pointed out that Singapore English is not the same as Singlish. While the former is a variant of English, Singlish is a language on its own with a different grammatical structure. It is also used mostly orally.

    As a dictionary that records the history of English, the OED needs to reflect the parts that Singaporeans, Filipinos, Indians and other English speakers play in the vocabulary, she added.

    In the OED’s latest update in March this year, 19 Singapore English words were added to the dictionary, such as “ang moh”, “lepak” and “shiok”.

    To add new words to the dictionary, editors track new words in local books, newspapers and other publications. They also consult local vocabulary experts, while readers highlight new words to the editors. Each entry is accompanied by authentic examples of the word being used.

    Often, the new words are gleaned from “normal everyday things that people read”, said Dr Salazar. When she visited Singapore in 2013, for example, she returned to Oxford with a pile of magazines — teenage, entertainment and gossip magazines. These platforms are where people write “more naturally” and new words crop up, she noted.

    Another observation that Dr Salazar has about studying Singapore English: Many of the new Singapore English words are food-related, such as “char siew” and “chilli crab”.

    “The difficult thing about working on Singapore English is it makes you hungry,” Dr Salazar quipped.

    The department also pores through historical material to find instances of a word’s use in the past. Probably unknown to many is the fact that the phrase “ang moh” was used as early as 1899, in an article in the Singapore Free Press.

    When the OED is next updated in June, Singaporeans can expect more Singapore English words to be added to the dictionary, said Dr Salazar. To be sure, there will be more food-related words, such as “chicken rice” and “rendang”, she added.

    Once a word is in the OED, it is a part of the history of English and is never removed. “Singaporeans can be rest assured that ‘chilli crab’ will be in the OED forever,” said Dr Salazar.
     
  15. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    PM Lee to visit Myanmar next month


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    Dr Vivian Balakrishnan with Ms Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday (May 18). Photo: Ministry of Foreign Affairs


    Published: 12:13 AM, May 19, 2016

    SINGAPORE — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will visit Myanmar next month where he will officially launch the Singapore-Myanmar Vocational Training Institute, said Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan on Wednesday night (May 18).

    He made the announcement at a dinner in Naypyidaw to commemorate the 50 years of diplomatic relations between Singapore and Myanmar, Channel NewsAsia reported on Wednesday.

    The institute is located in Yangon and will impart practical and employable skills to Myanmar youths. It will train some 800 mid-level skilled workers annually in the hospitality and tourism industry as well as facilities management and engineering services sector.

    Dr Balakrishnan who is currently in Myanmar for a three-day introductory visit as part of a series of high-level exchanges to commemorate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties, said at Wednesday’s dinner that both countries share close relations at various levels.

    The dinner was attended by about 160 people including his counterpart, Ms Aung San Suu Kyi.

    Singapore is Myanmar’s second largest cumulative foreign investor as of March this year, with S$18 billion worth of investments.

    “What these numbers and what these activities really mean is a vote of confidence. A vote of confidence in Myanmar and a vote for your future, and a commitment on our part to work closely with you to achieve the trajectory of progress and stability that the Myanmar people so richly deserve,” Dr Balakrishnan said.

    Ms Suu Kyi, who is also Myanmar’s State Counsellor expressed hopes that relations between Singapore and Myanmar will continue to strengthen.

    “As we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we can look back to the past with satisfaction because along these 50 years, our friendship has grown stronger. We have learnt to trust each other and I believe that in the future we will be able to enhance all these achievements. We hope, we believe that the friendship between our two nations will become firmer and more meaningful and that our cooperation will be not just for our countries but for our region and for the world.”

    Earlier on Wednesday, Dr Balakrishnan met with Ms Suu Kyi where they both reaffirmed the excellent and long-standing bilateral ties, said a press statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).

    “Minister Balakrishnan reiterated Singapore’s continued and steadfast support of Myanmar’s socio-economic development, through capacity building and sharing of experience in the areas of healthcare, education, infrastructure development, national unity and social integration.

    “They also discussed expanding bilateral cooperation in tourism, trade and investment, including the possibility of negotiating a bilateral investment treaty and improving air links,” the statement said.

    Dr Balakrishnan also met with Union Minister for Education Dr Myo Thein Gyi.

    Both Dr Balakrishnan and Dr Myo Thein Gyi discussed ways to further strengthen collaboration in education, particularly in the areas of pedagogy and training of teachers, said the MFA statement.

    “Dr Myo Thein Gyi thanked the Singapore Government for establishing the Singapore-Myanmar Vocational Training Institute (SMVTI), a flagship project in our vocational education cooperation which will benefit Myanmar’s youths. Both sides expressed their commitment to ensuring the success of the SMVTI, which Minister Balakrishnan will be visiting tomorrow,” the statement added.

    Besides visiting the institute, Dr Balakrishnan will also meet with the Chairman of the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party, Mr Thein Sein, on Thursday.
     
  16. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    8 national monuments to get S$2.22m in grants for facelifts


    The Hajjah Fatimah Mosque on Beach Road, a recipient of the NMF’s...
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    By Kelly Ng
    kellyng@mediacorp.com.sg -
    Published: 4:15 AM, May 20, 2016

    SINGAPORE — Eight national monuments will undergo a facelift this year, receiving S$2.22 million in grants to offset the cost of restoration works.

    For the first time, a new category of funds will also be disbursed for regular maintenance works, such as termite inspections, investigations of building defects, removal of vegetation on monuments and minor repairs. About S$100,000 will be given to 20 national monuments for this purpose.

    The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, which was gazetted in 1973 and is the Republic’s oldest Roman Catholic church, will receive the largest disbursement of S$1.37 million from the National Monuments Fund’s (NMF) restoration fund this year.

    Other recipients are the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, St Joseph’s Church, Nagore Dargah Indian Muslim Heritage Centre, and four first-time recipients — the Armenian Church of St Gregory, the Church of Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Hajjah Fatimah Mosque and Chinese temple Tan Si Chong Su.

    Works that may be supported under the restoration fund include urgent structural repairs and major restoration works to preserve historic and architectural features.

    Including the latest grant, the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd has received the largest disbursement to a single national monument, totalling S$2.85 million. The cathedral will use this year’s disbursement towards reinstating the interiors of the church, said the National Heritage Board (NHB), which assesses applications for the NMF.

    The cathedral closed its doors in 2013 for major restoration works to address structural defects and foundation issues. Its total restoration cost is expected to be S$11.8 million.

    The Hajjah Fatimah Mosque will use the grants to repair its walls and repaint its facade in mineral paint, among other things.

    The NMF was first introduced eight years ago with a pool of S$5 million dedicated to monument restoration works. Last year, it got a boost from a second tranche of S$11.77 million, including S$2 million set aside for maintenance, in recognition of the “growing needs of our national monuments”, said the NHB.

    Ms Jean Wee, the statutory board’s director of preservation of sites and monuments, said: “Maintaining old buildings like our national monuments is not an easy task, and requires much commitment and funds from the owners. We recognise this, and with the enhanced NMF we are able to help more monument owners with the rising costs of such works. This is a joint effort to ensure that our monuments will be preserved for posterity.”
     
  17. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    CGH’s paper on sailing injuries published by top British journal


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    Dr Benedict Tan conceived the study to analyse injury statistics among sailors in three new Olympic classes. Photo: Ernest Chua

    Study is first of its kind in the world, and took two years to complete

    By Low Lin Fhoong
    linfhoong@mediacorp.com.sg -
    Published: 10:33 PM, May 20, 2016

    “As an academic and researcher, it is very prestigious ... it is a feather in the cap,” said Dr Tan on Friday (May 20). “I’m also pleased because BJSM covers a lot of Olympic sports and sailing is one of them ... so the readership is an appropriate one.”

    The study tracked sailing-related injuries and illnesses among athletes competing in the 2014 World Championships, which saw 1,167 participants competing across 10 Olympic categories on Santander, Spain. It found that sailors in Olympic classes were sustaining more injuries, but that the injuries were more severe than in the past, with the trend attributed to the introduction of faster and more physically demanding boats since the 2000 Olympics — the men’s 49er, women’s 49er FX and Nacra 17.

    Common injuries sustained among these classes include the lower back/lumbar spine, knee, shoulder, and ankle.

    With six of the 14 acute fractures reported in the past 12 months coming from the 49erFX class, the foot strap was cited as one of the main causes for injury.

    The insights from the study will play a important role in impacting clinical practice in the future, and help in the development of injury prevention intervention.

    Added Dr Tan: “The data in the research study will be useful in designing drills and conditioning exercises specific to sailing classes to prevent and reduce sailing injuries. Following a few high profile sailing fatalities, the head injury data we collected will help to facilitate a constructive debate on the mandatory use of helmets in sailing.”

    According to Dr Tan, they are also collaborating with a university to design a releasable foot strap to reduce ankle and other injuries in the skiff classes.
     
  18. koo_fan

    koo_fan Regular Member

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    Oh my god Uncle Loh, I cant believe your loyalty this thread. It's amazing. I hope you stay well and happy.
     
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  19. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Thank you my dear. :)
     
  20. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Sisters’ Islands Marine Park to be conservation site


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    Sisters' Islands Marine Park. TODAY file photo


    By Kenneth Cheng
    kennethcjw@mediacorp.com.sg -
    Published: 4:15 AM, May 23, 2016
    Updated: 12:00 PM, May 23, 2016

    SINGAPORE — The Sisters’ Islands Marine Park is set to become a site for marine conservation, research, outreach and education, under plans revealed by the National Parks Board (NParks) on Saturday.

    The 40ha park, the first marine park in Singapore, stretches around the Big Sister’s and Small Sister’s Islands, and along the western reefs of St John’s Island and Pulau Tekukor.

    On Big Sister’s Island, a floating pontoon will be set up by early 2018, while intertidal pools and a boardwalk will be installed by the end of that year. These will allow the public to get up-close with marine and terrestrial biodiversity. A coastal plant conservation area and forest trails will also be established.

    Small Sister’s Island, meanwhile, will be home to the Republic’s first turtle hatchery and a coral nursery by the end of next year, among other things. It will also be a site for marine conservation research, playing host to visits by schools and organisations to learn about the marine research taking place in the country’s waters.
     

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