Singapore Also Can

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

  1. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Sakura season, Singapore style: NParks just collated an amazing bunch of photos of cherry blossom lookalikes all over the island

    Sean Lim
    April 4, 2019


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    Mervyn Tan,
    Ling Kin Joo

    With flowering trees and petal paths, Singapore is experiencing its very own sakura season – well, almost.
    On Wednesday (April 3), the National Parks Board (NParks) shared on its Facebook page a photo series of cherry blossom lookalikes, captured by people in Singapore, blooming in all their glory.

    Here are all the photos, and where they were taken.

    Nparks said that this is a Lagerstroemia speciosa along Tampines Road, captured by Ling Kin Joo.

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    Ling Kin Joo
    Here’s a closer look at the pretty pink flowers.
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    Ling Kin Joo

    This photo depicts a few Tabebuia roseas, also known as trumpet trees, and fallen flower petals. It was taken at North Buona Vista Road by Mervyn Tan.

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    Mervyn Tan
    Mervyn Tan’s photo is of this Tabebuia pallida, also referred to as trumpet tree, at West Coast Park.
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    Mervyn Tan

    A row of trees with pink and white flowers captured by Soh Ze Bin at Ulu Pandan Park Connector.
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    Soh Ze

    A close-up of the delicate-looking, pastel pink flowers

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    Soh Ze Bin

    There are also blooming yellow flowers during this sakura-styled season in Singapore. Andrew Tan’s photo is of these Macfadyena unguis-cati, also known as cat claw ivy, along Havelock Road.

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    Andrew Tan

    Roads at Clementi Avenue 6 are lined up with orange Bougainvilleas, as seen in this photo taken by Abdul Rahman Sultan

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    Abdul Rahman Sultan

    But while Singapore’s trees have their own unique beauty, they’re still a far cry from the real cherry blossoms in Japan this spring.
     
  2. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    NUS and NTU take joint 11th place in latest QS university rankings

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    TODAY file photo

    NUS maintained its 2019 position at 11th, while NTU jumped one spot up from 12th last year.

    Published19 June, 2019
    Updated 19 June, 2019
    SINGAPORE — The National University of Singapore (NUS) and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) have claimed joint 11th placing in the latest edition of the Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings.

    The 2020 edition of the QS rankings, which ranks the world's top 1,000 universities, was released on Wednesday (June 19).

    NUS maintained its 2019 position at 11th, while NTU jumped one spot up from 12th last year. This makes NUS and NTU the best-placed Asian universities in the latest rankings, with China's Tsinghua University joining them in the top 20.

    “The remarkable global standing of our local universities attests to the quality of Singapore’s higher education system,” said an NUS spokesperson in a statement.

    In its press release, QS said NUS has a better reputation than NTU among academics and employers. On the other hand, NTU has the edge in terms of its smaller class sizes and larger research impact.

    “Singapore’s top two universities are a model for higher education excellence: high academic standards, a highly international outlook, and small classes designed to facilitate the sort of teaching that creates highly employable critical thinkers,” said QS director of research Ben Sowter.

    Mr Sowter also pointed out that both NUS and NTU received lower scores this year for their faculty to student ratios and international student ratios.

    “Efforts must be made to ensure that the state’s universities do not suffer the same teaching capacity pressures as their European and Australian peers,” he cautioned.

    In a statement, NTU said that its new leadership team under its fourth President, Professor Subra Suresh, has overseen the hiring of top talent over the past year-and-a-half.

    NTU added that its Presidential Post-doctoral Fellows programme, launched in 2018, attracted applications from nearly 900 young people from top institutions around the world, for 12 positions this year.

    Singapore Management University was the only other Singapore university to feature in the rankings. It ranked 477th, moving up 23 places from its previous ranking of 500th in 2019.

    The 2020 QS World University Rankings surveyed more than 94,000 academics and 44,000 employers to rank the world’s top universities from 82 countries.

    Six performance indicators — academic reputation, employer reputation, citations per faculty, faculty to student ratio, and the proportions of international faculty and international students — were used in the assessment.
     
  3. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    https://worldtop20.org/global-unive...MIt7eC8Pn04gIVlCQrCh3X8g4AEAAYASAAEgL9I_D_BwE

    Top 20 Project Mission: Educate Every Child on the Planet

    Home Global Universities Rankings

    Global Universities Rankings

    The 5th Annual World Top 20 Project’s Global Universities Rankings were produced to measure the quality of education and training for students 18 to 25 year olds, as well as, the university’s economic and social impact in promoting their country’s sustainable development.

    500 Universities were chosen, that meet NJ MED’s World Top 20 project objectives to: 1) improve nation’s attainment and achievement levels towards establishing a knowledge base workforce for the 21st century, and 2) promote social skills that positively affect community development.

    The Universities were then ranked in eight global regions (Africa, Asia, Caribbean, Central America, Europe, Oceania, North America, and South America). The 20 universities with the highest overall scores were selected for the World Top 20 rankings.

    The World Top 20 Universities Rankings for 2019
    How You Would Improve Your Country’s Education System? Survey


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    The information about each university’s:
    • Graduation Rate
    • Employment Rates
    • Admission Requirements
    • Tuition Cost
    • Scholarship Opportunities
    • International Student Aid, and
    • News Updates
    Is here on the College Review Page
    Everything You Need to Know to About College

    The 2019 Global Regional Rankings of the Top 5 Universities are:

    Africa
    1. University of Cape Town – South Africa
    2. University of the Witwatersrand – South Africa
    3. Stellenbosch University – South Africa
    4. University of KwaZulu-Natal – South Africa
    5. University of Pretoria – South Africa
    Asia
    1. Nanyang Technological University of Singapore (NTU)
    2. National University of Singapore, Singapore
    3. The University of Tokyo, Japan
    4. Tsinghua University -China
    5. Peking University – China
    Caribbean
    1. Universidad de la Habana – Cuba
    2. Universidad de Puerto Rico – Puerto Rico
    3. University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez – Puerto Rico
    4. University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras – Puerto Rico
    5. University of the West Indies – Jamaica
    Central America
    1. Universidad de Costa Rica – Costa Rica
    2. Universidad Nacional- Costa Rica
    3. Tecnológico de Costa Rica -TEC – Costa Rica
    4. Universidad Latinoamericana de Ciencia y Tecnologia, Costa Rica
    5. Universidad Tecnológica de Panamá
    Europe
    1. University of Oxford, UK
    2. University of Cambridge, UK
    3. Imperial College London, UK
    4. ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Switzerland
    5. UCL (University College London), UK
    Oceania
    1. The University of Melbourne – Australia
    2. The University of Sydney – Australia
    3. The Australian National University – Australia
    4. The University of Queensland – Australia
    5. The University of New South Wales – Australia

    North America
    1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), USA
    2. Harvard University, USA
    3. Stanford University, USA
    4. California Institute of Technology (Caltech), USA
    5. Princeton University, USA
    South America
    1. Universidade Federal de Sao Paulo – Brazil
    2. Universidade Estadual de Campinas – Brazil
    3. Universidad de Buenos Aires – Argentina
    4. Pontificia Universidad Catoilca de Chile
    5. Universidad Federal do Rio de Janeiro – Brazil
     
  4. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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  5. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    #9645 Loh, Jun 19, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2019
  6. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore Airlines voted second best airline in the world behind Qatar Airways
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    REUTERS
    Qatar Airways is the first airline to have been named the world’s best five times.

    Published19 June, 2019
    Updated 19 June, 2019
    SINGAPORE — Qatar Airways has beat Singapore Airlines (SIA) to the title of best airline in the world this year, at the 2019 World Airline Awards in Paris on Tuesday (June 18).

    Last year, SIA clinched the top honour while Qatar was second. This year, the positions were switched.
    With this latest award, Qatar Airways has also become the first airline to have been named the world’s best five times.

    ANA All Nippon Airways came in third, while Cathay Pacific and Emirates rounded out the top five in this year’s awards.

    Though it missed out on the biggest prize, SIA won accolades in four other categories: world’s best cabin crew, world’s best first class, world’s best first class seat and best airline in Asia.

    Qatar Airways was also named world’s best business class, world’s best business class seat and best airline in the Middle East.

    AirAsia was crowned the world’s best low-cost airline, and EVA Air the cleanest.

    “All of today’s award-winning airlines are voted for by customers, and the focus of our annual survey is for travellers to make their own, personal choices as to which airlines they consider to be best,” said Mr Edward Plaisted, the chief executive officer of Skytrax, which organises the awards.

    The winners of the 19th World Airline Awards were determined through an online survey, with 21.65 million eligible entries collected from Sept 2018 to May 2019.

    Voters who took part came from over 100 countries and picked their favourites out of more than 300 airlines that were included in the survey.
     
  7. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore tops list of leading maritime capitals for fourth time
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    Singapore's port is one of the world's busiest, with container throughput hitting 36.6 million 20-foot equivalent units and vessel arrival tonnage hitting 2.79 billion gross tonnes last year.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

    Published
    Apr 11, 2019, 5:00 am SGT

    Zhaki Abdullah
    azhaki@sph.com.sg

    Singapore has again clinched the top spot in a biennial ranking of the world's leading maritime capitals, the fourth time it has done so.

    The Republic has consistently topped the Leading Maritime Capitals of the World report - released once every two years by risk management firm DNV GL and consultancy firm Menon Economics - since 2012 when it was first published.

    The latest report was released yesterday at the Sea Asia conference, held in conjunction with Singapore Maritime Week.

    Coming in second was Hamburg in Germany, with Rotterdam in the Netherlands placing third. Hong Kong was in fourth place, while London came fifth.

    The report assessed 15 maritime capitals based on five areas - shipping, maritime finance and law, maritime technology, ports and logistics, as well as attractiveness and competitiveness.

    Singapore's port is one of the world's busiest, with container throughput hitting 36.6 million 20-foot equivalent units and vessel arrival tonnage hitting 2.79 billion gross tonnes last year.

    Singapore topped the list in three areas - shipping, ports and logistics, and attractiveness and competition.
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    "The strong results on both the objective indicators and expert assessments affirm (Singapore's) relevance as a critical node within the maritime sector regionally and globally," said the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) in a statement.

    However, for maritime technology, Singapore placed eighth - a drop from the second-place ranking it clinched in 2017.

    DNV GL Maritime regional manager Shahrin Osman said this was because the report looked at factors such as the amount of equipment produced, as well as the value of assets delivered.

    In these areas, cities like Oslo in Norway and London - which came first and second respectively for maritime technology - are "well ahead" of Singapore, noted Mr Shahrin, who co-authored the report.

    "Singapore should continue to invest in maritime research and development, as well as education," he said, noting that this would help improve its ranking in this area.

    He added that efforts such as the Singapore Maritime Data Hub could aid Singapore in meeting the challenges of the ongoing digitalisation of the industry.

    Noting Singapore's fifth place for maritime finance and law, Singapore Shipping Association (SSA) executive director Michael Phoon said the industry needs to "maintain a hard focus on bringing up ship financing". He noted that the SSA had in recent years tried to raise awareness of capital and financing issues for shipping through forums and conferences.

    The report took in the views of 200 maritime experts, who predicted Singapore would retain its top spot over the next five years.

    However, they noted stronger competition from other cities such as Shanghai, which they tipped to rank second to Singapore in five years because of the growing influence of China's economy.

    Also highlighted in the report was Singapore's ongoing efforts to strengthen its attractiveness as a maritime centre, which have been well received by the industry.

    MPA chief executive Quah Ley Hoon said Singapore's ranking first was an affirmation of its "commitment to develop and grow the maritime industry", though she noted the Republic cannot rest on its laurels. "We are in one of the fastest growing regions in the world, and we will be looking at how to plug into the growth of Asia and Asean so we can continue to tap the increasing inter-Asia trade."
     
  8. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore teachers working fewer hours, but still more than international peers: OECD survey

    By Faris Mokhtar

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    TODAY file photo

    The global survey of schools found that Singapore teachers are now working fewer hours than they were in 2013 though some teachers here dispute this finding.

    Published19 June, 2019
    SINGAPORE — Teachers here are working about two hours less a week than five years ago, but are still clocking in more time than their international peers, a major global survey found.

    The survey, published on Wednesday (June 19), showed that Singapore teachers work 46 hours on average every week, of which 18 hours are spent on teaching, with the rest spent on other work such as administrative matters and school activities.

    It is the second time that Singapore has taken part in the five-yearly Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Teaching and Learning International Survey, which was last done in 2013. The OECD is an intergovernmental body representing 36 developed economies, though the survey extended beyond its member countries.

    The 2018 report showed that Singapore teachers’ working hours are slightly shorter than their working hours in the 2013 report, which were at 48 hours a week. They are also teaching one more hour a week than the 17 hours in the 2013 report.

    Speaking to reporters after a briefing on Wednesday, Mr Wong Siew Hoong, director-general of education from the Ministry of Education, attributed the change largely to a reduction in administrative work.

    However, the teachers are still working longer hours than their counterparts in other countries, who clocked in an average of 39 hours a week, the survey showed. In 2013, the international average was 38 hours.

    And globally, even though they work fewer hours overall, teachers are engaged in teaching for 21 hours on average — three more hours a week than teachers in Singapore.

    The survey was first conducted in 2008 and is done every five years. This year the number of countries taking part rose from 33 to 48 and polled more than 250,000 teachers. A total of 3,280 lower secondary school teachers from 157 secondary schools and a random selection of 12 private schools in Singapore were surveyed.

    The education systems involved in the survey included those from Australia, Britain, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Russia, Shanghai in China, the United States and Vietnam.
    Here are the key findings from the report:

    SHORTER HOURS FOR TEACHERS

    The OECD survey showed that for teachers here, time spent on administrative work fell from 5.3 hours a week in 2013 to 3.8 hours last year. However, it is still higher than the international average of 2.7 hours.

    Similarly, there was a drop in the time set aside for marking — from 8.7 hours in 2013 to 7.5 hours last year. Still, this is significantly higher than the international average of 4.2 hours.

    What teachers say: Four teachers teaching the lower secondary level, who spoke to TODAY on the condition of anonymity as they were not supposed to speak to the media, said that they did not feel their working hours have been reduced.

    Most of their time is spent on administrative work, planning lessons as well as co-curricular activities and other school activities, they added.

    Those interviewed said that they clock from 47 hours to more than 52 hours a week, taking into account the hours spent on some Saturdays due to co-curricular activities.

    A teacher in his 30s at Temasek Secondary School said that he works on average 9.5 hours a day and some half-days on Saturdays. “Administrative work takes up a substantial part of my time, but I’m not bogged down by it,” he said. “Some of the administrative processes are beginning to be digitalised, so, not too bad.”

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    Source: OECD

    However, another teacher at Commonwealth Secondary School, who is in her 20s, suggested that the survey makes a “wrong” assumption that teachers here do not spend more time teaching compared with their peers in other countries.

    “We spend a lot of time planning lessons, trying to introduce creativity and innovation in the classrooms and that helps a lot with learning,” she added.

    “Teachers in other schools might spend more time teaching, but not necessarily invest time in coming up with such lesson plans. So, when it comes to teaching, it’s important not just to look at the hours, but other factors taking place outside the classroom.”

    What MOE says: Touching on the shorter working hours, Mr Wong told reporters: “This is indeed gratifying to know, because the ministry has put in quite a number of initiatives to try and reduce teachers’ administrative workload. “For example, in terms of attendance marking (and) in terms of the consent form that is necessary when they want to take the students out on learning journeys.”

    TEACHING STUDENTS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS

    More than a third of Singapore teachers — or 35 per cent — surveyed have undergone training to teach students with special needs, significantly higher than the 23 per cent figure in the 2013 survey.

    There was also an increase in teachers expressing the need for such training, from 15 per cent in 2013 to 20 per cent last year.

    These figures though, are lower than the international average, where 43 per cent have undergone training in the area, while 22 per cent said that they want such training.

    The OECD report stated that, on average, 19 per cent of teachers here work in classes where at least 10 per cent of the students have special needs. This is markedly lower than the international average of 27 per cent.

    For Singapore teachers, the need for training in the area comes as a growing number of such students enrol in mainstream schools, with the size having doubled from 13,000 in 2013 to about 26,000 last year.

    In addition, 17 per cent of school principals reported that the “delivery of quality instruction in their schools is hindered by a shortage of teachers with competence in teaching students with special needs”, compared with 32 per cent across the other OECD countries.

    What teachers say: Teachers interviewed said that as more students with special needs enter mainstream schools, teachers should be better trained to deal with their emotional and learning needs.

    A teacher at Bukit Batok Secondary School said: “Helping them requires patience, and some of my peers I know, have said they are exasperated and at a loss on how to help them. If we want to be more inclusive, teachers have to get as much training in this area as we do in other areas.”

    What MOE says: Describing the findings as “useful”, Mr Wong said that schools have become “increasingly inclusive” as there are more students with special needs taking up the mainstream curriculum. Teachers, he added, are also “trying their best” to effectively help such students.

    “And the teachers, through the survey, have indicated the need for more professional development in these areas,” Mr Wong noted. “We have been doing this and we will be reviewing this to see what more professional development programmes our teachers can undergo to make them more effective teachers in supporting students with special needs.”

    OTHER FINDINGS FROM THE SURVEY
    • Just like in the 2013 survey, Singapore teachers are markedly younger than their international peers. They are 38 years old, on average, compared with the international average of 44 in the 2018 report.
    • More than 95 per cent of the teachers surveyed here said that they joined the profession for two key reasons: Wanting to influence the development of children and contribute to society.
    • More than 95 per cent of teachers also said that they are “well-trained” in areas such as subject content, teaching pedagogy and classroom practice as part of their induction training. The figures in these areas are higher than the international average of between 88 and 92 per cent.
    • When it comes to equality and diversity in schools, all of the teachers here said that it is important to treat students from all socio-economic backgrounds equally. Students, they added, should learn that people of different cultures have a lot in common.
    • The survey also showed that 99 per cent of Singapore teachers organise multicultural events compared with the international average of 55 per cent.
    • Likewise, 98 per cent support activities or organisations that encourage students of diverse ethnic and cultural identities, while only 61 per cent of teachers from other countries do so.
     
  9. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    NUS scientists develop world’s first blood test to accurately detect Alzheimer’s disease

    By Kimberly Lim

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    TODAY/ Kimberly Lim

    Assistant Professor Shao Huilin (left) from the National University of Singapore's Institute for Health Innovation & Technology, with two other members of the research team that developed the blood test to detect Alzheimer's disease.

    Published24 June, 2019
    Updated 24 June, 2019

    SINGAPORE — A team of researchers at the National University of Singapore (NUS) has developed a new blood test to detect Alzheimer’s disease that it says is the fastest and most accurate in the world.

    The Amplified Plasmonic Exosome (Apex) system is able to detect mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s disease, which leads to severe dementia, and can provide results within an hour, after analysing certain proteins in blood samples.

    Currently, there are three ways to diagnose dementia: A neuropsychological test, spinal fluid sampling and brain Positron Emission Tomography (PET) imaging.

    The most common method is the neuropsychological test, while the PET scan is considered the most accurate test on the market now.

    The brain PET imaging uses a special dye which contains radioactive tracers, that patients would have to either inhale or receive it through an injection. The patient would then have to wait an hour for the tracer to be absorbed by the body.

    The areas of the brain containing disease would then appear as coloured spots on the PET scan.

    Assistant professor Shao Huilin from NUS Institute for Health Innovation & Technology (NUS iHealthtech), who led the study, said: “The clinical study shows that the Apex system can accurately identify patients with Alzheimer’s and those with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). It also differentiates them from healthy individuals and patients suffering from other neurodegenerative diseases.”

    She added that the blood test shows “comparable results with PET imaging, the current gold standard for Alzheimer’s diagnosis”.

    The blood test is expected to be in use in hospitals and general practitioner clinics within the next five years, Prof Shao said, adding that it will priced at around S$30.

    The current design can test 60 samples simultaneously, with the results being available in less than one hour.

    Last year alone, dementia affected 50 million patients worldwide and the number is expected to increase to 82 million by 2030 and 152 million by 2050.

    Every year, there are more than 9.9 million new cases of dementia diagnosed worldwide.

    A study conducted by Singapore's Institute of Mental Health in 2015 estimated that one in 10 people in Singapore over the age of 60 had dementia. It also projected that there would be more than 100,000 dementia patients here in a few years’ time.

    Prof Shao hopes that this new blood test will be able to help stem the tide.

    “With this new blood test to enable early detection for Alzheimer’s disease, we think that it can offer many new opportunities for intervention and management. For example, by encouraging lifestyle changes, more active participation in cognitive as well as physical activities, we can regulate the progression of the disease.”

    The early detection of Alzheimer’s can also help facilitate the discovery and development of new drugs, she added.

    Out of the 84 patients involved in the clinical study, all 68 who have dementia or neurovascular compromises were diagnosed by the blood test.

    Prof Shao noted that for now, there is no good blood-based method to effectively screen and monitor Alzheimer’s, making the NUS test a world’s first.

    “New tests that are under investigation have either poor accuracy or low sensitivity. The Apex technology addresses both of these limitations and is therefore a very powerful and objective companion diagnostic system to complement existing clinical and neuropsychological tests for early detection and better management of the disease,” she said.

    She added that the convenience of blood tests will also be able to allow doctors to monitor a patient’s response to treatment.

    “This technology can be easily scaled up for large-cohort clinical validations and drug evaluation.”
     
  10. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Can Singapore Airlines overtake Qatar Airways as world's best airline?

    By David Leo
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    Changi Airport/Facebook

    For SIA, it is not easy staying at the top, as other airlines are catching up fast, says the author.

    Published25 June, 2019
    Updated 25 June, 2019
    Qatar Airways took top spot in the 2019 Skytrax World Airline Awards ranking, switching places with last year's winner, Singapore Airlines (SIA).

    In an annual exercise which does not see significant movement among the ranks, the close rivalry between the two airlines for the top honour seems to be the only exciting news. Eight out of the last 10 years since 2010, SIA ranked one position behind Qatar.

    The exceptions were in 2010 when SIA was second and Qatar third, and in 2018, when SIA was named the world's best airline.

    There are a couple of worthy observations to be made of the latest Skytrax survey, which since its launch in 1999 has become widely recognised as an industry benchmark. Over 21 million people were surveyed.

    First, consistency makes a winning trait. Every year, you can expect to see in the top 10 list perennial favourites – besides Qatar and SIA, names such as All Nippon Airways (3rd this year), Cathay Pacific (4th), Emirates (5th), EVA Air (6th) and Lufthansa (9th). Like SIA, both Cathay and Emirates were four-time winners in the past.

    So an airline can deservedly give itself a pat on the back wherever it is placed in the top 10, allowing some leeway for subjectivity, bias in the composition of respondents, and weightage as expected of all surveys.

    But, of course, it is a big deal to be declared the overall winner. With it comes extensive global news coverage and publicity. On that score you can't blame SIA if it felt sore being pipped by Qatar yet again.

    Qatar became the first airline to win the award five times, an honour that would have been SIA's had it won again this year.

    It appears SIA has lost the edge of yesteryear to a better player. Its win last year marked a commendable comeback after 10 years, reliving the hope of the previous decade when it won three times in 2004, 2007 and 2008.

    But it was short-lived. Does it look like Qatar has become an unbeatable foe?

    One may be quick to think cash-rich Middle East airlines enjoy an unfair advantage considering the wonder that money can do.

    But to SIA's credit it has held its own, winning the award of the world's best first class. Qatar was not even a close second but fifth after Lufthansa, Air France and Etihad Airways in that category.

    The first class product has been SIA's forte since its inception. But that's not good enough to beat Qatar in the Skytrax ranking, despite SIA winning the award for world's best cabin crew to boot.

    Today's focus seems to weigh in more heavily on the business class product for which Qatar came up tops, followed by ANA and SIA in second and third placing respectively.

    This is probably the fiercest battleground among airlines, which explains how many of them have been upgrading their product in recent years.

    Flat beds are no longer a desired but essential feature. Seats are being designed increasingly to provide maximum privacy.

    Qatar no doubt impresses with its new cubicle-like Qsuite which has its own door. There is a double bed option, and quad configurations allow businessmen to confer and families to share the private space.

    It should be said that SIA's business class too is impressive. According to Skytrax, its spacious seat is the best in Asia.

    In its early days, SIA was known to be a leader in innovation. It has lost the lead somewhat in some fields in recent years, but the good news is that SIA as a latecomer still manages to catch up and make it to be among the best.

    An example is premium economy. For some time after Cathay hyped up interest in the renewed product as a sub-class in its own right with its own cabin, SIA resisted following suit until 2015.

    Today it was voted the best premium economy in Asia, second only to Virgin Atlantic worldwide in the 2019 Skytrax survey.

    To be sure, the survey and other similar ones can be skewed by the halo effect of the premium service. The playing field for economy class is pretty much level, but the competition has led to an increasing push for differentiation.

    According to Skytrax, Japan Airlines ranked first in this category, followed by SIA and Qatar in second and third placing respectively.

    You may then wonder how SIA, being better than Qatar for both first and economy but second to Qatar for business, is not the winner. It all comes down to the weightage.

    A second significant observation of the Skytrax survey is how easy it is to fall from grace. Asiana Airlines, ranked 28th in the 2019 survey, was the world's best airline in 2010 and stayed in the top 10 list for six consecutive years until 2014.

    In subsequent years it kept tumbling four or five notches down.

    A second significant observation of the Skytrax survey is how easy it is to fall from grace. Asiana Airlines, ranked 28th in the 2019 survey, was the world's best airline in 2010. Until 2014, it was a familiar brand in the top 10 list. But in subsequent years it kept tumbling four or five notches down.

    Etihad Airways is another example.

    It did reasonably well for eight years until 2018 when it was ranked 15th and a year later suffered a dramatic decline to the 29th spot.

    We can surmise that service inconsistency and falling standards contributed to these airlines' decline.

    Fortunately for SIA, the corollary holds true and poses a different challenge — it is not easy staying at the top. Other airlines are catching up fast.

    According to the latest Skytrax survey, SIA fell behind Emirates and Qatar for in-flight entertainment; behind EVA Air, JAL and ANA for cabin cleanliness; behind EVA Air for economy class catering; and behind five others namely ANA, Thai Airways International, JAL, EVA Air and China Airlines for airport services.

    However, SIA may find vindication in a different survey. Skytrax may be prestigious but not definitive. Conde Nast readers, for example, have voted SIA as the best airline for all but one of the last 30 years of the awards, scoring top marks for seat comfort, in-flight service and reliability.

    It also gets praise for continually upgrading its product. In the last Conde Nast survey announced in 2018, Qatar Airways was ranked third behind SIA and Emirates.

    It will be interesting to see if the 2019 Conde Nast survey replicates that of Skytrax. If Qatar beats SIA, then SIA needs to seriously look at what it needs to do to regain the top spot.

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
    David Leo is a published author and an aviation veteran, having worked in airline and airport operations for 30 years.
     
  11. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Ultra-sensitive artificial skin developed by NUS may give robots, prosthetics improved touch

    By Lauren Ong

    [​IMG]
    Lauren Ong/TODAY
    Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee (third from right) and some members of his National University of Singapore team, who have developed sensitive electronic skin that could be in commercial use in machines within two years.

    Published18 July, 2019
    Updated 18 July, 2019
    SINGAPORE — Viral online videos poke fun at robots struggling to open doors or lift coffee cups but their seeming inability to master the sense of touch could change, thanks to a breakthrough by a team of Singapore researchers.

    The team from the National University of Singapore (NUS) has just unveiled an electronic skin (e-skin) that can detect touch 1,000 times faster than the human nervous system.

    The breakthrough, published in the prestigious scientific journal Science Robotics on Thursday (July 18), could lead the way to much nimbler robots and could even provide a better sense of touch for prosthetic devices fitted to people.

    The e-skin is called Asynchronous Coded Electronic Skin (Aces), and is inspired by the human sensory nervous system.

    The e-skin detects signals and differentiates physical contact like a human being. But unlike nerve bundles in human skin, the electronic nervous system is made of a network of sensors, connected with a single electrical conductor.

    According to Assistant Professor Benjamin Tee, who leads the team of nine from the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the NUS Faculty of Engineering, the sense of touch is an integral element in helping humans navigate the physical world, saying that “without it, we will even lose our sense of balance when walking”.

    “Similarly, robots need to have a sense of touch in order to interact better with humans, but robots today still cannot feel objects very well,” he said in a press release.

    The artificial skin provides a simple wiring system that can improve the responsiveness of artificial intelligence (AI) applications in robots, increasing the sensitivity of the machine to its surroundings and facilitating more effective functioning.

    E-SKIN COULD HELP ROBOTS IN DISASTER RECOVERY

    The development could also advance the use of intelligent robots that could perform disaster recovery tasks or take over mundane operations such as packing items in warehouses.

    The innovation is an immense development from traditional sensor arrays that feature synchronous systems which can detect physical contact only one by one with each scan.

    The Aces technology however, enables all sensors to work simultaneously, making detection much faster.
    Functioning as an artificial nervous system, the unique sensor system can respond 1,000 times faster than the human sense of touch. It can even accurately identify the shape, texture and hardness of objects within 10 milliseconds, which is 10 times faster than a blink of an eye, according to the NUS team.

    Asked if the technology’s high responsiveness might be too strong for its own good, Prof Tee said there is a risk of being too responsive, but added that the level of responsiveness can be adjusted according to the needs of the applications it is being incorporated in. This refinement is already in the works, he added.

    With the application of this artificial skin, robots can better handle objects such as doors and cups, adjusting to pressure, temperature and texture among many other factors that mirror the human touch.

    FASTER MANUFACTURING PRODUCTION

    Prof Tee projects that this could help lower the cost of manufacturing production, noting that the new technology could aid machines in completing more than one task, which is often the case for machines used in manufacturing industries.

    Prosthetic devices and other human machine interfaces such as virtual reality could also benefit from the breakthrough. Clinical trials for the implementation of the e-skin in prosthetic devices are already in the works and will be starting next year with an international candidate who will be implanting a hand prosthetic.

    This could mean restoring a sense of touch to individuals who need prosthetics.

    Prof Tee postulates that machines that use the artificial skin could hit the commercial market within two years. But while recognising that the “field is progressing quickly”, commercial products for humans might still need to wait five to 10 years.

    The NUS team filed for a patent for the technology in 2017. It is looking towards adapting its design to achieve even greater robustness to physical damage.

    “Our sense of touch, for example, does not get affected when we suffer a cut. If we can mimic how our biological system works and make it even better, we can bring about tremendous advancements in the field of robotics where electronic skins are predominantly applied,” said Prof Tee.

    The NUS team said that pairing Aces with the transparent, self-healing and water-resistant sensor skin layer also recently developed by Prof Tee’s team creates an electronic skin that can self-repair, like the human skin. This type of electronic skin can be used to develop more realistic prosthetic limbs that will help disabled individuals restore their sense of touch.
     
  12. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore scientists discover new cancer drug that could be alternative to chemotherapy

    [​IMG]
    IMCB researchers from left: Min Thura, Joel Xuan En Sng, Abhishek Gupta, Qi Zeng, Nicholas Yan Zhi Tan, Abdul Qader Al-Aidaroos. (Photo: A*STAR)

    01 Aug 2019 04:49PM (Updated: 01 Aug 2019 04:50PM)

    SINGAPORE: Singapore scientists have discovered a new antibody drug that could potentially be used as an alternative for chemotherapy in treating cancer.

    In a scientific advisory issued on Thursday (Aug 1), the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*STAR) Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB) announced the findings of a study that had been published in scientific journal Nature Communications on Jun 6.

    The findings revealed the scientists had generated PRL3-zumab, a humanised antibody. Using antibodies to attack cancer cells in the body is a form of cancer immunotherapy that harnesses the immune system to kill cancer cells.

    PRL3-zumab targets the PRL-3 protein, a tumour antigen that promotes cancer growth and is found in about 80 per cent of 11 common cancers the researchers examined.

    This targeted treatment does not damage surrounding healthy cells that do not express PRL-3.

    [​IMG]
    The immunofluorescence image depicts cancer cells expressing PRL-3 tumour antigen, which the PRL3-zumab antibody drug binds to (green); healthy cells with Tiam antibody labelling as control (red). (Image: Professor Qi Zeng, Research Director, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IMCB), A*STAR)

    Professor Qi Zeng, research director at IMCB and lead researcher of the study, said: "PRL3-zumab represents an innovative and disruptive approach to cancer therapy, as it is highly targeted to cancer cells and has less side effects compared to traditional cancer drugs."

    Traditionally, chemotherapy targets cells that grow and divide quickly. This means that other than killing cancer cells, it can also affect other fast-growing healthy cells, like those of the hair, skin, intestines and bone marrow.

    The IMCB research team first tested on animal models and found that the PRL-3 mouse antibody could suppress tumour growths that expressed the PRL-3 antigen in gastric, liver, lung, ovary, breast, acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and kidney cancers.

    The team has also been testing the PRL3-zumab on human tumour samples since 2012 and results showed that the antibody can be used against a broad spectrum of common cancers, including those of the liver, lung, gastric, breast, colon and kidney.

    In 2018, PRL3-zumab completed Phase 1 clinical trials at the National University Cancer Institute and will soon be undergoing Phase 2 to test for efficacy and proof of concept of the therapy.


    Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/new...cancer-drug-chemotherapy-alternative-11772274
     

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  13. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Moving turtle eggs a labour of love as hundreds of volunteers help find nests in Singapore

    By Wong Pei Ting


    [​IMG]
    National Parks Board's staff members and volunteers taking up the delicate task of transplanting nearly 100 turtle eggs from East Coast Park to safer surroundings at the Sisters' Islands.

    Published21 August, 2019
    Updated 21 August, 2019

    SINGAPORE — Two trails across the sand, half-dug holes and a pile of loose sand.

    They may not look like much to a casual observer, but to the trained eye, they are all tell-tale signs that the critically endangered Hawksbill turtle or endangered Green sea turtle has freshly nested.

    As many as 200 volunteers with the National Parks Board (NParks) have been busy trying to spot signs of these creatures since nesting season started in June.

    And partly because so many volunteers are now patrolling Singapore’s coast into the wee hours of the night, recorded turtle activity has seen an encouraging uptick. Some of these volunteers have even been camping overnight on the Southern Islands that are accessible only by boat.

    From 2005 to 2016, only 66 turtle sightings were recorded in Singapore. Although not a directly comparable figure, last year alone, there were 62 nest-related sightings.

    This suggests that more turtles than previously thought — Hawksbills in greater numbers than Green sea turtles — treat Singapore’s shores as safe havens.

    Historically, turtles have been slaughtered for their meat, skin and shells. More recently, the busy waters that serve as their habitat have been made perilous through large-scale fishing equipment and potentially lethal plastic waste.

    Sightings of the creatures in Singapore also bring opportunities to witness baby turtles emerging from their shells during nesting season.

    Last year, conservationists from NParks were able to monitor births from nine clutches of eggs — all of them turned out to be Hawksbill eggs — and to help orientate the hatchlings back into the sea.

    [​IMG]
    The critically endangered Hawksbill turtle is found in tropical waters, including around Singapore. This one is in a coral reef in the Maldives. Photo: Andrey Armyagov/Shutterstock.com

    As mother turtles sometimes nest on parts of Singapore’s coastline which see significant human traffic, three of these nine clutches had to be dug out of their chambers and shifted to Sisters’ Islands to increase the hatchlings’ chances of survival. Typically, each clutch has more than 100 eggs.

    The smaller of the two Sisters’ Islands — out of bounds to the general public — is where Singapore’s first turtle hatchery is located. It was launched in September last year within the wider Sisters’ Islands Marine Park.

    These figures were given by the authorities as TODAY tagged along on the second of this year’s relocation efforts on Wednesday (Aug 21). The event saw close to 100 eggs being dug up and transplanted from East Coast Park onto Sisters’ Islands.

    Estimated to be 51 days old, the eggs are due to hatch this Sunday. Turtle eggs usually hatch on the 55th to 60th day.

    This particular clutch was discovered by a student researcher from the National University of Singapore who volunteers with NParks, and the agency made the call to move it because it was located near a construction site. Over the last two months, volunteers had found hatchlings getting lost there.

    Mr Collin Tong Hor Yee, senior manager of the coastal and marine branch at NParks’ National Biodiversity Centre, said that the newborn turtles could have been disoriented by the bright lights from the site’s equipment at night.

    Baby turtles rely on moonlight reflected off the ocean’s surface to find their way into the sea.

    HOW THE EGG SHIFTING IS DONE

    Relocation is tedious, exacting work where one false move can destroy the life within an egg. Work for the crew started at 7.30am and ended after noon.

    Mr Tong and his team first removed a metal netting that had been placed on top of the nest to protect the eggs from predators such as monitor lizards, ghost crabs or monkeys since the “smell of (the mother turtle’s) mucus” would be strong in the first few days.

    The mesh cannot be magnetic, Mr Tong pointed out, because the turtles take cues from the earth’s magnetic field to navigate themselves as they enter the water. It is "like a compass" so that they recognise how to return to their birthplace to mate and lay their own eggs.

    The Hawksbill turtle’s egg chamber that was excavated on Wednesday was 42cm deep, but Mr Tong’s team could not use tools to dig in case they accidentally hurt the eggs.

    Using their bare hands, they scooped out the dry grainy sand little by little to uncover the clutch, which held 152 eggs, of which 44 appeared to have already hatched and 10 appeared deflated or under-developed.

    Six eggs were suspected to be unhealthy, possibly fungal-infected, and were placed in a pail lined with damp sand. The rest of the 92 “good” eggs were put in another pail.

    [​IMG]
    The eggs must be handled very carefully, because rotating them can kill the embryonic turtles. Photo: Wong Pei Ting

    Mr Tong explained that when the eggs are lifted from the chamber to be placed in the pail, they cannot be rotated because that can kill the embryos, which are attached to the top of the shells. When they are moved, they must be placed on the same side as when they were found in the nest.

    His team delayed the transplanting effort because the eggs are best left alone for the first three weeks after they were laid.

    Over at the hatchery on Sisters’ Islands, Mr Tong’s team created a 42cm-deep hole similar to the chamber that the mother turtle had dug, and started gently placing the eggs back into the sand — again observing the same crucial rule of not rotating the eggs.

    The hole was dug within one of the hatchery’s three purpose-built metal cages by the beach to protect the hatchlings and eggs from predators, such as monkeys living on the island.

    A temperature logger is used to ensure the eggs are kept in a 29°C environment, which is ideal to ensure a mix of male and female hatchlings. Too cold, and all the hatchlings will turn out male. Too hot, and all of them will be female, research found.

    [​IMG]
    NParks staff members and volunteers spent all morning on Wednesday (Aug 21) to carefully transplant turtle eggs. Photo: Wong Pei Ting

    As the hatchery is not manned round the clock, a motion sensor is attached to the cage to detect any activity and will alert someone once hatchlings emerge, so that the turtles can be returned to the ocean.

    Apart from the newly relocated batch of eggs, the remote Sisters’ Islands are home to two other clutches of identified nests which are being monitored, with the eggs left where they were laid. The eggs are due to hatch on Sept 4 and 18.

    A TURTLE’S FAILED ATTEMPT

    Just as the relocation work was about to be completed on Wednesday, an excited Dr Karenne Tun, NParks’ director of the coastal and marine branch, hurried over, exclaiming that fresh tracks were spotted on an adjacent beach.

    It was 11am, and Dr Tun said: “The turtle just left two hours ago. The fellow spent six hours on land instead of two hours.”

    She and other NParks personnel gauged the turtle's time spent onshore based on the tide and tracks that are still visible on the sand. Another indicator was that the points of entry and exit were far apart.

    She held high hopes that the turtle had laid some eggs, noting that she had seen tracks like this only twice over the last three years when her department had ramped up work on turtle conservation. “She spent a long time on land, so hopefully there is a nest.”

    But on closer inspection, it appeared that the turtle had walked a long way inland, dug two holes along the way and made more uncommitted attempts, before waddling back into the sea disappointed. The team could not find any deposit of eggs despite running their fingers through the loosened sand.

    How do they know? It was clear that there was a “disturbance” in the area, Dr Tun remarked, tracing the turtle’s path by its tracks on the sand, and loose sand where its flippers had ruffled. The turtle possibly deemed the two holes it dug unsuitable: One had big roots which may have grown into the eggs, and it couldn’t dig deeper with the other.

    “She (the turtle) might try again tomorrow,” Dr Tun said, still hopeful. Nesting season does not end until the start of October.


    Read more at https://www.todayonline.com/singapo...ising-singapores-conservation-efforts-succeed
     
    #9653 Loh, Aug 21, 2019
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2019
  14. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Rising sea levels: Not urgent or too close to home? Residents in the east give their views

    By Navene Elangovan

    [​IMG]
    Ooi Boon Keong/TODAY

    Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that when sea levels rise in future, a long stretch on the east coast from Changi to the city will increasingly be at risk.

    Published21 August, 2019
    Updated 22 August, 2019

    SINGAPORE — One was so assured that she would encourage her children to live near Singapore’s eastern coastline even 50 to 100 years from now.

    Another wondered if construction work being done to deal with rising sea levels would block the views from his flat.

    In getting a quick gauge of how residents living in the eastern part of Singapore think about the future impact of climate change, TODAY found that for some of them, climate change was too far down the road to be a cause for worry.

    Others were impressed that the environmental issue was finally getting national attention, but all were generally supportive of the measures to counter the problems related to it.

    In his National Day Rally speech last Sunday (Aug 18), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had addressed the consequences of climate change, calling it a “life and death” matter.

    He also warned that the areas along the east coast from Changi to the city, as well as Jurong Island, are “more vulnerable” to rising sea levels.

    In an email to TODAY, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) said that these areas are up to 4m above sea level and will increasingly be at risk when sea levels rise.

    For instance, the city to East Coast area, which cover Changi Airport, Marine Parade and the Central Business District, will see a higher risk of flooding.

    “If these areas are not properly protected, they would be severely impacted in the event of a flood,” its spokesperson said.

    PM Lee said that the Government is studying several options — which could cost S$100 billion or more — to build coastal defences against rising sea levels. One of these is to build dykes and polders along the coastline.

    Another option is to reclaim a series of islands from Marina East to Changi, and then connect them up with barrages and create a reservoir similar to Marina Reservoir.

    ‘I DON’T KNOW IF I’ll STILL BE AROUND’

    Among the 10 residents living in the east approached by TODAY, Mr You Hun Wei, 44, a freelance consultant, said he does not think that rising levels will occur in the next few years.

    “I don’t know if I will still be around by the time (sea levels rise in 50 to 100 years’ time), so my concerns are more immediate,” the Marine Terrace resident said.

    For example, the possible construction work in the area. He wondered if the solutions proposed by the Government could result in a “barricade” which would obstruct the views from his flat.

    “It may also take very long to construct a reservoir, and I don’t know how that might impact those of us living in the neighbourhood,” Mr You added.

    PM Lee had talked about the building of polders, which are tracts of reclaimed land that are low-lying or lie below sea level. It is encircled by dykes and water levels are controlled by man-made systems and pumps.

    Ms Lim Choo Hin, 57, who lives along Marine Drive, said it is a good idea that the Government is considering these solutions, but she hopes that the infrastructure would still allow for residents to continue with their usual activities such as swimming.

    The Government should consult with residents before going ahead with any changes, the office manager added.

    With the weather getting hotter in recent years, she also hopes that the authorities will build covered walkways to shield residents from the heat.

    Ms Angie Ng, 61, is another resident who did not view rising sea levels as a threat in her area. The transport operator used to live at Jago Close before moving to Bedok South earlier this year.

    She has faith that the area will “feel safe” even 50 to 100 years from now and would encourage her children to still live in the east coast area. “It’s a nice place, very close to the sea and the air is very fresh. (You) can do a lot of exercising.”

    'BIGGER FISH TO FRY'

    Younger residents such as undergraduate Varun Santosh Ambike, who lives along Tanjong Rhu Road, said it was good that the issues of rising sea levels and climate change are coming up in conversations now.

    “At least over the next few decades, we can make the necessary preparations for it,” the 22-year old said.

    Mr Rishvinder Singh, 25, a teacher who lives in Bedok South, is confident that the Government’s plans would bear fruit. The proposed solutions, such as the plan to construct a reservoir, were “tried and tested”, as proven by the effectiveness of Marina Barrage and reservoir, he said.

    Simei resident Tay Zi Hang, a 23-year-old undergraduate, is glad that there are some solutions “in the pipeline” and it is reassuring to know that he would have a “liveable space” in the east of Singapore in the future.

    However, several of the interviewees believe that more could be done by the Government to tackle climate change.

    Mr Tay said that “mitigation measures” aside, alleviating the root of the problem and joining the global action against climate change was “the bigger fish to fry”.

    “There needs to be more debate, more discourse and more action which hopefully lead to more investment, research and bigger-scale decisions that will help to make a difference.”

    Mr Alvin Tan, artistic director of theatre group The Necessary Stage, said that it should not be viewed merely as a concern affecting only those living in the east.

    “Climate change is a problem that is national and global. It won’t hit the east, it will hit the whole island…It’s one problem that everybody faces together and the world has to transcend our differences and respond to it collectively,” the 56-year-old Telok Kurau resident said.

    Read more at https://www.todayonline.com/singapo...oo-close-home-residents-east-give-their-views
     
  15. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    What if Singapore does not have 50 to 100 years to deal with climate change?

    By Benjamin Horton

    [​IMG]
    THE NEW YORK TIMES

    The Beaufort Sea in the Arctic, a region that is warming rapidly. The author says studies suggest there is a one in 20 chance sea-level rise in Singapore could be in excess of 2.5m by 2100, more more than the 1m forecast commonly cited.

    Published21 August, 2019
    Updated 21 August, 2019

    I watched Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s National Day Rally speech on Sunday (Aug 18) night. It was the single most impressive talk about the threat of sea-level rise by a political leader.

    In particular, Mr Lee balanced talk of urgency with hopeful and creative ideas to inspire positive change. Mr Lee made it clear that climate change is a matter of life and death for Singapore.

    Having studied the issue for 25 years, I am also very worried about sea-level rise and strongly believe that we must urgently act on it. I am the only scientist in Singapore to be part of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) working group that produced a report on the physical science of climate change.

    There is a phrase “if you knew what I knew”. Mr Lee noted that the UN has projected that sea levels will rise by 1m by the end of this century but that scientists’ estimates have been going up and sea levels may rise higher and faster than that.

    I would say that we should be careful about underestimating the risk. Published peer reviewed studies by myself and other members of the IPCC suggest there is a one in 20 chance sea-level rise in Singapore could be in excess of 2.5m by 2100.

    With such a grave threat, the PM said a variety of adaptation measures must be sought.

    We need to identify the potential solutions that could reduce flood risk from sea-level rise in ways that support the long‐term resilience and sustainability of communities and the environment, and that reduce the economic costs and risks associated with flood damage.

    Mr Lee set out a bold vision to respond to rising sea levels by building new islands, dykes or polders. You could say this is an “offensive strategy”, and a reflexive response based on the sporting principle that offence is the best defence.

    Singapore is taking inspiration from abroad. Kiribati is negotiating to buy over 2,000 hectares of land in neighbouring Fiji onto which to move its 113,000 citizens if necessary, even though Kiribati’s official government website concedes that national survival is unlikely.

    The Marshall Islands face a similarly stark choice: Leave or elevate. The country is looking for ways to reclaim land and build islands that are high enough to withstand rising seas.

    And the Maldives — the poster-child victim, if there can be one, of rising sea levels — is attempting to reclaim, fortify and build new islands, and relocate when necessary.

    PM Lee specifically cited the Netherlands as an example in dealing with the threat of sea level rise. The Dutch do not view climate change as a threat, but rather as an opportunity to make the country more resilient, more attractive and economically stronger.

    Sea-level rise adaptation is a window of opportunity to upgrade infrastructure, increase biodiversity and more meaningfully engage citizens on counter measures. I agree with Mr Lee that this is the mindset Singaporeans should follow.

    The way he outlines possible solutions that Singapore can adopt suggests that there is scope for further consultation on the issue between the Government and Singaporeans.

    The Dutch are known as an industrious people who have successfully kept the sea at bay for centuries. But importantly, the sea level that they have been fighting for their entire history was not rising.

    This situation is now being seriously disrupted by warming seawater and melting glaciers and ice sheets, leading to an accelerating sea-level rise.

    In order to keep the seawater at bay in the Netherlands, the dykes will need to be raised. As a result, the polders behind them will become relatively deeper, making them more vulnerable and more expensive to maintain.

    In deciding on the path forward, Singapore requires robust and accurate local projection of sea-level rise. Singapore must invest in the science of sea-level rise before it spends S$100 billion or more on adaptation measures. Science should come first, and then responsible, cost-effective adaptation can follow.

    If for example, the science shows that sea-level rises are much higher and faster than the projected 1m by 2100, then there will be serious implications for Singapore.

    This is because the time to deal with the threat and to implement adaptive measures will be significantly shortened.

    Mr Lee had said that if Singapore has only 10 years to solve the problem, it won’t have enough time or resources to do it. “But because this is a 50- to 100-year problem, we can implement a 50- to 100-year solution to this problem,” he said.

    Sea-level rise isn’t the only climate threat to Singapore. There are problems associated with heat, rainfall and drought.

    By 2045, Singaporeans could face some days of the year when temperatures soar as high as a scorching 40 degrees Celsius. We have already seen evidence of the changing climate.

    2018 was the eighth warmest year on record, with all months except January hotter than average. We had the second warmest December on record. We also saw a number of extreme weather events including cooling in January, flooding, heavy rainfall, winds, hailstones.

    In 2019, we have had record-breaking heat and drought. This was something I predicted in a Straits Times Article last year.

    The Meteorological Service Singapore said that July was the second warmest and single driest July on record. The hot, dry weather led to a sharp increase in the number of vegetation fires in the first six months of this year, reaching a three-year high.

    So what can we in Singapore do to stop contributing to greenhouse gas emissions and delaying climate change?

    We must meet the Paris Agreement on climate change and global emissions to keep the rate of sea-level rise manageable. This is urgent.

    Climate scientists, such as myself, have warned there are only 11 years for global warming to be kept to a maximum of 1.5°C above preindustrial levels (as the PM Lee said, we are already 1°C warmer), beyond which even half a degree will significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat and sea-level rise.

    A rise beyond 1.5°C means sea-level rise will not be a 50- to 100-year problem that we can solve.

    To meet the goal of limiting global warming, we must live sustainably.

    Because of the magnitude and scope of the problem, sustainability is one of those rare issues that if we don’t get it right, we may not be able to reverse, we may not be able to adapt sufficiently.

    So in summary, we have only a small window to get it right or we risk facing terrible consequences.



    ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

    Professor Benjamin Horton is Chair of the Asian School of the Environment, Nanyang Technological University.

    Read more at https://www.todayonline.com/comment...oes-not-have-50-100-years-deal-climate-change
     
  16. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Explainer: How Singapore will fund its S$100b effort to mitigate climate change effects

    By Janice Lim

    [​IMG]
    TODAY file photo

    The Ministry of Finance said the Government will use various sources to fund the estimated S$100 billion needed to mitigate the effects of climate change over the next 50 to 100 years.

    Published 21 August, 2019
    Updated 22 August, 2019

    SINGAPORE — The Government will use a combination of sources to fund the S$100 billion needed over the coming decades to mitigate rising sea levels caused by climate change, said the Ministry of Finance (MOF) in response to TODAY’s queries.

    During Sunday’s (Aug 18) National Day Rally, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong outlined various climate change mitigation measures Singapore could undertake to protect itself against rising sea levels — which he called a matter of “life and death”.

    Whether it is building polders — low-lying reclaimed land protected by embankments — reclaiming offshore islands or building dykes, Mr Lee estimates that all these will cost the Government about S$100 billion over the next 50 to 100 years.

    Amid ongoing debates around the world on “intergenerational justice” with regards to funding climate change measures, an online survey conducted last month by Mediacorp had found that young Singaporeans and permanent residents here are split between getting the present generation to directly foot the bill via taxes, and tapping the reserves which have been described by government leaders and experts as Singapore’s "precious nest egg".

    TODAY explains the possible sources of funding.

    WHERE WOULD THE MONEY COME FROM?

    A “combination of funding methods” would be required, said an MOF spokesperson on Tuesday.

    Three methods were cited by the ministry:

    1. Small-scale infrastructure such as localised flood-proofing measures may be funded from the budgets of individual ministries

    2. Larger, long-lived infrastructure could be funded by borrowing money to “better spread the spending among the generations which will benefit from the infrastructure”.

    3. Under the existing framework, land reclamation costs — which would include building polders — could be drawn from the past reserves. These past reserves refer to the surplus funds accumulated during previous terms of Government, and they are protected by the Constitution.

    1. TAXES, RETURNS ON INVESTMENTS

    The first method of funding is straightforward and it would include the traditional methods of revenue generation such as taxes, as well as the returns and income generated from investing the reserves along with other assets by sovereign wealth fund GIC, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and state investment firm Temasek Holdings.

    2. BORROWING WHICH 'SPREADS THE COST' OVER GENERATIONS

    CIMB economist Song Seng Wun expects the second method of funding — which he said could involve borrowing through the issuing of Government infrastructure bonds — to be used more for climate change adaptation measures.

    Bonds are sold to investors over a fixed period, and make regular payments to investors at an agreed percentage rate. When the fixed period is over, investors get their original money back. Government bonds tend to be popular as they are very safe, and bonds issued by the Singapore Government have been rated triple A by rating agencies.

    The borrowing method was first mooted by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat in the 2018 Budget as a means of funding some major infrastructure projects, as a way to spread out borrowing costs over generations.

    While Singapore’s reserves are more than sufficient to fund S$100 billion, Singapore Management University’s law professor Eugene Tan said that borrowing would ensure “inter-generational equity”.

    Given that future generations would benefit more from climate change adaptation measures, they may have to bear the burden of repayment, he said.

    However, he cautioned that the divide between the present and future generations should not be overemphasised.

    The present generation of Singaporeans would also benefit from an early start in climate change preparations as it would “give businesses confidence that whatever money they sink into Singapore… would not be underwater”, said Assoc Prof Tan.

    3. USE OF THE RESERVES

    Drawing down the past reserves in the event the current term of Government runs into a deficit requires approval from the President.

    Under MOF’s existing framework, the past reserves are used to fund land-related projects, such as land reclamation, the creation of underground spaces such as the Jurong Rock Cavern, and land acquisition projects like the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme (Sers).

    “This is a conversion of past reserves from one form (financial assets) to another (state land). The land and space that is created or acquired forms part of our state land holdings and is hence protected as past reserves,” stated MOF on its website.

    It also said that such a method of spending does not constitute drawing down of past reserves as the proceeds derived, when such land is subsequently sold, go back to the past reserves.

    Proceeds from land sales which accrue fully to the past reserves are also used for such land-related projects.

    Hence, given that polders are a type of land reclamation, the ones being built at Pulau Tekong now, as mentioned by Mr Lee, and future ones that could be built as part of climate change adaptation measures could be financed from the reserves, said the MOF spokesperson.

    The ministry said it is also studying other options for funding climate change adaptation measures.

    Given that the building of coastal defences would be a major priority, analysts said that it is possible for the Government to tap the reserves more frequently in the future for such projects.

    Given that the risks arising from rising sea levels are “life-threatening”, Mr Song believes they warrant the use of the reserves.

    “It’s not like building an MRT station, or expanding a road or building a school or hospital. All these things are recurrent and can be adjusted. Whereas when a country, a nation’s life and economy is at risk, then that is a very different kind of criterion, which is what these built-up reserves are meant to be used as a buffer for the country,” he added.

    Calling such spending “necessary”, Assoc Prof Tan said the use of reserves to build polders is a principled approach.

    “We are really in a privileged position because we actually have the financial muscle to be able to not just start on climate change adaptation but also to sustain it. The bottomline ultimately is we need a fairly robust economy to be able to generate the savings to build past reserves,” he added.

    Read more at https://www.todayonline.com/singapo...illion-effort-mitigate-climate-change-effects
     
  17. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Climate change will cripple economies regardless of countries' wealth: Report

    [​IMG]

    REUTERS

    A man walks in a torrential downpour in Ellicott City, Maryland, April 30, 2014. Flooding has become more commonplace as peak temperatures continue to rise.

    Published21 August, 2019
    Updated 21 August, 2019

    NEW YORK — Climate change will damage the economies of countries whether they are rich or poor, hot or cold by the year 2100, economists said in a new report, dispelling the notion that impoverished, warm countries will suffer the most on a warming planet.

    Researchers who examined data from 174 countries over 50 years found that persistent temperature changes above or below a country's historical norm adversely affected economic growth, regardless of how warm a country is.

    The United States could see a 10% loss in gross domestic product (GDP) without significant policy change.

    "In the UK we had the hottest day (ever) recorded a few days ago and infrastructure came to a halt," Dr Kamiar Mohaddes, a co-author and a professor of economics at Cambridge University told the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Tuesday (Aug 20).

    "Trains aren't running, people aren't coping, and therefore productivity and economic growth falls."

    Research has often focused on short-term devastation to poor, warm countries, but the report suggested that wealth and cooler temperatures are no protection from climate change's economic toll if major policy changes are not adopted.

    In a "business as usual" scenario where climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions are not drastically lowered, the average global temperatures will increase by 4°C by 2100.

    That would bring more than a 7% loss in world GDP per capita, said the study published on Monday by the US National Bureau of Economic Research, a non-profit economic research organization.

    The 2015 Paris Agreement, a global pact to fight climate change agreed to by nearly 200 countries, aims to keep the Earth's temperature rise well below 2°C, striving for 1.5°C.

    But even that would require a radical reduction of climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions, a landmark UN report found last year.

    The economists' research focused on the United States due to its varied climates, and found that ignoring the Paris accord's goals would affect industries from manufacturing to agriculture, costing the United States more than 10% of its GDP per capita.

    "The average American household will be poorer," Dr Mohaddes said, and noted other industrialized countries could be similarly impacted.

    Canada, which is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, could expect a 13% loss in income, while Switzerland could see a 12% cut and India would se a 10% GDP per capita drop.

    But adhering to the Paris Agreement goals could hold the loss in the United States to under 2%, the report said.

    US President Donald Trump vowed in June, 2017 to pull the United States out of the international agreement, dealing a major blow to the effort to affect climate change. The earliest that could happen is November, 2020.

    The report also suggested that while some countries are likely to adapt to climate change, they are unlikely to act in time to ward off all the negative effects to their economies.

    "We need to have much stronger mitigation," said Dr Mohaddes. "If we do commit to Paris, the losses are substantially lower. It's not too late."

    Researchers from the universities of Cambridge, Southern California, Johns Hopkins, and the National Tsing hua University in Taiwan as well as the International Monetary Fund, contributed to the report. REUTERS

    Read more at https://www.todayonline.com/world/c...-economies-regardless-countries-wealth-report
     
  18. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    55,000 students to benefit from moves to make higher education more affordable, accessible: MOE

    By Cynthia Choo

    [​IMG]
    Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Thursday (Aug 22) that the Government will pump in S$44 million more in funding per year to pay for the enhanced bursaries.
    TODAY file photo

    Published 22 August, 2019
    Updated 22 August, 2019

    SINGAPORE — Some 55,000 Singaporean undergraduates and diploma students — a majority from low-income families — are expected to benefit when increased government bursaries for higher education kick in from the next academic year.

    To fund these bursary enhancements, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung said on Thursday (Aug 22) that the Government will be pumping in S$44 million more per year — with this figure expected to go up with inflation — on top of the current annual funding of S$123 million.

    For some undergraduate students from low-income households, this will mean additional subsidies of more than S$2,000 a year.

    Another key initiative is also to encourage low-income students to take up medicine and dentistry degree courses by significantly subsidising medical studies, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said.

    The ministry said that 30,000 of the 55,000 beneficiaries are expected to be students from low-income families, or those that have gross household incomes of less than S$4,000 a month.

    In general, government bursaries are extended to undergraduates and diploma students from lower- to middle-income households with gross incomes from less than S$2,750 to S$9,000.

    In a media briefing on Thursday, Mr Ong revealed details behind the move to make higher education more affordable and accessible, which was first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the National Day Rally on Sunday.

    WHY IT MATTERS

    Improving accessibility to higher education for students from lower-income households is integral in boosting social mobility.

    This has been a hot-topic issue in recent years, with recognition among government leaders that widening inequality, if left unchecked, can have dire social and political consequences for society at large.

    Mr Ong said on Thursday that such efforts were essential to increase social mobility.

    “Fundamentally, it was a social consideration… that as we do better in education, and more Singaporeans can participate (in higher education), including those from low-income households, we have to increase the bursary to help others,” said Mr Ong.

    “Costs cannot become an impediment for a family with the hard work, talent and aptitude to upgrade their lives and get a better future for themselves,” he added.

    He highlighted that across government bursaries for diploma students and undergraduates, more subsidies are given to those in the lowest income households.

    Help and resources will be “heavily weighted” towards those in the lowest income tier, said Mr Ong.

    MORE NEEDY STUDENTS IN POLYTECHNICS AND UNIVERSITIES

    In addition, Mr Ong said that there is a need to boost bursaries as the proportion of needy students who have progressed to university and polytechnics has also increased.

    Currently, 21 per cent of students in universities come from households in the lowest 30 per cent in terms of socio-economic status (SES), which takes into account parents’ educational qualifications and housing type. Fifteen years ago, this figure was at 13 per cent. In polytechnics, 52 per cent of students come from low-SES households today, up from 38 per cent 15 years ago.

    KEY ANNOUNCEMENTS

    So how will the higher government grants for diplomas, general university degrees, medicine and dentistry studies translate into savings for students?

    HIGHER BURSARIES: UNIVERSITY DEGREES

    * Take for example a student from the lowest income households (or in the 20th income percentile and below), which is defined as having a gross monthly income of S$2,750 or less.

    * The student currently pays S$4,200 in net tuition fees a year after the current bursary subsidies. But with the increased bursary, he or she will need to pay S$2,000 in net tuition fees a year.

    * The new enhanced bursaries will be available for all new and existing full-time undergraduates beginning from the academic year 2020, which usually begins in August.

    [​IMG]

    Infographic: Samuel Woo/TODAY

    MORE AFFORDABLE MEDICINE AND DENTISTRY STUDIES

    * As mentioned by Mr Lee, significant financial aid will be given to medicine and dentistry undergraduates. The rationale behind such a move, he said, was to encourage lower-income students to take up such courses and have doctors from “diverse” backgrounds.

    * Mr Ong said that currently, only 11 per cent of medicine or dentistry students come from families from the 30th percentile of household income and below.

    * With the current bursary amount, medical studies for a student in that income tier at the National University of Singapore (NUS) cost around S$25,150. But with the increased bursary, he or she will need to pay about S$14,000, based on the current annual fees.

    [​IMG]
    Infographic: Samuel Woo/TODAY

    HIGHER BURSARIES: DIPLOMAS

    * Take for example a student from a household in the 30th income percentile and below.

    * The student currently pays S$750 in fees a year with the current bursary amount. But with the increased bursary, he or she will need to pay S$500 in fees a year.

    * This will apply to all new and existing diploma students at polytechnics, the National Institute of Early Childhood Development, and arts institutions like Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts and Lasalle College of the Arts.

    [​IMG]
    Infographic: Samuel Woo/TODAY

    BURSARIES WILL BE RENAMED

    Given the expansion of government bursaries, Mr Ong also said it was a “good time” to rename the bursaries to better reflect their intended use.

    He cited that the current names were “not very intuitive to understand”.

    The MOE bursary — which is fully funded by the Government and intended for students from lower- to upper-middle income families — will be called the Higher Education Bursary.

    The Community Development Council/Citizens’ Consultative Committee (CDC/CCC) bursary will be renamed the Higher Education Community Bursary.

    The name changes will take effect from the 2020 academic year.

    LOWER FEES FOR SUSS, SIT COURSES

    Annual charges for full-time general degrees at the Singapore Institute of Technology (SIT) and Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS) will also be cut.

    * For SUSS general courses, fees will drop from about S$7,860 to S$7,500. This will benefit some 2,400 students – or 80 per cent of its student population.

    * For SIT general courses, fees will drop from about S$8,190 to S$7,500. This will benefit some 1,500 students – or 20 per cent of its student population.

    * Mr Ong said that costs still remain high for SIT students currently as there are many programmes with overseas university partners, but he expects some of these courses to transit to SIT-conferred general degree courses.

    MORE OPPORTUNITIES FOR NITEC GRADUATES

    * Mr Ong stressed that the goal was to provide opportunities for all Institute of Technical Education (ITE) graduates to upgrade beyond a National ITE Certificate (Nitec) over the course of their careers.

    * MOE will increase the number of placements in the ITE's SkillsFuture work-study diploma and full-time Higher Nitec programmes.

    * Mr Ong said that currently, seven in 10 Nitec graduates upgrade through various publicly-funded pathways, including the full-time and part-time Higher Nitec and diploma pathways.

    Read more at https://www.todayonline.com/singapo...gher-education-more-affordable-accessible-moe
     
  19. Cheung

    Cheung Moderator

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    No doubt brought to even greater importance by the continuing events in Hong Kong.
     
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  20. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore ranked second-safest city in the world: EIU index

    [​IMG]

    29 Aug 2019 12:47PM (Updated: 29 Aug 2019 01:00PM)

    SINGAPORE: Singapore is the second-safest city in the world, according to an index by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

    The third edition of the Safe Cities Index was released on Thursday (Aug 29), with Tokyo ranking first out of 60 cities across five continents for the third time in a row. Other Asia-Pacific cities in the top 10 are Osaka (3rd), Sydney (5th), Seoul (tied 8th) and Melbourne (10th).

    Cities are ranked according to their performance in 57 indicators across four pillars - digital, infrastructure, health and personal security.

    Singapore ranked first in the world for both infrastructure and personal security, coming in second for digital security.

    [​IMG]
    Source: EIU
    • "Overall, while wealth is among the most important determinants of safety, the levels of transparency - and governance - correlate as closely as income with index scores," said EIU senior editor Naka Kondo, editor of this year's report on the Safe Cities Index.

      The research also shows how different types of safety are intertwined, said Ms Kondo, pointing out that it is rare to have a city with good results in one safety pillar and lagging in others.

      Six of the top 10 safest cities are in the Asia-Pacific region - however, the EIU says that a city's region does not have any statistically significant relationship with its performance in the index.

      "Although APAC cities such as Tokyo, Singapore and Osaka continue to rank within the top three cities in the Index, the region also hosts some of the lowest-scoring cities in the world, with Yangon, Karachi and Dhaka close to the bottom of the list," said Ms Kondo.

      She added that although Asia-Pacific cities perform well in the health security, infrastructure security and personal security categories, North American cities generally fare better in digital security, accounting for seven of the top 10 cities in this category.

      The EIU index, sponsored by NEC this year, was revised to better capture "urban resilience" - defined as the ability of cities to absorb and bounce back from shocks - as the concept has had an increasing influence on thinking in urban safety over the last decade, especially as policymakers worry about the implications of climate change.

      In the index's previous editions in 2017 and 2015, Singapore also ranked second both times.

      EIU Safe Cities Index 2019:

      1. Tokyo
      2. Singapore
      3. Osaka
      4. Amsterdam
      5. Sydney
      6. Toronto
      7. Washington, DC
      8. Copenhagen
      9. Seoul
      10. Melbourne


      Read more at https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/singapore-second-safest-city-tokyo-japan-eiu-11853008
     

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