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

  1. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    BUDGET 2010: Cash, tax breaks to spur R&D

    The Straits Times
    Feb 23, 2010

    By Grace Chua

    COMPANIES will get cash assistance and big tax incentives if they focus on innovation and beef up research and development spending.

    The Budget initiatives come in two forms. One involves $450 million to be spent over five years to encourage government agencies to work with companies.

    The aim is to co-develop innovative solutions in areas such as urban mobility, environmental sustainability and energy security.

    And the Public-Private Co-Innovation Partnership, as the initiative will be called, will not be just for big firms either; small, untested companies can also be included.

    The other step announced yesterday will deliver sizeable tax incentives to firms investing in research and development.

    They will receive a tax deduction of 250 per cent of their first $300,000 of R&D spending, and 150 per cent on the rest. The measure will be applied in the 2011 tax year
     
  2. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    BUDGET 2010: SMEs get financing boost

    The Straits Times
    Feb 23, 2010

    By Gabriel Chen

    THE Government will set up a partnership with the private sector that will see up to $1.5 billion directed to helping smaller firms expand overseas.

    About half the cash will come from government coffers with the rest from private fund managers with expertise in the venture capital field.

    Another initiative announced yesterday involves a tax incentive for 'angel investors' in a bid to get them to commit precious capital to nurture start-ups.

    The aim of both measures is to improve access for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to finance as they aspire to grow and eventually become a force overseas.

    'One of the hurdles companies face - not only in Singapore, but in many countries - is in securing finance at a very early stage of their growth,' said Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam yesterday.

    'In recent years, there has been a shift in the venture capital industry towards later-stage companies, especially towards those at the mezzanine stage, in other words, pre-IPO (initial public offering).
     
  3. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Marina IR to open April 27

    The Straits Times
    Feb 24, 2010

    By Lim Wei Chean

    SINGAPORE'S second casino and integrated resort at Marina Bay Sands (MBS) will open its doors on April 27, announced its parent company Las Vegas Sands on Wednesday. This will be followed by the second phase opening on June 23.

    The announcement comes barely less than a week after its rival Genting Singapore opened its Resorts World Sentosa casino to the Chinese New Year crowds on Feb 14.

    In Phase One, some 963 hotel rooms, part of the shopping mall and convention centre, celebrity chef restaurants and other dining outlets, as well as the casino, will open on April 27, said MBS chief executive officer Thomas Arasi. But the opening schedule is subjected to 'construction proceeding as scheduled and being able to attain the necessary regulatory approvals,' he added.

    Phase Two will be ready on June 23, which includes the Sands SkyPark, the Event Plaza along Marina Bay, the rest of the shops in the retail mall, and more dining options and nightlife. Mr Arasi said the IR will be marking Phase Two as part of its grand opening celebration.

    Las Vegas Sands (LVS) chairman and chief executive officer Sheldon Adelson said in a statement: "Nearly four years ago, we embarked on a journey we believed would define the future of our company and at the same time change the face of tourism in Singapore and the South Asian region for decades to come. Now, as we approach the opening of Marina Bay Sands - one of the most remarkable leisure and business destinations ever created - it seems both of those ambitions are about to come true."

    He added: 'Despite the challenging, and at times unprecedented economic conditions companies like ours recently faced, our dedication to completing this development never wavered, not even for a second. That determination defines this company as much as our ability to create and develop masterpieces such as Marina Bay Sands. We have no doubt the property will be a tremendous success, but how we got to this point will be every bit as important to the future prospects of our company.'

    OPENING TWICE DELAYED

    The US$5.5 billion project was originally slated to open last December in a single phase after it won the bid for Singapore's first IR project in June 2006. But the global economic melt-down last year, coupled with construction woes, led to a delay in the opening of the project - not once but twice.

    MBS, known for its strength in hosting meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibition events, will be hosting its first event - the Inter-Pacific Bar Association's annual conference, just days after opening its doors.

    In October, Disney's musical The Lion King will start playing at one of its two theatres. Its second theatre, slated to open also later this year, will house a variety of special events and headline acts. The Marina Bay Sands museum will open by December.

    LVS president and chief operating officer Michael Leven said: 'While the opening of Marina Bay Sands is exciting on many fronts, the introduction of our first development in South Asia also represents an important geographical milestone for Las Vegas Sands.'

    'The launch of Marina Bay Sands, in combination with our significant presence in the growing Macau market, positions us to realize substantial long-term financial benefits through our proximity to many of the world's fastest growing economies, both in North and South Asia. It will also make us less dependent on our operations in locations where the economy is still working to recover.'

    He added: 'Singapore also provides another platform to demonstrate our position as the leading innovator of these large-scale, economy-changing business and tourism developments -- a role which puts us in a superior position to pursue and secure future growth opportunities globally.'

    Timeline for Marina IR opening

    April 27: Phase One opening with 963 hotel rooms, part of the shopping mall and convention centre, along with celebrity restaurants, other dining outlets and casino

    May 2 - 5: First event to be hosted - the Inter-Pacific Bar Association annual conference

    June 23: Phase Two opening with Sands SkyPark, its Event Plaza in front of Marina Bay, rest of the retail mall, more dining outlets, nightlife offerings Will also host the grand opening celebration

    October: Disney's Lion King musical to open at one of its two theatres

    Later in the year: Second theatre to host a variety of special events and famous headline acts

    December: Marina Bay Sands Museum to open

    Marina Bay Sands, built beside Singapore's financial district, had been scheduled to open at the end of last year. The resort includes three 55-story hotel towers with 2,600 rooms and suites topped with the sky park. -- PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS
     

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  4. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Tax savings for innovative firms

    The Straits Times
    Feb 25, 2010

    SMEs hail Productivity and Innovation Credit scheme

    By Fiona Chan

    COMPANIES are enthusiastic about a new scheme that will allow them to reduce their taxable income significantly when they invest in areas such as training and research.

    Under the new Productivity and Innovation Credit, unveiled in Monday's Budget, companies can claim extra tax deductions for spending in six areas that will help make them more innovative. These are: staff training, research and development, registering intellectual property including patents and trademarks, acquiring intellectual property, design activities and automation.

    If a company spends in all six areas, it can cut its taxable income by as much as a few million dollars more a year under the scheme.

    Such targeted schemes, which specifically encourage companies to spend on areas such as automation and skills upgrading, are more helpful than broad incentives like tax rebates, said Mr Leow Pee Lip, chief executive of precision engineering firm Fong Shen.

    The plastic mould maker will be able to deduct an additional $600,000 from its taxable income with the new scheme, on top of the $1.2 million it could previously deduct.

    This is because it plans to spend at least $1 million on automation; $100,000 on research and development; and $30,000 to $40,000 on training workers this year
     
  5. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    More frills on flights

    The Straits Times
    Feb 25, 2010

    Airlines spending millions on cabin services to woo fliers as sector picks up

    By Karamjit Kaur, Aviation Correspondent

    AS THE airline industry begins to pick up strength after a prolonged travel slump, carriers are spending millions on new cabin products and services as they compete for returning customers.

    Singapore Airlines on Tuesday launched its retrofitted Boeing 777-200 aircraft, with leather lie-flat seats in business class, and bigger personal entertainment screens in both premium and economy cabins.

    Passengers in the Singapore-Shanghai sector this week were the first to experience the upgraded in-flight facilities.

    Business travel has become more comfortable, after SIA retrofitted planes with leather lie-flat seats and bigger screens. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE AIRLINES
     

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  6. FEND.

    FEND. Regular Member

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    Thanks again Uncle Loh for showing me around Singapore!
     
  7. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    FEND. visits Singapore

    The last time I saw Edmund was when a group of us BCers met at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games 2006, particularly to watch the badminton competitions. Edmund was still in his teens but he waited for me to join him in our stay at a budget hotel where we shared the same room with four other travellers. :)

    So when Edmund contacted me yesterday afternoon, I suggested we meet up at Orchard Rd to have dinner first. It seems ION Orchard had many other exits apart from the main one for Orchard MRT. We arrived at about the same time at around 6 pm but Edmund was on the wrong exit while I was waiting for him at the main tourist belt in Orchard Rd next to Wisma Atria, opposite Tangs Plaza.

    I was attracted to the ice cream vendor on wheels just outside ION and was happily munching the vanilla chocolate with bread when Edmund finally showed up and joined me with the ice cream as well. He updated me on his latest status and I was glad to note that he would be convocating in April with a degree in Economics.

    We walked the entire stretch of Orchard Rd before we settled at the open-air hawker centre opposite Orchard Central. His favourite dish is sting ray and he preferred Heineken to Tiger for beer. ;)

    After Orchard Rd, we took a train to underground City Hall where we made our way on foot to the Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, or popularly known as the twin durians for the shape of its design. Here we stopped for a while at the Concourse for a band performance before we ascended to the roof top at the third level for a panoramic night view of Marina Bay, more specifically the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resorts, the Singapore Flyer, Suntec City, the floating platform and the area around which F1 Grand Prix night race will take place. There were lots of publicity on current and forthcoming performances and in conjuction with the current Lunar New Year celebrations, a Chinese Art Fest is ongoing.

    After that, and before it closed at 9 pm, I showed him the Esplanade Library where movie DVDs, music recordings and music scores can be borrowed. Then we descended to the ground level where a musical performance was in session at the Outdoor Theatre which has an unobstructed view of the Bay. Edmund and I then quenched our thirst with his favourite 100 Plus. :D

    We stayed for a short while. I then led him towards Elizabeth Walk, below the Esplanade Bridge and into a short and narrow tunnel, just a stone's throw away from Anderson Bridge before we were out in the open again outside the Asian Civilization Museum. Then we crossed another historical bridge, the Cavenagh, to reach Boat Quay on the other side of the Singapore river where the famous Fullerton Hotel stands tall. The banks jostled for space along this stretch of the river bank with Maybank, Bank of China, HSBC and UOB being the more prominent. Further down the river are the popular eateries and bars collective known as Boat Quay and opposite them across the waters are the dish-shaped Supreme Court and Parliament House. This is the civic district of Singapore.

    Apart from Botero's famous "Big Bird" sculpture which stood just outside the two UOB skyscrapers, Edmund also got to see Salvador Dali's "Homage to Newton" located at the atrium of UOB Plaza One.

    It was then around 10pm and time to part. I brought Edmund to the Raffles Place MRT just across the road where we both took our separate trains home.

    Edmund would have more days to spend in Singapore and would most certainly pay a visit to Sentosa. Maybe someone here can join him? ;)
     

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    #1267 Loh, Feb 25, 2010
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2010
  8. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Large turnout expected at World Cities Summit 2010

    Channel NewsAsia
    25 February 2010 1433 hrs

    By Mustafa Shafawi,

    SINGAPORE: A large turnout is expected at the second edition of World Cities Summit (WCS), taking place here in late June.

    Over 1,000 delegates - comprising ministers, mayors and business leaders - are expected to attend. Asian Development Bank president Haruhiko Kuroda and UN-Habitat executive director Anna Tibaijuka are among the delegates.

    The delegates will address issues on the practical aspects of city governance and integrated approaches to urban development, under the summit's theme of "Liveable and Sustainable Cities for the Future".

    This year's summit will also serve as the stage for the inaugural Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, for which close to 80 nominations from 32 countries were received.

    Cheong Koon Hean, chief executive officer of URA and a member of the prize nominating committee, said many of the submissions are of a high calibre.

    The submissions offer innovative solutions and best practices that other cities can learn from in order to create vibrant and liveable cities.

    The summit is jointly organised by the Centre for Liveable Cities and Singapore's Civil Service College.
     

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  9. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Marina Bay Sands gears up for April 27 opening with final hiring burst

    Channel NewsAsia
    25 February 2010 1213 hrs

    By Imelda Saad,


    SINGAPORE: Marina Bay Sands has launched its final burst of hiring before it opens on April 27. Singapore's second Integrated Resort (IR) aims to bring in some 5,000 people in various positions over the next 60 days.

    Already, there are 3,600 casino staff on board and in just the last 48 hours alone, Sands said recruitment doubled with croupiers coming in for training.

    Within a commercial building located at Mountbatten Road, is the newly-formed Marina Bay Sands Training Centre.

    Behind closed doors are where thousands of dealers and croupiers are put through their paces.

    Sands said nearly all its dealers are Singaporeans. It was unable to give an exact figure but added most of the people it has recruited across the entire IR are locals.

    All casino staff have to undergo a training stint that could take up to seven weeks.

    There's no room for mistake for the dealers once they're on the gaming floor.

    Geraldine Wong, dealer inspector trainee, said: “We need to calculate a lot for this job like how to get the payment fast and accurate.”

    Training started six weeks ago.

    With some complaints over inexperienced dealers at the recently-opened Resorts World Sentosa, Marina Bay Sands is not taking any chances.

    Thomas Arasi, CEO, Marina Bay Sands, said: "We're going to strive to open as close to perfection as we possibly can. So, while there are no guarantees in there, there are assurances and we are just incredibly focused. We're giving it our 100 per cent and we hope to get as close as we can to 100 per cent in terms of execution."

    Sands said there are various positions available in areas such as hotel operations, security and F&B.

    There are currently about 1,800 dealers being trained in the casino training school and it simulates a real working environment with dealers working in eight-hour shifts.

    As part of the certification process for the casino, representatives from the Casino Regulatory Authority have also visited this school.

    Sands has said it will open the S$7.7 billion Marina Bay project in phases.

    The announcement comes after three years of work including several delays and even concerns over the business viability of its parent company, Las Vegas Sands, which took a battering during the global financial crisis.

    But things seem to be on the mend.

    Las Vegas Sands Corporation has said that it will seek to refinance about US$5 billion in bank debt.

    Mr Arasi added: "This is definitely a marathon and not a sprint. The reality of it is about the kind of experience and reputation and the type of market reach that you have over a period of time."

    Unlike Resorts World Sentosa which targets leisure travellers, Marina Bay Sands has said its focus is on high-end business travellers as well as the meetings and convention sectors.

    As for social safeguards, Sands said it is working closely with the relevant authorities.

    The Marina Bay Sands recruitment centre is open from Monday to Friday 10am to 7pm, Saturday 10am to 3pm and is located at #02-34 Mountbatten Square, 229 Mountbatten Road. For more information you can call 6688 8860.

    Marina Bay Sands gears up for April 27 opening with final hiring burst
     

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  10. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Free advice at Help centres

    The Straits Times
    Feb 27, 2010

    By Mavis Goh


    HELP is at hand for those too poor to engage a lawyer to represent them in court in civil and criminal cases.

    Two new centres - one at the Subordinate Courts, the other in the Family and Juvenile Court - have been set up to help those who choose to represent themselves in court cases.

    These centres, known as the Helping to Empower Litigants-in-Person (Help) Centres, are among new initiatives announced at the Subordinate Courts Workplan Seminar yesterday to give the public greater access to justice.

    Currently, more than nine in 10 of those appearing before the family courts have no lawyers. In the criminal courts, the proportion is about one in three.

    Chief Justice Chan Sek Keong said yesterday that the Subordinate Courts must ensure that those in need of legal services are not shut out by ignorance or poverty.

    CJ Chan said: 'The service, available at no cost to all self-represented parties, will go a long way in empowering a litigant-in-person to make more informed decisions about his case, appreciate the court's processes better and participate effectively in those processes.'


    At the Helping to Empower Litigants-in-Person (Help) Centres, such as this one at the Subordinate Courts, volunteer lawyers offer advice on the kinds of defence that can be employed in cases. Information on court procedures and processes are also available. -- ST PHOTO: RAJ NADARAJAN
     

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  11. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    MFA slams envoy's attitude

    The Straits Times
    Feb 27, 2010

    By Sujin Thomas


    A FORMER Romanian diplomat's remark that a fatal hit-and-run accident last Dec 15 was something that 'happens all over the world' is shocking, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said yesterday.

    In a strongly-worded response to Dr Silvio Ionescu's comments to The Straits Times on Thursday, the ministry hoped the Romanian authorities did not share his 'irresponsible and callous' attitude.

    The ministry also took Dr Ionescu to task over what it called his puzzling comment that he should not come back to Singapore because of accusations that he was the driver of the car in the accident.

    Dr Ionescu, 49, left Singapore for Romania on Dec 18, three days after two separate hit-and-run accidents involving a Romanian Embassy Audi A6 car in Bukit Panjang. One man, Mr Tong Kok Wai, 30, died and two others were hurt.

    The former charge d'affaires cited a medical condition, believed to be diabetes, for his sudden departure.

    Speaking to The Straits Times from Romania on Thursday evening, he said: 'I read in newspapers that prosecutors (in Singapore) were accusing me long before they had the right to.


    A former Romanian diplomat's remark that a fatal hit-and-run accident last Dec 15 was something that 'happens all over the world' is shocking, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) said yesterday. -- ST PHOTO: CHAN BEE LENG
     

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  12. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Singapore is blessed with religious diversity & harmony, says SM Goh

    Channel NewsAsia
    27 February 2010 1716 hrs


    SINGAPORE: Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong says Singapore is blessed with religious diversity and harmony.

    Speaking at the opening of the Bartley Christian Church on Saturday morning, he pointed out that people of different faiths live happily side by side.

    Religious institutions also reach out to the larger community.

    "They do not just cater a minister to their own flock. They are actually an integral part of a larger community. So you have the Bartley Christian Church reaching out to the Ramakrishnan Mission, reaching out to the Braddell Heights CC. And likewise, other institutions in Singapore are doing the same thing," he said.

    SM Goh added that leaders from the Inter-Religious Organisation meet often and they are able to react quickly to any misunderstandings to put things right.

    Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC Seah Kian Peng, who was also present at the opening, shares the same sentiment.

    He said that tolerance and acceptance among people of different faiths help to create an ever-increasing circle of common space.

    And Singapore needs this space to help it move forward as one community.

    "In recent weeks, we have seen the importance of churches as well as the role of respect and sensitivity in public discourse. Let us not forget that our speeches are heard by many who may not be present at the event," he said.

    "We have to be prepared to defend our statement and our views to a larger audience. And we can certainly usefully put forward our own positions and views without running others down."


    Mr Goh Chok Tong (file picture)
     

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  13. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Launch of interactive learning trail to teach Chinese language & culture

    Channel NewsAsia
    27 February 2010 1935 hrs


    SINGAPORE: A new interactive learning trail in Chinatown aims to offer students a fun way to learn about Chinese language and culture.

    Using specially-programmed mobile phones, students can participate in Chinese language games at seven locations.

    They assume roles such as the samsui woman and rickshaw puller to get a sense of what Chinatown was like in the 1900s.

    The Interactive Learning Trail at Chinatown was developed by the Ministry of Education, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore and operated by iCell Network.

    "Last time, our teacher will just bring us around and just tell us. This makes it very 'dry'," said Ng Syn Kae, a student from Victoria School. "But now, it's much more interesting because we get to go around the places to answer the questions."

    The learning trail was launched by Senior Minister of State for Education, Grace Fu, who hopes the interactive nature of the trail will be effective in teaching Chinese.

    "Through the playing of games as well as actually seeing the sight and sound of the area, that we hope to make the learning more real, and therefore more effective," Ms Fu said. "So it's really through a very light-hearted as well as interactive way for them to learn not just Chinese, but also culture and values as well."

    Ms Fu also commented on the recent announcement in the Budget Statement to raise foreign worker levies.

    She said the construction industry has been kept in the loop about the changes.

    "We have been having discussion with the construction industry, not just after the announcement, prior to that, there have already been discussions," Ms Fu said. "So it's not coming as a surprise to them. Of course there's a lot of work to be done going forward and they will look forward to our announcement."


    Chinatown
     

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  14. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Ex-UN Secretary-General says citizen-centric govt vital for wealth creation

    Channel NewsAsia
    26 February 2010 2322 hrs

    SINGAPORE: Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the role of the state is to serve its citizens, not rulers.

    He says such a political commitment to national development is vital to creating and spreading prosperity.

    Mr Annan is in Singapore as the first Li Ka Shing Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, at the National University of Singapore.

    Speaking at a public lecture titled "Asia and Africa - Past Lessons, Future Ambitions" at the University Cultural Hall Friday evening, he said economic development must combat poverty in the long term and improve people's livelihood in the short term.

    Mr Annan observed that while most Asian countries have developed their economies for the good of the people, many governments in Africa quickly began to believe that only they can be trusted to rule their countries.

    This results in only the ruling elite benefiting - rather than the society as a whole.

    Said Mr Annan: "African policy-makers must learn from Asia's success and develop similarly comprehensive plans for creating jobs, developing skills, boosting education, improving infrastructure and modernising agriculture. They must also understand the leading role the state plays in achieving these ambitions."

    Kofi Annan
     

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  15. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Three hawker centres to close for upgrading from March

    Channel NewsAsia
    27 February 2010 1517 hrs

    By Joanne Chan,

    Three hawker centres will be closed for upgrading from 1 March.

    They are located at Blk 448, Clementi Avenue 3, Blk 120 Bukit Merah Lane 1 and Blk 531A Upper Cross Street.

    Business will resume for the Clementi and Bukit Merah hawker centres in the last quarter of this year.

    Upgrading at the Upper Cross Street centre will be completed in the first half of next year.

    The upgrading, undertaken by the National Environment Agency (NEA), aims to create an improved, more hygienic environment for stallholders to operate their business.

    Patrons and stallholders can look forward to improved ventilation, upgraded toilet facilities and refreshment areas.

    All three centres will also be equipped with elderly and handicap-friendly features such as ramps.

    Other works include electrical rewiring, the replacement of sanitary and plumbing pipes, as well as the installation of better fire safety features.

    During the upgrading, stallholders from the three centres may apply to operate temporarily at available vacant stalls in other non-upgraded centres.

    NEA manages 109 hawker centres and has upgraded 84 of them under the Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme.


    Hawker centre
     

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  16. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Saying "thank you" to nurses with trip to Body Worlds Exhibition

    Channel NewsAsia
    26 February 2010 2338 hrs

    By Hetty Musfirah Abdul Khamid,

    SINGAPORE: Some 300 nurses took time off to check out an exhibition of preserved human bodies and body parts at the Singapore Science Centre.

    The trip was organised as part of a week-long initiative called Nurses' Day Out.

    Joining them at the Body Worlds Exhibition was Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

    The Science Centre gave away some 2,000 complimentary tickets as a gesture of appreciation to nurses in Singapore.

    It is also hoped that they will also pick up information that will be relevant to their work.


    An exhibition at Body Worlds: The Original and The Cycle of Life
     

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  17. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    In search of young badminton talent

    TODAY
    05:55 AM Feb 27, 2010

    by Low Lin Fhoong

    SINGAPORE - Young shuttler Vignesh Manivannan, 12, dreams of playing with the big boys, and the Montfort Junior School player could see his wish fulfilled soon.

    Montfort Junior and five other schools - Boon Lay Secondary School, Maris Stella High School (Primary and Secondary), Montfort Secondary School and Xinmin Secondary School - have joined the Singapore Badminton Association's (SBA) inaugural Partners in Badminton Excellence (PBE) Scheme.

    Principals from the six schools signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the SBA on Wednesday.

    Developed to nurture more badminton talent in Singapore, the scheme will see SBA providing 300 players coaching clinics, seminars, and sparring sessions with the national badminton team.

    Youngsters will also be able to vie for spots in the specially formed SBA-PBE selection team to compete in overseas age-group tournaments and training trips. Each school will also offer academic scholarships to a maximum of two students each.

    School teachers and coaches will get a boost via coaching and technical official workshops, and seminars organised by SBA, and receive support to attend courses on sports psychology, nutrition and sports science.

    Vignesh, who captained Montfort to the championship trophy at the North Zone Inter-Primary School Badminton Championships 2010 (Senior Boys Division), can hardly wait to meet the members of Singapore's national team.

    "I don't have a favourite player as I like all of them, and I really want to train with them and learn how to play better," Vignesh told MediaCorp.

    Speaking at the signing ceremony, SBA president Lee Yi Shyan said they were looking to expand the scheme in the future.

    "This is the first in a series of collaborations, and we've chosen to partner with schools as they are so important in housing young talent," he said.

    "What we need are more initiatives for the sport. In the future, we hope to partner some of the existing training centres, commercial clubs, and other badminton groups."


    SBA chief Lee Yi Shyan hopes there will be more initiatives to nurture badminton talent. TODAY FILE PHOTO
     

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  18. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    First Singapore Diving Invitational a platform for YOG

    Channel NewsAsia
    27 February 2010 2345 hrs

    By Patwant Singh,

    SINGAPORE: After more than a decade, the sport of diving is finally making a splash again, thanks to the upcoming Youth Olympic Games.

    The Singapore Swimming Association organised the first Singapore Diving Invitational at the Toa Payoh swimming complex.

    The two-day event has attracted a total of 36 divers from four countries, including host Singapore.

    Such competitions are critical for Singapore as it gears up for the upcoming Youth Olympic Games, where up to three divers will represent the Republic.

    The association wants to move further, and has set its sights on future Summer Olympic Games.

    "The last time Singapore won a SEA Games diving gold medal was in 1965 and the last time we had a diving competition was more than 15 years ago," said Teo Ser Luck, Singapore Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development, Youth and Sports Ministry.

    "So we never really had any diving representative in any international competition since then. So I think this is a great feat and a milestone achieved by the swimming and diving fraternity and I have to thank Youth Olympic Games for actually being the catalyst for all these that is happening today."


    A diver jumps off the board at the first Singapore Diving Invitational at the Toa Payoh swimming complex.
     

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  19. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    NUHS to hire dialect interpreters for patients

    Channel NewsAsia
    27 February 2010 2340 hrs

    By Evelyn Lam/Lynda Hong,

    SINGAPORE: Doctors sometimes have difficulty understanding patients who speak only dialects.

    But those of the National University Health System (NUHS) are now getting some help from interpreters to bridge the language divide.

    Madam Chew Mui Leong is the first interpreter at NUHS.

    Besides Mandarin and English, she is also fluent in Hokkien, Cantonese, Hainanese and Teochew
    .

    NUHS plans to hire two more interpreters.

    The NUHS Emergency Medicine Department sees some 300 patients everyday, and one out of five are above 60 years old.

    "We find that quite a lot of patients, like elderly patients, were only conversant in dialect groups," said Clara Sin, deputy director of Operations at NUHS Emergency Medicine Department.

    "They are not comfortable with English or Mandarin, so when they come to the hospital, they are already very scared. Added on to the fact that they cannot find somebody that understands them well, that adds on to their fear."

    Madam Chew Mui Leong, the first interpreter at NUHS, helping a patient
     

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  20. Loh

    Loh Regular Member

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    Han's up for service

    TODAY
    05:55 AM Feb 27, 2010

    SINGAPORE - Back in 2006, about half of the outlets of Han's Cafe were in the red. But after implementing a scheme designed to boost service productivity, almost all of its outlets are now making good profits.

    Sales have increased by 59 per cent and net profit by 387 per cent from 2006 to last year. A more productive workforce and more efficient workflow generated a cost savings of $1.5 million last year.

    Mr Han Choon Fook, managing director of Han's Group of Companies, said: "In order to continue to stay ahead in the competitive market, it is equally important that we raise the customer service quality besides enhancing the quality of food as expectations of the customers are rising."

    Among the measures Han's adopted under the Customer-Centric Initiative (CCI) was holding regular customer service training sessions for its employees.

    Meetings are held at least once a month, and customer complaints, compliments and improvement actions shared across Han's 24 outlets.

    As a result, the compliment to complaint ratio has improved from 1:10 in 2006 to 1:1.5 last year.

    Monetary incentives have also been added as perks to the job. For example, Han's distributes 15 per cent of its group profit as staff bonus.

    At the Han's Customer-Centric Initiative ( CCI) Learning Journey on Friday, Minister of State for Trade and Industry and Manpower, Mr Lee Yi Shyan commended the café-cum-bakery chain for having renewed its drive towards service productivity.

    Ms Choy Sauw Kook, co-chairperson of the CCI Committee and Spring assistant chief executive said: "Han's has shown that by adopting a customer-centric approach, it can increase its productivity and net profits."

    The CCI is part of the Go-the-Extra-Mile for Service movement to transform Singapore's service quality in the retail, food & beverage, hospitality, healthcare and transport sectors
     

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