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Discussion in 'Chit-Chat' started by Loh, May 4, 2009.
Thanks Chris for the lovely pictures of our Everest girls!
I think citing the case of Cuba's role in the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is somewhat misplaced. In such a case, logic was never a factor. It was pure politics in which you side with your 'friends' no matter what.
That is why in parliament you have a Party Whip, whose main job is to ensure members of his party 'toe' the line.
Every country has its own 'seas of oasis' where mixed culture and people of all races live in harmony. There are also times when things don't go so well, such as serious racial riots in both Malaysia and Singapore some decades back.
Logic alone will not ensure peace and harmony. It may sound logical that each man reaps what he contributes. But will this bring equality or a sense of equality? One way to test if a country or a city is as good as it deserves based strictly on merit is to tow that country-that is theoritically speaking-away to say somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and then see how it fares.
The single most important ingredient in living in peace and well being is for a country's citizens to attain a high level of economic standard of living. This alone eliminates all the ill feelings of being subjugated, discriminated, and impoverished.
Some food for thought : What will the world picture look like if all the muslim and African countries were to swap places with say the OECD countries?
I think the writer was citing his experience as Ambassador to the UN where I believe the exchange of views and trying to influence the minds of other ambassadors are important. So logic plays a part even if it did not immediately bring results but it will make those involved in the exchanges to reflect deeper on the subject. Yes politics will determine whose side you 'should' be on, the side that will bring you greater advantages and for one's own self interest despite logical reasons against your action.
I think your belief that economics can solve all human ills is too simple. To start off, there can never be equality in incomes among nations, partly because of man's greed for wealth and power and the inequality of man's talents and natural endowment. And for these reasons, I think your proposition on swapping places will not bring about social harmony.
..aahh, very similar to the U.S.' own brand of "Separation of Church and State" ideology..and to an extent, the U.S. can be considered one of the secular nations in the world.
Btw, the roots of secularism and the idea of "Separation of church and state" can be somewhat traced back to Christianity (one of the contents in the Bible).
In general, i can somewhat concur that most "secular" governments in the world tend to do well, politically, socially and economically. Examples are shown by those developed countries in the world. On the other hand, a "theocracy" type government/nation tends not to do well. Examples are plenty & quite obvious as well.
However, i think having a "secular" system is only part of the reasons as there are also nations/countries which have "secular" systems but are still poor and struggling in most if not all aspects of their society (could be because of lack of natural resources, corrupt & inept government/system/people etc.).
*Btw, Loh, just to share a bit of story, from a new acquaintance i met who just moved from S'pore to U.S. From what he shared with me, after having lived & worked in S'pore for abt 10 yrs, he mentioned that despite of all of the recent new constructions and developments, S'pore's future is somewhat cloudy and suspect, considering the current economic crisis. He mentioned that the main factors or engines that are or have been keeping S'pore afloat are (1)the foreign investors, or should i say buyers in their real estate market (apartments) and (2)the influx of imported workers (esp. from INA, Philippines etc.). He mentioned he is still somewhat in awe that despite S'pore's low population size (less than 10 million), and it being literally a hub/port without much if any natural resources, it's still able to maintain its economic status in Asia, if not in the world.
Your new-found friend is not entirely wrong in his observation. Singapore's vulnerability has been exposed right from the start because of its lack of natural resources, lack physical size, lack of hinterland to absorb its exports (unlike Hong Kong now which has China as its hinterland), etc. That's why Singapore chose merger with Malaysia in 1963 in order to ensure its survival and a better future for its citizens.
But things did not work out and within 2 years Singapore was forced to quit Malaysia as its objective of ensuring a Malaysian Malaysia (not a Malay Malaysia, Chinese Malaysia or a Indian Malaysia) was not well received by the federal government. There were other considerations as well.
With full independence in 1965, Singapore's founding fathers worked very hard to find solutions to all its problems as a new-born nation. The main ones were related to economics (to provide employment), housing and education. Matters were made worse when the British decided to pull out from Singapore in 1969 instead of later and Singapore's leaders had to double its efforts to find solutions.
The rest was history as Singapore not only overcame its numerous problems but went on to attain developed nation status in a matter of 50 years, since Singapore actually achieved self-government in 1959 and we will be celebrating National Day again on August 9th at the floating platform in Marina Bay.
Yes, Singapore has done relatively well and instead of not being able to find employment for its people, it now provides work to foreign workers from around the region and as far away as China and India. Foreign workers make up about a quarter of our increased population of about 5 million plus. Singapore's birth rate is among the lowest in the world, below replacement level and this is another cause of concern with our government. We can generate jobs but we also need people to work these jobs. There is also the multiplier and spin-off effects.
Indeed Singapore's resource-barren situation seems alarming at times. But the most important resource, human resource, is still in our possession and with improved education our young people is our hope for the future.
Switzerland has proven that small size and lack of natural resource are no handicaps as there are other options available if we are resourceful and hard-working enough to find and create such opportunities. And Singapore has followed that example and has made good so far.
But Singapore cannot stand still. It has to keep evolving and be relevant to the demands of the world. So Singapore has to work harder than others and in fact right now the government has set up a high-level committee to plan for the next phase of Singapore's economic development.
We just cannot lag behind, otherwise we will not survive. The "constructions and developments" are real and will go on so long as there continues to be a demand for Singapore's services and expertise. Singapore cannot give up, not when the future still holds good, despite intermittent hiccups!
Youth Olympic Games 2010: How Singapore beat Moscow to become host
The inaugural YOG or the 2010 Summer Youth Olympic Games, is not too far away next year, 14-26 August 2010. I suspect our organisers are working very hard to make sure it will be a successful event for all the eligible young athletes of the world to meet in Singapore and take home some of their most memorable experiences here.
The YOG is not just about sports competition. It is also meant to provide an avenue for youths to get to know one another better and time has been set aside for them to interact and to know more about each other's culture.
The YOG website:
To prepare for this historic event, Singapore will be tested on how well it is able to organise the Asian Youth Games from 29 June to 7 July. Already the Junior World (Hockey) Cup is now underway from yesterday June 7-21 at two new pitches at the Sengkang Hockey Stadium. I was there to get a taste of the action. Admission is free.
The Junior World Cup is sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and this ninth edition of the competition is the first to be co-hosted by Singapore and Malaysia (Johor).
And this week will also see action at the Singapore Indoor Stadium for the Aviva Open Singapore Super Series. Many of the world's finest badminton players will assemble here to exhibit their skills.
But it is the YOG which is more prestigious for Singapore and I now copy an article which I posted before to highlight the role that our youths played in helping Singapore to win the privilege of hosting the Games. Now that the world economy is showing signs of recovering, maybe our hosting of the YOG will not be in vain.
HOW SINGAPORE BEAT MOSCOW
The Straits Times
March 19, 2008
By Marc Lim
In Lausanne (Switzerland)
The enthusiasm Singaporeans showed in wanting to host the inaugural 2010 Youth Olympics and the success of the 2005 International Olympic Committee session in Singapore helped swing votes the Republic's way.
That is the view of IOC members Sergey Bubka and Robert Ctvrtlik, as IOC members voted 53-44 in favour of Singapore over Moscow last month.
The race to host the 2010 Games had gone down to the wire, with very little separating the two cities.
But former pole-vault great Bubka, who heads the IOC coordination commission for the Youth Olympics, told The Straits Times that it was the noise Singaporeans made that attracted the attention of the IOC members.
"The enthusiasm and passion showed by the people of Singapore was one of the main reasons for Singapore's success," said Bubka, referring to the bid campaign.
It saw Singaporeans from all walks of life getting hehind the bid. From students blogging and posting messages online to more than 550 companies coming out to back the initiative.
"We were already happy with the Games concept. There were some doubts over whether the Athletes' Village at the University Town could be completed in time.
"But we received comprehensive information from our technical expert that it would not be a problem.
"Awarding the Games to Singapore also signified a new chapter in the Olympic movement. Singapore is a small country, and is unlikely to host an Olympic Games.
"The Youth Olympics has changed that and allowed smaller countries to be strongly involved."
American Ctvrtlik, who won the volleyball goild in 1988, echoed Bubka's views.
He said: "The Youth Olympics is a vital IOC initiative. It aims at spreading the Olympic movement to people at a younger age, to get kids aware of Olympic values.
"So it is important that the first host of the Games does a good job.
"For the IOC to award Singapore the very first Games shows the tremendous faith we have in the IOC member from Singapore, Ng Ser Miang, the Singapore National Olympic Council and the people and Govenment of Singapore."
Then, pointing to his bag, which he had kept from the 2005 IOC session in Singapore, Ctvrtlik added:
"Most of us still remember 2005. Not just for a nice bag, but we all recall how clean the city was, how disciplined and warm the people were.
"We're a tight group in the IOC. The members talk often among ourselves and, while the analysis of the various bids by the IOC was importan, we also discussed other aspects.
"The general feeling among members was that, given the importance of hosting the first Games, Singapore would do an excellent job.
"The fact that Singapore has a team here in Lausanne just a month after winning the bid to host the Games shows how committed it is.
"With just over two years to go the schedule is ambitious.
"You will be working under some very tight deadlines. But we are confident you can do it."
Singapore wins Special Mention at Venice Biennale
The Straits Times
June 8, 2009
By Tara Tan
VENICE: Singapore film and video installation artist Ming Wong has won a Special Mention at the 53rd Venice Biennale on Saturday.
This is the first time that a Singapore work has won notice at the prestigious art event although the Republic has taken part in the Biennale five times since 2001.
The 37-year-old won for his work, Life Of Imitation, which focuses on the cinematic culture and films of Singapore and Malaysia in the 1950s and 1960s. The award was bestowed at the Giardini garden, one of the venues for the Biennale, during the opening ceremony.
Wong's work, curated by Tang Fu Kuen, 36, was singled out by the five-member international jury led by Italian academic Angela Vettese at the prestigious art event.
Jury member Homi K. Bhabha, the director of the humanities centre at Harvard University, said: 'I thought it was an extremely good piece, very clever in artistic terms and also socially perceptive.
'There was a splendid mix of both a sense of history and a sense of current and contemporary issues emerging.'
Berlin-based Singapore artist Wong, who said representing Singapore at the Venice Biennale has been the peak of his career, called this 'a big homecoming'.
Said Wong, whose works often explore the tensions of multicultural identities and representation: 'I do what I do because of where I come from, where I was born and where I grew up.'
National Arts Council chairman Edmund Cheng, who attended the event, said: 'We are all thrilled. I think this is a boost for artists and art groups in Singapore. In a way, we are coming of age. Our artists are getting more and more mature and I think our standing, both in the region and in the world, is being noticed.'
This latest cultural milestone caps a series of achievements by Singapore artists in the past year such as Singapore film-makers Eric Khoo and Ho Tzu Nyen's selection for competition at the past two Cannes film festivals.
A*Star's scientists honoured
These are some of our notable foreign talents who help Singapore develop in fields hitherto little known in our part of the world.
The Straits Times
June 1, 2009
TWO scientists from Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) were elected into the prestigious US National Academy of Sciences, an honourific society of scientists, doctors and engineers which has advised the United States government on scientific, medical and technological issues since 1963.
Professor Neal Copeland, Executive Director of A*Star's Institute of Cell and Molecular Biology (IMCB), and Professor Nancy Jenkins, Deputy Director of the Genetics and Genomics Division at IMCB, accepted their election this year, A*Star announced in a statement on Monday.
The husband and wife pair is among the academy's 1,250 active members, boasting some 200 Nobel Prize laureates.
The couple, who has worked together for 30 years, has also served on numerous scientific advisory boards like the McLaughlin Research Institute in the US and have been working on new ways of analysing the cancer genome since they joined A*Star.
A*Star's chairman, Mr Lim Chuan Poh said: 'Neal and Nancy are two of the most outstanding cancer geneticists in the world and their election to the Academy of Sciences is a fitting recognition of their excellent and impactful work.'
Professor Copeland has been an Associate Editor of the scientific journal Cell, one of the world's leading journals since 1996. He said: 'Nancy and I function very much as a team... and (are) excited to be helping IMCB build up its capabilities and train its future generation of scientists to be at the forefront of science research.'
Professor Jenkins has been an associate editor for top journals Genetics and Genomics, and said she and Professor Copeland 'look forward to making more exciting and impactful discoveries together'.
Singapore Tops 'Social Capital' ranking in Asia
Despite criticisms against Singapore's government on many issues, a recent survey on 'social capital ranking' found Singapore high on the world list and right at the top among Asian countries.
The Straits Times
June 1, 2009
By Clarissa Oon
SINGAPORE'S economic and social progress have made it the highest-ranked Asian state in a new global index of social capital.
The index ranks 200 countries in terms of wealth and social resilience.
Singapore came in at No. 14, higher than the United States and Britain, but below several Nordic countries, Australia and New Zealand.
Its position is an improvement on its ranking in 2005, when the index made its first appearance. The current list is the second.
The index is produced by the Caux Round Table. It is a global network of business and political leaders who champion ethics and values in business and governance, and believe both have a responsibility to do good for the community.
Headquartered in the United States, it has representatives in 13 other countries. It is also affiliated with many international organisations and think-tanks such as the United Nations Global Compact, which promotes responsible corporate citizenship.
Its global executive director, Mr Stephen Young, told The Straits Times that 'Singapore's relatively high ranking is evidence of the soundness of the policies followed by its Government since independence'.
To calculate a country's social capital, the Caux Round Table averages its scores across 14 different measurements of economic activity, quality of life plus legal and political institutions.
These include per capita gross domestic product, the United Nation's Human Development Index, which measures longevity and living standards, and Freedom House's Freedom Index, which studies civil liberties.
Political stability, good financial systems, the rule of law and corruption controls are other indicators in this survey.
Social Capital Ranking
3. New Zealand
7. The Netherlands
15. United States
18. Hong Kong
Other Asian rankings
39. South Korea
Most expensive Asian cities for expatriates
(This is a followup on the recent discussion on "cost of living" in the world, post#113. In another survey by ECA International on Asia for expatriates, the Japanese cities were found to be the most expensive followed by the more prominent Chinese cities. Singapore jumped from 13th spot to 10th while Hong Kong was higher at 7th position. So Singapore is not the most expensive in Asia.
The Straits Times
June 10, 2009
S'pore is an expensive city
By Yang Huiwen
SINGAPORE has become one of the 10 most expensive cities in Asia for expatriates to live, according to a new cost-of-living survey.
That's because although the pace of price rises of many goods and services slowed in Asia this year, this did not happen as much in Singapore, said human resources firm ECA International which conducted the survey.
This is despite a weakening Singapore dollar which makes goods and services here cheaper to foreigners.
The Republic jumped three places from the 13th spot last year to the 10th spot, while the strengthening of the yen saw the region's top four spots being taken up by Japanese cities.
Tokyo reclaimed its position as Asia's most expensive city, followed by Nagoya, Yokohama and Kobe.
Explaining Singapore's move up the ranks, Mr Lee Quane, regional director of ECA Asia said: 'Prices have not slowed down as much in Singapore as in other parts of Asia.'
The pace of increase in prices of goods and services in countries such as China and Malaysia, for instance, has slowed down by half. Comparatively this rate is down by just one quarter for Singapore, said Mr Quane.
Still, Singapore remains a more affordable place than long-time rival Hong Kong, where the cost of living is being driven up by the strength of the Hong Kong dollar, which is in turn pegged to the US dollar.
Hong Kong jumped from 98th spot to 29th in the global ranking, and is the seventh most costly city in Asia.
Globally, Singapore came in 72nd, up from being 114th in 2008.
Seoul, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Manila and New Delhi are among the Asian cities which have become relatively cheaper for expats to live in.
Most Expensive Cities in Asia
1. Tokyo (1)
2. Nagoya (4)
3. Yokohama (2)
4. Kobe (5)
5. Beijing (10)
6. Shanghai (12)
7. Hong Kong (9)
8. Shenzhen (16)
9. Guangzhou (15)
10. Singapore (13)
Bracket ( ) indicates March 2008 ranking.
Sporting Singapore: Transforming the Game
I've uploaded a video of the future of Sporting scene in Singapore in YouTube.
It's called Sporting Singapore: Transforming the Game
is that a good thing??
Well in general, a higher cost of living is never a good thing.
But one has to understand why expatriates still come when Singapore is expensive or for that matter Tokyo, the most expensive city? Why don't they go to the cheapest city in the world and why are most of the 'cheap' cities still languishing economically?
It is a 'whole package' that Singapore is dishing out to attract foreigners. Cost of living is but one of the considerations. Others like security, lower tax regime, good infrastructure, good education and schools for their children, easy to do business, greater transparency, low corruption, effective legal system, better opportunites for business, etc, are other factors depending on one's preference and situation.
So Singapore can still survive provided it can continue to enhance such attractiveness.
Singapore's Green Trump Card
The Straits Times
May 7 2009
Making Republic a 'First World oasis' helped woo investors, says MM Lee
By Clarissa Oon, Senior Political Correspondent
MM Lee (right in attached picture) explained why the greening of Singapore was a top priority after independence, during a dialogue yesterday moderated by Ambassador-at-large Tommy Koh. The open conversation and dinner marking the 150th anniversary of the Botanic Gardens raised $550,000, which will go towards scholarships for budding botanists and horticulturalists.
SPRUCING up and greening Singapore with trees all over the island was a key economic strategy from Day One, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said last night.
In order to differentiate the country from its larger neighbours, one of his first tasks on becoming Prime Minister was to develop a Garden City with good infrastructure and telecommunications.
To woo investors from developed countries, 'we had to make this a First World oasis in a Third World region', he told some 600 guests from the public and private sectors, non-governmental organisations and the landscape and horticulture industry at a dinner marking the Botanic Gardens' 150th anniversary.
MM Lee took part in a dialogue at the event on the greening of Singapore, moderated by Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh.
Professor Koh asked him at the start of the hour-long dialogue why cleaning up 'dirty and smelly' Singapore was a priority when it faced numerous other challenges upon gaining independence in 1965.
'It was part of a bigger plan. After we were asked to leave Malaya, we had to work out a strategy which would allow a little island dependent on Malaya for its hinterland to survive,' MM Lee said.
What could be done immediately was 'to show investors that this was a well-organised place', he said of what was effectively Singapore's secret weapon.
Coming from the airport into town, they would pass by lush greenery, and when they visited him in the Istana, they would see well-maintained lawns and shrubs.
'So without having to tell anything to the chief executive officer, I knew he would understand that when I say we will deliver, he knows we can deliver; that this is a country where the administration works, where there is a system,' he said.
The fact is, he added with a laugh, 'you can't just plant a tree and walk away. The tree will die'.
'You need tree doctors, you need to understand what soil and how much sunlight it requires. You put it under a flyover and you got to get forest shrubs that grow in shaded areas,' he explained.
'It's a very complex thing that all people who run big organisations will understand,' said the man who personally oversaw the greening process here.
He credited the British colonial administration for having 'done the basics' which Singapore's landscape architects and park managers were able to build on.
Indeed, it was under British rule that the Botanic Gardens first started life in 1859, as a venue for flower shows and later where rubber was first cultivated.
Today it is one of Singapore's top tourist attractions and a premier institution for botanical research, said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan at last night's event.
The dinner and dialogue with MM Lee raised $550,000 which will go towards scholarships for Singapore's future botanists and horticulturalists.
Guests last night also paid tribute to MM Lee's role in greening Singapore. Prof Koh said former National Parks chief executive Tan Wee Kiat, who was at the dinner, told him that he must have been 'the only gardener in the world who reports directly to the PM'.
MM Lee stressed that planting and maintaining trees and parks was 'the easy part'.
The tough part, once all the infrastructure was in place, was 'to get people to change from Third World to First World behaviour'.
This led to 'endless campaigns' to tell people 'not to bring chickens and pigs into high-rise (buildings), not to pee in elevators' and above all, he joked, 'not to steal the plants'.
It took 30 or 40 years, but finally Singapore has reached the stage where its people feel a sense of ownership for the environment, he said.
'It took some time to get them to understand (that) if you keep your environment nice and clean, your property values go up; if your environment is scruffy and dirty, then when you want to sell the flat, the price is down.'
MM Lee was so exercised by the 'Clean and Green' campaign that he told Mr Goh Chok Tong, upon handing over the reins as Prime Minister in 1990, that 'if you lose interest in this, (Singapore) will go back to the bad old days'.
Space-saving Newater plant
The Straits Times
June 17, 2009
By Victoria Vaughan
'WASTE not' might just as well be the motto for Singapore's latest water reclamation plant in Changi.
To save space, the Republic's fifth Newater factory, due to be completed next year, is being built on top of the Changi Water Reclamation Plant's (CWRP) underground facilities.
Mr Young Joo Chye, deputy director of deep tunnel sewerage systems and best sourcing at national water agency PUB, said this stack concept is a unique feature: 'If we had not adapted we would have required three times the land.'
The Ulu Pandan water reclamation plant is spread over 46ha and can treat 79 million gallons per day (MGD), whereas the CWRP covers 32ha but has a capacity to treat 176MGD - or 320 Olympic-size swimming pools - of waste.
Singapore produces 300 million gallons of sewage a day. The CWRP's deep tunnel sewerage system, buried beneath Singapore expressways running from north to east, has been built to last for 100 years.
The Changi Newater factory will have a capacity of 50MGD and together with Ulu Pandan, Kranji and Bedok Newater plants will reclaim about one-third of Singapore's waste water by 2011. The Seletar Newater plant and its water reclamation facility will be axed in 2011.
CWRP and its sewerage system is phase one of PUB's plans for waste water. Two of the six water reclamation plants, Bedok and Kim Chuan, have been phased out.
In the next 10 to 20 years, another deep tunnel sewerage system and water reclamation plant will be built at Tuas and two or all of the remaining plants at Kranji, Ulu Padan and Jurong will be shut down.
National Day Parade 2009
Singapore will once again celebrate its National Day on 9th August 2009 at the Floating Platform on Marina Bay. That was the date we achieved Independence in 1965 and have been celebrating since then at various venues including the Padang, National Stadium and the Floating Platform last year.
What National Day means to this year's Chairman of NDP 2009 Parade and Ceremony Committee, Colonel Chee Wai Mun and what will be in store for Singaporeans, permanent residents and visitors:
NDP 09: Come Together – Reaching Out, Reaching Up
"Our National Day serves as a reminder and a celebration of our nation’s history and achievements, and it also looks forward to our future. Although our independence was attained amidst turbulent times, we have defied the odds and not only have we survived, but we have thrived. We should be rightfully proud of our independence and our way of life. We should not take it for granted. As we are facing challenging times, it is perhaps even more significant that we rally round and reach out to our fellow Singaporeans. And we should be confident that we can and will continue to reach up to our hopes and aspirations.
We know that while the National Day Parade (NDP) remains the central event, we would like to take the opportunity to not just focus on an exciting and meaningful NDP, but to encourage Singaporeans to reflect on our nationhood - what does it mean to be Singapore…what does it mean to be a Singaporean? We have several symbols of our nationhood – our Flag, our Pledge and our Anthem. Our Pledge will be used as a basis for this reflection so that when we recite it, we will mean what we say, and say what we mean. Elements of our Pledge will not only guide our various celebration activities, it will be used to structure our NDP 09 show, and it forms the basis for our theme this year. We will be broadening our National Day celebrations in order to bring together more Singaporeans. We will explore ways to enable as many Singaporeans as possible to participate in different ways, to feel a greater sense of ownership and to play a part on our National Day journey together.
Our theme for NDP 09, “Come Together – Reaching Out, Reaching Up” draws inspiration from our Pledge. It is about our coming together as ‘one united people’, to Reach Out to all Singaporeans regardless of ‘race, language or religion’, and to Reach Up towards our hopes and aspirations articulated when we pledge to ‘achieve happiness, prosperity and progress for our nation.’ When times are tough, we know that Singaporeans will rally together, support each other and believe that things will work out fine.
One of the areas of focus this year includes raising awareness for less privileged Singaporeans, and to work with charity organisations and other interested agencies to Reach Out and help the various groups. It is not an easy time for charities and these groups and we will like to do our part for these Singaporeans who remain very much part of our society. While we are aiming to help raise funds for these groups, we are also seeking ways by which they can directly contribute to the NDP itself. For example, the various groups will be helping to pack the NDP fun-packs and will personalise them with their greetings and names. We will like for Singaporeans not to take the fun-pack for granted and to realise that some Singaporeans took time and effort to assemble the pack for them.
We will also be exploring New Media as an avenue to involve more Singaporeans. Apart from the NDP 09 website, new media platforms like Facebook and Twitter will host NDP-related activities as well as to recognise the contributions of Singaporeans such as the participants and those who take part in our other celebrations. Where we can, we want to recognise the individuals and their role on our NDP journey. We are seeking to have as many people join us in celebrating our National Day and at the same time reflect on the greater purpose of this meaningful event.
This year’s NDP 09 format will see a ‘one show’ concept where the Parade and Ceremony (P&C) segment will interweave into the Show segment. There will be a seamless ten-Chapter performance that will reflect the ideas from Our Pledge. We will also bring in an exciting Total Defence Display where we will put on a synchronised display incorporating our hardware from the SAF and the Home Team to commemorate 25 years of Total Defence.
Singaporeans will also see a night ceremonial parade accompanied by a Presidential Gun Salute executed in a way not seen before. Perennial crowd favourites like the Red Lions will be retained. There will be a greater emphasis on audience engagement this year, not only with spectators at the seating gallery but also with Singaporeans at various congregation points around the Bay. Ultimately, we hope to engage as many Singaporeans in our National Day celebrations.
As we examine and reflect upon the Pledge through various platforms and activities in the run-up to National Day 2009, we believe that it will all Come Together in a defining experience when, towards the end of the NDP on 9 August 09, our entire Nation recites the Pledge as one united people.
We believe that there is much to be proud of when we celebrate our nation’s independence. We hope that National Day 2009 will present us all with an opportunity to Come Together as one people, to Reach Out and support our fellow Singaporeans, and to continue to Reach Up towards our beliefs and aspirations.
National Day Parade 2009
Channel News Asia
05 June 2009
Stage setup for NDP 2009 allows spectators to get closer to performers
By Cheryl Lim
A new stage setup at this year's National Day Parade will allow spectators to get up close and personal with performers.
The theme of this year's National Day Parade is "Come Together, Reaching Out, Reaching Up".
Organisers are taking the theme quite literally by moving the stage 20 metres forward and some nine storeys upwards. Performers will not be seen on the floating platform as it will be used as a holding area instead.
The stage for the show will be moved up four metres above the original floating platform stage.
Other changes also include a new performance grid and an LED screen. The cubic grid consists of two portions, each measuring eight cubes high and seven cubes wide. Each grid is six storeys high and will be equipped with three scene-changing screens.
Performers can switch from scene to scene with a simple pull of the blinds. The LED screen located between the grids will project images in tandem with the performances.
The stage structure is about 80 per cent complete. When ready, it can hold 1,500 people. Organisers said ensuring the safety of the performers is a priority.
LTC Peter Tay, chairman, Infrastructure and Decoration, National Day Parade 2009, said: "They are equipped with a safety harness hooked on to a secured tow line. And for every two grids, there is a safety officer to look out for them."
Organisers have also put in place several measures to deal with wet weather conditions.
Randy Tan, architect, National Day Parade 2009, said: "As a standard operating procedure, for example like staircases, places like ramps, there is this non-slip component added to it. So that's one way we look at dealing with weather."
The new stage will have three more entrances to allow performers to make a dramatic entrance.
How the Floating Platform was constructed:
Many considerations were taken into taken into account during the design phase for the construction of the floating platform. The Defence Science and Technology Agency, the platform's chief planner and developer, had to keep in mind not just its size and the load it could bear, but also make sure the structure can be relocated and reconfigured to meet the requirements of different events.
As a result, the platform is made of smaller platforms of pontoons, each comprising hundreds of parts. 200 pontoons were envisioned, but a unique system of connectors allowed this number to be reduced to 15, which interlock like a jigsaw puzzle. These took one month to assemble. The connectors were designed to be light but robust.
Six pylons fixed into the seabed act as the structure's foundation. Heavy-duty rubber rollers were used to gently guide the stage vertically to keep it from being rocked by tides and currents. Three linkways, which connect the floating platform to the land, have special integrated joints to keep them steady.
The floating platform also had to be aesthetically pleasing to fit the scenic backdrop of the belt of hotels in Marina Centre. This limited the height of the seating gallery. The existing structures and the area's development plans capped the number of seats at 30,000.
The platform has been equipped with numerous innovative features, like an internal drainage system, cabling structures and lightning conductors.
Temasek Outdid Key Benchmarks
Just to update taneepak on Temasek's performance against key benchmarks.
The Straits Times
June 19, 2009
Long term, it did even better than Buffett
By Alvin Foo
SINGAPORE investment agency Temasek Holdings may have taken a hit recently on some of its high-profile banking investments, but over the longer term it has outperformed key global benchmarks.
Figures obtained by The Straits Times show that over a 10-year period to March this year, Temasek outgunned several closely-watched equity indexes.
It also beat other notable long-term investors such as Berkshire Hathaway, a top US investment company headed by billionaire Warren Buffett.
Temasek's performance has come under scrutiny in recent months after it suffered significant losses earlier this year on investments in Western banks Barclays and Bank of America (BoA).
The state investment house delivered an annualised total shareholder return by market value of 5.4 per cent from March 1999 to March this year, assuming the value of its portfolio remained unchanged since November last year. That is the date of the last available update of the value of its investments.
This compares with a return of 4.5 per cent in the same period for the MSCI Asia Pacific excluding Japan index, 3.1 per cent for the MSCI Singapore index, and -3 per cent for the MSCI World index, according to figures obtained by The Straits Times.
MSCI indexes are key indicators commonly used by institutional investors to see how well they are doing relative to the market.
Temasek's main investments are in stocks, with the bulk of its assets in Singapore and Asia, so these indexes are regarded as a useful gauge of its performance.
Temasek's returns were also better than that of long-term investors like Swedish investment firm Investor AB, which delivered 3.7 per cent, and Berkshire Hathaway, which yielded 0.7 per cent.
Last month, Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam told Parliament that Temasek has performed 'respectably' compared to relevant market indexes and reputable institutional investors.
He said Temasek achieved total shareholder returns by market value of slightly over 15 per cent per year on average in US dollar terms from March 2003 to November last year. This compare with 6 per cent annualised gain in the global equity market indexes (MSCI World), Mr Tharman noted.
A weighted index of world, Asian and Singapore indexes would have "delivered more than 6 per cent", but still "significantly less" than Temasek's gains of 15 per cent a year, he said then.
During the March 31 to Nov 30 period last year, Temasek's portfolio had plunged $58 billion - from $185 billion to $127 billion - fall of 31 per cent.
In comparison, the MSCI Singapore index sank 44 per cent while the MSCI Asia ex-Japan Index dived 45 per cent during the same time-frame.
According to a recent estimate made by Nomura analysts, Temasek's portfolio rebounded by nearly 13 per cent from late November to mid-May as global financial markets recovered. It bounced back to an estimated $143 billion as of May 15 - a 12.5 per cent rise from the $127 billion seen in late Novermber last year.
However, Temasek has also suffered public criticism for losses made on its investments in Barclays and BoA.
Temasek sold its BoA holdings in the first three months of the year, leading to estimated losses of between US$2.3 billion (S$3.3 billion) and US$4.6 billion.
It also sold its Barclays stake in December and January, at an estimated loss of between S$1.2 million and S$1.44 million.
Told of Temasek's 10-year returns compared to other indicators, analysts said the investment house did reasonably well.
However, they were also quick to point out that it was not a fully indicative comparison, as their investment objectives and risk appetite may differ, and they are accountable to different parties.
It is not strictly comparable with the MSCI indexes because the latter comprise listed stocks, while Temasek has both listed and unlisted investments.
Temasek also takes much larger strategic stakes in companies than traditional fund managers, who benchmark themselves against MSCI indexes.
Stop maids to Malaysia?
I just read the following report on the treatment of maids in Malaysia and would like to hear the views of both Dato Asbullah and yourself, who seem to champion maids' causes as your previous posts have indicated.
The Straits Times
June 19, 2009
JAKARTA - INDONESIA is considering plans to temporarily stop sending its domestic helpers to Malaysia due to the abuse and mistreatment they sometimes suffer in the neighbouring country, a report said on Friday.
Manpower and Transmigration Minister Erman Suparno said the government would be forced to act unless the abuse stopped, amid a spate of recent cases that have shocked the country.
'We will likely stop it temporarily. We will have a meeting on June 23 with several related ministers to conduct a preliminary evaluation,' he was quoted as saying by the state-run Antara news agency.
In the latest case to make headlines, Indonesian maid Siti Hajar was badly scarred after allegedly being repeatedly tortured by her Malaysian female employer for three years.
The 33-year-old maid from West Java was beaten with a cane and doused with boiling water. Her employer was charged on Thursday with causing grievous bodily harm and faces a 20-year jail term.
A Malaysian former flight attendant was sentenced in November to 18 years in jail for using an iron and scalding water to inflict horrific wounds on her Indonesian maid.
Malaysia has no laws governing conditions for domestic workers but the government has promised to draft legislation to protect them from sexual harassment, non-payment of wages and poor conditions.
Mr Suparno said the government would block the flow of domestic servants 'until the Malaysian government gives us an assurance that it will protect Indonesian migrant workers there.'
Malaysia is home to some 1.2 million documented Indonesian workers, as well as about 800,000 illegal Indonesian workers. -- AFP
Perhaps zard can tell me whether these acts are "very very very very cruel" !
Maid Abuse In Malaysia
(A fuller account of one of the above incidents that appeared on the same day. Now what more has the Dato to say?
The Straits Times
June 19, 2009
Woman scalded maid, charged
KUALA LUMPUR (Malaysia) - A WOMAN has been charged with scalding her Indonesian maid with hot water and hurting her with scissors and a hammer, a lawyer said on Friday in Malaysia's latest case of alleged maid abuse.
Lawyer M. Manoharan said his client, Hau Yuan Tyng, 43, pleaded not guilty in a Kuala Lumpur court on Thursday to three charges of causing hurt to Siti Hajar Sadli - in one case allegedly using hot water; in another, a hammer; and in a third, a pair of scissors.
If found guilty, the single mother of two could face a maximum of 43 years in prison and whipping, he said.
Hau also pleaded not guilty to a separate charge of failing to renew Siti Hajar's work visa, which expired in July last year, an offence that carries a jail term of up to a year, Mr Manoharan said.
Hau, who worked part time at a maid agency, was released on bail pending the next court hearing on July 22 but has to surrender her passport to the court and report to police regularly, he said.
Siti Hajar, 33, escaped earlier this month after working for Hau for three years in a luxury condominium. Photographs of Ms Siti's reddened, scalded body were widely publicised, sparking anger in neighbouring Indonesia, whose President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono pledged to seek justice for her.
Some 320,000 foreigners, mostly Indonesians, work as maids in Malaysia. Indonesian diplomats estimate at least 1,500 maids seek help at their offices across Malaysia each year. Most complain of unpaid wages, but some also claimed they were physically abused.
The Malaysian government earlier this week said it would change its labour laws to give maids a weekly rest day and other benefits such as compensation for accidents at work. They will also get a list of telephone contacts for embassy, police and welfare officials to report abuse. -- AP