Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Engineering success through failure

Experience is invaluable, but it is better to have an uninhibited mind ready for challenges, says inventor
By James Dyson, Published The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2015

At last month's opening of the OECD-Singapore Conference on Higher Education Futures, Singapore Acting Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung said the country's tertiary institutions have to respond to allow individuals to "intersperse" study and work throughout their lives and not confine learning to the classroom.

This mindset shift is exciting for Dyson. Convention says experience is invaluable. But I argue that it is better to have an uninhibited mind ready for challenges. That is why I bring fresh engineering graduates to work in Dyson in Singapore. We challenge them, giving them every chance to succeed and the space to make mistakes.

As a graduate, I was thrown in at the deep end (literally) on a project to design a boat - a flat-hulled, high-speed landing craft called the sea truck. My mentor, inventor Jeremy Fry, who entrusted me with the challenge, taught me the value of trying and failing. He insisted that I go outdoors, get my feet wet and build models to prove my ideas.

In 1972, I came to South-east Asia (Malaysia, to be exact) to sell the finished vessel. It was well received because of its speed and ability to land directly onto beaches.

What I did not know was that 30 years later, I would be back. Today, we employ more than 1,800 people in the region, developing some of our most exciting new technology.

We give young people opportunities early and without overbearing guidance. We also encourage them to follow in the footsteps of others.

In 2012, we brought a Skyhawk jet to Dyson as part of an exhibition on design and engineering heroes. It sits in front of the building, surprising but also inspiring.

It owes a debt of gratitude to the perseverance of one of my personal heroes: Sir Frank Whittle. He created the first turbojet engine during the 1930s, despite those around him insisting his idea would not take off. He persevered and, even 70 years later, his invention is the driving force of modern aviation.

There are lessons to be learnt from many of engineering's greats.

More stepping up to be foster parents

Number has grown almost 40% since 2013 to 337, closer to government target of 500
By Zhaki Abdullah, The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2015

The number of Singaporeans stepping forward to act as foster parents for vulnerable children has risen by almost 40 per cent to 337 since the end of 2013.

It brings the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) closer to its target of having at least 500 foster parents in Singapore.

The figure was announced by Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin at the Foster Family Tea Reception, held yesterday at Resorts World Convention Centre.

The annual event honouring the efforts of foster parents in Singapore was attended by more than 900 people from foster families.

There are currently 350 children below the age of 18 under foster care in Singapore.

Also announced were the results of a survey conducted by the MSF among 246 foster parents earlier this year, which showed that almost half of the respondents found out about the fostering scheme via the newspapers, television or other forms of media.

One third of foster parents said they had little information on their foster children before placement.

One of the reasons for this is that children are sometimes removed from their homes for their own safety and subsequently placed with foster families on short notice.

"We recognise that for children, moving into a stranger's house, even if the family is caring, can still be a traumatic experience," said Mr Tan. He added that this led to challenges for foster parents, especially at the start of placement.

The MSF is introducing training for parents to help them deal with children with high levels of trauma.

The ministry also hopes that more will step forward to take in foster children above the age of seven, as well as those with special needs.

Religious leaders condemn terror acts

By Seow Bei Yi, The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2015

Religious and community leaders from 50 organisations gathered at the Grand Park City Hall hotel yesterday to collectively condemn recent acts of terror around the world.

A Gathering of Remembrance and Reflections united people across the 10 main faiths in Singapore, and included the Inter-Religious Organisation.

After the Nov 13 Paris attacks that killed 130 people, several Muslim community leaders decided to hold an event bringing different groups together.

Attended a memorial event "A Gathering of Remembrance and Reflections", this evening for the victims of the terrorist...
Posted by Dr Maliki Osman on Sunday, November 29, 2015

Imam Habib Hassan al-Attas of the Ba'Alwie Mosque, which was a key initiator of the event, said many people are blaming Islam for terror attacks.

"We need to clarify that there are no religions, especially Islam, that condone the killing of innocent people," he said.

Mr Noor Marican, president of the Association of Muslim Lawyers, said: "We are part of society and we've come to reaffirm that point."

He said that the community cannot just keep quiet about the terrorist threat because silence can be misunderstood.

Leaders and members of the groups signed a declaration against acts of terror, reiterating that "such atrocities are neither humane nor justified, and hold no place in any religion".

The declaration was then presented to French Ambassador to Singapore Benjamin Dubertret. There was also an inter-faith silent prayer for terrorism victims.

Racist rant sparks debate in Taiwan

Video of man verbally abusing Briton leads to soul-searching over how foreigners are viewed
By Li Xueying, Regional Correspondent In Hong Kong, The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2015

A video clip showing one of their own in a protracted xenophobic rant has prompted a bout of introspection over just how welcoming the Taiwanese are of foreigners, in a society that prides itself as being among the world's friendliest.

Over eight minutes during a subway ride in Taipei last month, a security guard hurled repeated verbal abuse at British teacher Christopher Hall and his Taiwanese girlfriend. Mr Hall has lived in Taiwan for a decade.

The encounter, which was recorded by Mr Hall's girlfriend - who was not identified - went viral after he posted it online about three weeks ago.

In it, the bespectacled Taiwanese man is heard taunting him as "an inferior foreigner". Mr Hall said he did not provoke him.

The man is heard saying: "Overseas, you are a beggar, you are trash. You are here in Taiwan to scam a living. In your own country, you won't survive. Has a foreign girl ever liked you? You are not welcome here. Taiwan is too good for you."

The man went on to insult Mr Hall's girlfriend, saying: "The whole of Taiwan despises you. You think you are smart for dating a foreigner? You will live to regret it."

The man has been identified as a Mr Liao, 30, and has since been fired from his job, and questioned by the police. He has been handed over to prosecutors on charges of public insult.

Johor Sultan orders ban on electronic cigarette sales

State ruler makes rare move over concerns about health and nicotine addiction in the young
The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2015

JOHOR BARU • In a rare intervention by one of Malaysia's nine rulers in state affairs, the Sultan of Johor has ordered all shops selling electronic cigarettes to close by Jan 1, saying he is imposing a ban on vaping based on health reasons and to stop young people from getting addicted to nicotine.

He ordered the Johor state Cabinet members - called executive councillors - to meet this week to ensure the ban is carried through.

The media last week reported that a survey by the Consumers Association of Penang, of eight primary and secondary schools in Penang, found 150 students who vaped regularly.

In Singapore, the sale, import or distribution of e-cigarettes are all banned.

Any move to curb e-cigarette use in Malaysia is politically sensitive as most of the vape shops are owned by Malays and their clients are also mostly Malays, some of whom have threatened not to vote for the Barisan Nasional (BN) ruling coalition if stopped.

But Sultan Ibrahim Ismail told The Star newspaper in an interview: "I want the outlets to close down by Jan 1, 2016, and I do not want to hear any excuses."

He added: "This is a question of health and its effects on young people. It has nothing to do with businesses and, for sure, it has nothing to do with race.

"I am greatly disappointed that some people are bringing up racial threats and political threats."

Pioneer Singapore artist's work sold for $1.4m

Price of oil painting Balinese Dance is among 10 artist records set at auction of Singapore art at Christie's in HK
By Huang Lijie, Arts Correspondent, The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2015

An oil painting by pioneer Singapore artist Cheong Soo Pieng, which sold for HK$7.72 million (S$1.4 million) at Christie's in Hong Kong yesterday, was among the ten artist records set at the landmark auction of Singapore art.

Cheong's Balinese Dance (1953) beat his last auction record of HK$5.92 million for the oil painting Making Up (1951), which was set at Christie's Asian 20th-century and contemporary art sale in November last year.

Balinese Dance also fetched the highest price at the sale, which was dedicated entirely to Singapore art to mark the country's Golden Jubilee. In total, the sale rang in HK$36.79 million, placing it at almost 97 per cent of the high estimate for the auction.

Of the 41 lots, 32 exceeded their price estimates, including the work Light The Caretaker (2015) by 25- year-old Singapore artist Ruben Pang. It had a price estimate of between HK$60,000 and HK$80,000 and sold for HK$187,500. This is the most paid at an auction for Pang's work, whose last record was S$10,620 for the work Untitled (2008), set at a 2013 sale by home-grown auction house 33 Auction.

Christie's head of sale for South- east Asian art Wang Zineng said: "The first-ever special sale of Singapore art at Christie's saw the gathering of both seasoned and new collectors bidding passionately, establishing a record sale and new level of market penetration for Singapore art in the Asian art market."

Future of Us exhibition, SGfuture dialogues to get Singaporeans thinking about next chapter

PM Lee launches platforms to discuss nation's future
By Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2015

By helping one another and working as a team, Singaporeans can shape the nation's identity and build a country that is inclusive and united in diversity, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said yesterday.

As he launched the Future Of Us exhibition at Gardens by the Bay, he said: "It is up to each one of us to voice our hopes and future dreams, to make the choices to realise these dreams."

Mr Lee also announced the launch of the SGfuture series of dialogues, which he said will kick off the journey into the next 50 years.

The new dialogues will be led by Culture, Community and Youth Minister Grace Fu and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, and aim to build on the ideas of the nationwide Our Singapore Conversation that ended in 2013.

The first session started yesterday, with young Singaporeans discussing issues such as security, the environment, and how to build an empathetic society.

In his speech, Mr Lee noted that the Singapore of today is the "work of more than one generation, each standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before".

He credited the pioneer generation for their determination to see the country prevail, even when the future was bleak and racial tensions were high in the early years.

Through the effort of generations of Singaporeans, the country was transformed, and people's lives improved, he said.

Likewise, the country's future will depend on "what we make of it together", he added.

He made the remarks before a tour of the exhibition, which will open to the public tomorrow (Dec 1). The capstone event of the year-long SG50 Golden Jubilee celebrations aims to get Singaporeans thinking about the nation's next chapter.

The exhibition depicts scenarios of how daily living will be like in the year 2030. In a segment where visitors can pen their dreams for the future, Mr Lee wrote: "May we abound with greenery and fresh air!"

Monday, 30 November 2015

Jubilee Walk: 8km trail of Singapore's iconic locations launched

SG50 Jubilee Big Walk in heart of Singapore draws 25,000
PM Lee flags off event celebrating SG50; many took part with families and friends
By Calvin Yang, The Straits Times, 30 Nov 2015

A drizzle at the start of the SG50 Jubilee Big Walk early yesterday failed to dampen the spirits of the 25,000 participants who took a leisurely stroll through the heart of Singapore.

The 5km mass walk, organised by The New Paper and the People's Association, is one of the last major events of the nation's Golden Jubilee celebrations.

It took in part of a permanent 8km commemorative trail, known as the Jubilee Walk, connecting more than 20 historic and iconic locations within the Civic District and Marina Bay precinct.

Eager walkers had begun arriving as early as 5.30am for the 7am flag-off. Many took the chance to soak in the sights.

"It was a walk down memory lane for me," said retiree Johnny Toh, 64, who was at the event with six family members.

"Singapore is so different now, compared with the past. There are many skyscrapers and new buildings. It was nice to be able to enjoy what Singapore has built over the years together with my loved ones."

Like Mr Toh, many walkers were with their families and friends.

Among them was 49-year-old John Lee, who took part with his wife and two sons, aged seven and 12. "It is good to expose our children to Singapore's historical landmarks, so they can better appreciate how far we have come as a nation," he said.

Landmarks along the route held special and personal memories.

Student Karthik Thayumanavan, 22, said walking past the floating platform reminded him of his national service days. The venue was where he had his passing-out parade at the end of basic military training.

"That was a proud moment for me," said Mr Karthik, who completed the walk with his girlfriend.

Yesterday's route passed key landmarks and sites marking significant events in Singapore's development, including the Padang, before ending at The Meadow at Gardens by the Bay.

The event was flagged off by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the start point at the National Museum.

Mr Lee, who also launched the permanent Jubilee Walk yesterday, completed the walk, along with families, babies in strollers and individuals decked out in superhero outfits.

Jubilee Big Walk and Future of Us Exhibition
Did the Jubilee Big Walk this morning and launched The Future of Us exhibition. It captures our historical past, vibrant present and shared future. Hope you find time to experience it with your friends and family. :) Details at www.thefutureofus.sg - LHL(PMO Video by Alex Qiu and Chiez How)
Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday, November 29, 2015

Mr Lee took selfies, shook hands and exchanged high fives with the crowd and also launched the 220m Jubilee Bridge connecting the Merlion Park and waterfront promenade by the Esplanade.

Revamped Pasir Ris library woos teenagers

It has snazzy features, including digital doodle wall and mezzanine space for young people
By Audrey Tan, The Sunday Times, 29 Nov 2015

A long queue formed on the fourth floor of the newly renovated White Sands Shopping Centre in Pasir Ris yesterday morning.

The adults with bags in hand and children in tow were not waiting to have brunch, but to enter the revamped Pasir Ris Public Library, which reopened yesterday after nine months.

The library has returned with a strong focus on teenagers, given the high ratio of young people in the east. It has added some snazzy features to appeal to teens, including a digital doodle wall - a virtual white board where visitors can "write" messages with their fingers.

At the new Teens' Mezzanine space, library-goers can browse book promotional videos made by the National Library Board (NLB) on a screen. They can also make book recommendations by scanning library books on a panel. These will be saved, so teens can view books enjoyed by their peers.

AED on Wheels: Heart attack? Cabbies can be lifesavers now

By Aw Cheng Wei, The Sunday Times, 29 Nov 2015

The next time a person suffers a heart attack on the street, cabbies may go to his rescue.

SMRT taxis will be equipped with automated external defibrillators (AED) in a three-year pilot programme launched last Friday.

The device can send an electric shock to the heart to revive it in the event of sudden cardiac arrest.

About 120 SMRT cabbies have volunteered for this AED On Wheels initiative introduced by SMRT and Temasek Cares. The philanthropic arm of local investment firm Temasek Holdings gave $376,500 for the initiative, with the promise to review its results in three years. The money will be used for cabbies' training, and equipment leasing and maintenance.

The pilot aims to buy time for those who suffer a heart attack, before Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) officers show up. Depending on road conditions, cabbies can respond to distress calls in about three minutes - shaving about eight minutes off the average response time officers take, said SCDF chief medical officer Ng Yih Yng at a media conference last Friday.

"People on site are obviously going to be faster than (officers)," Colonel Dr Ng said, noting that the SCDF receives around 1,900 calls about heart attacks every year. This is about five calls on average a day.

SMRT Roads managing director Benny Lim said selected cabbies were sent for a four-hour training in September. Cabbies will be notified of a heart attack through the SCDF's myResponder app if they are within 1.5km of a distress call.

Submit clips of road offences to us: Traffic Police

Don't just post them on Facebook, say police, send them to TP to help in investigations
By Danson Cheong, The Sunday Times, 29 Nov 2015

Have camera footage of a car accident or traffic violation?

Well, do not just post it on Facebook but submit it to the Traffic Police (TP) as well. This would help investigations, say police, and make available critical information such as contacts of eyewitnesses.

Currently, motorists can report traffic violations at police stations or through TP's online feedback portal. In a period of four months since its launch last December, the online portal received almost 100 videos of traffic violations.

Wouldn't it be nice if people shared good road behaviour videos? TP has arrested a man who is believed to be the biker...
Posted by Singapore Police Force on Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Now, the police hope that the followers of popular online Facebook groups Singapore Reckless Drivers, Roads.sg and Beh Chia Lor (Hokkien for horse cart road) will do more.

These groups, which have posted hundreds of in-car camera footage highlighting bad road use, have between 28,000 and over 90,000 followers each.

The groups say they can receive up to five videos a day, submitted by their followers.

The booming popularity of these online groups has helped shine the spotlight on road safety, said police. But it would help if these videos were also submitted to the authorities. When reports are made on the TP online portal, motorists have to undertake to testify in court, and provide video evidence or eyewitness' contacts.

Desperate housewives and the lure of chap ji kee

The story of the game known as 12 Cards sheds light on the Chinese and their love of gambling
By Janice Loo, Published The Sunday Times, 29 Nov 2015

In 1977, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, explaining the need for state-run lotteries such as Big Sweep and Toto, said: "If you do not run (the lotteries), the chap ji kee man who has always swindled the people of their money is still there. It is the history of Singapore. The Chinese who travelled overseas are the biggest gamblers you can find in the world. Because to leave China was to gamble. In Manchu China if you returned you were beheaded. Because you were bringing in dangerous foreign ideas. So to leave China for Nanyang was a gamble."

Mr Lee's words point to the perennial thorny question on the control of a vice that is intertwined with the early beginnings and social history of the Chinese community in Singapore. While the allure of chap ji kee has faded, it had, for more than half a century, been the most entrenched and widespread form of illegal public gambling in Singapore.


In 1823, following his return from a four-year administrative stint in Java, Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, issued orders for the suppression of gambling in the colony. Severe penalties were introduced such that "whoever games for money or goods shall receive 80 blows with a cudgel on the breech, and all money or property staked shall be forfeited to Government". This was a move to remedy what Raffles perceived as the moral laxity of the administration under the first resident, William Farquhar, who had set up gambling, opium and spirit farms against Raffles' wishes, where revenue from the sale of gambling licences was used for public works.

According to the memoirs of Abdullah Abdul Kadir, a teacher of the Malay language, the Chinese - for whom gambling was a major pastime - "sighed and drew deep breaths (with) a grim look on their faces as they grumbled and abused Mr Raffles for preventing them from gambling". Abdullah, who not only worked for Raffles as a scribe and interpreter but was also an admirer of the man, castigated the naysayers for failing to recognise that the measures were for their own good. The temptation of quick money often led to debt and crime. In his defence of Raffles, Abdullah declared: "(It) is obvious that gambling ruins people, deceives them and puts wicked ideas into their minds. Gambling is the mother of vice, and of her three children the eldest is named Mr Liar, the second Mr Thief and the third Mr Thug... it is these three persons who ruin the world."