Tuesday 30 September 2014

Senior-care centres by PCF in the works

PAP Community Foundation to open senior care centres: PM Lee
PCF's Simei facility will provide health and social care
By Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh, The Straits Times, 29 Sep 2014

THE People's Action Party (PAP), long associated with kindergartens across the country, is now setting its sights on a network of senior care centres throughout the island.

Its charitable arm, the PAP Community Foundation (PCF), will launch its first senior care centre in Simei next year, the first of 10 to 15 such centres it hopes to open in the next five years, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said during a PCF Family Day celebration yesterday.

The centres will provide seniors with health and social care services, and help support family caregivers who are working, to ease the strains of an ageing population, PM Lee said.

The move comes amid efforts by the Government to pay closer attention to the needs of the elderly.

The number of residents aged 65 and above is expected to triple to 900,000 by 2030.

And just as the PAP set up kindergartens in the 1960s to offer good, affordable education, its senior care centres are a response to the need for affordable day- care and rehabilitation services for the elderly, the PCF said.

Mr Lee noted the PCF had been expanding its scope to meet Singapore's evolving needs, such as by offering student care services to help working parents.

"This is how we can help to build a fair and just society. A society where everyone can have the fullest opportunities to succeed, where each one of us plays a part in serving the community, where we all move ahead together, and build a brighter tomorrow together," he said.

He was speaking at Universal Studios Singapore in Sentosa, which 10,000 children, parents, and senior citizens toured yesterday.

Keep dying issues alive and kicking

End-of-life care and its quality among the issues a rapidly-ageing society must confront
By Han Fook Kwang, Editor At Large, The Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

Let's talk about dying.

You don't hear this very often because most people would rather not.

Yet death is such a colossal event in the life of any person, it's always been puzzling to me why so little discussion takes place, publicly or privately.

You know it's going to happen and that when it does it's, well, as important as life and death. So how come so few of us think deeply about it?

What exactly happens when one dies, what to do in the last phase of life, how best to prepare for the eventuality?

How far should one go to try and delay death?

The last question especially is one that many will have to face if they are stricken with some terminal disease and have to decide how much medical treatment to get.

Because of the advances in medicine and, aided by modern technology, there is much more that doctors and hospitals can do to prolong life even for the seriously ill.

But how much is enough?

Use your right to BTO flats well

These subsidised homes are a sure way for the young to get into real estate without paying a lot of cash
By Cheryl Ong, The Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

A close friend, who is an expatriate, once joked with me that he wanted to marry a Singaporean because he would then have a chance to buy a Housing Board flat.

"Where else in the world can you find an asset class that, for the past 20 years, has grown at a compounded annual growth rate of almost 10 per cent," he said cheekily.

His remarks were made in jest but they still left an impression on me: Too many of us seem to take the chance of buying subsidised housing for granted. Perhaps it does not seem like a big deal when more than 80 per cent of the population live in HDB flats.

Over the past few years, news of sell-out private property launches have hogged the headlines. A prolonged period of low interest rates seems to have made an investor out of anyone hoping to pay off his monthly mortgages with income from letting property. I have also subconsciously bought into that dream.

In the past few weeks, I visited some new show suites as research for my work. No matter how many I have been to, the shiny interiors, carefully curated furniture and designer kitchens - also known to me as the most important part of the house - have been very successful at fanning my desires for such a home.

When will I ever be able to own even a one-bedroom unit? I am surely not alone in feeling this way.

A young undergraduate recently asked me how she should diversify her portfolio to include real estate. It seems almost impossible for young graduates with regular jobs, she said. Property prices may have slipped, but they had still shot through the roof over the past five years.

For all my dreams of a kitchen outfitted with Miele appliances, I told her that as a Singaporean, she should buy a Build-To-Order (BTO) HDB flat first if she does not have much to start with.

From the many conversations I have had with seasoned investors, it is clear that the first roll of the property dice is the hardest.

But, unlike diving right into the private market, buying a BTO flat is a sure way to get into the game without stumping up a lot of cash.

New ideas for ageing Singapore: Tay Kheng Soon

Architect aims to help older folk remain in the community rather than relocate
By Radha Basu, The Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

Veteran architect Tay Kheng Soon wants to spark a conversation about new ways to live, work and play in land-scarce and fast- ageing Singapore.

So he has uploaded a video on YouTube with a host of ideas, from building cheap retirement cottages in Housing Board carparks, to splitting five-room HDB flats into self-contained studios for retirees and starting neighbourhood "care clubs" where active older folk will provide nursing care for the frail.

An adjunct professor at the National University of Singapore (NUS), his main aim is to find ways to help Singaporeans age in familiar surroundings. His video is the second on new ways to learn, work, age and even farm in the community. The first, on transforming Singapore into an intelligent city, was uploaded last December.

The former head of the Singapore Institute of Architects, Mr Tay, 74, told The Sunday Times that his aim is to let older people remain in their community rather than sell their home and relocate to a smaller flat elsewhere.

There are nearly 405,000 people here aged 65 and above, up from around 250,000 a decade ago. The number is projected to grow to 900,000 by 2030.

Low-income get help to get online

Tablets, high-speed Internet links for 8,000 households for $6 per month
By Irene Tham, The Straits Times, 29 Sep 2014

FOR $6 a month, some low-income households will soon get a tablet computer as well as a high-speed broadband connection, under a move to help poor families go online.

Thanks to a new aid scheme that channels telco fines to the poor, some 8,000 households will benefit from the programme, called Home Access. It draws on a new $10 million Digital Inclusion Fund made up of telco fines, first announced in April.

The fund will help the 8,000 households here with no school-going children and a gross monthly income not exceeding $1,900 to join the information highway over the next four years.

There is no scheme that addresses the technology needs of this group at present.

"This way, our users can make digital videos or calls with their loved ones, surf the Web, and enjoy the many other benefits of IT advancements," said Communications and Information Minister Yaacob Ibrahim during Silver Infocomm Day yesterday at ITE College East.

"As the use of ICT (infocomm technology) becomes ever more pervasive, there is a need to raise the level of adoption of infocomm, especially among the low-income households," he said.

About 5,000 of these households are already receiving financial assistance from the state. They will automatically qualify for the subsidised home broadband plans and tablets. Invitation letters for applications will be sent out from November.

The remaining 3,000 households can apply directly through self-help groups such as the Chinese Development Assistance Council, the Singapore Indian Development Association and Yayasan Mendaki from next April.

An existing initiative that makes broadband connectivity and computers more affordable for needy students will also receive a substantial boost.

From November, those who qualify to get computers at a discount of up to 75 per cent will also get broadband links of 100Mbps free for three years.

New mobile app by Singapore Red Cross to teach first aid

First aid instructions at your fingertips
By Yeo Sam Jo, The Straits Times, 29 Sep 2014

A NEW mobile application introduced by the Singapore Red Cross (SRC) yesterday aims to put first aid skills at people's fingertips.

The free app gives step-by-step instructions on how to administer first aid in 20 different scenarios, including heart attacks, choking and bleeding.

Users can also watch video demonstrations, take quizzes to test their first aid knowledge and sign up for training courses via the app.

SRC chairman Tee Tua Ba said that in a digital age where many are tech-savvy, it makes sense to introduce such an app, which has received 260 downloads so far. He was speaking at Tampines West Community Club, where the SRC commemorated World First Aid Day, which falls on Sept 13.

While the Red Cross in Britain and the United States have similar apps, the "First Aid by Singapore Red Cross" app provides tips according to local first aid protocol, and allows users to toggle between Singapore's four official languages.

Mobile clinic launched to bring eye care to seniors

Standard Chartered launches Mobile Eye Clinic
TODAY, 27 Sep 2014

Standard Chartered Bank launched the Mobile Eye Clinic (MEC) today (Sept 27), Singapore’s first initiative that provides a comprehensive eye care on-the-move programme for senior citizens unable to access healthcare due to physical constraints.

The two-year initiative is a partnership between the bank and the Society of Ophthalmology (SSO) to set up mobile eye clinics in various nursing homes, local community centres and public spaces in housing estates.

The initiative was officially launched today at Bright Hill Evergreen Home, with Minister of State for Health, Dr Lam Pin Min in attendance.

Through MEC’s first two pilot sessions that were conducted earlier this year, over 400 beneficiaries have undergone eye screening to identify cases of uncorrected refractive error, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and glaucoma. With the remaining six sessions which the Bank plans to arrange, the programme targets to benefit a total of 1,600 by September 2016.

Twelve senior citizens identified in the pilot sessions as requiring cataract surgery have since completed surgery at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. The procedures were fully sponsored by the hospital and its team of eye surgeons.

Over 200 pioneers lauded for peace efforts

Singapore's harmony cannot be taken for granted, stress leaders among those feted
By Audrey Tan, the Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

When 72-year-old Lionel De Souza comes across an insensitive remark made against a racial or religious group, he does not ignore it.

He takes action, like making a police report when former NTUC employee Amy Cheong posted an expletive-laden rant on Facebook disparaging Malay weddings in October 2012. The reason he is so cautious is because of his past experiences, he says, urging today's youth not to slip into uttering racial slurs even among friends.

"I witnessed the 1964 riots, and I don't want it to happen again," said Mr De Souza, who is secretary of Hougang's Inter-Racial and Religious Confidence Circle (IRCC).

"Singaporeans need to know that (misunderstandings) are caused by ignorance. By understanding someone's religion and race, these things won't blow up."

Minister of Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said in a speech that Singapore's harmony was a miracle, but not one borne out of chance. He said: "Our pioneers... made it happen."

Turning to them, he added: "You helped to create a Singaporean Singapore. You worked hard in your own capacities as religious and community leaders to pave the Singaporean way for social harmony."

Some of those feted yesterday included the first batch of leaders of the IRCCs - a community-level initiative to strengthen inter-faith and inter-ethnic ties and mediate racial and religious conflicts in the community.

New generation of latchkey children

With longer hours in school, children whose working parents return late, are spending less time unsupervised at home
By Venessa Lee, The Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

Strictly speaking, Wei is a latchkey kid for about three hours daily on weekdays. The 13-year-old usually returns from school to an empty flat.

She sets out for school at 6.30am and returns home past 7pm. Her mother, a single parent working two jobs in the food industry, leaves home daily at around the same time, and gets back at 10pm. Wei says this has been routine for about six years.

The term "latchkey children", referring to minors who are unsupervised at home after school, gained currency in Singapore in the 1970s and 1980s. The phrase, laden with stereotypical associations of parental neglect and attendant behavioural problems, is less often applied now, in an era where after-school care programmes have flourished.

Wei is arguably part of a new category of latchkey children. Longer hours spent at school have contributed to such children spending less time without adult supervision than previously, social services providers say.

Mr Mohamed Yunos, a vice-president at Jamiyah Children's Home, says: "Kids will spend more time at school and may get home late. If upper primary students go home at 5pm, for example, parents may not see a need to enrol them in after-school care."

Wei, an only child, says she has a passion for dance, her Co-Curricular Activity (CCA) at school, which ends at 6.30pm, two to three days a week.

"Every day, after school, I've got activities: CCA, basketball, hanging out, self-study, tuition," she says.

Wei, who like other children SundayLife! interviewed did not want to use her full name, gets her own dinner from a coffee shop with the $5 or so that her mother gives her. She adds that she does not want her mum to worry about her, and declares, with a note of pride in her voice, that she moved up to the Express stream from her Normal (Academic) class last year.

When she comes home and there is nobody there, she finds it "a bit lonely, but never mind". "There are financial and family problems, but we shouldn't be affected," says Wei, adding that she has the support of her mum and the workers at the youth outreach dance programme she attends.

Social worker Gwen Koh, 42, decries the term "latchkey children" as being "a very old label with negative connotations". Instead of seeing them as a social problem, she points to the maturity of some young people who might spend two or three hours alone at home.

Jury still out on younger generation of S’pore: ESM Goh

By Laura Philomin, TODAY, 29 Sep 2014

The pioneer generation contributed towards building Singapore into the country it is today, but the jury is still out as to whether the younger generation will be able to build on their achievements, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong said yesterday.

“The verdict is out for the older persons, because they have built — in the case of Singapore — what we can see today … the HDB flats, transportation, a cohesive society, harmony between the races. All these were built by older persons when they were young,” said Mr Goh, who made the comments at the launch of a month-long celebration to mark the International Day of Older Persons (IDOP) at Marine Parade’s Foo Hai Elderly Lodge.

Citing the Chinese proverb “wealth doesn’t last beyond three generations”, Mr Goh said: “The first generation builds the company, the business and the wealth. The second generation runs it, maintains it. The third generation just spends it. And this applies to a country too ... I’m not saying (the younger generation) can’t do it, I’m saying the jury is out for them.”

Observed on Oct 1 worldwide, IDOP is a day designated by the United Nations to recognise the contributions of older people to society.

The celebrations in Singapore, organised by the National Council of Social Service (NCSS), WeCare@MarineParade, YAH! (Young-At-Heart) and GoodLife! From Montfort Care, are aimed at improving communication with senior citizens.

“We have specially designed postcards and printed tips on effective communication … Through these postcards, we hope to promote effective communication by encouraging more frequent sharing of thoughts between the seniors and their younger loved ones,” NCSS chief executive officer Sim Gim Guan said at the launch.

About 75 volunteers — seniors and students — aim to distribute up to 10,000 postcards to the public to create awareness with regard to IDOP.

Sunday 28 September 2014

CPF protesters heckle special needs children at Hong Lim Park charity carnival

Chaos at Hong Lim Park charity carnival
CPF rally protesters disrupt event at same park, frighten special needs kids on stage
By Walter Sim, The Sunday Times, 28 Sep 2014

Several hundred protesters yesterday disrupted a charity carnival organised by YMCA at Hong Lim Park by marching through it, frightening special needs children performing on stage and confronting the junior minister present.

Police will be investigating the incident, they said in a joint statement last night with the National Parks Board (NParks).

The rally's organiser, blogger Han Hui Hui, 22, had led the group - gathered to hear her speak about the CPF issue - to march around the park, together with blogger Roy Ngerng, 33, who is facing a defamation suit by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The march began after Minister of State for Trade and Industry Teo Ser Luck arrived at the event for YMCA beneficiaries, attended by 900 people.

The marchers, several of whom waved Singapore flags, paused in front of the stage and chanted "Vote them out, PAP" and "Return our CPF" just as a group of special needs children was about to perform a dance item.

The visibly shocked performers from the group Y Stars stopped briefly. Videos of the encounter uploaded on social media drew swift criticism from netizens.

Several protesters also went up to Mr Teo, with one shouting: "Teo Ser Luck, return our CPF."

Mr Teo later told The Sunday Times via SMS that he "had to console one of the handicapped children who was frightened by all the heckling".

Referring to the protesters, Mr Teo told reporters at the venue: "They have their views, which they want to share, and which they voiced out in a different way...

"We must have a listening ear for everybody. Of course, we hope that things could be done in a more friendly manner."

In their statement, NParks and the police said YMCA had applied first to use the park and received approval on Sept 9. Ms Han's application was received last Monday and approved on the same day.

NParks demarcated and allocated space for both events.

"There are two lawns at Hong Lim Park, and each event was allocated a lawn," the statement said.

"NParks and SPF (Singapore Police Force) approached Ms Han to request her cooperation to speak at the allocated space.

"We regret to note that Ms Han did not heed our advice and continued to hold her event at the same lawn as YMCA.

"Ms Han's group encroached into the YMCA event area, holding placards and shouting slogans, disrupted performances and frightened participants, including special needs children who were performing at the charity event."

Ms Han told reporters: "We actually planned not to do anything physical to them. We just wanted to spread our message across."

Madam Regina Aun, 55, manager of Y Stars, said: "While they have the right of expression, it was an event for people with special needs. They could have shown a little more compassion."

Workers' Party activist Bernard Chen said on Facebook yesterday the heckling was "uncalled for" and "the waving of the Singapore flag was shameful and self-righteous".

Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin posted on Facebook last night: "I am appalled. We now heckle special needs children? Vile. Total and absolute disgrace."

Singapore needs death penalty: Shanmugam

Death penalty needed in anti-drug fight: Shanmugam
S'pore's position set out after UN call for end to capital punishment
By Tham Yuen-C, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2014

SINGAPORE'S Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K. Shanmugam has spoken out against a call by United Nations officials for countries to abolish the death penalty.

In his speech in New York City on Thursday, Mr Shanmugam urged a more careful assessment of the facts and situations in different countries that lead to the use of capital punishment.

In his opening remarks, UN deputy secretary-general Jan Eliasson called on world leaders to do away with capital punishment in their countries, saying it was "incompatible with life in the 21st century". He also asked states to ratify a protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, created in 1989, which seeks to abolish the death penalty worldwide.

Mr Shanmugam later responded that "the approach of a sweeping statement that can apply to all is counterproductive".

Setting out Singapore's position, he said the death penalty is necessary to fight the drug scourge in an island state located near major drug trafficking centres.

As a wealthy city-state with many young people and a major logistics hub from which drugs can be distributed to the rest of the world, it would be a "natural front for drugs to come in on a large scale".

Yet, the country is one of the few in the world which has successfully fought the drug menace, he said.

Office of Public Guardian lodged report against ex-China tour guide

By Toh Yong Chuan And Carolyn Khew, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2014

THE Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has revealed it lodged a report against former China tour guide Yang Yin after it emerged he had boasted about his wealth and lavish lifestyle online.

The 40-year-old had posted on Chinese social networking site Weibo: "Let my cash vault grow towards $50 million."

This was in September 2012, two months after he obtained a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) from Madam Chung Khin Chun, giving him control of the 87-year-old widow's assets, estimated to be worth $40 million.

"We reported this to the Commercial Affairs Department, highlighting our concern of possible financial abuse," said state-appointed Public Guardian Daniel Koh yesterday.

The OPG report was made on Wednesday last week, and on the same day Mr Yang was arrested for suspected criminal breach of trust. He has also been accused by Madam Chung's niece, Madam Hedy Mok, 60, of manipulating her aunt into making him her guardian. On Tuesday, Madam Chung applied to revoke the LPA.

The OPG yesterday said it was reviewing the application, but would not be drawn into saying when a decision would be made.

An LPA is a legal document that allows a person to appoint another to make key decisions should he lose the mental ability to do so. Anyone who is at least 21 years old can sign one.

Mr Koh assured the public that there are enough safeguards to prevent abuse of the LPA scheme. Not only do LPAs have to be certified by experts - such as a doctor or a lawyer - and approved by the OPG, but the body also has the powers to investigate complaints of abuse.

Three workers jailed for making false work injury claims

By Calvin Yang, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2014

THREE foreign workers spent between two and four weeks in jail this year for making false work injury claims.

The three, who were from different companies, claimed to have sustained injuries to the forearm, back and shoulder respectively during the course of their work.

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a statement yesterday that between April and July last year, Bangladeshis Khan Momen and Billal Hossain Kader Molla and Indian national Govindan Raja attempted to get compensation from their employers under the Work Injury Compensation Act.

However, MOM officers, after conducting an investigation, found that all three had lied about their accidents.

They were repatriated to their home countries after serving their sentences.

"Such investigations and subsequent prosecution of fraudulent cases take up considerable time and resources, which could have been better spent on ensuring that genuine claimants have their claims settled fairly and expeditiously," said Mr Woon Cheng Peng, deputy director of MOM's work injury compensation department, in a statement.

Since the start of this year, four workers, including the three mentioned, have been convicted in court for making fraudulent work injury claims or giving false information, compared with two last year.

Those found guilty of making fraudulent claims may be fined up to $15,000 and jailed up to a year.

Social media logos tapped in breast cancer drive

They're tweaked to look like a hand checking a breast, to spur awareness
By Salma Khalik, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2014

WOMEN who are savvy in social media are a key target in this year's breast cancer awareness campaign.

The Breast Cancer Foundation (BCF) will be tweaking Facebook, Twitter and Instagram logos to push out its campaign.

These logos, altered to look like a hand feeling the breast for lumps, are being shared online to promote Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

The BCF hopes that Singapore's sizeable and influential population of digital citizens will heed the call to skip a few minutes on social media and spend them on breast self-examination as it could save their lives.

Creative agency DDB, which is helping the BCF with its campaign for free, has also come up with several T-shirt designs supporting this year's theme: Together we are stronger.

The T-shirts go on sale for $15 each from this evening at the Pink Ribbon Walk - led by Speaker of Parliament Halimah Yacob - at Gardens by the Bay.

The money raised will go towards helping women undergo screening to detect the cancer early.

The BCF will be spending $400,000 a year, for the next five years, on subsidies for women with the Community Health Assist Scheme card to screen for breast cancer.

Other women can benefit from $25 vouchers from the Singapore Cancer Society, which will halve the cost of breast cancer screening at polyclinics and hospitals.

These vouchers can be picked up from Guardian and Metro stores any time next month.

3 major pre-school chains raising fees next year

They cite soaring operating costs for increases of between $4 and $62
By Janice Tai, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2014

THREE of five major pre-school chains - which are required to keep fees affordable in return for regular government grants - will increase their prices next year.

They need to raise fees by between $4 and $62 because of soaring operating costs, they said.

This comes after the median monthly fee for full-day childcare rose in a year by $80 - the biggest increment in at least eight years - to reach $830 last year.

The anchor operators raising their fees are NTUC's My First Skool, PAP Community Foundation (PCF) and Metropolitan YMCA's MY World Preschool.

Skool4kidz and EtonHouse International's E-bridge Pre- School are not doing so because their current fees have hit the maximum allowed for anchor operators. For example, a full-day childcare programme cannot cost more than $720 a month.

PCF, which runs 361 childcare centres and kindergartens, will raise fees for 124 of its 131 childcare centres. The hike will range between $4 and $62 for infant- care services, and between $23 and $45.50 for childcare services.

Its childcare programmes for centres built before this year now cost between $420 and $697.

Of its 230 kindergartens, 170 will raise their fees by between $10 and $20 next year.

Its spokesman said: "Given rising operation costs, most notably salary costs and costs to implement improved programmes, there is a need to selectively raise fees to defray overheads."

My First Skool, which has 11,000 pupils in its 111 centres, will raise its fees by an average of $32 a month. Fees, inclusive of goods and services tax, will be $1,342 for infants, $707 for toddlers and those in play groups, and $646 for those in nursery and kindergarten.

"Our fee adjustment policy is to have moderate adjustments to keep pace with salary adjustments and quality improvements, rather than large increases every two to three years," its spokesman said.

Metropolitan YMCA will charge $20 to $30 more at eight of its 14 centres. Fees start from $610 for full-day childcare, and from $1,250 for infant care.

The three operators said the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), which oversees the pre-school sector, has approved the fee increases.

ECDA said: "Pre-school operators raise fees from time to time to ensure sustainability as operating costs rise, and to recruit and retain sufficient teachers to deliver quality programmes."

Asked about the impact of the fee hikes on lower- to middle- income families, ECDA said the impact on out-of-pocket expenses "may be significantly lower" with childcare subsidies.

For example, a family with a household income of $2,500 and below will continue to pay only $3 a month for full-day childcare even if the monthly fee rises from $615 to $646. A family with household income of $4,000 will pay $69 monthly, up from $60.

All parents, regardless of income, get a basic subsidy of $300 a month for full-day childcare. They also get a second subsidy based on household income, with poorer families getting more help.

Changi's T1 carpark closing to make way for Jewel

Motorists will have to park at T2 and take skytrain or shuttle bus to T1
By Danson Cheong, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2014

IT WILL soon be less convenient for drivers to park and get into Changi Airport's Terminal 1 (T1).

Drivers familiar with the terminal's open-air carpark with 850 spaces will find the area closed in the fourth quarter of this year to make way for the construction of Project Jewel.

Changi Airport Group (CAG) said at a press briefing yesterday that it has not set a date for the closure but it will test new parking arrangements from Oct 17 to 21 before the permanent closure.

Drivers will be directed to park at Terminal 2's (T2) Carpark 2B, which has 1,100 carpark spaces.

After dropping passengers off at T1's departure level, drivers will have to make a slight detour, including a U-turn, to get to this designated carpark.

They will then have to take the skytrain or board a free shuttle bus, which runs every five to 15 minutes, to T1. The shuttle bus trip takes about seven minutes.

This temporary carpark situation will last till 2018 when the $1.47 billion Jewel is completed. The largely retail complex will be built on the 3.5ha site where the open-air carpark is. It will have an underground carpark with 2,500 spaces and a link to terminals 1, 2 and 3, and Changi Airport MRT station.

Singapore businesses well-placed to venture further into India: PM

They can take advantage of the good bilateral ties and new opportunities
By Charissa Yong, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2014

PRIME Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday encouraged businesses in Singapore to make further forays into India, where optimism has risen following the electoral victory of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May.

Businesses here, particularly members of the Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, are well-placed to do so, he said at the SICCI's 90th anniversary dinner yesterday.

The reason is that many share a cultural heritage with India and have built up networks of contacts and partners in the country.

"I hope companies will take advantage of the favourable relations between the two countries, and the new markets and business opportunities in India," PM Lee said.

Leaders and officials of both countries visit each other regularly and have good rapport, he noted. Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong called on Mr Modi two weeks ago and the Indian Prime Minister "expressed strong interest in and support for a more comprehensive and strategic economic partnership between the two countries", Mr Lee said.

Singapore is India's top investor, and more than 6,000 Indian- owned companies are here.

Mr Lee also noted that since Mr Modi came into power, capital flows had rebounded, stock markets were at an all-time high and consumer sentiments had improved. Factors in India's favour include its large domestic market and a young and expanding workforce.

Mr Lee said: "A key factor is the decisive mandate Prime Minister Modi has, and his determination to make fundamental changes to progressively promote growth and investments."

Historical journey of Indian settlers here

Accounts of secret societies, war suffering revealed in book
By M. Nirmala, The Straits Times, 27 Sep 2014

A NEW book on the growth of the Indian population in Singapore between 1819 and 1945 traces the historical journey of Indian migrants in an urban landscape.

Written by historian Rajesh Rai, it is the first comprehensive study of Indians in Singapore.

Similar earlier works have focused on the Indian population that was largely found in plantations in Malaya.

The 325-page book, Indians In Singapore, 1819-1945: Diaspora In The Colonial Port City, was launched yesterday at the National Museum of Singapore.

Dr Rai made several significant findings.

Around 1831, when Chinese secret societies were active, Indians had their own secret societies - the Red Flag and White Flag. By the 1860s, conflicts broke out between the two Indian groups and they began collaborating with their Chinese counterparts.

Dr Rai also discovered that BP de Silva, who sailed into Singapore in 1869 with precious gems, may not only be a famous jeweller.

From the mid-1880s, there was a BP de Silva plantation estate on Pulau Ubin that grew coffee, pepper, nutmeg, sugarcane and pineapple.

Dr Rai also disproves the belief of many that it was only the Chinese and Eurasians who suffered at the hands of Japanese conquerors during World War II.

Indians made up a majority of the 78,000 civilians from Malaya and Singapore who were employed for the construction and maintenance of the Thailand-Burma Death Railway. Nearly 30,000 of these Indians died and more than 24,000 suffered from malnutrition and disease.

Saturday 27 September 2014

Singapore population growth hits 10-year low; 5.47 million as of June 2014

Singapore population grows at slowest pace in 10 years
Population hits 5.47 million, with fewer foreigners being hired
By Tham Yuen-C, The Straits Times, 26 Sep 2014

SINGAPORE'S population grew at its slowest pace in 10 years for the 12 months ending this June, as fewer foreign workers were hired.

It crept up 1.3 per cent to 5.47 million people, including permanent residents and foreigners working here, according to a report released by the National Population and Talent Division (NPTD) yesterday.

In the previous year, the rise was 1.6 per cent.

The citizen population, however, continued to grow at the same pace as in the previous 12 months, rising almost 1 per cent to reach 3.34 million now.

But with Singaporeans living longer and having fewer babies, the population continues to age, noted the NPTD.

Those aged 65 and older form 12.4 per cent of the citizen population in June, up from 11.7 per cent a year earlier.

The new 1.3 per cent population growth is in line with the Government's projections in its White Paper on population, published in January last year, and is likely to continue, said Dr Kang Soon-Hock, head of SIM University's social science core.

Should it be maintained, economist Song Seng Wun calculates that the population will cross the six-million mark in 2022, eight years from now.

"This rate means Singapore would take 12 years to add one million people compared to the 10 years it would take previously," said Mr Song, of CIMB Research.

Experts attribute the slide to government policies aimed at reducing the inflow of foreigners.

The NPTD said as much, pointing out that the Government had taken "concrete steps... to slow the growth of our foreign workforce to a more sustainable pace".

But Bank of America Merrill Lynch economist Chua Hak Bin warned the reduced pace, coupled with Singapore's low birth rate and rising number of elderly people, could hurt the economy.

"The effects of the ageing population would be felt more keenly with the tightening of immigration policies leading to fewer younger people being allowed into Singapore on work passes," he said.

Pedestrian Night on Orchard Road

Part of Orchard Road to go car-free once a month
660m stretch of road running from ION Orchard to Ngee Ann City to be pedestrian-only, host community events
By Kelly Ng and Elgin Chong, TODAY, 26 Sep 2014

After two years, plans to make a part of Orchard Road pedestrian-only are finally coming to fruition.

Starting next month, a 660m stretch of the road — running from ION Orchard to Ngee Ann City — will turn into a pedestrian-only street on the first Saturday of every month from 6pm to 11pm.

This six-month pilot of Pedestrian Night on Orchard Road, led by the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), will create a space for community activities. Kicking off the line-up is Tennis Pops Up @ Orchard Road on Oct 4, held in conjunction with the upcoming Women’s Tennis Association Finals, where the public will get to try their hand at playing tennis on the streets and watch demonstrations by pro players.

Said ORBA chairman May Sng: “Pedestrianising Orchard Road adds another dimension to our iconic precinct. Orchard Road will no longer just be a shopping belt, but a vibrant lifestyle destination with an array of exciting activities for all to enjoy.”

In November, yoga enthusiasts can look forward to a mass yoga event with a renowned instructor, while a Christmas-themed carnival will take to the roads in December.

Orchard Road is no stranger to going car-free. Back in 1989, the thoroughfare from Paterson Road to Grange Road was closed to traffic once a month. This stopped after several months when fewer events were held and public interest subsided.

The idea was revived in 2012 as part of ORBA’s proposal to enhance public spaces on the shopping belt. Tourism and architecture experts then lauded major cities such as London, Tokyo and Beijing, where main shopping streets are permanently pedestrian-only, but also advised organisers to study road usage patterns before undertaking the project.

The ORBA said “intensive discussions” with businesses and government agencies started six months ago, and they identified the five-hour window on Saturday evenings as the least disruptive.

Team Singapore at 17th Asian Games Incheon 2014

New National Heart Centre Singapore Opened

Bigger, better $266 million heart centre opens
By Salma Khalik, The Straits Times, 26 Sep 2014

SINGAPOREANS are living longer, largely because of economic growth, better education, housing and nutrition - and the country's good and efficient health-care system, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

Last year, Singaporeans had an average life expectancy of 83 years - up from 75 years in 1990. This means that with every passing year, people here are living six months longer, Mr Lee noted.

But even though the health-care system in Singapore is already good, "we must continue to improve it in all aspects", he said, at the opening of the new National Heart Centre Singapore (NHCS) yesterday.

The new $266 million 12-storey building on the Outram campus near Singapore General Hospital is four times the size of the old one. It will be able to handle double the number of patients that it could at the nearby old building.

It has a new 24-bed short-stay unit for patients who have undergone ballooning or stenting to remove a blockage in their blood vessels. This will free up ward beds, the centre said. In addition, one floor and half of another are dedicated to research.

Specialist centres like the NHCS "are our peaks of excellence", said Mr Lee, and are there for patients with complex conditions, "so that they can receive the highest quality treatment".

The Government will be opening three more general hospitals, each with a community hospital next door, by 2022.

It is also bumping up primary care with six more polyclinics to be added by 2020.

The Community Health Assist Scheme, which provides subsidies for patients seeing general practitioners, has resulted in 170 per cent more patients turning to GPs since last year, Mr Lee said.

MediShield Life, to launch at the end of next year, will take care of affordability by giving better protection for all for life.

But Mr Lee said: "Ultimately, a good health-care system is not only about the infrastructure and the equipment, but also the competent and dedicated people who man it."

This is not just for doctors, but also nurses and allied health-care professionals.

He said: "We are upgrading their career paths, keeping their wages competitive, and developing them professionally to take on more responsibilities and provide better care to patients.