Sunday 31 May 2015

Teen detained for planning to join ISIS had planned to kill President and PM Lee

Detained Singapore teen 'intended to kill President and PM'
Student planned to do so if he could not leave S'pore to join ISIS: PM Lee
By Lim Yan Liang, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

THE 19-year-old student detained last month for planning to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terror group in Syria intended to kill President Tony Tan Keng Yam and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong if he could not leave Singapore, Mr Lee has disclosed.

His comments, in a speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue yesterday, come two days after the Ministry of Home Affairs said it had detained M. Arifil Azim Putra Norja'i and arrested an unnamed 17-year-old radicalised student for further investigations.

The ministry had said Arifil gave considerable thought as to how he would attack key facilities and assassinate government leaders, but did not go into details.

He also announced Singapore's deployment of a KC-135 tanker refuelling aircraft to the Middle East started yesterday, as part of Singapore's participation in the international coalition against ISIS.

In his speech, Mr Lee said terrorism was not an entirely new phenomenon, and various politically motivated terror groups have largely faded away.

But the current phase of terrorism will be around for a long time, and many societies are now finding home-grown terrorists and self-radicalised individuals who can mount attacks with minimal resources.

ISIS has exploited the Internet and social media and drawn over 20,000 foreign fighters from all over the world, who will pose a threat when they return.

ISIS supporters have carried out lone-wolf attacks in a number of countries and, two weeks ago, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi repeated a call for Muslims to migrate to the Islamic state or wage war in their home countries, Mr Lee added.

ISIS has also said it intends to establish a wilayat, or province under the caliphate, in South-east Asia, which has become a key recruitment centre for the group.

Over 500 Indonesians and dozens of Malaysians have joined ISIS, and its Malay Archipelago combat unit, Katibah Nusantara, has been active on social media.

Radical groups in the region have pledged their allegiance, including Jemaah Islamiah spiritual leader Abu Bakar Bashir who did so from jail. His followers in Singapore planned to set off truck bombs after the Sept 11, 2001, attacks on America. Several hundred terrorists in jail in Indonesia are also due to be released in the next two years, Mr Lee said.

"The idea that ISIS can turn South-east Asia into a province of a worldwide Islamic caliphate controlled by ISIS - that is a grandiose, pie-in-the-sky dream.

"But it is not so far-fetched that ISIS could establish a base somewhere in the region, in a geographical area under its physical control like in Syria and Iraq, somewhere far from the centres of power of state governments, somewhere where government writs do not run," said Mr Lee.

"And there are quite a few such places in South-east Asia. If ISIS did that, it would pose a very serious threat to the whole of South-east Asia."

IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2015: 14 years of giving it a go for regional security

By William Choong, Published The Straits Times, 29 May 2015

NOT many observers of regional affairs will know that it was the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew who gave the much-needed push for the establishment of the Shangri-La Dialogue, the annual defence summit that will kick off its 14th edition tonight.

In 2001, Dr John Chipman, the director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), had a brainwave - compared to Europe, Asia did not have a defence forum which involved meetings of more than two defence ministers. So he sought the advice of Mr Lee. Mr Lee's curt answer: "Give it a go."

Fourteen years on, the Dialogue has come a long way. It also bears Mr Lee's imprimatur, given that the themes he espoused still resonate today.

Speaking at the first Dialogue in 2002, it was Mr Lee who noted that the immediate threats to South-east Asia were Muslims who had returned home after fighting with Al-Qaeda and Taleban forces in Afghanistan. Addressing the Dialogue in 2003, Mr Lee expressed his worry about the contending objectives of regional powers vis-a-vis North Korea.

But Mr Lee's biggest contribution to the Dialogue and regional security was his obsession with the regional power balance. Speaking at the 2008 inauguration of the Lee Kuan Yew Conference Room at Arundel House, the London headquarters of the IISS, he stressed that a stable global order would need support from all powers - America, the European Union, as well as China, India and Brazil as they grew and Russia as it turned more muscular.

So as Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong addresses the Dialogue tonight, it is likely that he would reiterate these broad themes. In fact, having attended a decade's worth of Dialogues, I'd eat my hat if Mr Lee doesn't reiterate the importance of "open and inclusive" regionalism.

Speaking at the 2005 Dialogue, the younger Mr Lee stressed that Singapore believed that an "open regional architecture" would give all major powers a stake in Asia and produce a "stable, predictable regional order".

Today, regional order is supported by economic dynamism and institutions such as the Asean Defence Ministers' Meeting Plus, the East Asia Summit and the Shangri-La Dialogue.

Among them, the Dialogue is the forum of choice. In 2002, Mr Lee Kuan Yew spoke to 160 delegates. This year's Dialogue will see a tripling of that figure to approximately 480 delegates.

NWC Guidelines 2015/2016: Raise Pay of Low-Wage Workers

Recommendation of at least $60 raise for those earning up to $1,100 a month
By Joanna Seow, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

LOW-WAGE workers are set for another pay bump after the National Wages Council (NWC) recommended a minimum $60 increase for those earning a basic salary of up to $1,100 a month.

The move, which works out to be at least a 5.5 per cent pay rise, could benefit at least 127,000 workers, if all employers follow the recommendations.

New NWC chairman Peter Seah, who took over the reins last month, announced this at a press briefing yesterday, saying that the council recognises that these workers have been upgrading their skills and increasing their productivity.

"The council wanted to focus on low-wage workers given that they are the most vulnerable group and should continue to benefit from Singapore's growth," he said.

The economy is expected to grow by 2 to 4 per cent this year.

In making the recommendation, the NWC noted that the proportion of full-time resident workers who earn a basic monthly salary of $1,000 and below has been falling. It stood at around 6.8 per cent last year, down from 9.8 per cent in 2012.

This partly explains why only three in 10 of their employers in the private sector followed the council's wage recommendations last year, down from over five in 10 in 2013, said the NWC.

Mr Seah said the aim is to encourage wage increases which are sustainable, and urged employers and unions to focus on helping workers to deepen their skills and raise productivity.

Productivity fell 0.8 per cent last year while real basic wages rose 3.9 per cent.

"Real wages should be in line with productivity growth over the long term," said Mr Seah.

The NWC added that other workers can be given built-in wage increases taking into account business performance, prospects and sustainability.

Some of the remaining companies unable to raise low-wage workers' salaries according to the recommendation put it down to poor business last year, said Singapore National Employers Federation Robert Yap.

Besides pay raises, the council urged unions and employers to shift towards the use of portable medical benefits for workers.

The National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and business chambers came out in support of the guidelines, which take effect from July 1 and have been accepted by the civil service.

Singapore Constitution not set in stone: A-G

Prescribed processes stipulate how it may be amended
By K.C. Vijayan, Senior Law Correspondent, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

SINGAPORE's Constitution is not set in stone and can be amended as provided by rules and procedures under the law.

Attorney-General V.K. Rajah made this clear on Thursday when he addressed a conference at the National University of Singapore (NUS) law faculty.

Describing the issue as fairly straightforward, he said: "The Constitution has made it very plain and specific provisions stipulate how its various provisions may be amended.

"Even fundamental provisions can be amended... although entrenched provisions require a national referendum. There is therefore no question of any provision of the Constitution, however fundamental, being immune from amendment."

In making this point, he referred to a fairly recent discussion that certain features of the Constitution are inviolate.

The Constitution safeguards fundamental liberties such as the freedom of religion and provides for the structure of the Government, judiciary and Parliament.

Last September, an article in the Law Gazette argued, as an example, that abolishing the elected presidency may be against the basic structure of the Constitution.

The debate was featured in The Straits Times.

In his speech titled "Interpreting the Constitution", which was delivered to an audience of local and foreign academics, students and legal practitioners, Mr Rajah accepted there may be matters "that some of us hope can be placed under constitutional protection". But this is not a matter for the courts.

Mr Rajah stressed that in interpreting the Constitution, "we must be guided by what the text is, not what we hope for it to be.

"To venture beyond the text of the Constitution and enunciate a meaning that reflects what the law should be is to disrespect the principles of separation of powers: This is an exercise that violates rather than upholds the Constitution."

Home Team Celebrates SG50: Honours for those who kept Singapore safe

Home Team pioneers risked their lives to clean up country: DPM Teo
By Hoe Pei Shan And Rei Kurohi, The Straits Times, 29 May 2015

SHE remembers the people streaming in with bloodied faces, a few with limbs attached to their bodies by just shreds of skin.

The 1969 racial riots left many injured, and senior staff sergeant Evelyn Wong worked long shifts as the police grappled with the street fighting.

Two decades later, Madam Wong was with the airport police division when Singapore Airlines SQ117 was hijacked, and again she found herself in the thick of things with the police preparing for the possibility that the attackers could blow up the plane on the Changi Airport runway.

Commandos from the Singapore Armed Forces managed to kill the four hijackers and bring all 114 passengers and 11 crew to safety.

Those were just two incidents in Madam Wong's 31-year career with the Singapore Police Force.

The 70-year-old is one of some 2,000 Home Team Pioneers being honoured this year for their contributions to Singapore's safety and security.

About 150 of them gathered at the Home Team Academy yesterday and were the first to receive SG50 commemorative medallions and plaques, in conjunction with Singapore's jubilee celebrations.

"The harmony, order and stability that we all enjoy today would not be possible without our pioneers' contributions and sacrifices," said Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean at the event.

He recounted the city-state's tumultuous early years, marked by struggles against communism, terrorism, drugs, and civil emergencies. Home Team officers were the ones who made the "ultimate sacrifice", putting their lives on the line.

Singapore honours top business execs

Early backer of Singapore among four senior business executives feted
By Jacqueline Woo, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

WHEN global management consultancy McKinsey & Company was first set up here in 1998, Singapore's business landscape was a limited one.

"The mix of businesses was mostly limited to basic manufacturing," recalled the firm's global managing director Dominic Barton in an interview with reporters yesterday.

"People were even laughing at Singapore's ambition to become a financial centre."

But back then, he set store by the country's economic potential, and was an early advocate of its role in creating business and management insights for Asia as a whole.

Mr Barton was conferred national honours by President Tony Tan Keng Yam for his contributions to Singapore at the Istana yesterday, along with three other senior business executives.

He and Mr Michael Splinter, chairman of semiconductor giant Applied Materials, received the Public Service Star (Distinguished Friends of Singapore) award.

Mr Paul Graham, DHL Supply Chain's global chief operating officer and chief executive of mainland Europe, Middle East and Africa, was presented with the Public Service Medal (Friends of Singapore).

Mr Gautam Banerjee, who is senior managing director at Blackstone and co-chairman of its Asia operating committee, as well as chairman of Blackstone Singapore, was awarded the Public Service Medal.

Economic Development Board (EDB) chairman Beh Swan Gin said in a statement that all four award recipients have played "instrumental roles" in the continued growth of Singapore's business landscape.

"Their strong support has led to the development of new capabilities in their respective sectors, and created exciting job opportunities for Singaporeans."

SIA planes don National colours to celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday

By Karamjit Kaur, The Straits Times, 29 May 2015

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has dressed two of its Airbus 380 superjumbos in a special livery based on the Singapore flag to mark the nation's 50th birthday.

We are proud to be flying the national flag around the world on the world's largest passenger aircraft. Join us as we celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday!#SG50withSIA #SQavgeek
Posted by Singapore Airlines on Thursday, May 28, 2015

The first of the two will take to the skies early next month and the second in July. Both A-380s will "fly the national colours" until the end of the year. The planes ply routes to Beijing, Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, New Delhi, Shanghai, Sydney and Zurich.

The A-380 is the world's largest aircraft and the special livery features a 10m-tall and 47m-long Singapore flag-themed design on both sides of the fuselage, SIA said yesterday.

Its chief executive Goh Choon Phong said: "SIA's success is closely tied to the success of Singapore. What better way to celebrate SG50 than by proudly flying the national flag around the world on the world's largest aircraft."

Five mega childcare centres by end-2016 to meet demand

By Priscilla Goy, The Straits Times, 29 May 2015

FIVE jumbo childcare centres will be ready by the end of next year in areas with high demand for childcare services.

The centres will be built on undeveloped state land in Punggol, Sengkang, Jurong West, Woodlands and Yishun. These areas have higher demand for childcare services as they have more families with young children.

Minister Tan Chuan-Jin announced that by end-2016, Jurong West, Punggol, Sengkang, Woodlands and Yishun will each house...
Posted by MSF Singapore on Thursday, May 28, 2015

The centres are likely to be two-storey standalone buildings, each with an average land area of 2,500 sq m, or nine tennis courts.

While designs have not been finalised, a spokesman for the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) said the large space meant that these centres could have outdoor playgrounds nearby and even rooftop gardens.

The centres are likely to add a total of around 2,000 places to the pool, with each of these new ones able to take in 300 to 500 children. A centre in a Housing Board void deck can usually admit only about 100 children.

The extra places are on top of the 20,000 childcare places that the Government plans to add from 2013 to 2017.

The centres will be run by anchor operators, so childcare services offered will be affordable. The anchor operators get government grants and priority in securing HDB sites to set up centres, but have to keep fees below $720 a month, among other things.

New polyclinic at Jurong West to open in 2017

The polyclinic, to be located next to Jurong West Primary School, at Jurong West Street 61, is expected to see about 272,300 attendances when it starts its operations.
By Sara Grosse, Channel NewsAsia, 29 May 2015

Residents staying in Pioneer and Jurong West can look forward to a new polyclinic in their area in 2017.

The Pioneer Family Healthcare Centre, as its called, will pilot a new care model that will see patients taken care of by regular healthcare teams. The polyclinic is located next to Jurong West Primary School, at Jurong West Street 61.

The centre is expected to see about 272,300 attendances when it starts its operations in 2017 and, by 2030, the clinic may possibly serve 385,000 yearly attendances.

Currently, there is no polyclinic in Jurong West. Residents have to travel to Jurong Polyclinic in Jurong East to access polyclinic services.

"With this polyclinic, we can just easily walk here, less than 5 minutes. Before that we would have to drive 10 to 15 minutes to Jurong East," said Mr Tony Chua, a resident of Jurong West.

The new 7-storey facility is looking into the concept of having patients cared for by a specific healthcare team comprising family physicians, care managers, care coordinators and allied health professionals. The aim is to foster strong relationships between patients and their healthcare teams.

Adjunct Associate Professor Chong Phui-nah, CEO of National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP), explained: "Having certain healthcare teams led by a family physician will be helpful in terms of understanding the patient as a whole, understanding the patient's family history and medical problems will actually give a more holistic approach to the management of the chronic disease of the patient."

The new healthcare centre will also help to take the load off Jurong Polyclinic, which sees between 1,300 and 1,600 patients a day.

New Chartered Engineer accreditation for railway professionals

Rail engineers get on track for chartered status
New career route a recognition of their experience and expertise
By Timothy Goh, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

RAIL engineers will now be able to work towards becoming chartered engineers, just like their peers in the fields of aerospace and chemical engineering.

The new career route was made possible yesterday when the Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES), the Land Transport Authority, the Singapore Workforce Development Agency and public transport operators SMRT and SBS Transit signed a memorandum of understanding.

Today, we signed a Memorandum of Understanding together with the Institution of Engineers, Singapore (IES), Singapore...
Posted by Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving on Thursday, May 28, 2015

The move will enhance these engineers' employability and validate their experience and expertise, said IES.

Both operators have come up with a career track to help their engineers achieve this accreditation.

SMRT, which has 288 engineers and hopes to recruit 67 more, will offer them academic sponsorship to various institutes of education, in-house partnership with local universities and industry experts, industrial exchanges with partner companies as well as mentorship opportunities within the company, among other things.

SBS Transit yesterday also unveiled a new career development framework for its engineers as part of the accreditation scheme.

Engineers will be given broader training experience in people management, business management as well as safety and security leadership.

Non-degree holders will be given the opportunity to rise in rank to executive positions.

SBS Transit added that it will grant study leave and sponsor-related fees for its engineers.

While the time to complete the programme varies for engineers depending on their experience, both companies estimate it will take them four to five years to attain the accreditation.

Senior Minister of State (Transport and Finance) Josephine Teo said the move would help meet the increasing demand for engineering talent in Singapore.

"The maths is simple: the more extensive our rail network, the more rail engineers we need," she said, adding that the chartered engineer accreditation programme would raise the professional standing of rail engineers.

Driving theory and practical test fees to increase from June 1; changes to conversion of Class 3 licence

Hike from next month is due to rise in operating costs
By Amelia Teng, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

IT WILL cost more for those learning to drive to obtain a licence from next month.

The fee for theory tests will go up to $6.50 from $6, while the current $20 fee for practical tests and the Proficiency Driving Test will be raised to $26 next month, and go up to $33 in June next year.

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a statement yesterday that the fee hike, which applies to all who book their tests on or after June 1, is due to the rise in operating costs over the years.

The current fees have not changed since 1997, it said.

The SPF also said yesterday that work permit and S Pass holders with foreign driving licences who wish to convert them to Class 3 licences will have to pass a practical test as well.

From next month, they will need to take the Class 3 practical driving test if they want to drive small buses, motor cars, mini vans or light goods vehicles.

Currently they need to pass only a basic theory test to convert their equivalent foreign licences.

But foreign workers who need to drive only cars and not vehicles such as mini vans can apply for the new Class 3C licence.

This licence, to be introduced next month, is only for cars and requires foreign workers to pass only the basic theory test.

These changes - passed in Parliament in September last year - are to ensure these drivers are competent and familiar with driving on Singapore roads.

Cabbies cry foul over rival drivers

It says Uber and others don't have to meet stringent industry standards
By Christopher Tan, Senior Transport Correspondent, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

THE taxi industry is up in arms over transport app providers and rental car companies running their own fleet of "taxis".

National Taxi Association (NTA) adviser Ang Hin Kee said yesterday that these companies are "creaming off profits", without having to meet the stringent requirements and standards the taxi industry has to meet.

Transport app provider Uber recently set up its own car rental company to run what is effectively a parallel taxi operation. It leases cars to drivers at less than half the taxi rental rate, provided they undertake at least 40 Uber-assigned trips a week.

Rental group Prime Leasing has set up a similar operation, but its drivers are employees.

Mr Ang, who is also an Ang Mo Kio GRC MP, said: "We've voiced our concerns to the Land Transport Authority. It says it is studying the issue.

"It's an issue of a level playing field... Taxi companies are required to have a fleet that is well maintained... they make sure that things like brakes are working properly. In the end, this is cost, which is translated into rentals."

He also said taxi drivers have to undergo vocational training and re-training and satisfy various service indicators.

"They are exposed to a lot of public scrutiny - so much so that when a cabby uses his cab to drive his daughter to school, people ask 'is that right?'

"But suddenly, we have a group of people who may be ex-cabbies, who may have been banned because of disciplinary action, who may have criminal records, who don't have health checks - they're now operating these 'limo' services," he said.

Mr Ang said the authorities need to recognise this is also about public safety, adding that "thank goodness we've not had any major incident".

Taxi commuter Richard Ho, 55, avoids using these unmarked cars. The IT director said: "My wife definitely will never get into one. We're a bit concerned about the security issue."

But National University of Singapore transport researcher Lee Der-Horng said companies like Uber are merely being innovative, and "as long as they abide by the law and, given the essence of shared economy, why not?"

He said firms such as Uber complement taxis, especially during peak hours.

Stiffer rules on moneylending to be rolled out soon

Most of panel's proposals get nod from Govt, including 4% rate cap
By Joyce Lim, The Straits Times, 30 May 2015

TOUGHER new rules on moneylending are on the way to protect borrowers, including an interest rate cap of 4 per cent on loans.

Most of the proposed changes put forward by an advisory committee were accepted by the Government yesterday, with implementation starting as early as July.

The panel submitted 15 recommendations in all, including those from licensed moneylenders.

The key change is the 4 per cent cap on interest rates, including late-payment interest. This will start to be rolled out as early as July by the Law Ministry and could shake up a sector allowed to charge up to 40 per cent a month.

The limits are aimed at giving borrowers more protection, especially once the Monetary Authority of Singapore's new lending rule kicks in on Monday. Licensed moneylenders expect a borrowing surge once thousands of indebted individuals face suspension of their credit facilities by banks.

Moneylenders did have some cheer as their proposals - of being allowed to charge an administrative fee of not more than 10 per cent of the loan amount and a fixed late fee of not more than $60 a month - were accepted.

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday: "We set up this committee to come up with recommendations that would help protect the consumer, the borrower. But, at the same time, if you kill off the moneylending industry, then the people who need to borrow won't get access."

The Government accepted 12 of the 15 recommendations. Two - to lift the moratorium on granting new moneylending licences and to regulate debt collection behaviour - will be reviewed as the sector adapts to the regulatory changes, the Law Ministry said.

It rejected a proposal to lift curbs on advertising as it felt this could lead to more borrowing.

"Unrestrained advertising does have an impact on consumer behaviour and encourages borrowing... We noticed a shift in pattern when we allowed advertising, and when we shut off advertising, there was a drop," said Mr Shanmugam. "So our approach is to try and see how we can structure it such that those who really need will go and find a way to borrow, but we don't want to induce demand through advertising."

Friday 29 May 2015

MND v AHPETC: High Court Judge blasts Workers' Party-run council but rejects MND's oversight plea

By Walter Sim, The Straits Times, 28 May 2015

THE High Court has turned down the Ministry of National Development's (MND) application to appoint independent accountants to oversee government grants to the Workers' Party-run town council.

But Justice Quentin Loh, in explaining why the court was not in a position to do so, was scathing towards the council in his 80-page judgment released yesterday , saying it was a "travesty" that the Aljunied-Hougang- Punggol East Town Council (AHPETC) ignored its duties and obligations to residents. "They owe a duty and a heavy responsibility to their constituents to run AHPETC properly and it is incumbent on them to put their house and finances in order," he said.

Noting the "grave and serious questions" raised over the state of its accounts and propriety of past payments, Justice Loh said such lapses would result in "severe consequences" to office holders had they occurred in a public company. And if the council were a management corporation, it could well have faced civil or criminal liabilities.

MND wanted the High Court to appoint independent accountants to safeguard government grants that had been withheld owing to serious lapses in governance and compliance by AHPETC. MND would disburse the grants - of $14 million - if the court agreed to its application.

But Justice Loh said the High Court does not need to step in as the law already allows the National Development Minister to impose conditions on grants disbursed to town councils.

It would be up to AHPETC in this instance to decide whether to accept these conditions. If it chooses not to, or wishes to challenge the conditions, it may opt for judicial review proceedings.

Although he was unable to grant MND's application, Justice Loh found the conditions proposed by MND reasonable in the light of the Auditor-General's Office's report that unearthed serious accounting and governance lapses.

Noting that problems remain unrectified, and that AHPETC's management of funds and finances is "far from satisfactory", he urged both sides to reach a consensus on the conditions. This is so that grants can be promptly disbursed, and necessary transfers made to the sinking fund.

And on the "most heavily contested issue" of whether the accountants should be empowered to scrutinise past payments, Justice Loh said Parliament's intent when passing the Town Councils Act was to give councils latitude to operate and manage funds.

So MND stepping in as a form of "regulatory oversight" would go against the intent of the law, which already gives the Housing Board and residents the right to seek orders from the court.

The MND noted that the court agreed with its concerns about AHPETC, and said last night it would study the judgment and decide on the next steps. AHPETC and WP chairman Sylvia Lim said the town council respected the decision and would study its findings.

New centre to give up to $30 million over five years to social enterprises

By Kok Xing Hui, The Straits Times, 28 May 2015

SOCIAL enterprises here can now tap into $30 million in grants and investments over the next five years.

The funding from the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) and Tote Board will be administered by a new centre, the Singapore Centre for Social Enterprise (raiSE).

It was opened officially yesterday by President Tony Tan Keng Yam, who said it will "coordinate efforts to provide support to these enterprises to create a social impact".

Social enterprises - businesses with a social mission, such as employing former convicts - face challenges such as talent, business knowledge and funding, noted Dr Tan.

Therefore, raiSE will also provide mentorship from businesses such as DBS and Barclays, as well as business support for new social enterprises.

The new centre will take over from the ministry's ComCare Enterprise Fund, a scheme for social enterprises that train and employ the needy.

Details of other grants and investments will be announced later, but raiSE chairman Gautam Banerjee said some funds will also be directed at those who have ideas for social enterprises but are not yet at the start-up stage.

Mr Barnerjee, who was previously executive chairman of professional services network PricewaterhouseCoopers Singapore, said he hoped that the 11 board members - largely from the private sector - could bring business expertise to the table.

"Social entrepreneurship is not about charity; it's about business. So we need to ensure that businesses are not only meeting the social gaps that are present but also are sustainable," he said. "There's no point starting something and then two years later you lose steam and reach a plateau and you don't know what to do."

The new centre has about 300 social enterprises as members, out of the estimated 500 here.

Secondary school students may get more entrepreneurship opportunities

An initiative to expose secondary school students to local entrepreneurship may become a regular programme, opening up opportunities for work attachments for students, says Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin.
By Dylan Loh, Channel NewsAsia, Channel NewsAsia, 27 May 2015

An initiative to mark Singapore's 50th birthday by exposing secondary school students to local entrepreneurship may become a regular programme. This opens doors for students to go for more work attachments, under the initiative.

Social and Family Development Minister Tan Chuan-Jin told Channel NewsAsia in an exclusive interview that he has asked the relevant authorities to look into how the programme can be extended for a longer run.


The 50 Schools, 50 SMEs initiative is a key feature of celebration and community engagement plans for SG50. Under it, secondary school students embed themselves with local small and medium enterprises (SMEs), interviewing bosses or doing short work attachments of one or two days.

Mr Tan said there is value for youths to learn about entrepreneurship, which is why he had asked for the initiative to become a regular programme. If that takes off, work attachment stints for students may become a bigger feature.

Said Mr Tan: "You build up a pool of young people coming on board and realising how important, for example, our SMEs are. They're very much the lifeblood of the nation. We also know that SMEs, sometimes, do struggle, because as they try to attract manpower, people think, ‘I should join bigger companies’."

The programme lets the younger generation consider working for SMEs as a career, or start their own firms. Already, a number of students who have been through it have been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug.

Yusof Ishak Secondary School launches Presidents’ Trail for SG50

New trail reveals values, histories of Presidents
Path features seven hotspots
By Regina Marie Lee, TODAY, 28 May 2015

Years ago, 12-year-old Wee Kim Wee was playing at the construction site of the Fullerton Building when he found a Mexican silver coin in the mud. The coin became his most prized possession, but when he saw his mother crying over their financial circumstances, the boy who would grow up to become Singapore’s fourth President, sold the coin and gave the money to her.

More than 80 years later at the very same site — the waterfront outside the Fullerton Hotel — the story was recounted by students from Yusof Ishak Secondary School as part of a Presidents’ Trail designed by the school.

“It is the school’s contribution to the SG50 commemoration activities and one that seeks to unveil a side of Singapore’s history that citizens do not often hear about,” said its principal, Madam Jessie Koh, 50.

The trail features seven hotspots, each centred on one of Singapore’s presidents, past and present.

Thursday 28 May 2015

2 Singaporean youths radicalised by ISIS arrested, one of them detained under ISA for planning terror attacks

Singaporean teen aimed to join ISIS or launch attacks here
Student, 19, detained under ISA; he even thought of assassinating leaders
By Wong Siew Ying, The Straits Times, 28 May 2015

A SINGAPOREAN post-secondary student who made plans to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and carry out attacks here has been detained under the Internal Security Act since last month.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) said in a statement yesterday that M. Arifil Azim Putra Norja'i, 19, is the first known self-radicalised Singaporean to harbour the intention of carrying out violent attacks in Singapore.

His detention comes amid growing concern globally that young people are being radicalised by ISIS - increasingly via the Internet - to take up arms in Syria.

Over 20,000 foreign fighters have already joined the ongoing battle in Iraq and Syria, including more than 600 from South-east Asia, and the group has been gaining ground in its recruitment as it makes gains on the battlefield.

The MHA said Arifil revealed that if he was unable to join ISIS in Syria, he intended to carry out violent attacks here. "He gave considerable thought to how he would attack key facilities and assassinate government leaders.

"If he was unable to carry out these plans, he planned instead to carry out attacks in public places in order to strike fear within our society, using easily available weapons such as knives."

Meanwhile, another Singaporean youth, aged 17, was arrested this month for further investigation into the extent of his radicalisation. He was not named. The MHA said his family will be kept informed of the investigation.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said terrorism remains a serious global threat and the arrests showed that young people in Singapore are also vulnerable to being radicalised.

"It is not just a problem that is 'over there' in some other countries. It is also a problem that is 'over here', in our region, and in Singapore as well," he added.

The MHA said Arifil was radicalised around 2013 after he started viewing terrorist propaganda online and soon began to support ISIS' radical ideology and violent tactics.

He also befriended individuals online who he thought could help him join the group.

He actively looked up travel routes to Syria online and researched ways of making improvised explosive devices.

The MHA said Arifil's plans for attacks here were corroborated by several people whom he tried to recruit to help with the plans. While they were not swayed, they also did not alert the authorities.

"Fortunately, another person who knew Arifil noticed the changes in him and brought him to the attention of the authorities, who were then able to investigate... and take action before he could carry out his violent attack plans in Singapore," said the MHA.

Work demands getting in the way of family time: 2013 Survey on Social Attitudes of Singaporeans

Family ties - good; family time - not so good
55% of respondents in survey say work demands eat into family life
By Priscilla Goy And Kok Xing Hui, The Straits Times, 27 May 2015

FAMILIES in Singapore are doing well but there are challenges and emerging trends that could be addressed, in particular by employers and policymakers.

These include fewer people being satisfied with their marriages, and more people, especially men, saying work gets in the way of their desire for more family time.

The trends were drawn from data collected in national surveys and compiled by academics.

Figures from the 2013 Survey on Social Attitudes of Singaporeans were shared for the first time last week by Institute of Policy Studies researcher Mathew Mathews, who compiled the data with National University of Singapore sociologist Paulin Straughan.

Dr Mathews spoke last Friday at a conference in which about 450 people discussed how to better support families.

The proportion of Singaporeans who were satisfied with their family life increased for those who were married or single, both by 6 percentage points, to 95 per cent and 90 per cent respectively, between 2009 and 2013.

But for people who were divorced, separated or widowed, the proportion fell from 83 per cent to 78 per cent over the same period.

While most people were more satisfied with family life, the trend reversed when asked about married life. About 92 per cent of married respondents said they were satisfied with their marriages in 2013, down by 4 percentage points from 2009.

However, Dr Mathews said not to read too much into the four-point drop in marriage satisfaction, which he called "fairly small" and "normal" for surveys.

The survey was conducted annually from 2001 to 2003, then every three to four years.

Brisk sales and hefty gains at Pinnacle@Duxton

By Joyce Lim, The Straits Times, 27 May 2015

SINGAPORE'S tallest public housing project Pinnacle@Duxton is defying the sluggish property market with brisk sales - and hefty windfall gains - thanks to its prime location and sweeping views.

More than 60 units at the 50-storey project have been sold in the five months since owners started meeting the five-year minimum occupation period in December last year.

Last month, a five-room unit on the 29th storey went for $1.06 million, the highest resale price to date. Of the 17 transactions for five-room flats since January, six were sold at $1 million and above.

Four PropNex property agents spotted the project's potential as a hot spot for people looking to move to the central area. They teamed up last June and have been knocking on doors to persuade owners to capitalise on the sale of their flats.

Last November, the agents - Mr Alvin Lim, Mr Adrian Lim, Mr Lawrence Tan and Mr Ray Lim - started conducting tours of the project for interested buyers.

They have since sold 24 units.

The Straits Times joined one tour on Sunday as eight potential buyers viewed four units.