Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Watz Online - 8 May 2012

More than 100 trees uprooted over the weekend


S'PORE - More than 100 trees in total were uprooted over the weekend because of stormy weather and exceptionally strong localised winds.

The National Parks Boards (NParks) told the media that 13 trees were Sunday uprooted near the tracks at Changi Beach Park while another 100 were discovered to have fallen within the park itself.

Heavy rains had also saturated and softened the soil in the area. A total of 10 more trees in other parts or S'pore were also affected by the strong winds.

read more

GE 2011: One year later
Policy makers have not yet taken a hard look at the government's ideological roots, says our blogger. (Yahoo! file photo)
Policy makers have not yet taken a hard look at the government's ideological roots, says our blogger. (Yahoo! file …

The quick backstory of what Singaporeans have seen since the results of the 7 May 2011 general elections shows a People's Action Party government correcting policy mistakes that got voters so worked up that they brought the ruling party's share of vote to a historic low of 60.1 per cent and threw out two ministers and a senior minister of state from a group representation constituency (GRC).

Some unpopular ministers left the Cabinet, and hot-button issues like transport, immigration and housing are now being tackled with some urgency and eagerness.The phrase "inclusive growth" keeps cropping up in politicians' speeches and interviews.

Roots vs Reality

But what we have yet to see is the policy makers taking a close and hard look at this government's ideological roots and whether the policies that grew out of these firm beliefs are still relevant. And more important, whether they are realistic to a population that find their lives squeezed by demands at home and at work.

read more

Becoming an opposition MP like being in the deep end

During the general election exactly one year ago, the Workers’ Party made history by being the first opposition party to win a group representation constituency (GRC).

With little information from their predecessors about the running of the Aljunied GRC, the five WP members elected to Parliament that day quickly had to get up to speed.

Aljunied Member of Parliament (MP) Pritam Singh described the early challenges they faced and shared his thoughts on how things have changed since.

“Becoming an opposition MP is like finding yourself in the deep end of the pool — you simply have to swim, and quickly come up to speed in dealing and resolving issues faced by the residents,” he told Yahoo! Singapore.

read more

Honey, who shrunk my flat?

This space is about space. Precious space.

Whether at coffee shops or food centres, most of the 40 heartlanders randomly approached last week perceive this "little red dot" to be shrinking.

Honey, to sum up popular perception, who shrank my flat?

No one, maintained National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Wednesday; HDB flat sizes have indeed not shrunk in recent years.

Technically, you can't argue with Mr Khaw. A four-room flat, for instance, has remained at 90 sq m since the mid-90s, reported The Straits Times.

Tell that to Mr David Soon and he stops cutting the slabs of pork at his stall.

read more

Primary school maths: A vicious circle

SINGAPORE - As a recent letter to this newspaper re-ignited a debate over whether the standards of primary school level mathematics are realistic, some educators pointed to a vicious circle where schools, tuition centres and assessment book publishers try to outdo one another in terms of setting questions that stretch children's abilities.

Among the 11 teachers and former educators Today spoke to, almost half of them felt that tuition is no longer a luxury, but a necessity - they argued that these days, teachers are saddled with multiple responsibilities and do not have enough time to cater to the learning pace of every student in the class.

One of the teachers said: "We deal with a class of 40 and it is difficult to give equal attention to all. Our role is not only teaching and planning lessons."

He added that he would recommend weaker pupils to go for enrichment classes to catch up with their peers.

read more

Growing demand for locums as patient load increases

THE doctor is in – but he or she could be a locum.

Whether the demand comes from clinics run by big practices or hospitals facing a growing patient load, the need for stand-in doctors – or locums – has prompted a small but growing group of doctors to shun full-time employment for the greater work flexibility and, sometimes, even higher pay.

Locums are subject to the same registration and regulatory conditions for doctors set by the Singapore Medical Council, a Health Ministry spokesman said.

She added that locums must be fully registered doctors.

There are about 300 locums on the LocumSg network, an online community set up about two years ago by Dr Tan Jit Seng.

read more

Expert suggests radical measures to raise fertility rate

Is it really impossible to raise Singapore’s fertility rate?

No, said prominent sociologist Paulin Straughan.

Speaking at Thursday’s Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) roundtable on population trends, Straughan suggested that Singaporeans will have more babies if they change their attitude towards their career.

The former Nominated Member of Parliament said that young people between the ages of 25 and 29 are reluctant to date or get married because they are too caught up trying to scale the corporate ladder.

“(Meritocracy) is what pushes our young Singaporeans into overdrive in paid work,” she said, before adding: “Because we are a capitalist economy, work achievements have transformed the way we deal with ourselves until it has become, for many, the only mark of success.”

read more

Singapore Air's charm fades as rivals cash in

Tourist spending in the city jumped by 50 per cent since 2008, aided by new development and a 23 per cent rise in passenger traffic through Changi Airport. That growth hasn't been reflected in the carrier's passenger numbers, which are down by 2.2 million in the period.

The 12 per cent drop is the largest of the 12 biggest publicly traded full-service airlines in the Asia Pacific, data compiled by Bloomberg show.
   
Arabian Gulf rivals are vying for premium passengers and low-cost operators are poaching budget travellers. Singapore Air's slide contrasts with Cathay Pacific Airways, whose passenger numbers have risen 11 per cent since 2008 because its Hong Kong base and a tie-up with Air China help it sell tickets in the world's most populous nation.

read more

Facebook founder Eduardo Saverin's playboy lifestyle of supermodels, flashy cars and Singapore's most exclusive clubs
  • Billionaire, 30, hangs out at private members bar and lives in luxurious penthouse
  • Rarely invests in companies but had given undisclosed sum to former Miss Singapore to fund her own cosmetics line

On May 18, Facebook's long-awaited share flotation is expected to go ahead - and few will likely be happier with the news than original investor and co-founder, Eduardo Saverin.

Mr Saverin, 30, was friends with Mark Zuckerberg when they attended Harvard in 2004 and originally invested in the social network.

The move left Saverin, who comes from a wealthy Brazilian family, with an estimated $2billion fortune, according to Forbes.

However despite a substantial boost in their collective fortune from the IPO, Saverin will unlikely celebrate with Zuckerberg and the former friends from his college posse.

Saverin began with a one-third stake in the company which was watered down when Zuckerberg began bringing others on board.

Read more

Unable to leave Singapore, Dr Chee Soon Juan records a video for the Oslo Freedom Forum

In Singapore, all bankrupts are required to apply for permission before travelling out of the country. When Dr Chee Soon Juan, Secretary-General of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), was invited to speak at the Oslo Freedom Forum (currently underway in Norway), he was denied permission to leave Singapore to attend.

The Associated Press reported that the “government’s bankruptcy office said in a letter earlier this month that it denied Chee permission to travel to the conference because he has failed to make a contribution to his bankruptcy estate.”

This prompted Thor Halvorssen, President of the Human Rights Organisation, to publish an open letter to Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, urging the government to grant permission to Dr Chee to attend the event.

Dr Chee declared bankruptcy in 2006 after he was unable to pay the fines imposed after he lost defamation suits initiated by Singapore’s then-prime minister Goh Chok Tong and then-senior minister Lee Kuan Yew.

He was also convicted on charges of libel during the 2006 General Election after both Lee Kuan Yew and Lee Hsien Loong sued him for implying corruption in an SDP newsletter.

On top of not being able to travel out of the country, he has also been barred from standing for elections.

read more