Friday, 7 February 2014

From Gan Ng Phua to Shan

Gan spells out ways to ease hospital bed crunch



THE way to ease the shortage of beds at public hospitals is to improve facilities for community care and home care so that there is "less reliance" on hospitals, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong yesterday.

One such move is to "enhance and strengthen" primary healthcare providers such as polyclinics and general practitioners (GPs).

Patients with chronic conditions, for example, can seek treatment from them instead of having to return to hospital frequently.

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Ageing society contributes to hospital bed crunch: Gan
Ageing society contributes to hospital bed crunch: Gan

With our ageing population, there are now more frail and old people who need hospitalisation, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in Parliament yesterday, saying this was one of the factors that contributed to the high bed occupancy rate at public hospitals.

Mr Gan, who was responding to a question from Sengkang West Member of Parliament (MP) Lam Pin Min on the shortfall of beds in hospitals, said the proportion of patients aged 65 and above admitted to public hospitals rose from 28.6 per cent in 2006 to 33.4 per cent last year.

This group is also staying in hospitals for a longer period — from an average of 7.8 days in 2010 to 8.2 days last year. In contrast, the average length of stay for patients aged 14 and below shrank to 3.4 days in 2013 from 3.7 days in 2010.

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Better integration of healthcare beyond hospitals needed: Gan Kim Yong

Steps to achieve better integration of care beyond hospital walls have seen some progress, although more can still be done, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Friday

He noted that the needs of the elderly require close collaboration among the primary and long-term care sector which includes home care providers and general practitioners.

Examples of efforts to extend care beyond hospitals include SingHealth's Right Siting Programme, in which stable patients can continue their treatment at over 100 GP clinics, instead of having to go to the hospital. Meanwhile, a scheme providing caregiving help at the homes of just-discharged patients from Changi General Hospital has helped 130 patients so far.

Speaking at an international integrated care conference at Grand Copthorne Waterfront, Mr Gan added that it was also important the care remains affordable for patients. More than 1,000 experts attended the first World Congress on Integrated Care, which is being held here from Nov 7 to 9.

related:
Vital for eldercare centres to be within community
Singapore lacks after-hours care for the elderly: Gan
Quality of elderly care services must improve: Gan Kim Yong

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Timely discharge, more beds added to deal with hospital bed crunch: Health Minister

Patients waiting for beds in a large air-conditioned tent at Changi General Hospital (CGH), on Jan 7, 2014. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Monday set out the measures being taken to address the hospital bed crunch in the short and medium term. -- ST FILE PHOTO: DESMOND FOO

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong on Monday set out the measures being taken to address the hospital bed crunch in the short and medium term.

They include ensuring timely discharge of patients, adding more than 300 beds over the past six months and working with private hospitals to supply another 50.

Over the medium term, 1,200 beds, including in community hospitals and nursing homes, will be added by this year, and another 10,000 by 2020, as at least six new hospitals are scheduled to open by then.

related:
Health-care facilities should serve the population: Gan Kim Yong
Income criteria for healthcare aid to be simplified: Gan Kim Yong
Singapore lacks after-hours care for the elderly: Gan
Health Minister: Government looking into how to keep out of pocket

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Singapore's care model needs to be changed to resolve hospital bed crunch: Gan Kim Yong

Resolving the hospital bed crunch is not just about expanding capacity, but it is also about changing Singapore's care model, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the topping-up ceremony of the new Ng Teng Fong General Hospital on Monday.

Speaking on the bed crunch situation, Mr Gan said it is important that people do not head to the Emergency Department if their medical condition is not critical.

related: Better integration of care services needed: Gan Kim Yong

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Better integration of care services needed: Gan Kim Yong
Better integration of care services needed: Gan Kim Yong
More must be done to integrate care services in the intermediate and long-term care sectors, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said at an international conference on integrated care this morning (Nov 8)

He also said developing Senior Care Centres (SCCs) is one way of integrating care in the sectors as they provide both health and social care services for the elderly under one roof.

To improve service flow, the Health Ministry plans to co-locate some of the SCCs in nursing homes and use the SCCs as base to provide home care services.

related:
Psychiatric home for the elderly to open next month
Healthcare hub to be built in central district
Four in 10 hospital ‘long-stayers’ fit to return home

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Singapore must remain nimble and vigilant: Gan Kim Yong

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said Singapore must remain nimble and vigilant to keep up high-quality care for Singaporeans and give timely response to unexpected events.

Speaking at the graduation ceremony of over 370 students from the National University of Singapore’s Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine today (July 13), Mr Gan said this is important as chronic diseases become more prevalent.

New infectious diseases such as the recent H7N9 bird flu are also emerging.

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Minister Gan urges gambling, alcohol addicts to seek help
Minister Gan urges gambling, alcohol addicts to seek help

More than half of those who sought help for their addiction reported a better quality of life in just three months, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.

He was speaking at the launch of the inaugural National Addictions Awareness Day today (Nov 23), citing statistics from the National Addictions Management Service, which was set up in 2008.

Mr Gan said the problem was that a majority (96 per cent) of those with alcohol and gambling issues do not seek help.

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Dr Ng Eng Hen: “Defending What We Fought For”
Answering Questions About Singapore’s Defence And Future
Answering Questions About Singapore’s Defence And Future

Dr Ng Eng Hen, our current Minister for Defence, participated in a discussion last Friday titled “Defending What We Fought For”.

The title itself conjured up images of Singapore being under siege, a gleaming metropolis facing relentless threats, always being tossed against multiple challenges. It exhorts citizens to be constantly vigilant. It perpetuates the rhetoric of vulnerability that we’ve heard so many times from various government ministers.

A quick look at the seminar’s description threw up this notable and rather dramatic line: “These developments have led to the traditional and non-traditional security threats, that, if not promptly and decisively managed have the power to wipe out what we spent years to build: not just structures and institutions, but the heart and soul.”

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Ng Eng Hen: Why S’pore needs a deterrent military force

Whether it was time for the role of defence in Singapore to evolve with the times and whether massive resources — both monetary and manpower — should continue to be devoted to defence were questions raised by audience members at the National University of Singapore (NUS) U@live forum with Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen yesterday.

In particular, they asked whether Singapore still needed its military capability at current levels, whether the Republic should scale back in case it appears aggressive and whether the defence budget of S$12 billion a year was “misaligned” compared with what is spent on other needs such as healthcare.

In response, Dr Ng said Singaporeans generally recognise the need for a strong defence force, in light of rising tensions within the region in recent years, such as the tussle between Japan and China over islands in the East China Sea.


Countries need constant dialogue to avoid misunderstanding: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen
Countries need constant dialogue to avoid misunderstanding: Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen

As Asia’s militaries modernise, there is a need to ensure constant dialogue and cooperation between all countries to avoid misunderstanding and reduce tensions, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, adding that there must also be responsive and effective dispute resolution mechanisms to address differences through peaceful means.

Mr Ng made these points in his speech at the US Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC yesterday (Dec 13).

He also said that it is for this purpose that the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting-Plus (ADMM-Plus) — which brings together the 10 member states of ASEAN and eight other countries: Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, and the United States — has entrenched itself as a valuable platform.

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Foreigners: Treat them as 'you want to be treated'




SINGAPOREANS should treat foreigners the same way that they want to be treated when travelling overseas, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen last night.

He was speaking to a 300-strong crowd of students, staff and alumni at the National University of Singapore's monthly U@live forum, which features prominent members of the university community.

Singaporeans are "extremely generous" in their daily interactions with foreigners, said Dr Ng, who drew his observations from his work as a Member of Parliament of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.


S’pore must grow economy to take better care of all S’poreans: Ng Eng Hen
S’pore must grow economy to take better care of all S’poreans: Ng Eng Hen

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said Singapore must grow its economy in order to take better care of all Singaporeans in housing, medical care and education.

Dr Ng said the country can achieve a new way forward for a better, more caring Singapore if Singaporeans work together to keep its fundamentals strong.

He was speaking at the Potong Pasir Mid-Autumn Festival yesterday evening (Sept 14).

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Countries in region need to work together to maintain peace, stability: Ng Eng Hen

Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen said countries need to put aside their differences to maintain and promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

He was Speaking on Monday at the second International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) Fullerton Forum; The Shangri-La Dialogue Sherpa Meeting.

Dr Ng spoke about seeking common ground amid national aspirations.

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US has important role in Singapore's air defence capabilities progress: Ng Eng Hen


Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen (extreme L) interacts with participants of Exercise Forging Sabre 2013 (XFS 13) in Phoenix, Arizona, US. (Photo: MINDEF)

Singapore's air defence capabilities have progressed significantly in the last two decades, and the US government and US Air Force (USAF) have played an important role in this by providing training opportunities and sharing of practices

Singapore's Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said this at the 20th anniversary parade of the Peace Carvin detachment at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona on Thursday

He said the continuing engagement with the USAF has allowed the Republic of Singapore Air Force's (RSAF) combat capabilities to grow from strength to strength, by developing new concepts and advanced tactics

related:


Dr Ng Eng Hen is surprised that Singaporean youths are bringing up serious issues at Singapore Conversation session

Comment: Dr Ng, bread-and-butter issues are no laughing matter!

Bread-and-butter issues such as competition for jobs, housing costs and maternity leave were the main focus of an Our Singapore Conversation session held yesterday. This would not have been unusual - except that the forum was held for youth.

Toh Qin Ying, 17, told The Sunday Times that she started being concerned about these "adult" issues after being exposed to them through the media. "I was watching the news and heard that housing prices are soaring. It's quite scary," the Anderson Junior College student said. "We have to be mature at this age. We're stepping into our 20s soon, (we) cannot still think like primary school kids."

Asked if he was surprised that the young crowd was bringing up such mature issues, Dr Ng laughed. "I guess Singaporeans are very serious, or maybe just this crowd is very serious, I don't know." Full story

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1 in 5 SAF servicemen has asthma: Ng Eng Hen


One in five servicemen in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has asthma, although the majority of them are mild, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen in Parliament on Monday.

Many of them have also been put through military training 'without adverse effects', added Dr Ng

He explained that in the last 20 years, servicemen with mild asthma are considered combat-fit and are referred to, in military parlance, as Physical Employment Status (PES) of A or B. This means that they have to serve at least nine weeks of Basic Military Training and undergo combat training and clear obstacles.

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Foreigners: Treat them as 'you want to be treated'

Singaporeans should treat foreigners the same way that they want to be treated when travelling overseas, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen last night.

He was speaking to a 300-strong crowd of students, staff and alumni at the National University of Singapore's monthly U@live forum, which features prominent members of the university community.

Singaporeans are "extremely generous" in their daily interactions with foreigners, said Dr Ng, who drew his observations from his work as a Member of Parliament of Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

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NG ENG HEN: SINGAPORE'S HUGE DEFENCE BUDGET IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT


At the NUS U@live forum yesterday attended by Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen, one of the questions raised was whether Singapore should continue to dedicate so much money and manpower to the military.

It was questioned whether Singapore could afford to reduce its military spending and scale given that it might be seen by other countries as "aggressive". It was also questioned whether the budget allocated to Military spending could be better used elsewhere.

Responding to the questions, Ng Eng Hen said that a strong military is still important to Singapore's defence given the high levels of tension in the region currently with the dispute over the East China Sea.

related:
Ng Eng Hen hints we need to work beyond 90?
Total hypocrisy of Ng Eng Hen on Total DefenceNg Eng Hen: Misinformation online is a threat to Total DefenceNg Eng Hen: Most Singaporeans support NS

read more

Singapore Government must be prudent going forward: Ng Eng Hen

The Government must exercise prudence even as it pledges to take better care of Singaporeans in terms of providing housing, education and health care, said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen

This will help Singapore avoid ending up like some countries in Europe, which now "have huge debts and problems", he said.

Dr Ng was reassuring those who have questioned how the country is going to foot the bills for policy changes announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Rally speech last month.

"I believe that the way to go is to make sure that the economy is doing well and there are jobs," said Dr Ng, who was speaking at the Toa Payoh Central Mid-Autumn Festival at Toa Payoh Town Park last night.

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Online misinformation, rumours and smears a 'threat' to Total Defence: Ng Eng Hen

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Friday warned of a new threat facing Singapore's Total Defence efforts - distorted or false information, rumours and smears that surface on the internet

Those who intend Singapore harm, he said, would spread these "to weaken our resolve and cause disunity". Online misinformation could spread widely during tense or volatile situations, he added, causing confusion and chaos.

Dr Ng also said that the way Singaporeans helped each other during the 2003 Sars crisis and the recent haze episode - the country's worst ever - gives people assurance that Singapore's Total Defence efforts are working.

He was speaking on Friday at this year's Total Defence Symposium at the Ritz-Carlton Millenia hotel, where he presented awards to more than 500 organisations for their contributions to Total Defence. Some companies, for example, allowed flexibility in work timelines so that their NS men could go for in-camp training with that peace of mind.

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S’pore must be on guard against online threats
S’pore must be on guard against online threats
False information could spread far and wide, causing confusion: Defence Minister

There is a new threat on the horizon that could hamper Singapore’s Total Defence efforts: The distorted or false information, rumours and smears that emanate from the Internet.

Warning against these yesterday, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said such distortions could spread far and wide and even cause confusion and chaos, weakening the country’s resolve and causing disunity.

“You would think that in this day and age, where information could be sent out, it would be easier to communicate,” he said at the Total Defence Symposium. “It is actually the reverse.”

related: 
False info online a "threat to Total Defence"

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DRUMS (Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation and Smears)

While Singapore can take “great assurance” that these efforts in Total Defence are “bearing fruit”, Dr Ng said one area needed to be improved on is in information management.

“In a tense and volatile situation, DRUMS (Distortions, Rumours, Untruths, Misinformation and Smears) can spread very far and wide and even cause confusion and chaos. Those who would do us harm will purposely start DRUMS to weaken our resolve and cause disunity,” he said.

“We have to learn how to respond to DRUMS, both as a Government and the people. The authorities must have a quick response plan. At the same time, the people themselves must be more discerning about the information that they read on the Internet. Singaporeans themselves can respond or counter and stop the spread of DRUMS.”

related: Is our Government beating the “War” Drum? Pa-rum Pum Pum

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Denise Phua: She wants to end segregation in schools


She's been called the People's Action Party's conscience, and a "lone voice in the wilderness" on topics like the casinos, which she opposes for economic and moral reasons.

Known as an advocate for people with disabilities, Moulmein-Kallang GRC MP Denise Phua, 54, took on the whole education system this week by proposing a pilot scheme of 10-year through-train schools with no streaming or high-stakes exams.

She talks to Rachel Chang about the importance of taking a stand.

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MP Denise Phua proposes 'pilot schools with no streaming and no PSLE'

Schools with no streaming, and with ten years of through-train education without the Primary School Leaving Examination - that was a proposal Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) floated on Tuesday, in an adjournment motion at the end of Parliament's sitting

She suggested that a pilot cluster of such schools be set up, in a speech which touched on the future of education - for instance, the rise of online academies - and current challenges such as the thriving tuition industry.

Among other things, her proposed pilot schools would encourage interaction of students from different socio-economic backgrounds, abilities, race and religion, "not excessively assess their students through competitive tests", and make special efforts to help the disadvantaged, such as having longer school days or providing computers and school meals.

Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said he would give her proposal "serious consideration," but added: "I should also caution that having debated many of these issues in my ministry, there are significant policy and implementation issues that we would have to consider."

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Some PAP MPs had difficulty endorsing original population motion: Denise Phua

A FEW People's Action Party MPs would have found it difficult to support the motion on the Population White Paper if it had not been amended, said Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) on Friday

The amended motion acknowledges that 6.9 million population is not a target of the Government, it also places priortiy on a Singaporean core, with a calibrated pace of immigration to prevent the citizen population from shrinking, and is committed to resolving the current infrastructure problems.

The amended motion also leaves room for the White Paper to be improved though mid-term reviews.

In a heartfelt speech critical of the White Paper and how it was put forward, Ms Phua said that the Government missed an opportunity to engage Singaporeans on the "hard truths" on the alarming rates of foreign workforce growth, declining birth rates and an ageing population.

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Tax rich more to fund social spending, says Denise Phua

The rich in Singapore were eyed by Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) on Tuesday as a possible source of funds to pay for increased social spending.

Make them pay more income tax, she suggested, pointing out that the rate for top earners is 'way below' those in countries such as the Nordic nations, Australia, New Zealand, China and the United States.
It is 20 per cent for those making more than $320,000 a year in Singapore, while in the other countries, the rates range from 30 per cent to 50 per cent, she said.

Noting that Singapore reportedly has the highest proportion of millionaires in the world, she said: 'Perhaps those who are most blessed can be persuaded to bear more responsibility for the society in which they live.'

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Don't forget those too disabled to work

I AM encouraged to hear that the Government is studying the expansion of training for special education students for work ("Special school students will get more help: PM"; last Wednesday).

Such efforts are progressive and should be sustained. However, like Moulmein-Kallang GRC MP Denise Phua, I caution against viewing special education students as future workers.

The reality is that some special needs students have severe disabilities - it would be unrealistic to expect them to hold jobs

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Accepting broader definitions of success

If a good life is simply about getting ahead of others and attaining the 5Cs, the competitive pressure in the workplace will define how parents and teachers view education. Then no amount of changes in the education system can alter the reality of each of us chasing after material goods, said Mr Heng. -- ST FILE PHOTO

A major consequence of a single-minded focus on examinations is stress, in particular, stress related to competition and high-stake examinations such as the PSLE, which Ms Denise Phua and several others have spoken about. Mr Lim Biow Chuan also opened this debate by talking about stress. Some mothers take leave for an entire year or more to help their children prepare.

Many see entry into top schools as critical to their children's future and prepare their children very early, some as early as kindergarten, and even send them to two kindergartens. Many compete to get a place in popular primary schools or spend significantly on tuition, as Mr Low Thia Khiang mentioned.

Others worry about their children being streamed into normal streams, and suffer from the labelling and stigma associated with it. Some teachers who are committed to helping their students succeed may give a lot of homework or set tests that are difficult to stretch their students, but often with good intentions. I appreciate the stress that parents, students and educators feel. This is an important issue.

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Helping deaf access key broadcasts


Ms Denise Phua (Moulmein-Kallang GRC) on Monday asked about subtitles for the Prime Minister's National Day Rally speech, election rally broadcasts and national security announcements for hearing-impaired Singaporeans.

The minister said in response that the Media Development Authority has started talks with broadcaster MediaCorp to identify solutions that are feasible and cost-effective.

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, who is the Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, also said subtitling could be resource-intensive, especially for live broadcasts.

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MP proposes piloting cluster of schools without exams, streaming
MP proposes piloting cluster of schools without exams, streaming

A school without high-stakes examinations or streaming, but offers 10 years of through-train education for students of all backgrounds to learn and interact together.

Moulmein-Kallang GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Denise Phua laid out her proposal in Parliament yesterday to pilot a cluster of such schools, so as to “go beyond the current trimming of the excesses of the (education) system”.

Speaking during an adjournment motion, she called on the Ministry of Education (MOE) to experiment with the idea, just as it had started its own kindergartens.

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Run pilot schools that offer 10 years of through-train education: Denise Phua
Run pilot schools that offer 10 years of through-train education: Denise Phua

MP for Moulmein-Kallang GRC Denise Phua has proposed that the Government start a “pilot cluster of schools” offering 10 years of through-train education, without the need of a high stakes exam, like the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

Filing an adjournment motion in Parliament today (Jan 21), Ms Phua, who is also deputy chair of the Education Government Parliamentary Committee, called for bolder and swifter reforms in the country’s education sector.

In response, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said the proposal must be set in context against the changes his ministry is already implementing, and that he would give Ms Phua’s proposal serious consideration.

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MP proposes pilot schools without streaming nor PSLE

MP for Moulmein-Kallang GRC Denise Phua has proposed that the government start a "pilot cluster of schools" offering 10 years of through-train education, without the need of a high stakes exam, like the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE).

Filing an adjournment motion in Parliament on Tuesday titled "Educating Our Young for the 21st Century", Ms Phua, who is also deputy chair of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Education, called for bolder and swifter reforms in the country's education sector.

In response, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat said the proposal must be set in context against the changes his ministry is already implementing, and that he would give Ms Phua's proposal serious consideration.

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PAP MINISTER K SHANMUGAM RESPONDS TO ANTON CASEY INCIDENT


I have been asked what I thought of Mr Anton Casey and his statements. Like many Singaporeans, I am terribly upset and offended by what he has posted. Deeply offensive, wrong, and unacceptable.

Those who have done well in life should always be looking out for others - especially the less well-off or needy. It is basic human decency. Instead Mr Casey showed contempt. Having money and a Porsche, does not automatically mean that one is superior. Character is important.

I am glad the community has come together to condemn what he has said.

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SHANMUGAM ON RECENT CORRUPTION CASES: SINGAPOREANS ARE ‘HUMANS’ AS WELL
shanmugan

The recent spate of high-profile corruption cases involving senior civil servants and leaders of the establishment has set some Singaporeans questioning if Singapore is that ‘clean’ after all

However, Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam uses ‘human nature’ to deflect public concerns, saying that “corruption and falling to temptation are basic vices that have existed since time immemorial.”

“Like in all societies, and in Singapore as well, there have always been people who have been corrupt. There will always be people who will be corrupt,” Mr Shanmugam said.

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Not possible to completely eradicate corruption: K Shanmugam

Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam says Singapore cannot eradicate fraud and bad conduct, even though it has created a system that is, by international standards, very clean and efficient.

Mr Shanmugam stressed that Singapore ranks high as a clean, corruption free society, amid several recent corruption cases.

He noted that of late, some people have asked why there so many cases, when Singapore is supposed to be a clean country 

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K Shanmugam says will continue engaging with online community
K Shanmugam says will continue engaging with online community
Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said he will continue to engage with the online community

He was responding to questions on an online post by blogger Kirsten Han, about a phone conversation Mr Shanmugam had with lawyer Remy Choo.

The minister had replied to the post earlier on Friday, saying that his comments during that phone call were misconstrued.

Mr Shanmugam said it is important that facts be verified before any posting is done. He said: "The key, I think, is for people to recognise two things. One, before you go and write something, try and verify the facts. Second, when you read something that somebody else has purported to post, be careful, because it may not be accurate, it may not even be by the person purporting to be so.- CNA/xq

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K Shanmugam chooses his words carefully

Like all good lawyers, Mr Shanmugam appears to have chosen his words carefully – very carefully. For this reason, a close look at what he said – and didn’t say – could be instructive.

Starting with the phone call to Remy Choo, the Minister admits that it took place. The minister does not deny that it was a late night phone call, or even a “midnight phone call” as stated by Kirsten Han. While the Minister seeks to downplay the significance of this phone call by emphasising the strength of his relationship with Remy, he never goes so far as to say that Remy Choo is his friend. Is it normal for the Minister to make unsolicited late night phone calls to people who are not his friends or family members? It seems unlikely.

Furthermore, the Minister very clearly does not deny the key point – that the purpose of the call was to convey the message that “he would not hesitate to sue those republishing [the article]“. 




SHANMUGAM: RESTRICTING ONLINE WEBSITES DOES NOT RESTRICT FREEDOM OF SPEECH

Shanmugam said that the government is not trying to restrict the freedom of expression in Singapore.

He was speaking at a forum yesterday and spoke in relation to the new requirement for users to log in before commenting on government feedback portal REACH.

The new restrictions are expected to be implemented from mid-December and were announced by PM Lee as a way to have more responsible online discussion.


Singapore does not comment on intelligence matters: Shanmugam


Different layers of aid for S'poreans, based on needs: Shanmugam
Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam has said different layers of assistance are available for Singaporeans, depending on their needs.

He said this at a "Ready for School" event to provide students with bursary and reading workshops on Sunday morning

Some 400 kindergarten students from needy families in Nee Soon GRC attended the "WeCare@Nee Soon - Ready for School" event.

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Cyber hacking akin to terrorism if it endangers lives: Shanmugam

Singapore's Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K Shanmugam. (AFP/POOL/Matt Rourke)

If cyber hacking leads to people's lives being endangered, then such hacking is akin to terrorism.

This point was made by Minister for Law and Foreign Affairs K Shanmugam at a dialogue with university students on Wednesday evening.

He said the government takes cyber hacking very seriously because of Singapore's dependence on information technology.

related:
S'poreans urged to continue taking stand against cyber threats
Singapore cyber security laws robust but not foolproof, say experts
Experts say hacking incidents in Singapore not on the rise
Govt agencies have to beef up cyber security: Heng Swee Keat


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Committee to reform homicide laws here: Law Minister Shanmugam

A government committee will be reviewing homicide laws here, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said at a criminal law conference on Thursday

Reforms being considered by the panel, chaired by Senior Minister of State for Education and Law Indranee Rajah, include refining the definition of murder. It is also looking into the introduction of an offence that deals with deaths caused in the course of violent group crimes.

The review follows recently announced initiatives like increased funding for the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme and the setting up of a third law school at SIM University.

Mr Shanmugam also said that his ministry was working with the Attorney-General's Chambers to come up with a framework for prosecution and defence to negotiate and resolve cases earlier.

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Harassment a rising worry, new laws to be tabled: Law Minister K. Shanmugam

NEW laws against harassment, whether online or in everyday life, will be tabled by early next year in response to Singaporeans' concerns about this growing menace, said Law Minister K. Shanmugam yesterday

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a conference on harassment, he cited a survey by government feedback unit Reach that showed more than eight in 10 Singapore residents polled last month were in favour of tougher measures to deal with harassment, both online and offline.

The same proportion of respondents also supported empowering courts here to order that online comments be taken down if they cause distress or alarm to others. The survey polled about 1,000 Singapore residents.

Mr Shanmugam said "the anonymous, borderless, viral and permanent nature of cyberspace makes harassment and bullying easier and more egregious".

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Criticise a minister but don't sling mud: Shanmugam

As Singaporeans become more politically engaged, they should feel free to discuss politics and even criticise ministers and policies, provided they do not make spurious allegations they cannot substantiate, Law Minister K. Shanmugam said yesterday

Responding to law students' questions about Singapore laws and their impact on free speech at a dialogue organised by students from the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law, Mr Shanmugam signalled that the Government was not about to soften its stance on defamation laws, even as he said the laws do not curtail political discussion.

Defamation laws, he said, are not there to stop people from criticising the Government, but exist to protect personal reputations.

"If you make a personal allegation of fact, if you say I took money, I am corrupt, I will then sue you and ask you to prove it. But if you say I am a stupid fool who doesn't know what I'm talking about, and the Government comprises ministers who don't know what they're talking about and you criticise every policy of the Government, no one can sue you," he said.

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Neighbours know Singapore will not harm their interests: Shanmugam

Foreign Minister K Shanmugam gave his first comments on allegations that Singapore had spied on its neighbours, saying at The Straits Times Global Outlook Forum on Friday that "the Indonesians and Malaysians know that we won't do anything to harm their interests"

He said that on intelligence matters, the Singapore Government will not confirm or deny any specific reports even if they are untrue, because the ensuing back-and-forth would be "never-ending".

"You cannot say, this is 5 per cent true or 95 per cent true, that we work with the Americans, Australians, Malaysians and Indonesians on this aspect of counter-terrorism but not this aspect. Never-ending. The point is that the Indonesians and Malaysians know that we won't do anything to harm their interests," he said.

Asked by moderator, ST editor Warren Fernandez, if the allegations that were published in an Australian newspaper this week would harm Singapore's bilateral ties with Indonesia and Malaysia, Mr Shanmugam said that it should not, as "what we do is known to all of us." The pressure of domestic politicking around the allegations would be stronger in Malaysia and Indonesia, but "that is not new and we just have to deal with it", he added.

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Being a Minister is so stressful


Being a Minister is so stressful, no wonder they need to be paid higher...

- Lui Tuck Yew worried why MRTs and buses are unreliable and always breakdown
- Yaccob Ibrahim worried why M1 and Singtel are not perform their duties
- Teo Chee Hean worried why civil servants are increasingly corrupt
- Gan Kim Yong worried why there hospitals are short of beds
- Tan Chuan-Jin worried why employers prefer to employ foreigners
- Khaw Boon Wan worried why housing prices are too high
- Ng Eng Hen worried why Citizens not treating others as they would like to be treated
- Lim Hng Kiang worried why SG's FTAs are not working well
- Vivian Bala is worried why NEA cant nail WP for the lapses
- Heng Swee Keat worried why education system is not producing employable citizens
- Chan Chun Sing is worried why there are so many poor citizens in SG
- Lee Hsien Loong worried he feels S'poreans are like a pack of hounds going after him


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