Monday, 10 September 2012

Watz Online - 10 Sep 2012

Singapore left at altar as Qantas bounds off

In Singapore last week, I stayed near the venerable Raffles Hotel. Not at the Raffles Hotel, with its rooms starting at $540 a night when I checked. I popped into the famous Long Bar for a nightcap. The waiter blew it immediately. The first words out of his mouth were: ''Two Singapore Slings?''

Tourist trap. The room was full of tourists dutifully drinking lurid, sweet Singapore Slings.

Now Singapore itself is getting the sling, from Australia. Last week, I made a point of looking at the tremendous amount of energy the city-state has devoted to reinventing itself as a destination, the enormous Marina Bay Sands casino, hotel and mall, the even bigger Sentosa island development, the giant domes of the new Gardens by the Bay. Singapore is sophisticated. On GDP per capita, it has comfortably surpassed Australia in wealth.

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Singapore looks to benefits in Qantas-Emirates deal

CANBERRA — Singapore's Trade Minister Lim Hng Kiang on Monday acknowledged the city-state would be impacted by Qantas's tie-up with Emirates but said the air hub was looking to growth in Asia travel.

The Australian carrier's alliance with Emirates comes amid a bid to stem huge losses in its international business and will see Qantas shift its hub for European flights from Singapore to Dubai.

But the Singaporean trade minister said the state would work closely with Qantas which is set to terminate flights in Singapore and redeploy them within the bustling region where middle classes are set to boom. 

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Clinton to feuding Asian nations: Cool it

VLADIVOSTOK - United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged Asian countries embroiled in simmering territorial disputes to work together to ease rather than raise tensions.

Recent flare-ups - between Japan and China, China and many of its other neighbours, and Japan and South Korea - have soured ties, prompting some leaders not to schedule their usual one-on-one meetings at a Pacific Rim summit that ended yesterday in the far-eastern Russian seaport of Vladivostok.

"Whether we're talking about the South China Sea or the East China Sea, my message has been the same to everyone," Mrs Clinton told reporters. "Now is the time for everyone to make efforts to reduce the tensions and strengthen diplomatic involvement toward resolving these tensions."

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Obama, the failed communicator

On a backpacking trip once, I slipped on a steep ice sheet and began sliding uncontrollably towards the edge of a cliff overhanging an icy river.

Luckily, my son pulled me to safety with his trekking pole.

Am I better off now than I was when I was sliding towards the abyss? Duh!

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Singapore Backs PH Stand In South China Sea Dispute

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday expressed support to the Philippines’ efforts for a peaceful resolution of the dispute in the West Philippine Sea (SouthChina Sea).

President Benigno S. Aquino III met yesterday with Lee at the sidelines of the 20th Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit here.

“Singapore has committed to continue its support in terms of a peaceful resolution of the disputes in accordance with international law including UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Laws of the Sea (UNCLOS),” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said in a press briefing at the Far East Federal University (FEFU), where the summit is being held. 

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Singapore: Media Literacy Council to Curb Internet Freedom?

To promote ‘public education on media literacy and cyber wellness’ the Singapore government has set up a 21-member Media Literacy Council. The Media Development Authority issued a press statement last month explaining the mission of the council:
The Media Literacy Council will advise the government on the appropriate policy response to an increasingly complex and borderless world of media, technology, consumer expectations and participation.

The Internet and social media have brought about exciting possibilities for learning and collaboration, and even new business opportunities for young people. At the same time, social issues such as bullying, scamming, preying on the young and inappropriate comments have found new outlets and been magnified through the multiplier effects of the Internet and social media. Our ability to critically evaluate information, as well as handle and create content appropriately, is key

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Opposition slams make-up of committee

A day after Education Minister Heng Swee Keat unveiled the members of a committee which will lead the national conversation, Opposition figures yesterday lashed out against the lack of Opposition representation.

In particular, some of them pointed to the inclusion of seven People's Action Party political officeholders, in the 26-member committee - including Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Chan Chun Sing, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, and Senior Minister of State Lawrence Wong - as a sign that it was a partisan exercise, despite Mr Heng's remarks last Saturday that it was not.

Several Opposition politicians TODAY spoke to were also keen to distance their parties from the national effort, even though the Government has made it plain, on several occasions, that the conversation must be as inclusive as possible. 

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Make sure all kinds of voices are heard

The national conversation endeavour, which is taking place at a time when Singapore is at a crossroads - politically, economically and socially - has generated a fair bit of excitement, but also the usual cynicism among some Singaporeans about the utility of such an exercise. Expectations are varied, and managing them will be a key challenge.

On Saturday, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat announced the composition of the 26-member committee that will help spearhead the conversation on Singapore's future.

While it is not possible for such a committee to be completely representative, it was a missed opportunity that government critics and Opposition politicians were not included. 

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National conversation: Managing expectations a key challenge, says PM Lee

VLADIVOSTOK (Russia) - The national conversation that Singapore will embark on as it shapes its future will "leave no stone unturned", in Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's words.

"But some stones, after we look at them, the original place was quite nice, we put it back. There has to be a balance," said Mr Lee, as he pointed out that managing expectations would be a key challenge of having the conversation.

The effort was first announced by Mr Lee last month in his National Day message. On Saturday, Education Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was tasked to lead the exercise, unveiled the committee that will lead the conversation and shared details of the process of how Singaporeans will be involved. 

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Who they are: Actress, cabbie, students among 26 leading national conversation

The 26-member committee led by Education Minister Heng Swee Keat which will facilitate the national conversation on Singapore's future comprises citizens from many different backgrounds: Grassroots, private sector, unions, voluntary organisations, academia, sports and the arts community and political office-holders.

Some members representing various interest groups are Ms Chia Yong Yong, 50, president of the Society for the Physically Disabled, Ms Kuo Jian Hong, 45, artistic director of the Theatre Practice, and Singapore Polytechnic student Ms Teng Zi Ying, 19 - the youngest in the group.

However, Mr Heng stressed that they are not in the committee to specifically only advocate the views of their interest groups. 

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On-going National Conversation must engage silent majority: Political watchers

The "National Conversation for Our Singapore", first announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in his National Day Message and elaborated upon during the National Day Rally, is gathering momentum in social media.

The official "OurSGConversation" Facebook page has garnered close to a hundred responses since it was launched less than a week ago by Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat, who is fronting the government's National Conversation effort.

One contributor hopes that the Facebook page will help facilitate an authentic conversation for the benefit of Singaporeans. 

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S'pore conversation will involve bloggers, social commentators, opposition

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin has said the national conversation on the future of Singapore will involve bloggers, social commentators and members of the opposition.

Mr Tan, who is part of the committee tasked to drive the conversation, was responding to comments on his Facebook page.

Mr Tan said it is important not to neglect the rest of society and groups who may not always speak up, especially on social media. 

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MPs call for national conversation to reach wide spectrum of S'pore society 

Even as Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat's committee gets down to work on the national conversation process, there have been calls to reach out to as wide a spectrum as possible.

Singapore's parliamentarians say that the "Our Singapore Conversation" initiative requires the participation of many in order to hear the views about the kind of nation Singaporeans want to have in the next 20 years.

Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Yaacob Ibrahim said: "For the Malay community, it offers an opportunity for us to voice our concerns not as Malays but as Singaporeans first. 

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