Saturday, 30 September 2017

Chinese Dialects Revive After Decades of Restrictions

Tok Kim Kiok, left, and his wife, Law Ngoh Kiaw, both Hokkien speakers, look on as their English-speaking grandchildren play. Credit Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

The Tok and Teo families are a model of traditional harmony, with three generations gathered under one roof, enjoying each other’s company over slices of fruit and cups of tea on a Saturday afternoon in Singapore. There is only one problem: The youngest and oldest generations can barely communicate with each other.

Lavell, 7, speaks fluent English and a smattering of Mandarin Chinese, while her grandmother, Law Ngoh Kiaw, prefers the Hokkien dialect of her ancestors’ home in southeastern China. That leaves grandmother and granddaughter looking together at a doll house on the floor, unable to exchange more than a few words. “She can’t speak our Hokkien,” Mrs. Law said with a sigh, “and doesn’t really want to speak Mandarin, either.”

This struggle to communicate within families is one of the painful effects of the Singapore government’s large-scale, decades-long effort at linguistic engineering.

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Singapore's Ambassador to US rebuts NYT article on Chinese dialects

Singapore's Ambassador to the United States Ashok Kumar Mirpuri has taken issue with a New York Times (NYT) article on the Government's policy on the use of Chinese dialects in S'pore.

The article, titled "In Singapore, Chinese dialects revive after decades of restrictions", was published on Aug 26.

In it, author Ian Johnson wrote that "linguistic repression" by the Singapore Government has led to a "widespread sense of resentment", prompting "a softening" in the policy on dialects.

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More young Singaporeans signing up for dialect classes
Hokkiens make up the largest dialect group among Singapore's ethnic Chinese

In the hallways of one of the science blocks, enthusiastic students like Ms Sarah Xing can be heard loudly chanting words like  “Yuht, ngee, sahm” – one, two, three in Cantonese – & bursting into laughter when someone gets the tones wrong. Which is frequently.

The 21-yr-old is one of 30 undergraduates from the Department of Pharmacy at the National University of Singapore (NUS) who signed up for a course in Cantonese. As a subject, it’s got nothing in common with their usual staple of cell biology, analytical chemistry and pharmaceutical analysis. It adds zero value to their grades.

But, these third-year students clearly think it important enough to make time in their hectic schedules for learning the Chinese dialect.

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How about learning some dialect to bond with grandma?
The young founders of My Father Tongue: Melissa Goh, Fiona Seah & Cherie Lim

When author & blogger Grace Tan first met her boyfriend’s grandmother, she found herself tongue-tied. It’s not because the 29-yr-old is shy; it’s because she couldn’t chat with the 85-yr-old as the latter speaks only Teochew. “It was ridiculously difficult to communicate with her as she doesn’t speak Mandarin. So while she understands while I’m trying to say in Mandarin, she can’t respond to me at all,” said Tan.

But these days, Tan is able to use some conversational Teochew greetings such as “How are you feeling?” & “What would you like to eat?” thanks to the Teochew classes she attended at a community centre. Her efforts have been reciprocated by the older lady who would laugh & correct her pronunciation. Naturally, they’ve gotten closer.

Tan’s Teochew class was organised by a student initiative My Father Tongue, set up by Fiona Seah, Melissa Goh & Cherie Lim from Nanyang Technological University’s Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information as part of their final year project. These free Hokkien, Teochew and Cantonese classes are held in community centres around Singapore in partnership with Viriya Community Services, which provides the teachers & learning materials.

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Grandfather's language

“This is our ancestors’ language… I want my grandchildren to know about Hokkien and our origins.” For grandpa Zhang Shi Yu, teaching them dialect is his way of connecting them with traditional Chinese culture and values.

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Youth must learn dialects or risk losing part of their culture

Singapore has become more globalised over the years, & most younger Chinese Singaporeans are unable to speak their respective dialects — Teochew, Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, Hainanese & more — to their elders, such as their grandparents, who may speak primarily in dialect.

A gap between generations has thus formed. Though speaking one language as a society can help to build social cohesion and a more tightly knit community, it is important not to forget these dialects.

The new Hokkien drama Eat Already? was released on Sep 9, albeit aimed mainly at seniors, is an opportunity for the younger generation to get in touch with Hokkien.

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Why We Should Reintroduce Chinese Dialects On Singapore’s Free-To-Air Television

In Singapore, Chinese languages other than Mandarin (pejoratively referred to as ‘dialects’ in official Singapore parlance) are banned on television under Part 12.4 of the Media Development Authority’s Free-to-Air Television Programme Code which states that “All Chinese programmes except operas or other programmes specifically approved by the Authority must be in Mandarin.”

Over the years, this policy has resulted several consequences: A declining interest and competency in Mandarin among young Chinese Singaporeans; erosion of the Singaporean Chinese identity and even the isolation of the pioneer generation. As such, we’ve called for the Media Development Authority to lift the ban on dialects on local television.

The main reason for marginalization of dialects was based on Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew’s belief that the learning of dialects would interfere with one’s mastery of Mandarin, English and even “multiplication tables or formulas in mathematics, physics or chemistry”. Here are our arguments on why dialects should be reintroduced:
  • The ban on dialects diminishes one’s interest and competency in Mandarin
  • The ban on dialects is a suppression of the Chinese identity
  • The ban on dialects isolates senior citizens from our community
  • The ban on dialects impedes intergenerational bonding

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Royston Tan to produce Singapore’s first dialect film anthology
The new dialect omnibus film 667 features (clockwork from top left): Jun Chong's Ke, He Shuming's Letters From The Motherland, Eva Tang's The Veiled Willow, and Liao Jiekai's Nocturne. (Fotos courtesy of the filmmakers)

Singapore’s 1st ever dialect film anthology will be executive produced by local filmmaker Royston Tan, as part of the inaugural SCCC Cultural Extravaganza by the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre which runs from May 20 to 27.

The omnibus, titled 667, sees the collective efforts of 5 young Singaporean filmmakers - Kirsten Tan, He Shuming, Liao Jiekai, Eva Tang & Jun Chong - employ a range of dialects such as Teochew, Hainanese, Hokkien, Cantonese, and Hakka in their respective short films reflecting Singapore’s Chinese cultural roots.

The main aim? To weave together the past and present as generations seek to understand, appreciate, preserve and pass on our heritage.

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Chinese Dialects - Uniquely Singapore
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The Death of Dialects in Singapore

Singapore’s many Chinese dialects (Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka etc.) came about as a result of early settlers arriving from various provinces in China.

In the 1950s & 60s, Singapore, like many de-colonised countries, began a search for an independent national identity. The Chinese in particular, turned to the cultural products of film and music from Hong Kong as a source of inspiration. The fascination with Hong Kong was also seen as a reactionary and feudal ‘Yellow Culture’ that was set out to oppose the ‘Red’ culture still apparent in Communist China.

Canto-pop in particular, boomed because of its apparent lack of censorship and ‘sexy songstress’, and made its way to the hearts of Singapore with popular Hong Kong singers taking centrestage at the Republic’s newly established culture centre, the National Theatre.

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Chinese Dialects - The Real Singapore
DOES SPEAKING DIALECT AT HOME REALLY AFFECT LEARNING MANDARIN IN SCHOOL?

All ethnic Chinese Singaporeans are born to parents who belong to one of several dialect groups here. There isn’t any ‘formal’ schooling or training (as in formal lessons conducted in a classroom) wherein our children are taught to speak the dialect of his or her parents, grandparents, and elders. Rather, it is quite literally by word of mouth that from birth we are inducted, nurtured, taught and ‘immersed’ by our parents into the cultural mores, values and habits of our respective dialect groups. Meaning, this comes about very naturally especially and particularly between mother and child (hence, the real origin of the term ‘mother tongue’ to describe this intimate nurturing relationship. Regrettably the term has been quite brazenly hijacked by the MOE to describe the compulsory learning of Mandarin by all ethnic-Chinese Singaporeans).

In other words, dialects are the very essence of the conduit for the vital flow and direct transmission of our ancestors’ unique cultures, values, social and traditional mores, to descendants, in particular the younger generations. By extension and implication, the loss of the use of our dialects can therefore lead to an inexorable and irreversible dilution and eventual loss of our ethnic roots and cultural ballast over time. And on a timeline, after 30 years of govt sanctioned prohibition, I would say we are really almost on the precipice’s edge of dialects’ extinction – it is going the way of the dinosaurs.

So the corollary (i.e. consequence and conclusion) must be that without a living and functional use of dialects, it is almost impossible for our ancestors to ‘speak’ to us through our elders in the most intimate way possible.

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Selling beauty of Teochew heritage with a pageant
Newly crowned Miss Teochew pageant winner Angele Chan, a student, is flanked by first runner-up Jaslyn Tan (right), a property agent, and second runner-up Pow Chen Wei, a research coordinator, at the finals on Saturday. ST FOTO: DESMOND WEE

Last month, a group of beauty pageant finalists met their instructors for rehearsals.

But instead of learning to model swimwear, the 19 young women were drilled in Teochew phrases such as "leu hoh, wuo mia si..." (hello, my name is ... ), & the history and cuisine of the dialect group.

Their coaches were former beauty queen Teo Ser Lee, 52, a Teochew herself, & - more unusually - dialect teacher and former broadcaster Lim Ngian Tiong, 65.

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Singlish Reflects the Power of My People

Is the government’s war on Singlish finally over? Our wacky, singsong creole may seem like the poor cousin to the island’s four official languages, but years of state efforts to quash it have only made it flourish. Now even politicians and officials are using it.

Trending at the moment is “ownself check ownself,” which was popularized by Pritam Singh, a member of Parliament from the opposition Workers’ Party. He was mocking the ruling People’s Action Party (P.A.P.) for saying that the government was clean and honest enough to act as its own guardian.

Singlish is a patchwork patois of Singapore’s state languages — English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil — as well as Hokkien, Cantonese, Bengali and a few other tongues. Its syntax is drawn partly from Chinese, partly from South Asian languages.

related: The Reality Behind Singlish

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Friday, 29 September 2017

8 religious leaders “pray” for new train line

Update 13 Nov 2017: Minister of Transport must take responsibility
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/joo-koon-train-mrt-collision-smrt-history-9408270

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/mrt-train-collides-with-stationary-train-at-joo-koon-station-29-9407266

Transport Minister: DTL open house disruption 'bad luck'
Transport Minister: DTL open house disruption 'bad luck'
A train fault near Hillview station affected services from about 12.40pm on Sunday. Service was suspended between Bukit Panjang & Beauty World stations on Downtown Line 2 (DTL2). Service on DTL3, due to open this Saturday, was also affected.The Downtown Line is operated by SBS Transit. FOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

The Downtown Line (DTL) disruption on Sunday that dampened the mood of the DTL3 open house was "bad luck", Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said yesterday.

Responding to media questions during a press briefing on the tunnel flooding on Oct 7, he said he hoped commuters realise that "delays happen".

"Sometimes things will happen, but then it happens on when we were having our open house, then that is bad luck," he said.

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Religious leaders visit Downtown Line 3 ahead of launch on Oct 21
Religious leaders from the Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore praying for workers & commuters during a preview of DTl3. (Foto: Khaw Boon Wan / Facebook)

Religious leaders from the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO) were invited to have a preview of 2 stations along the Downtown Line 3 before its launch on Oct 21, said Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan in a Facebook post on Monday (Sep 25).

"They were gracious and took the opportunity to offer their prayers for our workers and commuters," said Mr Khaw in his post.

He also expressed his excitement and said that everyone was "counting down" to the opening of the Downtown Line 3.

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Comments on Religious leaders visit Downtown Line 3 ahead of launch on Oct 21

Marks Man
When u really need help by the power of god to bless the railway system:p
Like · Reply · 13 · Sep 25, 2017 7:26am

Joseph Tan · Singapore
So for someone traveling from Bendemeer to Newton, does it mean he has to pay for the leg from Bencoolen to Bugis as well?
Like · Reply · 2 · Sep 25, 2017 8:01am

Jeff Ong Choon Lee · Singapore Institute of Management
good luck
Like · Reply · Sep 25, 2017 8:29am

Mv Aritasha · Owner-operator at Self-employed
Something Wrong Happen There? 1st time Religious leaders visit Downtown
Like · Reply · Sep 25, 2017 10:13am

麦 斯图尔 · Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Something goes wrong and need to pray...
Like · Reply · 1 · Sep 25, 2017 10:39am

AlphaTay Jong Sen ·
the 2nd coming of Lee Kuan Yew
Like · Reply · Sep 25, 2017 10:43am

Allan Teh
The prayers are to chase away spiritual thing that has been causing "signalling problem" in our met system north south east west.
Like · Reply · Sep 25, 2017 11:09am

Allan Teh
Oops...typo due to autofill by PC keyboard. Its mrt (not met)
Like · Reply · Sep 25, 2017 11:11am

Angel Faith Ho
Bo pi bo pi soon soon dun break down..
Like · Reply · Sep 25, 2017 4:57pm

Kenneth Tan · Contract Call Centre Administrator at Pacific Light Power Pte Ltd
New downtown line 3 (DTL3) must be haunted. That's why involving prayers!!!
Like · Reply · Sep 25, 2017 7:43pm

Kenneth Tan · Contract Call Centre Administrator at Pacific Light Power Pte Ltd
Boh Bi Boh Bi want to Break down also Boh Bian Lah.
Like · Reply · Sep 25, 2017 7:51pm


Peter Chua · Managing Director at Eshopping Global Pte. Ltd.
Hahaha! Pray harder and see if there are no more breakdowns! If from now till December any breakdowns on this line will only show how lousy the system is!
Like · Reply · Sep 25, 2017 9:36pm

Pat Ng · Supervisory at GE
suggest Mr Khaw being the minister of transport go to waterloo temple to pray for a smooth DTL running without breakdown or signalling faults or any other faults
Like · Reply · Sep 25, 2017 10:46pm

Guang Tham · Boss at Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Invite religious masters to pray for smooth travel without any break down ????? What is this transport minister thinking of ????? Need or not ???? Your job is on the edge iziz ????
Like · Reply · Sep 25, 2017 10:59pm

NicJude Das
This is so strange. Why must all the religious leaders go? Why not the true religion? Can't be that they're all right, wouldn't you suppose?
Like · Reply · Sep 26, 2017 8:18am

Shaikh Syafiq AlKhatib · Guitarist at Arkentree
ok! i hope other train lines also do this, pray many2 to prevent delays..
Like · Reply · Sep 26, 2017 9:34am

Kah Meng Lee · Management at Stay-at-home Parent
No amount of blessing by any religious leader is going to mitigate the need for proper operation and maintenance. Our trains and their 'almost clockwork' like breakdowns is the bane for all commuters since time unmemorable. Save the $$ from performing these “wayangs” and channel them instead to train maintenance.

The first time I heard about “SMRT's train withdrawal rate” I almost fell off my chair. Just waiting to see if they are going to introduce “SMRT's train penetration rate”, the rate at which the trains withdrawn are being “penetrated” back into the service network.

Downtown Line 3 better not disappoint; otherwise, they will lose their last ounce of creditability (if it’s not gone already).
Like · Reply · 22 hrs

Josephine Ng Sih Ying · Australian Catholic University (ACU)
May the Ultimate Being be always in control as the entire MRT system tends to be perpetually "sick" & dysfunctional in her young age..
Like · Reply · 21 hrs

Shin Kai Tan
Joseph Tan, if I'm not wrong, he don't have to pay because I don't have to pay for the ride when DTL2 opened 2 years ago.
Like · Reply · 19 hrs

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Khaw Boon Wan 25 September at 03:34

We are counting down to the opening of #DowntownLine3 on 21 October. Everyone in LTA and SBS Transit Ltd is excited as we enter the final phase of our preparations for the DTL journey. We invited religious leaders from the Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore to have a preview of two stations and also to try out a stretch of DTL3. They were gracious and took the opportunity to offer their prayers for our workers and commuters.

The completion of #DTL3 will cap more than a decade of intense work. We are all eagerly awaiting the opening, and especially those who live along this new stretch of MRT line. For other commuters, DTL3 will be another way to connect to the east!

#CountdowntoDTL3 with Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving

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Various religious leaders bless Downtown Line 3 as frustrations against SMRT mount

8 religious leaders dropped by the new stations that will be unveiled at the new Downtown Line extension, Downtown Line 3 (DTL3), next month.

This is according to Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan who posted on his Facebook page yesterday that the leaders from Singapore’s Inter-Religious Organisation were invited to a preview of two new stations and to try out a stretch of DTL3.

Adding that the completion of DTL3 will “cap more than a decade of intense work,” the minister expressed his appreciation for the religious leaders who offered prayers for the transit line’s workers and commuters.

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Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan joins 9 religious leaders to bless new Tuas West Extension

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan joined religious leaders from the Inter-Religious Organisation of Singapore on Jun 5 to bless the opening of the new Tuas West Extension (TWE).

This comes ahead of the official opening of the TWE on Jun 18.

The TWE extends the East-West Line westward with four new stations.

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Minister Khaw Boon Wan and 8 religious leaders “pray” for new train line

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan invited religious leaders from the Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore to have a preview of two stations and also to try out a stretch of DTL3. They were gracious and took the opportunity to offer their prayers for our workers and commuters.

The move is viewed as ludicrous by most Singaporeans, with many slamming the Minister for not taking his work seriously. Some also mocked the Singapore Transport Minister for being superstitious behaving like Malaysia’s “coconut bomoh preacher”, who was hired when a passenger plane went missing in 2014.

Singapore’s train system has been seeing disruptions as frequent as weekly, but the Transport Minister claimed otherwise. In his Parliament speech earlier this month, Minister Khaw Boon Wan said train reliability is improving and that he needs 7 years to fix the train faults. The Transport Minister has also earlier blamed “politics” for the faulty rail design at Bukit Panjang LRT, and also the media for negatively reporting on train breakdowns.

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Netizens troll Transport Minister Khaw’s pictures of religious leaders praying for MRT’s Tuas extension

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan on Sunday shared several pictures in his Facebook of religious leaders praying for the MRT’s new Tuas extension, which is to open in 2 weeks.

His post drew several funny comments from Facebook users.

Facebook user Bruce Wee trolled the post referring it to self-styled shaman Ibrahim Mat Zin, also known as Raja Bomoh. Raja Bomoh recently apologised for his bizarre rituals, which he conceded mocked Islam. Bruce said that when you make such rituals official, then you don’t have to laugh at it.

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9 religious leaders bless tracks for upcoming MRT Tuas West Extension
Here they are blessing the tracks

During a tour with the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO), Khaw Boon Wan and the various leaders took the opportunity to pray for the new Tuas extension, which will open in about two weeks.

The IRO is a non-governmental organisation that was founded in 1949 to ensure religious harmony and peace in Singapore.

Just chilling in the most religious photo taken on a train.

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Khaw Boon Wan Singapore 4 June

The #Tuas West Extension (#TWE) will open its doors to commuters in two weeks. Effectively, this will extend East-West Line (#EWL) westward by 4 new stations. Many who work in the Tuas area are looking forward to it. Ahead of the opening on 18 June, I joined the Inter-Religious Organisation, Singapore to tour the new Tuas Link station and Tuas West Depot. They were gracious to jointly pray for the safety and smooth operation of commuters and workers using this new extension.

#TuasLink station will be the new EWL terminal station on the western end. It is also the first aboveground station that has a concourse above the platform. With a unique rooftop design that allows natural sunlight to peek through, commuters will enjoy a grand view of the station platform as they ride the escalator.

With Land Transport Authority – We Keep Your World Moving, SMRT

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Religious leaders 'jointly blessed' Downtown Line 2 depot ahead of Dec 27 opening
Leaders of Singapore's Inter Religious Organisation taking a private ride on the new DTL2 last Thursday. FOTO: KHAW BOON WAN / FACEBOOK

Besides having engineers & technicians do the necessary tests & preparations for the opening of the Downtown Line 2 (DTL 2) on Sunday (Dec 27), religious leaders were called upon to bless the MRT line's depot.

Leaders of Singapore's Inter Religious Organisation (IRO) took a private ride on the new DTL2 last Thursday (Dec 17) and "jointly blessed" the new Gali Batu Depot, Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan revealed on Facebook on Tuesday (Dec 22).

Located in Woodlands, the Gali Batu Depot is the main train stabling & maintenance facility for the Downtown Line.

related: Religious leaders take ride on new Downtown Line 2

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Fresh round of signalling fault delays hit NSL & DTL
The crowd at Tampines MRT at 7.45am on Sep 28, 2017.ST FOTO: TAN SUE-ANN

Commuters on the way to school & work on Thursday (Sep 28) morning experienced train delays on the East-West Line that lasted about 3 hours.

In a tweet sent at 5.53am, SMRT advised commuters to expect an additional 30-minute travelling time between Tanah Merah & Pasir Ris stations due to a track point fault.

It added that the fault was not linked to the new signalling project.

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Train delays add to PSLE pupils' stress

His heart sank when he saw the crowd at Pasir Ris MRT station. It was a big day for him - the 1st day of the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) - & the trains had been delayed.

The boy, who is 12 and goes to a school in Tampines, was flustered. He managed to catch a bus but was 10 minutes late for school assembly.

"I was anxious & worried throughout. I called my mum, who told me to call my teacher, who said to just come to school," said the pupil, who declined to be named.

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SMRT flooding incident: Maintenance team signed off on work that was not done; staff suspended
A malfunction in the water pumping system at Bishan MRT station caused rainwater to collect in the MRT tunnel, resulting in train service disruption on Oct 7 & 8. FOTO: ST READER

Preliminary investigations by train operator SMRT have found that a maintenance team in charge of a pump system, which eventually failed and caused a massive 20-hr disruption, signed off on work that they had not done.

The manager & staff responsible for the maintenance of the Bishan pump system have been suspended & are assisting in investigations, said SMRT in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 31) evening.

Records for quarterly maintenance works for December 2016, as well as in March & June this year were submitted but investigations found that track access approvals were not issued for these dates.

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MRT tunnel flooding: Pump maintenance work not carried out on 3 occasions

Maintenance works for the Bishan portal sump pump system were not properly carried out since December last year, SMRT investigations into a train tunnel flooding incident have found.

Preliminary investigations show that quarterly maintenance works for Dec 2016, March & June this year were not conducted as prescribed in SMRT's manual, the train operator said in a news release on Tuesday (Oct 31).

Maintenance records were duly signed off & submitted. However, SMRT's investigation showed that there were no track access approvals issued for preventive maintenance of the Bishan portal sump pumps for the maintenance dates.

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MRT tunnel flooding 'preventable, sad and unnecessary'
SCDF photos show knee-deep flood waters in tunnel between Braddell & Bishan MRT stations

The Singapore Civil Defence Force has been lauded by the public for working tirelessly through the night and day to bring North-South Line MRT services back on track.

New photos shared by SCDF showed their personnel at times in knee-high waters in the tunnel as they carried out their rescue operation of the MRT system.

The SCDF said they received a call for assistance at about 7pm on Saturday night after the tunnel between Braddell and Bishan became flooded with rainwater.

related:
MRT breakdowns are Singapore’s cross to bear
MRT from "Rolling Stock To Laughing Stock"
MRT tunnel flooding 'preventable, sad and unnecessary'
8 religious leaders “pray” for new train line
Navy fires commander of 7th Fleet after deadly USS McCain collision
Fresh round of signalling fault delays hit NSL & DTL
MRT gets more reliable despite rise in breakdowns
MRT hit by delays again due to signalling fault
MRT disruptions caused by signalling faults
Rise in major breakdowns but MRT gets more reliable
Train disruptions under new Minister of Transport
Train service disrupted on N-S, E-W Lines
Recap of recent Train service disruptions
Recent Train Disruptions
Two SMRTstaff killed by an oncoming train
Transport Woes #2
Transport Woes #1
Transport Woes - A Picture Story
Mixed Reactions To Announcement Of Free MRT Rides
Strange & inappropriate behaviour on public transport
Burned by mystery liquid in trains and bus stop
SMRT subway trains recalled after defects found

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Is it all right to eat moldy food?

plain

Often we end up buying more food than we can eat right away. Even though refrigeration can help preserve food, items such as fresh fruit, bread and other foods are still perishable.

Usually it’s best to avoid moldy food. Certain hard and semi-soft cheeses contain special molds that are safe to eat. But generally speaking, mold on food means it’s no longer safe to eat. For one, it’s usually impossible to tell how far the mold has penetrated into the food. Some species of mold also produce harmful substances called mycotoxins, says Antje Gahl, a dietician at the German Nutrition Association. Long-term or frequent exposure to mycotoxins can eventually lead to liver or kidney damage, and even promote the development of certain cancers.

That’s why we shouldn’t eat moldy bread, fruit or nuts. Storing fruit and vegetables in the refrigerator will help prevent mold. It’s best to store food in a clean, cool and dry location.

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If You've Ever Picked Mold Off Your Bread, This Will Seriously Shock You
If You've Ever Picked Mold Off Your Bread, This Will Seriously Shock You

We've all been there. You're about to cut into a loaf of bread and there it is. A fuzzy blue spot of mold lurking on the surface of that baguette you just bought yesterday. While most of us were taught to just cut around the mold and eat the rest in order to not waste food, it's time to stop that bad habit.

"We don't recommend cutting mold off of bread, because it's a soft food," Marianne Gravely, a senior technical information specialist for the United States Department of Agriculture told NPR. "With soft food, it's very easy for the roots [of the mold], or the tentacles, or whatever creepy word you want to use, to penetrate [deeper into the food]."

Basically, the mold spore's roots go much farther into bread than our eyes can see.

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Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Singlish Reflects the Power of My People

Do You Speak Singlish?

Is the government’s war on Singlish finally over? Our wacky, singsong creole may seem like the poor cousin to the island’s four official languages, but years of state efforts to quash it have only made it flourish. Now even politicians and officials are using it.

Trending at the moment is “ownself check ownself,” which was popularized by Pritam Singh, a member of Parliament from the opposition Workers’ Party. He was mocking the ruling People’s Action Party (P.A.P.) for saying that the government was clean and honest enough to act as its own guardian.

Singlish is a patchwork patois of Singapore’s state languages — English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil — as well as Hokkien, Cantonese, Bengali and a few other tongues. Its syntax is drawn partly from Chinese, partly from South Asian languages.

related: The Reality Behind Singlish

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"Who taught you to speak like that?"

Written in Singlish—the folksy patois of Singapore that combines English, Mandarin, Malay and Chinese dialects including Teochew and Hokkien—Sarong Party Girls has a narrative voice that’s a little unusual, certainly in the United States. At its best, the Singlish I grew up speaking with my friends and hearing in the colorful hawker centers and wet markets of Singapore is direct, often playfully vulgar, witty and self-deprecating. In short, it reflects rather well the spirit of my people.

As a Singaporean who’s lived in the U.S. for more than 20 years now, I’ve long held Singlish dear to my heart. People in the West often imagine Singaporeans as boring government stooges who love nothing more than to adhere to the endless rules my country has regulating everything from flushing the toilet to what fruit you can’t carry on public transportation. But listen to any Singaporean erupt in Singlish, and you’ll know that isn’t true at all.

When I hear myself speaking it, I feel as if I’m slipping into a different skin—my true Singaporean one. And this is why my father’s question perplexed me. I didn’t have to be taught Singlish—it’s always been around me, on the streets and in shopping malls, as well as in my aunties’ kitchens. Doesn’t Singlish as an informal dialect rather directly reflect who we are as a people?

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Shiok! 19 Singlish items added to the Oxford English Dictionary
Float bearing Singlish phrases and hawker food icons during the National Day Parade 2015 at the Padang. FOTO: ST FILE

Who needs the Queen's English when you can use Singlish?

In its March quarterly update, the hallowed Oxford English Dictionary (OED) has added 19 new "Singapore English" items in its lexicon.

There are new senses of common English words, loan words from Chinese & Malay, & formations in English that are only used in Singapore, OED said on its website.

related:
Kiasu is Oxford English Dictionary's Word of the Day
Aiyoh, atas, ah beng and char kway teow

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Singlish

Colloquial Singaporean English, better known as Singlish, is an English-based creole language spoken in Singapore.

While English is one of Singapore's official languages, Singlish is commonly regarded as having low prestige. The Singaporean government and some Singaporeans alike heavily discourage the use of Singlish in favour of Standard English. The government has created an annual Speak Good English Movement to emphasise the point. Singlish is also heavily discouraged in the mass media and in schools. However, such official discouragement and routine censorship is actually countered by other presentations in mainstream media, including routine usage by ordinary people in street interviews broadcast on TV and radio on a daily basis, as well as occasional usage in newspapers.

The vocabulary of Singlish consists of words originating from English, Malay, Hokkien, Teochew, Cantonese, Tamil and to a lesser extent various other European, Indic and Sinitic languages. Also, elements of American and Australian slang have come through from imported television series and films

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Singlish - Uniquely Singapore

Singapore's government has long insisted that everyone in the island nation should speak English - it's the language used in schools, at work, and in government. But in practice many people speak a hybrid language that can leave visitors completely baffled - Singlish.

Singapore is known for its efficiency and Singlish is no different - it's colourful and snappy. You don't have a coffee - you "lim kopi". And if someone asks you to join them for a meal but you've already had dinner, you simply say: "Eat already."

Singlish first emerged when Singapore gained independence 50 years ago, and decided that English should be the common language for all its different races. That was the plan. It worked out slightly differently though, as the various ethnic groups began infusing English with other words and grammar. English became the official language, but Singlish became the language of the street.

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Politics and the Singlish Language

No official recognition is given to Singlish as a marker of Singaporean identity or an indigenous patois. This is despite political leaders using Singlish during election campaigning to better connect to a local audience.

The government recognises that Singlish cannot be eradicated but it will not take kindly to attempts to promote it.

The concern is that any mixed signals on Singlish will undermine efforts to raise English language proficiency. A similarly tough and consistent stance is taken against Chinese dialects, in order to promote Mandarin Chinese proficiency.

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Singlish join Oxford English Dictionary
A plate of char kway teow from Alexandra Village Food Centre. FOTO: THE NEW PAPER

More "Singapore English" words used colloquially here have been added to the lexicon of the venerable Oxford English Dictionary (OED), following its latest quarterly update this month.

Top on the list of new words - "aiyah" & "aiyoh", which are often used to express impatience or dismay, & "ah beng", a stereotype applied to Chinese men.

"Atas", an oft-used term by Singaporeans to deride people for being too arrogant or high-class, was also included in the list.

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A Singlish Primer:
  • Pokkai (Pork-car-ai) Translates as “drop dead.” Means to go broke, e.g. “Aditi shops at Gucci until she pokkai.”
  • Bo hee hae ma ho (Boh-hee-hay-mar-ho) Equivalent to “Beggars can’t be choosers,” it means “When there's no fish, prawns are good too.”
  • Gone case - A lost cause.
  • Very the To say “very” in an incredulous way, e.g. “You know, you look smart but you talk very the stupid.”
  • Buay tahan (BOO-ay tar-hun) Means that you cannot tolerate something, e.g. “I buay tahan the weather these days.”
  • Kiasu (KEE-ya-soo) To behave in a competitive, self-serving way, e.g. “Those kiasu people have been outside the Apple shop since 3 a.m.”
  • “ownself check ownself,” which was popularized by Pritam Singh, a member of Parliament from the opposition Workers’ Party. He was mocking the ruling People’s Action Party (P.A.P.) for saying that the government was clean and honest enough to act as its own guardian.
  • “Steady poon pee pee,” from the Hokkien, means to be so poised as to deserve an admiring whistle.
  • “yaya papaya” is snooty person
  • “Blur like sotong” means to be clueless
  • “Eh, Goondu!” (“Hey, Stupid!”) and “Lagi Goondu!” (“Even More Stupid!”)
  • “talk cock,” Singlish for nonsense
  • "to prata" is to flip-flop on policy matters
  • “Why are you behaving in this way?” is transformed into a guttural “Why you so like that?”
  • “catch no ball” means to not understand

Chinese Dialects Revive After Decades of Restrictions
Tok Kim Kiok, left, and his wife, Law Ngoh Kiaw, both Hokkien speakers, look on as their English-speaking grandchildren play. Credit Sim Chi Yin for The New York Times

The Tok and Teo families are a model of traditional harmony, with three generations gathered under one roof, enjoying each other’s company over slices of fruit and cups of tea on a Saturday afternoon in Singapore. There is only one problem: The youngest and oldest generations can barely communicate with each other.

Lavell, 7, speaks fluent English and a smattering of Mandarin Chinese, while her grandmother, Law Ngoh Kiaw, prefers the Hokkien dialect of her ancestors’ home in southeastern China. That leaves grandmother and granddaughter looking together at a doll house on the floor, unable to exchange more than a few words. “She can’t speak our Hokkien,” Mrs. Law said with a sigh, “and doesn’t really want to speak Mandarin, either.”

This struggle to communicate within families is one of the painful effects of the Singapore government’s large-scale, decades-long effort at linguistic engineering.

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Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Smoky ‘chemical’ smell in various parts of Singapore


Some Sengkang residents have complained of a strong acrid smell and smoke that permeated several areas in Singapore on Monday (Sep 25).

Several readers wrote in to The Straits Times from as early as 4pm on Monday afternoon to say they smelled a “burning”, “chemical”, or “petrol” smell.

Readers from various areas including Sengkang, Seletar, Yishun, and in other areas like Ang Mo Kio and Bishan, wrote in to ask about the smell, which one described as “choking”.

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SCDF, NEA investigating 'strong burning smell' in north-eastern Singapore
The view from Buangkok Crescent. (Photo: Angela Marie Oehlers)

Residents in Sengkang, Hougang, Buangkok, Bishan & Ang Mo Kio have complained of a strong burning smell that started on Monday afternoon (Sep 25), prompting an investigation by the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) & National Environment Agency (NEA).

Despite the smell, SCDF said in a tweet at about 10pm that no toxic industrial chemicals were detected.

It earlier said that it has been receiving calls on the smell of gas or burning in the north-eastern part of Singapore.

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Caught a whiff of a 'gas-like' odour? Don't worry, say SCDF and NEA
Caught a whiff of a 'gas-like' odour? Don't worry, say SCDF and NEA

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) has assured citizens that there has been no presence of "Toxic Industrial Chemicals in the air" in the North-Eastern part of Singapore, following calls about the smell of gas or burning material there.

Complaints about the foul odour appeared on the online forums such as Reddit & Hardware Zone at about 5pm. Many netizens said that the smell appeared to be largely confined to the North-Eastern parts of Singapore in areas like Sengkang, Hougang, Buangkok & Ang Mo Kio.

SCDF said it has deployed its "resources to investigate" and found nothing amiss, & is closely monitoring the situation together with the National Environment Agency (NEA).

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Monday, 25 September 2017

4 takeaways from PM Lee’s visit to China


PM Lee Hsien Loong wrapped up his visit to China today in Xiamen, Fujian Province.

Speaking to the Singapore media on his assessment of his trip, PM Lee made a number of points which we summarised below:
  • Chinese leaders are keen on improving relations.
  • Bilateral relations are good but changing.
  • Bilateral interests will never be perfectly aligned.
  • A relationship which needs to be nurtured and cultivated continually

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Lee Hsien Loong 19 September at 07:06

A fruitful meeting with Premier Li Keqiang today. We reviewed our extensive cooperation, and welcomed the progress in negotiations to upgrade the China-Singapore FTA. Also discussed collaboration in new areas, such as finance, judicial and legal matters.

This is a busy time for China as their 19th Party Congress is taking place next month. I appreciate their attention to our bilateral ties, as well as towards ASEAN. Singapore is currently the coordinator for ASEAN-China relations, and we’ll hold the ASEAN chairmanship next year. Will do our best to bring ASEAN and China closer together. 🇸🇬🇨🇳 – LHL

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Timing of visit noteworthy

Given that Xi and other Chinese leaders are likely to be preoccupied with party matters ahead of such a crucial internal political meeting, the timing of PM Lee’s visit to Beijing is somewhat unusual.

It would have been easier to read the significance of the timing of PM Lee’s visit to China if his trip was scheduled after the Party Congress, as it would be an opportunity for him to meet the new Chinese leadership line-up.

Nevertheless, the timing is still noteworthy, as the hosting of such a high-level visit by China can be seen as a signal of its desire to strengthen relations.

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang hopes for Singapore support in high-speed railway: Xinhua
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (left) speaks with PM Lee Hsien Loong during a welcome ceremony at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, on Sept 19, 2017. FOTO: AFP

China hopes that Singapore will support Chinese enterprises that wish to participate in the Singapore-Malaysia high-speed railway project, Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday (Sep 19), according to state news agency Xinhua.

"China has cutting-edge, safe & reliable, cost-effective high-speed railway technology," Premier Li said during his talks with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Xinhua reported. PM Lee is on an official visit to China from Sep 19 to 21.

Singapore & Malaysia are building the 350km high-speed rail linking Singapore & Kuala Lumpur. Targeted to be operational by end-2026, the railway line will cut travel time between the 2 cities to 90 minutes.

related: China's rail ambitions run at full speed

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China hopes to ‘energise’ relations with Singapore, Asean, Li Keqiang tells Lee Hsien Loong

Singapore will assume chairmanship of the 10-member trade bloc next year.

“Singapore is an important member of Asean ... it is the country coordinator between China and Asean and will be [the group’s] rotating chair next year,” Li said. “I hope and trust this will inject new energy into not just China-Singapore relations but also China-Asean relations,” he said.

Lee, who was starting a three-day trip to China, said he too hoped to “make a contribution to bringing Asean and China closer together”.

related: Why Singapore is a vital cog in China’s foreign policy

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One Belt, One Road can bring China closer to global community: PM Lee

Singapore views China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative positively & sees many opportunities for the 2 nations to collaborate on the massive project, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in an interview with Xinhuanet ahead of an official visit to China.

Mr Lee will meet Chinese President Xi Jinping & Premier Li Keqiang on a 3-day visit to China starting Tuesday (Sep 19 to 21).

In the interview with the Chinese press agency published on Monday, Mr Lee spoke of the benefits the OBOR initiative will bring to other countries.

related: For Belt & Road to succeed, China must work harmoniously with other countries

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Several ways for S’pore to work with Beijing
The One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative will help China integrate into the global economy & benefit other nations, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as he outlined how Singapore can work with the Asian giant on the mega project

In response, Mr Lee reiterated that Asean and China have deep economic & trade links, with China being the largest trade partner of the vast majority of the bloc’s members. He noted that if overall relationships are good between China & individual Asean members, as well as between China and the regional grouping as a whole, economic cooperation will naturally follow. But if problems in the relationships arise, then the mutually beneficial cooperation between countries could be affected, Mr Lee said.

As Asean chair, “Singapore will do its utmost to enhance ties between China & Asean, and promote cooperation among Asean members”, Mr Lee said.

Mr Lee also spoke about the progress of the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail project. An international tender — to be held in Singapore and Malaysia — is on the cards to be held in the coming months, he said. He added that he hopes to receive a proposal from a Chinese company, which will be accorded objective and serious consideration.

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China leaning on Singapore to keep ASEAN calm over South China Sea: sources

China is worried it could face fresh criticism over its actions in the South China Sea when Singapore becomes chairman of the Association of South East Asian Nations next year, and is putting pressure on the city-state to make sure that doesn’t happen, according to people familiar with the situation.

They say that Chinese representatives have told Singapore counterparts in private meetings over recent months that they don’t want trouble for Beijing when Singapore takes over the annual leadership of the 10-nation group in 2018.

Diplomats say they believe that Beijing has used its influence over countries who have chaired ASEAN in the past to dilute the group’s stand on the South China Sea row, potentially one of the most volatile disputes in Asia.

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China ties a priority when Singapore is Asean chair: PM Lee
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during an interview with Xinhuanet at the Istana on Sept 16, 2017. FOTO: MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS & INFORMATION

For Asean-China trade to flourish, both sides need to work at keeping overall ties strong, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Alluding to the need for rationality & restraint on thorny issues such as the South China Sea dispute, PM Lee said that frictions in the relationship will only affect mutually beneficial cooperation. This is why Singapore will do its best to positively advance Asean-China relations when it assumes the grouping's chairmanship next year, he said in an interview with Xinhuanet ahead of his official visit to China beginning on Tuesday (Sep 19).

Mr Lee was asked by Xinhuanet to take stock of ties ahead of next year, an important milestone for Asean-China relations.

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Singapore to promote stronger cooperation between ASEAN and China: PM Lee

Singapore will promote stronger cooperation between ASEAN and China when it takes over as ASEAN chair next year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at a meeting with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing on Tuesday (Sep 19).

Mr Lee is on a 3-day official visit to China from Tuesday to Thursday.

While meeting in the Great Hall of the People, both leaders reaffirmed the warm ties between both countries & discussed the potential of working together in new areas, such as financial, judicial and legal cooperation.

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CHINA’S WELCOME FOR SINGAPORE PM MAY SIGNAL A NEW APPROACH TO SMALLER STATES
Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong with Wang Qishan in Beijing. Photo: Handout

In this context, it is interesting to note that Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong met four top leaders during his official visit last week. On top of meeting Xi, Li, and Zhang, Lee’s meeting with Wang Qishan, the head of China’s top anti-graft body, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, is even more intriguing, not only because Wang does not often meet visiting heads of state or government in his current role, but also because speculation is whirling over whether he will stay on for another five-year term after the Chinese leadership reshuffle scheduled next month. On Lee’s last official visit, in August 2013, he met only Xi and Li.

Chinese media reports have suggested Lee’s visit was sudden and unheralded. More importantly, the unusually high-level reception Lee received indicates that both countries want to turn the page on what have been strained ties over the past two years. Xi was quoted as telling Lee there were many opportunities to forge ties with Singapore in a “new historical chapter”.

Lee reportedly told Xi that Singapore would work closely with China to take relations to the next level and voiced support for China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which Xi said should be the focus of bilateral cooperation.

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Lee Hsien Loong to visit China as Xi Jinping vows to boost ties with Singapore

Observers said China would be cautious in handling its relations with Singapore as the city state would take the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year.

“China still hopes that Singapore can play a mediating role to lower tensions between Beijing and other [South China Sea] claimant states in Asean,” said Xu Liping, a Southeast Asian affairs expert at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

“Beijing will push for Singaporean cooperation on the belt and road initiative and to boost mutual economic ties.”

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Singapore's PM Visits China to Cement Strained Ties

Singapore expects to be at the forefront of the region’s relations with China next year, when the city-state heads the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. The bloc’s summits have sometimes become a platform for the airing of grievances with China, especially over its efforts to assert expansive claims to the South China Sea.


“The Lee administration and the current Beijing leadership have incentives to smooth over relations before Singapore rotates into the Asean chair next year,” he said. During a meeting with his Chinese counter, Li Keqiang, on Tuesday, Lee pledged to promote stronger Asean-China cooperation during Singapore’s chairmanship. The visit comes at a sensitive time for Xi, who’s preparing for a party congress next month in which as many as five members of the Standing Committee could be replaced. A key question is whether Wang -- the 69-year-old architect of Xi’s historic anti-corruption drive -- will be among the older members who retire to make way for new blood.

Exchanges between the leaders were sprinkled with personal touches that emphasized familiarity between the two sides. Xi’s remark about “previous generations” appeared to be reference to Lee’s father, the late Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew, who was vocal advocate for China’s rise. Meanwhile, Lee is due Thursday to visit Fujian, a coastal southern province where Xi worked for more than 17 years.

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Premier Li hopes for Singapore support in high-speed railway

China hopes Singapore will support Chinese enterprises who wish to participate in the Singapore-Malaysia high-speed railway project, Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday.

"China has cutting-edge, safe and reliable, cost-effective high-speed railway technology," Li said in his talks with visiting Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Malaysia and Singapore have agreed to build a 360-km high-speed rail link between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur, which is expected to start operation by December 2026 and cut travel time to about 90 minutes. Singapore welcomes Chinese businesses to the project, Lee said.

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang hopes for Singapore support in high-speed railway: Xinhua

During his meeting with Mr Li, Mr Lee said that Singapore welcomes Chinese businesses to the project. In an interview with Xinhuanet, Xinhua’s official website, last Saturday, Mr Lee said: “We hope to receive China’s proposals.”

“I think China’s bid will be a high quality one,” he added,  noting that the joint railway project is “very significant” for Singapore and Malaysia. He said China has advanced technology and rich experience in high speed railway construction and operation, boasting a domestic network of tens of thousands kilometers in length.

The Singaporean prime minister praised China’s high speed railway service for providing passengers with convenience and comfort. “Very convenient, smooth and comfortable,” Mr Lee recalled his previous experiences of taking high speed trains in China.

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China touts railway tech for Singapore-KL HSR project
A Chinese high-speed train in Shijiazhuang. AP file foto

China is stepping up efforts ahead of a tender for the proposed 350km high-speed rail (HSR) project linking Kuala Lumpur to Singapore.

China Railway Corp deputy chief engineer Zhao Guo Tang highlighted China’s strengths in railway engineering during a recent interview with journalists from Asean in Beijing.


“One of the benefits of procuring our railway signalling technology is that it compatible with many existing systems. When we design & build HSR lines, we keep in mind that the alignment has to serve as many passengers as possible & on the fastest route,” he said.

related: China’s railway diplomacy hits the buffers

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MTR, China Railway to bid for HSR project

Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway (MTR) operator is planning to join hands with a Chinese rail giant to bid for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR) project, a top official has told the South China Morning Post.

Mr Frederick Ma Si Hang told the newspaper that the company was interested in partnering with China Railway to bid for a contract to build the 350km high-speed rail link. The Hong Kong newspaper, in an exclusive report yesterday, said the planned joint bid would be MTR's first investment under China's "Belt and Road" plan.

The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore HSR project is slated to be completed by the end of 2026 and will cut travel time between the two cities to 90 minutes.

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Will high-speed rail between Singapore and China ever be a reality?

The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high speed rail link is now at an advanced stage of planning. China’s railway company CRH will set up a regional train manufacturing centre in KL and will invest in a new Central Station called ‘Bandar Malaysia’ south of KL near Subang Airport.

The high speed train station in Singapore will be located at Jurong East.

In all, the missing links in the Kunming-Singapore rail network are:
  • A 620km section from Nakhon Ratchasima to Vientiane.
  • Southern section from Hua Hin to Malaysia’s border (Padang Besar).
  • Padang Besar to Kuala Lumpur (the route is electrified but may need to be upgraded to accommodate fast trains).
  • There’s no set timeframe for the construction of northern and southern extensions in Thailand. My best guess is they will only do dual tracking for that section. The government’s priority seems to be developing other high speed routes first between Bangkok to Rayong and Bangkok to Chiang Mai.

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Minister Vivian: We welcome China to bid for SG-KL High Speed Rail and recognize China’s experience and expertise

In a change of tune, Minister Vivian now welcomes Chinese companies to submit bids on the Singapore-KL High Speed Rail. This was reported by China Daily today (12 Jun).

In a written interview with China Daily, which is run by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CCP), Minister Vivian said Singapore “recognizes China’s experience and expertise” in high speed rail.

The international request for bids will be jointly put out by Singapore and Malaysia later this year, he said.

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Singapore FM invites Chinese bids on project

Singaporean Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan [Photo/China Daily]

Singapore welcomes Chinese companies to submit bids on the Singapore-Kuala Lumpur High Speed Rail, Singaporean Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan has said.

In a written interview with China Daily, he said Singapore "recognizes China's experience and expertise". The international request for bids, to be conducted in a fair and transparent manner, will be jointly put out by Singapore and Malaysia later this year, he said.


The minister, in an official visit to China from Sunday to Monday, noted that the project aims to improve connectivity among the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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KL-Singapore high-speed rail project: China on board

A move to build a high-speed rail (HSR) line linking Kuala Lumpur & Singapore has attracted interest from various countries with this kind of technology.

Among these countries is China, which aims to build and perhaps help run the proposed 350km-long track in Malaysia & Singapore.

Though somewhat of a latecomer to the scene (its first HSR line was built in 2003), China has aggressively pushed these trains across its country.

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Hong Kong's MTR eyes joint bid with mainland rail giant for Kuala Lumpur-Singapore link
MTR Corporation Cairman Frederick Ma Si-hang (center). [Photo/en.people.cn]

The chairman of Hong Kong's rail operator MTR Corporation, Frederick Ma Si-hang, said his company "was interested in partnering with China Railway" to bid for the 350-kilometer rail project linking Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Ma made the statement while attending the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation, which convened in Beijing on May 14 and 15, South China Morning Post reported.

Thepaper.cn confirmed the news, reporting that MTR insiders said the company would "provide any assistance" to the Chinese rail giant's potential bid for the multi-billion-dollar rail line.

If the bid is successful, the project would be MTR's first attempt to capitalize on China's global trade and commerce strategy. It would also be MTR's first investment under the umbrella of China's Belt and Road Initiative.

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‘Warm, long-standing’ ties reaffirmed as PM kicks off China visit

“I’m very grateful for your attention to our bilateral relationship, & also for the opportunity for us to discuss how we can work together in the regional context and with Asean,” Mr Lee said.

“Singapore is the coordinator for Asean and China relations currently. Next year, we will be the Asean chairman, & we hope that in these capacities, we can make a contribution towards bringing Asean & China closer together,” he added.


Echoing Mr Lee’s remarks, the Chinese Premier said he hoped Singapore’s chairmanship of the Association of South-east Asian Nations (Asean) will “inject new vitality” into Sino-Singapore & China-Asean relations.

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“Lee Hsien Loong is not as skilled as LKY” – Chinese state media declares amid PM Lee’s visit to China

As Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong makes his first official visit to China in the last three years, the Global Times – a newspaper with links to the Chinese Communist Party – declared that PM Lee “is not as skilled as his father” in balancing ties with China and the United States of America in an opinion piece that also called Singaporeans insecure:
“Singapore was once called a “little red dot” by former Indonesian president Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie. The term is also adopted by Singaporeans to express their sense of insecurity. It is believed that Singapore has no intention of challenging China and Lee Hsien Loong is just not as skilled as his father in controlling the risks and striking a balance between China and the US.”
Relations between Singapore and China have been fraught with tension in recent years, with the Global Times calling this period the worst in the Sino-Singapore relationship since 2016.

Singapore has been accused of tilting towards Washington in its foreign policy, especially when Singapore sided with Washington and Tokyo during the South China Sea territorial dispute arbitration and when Singapore was the only ASEAN nation to urge all parties to fully respect the tribunal ruling that followed.

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Singapore's Lee looks to patch up China relations on official visit
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang with Singapore Prime Minister, Lee Hsien Loong, on September 19, 2017 in Beijing, China

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong arrives in China Tuesday amid tensions with Beijing and unease in southeast Asia over China's increasingly muscular foreign policy.

Lee was not invited to China's One Belt, One Road conference in May, despite the city state's strong support for Beijing's sprawling economic and trade initiative.

That came after a prolonged stand-off after nine armored troop carriers were seized by customs officials in Hong Kong en route from Singapore to China's historical rival Taiwan.

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IGNORE THE SHOW FOR LEE HSIEN LOONG, SINGAPORE AND CHINA ARE STILL AT ODDS
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photo: EPA
The Lion City prime minister’s welcome in Beijing is not a sign the countries have put differences over the South China Sea behind them – the conditions that underpinned their once warm relationship have changed forever

Amid such geopolitical disputes, China and Singapore remain at odds on several key security and strategic issues. For instance, Beijing believes Singapore – a tiny state with a majority ethnic Chinese population – should be pro-China diplomatically, or at least maintain neutrality on issues relating to China. However, the city state has long rejected such an idea, fearing that such an alignment could seriously undermine its status as an independent nation.

Beijing also wants Singapore to use its leadership status in the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to promote China’s influence in the group – a mission that violates members’ interests, particularly so given Asean was formed to help the countries stand up to world powers.

At issue is Singapore’s discord with Beijing over maritime disputes in the South China Sea. Though the city state is not a claimant in the South China Sea feud, it operates one of the biggest ports in the world and its economy relies on trade and thus freedom of ocean navigation. For this reason, Singapore – which hosts a key US navy logistic base and other US military assets – hopes to maintain US influence in the region, potentially making it a strategic adversary to China.

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related:
Singapore - China Bilateral Ties
Singapore China G-to-G Projects
Singapore Stumbles on China's Road
Singapore military vehicles seizure in Hong Kong
The Historic Ma-Xi Summit
The New Silk Road 新絲綢之路
The "One Belt, One Road" 一带一路 initiative
Singapore as a 21st century maritime silk road
Singapore And The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
Embracing, Leaning & Tilting towards China
Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)