Sunday, December 29, 2013

Engineer floats chilli crab restaurant idea

Dec 29, 2013

By Chang Ai-lien Senior Correspondent

Civil engineer Wang Chien Ming was feasting on a steaming plate of chilli crab when he was inspired to build a floating crab restaurant.

Professor Wang, 56, who is the director of the engineering science and global engineering programmes at the National University of Singapore, is an expert in Very Large Floating Structures (VLFS) - a structural technology that includes the platform used in National Day Parade performances.

Describing his plans, he suggested that "it would be an act of global positioning since Singapore is world-famous for its chilli crab".

VLFS, characterised by their size and flexibility on water, harness the buoyancy of water to support themselves, and are unaffected by the water's depth or the nature of the seabed. They are also faster and cheaper to build compared with traditional land reclamation, and can be moved or dismantled with relative ease.

Although the science of such construction has ramped up only over the last 10 years or so, many such structures are already in place worldwide. Prof Wang's name is synonymous with VLFS technology in the region and he was the consultant for the Marina Bay floating platform.

He has collaborated with architects to draw up a blue print of the floating crab restaurant, complete with a claw-like extension into the sea that will serve as a mooring area for boats. Other features include a ramp linking the eatery to shore, function rooms and outdoor green areas.

With a gross floor area of 2,770 sq m (or the size of almost half a football pitch) and a seating capacity of 1,100, he believes that it could be the world's largest floating restaurant. He is now looking for investors.

Some notable examples of VLFS include a large floating ferry pier in Hiroshima, Japan; floating restaurants, convention and exhibition centres on the Han River in the South Korean capital Seoul; floating oil storage bases in Shirashima and Kamigoto in Japan; Norway's 1.2km Nordhordland Bridge, which lies over a 500m-deep fjord; and Seattle's Governor Albert D. Rosellini Bridge which, at 2.3km, is believed to be the world's longest floating bridge.

Prof Wang's studies have also shown that it is feasible to build floating petrol kiosks for ships at sea, and workers' quarters as high as six storeys. He believes that such options offer an attractive solution in land-scarce Singapore.

"There is a limit to land reclamation, especially since the process is getting more and more expensive due to lack of fill materials and large water depths," he said.

Structures such as a floating workers' dormitory would be very large, so people living there would hardly feel the motion of the waves, just like being on a very large ship moored in the harbour, he noted.

While going underground is viable for storage - such as the Jurong caverns for storing oil, VLFS could be ideal for residential and recreational purposes, he added.

"You can float anything, from flats, factories and container terminals to hotels and floating gardens. You can actually create an entire island using VLFS technology, and I believe this will be the next frontier for land-scarce Singapore," he noted.

"And the best part? You can dismantle it and move it anywhere you want."

Singapore is ideal for such projects as its seas are calm and it has the technology and skilled workforce to build such structures, he said.

Creative juices seem to be stimulated by Singapore's iconic chilli crab dish.

For instance, it was earlier reported that a safe, non-invasive method of surgery, using a new robotic device, was thought up by two professors here over a feast of chilli crab.

Agreeing, Prof Wang said: "It's only fitting that this dish inspires invention since it was dreamt up here too.

"As for the floating restaurant, the technology is there. We just need to implement it."

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

We're digging ourselves into a money pit

Dec 24, 2013

By Paul Krugman

THIS is a tale of three money pits. It's also a tale of monetary regress - of the strange determination of many people to turn the clock back on centuries of progress.

The first money pit is an actual pit - the Porgera open-pit gold mine in Papua New Guinea, one of the world's top producers. The mine has a terrible reputation for both human rights abuses (rapes, beatings and killings by security personnel) and environmental damage (vast quantities of potentially toxic tailings dumped into a nearby river). But gold prices, while down from their recent peak, are still three times what they were a decade ago, so dig they must.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Nuclear Power: Policy U-turn; Nuclear Power in Japan; The future?

Dec 11, 2013

Nuclear Power: The U-turn in nuclear power policy

Vested interests are pushing South-east Asia to adopt nuclear power, when alternative energy sources are now available.

By Barry Desker For The Straits Times

AS 2014 approaches, South-east Asian states are moving ahead with plans to push ahead with nuclear power plants. In doing this, they are being supported by generous terms provided by the governments of South Korea, Japan, China, Russia and France, which will provide the technology.

Singapore, however, has concluded that the safety risks are too high and current technology is not advanced enough to embark on the use of nuclear power. In a parliamentary statement in October last year, the Government announced that it will not pursue the nuclear option at the present time. This makes Singapore an exception.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Little India - home away from home

Dec 14, 2013

With the spotlight on Little India after last Sunday's riot, Insight speaks to foreign workers about its place in their hearts, and asks what life in this enclave says about Singapore's management of its foreign workforce. 

Robin Chan, Maryam Mokhtar and Charissa Yong report.

CHILDHOOD friends Karthick Muthuraman and Sundaraj Arumugam are leaning against two traffic bollards along Kerbau Street in Little India having a chat on Wednesday night.

It is three days after a riot broke out in the area, in which an estimated 400 people, most of them foreign workers from South Asia, threw stones, rubbish bins and beer bottles lit like fire bombs at police cars and ambulances. The mob left a trail of destruction in the largest display of civil unrest in Singapore since the 1960s.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Vitamins are a waste of money, studies find

17 Dec 2013

WASHINGTON — There is more disappointing news about multivitamins: Two major studies found popping the pills did not protect ageing men’s brains or help heart attack survivors.

Millions of Americans spend billions of dollars on vitamin combinations, presumably to boost their health and fill gaps in their diets. But while people who do not eat enough of certain nutrients may be urged to get them in pill form, the government does not recommend routine vitamin supplementation as a way to prevent chronic diseases.

The studies released yesterday (Dec 17) are the latest to test if multivitamins might go that extra step and concluded they do not.

Who will pay off US debt?


5 Dec 2013.

By Joergen Oerstroem Moeller

It is hard to believe one’s ears these days. Prudent economic policies are being claimed as destabilising for the global economy; the “good guys” are made out to be those borrowing and spending, using other people’s money.

At least, that is if we are to believe the United States’ criticism of China and Germany for running an economy where you cut the coat according to the cloth.

It is worth remembering that the Chinese and the Germans actually work hard, turn out manufactured goods and channel their savings — their own money — into infrastructure and investment enhancing their competitiveness. Strikingly, the calamities in the US economy arise from the fact that the Americans do more or less the exact opposite.

Since 1961, the federal budget has been in deficit 47 times out of 52 years; the balance of payments 31 times out of 33 years since 1981.

World War I deja vu


5 Dec 2013

By Martin Wolf

Will we sustain an open global economy while also managing tensions between a rising autocracy and democracies in relative economic decline?

That was the question posed by the arrival of imperial Germany as Europe’s leading economic and military power in the late 19th century.

It is the question posed today by the rise of communist China. Now, as then, mistrust is high and rising. Now, as then, actions of the rising power raise risks of conflict. We know how this story ended in 1914. How will the new one end, a century later?

Monday, December 16, 2013

They came, they worked, and they went home

Dec 16, 2013

The legal import of foreign labour has become common all over the world. The issue of managing large foreign worker populations concerns not just Singapore, but also many other countries.

By Jonathan Eyal, Europe Correspondent

WITH the harrowing pictures of the riot in Little India still vivid, Singaporeans may be forgiven for believing that they are alone in confronting the complex challenges of dealing with foreign workers.

But nothing can be further from the truth. The use of foreign - or "guest" workers as they are sometimes more gingerly referred to - is well-established and far more widespread than many people realise. The phenomenon is also growing in significance. And although it does generate some social problems, the large movement of foreign workers remains one of the global economy's biggest achievements.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A world apart and invisible?

Dec 15, 2013


Beyond their economic contributions, there's little interest in what they do, how they cope

By Han Fook Kwang Managing Editor

Two worlds collided in Little India on the night of Dec 8.
The world we know is back in full control.
The charred remains of the violent riot have been cleared.
The police investigation and court proceedings are under way.
The Committee of Inquiry has been formed.
The leaders have spoken, as have Singaporeans on- and off-line.
Order has been restored.

Friday, December 13, 2013

The looming lost decade



13 Dec 2013

As 2013 comes to an end, it looks like the world economy will remain stuck in low gear. For those reading the tea leaves of global recovery, the third-quarter gross domestic product numbers offered no solace.

While the United States is ahead of the pack, some of its gains could soon be lost, as accumulating inventories begin eroding profits. Despite glimmers of hope, the eurozone and Japan are struggling to cross the 1 per cent threshold for annual economic growth. And the major emerging economies are all slowing, with Russia practically at a standstill.

Craving genuine leaders with moral authority



13 Dec 2013

The global outpouring of respect for Nelson Mandela suggests that we are not just saying goodbye to the man at his death, but that we are losing a certain kind of leader, unique on the world stage today, and we are mourning that just as much.

Mandela had an extraordinary amount of “moral authority”. Why? And how did he get it?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Let’s not riot online about a riot


 By Devadas Krishnadas -

09 December

The incident at Little India yesterday evening was regrettable but not improbable. This is for two reasons: One environmental, the other sociological. Both conditions were necessary for the incident to occur but the latter is more significant.

First, the environment at the scene of the incident. The conditions for the riot could be said to have been in place for years. It becomes a highly dense environment on weekend nights, filled with workers out for recreation before returning to another week’s labour. Historically, small-scale incidents of affray, disorderly conduct and loitering without intent are not unknown in the area, but the numbers have always been low.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Big Trouble in Little India

10 Dec 2013

Excerpt from TODAY

The riot was triggered by a traffic accident in which Indian national Sakthivel Kumaravelu, 33, died after he was hit by a private bus.

Police investigations showed that an inebriated Sakthivel had boarded the bus, which was ferrying workers from Tekka Lane to their Avery Lodge dormitory in Jalan Papan. After noticing that Sakthivel was causing trouble on board — the construction worker had allegedly dropped his trousers at one point — the bus driver asked his assistant, who was helping to ensure the bus ran on schedule, to get the man off the bus.

Sakthivel alighted and the bus moved off. While it was turning into Race Course Road, the driver heard a thud on the side of the bus.

Sakthivel had been knocked down and was caught beneath the bus’ left rear tyre. It was not clear whether the driver got off the bus at this point or who called the police.

Monday, December 9, 2013

The perils of selective solidarity

Dec 08, 2013

Too much emphasis on common interests, ties can breed intolerance of those outside the circle

By Sunday With Chua Mui Hoong Opinion Editor

When I first saw the photo of the man reportedly caught snatching about $200 from a fishmonger's counter in Chong Pang, my initial reaction was one of approval.

Good that Singaporeans are stepping up to fight crime, I thought. According to the Chinese evening daily Shin Min Daily News, the fishmonger's shouts attracted other stall-holders and passers-by. The alleged thief was caught; he struggled, but was overpowered and restrained with cable ties.

But as I looked at the photo of the bare-bodied man on the floor, with his hands and feet tied together, I had another thought: He must have been desperate to try to snatch money in broad daylight.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Asset-rich, cash-poor retirees speak up

Nov 30, 2013

They live in landed property but some are so cash-strapped, they hope for low-wage jobs and Workfare. Amid many calls on the public purse, how can their needs be addressed?

By Andrea Ong And Maryam Mokhtar

SEVENTY-YEAR-OLD Wen Zhen counts every cent. He eats two slices of bread for breakfast and lunch each. For dinner, he cooks a vegetable dish, paired with a $2 packet of rice that he ekes out over two nights.

Yet outwardly, the retired quality surveyor - who declined to give his full name - would seem to have no money worries. After all, he lives in landed property.

Home is a single-storey terraced house in Opera Estate in Joo Chiat constituency bought by his late father for $17,000 in the 1960s. The 150 sq m house is in original condition and is dwarfed by swanky three-storey homes, but it is worth $1.6 million.

Friday, December 6, 2013

China's ADIZ - a brazen "Air Grab" ("Land Grab" is so passe!)


Matthew Hipple

December 2, 2013

On November 23rd, the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) Ministry of National Defense released the full text of a new East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone (ECS ADIZ). The language itself is more subtle than the actual act. The ECSADIZ is not a reflection of China’s plan or desire to identify aircraft but rather the active imposition of sovereign regulation on all aircraft entering that area: a veiled invasion of the Senkakus using subtle lawfare to justify further presence and military operation.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

From S’pore to Sweden, back to housing bubbles


2 Dec 2013

By Nouriel Roubini

It is widely agreed that a series of collapsing housing-market bubbles triggered the global financial crisis of 2008-2009, along with the severe recession that followed. While the United States is the best-known case, a combination of lax regulation and supervision of banks and low policy interest rates fuelled similar bubbles in the United Kingdom, Spain, Ireland, Iceland and Dubai.

Now, five years later, signs of frothiness, if not outright bubbles, are reappearing in housing markets in Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and, back for an encore, the UK (well, London).

In emerging markets, bubbles are appearing in Hong Kong, Singapore, China, and Israel, and in major urban centres in Turkey, India, Indonesia, and Brazil. Signs that home prices are entering bubble territory in these economies include fast-rising home prices, high and rising price-to-income ratios, and high levels of mortgage debt as a share of household debt.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Taxi woes and the ghost of 1985

Dec 01, 2013

Govt steered clear after bid to resolve problems pleased nobody, but situation won't improve unless it takes action

By Han Fook Kwang

Whenever the state of the taxi service is discussed, my mind goes back to 1985.

That, in my view, was the last time the Government tried to tackle the problem in a fundamental way.

But that experience was so painful, no transport minister since has had the appetite to take on the issue.

Which is why the problems persist, almost 30 years on.

What is the issue?