Tuesday, October 31, 2017

I didn’t expect Aljunied GRC winning margin in 2015 GE to be so close: Low Thia Khiang

Siau Ming En


October 31, 2017

SINGAPORE – Revealing that he was confident the Workers’ Party (WP) would retain Aljunied GRC in the 2015 General Election, WP chief Low Thia Khiang conceded that he was surprised by the narrow winning margin in an interview contained in the party’s commemorative book.

The WP team headed by Mr Low and consisting Ms Sylvia Lim, Mr Pritam Singh, Mr Faisal Manap and Mr Chen Show Mao garnered 50.95 per cent of the vote, edging out the People’s Action Party (PAP) slate comprising mainly first-time candidates by 2,612 votes, or 1.9 per cent of the votes cast.

“I was surprised by the results of Aljunied,” said Mr Low in the lengthy interview carried in Walking With Singapore, which will be launched this Friday (Nov 3) at the WP’s 60th anniversary dinner.

Monday, October 30, 2017

The battle of brains vs brawn

29 Oct 2017


NEW YORK: Do brains trump brawn? A remarkable new study of how the human body prioritises its inner workings found that if you intensely think at the same time as you intensely exercise, your performance in both thinking and moving can worsen. But your muscles’ performance will decline much more than your brain’s will, the study found.

The results raise interesting questions about the roles that our body’s wide-ranging abilities may have played in the evolution of humans and also whether a hard workout is the ideal time to be cogitating.

Compared to almost all other animals, we humans have disproportionately large brains for our size. Our supersized cranial contents probably provided an advantage during our evolution as a species. Smart creatures presumably could have outwitted predators and outmaneuvered prey, keeping themselves fed, uneaten and winners in the biological sweepstakes to pass on their genes.

But most other species eschewed developing similarly outsized brains during evolution because large brains carry a hefty metabolic cost. Brains are extraordinarily hungry organs, requiring, ounce for ounce, more calories to sustain their operations than almost any other tissue, and these caloric demands rise when the brain is hard at work. Thinking demands considerable bodily fuel.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Singapore malls are primed for Amazon's click de grace


October 24, 2017

HONG KONG — Singapore's malls are one click away from irrelevance, though the investment trusts that own them are carrying on as if nothing has changed.

The first hint of trouble showed up in January when department store John Little shut down after a 174-year run. Then, in July, Amazon.com Inc. introduced its two-hour Prime Now delivery service, choosing the city-state of 5.6 million people as the testing ground to fine-tune its Southeast Asia ambitions.

The landlords don't appear all that perturbed; at least not yet. CapitaLand Mall Trust, the island's biggest retail real-estate investment trust, announced 2.78 Singapore cents (2 cents) in dividends last week, unchanged from a year earlier. That's an annual yield of almost 5.5 per cent at a time when the 10-year Singapore government bond offers only 2.2 per cent. The tantalising premium is keeping investors hooked.

Even the analyst community is discounting the threat from online shopping: There are 13 buy recommendations on the CapitaLand Mall REIT, and not a single sell, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. But look under the hood, and there are signs that not everything is hunky dory.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Regional defence investments in large amphibious vessels driven by geography and ships’ versatility

Ben Ho

October 8, 2017

SINGAPORE — Talk of naval modernisation in South-east Asia usually revolves around the acquisition of traditional naval platforms such as submarines and frigates. What has slipped under the radar in recent years is the increased interest in large amphibious warfare vessels, such as that of Singapore’s Endurance-class landing ships tank, that enable the deployment of forces in the air and sea as well as on land.

Over the past year, the Philippines has acquired two 11,000-ton Tarlac-class landing ships, the first of such size and capability to be acquired by Manila. Malaysia is also mulling a large amphibious warfare vessel in the Multi-Role Support Ship, while Myanmar has reportedly expressed interest in a landing ship based on Indonesia’s 11,000-ton Makassar-class platform.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

On the Record: Liu Thai Ker, architect and former master planner of Singapore


SINGAPORE: Award-winning architect, Liu Thai Ker, created controversy a few years ago when he said that Singapore’s urban planners need to design the city for a population of 10 million. At a time when some were voicing concerns about the pressures being put on infrastructure from a growing population - largely from overseas - many scoffed when he made that statement.

Today, he stands by it, saying it’s not too late to start planning infrastructure to accommodate a possibly larger population in the future. His motto is: if the economy grows and population grows, we need to be prepared for it.

Liu is the eldest son of artist Liu Kang and planned to follow in his father’s footsteps but circumstances railroaded his plans and he ended up studying architecture instead.

He doesn’t regret it one bit.

His career has seen him influence Singapore’s urban landscape as CEO of the Housing and Development Board (HDB) between 1979 and 1989 and as CEO and Chief Planner of the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) between 1989 and 1992. He’s also noted for being a proponent of heritage and nature conservation.

Today, he is the founding chairman of the Centre for Liveable Cities and Senior Director of RSP Architects, leading master-planning and urban design efforts in more than 30 cities.

He went “On the Record” with Bharati Jagdish about why his own efforts to plan for a larger population failed, why having more people in Singapore won’t compromise liveability and why Singapore needs more intellectual thinkers.

They first talked about the factors that have influenced him the most over the years.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A Singaporean mother’s letter to her daughter on her 21st birthday

Mariam Aljunied

October 3, 2017

This is a letter from chartered psychologist Mariam Aljunied to her daughter Sara when she turned 21 this year, in which Dr Mariam Aljunied spoke about their family history dating back to the year Singapore was founded in 1819 and what it means to be a Singaporean growing up today.

Dr Mariam Aljunied’s great-great-great-grandfather, Syed Omar Ali Aljunied, built Singapore’s first mosque - Masjid Omar Kampong Melaka - in 1820 and also donated the land on which St Andrew’s Cathedral now stands to Sir Stamford Raffles.

Dear Sara,

You’ve been a blessing and a gift to both me and your dad. Your late Habib (granddad) once reminded me that the two things we must bequeath to our children are “roots to stay anchored, and wings to fly”. I’ve never forgotten this message. So in this significant year, your 21st, I want to share with you some things that I hope you too will never forget. These are messages that I’ve learnt in my lifetime: messages from the past, present and future; and messages that are forever.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Commentary: 99-year HDB flats a chance to review homeownership and retirement policies

With the impending lease expiry of private residences along Lorong 3 Geylang, Ng Kok Hoe explores the challenges of framing homeownership as an appreciating asset that provides a source of retirement income.

By Ng Kok Hoe

01 Oct 2017

SINGAPORE: In March, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong reminded the public that Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats must be returned to the state when their 99-year leases expire.

Therefore, flat buyers should not fork out large sums for old resale flats on the chance that they may profit from the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme, he emphasised.

There has been no test case for this policy position so far, as major construction of HDB flats began only in the 1960s, which means that the earliest leases will only expire after 2060.

But in June, the owners of private residences along Lorong 3 Geylang were given notice that when their land leases expire in 2020, their properties must be surrendered to the Singapore Land Authority with no compensation.

Although these were private residences on 60-year leases, and most have been rented out to foreign workers and temple operators instead of being owner-occupied, the episode served as a reality check for many HDB flat owners.