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Seven Town Councils To Increase S&CC

28 Jul

SINGAPORE – Seven town councils will be increasing their Service and Conservancy Charges (S&CC) from September.

The town councils are: Bishan-Toa Payoh, Chua Chu Kang, East Coast, Holland-Bukit Panjang, Tanjong Pagar, Tampines and West Coast. The last revision was in 2004.

The increase will be phased over two years. The 1st tier increase, with effect from September, ranges from S$0.50 to S$6.50 per month for HDB one-room to executive flats home-owners.

Commercial property owners and tenants will see an increase ranging from S$0.10 to S$0.40 psm/month while the increase for most cooked stalls is between S$5.00 and S$14.00 per month.

The 2nd tier increase will start in September next year, and will range from S$0.50 to S$5.50 per month for HDB one-room to executive flats home-owners. Commercial property owners and tenants will see an increase ranging from S$0.10 to S$0.30 psm/month. The increase for most of the cooked food stalls is between S$5.00 and S$11.00 per month.

A statement issued today by Holland-Bukit Panjang Town Council noted that the town councils are faced with rising costs and inflation. Despite making a “conscious effort” to control costs and expenditure, it is “increasingly difficult” to continue operations at the current S&CC rates, the statement said.

“So this year, seven Town Councils will increase their S&CCs in order to continue to serve our residents effectively while the other Town Councils which are also facing cost pressures would have to decide on the increase in the future.”

One of the largest cost increase has been in electricity, with tariffs rising by almost 75 per cent between 2004 and this year. With most towns having successfully undergone the Lift Upgrading Programme, maintenance costs have also increased by 20 per cent, on average.

Increased demands for higher cleaning standards as well as efforts to improve the capabilities and incomes of local cleaners have seen cleaning costs ries by 20 per cent on average too.

“The Town Councils will continue to work closely with the Members of Parliament, Grassroots Organisations and the Community Development Councils, to help residents who may have difficulties with their S&CC payments,” the statement said.

Today Online

Hong Kong Ani-Com & Games Fair Puts The Fun Back Into Comic Heroes

27 Jul

HONG KONG: One of Asia’s biggest animation and comic fairs opened in Hong Kong on Friday, attracting thousands of fans and bringing some fun back into super heroes after the Batman movie shootings in Colorado.

Thor, Spiderman, Captain America and Optimus Prime were just some of the costumes that enthusiasts sported on the opening day of the Ani-Com & Games fair, now in its 14th year in the southern Chinese city.

Paul Ho, 38, wore a home-made Iron Man costume as he strode around the harbourside exhibition centre with a group of friends dressed as other characters of comic-book legend.

“From spraying the paint to modifying it with fiberglass, it took five months to make this suit,” the professional costume maker and event organiser told AFP, as blue LED lights glowed in his helmet and chest plate.

Popular animators and cartoonists were on hand to chat with visitors to the fair, which this year attracted more than 170 local and international exhibitors showing off the latest comics, video games and accessories.

Autographed comics and limited edition action figures were among the hottest items, and fans were seen running through the crowd to make orders while stocks lasted.

Wong Sun Sing, a 27-year-old photographer, started lining up for the expo on Thursday night to pick up three limited edition figures he ordered online at the beginning of the month.

The life-like figures of Batman, Captain America and Jack Sparrow sold for HK$1300 ($168) each, he said.

“I had to line up outside. Luckily there was some shelter that prevented us from getting wet,” he said after sitting through a rainy night outside the convention centre.

The fair opens a week after a gunman opened fire on a packed cinema showing the new Batman movie “The Dark Knight Rises” in the the US state of Colorado, killing 12 people and wounding 58.

The alleged 24-year-old shooter’s motives remain unknown but he apparently told police he was the Joker — an evil character in the Batman series — leading some to speculate that he was living out a role-playing fantasy.

“Sometimes people that have watched these movies may try to pretend to be the evil characters,” Ho said.

Warner Brothers cancelled red carpet events for the film in France, Japan and Mexico — and in a separate move scrambled to pull a trailer for another new film, including a scene in which mobsters shoot at theatre audiences.

Batman actor Christian Bale paid a low-key visit to victims of the shooting on Tuesday.

Despite the shooting, “The Dark Knight Rises” had the third largest opening weekend ever in terms of ticket sales, according to box office revenue-tracker Exhibitor Relations.

Underscoring the huge and enduring popularity of animated characters and super heroes, the last chapter in the Batman trilogy earned $160.9 million in its first three days.

That comes behind opening weekend grosses for “The Avengers” ($207.4 million) and the final Harry Potter movie, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” ($169.2 million).

– AFP/lp

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CHERISH Award Extended To Pre-Schools & PSEIs

26 Jul

SINGAPORE: For the first time, the CHERISH (CHampioning Efforts Resulting in Improved School Health) Award is extended to pre-schools and post-secondary education institutions (PSEIs).

CHERISH is a holistic framework that promotes a health-conscious learning environment in educational institutions.

311 schools, out of 343 applicants, received the CHERISH Award.

The inaugural CHERISH Junior Award was given out to 94 pre-schools.

Eight PSEIs have also pledged support for health promotion in their campuses.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Minister for Education Heng Swee Keat stressed that health promotion in youths is important.

“The cultivation of healthy habits needs to be sustained. It is therefore important that as our students progress further, they remain in a health-promoting environment,” he said.

– CNA/cc/wm

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Man Jailed & Fined For Killing Pedestrian

16 Jul

SINGAPORE: A man who drove a car without a valid licence and ended up killing an elderly pedestrian was jailed 11 months and fined S$2,000 on Monday.

22-year-old Shawn See Joo Song was also disqualified from driving all classes of vehicles for 10 years.

He pleaded guilty to three charges, which include causing the death of 65-year-old Mislia Ahmad by a rash act, driving a car without the consent of the owner and driving without a valid licence.

The court heard that See failed to give way to the victim who was crossing the road at Tampines Street 45 in December last year.

See was turning right from Tampines Street 45 into Tampines Avenue 9 when he collided into her.

The court heard that he had also turned his head to speak to his passenger while making the right turn.

The victim was taken to Changi General Hospital where she was pronounced dead shortly after.

For committing a rash act, See could have been jailed up to five years and fined.

The maximum punishment for taking and driving any motor vehicle without the consent of its owner is three months’ jail and S$1,000 fine.

Those who are caught driving without a licence can also be jailed up to three months and fined S$1,000.

– CNA/ck

Channel News Asia

Values, Understanding The Purpose & Good Habits Essential To Sustaining Volunteerism

15 Jul

SINGAPORE: Inculcating correct values, understanding the purpose of volunteering and building habits are essential to sustaining volunteerism beyond school days.

Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports, Chan Chun Sing, said this at a youth dialogue session on Saturday.

The session, co-organised by the National Youth Council, was aimed at discussing how volunteering rates could be sustained among people in the workforce and those starting families.

But Mr Chan added the changing face of volunteering efforts also needs to be acknowledged.

About 80 university and polytechnic students attended the session.

The dialogue session comes at a time when surveys have found a “bath-tub” effect in the volunteering trends among Singaporeans – that is a high level of volunteerism during their school days, a period of decline in their mid-20s, and then back up in their mid-40s.

Suggestions varied from setting up a centralised platform highlighting volunteering opportunities to providing some radical incentives.

One area Mr Chan focused on was the Community Involvement Programme (CIP), which is compulsory for secondary school students.

“CIP is a means to an end. Even if we bring hundred people through, ten, twenty fellas continue the journey, it’s still alright, because we have catalysed something in some people, and through this, it will spread,” Mr Chan said.

But after the session, Mr Chan also acknowledged the concept of incentivised volunteerism.

“We would like people to come forth without any material pursuits, or any sense that they want to get something tangible in return, but that is idealistic. We know that many of the volunteers, even among the participants today, many of them started off on a structured programme, with some kind of incentive but actually from there, they have graduated from truly volunteering their time without incentive structures in place, and I’m actually open to having both approaches tried out for different parts of the sector, because I don’t think it’s a one side fits all, and I’ve seen both approaches work in different sectors as well,” he said.

Chen Yingyi, VP & Co-founder, Voluntarius, said: “There is this trend where volunteers come forward to volunteer because they want to gain something in return, for example, if they want to build up their portfolio, but personally I find there is nothing wrong with that.”

Ms Chen said that’s because both the volunteer and those that receive the services, benefit.

– CNA/ck

Channel News Asia

7,000 New & Existing Students Expected To Apply For Tuition Fee Subsidy

10 Jul

SINGAPORE: Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said Mendaki expects about 7,000 new and existing students to apply for its Tertiary Tuition Fee Subsidy scheme (TTFS) this year.

The scheme is an educational subsidy covering the tuition fees of Malay students in tertiary institutions.

In the last four years, 2,000 were eligible for the scheme.

This year, the eligibility criteria will be relaxed, so more will stand to benefit.

Previously only Malay students from a family with a monthly household income of S$3,000 and below qualify.

With the introduction of per captia income and the new criteria, Malay students in a typical four-member household with a monthly income of S$6,000 and below would now qualify.

Dr Yaacob Ibrahim said: “The scheme is quite benign in favour of students rather than towards the government or Mendaki. If you’re into the scheme despite changes to your family income, you will continue to qualify. If you’re out and there’s a change in your family income and you qualify, you’ll come in.

Dr Yaacob also added that initial calculations show there may be a chance that they have to dip into its reserves to maintain their other programmes.

– CNA/ck

Channel News Asia

M&S Posts Sliding First-Quarter Sales

10 Jul

LONDON: British clothing-to-food retailer Marks & Spencer said on Wednesday that sales sank in the group’s first quarter in difficult trading conditions.

Total sales fell 0.7 per cent in the 13 weeks to June 20, compared with the same period of the previous financial year, M&S said in an official statement to the London Stock Exchange.

Sales at British stores meanwhile slid by 0.9 per cent in the company’s first quarter. And they tumbled by 2.8 per cent on a like-for-like basis, which strips out the impact of new floor space.

Food sales in Britain grew 0.6 per cent in the reporting period, but clothing and general merchandise slumped by 6.8 per cent — the worst performance since December 2008.

“Our food business has again performed strongly. General merchandise underperformed in a difficult trading season,” said chief executive Marc Bolland in the earnings update.

“We are pleased with the performance in multi-channel and our key international businesses, which are continuing to make good progress.”

The weak sales performance will meanwhile increase pressure on Bolland at the company’s annual meeting later today, amid growing expectations that many shareholders will vote against his large pay package.

– AFP/ck

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