Monday, December 31, 2007

Top Singapore Short Stories in 2007

As year 2007 comes to a close, let us recall some of the key stories that grabbed the headlines in Singapore this year.

These stories are listed in no order of priority:

UNSW Bombshell

The University of South Wales (UNSW) pulled its campuses out from Singapore as quickly as it have them set up, leaving many students in a fix. Many affected students eventually accepted the university’s offer to continue their education in Australia.

A380

The much awaited A380 giants finally soared to the sky after years of waiting and delay. A new ruling is implemented to prevent couples from making love in some of the very posh cabins.

Taxi touting

Letters written to the Straits Times complaining and lamenting on taxi touts finally caused the authorities to act by lifting the penalty for taxi touts.

F1

Singapore will host its leg of the F1 tournament right on our sunny shores come 28 September 2008! And yesterday, Punggol residents had their taste of a F1 when their constituency staged its own Gold Kart race. Gold Kart races will soon make their appearances in other parts of the island for Singaporeans to experience the F1 thrills and to prime the whole nation in the F1 countdown.

Amri Mohd Samat

Singapore surgeons performed a miracle operation on Amri, cutting off his lower half in a bid to save his life from flesh-eating bacteria. The operation was a success and the optimism and positive outlook of the man towards life after the operation is also applauding and gratifying to all.

PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations)

A Muslim girl topped this year’s PSLE with a record score of 294 in the history of the PSLE, with no tuition aids, but with very encouraging parents who created a learning and exploring environment for their daughter since young. The girl was no nerd, excelling in other co-curricular activities as well.

Dragon boating death

Five young, promising and athletic National Dragon boat racers lost their lives when their boat capsized in a river in Cambodia during a race there. Investigations soon found that the victims were all without life vests. A rigorous committee was set up to investigate their deaths and at this moment of writing, the investigation results are still pending. There incident threw the whole nation into two schools of thought on whether dragon boat racers should wear their life vests during racing. It is most likely that a ruling for all dragon boat racers to don their life vests in all races will be on the cards soon.

Dave Teo Ming

Dave Teo created a stir in Singapore when he left his 1 SIR camp in Kranji with a M16 assault rifle and ventured off to Orchard road. Security lapses in the camp have been questioned and again in Singapore, a committee has been set up to investigate these lapses to ensure such an incident will not happen again, especially when it occurred in a wave of school killing incidents around the world. The most notorious school killing was undertaken by a Korean student in one of the America’s universities who killed dozens of his classmates and eventually ending his life. Morbid videos that he sent to NBC are chilling and shed some lights to his reason for the massacre he committed. It is widely believed that the Korean murderer was a victim of school bullying.

ASEAN football champions

Singapore emerged as the champions of ASEAN this year when it defeated its worthy opponent Thailand. The match was cloaked in political shade after Thailand’s tussle with Singapore over Temasek’s investment and the alleged link of some of our political leaders with Thaksin.

ASEAN Idol

Without much fanfare, Hady, our Singapore Idol (2nd season) clinched the first ASEAN idol !

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova came to Singapore for an exhibition match and defeated her worthy compatriot: the 6th ranked Anna in an exciting and adrenalin-pumping match. She is a gorgeous beauty who tower many local men with her 1.88 m frame !

Relationship with neighbours

Singapore has seen its relationship strained at times this year with its neighbour over the following issues:
With Malaysia: Pedra Branca’s right
With Indonesia: Halt of granite supply and sales to Singapore (which may affect Singapore’s development of the IRs) and the alleged monopoly of some of Indonesia’s Telcom industry
With Thailand: Allegations of links with Thaksin and investment of Temaesk in Thailand’s companies.


MRT deaths

More and more Singaporeans are choosing a fast end to life by jumping into MRT tracks to be hit (hopefully dead in their thinking) by an approaching train. Their deaths not only cause grief to their surviving families but also halted MRT services and caused inconveniences to hundreds of passengers. Some of these incidents are not reported in the newspapers any longer as these incidents may be getting too commonplace. Newspapers may also no longer want to fall prey to the agenda of the suicides: when the first such case occurred, donations poured from Singaporeans island wide to the grieving family whose sole bread winner committed suicide in a bid to gain sympathy and attract some monetary assistance to his financially-drained family. The man succeeded with a resounding victory, posthumously.

Charity scene

The charity scene in Singapore has been blighted by scandals involving the NKF, the Children’s society. Even probes are underway for the Ren Ci hospital whose ‘icon’ is the beloved Reverend Ming Yi. When probes broke, Singaporeans even questioned over the authenticity of the reverend’s doctorate, which he obtained through distance learning from an Irish university, after checks on the university with the Irish authorities failed to ‘locate’ this university.


Environment

Environment has been in the spotlight this year. Al Gore and his associates won the Nobel prize for his effort in environment conservation. As the earth falls more and more ill as a result of man’s action and man realises more and more repercussion of his actions, the onus is for man to act collectively to save our earth and the time in now! One chilling environmental anomaly to share: Castiglione di Cervia, a small village of 2000 people in Northern Italy become first to be hit by a tropical disease, the Chikungunya, a relative of the dengue fever.

En-Bloc

“En-Bloc” is a term that is introduced into our daily lexicon in year 2007. In year 2007, Singapore witnessed 109 estates being ‘en-bloc-ed’, creating a revenue of $13 billion for homeowners. The demolition of apartments due to the ‘en-bloc’ led to housing shortages in the city, causing spike in rents. Coupled with the property boom, the prices of housing increases further forcing sellers to move to smaller apartments of cheaper locations.

2nd Adviser

Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr Lee Yi Shyan was appointed 2nd advisor for Joo Chiat SMC (Single Member Ward), in a very unusual arrangement in Singapore’s political history where a full time advisor cum MP (member of parliament) is cocurrently seconded to another ward.

1.7%

Unemployment hit 1.7%, the lowest figures in almost 10 years.

$16 billion

Singapore attracted $16 billion in manufacturing and projects, generating $3 billion of total business spending in services. Norwegian firm, REC, invested in Singapore, the world’s largest solar plant. Exon-Mobil has signed an agreement with the authorities to build a 2nd world-scale chemical complex here.

13th ASEAN summit

Singapore hosted the 15th ASEAN summit whereby ASEAN countries signed the landmark ASEAN Charter, which set the path for an ASEAN Economic Community by year 2015.

43 Golds

Singapore clinched 43 Golds, in one of the best showings by a team comprised mainly of youths in the SEA (Southeast Asia Games).

881

Homemade movies brought regional acclaim to our shores: 881, Homeswan stories, to name a few.

Singapore Day

The first ‘Singapore Day’ was organized in New York which brought together 6,000 Singaporeans working overseas in New York for a rare and homely gathering.

172,000

172,000 jobs were created in the first 9 months of 2007.

UP, UP, UP

The cost of living continues its upward spiral. The government cited three reasons for the increase: a) adjustment of GST from 5% to 7% b) increase in the annual value of HDB flats push the value of flats up (but it affect only 5% of the population who has no home ownership and lives in rented homes) c) worldwide increase of food and energy. The 4 years of sustained growth has also created problems: a) shortage of prime office spaces b) resource constraint in the construction industry c) a tight labour market. Inflation is rising faster than expected too.


Dengue Fever

Dengue fever infections spiral unabatedly from May to August which prompted NEA (National Environment Agency) to mobilise its team of officers to tackle the problem at the bud. ‘Intensive Source Reduction Exercises’ are conducted to rid the root of the dengue scourge. The efforts pay off and the infections tapered off to a normal level.


An Economic Anomaly?

With the unusual strong showing of its economy (7.5% growth rate) in 2007, Singapore is lauded as a developed nation growing at the pace of a developing nation.

$1.94 million

After the highly scrutinised pay revision of top civil servants and ministers, $1.94 million is the annual pay of an entry-grade Minister in Singapore now.

6.5 million Singaporeans

Policymakers are gearing up for 6.5 million Singaporeans in their policy making considerations.

666,000 millionaires

That is the number of millionaires with liquidity of US$1 million in Singapore. The rising number of the richer Singaporeans inevitably leads to an ever-increasing income gap.

1 million foreign workers

1 million foreign workers now reside in Singapore, contributing to Singapore but nevertheless creating some challenges to Singapore.

377A

To repeal or not? Singaporeans are divided into 2 schools of thought, in the discussion of whether law forfeiting Gay Sex shall be repealed in Singapore. The topic drew an aggressive discussion and hot airing in parliament and the verdict attests to the traditional conservative Asian values of Singaporeans in general.

GST increase

GST increased from 5% to 7% on 1 July 2007


4th University

A 4th university is on the card with Minister-of –State Lui leading a study to explore the form that this new university will take

Annuity

The government wants Singaporeans aged 85 and above to be covered with compulsory annuity.

CPF reforms

Reforms would be made to CPF, promising higher interest returns, later drawn out age for the minimum sum and annuities to be made compulsory for Singaporeans and paid using their CPF.

WorkFare Income supplement

Another shield of society for low income and older workers, in addition to education, compulsory home ownership and the 3 ‘Ms’: Medisave, Medishield and Medifund.

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