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12,000 sing to new record

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By: Thiang Xuefen

A 12,000-strong crowd thronged the Marina Bay floating platform last weekend, setting a new national mass-singing record at The Great Singapore Sing-Along.

Held on Oct. 17 by TCR Music Station, the inaugural record-setting event hosted in mandarin featured almost 60 songs, including folk songs, evergreen Chinese oldies and Singapore’s community tunes.

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The Singapore Flyer provided a stunning backdrop for the well-received Great Singapore Sing-Along event.

“This event is very successful. We’ve never had so many people come together for such a joyous sing-along session before. Our target was only ten thousand, and we’ve achieved a record beyond that”, Chua Yi Ren, the event organizer, said.

The last time a sing-along event was organized on a national-scale was in 2007, when nearly 4,000 people gathered for the final sing-along session at the National Stadium. Named We Sing Our Song, the commemorative concert took place before the stadium was closed to make way for the Singapore Sports Hub.

This four-hour session was a nostalgic endeavour too, as evident from the familiar tunes people of all ages could sing along to.  This was in tandem with the purpose of the event, raising sing-along awareness.

“We want to create a big record and let everyone know about sing-alongs, and join us”, Chua said.

The audience comprised mainly of people aged 40 and above, including senior citizens who turned up with their friends and family, and some middle-aged parents who brought their children along. Each ticket for this event was priced at $16.

“I came here with my tai-chi friends. It’s very good. We can sing songs together… share more interests”, Goh Meng Kok, a 64-year-old retiree, said.

Besides providing an avenue for bonding, the audience were also able to reminisce about their past as the songs evoked emotions and memories for some.

“My son knows I love to sing karaoke, so he bought the tickets for me. He encouraged me to come with my husband for a date, like we used to do in the past”, Ang Swee Lian, a 53-year-old tuition teacher, said.

“The night scene is beautiful, and the atmosphere is right. It’s relaxing and perfect for my mother and my kids”, Derrick Ng, a 52-year-old IT technician, said.

Singaporean singer Mavis Hee and local song-writer Liang Wern Fook also attended the event, which was supported by the National Arts Council.

The event-goers also included volunteers and the elderly, from Geylang East Home for the Aged and Shan You Counseling Centre, who received sponsored tickets from Cenosis, Chua said.

“The sing-along was fun. The big screens with lyrics were very helpful in bringing us and the volunteers closer because we can all sing together”, Lim Yin, the manager of the home, said.

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Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Posted in Lifestyle, Online News

Bad economy does not stop charity efforts

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By: Christine Chua

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The long queue of people waiting to make their purchases

Charity efforts were on the high as people crowded to make purchases to help needy families in the warehouse food donation drive last Sunday.

Despite the economic downturn, the warehouse was full of activity with live music performances and celebrity appearances. Even in the hot weather, there were long queues of people waiting to purchase their items and signing the pledge to stand up against poverty.

The long queue of people waiting to make their purchases

“Yes, there is an economic downturn but it doesn’t mean I don’t have to do grocery shopping, so why not do it here and also teach my son something about helping others?” Wong Wen Hao, 43, a member of the public at the food sale, said.

The charity drive aimed to benefit at least 900 low-income families, and was organised by a local food distributer, Food Xervices. This was in colla

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The wide variety of products for customers to choose from

boration with ONE Singapore, a non-profit organisation committed to alleviating poverty, for the ‘Every ONE Can Campaign”.

“In Singapore, there are those who still need a helping hand to cope during these difficult times. FoodXervices Inc

is doing our part to help where we can and make their lives a little better,” Nichol Ng, Managing Director of FoodServices Inc, said.

The public could choose to buy items ranging from one packet of salt to one carton of oyster sauce, so everyone could donate regardless of their financial capabilities. These items were packed into a van immediately after purchase, and distributed directly to the needy.

“I didn’t bring much cash with me, but I’m glad I can still render some help by buying this little bottle of Hershey sauce. I hope the family who gets it will like it!” Stephanie Phua, a third year undergraduate at Nanyang Technological University, said. “I think they can collect a larger amount of donations if they accept NETS payment though,” she added.

Shoppers could also do their own grocery shopping while still contributing to charity. A wide variety of 3500 products were available at wholesale pricing, and monetary proceeds similarly went to the needy.

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ONE Singapore’s “8 ways to change the world” poster

Some shoppers interested in doing more for this cause even signed up for the Stand Up Take Action Against Poverty, a mass global campaign from 16 to 18 October, at the ONE Singapore booth.
“We believe in changing the world with eight ways and eliminating poverty is one of it,” Chris Basil, client relations manager of Yolk Digital Company and volunteer in ONE Singapore, said. “We are very optimistic about the upcoming Stand Up campaign and hope to break another record,” he added.

Everyone can make poverty history. Each and every one of us can make a difference,” Vernetta Lopez, President of ONE Singapore, said. “Deepavali is the festival of lights. On this Deepavali day, let’s add to the light and joy,” she added.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 3:08 pm

Posted in Home, Online News

University Students Lobbying to Save Semakau Landfill

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By: Basu Mallick Koustav

A group of fourth-year students from the National University of Singapore are petitioning Office of Environment and Sustainability to double the number of recycling bins on the Kent Ridge campus as part of their final year project to prolong the lifespan of the Semakau Landfill.

The students hope that increasing the number of bins would make recycling more convenient for students and staff to recycle their unwanted material. The current university recycling rate is 12%, which is considerably lower that the national’s average of 56%.
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The students proposed ideas such as creating new recycling bins for other materials such as used stationery and used course packs, as well as relocating some of the existing recycling bins to more strategic locations.

However, Marcus Tay, an executive from the Office of Environment and Sustainability, rejected these ideas and said his Office did not have sufficient resources to handle the implementation of such proposals.

He added that recycling is not a priority, as it does not contribute to savings cost in terms of dollars and cents, unlike increasing the temperature of air conditioning in the library.

The students, who are from the Communications and New Media Programme in Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, hope to collect a thousand signatures from students and staff members.

The group of students, who call themselves Greenovative Communications, is intending to hold the petition for one week near April 1 next year to commemorate the 11th anniversary of Semakau Landfill.

The director for the team, Goh Tong Jee, said, “They (Office of Environment and Sustainability) cannot ignore such a petition as it will not reflect well on them. A thousand voices are much stronger than just one.”

Greenovative Communications will be carrying out a campaign that will encourage active participation from the university community. They intend to collect and recycle 500 kilograms of material by encouraging members of the community to individually bring half a kilogram of material for collection. Each member will be given a jigsaw puzzle each where the final 1000 piece picture will be of the Semakau Landfill.

Greenovation Communications will be launching their campaign under Roots and Shoots, a programme dedicated in encouraging grassroots activism to better the society by helping animals, the environment or the community.

The Semakau Landfill is Singapore’s first and only landfill. It is located on the offshore island of Pulau Semakau, which has a thriving ecosystem. It began operations on April 1 1999 and is expected to last till 2045. The Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources hopes to extend this deadline through resource conservation initiatives such as recycling.

(Insert website link to Pulau Semakau landfil http://www.wildsingapore.com/places/semakau.html )

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Posted in Education, Online News

Microsoft unveils Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Marketplace

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By: Wong Guan Jie Sidney

35Microsoft unveiled Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Marketplace during a three-day roadshow at Ion Orchard on Oct.16.

A live demonstration was hosted by Microsoft to introduce the new features of Windows Mobile 6.5. Microsoft specialists were presented on the ground to guide users who were unfamiliar with the new mobile platform.

The revamped user interface, bigger touch-friendly icons and a better web browser application were among the new features of Windows Mobile 6.5. It now has a “lost phone” application known as My Phone that allows easy backup and retrieval of important data such as contacts.

“The new interface looks better. The data backup service, My Phone, is easy to use too,” 19-year-old university student Audrey Mah said.

However, some onlookers at the roadshow felt that Windows Mobile 6.5 was a major letdown. They criticised Microsoft for its inability to keep up with the competition.

“The upgrades are just superficial. The interface and features of Windows Mobile 6.5 pale in comparison with that of iPhone or BlackBerry. It is disappointing,” 35-year-old accounting manager Marcus Ong said.

Microsoft also launched its application store, Windows Marketplace, which boasts more than 200 third party applications such as Facebook and weather forecast. Windows Mobile users can now browse and download these applications on their phones.

“I can customise my Windows Mobile phone with applications from Windows Marketplace,” 29-year-old teacher Dickson Koh said.

Lucky draws were organized during the Microsoft Mobile 6.5 three-day roadshow at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. offering attractive prizes such as Windows Mobile 6.5 smartphones and free lanyards.

In conjunction with Microsoft’s unveiling of its new mobile platform, HTC collaborated with SingTel, M1 and Starhub to launch the new HTC Touch2, the first retail smartphone to feature Windows Mobile 6.5.

36All three telecommunications companies had attractive deals for HTC Touch2 during the three -day roadshow. StarHub had a promotional deal, which allowed customers to get the HTC Touch2 for one dollar with a two-year contract. The SingTel booth was vacant by the second day of the roadshow due to overwhelming sales.

Industry experts regarded the launch of Windows Mobile 6.5 and Windows Marketplace as Microsoft’s answer to Apple iPhone and Apps Store. Microsoft lost significant ground in the increasingly competitive smartphone market populated by iPhone, BlackBerry, Symbian and new entrant, Google Android.

For more information about the new features of Windows Mobile 6.5, click here.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 2:54 pm

Posted in Online News, Technology

JewelFest Dazzles for the 7th Season

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By Kuik Kian Wei
October 10, 2009

It is a dazzling celebration for love and romance at the Singapore JewelFest 2009.

JewelFest launched its seventh edition at the Jewel Pavilion at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza yesterday, with the theme “Renaissance of Love”.

A total of 36 international and local jewellers have been brought together in this extravaganza, displaying more than S$120 million worth of jewellery at the 10-day event.

Leading local jewellers participating in this year’s JewelFest include D’Meyson Jewellery, GoldHeart Jewellery, Lee Hwa Jewellery, Poh Heng Jewellery, Soo Kee Jewellery and TianPo Jewellery, while international jewellers include prestigious brands from Asia, Europe and the USA, such as DeGem, Versace, Zydo and Temple St. Clair.

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Grandiosa from Goldheart Jewelry

The main dazzle of the event, “Grandiosa” from Goldheart Jewellery, stands out from the other exhibits with a cost of S$6.4 million. The 206.95-carat choker is made of 135 round brilliant diamonds of one carat each, with a 30-carat diamond as its centrepiece.

Another showcase, the Rare Coveted Treasures, also features a collection of fine jewellery made of rare gemstones, superior design or craftsmanship.

The director of marketing communications of JewelFest and director of Lizard Storm, Angela Loh, said the JewelFest targets both big buyers, such as collectors, and small buyers who buy jewellery for themselves and their loved ones for special occasions.

Exquisite items, such as those found in the Rare Coveted Treasures, appeal to the collectors because of their investor value.

Loh explained that the trend from past years indicated that small jewellery items captured an essential share of the market as well. In addition, these buyers tend to engage in an ongoing pursuit for quality and superiority.

“For the last two years there are a lot of ‘upgraders’ – people who buy small items are able to buy bigger items suddenly. So there’s a progression,” Loh said. “Like you buy a 0.5 carat last year, next year you will want to buy a 1 carat. There is this mentality when jewellery is concerned.”

Dean Wee, 23, a customer at JewelFest, said the size of a jewellery item is definitely a consideration for him regardless of how the economy is doing.

“Despite all the talk about the economy being bad, I will still buy a big, yet affordable, item for my girlfriend,” Wee said. “Like love, it should not be lesser as time passes.”

JewelFest is open to the public 12pm to 9pm daily from October 9 to 18.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Lifestyle, Online News

Single, desperate and ugly no more

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By: Cassandra Lee Shu Xian

32All singles looking for love can call the Government’s matchmaker Social Development Network, or SDN, from now on.

The new dating network will replace the former SDU-SDS moniker, which merged the Social Development Unit for graduates-only and the Social Development Service for non-graduates.

Unlike the past, the new matchmaker will not only be exclusive to members.  All single residents aged 20 and above will now be eligible for the services without being a member of the network or paying a registration fee.

The network’s mission is getting singles to meet, and, eventually, marry. It will serve as a one-stop centre for information on dating services, courses and events for all singles.

Minister of State for Community Development, Youth and Sports Yu-Foo Yee Shoon, said it is necessary to help singles in the search of love and overcome the perceived stigma of seeking external help.

“Singles should regard SDN as a facilitator and a friend, and not a membership organisation, accompanying them on their journey to find their potential partners, and pointing them to relevant resources at various stages of this journey,” she said in a Straits Time report on Saturday.

(Watch Channel News Asia’s video “Single to mingle” here: http://video.msn.com/video.aspx?mkt=en-sg&vid=c7173c38-2401-44bd-aac6-8e18666df4e1)

However, not everyone is receptive towards the change.

For instance, Alex Soong, 23, an undergraduate in National University of Singapore, does not welcome the change in name and does not think that it will make any difference in his decision in joining such a network.

“SDU was for the Single, Desperate and Ugly and now, SDN is just short for Single, Desperate and Needy,” Soong said. “No difference. Moreover, what would people think of me? It’s so embarrassing.”

Soong is not alone is his opinions; some young adults are equally sceptical about the new network.

See what people are saying on Twitter:

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Despite the network’s unpopular image, Clara Tan, a 23 year old fresh graduate, welcomes the dating prospects that the agency will provide.

“I didn’t meet anyone when I was in University and I’m having difficulty meeting new people. I’m not expecting to find someone, but I’m taking it as a chance to meet more people,” she said.

The network will also be partnering nine accredited private dating agencies, such as Exclusive Match and Lunch Actually, to provide affordable dating packages for singles.

A sampler dating package worth over S$500 is now being offered by the network and the accredited dating agencies at S$50.

Singles can sign up for any of the packages, ranging from personalised introductions to online dating activities.

Over 200,000 members SDU and SDS have tied the knot in the last 25 years, according to the Strait Times last week.

Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Home, Online News

Students produce new product by fusing tea with beer

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By: Chng Ming Li

Setting out to redefine tea, a team of students from the National University of Singapore’s Food Science and Technology Department welcomed schoolmates to try out their new product, tea beer.

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Team leader Hui Wei Bin, a third year Food Science major, said the team brewed and mixed different types of tea and beer and added various ingredients such as sugar to improve its taste.

More than 100 students responded to the posters placed on campus and invites sent via Facebook to try tea beer at the Food Science Laboratory in National University of Singapore.

“We spent six months testing permutations of various proportions to see which one tasted best before deciding on jasmine tea, earl grey tea and Sapporo beer,” Hui said.

Students were intrigued by the posters and came from all faculties to find out what tea beer was about. They evaluated the new product by comparing the aroma and taste of tea beer with common brands of beer.

“It’s a novel idea. I was curious about this new beverage and decided to come see for myself. Tea Beer tastes like beer and smells really good, just like tea,” fourth year computing student, Chan Ka Ho said.

However, not all students felt the same way towards the new product.

“It has a pleasant aroma but tastes weird. It has a sour aftertaste unlike normal beers and I would not buy it,” communications and new media student, Valerie Oon said.

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Hui said they received generally favourable responses but needed to wait for the results from the consumer evaluation before assessing the success of the drink and improving it.

“I think it’s an interesting concept. I liked the new combination of tea and beer and went back to queue for a second round,” Engineering student Evelyn Soo said.

The team produced tea beer for an annual competition in Food Science where student liaise with local companies to produce new products. The award winning Tofu Cheesecake was a product of this competition in 2003.

The tea beer team is working with Lim Lam Thye Tea Company and aims to expand the functional applications of teas to deliver the benefits of tea in an innovative product that will lead to a new market trend without compromising its taste.

“The company already has Matcha paste that is popular for confectionary. Tea beer would be a first in our region,” team member Chen Shiqi said.

Participants can give their opinion on tea beer and view photos from the Tea Beer Sensory via the Facebook page.

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Written by mtrayu

November 8, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Posted in Education, Online News