Khamis, 14 November 2013

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Thumbs up for three-generation flats


THE latest three-generation living approach by the Housing Board (HDB) looks set to continue, given the number of young families with elderly members who applied for September's offerings.

Noting the positive response on his blog, National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan said: "The launch of 3Gen flats has clearly encouraged more to consider multi-generation living. This is a good sign.

"We should continue to facilitate multi-generation living for Singaporeans who wish to do so."

The HDB had offered only 84 three-generation units in Yishun, as it was "not sure of demand" then.

But a third of the 1,152 applications for three-generation units and five-room flats were from multi-generation households.

This is in stark contrast to last year, when only 3% of five-room flat applicants applied to live with their parents under the Married Child Priority Scheme, wrote Khaw.

The three-generation units are a new type of flat offered by the HDB.

They have four bedrooms and three bathrooms, and are 5 sq m larger than current five-room units.

The Housing Board bundled the three-generation flats and five-room units so that applicants would have an "alternative housing option" if one type ran out, Khaw said.

Second-time applicants signalled strong interest in these larger flats, forming two-thirds of the applicants.

Among first-timer multi-generation families, six in 10 are either expecting or have young children below age 16.

Their median age is 39, higher than the previous median of 30 among first-time applicants for five-room flats.

One in 10 first-timer households have no children, and their median age is understandably lower at 32.

Khaw said: "I am happy they are planning ahead to move into a larger flat to better take care of their ageing parents and future children."

Singapore is projected to have one in five people aged 65 or older by 2030.

"As population ages, family support will become increasingly important for our seniors," said Khaw.

"They also help to enrich family relations by sharing their experiences, and lending an extra hand in caring for their grandchildren."

Another 100 three-generation flats in Jurong West will be available in the next HDB exercise later this month. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Lee: Asean must work together to combat cyber threats


ASEAN nations must cooperate to strengthen their defences against hackers, which threatened several member states in the past two weeks, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

"We must not condone such malicious and harmful behaviour," he said, at the opening of the13th Asean Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting (Telmin) yesterday. The annual meeting promotes regional cooperation in infocomm efforts to strengthen regional economies and social development.

Hackers compromised websites in Thailand, Philippines and Singapore over the past two weeks. Malaysia and Indonesia were also targets.

"We must strengthen our defences and cooperate to deal with these common threats," he said.

Singapore has arrested some of the people suspected in connection to the hacking incidents in Singapore. Condemning these acts as a crime, Lee said: "It is not a prank when someone hacks websites and intrudes into computer systems ... At a minimum it inconveniences the public, but potentially it has much graver consequences; it can damage infrastructure and endanger lives."

This happens when the electricity grid or a hospital management system fails to work. He also urged citizens to speak up against such acts, and express their disapproval of those responsible, or others who have supported the perpetrators.

In his opening address, Lee also touched on the need for Asean countries to "accelerate" the harmonisation of airwaves in the 700MHz band, currently used for TV broadcasting, so they can be recycled for mobile broadband purposes.

By agreeing on a common spectrum, regional mobile roaming can take place with minimal signal interference along coast lines.

So far, four out of eight Asean member nations – Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore – have committed to the plan to use the 700MHz spectrum, expected to be freed up when the switch from analogue to digital TV broadcasting takes place over the next few years. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Indian temple to glitter with 300 kilos of Thai gold


PATNA, India, Nov 14, 2013 (AFP) - India's Mahabodhi temple, one of the world's holiest Buddhist shrines, is to have its dome inlaid with 300 kilograms (660 pounds) of gold donated by Thailand's king and other devotees, officials said Thursday.

The precious metal arrived late Monday on a special flight from Bangkok and is under armed guard at the temple in Bodh Gaya, a holy town about 100 kilometres (64 miles) from Patna, the capital of Bihar state.

"A 40-member team including experts and two dozen commandos from Thailand have arrived at Bodh Gaya with gold in 13 boxes," Arvind Kumar Singh, a member of the temple management committee, told AFP.

The gold would be worth around $14.5 million at the current international price.

The work at the complex, which was rocked by a series of crude bombs in July, was likely to be finished in about a month.

The Mahabodhi temple, built about 1,500 years ago, is a UNESCO world heritage site and marks the place where the Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment in 531 BC.

Along with temples, dozens of monasteries housing monks from around the world are located near the complex which has a celebrated 80-feet-tall (24-metre) statue of the Buddha.

After his meditations beneath a holy tree, the Buddha is said to have devoted the rest of his life to teaching.

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama makes frequent trips to the complex, which attracts visitors during the peak tourist season from October to March.

N. Dorjee, secretary of the temple committee, said about 100 kg of gold had been donated by the Thai king and the rest by Buddhist devotees.

The decision to offer gold for the dome was taken last year by Thailand's King Bhumibol Adulyadej after which permission was sought from the local authorities, Dorjee said.

"The first phase of the work involved chemical treatment which was completed in August. It prepared the foundation for gold plating," he told AFP.

"Stairs have been now installed around the temple's dome to enable experts to reach the top of the structure and inlay it with thin gold sheets."

In July nine small bombs exploded at the temple complex, wounding two monks.

The blasts were allegedly carried out by the Indian Mujahideen, a home-grown extremist group, in retaliation for violence against Muslims by Buddhists in neighbouring Myanmar.

Gaya district magistrate Bala Murugan D. said extra security had been provided at the temple complex to ensure the smooth progress of the gold-inlaying work.

"We have deployed additional security. The work is also being videographed as after all it involves a costly metal," he said.


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