ROCK bands, hip-hop dance groups and the Chinese martial art of wushu are all on the agenda at the revamped Singapore Youth Festival Celebrations this year.
The annual event will still feature traditional art forms like choir and drama performances, but the Ministry of Education has followed up with plans it announced last year to introduce more alternative areas.
Jay Huang, 17, a Secondary 2 student from Manjusri Secondary School, did not think he would be selected to perform beatboxing, a form of vocal percussion.
"Not everyone considers it an art, but now I'm more motivated to excel in it," he said.
The five-day event, now in its 47th year, began on Tuesday and will see about 5,000 students from 167 schools performing.
Among them will be Regent Secondary School's concert band, Qifa Primary's Malay dance troupe and a hip-hop routine by students from Juying Primary.
Performances will be held until Saturday at the Esplanade, Ngee Ann City, Suntec City and three National Library Board libraries.
In previous years, performers came mainly from seven categories – arts and crafts, band, Chinese orchestra, choir, dance, drama and instrumental ensembles.
To perform at the festival, schools had to take part in the annual inter-school arts assessment held between April and May, or be invited.
But this year, the ministry also invited schools to submit entries via YouTube for the first time.
A total of 180 were selected.
The assessment's award structure has also been streamlined to just three levels: distinction, accomplishment and commendation.
To get the highest award – a distinction – schools need to score only 75% from the judges.
Previously they needed to get 80% for gold, and 85% for gold with honours.
This previous system had drawn criticism for fuelling unhealthy competition and causing stress to festival participants. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
FIVE major Internet and technology companies have expressed concern over new government licensing rules for online news sites, calling them "unwarranted and excessive".
They also warned that the new licensing framework could affect Singapore's business-friendly image and hamper innovation.
The companies – Facebook, Google, eBay, Yahoo and cloud computing firm Salesforce – also urged the Government to ease up on the rules.
The five are members of the Asia Internet Coalition (AIC), an industry association they had formed to represent their interests in Internet policy issues in the region.
Earlier this year, the five were among hundreds of companies, groups and individuals that objected to government legislation in the United States.
They said its Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, which aimed to address copyright infringement, would clamp down on free speech, innovation and the development of the Internet.
In Singapore, the new licensing regime affects only one of them: Yahoo. Its website Yahoo Singapore is among 10 sites that must have an individual licence.
Under the new framework, which kicked off on June 1, an individual licence is a must for websites with more than 50,000 Singapore visitors a month.
The licence entails putting up a US$50,000 (RM159,000) performance bond. Also, if or when told by the Government to take down prohibited content, the websites must comply in 24 hours.
Said the AIC: "This new regulation could unintentionally hamper Singapore's ability to continue to drive innovation, develop key industries in the technology space and attract investment.
The AIC made two requests.
One is for the regulation to include a statement that the websites will not be liable for content posted by users. To proactively police content is an "untenable position", the AIC said, noting that online platforms have "incentives" to address misuse of their services.
The second is for websites to be given a "reasonable timeframe" to comply, instead of up to 24 hours. The AIC said 24 hours was particularly difficult for international companies, which have to negotiate across time zones.
It also took issue with the US$50,000 bond, saying it would be a "financial risk" to start-ups. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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