- Endangered Giant Ibis found in Cambodia nesting grounds
- Changi's new jewel set to soar
- Number of Chinese drug abusers on the rise
PHNOM PENH: Jubilant conservationists expressed hope for the survival of the critically-endangered Giant Ibis after a nest of the bird species was discovered in a previously unknown habitat in northeastern Cambodia.
Habitat loss and poaching has pushed the Giant Ibis to the edge of extinction, with around only 345 of the reclusive creatures – distinctive for their bald heads and long beaks – left anywhere in the world, 90% of them in Cambodia.
A farmer in Cambodia's Stung Treng province discovered the nesting site a few kilometres inland in the biodiverse Mekong Flooded Forest area last month, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said in a statement.
An inspection team from the WWF later saw an adult bird sitting on the nest with two eggs.
"The discovery of the Giant Ibis nest on the Mekong is extremely significant because it provides hope for the species' survival," said Sok Ko, Forestry Administration official and Bird Nest Project officer with WWF. — AFP
Changi Airport's newest "Jewel" will be designed by the man behind Singapore's other architectural gem, the iconic Marina Bay Sands.
World-renowned Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, 75, will lead a team to design a "stunning glass and steel facade that presents an impressive view of the complex – from both Airport Boulevard and the sky", said Changi Airport.
The multi-storey complex, which features a waterfall as high as five storeys within a lush indoor garden, will also be a hub connecting the airport's three main terminals by foot. Currently, the only way to get from Terminal 1 to T2 and T3 is by skytrain.
To be built by 2018 where T1's open-air carpark is now located, the project – currently codenamed "Jewel" – marks Changi's first build-and-manage partnership with a private firm.
The airport is in talks with CapitaMalls Asia to set up a joint-venture entity which will construct and run the new complex.
Changi Airport Group (CAG) will own a majority share, its spokesman Ivan Tan said, but did not divulge numbers. The cost for Jewel has not been finalised.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, who spoke of the project during Sunday's National Day Rally, called it "something special".
But Jewel is not just about lush gardens, dining and shopping. It signifies yet another step by Changi Airport to cement its position as the region's preferred airport hub amid tough competition from rivals such as Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi.
Jewel, said CAG chief executive officer Lee Seow Hiang, is a product "that will swing travellers to choose Changi Airport, and Singapore". He added: "We must take deliberate steps to enhance Changi's attractiveness."
As part of the Jewel project, T1's arrival hall, baggage claim areas and taxi bays will be expanded, and handling capacity raised from 21 to 24 million passengers a year.
Changi can currently handle up to 66 million passengers a year, but this will increase to 85 million when the new Terminal 4 and T1 expansion are completed by 2018.
A fifth terminal will also be ready by the middle of the next decade, while Singapore is planning a third and fourth runway.
Other airports are also expanding.
Hong Kong wants a third runway and is boosting terminal capacity to handle about 100 million passengers a year by 2030.
South Korea's Incheon Airport, too, is transforming itself into an "airport city", with recreational facilities such as a fashion complex, an amusement park and a concert hall that can seat 50,000.
Project Jewel will help keep Changi exciting, say observers.
UOB Kay Hian aviation expert K. Ajith said of the potential tie-up with CapitaMalls: "Since the complex is likely to have sizeable retail space, it makes sense for Changi to partner a firm that has good experience managing malls."
By splitting the cost, he added, the airport can also reserve funds for future infrastructure projects. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
The rising number of Chinese drug abusers and Ice were among the points of concern when the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) released its mid-year drug situation report.
The overall number of Chinese drug abusers surged by 19% in the first six months of this year, from 522 in the same period last year, to 621.
The number of new Chinese drug abusers arrested also rose by 24%, from 151 to 187.
Statistics also showed that the total number of abusers arrested for Ice has gone up – from 519 in the first six months of last year, to 564 in the same period this year.
Ice, Singapore's second-most abused drug after heroin, is a well-known party drug said to be popular with youngsters.
Heroin and methamphetamine are the two most popular drugs of choice among Chinese abusers, at a combined 86%. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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