- Controversial college opens in Singapore
- 114 pieces of Night Festival artwork go missing
- Diverse team to plan 50th birthday
YALE University formally opened a controversial liberal arts college in tightly governed Singapore, saying there was demand for "critical thinking" in the city-state and other Asian nations.
The Yale-NUS College, a joint project with the National University of Singapore, had been criticised by faculty members of the leading US university due to Singapore's restrictions on protests and on student political activity.
"Singaporeans, and Asians more broadly, have a greater hunger for pedagogy that truly encourages critical thinking and a model of liberal arts and science education adapted for the 21st century," Pericles Lewis, president of the college, said in a speech.
He said that "we're not setting out to change any political discourse, but we're giving students the tools to be active in citizenship, to think about the issues".
The pioneer batch of 157 students from 26 countries – 97 of them Singaporeans – was selected from a pool of over 10,000 applicants and began lessons this month in temporary facilities.
The college's own purpose-built campus with residential facilities will open in 2015 and is designed to have a full capacity of 1,000 students.
The college is the first established by Yale outside its campus in New Haven, Connecticut.
"We believe that the college has the potential to serve as a model for others, particularly in Asia," said NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan.
In a resolution passed in April 2012, the Yale faculty expressed "concern regarding the history of lack of respect for civil and political rights in the state of Singapore".
It called on Yale-NUS to uphold civil liberties and political freedom on campus and in broader society.
Campaign group Human Rights Watch accused Yale of "betraying the spirit of the university as a centre of open debate and protest by giving away the rights of its students" at the new campus.
"Instead of defending these rights, Yale buckled when faced with Singapore's draconian laws on demonstrations and policies restricting student groups."
Singapore's education ministry said at the height of the controversy that student demonstrations on campus would require approval from the Yale-NUS administration. — AFP
ALMOST a third of an art installation that was displayed in public has gone missing after the opening of this year's Singapore Night Festival last weekend.
Artist Karen Mitchell, who will not be replacing the 114 missing pieces as she does not have the time or the budget, made an appeal yesterday on her Facebook page for the pieces to be returned.
"When any one piece is removed, it deprives others of enjoying the experience of interacting with this installation fully," she wrote.
Her installation, called Everyday Aspirations, was set up along the alley between The Substation and the Peranakan Museum. It was made up of 365 pieces of "words of aspirations", such as "laugh" and "smile".
The artwork involves small wooden panels with words cut into them using a laser.
The pieces, stretched across a space 14m long, are used to cast shadows of these words onto a wall.The different shadows overlap one another, "to represent the shared aspirations of everyone", she said. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
SINGAPORE'S 50th birthday celebrations should resonate with all Singaporeans, said Education Minister Heng Swee Keat as the wraps were taken off the Singapore50 (SG50) committee tasked with planning events for the jubilee year.
The 29-member team unveiled was a diverse one, comprising representatives from a broad range of sectors and included such names as top music producer Iskandar Ismail and film director Royston Tan.
Education Minister Heng Swee Keat is the chairman of SG50 and he said the team wants to let ordinary Singaporeans have a role in planning and organising activities for the celebrations.
"We want every Singaporean to be able to connect through their personal stories with the broader Singapore story, and be a part of the anniversary celebrations," said Heng.
Speaking on the sidelines of a scholarship ceremony at the National University of Singapore, he added: "We should use this special occasion to come together to reflect on our past, to celebrate our past and our journey together as one people, as well as come together to imagine and create a better future together."
Heng said the 2015 jubilee will be celebrated with several key events like the National Day Parade, and, he hopes, many more ground-up initiatives.
His committee meets for the first time today. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network
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