Khamis, 23 Januari 2014

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Bomb-maker jailed over embassy plot

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

JAKARTA: An Indonesian court jailed an extremist bomb-maker for seven-and-a-half years for his role in a plot to attack the Myanmar embassy to avenge the killing of Rohingya Muslims.

Separiano is the fourth person to be jailed over the failed plot to bomb the mission in Jakarta, which came amid rising anger in Muslim-majority Indonesia at the plight of the Rohingya in mainly Buddhist Myanmar.

The 29-year-old was arrested in May the night before the attack was due to take place, carrying a backpack full of pipe-bombs as he rode a motorbike with another alleged plotter in Jakarta.

At a previous hearing the court heard he had plotted with other militants over Facebook and had attended sermons by firebrand cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, the alleged spiritual leader of the terror network behind the 2002 Bali bombings. Bashir is now in jail.

The South Jakarta District Court yesterday found Separiano, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, guilty of charges under anti-terror laws.

"The defendant Separiano ... has been proven guilty legally and convincingly of making and transporting the bombs for an act of terrorism," said presiding judge Suwanto.

He handed him a seven-and-a-half year sentence. Separiano, also known by his alias of "Mambo", could have faced the death penalty.

On Tuesday the mastermind of the plot, Sigit Indrajid, was also jailed for seven-and-a-half years.

There have been a string of attacks on minority Muslims in Myanmar since 2012, mostly in the Rohingyas' western home state of Rakhine. Hundreds have been killed and tens of thousands made homeless. — AFP

NUS moves to curb grades obsession

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

IN A bold move by the National University of Singapore (NUS) to reduce the obsession with grades, how its freshmen perform in exams may no longer count in their final mark.

The initiative, already in place at its medical school, will be rolled out in phases to other faculties, which could include law and engineering, from as early as this year, revealed NUS president Tan Chorh Chuan.

Details are still being worked out for what NUS has called its "grade-free" system, which will be extended to the whole school over the next few years. But while there will still be tests and exams, first-year students will no longer get A to F grades.

Instead they will just be given a distinction, pass, or fail in their modules – and these will not form part of their Cumulative Average Point, which determines the quality of the degree awarded at the end of their course.

"We think that it is important to reduce some of the over-focus on grades as the most important thing to go for, as opposed to actual learning," Professor Tan said last Friday. "Grading – in terms of Pass or Fail – will still occur. But this is really to help students know where they are in relation to a subject."

NUS, which has the biggest intake of freshmen among universities here, currently has about 6,900 full-time first-year students.

The move to take some pressure off freshmen, who typically take on 10 modules and help them cope with university life, comes amid a broader shift towards an education system less fixated on grades. Top universities, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), have already gone "gradeless", Prof Tan pointed out.

At the Singapore University of Technology and Design, which partners MIT and took in its first cohort in 2012, Term 1 students get a "pass" or "no record" in each subject and there is no Grade Point Average (GPA) given. In Term 2, students receive A, B, C or "no record", but only passing grades are used to calculate their GPA. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

CNY likely to cause delays at Woodlands and Tuas

Posted: 23 Jan 2014 08:00 AM PST

WITH the upcoming Chinese New Year holidays, heavy traffic is expected to cause delays at the Woodlands and Tuas checkpoints, the Immigra­tion and Checkpoints Authority of Sin­g­­apore (ICA) said.

Traffic could build up from Monday and this is expected to continue until Feb 2.

ICA said in a statement that traffic towards Johor at the checkpoints is likely to be heavier from next Tuesday to Thursday, while traffic towards Singapore is expected to be heavier on Feb 1 and Feb 2.

Traffic bound for Singapore at the Woodlands Checkpoint was slow moving yesterday at 2.30pm.

To help ease the congestion at the checkpoints, the ICA advised drivers to keep to their lanes at all times.

Travellers could also consider car-pooling or using public transport.

— The Straits Times / Asia News Network


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