Isnin, 14 April 2014

The Star Online: Metro: South & East

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The Star Online: Metro: South & East

Reaching out to pioneers with 'getai'

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

IT was a getai performance with a pioneering twist.

Emceed by veteran stage performer Lin Ru Ping, who was clad in a pouffy blue mini-dress cinched with a black sequinned belt, the concert under a white marquee along Hougang Street 61 last night was not only entertaining but educational, too.

In between the song and dance numbers belted out by nine other artists in flashy, shiny outfits, Lin explained to the 1,200-strong crowd details of the Government's Pioneer Generation Package (PGP) in English, Mandarin and Chinese dialects including Hokkien and Teochew.

In front of a crowd of mostly senior citizens, she broke the ice at the start of the performance by asking those who have turned or will be turning 65 this year to raise their hands.

A smattering of hands went up, although the crowd warmed up considerably as the performance, which stretched till 10pm last night, went on.

Under the S$8bil (RM20.7bil) Pioneer Generation Package, which was announced during this year's Budget, those aged 65 and above this year and those who became citizens before 1987 are eligible for a series of healthcare subsidies.

These include annual Medisave top-ups ranging from S$200 (RM518) to S$800 (RM2,073), subsidies for MediShield Life premiums and also subsidies for outpatient treatment.

About 450,000 first-generation Singaporeans are expected to benefit.

The event, titled "Thanking Our Pioneer Generation Getai Show", was organised by the Punggol South Grassroots Organisations to help elderly residents in the neighbourhood better understand their entitlements under the Package.

The show, which cost about S$8,000 (RM20,700), was fully funded by donations from three individuals from the Punggol Park Community Centre Management Committee. It was free for all attendees.

"This is the first getai in Singapore which uses this platform to reach out to seniors," Gan Thiam Poh, MP for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC, said.

"Senior citizens may not read newspapers or watch television, so getai can be a platform to (learn about the package) in a language close to their hearts," he said.

The getai is the latest initiative to reach out to older, non-English-speaking Singaporeans and help inform them about the package.

Last month, a four-minute-long video clip featuring a fortune teller explaining the Pioneer Generation Package in Hokkien was posted on video-sharing platform YouTube.

Retiree Ling Yuan De, who walked to the getai from his house across the road, said in Mandarin: "I enjoyed the getai and I thought it was a good way to introduce government policies to us."

Getai literally translates to "song stage". — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

23 Singaporeans hit by measles outbreak in the Philippines

Posted: 13 Apr 2014 09:00 AM PDT

A MEASLES outbreak in the Philippines has infected 23 Singaporeans who had travelled there since January, said an alert from the Ministry of Health (MOH).

They are among 80 people here have come down with measles so far this year. This is high, given that the annual numbers were 46 and 38 respectively for the past two years.

But the risk of an outbreak here is low, said the MOH, as most people are vaccinated against this highly contagious disease.

It said that half the people who were infected here this year were young children who had missed their vaccination.

Symptoms of measles include a rash, cough, runny nose, red eyes and fever. About a third of people with measles suffer from complications such as pneumonia, ear infection that can lead to loss of hearing, and inflammation of the brain lining that could cause convulsions.

Complications are more common in children under five years and in adults.

The Philippine Department of Health reported 15,683 suspected cases of measles from Jan 1 to Feb 15 this year. Of these, 3,434 were confirmed, and 23 deaths were reported. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Libya trial of Gaddafi son, aides adjourned

Posted: 14 Apr 2014 06:57 AM PDT

TRIPOLI: A Libyan court adjourned Monday until April 27 the trial of top figures from Muammar Gaddafi's regime, including heir apparent Seif al-Islam, for abuses committed during the 2011 uprising that toppled the dictator.

The adjournment after some 40 minutes, was the second postponement since March 24, and came as a rights group voiced doubts over the possibility of a free trial.

As was the case in March, the postponement was due to a number of defendants, notably Seif, being absent and is meant to give lawyers time to prepare their cases.

In all, only 23 of 37 charged were in the dock, sitting behind bars in blue prison uniforms.

Among them were former intelligence chief Abdullah Senussi and Gaddafi's last premier, Al-Baghdadi al-Mahmudi.

All the defendants are charged with murder, kidnapping, complicity in incitement to rape, plunder, sabotage, embezzlement of public funds and acts harmful to national unity.

Seif has been held in the western town of Zintan since he was arrested by rebels in November 2011. The central authorities in Tripoli have tried without success to negotiate his transfer to the capital.

While postponing the trial, the court did decide to allow Seif, and a number of other prisoners held in the eastern city of Misrata, to appear for trial hearings via video link. It judged that transferring them to Tripoli would pose a security risk.

Seif and Senussi are wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity during the uprising.

In May, the ICC rejected Tripoli's request to try him in Libya because of doubts over a fair trial. Tripoli has appealed the decision.

But the ICC last October gave Tripoli the go-ahead to try Senussi inside the country.

Saadi Gaddafi, another of the slain dictator's sons, was extradited from Niger in March, and is also due to go on trial. However, he has not yet been formally charged.

Human Rights Watch has called on authorities to grant the defendants full access to a lawyer, adequate time to prepare their defence and the ability to challenge evidence presented against them.

But Richard Dicker, HRW's international justice director, said in a statement Monday that "this case has been riddled with procedural flaws right from the beginning, which have made it grossly unfair to the defendants".

"Putting Gaddafi-era officials on trial without fair-trial guarantees shouldn't leave anyone satisfied that justice is being done," he added. -AFP


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