Monday, March 12, 2007

News Today

Longer session for China parliament
HONG KONG - CHINA'S annual parliamentary session will be extended for two days this year to prepare for upcoming leadership changes and to consider two key Bills, it was reported yesterday. The National People's Congress (NPC), which opens on March 5,... [Read more]

Are low-wage earners getting enough help?
MR Mohamad Noh Tahir, who turned 57 on Thursday, received a birthday bonus with the Budget.The security officer earns $1,400 a month, and lives with his wife and two daughters in a five-room Housing Board flat in Marsiling.He will benefit from... [Read more]

Another US city to slap ban on trans fat
PHILADELPHIA - PHILADELPHIA is known for its cheese steak sandwiches, but the greasy delicacy could soon be served minus its artery-clogging trans fat.The city is set to become the second large American city to ban restaurants from serving the processed substance,... [Read more]

Madrasahs get ready for PSLE next year
MADRASAHS, or Islamic schools, are gearing up for next year, when the Primary School Leaving Examination (PSLE) becomes compulsory for their students for the first time. Over the past three years, about $1.5 million has been spent training more than half... [Read more]

Expect heavy rain, floods over Chinese New Year
IT COULD be a wet Chinese New Year - and one that comes with flash floods at that. The weatherman has warned that high tides of 3.1m, along with heavy afternoon rain, can be expected from Feb 18 through 21.Flash floods... [Read more]

Good chance for Barca to increase league lead
MADRID - BARCELONA'S coach Frank Rijkaard refuses to see his team as the Primera Liga title favourites.He is adamant, despite history showing that the leaders at the half-way point have gone on to win the Spanish championship in 10 of the... [Read more]

Thailand steps up security for match against S'pore
BANGKOK - BOMB detectors, police dogs and some 500 police officers will be deployed tomorrow when Singapore meets Thailand in the Asean Cup final. 'There will be a special area for the 2,000 Singaporean fans expected, and they will be separated... [Read more]

NKF suit: Ex-directors give in
ONE phone call - and one more battle in the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) saga was over. Senior Counsel K. Shanmugam rang lawyer Peter Low on Monday suggesting that his clients in the old NKF regime put up the white flag... [Read more]

Actor Fiennes in mile-high scandal
BRITISH movie star Ralph Fiennes (right) is at the centre of a mile-high sex scandal involving an Australian flight attendant, a report said yesterday.A 38-year-old Qantas stewardess has been suspended and could lose her job after fellow crew members allegedly spotted... [Read more]

Witness hits back as defence targets his testimony
DEFENCE lawyers for the three former board members of the National Kidney Foundation took turns yesterday to pick apart the testimony of the new NKF board's witness, Mr Bobby Nair. But Mr Nair, the former senior deputy director of communications, held... [Read more]

'Healthy' way to gauge economic growth
LONDON - BLOOD pressure may be a better indicator of a country's economic health than gross domestic product (GDP), a new study suggests. In what has been suggested as a new barometer of success, a survey among European countries has found... [Read more]

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Thai AirAsia in talks to buy Shin Corp's 50% airline stake

THE management of Thai AirAsia is in talks to buy the 50 per cent stake in the airline held by Shin Corp, in what would be the organisation's first asset sale since it was taken over a year ago by Temasek Holdings.

The deal could signal Temasek's willingness to dispose of Shin Corp's marginal businesses to appease Thailand's military-led government and protect its investment in Advance Info Service, Thailand's biggest mobile operator and Shin Corp's main asset.

Temasek has faced a backlash in Thailand since it bought 49 per cent of Shin Corp from the family of then-Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

The tax-free sale caused political turmoil, which led to the military coup against Mr Thaksin in September.

Temasek spent US$3.8 billion (S$5.8 billion) for 96 per cent of Shin Corp, but its market value has since fallen to US$2.4 billion.

Temasek's ownership of Thai AirAsia has been less controversial than has been the case for some of its other Shin Corp businesses, such as Shin Satellite, which Thailand's army chief recently alleged was being used by Singapore to spy on Thailand - a charge Singapore has strongly denied.

The value of the deal, which is expected to be concluded this month, has not been disclosed, but Temasek will get 'a fair price' for its stake, a person with knowledge of the talks said.

Thai AirAsia's management, led by chief executive Tassapon Bijleveld, now holds 1 per cent in the low-cost carrier, with Malaysia's AirAsia holding 49 per cent, the maximum allowed under Thailand's foreign ownership laws.

Shin Corp's stake in Thai AirAsia is held by Asia Aviation, a company set up last year to bring the airline into compliance with Thai foreign ownership rules.

Shin Corp holds 49 per cent in the venture, with the rest owned by Thai businessman Sittichai Veerathummnoon. Asia Aviation paid 400 million baht (S$17.4 million) for the 50 per cent stake.

AirAsia is expected to welcome the deal as the Malaysian carrier has had prickly ties with Singapore, which has denied it landing rights in the Republic. AirAsia invested in Thai AirAsia because Thailand has an 'open skies' agreement with Singapore.

The deal would follow Thailand's seizure this week of Shin Corp's television channel, iTV, when it failed to pay US$3 billion in back taxes and fines after a court found it had allegedly received illegal concessions during the Thaksin administration.


Friday, March 9, 2007

News Today

Thai-language media cries foul, reflects bitterness over loss
BANGKOK - THAI-LANGUAGE media yesterday cried foul over the country's loss to Singapore in Wednesday's Asean Football Championship match. Singapore beat Thailand 2-1 in the first-leg of the final, a match marred by a 15-minute walkout by the Thais, who were... [Read more]

Spurs beat Blues to teenager Parrett's signature
LONDON - TOTTENHAM have beaten Chelsea to sign one of the most highly-rated youngsters in English football.Dean Parrett, 15, was signed from Queens Park Rangers in a deal that could be worth more than &pound1 million (S$3 million), according to how... [Read more]

NKF suit ends as Yong, Loo drop third-party claims
IT TOOK just under five weeks instead of the expected eight, but the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) suit came to a close yesterday. The development that brought the curtains down: Former NKF chairman Richard Yong and former treasurer Loo Say San's... [Read more]

Bollywood star set to meet Queen and Blair
BOLLYWOOD star Shilpa Shetty, who won the British reality television show at the heart of a racist bullying row, looks set to meet Britain's Queen Elizabeth and Prime Minister Tony Blair.'It is a huge honour. I am humbled,' the Indian actress... [Read more]

Mystery over 'beads' from woman's toe
MALACCA - THE case of a 23-year-old woman whose toe supposedly discharged crystal beads continues to stump doctors carrying out tests on her.After Ms Siti Suhana Saadon was admitted to the Putra Specialist Centre here last Thursday, doctors bandaged her toe... [Read more]

No child can run (algebra) until he has learnt to walk (model drawing)
THERE are quite a few misunderstandings about the model drawing method and algebra method of solving mathematical problems. Do not think the algebra method is the easier of the two. You just let the unknown quantity be x, plug it into... [Read more]

New word for retirement? It's staying active
BANISH the word 'retirement', suggests Minister Lim Boon Heng. Think instead of being 'actively engaged' in work or other activities. Doing so can pave the way for a change in society's attitude towards older people, Mr Lim told reporters yesterday after... [Read more]

Is Woods' total dominance good for golf?
ATLANTA - NO ONE is crazy enough to suggest that anyone other than Tiger Woods is the world's best golfer. The American has held the No1 spot in the world rankings since June 12, 2005, a span of 89 weeks. He... [Read more]

Hefty spending on defence justified
I AGREE with Mr Quek Soo Beng ('Examine the old sacred cow of defence spending'; ST, Jan 27) that there is a continuous need to review budgetary allocations for the various sectors of Government, including defence, to get the best out... [Read more]

No. 1 killer of women? Most here don't know
THE majority of women in Singapore are not aware of what the top cause of death is among women here.They are not even able to name the important risk factors of women's No. 1 killer, heart diseases and stroke.These were some... [Read more]

One Ronaldo leaves Madrid...
MILAN - RONALDO'S farewell to Real Madrid did not include fond words for coach Fabio Capello. The World Cup's most prolific striker left the Spanish giants for AC Milan on Tuesday. He cost the Italian Serie A side &pound5 million (S$15... [Read more]

Three more sites being sold en bloc

THREE more freehold sites were put up for collective sale yesterday.

One is a 32-unit estate sitting on 18,656 sq ft of land at 396 to 398 River Valley Road. It is going for an indicative price of $36.5 million, or about $700 per sq ft per plot ratio (psf ppr). It can yield 65 units at 800 sq ft each, said marketing agent Savills Singapore.

Eden Spring at Balmoral Road also went on sale yesterday with a price tag of $53.5 million. A development charge of about $3.7 million is payable, which works out to $1,050 psf ppr for the site.

The 34,023 sq ft plot can be developed into a 12-storey condominium with 31 units of 1,600 sq ft each, said marketing agent DTZ Debenham Tie Leung.

DTZ is also marketing Himiko Court in Ridgewood Close, off Mount Sinai Drive. Himiko Court owners hope to get $348 million, or $850 psf ppr including a development charge of $1.07 million.

Himiko Court sits on a 195,401 sq ft site, on which a 24-storey condominium can be built, said DTZ. The new condominium can have about 230 units of 1,600 sq ft each.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Sack me if you dare, Mourinho taunts Chelsea owner

LONDON - JOSE Mourinho has dropped his biggest hint yet that he will not be Chelsea's manager next season.

He claims he has nothing to fear from the sack, as he would walk away a millionaire and straight into another high-profile position.

In a clear message to Chelsea's owner Roman Abramovich, the manager insisted on Monday:

'I know this season nobody could have done a better job than me here. In this club, in this season, nobody.'

Billionaire Abramovich remains furious over Mourinho's criticism of the board for failing to sign the players he wanted and his frequent public outbursts.

There was another one on Monday, as the club prepared for last night's Champions League clash with Porto.

'If the club decides to sack me because of bad results, that's part of the game. If that happens, I'll be a millionaire and I will get another club a couple of months later,' said Mourinho.

He denied that he was feeling any pressure with the constant speculation on his future.

'There is no pressure on me,' he said. 'I don't accept pressure from other people.

'I've won a lot of things in my career, but I cannot win every time, every year or every week.

'I have a happy family, my kids are healthy, I have a lot of friends, I live a good life. Pressure of what?'

He has a contract with Chelsea until 2010 worth £5 million (S$15 million) a year.

If he loses his job, he will be due at least a seven-figure sum as compensation.

His dare came as Abramovich made a fresh move for Portsmouth's coach Avram Grant.

The Blues owner tried to install Grant earlier this season to help Andriy Shevchenko discover his scoring touch.

But the move was vetoed by Mourinho, who insisted only he picked his coaching staff and warned he would quit if there was any interference from the Russian.

Abramovich has now decided that Grant will join the coaching team - whether Mourinho likes it or not, reported The Sun.

Chelsea are also running out of Premiership games to rein in Manchester United. But they are still in the FA Cup and have already won the League Cup - meaning a domestic hat-trick, though unlikely, is still on the cards.

Mourinho believes he and his squad deserve more credit for the way they have fought injury problems the whole season.

'What gives us motivation is the fact that we feel we are doing a very good job,' he said.

'Sometimes you can say because we are second in the Premiership our work is not so good as seasons before. I think exactly the opposite.

'To have the results that we have is not a miracle, and I'm not saying it's a job for Superman. I'm saying it's a job which my players deserve credit and respect for.

'From me, they have all that credit and all that respect.

'A normal team with a normal squad and without the atmosphere we have in our dressing room, any other team in our circumstances would not be in this position.

'We spent one half of the season without goalkeeper Petr Cech, half of the season without John Terry, and one season without Joe Cole.

'In the last 10 matches we won nine and drew one in all competitions.'

Given that the relationship between the dressing-room and board-room has not been at its best this season, Mourinho's latest remarks will not help.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Me shut up? But Fergie's been talking for 20 years

LONDON - TOLD he should 'button his lip' by Alex Ferguson, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho quickly retorted that that is the last thing he will do.

In fact, the Chelsea manager was quick to point out that his Manchester United counterpart was a pot calling the kettle black.

Mourinho had said last week that United were lucky to be at the top of the Premiership table. They currently hold a nine-point lead over Chelsea.

The Portuguese also said that United were enjoying the benefits of several referees' decisions.

Ferguson then asked Mourinho to keep his opinions to himself.

Mourinho then replied: 'I don't understand this 'button your lip'.

'Why should I shut up?

'I'm not allowed to talk about referees? But he was allowed to do it for the last 20 years of his career.

'What's the difference between me and him? What would he say if Chelsea win a match with a penalty like they did at Middlesbrough and Tottenham, or the penalty they got in the first minute against Portsmouth last November?'

United were awarded controversial penalties against Middlesbrough and Tottenham for fouls on Cristiano Ronaldo.

They went on to win both matches.

Mourinho told The Guardian: 'I want to separate things.

'One thing is 100 per cent respect for Ferguson, for the players, for the club, for the team they have, and for the wonderful season they are having. That's one part of the story.

'But the other part of the story is that, in the right moment, in the right time, they have had a penalty, or a goal, or a sending-off, or whatever. Something happened for them.'

The two managers have always claimed to like each other. But Ferguson's regard for Mourinho has disintegrated this season amid what the Scot perceives to be provocative behaviour.

Mourinho's comments are unlikely to soothe relations.

He said: 'Chelsea are the champions. We have to do everything we can to win the title or, at least, fight until the last moment.

'We don't want to hand it to them on a plate. We are not the type of team who give up.

'And I think that one of the things that gives us hope is that United are winning with luck.

'At this moment, they're not winning 3-0 or 4-0 easily.

'They are at that stage where they win in the last minute. They win with a goal coming from we don't know where. So they are giving us some hope that one day they can drop points.

'But we cannot think about them. We cannot play with our minds on their results. We just have to play and win, and see what happens.

'We know we are nine points behind, and we can go to six if we win the match we have in hand.

'And when we are six behind, there will be seven matches to go, and one of them is Chelsea v United. So the race is still on. But we cannot lose points. The pressure is on us, not on them.'

Mourinho hailed the performance of goalkeeper Petr Cech, who kept a clean sheet against Portsmouth on Saturday.

Chelsea's 2-0 victory at Portsmouth was a triumph for hard work rather than wonderful football.

Mourinho insisted that Cech was worth '10 or 15 points a season', and the goalkeeper's recent absence after a head injury has indeed proved crucial.

The Blues dropped 13 points in the 14 games the Czech missed.


Monday, March 5, 2007

News Today

E-mail messages link Yong to non-NKF dealings
A SERIES of e-mail messages that had been retrieved from the computer in Mr T.T. Durai's office were read out in court yesterday - and they had nothing to do with NKF business.In fact, they indicated that the charity's ex-chairman, Mr... [Read more]

Bryant drops 43 on return from ban
BOSTON - KOBE Bryant returned from his one-game suspension, and scored 43 points as his Los Angeles Lakers beat the Boston Celtics 111-98 in a National Basketball Association game on Wednesday night.He even won over fans from the Lakers' arch-rivals, who... [Read more]

Touting: One lawyer to face judges, another cleared by panel
ENTRAPMENT methods used by private investigators have succeeded in landing one lawyer in trouble for allegedly touting for business, while another has been cleared of wrongdoing.The investigators had evidently been hired by legal rivals to catch the two lawyers in the... [Read more]

Changi Airports partners Tata to bid for Indian deals
SINGAPORE'S Changi Airports International (CAI), which manages and invests in airports, is poised to make a significant mark in the highly lucrative Indian market. It has joined hands with Tata Group, a leading Indian conglomerate, to bid for airport projects in... [Read more]

Wenger not keen on US pre-season circus
LONDON - ARSENAL may have become the latest English Premiership club seeking to exploit the American market.But manager Arsene Wenger will resist any publicity-seeking summer tour of the country, the kind that Manchester United and Chelsea have undertaken in recent years.... [Read more]

Plans for new fund-raising moves to keep relief work going
WITH or without an executive president, Youth Challenge is going ahead with events on its calendar - including lunches for some elderly folk to celebrate the Chinese New Year.The events are scheduled for Jan 27 and Feb 14 - with the... [Read more]

Genting still being quizzed on tie-up with Stanley Ho
SINGAPORE'S casino regulators have confirmed that they are continuing to seek 'clarification' from the Genting group over its links with Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho. The 84-year-old has been associated with the Chinese underworld, although nothing has ever been proven against... [Read more]

Scaly guest pays a visit
Mr Chan Kok Seng, 49, showing an uninvited guest he found curled up under a banana tree at his Upper Thomson home on Wednesday.His guest turned out to be a pangolin, a nocturnal mammal normally found in forested areas of South-east... [Read more]

Singapore remembers victims of Japanese Occupation
THE long wail of an air raid siren yesterday morning, distinctly heard over the War Memorial at Beach Road, sounded the 'All Clear' signal. It marked the start of a 30-minute ceremony to remember victims of the Japanese Occupation 65 years... [Read more]

Cosco's profits up 28% to record $205m
CHINESE shipping group Cosco has posted a 28 per cent hike in profit to a record $205.4 million as turnover surged 39 per cent to $1.22 billion. The strong performance for the year ended Dec 31 came as the company repaired... [Read more]

Local labour pool swells as more rejoin job market
AFTER 14 years out of the labour force, Madam Nathira Begum now wants to find a job.The job market looks promising. With the youngest of her four kids now aged six, a little more income also looks inviting.So of late, the... [Read more]