Saturday, 31 December 2016

New Year's Eve 2017

As we say goodbye to another year as we leave 2016 then once again the world will be lining up for one massive 24 hour global party to mark the occasion

The biggest New Year's Eve celebration in Singapore takes place in the Marina Bay area. It is reported to be attended by over a quarter of a million people each year, with many travelling from every corner of the globe to be part of the experience.

The new years party takes place all around the bay area, starting from the Marina Bay floating Stadium to the Esplanade promenade, the Esplanade Bridge, Benjamin Sheares Bridge, Merlion Park, and the Padang at City Hall facing the Marina Bay.

The celebrations are also visible from nearby hotels such as The Fullerton Hotel, Marina Mandarin, The Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Marina Bay Sands, where you can also get a fantastic panoramic view of the fireworks at midnight.

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Friday, 30 December 2016

The top 5 lifestyle stories in 2016

Disposable coffee cups are difficult to reycle. Image: Luiz Filipe Carneiro Machado Follow, CC BY-NC 2.0

Responsible consumption was on the rise this year as TripAdvisor quit animal tourism, disposable coffee cups were discussed by the British government, and companies started producing and selling more sustainably. Here are the lifestyle stories people cared about in 2016.

Matters of sustainability and the environment were given extra air time this year at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil to mixed results, while travel giant TripAdvisor took a stance by halting all offers surrounding animal tourism. Coffee lovers had less to rejoice over as the true cost of producing and drinking coffee came under scrutiny.

Here are the top lifestyle stories in 2016:
  • Conscious consumption and responsible production
  • Storm in a coffee cup
  • More animal friendly, sustainable travel
  • Apps-olutely sustainable
  • The mixed bag of Rio 2016

Thursday, 29 December 2016

MP Charles Chong 'courageous' to stand in Punggol East despite liver condition

A Story of Courage
https://www.facebook.com/ngenghen/photos/a.652163061543623.1073741856.650377555055507/1205404002886190/?type=3&theater

I have great respect for Charles Chong & would like to tell you why, even though Charles himself would not have wanted this story told. But it bears telling, not because we are of the same political party, but because in essence the story is about courage and acting on what one believes in, despite uncertainties.

Recently, Charles went through a major operation to receive a new liver. The prospect of a liver transplant would have caused any one of us to at least reduce our activities, review our life’s goals but certainly not take on major challenges. Not for Charles Chong. He had known for some years now that he might need a new liver in the future, based on his doctors’ advice. While he could still be active, he would need close monitoring and reviews.

But when Charles was asked to stand in Punggol East by PM Lee Hsien Loong before the last GE in 2015, Charles’ response was almost instantaneous – Yes, I‘m ready to fight. Charles knew that any candidate there must expect a hectic campaign and a tough fight. The rest they say is history. Charles fought hard and won back the constituency. How he could do this, with the shadow of a liver transplant over him, I cannot pretend to understand fully except that Charles has guts and the courage to act on his convictions.

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Charles Chong Yesterday at 06:04

Dear Facebook friends and residents of Punggol East

I would like to thank everyone who sent their well-wishes and enquired about my condition - my family & I are very touched by the concern and words of encouragement I have received since I had my surgery.

I provided the media with an update on (and some background to) my condition earlier today, and links to some of the media reports can be found at the end of this post.

I am very grateful for the support provided by DPM Teo Chee Hean and other Pasir Ris-Punggol MPs, as well as the Punggol East Grassroots Leaders and PAP Branch Activists who have been taking care of Punggol East residents' needs in my absence. I'm looking forward to seeing all of you again soon!

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MP Charles Chong 'courageous' to stand in Punggol East despite liver condition: Ng Eng Hen
People's Action Party's Charles Chong on Polling Day. (Foto: Sarah Yang)

Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Wednesday (Dec 21) lauded Member of Parliament (MP) Charles Chong for "courage to act on his convictions”, despite being diagnosed with a liver condition about 3 years ago.

Dr Ng revealed in a Facebook post that when Mr Chong was asked to stand for the People's Action Party in the opposition-held Punggol East Single Member Constituency in the 2015 General Election, “Charles’ response was almost instantaneous – ‘Yes, I‘m ready to fight’,” he said.

“Charles knew that any candidate there must expect a hectic campaign & a tough fight. The rest they say is history. Charles fought hard and won back the constituency,” he added. “How he could do this, with the shadow of a liver transplant over him, I cannot pretend to understand fully except that Charles has guts and the courage to act on his convictions.”


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Punggol East MP Charles Chong courageous to stand in GE despite liver condition: Ng Eng Hen
A supporter hugs Charles Chong at the assembly centre at Bedok Stadium during the General Election 2015. FOTO: THE NEW PAPER

A day after Punggol East MP and Deputy Speaker of Parliament Charles Chong disclosed that he was recovering from a liver transplant, Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen revealed that Mr Chong had stood in the 2015 General Elections despite knowing he could need a new liver.

He also shared that Mr Chong had said he was ready to stand in Aljunied GRC if asked.

Dr Ng lauded the 63-yr-old for his "story of courage" in a Facebook post on Wed (Dec 21), saying he had "great respect" for Mr Chong.

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Punggol East MP Charles Chong in recovery after undergoing liver transplant

People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament Charles Chong, 63, received part of his son’s liver in a transplant earlier this month, he told the media in response to queries on Tue (Dec 20).

On Dec 1, the PAP had announced that Mr Chong, who is the MP for Punggol East, had undergone a planned medical procedure & would be on eight weeks’ medical leave, but provided no further details.

Mr Chong said there was no immediate need for him to have a liver transplant as his liver was still functioning well, about 3 years after he was first diagnosed with a condition called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis during a routine medical check-up. But his doctors found “a couple of small lesions” on his liver and had advised that he should consider a transplant now while he was still in good health.

read more

related:
Fielded candidate with known serious medical condition in GE2015
Charles Chong in Punggol East constituency despite serious liver condition
Sickly but Lucky Charlie’s Punggol-East Challenge a Sign of PAP?
Punggol East residents not told about Charles Chong illness
Candidate with known serious medical condition in GE 2015
Singapore is falling apart after Lee Kuan Yew

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

MRT disruptions caused by signalling faults

Mystery of Circle Line's signalling problem solved

The mysterious signal interference which interrupted service on the Circle Line MRT in recent months is a mystery no more.

According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) & train operator SMRT, investigations showed that signalling problems on the Circle Line were caused by an intermittent failure of the signalling hardware on one train.


Between Nov 2 & 6, the hardware failure on the train - No. 46 - had caused trains in the proximity of it to lose signalling communications.

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Delays on East-West Line due to track fault

A track fault caused delays for up to an hour on the East-West Line during morning rush hour on Wed (Jan 4).

The East-bound stretch from Boon Lay to Clementi stations was affected, train operator SMRT first said in a tweet at 7:47am.

It warned commuters to expect an additional 10 minutes travelling time, which it later revised to 15 minutes.

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SMRT's East-West Line suffers 3 faults in less than 24 hours

The East-West Line suffered three faults in less than 24 hrs, with the most recent one on Fri morning (Dec 23).

The 1st one happened on Thursday night. SMRT, posted on Twitter at about 7.30pm, an alert on the track fault, telling commuters to expect an additional 15 minutes of travel time from Outram Park station to Eunos station towards Pasir Ris station. By 8.24pm, the fault had been cleared, according to a post on SMRT’s Twitter page.

The 2nd fault happened at about 5.33am on Friday, and halted services between Outram Park station and Aljunied station.


East-West Line experienced fault three times in less than 24 hours

Singapore Mass rapid Transit (SMRT) has announced this early morning (23 December) that there was no train service between Outram Park and Aljunied on its East-West Line (EWL) due to a traction power fault near Bugis.


These delays meant that there were three delays along EWL in less than 24 hours. The first one occurred last night from Outram Park station to Eunos station towards Pasir Ris due to track fault and passengers were asked to add 15 minutes of additional travelling time.


Many of the commuters went to social media to express their disappointment. Many of them said that it was not only ten minutes delay as they got stuck at least 20 minutes. Some even said it was more than 40 minutes delay.


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Mysterious signal fault returns to cause disruption on Circle Line

The crowds at Bishan station on the Circle Line. Foto: shark_kul/Twitter

A mysterious signal fault on the Circle Line has returned to frustrate commuters, with travel times delayed by at least half an hour during the morning rush hour on Wed (Nov 2).

The CCL last saw a signal fault on Aug 29, when commuters were hit 5 days in a row with delays that SMRT attributed to the signaling fault.

SMRT has been trying — unsuccessfully so far — to identify the source of the problem, including shutting off mobile phone signals on Sep 2.

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Circle Line hit by third MRT signalling fault in 4 days

Train services on the Circle Line slowed to a crawl during the rush-hour commute yesterday, as another signalling fault — the 3rd in 4 days — hit the MRT network.

Operator SMRT said train services on the line were affected between 6am to 9am yesterday, after a defective signal connector was found between Mountbatten & Stadium MRT stations. This added about 20 minutes of travelling time for commuters, as trains ran at slower speeds and SMRT engineers tried to rectify the fault. SMRT spokesperson Alina Boey said additional trains were deployed to cope with the crowd build-up along the line.

On Monday, a track circuit failure between Yew Tee and Kranji stations caused trains to slow down, resulting in commuters being late for work and school. The affected commuters included some Republic Polytechnic and Nanyang Polytechnic students who were late for their examinations.

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3rd service disruption on SMRT this week caused by signal fault


A signal fault on SMRT's Circle Line on Thursday morning caused another service disruption -- the 3rd this week alone. SMRT tweeted at 7:36am that a signal fault would cause an additional delay of 20 minutes travelling time from Paya Lebar to Dhoby Ghaut. At 8:53am, it tweeted that train services between the two stations were operating normally again.

On Wed, an SMRT spokesman said that the upgrading programme to update the signalling system across the entire SMRT network would take up to two years, and warned commuters that delays would continue in the meantime. She said it would eventually "address many of the signalling-related incidents we are facing today". On Tuesday, another track fault struck the North-South Line, causing passengers to suffer delays a day after thousands of commuters saw their travel disrupted in the morning rush hour on Monday.

The latest disruption lasted about half an hour and affected south bound services between Ang Mo Kio and Marina Bay stations.

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'Intermittent signal interference' causes delays, train disruption on Circle Line during morning peak hour
A signal fault caused delays and long commuter queues at stations along the Circle Line. FOTO: @SHARK_KUL/TWITTER

Commuters were left frustrated after a signal fault caused significant delays on the Circle Line (CCL) on Wed (Nov 2) morning.

The fault, described by operator SMRT as an "intermittent" one, culminated in the disruption of train service between Botanic Gardens & Marymount MRT stations in both directions at around 9.10am. The disruption later extended beyond Marymount to Serangoon station.

Free regular bus services were also made available at all stations along the line.

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Circle Line signal fault that caused train disruptions on Wednesday morning similar to September delays: LTA, SMRT

The signalling interference that caused train service disruptions on the Circle Line (CCL) on Wednesday (Nov 2) morning could be similar to the week-long series of mysterious delays that plagued the same MRT line in September.

A joint statement by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and CCL operator SMRT on Wednesday afternoon said preliminary investigations indicate the possibility of an interfering signal that could have disrupted communications.

Should similiar signalling faults occur, LTA and SMRT said they have arranged with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and mobile network operators to suspend telecommunication signals along stretches of CCL for short periods of time to assist in investigations.

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LTA may cut mobile network signals along Circle Line while investigating signalling faults


It's been a troublesome past few weeks for Circle Line operators SMRT, and even more vexing for the commuters who've been affected by service delays. Longer waiting times and slower trains have hit the underground MRT line four times in the last 3 weeks, and most of them occurring in the rush hours.

The worst of it took place yesterday morning, when delays stretched up to 4 hours as disruptions affected the line from Serangoon to Botanic Gardens MRT stations. One commuter even claimed that a lady fainted when everyone got stuck in the train, with no ventilation and non-functioning air-conditioning.

Investigations conducted by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT determined that an interfering signal could have disrupted the communications, thus leading to signalling faults that've caused the delays. They've yet to establish the source of the interfering signals for now.

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Signalling faults disrupt NEL services

The crowd inside Hougang MRT station (left) at 10.24am yesterday. SBS Transit said service resumed at 10.28am – nearly 3½ hours after the first glitch occurred

About 35,000 commuters on their way to work just after 8:00am yesterday were hit by a major breakdown on the North East Line (NEL).

It was the 4th incident that lasted more than 30 minutes this year on the 12-year-old line.

Operator SBS Transit said a signalling glitch at 7:08am affected service between Sengkang and Punggol stations. It was fixed at about 7:20am.

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Unprecedented train disruption along 4 lines caused by power dip, says SMRT
Commuters on the platform at Jurong East MRT station last night. The screen shows a notice about the disruption in train service. FOTO: DIOS VINCOY JR FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

A power fault triggered an unprecedented breakdown of train services along 3 MRT lines and one LRT line last night, disrupting the journeys of thousands of commuters near the end of the evening peak.


The trip, which occurred at 7:53pm, also led to blackouts and a loss of air-conditioning at all affected stations. They were without power except for emergency lighting.

Train services were unavailable for between 30 minutes and 2 hours, and free bus shuttle services were deployed.

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Faults affect Circle Line for whole day


Rail operator SMRT was unable to fix a signalling fault that affected service on the Circle Line for the whole of yesterday.


The glitch, which the operator described as "intermittent signalling issues", slowed train speeds and reduced service frequency during the morning peak period.

Commuters took to social media to complain of packed stations. Other users tweeted that faulty sensors were causing train doors to shut on commuters.

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Train delay on East-West line due to signalling fault at Aljunied
Commuters were advised to "add 20min travel time between Pasir Ris and Outram Park", on Wed morning (Dec 14). ST FOTO: MELISSA LIN

Train services on the East-West line were delayed on Wednesday (Dec 14) during the morning peak due to a signalling fault at Aljunied MRT Station.

SMRT in a tweet at 8.39am advised commuters to "add 20min travel time between Pasir Ris and Outram Park".

It added that "train services are still available", but advised commuters to refer to bus guides on its site for more details.

Commuters reacted angrily online, with some saying they had been stuck for longer than 20 minutes; others reacted in disbelief at the frequency of breakdowns.

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Signal interference issue plagues Circle Line again

The crowd at Bishan MRT station this morning. foto: n1veda/Tiwtter

A signal interference problem that disrupted train services for 5 days in August and September returned on Wednesday (Nov 2) during the morning rush hour, leaving six Circle Line (CCL) stations, including major interchanges like Bishan and Serangoon, without train service.


The interference caused loss of signal between trains & stations, forcing the trains to come to a stop.


The Land Transport Authority (LTA) and SMRT on Wed said that preliminary investigations indicate that the nature of the faults in the latest incident could be similar.


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Railway signalling


Railway signalling is a system used to direct railway traffic and keep trains clear of each other at all times. Trains move on fixed rails, making them uniquely susceptible to collision. This susceptibility is exacerbated by the enormous weight and inertia of a train, which make it difficult to quickly stop when encountering an obstacle. In the UK, the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 introduced a series of requirements on matters such as the implementation of interlocked block signalling and other safety measures as a direct result of the Armagh rail disaster in that year.


Most forms of train control involve movement authority being passed from those responsible for each section of a rail network (e.g., a signalman or stationmaster) to the train crew. The set of rules and the physical equipment used to accomplish this determine what is known as the method of working (UK), method of operation (US) or safeworking (Aus.). Not all these methods require the use of physical signals, and some systems are specific to single track railways.

The earliest rail cars were first hauled by horses or mules. A mounted flagman on a horse preceded some early trains. Hand and arm signals were used to direct the “train drivers”. Foggy and poor-visibility conditions gave rise to flags and lanterns. Wayside signalling dates back as far as 1832, and used elevated flags or balls that could be seen from afar.

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Full Coverage:

Circle Line signalling problems caused by intermittent
Information Kit - SMRT Corporation
Circle Line hit by third MRT signalling fault in four days
Mass Rapid Transit (Singapore)
Railway signalling - Wikipedia
SMRT | Facebook
Mystery of Circle Line's signalling problem solved
Special report: Obsolete MRT signal system could lead to
MRT: Use proven method of predicting system failures
Circle Line signal fault that caused train disruptions on
Signalling faults disrupt North-East Line services
LTA may cut mobile network signals along Circle Line while
We’re working on it! – SMRT Blog
Service Enhancements - SMRT Corporation
Signalling faults disrupt NEL services, General, News
Train delay on East-West line due to signalling fault at
Signalling faults cause delays along Circle Line | TODAY
Mobile signals may be cut to probe Circle Line disruption
Unprecedented train disruption along 4 lines caused by
MRT services delayed due to 3 disruptions, Singapore News
MRT & LRT News and Updates - MRT Singapore (MRT.SG)
Circle Line breakdown caused by power supply failure: SMRT
Third service disruption on SMRT this week caused by
MRT Disruption Feed | Facebook
Faults affect Circle Line due to "intermittent signalling
Circle Line hit by third MRT signalling fault in four days
Train delay on East-West line due to signalling fault at
Signalling faults cause delays along Circle Line
Mobile signals may be cut to probe Circle Line disruption
Circle Line train service resumes after 3-hour delay
Signal interference issue plagues Circle Line again
Faults affect Circle Line due to "intermittent signalling
Circle Line signal fault that caused train disruptions on
MRT & LRT News and Updates - MRT Singapore
Train Service Improvements: Better Reliability and More

related:
MRT hit by delays again due to signalling fault
MRT disruptions caused by signalling faults
Rise in major breakdowns but MRT gets more reliable
Train disruptions under new Minister of Transport
Train service disrupted on N-S, E-W Lines
Recap of recent Train service disruptions
Recent Train Disruptions
Two SMRTstaff killed by an oncoming train
Transport Woes #2
Transport Woes #1
Transport Woes - A Picture Story
Mixed Reactions To Announcement Of Free MRT Rides
Strange & inappropriate behaviour on public transport
Burned by mystery liquid in trains and bus stop
SMRT subway trains recalled after defects found

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

THE 5-DOLLAR TEMBUSU TREE


We have become so accustomed to cash exchanges in our daily grind that we no longer pay our dollar bills a second look. The next time you fish out the green five-dollar bill from your wallet, do spare a few seconds to examine it. While the front design features the first President of Singapore Encik Yusof bin Ishak as do all bills from the Portrait series, the back design theme is Garden City with a Tembusu tree of a long outstretched low-lying branch.

This is our 5-Dollar Tembusu tree. It is not just a default artist’s illustration. As a matter of fact it is a feature of Singapore’s most famous Tembusu tree. Located near the Tanglin entrance of the Botanic Gardens, it is believed to have existed long before the gardens was officially laid out in 1859. That puts the tree at close to two centuries old!

With its low lying branch to sit on and boundless green backdrop, this old Tembusu has long been a popular site for family portraits and outdoor wedding photo shoots. The tree has been inducted into the Heritage Trees of Singapore, which was launched in 2001 to identify and safeguard mature trees that serve as important green landmarks in our natural heritage.

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"Tembusu Heritage Tree" of Singapore

The "Tembusu Heritage Tree" is not an ordinary Tembusu tree. It is our Singapore heritage tree at Botanic Gardens!

A Tembusu graces Singapore currency as well.

The $5 note features a Tembusu of Heritage Tree status growing in the Botanic Gardens

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Picture of the Tembusu tree on the Singapore $5 dollar note

Coming back to the Tembusu trees, you are probably carrying a picture of a famous Tembusu in your pocket.

This tree in the Botanic Gardens is featured on the back of the $5 note.

The front of this $5 note has a picture of President Yusof bin Ishak.

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5 interesting facts about Singapore dollar notes that you probably didn’t know

The $5 note tree still stands

The tree on the $5 note is not some legendary tree as you might think, and since it’s already SG50 this year, the tree is probably somewhere rotting or non-existing anymore today. You are wrong.

The tree, known as the Tembusu tree, is still standing tall in the Botanic Gardens and have been featured previously in 2002 in one of the 4 heritage-tree stamps that was issued.

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The artist of the $50 note

Take a $50 bill and look at the back of it.

Do you see a pair of gibbons swinging through vines?

Most Singaporeans will have missed the painting by the late Chen Wen Hsi, one of Singapore's pioneer artists.

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The Tanglin Halt flats & a 1-dollar note
The Tanglin Halt flats
A 1-dollar note

Iconic landmarks in Singapore have been commonly used as the back designs of the former and current Singapore currency notes. Examples are the Supreme Court Building, Clifford Pier, Victoria Theatre, The Istana, Benjamin Sheares Bridges and Changi Airport, which have all been used as motifs in the previous Orchid, Bird and Ship series.

The dollar notes’ motif designs sometimes also tell a Singapore’s history. For instance, the back of the Orchid Series’ 1-dollar note, released in mid-1967, features the Tanglin Halt flats, which were built in 1962.

Fondly known as chup lau chu (“10-storey building” in Hokkien), these early HDB flats had existed for more than 50 years but eventually could not stand the test of time. Most of its tenants had moved out since 2008, and the vacant blocks will be demolished by end of 2015.

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BEAUTIFUL BANKNOTES
It might be the root of all evil, but money can also be a thing of beauty. We take a look at some of the most remarkable banknotes from around the world:

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