Monday, March 30, 2015

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral: From public mourning to private family farewell at Mandai - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral: From public mourning to private family farewell at Mandai - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's funeral: From public mourning to private family farewell at Mandai

Mr Lee Kuan Yew's grandsons Li Shengwu (left) and Li Haoyi hold up his portrait while surrounded by other family members and close friends at the Mandai Crematorium for Mr Lee's funeral service on March 29, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - Mr Lee Kuan Yew's family said farewell to him on Sunday, March 29, evening, in an emotional ceremony at Mandai Crematorium.

The casket arrived at 6.10 pm and was borne aloft to Hall 1. Daughter Lee Wei Ling placed the memorial portrait in front of the casket.

The national flag draping the coffin was then lifted and folded by uniformed officers, in a drill common in state funerals. The flag was then handed to his eldest son Lee Hsien Loong, who is the Prime Minister.

The coffin cover was lifted, in a symbolic move marking the mourning of Mr Lee the public figure, to Mr Lee, the family man.

As his body lay in the open casket, family members took turns to share memories of their father and grandfather.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, the elder son, said: "We are gathered here to say our final farewells to Papa - Mr Lee Kuan Yew. After the formalities of the Lying in State and the State Funeral Service, in this final hour Papa is with his family, his friends of a lifetime, his immediate staff who served him loyally and well, his security team who kept him safe and sound, and his medical team who took such good care of him.

"So much has been said about Pa's public life in the past few days. His public life is something we share with all of Singapore, with the world. But we were privileged to know him as a father, a grandfather, an elder brother, a friend, a strict but compassionate boss, the head of the family."

PM Lee recalled how Mr Lee taught him to ride a bike. "Once when I was just getting the hang of balancing on two wheels, he pushed me off. I pedalled off across the field, thinking that he was still supporting and pushing me. Then I looked back and found that actually he had let go, and I was cycling on my own, launched, and he had let go! He was so pleased, and so was I."

Daughter Dr Lee, who wore a black dress, spoke lovingly of the father she is said to resemble most, among her siblings, recalling his stubborn insistence on not using a lift installed for him so he would not need to climb up and down the steps from the verandah at home to the car porch. She had inherited his "pugnacious" trait, she added good-humouredly.

She thanked his staff, especially the Security Officers who spent so much time with him. She recalled the time three of them had to interlock arms to perform the Heimlich manoeuvre when he nearly choked on a piece of meat. That bought him a few more months of quality life, she said.

Dr Lee, who has shunned the public spotlight in her private grief, said the last week had not been easy. Mr Lee died on Monday, aged 91.

When she saw this morning that the maid had moved Mr Lee's chair away from the dining table and placed it against the wall, she nearly broke down, she said. "But I can't break down, I am a Hakka woman."

Instead, she sat composed, and sometimes bowed her head to hide her emotions as other family members spoke.

Younger son Hsien Yang said: "Papa, thank you for being my own special father. Always there to guide, counsel and advise, every step of the way, but also prepared to step back and let me find my own wings and make my own way."

Li Hongyi, the elder son of PM Lee and wife Ho Ching, told of the one and only present his grandfather - whom he called Ye Ye - had given him: a camera. Hongyi said he went on to take many photographs and had a book printed. "When Ye Ye gave me that camera years ago, he wrote me a note. It was a simple note without any flowery language or cheap sentiment. He simply told me that he hoped I made good use of it. I hope I have."

All his life, he said, he wanted to emulate his grandfather, to be the kind of man his grandfather was.

He was emotional, tearing up as he said: "Ye Ye showed me that you could make a difference in this world. Not just that you could make a difference, but that you could do it with your head held high. You didn't have to lie, cheat, or steal. You didn't have to charm, flatter, or cajole. You didn't have to care about frivolous things or play silly games. You could do something good with your life, and the best way to do so was to have good principles and conduct yourself honourably."

Li Shengwu, eldest son of Hsien Yang and wife Suet Fern, spoke of his Ye Ye's influence over the development of his own beliefs. "Ye Ye, you chose to forsake personal gain and the comforts of an ordinary life, so that the people of Singapore could have a better life for themselves, and for their children and for their grandchildren. That Singapore is safe, that Singapore is prosperous, that Singapore is - for this we owe a debt that we cannot repay.

"Ye Ye - We will try to make you proud. Majulah Singapura."

The ceremony was attended by family members, friends and long-time staff of Mr Lee.

After the eulogies, family members filed past the open casket to lay a single red rose each in the coffin. Then the coffin was closed and his Security Officers who had guarded him in life, bore the coffin aloft and left the hall, accompanying him as long as they could, as he went on his final journey.

Mr Lee's body will be cremated. While alive, he had given instructions for his ashes to be mixed with his wife's. Mrs Lee died in October 2010. "For reasons of sentiment, I would like part of my ashes to be mixed up with Mama's, and both her ashes and mine put side by side in the columbarium. We were joined in life and I would like our ashes to be joined after this life."

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Excerpts from essay by Daisaku Ikeda, under the series "Recollection of My Meetings with Leading World Figures" - From the book "Where the Crown of Humanity Shines" on Mr Lee Kuan Yew

26/3/15 6:52:39 pm: Kwee! Chang: Excerpts from essay by Daisaku Ikeda, under the series "Recollection of My Meetings with Leading World Figures" - From the book "Where the Crown of Humanity Shines"

池田大作文章选段收录在 "畅谈世界领导人 (第二部)" 文章系列 - 摘自"新加坡人性王冠金光灿烂"


是时代造就人物呢? 还是人物创造时代? 在动荡的年代--曾几度闯过穷途末路的绝境, 那张倔强的脸庞上刻下了这段历史。

新加坡的前任总理李光耀是位名副其实的"建国之父"。在建国的1965年, 这个没有水源等资源的小国, 总人口竞达200多万, 加上多民族且心不齐。然而他却使这个国家变成深受世界注目的经济发达国家。
总理百般忍耐, 用尽一切方法, 在外结交朋友, 在内呼吁团结, 唯有这样想方设法。因为他所能掌握的力量, 除了智慧以及新加坡人民的力量外, 一无所有。

声望、批判、财富、荣誉和伤感, 这一切他都不放在眼里。

他说自己虽已下定愿冒生命危险之心, 却不能拿200万人的生命开玩笑。

活下去! 这豁出性命的呼吁, 超越种族, 振奋人心。

他如一位严父, 因为他知道如不严格, 国家就会瓦解。

被认为前途岌岌可危的新加坡, 推翻种种预测, 取得了惊人的发展, 并成为多民族平等共享繁荣的好榜样。

对那些预测国家会瓦解的专家们--他曾说, 他们之所以惊慌失措, 是因为他们没有充分地考虑到一个重要因素, 即人的意欲, 聪明的人会明白一旦失败将遭遇的下场, 为此他们坚强起来, 这就是力量。

总理证明了一念的力量, 下定 "唯有胜利, 别无它道" 这一念的人, 是可以扭转乾坤, 变不可能为可能的!

二战后, 身为留学生以第一名的成绩毕业于剑桥大学, 一股救国的热诚始终在他年轻的胸中燃烧。

在新加坡, 除人才以外, 别无其他资源。总理曾说: "我们所以取得了成功, 是因为我们了解到人才是成功的主要关键。"

那么人才又是指什么呢? 如只有能力而没有一股燃烧的献身精神, 那是不够的。

总理亦曾说, 要建国, 必须有热情。只为自己着想--有利或害, 有损或有得--只顾计较这些的人是不够资格的。

建国的第一代是"为民在先", 绝不允许贪污, 但值得担忧的是下一代往往容易"以我为先".

与总理会晤的翌日, 我给当地会员讲述了一个新加坡代代相传的故事。

从前, 有一个年轻的国王, 为了寻求新的都城, 与志同道合的人们一起出海。在一座美丽的岛屿前, 突然遇上狂风暴雨, 船开始下沉。为减轻船的负荷, 便扔去了所有能扔掉的东西, 尽管如此船仍在继续往下沉, 而此时所剩的只有国王头上那顶辉煌沉重的王冠了。

国王为了拯救大家, 毫不犹豫地把他的王冠扔进波涛汹涌的大海, 暴风骤雨顷刻平息, 全体人员平安地登上新加坡这座岛。

"抛弃王冠! 拯救人民!" 所谓的王冠或许就是领导人的利己心里吧。

对总理来说, 权力宝座并不是目的, 而只是一种手段。他很早就全力以赴地培养后继人才, 于90年代, 他将总理之职托付于吴作栋先生。

不过, 他那双眼至今仍在注视着自己所心爱的国民之未来, 炯炯发光。

总理亦说过: "即使躺在病榻上、即使我被埋入坟墓, 一旦觉得哪里不对劲, 我还是会坐起来的。"

何等的气魄, 何等的执著!

他还铿锵有力的对我说, 希望让年轻人尽情地享受和平与繁荣的21世纪, 这就是心愿。

严父的勇猛奋斗--只要不忘严父的这种精神, 我相信"狮子城" 新加坡, 将会永远地繁荣昌盛。
English version:

A Leader of Selfless Devotion to the People
Mr Lee Kuan Yew
Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Singapore

Do the times shape the person or the person shape the times?

Before me was the face of a man who has lived through a time of dramatic change, a man who is invincible, who has leapt from one life-threateningly sheer precipice to another and survived.

Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is truly the father of the city-state of Singapore. When it first attained nationhood in 1965, the tiny country had a population of some two million, belonging to several distinct ethnic groups, no independent water supply and no natural resources. Mr Lee transformed Singapore into an advanced industrial nation that has attracted the attention of the entire world.

Mr Lee persevered amid incredible obstacles. All he could do was to deploy every conceivable means to forge alliances outside Singapore and to foster unity within. All he had at his disposal were human resources - the wisdom and strength of the people of Singapore themselves. He cared nothing for popularity, criticism, wealth, honour or sentimentality. He has said that he was prepared to expose himself to danger, but not the two million lives in his care.

His rallying cry to survive and succeed finally roused the people of Singapore, whatever their race or ethnic group. His leadership was like that of a strict father, because he knew that laxity on his part would mean that his nation would be crushed.

Singapore, whose very future was so much in doubt at the onset, proved false all the dour predictions and achieved startling growth. It also provided a model for a just and egalitarian multiethnic society. As for those who predicted Singapore's demise, Mr Lee says, "They were confounded because they did not give adequate weight to one vital factor: the human drive, that verve in a determined and a resourceful people who know the terrible consequence of failure..."

Mr Lee has demonstrated the power of the human will. Those who have decided that winning is the only option can always make the impossible possible.

After the World War II, Mr Lee travelled to the United Kingdom to study at Cambridge University. A brilliant student, he graduated with top honours. Throughout, the passionate resolve to secure his homeland's self-determination never wavered.

Mr Lee knows more than anyone that people are Singapore's only genuine natural resource. "We have succeeded," he asserted, "because we understood that talent is the crucial factor for success."

But what constitutes "talent"? It is not enough that the people should be well-educated and able. They also need to have a burning dedication to serve others. "To build a country," Mr Lee maintained, "you need passion. If you just do your sums ― plus, minus, debit, credit ― you are a wash-out."

The first generation of nation-builders always put the interest of the people first. They never condoned even a hint of corruption in the government or public service. It was a source of concern to Mr Lee that the present generation of Singaporeans seems more concerned with their own interest and benefit than those of other people.

The day after I met Prime Minister Lee, I joined a gathering of Singapore friends, members of the local SGI organization, at which I touched on the legend of the discovery of Singapore Island. It went as follows:

Long, long ago there was a young king. Seeking a new capital, he set out to the sea with his followers. They came upon a beautiful island in the distance, but then were hit by a raging storm and the boat began to sink. They jettisoned everything aboard to lighten their load, but the vessel continued to take on water. The only thing left to be cast overboard was the king's heavy, jewelled crown. To save his companions, the king threw his crown into swirling waters without a second thought. Instantly, the storm ceased, all were safe, and the ship landed on the island of Singapore.

Throwing away the crown to save people's lives - the crown here is most assuredly a symbol of the leader's self-interest.

Mr Lee was not interested in power for its own sake; his political position was but a means to achieve his goals. From early on, he was careful to cultivate able successors, and in 1990 he resigned, handing over the post of prime minister to the young Goh Chok Tong. But Mr Lee continues to closely watch over developments in his beloved nation. His tenacity and commitment are vividly revealed in his assertion: "Even from my sick bed, even if you are going to lower me into the grave and I feel that something is going wrong, I will get up."

In our dialogue, he stated emphatically that his only wish was that the young people of Singapore would be able to enjoy a twenty-first century of peace and prosperity.

As long as Singapore, the Lion City, remembers the selfless devotion of this indomitable leader, it will prosper.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Fwd: The Lee Kuan Yew And Kwa Geok Choo Love Story

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Begin forwarded message:

From: Leslie Chang <>
Date: 21 March 2015 11:59:59 pm SGT
To: undisclosed-recipients:;
Subject: Fwd: The Lee Kuan Yew And Kwa Geok Choo Love Story

The Lee Kuan Yew And Kwa Geok Choo Love Story


Behind every successful man there stands a woman

Most refer to her as Mrs. Lee Kuan Yew, but Madam Kwa Geok Choo is more than just the woman behind Mr. Lee Kuan Yew – she was a woman who silently gave her all to the nation and her family.

Mr. Lee Kuan Yew had been engaged in politics over the years, with numerous political opponents who alleged that he is ruthless. However, his love for his wife is a very touching story – a strong testament of their love and devotion.

From competitors to lovers


It was no love at first sight.

When studying at Raffles College in Singapore, Mr. Lee crossed paths with Mdm. Kwa, the only female student in the prestigious school. They started out as competitors – Mdm. Kwa's Economic Science and English results topped the cohort, with Mr. Lee's coming in second. From an exchange of blows, a friendship grew; no discord, no concord. From competitors, they gradually became lovers.

The first separation

One of a two-picture-series Mr. Lee got his cousin, Harold Liem, to take for him in September 1946 so he could bring it to Cambridge to display in his room.


In September 1946, Mr. Lee made the decision to leave for England to study law. Mdm. Kwa would return to Raffles College to try to attain one of the two Queen's Scholarships awarded annually. Only one Singaporean would be the recipient of the scholarship – this meant that if Mdm. Kwa did not win it, a three-year wait for Mr. Lee's return would ensue.

Separation is inevitable when you're young – you have lofty aspirations, the world is your oyster. But what would happen to your loved one? This was a dilemma young Mr. Lee faced.

On their 1946 commitment, Mr. Lee said:

I asked her whether she would wait for me until I came back three years later after being called to the Bar. Choo asked if I knew she was 2 1/2 years older than I was. I said I knew, and had considered this carefully.

I was mature for my age and most of my friends were older than me anyway. Moreover, I wanted someone my equal, not someone who was not really grown up and needed looking after, and I was not likely to find another girl who was my equal and who shared my interests. She said she would wait.

As a young man, Mr. Lee's education at Raffles College was disrupted by the war. Without a steady profession or job, Mdm. Kwa's parents did not perceive young Mr. Lee as a worthy son-in-law. Mdm. Kwa, on the other hand, had unwavering faith in Mr. Lee.

Mdm. Kwa eventually won the scholarship in June the next year, and joined Mr. Lee at Cambridge.

The secret marriage

Source: Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going

When Mr. Lee proposed the idea of a secret marriage, Mdm. Kwa agreed without hesitation. The alternative to a secret marriage, according to Mdm. Kwa, would be to "cohabit" or "to live in sin".

Thus, in December 1947, the couple secretly got married at Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shakespeare's birthplace. When in London, en-route to Stratford-upon-Avon, Mr. Lee bought Mdm. Kwa a platinum wedding ring, which she wore on a necklace back at Cambridge. Upon arrival at Stratford-upon-Avon, they notified the local Registrar of Marriages of their intention to get married. Two weeks of residence later, they were officially married.

However, this secret marriage was kept a secret even after their parents' death and only revealed when Mr. Lee penned his memoirs.

Second marriage


Mr. Lee once said:

I don't think that's an offence, to marry a woman twice, the same woman!

Upon the couple's return to Singapore, they joined a law firm, Laycock & Ong, as legal assistants. While Mdm. Kwa did draftsmanship and conveyancing, Mr. Lee practised litigation. In September 1950, they got married a second time in a bid to placate their parents and friends. That day, the registrar, Mr Grosse, arrived 15 minutes late and got chided by a furious Mr. Lee. A reception was held at Raffles Hotel later that afternoon.

The fruit of their love

Source: Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going

In February 1952, their first son, Lee Hsien Loong was born. Mdm. Kwa went on maternity leave for a year. The same month, John Laycock, Laycock & Ong's Senior Partner, asked Mr. Lee to undertake the case of the Postal and Telecommunications Uniformed Staff Union. The postmen union were in talks with the government for better terms and conditions of service and won concessions from the government two weeks later. This win can be attributed to Mdm. Kwa, who edited Mr. Lee's draft statements from home on her maternity leave, so they were clear and simple. She also influenced Mr. Lee's writing style – he began writing in short sentences with an active voice. In 1955, their daughter, Lee Wei Ling was born. Two years later, their younger son, Lee Hsien Yang was conceived.

Exemplary of an Asian wife


In 1976, Mdm. Kwa said:

I walk two steps behind my husband like a good Asian wife.

Through Mr. Lee's writings, one could tell that she was more than just a wife – she was also Mr. Lee's confidante and advisor.

In 1954, Mdm. Kwa helped Mr. Lee draft the Constitution of the PAP. Mr. Lee also said Mdm. Kwa had the ability to read a person's character and often it turned out to be right. Prior to the Singapore-Malaysia merger, Mdm. Kwa foresaw that the merger would fall through because of the differences in lifestyle and the way the UMNO Malay leaders handled politics. She was right – Singapore was expelled by Malaysia in 1965. Law Minister Eddie Barker drafted a separation legislation, but left out a clause to safeguard Singapore's water supply from Malaysia. Mr. Lee asked his wife to include that in the Separation Agreement, which reassured Mr. Lee every time Malaysian leaders threatened to cut off Singapore's water supply.

 The first stroke

Source: Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going

Mdm. Kwa's entire life revolved around Mr. Lee and her children. Being the eldest son of a Peranakan family, Mr. Lee could not even crack an egg, since it is not expected of men to do so. Nevertheless, in 2003, when Mdm. Kwa suffered her first stroke, Mr. Lee made the effort to adjust his lifestyle to look after her although he was still in the Cabinet as Senior Minister, and later Minister Mentor. He took care of her complicated medication regime. Because Mdm. Kwa lost her left field of vision, Mr. Lee would sit on her left side during meals, reminding her to finish the food on the left side of the plate. He would also meticulously pick up the food Mdm. Kwa's left hand dropped. Mr. Lee urged Mdm. Kwa to exercise by swimming daily and would measure her blood pressure several times in a day. Although their daughter, Lee Wei Ling, contacted a doctor who invented a watch-like device to measure blood pressure, Mdm. Kwa said:

I prefer to have my husband measure my blood pressure.

 The second stroke

Source: Hard Truths To Keep Singapore Going

Mdm. Kwa was dealt a second stroke in May 2008, which left her bedridden. After returning home from work, Mr. Lee would sit by her bed and spend two hours telling Mdm. Kwa about his day and read her favourite poems to her. This continued every night without fail. Since the poetry books were thick and heavy, Mr. Lee utilized a heavy-duty music stand to support the books. One night, a drowsy Mr. Lee fell asleep while reading poetry to Mdm. Kwa. He slouched forward and hit his face against the metal-made music stand, suffering abrasions on his face. Despite this, he continued reading to Mdm. Kwa every night.

Even though Mr. Lee is agnostic, he still prayed for Mdm. Kwa. That dark period, to him, was even harder to pull through compared to the political stress he felt when Singapore was expelled from Malaysia.

 Epilogue: the final goodbye


89-year-old Mdm. Kwa passed on after being bedridden for two years. A grieving Mr. Lee walked to her casket, using its frame to support his 87-year-old body. Placing a stalk of red rose on her still body, Mr. Lee bent towards his wife, reaching for her face with his right hand. He planted a kiss on her forehead, and then another. His beloved Mdm. Kwa Geok Choo – or Choo, as he affectionately calls her – had departed, leaving him with 63 years of happy memories.

Singapore's very own royal love story

Mr. Lee had been courageous and resolute in pursuing his dreams and love. He also credited Mdm. Kwa's consistent rational and emotional support as his driving force. Together, they helped build the Singapore we have today, with Mdm. Kwa being the woman behind his back, having his back. Take their statuses away, at the very end, he was just a man who loved his wife till death did they part. After having spent over three decades of their lives together, they had become so intertwined as one over the years. They were not only lovers, but also soul mates and best friends. It's painful to think of what happens to the one left behind when one is taken out of the equation.

Here's a quote from the man himself to sum up a timeless love story:

We have never allowed the other to feel abandoned and alone in any moment of crisis. Quite the contrary, we have faced all major crises in our lives together, sharing our fears and hopes, and our subsequent grief and exultation. These moments of crisis have bonded us closer together. With the years, the number of special ties which we two have shared have increased.

Best Regards,

Have a nice day.

Leslie Chang

Friday, March 20, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew remains critically ill; PM Lee thanks public for support and good wishes: PMO - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Lee Kuan Yew remains critically ill; PM Lee thanks public for support and good wishes: PMO - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Lee Kuan Yew remains critically ill; PM Lee thanks public for support and good wishes: PMO

SINGAPORE - Mr Lee Kuan Yew remains critically ill and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong would like to thank the public for their support and good wishes, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said on Friday.

Mr Lee, 91, has been hospitalised in the Singapore General Hospital since Feb 5, when he was admitted for severe pneumonia.

Concerns rose on Wednesday after news broke that Mr Lee was critically ill and that his condition had deteriorated further.

Mr Lee's worsening health was first announced on Tuesday, when the PMO said he had an infection and was being treated with antibiotics.

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Haze clouds Singapore as 3-hour PSI crosses 100 into unhealthy range - Singapore Environment News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Haze clouds Singapore as 3-hour PSI crosses 100 into unhealthy range - Singapore Environment News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Haze clouds Singapore as 3-hour PSI crosses 100 into unhealthy range

A slightly hazy sky can be seen in Ulu pandan on March 20, 2015. -- ST PHOTO: JOYCE FANG

SINGAPORE - The sky was noticeably greyer than usual on Friday, with the Pollution Standards Index creeping into the unhealthy range in the afternoon.

The three-hour PSI was 65 at around 8am, and it had gone up steadily through the day, reaching 104 at 5pm.

In a statement issued to The Straits Times at 3.28pm, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said: "The slight haziness could be due to the accumulation of particulate matter in the air under light wind conditions."

"The situation is expected to improve with the strengthening of the winds later in the day," it added.

The 24-hour PSI at 5pm was between 69 and 92, with the highest reading of 92 recorded in the east of Singapore.

It was 78 in the west, and between 69 and 71 in other parts of Singapore.

Members of the public are advised to avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities when air quality is in the unhealthy range.

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Engineer who preyed on 31 young boys gets 30 years' jail, 24 strokes of the cane - Singapore Courts & Crime News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Engineer who preyed on 31 young boys gets 30 years' jail, 24 strokes of the cane - Singapore Courts & Crime News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Engineer who preyed on 31 young boys gets 30 years' jail, 24 strokes of the cane

SINGAPORE - An engineer who preyed on 31 victims, in what was described as Singapore's worst case of sex offences against young boys, has been sentenced to 30 years in jail and 24 strokes of the cane.

Yap Weng Wah, 31, had sexually groomed the boys, who were aged between 11 and 15, after meeting them online. In all but one case, he either sodomised or had oral sex with them at his rental flat, in hotel rooms and toilets at shopping centres and swimming pools.

When his Yishun home was raided after his arrest in September 2012, police found more than 2,000 videos on his laptop of him having sex with others, including young boys. The videos had been meticulously catalogued with the boys' names, ages and year he met them.

The prosecution had sought a minimum 30-year jail term, and 24 strokes of the cane.

The Malaysian quality assurance engineer moved here to work in 2009. He befriended the boys on Facebook using different identities, but usually as an 18-year-old polytechnic student. Some of the boys accepted his friend request after seeing that they shared mutual friends.

He gained their trust by portraying himself as an older brother or mentor, sometimes over several weeks or months.

Between November 2009 and June 2012, he cajoled 30 of the boys into consenting to having anal or oral sex with him. The other victim, 12, was persuaded to send Yap a video of himself performing a lewd act.

Yap recorded most of the sex acts with the 30 boys on his mobile phone. When they protested, he assured them he would delete the footage. However, he stored the videos on his laptop, and would masturbate to them.

He has been diagnosed by the Institute of Mental Health with hebephilia - a sexual preference for early adolescent children generally aged 11 to 14.

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Concern for Mr Lee Kuan Yew's condition mounts amid outrage at rumours - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Concern for Mr Lee Kuan Yew's condition mounts amid outrage at rumours - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Concern for Mr Lee Kuan Yew's condition mounts amid outrage at rumours

SINGAPORE - As former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew remains critically ill at the Singapore General Hospital, Singaporeans have become increasingly anxious for news about his condition.

On Thursday though, there was a strong sense of outrage among many, over the flurry of rumours and hoaxes that flew via smartphones and social media on Wednesday night announcing that he had died.

Some seasoned grassroots leaders were among those taken in by a fake announcement purportedly from the website of the Prime Minister's Office, and some foreign media went ahead to report the misinformation, only to set it right after the PMO made clear that it was a hoax.

Tanjong Pagar GRC grassroots leader Roy Yeo told The Straits Times: "Some of us got duped seeing the image passed around, trusting that once you see a certain website it is genuine."

Reader Tan Suan Jin wrote to The Straits Times Forum Page, saying: "It is appalling and in bad taste that as former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's condition deteriorates further, and when the majority of Singaporeans and many around the world are wishing him well, there are those who have the temerity and ingratitude to falsify a death notice."

Reader Patrick Tan Siong Kuan wrote in too, to say he hoped the authorities would find the culprits and take "firm action".

Flowers, along with a note wishing former Primer Minister Lee Kuan Yew a speedy recovery, left outside Singapore General Hospital.  -- ST PHOTO: LIM SIN THAI

Hoaxes aside, it was plain that concern over Mr Lee's health went up considerably after the PMO revealed on Tuesday that his condition had worsened.

Mr Lee, 91, has been seriously ill in hospital with severe pneumonia since Feb 5 and Singaporeans have been sending him get well wishes for several weeks, but this week it began to sink in that the end might be near for the nation's key founding father.

Tuesday's PMO statement said his health had taken a turn for the worse because of an infection. More updates have followed since, with no sign that he was improving.

On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong changed his profile photo on his Facebook page, which many read as a hint of the mood among family members and a sign that they were preparing for the worst.

He replaced his cheerful photo with one of him looking atypically sombre. His wife, Madam Ho Ching, replaced her picture with one of a lotus.

At the SGH, a crowd of around 100 gathered in the evening - including many ordinary people. Many wore grim expressions, hoping to be the first to hear some fresh news or catch a glimpse of family members visiting. PM Lee visited his father with his wife.

Members of the public and journalists awaiting news of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore General Hospital on Mar 18, 2015.  -- ST PHOTO: NEO XIAOBIN

Pictures of the crowd at the SGH circulated via smartphones and social media through Wednesday night, as news spread that servicemen in certain units had been told to be on standby.

The SGH crowd dispersed after visiting hours were over at 8.30 pm and hospital staff and police told people to go home.

On Thursday, though, there were far fewer people. PM Lee and his wife visited again.

The rumours and hoaxes on Wednesday night began circulating after someone - or some group - doctored a 2010 release from the PMO homepage announcing Mrs Lee Kuan Yew's passing, to report falsely that Mr Lee had died.

That image was circulated widely, and led to the PMO clarifying that it was not true. The PMO also made a police report.

Prominent blogger mrbrown weighed in on Twitter, saying: "Please stop posting the fake PMO screen. It says MRS Lee in the URL."

However, a number of foreign media outlets, including American news network CNN and China's CCTV, Sina and Phoenix Chinese News went ahead to report Mr Lee's passing on Twitter and in TV news reports.

The Chinese outlets later apologised and retracted the information, but CNN sparked anger among some netizens here when it posted on its breaking news Twitter account: "Reports emerge questioning purported government message about Singapore founding father Lee Kuan Yew's health."

Reflecting a view of many who wondered why CNN did not correct the earlier misinformation right away, Ms Joy Lee said on the CNN Breaking News Twitter site: "You didn't realise it was a hoax? That's seriously hopeless and irresponsible."

CNN later deleted its original tweet and ran a story citing a Government spokesman dismissing the doctored image as a hoax.

Mr Lee's deteriorating health has also drawn media interest from around the world, with newspapers from Indonesia to the United States devoting prime space to reports on his health.

British newspaper The Guardian ran a piece titled "Singapore prepares for life after founding father Lee Kuan Yew", noting that he had "receded from public life in recent times, but he remains a revered figure in the country he led for 31 years."

In an article titled "Singapore tries to imagine a future without its founder, Lee Kuan Yew", the Washington Post said Mr Lee's departure could have implications for the United States. "Although Singapore is not a treaty ally, Washington has for decades relied on Lee to interpret events in Asia for it," the paper said.

Indonesian newspaper Kompas reported on its website that Mr Lee was a close friend of former president Suharto, and remains one of the longest-serving MPs in the world, having represented Tanjong Pagar since April 2, 1955.

As Singaporeans and the rest of the world wait for news about Mr Lee's health, many here have begun reflecting on what he means to them and to the nation.

Ms Lily Tan went to the PM's Facebook page and said: "PM Lee, whatever the significance of changing your profile picture at this time, perhaps it is to reflect your mood at the moment, please be assured that we feel the same way as you do now - because your Father is also Father to all Singaporeans."

Many penned tributes on their own Facebook pages. A Facebook community called Thank You Mr Lee Kuan Yew that was set up late last month has attracted some 63,000 "likes".

Inevitably, there have been some making nasty comments online, only to be quickly set right by others such as Mr Jackson Yap, who wrote: "For goodness sake, be gracious and have a sense of gratitude for the good that he has done for all of us in Singapore."

And there was Mr Ganesh Sundram, who wrote in a Facebook note: "Let's show a little bit of gratefulness. Whether he did right or wrong, the man who gave us this quality of life has reached the end of the tunnel. Let him go in peace and respect."

Yesterday evening, PM Lee updated his Facebook page with a photo of the sun setting over the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery in Bishan.

He had taken the picture himself while on a walk in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park last June. He wrote: "A beautiful and serene sunset closing a long and full day."

(Click to view larger version)

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Farewell Internet Explorer: Microsoft to introduce new web browser codenamed Project Spartan - PCs News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Farewell Internet Explorer: Microsoft to introduce new web browser codenamed Project Spartan - PCs News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Farewell Internet Explorer: Microsoft to introduce new web browser codenamed Project Spartan

After almost two decades of less-than-sterling performances, Microsoft has announced its intention to phase out venerable web browser Internet Explorer (IE).

A browser, which has been codenamed Project Spartan, will take its place when the software giant releases Windows 10 later this year.

IE, which has often been derided and mocked by users for being slow, error-prone and vulnerable to computer viruses, has struggled to cast off its negative image in recent years.

The last decade has seen browsers such as Apple's Safari, Google Chrome and Mozilla Firebox overtake it in the popularity stakes.

Microsoft's marketing chief Chris Capossela told The Verge: "We're now researching what the new brand, or the new name, for our browser should be in Windows 10."

He said that IE would still exist in some versions of Windows 10, mainly for "enterprise compatability".

Netizens, meanwhile, could not resist biding a not-so-fond farewell to IE with the hashtag #RIPInternetExplorer.

#RIPInternetExplorer #TheWalkingDead @TheWalkingDead

— Jack Foster (@JackkFosterr) March 18, 2015

#RIPInternetExplorer . You will be remembered as the #browser used to download other browsers. #IE #technews

— Sneh Pahilwani (@snehpahilwani) March 18, 2015

RIP Internet Explorer. Everyone knew you, and unlike you, were quick to change browsers. #RIPInternetExplorer #InternetExplorer #News

— Heather McBride (@Mizuartsee) March 18, 2015

Is it a murder? Or is this just a mercy-killing? #RIPInternetExplorer

— Dennis (@brnt_tost) March 18, 2015

The good old days...#RIPInternetExplorer

— (@OneDayOnlycoza) March 18, 2015

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Gunmen storm museum in Tunisia, killing 17 foreign tourists - More World Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Gunmen storm museum in Tunisia, killing 17 foreign tourists - More World Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Gunmen storm museum in Tunisia, killing 17 foreign tourists

Members of the Tunisian armed forces take up positions after gunmen reportedly took hostages near the country's parliament, outside the National Bardo Museum, Tunis, Tunisia on March 18, 2015.&nbsp;Gunmen opened fire on tourists getting off buses outside Tunisia's national museum on Wednesday, killing seven foreigners and a Tunisian and taking others hostage inside the building, witnesses and officials said.&nbsp;-- PHOTO: EPA

TUNIS (REUTERS, AFP) – Gunmen wearing military uniforms stormed Tunisia's national museum on Wednesday, killing 17 foreign tourists and two Tunisians in one of the worst militant attacks in a country that had largely escaped the region's "Arab Spring" turmoil.

Five Japanese as well as visitors from Italy, Germany, Poland and Spain were among the dead in the noon assault on Bardo museum inside the heavily guarded parliament compound in central Tunis, Prime Minister Habib Essid said.

"They just started opening fire on the tourists as they were getting out of the buses ... I couldn't see anything except blood and the dead," the driver of a tourist coach told journalists at the scene.

Scores of visitors fled into the museum and the militants - who authorities did not immediately identify – took hostages inside, officials said.

Work was suspended at parliament during the attack.

Museum employee Dhouha Belhaj Alaya told AFP she heard "intense gunfire" around noon.

"My co-workers were screaming 'Run! Run! Shots are being fired!'" she said. "We escaped out the back door with co-workers and some tourists."

Security forces entered around two hours later, killed two militants and freed the captives, a government spokesman said.

A police officer died in the operation.

PM Essid said authorities were hunting for possible accomplices.

"There is a possibility, but it is not certain, that (the two gunmen) could have been helped," Essid said.

"We are currently conducting extensive search operations to identify the two or three terrorists who possibly participated in the operation."

Interior ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui told AFP that about 100 tourists had been inside the museum when the attack occurred.

At least four French citizens were among the wounded, a diplomatic source said.

Italy's foreign ministry said at least two of its citizens had been wounded and about 100 were taken to safety by police during the attack.

A cruise ship carrying more than 3,100 passengers, the Costa Fascinosa, was docked in Tunis at the time, and some of those aboard had gone ashore planning to visit the museum, the cruise line said.

A statement did not specify if any passengers were inside the museum at the time of the attack. But it said the ship's departure was likely to be delayed and that a support team was headed from Genoa to work with passengers and local authorities.

The attack on such a high-profile target is a blow for the small North African country that relies heavily on European tourism and has mostly avoided major militant violence since its 2011 uprising to oust autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

Several Islamist militant groups have emerged in Tunisia since the uprising, and authorities estimate about 3,000 Tunisians have also joined fighters in Iraq and Syria – raising fears they could return and mount attacks at home.

"All Tunisians should be united after this attack which was aimed at destroying the Tunisian economy," Prime Minister Essid declared in a national address.

The local stock exchange dropped nearly 2.5 per cent and two German tour operators said they were cancelling trips from Tunisia's beach resorts to Tunis for a few days.

Accor, Europe's largest hotel group, said it had tightened security at its two hotels in Tunisia.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said Washington condemned the attack and continued "to support the Tunisian government's efforts to advance a secure, prosperous, and democratic Tunisia."

Television footage showed dozens of people, including elderly foreigners and one man carrying a child, running for shelter in the museum compound, covered by security forces aiming rifles into the air.

State television said 17 tourists were killed.

Among the dead were three Italians, two Colombians and two Spaniards, their country's governments said.

The museum is known for its collection of ancient Tunisian artefacts and mosaics and other treasures from classical Rome and Greece.

There were no immediate reports that the attackers had copied Islamic State militants in Iraq by targeting exhibits seen by hardliners as idolatrous.

The museum's white-walled halls set in the parliament compound are one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Tunisian capital.

Work was suspended at parliament during the attack. Islamist lawmaker Monia Brahim told AFP gunfire from the initial assault prompted committees to suspend their meetings as lawmakers were ordered to assemble in the main chamber.

"There was enormous panic," another lawmaker, Sayida Ounissi, wrote on Twitter, saying the attack took place during hearings on Tunisia's anti-terrorism law.

Shocked but defiant, hundreds of Tunisians later gathered in the streets of downtown Tunis waving the country's red and white crescent flag, and chanting against terrorism.

"I pass this message to Tunisians, that democracy will win and it will survive," President Beji Caid Essebsi said in a television statement.

"We will find more ways and equipment for the army to wipe out these barbarous groups for good."


Tunisia's uprising inspired "Arab Spring" revolts in neighbouring Libya and in Egypt, Syria and Yemen. But its adoption of a new constitution and staging of largely peaceful elections had won widespread praise and stood in stark contrast to the chaos that has plagued those countries.

After a crisis between secular leaders and the Islamist party which won the country's first election, Tunisia has emerged as a model of compromise politics and transition to democracy for the region.

But security forces have clashed with some Islamist militants, including Ansar al-Sharia which is listed as a terrorist group by Washington, mostly in remote areas near the border with Algeria.

Affiliates of Islamic State militants fighting in Iraq and Syria have also been gaining ground in North Africa, especially in the chaotic environment of Tunisia's neighbour Libya, where two rival governments are battling for control.

A senior Tunisian militant was killed while fighting for Islamic State in the Libyan city of Sirte over the past week. Security sources said he had been operating training camps and logistics.

The country is also fighting against the radicalisation of Muslim youth. Authorities say as many as 3,000 Tunisians have gone to Iraq, Syria and neighbouring Libya to fight in militant ranks, including with the Islamic State group.

Some 500 militants are believed to have since returned home.

Wednesday's assault was the worst attack involving foreigners in Tunisia since an Al-Qaeda suicide bombing on a synagogue killed 21 people on the tourist island of Djerba in 2002.

A militant blew himself up at the Tunisian beach resort of Sousse in late 2013 but no one else was killed or wounded.

Essebsi said the "top priority" for the government, which took office last month after Tunisia's first free elections, is "providing security and the battle against terrorism."

Tunisia kicked off the Arab Spring with its overthrow of Ben Ali and has taken pride in forming a stable and democratic government.

It is hoping to rebuild its once-burgeoning tourism industry, which is struggling to recover from the effects of the 2011 revolution.

Tourist arrivals dropped by 3 per cent last year.

Mohzen Marzouk, a presidential adviser, said Wednesday's attack "targeted our economy".

"But we cannot let this blow affect us. And I'm sure the world will keep its confidence in us," he said.

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Police looking into hoax website that falsely announced death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Police looking into hoax website that falsely announced death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Police looking into hoax website that falsely announced death of Mr Lee Kuan Yew

SINGAPORE - Police are looking into a hoax website that falsely announced the death of former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on Wednesday night.

The website, which bore the logo of the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), misled some foreign news organisations into mistakenly reporting Mr Lee's death.

The PMO said on Wednesday night that it had lodged a police report about the website. It added that no new information had been issued about Mr Lee's health since an update earlier in the day that Mr Lee was critically ill.

Police confirmed late Wednesday night that a report had been lodged and said they were looking into the matter.

"We take a very stern view against anyone who doctors a Government website to spread false information to deceive the public," Assistant Commissioner (AC) of Police Melvin Yong told The Straits Times.

"We will spare no effort to bring them to task. We also advise the public not to spread falsehoods," added AC Yong, who leads the police's Public Affairs Department.

Foreign media that carried erroneous reports about Mr Lee's death included CNN Breaking News and China's CCTV, Sina and Phoenix Chinese News.

CNN Breaking News said in a tweet shortly after 10pm that Mr Lee had died, citing a "government website".

But 10 minutes later, it published another tweet: "Reports emerge that statement attributed to Singapore government about Lee Kuan Yew may not be official."

CCTV, Sina and Phoenix Chinese News similarly reported on Mr Lee's death but shortly after said the reports had been wrong. Sina and Phoenix apologised for the mistake.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Lee Kuan Yew's condition worsens due to infection: PMO - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Lee Kuan Yew's condition worsens due to infection: PMO - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Lee Kuan Yew's condition worsens due to infection: PMO

SINGAPORE - Former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew's condition has worsened due to an infection, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Tuesday.

Mr Lee, 91, is on antibiotics and the doctors are closely monitoring his condition, the PMO added.

Mr Lee has been warded in the Singapore General Hospital since Feb 5, when he was hospitalised for severe pneumonia.

The last update on Mr Lee's health was on Saturday, when the PMO said his condition remained "largely unchanged" from a stable state.

Before that, the PMO had issued a statement on March 6 saying Mr Lee had improved slightly and continued to be watched closely by his doctors.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Video of passenger scolding taxi driver goes viral - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Video of passenger scolding taxi driver goes viral - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Video of passenger scolding taxi driver goes viral

SINGAPORE - A video exposing a cab passenger's rude behaviour and uploaded by the taxi driver's daughter has made waves online.

In the video uploaded on Faceboook, the passenger - who had booked a cab to take him from Chai Chee to Telok Ayer MRT station - could be heard raising his voice and scolding the taxi driver from the start of the journey.

Text accompanying the video, written by the driver's daughter, defended the driver and said: "Taxi uncles are not idiots, deaf or useless, they are someone's family. They are fathers who work 14 hours a day, seven days a week, even on public holidays, so people like me and my sis get an education."

In the clip, the passenger first accused the driver of failing to notice him on the main road even though he "wave wave wave wave wave". He then threatened to complain if the driver started the meter before the cab had travelled a certain distance.

He called the driver a "blind bat" and later compained that the cab was moving too slowly, and accused the driver of trying to cheat him of his money. He also told the driver not to let anyone cut into the space in front of the taxi.

The time stamp on the video said the journey started at 6.14pm on last Friday. The passenger demanded to be at his destination by 6.30pm at any cost.

The passenger also scolded the driver for raising the temperature in the taxi. Text in the video explained that the driver did that as the passenger was coughing badly - this was audible in the video.

Throughout the clip, the cabby could be heard trying to explain himself in his limited English, while the passenger rattled on fluently.

By Sunday, the video had attracted at least 350,000 views and thousands of comments.

Kind netizens wanted to give the driver a small token for the verbal abuse he had to suffer.

Outraged netizens even claimed to have found the man and revealed his details. However, the Facebook page of the man appears to have been removed and he could not be reached at the number posted.

When contacted, the taxi driver's 27-year-old daughter, who works in the media industry and did not want to be named, said: "I hope netizens will show respect for the rude passenger and not release his personal information online. What he did was wrong, but people make mistakes and we can only choose to be a bigger person and forgive them."

She added that since releasing the video, her family has been shown "tremendous support," and that she hopes people will be kinder and more compassionate to others.

She is also open to an apology from the passenger. "I hope he will give this story a happy ending by coming forward to apologise to my dad. We'll always be happy to have dinner with him," she said.

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Fake Milo found in Malaysia; Nestle teaches consumers how to spot the fake - South-east Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Aug 7 declared a holiday as part of Singapore's 50th birthday celebrations - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Aug 7 declared a holiday as part of Singapore's 50th birthday celebrations - Singapore More Singapore Stories News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Aug 7 declared a holiday as part of Singapore's 50th birthday celebrations

SINGAPORE – Singaporeans can mark an extra long weekend this year, as the President has declared August 7 a public holiday to celebrate SG50. 

This will make for an extended Jubilee weekend over four days – from Aug 7 to 10 – so Singaporeans can participate in commemorating the nation's 50 years of independence.

Over the long weekend, special programmes have also been prepared for Singaporeans around the island. Museums and heritage galleries will remain open during this period, along with special programmes at the Marina Bay Area, Singapore Botanic Gardens and the Singapore Sports Hub.

There will also be special concessions of up to 50 per cent at attractions such as the Jurong Bird Park and the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay, as well as free admission to the National Orchid Garden, Science Centre, and ActiveSG swimming pools and gyms islandwide.

"I am pleased that we can have the SG50 Public Holiday and a Jubilee Weekend filled with meaningful and inspiring activities, for Singaporeans to come together and celebrate as one. I hope everyone will take part in the activities and events organised around the island, and spend this special time together with your loved ones," said Minister Heng Swee Keat, chairman of SG50 Steering Committee, on Saturday.

Click here for full infographic of Jubilee Weekend programmes

On his Facebook page, Mr Heng, who is also Education Minister, said: "During this Jubilee Weekend, Singaporeans can look forward to special programmes islandwide to celebrate our family, our friends and our home. We also have special concessions at public attractions and facilities. Please see to learn more."

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Singapore Budget 2015: Medisave Minimum Sum requirement to be scrapped next year - Singapore Health News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Singapore Budget 2015: Medisave Minimum Sum requirement to be scrapped next year - Singapore Health News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Singapore Budget 2015: Medisave Minimum Sum requirement to be scrapped next year

SINGAPORE - From next January, people no longer need to have a minimum sum in their Medisave account before they can withdraw their Central Provident Fund (CPF) savings at age 55.

The requirement will be scrapped.

Currently, the stipulated amount is $43,500, and those with less have to top up their Medisave with money from the Ordinary Account in their CPF.

The change, announced by Health Minister Gan Kim Yong in Parliament yesterday, affects many people, as almost half of those who turn 55 currently do not have this sum in their Medisave.


But the maximum sum for Medisave will not be scrapped, Mr Gan said in his reply to Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar GRC), chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Health.

This sum, which will be raised annually to keep pace with the higher draw on Medisave by the elderly, will go up from $48,500 today to $49,800 next January.

Excess amounts will be moved to the Special and Retirement Accounts.

Mr Gan also said the Medisave maximum sum will be renamed Basic Health-care Sum from next January and will be fixed for each cohort when they turn 65, with no subsequent changes in their lifetime.

At present, any increase in the maximum sum applies to everyone, regardless of age.

The changes are part of a move to improve the Medisave scheme, said Mr Gan.

The first step was taken in January this year, he added, when the Medisave contribution rate of employers was increased to help Singaporeans save more for their health-care needs.

Another major change he announced concerns the amount of Medisave people can use to pay for the premiums of the private health insurance they buy. These schemes incorporate the basic MediShield insurance.

Now, the maximum they are allowed to use from Medisave for these Integrated Shield Plans (IPs) is a flat rate of $800 for people aged 65 and younger, rising to $1,400 for those aged 81 or older.

After MediShield Life replaces MediShield later this year, the amount that can be used for IPs will be tiered according to age groups. For the basic MediShield Life, there will be no limit on the use of Medisave for the premiums.

Mr Gan said: "We will have to balance between helping Singaporeans pay for their IP premiums using Medisave, and ensuring that Medisave is adequately preserved for health-care needs, especially for the lower- income."

Several MPs, including Dr Chia and Non-Constituency MP Lina Chiam, asked for Medisave to cover more chronic ailments.

Mr Gan said it will not include eczema, which Mrs Chiam had asked for. But he assured her there is subsidy for its treatment and financial help for those who still cannot afford to pay.

But from June 1 this year, Medisave can be used to pay for treatment of four more conditions: epilepsy, osteoporosis, psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis. It brings to 19 the number of chronic conditions covered by Medisave.

The amount allowed is up to $400 a year. But people aged 65 and older can use an additional $200 from next month.

The various moves are part of a masterplan to build a quality health-care system that will be sustainable in keeping Singaporeans healthy, said Mr Gan.

"We have made a lot of progress... but we must also look ahead into the future," he added.

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