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Caldecott Hill in the limelight at this year’s Singapore Heritage Festival

SINGAPORE: Did you know that years before Zoe Tay became the Queen of Caldecott Hill, there was already a royalty of sorts in the area?

During the 1800s, a merchant named Seah Eu Chin – who was known as the King of Pepper and Gambier – had set up plantation houses and grew crops in the area.

Mediacorp’s former home will be in the limelight at this year’s Singapore Heritage Festival (SHF), which is turning up the glitz and glamour by holding one of its main events at Caldecott Broadcast Centre.

This year’s edition, which comprises 110 programmes and activities, will run over three weekends from April 28 to May 14. 

The SHF’s Caldecott Hill events will take place over the first two weekends. Visitors will be treated to a festival village with a flea market and food stalls, as well as guided tours by television stars and crew. There will also be a performance by Cake Theatrical Productions titled Studio 6, which revisits some of Mediacorp’s famous shows such as The Little Nyonya, Under One Roof, and Growing Up.

The exhibition TV50 – which looks at Singapore’s broadcast history and culture from the 1960s and was previously shown at the National Museum of Singapore – will also be presented. At some point, stars from Mediacorp’s upcoming blockbuster Channel 8 drama The Lead are planning to drop by.

A set at Caldecott Broadcast Centre’s Studio 6, where many shows were filmed. (Photo: Yeo Kai Ting)

The historic Caldecott Hill is the first location for the festival’s new SHF Takes Over! programme.

“Through the years, we’ve seen how people have been very excited to be brought to new places or spaces they don’t normally get to go to, so we decided to try out this new initiative,” said Christie Chua, the festival’s creative director.

Caldecott was a perfect and timely choice as a first location. “Last year, we found out that most of Mediacorp was already moving (to the new Mediacorp Campus), so we thought this was a very good place to bring people.”

She also pointed out it was a place rich in history. Aside from being the site of pepper and gambier plantations, the area was also named after Andrew Caldecott, a British colonial administrator (hence, Andrew Road). In the 1930s, the first broadcasting station by the British Malayan Broadcasting Corporation was set up, which would morph into Radio Television Singapore, Singapore Broadcasting Corporation, Television Corporation of Singapore, and, eventually, Mediacorp.

After 80 years at Caldecott Hill, Mediacorp recently completed its move to its new Mediacorp Campus in one-north. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

FROM ZOE TO ZOO, AND MORE

Aside from Caldecott Hill, another unusual place the festival will head for is the Singapore Zoo, where there will be a trail, where people can learn more about some of its “heritage” occupants, such as Inuka the polar bear, Omar the white tiger, Komali the elephant and Astove the giant tortoise.

Introducing events that look at the world of broadcast and entertainment, as well as animals, is a way of expanding one’s idea of what heritage is all about, said Chua.

“That’s what we want to share with people; that after all these years, these are part of our heritage and the whole mind map of Singapore.”

One of the Singapore Zoo’s most senior occupants, the polar bear Inuka, is in the heritage spotlight this year. (Photo: Reuters)

SHF events will also take place at areas such as Little India, Bukit Pasoh, the National Museum of Singapore (NMS) and along the Singapore River.

At Little India, there will be events such as a Ramayana performance, food trails with celebrity chefs, among others. Meanwhile, the clans and associations at Bukit Pasoh will also be participating in various events, and there will be a special focus on Ann Siang Hill. Among the shows are a Taiwanese puppet group.

The Satay Club. (Photo: National Archives Singapore)

The Asian Civilisations Museum will be the focal point of events along the Singapore River on the final weekend, where hawker culture – including a nod to the Empress Place Food Centre and the Satay Club in the vicinity – will be revived through installations and exhibitions. Across the river, the Fullerton Hotel will be holding a performance tour through its area.

Meanwhile, the NMS will also look at other unique places in its festival-related events. Among these is a multimedia exhibition of works by mural artist Yip Yew Chong. Known for his murals found in Kampong Glam and Tiong Bahru, these will be given an animated touch at the museum’s Gallery 10 space.

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Singapore to pump additional S$200m into water industry over next 5 years

SINGAPORE: The Republic will pump an additional S$ 200 million into the water industry over the next five years, announced Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at the Lee Kuan Yew Prize award ceremony on Monday evening (Jul 11).

The new tranche of funding will be channelled into three key areas – research, commercialisation and export of technology, and talent development.

With the new funding, national water agency PUB hopes that the sector can provide a total of 15,000 jobs and add about S$ 2.8 billion to the economy by 2020. It is also looking to fund research projects that explore industrial water solutions, smart water systems and integration. 

Mr Lee said one of the reasons the Republic has had an adequate supply of water in Singapore is because of its investments in recycling. He noted that with investments in research and development (R&D) and water treatment plants, Singapore has reached a point where recycled used water comprises 30 per cent of the nation’s water supply.

Mr Lee added that Singapore will continue to spend more on R&D.

He said: “We’ve already spent I think more than S$ 600 million over the years developing membranes, techniques, processes to make recycled water. And for our next R&D programme over the next five years, we’re going to spend another S$ 200 million. We also have put a lot of effort into closing the water cycle.”

Meanwhile, PUB’s chief engineering and technology officer, Mr Harry Seah, said: “If you look 50 years down the road, you’ll find that most of the water will be used by industries. It’s very important for us to develop this industrial water solution so that we encourage or get the industries to recycle the water.”

According to Mr Seah, as the automation and smart water system gets more complex, the operation has to be safer and easier to maintain. “Integration is important because Singapore is a very small place,” he said.

“Through integration, where we try to integrate our Deep Tunnel Sewage System Phase 2, we integrate the refuse incineration plant so we see the synergies between the two, so that in the end as a total system, we achieve lower carbon footprint, which means we use less power and waste footprint,” he added.

Singapore’s investment in the water sector has seen significant results. The Government ploughed in S$ 470 million from 2006 to 2015. During this period, the sector added 14,000 jobs and S$ 2.2 billion to the economy, exceeding targets set of 11,000 jobs and S$ 1.7 billion in value-add to the economy.

Said Economic Development Board’s executive director of cleantech, Mr Goh Chee Kiong: “We view the water industry as one of the very few industry clusters in Singapore where we have a truly global leadership position in.

“By setting aside an additional S$ 200 million, we hope that we can translate more research ideas into commercialisable products and services and translate to real economic growth for both Singaporean companies as well as international companies.”

While smaller companies may face challenges in going international due to issues like a shortage of talent, IE Singapore said they can still gain a foothold in high-growth areas.

“Industrial wastewater is also another very critical segment,” said Mr Kow Juan Tiang, group director of environment and infrastructure solutions at IE Singapore. “Industrial wastewater is about certain factories coming together, so the size of the projects is smaller. This enables many Singapore companies which are smaller in size to participate in this particular area.”

At the ceremony on Monday, the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize was presented to the city of Medellin – the second-largest city in Colombia – while the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize was presented to Professor John Anthony Cherry, a renowned hydrogeologist.

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'Spiritual master' given 12 years’ jail, caning for drugging and raping woman

SINGAPORE: Preying on the woman’s fear of the supernatural, self-styled “spiritual master” Ow Siew Hoe lured her to his Bukit Batok flat in February 2014, where he gave her “holy water” to drink.

The victim, a 37-year-old sales assistant, became drowsy and giddy and too weak to push Ow away when he undressed her and raped her twice. The water had been spiked with Dormicum, a sleeping pill.

The 49-year-old was sentenced to 12 years’ jail and 12 strokes of the cane on Monday (Jul 4), after he pleaded guilty to one count of rape earlier this year. One count for sexual assault and a second rape charge were taken into consideration during sentencing.

Deputy Public Prosecutor David Khoo sought a stiff jail term and caning for Ow, who had “exploited and violated” the victim. He “robbed her of her right to say no … (and) left (her) with lasting emotional trauma that till this day she struggles to overcome”, he said. 

A psychiatric report detailed “irretrievable physical, emotional and psychological scars” on the victim. The woman became suicidal, had flashbacks of the rape, and became fearful of male strangers. She was also diagnosed with adjustment disorder with depressive mood, and two years later, still experiences symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the High Court heard Monday. 

The victim met Ow in 2014, and, convinced there were ghosts in her flat, sought his help to rid her home of “dirty things”. “The facts of this case are unique, in that they take place against the background of superstition and the supernatural,” DPP Khoo said, adding the 49-year-old had preyed on the victim’s fear to take advantage of her. 

He inspected the victim’s home in February 2014 for “supernatural beings”, and asked for the floor plan to analyse the flat’s fengshui. He also asked the victim’s father-in-law and his girlfriend, who had recently moved in, if they had brought “anything” with them.

The next day, Ow confirmed the victim’s suspicion that there were ghosts in the flat, also telling her that her father-in-law and his girlfriend had “cast black magic” on her food. Ow said he had some items that would “protect” the victim against the ghosts, and invited her to collect them from his flat. He also needed to “put something inside her body”, he said, instructing the victim not to tell anyone about this “sensitive matter”.

Prosecutors told the High Court on Monday that Ow had “weaved a web of impending doom” by warning the victim she was in imminent danger. He lured her to his flat, where he drugged and raped her. 

After the rape, Ow took “active steps” to avoid detection, DPP Khoo said. He even claimed he had raped the woman “for the sake of the protection of her family”. The prosecutor urged the court to “draw the necessary inferences” and conclude that Ow had spiked the “holy water” he gave the woman to drink with sedatives. 

Although there was no conclusive evidence that he had drugged the victim, Dormicum as well as several blister packs of Xanax were found at Ow’s home, showing he had access to sedative medication, the DPP said. 

For rape, Ow could have been jailed for up to 20 years and caned. 

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Para-athlete jailed 3 years for child trafficking, recruiting for prostitution

SINGAPORE: National para-athlete Adam Kamis was sentenced to 38 months’ jail on Monday (Jun 27) for recruiting several women, including a 16-year-old girl, into the sex trade.

Adam, 37, said he set up a social escort agency in early 2013 to get out of debt, and operated it for more than two years before he was arrested in 2015.

The one-armed athlete took to Facebook to recruit women, promising them a “high paying freelance job … Earn up to S$ 1,000 per assignment”, he wrote in the job advertisement.

To “pique their interest and gain (the women’s) trust”, Adam used the moniker “Angel Tan” to pass himself off as an escort girl working for the agency, Deputy Public Prosecutor Sharmila Sripathy-Shanaz told the court.

Besides getting victims to fill in a “sexually explicit” questionnaire, Adam would also ask the women to indicate the sexual services they were willing to provide to clients, DPP Sripathy-Shanaz said. Then, he would “interview” the women in his Yishun flat, when his wife was not at home.

Adam told the women to strip, so he could “inspect the condition of their bodies”. To prove that they were indeed willing to provide sexual services, Adam would “try out” the women by having sex with them, DPP Sripathy-Shanaz told the court.

The DPP noted that except for the 16-year-old girl, the other victims appear to have joined Adam’s agency voluntarily.

DPP Sripathy-Shanaz said Adam had clearly exerted pressure on the teen to make her compliant to his demands, by falsely assuring her the agency was legitimate, and that he had other underage girls working for him.

He persuaded her to let him “inspect” her body, assuring her that all the girls who attended the interview had to do the same. After she complied, Adam told her he needed to “test her sexual skills”, DPP Sripathy-Shanaz said.

Adam persisted despite the girl saying that she was only 16, telling her that no one would find out. He had sex with her, but in the days following, the girl stopped responding to his attempts to contact her again.

For procuring or attempting to procure a woman for the purpose of prostitution, Adam could have been sentenced to up to five years’ jail and a fine of up to S$ 10,000. For child trafficking, Adam could have been jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to S$ 100,000, or given up to six strokes of the cane.

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