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Growing up ain't what it used to be

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‘Hey Dad,’ one of my kids asked the other day, ‘What was your favorite fast food when you were growing up?’

‘We didn’t have fast food when I was growing up,’ I informed him. ‘All the food was slow.’

‘C’mon, seriously. Where did you eat?’

‘It was a place called at home,” I explained. ‘Grandma cooked every day and when Grandpa got home from work, we sat down together at the dining room table, and if I didn’t like what she put on my plate I was allowed to sit there until I did like it.’

By this time, the kid was laughing so hard I was afraid he was going to suffer serious internal damage, so I didn’t tell him the part about how I had to have permission to leave the table. But here are some other things I would have told him about my childhood if I figured his system could have handled it:

Some parents NEVER owned their own house, wore Levis, set foot on a golf course, travelled out of the country or had a credit card. In their later years they had something called a store card. The card was good only at Farmers (now Myers).

My parents never drove me to soccer practice. This was mostly because we never had heard of soccer. I had a bicycle that weighed probably 50 pounds, and only had one speed, (slow). We didn’t have a television in our house until I was 11, but my grandparents had one before that. It was, of course, black and white, but they bought a piece of colored plastic to cover the screen. The top third was blue, like the sky, and the bottom third was green, like grass. The middle third was red. It was perfect for programs that had scenes of fire trucks riding across someone’s lawn on a sunny day Some people had a lens taped to the front of the TV to make the picture look larger.

I was 13 before I tasted my first pizza, it was called ‘pizza pie.’ When I bit into it, I burned the roof of my mouth and the cheese slid off, swung down, plastered itself against my chin and burned that, too. It’s still the best pizza I ever had.

We didn’t have a car until I was 15. Before that, the only car in our family was my grandfather’s Ford. He called it a ‘machine.’

I never had a telephone in my room. The only phone in the house was in the living room and it was on a party line. Before you could dial, you had to listen and make sure some people you didn’t know weren’t already using the line.

Pizzas were not delivered to our home. But milk was.

All newspapers were delivered by boys and all boys delivered newspapers. I delivered a newspaper, six days a week. It cost 7 cents a paper, of which I got to keep 2 cents. I had to get up at 4 AM every morning. On Saturday, I had to collect the 42 cents from my customers. My favorite customers were the ones who gave me 50 cents and told me to keep the change. My least favorite customers were the ones who seemed to never be home on collection day.

Movie stars kissed with their mouths shut. At least, they did in the movies. Touching someone else’s tongue with yours was called French kissing and they didn’t do that in movies. I don’t know what they did in French movies. French movies were dirty and we weren’t allowed to see them.

If you grew up in a generation before there was fast food, you may want to share some of these memories with your children or grandchildren. Just don’t blame me if they bust a gut laughing.

Growing up isn’t what it used to be, is it?

Crop Circle Seminar

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Mega Julia Set - 900ft dia.
Crop Circles: The Evidence!

An amazing 3 hour presentation with international researcher, author and film producer: Janet Ossebaard.

Exclusive, Perth and Canberra Only!

Consider this:
* There have been 11,000+ crop circles reported worldwide since 1980.
* They’re usually formed in seconds and at night in pitch dark.
* The fake ones are EASILY identified with a few simple questions.
* Our current (known) technology can’t make them, and…
* They are increasing in number and complexity.
* So who (or what) is making them, and why…?

“If you are not dumbfounded by what is happening, you don’t know enough about this phenomenon!” G.K.

Presentation Highlights Include:
* The latest evidence and scientific data.
* Film footage showing the actual formation of a crop circle!
* 100s of crop circle photos…and much more.

Prepare to have your entire view of reality greatly enhanced for the better.

When: Fri 26th & Sat 27th October, 6 – 9pm, doors open at 5:30.
Where: Canberra, full details upon registration.
Cost: $45 or bring two friends and pay only $30 ea.
All Bookings: www.ticketmaster.com.au ~ 136 100.
Enquiries: Grant Robb: 0422 957 422

The New Bullying

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Your child may be being bullied where you can not protect them – cyberspace.
E-mail, instant messaging, websites, blogs and mobile phone text messaging are now all being used as channels for harassment that once were left in the schoolyard. This is the newest form of bullying and it has coined the name ‘Cyber-Bullying’.

Cyberspace allows bullies to be anonymous, as they are able to use pseudonyms on various websites and in chat rooms. If the victims can not identify them, there is little they can do to stop the bullying.
Using this virtual world also means that anyone can harass anyone else; they do not need to be bigger, stronger or have more friends than their victims. Physical attributes play no part.

In the playground, bullying is difficult to monitor despite the area being supervised. Cyberspace is not supervised – another fact that makes it an easy method for bullies. There are no teachers or parents around, as it is often the case that older children and teenagers have more ability to use the technology than their elders. Add to this the fact that it is not something that can be left at the school gate; most people have the internet at home and many young people carry mobile phones, and cyber-bullying becomes a virtually inescapable form of harassment.

Cyber-bullies will either directly send a threat or rude message to someone, or use others to do the bullying, usually without their knowledge. For example, a cyber-bully might contact someone who has made it clear that they do not want to be contacted, or write nasty things about them in a blog, or assume their identity in a chat room and post nasty comments without their knowledge or permission. Posing as someone else and making nasty comments will naturally result in other people reacting to those comments. These other people then effectively become the ‘bullies’, because of the way they will then treat the victim.

Cyber-bullying is more common among girls, who traditionally use social strategies to bully. However, this does not exclude boys from cyber-bullying, and it is a form of harassment on the increase. “We have polled many young teens and preteens and find that at least 60% have been cyber-bullied at least once, in one way or another,” says Parry Aftab, a privacy lawyer, author and advocate of good cybercitizenship. She has also, with the Wired Safety Group, created the website: http://www.stopcyberbullying.org

The rise of cyber-bullying shows that bullying is quite separate from violence, a point made by one school counsellor: “We have to understand what bullying is, and what bullying isn’t. bullying is not just about violence, it’s something different. If you had two kids in a pre-school sandpit fighting over the sand bucket and the spade, that’s not bullying. But if you have a group of students who were targeting and harassing one student or a group of students over a period of time, trying to use their power advantage over that student to make them feel uncomfortable, then that’s bullying.”

Regardless of whether it is cyber or playground bullying, school counsellors focus on changing how the victims react. A passive response to bullying will not help, but an aggressive response is likely to make the situation worse. If children do not learn how to cope effectively with bullying, their experience is likely to have a long-lasting negative effect on them.
“My experience with kids who have been bullied in primary school is that they frequently experience and expect that they will be bullied again in high school, because it has happened before. . they know how it works; ‘the kids just pick on me so I have to play the victim role,'” says the school counsellor. He also believes that the effects of ineffective coping skills can last well into adulthood. “When kids who have been victims become parents, they often become anxious about their children being bullied, and some of that anxiety and the strategies get passed onto the next generation.”

Any form of bullying will result in the victim feeling powerless, lonely and afraid. Other effects may include sleeping problems, reduced self-esteem, anxiety disorders and depression. Being bullied may even make children feel physically sick. In situations where the bullying is continued over a long period of time, the victim may even start to believe the nasty things that are being said about them.

Peter van Rijswijk, the Year Nine Coordinator at St Francis Xavier College, has seen cyber-bullying become prevalent this year. He and the other year coordinators at the college help the victims as much as they can: “We counsel them, in saying ‘well, you don’t have to be on the website, you can actually block them’. That’s one way of doing it.”
However, cyber-bullying is not necessarily a school-based form of harassment. “A lot of this takes place outside of school time, so you’ve got to ask yourself ‘where does our jurisdiction start and finish?’ and that’s the biggest problem that we have. But we usually involve the parents as well and say ‘look, this is what’s happening, this is the situation.’ We get the kids to keep a copy of everything that’s been said on the internet, and then we involve the parents, and if the police need to be involved at that stage we call the police as well.”
According to Mr van Rijswijk, it is important to teach the students resilience to bullying.
“You build up their self-confidence and their strengths, and you rely on their strengths, and that helps them cope with the bullying later on, if it reoccurs.”

The parents of bullying victims often feel powerless to do anything to help their child. However, there are several things that are generally recommended. Above all, parents should talk to their children about the bullying and listen to all their thoughts and concerns without brushing any of them aside. It is important that they feel they are being taken seriously. Parents can also help their children brainstorm ways to cope with or avoid the bullying, i.e. not visiting certain websites, or changing their e-mail address or mobile phone number if necessary. It is also important to focus on other, more positive things in their lives. In some cases, professional help may be needed. Further advice can be found at http://www.stopcyberbullying.org, an excellent source of information for victims of cyberbullying, as well as their parents and teachers.

Major Projects Symposium a first for Canberra

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Canberra’s first Major Projects Symposium will be conducted as part of the ACT Government’s India in Focus event, to be held on 22 and 23 October.

Chief Minister and Minister for Business and Economic Development Jon Stanhope said the Major Projects Symposium had been crafted to appeal to local, national and international investors and supplier audiences.

“The Symposium will be held on day two of India in Focus and includes three sessions relevant to the wide range of construction and development projects currently under way or under consideration,”
Mr Stanhope said.

“It will give participants a chance to make contact with decision-makers in both the private and public sectors, and find out more about the opportunities provided by these significant major projects in Canberra.”

The first session will focus on Canberra’s investment environment. Guests will hear about the Griffin Legacy from Annabelle Pegrum of the National Capital Authority; Canberra’s commercial industrial market from Steve Flannery of CB Richard Ellis; ANU Exchange from Professor Ian Chubb of the ANU; and Woden Green and other Hindmarsh projects from Medy Hassan of the Hindmarsh Group.

Session two will give guests the opportunity to hear about a range of infrastructure projects, including the Molonglo projects from David Sutherland of the Molonglo Group; the Canberra Technology City project from Carsten Larsen of ActewAGL and TransACT; and various airport projects from Tom Snow of the Capital Airport Group.

The Australian India Business Council will present the Accor Qantas Australia India Address, featuring Shadow Minister for Trade & Regional Development, the Hon Simon Crean MP.

Afternoon sessions will showcase the commercial market and innovative residential accommodation projects, with speakers including Malcolm Leslie from Canberra Investment Corporation; Paul Powderly from Colliers; John Haskins from the Land Development Agency; and Bruce Mackenzie from Goodwin Aged Services Limited.

“India in Focus and the Major Projects Symposium will provide an excellent opportunity to forge partnerships and encourage future trade and investment opportunities,” Mr Stanhope said.

The registration fee for the full-day Major Projects Symposium, including the Accor Qantas India Australia lunch is $165. The full two-day India in Focus program, including the Gala Dinner, costs $385. For more information and to obtain a program and registration form, visit www.business.act.gov.au.

ACT secures equine vaccine for racing industry

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About 700 ACT thoroughbreds, harness racing horses and high-value equestrian horses will start receiving vaccine against the equine flu, possibly within 24 hours, after Chief Minister Jon Stanhope secured an agreement to include the ACT in the vaccination regime today.

Mr Stanhope met Agriculture Ministers from Queensland, NSW, Victoria and the Commonwealth in Sydney today and emerged with an agreement that high-value horses in the ACT would be vaccinated, as part of a national bid to preserve economic activity in the equestrian industry.

“While the priority is still on containment and eradication, it was today agreed to support parts of the industry that are still making an economic contribution,” Mr Stanhope said.

“The ACT has been guaranteed vaccine for all competing thoroughbreds, all harness racing animals and all high-value competitive horses – totalling in the order of 700 horses across the Territory.”

Mr Stanhope said the precise timing of the vaccinations would be resolved in discussions with the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, but the vaccines could become available as early as tomorrow.

“I am pleased at this development, which I have been strongly pushing for, and which I believe will help ensure that the ACT and our local racing industry remain free of equine influenza,” Mr Stanhope.

Trek India for charity!

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Mystical sight of Indian Himalayas
Will you move mountains for deaf children? – Read on about our exciting new adventure to India

The Shepherd Centre have just launched a brand new trek to take you through one of the world’s most breathtaking mountains ranges: the Indian Himalayas. This is a trip of a lifetime and NOT to be missed!

You will discover beautiful valleys, walk along a glacier, visit the Dalai Lama’s home in Dharamsala, sleep under the stars in lush meadows and visit the majestic, awe inspiring Taj Mahal.

Register now for your chance to set foot on the Himalayas and explore this impressive country! Registration for only $500!

For more information visit www.shepherdcentre.com.au/treks or call Julie on 02 9351 7894

Speed cameras nothing more than 'revenue raisers'

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Three fatal crashes on Long gully Road in the past two years lead Liberals to question whether new speed cameras in Canberra and the ACT are nothing more than ‘revenue raisers’.

Labor states that the cameras, placed in identified high risk areas including one along the Tuggeranong Parkway were put in to slow down traffic, minimize accidents and ultimately save lives. Although data provided by Minister for Urban Services, John Hargreaves during question time showed that of seventy five deaths over a five year period only two of these were on the Tuggeranong Parkway.

This is in high contrast to three fatal crashes in the last two years on Long gully Road, an area that is devoid of fixed speed cameras. This encouraged liberals to question the real motive of the Stanhope government.

Mr Hargreaves defended the positioning of the speed cameras stating that ‘when you couple the crash damage with volumes of vehicles going through it as well as the maximum and mean speeds you can see there is a need for change in driver behaviour’

He also maintained that money from speed cameras goes into consolidated revenue, which is invested with the road safety trust of the NRMA.

Although Liberals continue to assert that ‘based on the supposed rationale provided by the Minister, the Opposition questions why the first available fixed speed camera wasn’t placed on Long Gully Road’

Canberra's New Health Community

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Rejuvenate Now!
On the weekend of 17th and 18th November
Come to a Rejuvenation Experience and bring at least 2 friends who would not otherwise have access to this wellness environment – Make a difference – give them an invite to good health!

Expect the following results:

. Feel more energetic- lighter, ready for a great Summer
. learn to look after yourself
. lose those aches and pains
. a glowing complexion
. Clear your headspace by cleaning up issues in your life that sap your energy.
The workshop will mark the start of a 10 day rejuvenation experience that will have you feelin’ great! Learn how to cook simple ‘n easy healthy foods, how to give and receive a basic Shiatsu massage and more. Take the info home and practice it for a total of 10 days.
10 days? Yes, in 10 days your blood plasma renews itself so you’ll be well on the way to creating a new you. (Blood cells renew themselves every 3-4 months, and this is what creates YOU)

Our dedicated instructors will demonstrate gentle non-invasive wellness exercises. Also explore the emotional aspects of well being. Take advantage of this great opportunity, Call now.

One of the facilitators, Maureen, a qualified Wholefoods Cooking Instructor and Shiatsu masseuse, is passionate about empowering others to create their own good health, starting in your kitchen.

For more information call Maureen 0417 192 392

The 2008 Beijing Olympics: a chance for Human Rights in China

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Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. Search terms resulting in nothing. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information. This is all part of online life in China, says Amnesty International Australia – and without transparency and information flows, human rights abuses can continue unchecked.
It’s less than a year until the Beijing Olympics, which, says Amnesty International, will offer an unprecedented opportunity to help create a more transparent society in China.
Freedom of expression is a universal human right, and Amnesty International believes the Games can be used as a positive step towards creating a society in China that upholds basic human rights. The organisation also wants to make sure any reforms made for the Olympics remain in place long after the Games are over.

Amnesty International’s global campaign for human rights in China is focused on ending online censorship; abolishing the death penalty; ending torture in detention; and protecting human rights defenders in China.
Not only is all media in China is strictly controlled by the government, internet access is also heavily censored. Restricting the internet helps China continue to hide abuses like the death penalty, torture and the persecution of human rights defenders. Expressing your opinion in China can result in jail, torture and death. People are silenced and what happens in China is clouded in secrecy.
This complex system of censorship is assisted by major international internet companies such as Yahoo, Google and Microsoft. These three companies have entered into a pledge with the Chinese Government, allowing them to operate in China but only under conditions that involve the censorship of their users.

For example, using information supplied by Yahoo the Chinese government sentenced Shi Tao to 10 years in jail for sending an email to a US-based website about the 15th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

In their bid for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the Chinese Government made a commitment to human rights:
“By allowing Beijing to host the Games you will help in the development of human rights”, said Liu Jingmin, Vice-President of Beijing Olympic Bid Committee, in April 2001 .
Yet, as the Games approach, the state of human rights in China is getting worse.

Over the coming year Amnesty International Australia will campaign to challenge the Chinese system of internet repression. And you can help!

1. Learn more about China’s human rights abuses by visiting the Amnesty International Australia website www.amnesty.org.au. You may also pick up a copy of Amnesty International Australia’s China Campaign News from the Action Centre (Suite 8, Level 1, 134 Bunda St, Civic) or subscribe to an e-newsletter.
2. Help spread the word – encourage your friends and family to get involved.
3. Join the ACT/SNSW China Campaign Team. For more information, contact Athena at chinacampaignact@amnesty.org.au or 6202 7501.
4. Join in Amnesty International Australia’s activities for Journalists Day in China on 8 November. For more information, please call 6202 7501 or email athena_nguyen@amnesty.org.au.

Gungahlin records a dry, windy start to spring 2007.

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Gungahlin''s unofficial Weather Guru - Darren Giles
Gungahlin records a dry, windy start to spring.

Weather conditions across Gungahlin during September were dominated by cloudy skies and gusty NW winds. It was also rather dry.

Nights were cool to cold, with an average minimum of 3.8 degrees; down slightly on the 4.3 degrees recorded last September. The warmest night for the month occurred on September 30, when the temperature was a mild 8.3 degrees, while on September 16, it dropped to a frosty -0.6 degrees.

Days were generally cool to mild and cloudy, with an average maximum of 16.0 degrees; down on last September’s average of 18.0 degrees. The highest temperature for the month was a pleasant 20.9 degrees on September 24, while on September 11, cloudy skies and fresh N/NW winds kept Gungahlin’s maximum temperature to a cool 11.6 degrees.

Gungahlin recorded 8 frosts during September (7 frosts last year) and there were no fogs (2 fogs last year).

Winds at the Weather Centre averaged at 5.2 km/h during September, with the strongest gust for the month a fresh 61.2 km/h from the N/NW, recorded on September 28.

For the second September in a row, rainfall was well down on average, with Gungahlin recording just 14.5mm of rain during the month, over 13 days. This made it the driest September in Gungahlin since records began back in 1998. Falls in other parts of Canberra were also disappointing, with 14.6mm recorded at Canberra AP, 19.0mm at Tuggeranong and 22.6mm at nearby Tidbinbilla. Gungahlin’s total rainfall so far in 2007 stands at 281.6mm, down on the 299.5mm that fell over the same period last year.

Around Canberra – September 2007

Gungahlin: Ave Min 3.8; Ave Max 16.0; Low -0.6; High 20.9; Rain 14.5mm
Canberra AP: Ave Min 3.5 Ave Max 17.1; Low -2.3; High 22.1; Rain 14.6mm
Tuggeranong: Ave Min 2.6 Ave Max 17.4; Low -2.5; High 22.5; Rain 19.0mm
Tidbinbilla: Ave Min 2.9 Ave Max 16.4; Low -1.0; High 20.0; Rain 22.6mm

Canberra’s October outlook: Current indications are for a slightly warmer and sunnier than normal October in the Canberra region. Daytime temperatures should average at around 20 degrees, and nights at 7 degrees. Unfortunately, rainfall prospects continue to look fairly poor and it’s unlikely that Canberra will receive the 65mm that normally falls in October.

Have your cake and eat it to

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Have your cake and eat it too: Access your super while at work.
Those over 55 years of age but who want to continue working can now access their super – thanks to a Government initiative that can provide benefits for many groups of people, including those approaching retirement, says local financial adviser, Wayne Byrne, from Vanzwan Accounting Plus.
Since 1 July 2005, the Government has made available ‘transition to retirement’ pensions. These pensions offer a series of periodic payments similar to other retirement income streams. Wayne, says that although they do not allow lump sum withdrawals they are flexible in the sense that they can be stopped at any time should the person wish to go back to work full time or revert back to accumulation phase. In addition, once a person does retire, it becomes an ordinary pension and lump sums can be withdrawn.
According to Wayne those working part-time are ideal candidates for this type of measure. “A person 55 or over can still work part time but supplement their income if they need to, by accessing part of their super. They do not need to fulfil any Work Test requirements and furthermore, they can roll back their funds at a later date if they want to start building up their super again.”
Wayne also points out that given the favourable superannuation tax environment, there could also be some tax savings involved by commencing a pension whilst still working. “The earnings in your superannuation fund are normally taxed at 15%. However by commencing a ‘transition to retirement’ pension, the earnings on assets that support the pension become tax free.”
One strategy which can be used to take advantage of these tax savings is to salary sacrifice a significant portion of your income and then commence a ‘transition to retirement’ pension to replace your employment income.
However, Wane warns that although accessing super early can be useful for some, it needs to be carefully planned. “The most important thing to keep in mind is to ensure that you still have plenty of super savings to fund your retirement when you are older. Using some of your super early might assist you now, but could also leave you short later down the track.”
“At the end of the day, it will come down to your individual financial position. Seek professional advice if you are unsure” says Wayne.
Wayne Byrne is an Authorised Representative of Count Financial Limited, an Australian Financial Services Licensee (No. 227232) and Australia’s largest independently owned network of financial planning accountants and advisers.
The advice provided is general advice only as, in preparing it, we did not take into account your investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs. Before making an investment decision on the basis of this advice, you should consider how appropriate the advice is to your particular investment needs, and objectives.
More information:
Wayne Byrne
Vanzwan Accounting Plus Pty Ltd
02 6251 4888

Jazzy's Flower Garden

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Jazzy''s Garden
JAZZY’S FLOWER GARDEN

It’s a pretty daisy garden,
With stones and tigridias,
I go out there to play all day,
And have some brilliant ideas!

The way I slosh into the pond,
With water in my ears,
The photinas go past like nothing,
My eyes are filling with tears!

It’s not the same without my pelargonium,
Which have disappointedly died,
I used to love them more than anything,
They were always by my side.

I’m pushing past the hypoxis and the crataegus,
I’m really in a hurry,
I’m invited to a fairy party
With chocolate and delicious fairy curry!

The asparagus are flying past me,
I’m on a dragon-fly’s back,
I can barely see the aucuba and aster,
As we have enough in the pack!

All the flowers of my dreams:
Cistus, chrysamthemum, and a daisy,
The delphinium is in there too,
The daisies have all gone crazy!

By Matilda Saddington
Age 7
Gold Creek Primary School, ACT

Singapore, a friend indeed to Burma

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Burma''s Monks

The island-state may have much to lose if Burma’s generals don’t retain control, writes Eric Ellis.
SINGAPORE is not just skilled at mandatory executions of drug traffickers, running an excellent airport and selling cameras on Orchard Road. It also does a very useful trade keeping Burma’s military rulers and their cronies afloat.
Much attention is focused on China and its hosting of the Olympic Games next year as a diplomatic trigger point for placing pressure on Burma’s junta. But there is a group of government businessmen-technocrats in Singapore who will also be closely – and perhaps nervously – monitoring the brutality in Rangoon. Were they so inclined, their influence could go a long way to limiting the misery being inflicted on Burma’s 54 million people.

Collectively known as Singapore Inc, they gather around the $150 billion state-owned investment house Temasek Holdings, controlled by Singapore’s long-ruling Lee family. With an estimated $3 billion invested in Burma (and more than $20 billion in Australia), Singapore Inc companies have been some of the biggest investors in and supporters of Burma’s military junta – this while its Government, on the rare times it is asked, gently suggests a softly-softly diplomatic approach toward the junta. When it comes to Burma, Singapore pockets the high morals it likes to wave at the West.

Singapore’s one-time head of foreign trade said, as his country was building links with Burma in the mid-1990s: “While the other countries are ignoring it, it’s a good time for us to go in. You get better deals, and you’re more appreciated. Singapore’s position is not to judge them and take a judgmental moral high ground.” But by providing Burma’s pariah junta with crucial material and equipment mostly denied by Western sanctions Singapore has helped keep the military government and its cronies afloat for 20 years, indeed since the last time the generals killed the citizens they are supposed to protect with industrial efficiency and brutality, as now. Without the support from Singapore, Burma’s junta would be greatly weakened and perhaps even fail. But after two decades of profitable business with the generals and their cronies, that is about the last thing Singapore Inc is likely to do.

There’s too much money to be made. From hotels, airlines, military equipment and training, crowd control equipment and sophisticated telecommunications monitoring devices, Singapore is a crucial manager and supplier to the junta, and Burma’s economy. It is impossible to spend any meaningful time in Burma and not make the junta richer, via contracts with Singapore suppliers to the tourism industry. Singapore’s hospitals also keep its leaders alive – the 74-year-old strongman Than Shwe has been receiving treatment for intestinal cancer in a government hospital in Singapore, in a ward heavily protected by Singapore security. Much of Singapore’s activity in Burma has been documented by an analyst working in Australia’s Office of National Assessments. Andrew Selth is recognised as a leading authority on Burma’s military. Now a research fellow at Queensland’s Griffith University, Selth has written extensively for years on how close Singapore Inc is to the junta.

Often writing as “William Ashton” in Jane’s Intelligence Review, Selth has described how Singapore has sent guns, rockets, armoured personnel carriers and grenade launchers to the junta, some of it trans-shipped from stocks seized by Israel from Palestinians in southern Lebanon. Singaporean companies have provided computers and communications equipment for Burma’s defence ministry and army, while upgrading the junta’s ability to communicate with regional commanders – so crucial as protesters take to the streets of 20 cities in Burma. The sheer scale of the protests is causing logistical headaches for the Tatmadaw, as Burma’s military is known.

“Singapore cares little about human rights, in particular the plight of the ethnic and religious minorities in Burma,” Selth writes. “Having developed one of the region’s most advanced armed forces and defence industrial support bases, Singapore is in a good position to offer Burma a number of inducements which other ASEAN [Association of South-East Asian Nations] countries would find hard to match.” Selth says Singapore also provided the equipment for a “cyber war centre” to monitor dissident activity, while training Burma’s secret police, whose sole job appears to be ensuring democracy groups are crushed. Monitoring dissidents is an area where Singapore has expertise. After almost five decades in power, the Lee family-controlled People’s Action Party ranks behind only the communists of China, Cuba and North Korea in leadership longevity.

“This centre is reported to be closely involved in the monitoring and recording of foreign and domestic telecommunications, including the satellite telephone conversations of Burmese opposition groups,” Selth writes.
Singaporean government companies, such as the arms supplier Singapore Technologies, dominate the communications and military sector in Singapore. Selth writes: “It is highly unlikely that any of these arms shipments to Burma could have been made without the knowledge and support of the Singapore Government.” He notes that Singapore’s ambassadors to Burma have included a former senior Singapore Armed Forces officer and a past director of Singapore’s defence-oriented Joint Intelligence Directorate. “It is curious that Singapore chose to assign someone with a military background to this new member of ASEAN and not one of its many capable professional diplomats.” Selth writes that after Burma’s 1988 crackdown, in which 3000 democracy protesters were killed, “the first country to come to the regime’s rescue was in fact Singapore”.

In an interview with the chief executive officer of Singapore Technologies, Peter Seah, at his office in Singapore, the Herald asked about the model of an armoured personnel carrier made by his company that sat on his office table. Seah said his company sold the vehicles “only to allies”. Did that include Burma, given Singapore helped sponsor the military regime into ASEAN? Seah was not specific: “We only sell to allies and we make sure they are responsible.” He did not say how. For its part, Temasek does not respond to questions about its activities in Burma. A Singaporean diplomat to Burma, Matthew Sim, wrote a handbook for Singaporean businesspeople, Myanmar on My Mind. It is full of tips for doing business in Burma, although odd given Singapore’s contempt for corruption and lawbreakers. “A little money goes a long way in greasing the wheels of productivity,” he writes.

A chapter headed Committing Manslaughter When Driving describes the appropriate action for a Singaporean if they accidentally kill a pedestrian in Burma. “Firstly, the international businessman could give the family of the deceased some money as compensation and dissuade them from pressing charges. Secondly, he could pay a Myanmar citizen to take the blame by declaring that he was the driver in the fatal accident. An international businessman should not make the mistake of trying to argue his case in a court of law when it comes to a fatal accident, even if he is in the right. He highly probably will spend time in jail regretting it. It is a sad and hard world. The facts of life can be ugly.”
Describing Singapore’s usefulness to Burma, Sim says “many successful Myanmar businessmen have opened shell companies” in Singapore “with little or no staff, used to keep funds overseas”. The companies are used to keep business deals outside the control of Burma’s central bank, enabling Singaporeans and others to make transactions with Burma in Singapore, he says.

Sim may be referring to junta cronies such as Tay Za and the druglord Lo Hsing Han. Lo is an ethnic Chinese, from Burma’s traditionally Chinese-populated and opium-rich Kokang region in the country’s east, bordering China. Lo controls a heroin empire and one of Burma’s biggest companies, Asia World, which the US Drug Enforcement Agency describes as a front for his drug trafficking. Asia World controls toll roads, industrial parks and trading companies.
Singapore is the Lo family’s window to the world, a base for controlling several companies. Lo’s son Steven, who has been denied a visa to the US because of his drug links, is married to a Singaporean, Cecilia Ng. The two reportedly control a Singapore-based trading house, Kokang Singapore Pty Ltd. The couple transit Singapore at will. A former US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Robert Gelbard, has said half of Singapore’s investment in Burma has been “tied to the family of narco-trafficker Lo Hsing Han”.

Tay Zar, who is linked romantically to a daughter of Than Shwe, is also well known in Singapore. His fleet of Ferrari, Lexus and Mercedes cars was shipped to Burma from Singapore. When on the island, he likes to stay at the tacky Meritus Mandarin hotel on Orchard Road, close to the hospitals favoured by his senior military patrons from Burma.
Tay Za was featured in the Singaporean media last year toasting the launch of his new airline, Air Bagan, with the head of Singapore’s aviation authority. Dissident groups say the trade-off for Tay Za’s government business contracts in Burma is to fund junta leaders’ medical trips to Singapore. So when the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, vows to impose financial sanctions on Burma’s regime, as he did this week, perhaps he should be calling Singapore’s bankers rather than Australia’s.

Singapore, a friend indeed to Burma

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The island-state may have much to lose if Burma’s generals don’t retain control, writes Eric Ellis.
SINGAPORE is not just skilled at mandatory executions of drug traffickers, running an excellent airport and selling cameras on Orchard Road. It also does a very useful trade keeping Burma’s military rulers and their cronies afloat.
Much attention is focused on China and its hosting of the Olympic Games next year as a diplomatic trigger point for placing pressure on Burma’s junta. But there is a group of government businessmen-technocrats in Singapore who will also be closely – and perhaps nervously – monitoring the brutality in Rangoon. Were they so inclined, their influence could go a long way to limiting the misery being inflicted on Burma’s 54 million people.

Collectively known as Singapore Inc, they gather around the $150 billion state-owned investment house Temasek Holdings, controlled by Singapore’s long-ruling Lee family. With an estimated $3 billion invested in Burma (and more than $20 billion in Australia), Singapore Inc companies have been some of the biggest investors in and supporters of Burma’s military junta – this while its Government, on the rare times it is asked, gently suggests a softly-softly diplomatic approach toward the junta. When it comes to Burma, Singapore pockets the high morals it likes to wave at the West.

Singapore’s one-time head of foreign trade said, as his country was building links with Burma in the mid-1990s: “While the other countries are ignoring it, it’s a good time for us to go in. You get better deals, and you’re more appreciated. Singapore’s position is not to judge them and take a judgmental moral high ground.” But by providing Burma’s pariah junta with crucial material and equipment mostly denied by Western sanctions Singapore has helped keep the military government and its cronies afloat for 20 years, indeed since the last time the generals killed the citizens they are supposed to protect with industrial efficiency and brutality, as now. Without the support from Singapore, Burma’s junta would be greatly weakened and perhaps even fail. But after two decades of profitable business with the generals and their cronies, that is about the last thing Singapore Inc is likely to do.

There’s too much money to be made. From hotels, airlines, military equipment and training, crowd control equipment and sophisticated telecommunications monitoring devices, Singapore is a crucial manager and supplier to the junta, and Burma’s economy. It is impossible to spend any meaningful time in Burma and not make the junta richer, via contracts with Singapore suppliers to the tourism industry. Singapore’s hospitals also keep its leaders alive – the 74-year-old strongman Than Shwe has been receiving treatment for intestinal cancer in a government hospital in Singapore, in a ward heavily protected by Singapore security. Much of Singapore’s activity in Burma has been documented by an analyst working in Australia’s Office of National Assessments. Andrew Selth is recognised as a leading authority on Burma’s military. Now a research fellow at Queensland’s Griffith University, Selth has written extensively for years on how close Singapore Inc is to the junta.

Often writing as “William Ashton” in Jane’s Intelligence Review, Selth has described how Singapore has sent guns, rockets, armoured personnel carriers and grenade launchers to the junta, some of it trans-shipped from stocks seized by Israel from Palestinians in southern Lebanon. Singaporean companies have provided computers and communications equipment for Burma’s defence ministry and army, while upgrading the junta’s ability to communicate with regional commanders – so crucial as protesters take to the streets of 20 cities in Burma. The sheer scale of the protests is causing logistical headaches for the Tatmadaw, as Burma’s military is known.

“Singapore cares little about human rights, in particular the plight of the ethnic and religious minorities in Burma,” Selth writes. “Having developed one of the region’s most advanced armed forces and defence industrial support bases, Singapore is in a good position to offer Burma a number of inducements which other ASEAN [Association of South-East Asian Nations] countries would find hard to match.” Selth says Singapore also provided the equipment for a “cyber war centre” to monitor dissident activity, while training Burma’s secret police, whose sole job appears to be ensuring democracy groups are crushed. Monitoring dissidents is an area where Singapore has expertise. After almost five decades in power, the Lee family-controlled People’s Action Party ranks behind only the communists of China, Cuba and North Korea in leadership longevity.

“This centre is reported to be closely involved in the monitoring and recording of foreign and domestic telecommunications, including the satellite telephone conversations of Burmese opposition groups,” Selth writes.
Singaporean government companies, such as the arms supplier Singapore Technologies, dominate the communications and military sector in Singapore. Selth writes: “It is highly unlikely that any of these arms shipments to Burma could have been made without the knowledge and support of the Singapore Government.” He notes that Singapore’s ambassadors to Burma have included a former senior Singapore Armed Forces officer and a past director of Singapore’s defence-oriented Joint Intelligence Directorate. “It is curious that Singapore chose to assign someone with a military background to this new member of ASEAN and not one of its many capable professional diplomats.” Selth writes that after Burma’s 1988 crackdown, in which 3000 democracy protesters were killed, “the first country to come to the regime’s rescue was in fact Singapore”.

In an interview with the chief executive officer of Singapore Technologies, Peter Seah, at his office in Singapore, the Herald asked about the model of an armoured personnel carrier made by his company that sat on his office table. Seah said his company sold the vehicles “only to allies”. Did that include Burma, given Singapore helped sponsor the military regime into ASEAN? Seah was not specific: “We only sell to allies and we make sure they are responsible.” He did not say how. For its part, Temasek does not respond to questions about its activities in Burma. A Singaporean diplomat to Burma, Matthew Sim, wrote a handbook for Singaporean businesspeople, Myanmar on My Mind. It is full of tips for doing business in Burma, although odd given Singapore’s contempt for corruption and lawbreakers. “A little money goes a long way in greasing the wheels of productivity,” he writes.

A chapter headed Committing Manslaughter When Driving describes the appropriate action for a Singaporean if they accidentally kill a pedestrian in Burma. “Firstly, the international businessman could give the family of the deceased some money as compensation and dissuade them from pressing charges. Secondly, he could pay a Myanmar citizen to take the blame by declaring that he was the driver in the fatal accident. An international businessman should not make the mistake of trying to argue his case in a court of law when it comes to a fatal accident, even if he is in the right. He highly probably will spend time in jail regretting it. It is a sad and hard world. The facts of life can be ugly.”
Describing Singapore’s usefulness to Burma, Sim says “many successful Myanmar businessmen have opened shell companies” in Singapore “with little or no staff, used to keep funds overseas”. The companies are used to keep business deals outside the control of Burma’s central bank, enabling Singaporeans and others to make transactions with Burma in Singapore, he says.

Sim may be referring to junta cronies such as Tay Za and the druglord Lo Hsing Han. Lo is an ethnic Chinese, from Burma’s traditionally Chinese-populated and opium-rich Kokang region in the country’s east, bordering China. Lo controls a heroin empire and one of Burma’s biggest companies, Asia World, which the US Drug Enforcement Agency describes as a front for his drug trafficking. Asia World controls toll roads, industrial parks and trading companies.
Singapore is the Lo family’s window to the world, a base for controlling several companies. Lo’s son Steven, who has been denied a visa to the US because of his drug links, is married to a Singaporean, Cecilia Ng. The two reportedly control a Singapore-based trading house, Kokang Singapore Pty Ltd. The couple transit Singapore at will. A former US assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Robert Gelbard, has said half of Singapore’s investment in Burma has been “tied to the family of narco-trafficker Lo Hsing Han”.

Tay Zar, who is linked romantically to a daughter of Than Shwe, is also well known in Singapore. His fleet of Ferrari, Lexus and Mercedes cars was shipped to Burma from Singapore. When on the island, he likes to stay at the tacky Meritus Mandarin hotel on Orchard Road, close to the hospitals favoured by his senior military patrons from Burma.
Tay Za was featured in the Singaporean media last year toasting the launch of his new airline, Air Bagan, with the head of Singapore’s aviation authority. Dissident groups say the trade-off for Tay Za’s government business contracts in Burma is to fund junta leaders’ medical trips to Singapore. So when the Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, vows to impose financial sanctions on Burma’s regime, as he did this week, perhaps he should be calling Singapore’s bankers rather than Australia’s.