Khamis, 5 Mei 2011

The Malaysian Insider :: World

The Malaysian Insider :: World


Singapore bid to engage the young

Posted: 05 May 2011 05:40 PM PDT

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on the hustings on the last day of campaigning before the general election tomorrow May 7, 2011. — Reuters pic

SINGAPORE, May 6 — He hit the streets at 8am in his home turf of Ang Mo Kio GRC and ended the night speaking at two rallies, in Aljunied and East Coast GRCs.

And on the busiest and final day of campaigning, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong crystallised a "major task" of the Government after the 2011 general election: To better engage younger Singaporeans, express their aspirations and to cope better with their problems and frustrations.

It was at Aljunied where he made special mention of the young as well as older Singaporeans.

Older Singaporeans "have contributed blood, sweat and tears" to build modern Singapore. "We're grateful to them. We'll make sure we take good care of them," he said.

For younger Singaporeans, the Government "must do much more" to involve them in building the country. "Because with every passing year, this younger generation will take on greater responsibility and make larger contributions to Singapore," he added.

Two hours before his 20-minute speech in Ubi, where he endorsed Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo and his team, Lee had given another message, a response to feedback from Wednesday's live web chat, which he posted on the People's Action Party Facebook page.

His words in the morning set the tone for the day: The PAP is not taking anyone's vote for granted.

"Nine days is very intense. Everybody gears up tremendously and there's a certain rise in the temperature all round Singapore because people know these are not ordinary times. This is elections and people are canvassing for support, for votes," the PAP secretary-general told reporters after his constituency walkabout.

"After that, we go back to normal. We learn the lessons and see what we've discovered during the campaign, and then we take it from there — how can we build on what we've done and how can we do a bit more in areas which have been overlooked. And we bring everybody together again."

The first step back "from this fighting" came in his speech at the PAP rally at Bedok Stadium, where he took to the stage 20 minutes after leaving Aljunied.

There, he took "a broader perspective", discussing key issues and reiterated how the party could secure the future for Singapore.

He recognised a "number of pressing concerns", such as the cost of living and housing prices, and listed the measures being taken.

"We'll be doing more over time. We understand your concerns, and we promised we'll address them. We can do so," Lee said.

He acknowledged that Singaporeans "haven't had such an easy time", although "Singapore hasn't done too badly" and has had a strong economic recovery after the global financial crisis,

"Despite our measures, some Singaporeans have faced problems," he said.

"But I hope, and I believe with the economy strong, with wages going up, with new jobs being created and full employment, as everyone prospers, even those who have difficulties the last four or five years, they too will prosper and we'll all progress together."

He noted achievements in education and estate upgrading under the PAP Government. And on healthcare costs — an issue brought up during the hustings — he said: "We'll make sure that if you need medical care, you'll get the medical care and you can afford (it)."

He thanked Singaporeans for their "efforts and sacrifices", which allowed the country to come through the economic crisis. If external conditions remained stable, a PAP Government would deal with the problems "one by one", while growing the economy and raising incomes across the board.

He said the PAP's election manifesto had "many concrete plans" to take Singapore forward. He called for voters to give the party a strong mandate.

He also believes that having plans is insufficient, and the PAP should engage Singaporeans and their hopes and dreams.

"Singapore is a country, but it's a home, it's a community of people, it's a human endeavour. We are together. It's the people who make Singapore," he said.

"When we come to elections, it's an opportunity for us to reaffirm the compact between PAP and Singaporeans, to renew the leadership for the country and to connect more tightly with the new generation and move forward together. That would make our future secure." — Today

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US: Al Qaeda plotted 9/11 anniversary rail attack

Posted: 05 May 2011 05:09 PM PDT

WASHINGTON, May 6 — Al Qaeda considered attacking the US rail sector on the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, US government officials said yesterday in describing intelligence from Osama bin Laden's hide-out in Pakistan.

They said some evidence was found indicating that the al Qaeda leader or his associates had engaged in discussions or planning for a possible attack on a train inside the United States on September 11, 2011.

"We have no information of any imminent terrorist threat to the US rail sector, but wanted to make our partners aware of the alleged plotting," spokesman Matthew Chandler said of an intelligence message the Department of Homeland Security sent yesterday.

The department and other US agencies have been reviewing the treasure trove of information from bin Laden's compound in Pakistan seized by the United States during the raid this week that killed the al Qaeda leader.

The information indicated that one possible tactic for attacking a train was trying to somehow tip it off its tracks, one official said.

The official said that it appeared from the information that this was an idea that bin Laden or his associates considered, but there was no indication now from the intelligence that further plans were drawn up for the scheme or that steps were taken to carry it out.

Another official said al Qaeda in February last year contemplated the rail attack to occur on the 10th anniversary of the hijacked plane attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York and the Pentagon, but the group was not tied to that exact date.

Since the raid, the Department of Homeland Security has taken a number of steps in reviewing measures at all potential terrorist targets, including transportation systems across the country. It added more officers at airports and at the borders.

Department spokesman Chandler said the alleged al Qaeda plot was based on "initial reporting, which is often misleading or inaccurate and subject to change".

He added: "We remain at a heightened state of vigilance", but said there were no plans to raise the national threat level.

Officials have long been concerned that al Qaeda might try to carry out attacks on the US rail system.

In 2008, US authorities warned of a possible al Qaeda threat to transit systems in and around New York City over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Last year, an Afghan immigrant pleaded guilty in New York to plotting a suicide bombing campaign on Manhattan's subway system in what US authorities described as one of the most serious threats since the September 11 attacks. — Reuters

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