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Mon, Jun 28, 2010
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PM: Don't expect flood free Singapore

By Joy Fang

FLOODS in Singapore - like the two recent flash floods that occurred within 10 days this month - cannot be avoided, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday.

Singapore does not have the space to build large monsoon drains to collect excess rainwater during thunderstorms, he said.

Related link:
» Photos: Parts of Singapore flooded again

Besides, such drains would incur high infrastructural costs and yet be underutilised most of the time, he added.

Mr Lee said that national water agency PUB has "an ongoing drainage-improvement programme, which over the years has made floods much rarer and much less severe".

It will continue to implement new drainage works, and improve designs to deal with more intense storms, but it is not possible to expect Singapore to be completely free of floods, he said.

The realistic objective is to prevent widespread and prolonged flooding, and limit the risk to lives and damage to properties, and to have contingency plans, he added.

On June 16, a major flood submerged central parts of Singapore, including Orchard Road, Bukit Timah Road and Little India, under knee-high water. This was followed last Friday by a flood that struck Bukit Timah Road, Balestier Road and Thomson Road, and felled 25 trees.

Mr Lee was speaking yesterday after launching new facilities at Lower Seletar Reservoir, which had been built over two years, at a cost of $10 million.

They include a 170m-long bridge that extends out from the banks of the reservoir.

Earlier, he opened a childcare centre, Sparkle*tots Infant and Childcare Centre, in Yishun Ring Road. The centre, which will start operating on Thursday, will be the first to include table tennis in the curriculum for children aged four to five.

The table-tennis programme is a collaboration between the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) and PAP Community Foundation (PCF), which runs the new childcare centre.

Table tennis is offered at no extra cost to parents, said Mr Raymond Pang, who heads PCF's corporate communications.

The STTA will provide coaches and equipment such as tables, bats and balls for the 12-week programme. It will hold one-hour sessions weekly, and select pupils with potential for further training at its zone centres.

A similar programme was offered to all kindergartens in the Nee Soon South constituency last January.

STTA president Lee Bee Wah, who is also Member of Parliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, said that table tennis trains one's reflexes, and imparts positive traits like discipline and perseverance. Countries like Japan and China start table-tennis training for players at the ages of four or five, and hopefully the programme will help STTA discover more world champions, she said.

Housewife Shi Siu Lian, 35, whose son, Alston Shi, seven, was selected for further training after his potential was recognised in kindergarten, was happy that her son's talent could be nurtured. It has helped Alston grow physically and become more disciplined, she said.

Ms Guan Ying, 34, a childcare teacher who enrolled her four-year-old daughter in the new centre, said that she prefers her daughter to be doing a healthy activity like sports, rather than playing computer games.

joyfang@sph.com.sg


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