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Tiong Bahru: Singapore’s coolest district

07/04/2019 | 杭州桑拿 | Permalink

Flat white and Kouign-aman pastry at Tiong Bahru Bakery Photo: Steve McKennaA week-day morning in downtown Singapore and crowds of besuited men and women march purposefully into gleaming skyscrapers and imposing colonial buildings. Taxis, cars and buses stream past in an orderly hurry. Honking horns, engine sounds and chirps, beeps and trills from pedestrian crossings infuse the steamy air. This is the Singapore we know. Hustle and bustle and boundless striving have transformed a tropical island half the size of Zanzibar into one of the world’s richest countries.
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But a 10-minute cab ride from the CBD, just west of Chinatown, you’ll find a slice of Singapore that reveals the city-state in new, more leisurely light. Laid-back and low-rise, Tiong Bahru usually lies under the tourist radar, but it’s one of Singapore’s most characterful neighbourhoods, a favourite hang-out of trend-setting locals and expats (and home to regular Singaporean families, young and old).

Built between the 1930s and 50s, comprising grid-like streets of whitewashed, three-storey, spiral-staircased apartments, this was the country’s first public housing project.

Wealthy businessmen would also shelter their mistresses here (it was dubbed Mei Ren Wuo – “den of beauties” in Chinese). In recent years, gentrification has arrived, with hip new businesses springing up beside wizened veterans on streets named after early Chinese-Singaporean pioneers. My guide, Dino, and I breakfast at the slick Tiong Bahru Bakery.

Its outdoor tables are all occupied by chatting friends, so we head inside – receiving a blast of airconditioning – and find ourselves transfixed by the pastries, quiches and sweet treats on display. The bakery’s founder, Gontran Cherrier, is a fourth-generation Parisian baker, and the kouign-amann (sugary, buttery Breton cake) I munch here is as good as any I’ve had in France. Etched with “latte art”, the flat white is rather good, too (coffee is sourced from Common Man Roasters, a joint Australian-Singaporean enterprise that’s behind another Tiong Bahru favourite, the brunch-tastic Forty Hands).

With its steamy humidity causing many mere mortals to start sweating in 60 seconds, Singapore isn’t exactly a stroller’s paradise, but Tiong Bahru is great for sauntering around. Window-shoppers left cold by the huge malls of Orchard Road may find more to their liking in the independent boutiques of Yong Siak Street.

You can browse cutting-edge fashion and design, from home and abroad, at Nana & Bird, the brainchild of friends and self-confessed shopaholics, Georgina Koh and Tan Chiew Ling. It’s next door to cupcake specialist Plain Vanilla, and Strangelets, where you’ll find everything from retro Magno wooden radios to polar bear-shaped bookshelves. Fronted by potted plants, Woods in the Books and BooksActually lure bibliophiles.

Further along, facing Forty Hands, Open Door Policy is one of the district’s wining, dining and cocktail hotspots. Fans of vintage should fossick Fleas & Trees on Seng Poh Lane. It’s a haven of clothes, homewares and jewellery, handpicked from around the world by husband-and-wife team Terence Yeung and Bella Koh. Parts of Tiong Bahru remain resolutely old-school. I pass an elderly woman, sitting, feet up, outside her home, the scent of incense wafting from her open front door, drinking green tea and flicking through a Chinese-language newspaper. A fiftysomething​ cyclist pedals creakily by coconut trees, neatly trimmed lawns, and folk sitting on plastic stools, slurping noodles and other Singaporean staples.

Loo’s, established in 1946, is one notable eatery, famed for its Hainanese curry rice. Tradition also permeates Tiong Bahru Market, the neighbourhood’s art deco-designed landmark. Its lower floor is a “wet” market – stalls are laden with fish, seafood, fruit and veg; its upper-floor food court is a hive of hawkers and hungry punters, who, at lunchtimes, queue for the likes of fishball soup, fried oyster omelette and chwee kueh (steamed rice cake topped with a tangy sauce). Diagonally facing the market, Tiong Bahru Club has an easy-going, nostalgic vibe. There’s teak furniture, mosaic floor tiles and black and white photographs, including shots of the bird-singing competitions that the Chinese community would host in Tiong Bahru. Out front, there’s an old goods trishaw and rustic tables. You can order dishes from the melting-pot menu (think: laksa, salted egg prawns and biryanis), sip spiced teas (or iced coffees, craft beers and champagne), and watch the world gently go by. TRIP NOTESMORE INFORMATION

yoursingapore上海龙凤419m.GETTING THERE

Singapore Airlines, Qantas and Emirates are among the airlines that fly to Singapore from Melbourne and Sydney. STAYING THERE

Fusing heritage and modern decor, Tiong Bahru’s Nostalgia Hotel has 50 rooms, priced from SGD120 ($121); hotelnostalgia上海龙凤419m.sg.

Steve McKenna was a guest of Singapore Tourism

Travel deals: Bargains of the week

07/04/2019 | 杭州桑拿 | Permalink

A pool suite at Outrigger Koh Samui. Photo: SuppliedWINTER SOJOURN
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Stay three nights for the price of two at the Garden Burees of Byron Bay. This tropical garden property has won the TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence and offers seven private accommodation options. This deal is for the Garden Buree suites. Stay in one of these three self-contained Balinese-inspired bungalows for two which feature private outdoor showers and an indoor spa bath. It costs $520 for the three nights.

The property is on Gordon Street, just out of the centre of Byron and a stroll to the beach. It’s near the Buddha Gardens Day Spa, the Iconic Arts Factory Lodge, the Arthouse Lounge Cinema and Byron Bay Brewery. For another $260, add a massage for two at the Buddha Gardens Day Spa and champagne.

See gardenburees上海龙凤419m.au.


Doubles can save up to $US2117 and solo travellers $US3271 by combining a river cruise with a coastal one in Burma. Book a 10-night cruise through Burma’s coastal islands on Pandaw’s 18-passenger motor yacht, Andaman Explorer, and get a 50 per cent discount on one of Pandaw’s seven-night river journeys on the Irrawaddy. The river cruise runs between Mandalay and Pagan and the coastal trip between Ranong-Kawthaung on the Burmese-Thai border and Rangoon explores Burma’s Mergui Archipelago, including the Aladdin, Sular and Sullivan Islands, with stops also at the towns of Tavoy, Mergui and Moulmein. Both cruises include meals, guided excursions ashore and local beer, spirits and soft drinks as well as crew gratuities.

The offer applies to 12 paired Pandaw Expeditions departures between October, and March and includes a no-single-supplement policy on eight of the 12. The combined 17-night experience costs from $US4762 a person.

Phone 1300 783 188. See activetravel上海龙凤419m.au.


Take $100 off Bunnik’s 17-day Japan Discovery tour which includes return economy class airfares from Australia to Japan, 12 nights’ accommodation in good quality hotels and two nights in a traditional Ryokan guesthouse with a typical Japanese onsen bath and a Japanese dinner party dressed in traditional yukatas, 14 breakfasts, three lunches and four dinners, five rail journeys and transfers. Visit Tokyo, Hakone, Mount Fuji, Takayama, Hiroshima, Kyoto, Nara, Kyoto, Mount Hiei and Osaka.

There are departures from September 3 to April 2. Discount price valid for sale till June 10 – $9690 a person twin share.

Phone 1300 799 783 and quote deal code 4044490. See escapetravel上海龙凤419m.au.


To mark its first anniversary, the Outrigger Koh Samui Beach Resort is running a Romance Getaway package. It gives accommodation in a garden pool suite, daily breakfast for two, a 60-minute Navasana spa treatment for two and transfers. Outrigger took over the former Akaryn Resort Koh Samui in Thailand last year and enhanced the beachfront all-villa and suite resort with renovated restaurants, pool area and rooms, including upgrades to villa and suite privacy.

The package is on sale till July 31 for stays up to December 23. The rate is from THB6599 a couple a night. Book at least 14 days in advance of check-in and receive an additional 20 per cent off.

See outrigger上海龙凤419m.


Crowne Plaza Queenstown, Cardrona Alpine Resort and NZSki’s The Remarkables and Coronet Peak ski fields have two ski packages going. The Cardrona package is for a minimum three-night stay June 11-October 9 and includes breakfast, a full day lift pass for two at Cardrona Alpine Resort with transport between the hotel and alpine resort. From $NZ155 a person a day.

The NZSki Ski Into September package gives savings of up to $NZ630 a person between September 1 and October 2 and combines seven nights’ accommodation at Crowne Plaza with daily breakfast and a five-day lift pass for The Remarkables and Coronet Peak ski fields. Both packages also have upgrade options. Bookings for the Cardrona package must be made seven days in advance and the Ski into September package must be booked by August 15.

See queenstown.crowneplaza上海龙凤419m.

Where to eat in Daylesford and the Macedon Ranges: Chef Steven Rogers

07/04/2019 | 杭州桑拿 | Permalink

Steven Rogers believes autumn is the perfect time of year to visit the Macedon Ranges.Steven Rogers has spent much of his career working under Jacques Reymond in Melbourne as well as working in Paris and London at two-Michelin-starred Maison Rostang, and three-Michelin-starred Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire.
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In 2014, Rogers opened French restaurant and bar, Midnight Starling, in the Victorian country town of Kyneton, where he grows and cooks his own produce.  See midnightstarling上海龙凤419m.auWHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE TABLE IN DAYLESFORD AND MACEDON RANGES?

It would have to be Du Fermier in Trentham. Annie Smithers’ French bistro delivers great farmhouse-style French food that wonderfully showcases the amazing produce that Annie grows herself.  She has a really inspiring no-nonsense approach to the French classics and her infectious passion for great, fresh and seasonal produce make for a great country lunch. See dufermier上海龙凤419m.auTHE LOCAL FOOD DISCOVERY OF THE PAST YEAR?

Pasture-raised chicken and eggs from Hand to Ground. The birds are pasture-raised in Baynton, just outside of Kyneton and are incredibly large with a dark flesh and a great, unique flavour. Owners Emily and Alex Simms are passionate about the produce they supply to the local area and it is great to see their enthusiasm reflecting on others in the community. See handtoground上海龙凤419m.auWHAT IS DAYLESFORD AND MACEDON RANGES’ BEST-KEPT FOOD SECRET?

Hamster in Kyneton offers a great selection of vegan and vegetarian offerings. I’m a full-time carnivore and honestly feel the flavours that Mara Szoeke packs into the food she creates is amazing. See facebook上海龙凤419m/hamstergrazing/?fref=photoPLACE TO GO ON A DAY OFF?

I find that I’m most at ease when I’m in the country, taking in the fresh air and appreciating the landscape. It’s one of the main reasons I moved to Kyneton. One of my favourite escapes on a day off is the Domino Rail Trail – a six-kilometre cycle track that follows the original railway line from Daylesford to Carlsruhe.

In the evenings, my haven is local bottle shop, Wine and the Country, as they have a great selection of wines by the glass and you can take any bottle off the shelf and enjoy in house with a $10 corkage fee.


Banks Fine Wine in Kyneton offers an outstanding range of local, domestic and imported wines as well as a great selection of craft beers. See store.banksfinewine上海龙凤419m.auPLACE TO GO FOR A BIG NIGHT OUT?

If the opportunity arises for a big night out, then we often find ourselves at Belvedere Social in Daylesford, as the staff are incredibly charming and the atmosphere is always great. The menu at Belvedere Social is produce-led and the dishes are beautifully presented, the charcuterie selection is a stand-out too and we order one every time we visit. See belvederesocial上海龙凤419m.auBEST TIME TO VISIT, AND WHY, FOOD-WISE IN DAYLESFORD AND MACEDON RANGES?

Autumn in the Macedon Ranges is the perfect time to visit; crisp sunny days and beautifully coloured autumn leaves make for a very picturesque day trip or weekend away. Some of the food highlights include local foraged mushrooms, fresh chestnuts and the excitement of the upcoming truffle season. WHAT SHOULD A VISITOR AVOID, FOOD-WISE, IN DAYLESFORD AND MACEDON RANGES?

A trip to the area may inspire you to pick wild mushrooms, as they are plentiful in this part of Victoria. However, visitors should be wary of the Death Cap mushroom, they look very similar to the Slippery Jack but could result in a trip to the hospital if eaten. WHAT’S HOT IN THE AREA RIGHT NOW?

Major Toms on Piper Street in Kyneton. Great burgers, regular live music, Mountain Goat on tap and an inviting beer garden out the back. Owners Prue and Rob are passionate about the local music scene and the burger joint they’ve created, and it really shines through all aspects of the business. See majortoms上海龙凤419m.au

Parliament left behind as online petitions drive civic engagement

07/04/2019 | 杭州桑拿 | Permalink

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten with Senator Nova Peris after she announced her resignation from parliament. Photo: Alex EllinghausenBow to activist-led campaigning at your peril, analyst warns politicians
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It’s safe to assume that Britain’s MPs, upon entering the House of Commons, did not think they would spend three hours debating banning the next potential president of the United States from entering the country.

But in January that is exactly what they did after a half-a-million residents signed an online petition titled “Block Donald J Trump from UK entry”.

“This is a bit of an occasion, because the first petition has been signed by more people than any other in this Parliament,” the Labour MP Paul Flynn told Parliament.

Suzanne Kelly’s “Block Trump” petition garnered more than 500,000 signatures, but it needed only a fraction of those names to be raised in the UK Parliament, which provides a government response to any petition that gains more than 10,000 signatures and considers them for debate if they reach 100,000.

By contrast, 1 million Australians could sign anonline petition and not only would Parliament be able to completely ignore it, their e-signatures would not even be formally recognised.

“I think it’s absolutely crazy,” says Karen Skinner from Australia’s popular petitioning website Change上海龙凤419. “It shows our parliament is stuck in the dark ages when we’re the only country in the OECD which doesn’t accept online petitions.”

But that isn’t deterring this new form of political engagement and activism made possible by the internet. Previously e-campaigning was limited to mass pro-forma emails sent straight to MPs’ inboxes, a tactic used by political-activist group GetUp!. MPs regularly complained the the mass emailing was akin to spam, which would be regularly filtered, deleted and ignored.

Now in its sixth year, Change上海龙凤419 has become the go-to place for rapid-response activism. Skinner says 1 in 7 Australians have started a Change上海龙凤419 petition and 1 in 5 have signed one. Alina Tooley is one of them.

By the time NSW police charged Central Coast-based chiropractor Chris Nelson over a racist post that appeared under his name on the Facebook page of ex-Senator Nova Peris on Monday, Tooley’s petition demanding a swift investigation had gathered 8000 signatures after just three days.

Tooley, 40, from Footscray in Melbourne, sent her petition to the NSW Police Commissioner earlier on Monday morning. By mid-afternoon, police announced they had acted.

Nelson claims he was hacked and denies posting the offensive remarks. His account will be tested in Gosford local court after police revealed they had laid charges over the offensive posts.Man charged following alleged offensive social media posts #WoyWoyhttps://t上海龙凤419/qNcPvz4fRD— NSW Police (@nswpolice) May 30, 2016

“I doubt the police would say the petition had any influence,” Tooley says. “But for him to post the comment on Saturday and be charged on Monday, I think the petition would have helped with the expediency it was dealt with.” NSW Police were contacted for comment but did not respond.

Even after the charges had been laid, the petition continued to grow and has exceeded 10,000 signatures.

Tooley said while she had signed other petitions, this was the first she had established and was inspired by former Chief of Army and 2016 Australian of the Year David Morrison.

“What actually made me decide to put the petition out there was I remembered something that David Morrison said – ‘the behaviour you walk past is the behaviour you accept.’ That was my inspiration to start the petition,” she says.

Change上海龙凤419’s Skinner says the internet is enabling ordinary people, previously shut out by the daunting costs of public campaigning, to have a say.

“Unlikely people can front campaigns,” she says, citing Lucy Halsam who successfully campaigned for medicinal cannabis to be allowed after seeing the relief it gave her son Dan who died from cancer in 2015 aged 25.

Their petition attracted more than 250,000 signatures and was claimed as a “victory” on the website when in February federal Health Minister Sussan Ley issued a statement on the site announcing the Coalition had introduced legislation to allow the cultivation of medicinal cannibas products. Ms Ley did not respond to a request for comment.

But is signing an online petition just another form of slacktivism? Skinner cautions that petitions are the start of bringing about policy change and not the silver bullet in achieving an outcome.

“It’s an entry point for people and their issues and they’re able to continue with other tactics and campaigns required to win it,” she said. “With medicinal cannabis and surcharges, they weren’t quick reforms but people were ready to engage very quickly when there were opportunities such as parliamentary inquiries.”

Mandy Carroll from 38 Degrees, a UK organisation similar to GetUp! says petitioning is just one part of the “campaigner’s toolkit”. She says one of their organisation’s biggest projects has been focussed on protecting the BBC ahead of widely feared cuts to the broadcaster.

The Cameron government’s consultation paper was typically bureaucratic and overly technical, Caroll says.

“What we did as a people powered movement was translate that into everyday language and we built our own consultation portal,” she explains. They received 175,000 submissions which took an average 30 minutes to complete. Their petition received double the number of signatures.

Last month the government produced a white paper on the future of the BBC presented which the conservative press labelled a “damp squib.”

“We won that one,” says Carroll.

Skinner also cites the petition that sprung up after the murder of South Australian rural nurse Gayle Woodford, which led to calls for single-nurse posts to be abolished.

Woodford was allegedly lured from her home by her alleged killer, 36-year old Dudley David, who is due to face court again in June, charged with her murder.

Minister for Rural Heath Fiona Nash says while the petition was well-intentioned, cautions that the Change上海龙凤419 platform has its limitations because it does not fact-check or moderate posts.

In one instance, a petitioner was able to publish that Senator Nash had gone on leave instead of dealing with the issue even though this was false. Change上海龙凤419 sees itself as a platform, not an arbiter, but invited Senator Nash to contact people who had signed the petition with a statement.

“We want to shift from being a one-way megaphone to being a place of engagement,” Skinner says. “That allows politicians to put their their point across, it doesn’t mean they’re necessarily giving in but allows dialogues and its the same for companies.”

Senator Nash took up the offer.

“After we engaged with Change上海龙凤419, which allowed us to contact those who had signed the initial petition, my office received emails from some people who apologised for signing the petition,” Senator Nash says.

“It’s fantastic that Australians want to participate in democracy and petitions have always been a valid way of doing that,” she says. “But it’s important people signing petitions check whether the claims either made or inferred in those petitions are accurate.”

Carroll says factchecking and accuracy play a bit part of 38 Degrees work.

“We’re very proud of the steps we take to be accurate because trust is incredibly important and you devalue your campaign if you don’t have that.”

Change上海龙凤419 wants e-signatures recognised and a promise from parliamentarians to debate any petition which garners more than 100,000 signatures, as occurs in the United Kingdom.

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Former ABC boss and new secretary of NSW Department of Education Mark Scott: Leadership in the blood

07/04/2019 | 杭州桑拿 | Permalink

Mark Scott has been appointed secretary of the NSW Department of Education, following 10 years as Managing Director of the ABC. Photo: James BrickwoodMark Scott appointed as secretary of NSW Department of EducationBroken promises, reality TV and ‘loud critics’: Mark Scott on 10 years at the ABC
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Like father, like son. Maybe. Maybe not. Brian Scott was the architect of reforms aimed at revolutionising the NSW public education system.

His son Mark Scott’s new appointment as secretary of the NSW Department of Education has put him at the head of a public service department where reform is glacial and red tape rules.

His father failed, and it all ended in tears.

Brian Scott was at the epicentre of particularly turbulent years in NSW education. His 1989 report, Schools Renewal: a strategy to revitalise schools within the New South Wales state education system, commissioned by the new Greiner government, became the template for reform. It recommended reallocating 600 jobs, breaking up the department’s administration process, the sale of the Sydney headquarters and the introduction of a teacher transfer system based on merit, not seniority.

The then Education minister Terry Metherell, set about reforming education only to be accused of tax avoidance and his subsequent offer of a public service post resulted in the resignation of Premier Nick Greiner. Then in 1994 Brian Scott resigned in disgust, citing an unworkable relationship with Mr Metherell’s replacement, Virginia Chadwick, and excessive bureaucratic meddling in the administration of schools.

The Liberal  government backed away from Brian Scott’s reforms but not before widespread antagonism on the part of parents with children at public schools, the NSW Teachers’ Federation and sections of the ALP saw the biggest protest marches since the Vietnam war.

Over the years, the Scott family has been an exemplar of private education. The question now is can Mark Scott, having finished reforming the ABC, shake the family hoodoo on public education?

“There is a difference. I can implement change. My father was never in a position to do so,” Mr Scott said.

“I know a lot of reform has been embarked upon within the department and there is strong support for those reforms and that will continue obviously. We’d be looking at the right kind of support for principals, teacher quality, literacy and numeracy standards.”

Clearly Mr Scott is looking at decentralisation and pointed out the parallels with his previous job as ABC managing director.

“Both are much loved and respected institutions,” he said.

“I see some real similarities between the kind of challenges we faced at the ABC and the kind of challenges we face in education … digital transformation is in our midst, for instance, and it will be an ongoing process for both kids and teachers.”

His 10-year stint at the ABC showed an ability to implement reform without treading on too many toes or alienating the more raucous interest groups.

But then management is in the Scott family DNA.

His grandfather, Walter Scott, as chairman of the Decimal Currency Board, introduced dollars and cents into Australia in 1966. His company, W.D. Scott Australia’s oldest boutique management consultant firm, dominated the change agent trade and perfected the behind closed doors way of doing business long before MBAs became an epidemic.

Now 53, Mr Scott was born in the US while his father was completing studies in the then new-fangled discipline of management consultancy. The family returned to Sydney and Mark Scott was sent to Knox Grammar. A devout Christian, he remains on the board of his alma mater, although he told the Herald he intends to resign due to his new appointment.

Mr Scott has remained an ardent supporter of the private school system throughout his brilliant career. His three daughters went through private school on the north shore and his wife, Briony​ Scott, has been principal at Wenona​ girls school in North Sydney since 2011, and recently returned to work after a year off fighting cancer.

Mr Scott completed an MA and Dip.Ed at the University of Sydney, where he met his wife, taught history and English at St Andrew’s Cathedral School and then worked for Liberal ministers for education Terry Metherell and Virginia Chadwick, first as a press secretary and then as a political adviser.

Amid the turmoil of the Greiner government’s implosion, Mark Scott left for the US and a Masters of Public Administration at Harvard University.

His friendship with a Herald reporter resulted in his being offered the post of education editor by the newspaper’s then editor-in-chief, John Alexander in 1994. But the DNA kicked in and he raced up the the ranks of news management eventually being appointed editorial director of the Fairfax newspaper and magazine division and editor-in-chief of metropolitan, regional and community newspapers.

In 2006 he was appointed the ABC’s managing director. He left the ABC on April 30. Two weeks ago he was spotted walking into the Martin Place building from where Premier Mike Baird runs NSW and tongues started wagging. Mr Scott takes up his reported $500,000 appointment in August.