Temasek sets up $40m fund for Singapore crises

tabla! AsiaOne 28 Mar 14;

Temasek Holdings is starting a $40 million fund to help Singapore prepare for and deal with difficult situations. This will kickstart events to mark its 40th year.

The Temasek Emergency Preparedness fund will give money to programmes that support people in crises, including environmental disasters such as haze, or trauma from accidents.

"At Temasek, we believe that, if you want to do well, you have to be prepared all the time," Temasek Holdings chairman Lim Boon Heng said at a media briefing on March 21.

"So, as we reflect on how we should celebrate our 40th anniversary, we thought that this is an area we should be looking at."

Mr Lim said episodes such as the SARS epidemic in 2003 and the haze that engulfed the country last year have underscored the need for Singapore and Singaporeans to be ready to react to emergencies.

Some uses for the fund could include the buying and distribution of masks in the event of haze, or putting together a pack of supplies to be used in emergencies, Mr Lim suggested.

The specific initiatives to be funded will be announced later.

The fund will be administered by Temasek Cares, one of seven non-profit philanthropic organisations under Temasek's umbrella.

Temasek Trust, which administers the funds to these organisations, has set aside about $1.5 billion in endowment funds for various causes since 2003.

Temasek staff themselves are prepared for emergencies, said Mr Lim. All of its more than 450 staff globally have undergone training for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and how to use the automated external defibrillator. Next up is for all staff to learn first aid.

"We encourage our Temasek portfolio companies to do likewise, and I hope that other companies would do so as well, because these are basic skills which are useful at work or at home," Mr Lim said.

Temasek commemorates 40th anniversary with S$40m fund for emergencies
Channel NewsAsia 24 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE: Temasek Holdings is setting up a new endowment fund to commemorate its 40th anniversary.

It is putting S$40 million into the Temasek Emergency Preparedness Fund, which will help with programmes to enable people to be prepared and cope with different emergency situations.

These include severe accidents, traumatic experiences, or environmental disasters such as the haze that affected Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia last year.

In announcing the new fund, Temasek chairman Lim Boon Heng said the investment firm recognises that it is part of the wider community.

And as Temasek Holdings turns 40, it is also a timely reminder that it has "to continue to learn, to earn and to return to the community, to build across the generations and to build with tomorrow in mind."

The new fund will be administered by Temasek Cares, the philanthropic arm of Temasek Holdings.

Further details of the new fund will be announced later.

- CNA/de

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Historical gravestone in Seletar to be left in peace

Melody Zaccheus The Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE - For several decades, a gravestone of a woman named Jane Buyers has stood, alone, in Seletar.

And it will continue to remain there after residents highlighted its historical value to save it from new developments at Rowers Bay, along the Lower Seletar Reservoir Park.

Little is known of the woman, other than that she was the wife of a shipbuilder, JC Buyers, who worked in Singapore from 1863 to 1885, and that she died in 1867.

But her grave, which pre-dates the 1907 Bidadari and 1922 Bukit Brown municipal cemeteries, is one of the oldest here.

When the Seletar Hills Estate Residents Association, which has been championing the estate's heritage, learnt of national water agency PUB's plans to build new amenities such as footpaths, carparks and toilets at Rowers Bay, they quickly alerted the National Heritage Board (NHB) to save the piece of history.

The board, which believes the grave could have been relocated from Bukit Timah Christian Cemetery which was used from 1865 to 1907, found that it has "significant age-value".

NHB's group director of policy Alvin Tan said it then recommended to the agencies - including National Parks Board and Seletar Country Club - involved in the upgrading of the area next year to retain the grave.

PUB also plans to enhance the area around the tombstone with "suitable plants and trees".

The chairman of the residents' association, Mr Percival Jeyapal, 72, welcomed the move. "Our concern was that if the grave stone is not properly demarcated, something of historical value could be destroyed, especially with contractors coming in and out of the area," he said.

The inscription on the gravestone, which sits on state land, reads: "Sacred to the memory of Jane, the beloved wife of JC Buyers, shipbuilder who died on the 14th June 1867, aged 42. Also their sons John and James who died in infancy."

The association, which wrote about the grave in its 2013 book Down The Seletar River, is taking the lead in piecing together the Buyers' story. The information, which it plans to share with NHB by September, will be displayed on storyboards around the grave.

While the couple were not renowned figures in society, newspaper reports then pointed to a "JC Buyers' ship-repairing dock" that was built around the mid-19th century on the southern isle of Pulau Brani. Research also found that JC Buyers had built the first large commercial ship here. The 600-tonne vessel carried mail between India and Holland just before 1857.

Mr Jeyapal believes the presence of the gravestone in Seletar could shed light on how the area - which was home to rubber, pepper and gambier plantations - might have been be a hive of shipping activity.

Plantations could have sent their goods down the Seletar River and across the Malacca Strait. Colonial ship-building activity could have also been based there.

The association which represents 500 households and 3,000 residents, said it is trying to get in touch with the Buyers' great- great granddaughter who lives in Scotland.

Added Mr Jeyapal: "We also hope that people who know about the family's ties with Singapore can come forward and share more information with us."

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Youth Corps surpasses its nominations target

Amelia Teng The Straits Times AsiaOne 29 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE - Singapore's new volunteer youth brigade has marched off to a good start, receiving more nominations than its target of 200 volunteers.

More than 200 names have been nominated so far by institutes of higher learning such as the polytechnics and groups like Mendaki for the volunteer scheme called Youth Corps Singapore.

Giving an update yesterday, Acting Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Lawrence Wong said the one-year residential programme to groom young volunteers is about taking a "life-cycle approach".

This is so that students can still be involved in community projects after they leave their secondary schools and move on to tertiary institutions, he said.

"We're building up a full suite of programmes from schools to tertiary institutions and even at the workplace, so that we can encourage this whole culture of volunteerism and participating in the community," he added.

The Youth Corps, which starts in June, is the first national-level programme of its kind for those aged 15 to 35. Friday is the last day for nominations.

First announced by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong at last year's National Day Rally, the initiative aims to encourage students to take up community work beyond their school years.

Mr Wong spoke to reporters yesterday at Bowen Secondary School, one of the hosts of the National Secondary School Student Leaders Conference, held to instill a culture of volunteerism.

For the first time, 550 student leaders from 138 schools took part in community projects in 18 different venues at the event held by the National Youth Council and the Education Ministry.

A few groups visited elderly homes such as the Swami Home; others got a taste of how food charity Willing Hearts prepares food for the needy. Another group spoke to toilet cleaners at Bottle Tree Park in Yishun to find out the challenges they face in keeping restrooms clean.

Bowen Secondary student Fadhli Rusydi, 15, who spent time with the elderly at the Lee Ah Mooi Old Age Centre, said: "The experience of interacting with them challenged me to step out of my comfort zone and I would like to help out more in the future after I leave school."

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Vegetation fire breaks out at Pulau Ubin

SCDF rushing to put out fire near Outward Bound School
NG JING YNG Today Online 28 Mar 14;

Photo of fire at Pulau Ubin sent in by David, a retiree who witnessed the blaze.

SINGAPORE — A vegetation fire at broke out on Pulau Ubin island at around 1pm today and the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) is currently rushing to put out the fire.

As of 3.52pm, the SCDF said that one water jet was still fighting the fire.

According to a 55-year-old retiree David, who declined to reveal his full name, he was fishing at 1 kilometre away when he spotted the fire. “The fire was spreading very slowly and it was getting bigger with time,” he said.

He added that the area on fire is within a forest near the Outward Bound Singapore and the place is fenced up. Police coast guards in the vicinity are also on site, added David.

According to a spokesperson from the Singapore Civil Defence Force, they received a call at around 1.13pm and have sent a 15-men crew to the location.

Correction: The article originally stated that the fire was near “Outward Bound School”. This is incorrect. The proper name for the organisation is “Outward Bound Singapore”. We apologise for the error. This page was updated at 9.38pm.

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Slight haze, moderate air quality expected this weekend

Kok Xing Hui Today Online 29 Mar 14;

SINGAPORE — Slightly hazy conditions can be expected with the overall air quality today likely to remain in the moderate range, now that prevailing winds over Singapore have started to turn light and variable in direction.

Air quality is in the moderate band when the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) is between 51 and 100.

The current wind conditions are due to the onset of the inter-monsoon season in the region and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said it will continue to monitor those conditions and update when necessary. Thundery showers can also be expected in the afternoon at the weekend.

In an update of the haze situation last evening, the NEA said the number of hot spots detected in Sumatra fell from the 203 recorded on Thursday to 145 yesterday.

It added that smoke plumes and haze were visible in Riau province and 51 hot spots were detected in Peninsular Malaysia yesterday.

Yesterday’s 24-hour PSI climbed from 31–46 at 3am to 31–55 at 10am and stayed that way till 6pm. Given the air quality forecast today, the NEA said the public can continue with normal activities.

Meanwhile, Singapore’s new air quality reporting system will come into effect on Tuesday, one month ahead of schedule.

The system will better reflect visibility levels during hazy periods as it will incorporate levels of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, into the PSI.

The new reporting system was announced by Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament earlier this month.

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Malaysia: No plans for change in status of Ramsar sites

New Straits Times 28 Mar 14;

VALUABLE WETLANDS: Fears of Kukup Island and Tanjung Piai being de-gazetted has been allayed by the state government

JOHOR BARU: THE State Government has given its assurance that there is no plan to de-gazette the two Ramsar sites -- at Kukup Island and Tanjung Piai -- which were gazetted in 2003.

In fact, it is expediting the process to gazette the third Ramsar site at Sungai Pulai to enable the future generations to inherit this natural heritage.

State Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat gave his assurance to environmentalists who have been helping and supporting the state government to preserve these natural treasures.

"I would like to stress that the state government is committed to environmental preservation. There are no plans to de-gazette the two existing Ramsar sites," he said.

It was reported the state government planned to de-gazette the two Ramsar sites on its own initiative, and was in its final discussion to carry out the de-gazetting exercise which would involve environmental bodies such as the World Wide Fund for Nature.

The WWF, however, said the state government had never discussed nor raised the matter with WWF. It urged the state government to continue to protect the existing Ramsar sites and ensure their status as Ramsar sites were retained.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Nature Society (Johor branch) adviser Vincent Chow said the Sungai Pulai wetlands was registered as 1288 by the Ramsar Convention. It was the duty of the state government to ensure that the site was intact.

"I am glad there are no plans to de-gazette the two Ramsar sites.

"I am also happy to note the state government is gazetting the Sungai Pulai wetlands as a Ramsar site.

"The Sungai Pulai wetlands support the livelihood of 38 villages. If the site is degraded or destroyed, their lives will be affected.

"MNS trusts that the state government will look after these important wetlands and the interest of the future generation," he said.

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Malaysia: Water rationing to go on until April 30

The Star 29 Mar 14;

PETALING JAYA: Water rationing in Selangor has been extended to April 30, with more areas expected to see dry taps as the country struggles with an ongoing heatwave in the peninsular.

The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) in a statement said Selangor’s seven dams were drying up, and that recent rainfall was too slight to increase water levels there.

“SPAN has agreed to continue the third stage of scheduled water distribution until April 30,” a spokesman said. SPAN said a meeting between them, the Energy, Green Tech­nol­­o­gy and Water Ministry, Selangor Gov­ernment, water operators and other agencies yesterday led to a decision that a fourth phase of water rationing was to take place from April 4 onwards.

Details on this would be revealed by Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor on April 1. Set up on March 10, Selangor’s third phase of water rationing covers a total of 722,032 households or 3.6 million people.

Districts affected include Gombak, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam, Kuala Langat, USJ and Kuala Lumpur.

SPAN said water rationing would also continue for 60,185 households affected by the closure of the Batu 11 (Cheras) and Bukit Tampoi water treatment plants.

'Wettest' town to face water rationing
New Straits Times 29 Mar 14;

TAIPING: The town is known as the wettest in Malaysia, but the prolonged drought will see consumers in parts of Taiping face water rationing next week.

It will be the first time that the Perak Water Board (LAP) will resort to rationing.

The two-week exercise, starting on Friday, will affect 28,000 of the 85,000 LAP account holders here.

The last time it rained heavily in Taiping, which used to receive the highest rainfall in the country, was on Jan 14.

State Public Facilities, Infrastructure, Energy and Water Committee chairman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharuddin said it had to resort to rationing because of the dwindling supply at the Taiping Headwork Plant (THP), near Bukit Larut here.

He said the plant was able to generate only 26 million litres of water daily during the current dry spell, compared with 35 million litres normally.

"We source water from other plants to complement the supply at THP.

"But even then, it is insufficient because of unusually high usage, especially over the past two months.

"We are left with no choice, but to embark on water rationing," he said after visiting THP yesterday.

Zainol Fadzi said LAP had obtained approval from the National Water Services Commission on March 14 to carry out rationing.

However, if it rains heavily over the next few days, the rationing exercise may be postponed.

"LAP has detailed plans should the water rationing proceed.

"We appeal to consumers to use water wisely. They should start storing water now."

The affected account holders, who will be divided into two zones, will receive supply every two days.

"They should save up enough water now, as no LAP water tankers will be dispatched to the affected areas when the supply is discontinued.

"However, our water tankers and static tanks will be deployed to hospitals, clinics, dialysis centres and other places for crucial use."

Zainol Fadzi said officials from the Meteorological Department would visit the state next week to see if it was possible to carry out cloud seeding.

4th phase of water rationing to start
HANA NAZ HARUN New Straits Times 29 Mar 14;

DRY DAMS: Selangor, KL and Putrajaya water woes to continue

KUALA LUMPUR: SELANGOR, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya will face the fourth phase of water rationing beginning on Friday.

The National Water Services Commission (SPAN) said the downpour in the Klang Valley since March 16 had yet to fill the main dams that provided raw water to treatment plants here.

The average monthly rainfall is 41mm. Last month, only 2mm of rainfall was recorded.

"Because of the reduced water levels in the dams, the Selangor government, which is responsible for regulating water resources, has decided to further reduce the water discharge from the Sungai Selangor dam to an additional 500 million litres per day.

"This brings the total reduction to one billion litres per day," SPAN said in a statement.

A meeting was held between SPAN, the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry, Selangor government, Selangor Water Management Authority and all operators yesterday, where it was agreed that the fourth phase of water rationing would be implemented.

"Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor will announce the dates and areas that will be affected by the water rationing on Tuesday."

As at Thursday, the water reserve level in the Sungai Selangor dam was 37.09 per cent lower than the maximum level of 220m. Because of the low water reserve levels in the dams, SPAN has agreed to continue with the water rationing until April 30.

At least 3.6 million people in Gombak, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor and here are affected by the third phase, which started on March 10.

The first phase, which started one month ago and affects Hulu Langat, Kuala Langat and Sepang, will also continue, involving 60,185 households.

SPAN said there were still high levels of ammonia in the Cheras Batu 11 and Bukit Tampoi water treatment plants.

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Malaysians Should Unite To Combat Air Pollution

Zakaria Abdul Wahab Bernama 28 Mar 14;

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 (Bernama) -- Tomorrow, the world will again observe Earth Hour, and a local green activist has urged Malaysians to unite and act to combat one of the deadly environmental issues, that is, air pollution.

Prominent social worker Datuk Seri Ang Lai Soon said a recent World Health Organisation (WHO) survey seemed to show that air pollution was the biggest threat to human health today, the cause of one in every eight deaths.

"Air pollution is more lethal than the most deadly weapon, and it must be addressed immediately," he said in a statement to Bernama today, to mark Earth Hour.

Earth Hour 2014 is scheduled for tomorrow from 8.30pm to 9.30pm local time during which participants will switch off their non-essential lights for one hour to show their commitment to the planet.

Ang said it was indeed, rather alarming to read WHO's new report that air pollution had now become the single biggest environmental health risk.

Some months ago, WHO s cancer agency classified air pollution as a carcinogen which is linked to lung cancer, particularly, he added.

Ang, who hails from Sarawak said by building more hospitals and clinics, even the very best, will not and will never ever solve this serious global problem, but they obviously help".

He said the air pollution must be seriously addressed by all nations, especially those that have eternal disturbing pollution problems.

The people of Malaysia are too well aware of the repetitious atmospheric or air pollution that blights our lives and adversely affects our health, especially the very young, senior citizens, and poor in health.

"Only a couple of weeks ago, Peninsula Malaysia was covered with thick haze or smog on top of the shortage of water, making life quite unbearable for the people," he noted.

Ang said Earth Hour, organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature was so important to Malaysians and to all nations as well, as it was a way to show that they did really care about the environment.

But even more importantly, it served to send a strong message to those in authority to end this annually repetitive problem, by acting both on the domestic front, and in conjunction with our neighbouring countries, he added.

He said air pollution was not a new problem and appeared to be a man-made problem, as well, as it had been recurring for a couple of decades, or so.

Ang said with appropriate legislation, insistence on conforming to such legislation without fear or favour, inter-government agreements, and the will of each and every one to do so, the problem could be resolved.


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Corporate Malaysia 'FINished' with shark fin

A group of environmentalists are powering up support against shark fin in Malaysia.
Susan Tam Yahoo Newsroom 28 Mar 14;

Malaysia is one of the world's largest consumers of shark fin, prompting world campaigner Shark Savers conservation group to focus its attention in this market. We meet the people behind this viral initiative to find out more.

Using over 200 black permanent marker pens, young artist Will Sii showed off his skills to pen a marine-themed designe on a Lotus Evora.

Sii’s talent is his contribution to Shark Savers' ‘I'm FINished with FINs’ campaign, the world’s largest shark conservation effort, wholly driven by volunteers.

The campaign was started in 2007 by divers with a passion to conserve the gems within the ocean - and has continued to push the shark conservation message to the public through compelling initiatives.

The 27-year-old artist drew free hand – using an artistic messaging style he calls ‘ArtWord’ - on the sports car as a volunteer in this campaign.

“Without the sharks, the ecosystem is not complete. They play an important role in the ocean, and ultimately, play an important role in the environment which we live in,” he tells us during the launch of the WildAid's Shark Savers campaign in Malaysia.

This is the Sarawakian’s maiden project for an environmental campaign, completing the entire design in just 40 hours. Sii had a limit of 100 hours to finish his artwork on the car.

“I researched the campaign theme, but did not do any sketches to prepare the design. I got into the 'zone' and drew free hand, using the black markers,” Sii says.

The Lotus Evora was offered to the campaign as part of Lotus Cars Malaysia's Corporate Responsibility programme. It was chosen for its fuel efficiency and design, which resembled a slick shark, explains company director Hisham Othman.

The sports car will also auctioned during the campaign in a silent bid open to people keen on supporting this project. Should the car be auctioned for a price higher than RM 395,000 – its reserve price – the excess amount will go to the campaign, Hisham says adding that the car’s market price is about RM500.

“We're an enthusiast brand and our cars are driven by passionate people. We want to bring that same passion to this campaign to save the environment,” he says adding that supporting Sharks Savers was the company's way of giving back to society.

This may sound new to Malaysians, but the campaign has already made a major impact in Hong Kong and Macau. Campaign founder and Shark Savers regional director for Asia Pacific Jonn Benedict Lu says the effort has already crippled shark consumption and trade by 50 per cent and 30 per cent respectively.

“We're part of a collective world campaign to stop the demand for sharks fin and save this species,” he tells us, and hopes that Malaysia too will see a decline in consumption of fins.

According to figures from wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, Malaysia is the world's eighth largest shark catchment country and is ranked fourth for shark fin imports.

“This means that domestic consumption of fins in Malaysia is high, since there is this strong demand for imported fins, even though this area is a large catchment area. This is worrying.”

Lu also says Malaysia should make the environment a priority, after Sabah's state minister Masidi Manjun pointed out a shocking trend last year where 80% of Sabah's sharks disappeared in over 25 years.

He says the campaign has received strong support from celebrities, politicians, socialites and ordinary people, and he hoped to engage politicians or lawmakers from all parties in Malaysia to stop shark fin consumption.

“We can draft laws to make it illegal for shark fin trade, but that just drives the traders underground. What we're doing is to get people to stop eating fins. When the demand stops, it will cut the supply too,” Lu adds.

At the launch, Yahoo! Malaysia, along with close to 60 corporations had pledged to stop consuming shark fins and stop taking part in any fin-related trade.

The campaign's partners are HSBC Bank Malaysia, Mid Valley Megamall and the Malaysian Nature Society.

Other companies that have pledged include IGB REIT, AirAsia, The One Academy, Golden Screen Cinemas and Standard Chartered Bank.

Lu adds that the campaign is apolitical and ends corporate rivalry as many competing brands have agreed to support this initiative.Shark Savers Malaysia aims to get 100,000 Malaysian pledges to stop shark fin soup consumption.

To date, over 25,000 members from 99 countries are part of this initiative. Among the 650 celebrities and international figures backing this campaign are Prince William, David Beckham, Yao Ming, Richard Branson and Jackie Chan.

To make your pledge, go to the Shark Savers website here:

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Indonesia: After a Moment of Calm, Riau Is Burning Once Again

Jakarta Globe 28 Mar 14;

Jakarta. The haze has returned to Indonesia’s troubled Riau province as the region’s forests once again burned.

“There are [forests] burning again,” Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman of National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), told the state-run Antara News Agency on Friday. “The fires were set by individuals and groups, on the land and the forest. The dry season, combined with the peatland, makes it so easy to burn [the forests].”

The number of hotspots detected in Riau dropped to zero earlier this month before spiking to 68 on Wednesday, the BNPB said. By Friday that number had skyrocketed to 777 hotspots detected across the province, with the largest concentrations in the districts of Bengkalis and Pelalawan.

In Hulu Pulau Village, in Bengkalis, the brushfires nearly reached a housing complex as residents struggled to keep the flames at bay. The fires already tore through some 1,000 hectares of plantation land owned by local farmers, destroying crops, by Friday, according to reports in the Indonesian news portal

“It’s enough having our plantation, which is our source of income, charred,” Harianto, a local farmer, told Tempo. “But don’t let our village burn too.”

Air quality dropped to dangerous levels in Duri, Bengkalis, Siak and Rokan Hilir — the site of the heaviest fires earlier this year. In Rokan Hilir, still the heaviest-hit district in Riau, air quality dropped to a hazardous 344 on the Pollutant Standards Index.

“The air quality in some regions has been declining,” Sutopo remarked.

The BNPB has asked the Indonesian Military (TNI) to bolster patrols at night to prevent any additional burning by residents. Provinces in Sumatra and Kalimantan routinely suffer from annual forest fires as the local dry season hits its peak. The fires, many of which are set by small-scale farmers, are the result of traditional slash-and-burn land clearing techniques.

Police, eager to head off another diplomatic mess like last year’s transnational haze debacle, have been conducting sweeps of the area, arresting those accused of setting the blaze. Another 60 cases had resulted in arrests by Thursday, Riau Police chief Brig. Gen. Condro Kirono told Antara.

In total 102 people had been arrested over this year’s forest fires. A single company, National Sago Prima — a subsidiary of Sampoerna Agro — has been implicated in the fires.

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