Exclusive Interview with Mr. Nor Ashraf Samsudin, Director of Specialised Educational Services at DAS and a Parent from DAS on her story with her dyslexic son

Mr Nor Ashraf Samsudin

Our Parenting World Interview Series: Exclusive Interview with Mr. Nor Ashraf Samsudin, Director of Specialised Educational Services at DAS and a Parent from DAS on her story with her dyslexic son

Dyslexia is a condition that affects 10% of the world’s population. In Singapore, it is estimated that 23,000 preschool, primary and secondary students have dyslexia severe enough to warrant intervention. Research shows that early identification of special learning needs in children and intervention can be critical in enhancing their abilities and supporting them in developing to their maximum potential.

In 2016, MOE revealed that early intervention allowed 18,000 students with special needs to enter mainstream schools alongside their peers. This is a significantly higher figure compared to 11,000 students in 2012.

With this increasing awareness and concern on helping children with dyslexia, we have interviewed a DAS expert and a parent, who will be able to share their experiences and stories to help parents and caregivers to better understand and support children with dyslexia. 

Our Parenting World (OPW) team is honoured to be able to interview Mr. Nor Ashraf Samsudin, (NAS) Director of Specialised Educational Services at Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) where he will share about early intervention, strategies to help and support people with dyslexia, and the programmes at DAS. This is followed by an interview with a parent who would like to share about her son with dyslexia but choose to remain anonymous. 

Exclusive Interview with Mr. Nor Ashraf Samsudin (NAS), Director of Specialised Educational Services at Dyslexia Association of Singapore

1) What are some signs of dyslexia and other specific learning differences in preschoolers? How to identify?

NAS: Some of the early indicators of dyslexia are:

  1. Poor phonological skills and rhymes
  2. Difficulties in paying attention when listening to stories indicating possible problems in following the sequence of stories or other attentional and focusing issues
  3. Difficulties with working memory possibly indicating problems in recalling two or more pieces of information
  4. Difficulties sequencing stories in order indicating problems with organisation and sequencing
  5. Difficulties in naming and ordering common items in sequence
  6. Coordination difficulties including fine and gross motor movements, faced by children with dyslexia and dyspraxia, apparent during general physical activities as well as in writing
  7. A family history of dyslexia

2) How does early intervention for dyslexic preschoolers allow them to seamlessly enter mainstream school alongside peers?

NAS: Early intervention for preschoolers who may be at risk of dyslexia would provide them with the necessary skills and strategies in reading, spelling and writing to strengthen their foundation and grasp of the language. This will in turn enable them to enter mainstream schools with a stronger footing alongside their peers.

3) Besides reading and spelling, what else will the child find difficulty in? Speech? Other forms of expression?

NAS: Other than reading and spelling, a dyslexic child may face some coordination difficulties and therefore may appear clumsy. They may also find tasks requiring fine motor skills, like tying shoelaces, challenging. They may face difficulties in sequencing and recalling of information due to challenges in sequencing and working memory. Telling directions and distinguishing right from left can also be challenging for some.

Mr Nor Ashraf Samsudin

4) What are some main strategies and tips that are effective in helping a child with such learning differences?

NAS: a) Parents can help children who may be at risk of dyslexia by conducting activities to help them develop word attack skills, including: 

i. Blending and segmenting of words into onset (beginning of words) and rime (remainder of the words)

ii. Games that promote the blending, segmenting and deleting of phonemes

iii. Games for identifying beginning, middle and ending sounds

iv: Blending of longer words

b) Parents can also establish a routine of reading together (paired reading) before bedtime to instil a love for reading in their children. Before the reading sessions, parents are encouraged to hold discussions on the book with their children and ask them predictive questions to facilitate comprehension.

5) How and where can parents seek help?

NAS: It is important for parents to seek help immediately if they suspect that their preschool children are at risk of dyslexia. Early intervention is crucial. They can approach any of the 13 DAS learning centres for a free screening or enrol in our preschool classes. They can also sign up for regular screening exercises conducted by DAS for the public. It is important to note that these screenings are not meant to be diagnostic as a full assessment for dyslexia is only possible when the child reaches the age of six. 

Thank you Mr. Nor Ashraf Samsudin for sharing with us! 

References:

Reid, G. (2011). Dyslexia: A complete guide for parents and those who help them. Chichester,

West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.

Muter, V., & Likierman, H. (2008). Dyslexia: A parents’ guide. London: Vermilion.

 

A Parent from Dyslexia Association of Singapore who would like to share about her son with dyslexia:

Dyslexia Association of Singapore

1) What are some of the early signs noticed in your child?

P: My elder son who is in primary three this year is very bright from a young age. He has an inquisitive mind and is always asking questions. For example, when he was two years old, he would ask questions like: why is there blood in the body, why do we bleed when the doctor gives an injection and why does sea water not flow out of the globe since the earth is shaped like a ball?

We did what all parents would do by investing in books, hoping that our child would unlock the treasures of the world through them. However, he would insist on being read to and refuse to look at the words. Writing was difficult for him, but he could draw well. Sounding out letters of the alphabet was a major challenge for him, yet he was able to hum tunes that he had been listening to. By and large, he is an intelligent child, so I struggled to understand the reasons for his problems with reading and writing. It puzzled me as a first-time parent.

Picking up spelling at kindergarten one was particularly stressful for him, especially since he was not able to read or recite the alphabets confidently. Every day, he would cry over his homework, even though it might be as simple as tracing of words. He started disliking school and developed separation anxiety and inferiority complex. By kindergarten two, he was so discouraged that he would cry all the way to school. To him, going to school was like climbing the world’s highest mountain. He was exhausted, discouraged, stressed up and fearful of school. One day, he asked me why it was so hard for him to read and write, when it seemed so easy for the rest of his friends. He questioned, “Why am I so different?” That was when I knew he needed help.

2) When and how did you decide to intervene?

P: A family friend who volunteers as a child therapist for play therapy happened to notice his handwriting and signalled to me that he may be dyslexic. We contacted the Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) to arrange for an assessment and he was diagnosed with high probability for dyslexia. Fortunately, he was offered a place in DAS almost immediately and could start on an early intervention programme during his third term in kindergarten two.

3) What kind of differences did early intervention support make to your child’s learning journey?

P: Early intervention made a whole lot of difference. For a start, children are easier to teach when they are younger and more manageable. As dyslexia has nothing to do with intelligence, early intervention paved the way for them to learn the proper techniques for reading and writing, and doing so at an early age is more beneficial in the long run. He became much happier and more confident. By the time he started primary one, his school assessed his reading level to be that of a six-year-old child.

At primary two, he was awarded a silver badge in school for reading more than 50 books that year. It was very encouraging for him. His English grades jumped from being in the range of 50s to 80s.

During his first term in primary three, he called me from school to say that he had scored 14 out of 15 marks for his spelling, which required him to write out sentences. Knowing that this was not an easy feat for him and for all kids with dyslexia, I cried upon hearing that he had done well. Early remediation made a big difference. Slowly but surely he will get there. Nowadays, he no longer fails his spelling. Instead, he would ask me to test his spelling skills! He has also started writing a journal of all his online games.

Dyslexia Association of Singapore DAS

4) As a parent, how do you motivate and support your children in their learning journey?

P: Being in Singapore, there are many courses and workshops to teach parents how to deal with children with dyslexia. DAS is one such organisation that runs many classes to help parents and keep them informed. Since attending a course on the Orton Gillingham approach to teaching dyslexic children, I have adopted that method for my son. Although I hold a professional degree, this area is totally new to me and it feels as if it is back to school again for me.

I would encourage my son by telling him that he is not alone and that I will walk with him through his learning journey. As it is a crucial time for him, I decided to be a full-time mother so that I can be with my children.

Physical activities are also fundamental in a child’s growth and development. We participate in many activities together. Finding an area that he is comfortable and excellent in is also important because this would boost his confidence level. Seeing that he has a sporty streak, I encourage him to pursue excellence in sports. When he was in primary two, he won two sports medal, a gold and a silver, at the national level. In March 2017, he won another silver medal at a national sports competition.

Nevertheless, it has been a tough journey. He would still whine whenever there is homework to be done and would protest for half an hour just to get through 10 minutes of homework. I would have to sit beside him whenever he studies or does his homework. Although this is very time consuming, it is important for parents to give our children all the encouragement and support that they need.

It is not always easy for him at school. Sometimes, other children will make nasty comments, especially since he may need more time to take notes or solve mathematical problems compared to his peers. However, his excellence in sports has helped him gain the confidence that he needs to also excel in school. I often encourage him to persist and to master the techniques in coping with dyslexia, which will enable him to excel in school.

Working closely with the school teachers is also important. If the teachers are unaware of how to manage dyslexic children, it would be good to share with them materials so that they will be able to handle the child better. For example, for my son’s primary one spelling, his teacher and I agreed on the number of words he should be tested on. If he could only manage three out of 10 words, I would inform the teacher the morning before the spelling test and he would be marked based on those three words. As his confidence picks up, we would increase the number of test words. It took us two years to attain full marks for his spelling tests, and he is happy that he has reached his goal.

As children with dyslexia require more time and effort to complete their work, I hope that eventually schools will grant them more time to complete their work.

5) What advice would you give to other parents facing similar situations?

P: For parents who suspect that their child may have learning differences, it is good to acknowledge and face the issue. Seek help as soon as possible and do not cast the blame on your spouse but appreciate the child for who he or she is. Do not assume that the child will eventually grow out of it and if the child needs help with learning, it would be beneficial to seek help as soon as possible, instead of waiting until negativity sets in. Once the child feels inferior and thinks that he or she is not good at school work, it will hinder the child’s ability to excel. We live in a fast moving society, so do not let the child get left behind. Seek help and intervention as soon as possible.

The technique of reading and writing (Orton Gillingham Approach) can be applied to all learners, not necessary children with learning differences. Once the child is equipped with the technique, he or she would be able to overcome issues with reading and writing.

I believe that it is important for parents to acquire some techniques in guiding children with various learning differences, for the benefit of both the parent and the child.

For us, every little step is a victory. I would constantly have to remind him that he has already come so far. Instead of comparing my son with other children, I choose to identify his strengths. Keep yourself and your child positive by sharing inspirational stories to encourage each other.

Thank you for sharing your story with us!

UnITE SpLD 2017 Conference

UNITE SPLD

In addition, Dyslexia Association of Singapore (DAS) is hosting a UnITE SpLD 2017 Conference in June, more details as follows: 

Are you keeping in step with the latest developments in the field of Specific Learning Differences?

Be inspired by new ideas and research from experts and practitioners at the highly anticipated annual conference in Singapore, Uniting Ideas in Teaching Excellence: Specific Learning Differences 2017.

Meet more than 200 educators and researchers face-to-face at this three-day event and take home published journals and handbooks. Listen to over 30 research presentations delivered in bite-sized manner by presenters from Asia, Europe and USA.

Topics will cover aspects of behaviour, identification, early intervention, technology, multilingualism, assessment and strategies to help children with special learning needs.

Event Details:

Day 1: Pre Conference Day 2: Conference Day 1   Day 3: Conference Day 2
(DAS Learning Journey)      
Date: Mon, 19 June 2017 Date: Tue, 20 June 2017   Date: Wed, 21 June 2017
Time: 9.30am – 4.00pm Time: 9.30am – 5.00pm   Time: 9.30am – 1.00pm
       
Venue:   Venue:
DAS Rex House Learning Centre HDB Hub Convention Centre
73 Bukit Timah Road #05-01 HDB Hub Convention Centre Auditorium, Basement 1
Rex House 48 Lorong 6 Toa Payoh
Singapore 229832 Singapore 310480
       

Tickets:

3-Day UnITE Experience: From $155 (excluding $1 booking fee)

Conference Only: From $106 (excluding $1 booking fee)

Save 10% off your conference by registering early!

Sign up before 2 May 2017 for Early Bird pricing

Tel: +65 6444 5700 (Office hours: Mon-Fri, 9am – 5.30pm)

Enquiries: info@das.org.sg

Event webpage: http://www.das.org.sg/news-events/unite-spld-conference-2017

Online Registration: http://unite2017.eventzilla.net/web/event?eventid=2138890055

Staycation at Pan Pacific Hotel, Singapore

Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore

Staycation Review – Pan Pacific Hotel, Singapore 新加坡泛太平洋酒店

Staycation is a good way to escape from the hustle and bustle of daily life, to relax and enjoy quality time together with your loved ones without having to travel overseas. It is an excellent option for parents and children to bond and build memorable memories together over an enjoyable staycation. Finding a good hotel for your staycation is certainly important! 

Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore

Our Parenting World team recently stayed at the Pan Pacific hotel over the weekend and the hotel is well-known to provide world-class service and five-star luxury accommodation.

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Spectacular view taken from Pan Pacific Hotel’s bubble lift

Another interesting highlight of Pan Pacific Hotel is that it is the only place in Singapore with bubble lifts that go very high up in the sky. It is one of the tallest hotels in Singapore giving guest a panoramic view of Marina Bay. 

Other bubble lifts like the one at Far East Plaza can only go up to 5th floor. The kids are so excited to take the bubble lifts and look at the stunning view outside. 

The hotel is located at the heart of Singapore’s business, entertainment and shopping districts with easy access to a wide array of world-class attractions like Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay and more. It is connected to Marina Square Shopping Mall and a short walk away through a sheltered walkway to Suntec City to fulfill your shopping and entertainment needs. 

Hai Tien Lo – Ultimate Weekend Dim Sum Brunch Buffet 

Hai Tien Lo at Pan Pacific Singapore

Before we go into our hotel room, we can’t wait to check out the award-winning Hai Tien Lo Cantonese restaurant to fill our hungry stomachs! 

Hai Tien Lo 海天楼 means literally “Stairway to Heaven” headed by Executive Chef Lai Tong Ping. This well-known Cantonese restaurant will please diners with a wide variety of fine Cantonese cuisines from traditional to dishes with a contemporary twist. 

Hai Tien Lo

During the weekends, Hai Tien Lo offers the Ultimate Weekend Dim Sum Brunch Buffet with more than 60 dim sum creations and signature a la carte delicacies. Diners can look forward to indulge in exquisite handcrafted delights and even better, it comes with unlimited servings of bubbly and wine to pair your food with!

Our Parenting World highlights some of the delicacies that we have tried:

Hai Tien Lo 1

Double-boiled mini Buddha Jumps Over the Wall

This is a tasty and nourishing soup full of top grade ingredients like Abalone. 

Hai Tien Lo 2

Braised Whole Abalone with Pearl Mushroom in Abalone Sauce

The abalone is very tender and well braised in flavourful sauce. 

Hai Tien Lo 4

Enjoy a wide range of savoury Cantonese Dim Sum delights like steamed prawn dumplings, steamed pork and prawn dumplings with crab roe, steamed vegetarian dumplings with truffles, deep-fried beancurd skin with prawn paste and silver fish and more!

Hai Tien Lo 3

Delicious range of Assorted Barbecued Appetisers consisting of barbecued crispy pork belly, marinated soya chicken and barbecued roasted duck. There are more variety in the menu like barbecued sliced honey-glazed pork, deep-fried crispy fish skin with lemon butter sauce and more that you can choose from.

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After a hearty meal, enjoy refreshing and yummy desserts Traditional Chinese Dessert, Chef’s Fruit Pudding, Seasonal Fresh Fruits and Western Cakes. 

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Hai Tien Lo Restaurant was previously located at the 37th floor of the Pan Pacific Hotel and in 2012, the hotel underwent a major renovation and the award winning Chinese restaurant has moved to level 3. 

If you are in the hotel during weekend, you should not miss having lunch at Hai Tien Lo. The weekend dim sum brunch is actually an ala-carte buffet where you could order as many servings as you wish for most of the items on the menu.

When we were there, the dim sum brunch was very popular with many families; many of the guests also came with their grandparents too. The service is good and prompt, the ordered dishes arrived fairly quickly. Overall we rated this as one of the best ala-carte dim sum buffet lunch that we had tried.

We simply enjoyed the delicious food at Hai Tien Lo, besides the food, diners can enjoy great ambience and impeccable service! 

Weekend Dim Sum Brunch Buffet

Date: Saturdays and Sundays

Time: 11:30am to 2:30pm

Prices:
SGD128 per adult
, includes unlimited Laurent-Perrier Champagne, house wines, beers, juices and soft drinks

SGD98 per adult, includes unlimited house wines, beers, juices and soft drinks

SGD68 per adult, SGD38 per child (six to 11 years old)

Click here to view the Weekend Dim Sum Brunch menu.

Hai Tien Lo 海天楼

Pan Pacific Singapore

7 Raffles Boulevard, Level 3, Singapore 039595

Tel: +65 6826 8240

 

Staycation at Pan Pacific Hotel

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Pan Pacific Singapore 3

Our team checked into the Skyline suite located at the 24th floor of the hotel. The suite is so spacious at 79sqm (850sq-ft), more than enough space for 2 active boys to run around and have fun! It comes with complimentary wired and wireless Internet.

Guests can unwind and enjoy a stunning city view from the room. 

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Upon entering the room, we are surprised with a nice box of Easter goodies, a welcome box of pralines, fresh fruit plate and thank you card all thoughtfully prepared by the hotel.

How nice and thoughtful of Pan Pacific! We feel so welcome :)

Pan Pacific Singapore 4

We absolutely love the room, it is bright, cosy and very comfortable!

The suite is huge consisting of living area which is big enough to put extra beds, a bedroom with a king-sized bed and a modern ensuite bathroom.

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Guests of Skyline Suites can enjoy complimentary use of handy phone with unlimited mobile Internet and International calls to 15 countries, smart desk telephone and including complimentary local calls in the room.  

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The room comes with a fully-stocked e-fridge, Nespresso coffee machine and Tea making facilities.

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We moved on to the bedroom which features a luxurious king-sized bed, the hotel room comes with two 37” LCD Smart television with a wide selection of in-room entertainment including local and cable channels. Enjoy DVD player with Bose surround-sound system and integrated bathroom speakers.

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Having a good rest and quality sleep are very important, look at this luxurious King-sized bed, you will surely feel more energised after having a good sleep on it. 

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Mummies and ladies will be pleased to see there is a spacious wardrobe space to put your clothes and luggages. In-room safe is available for you to put your precious belongings, iron and ironing board are included at the same area. 

There is also a large dressing table besides it for ladies to put on their make up.

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The stylish and modern ensuite elegant marble bathroom comes with Kaldewei bathtub and with premium Hans Grohe fittings and indulgent rain shower.

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We are certainly impressed with the luxurious and beautiful marble bathroom! Enjoy your bath with high quality toiletries set that is set to address your needs and pamper you. 

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Swimming pool during the day

We can’t wait to check out Pan Pacific’s newly renovated swimming pools featuring 2 large semi-circular pools surrounded with inviting cabanas and sun loungers amidst lush greenery in a perfect tropical surroundings. 

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Swimming pool during the night

The night view at the pool is just as mesmerizing coupled with gentle night breeze.

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We have a great time swimming at the newly renovated pool! 

Pan Pacific Swimming Pool

Location: Level Four

Opening Hours: 6:00am to 10:00pm

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Exercise at the 24 hours Fitness and Recreation featuring state-of-the-art fitness centre. Steam rooms and tennis courts are also available for your enjoyment.

Fitness and Recreation

Location: Level Four

Opening Hours: Fitness Centre – 24 hours

Tennis Courts:  7:00am to 10:00pm

Telephone: +65 6336 8111

In addition, you can take a break, relax and indulge in revitalising spa which also offers authentic traditional Chinese therapies at St. Gregory.

St. Gregory

Location: Level Four

Opening Hours: 10:00am to 10:00pm

Telephone: +65 6826 8140

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Rise and Shine! After a good night sleep, it is time for breakfast at Pan Pacific. 

Edge – Intercontinental Breakfast Buffet Spread

Edge Pan Pacific

Edge Pan Pacific 1

In the morning, we visited Edge located at Level Three for our breakfast. We are greeted warmly by the cheerful staff at the entrance. Once we are seated, it was an eye opener to see such a grand display of Intercontinental breakfast buffet spread. 

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At the Edge, diners will be treated to a sumptuous spread of international cuisines from seven open kitchens featuring Singaporean, Chinese, Malay, Indian, Japanese and Pan Pacific’s signature “Pacific Cuisine”. There are so many to choose from!

Edge Pan Pacific 7

Enjoy a bowl of comforting and delicious noodles at one of the open kitchens where your noodles will be cooked fresh on spot. 

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The Edge has such a huge selection of savoury and sweets desserts from local favourites like colourful assortments of Waku Kueh, Tutu Kueh, Kueh Lapis to Western delights and more to satisfy you. 

Edge Pan Pacific 12

Visit Edge to enjoy good food and it offers a theatrical and interactive dining experience that will put you on a culinary tour of Singapore from the region and the Pacific Rim that is set to thrill your visual and taste buds.

Edge

Location: Level Three

Opening Hours:

Breakfast (daily) – 6:00am to 10:30am
Lunch (Monday to Saturday) – 12:00pm to 2:30pm
Sunday Champagne Brunch – 12:00pm to 4:00pm
Dinner – 6:30pm to 10:30pm

Telephone: +65 6826 8240

Pan Pacific Singapore 1

As a premier 5 star hotel located at the competitive Marina Bay area of downtown Singapore, with facilities like the newly-renovated swimming pool, spa, gym and award winning restaurants are impressive and cater for both families and business travellers. The morning breakfast buffet served at Edge restaurant at the 3rd floor of the hotel is also one of the most extensive hotel breakfast buffets that we have ever sampled.

It has been a truly relaxing family staycation experience at Pan Pacific Hotel. This hotel is certainly the flagship of the whole Pan Pacific Group of hotels in Singapore.

Our Parenting World five reasons why the Pan Pacific Singapore is the luxury weekend staycation choice for your family:

  1. The hotel has several award winning  and other restaurants to cater for diners with different needs like Hai Tien Lo which serves popular Cantonese cuisines, Edge for international buffet, Rang Mahal for fine North Indian cuisine, Keyaki for exquisite Japanese meals and Pacific Market Place for sandwiches, salads, coffee and pastries.
  2. The bubble lifts going up to your room is an amazing experience one should not missed, the view is simply stunning!
  3. The hotel is conveniently located and connected to Marina Square, Suntec City shopping malls as well as Millenia Walk.
  4. The Skyline suites we stayed in is one of the largest and luxurious hotel suites we have ever experienced in Singapore, at almost 80sqm, bigger than some of the condos in Singapore. The beautiful hotel room will make your stay a memorable one.
  5. The high and beautiful atrium at the hotel makes the indoor view feel like living in a calm oasis.

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Pan Pacific and are impressed with its beautiful room, delicious meal at its award winning restaurants and impeccable services! Pan Pacific is certainly the hotel for families who wish to have a relaxing staycation and a good way to spend time together in this grand and luxurious 5 star hotel! 

Pan Pacific

Address:

7 Raffles Boulevard,
Marina Square
Singapore 039595

Tel: +65 6336 8111

Toll-Free: 3071 3079

Email: enquiry.ppsin@panpacific.com

To find out more about Pan Pacific Singapore, please click HERE

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