SINGAPORE: Two women were arrested for importing and possessing counterfeit perfume and cosmetic products worth more than S$800,000, Singapore authorities said on Tuesday (Aug 20).
The suspects were aged 21 and 23, said the police and Singapore Customs in a joint media release.
On Jul 25, customs officers inspected a consignment of more than 200 pieces of perfume and cosmetic products believed to be counterfeits.
The case was then referred to the Criminal Investigation Department, which conducted raids on Aug 6 at Tampines North Drive and Sunview Road.
The suspects were arrested in the 19-hour operation, said the authorities.
Officers also seized more than 16,000 pieces of counterfeit perfume and cosmetic products with falsely applied trademarks.
Investigation revealed that the counterfeit goods were meant for sale online.
"The authorities take a serious view on intellectual property right (IPR) infringements and will not hesitate to take action against perpetrators who show blatant disregard for Singapore’s IPR laws," said the release.
Those found guilty of importing, possessing or distributing goods with falsely applied trademarks for the purpose of trade face up to five years’ jail and a fine of up to S$100,000.
Investigations are ongoing.
SINGAPORE: A doctor is on trial for molesting a patient in a clinic two years ago.
Dr Lui Weng Sun, 46, claimed trial on Monday (Aug 19) to one charge of using criminal force on a 24-year-old woman to outrage her modesty.
He is accused of pulling down a bra cup of the woman, whose identity is protected by gag order, placing a stethoscope on her left breast, and touching her nipple with his finger.
The incident is said to have occurred at Northeast Medical Group clinic in Block 39, Jalan Tiga at 2.42pm on Nov 6, 2017.
The victim's boyfriend told the court through a Mandarin interpreter on Tuesday that he had questioned the doctor on why he had touched her even though she had gone there for a "normal sickness" like flu and fever.
In a phone call lasting at least five minutes to the doctor, the boyfriend asked why the doctor needed to "open her clothes, pull down her bra and touch the breast area".
"He answered: 'Sorry, sorry, I need to check the things inside'," said the man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the victim.
"He used those kind of doctor terms in English, (saying he needed) to check the internal organs like the liver, the lungs and heart, things like that."
The doctor neither admitted nor denied any of the allegations, said the boyfriend, who had made the call with the victim by his side.
He said he was unhappy and could not really understand the doctor's explanations.
"I told him - it's just flu and cough, there's no need to open clothes," said the man. "I told him I was hungry because I just ended work, so I asked him to call me back in one to two hours (and to ) think carefully of a reason to convince me."
When Dr Lui called him again, he repeated the same reason he had given for "opening" the woman's clothes, saying he needed to check the "things inside", which the boyfriend explained to be the internal organs.
"I asked him - if indeed you need to check the things inside, my girlfriend wanted to go there only for flu, cough and fever," said the boyfriend. "And further, why wasn't there a nurse there?"
The doctor then asked the man "what do you want me to do", and the man answered that he merely wanted an explanation for why he had to lift his girlfriend's clothes.
The boyfriend then said he would consider going to the police if not given a satisfactory answer.
He later made a police report after discussing the matter with his girlfriend.
The trial continues.
If found guilty of using criminal force to outrage the woman's modesty, Dr Lui could be jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or given any combination of such penalties.
LONDON: Britain's Prince Andrew has said he was "appalled" by allegations of sexual abuse surrounding Jeffrey Epstein after a video was released purporting to show him at the home of the convicted paedophile in 2010.
"The Duke of York has been appalled by the recent reports of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged crimes," Buckingham Palace said in a statement, the Press Association reported on Sunday (Aug 18).
"His Royal Highness deplores the exploitation of any human being and the suggestion he would condone, participate in or encourage any such behaviour is abhorrent," the statement said.
The video published by the Mail on Sunday claims to show the prince waving goodbye to a woman as she departs Epstein's New York mansion in 2010.
Epstein was found dead on Aug 10 in a federal jail in Manhattan as he awaited trial charged with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.
A coroner ruled that he committed suicide by hanging.
Over the years, the financier hobnobbed with politicians, socialites and celebrities, including Donald Trump before he was president and Bill Clinton.
Virginia Giuffre - previously Virginia Roberts - one of Epstein's alleged victims, testified in 2016 that she had sex with Prince Andrew when she was underage, an allegation Buckingham Palace has repeatedly and strenuously denied.
Prince Andrew was Britain's special representative for international trade and investment for 10 years until 2011, when he gave up the post following intense scrutiny over his relationships with Epstein and other controversial figures.
NDR 2019: Climate change one of the 'gravest challenges facing mankind', impact on Singapore to worsen, says PM Lee
SINGAPORE: Climate change is one of the gravest challenges the human race faces and Singapore is already feeling its impact - which is likely to worsen over the next few decades, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Sunday (Aug 18).
“Climate change may seem abstract and distant for many of us, but it is one of the gravest challenges facing humankind,” said Mr Lee in his National Day Rally speech.
The Earth’s average temperature has increased by 1 degree Celsius compared to pre-industrial times over 100 years ago, pointed out Mr Lee.
This is a result of more carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere due to of human activity. The gas builds up, traps heat from the sun, causing the planet to warm up.
“One degree Celsius doesn’t sound like much, but it is very significant,” Mr Lee said. “Furthermore, temperatures are continuing to rise, faster and faster.”
Global warming has resulted in the weather becoming more extreme, added Mr Lee, with droughts getting more severe and prolonged. At the other end of the spectrum, rainfall and storms are becoming more intense.
He explained: “Singapore is already feeling the impact. Our weather is palpably hotter. Rainstorms are heavier and this will very likely worsen over the next few decades, within the lifetimes of many of us.”
According to a recent Swiss study, by 2050, several cities in the world will experience “unprecedented” climate shifts, added Mr Lee.
THE GRAVE THREAT OF RISING SEA LEVELS
Rising temperatures are also causing ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica to melt – leading to rising sea levels. Singapore is “especially vulnerable” to this given that it is a low-lying island, said Mr Lee.
The United Nations currently projects that sea levels will rise by up to 1m by the end of the century, but scientists’ estimates have been going up, and sea levels may quite possibly rise higher and faster than that, added Mr Lee.
Singapore used to face floods in the 1960s and 1970s, especially during the rainy season but these flooding problems are now “largely resolved”, said Mr Lee.
This is because the drainage system has been improved and buildings were required to be built on higher platforms, at least 3m above mean sea level.
As the water can be as high as 2m above sea level during high tide, this leaves a 1m buffer to cope with weather events like heavy rain.
But with global warming, if sea levels rise by 1m, and when it is high tide, there will be no buffer, said Mr Lee.
He added: “If the heavy rain coincides with a high tide, the water will have nowhere to go. We will be, literally, in deep water.”
A MATTER OF LIFE AND DEATH
In order to understand what climate change means for Singapore, the Government has set up the Centre for Climate Research Singapore (CCRS), said Mr Lee.
“CCRS is cooperating with their counterparts in neighbouring countries to study in more detail how climate change is affecting Southeast Asia,” he explained. “They are finding that Singapore, being near the equator, is more vulnerable to climate change than the global model suggests.”
In order to mitigate climate change, Singapore has and will continue to do its part in reducing carbon dioxide emissions, added PM Lee.
For example, Singapore is part of the Paris Climate Agreement and has committed to slow down as well as cap carbon dioxide emissions by around 2030.
Individual Singaporeans also have a role to play by reducing waste and being sustainable in their daily habits, stressed PM Lee.
“Although Singapore may not be able to stop climate change by ourselves, we can contribute to solutions, and we must do our fair share,” he added.
Singapore will also need to adapt to climate change – localised measures have been put in place to protect individual buildings and developments.
For one, new developments are required to be built at least 4m above mean sea level, and this requirement is even higher for critical infrastructure as Tuas Port and Changi Airport terminal 5, said Mr Lee.
The building of a second pump house at the Marina Barrage has also been planned, while the options to reclaim a series of islands from Marina East to Changi as well as build polders will be considered.
Ultimately, Singapore should treat climate change defences with “utmost seriousness” said Mr Lee.
“Both the SAF (Singapore Armed Forces) and climate change defences are existential for us. These are life and death matters,” he stressed. “Everything else must bend at the knee to safeguard the existence of our island nation.
“With the SAF, we hope never to go to war ... But with climate change, we know for sure sea levels will rise. And the only uncertainty is whether they rise a few decades earlier, or a few decades later.”
NDR 2019: Labour movement MPs, NMPs give their views on higher CPF contribution rates for older workers
SINGAPORE: Members of Parliament (MPs) from the labour movement welcomed the announcement to increase Central Provident Fund (CPF) contribution rates for some older workers, although they acknowledged that businesses may have concerns over costs.
Some Nominated Members of Parliament (NMPs), on the other hand, called for more to be done, such as extending the higher contribution rates to workers up to 65 years old and having the increase kick in sooner.
On Sunday (Aug 18), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in his National Day Rally speech that CPF contribution rates would be raised for workers above 55 from 2021, and that at the end of the changes, those aged 60 and below will enjoy the full CPF rate.
Mr Lee added that CPF rates will begin to taper down after 60, and level off after 70. The complete increment for the intended group will take about 10 years or so, depending on overall economic conditions, he added.
Currently, the total CPF contribution rate is 37 per cent for workers up to 55 years old.
It drops progressively as the age band increases: 26 per cent for workers aged 55 to 60, 16.5 per cent for those aged 60 to 65, and 12.5 per cent for those above 65.
In response, labour movement MPs Patrick Tay, Zainal Sapari and Heng Chee How said that they welcomed the move to raise CPF rates for workers above 55, but acknowledged that businesses may have concerns over costs and challenges in adopting them.
Mr Heng pointed to two “realities” facing Singapore as reasons for welcoming the changes: The longevity of Singaporeans and labour constraints.
Because Singaporeans are living longer, there is a need to help older workers, give them the choice to work longer, and provide better for their retirement, he said.
Mr Tay, who is also the chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee (GPC) for Manpower, acknowledged that businesses would have concerns.
“There’s always a sense of concern that the older workers may be less productive. I think businesses have to leave it to technology. We have seen companies that have succeeded in using technology to redesign their jobs,” he said.
He also said that the businesses will have time to prepare, and said there are several schemes like SkillsFuture that employers can use if they need support in retraining their workers to make them employable as they grow older.
Echoing this sentiment, Mr Sapari, who is the Manpower GPC’s vice-chairman, said: “We in the labour movement understand what some of the concerns are and that is the reason we do not have a very fixed schedule (for the changes).”
However, while the labour movement will encourage businesses and help them, Mr Zainal urged workers to keep themselves healthy and continuously learn so that they remain employable as they grow older.
"SHOULDN'T YOU BE TREATED THE SAME AS OTHER WORKERS?": WALTER THESEIRA
NMP Walter Theseira said that workers aged up to 65 should receive full CPF contributions of 37 per cent.
"There is no reason why we shouldn't aim to get the CPF contribution rates to be the same all the way up to the eligibility age to withdraw CPF, which is 65," said Associate Professor Theseira, who teaches economics.
He proposed that the Government consider extending the change to the wider group of older workers.
"The fact is, if you are not required to retire yet, then shouldn't you be treated the same as other workers?" he said.
Joining Assoc Prof Theseira in asking for a change to the proposed plan was fellow NMP Anthea Ong, who asked for the increase in contribution rates to be faster.
It would, she said, encourage older workers, an important pool of workers for the economy, to work longer.
Referring to raise in the retirement age in gradual phases from 62 to 65 and re-employment age from 67 to 70 by 2030, Ms Ong said: "We want them to work longer, we should also provide for them more in terms of the CPF contributions."
The first age limit increments from 62 to 63 for retirement and 67 to 68 for re-employment will happen in 2022, although the Public Service will implement it one year earlier.
The changes follow the Government accepting all of the recommendations put forward by a tripartite workgroup studying the country’s ageing workforce.
WAGE STRUCTURE AN UNDERLYING PROBLEM
Although the proposed changes received a warm welcome from both the labour movement and his fellow NMPs, Assoc Prof Theseira pointed to the existing wage structure as an issue in getting employers to adopt the increase in age cut-offs and higher CPF contributions for older workers.
Existing salary structures mean that many workers get increments over the years, attaining their peak salary when they are older. This becomes a problem when these older workers are less productive.
"The employer will think: 'I've committed to paying this guy more and more money every year, but he's getting less productive, so I'm looking at a black hole'," Assoc Prof Theseira said.
Workers should attain their highest wages earlier in their lives and these wages should be gradually decreased as their productivity dips, he said.
"If you look at many people, if you ask them, when do you really need your wages to be high? When do you need your income to come in? They will say it is when they are in their late 30s, early 40s, early 50s, when they have a young kid, when they are paying for (their children’s) education," he said.
Hopefully, by the time they reach their 60s and beyond, they would already have discharged most of their family responsibilities, he added.
He suggested a more flexible wage structure to account for these varying needs in different life stages.
This would in turn make it more attractive for companies to employ older workers, he said.
BERLIN: A pair of gay penguins in Germany who tried earnestly to hatch a stone now have the chance to become real parents.
Staff at Berlin Zoo recently presented the amorous male couple with an egg, which they swiftly began to incubate.
The egg came from another pair who in recent years "have not got along 100 per cent and who have therefore often damaged their eggs", said zookeeper Norbert Zahmel.
Ten-year-old Royal penguins Skipper and Ping were an "excellent" choice as adoptive parents, he added.
Zookeepers don't know for certain if the egg is fertilised, but if it does hatch it would be the first birth of a penguin at the zoo in more than 20 years.
Same-sex love among penguins is nothing new, with homosexual behaviour among the species reported in zoos and in the wild.
During gay Pride week, London Zoo mounted a banner above its penguin beach, declaring: "Some penguins are gay. Get over it," in a nod to a human campaign against homophobia.
SINGAPORE: A Thai restaurant was investigated last year after it failed to state an end date to its discount period on promotional materials published on its website, social media page, menu and in-store posters, Singapore's competition watchdog said Friday (Aug 16).
In a media release, the Competition and Consumer Commission of Singapore (CCCS) said that while conducting market monitoring, it also found Charcoal Thai 1 had indicated that discounts for meals such as lunch sets and steamboat items were either available for a "limited period only" or would be "Ending soon! 50 per cent discount".
The promotions continued to be available, however, for at least two more years since February 2016.
"Such claims on the discount period not only misled consumers into believing that there is a price benefit and scarcity in the availability of the promotional prices, it also provided Charcoal Thai 1 an unfair advantage over businesses which comply with the CPFTA...," said CCCS.
Charcoal Thai 1 has since agreed to cease the unfair practice and not engage in other unfair practices under the Consumer Protection (Fair Trading) Act. CCCS said it has closed the investigation, but that it would continue to monitor the restaurant's conduct.
"CCCS has closed its investigation given that Charcoal Thai 1 has taken the necessary steps to adequately address CCCS’s concerns," the watchdog said. "CCCS will, however, continue to monitor Charcoal Thai 1’s conduct, and reserves the right to investigate any breach of the undertaking or any other unfair practices by Charcoal Thai 1.
“CCCS is also closely monitoring other businesses that engage in similar unfair practices ... Businesses are reminded not to engage in any practices that are likely to mislead consumers,” it added.
SINGAPORE: Singaporeans are advised to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong as "increasingly unpredictable" protests continue to take place across the city, said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a travel advisory on Friday (Aug 16).
“There have been large-scale protests taking place across Hong Kong since June 2019 which have become increasingly unpredictable. These protests can take place with little or no notice and could turn violent,” MFA said.
Recent protests have even affected operations at Hong Kong airport, with many flights cancelled and travellers stranded on Aug 12 and Aug 13, the ministry noted.
"Singaporeans are thus advised to defer non-essential travel to Hong Kong, given current developments.
"If you are already in Hong Kong, you should take all necessary precautions to ensure your personal safety. You are advised to stay vigilant, monitor developments through the local news and heed the instructions of the local authorities," said MFA.
"You should avoid protests and large public gatherings, and stay in touch with your family and friends so that they know you are safe," it said, adding that Singaporeans in Hong Kong are encouraged to eRegister on its website so that they may be contacted should the need arise.
Singaporeans in Hong Kong may wish to also follow the local police on their social media accounts for updates, said MFA.
MOSCOW: A Russian pilot was being hailed as a hero on Thursday (Aug 15) for landing an Airbus carrying more than 230 people in a Moscow corn field after a bird strike.
The Ural Airlines' Airbus 321 flying to Crimea with 233 people on board hit a flock of seagulls shortly after take-off from Moscow's Zhukovsky airport on Thursday morning, the Rosaviatsia air transport agency said in a statement.
Birds were sucked into the engines, forcing the pilots to land in the field about one km from Zhukovsky International Airport, south-east of Moscow, the agency added.
The plane landed with its engines off and the landing gear retracted.
"There was an emergency landing in Zhukovsky. Birds got into both engines. Engines turned off, the crew carried out the landing," Ural Airlines general director, Sergei Skuratov, was quoted as saying by the TASS news agency.
The aircraft, carrying 226 passengers and seven crew, was evacuated using inflatable ramps, with some passengers taken to hospital and others back to the airport.
The health ministry said 23 people were hospitalised, including nine children. Seven people were being kept in for observation, including a 28-year-old man who suffered a concussion.
"It all happened in a few seconds ... We took off and came back down," passenger Irina Usacheva told state television channel Rossiya 24.
The pilot, Yekaterinburg native Damir Yusupov, was praised for his quick thinking.
"The crew of the Ural Airlines flight showed fantastic skill and cool-headedness," said Yevgeny Kuyvashev, the governor of Yusupov's home region.
"He and his team saved 233 lives. They are heroes."
Safety concerns have plagued Russia's airline industry since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, though standards are widely recognised to have sharply risen on international routes in particular in recent years.
SINGAPORE: The Commissioner of Charities (COC) on Thursday (Aug 15) suspended all charitable fund-raising appeals conducted by Crisis Centre (Singapore) for a period of six months.
The suspension order, issued under the Charities Act, will take effect on Thurday, the COC said in a press statement.
“We have received feedback about the fund-raising appeals conducted by the charity," said the COC, Dr Ang Hak Seng.
"Investigations to date have raised serious concerns about the charity’s governance, record-keeping practices and ability to be accountable to its donors."
The COC said that suspension was imposed to "safeguard the public interest" pending further investigations.
During the suspension period, Crisis Centre (Singapore) will be allowed to continue with its daily operations, the COC added.
Crisis Centre (Singapore) was granted charity status in May last year. On its website, it describes itself as a shelter for men who are homeless or at risk of homelessness.
The COC has advised members of the public to be discerning and not to feel pressured into making a donation immediately when approached by fund-raisers.
"Members of the public who have concerns regarding any suspicious fund-raising appeals should report the matter to the COC. If fraud or scams are suspected, a police report should be lodged immediately," said COC.
Verification on the legitimacy of the fund-raising appeals can be done via the Charity Portal, scanning the fund-raising permit’s QR Code or SMS “FR<space><license/certificate number or organisation name>” to 79777.