SINGAPORE: A driver in a fatal car accident that killed a four-year-old girl and seriously injured a domestic helper was on Thursday (Dec 6) sentenced to six weeks' jail and banned from driving for five years.
Sai Mee Chun, 54, pleaded guilty to one charge of causing the death of Eleanor Tan Si Xuan by a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide.
A second charge of causing grievous hurt to the 38-year-old domestic helper from Myanmar was taken into consideration for sentencing.
Sai was driving his vehicle along Bukit Batok Central towards Bukit Batok West Avenue 2 on the way to meet his father on the evening of Oct 9 last year.
The former condominium manager drove at a speed of 60kmh along a stretch of road where the speed limit was 50kmh, the prosecution said.
Meanwhile, young Eleanor was heading home from kindergarten accompanied by her family's domestic helper, Ms Su Su Hlaing. They walked across the road instead of taking the nearby overhead bridge, the prosecution said.
Sai was driving on a straight road and did not keep a proper lookout, noticing the jaywalking pair only when they were less than half a car length away from him.
He collided into them, and they were flung forward onto the road. Both victims were taken to the hospital, where Eleanor was pronounced dead from multiple injuries.
Her domestic helper was warded for almost three weeks with multiple fractures.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Zu Zhao asked for a jail sentence of at least six weeks and a driving ban of five years.
He said Sai was speeding on a straight, unobstructed road where a high volume of traffic was to be expected.
Sai's defence lawyer Choo Yean Lin asked instead for four weeks' jail, pointing out that her client was not sleepy or intoxicated at the time.
He had also given his full assistance to the police, she said, and "the loss of a young life will forever remain in his mind".
For causing the girl's death by a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide, Sai could have been jailed for up to two years, fined, or both.
SINGAPORE: An employment agency owner was fined S$8,500 on Thursday (Dec 6) for bringing in two foreign teenagers to work as maids in Singapore.
Sherlyn Tay Li Wen, 43, the sole proprietor of AG Employment Agency, pleaded guilty to two counts of breaching employment licensing conditions.
The teenagers were aged 15 and 18 then. The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) mandates that foreign domestic workers in Singapore have to be at least 23 years old.
Investigations found that the teenagers sought the help of an agent in Myanmar to source for work in Singapore.
The woman, named Esther, took a video of each of them after instructing them to say that they were 24 years old, among other things. The videos were forwarded to Tay at her business.
Esther also arranged new passports for the two teens, reflecting false dates of birth.
After receiving the videos, the employment agency found prospective employers for the teenagers and proceeded with applications for them to work in Singapore.
Tay did not interview them when they arrived in Singapore on Nov 5, 2018.
Instead, they were sent immediately for medical check-ups and the Settling-In Programme, a mandatory one-day orientation for first-time domestic workers.
It was during this programme that suspicions were raised about their age, due to their appearance. They were then interviewed by MOM officers.
MOM found that agency had failed to ensure that the foreign domestic workers met the age criteria, despite repeated reminders from the ministry to be more vigilant. It was also revealed that Tay was aware that workers should be interviewed upon arrival.
SYDNEY: An Australian man whose life was laid bare in a popular crime mystery podcast about the disappearance of his wife nearly 40 years ago was arrested on Wednesday (Dec 5).
Ex-first grade rugby league player Chris Dawson, 70, is expected to be charged with the murder of his former wife Lynette, who went missing in Sydney's northern beaches in 1982, authorities said.
The body of the mother of two has never been recovered.
Dawson denies killing his wife, and says she left home at the time of her disappearance to get some time to herself.
The cold case is the subject of popular podcast "The Teacher's Pet", which details a troubled marriage leading up to the disappearance and examines the shortcomings of the police response.
The podcast, by journalists, has been heard by some 27 million people worldwide, according to reporters.
An inquest in 2003 found that Chris Dawson, a former high school teacher, had started an affair with a 16-year-old student who moved in with him within days of his wife's disappearance.
Police have been criticised for not investigating the disappearance properly.
New South Wales police commissioner Mick Fuller, who recently apologised for police failings on the case in the 1980s, said detectives had revisited the disappearance three years ago and a "fresh brief" of evidence had led to the arrest.
"That information enabled New South Wales Police to get an arrest warrant for a 70-year-old man currently living in Queensland," Fuller told reporters Wednesday.
Fuller acknowledged that media reports had contributed to police obtaining additional statements relating to the case.
"What is important to me was justice for Lynette Dawson and her family, and today is an important step forward in that," he added.
Dawson was due to be extradited from Queensland state to New South Wales, where police said he would be charged with homicide.
SINGAPORE: New three-dimensional (3D) traffic calming markings, aimed at encouraging motorists to reduce speed, will be trialled along the Whampoa Drive Silver Zone towards the end of December.
In a press release on Wednesday (Dec 5), the Land Transport Authority (LTA) said the markings, which were adopted from Japan, are intended to encourage motorists to reduce their speed because of the perceived narrower lane width.
"The trial will help LTA assess the effectiveness of these new markings," the press release added.
Silver Zones are specially-demarcated areas in residential zones with a large population of elderly residents and a relatively high accident rate involving seniors.
Accident rates within Silver Zones have been reduced by almost 75 per cent, with an average of 14 cases per year to 4 cases per year in the 15 completed Silver Zones.
There are ongoing works for another 10 Silver Zones.
SINGAPORE: Forty-two people have been taken ill, with four of them hospitalised, after a food poisoning outbreak at Mandarin Orchard Singapore, authorities said on Wednesday (Dec 5).
The food was served during a lunch banquet at the hotel on Sunday.
The Ministry of Health (MOH), the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) confirmed in a statement to Channel NewsAsia that they were investigating the incident.
"As of 9.30 am on Dec 5, 2018, 42 cases were reported to have developed symptoms of gastroenteritis. Four of the cases were hospitalised," said the statement.
"MOH, NEA and AVA have conducted a joint inspection of the caterer’s premises on Dec 4, 2018. As part of the investigations, food handlers were sent for stool screening, and food and environmental samples were taken for testing."
Mandarin Orchard Singapore said it is monitoring the situation and is on hand to help those affected.
"We have been reaching out to affected guests so that we can render support and assistance where we can and personally see how they are doing, as nothing could be more important to us at this point than their safety and well-being," said Mandarin Orchard Singapore in a statement to Channel NewsAsia.
Hotel workers who handled food have been "temporarily relieved" of their duties until they have completed medical tests and are cleared by authorities.
Mandarin Orchard Singapore also said it has stopped serving raw food prepared in the banquet kitchens during the ongoing investigation period.
This latest outbreak comes in the wake of a spate of food poisoning cases in November.
The most serious involved a fatality, after more than 80 people were taken ill when they consumed bento box lunches supplied by Spize from its River Valley outlet.
More than 20 people were hospitalised, including 38-year-old auxiliary police officer Fadli Salleh who died on Nov 14.
On Nov 23, 190 people fell ill with symptoms of gastroenteritis after consuming food prepared by restaurant group TungLok's catering arm.
On Nov 26, more than 130 students and teachers fell ill after consuming food prepared by FoodTalks Caterer and Manufacturer while attending a kids' camp.
UNITED NATIONS: More than 150 women and girls have come forward in the past 12 days to seek help in South Sudan after they were raped or suffered other forms of sexual violence, the heads of three UN agencies said Monday (Dec 2).
Armed men, many in uniform, carried out the attacks near the northern city of Bentiu, according to a joint statement from Henrietta Fore, who heads the UN children's agency UNICEF, UN aid chief Mark Lowcock and the director of the UN Population Fund, Natalia Kanem.
The three agencies condemned "these abhorrent attacks" and called on South Sudan authorities to ensure the perpetrators face justice.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF) last week said 125 women and girls had been raped while walking to emergency food distribution centers set up by international aid agencies.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned the attacks.
"These horrific acts are a distressing reminder of how, despite recent recommitments by South Sudan's leaders to a cessation of hostilities and a revitalised peace agreement, the security situation for civilians remains dire, especially for women and children," he said in a statement.
He urged all parties to the conflict and future leaders in South Sudan "to ensure the safety of civilians and address impunity for these crimes through investigation and prosecution of perpetrators".
At war since 2013, South Sudan has seen horrific levels of sexual violence.
In the first half of 2018, some 2,300 cases were reported, the vast majority of those targeting women and girls. More than 20 per cent of the victims were children, the UN statement said.
The three agencies said the actual number of rapes was far higher because the violence is severely underreported.
As well as being raped, MSF said many of the victims were "whipped, beaten or clubbed with sticks and rifle butts" and robbed of their clothes, shoes, money and the ration cards entitling them to food aid.
"In more than three years of working in South Sudan, I have never seen such a dramatic increase in survivors of sexual violence arriving at our programmes looking for medical care," said Ruth Okello, a MSF midwife in South Sudan.
A UN panel of experts last month said in a report to the Security Council that there were "alarming levels" of sexual violence and human rights abuses in South Sudan.
The council is due to discuss the crisis in South Sudan on Dec 18.
BUENOS AIRES: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said he will still lead the People’s Action Party (PAP) in the next General Election, although the fourth-generation (4G) leaders will “very much be in the thick of things”.
“I think taking the lead in the sense of setting the agenda, working out the policies, preparing the manifesto, making the pitch to the public, and actively campaigning during the election and organising the election,” said Mr Lee.
Speaking to reporters at the end of his five-day visit to Argentina on Saturday (Dec 1), where he attended the G20 Leaders’ Summit from Nov 30 to Dec 1, Mr Lee added that the country’s ruling party has a depth of experience going into the polls.
Mr Lee said that it is not just the experienced leaders who can lead, as the younger crop also possesses both the capability and willingness to take Singapore into the future.
“The fact that we are going into an election with a team which has depth – it’s not just the present leaders, who are in their late 50s, early 60s – but also the next generation of leaders, 40s, 50s, ready to take over,” he said.
“I think that’s a very strong message, which goes beyond any specific policies and manifesto items or promises, but the commitment is we are here to serve and not just for now, but to serve into the future and you can rely on us.”
In November, the PAP appointed a new slate of office bearers in its Central Executive Committee, with the so-called 4G leaders making up the bulk of the new team. Singapore’s general election must be held by April 2021.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat became the party’s first assistant secretary-general, paving the way for him to be the future leader of the party. Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing was appointed the second assistant secretary-general.
PRIORITY IS TO WIN ELECTION: PM LEE
When asked about the plans for Mr Heng, Mr Lee said the priority is to win the election first.
“After that, if all goes according to plan, well, the succession happens within the PAP,” he said.
“There are no surprises. I very much hope we will work out that way. It's a mechanism which has worked well for Singapore. It has provided stability, continuity as well as renewal and updating of persons - individuals, leadership as well as content for our policies. But it depends on the party staying together and the party winning elections.”
Asked when the next Cabinet reshuffle will take place, Mr Lee only said that he will do so “in due course”, adding that a reasonable time would be after next year’s Budget. The Budget speech is typically delivered by the finance minister in February or March.
Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, who was also in Buenos Aires with Mr Lee, told reporters that the younger ministers will meet in January to discuss long-term issues that Singapore needs to address.
Following the discussions, the team will then consult Singaporeans on the topics that will shape the country’s future.
“We want to build on the Our Singapore Conversation. But at the same time, we want to have some time to look at what are some fundamental, long-term issues that as a country, we need to address, as a society, we need to address,” said Mr Heng.
SINGAPORE: There will be increased checks on food establishments during the festive season, the National Environment Agency (NEA) and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said on Monday (Dec 3).
The checks will prioritise licensees that provide catering services and other premises with substantial catering operations in December, the agencies said in a joint statement.
Ahead of an expected increase in the number of consumers dining out and ordering catered food, the agencies said they will remind food operators of good hygiene practices during food preparation and handling.
The emphasis on caterers comes after three mass food poisoning incidents in November.
Last week, more than 130 students and teachers fell ill after consuming food prepared by FoodTalks Caterer and Manufacturer while attending a kids' camp.
Restaurant group TungLok's catering arm had their licence suspended after 190 people fell ill with symptoms of gastroenteritis, authorities said on Nov 24.
Earlier, a SATS officer died after consuming food from restaurant chain Spize's River Valley outlet. He was among 81 people who fell sick after eating food supplied by the restaurant.
TungLok Catering, Spize's River Valley outlet have had their licences suspended, while FoodTalks remains under investigation.
Authorities also reminded members of the public to consume catered food within the stipulated "consume by" period.
This is set at within four hours of the time the food is placed at the "temperature danger zone" of between 5 and 60 degrees Celsius. Caterers are required to time-stamp to meals to keep consumers informed of the "consume by" time.
"Every catered meal carries an inherent risk as the food is not consumed immediately after it is prepared," the agencies said.
The NEA said it will also engage representatives from the Association of Catering Professionals Singapore and the Restaurant Association of Singapore about the importance of food hygiene and safety.
As of the end of November, the NEA has carried out over 73,000 inspections on food establishments, taken more than 2,600 enforcement actions against those who flouted hygiene regulations and suspended 84 licences.
AVA has carried out over 9,000 inspections on food manufacturers, taken action against close to 500 licensees and suspended 13 licences this year.
JAKARTA: An Australian was among hundreds of pro-Papuan independence activists arrested across Indonesia at the weekend, police and rights groups said Monday (Dec 3).
Some 233 activists, including Australian Ronda Amy Harman, were detained late Saturday in Indonesia's second-largest city Surabaya, East Java police spokesman Frans Barung Mangera said.
Local media reported that the arrests were made at a student dormitory.
They were among more than 500 activists swept up in a nationwide police crackdown that coincided with rallies on Dec 1, a date many Papuans consider should be the anniversary of their independence from the Dutch.
Papua declared itself an independent nation on that date in 1961, but neighbouring Indonesia took control of the region by force in 1963. It officially annexed Papua in 1969 with a UN-backed vote, widely seen as a sham.
No one was formally charged in the Surabaya arrests including Harman, Mangera said, adding that the 35-year-old woman was reported to immigration officials.
A spokesperson at the Australian embassy in Jakarta could not immediately be reached for comment.
The arrests followed a rally in which counter protestors threw stones at around 300 Papuans, injuring 16 people, Amnesty International said.
Rights groups have blasted authorities for the mass detentions, saying it was an assault on Papuans right to freedom of expression and assembly.
"These people did nothing but peacefully attend public events," Amnesty International Indonesia's executive director Usman Hamid said in a statement.
"These arbitrary arrests add to the long list of acts of harassment, intimidation and arrests faced by Papuans."
Jakarta keeps a tight grip on resource-rich Papua, which has been the scene of a low-level independence insurgency since the late Sixties.
Some of the violence has been centred on protests against a huge gold and copper mine owned by US-based firm Freeport McMoRan - a frequent flashpoint in the local struggle for independence and a bigger share of the region's rich resources.
SINGAPORE: The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said on Monday (Dec 3) that it will soon trial its on-demand public bus (ODPB) services, which allow commuters to request pick-ups and drop-offs at any bus stop within defined areas using mobile applications.
The first part of the trial will kick off on Dec 17.
It allows commuters in the Joo Koon and Marina-Downtown areas to request the on-demand services on weekdays from 11am to 3pm. They can also arrange for pick-ups and drop-offs on weeknights, from 8.30pm to 11.30pm within Joo Koon and until 11.45pm within Marina-Downtown.
These day services will be operated by SBS Transit and are available until Jun 15.
The second part of the trial will make available night services on Fridays, Saturdays and eve of public holidays from 11.30pm to 2am. These will go in one direction only - from the Central Business District (CBD) to Bedok and Tampines via Geylang.
The night services will be operated by SMRT Buses and are available from Jan 4 to Jun 15.
Commuters may download the mobile applications BusGo for the weekday ODPB in Joo Koon and BusNow for the weekday service in Marina-Downtown, as well as the weekend night services serving the CBD to Bedok and Tampines route.
App features include the ability to key in a landmark or drag and drop location pins, walking direction to the boarding bus stop, real-time updates on bus location and arrival time, option to make group bookings, as well as the ability to indicate if passengers need wheelchair space.
These apps will be available for download by the end of Monday.
Using the app, commuters may input their pick-up and drop-off points and once a successful booking has been made, an e-boarding ticket will be issued. The passenger can then show the ticket to the bus captain upon boarding, tapping their EZ-Link card when getting on and alighting from the bus.
Commuters may not change their booking details after the booking has been confirmed, according to LTA. Those who miss their rides will also have to re-book.
Passengers trying the weekday on-demand services will pay a promotional adult fare based on a fixed distance of 3.2km, regardless of the actual distance travelled, which is S$0.77 for farecard and S$1.40 for cash before Dec 29, and S$0.83 for farecard and S$1.50 after.
Night services will set commuters back a promotional flat fare of S$4.50, which is the existing fare of the NightRider NR7.
CEPAS cards, supported bank cards and cash are accepted as modes of payment.
The ODPB bus services can be identified by their service numbers. For example, buses serving Joo Koon may sport numbers like JK-1, JK-2, JK-3 and so on. Buses serving the Marina-Downtown area will have numbers like MD-1 and MD-2, while the night buses will be identified by NB-1, NB-2 and so on.
During the trial, regular bus services serving the areas specified will still be available, though at lower frequencies. For example, services 253, 255 and 257 in Joo Koon will operate at intervals of 30 minutes instead of their usual 15 minutes, while services 400 and 402 in Marina-Downtown will operate at intervals of 40 minutes instead of 20 minutes previously.
NR7 will be suspended while the night buses are on trial.