The O-level results came out a few days back and the usual top talent spotting took place – just like every other year. It is usually some students from some top schools, although this pattern is beginning to fade as more talent come in from overseas. This year is one of those years. Haw Sue Hern from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School, scored 10 A1s, and topped the cohort this year. She’s from Malaysia and was here on a scholarship without bond.

I don’t have anything against people who come to Singapore on scholarships. Neither do I have any problems with the top student not being a Singapore. For that matter, I feel that education should be made to anyone who’s interested in it and there should not be any discrimination on the recipient. What caught my attention was how the local papers seem to be highlighting on her leaving Singapore and pursuing her studies elsewhere.

I would think that it’s completely her prerogative to go to anywhere in the world she wants, although I quietly suspects that not everyone agrees with me (well, I can’t please the world =P). I am not sure how many people know about this, but a lot of students from overseas come to Singapore to get their Ph.D and return to their home country to do great stuffs. As a matter of fact, we are losing a lot of postgraduate students every semester, but the value of the Ph.D probably lies a lot in the quality of work done by them. Whether we are losing *top* Ph.D students is another story, but I’d think that for a foreigner to come here on scholarships, they should have been… erm, well-screened (although I really hate to use this word).

So, at that context, I don’t really think Singapore is really afraid of losing talents – especially so when we are losing Ph.D scholars by the dozens. It just seemed strange that the papers would highlight this, perhaps, unusual path that Sue Hern is taking. Well, one man’s meat *could be* another man’s poison. =) What has been working well here may not necessarily work well for her in the future, especially so if she wants to be a doctor. =)

Having said that, there’s been this issue of “brain-drain”, where apparently, *local talent* are leaving for the seemingly greener side of the grass. This issue was probably brought up many times even in political discussions – on how we can retain local talent. I don’t remember anything coming out of it because I still see many of my Singaporean friends leaving for overseas where they thrive. So, should I say that they are weak and left to vie against overseas competitors. If that statement is true, am I implying that overseas competitors are weaker?

No.

I am not implying anything, but rather, I am just a little uncomfortably about the government calling these people Quitters. What is strange is that when these people come back successful, they are welcomed with open-arms (although I don’t know what happens when they return a “failure”). So, does it mean that if I were to leave Singapore today, I will be deemed a Quitter until I come back to Singapore successful? So, if I come back a failure, am I still deemed a Quitter-cum-Failure?

I hate to think about it.

Top student to say farewell?

Best O-level performer may opt for private institution in Selangor

By Amelia Tan

SINGAPORE’S top O-level student was not here to collect her results and may not even continue her studies in Singapore.

Haw Sue Hern, from CHIJ St Nicholas Girls’ School, had just returned to her home in Subang Jaya, Malaysia, after a holiday in Beijing when she learnt of her results. Her family had planned their holiday before the announcement last week that the O-level results would be released yesterday.

Sue Hern’s score of 10 A1s made her the top O-level performer out of 36,640 students this year.

‘I am so surprised with the results… I wish I could collect my results personally but my parents had planned the holiday already,’ she said in a phone interview.

Her father is an engineer and her mother, a teacher in Malaysia.

Sue Hern and her younger sister, a Secondary 3 student at the same school, lived in a hostel here during the school term.

The 16-year-old attended CHIJ St Nicholas on a scholarship which did not have a bond. ‘I was scared to come to Singapore all by myself but I was impressed by how friendly the teachers were. My parents encouraged me too,’ she said.

Her secret to success was consistent hard work, she added. ‘I did my revision regularly and reviewed past test papers.’

She is currently enrolled in an 11-month pre-university course at Taylor’s University College, a private education institution in Subang Jaya, Selangor. The triple-science student has not decided whether to continue with the course or enrol in a junior college in Singapore. She hopes to become a doctor eventually.

Her form teacher, Ms Quek Soo Hiang, said she was surprised when Sue Hern told her after her O-level exams in November that she would be returning to Malaysia to study, and was not going on to a junior college here.

‘I wish that she would stay on in Singapore but it is her choice,’ said Ms Quek.

Finishing close behind Sue Hern was her classmate and fellow Malaysian Cheong Jia Ee, and Anderson Secondary student Low Wan Ting. Both of them scored nine A1s and one A2.

Jia Ee, 16, is planning to study at ACS (Independent), Hwa Chong Institution (HCI) or Raffles Institution.

‘I’ve known Sue Hern since Primary 1 when we were in the same school in Malaysia. I am happy that both of us did so well in the O levels,’ she said.

Wan Ting, 16, though ecstatic with her results, said the only blemish on her record is the A2 she got for German. She will be applying for a place at HCI.

The top Indian student was Jharyathri Thiagarajah from Cedar Girls’ Secondary, who got nine A1s. The top Eurasian students were Rebekah Jiashan Broughton from CHIJ Secondary (Toa Payoh) and Jared Ryan Durnford from Tanjong Katong Secondary. Both got seven A1s and one A2.

Nearly all – 99.9 per cent – of those who sat for last year’s O levels received certificates. Of these, 80.8 per cent or 29,592 had five or more O-level passes, while 94.6 per cent or 34,675 had three or more O-level passes.

Normal (Academic) students also did well. Last year, 4,254 or 32.4 per cent of the Sec 4 Normal (Academic) students sat for one to two O-level subjects and 90.5 per cent of them got at least one O-level pass.

ameltan@sph.com.sg

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_325455.html

Article extracted on 14th January 2009 – 12 more days to Chinese New Year! :)

The attacker of MP Seng Han Thong, an ex-cabby, had been charged in court today in a district court. He had apparently crept up on Mr Seng and poured thinner on him before setting him ablaze with a starter gun. If convicted, he may be jailed for life.

This drew mixed comments from many people within and out of the blogosphere. Some thought that there would be bias in sentencing him, while others thought that he should be locked up back into the institute (of mental health). However, most agree that this kind of violent action should not have been tolerated.

Update in progress.

A FORMER cabby, Ong Kah Chua, 70, was charged in a district court on Monday with two counts of grievously hurting the MP for Yio Chu Kang and the chairman of the constituency’s temple.

Ong Kah Chua, 70, allegedly poured a bottle of thinner and torched Mr Seng Han Thong, 59, at Yio Chu Kang Community Club at about noon on Sunday.

He is similarly accused of causing grievous hurt to Mr Aw Chui Seng, 69, chairman of Chu Sheng Temple.

Ong’s case was the first to be brought up in court at 8.50am.

Clad in a white T-shirt and dark blue bermudas and wearing slippers, he had complained in Hokkien of pain in the left ankle because of the shackles just before court started.

He asked the policemen around if they could be loosened a bit.

Ong, who is blind in the left eye, was remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric examination.

If convicted, he can be jailed for up to life or up to 15 years and liable to fine. Because of his age, he cannot be caned.

He will be back in court on Jan 23

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_325065.html

Article extracted on 12th January 2009

Singapore MP set on fire

Singapore January 11th, 2009

A singapore MP had been set on fire by a 70 year old man during a ceremony to hand out red packets to selected residents. Apparently, the man was unable to quality for the red packet and this incident is thought to be an act of vengeance. The MP, Mr Seng Han Thong, is an MP from the Yio Chu Kang constituency.

In July 2006, he was was punched in the face by a man in his 60s because the MP apparently refused to help him appeal for his taxi licence, which was suspended over an unrelated incident. Investigations are currently underway. More updates will follow.

This post was made sent from the Nokia E66.

Update

Apparently, another man, Mr Aw Chui Seng, rushed to the rescue of the MP and got himself set ablaze too. Mr Seng was initially sent to Tan Tock Seng Hospital while Mr Aw was sent to Singapore General Hospital. They are both apparently now in SGH’s Burns Unit.

This event, although unfortunate, may bear a few lessons – not only for the politicians, but for us to learn. Notwithstanding the psychological status of the attacker, this goes to show that in desperate times, desperate measures may be deemed necessary to the ones who are suffering. All senses of reasoning may not longer be in place and the person who is affected may simply just go berserk. This was apparently the case in the previous attack where the taxi driver thought that the MP wasn’t helping him to appeal for his revoked licence. In the end, the man made a public apology and eventually got back his vocational licence. He was however, removed from the company he was working for.

Hence, a lot of PR is really required – not to patronize the public, but really, to be honest and yet tactful. This is indeed a difficult task that even the best amongst out there may sometimes find it challenging.

What’s interesting about this attack (and the MP) is that he is attacked not just once, but twice, by 2 different persons. Is it mere coincidence, or does he really have some traits that sends the wrong signals to the wrong people? This will be highly speculative and I have no wish to be involved in it. Of course, we have so far looked at things from a single perspective – a third party’s.

Looking at what happened and the past incident, I guess the people would also have to understand that their MPs are not gods – they may not be able to do whatever they wish for. That said, why is it that the people are not thinking likewise – or for that matter, why aren’t all the people thinking that way? Some of the people that I have spoken to suggested that it could be because they think that the MPs are also getting (near) million dollar salaries (but in actual fact, they are not; thanks to reader Choong Yong for pointing that out) of the (near) million-dollar salary that they are getting – which seemed to imply a certain amount of authority that they hold and hence their ability to change things. Let us not forget that this is not always the case, especially when stringent red tape is in place. Others that I have spoken too suggested a sense of grudge – especially civil servants who do not seem to understand the plight of the people and indirectly boasted of their economic prowess in this time of difficulty. 

So, how will things change after this incident? Will there be an entire convoy of bodyguards surrounding the MPs every time they do their rounds? I don’t really think so, because as PM Lee has mentioned, the MPs must be accessible. To maintain this delicate thin line between fulfilling their people’s needs and safeguarding their own safety is probably an occupational hazard that they must bare. Perhaps this is why they may get their (near) million-dollar salary when they become ministers?

PS: The author wrote this at 2:00am after shifting her stuff to an entirely new environment. Some statements may not be completely correct while every effort has been taken to ensure the factuality of everything that’s written here.

Attacker set MP ablaze

By Esther Tan and Jermyn Chow

IN A vicious attack, a man said to be mentally unstable poured thinner down the back of Yio Chu Kang MP Seng Han Thong and set him alight at a grassroots event on Sunday morning.

Mr Seng, 59, ran onto the stage at the Yio Chu Kang Community Club, where he was attending a community event, trying desperately to beat out the flames on his back and head.

The chairman of the constitutency’s Chu Sheng Temple, Mr Aw Chui Seng, 69, rushed to his rescue but was also burned.

Others then shoved Mr Seng to the ground and took off their shirts to try to put the flames out.

Both men, now in Singapore General Hospital’s Burns Unit, have burns to about 10 to 15 per cent of their bodies. It is understood they may need skin grafting

Police have arrested a 70-year-old man, identified as Ong Kah Chua, for the attack. He is said to have been in and out of the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) over the last few months and was described by neighbours as an ‘eccentric character’ who sometimes ran up and down the corridor outside his flat for no apparent reason.

Cabinet Ministers including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew and Deputy Prime Minister Wong Kan Seng, and a number of MPs visited Mr Seng and Mr Aw in hospital on Sunday afternoon.

PM Lee said he told Mr Seng, who has a daughter in her 20s, to concentrate on getting well. Mr Lee said MPs from the Ang Mo Kio GRC will work it out among themselves to look after Mr Seng’s ward.

Speaking to the media after visiting Mr Seng, Mr Lee said while MPs should take precautions when they attend public events, they must remain accessible to their residents and be approachable.

‘Because this is an isolated case, the person is an IMH case, we will deal with it but life has to go on and our work has to go on,’ said PM Lee.

This is the second time in 2 1/2 years that Mr Seng has been attacked at a community event. In July 2006, at a meet-the-people session in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 4, he was punched by a 74-year-old Koo cabby who was upset with Mr Seng as he believed the MP was not helping him to get his revoked taxi licence reinstated.

Mr Koo was initially charged in court but the matter was settled after Mr Seng accepted his public apology.

Sunday’s attack happened at about 11.40am as Mr Seng was handing out bursaries and ‘hongbaos’ from the nearby Chu Sheng Temple to 200 needy people.

Temple employee Ang Lian Ee, 65, said the incident happened after the handouts were distributed and everyone had settled down to lunch in the club’s hall.

The man apparently came from behind, poured a bottle of thinner onto Mr Seng and set him on fire with a lighter.

Eyewitnesses said Ong fled to a neighbouring block but was caught by grassroots leaders and taken back to the community club.

A vegetable stall owner from a nearby temporary market, Mr Ngau Fook Thin, 54, said Mr Seng had a ‘burnt bald patch on his head. Vice-chairman of the People’s Action Party’s Yio Chu Kang branch, Mr George Tan, said Ong had gone to see Mr Seng at several meet-the-people sessions to complain about ‘evil spirits in his house’.

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_324807.html

Article extracted on 11th January 2009

Yes, petrol prices have increased for the first time in the last 6 months, after dropping continuously every other week due to weakening prices of crude oil. I never quite get the complex translation of price of crude oil to that of petrol prices, so all I know is that a great jump in crude oil downwards may not necessarily translate to a great jump in petrol prices. Well, I just hope that the converse is true as well.

What I am worried about is weather this translates to The Return of The Fuel Surcharge. I was actually quite glad that the fuel surcharge disappeared eventually. Well, I guess that since they made a promise to get rid of it if diesel prices dropped, they would probably have to keep to their word. However, I also feel that nothing can probably stop them from doing otherwise since Singaporeans are known to be a tame species.

Come to think of it, there hasn’t been much activities in the motoring scene recently, and by that, I mean things related to ERP, road taxes, COE and all. Everything seems to be rather peaceful, short of that sudden $2 which some people liked and others hated. Well, I will write about that soon though. Right now, let’s hope that petrol prices don’t go on a rally upwards :)

Petrol price up – first rise in six months

PUMP prices have risen for the first time in six months.

Oil companies, led by Shell, started raising petrol and diesel rates by four cents a litre across the board from Tuesday.

Singapore Petroleum Company was the last to do so when it increased rates yesterday.

With the first upward movement after a continuous lowering of prices since last July, 98-, 95- and 92-octane petrol grades are now $1.62, $1.546 and $1.538 a litre, before discounts, respectively.

So-called ultra-premium fuels Shell V-Power and Caltex Platinum are now $1.799 and $1.796 a litre, respectively.

Diesel, used predominantly by taxis, buses and commercial vehicles, is now $1.283 a litre.

Industry experts said production cuts by Opec, and Russia stopping natural gas supplies to Europe had pushed oil prices up in recent weeks.

Mr David Ernsberger, editorial director (Asia) at energy industry tracker Platts, said wholesale prices of refined products – such as petrol and diesel – have ‘risen quite a lot since the start of the year’, but added that ‘it’s hard to say if the rally will persist’.

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Singapore/Story/STIStory_323264.html

Article extracted on 8th January 2008

I saw this article this morning and it reminded me of a friend who was unable to leave Singapore because his passport has less than 3 months’ validity. I’m not sure what happened after that, but I think he got someone else to go in his place.

Yes, immigration rules are aplenty and it’s sometimes daunting to just look through and understand everything. Well, there’s going to be another change again. This time, for travellers going to the United States. With effect from next Monday, Singaporean travellers who wish to travel to the US under the Visa Waiver Programme will have to apply online at http://esta.cbp.dhs.gov. This is put in place as part a security measure by the US after the Sept 11 bombing.

Of course, visitors will also have to be aware of other prevailing immigration rules when travelling out of Singapore. Speaking of which, if you are not aware yet, all new biometric passports are only valid for 5 years and are no longer carrying the NRIC number as the passport number. Yes, so it means having another set of numbers to remember while filing in the immigration. Oh well.

Leaving for US soon? Get approval online

FROM next Monday, Singaporeans travelling to the United States will have to apply online for approval before they leave for the country.

The US Embassy sent out a reminder yesterday about the new rule taking effect.

Singaporeans who hold biometric or machine-readable passports can enter the US without the need for a visa.

All they have to do is submit a form, similar to an embarkation card but more detailed, to the US authorities when they arrive in the country.

However, Singaporeans who want to enter the US under the Visa Waiver Programme will have to apply at https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov for approval with effect from Jan 12.

Travellers are advised by the US authorities to apply at least 72 hours before travelling.

The online application and authorisation process is free currently, but the US government reserves the right to charge a fee in future.

Approved travellers are allowed to make multiple visits to the country for up to two years.

The new system was put in place by the US Department of Homeland Security as part of its security measures after the Sept11, 2001 terror attacks.

Officials from the US Homeland Security said it will vet applicants to determine whether anyone poses a potential threat.

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Singapore/Story/STIStory_323272.html

Article extracted on 8th January 2009

No smoking here!

Singapore December 13th, 2008

Singapore has just rolled out a list of more places where smoking will be banned. This reminded me of a whole list of places where the banned is rather… redundant. Prior to this, smoking was also banned at places such as the bus stop and designated areas at coffee shops. Now, all these are good effort to stub out second hand smoke, but I think the bans were seriously flawed.

Banning smoking in areas not designated as smoking areas in coffee shop – I never quite understood the purpose of this because the designated smoking area is just next to the non-smoking area. I am not sure, but I think the law makers do realise that smoke gets into the air and when the wind comes, the smoke just gets blown into the non-smoking area. So… what’s the purpose of the non-smoking area again?

Bus stops – banning smoking here is really ridiculous because the smokers will just stand just outside the bus stop and start smoking. There was once someone I knew told a smoker to put off his light and pointed at the “No Smoking” sign. The smoker just responded that he’s not under the bus stop and continued smoking away. Hmm…

Now, I just wonder who’s going to monitor “5 meters away from the entrances and exits of buildings”; or are we going to see more yellow boxes?

Not allowed to light up here

SINGAPORE started rolling out smoking bans in public places in 1970. In the last 38 years, the bans have grown to include:

  • Cinemas
  • Theatres
  • Lifts
  • Amusement centres
  • Hospitals, nursing homes
  • Air-conditioned buildings
  • Non-air-conditioned workplaces
  • Markets
  • Underground and multi-storey carparks
  • Lift and hotel lobbies
  • Buses and taxis
  • Banks
  • Queues
  • Indoor sports arenas like bowling alleys, gymnasiums and fitness centres
  • Stadiums
  • Swimming pools
  • Bus interchanges
  • Playgrounds and exercise areas
  • Anywhere within five metres from the entrances and exits to buildings
  • Coffee shops and non-airconditioned food outlets*
  • Entertainment outlets*

    (*Except for designated smoking areas)

    Smokers who infringe on the smoking ban can be fined a maximum of $1,000. Operators who fail to advise their patrons against lighting up can be fined a maximum of $2,000.

  • Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Prime+News/Story/STIStory_313843.html?sunwMethod=GET

    Article extracted on 12th December 2008

    COE crashed!

    Singapore November 19th, 2008

    Well, I was probably amongst the first non-dealers who got hold of the news. My phone probably started ringing non-stop from my dealers who had been working on sweetening the deal for me. What was more frustrating was… I had this tinge to actually bid for my own COE today, just that it slipped my mind amidst my unbelievably packed schedule for the past couple of weeks. If staying in hospital was holiday, then life after discharge was almost a living hell.

    Work in the day… work in the evening… work at night. Bah! I am almost going down… from a graceful swam to a sinking submarine.

    Life had literally took a sharp turn downwards since about a month ago, when I ended up holding more than 7 jobs at one time. Now, really, I mean 7 different roles, but then again, it doesn’t make much of a difference anyway.

    Today is a rarity for me to blog because the COE @ $2 is something really close to my heart… and my pocket. You see, because of this slip, I would be spending another $13,000 on a piece of paper for nothing. Sigh. That’s the reality of life in Singapore. Nonetheless, since I didn’t get my COE, I might as well do some speculation on what could have caused the fall.

    Firstly, a lot of dealers (particularly parallel importers?) could be holding back their cars because the Singapore dollar has fallen against the Yen. By doing so, they may be able to sell these residual cars with the new imports, which will probably go at about $4,000 extra due to the exchange rate. So, if they have 10 old imports, these can probably sell for an extra $40,000 in all? I am not sure; just pure speculation. Now, because of this holding back, the number of bids would thus be lesser and hence the $2 COE.

    Secondly, a lot of loan applications could probably be under processing due to the large number of defaults. Banks may be more careful of who they lend money to now and perhaps more stringent checks may be done. Damn, my bank knows every single detail of my credit history. I wonder what else they store there.

    Thirdly… well, it is a recession now, isn’t it? Then again, everyone’s still going on holiday, buying cool stuffs, flying here and there, and all. In fact, I see more Ferraris and Lamborghinis on the streets then I ever did. Maybe… just maybe, someone just bought those at 50% the original owners who were desperate enough to get some cash out.

    Anyway, I am still figuring out… Honda Fit or Honda Airwave?

    COE crashes to $2

    The other categories all ended much lower too

    By Christopher Tan, Senior Correspondent

    WHAT is thought to be impossible in an open bidding system has happened: COE has crashed.

    At the close of the latest tender on Wednesday, COE premium for cars up to 1,600cc – the mainstay of car buyers – closed at an unprecedented $2.

    Motor traders were shocked. All said the market was soft, but no one expected the price to crash.

    The number of bids submitted exceeded the COE supply of 1,851 by only one.

    The other categories all ended much lower as well.

    COE for cars above 1,600cc closed at $4,889 – almost half the previous value. The Open COE, which can be used for any vehicle type, ended at $6,889 – down from $10,490 before.

    COE for commercial vehicles finished at $6,189, from $8,889; and motorbike COE dipped to $1,012, from $1,509 previously.

    It is the first time that a COE premium for cars has fallen to rock-bottom. The last time car COE came this close was in December 1997, when the premium for big cars plunged to $50.

    Observers, however, pointed out that that was during a closed bidding system, when bidders could not see what the prevailing bids in a tender were. In a way, they were bidding blind, they said.

    Soon after the $50 result, the system was changed to an open-bidding platform. In this system, bidders could see the value of bids being submitted, and thus could base their decision on the prevailing demand.

    The other time when the market witnessed a COE crash was in early 2007, when premium for commercial vehicles hit $1 for six consecutive tenders.

    This was because many commercial vehicle sellers could not get their supply of new models that would meet a new emission standard the Government pushed through.

    Sales of new commercial vehicles almost ground to a halt, resulting in the COE crashes.

    The latest crash may not benefit everyone though. Car owners planning to sell their vehicles will have to stomach much lower resale values. Used car dealers, already jittery over a high inventory, will not be willing to take in more cars.

    This will create a viscious circle, as folks who cannot sell their existing cars won’t be looking for a new one any time soon.

    Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_304229.html

    Article extracted on 19th November 2008

    Gosh! More Melamine!

    Singapore October 25th, 2008

    Like the Lehman Brothers, many brands are getting into the papers for the wrong reasons. Household brand Khong Guan (Malaysia-made) Biscuits, which had been feeding so many people including young kids from tender ages, is found to contain melamine. I somehow have a bad feeling about this entire Melamine Expose thingie because it does seem like the more they dig, the more dirt they find out.

    Not to mention Lotte biscuits – which is a popular brand in Seoul and a popular brand of biscuits that I had been feeding my friends with since my return overseas is also found to contain melamine. Although they have only mentioned one type of biscuits that should be avoided, I am just wondering how deep will the hole get to.

    Then again, the media/AVA seemed to be downplaying the effects of consumed melamine – that you’d probably need one helluva melamine before it can cause any harm. I wonder if the media will run a report on what happens to consumed melamine.

    I am not sure, but I foresee a potential market if people are able to make portable melamine tester. Imagine – being able to determine if a particular food contains melamine by just placing a sample of that item into this yet-to-be-invented portable melamine tester (or for that matter, any other tester). With all the manufacturers taking all the fast-routes to QC OK, it won’t be long before our food are filled not just with anti-retardants, but anti-freeze as well.

    Just like the strawberry that goes not freeze and go mashy.

    20 more products found tainted with melamine

    Julie’s products banned; Malaysia-made Khong Guan items also affected

    By Tessa Wong

    MELAMINE has been found in 20 more food products, making it the biggest batch of items discovered by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to contain the potentially harmful chemical.

    They include well-known products such as Lotte Koala biscuits and Julie’s crackers.

    Three of them are from China while 17 are from Malaysia, making this also the first time that non-China products available here have been found to be tainted.

    Also among them were Khong Guan biscuits made in Malaysia. Khong Guan biscuits made in Singapore are still safe to eat, as well as other biscuits made here, the AVA said.

    Two of the China-made products, the Lotte Koala’s March Cocoa Chocolate Biscuit and Hello Kitty Strawberry Cream Filled Biscuit, should have been removed from shelves by now.

    The third, an unbranded non-dairy creamer meant for re-export and never sold in stores or used in food production here, has been sealed in the manufacturer’s warehouse.

    On Sept 19, the AVA banned all China dairy and other products which may contain China dairy, such as confectionery.

    The made-in-Malaysia tainted items, which comprise 12 Julie’s products and five other brands, are to be withdrawn immediately from shelves.

    The AVA has also imposed a ban on all Julie’s products. Test results for other Malaysia-imported biscuits have proven that they are safe to eat for now.

    The AVA has urged those who bought the tainted products not to consume them.

    It has said that the levels of melamine in the products are low. For example, an adult weighing 60kg would have to eat 378 pieces of Julie’s Golden Kaka Crackers every day of his life to be in any danger.

    Melamine, a chemical more commonly found in plastic, has been at the centre of a worldwide food scandal which originated in China.

    It was added to milk to artificially boost its protein content, and has since caused four infant deaths in China and thousands of others to fall ill with kidney-related sicknesses.

    Dozens of places including Hong Kong, Canada, France and India have pulled China dairy products as a result.

    As of yesterday, over 3,200 types of milk and milk products, chocolates, biscuits, non-dairy creamers and other products have been taken in for analysis.

    The number of tainted items here has now more than doubled, from 13 to 33. They include ice-cream bars, milk candy, flavoured milk and crackers.

    twong@sph.com.sg

    Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Singapore/Story/STIStory_294578.html?sunwMethod=GET

    Article extracted on 25th October 2008

    Yes, SBS and SMRT both got fined for not meeting the service standards set by the Public Transport Council. While the sums are not huge, it will still eat into the bottom line of the bus operators, who will then find that they don’t have enough to answer to their shareholders. The ultimate solution for them is to…

    Read the rest of this entry »

    A guy was apparently fined for taking a nap on a park bench. The fine, $200, was issued to him while he was taking a 15 minute snooze while taking shelter from the rain. He was approached by 2 NPark rangers and was told that he had abused park facilities by sleeping on the park bench. Faster than the lightning of the rain, he was issued a ticket.

    Personally, I didn’t know that such things could happen. Now, I am beginning to be worried if I will be fined if I accidentally dozed off while waiting for my friends. Perhaps, then, I will pass the fine around for everyone to share since they could have been late. :)

    And mind you, falling asleep at the park bench is just one of the many “don’ts” on the NPark list – which is not even exhaustive at the website.

    Costly park bench nap

    Nappers can be fined $200 for misue of park facility.

    WHAT was supposed to be a free 15-minute nap on a park bench turned into a costly snooze for one Singaporean.

    The New Paper on Tuesday reported that a 62-year-old, who only wanted to be known as Mr Kassim, was fined $200 when he dozed off on a Sun Plaza Park bench while taking shelter from the rain.

    The National Parks Board (NParks) fined the private bus driver for having misused the park facility by sleeping on the bench.

    The incident happened on Sept 1 at a park in Tampines.

    Mr Kassim had dozed off on one of the wooden benches while seeking shelter from a heavy downpour. He woke up about 15 minutes later to see two men, who would later identify themselves as NParks rangers, walking towards him.

    They asked for his identity card, told him he had ‘abused park facilities by sleeping on the park bench,’ and issued him a ticket.

    Mr Kassim accepted the ticket despite not knowing it was an offence to sleep on a park bench.

    Five days later, he received an NParks letter detailing his offence and asking him to pay the $200 fine. When he went to the NParks office to make payment, he claimed he was told by a staff member that he could appeal.

    But he decided against it, citing it would be a hassle.

    According to an NParks spokesman, more than 10 people have been fined for misusing the facilities in the parks. The spokesman did not say if these specifically involved sleeping on park benches.

    He told TNP: ‘We try to create the conditions that make visitors feel at ease… When people abuse our parks by overstaying or squatting, they make genuine park users feel uncomfortable. Others sleep on benches or in shelters in an inconsiderate manner and deny park users from these facilities.’

    Of eight regular park-goers surveyed by The New Paper, none knew that sleeping on park benches was an offence.

    On the NParks website, there is a list of ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’ for visiting parks. Sleeping on a park bench was not among the ‘Don’ts’, but there was a disclaimer which said the list was ‘not exhaustive or intended to be a complete list of the prohibitions or regulations governing our parks’.

    Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_290308.html

    Article extracted on 14 October 2008