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    SINGAPORE - A former director at Resorts World Sentosa has been sentenced to 22 weeks' jail for corruption.

    Alex Ong Boon Chuan, 45, was also penalised $39,000 - the total gratification amount he had obtained.

    The 45-year-old had asked for loans from Ng Soon Yong, director of Mecflou Pte Ltd, on five occasions between July 2010 and May 2011.

    Mecflou was a sub-contractor for the mechanical installation of one of the rides at Universal Studios Singapore at the time.

    "As Ng did not want to offend Ong, whose job scope included approving progress payments for the project, Ng acceded to Ong's loan requests," the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau said in a statement today (June 29).

    Ong was first charged in court on Feb 26 last year with five counts of corruptly obtaining the $39,000 as an inducement to not delay progress payments to Mecflou.


    Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 16:18

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    Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 15:56

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    Resource-scarce Singapore is turning vacant pockets of land into space for urban farming as the island city strives to ease its reliance on imported food.

    The wealthy Southeast Asian city-state imports more than 90 per cent of its food, much of it from neighbouring countries, which can leave it exposed to potential supply chain disruptions.

    Edible Garden City, a company with a grow-your-own-food message, has designed and built more than 50 food gardens in the tropical city for clients ranging from restaurants and hotels to schools and residences.

    One of its projects is Citizen Farm, an 8,000 square metre plot that used to be a prison, converted into an urban farm"where the local community can learn and grow together", according to the project website.

    Citizen Farm produces up to 100 kg of vegetables, 20 kg of herbs and 10-15 kg of mushrooms - enough to feed up to 500 people - a day.

    It's tiny compared with demand for food in the country of 5.5 million people, but it's a start, said Darren Ho, head of the Citizen Farm initiative.

    "No system will replace imports, we are here to make us more food resilient," said Ho, adding that it was "up to the community" to decide how self-sufficient it wants to be.

    Government agencies are considering the company's urban farming concept for other parts of the city, including spaces around high-rise public housing.

    Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 16:37

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    The suspect who was arrested in Indonesia for the double murder of an elderly couple in Bedok will not be sent back to Singapore, Shin Min Daily News reported.

    This is due to the local legal principle of personaliteit, which states that citizens arrested in Indonesia for crimes committed overseas will have their cases heard at home.

    An Indonesian lawyer told Shin Min that he had never heard of personaliteit and believes it is hardly used.

    Khasanah, 41, was arrested in Jambi province on Tuesday (June 27).

    Local police confirmed she has confessed to killing Chia Ngim Fong, 79, and Chin Sek Fah, 78, whom she worked for as a maid.

    Indonesian authorities will determine whether there is sufficient evidence to charge her in court, Channel NewsAsia reported.

    The report pointed out that Indonesia and Singapore signed an extradition treaty and a defence co-operation agreement as a package in 2007, but the agreements have not been ratified by the Indonesian House of Representatives.

    Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 17:41

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    A taxi was crushed after a massive tree was uprooted and fell on it yesterday (Jun 29), at the junction of Choa Chu Kang North 6 and Choa Chu Kang Drive.

    Stomp contributor Ivan, who came across the scene at around 12.50pm, took some photos and sent them to Stomp.

    In the photos, the top of the taxi was evidently flattened under the weight of the tree.

    The SCDF has issued an official statement on the incident:

    Taxi crushed by massive fallen tree at Choa Chu Kang North 6

    "SCDF was alerted at about 12.55pm and dispatched one Red Rhino and one ambulance to the junction between Choa Chu Kang North 6 and Choa Chu Kang Drive.

    "No one was trapped and the SCDF's assistance were not required."

    Friday, June 30, 2017 - 09:05

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    Accidents - Traffic

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    A man, who was previously accused of bedding and cheating money from multiple women, is now alleged to have filmed himself during intercourse, hacked into an ex-girlfriend's email to retrieve her nude photos, and broke into a house.

    According to Lianhe Wanbao via Lianhe Zaobao, these allegations were brought up by two new women who claimed to have been victims of the 30-year-old man, Kelvin, and the two have since lodged police reports.

    News of the playboy were previously reported by Lianhe Wanbao in an earlier article, where three victims alleged that Kelvin had seduced them, asked for money, and disappeared afterwards.

    However, Kelvin told reporters yesterday (Jun 29) that he wasn't a cheater and simply hasn't returned the money yet.

    One of the two new victims alleged that she had caught Kelvin filming them while they were having intercourse, and had demanded that he delete the footage immediately, but is unsure if he had other footages.

    She also accused Kelvin of hacking into her email to retrieve information about her family and her nude photos.

    Said the woman: "He even uploaded my photos online and insinuated that I offered commercial sexual services.

    "I felt threatened and decided to report the incident to the police."

    She added that after the two broke up more than three months ago, she was shocked to find that someone had broken into her new house which was still under renovation, stealing her new oven, vacuum cleaner, four fans and a aircon remote, for which she had lodged another police report.

    She explained that as the house was still under renovation, it could be accessed by Kelvin who knew the password for the electronic lock.

    She also told reporters that after much persuasion, Kelvin finally returned her the vacuum cleaner.

    The rest of the items, however, are still missing.

    She added that after they broke up, Kelvin had been harassing her ever since, prompting her to lodge another police report.

    A police spokesman has confirmed all three reports lodged and said that the police were investigating the allegations of house-breaking and harassment.

    Friday, June 30, 2017 - 09:14

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    The man who impersonated a Shin Min Daily News editor to sell hawkers fake advertising packages has been arrested.

    News of the man had become widespread after a hawker exposed the fraud in a report and Shin Min Daily News subsequently uncovered more victims.

    According to a press release by the Singapoe Police Force (SPF), the 39-year-old man was arrested after the police received a report from a victim alleging that he had been cheated by the suspect, who misrepresented himself as a journalist from Shin Min Daily News and solicited advertisements for a fee.

    After that, the man could not be reached.

    Officers from the Police Tanglin Division conducted extensive investigations to establish the identity of the suspect, before making the arrest at Block 112, Bukit Purmei on Jun 27, 2017.

    Police investigations are ongoing.

    The suspect will be charged in Court on Jun 29 for the offence of cheating.


    Friday, June 30, 2017 - 09:18

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    Come July 1 next year, smokers will no longer be able to light up as they wish along Singapore's main shopping belt of Orchard Road, which will be designated a 'smoke-free zone'.

    The National Environment Agency announced on Friday (June 30) that the smoking ban in Orchard will extend from Tanglin Road to Dhoby Ghaut station, and from Scotts Road up to Goodwood Park Hotel, except at designated smoking areas (DSAs).

    Smoking corners within food establishments in the Orchard Road area will also be removed by July 1. However, malls and building owners are free to set up designated smoking areas (DSAs) if they wish to do so.

    There are currently five government-owned DSAs at Orchard. They are located at Cuppage Terrace, Far East Plaza, Orchard Towers, The Heeren, and behind Somerset MRT station.

    Said Mr Derek Ho, director-general of its Environmental Public Health Division: "The progressive roll-out of the ban, as well as designating the designating smoking areas is to allow smokers the space to continue to smoke, but at the same time also separate and protect the non-smoking public from second-hand smoke.

    "It's part of our long-term vision that eventually, all public spaces will be smoke-free except for the designated smoking areas. So what we're doing now is a progressive step forward."

    The smoke-free zone demarcated in red.Photo: NEA

    According to NEA, warnings will be given to those who flout the no-smoking rules in the first three months of enforcement, but warned that from Oct 1 next year, smokers who do so are liable to be fined up to $1,000.

    In addition to the smoking ban, from today, NEA will also no longer be accepting new smoking corner applications from food establishments and retailers island-wide. Existing smoking corners in food shops can continue to operate, until the existing licence is cancelled or terminated, said Mr Ho.

    NEA will continue to engage the various stakeholders during this one-year period to ensure that "no smoking" signs are installed at the affected premises and roads in the Orchard area, and that bins with ashtrays will be replaced with those without.

    Bins placed along the main thoroughfare will also carry messages reminding people that the area is a smoke-free zone.


    Friday, June 30, 2017 - 11:44

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    No smoking in public places along Orchard Road from July 2018

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    Universal Studios Singapore is the top amusement park in Asia, beating Hong Kong's Disneyland and Ocean Park as well as its Japanese counterpart Universal Studios Japan, in a ranking by travel site TripAdvisor.

    This is the fourth year running that Universal Studios Singapore has placed first in Asia. It was also ranked 17th globally in TripAdvisor's Travellers' Choice awards.

    Top Amusement Parks in Asia 2017:

    1. Universal Studios Singapore (Singapore)
    2. Hong Kong Disneyland (Hong Kong)
    3. Ocean Park (Hong Kong)
    4. Universal Studios Japan (Japan)
    5. Tokyo Disneyland (Japan)
    6. Wonderla Amusement Park (India)
    7. Tokyo DisneySea (Japan)
    8. Ramoji Film City (India)
    9. Vinpearl Land Amusement Park (Vietnam)
    10. Legoland Malaysia (Malaysia)

    The rankings have drawn divided reactions from netizens here, with many wondering if Universal Studios Singapore was really good enough to capture the top spot from bigger amusement parks like those in Hong Kong or Japan.

    In particular, comparisons were drawn between Universal Studios Singapore and Disneyland Tokyo, with many saying that the former fell far short of the latter.

    Comments were also made about Hong Kong Disneyland being ranked ahead of Tokyo Disneyland, leading some to scathingly ask if the ranking was rigged, or if it was even a legitimate ranking.

    Others noted that the rankings should be taken with a pinch of salt as they were generated by user reviews and might have some inherent bias, as TripAdvisor is a predominantly English site and its users mostly English-speaking.

    With Singapore's official language being English, Universal Studios Singapore might hence be more tourist-friendly for English-speaking travellers as compared to amusement parks in Hong Kong and Japan.

    A quick search on TripAdvisor of the top 5 amusement parks in Asia showed that Universal Studios Singapore had the most reviews, while Tokyo Disneyland had the fewest.

    The rating of each park, however, differed - while 53 per cent of Universal Studios Singapore reviews rated the park as 'Excellent', Tokyo Disneyland was rated 'Excellent' by 62 per cent of its visitors.

    Reviews and ratings on TripAdvisor for Universal Studios Singapore.Photo: Screengrab
    Reviews and ratings on TripAdvisor for Tokyo Disneyland.Photo: Screengrab

    A small minority of netizens also mused that Singaporeans should be proud of our achievements instead of trying to belittle them. 

    What do you think? Does Universal Studios Singapore deserve its title of being the best amusement park in Asia? Let us know in the comments below!


    Friday, June 30, 2017 - 17:00

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    SINGAPORE - Singapore's shopping centres, intent on keeping units filled and luring back patrons, are renting space to eateries far beyond industry norms in what observers say is a glimpse of how malls are coping with the online onslaught on brick-and-mortar stores.

    The often-billed shopping paradise, with Asia's highest retail space per capita, has seen vacancy rates and rents near their weakest in at least six years - metrics which place its malls among the worst-performing of the region's bigger economies.

    Malls globally have long been countering Internet shopping by adding features not easily replicated online, such as cinemas and schools, but the impact of changing consumer trends is more pronounced in Singapore due to an oversupply of retail space.

    To make up for lost revenue, Singapore mall operators have doubled the space for food and beverage (F&B) tenants compared with a decade ago to as much as 40 per cent, analysts said, even though it is costly to refit units to accommodate kitchens, while rents can be lower than for fashion stores, for instance.

    "They are no longer 'shopping' malls," said Desmond Sim, research head at real estate services firm CBRE in Singapore.

    They are adding more activity-based tenants and facilities that"provide a little bit more sustainability away from e-commerce".

    Real estate services firm JLL put F&B space in Singapore malls at over 30 per cent, compared with 23 per cent in rival shopping destination Hong Kong and 10-15 per cent in Europe.

    In September, M&G Real Estate reopened its Compass One mall in the island's north-east with 33 per cent of space allocated to F&B outlets, from 20 per cent before a year-long refurbishment."F&B, in Singapore, I will consider that as rather non-discretionary," said Ng Chiang Ling, M&G Real Estate's Asia chief executive.

    "So that was one of the key things - offer more F&B (and) to offer more choices."

    AsiaMalls also added eateries after refurbishing its Tiong Bahru Plaza and White Sands shopping centres, while Sim Lian Group gave F&B about 30 per cent when it opened Hillion Mall in February.

    "Regionally, other countries will definitely look at us in terms of our offerings, and we can be used as a reference as well," said Singapore-based Diane Aw, head of retail services at property consultancy Colliers International.


    Singapore has about 11.6 square feet of retail space per capita, showed data from JLL. That compared with Hong Kong's 11.5 square feet, Bangkok's 8.6 and Shanghai's 4.8.

    But its retail vacancy rate hit 8.4 per cent in July-September, the highest since at least January-February 2011, government data showed, increasing the pressure to fill units.

    "Malls have been providing more room for negotiation compared with a few years back," said Vincent Tan, managing director at Select Group, which runs Peach Garden and Texas Chicken restaurants.

    "We have been able to strike better deals with regard to rent." To be sure, F&B is just one means of countering a downturn, with others including loyalty programmes and technology to track shopping behaviour.

    "Malls will never go 100 per cent F&B - nobody wants to go to a giant food court," said Christopher Tang, chief executive officer, Singapore, at developer Frasers Centrepoint Ltd .

    "It can be 35-40 per cent. I'm not sure where the magic line is at the moment." 

    Friday, June 30, 2017 - 15:18

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  • 06/30/17--02:10: An action-packed BT Weekend
  • IF you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Not New York, but China, where Singapore chef Jeremy Leung and entrepreneurs Jackie Zhang and William Ding have carved a successful niche in the country's tough F&B market.

    Read about their success stories while planning a holiday in the mountain resort of Kamikochi in the Japanese Alps.

    And find out how good a ride the new diesel-powered Bentley Bentayga SUV is. Hint: it goes like The Flash.

    For more fast cars and superhero references, check out The Steering Column, a new regular motoring column in the main paper. This week, The Steering Column takes you on a spin in the Audi R8 Spyder, a car Tony Stark would have approved of.

    Every man and his dog has a "personal brand", these days. Cubicle Files finds out what personal branding is all about and examines common misconceptions about the idea.

    Also, this week, Disrupted contemplates investing in cryptocurrency, a market that is now worth more than US$110 billion.

    Being young can be a rather fraught experience. This week's Brunch feature looks at the mental health abyss that growing numbers of young people face today.

    Fine Print takes a good look at a new book by Kishore Mahbubani and Jeffery Sng, The ASEAN Miracle: A catalyst for peace, while Music to My Ears reviews Dream Theater's The Astonishing.

    To subscribe, visit btsub.sg/weekend

    Friday, June 30, 2017 - 17:06

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    Dark days are ahead for smokers in Singapore with smoking being prohibited in all public areas along the Orchard Road area from July 1, 2018 onwards, save for a few Designated Smoking Areas. This was announced by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Friday.

    The smoke-free zone will start from Tanglin Road to Dhoby Ghaut MRT. Here is a map of the areas that are to be smoke-free:

    Photo: NEA Handout

    In addition, the NEA will also not be accepting any applications for smoking corners from any food retail outlets, with immediate effect. Stores with existing smoking corners will be able to keep them until their current licence runs out or is revoked. 

    Food retail outlets with existing licences for smoking areas can also apply to renew their licence with the exception of those along Orchard Road. Food outlets along Orchard road will have their smoking licences terminated as well, starting from June 30 next year.

    So, where CAN you smoke?

    Due to the constant changes in smoking laws, it is easy to get confused over what smokers can or cannot do now, so here are some of the more important rules one should take note of, whether you are a smoker or not.

    Legal age of smoking to be raised to 21

    Though not officially put into action yet, the minimum legal age one has to be before they are allowed to smoke is to be raised from 18 to 21. 

    This includes not only the purchase, but the use, and possession of any and all tobacco related products. 

    Senior Minister of State for Health Amy Khor has stated that half of the population's smokers pick up smoking before they turn 21, which is why this particular law has been put into place to deter younger people from smoking.

    No smoking in parks

    Photo: The Straits Times

    As of June 1 last year, smoking was prohibited near reservoirs, as well as over 400 different parks. 

    The parks on the list include those being managed by the various town councils, as well as those under the National Park Board (NParks). To be on the safe side, it would be better not to smoke in any park at all.

    The fine for smoking in these prohibited areas, should you be caught, can go up to $2,000. 

    The rules put into place have been done so for the sake of preventing non-smokers who may be using these public areas from inhaling second-hand smoke.

    Tobacco products to be banned from public display

    All these cigarettes but they still can't light up your lifePhoto: The Straits Times

    Walk into any 7-Eleven or convenience stall from Aug 1 onwards and you will no longer be able to spot any cigarette packs from the counter. That is due to the new law put into place which states that any retail outlet selling tobacco products are not allowed to leave them in plain visible sight to any customer.

    Instead, retailers will have to store the products in a plain, opaque cupboard or cabinet. Customers may still be allowed to ask about cigarette sales, to which only then can shop owners produce a text only price list - approved by the Ministry of Health - to show to customers. 

    The prohibitions put into place here have been done so for the sake of improving public health, as well as as to reduce public exposure to the advertising effect of having cigarettes put on public display, thus also reducing tobacco sales and consumption.

    List of places where one can smoke

    Photo: The Straits Times

    Aside from parks and reservoirs, the list of areas where smoking is prohibited is actually much longer. Here is the complete list, just in case you need to remind yourself where smokers are not allowed to smoke.

    However, there still exists certain areas in our country where smoking is still allowed. Here is a (soon to be shortened) list of them:

    - Beaches

    - Residential Homes

    - Private vehicles (e.g. car), excluding private buses

    - Open space in residential estates

    - Open public spaces (e.g. Marina Promenade) except at Orchard Road Precinct Smoke-Free Zone

    - Open space in town centres

    - Surface carparks

    - Uncovered areas of the top of multi-storey carparks

    - Uncovered walkways

    - Vacant land

    - Designated smoking areas at smoking prohibited places

    - Approved smoking rooms at entertainment outlets

    - Approved smoking corners at outdoor refreshment areas of food establishments


    Friday, June 30, 2017 - 18:25

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