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    A brand of durian white coffee from Malaysia has been recalled by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA), following reports of consumers falling ill after consumption. 

    In a statement by the AVA issued on Saturday night (Feb 3), it said that the recalling of Coffee Tree MyCafe 4-in-1 Penang Durian White Coffee serves as a precautionary measure while the case is still under investigation. 

    Samples will be retrieved for food safety tests, it said. 

    The AVA also added that consumers who had purchased the product may return them to the retailer. 

    Substances, believed to be drugs were detected in samples of the instant coffee mixture, said the Malaysia police. 

    George Town police chief Anuar Omar told The Star on Friday (Feb 2) that samples had been brought to the state food safety and quality laboratory for tests following a police report lodged by a medical officer.

    ACP Anuar said that an office later confirmed that a substance, believed to be drugs, was found in the coffee powder. 

    The type of drug is yet to be identified. 

    This comes after five reported cases of people being admitted to hospitals after drinking coffee made from the sachets between Jan 27 and Jan 30. 

    The patients reportedly suffered ‘severe fatigue’. 

    In a Facebook post on Friday, the AVA said it has followed up with its Malaysian counterparts to request for information pertaining to the case.

    A spokesman said:

    "In general, consumers who do not feel well after consuming any food products should seek medical attention. 

    "As a good food safety practice, when in doubt of the safety of a food product, do not consume it.”

    Mycafe Penang Durian White Coffee said in a statement on Friday that it believes that the packaging received from one victim had been ‘tampered’ with, and has lodged a police report. 

    Apparently, the victim was given a sachet of the coffee when visiting a temple. The victim’s friend also fell ill upon drinking coffee made from a sachet gotten from the same temple. 

    The coffee brand said:

    “Subsequently, we came to know about another two victims from the video clips that were circulated in social media and from the video clips, we also learned that the coffee was given to the two victims.”

    It also asked the public not to take coffee from strangers and advised them to get it from authorised dealers instead, adding:

    “We wish to reiterate that we have given and shall continue to give full cooperation to all authorities in having this matter investigated and solved.”

    According to The Straits Times, a check on five major Singapore-based online grocery stores, including FairPrice and Cold Storage shows that they do not carry the brand. 

    Monday, February 5, 2018 - 09:32
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    A woman experienced the fright of her life when she found herself unable to get out of a sea of balls at the newly opened suspended ball pit in City Square Mall on Feb 3.

    Bloggers Vivien and John Low posted a video on their Facebook page, Beautiful Chaos, of their visit to the three-storey Airzone, touted as the world's first net playground built in a shopping centre atrium.

    Vivien, who has a fear of heights, wrote how she lost balance in the pit and fell backward.

    https://www.facebook.com/Airzonesg/photos/a.1975846709319623.1073741829.1963024490601845/2021880618049565/?type=3&permPage=1

    "I could not reach the bottom and I could not stand up," she wrote.

    "I tried to roll over, I couldn't.

    "I tried to find the net so I could grip it, I couldn't.

    "My son was stuck inside too.

    "I panicked and waved and screamed for help.

    "None came.

    "I seriously panicked and did not know what to do."

    on Facebook

    Today I had the fright of my life. We went to the newly opened Air Zone at City Square Mall. I was afraid of heights....

    Posted by Beautiful Chaos on Saturday, 3 February 2018

    Eventually, she managed to stabilise herself with the help of another person.

    She wrote that she pulled her son out and two other kids with her, who were in the pit alone:

    "The girl was crying and I think she went out after the incident."

    She added that the balls were up to her armpits while standing and noted that she is 1.72m tall.

    However, she said she will continue to bring her kids there but will ensure an adult goes in with them.

    "Well yes it was fun, just not entirely suitable for young kids," she wrote.

    "Adult supervision needed.

    "Lots of it."

    In response to the Facebook post, Airzone apologised for their experience and said that it will be reviewing the number of balls included in the pit.

    They will also ensure that their first-aid trained staff will be swifter in their response to those who need help.

    Monday, February 5, 2018 - 10:28
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    Monday, February 5, 2018 - 11:35
    New HDB flats to come with open kitchens - here are some ideas for your new home
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    SINGAPORE - Singapore's government is seeking to amend a law that led to shortened sentences for church leaders convicted of misusing millions of dollars, in a case that has gripped the city-state where there is little tolerance for corruption.

    This follows a decision last week by a Singapore court to reject a prosecution appeal to reinstate longer jail sentences for the church leaders, after the High Court reduced their sentences in April 2017.

    The government believes the sentences are "too low" for those including City Harvest Church's co-founder Kong Hee, convicted of using funds to support his wife's pop-singing career, Minister for Law Kasiviswanathan Shanmugam said.

    Kong, 53, was originally sentenced to eight years in jail in October 2015 for criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts. The High Court later reduced that sentence to three-and-a-half years.

    "It is now up to parliament to amend the law, and that we should do soon," Shanmugam said in parliament on Monday.

    Singapore's governing People's Action Party has a large majority in parliament.

    Shanmugam said the judgement shows there is a "lacuna" or gap in the law around punishment for senior officers charged with criminal breach of trust.

    "The government's policy is clear ... If you abuse that trust you should be more culpable, and you should be liable for more severe punishments compared to a normal employee.

    "For the last 40 years the law, as applied by the courts, reflected this principle. In April last year, the position changed."

    The mix of money, faith, and scandal in the City Harvest Church case is unique in Singapore, and gained much public interest during a legal battle that spanned nearly five years.

    Local media said it was the largest amount of charity funds ever misappropriated in Singapore, and the country's most expensive criminal trial.

    While megachurches originated in the United States, some of the largest are in Asia, where packaging the traditional biblical message into a more dynamic format of pop music, lively services, and social media has lured a new generation of followers and turned the churches into major enterprises.

    Monday, February 5, 2018 - 15:38
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    SINGAPORE - Singapore Airlines plans to use blockchain technology to give its frequent flyers a new way to spend their accumulated miles, it said on Monday.

    The company said a digital wallet app for its KrisFlyer loyalty programme would be launched in about six months and it would be signing up retail partners in the Singapore market to begin with.

    "I think we are the first airline to do it," Chief Executive Goh Choon Phong told the Singapore Airshow Aviation Leadership Summit, a gathering of aviation leaders on the eve of Asia's largest air show.

    Singapore Airlines last month said it will invest "hundreds of millions" of dollars in digital technology over several years as part of a broader transformation designed to remain competitive against global rivals.

    Blockchain functions as an online record-keeping system or digital ledger maintained by a random group of peers rather than any central agency or authority.

    While best known for underpinning bitcoin and other alternative currencies, blockchain holds promise for changing how transactions are handled in many industries.

    The Singapore Airlines technology is its own private blockchain involving only merchants and partners, it said in a statement.

    Both German airline group Lufthansa and Air New Zealand last year teamed up with Switzerland-based start-up Winding Tree to build blockchain-based travel apps as the companies look at new ways of distributing tickets and services to customers.

    European travel group TUI has also developed its own blockchain-based inventory system for hotel bookings.

    Monday, February 5, 2018 - 17:17
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    A section of Ang Mo Kio MRT station has been closed off after smoke was seen emitting from an escalator.

    Stomp contributor Lee, who alerted the citizen journalism website to the incident at 2.22pm today (Feb 5), said that there were police personnel and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) fire trucks seen at the scene.

    She added that a person on duty informed her that train service is still available, but that they could not go through the underpass linking AMK Hub and the MRT station.

    Facebook user Jas Chua also posted a photo on Facebook that showed that the smoky interior of the station.

    Chua said that the tunnel leading to AMK Hub was "full of smoke" and that there was a "pungent smell".

    She added that the lift had also broken down.

    on Facebook

    AMK MRT escalator towards tunnel of AMK Hub full of smoke. Lift also broke down. Please cross between AMK MRT to AMK Hub...

    Posted by Jas Chua Suat Ping on Sunday, 4 February 2018

    In response to media queries, Ms Margaret Teo, Vice President, Corporate Communications of SMRT said:

    "We are investigating an incident at Ang Mo Kio MRT station involving an escalator leading towards the underground linkway to AMK Hub.

    "The escalator has been shut down, and the linkway has been closed for commuter safety.

    "Train services on the North-South Line are not affected. We will provide updates.”

    Monday, February 5, 2018 - 18:16
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    SINGAPORE - Singapore's central bank has been studying the potential risks posed by cryptocurrencies, but there is as yet no strong case to ban trading of the digital coins in the city-state, Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam said.

    "Cryptocurrencies are an experiment. The number and different forms of cryptocurrencies is growing internationally. It is too early to say if they will succeed," Shanmugaratnam said.

    "If some do succeed, their full implications will also not be known for some time," the deputy prime minister said in a written answer to questions from members of parliament on banning the trading of bitcoin or cryptocurrency.

    "The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been closely studying these developments and the potential risks they pose. As of now, there is no strong case to ban cryptocurrency trading here."

    Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 10:15
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    KUALA LUMPUR - Prime Minister Najib Razak said on Tuesday that Malaysia and Singapore are working on establishing a trading link between the exchanges of both countries.

    "A regulatory arrangement will be worked on by the countries' relevant regulatory authorities, to pave the way for the establishment of this trading link," Najib said in his speech to investors and business leaders at the World Capital Markets Symposium in Kuala Lumpur.

    He said this 'Malaysia-Singapore Connect' will provide investors in both countries easier and seamless access to each other's markets with a combined market capitalisation of more than $1.2 trillion and 1,600 public listed companies.

    No further details or timeline for this project were immediately available.

    Najib Razak also announced that margin financing rules would be liberalised and intraday short selling allowed for all investors in Malaysia's market to make it more attractive.

    New investors would also be given a fee waiver on trading and clearing fees for six months to encourage trade, Najib said.

    Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 10:42

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    SINGAPORE - The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) issued an advisory on Tuesday (Feb 6), warning consumers not to use the unregistered drug modafinil, after a woman in her 30s who consumed it developed Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS).

    SJS is a life-threatening skin condition with blistering and severe peeling of the skin.

    According to the HSA, the woman obtained the product, marketed as "Modalert 200", from her friend, and was taking it on alternate days for more than three weeks to increase alertness for her long hours of work. 

    She first developed an itchy rash which subsequently spread to the whole body. This was followed by severe peeling of the skin, accompanied with painful throat, multiple mouth ulcers and conjunctivitis. She was subsequently admitted to a hospital for her condition. 

    Modafinil has been used in some countries to treat narcolepsy - a neurological condition which causes excessive daytime sleepiness - and other sleep disorders. 

    More recently, it has been reported that healthy individuals are turning to the potent medication as a performance-enhancing drug.

    "Inappropriate use of modafinil by healthy individuals to stay alert or improve focus can be harmful," said HSA in the statement.

    It added that consumers should be cautious when obtaining or purchasing health products from unfamiliar sources, including online, even if they are recommended by friends or relatives.

    The authority also warned that potent medicines should not be shared or supplied to friends and relatives, "even if their medical condition may seem similar to yours". 

    Unless authorised by HSA for use in special circumstances by a doctor for patients under his care, the supply and sale of an unregistered health product such as modafinil is an offence under the Health Products Act. 

    If convicted, the person can face a fine up to $50,000 or jail term up to two years or both.  

    According to a Straits Times report last year, similar pills containing modafinil were found to be available on online marketplaces such as Carousell. Students here were believed to be misusing the drug to improve concentration and alertness during examinations.

    But usage of such pills can cause other side effects such as heart problems, headaches, irritability, difficulty in breathing and insomnia, said one doctor. 

    a1admin@sph.com.sg

    Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 12:01
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    After battling cancer for two years, a young girl suffered a relapse in January 2018, and within the span of a month, was moved in and out of the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU) four times. 

    It was reported by Lianhe Wanbao last year that in 2016, Zelle, now 9, suddenly grew a bump on her head.

    Despite several rounds of X-rays and scans, the doctors could not find anything wrong with her. 

    Zelle’s parents ultimately decided on a surgery to remove the bump.

    Two days before Zelle’s scheduled surgery in March 2016, the bump suddenly broke.

    To her parents’ horror, worm-like parasites came wriggling out of the bump as Zelle writhed in pain. 

    Her parents rushed her to a hospital where a surgery was conducted on her immediately. 

    However, things only got worse from there. 

    In April 2106,  Zelle was diagnosed with leukaemia and was given a choice to undergo chemotherapy or a bone marrow transplant.

    The news took a heavy toll on the family, and Zelle’s mother, Mrs Lee had an emotional breakdown. 

    Despite knowing that the transplant could be fatal, the precocious Zelle told her mother that she would rather take the risk than wait for a miracle to happen. 

    The transplant was successful. 

    With the surgery however, came a chance of relapse in the future as well as increased chances of getting other types of cancer. 

    Alas, it was not the end of the bad news. 

    In January 2018, Zelle suffered a relapse and is currently fighting for her life in National University Hospital’s PICU. 

    According to Mrs Lee’s post on Give.asia, Zelle suffers from a myriad of conditions, including respiratory issues due to lung infection, high blood pressure, swelling in her kidney and splint, fungal infection in her lungs, as well as a bacterial infection on her blood.

    Mrs Lee said that Zelle’s condition is precarious at best.

    “Due to her fungal infection, chemotherapy complicates the treatments. Her situation is not optimistic. I can’t lose her and I am looking for all alternatives, hopes and a miracle. 

    “We need help! I can’t lose her. We’ve come so far and been through so much. Please help her.

    “She coughs blood and has a blood clot in her left lung blocking the airway which causes her breathing difficulties.”

    Mrs Lee also revealed that Zelle had once asked her, “why not kill me and give birth to me again?”

    The mother broke into tears at those words as she could not give her daughter an answer. 

    Zelle, sensing her mother’s distress, told her:

    “Mummy, you’re the best mom in the world and I don’t want any Mother and I love you. Mummy, I’ll fight for you. I’ll fight this sickness for you!”

    Currently, the family faces financial difficulties as well, with medical bills racking up to $75,000. 

    Mrs Lee, added that she was supposed to start work in January, but with Zelle’s fragile condition, had to turn down the opportunity.

    Said Mrs Lee in a post on Feb 2:

    “We’re really worried about Zelle’s condition, and my husband and I are physically, mentally and financially drained.

    “I’m seeking your kind help to keep Zelle going. Please help us to share this campaign with your friends and also help to pray for Zelle. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

    As of Feb 6, at 12.40pm, the campaign has raised around $122,140.50. The goal is set at $220,000. 

    Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 14:53

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    Flight delays at Changi Airport are expected on Tuesday (Feb 6) after an aircraft belonging to Korea's Black Eagles aerobatic team skidded and crashed into the grass verge along Runway 1.

    According to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), the incident happened at 1.24pm,  when the aircraft was taking off for the flying display programme at the Singapore Airshow 2018.

    The plane burst into flames and the fire was put out by the Airport Emergency Service. CAAS said the pilot sustained light injuries and is being treated.

    Runway 1 will be closed to further notice, it added.

    on Facebook

    Just watched this plane crash at Changi Airport Singapore

    Posted by Gerald Searle on Monday, 5 February 2018

    Changi Airport Group (CAG) announced at 3.12pm that a number of departure and arrival flights will be delayed over the next few hours. 

    "Passengers are advised to check latest flight information on changiairport.com or the iChangi app," it said.

    on Facebook

    #ADVISORY: An aircraft taking part in the Singapore Airshow was involved in an incident on Changi Airport Runway 1 at...

    Posted by Changi Airport on Monday, 5 February 2018

    Singapore Airshow plane skids and crashes at Changi Airport runway, catches fire

    on Facebook

    Stucked in the plane for 75mins already, runway closed. #airshow http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/transport/singapore-airshow-single-seater-aircraft-involved-in-accident-pilot-escapes-with

    Posted by Johnson Soh on Monday, 5 February 2018

    a1admin@sph.com.sg

    Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 15:47
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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=39&v=t0jxccXpsWU

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    Singapore faces a race against time to save its past, according to its top archaeologist, who warns relentless development in the land-scarce city-state comes at a heavy price.

    Construction work has been near ceaseless in recent years as the financial hub rapidly expands, and archaeologist Lim Chen Sian fears relics that could unlock the secrets of pre-colonial Singapore will be lost forever in the building rush.

    "Pre-colonial arrival, there's almost zero (written history) about Singapore," the 42-year-old says, adding that the little that is known has often been pieced together from items found in excavations.

    He is determined to counter the prevailing idea that little existed before Sir Stamford Raffles arrived in the 19th century and established it as a key trade route for the British Empire.

    Lim says artifacts from previous digs indicate that in fact a thriving port settlement existed from the 14th to the mid-17th century that was at times caught in a power struggle between the Javanese Majapahit Empire to the south and the emerging Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya to the north.

    There is also evidence of strong trading links with China, dating back more than 700 years, including coins and Imperial porcelain.

    "What happened to pre-modern Singapore? That's one thing that only archeology can answer," he insists adding that it is a way for the city to find "lost memories".

    But he concedes it is an uphill battle to safeguard such buried treasures in a city-state just half the size of London and is concerned the rush to build a futuristic metropolis could scupper chances to find out more about its pre-colonial past.

    Singapore also has no state archaeologist and no law requiring archaeological evaluations before construction, so it often falls to Lim and his small team to fill the gap -- they work on an ad hoc basis with government agencies, developers, and non-governmental groups.

    "For a couple of hundred years Singapore was there. Then suddenly it disappeared," he explains, adding that further archaeological work could help uncover why the seemingly successful trading hub faded from history for 150 years before the Europeans arrived.

    STAKES HIGH

    He points to a 2015 dig he lead in the heart of the financial district, near the spot where Raffles first landed in 1819, in which three tonnes of historical objects, including copper coins and Chinese porcelain, were recovered.

    The discovery helped prove Singapore was a thriving trading centre up to 700 years ago, says Lim, who heads the archaeology unit of think tank ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute.

    His work builds on that of pioneering American archaeologist John Miksic at Fort Canning Hill, who conducted Singapore's first such excavations in the 1980s, where relics from the 14th century were found.

    More recent discoveries include World War II artifacts, such as a Monopoly set and milk bottles found on a British defensive position against the Japanese, who conquered Singapore after only a week in 1942.

    "They were playing Monopoly while waiting for the Japanese," Lim says.

    "And you would think that the British were tough men so they should be drinking beer and whisky. No, they were drinking milk."

    Lim's latest expedition in December was with the National Parks Board to Pulau Ubin, a rural island that still has patches of dense jungle.

    Armed with a machete he hacked through the undergrowth with his team and found a colonial gun emplacement from the 1930s.

    He hopes the discovery will with their heritage and management planning.

    Lim says there are signs authorities are realising the importance of preserving Singapore's past.

    The National Heritage Board has launched a roadshow to increase public awareness and has said it will carry out surveys on potential archeological areas of importance.

    "Thankfully, we are moving forward in terms of addressing necessary intervention prior to development," explains Lim, who started his career digging for Mayan temples and Egyptian settlements.

    "Things are slowly changing, we're getting a little bit more funding," he adds.

    Failure to take the country's archaeological past into account in development plans could lead to a "loss of identity and a sense of belonging".

    "It's about the forgotten past and rediscovering that Singapore goes beyond skyscrapers, glass and steel and air conditioning," he insists.

    "This adds to the value of the country."

    Tuesday, February 6, 2018 - 17:10
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