Free pre-peak travel and off-peak pass trials for Singapore's train network have been extended until the end of 2017 as the Public Transport Council (PTC) reviews the schemes, the Ministry of Transport (MOT) announced on Friday (Jun 23).
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The free pre-peak travel and off-peak pass trials were supposed to end on Jun 30 and Jul 4 this year, respectively. They were first introduced in 2013 and 2015 to incentivise off-peak travel on public transport, the MOT said.
Under the free pre-peak travel scheme, commuters who end their journey before 7.45am on weekdays at 18 designated MRT stations in the city area enjoy free travel on the rail network. Those who exit between 7.45am to 8am get a discount of up to S$0.50 off their train fare.
The 18 designated stations are Bayfront, Bras Basah, Bugis, Chinatown, City Hall, Clarke Quay, Dhoby Ghaut, Downtown, Esplanade, Lavender, Marina Bay, Orchard, Outram Park, Promenade, Raffles Place, Somerset, Tanjong Pagar and Telok Ayer.
As for the off-peak pass scheme, this allows commuters to have unlimited rides on the public transport network everyday except during peak hours on weekdays. Monthly passes for adult Singapore citizens and permanent residents are at S$80, while those for people with disabilities and senior citizens are at S$40.
The Transport Ministry said that besides these two schemes, several other measures to enhance public transport capacity such as the addition of new MRT lines, trains and buses have also been implemented.
The Downtown Line, which adds 42km to the MRT network, will open fully later this year. Re-signalling of the North-South Line and the East-West Line will also be complete in 2017 and 2018, respectively, enabling up to 20 per cent more trains to run during peak periods if necessary, MOT said.
In addition, 112 trains have been added to the MRT network and 29 train-cars to the LRT network since 2011, with another 22 new trains to be introduced by 2019, and 1,000 buses will have been put onto the roads since 2012 by this year, the ministry added.
Given these enhancements, the MOT said it was "timely to take stock and review the effectiveness and continued necessity of the (trials)".
This is why the ministry has asked the PTC to review the trials, which it will do in parallel with the fare review exercise later this year and findings will be announced by the end of 2017.
Three suspected drug traffickers were arrested on Thursday (Jun 22) after a raid conducted by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) at an apartment in Joo Chiat.
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CNB officers raided the apartment, located on Ceylon Road, and arrested three Singaporeans - two men aged 43 and 44, and a 39-year-old woman, the agency said in a press release.
A total of 3.5kg of heroin, 160g of Ice, 44g of cannabis, a small amount of Erimin-5 and ecstacy tablets, and a bottle of methadone were seized at the apartment, CNB said, adding that the drugs have a street value of about S$265,270.
Investigations are ongoing, CNB added.
If convicted of trafficking more than 15g of pure heroin, the suspects face the death penalty. The same penalty applies for those convicted of trafficking more than 500g of cannabis.
Three foreign women have been arrested for allegedly being involved in vice-related activities, said the police in a news release on Friday (Jun 23).
The arrests took place on Wednesday when police raided a flat at Jurong West Street 65, during which condoms and lubricants were seized.
Preliminary investigations showed that the suspects, aged between 37 and 42, had been advertising their sexual services on various online platforms. They were in Singapore on social visit passes.
Investigations are ongoing.
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The police said anyone found assisting in vice activities will be dealt with severely, adding that house owners who rent their premises for vice-related activities may be jailed for up to three years, fined a maximum of S$3,000 or both, if convicted for the first time.
The penalties are harsher - a jail term of up to five years and a maximum fine of S$10,000 - for the second or subsequent conviction.
Between 2011 and last year, researchers found that obesity rates generally stayed between 10 and 15 per cent for both genders during the school years - that is, for children aged between five and 18.
However, the proportion of overweight people in each age bracket began to grow starting from age 21, when many people start full-time work.
Last year, 42 per cent of men aged between 30 and 39 were obese, as were 28 per cent of women.
Chubby kids are more likely to be fat as adults
Singapore risks hitting obesity rates of 15% in seven years42655682_-_22_05_2017_-_jtfats30.jpg
The skinny on hidden body fatOverall, the average Singaporean is 3kg heavier than his counterpart from 15 years ago, said Dr Annie Ling, who is director of HPB's policy, research and surveillance division.
And while people have become slightly more active in recent years, they are consuming more calories.
Worse still, the proportion of those who exceed their recommended daily calorie intake has grown - from 34 per cent in 1998 to 59 per cent in 2010.
Dr Melvin Look, a general surgeon from Mount Elizabeth Hospital, said: "A 3kg increase in average weight over the last 15 years may not seem much, but it is a worrisome trend."
Dr Look, who specialises in gastrointestinal and advanced laparoscopic surgery, added: "It is enough to push a large number of people from normal weight to overweight and, more significantly, put many overweight people in the obese range."
According to a recent report from the Economist Intelligence Unit, obesity is estimated to have cost Singapore up to $2.77 billion last year in terms of healthcare cost and lost productivity.
People who are obese have a higher risk of developing health problems such as diabetes and heart disease. These can, in turn, lead to complications such as stroke and organ failure.
Said Dr Ling: "Adult obesity is extremely difficult to reverse - I think that has been well documented in the (medical) literature.
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"I think we should really intervene as early as possible... we probably even need to go into the pre-school setting."
Civil servant Jonathan Lim, 29, said it has been hard to stick to a regular exercise schedule since he started work four years ago.
He estimates he has put on about 5kg in the last two years.
"I work 12 to 13 hours daily, and I'm often too tired to exercise after work," he said.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 20, 2017, with the headline 'Average Singaporean puts on weight as he enters workforce'.
The Republic Polytechnic student who made waves in the powerlifting arena after setting a new squat world record in the under-66kg sub-junior category over the weekend is currently laid over in Minsk, Belarus, due to "some visa mix-ups".
Matthew Yap, together with his brother and coach Marcus Yap, missed their flight back to Singapore as a result and had to rebook their flights, according to Powerlifting Singapore's Facebook post at 1.02am on Thursday (Jun 22).
It also set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise the funds needed for the two brothers to rebook their flights after the delay. In the post on GIVE.Asia, Daphne Loo, the media officer for Powerlifting Singapore, said Matthew and Marcus were told they did not need to apply for visas on arrival but officials there demanded they pay a US$600 fine when they tried to leave the country.
Both of them flew into Belarus for the World Classic Powerlifting Championships.
Advertisement"They were detained, questioned and it was a very traumatic experience," according to the post on the crowdfunding platform, which added that the officials waived the fine after realising the Yap brothers "had no money" and "asked them to get their own air tickets home".
"We knew all along that we required a visa above five days of being in Belarus. Upon arrival, they allowed us through the customs without a visa," 17-year-old Yap said.
"When we arrived at the airport for departure, however, they told us that our stay counted as six days and thus required a visa."
The Republic Polytechnic student added: "Their officers then led us to a room and told us that they will issue a fine and visas for US$600. So, we opted for deportation so that we did not need to pay for the fine and issue of visa."
He said the Belarusian officials let them off after the brothers explained their situation. "We told them that we do not have money. The officials then said: 'It's okay, we'll waive the penalty but you must pay for your own ticket back.'"
When they checked with their airline, Lufthansa, they found out that their tickets would cost €949 (S$1,470) each, which they were unable to afford.
Said Yap: "I had to work at a 10-hour shift at a local Korean cafe during my holidays for two-and-a-half months while training for this trip and as for Marcus, he used up all of his savings."
The return fare was eventually reduced to €603 for the brothers to rebook their flights to Frankfurt, Germany, then back to Singapore, according to Powerlifting Singapore.
When Channel NewsAsia visited the crowdfunding page, it showed that the campaign had closed after raising S$2,685.
Powerlifting Singapore said in an update at 2.10am that the fundraising goal was reached and that it would provide more details soon.
"WE DEFINITELY DIDN'T EXPECT THIS"
Coming from a low-income family, raising the money on their own for the trip came with sacrifices. "We try our best not to burden our parents by this hobby of ours as they are already struggling to make ends meet," said Yap.
"Gaining their (emotional) support alone is enough. Even so, they still blessed us with a little money to spend."
Knowing the Yap siblings' financial situation, Powerlifting Singapore's Loo sprung into action on Facebook to help them pay for their return ticket. "I launched the (crowdfunding post) at around 1am, and immediately donations started coming in."
"It first hit S$200, and then suddenly it became S$2,200," said the media officer.
She added: "As an association that is not a recognised National Sports Association, we didn't think people would respond this way. Powerlifting is growing in Singapore, but it still hasn't become so popular that everyone knows what it is."
"Our athletes receive recognition but before Matthew's world record, it was limited. So we definitely didn't expect this."
The brothers' plight even attracted the attention of a Singaporean living abroad in Germany, according to Loo.
"We have even received a message from a Singaporean man in Mainz, 30 mins out from Frankfurt," she said. "(He offered) to visit the boys at the airport and bring them for a hot meal, when they arrive in Frankfurt."
She added: "All the different kinds of help and messages that people have been sending means so much to us."
Prosecutors are seeking a three-year jail sentence for Ong Jenn, the grandson of the founder of Singapore’s iconic Metro department stores. He pleaded guilty in May for attempting to possess a block of cannabis and cannabis mixture to feed his longtime addiction.
In court on Thursday (Jun 22), Deputy Public Prosecutor Ong Luan Tze said three years’ jail is justified due to the “large amount” of cannabis (92.68g) and cannabis mixture (385.1g) that Ong was on his way to collect from his dealer when he was arrested on Oct 31, 2014.
Ong’s lawyer, however, argued for a jail term of eight to 12 months. He said the amount of drugs is “less relevant” in Ong’s case because he had bought them to feed his habit and not to traffic them, Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng said, pointing to Ong’s acquittal last month of the initial drug trafficking charge.
The 41-year-old had originally faced a more serious charge of conspiring with convicted drug dealer Mohamad Ismail Abdul Majid to traffic cannabis, but was acquitted after a three-day trial. District Judge Jasvender Kaur said there was no evidence that Ong was a trafficker.
Ong, who admitted he used to smoke weed regularly for 20 years to deal with insomnia and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), opted to plead guilty to reduced charges of attempted possession of cannabis and cannabis mixture.
ONG PREPARED TO FACE THE MUSIC: LAWYER
Ong would have pleaded guilty much earlier had prosecutors not “pursued trafficking charges at all cost” and without evidence, said Mr Tan.
Now that he has been “vindicated” by the acquittal, “he is prepared to face up to his transgressions”, the lawyer added.
He will be sentenced on Jul 12.
In arguing for a lighter sentence, Mr Tan argued that since Ong's arrest in October 2014, he has kicked his habit. Ong worked with psychiatrist Dr Munidasa Winslow, as well as attended over 200 support group meetings with Narcotics Anonymous and other anti-drug organisations. Every random urine test since has tested negative for cannabis or other illicit drugs, Mr Tan said.
He urged the court to consider placing Ong on probation, “in light of his successful efforts at rehabilitation”. If not, a jail term of eight to 12 months would be “sufficient and appropriate”, he said, citing mitigating factors such as Ong’s “exemplary” cooperation with the authorities after he was caught.
Mr Tan also argued that Ong is a first offender - a point which the prosecution disagreed with. “(He) admitted to buying cannabis from Ismail more than 15 times … and to having consumed cannabis for many years”, the prosecution told the court.
“Drug (addicts) are not victims of the drug trade, but the source of the problem”, the prosecution said, referring to the harm drugs can cause.
Mr Tan argued that the only person Ong harmed, as an addict, was himself. “He was a slave to his own drug habit”, the lawyer said.
For the attempted possession of a Class A controlled drug, Ong could be jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to S$20,000 or both.
Ong faces six other charges, including for the possession and consumption of cannabis. These will be dealt with at a later date.
Ong is the grandson of Ong Tjoe Kim, the founder of Metro department stores, and the son of its former group managing director Jopie Ong who helmed the company for four decades until his death in 2016.
A mechanic was injured in what appeared to be a freak accident at a car workshop at Ang Mo Kio industrial park on Thursday morning (Jun 22).
An eyewitness, Mr Sukhbir Singh, told Channel NewsAsia that he heard a loud bang and saw the victim being hit by a compressed natural gas (CNG) cylinder.
The cylinder had blasted into the air and struck the mechanic at the workshop called Esteem Performance, according to Mr Singh who was there to drop off his car.
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it was alerted to the incident at 10.45am. The mechanic, a man is in his 40s, was conscious when he was taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
AdvertisementAccording to a spokesperson from Esteem Performance, the cylinder's valve malfunctioned, causing it to "fly" and hit the mechanic, before smashing into the workshop's ceiling.
The cylinder then rebounded and smashed into the ceiling of a neighbouring workshop before landing onto a car.
The spokesperson added that Esteem Performance is assessing the damage caused by the incident.
Changi Airport has unveiled photos of Terminal 4’s interior, sharing them on their Facebook page on Monday (June 19).
Among the photos shared include a look inside T4’s departure hall, the transit areas and departure gates.
The airport also shared a photo of the boarding area, where passengers will be able to watch planes take off and land on Runway 2 while waiting for their flights.
Construction work on T4 was completed in December last year after more than two years. Interior fittings and operational preparations are taking place in the meanwhile, and it is set to open in the second half of this year.
A netizen has shared a post of a man who allegedly cheated her and several other women using the online dating service, OKCupid.
According to the victim, the man had baited her and his other girlfriends into getting into a relationship with him before asking them for money. He would then ask them for sex and money on the first few days before going missing.
Read her post here.
<SPREADING AWARENESS OF AN INTERNET LOVE SCAM>
Helping my friend to spread this. Please help to share this post!!!
I am one of the victim being scammed of money and sex by this guy called Kelvin.
I want to spread this post urgently because I know that I’m not the only girl he cheated money from and hope to prevent more victims falling into his trap. A mutual friend of mine was also cheated by him on JANUARY 2016. After chatting with mutual friend, it seems that he is using the same tactics to bait us into getting in a relationship with him. We hope the power of social media can help to reach out to more victims out there and to create awareness to protect people from such scams.
There are already a few victims who reported it to the police. We need to gather more evidences for the police for them to take actions against him! If you’re one of them, don’t worry because you’re not alone. I’m here to help so please PM me.
Please spare some time to read what had happened to me below:
• I knew this guy on OKCupid on June 2017. And we started chatting on Whatsapp.
• He will specifically look for girls who are quiet, gentle and soft spoken. Those who use online dating platforms/wechat to find something more serious that can progress into marriage. Assuring that you found “the one”.
• I am already in a relationship with him shortly after chatting even though we haven’t meet.
• He said that he’s working for his family (own business), stay in landed property and was previously cheated by his ex gf ($40k).
• He asked me out on first date, making me pay for it with his excuses. Also had sex as he thinks its common since already in a BGR.
• He asked for money to be transferred to him and also asked for an advanced birthday present claiming that his laptop crashed.
• He kept saying that he no money and need to transfer him with the promise that he will return on next meet.
• Shortly after getting the money he needed, he started MIAing. Block/unblock whatsapp and calls after exposing him.
• Asked for the money back, he delay and delay thinking I wouldn’t take any action against him. Threatened to call police then he said he drop off a cheque. Funny is he don’t even know my full name.
Please if anyone who can provide more information do PM me. If you’re a victim also do PM me. Thank you all for reading this, really need to bring this asshole down.
DON’T REMEMBER HIS NAME, JUST REMEMBER HIS FACE!
*this asshole Facebook and Instagram account already disabled. Here are his photos that are linked with his OKCupid account. Keep an eye out!
A 79-year-old man and a 78-year-old woman were found dead in a Bedok Reservoir flat on Wednesday (Jun 21). The case has been classified as murder.
In a media release, police said they were alerted to the incident at about 3.40pm. The man and woman were found motionless when police arrived at the flat at Block 717 Bedok Reservoir Road.
Both of them were pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene at about 4pm, police said.
Police and forensics investigators were seen entering a corner unit on the second floor. About five to six people, believed to be family members of the victims, were spotted at the stairwell leading up to the flat.
When Channel NewsAsia visited the scene, all entrances to the second floor of the block were cordoned off and several police vehicles were at the scene.
On Wednesday night, police were seen rummaging through the contents of a rubbish chute at the foot of the block. They took three knives away in a plastic bag.