SINGAPORE: A 37-year-old man who was arrested after allegedly assaulting cabin crew and claiming that he had a bomb on Singapore Airlines flight SQ33 was charged in court on Thursday (Sep 29).
"Preliminary investigations indicate that during the flight, the man had allegedly shouted that there was a bomb on the plane and grabbed another passenger’s luggage from the cabin’s overhead compartment," the Singapore Police Force (SPF) said in a statement.
A member of the cabin crew who tried to intervene and restrain La Andy Hien Duc was allegedly assaulted, said the police.
Checks by the cabin crew did not reveal any suspicious items in the American's luggage, they added.
The police told reporters on Wednesday that it was alerted to an alleged bomb threat on board flight SQ33 from San Francisco to Singapore.
The man was restrained by the crew, and police subsequently arrested him for making false threats of terrorist acts and for suspected consumption of controlled drugs.
The plane landed safely at Changi Airport at about 5.50am, under the escort of Republic of Singapore Air Force F-16C/D fighter jets.
Officers from the Airport Police Division and Special Operations Command’s K-9 Unit, as well as the Singapore Armed Forces’ Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives Defence Group, were mobilised to investigate the threat, which turned out to be false.
As a result of the additional security measures, there was a delay of more than four hours in disembarkation. The 17 crew and 208 passengers disembarked at only around 9.30am, the police said on Thursday.
"Preliminary investigations by the Central Narcotics Bureau revealed that the man’s urine tested positive for controlled drugs," SPF added.
The American was charged with offences read with a section of the Tokyo Convention Act 1971, which allows offenders to be charged under Singapore laws if a crime takes place on a Singapore-controlled aircraft flying outside of the country.
He was also remanded at the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric observation and will return to court on Oct 13, according to court documents.
If found guilty of using threatening words likely to cause alarm, he could be fined up to S$5,000. The offence of voluntarily causing hurt carries a penalty of up to three years' jail, a fine of up to S$5,000, or both.
The police warned that they will not hesitate to take action against anyone who causes public alarm with false threats.
"Beyond the fear and inconvenience caused to other members of the public, the making of false threats comes at a cost, in the extensive public resources that have to be deployed to deal with the incident," they said.
SINGAPORE - More than US$200 million (S$287 million) has been raised by a new alliance set up to drive partnerships in the philanthropic sector while addressing issues related to the planet, peace, people and progress.
Temasek Trust chairman Ho Ching said on Friday that the new alliance would provide a more coordinated and integrated approach to delivering impactful outcomes.
She was speaking at the second edition of the Philanthropy Asia Summit organised by Temasek Foundation at Shangri-La Singapore in Orchard.
The Straits Times is among the event's media partners.
Ms Ho added that the founding core members of the alliance have contributed US$25 million each. They are:the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dalio Philanthropies, Li Ka Shing Foundation, Tanoto Foundation and four companies of Sinar Mas.
Other partners and supporters have also committed between US$1 million and US$10 million.
Temasek Trust has also pledged US$100 million to underwrite the operations of the alliance, while the World Economic Forum will be a strategic partner, she said.
WongPartnership and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer will be providing pro bono legal support to aid in the set up of this alliance.
Ms Ho added that the alliance, which will launch formally in the next nine to 12 months, will also have a governance framework to respect the focused interests of alliance members.
"This could include separate councils to guide programme curation, or track programme outcomes and impact measurement. The framework must also support the adaptation of solutions for the varied local conditions or the complexities of multi-lateral efforts," she said.
For example, Dalio Philanthropies is highly focused on exploring and protecting the oceans while the Tanoto Foundation is focused on education to uplift lives and livelihoods.
Ms Ho added that the alliance expects more members in the coming months who will add financial heft or provide domain expertise.
Ms Ho also outlined four major priorities for the non-profit sector during her speech at the summit, which is meant to be a collaborative platform to bring together global and regional philanthropists to catalyse partnerships.
Ms Ho said that the first priority is the planet, as the stresses and disasters of climate change will fall disproportionately on the poor and disadvantaged.
The second priority is peace.
Said Ms Ho: "The prerequisites for peace include trust and goodwill. Peace can come only by connecting people... by fostering a deeper respect for common humanity, by nurturing a more self-confident and open-minded acceptance of a diverse and plural world."
The third priority is people. Enabling mankind to survive and thrive in the decades to come through education, healthcare and digital and financial inclusion is key.
The last priority is progress, which has to be just and inclusive, leaving no one behind, added Ms Ho.
All these priorities require partnerships to succeed, which the summit aims to enable, said Ms Ho.
The summitthis year is focused on the three themes of climate action and sustainable communities, inclusive education, and resilient healthcare.
Ms Ho said: "(Partnerships require) an open mind to embrace the diversity of people and the ingenuity of ideas not yet invented by ourselves."
SINGAPORE - The police are investigating 312 people for their suspected involvement in more than 1,175 cases of scams, involving over $15.7 million.
On Friday, the police said the suspects, aged between 17 and 68, are linked to various types of scams that range from Internet love, loans, bank phishing, business e-mail and impersonation of government and China officials scams.
They are being investigated for alleged cheating, money laundering or providing payment services without a licence.
The suspects were rounded up in a two-week operation conducted by the Commercial Affairs Department and seven police land divisions between Sept 16 and 29.
To avoid being an accomplice to crimes, the police said that the public should always reject requests by others to use their bank accounts or mobile lines, as they will be held accountable if these are linked to crimes.
A total of 14,349 scam cases were reported in the first half of 2022, almost double the 7,746 cases in the same period in 2021.
The amount lost to scams in the first half of 2022 was $346.5 million, more than half of the $633.3 million lost in the whole of 2021.
For each count of cheating, an offender can be jailed for up to 10 years and fined.
Those found guilty of money laundering can be jailed for up to 10 years, fined up to $500,000, or both, for each charge.
For each count of providing payment services without a licence, an offender can be fined up to $125,000, jailed for up to three years, or both.
SINGAPORE - A 57-year-old woman who was charged with killing her 63-year-old husband in 2019 has been certified by the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) to be of unsound mind and incapable of defending herself in court.
As a result, the High Court on Friday ordered a stay of the proceedings against Chinese national Wang Shuzhen, who allegedly killed Mr Teh Hock Pine, a retired policeman, in their Ang Mo Kio flat in the early hours of Oct 27, 2019.
The court also directed the case to be reported to the Law Minister and ordered Wang to be detained in Changi Prison pending further orders by the minister.
Under the Criminal Procedure Code, the minister may order the accused to be confined in a psychiatric institution, or any other suitable place of safe custody.
The contents of IMH's report, dated Sept 28, 2022, were not disclosed in open court in Friday's remote hearing.
At the hearing, Wang's assigned lawyer, Ms Sadhana Rai, applied to discharge herself.
Ms Rai said Wang has "a delusional belief that my colleagues are involved in some way or another with her husband".
The lawyer said Wang can apply for legal aid again if her mental state improves in future.
Wang was charged on Oct 28, 2019, with the murder of Mr Teh. She was 54 years old at the time.
Police said they responded to a case of unnatural death at Block 633 Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6 at 5.46am on Oct 27, 2019.
Mr Teh was pronounced dead by paramedics and Wang was arrested at the scene.
The murder charge was reduced to one of culpable homicide in 2021.
SINGAPORE - Well-known local undertaker Roland Tay Hai Choon was on Friday charged in court for income tax evasion of more than $427,000 and for failing to register his business for goods and services tax (GST).
The 75-year-old founder of Direct Funeral Services was handed three charges of understating his income to evade tax and another count under the GST Act.
According to court documents, he allegedly understated his income by over $2.2 million for three years, between 2011 and 2013. As a result, he is said to have failed to pay an additional $427,427 to the taxman.
Separately, he is accused of failing to notify the Comptroller of GST of his company's liability to register for GST in 2010, resulting in $286,963 in tax that was not accounted for.
If convicted of making a false statement in a tax return, Tay can be jailed for up to three years, fined up to $10,000 or both. He will also be liable for a penalty three times the amount of tax that was undercharged.
Businesses that fail to register for GST can be fined up to $10,000 and face a penalty equal to 10 per cent of the tax due from the date on which the business is required to register for GST.
Tay is out on $80,000 bail. His case will be heard again on Oct 18.
In a statement on Friday, the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) said Tay’s alleged offences were uncovered through one of its regular audit programmes.
The agency urged businesses or individuals to disclose any past tax mistakes immediately.
“Iras will treat such disclosures as mitigating factors when considering actions to be taken,” it said.
Tay is known for arranging free funerals for murder victims, the poor and the destitute.
He provided funeral services for victims such as Huang Na, an eight-year-old girl from China who went missing in October 2004.
Her naked body was found three weeks later in a cardboard box at Telok Blangah Hill Park. Her mother's co-worker, Took Leng How, was found guilty of murder and hanged in November 2006.
When Ah Meng, Singapore's famous orangutan, died in 2008, Tay donated a white human-size coffin for the funeral.
In 2009, Tay was sentenced to six months' jail for criminal intimidation and for his role in beating up a former business partner. He had swung a crowbar at the victim and threatened to kill him in an altercation in Lavender Street in 2007.
SINGAPORE - Feeling remorseful that he had filmed a woman in a campus toilet, a Nanyang Technological University (NTU) student waited outside to apologise to her, a court heard on Thursday.
Zhou Zhiwen had already deleted the video by then, but felt he needed to make amends.
The 22-year-old Chinese national pleaded guilty on Thursday to one charge of filming an upskirt video.
District Judge John Ng called for a report to assess Zhou's suitability for a mandatory treatment order (MTO).
Those given an MTO will undergo treatment for their mental conditions in lieu of jail time.
The incident happened on Feb 5, 2021, at NTU.
The victim, who was 20 at the time, had entered a toilet around 15 minutes before her class at 9am.
Zhou, who was taking a break from his tutorial lesson, saw the victim entering the toilet and followed her.
Deputy Public Prosecutor R. Arvindren said the accused knew the victim was in the only locked cubicle and entered an adjacent cubicle.
Zhou then held his phone below the toilet cubicle partition with the rear camera facing upwards to film an upskirt video of the victim.
The victim was partially undressed when she noticed a shadow in the adjacent cubicle.
When she looked down and saw a phone, she shouted and Zhou ran out of the toilet.
He deleted the video immediately and waited for the victim outside the toilet, to apologise to her.
The victim was traumatised and rushed to her class to inform her classmate.
The victim's professor was then informed and the campus security was alerted. Zhou was arrested by the police that same day.
DPP Arvindren said Zhou admitted to the police that he had recorded the victim while she was in the toilet and claimed he did so as he was feeling stressed and emotional.
The accused also admitted that he has done this multiple times before.
The prosecutor said an Institute of Mental Health report dated May 2022 showed that the accused was suffering from early psychotic symptoms at the time of his offences, and this may have contributed to the offending behaviour.
Reporters has contacted NTU for comment.
For each count of voyeurism, an offender can be jailed for up to two years, fined, caned, or receive any combination of such punishments.
SINGAPORE - From Oct 1, anyone caught smoking at all public parks and gardens, some water areas and 10 recreational beaches may be fined up to $1,000.
Smoking has been prohibited in more public areas since July 1, as part of further efforts to stamp out the habit and protect Singapore against the harmful effects of second-hand smoke.
To give people time to adjust to the ban, which was first announced in March, those caught smoking in these newly prohibited areas were issued verbal advisories for the first three months following its introduction.
More than 1,200 verbal advisories were issued to smokers in these areas between July 1 and Sept 25, said the National Environment Agency (NEA), National Parks Board (NParks), national water agency PUB and Sentosa Development Corporation on Thursday.
With the end of the advisory period on Friday, those caught smoking in these areas may face a composition fine of $200 or a fine of up to $1,000 if convicted in court.
To allow smokers to adjust to smoke-free parks, designated smoking areas have been provided in 12 regional parks, including East Coast Park and Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, as well as Palawan Beach, Siloso Beach and Tanjong Beach, the agencies said.
"No smoking by law" signs, posters and banners have also been installed at the new smoke-free locations as additional visual reminders.
Smoking is currently prohibited in more than 49,000 premises, both indoor and outdoor, the agencies said.
In the first half of 2022, about 7,400 tickets were issued for smoking in prohibited areas, they added.
Before the expansion, Singapore's smoking ban covered only places such as neighbourhood parks in private and public housing estates, reservoirs and nature reserves.
Smoking is also not allowed under sheltered walkways, areas within 5m of a bus stop, and void decks.
From Saturday, enforcement action can be taken against smoking in the remaining public parks and gardens managed by NParks, as well as at PUB's active, beautiful, clean (ABC) waters sites, which include streams, rivers, and lakes.
The additional places where smoking is prohibited can be viewed here.
Examples of such sites include canals and landmarks near rivers, such as the Lorong Halus Bridge.
Wetlands, such as the Sengkang Floating Wetland, and areas near large drains are also included in this ban.
The other beaches affected by the ban are Changi Beach, East Coast Beach, West Coast Beach, Sembawang Beach, Pasir Ris Beach and Punggol Beach on the mainland, as well as the beach on offshore Coney Island.
However, smokers will still be able to light up at open public spaces such as vacant land, uncovered walkways and uncovered areas on the top deck of multi-storey carparks.
They can also do so in private, such as in their own homes or cars, as long as no second-hand smoke is expelled in places where smoking is prohibited.
"NEA encourages smokers to be socially responsible when smoking in public places, and not to light up in smoking prohibited places.
"Friendly and timely reminders from family, friends and other members of the community can help to reinforce the right social behaviour and norms," the agencies said.
SINGAPORE - Some patients now have the option of being hospitalised at home instead of a hospital ward.
Suitable patients are those with general medical conditions such as skin infections, urinary tract infections or even Covid-19.
They will be cared for by a team of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and therapists via a combination of teleconsultations and home visits.
Patients will receive similar clinical care to what they would receive in hospital, such as intravenous medication and blood tests, as well as 24/7 access to the care team until they are fit to be discharged.
Should the patient's condition deteriorate, he can be transferred to a hospital.
This new care model, announced on Thursday, increases a patient's comfort, reduces hospital acquired infections, improves manpower efficiency and increases bed capacity without the need to build more inpatient wards in hospitals.
This is especially important as Singapore's population ages, leading to a growing demand for inpatient care with insufficient manpower to staff wards.
Called the Mobile Inpatient Care @ Home (MIC@Home), feasibility studies for the care model were conducted by the National University Health System (NUHS) and Yishun Health Medical Home between 2019 and 2021.
Pilot trials showed that home hospitalisation is effective and safe for selected patients.
With the success of the initial trials, the Ministry of Health Office for Healthcare Transformation expanded the programme's implementation.
It is now available at three sites: NUHS (NUHS@Home), Singapore General Hospital (SGH@Home) and Yishun Health Medical Home.
Patients on the programme will receive subsidies similar to those in hospitals as the scheme comes under a regulatory and financing sandbox supported by the Ministry of Health.
Patients hospitalised at home can expect a bill similar to that if they were to stay in a hospital.
The expanded trials under this sandbox started in April 2022 and are set to conclude by March 2024.
The sandbox has the capacity to take care of about 2,000 patients over two years at the three sites and more public hospitals will be roped into the programme later.
The sandbox was announced in Parliament during the Ministry of Health Committee of Supply Debate in March 2022.
Mr Lai Yi Feng, senior manager and project lead of MIC@Home, said: "As the provision of healthcare continues to shift from hospital to the home and community, structural change and reorganisation of care delivery are pivotal.
"We recognise that it is not for everyone and there are patients who would still prefer to be cared for in a hospital environment. These are the patients that we will need to slowly work on to change their mindsets."
He added: "Those who are willing to try this care model, and those with confidence in the care team and the technologies that we have, these are the kinds of patients that we are targeting at this point."
Similar established care models in places like Australia, Europe and the United States have shown equivalent clinical outcomes as ward hospitalisations.
Patients recovering at home also reported sleeping and eating better, walking around more and perceived their recovery to be quicker.
SINGAPORE - A surveyor accepted bribes totalling US$90,000 (S$123,243.10 according to court documents) in exchange for turning a blind eye to the misappropriation of gas oil at Shell Pulau Bukom.
As a result of Muhammad Ali Muhammad Nor's assistance in concealing the crime, 15 incidents involving the misappropriation of gas oil worth more than US$10 million went undetected by oil giant Shell in 2016 and 2017.
The court heard that Muhammad Ali, 56, who was working for Intertek Testing Services at the time of the offences, is no longer employed there.
He pleaded guilty on Thursday to a graft charge and was sentenced to 18 months' jail. He was also ordered to pay a penalty of $123,243.10 – the exact amount he had accepted in bribes.
Muhammad Ali will have to spend an additional 20 weeks behind bars if he is unable to pay the amount.
Gas oil is refined crude oil. It is often used as fuel and an alternative to diesel in some countries.
One of the masterminds of the heist, former Shell employee Juandi Pungot, then 45, was jailed for 29 years in March for siphoning nearly $128 million worth of gas oil.
The cases involving several others allegedly linked to the case, including Muzaffar Ali Khan Muhamad Akram, 41, and Tiah Kok Hwee, 45, are pending.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Norman Yew said that Juandi and Muzaffar were engaged in a conspiracy with each other and other co-conspirators to dishonestly misappropriate Shell's gas oil.
According to court documents, they did so by loading the gas oil onto various vessels without Shell's knowledge or authorisation, in exchange for money which was subsequently split among them.
While working as a surveyor, Muhammad Ali was tasked to check on the quantity of cargo, including gas oil, that was loaded into the tanks of vessels.
The court heard that Juandi and Muzaffar approached him in or around August 2016, telling him that they were going to load misappropriated gas oil from Shell onto an incoming vessel.
DPP Yew said: "Juandi, Muzaffar and the accused agreed that the accused would forbear to accurately report the amount of cargo loaded onto vessels, which Intertek was engaged to inspect, and turn a blind eye to the misappropriation of gas oil at Shell Pulau Bukom, in exchange for money from Muzaffar and Juandi."
As a result, Shell gas oil worth more than US$10 million was misappropriated over 15 incidents in 2016 and 2017.
On Aug 1, 2017, a Shell representative made a police report stating that the company had suffered an unidentified loss of fuel amounting to nearly $3 million in April that year.
Police started investigating and informed the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in September 2018 over possible graft-related offences linked to the case.
Muhammad Ali was among 12 people who were later charged with corruption in April 2022.
On Thursday, defence lawyer S.S. Dhillon said his client was remorseful and that he had been facing financial difficulties at the time of the offences.
The lawyer from Dhillon & Panoo law firm also stressed that Muhammad Ali was not a mastermind behind the gas oil misappropriation, adding: "He was a mere pawn in the whole scheme."
For graft, an offender can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000.
SINGAPORE - Bunkering firm Sentek Marine & Trading was on Thursday charged in court with acquiring marine gas oil worth more than US$56 million (S$80.6 million) that was misappropriated from Shell's facility in Pulau Bukom.
Sentek, one of Singapore's biggest marine fuel suppliers, was handed 42 charges under the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Crimes Act.
The firm allegedly received 118,131 metric tonnes of marine gas oil on its vessels between August 2014 and January 2018 despite knowing it was the ill-gotten gains of criminal activity.
Sentek denied all charges and intends to claim trial.
If convicted, the firm can be fined up to $1 million for each charge it faces.
In August this year, Sentek founder Pai Keng Pheng, 59, was separately handed 43 charges under the Act.
Sentek allegedly acquired the marine gas oil with Pai's consent while he was its managing director.
He is also said to have abetted the obstruction of the course of justice by instigating one of the parties involved to instruct a witness to give false information to investigators.
Pai was previously handed 40 charges of bribery and obstructing the course of justice in October last year. He now faces 83 charges in total.
Sentek and Pai's cases will be heard again on Friday.
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