SINGAPORE - A 26-year-old man will be charged in court on Friday over allegedly sharing his Singpass details with scammers in exchange for $1,000 in cash.
The crooks used the information to register five bank accounts with HSBC, CIMB, SCB and UOB in his name and laundered more than $650,000 in criminal proceeds, said the police on Thursday.
The police said the man had responded to an Instagram message in May that offered him $1,000 in exchange for his Singpass details.
He will be charged under the Computer Misuse Act and, if convicted, he faces up to three years in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
The police said they take a serious view of such offences and would not hesitate to take action against those who may be involved in scams.
They added that the public should always reject attractive money-making opportunities that promised easy cash in exchange for access to their Singpass or bank accounts, stressing that those who do so would be held accountable if their accounts were found to be linked to crimes.
SINGAPORE - Prices of Housing Board resale flats inched up for the 29th straight month in November, with more units changing hands as the market adjusted to the latest round of cooling measures.
HDB resale flat prices grew at a slightly faster pace of 0.6 per cent in November compared with October’s 0.5 per cent, according to flash data from real estate portals 99.co and SRX on Thursday.
Prices were up 10 per cent year on year.
The number of HDB resale flats sold rebounded in November, rising by 8.9 per cent to an estimated 2,140 units, reversing the 24.1 per cent decline seen the month before.
However, compared with November 2021, transactions were down by 17.3 per cent.
Property analysts attributed the momentum gain to buyers returning to the market, after having digested the cooling measures that kicked in on Sept 30.
Ms Christine Sun, senior vice-president of research and analytics at OrangeTee & Tie, said buyers could have brought forward purchases ahead of the December holiday period and Chinese New Year.
“However, the rebound may not necessarily indicate a market recovery as sales are still lower than the two months prior to the measures,” she added.
PropNex Realty head of research and content Wong Siew Ying noted that despite the curbs, which were aimed at encouraging greater prudence among home buyers amid high interest rates, prices remained resilient in November.
“We think HDB resale prices are not likely to see a significant downward correction as tight resale stock and stable demand will help to keep prices relatively steady,” she said.
Price increases were seen across all flat types, with prices of executive units climbing the most at 2.5 per cent. While prices in non-mature estates increased by 1 per cent, those in mature estates dipped slightly, by 0.1 per cent.
Many HDB owners have become more realistic in their asking prices, which could have led to stable flat prices and more flats sold in November, said Huttons Asia chief executive Mark Yip.
Fewer million-dollar flats were transacted in November, with 26 HDB resale flats changing hands for at least $1 million, down from 40 units in October. The number of million-dollar HDB flats sold comprises 1.2 per cent of the total resale volume in November.
The 15-month period that private property downgraders have to sit out before buying a resale flat after selling their private properties could have led to the decline, said Ms Wong.
The number of million-dollar flats sold in November was the lowest since April.
Among the 26 million-dollar flats sold, five were in the central area, and three each in Woodlands and Toa Payoh. The most expensive resale flat was a five-room, 114 sq m unit at The Peak @ Toa Payoh, which sold for $1.345 million.
In non-mature estates, a 189 sq m executive flat in Woodlands Street 83 fetched the highest price, changing hands for $1.1 million.
Ms Sun noted that there were five million-dollar transactions in non-mature estates in November, a record for such estates.
“This indicates that a growing number of buyers see value and are willing to pay top dollar for big flats in the suburbs,” she said.
So far, 342 resale flats have changed hands for at least $1 million in 2022, far exceeding the 259 transactions in 2021, said Ms Wong. She noted that most of these flats were in the central area, Bishan, Toa Payoh and Bukit Merah.
“However, the number of such flats sold still accounted for a small fraction of overall HDB resale transactions, at about 1.4 per cent of the total in the first 11 months of 2022,” she added.
She expects HDB resale prices to rise by 9 per cent to 10 per cent for the whole of 2022, and thinks that prices may see further growth in 2023, though at a slower pace.
SINGAPORE: A national serviceman harassed his former secondary school teachers, stalked his superiors in the Navy and insulted a nurse by telling her she had an "airport runway" chest.
Alvin Seah, 24, was sentenced last month by a court to 15 weeks' jail, but he is appealing against the sentence.
The 24-year-old returned to court on Thursday (Dec 8) to ask about a curfew he thought he was under, but was told there was no curfew.
Seah had earlier pleaded guilty to eight charges including insulting the modesty of a person, unlawful stalking and using abusive words against a public servant. Another five charges were considered in sentencing.
According to court documents, Seah was an NSF with the Republic of Singapore Navy at the time of the offences.
In 2020, he became unhappy with his former secondary school teacher. From August to October 2020, he pretended to be the teacher in a Telegram chat group by using her photo.
Posing as the teacher, he offered sexual services to different people and gave them her contact number.
As a result, the teacher received unsolicited phone calls from unknown parties asking about sexual services.
Pretending to be the teacher, Seah also sent an email to a fellow teacher from the same school.
The email was titled "For you" and included a photo of a group of naked men with their private parts exposed.
Using the same email address, Seah sent another email to 51 staff members from the same secondary school. The email contained an image of a third teacher's face superimposed onto an image of a naked woman.
Separately, Seah was posted to a certain squadron in the Navy in February 2020. That same month, his direct supervisor found out that Seah was moonlighting as a Grab Hitch driver while doing national service, which is illegal.
The supervisor flagged it to his superior, resulting in Seah being investigated and fined.
HE STALKED HIS SUPERVISOR
Seah bore a grudge against his supervisor and decided to stalk him.
Between Aug 10 and Aug 29, 2020, Seah loitered outside his supervisor's home on at least eight occasions. Grab records show that Seah took a private-hire vehicle to his supervisor's place on five occasions.
He was caught on closed-circuit television (CCTV) loitering outside the home on three other occasions.
Seah was investigated for harassment in April 2021. An investigation officer took a statement from him that same month, but Seah was uncooperative.
He kept asking the officer about his other cases that were being investigated. The officer told him that he would have to contact the relevant investigation officer in charge to find out about the other cases.
In May 2021, Seah sent multiple messages to the officer, calling her "deaf b****" and saying things like "f*** u for giving me problem" and "serve the public and call me sir".
While Seah was in the Navy, he became unhappy when he found out he was posted to be a storeman. He asked a head of manpower to post him to another unit which did not require him to do anything.
When this did not happen, Seah grew unhappy with the victim and harassed her by threatening to write something on her car.
He also threatened to puncture her car tyre and said he would harass her family.
Seah was dealt with for the acts of harassment, as well as other offences, in a military court. He was sentenced to 6 months' jail, which he served in September 2021.
However, when Seah was released from prison in March 2022, he decided to again harass the same victim by stalking her. He called her phone twice and loitered outside her home twice.
On the second occasion on Mar 26, 2022, the victim was home when she heard her doorbell ring several times.
As it was late at night, she checked her CCTV and realised it was Seah. Because of his previous harassment, the victim feared for herself and her family, and called the police.
Police officers arrived and tried to interview Seah, but he was evasive and uncooperative. He repeatedly challenged the authority of the officers, raised his voice at them and taunted them by pretending to run away.
He was later arrested for disorderly behaviour.
THE NURSE INCIDENT
On Mar 1, 2022, Seah went to Sengkang General Hospital's Accident and Emergency Department complaining of chest pains.
A staff nurse keyed in Seah's details in the hospital's computer system and saw in the notes that he had a history of requesting female nurses apply cream on his private parts.
She arranged for a male colleague to attend to Seah and told her female colleagues on duty to be careful of Seah, as he had a history of making inappropriate requests to female nurses.
Seah inadvertently saw the comments under his profile in the computer system.
Angered, he started shouting at the nurse. The nurse called for security, but Seah kept shouting, asking her why she had put in such comments.
He then took out his phone and began taking a video of the nurse, while saying the following insulting words: "Flat chest", "Changi Airport runway" and "I'm at the airport already, Changi Airport there, I'm going to board the plane, I have seen the airport runway, that's why I video."
The prosecution had asked for 14 to 21 weeks' jail for Seah. On the harassment suffered by the nurse, the prosecutor said Seah's reaction after seeing the notes was "entirely disproportionate" and "reeked of a guilty conscience".
SINGAPORE: From taping children’s lips to stop mouth breathing at night to helmets that mould a baby’s skull to a desired shape.
Social media has helped to spread tips and ideas on how to correct physical imperfections in children. But experts warn these tips are potentially dangerous.
A report published by Shanghai-based magazine Sixth Tone in September highlighted a growing number of parents who believe that they can enhance their children’s appearance by taping their mouths before they sleep.
They are convinced that this can prevent crooked teeth and help with jaw development.
According to the article, these products have been promoted by influencers on Chinese social platforms, fuelling demand from young parents.
Responding to media queries from reporters, Singapore's Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said it has not received any feedback or complaints on such products here in the past two years.
No adverse event reports for such products have been received, said a spokesperson.
A check of e-commerce platforms such as Shopee and Lazada found listings of “anti-snoring tapes” and “anti-mouth breathing stickers” by sellers based in Singapore.
Prices ranged from S$1.69 to S$7 for a box of 30 stickers, with the products mainly imported from China, according to sellers reporters spoke to.
In the review section of some listings, buyers who appeared to be based in Singapore posted photos of their children wearing the tape to sleep and claimed that it helped to prevent mouth breathing.
According to HSA, products such as these mouth tapes and head-shaping helmets are classified as "low risk" medical devices – or Class A – and are exempted from product registration.
Other examples of Class A medical devices are bandages, wheelchairs and surgical masks.
Importers and wholesalers of these medical devices are required to obtain the relevant dealer’s licences and to notify HSA. For other classes of medical devices that are higher risk, they have to register the products with the authority.
Under the Health Products Act, those who fail to do so can be fined up to S$50,000, jailed for up to two years, or both.
"Due to the borderless nature of the Internet and the difficulty in authenticating the sellers and the safety and quality of these products, consumers are strongly advised to purchase these products from local retail pharmacies or clinics," said an HSA spokesperson.
HSA said it will investigate the online sale of such medical devices, and take action if contraventions are found. This includes working with local e-commerce platforms to take down listings and issuing warnings to sellers, the spokesperson added.
DON'T USE TAPE ON CHILDREN: DOCTORS
Doctors reporters spoke to cautioned against the use of such products as they pose a risk to young children.
“It’s risky because some children may breathe through the mouth because they have sinus issues that obstruct their nasal airways. So it's very important to be able to breathe through the mouth,” said Dr Louis Tan, a general practitioner at StarMed Specialist Centre.
Taping the mouth for prolonged periods may also result in skin irritation, he added.
Dr Wong Chin-Khoon from the Singapore Baby and Child Clinic also said some babies breathe through the mouth due to reasons such as a congested nose or a more complex anatomical or structural condition.
He added that a chronic lack of oxygen when sleeping may also affect brain development including their IQ and general health.
Despite this, none of the TikTok videos reporters viewed mentioned that the practice might be harmful in any way.
Besides taping mouths, another practice commonly mentioned in motherhood and parenting forums and group chats is the use of helmets to correct plagiocephaly, also known as flat head syndrome where there is an asymmetrical distortion of the head.
According to the Sixth Tone report, vendors in China said that if a baby wears the helmet 23 hours a day for four months, it will develop a round forehead instead of a flat one.
Dr Wong said plagiocephaly is the most common concern among parents, but cautioned against purchasing such helmets online as helmet therapy is used only for certain conditions.
“Even for the most common congenital muscular torticollis or plagiocephaly, it is reserved for the severe cases and before the skull sutures begin to close,” he said, adding that this is generally before a child is nine months old.
In such cases, the helmet will need to be custom-made to suit the baby’s head shape and size to avoid pressure sores and poor results, he said.
“There is also a need for close follow-up to assess the effectiveness of the helmet therapy and look out for any complications,” he said. “Hence, it is not advisable to purchase it online.”
Currently, Tan Tock Seng Hospital and Orthopaedia Singapore, a private centre offering orthotics and prosthetics services, conduct helmet therapy. However, an assessment of the child's head will be conducted first, according to their websites.
With a deluge of tips and advice being shared on social media, Dr Tan said it is important to triangulate information especially from those who are not healthcare professionals.
“Parents should look beyond social media platforms and see whether they can find similar advice on recognised websites of healthcare providers or newspaper articles that talk about it – or if they have the know-how – they can look at published research papers to see if they support some of these ideas that are floating about,” he said.
“Sometimes, social media is designed to propagate good advice but oftentimes, it's designed to really just get more viewership and followers,” he added.
“Always go to your trusted paediatrician or family doctor to validate some of these ideas that are floating around. Nowadays with telemedicine, it's not too inconvenient to try to get time with your GP or paediatrician to ask about certain things.”
SINGAPORE - Scammers are pretending to help victims of ruses file police reports by sending them Google forms that bear the Singapore Police Force (SPF) insignia.
The police said on Wednesday that they do not get members of the public to provide information on scams or lodge reports through Google forms.
The elaborate scam starts with victims receiving an unsolicited e-mail that directs them to click on a provided link to claim a gift voucher, said the police.
They are then directed to a Web page to enter their credit or debit card information, a security code and a one-time password. A fraudulent transaction will then be charged to the card.
“Shortly after the transaction, the scammers will contact the victim and introduce themselves as bank staff who are following up on the fraudulent transaction,” said the police.
Next, the victim will receive another link, this time telling him to provide his personal particulars on a Google form that fraudulently bears the SPF insignia. The victim is duped into thinking he is making a police report.
The form will also include a fake police case number.
Having gained the victim’s trust, the scammers, still posing as bank staff, will try to scam the victim in other ways, the police said.
For instance, they might direct the victim to download a malicious software application, which will allow them to take control of the victim’s computer.
The scammers will then have access to the victim’s Internet banking accounts to make unauthorised transactions.
The police said members of the public should not click on suspicious links provided in unofficial sources, and they should always verify the authenticity of links with the official website or source.
For more information on scams, people can visit the Scam Alert website (www.scamalert.sg) or call the Anti-Scam Hotline on 1800-722-6688
SINGAPORE: It is a "key national priority" to keep public housing affordable so that Singaporeans can own their homes, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) said on Wednesday (Dec 7).
The Housing Board said this in response to queries on how Build-to-Order (BTO) flat prices are determined, and their development costs.
In a statement issued to the media, HDB went into some detail about how new flats are priced, emphasising that it prices the flats with "affordability in mind". This is unlike the private sector, which is profit-driven, it said.
"We therefore do not apply a profit margin on costs. To determine housing affordability, we look at the buyers’ household incomes and the selling prices of the flats on offer," said HDB.
While the pricing process has long been established, questions have been raised recently about the continued affordability of HDB BTO flats as prices of new launches hit new highs. Five-room and larger new flats for Central Weave @ AMK, launched in August, started at more than S$700,000 and some topped S$800,000.
HDB said that in pricing new BTO flats, it first establishes the market value of the flats by considering the prices of comparable resale flats nearby.
This is influenced by prevailing market conditions, as well as the individual attributes of the flats. These attributes can include location, floor height, tenure, flat features and the amenities nearby.
HDB said that with many BTO projects launched every year in different housing estates, new flat selling prices will not be uniform, and will have to take into account the different attributes and location of the flats on offer.
"This also ensures fairness for the different buyers as these HDB flats can be bought and sold in the resale market after the five-year Minimum Occupation Period (MOP), and the locational and other flat attributes will be reflected in the resale prices then and any benefits will accrue to the flat owner/seller."
It then applies a "significant subsidy" to the assessed market values to ensure that new flats are affordable for flat buyers.
Besides the varying attributes of new flats, market conditions may also fluctuate between BTO launches, hence the extent of market subsidies applied by HDB will vary across BTO projects in different launches.
Varying the market subsidies protects homebuyers from market fluctuations and ensures that BTO flats remain stable and affordable, HDB said.
"When the resale prices move up, HDB will, in tandem, need to increase market subsidies to keep BTO prices affordable," it said.
It uses a similar approach for the Prime Location Public Housing (PLH) projects, but PLH flats are priced with additional subsidies, on top of the market subsidies for all BTO flats.
"For parity with other BTO flat owners who are not accorded these additional subsidies and to reduce windfall gains, PLH flat owners will need to pay a fixed percentage of the higher of the resale price or valuation of the flat to HDB, upon sale of their flats, to reduce any excessive windfall gains," it said.
HDB uses resident household incomes and Mortgage Servicing Ratio (MSR) to determine affordability. MSR is the proportion of monthly income used to service mortgage instalment payments.
"To determine affordability, HDB looks at the resident household incomes, and compares them with the range of flat types and selling prices on offer at every BTO launch," it said, adding that the MSR is used as a benchmark.
It also said that it considers a range of different household incomes, both above and below the median household income level, to meet different housing needs and budgets.
In the first half of this year, 90 per cent of flat buyers who collected keys to their new flats in non-mature estates and more than 80 per cent of flat buyers who collected keys to their new flats in mature estates had an MSR of 25 per cent or lower.
This means they used 25 per cent or less of their monthly income to service their HDB loans, and that the flat buyers can are using their monthly CPF contributions, with little or no cash outlay, said HDB.
International benchmarks for MSR have been at 30 per cent to 35 per cent.
On land costs, HDB said that it pays fair market value for land that is developed into public housing.
"The fair market value is determined independently by the Chief Valuer in accordance with market conditions and established valuation principles," it said.
The cost of land used for public housing is lower than for private residential use in the same area, it added.
"This differential reflects the more stringent eligibility criteria and conditions that buyers of public housing must meet in terms of income, citizenship, minimum occupation period etc," HDB said.
"Proceeds from HDB’s land purchase are paid back into the past reserves, which are in turn invested to generate returns for future generations of Singaporeans."
HDB gave an illustration of land and building costs over the last three financial years, the first time the board has done so.
The numbers are for flats where the keys have been issued to buyers, and reflect the cost of BTO projects launched about three to four years ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
PRICE AND DEVELOPMENT COSTS "SEPARATE AND INDEPENDENT"
HDB said that unlike private developers, it does not take into account provision for a profit margin.
"HDB's flat pricing approach is totally separate and independent from the BTO projects' development costs," it said.
"By increasing the subsidy applied in a rising property market, HDB has kept BTO flat prices relatively stable. This was the case even in the past two years where construction costs had increased by almost 30 per cent."
It added that the increase in BTO flat prices in the last decade has kept within the growth in resident household incomes.
From 2012 to 2021, the median resident employed household income grew by 26 per cent, while the average selling prices per square foot for BTO flats grew 16 per cent for non-mature estates, and 22 per cent for mature estates.
HDB also provides housing grants and the grants have also "increased several times" over the same period, it added.
"The total development cost, which includes construction and land costs, cannot be fully covered by the selling prices of flats as the latter is highly subsidised," said HDB.
HDB reiterated that it incurs significant deficits every year in its Home Ownership Programme, which are reflected in its annual reports. In the latest FY2021/22, HDB recorded a deficit of about S$3.85 billion in its Home Ownership Programme.
The deficit stems mainly from the gross loss on flat sales completed, but also includes expected loss for flats that started development in the financial year and disbursement of CPF housing grants to eligible resale flat buyers.
The expected loss will continue to be adjusted over the course of construction period, said HDB.
It added that at each BTO launch, the recently transacted prices of comparable flats are shared, alongside the selling prices for each BTO project.
"These prices clearly show that each BTO project is priced substantially lower than comparable resale flats, due to the significant subsidies applied."
American teacher stuck in Singapore due to COVID-19 pandemic forged insurance letter to have surgery
SINGAPORE: An American teacher who was unable to travel home for regular medical treatment due to the COVID-19 pandemic forged an insurance letter and deceived a hospital into performing a surgical procedure worth about S$20,000 on him.
Vericker Michael Gunderson, 43, was sentenced to a year's jail on Wednesday (Dec 7). He pleaded guilty to three charges of cheating and forgery. A fourth charge was considered in sentencing.
According to Vericker's lawyer John Koh of Populus Law, Vericker was a special needs teacher based in Singapore, teaching in various international schools.
He held an Employment Pass and worked in Singapore for about five years before the offences.
In 2006, Vericker was in an accident that fractured his vertebrae and fused his spine together. He went for a major surgery but suffered chronic back pain since as his spine has been in a state of decay, and he suffers from degenerative conditions.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, Vericker would travel to the United States on a regular basis to receive medical treatment and medication from his doctors.
However, travel restrictions meant that he could no longer do so during the pandemic, said the defence lawyer.
In December 2020, Vericker sought admission to Mount Alvernia Hospital for day surgery, court documents stated.
He told an administrator that he would be providing a Letter of Guarantee from his insurance company, AXA Insurance. He also gave his credit card details. Because of this, Mount Alvernia did not collect a deposit from Vericker.
While waiting for the surgery to begin, Vericker forged an AXA Letter of Guarantee using his mobile phone. He attached the AXA logo from Google images on top of the letter and typed that AXA would guarantee payment for medical services rendered in the amount of up to S$30,000.
He also wrote that Vericker would not be responsible for any payment upon discharge from the hospital. He appended a signature purportedly belonging to a representative of AXA at the bottom.
The surgery was performed on Vericker and he was discharged. He gave a copy of the forged letter to the hospital staff and left.
Mount Alvernia later submitted the medical bills of S$20,892.72 to AXA, along with the forged letter. AXA told the hospital that the letter was forged.
The hospital tried debiting Vericker's credit card, but the transaction was declined. Emails to Vericker for payment went unheeded.
The hospital lodged a police report in January 2021.
During investigations, Vericker admitted forging the letter so he could proceed with the surgery.
However, the police probe found that Vericker could continue with his daily activities with some degree of low back pain even if the surgery had not been performed.
The procedure could also have been done at any other hospital with pain management specialists who could perform the surgery.
Vericker was released on police bail, but committed other offences for cash. He cheated two victims of S$200 and S$700 respectively for fake Marina Bay Sands hotel staycations.
The prosecution asked for 13 to 16 months' jail. He said no mitigating weight ought to be accorded to the fact that Vericker had committed the forgery offence to procure medical treatment.
The treatment obtained was an elective surgery, and there was no reason why he had to obtain it at a private hospital instead of a public one, he said.
Defence lawyer John Koh asked for no more than nine months' jail. He said his client was deeply remorseful and realised he had made a mistake.
He said the offences were committed not out of greed, but "desperation to escape the crippling chronic pain he was suffering from".
He said he was alone and penniless in a foreign land and wishes to return to his home country and earn an honest living there.
Vericker has been unemployed since March 2021 but stayed in Singapore on a special pass to facilitate investigations. He has since exhausted almost all his savings and has resorted to selling his personal belongings to support himself, said Mr Koh.
SINGAPORE: A family court has granted a woman her request to sell the matrimonial flat in order to claim S$175,000 in maintenance owed to her by her ex-husband.
Another S$370,500 from the sales proceeds is to be paid to her for the maintenance of their two daughters.
The husband had flouted a 2019 court order to make maintenance payments and has not paid his ex-wife anything other than a one-time enforced payment of S$50. He has been imprisoned multiple times for repeatedly failing to pay maintenance.
He also failed to attend the court hearing despite being ordered to, and had not seen his two daughters for some time.
In a judgment published on Wednesday (Dec 7), District Judge Jason Gabriel Chiang said the ex-husband has been "very unfair" to his two children and ex-wife.
"He has also failed to fulfil his parental responsibilities to the children, and as a result, the ex-wife had to be put through exceptional hardship to single-handedly support them, particularly in the last five years," he said.
Despite receiving notice of court proceedings through multiple avenues, he decided to "ostrich", said the judge.
He granted the ex-wife sole conduct of the sale of the matrimonial home, so that her share of the matrimonial assets of S$175,000 would be taken from the sale proceeds, with interest accrued.
He also made further orders to facilitate the sale and allowed sums to be transferred from the ex-husband's Central Provident Fund (CPF) to his wife's CPF, if the sale proceeds are insufficient.
The ex-wife, a Singapore permanent resident with roots in China, married her Singaporean husband in 2010. They had two daughters shortly after, now aged 11 and 10.
Both the woman and her ex-husband had bachelor's degrees, but the woman did not earn much in her job and her ex-husband was jobless.
The woman filed for divorce in 2015 and was granted an interim judgment in 2016. Her ex-husband repeatedly failed to pay her maintenance.
He was sentenced to six terms of jail for one day each, and another four terms of imprisonment for two days each, but still failed to make payment.
Both parties previously harassed a judge during a hearing and were sentenced to jail for their acts, which they served.
The certificate of the final judgment of divorce was granted only in January 2018, after 24 summons applications were filed in divorce proceedings.
In December 2018, the ex-wife applied for a variation in orders, and the judge ordered that the ex-husband was to pay his ex-wife S$175,000 by August 2019.
Failing this, he was to sell the matrimonial home and use the proceeds to pay his ex-wife the S$175,000 by November 2019. If the sale proceeds were not enough, he was to transfer the balance from his CPF accounts.
However, the man failed to do any of the above.
In March 2022, the ex-wife filed for another variation of the court orders. Among other things, she asked to have sole custody of their two daughters, that the matrimonial home be sold with her having sole conduct of the sale, and that the payment of S$175,000 be made with interest accrued.
She also asked for the children's maintenance to be increased from S$1,500 a month to S$5,000 a month or S$2,500 per daughter, and for this to be paid in a lump sum from the sale proceeds of the home.
The ex-wife said the man had persistently defaulted on the court order, failing to pay maintenance for her or the children. She said his conduct had resulted in many years of delay, causing her much anguish and significant suffering for their two children.
She had to borrow from friends and neighbours to meet her daughters' needs.
The ex-husband did not show up for the court hearing, whether in person or by Zoom.
The resale value of the matrimonial flat is expected to be in the range of S$800,000 to S$1 million. With an outstanding mortgage of about S$300,000, there would be at least S$500,000 to pay for the ex-wife's share of the matrimonial home, with interest accrued.
The judge also granted a clause so the ex-wife can seek the assistance of the court to sign off on documents for the sale of the home, if the ex-husband fails to sign relevant documents in time.
"This was particularly significant in this case given the ex-husband's deliberate ignoring of court proceedings," said the judge.
He added that the ex-husband has remained undeterred by the prospects of imprisonment, as he has already served a total of 14 days' jail for failing to pay maintenance. Contempt of court proceedings would lack the sting to get him to fulfil his obligations, said the judge.
He found this to be an appropriate case for child maintenance to be paid in a lump sum. He ordered a total of S$370,500 to be paid by the ex-husband for the maintenance of the two children, based on the sum of S$1,500 per month per daughter up to the time they both turn 21.
As the total sum due might exceed the nett sale proceeds of the matrimonial flat, the judge highlighted that the remainder is to be paid from the ex-husband's CPF to his ex-wife's CPF.
Despite not showing up, the ex-husband has filed an appeal against the judge's decision.
SINGAPORE: A man committed incest on his intellectually disabled daughter when his wife was not home, first doing so on the pretext of "sexual education".
He received sex acts from her after that on at least four occasions. He would scold her for unrelated matters before accepting the acts from her as an "apology".
The 60-year-old man, who cannot be named to protect his daughter's identity, pleaded guilty on Wednesday (Dec 7) to two counts of incest. Another two charges will be considered in sentencing.
The court heard that the man was aged between 57 and 58 at the time of the offences, while his daughter was 24 to 25.
The victim was born out of wedlock and grew up in the care of her maternal grandmother. She first met the accused, her biological father, in 2008 when she was 14.
She moved to stay with her parents in 2014, when she was 19. She is intellectually disabled and epileptic, and was a volunteer worker with MINDS, a voluntary welfare organisation which works with those with intellectual disabilities.
In early 2019, the accused showed his private parts to the victim on the pretext of educating her sexually, so she would not get pregnant by other men.
The victim complied with her father's instructions to perform a sex act.
ACTS WOULD FOLLOW AFTER SCOLDING
After this, the man received sex acts from his daughter on at least four occasions. It usually began with the man scolding his daughter, such as for accidentally breaking a weight set while exercising, or taking home a used face mask that she found outside.
As a means of apologising to her father and appeasing his anger, the victim would perform sex acts on him.
The acts took place when the man's wife was working, and he would tell the victim not to tell anyone about the sex acts, especially her mother.
On one occasion in 2019, the victim was talking to her father in their flat about how she was physically attracted to members of a Korean boy band.
The accused then showed her pornographic videos and got his daughter to perform sex acts on him. He told her that he was teaching her so she could get "experience" in sexual matters.
He said that if she "serviced other men outside, they might harm her instead", the prosecutor said.
The final occasion took place in early April 2020. The man and his daughter were eating together in the flat when the victim used her own spoon for a common dish instead of the serving spoon.
The man shouted at his daughter about her lack of hygiene and refused to talk to her out of anger.
Feeling sad, the victim apologised to the man later that day.
She then sat close to him and looked at his groin, which according to court documents, caused the man to infer that she was offering a sex act.
She performed the act on him, after which he reminded her to keep it a secret.
However, the victim disliked performing sex acts on her father and felt he was asking her to do them more frequently.
After this latest incident, she confided in her training officer at MINDS that her father had been asking her to perform sex acts.
The case worker accompanied her to lodge a police report on Apr 6, 2020. After that, the victim was taken to a home for the disabled, where she continues to live.
An assessment by the Institute of Mental Health in 2020 found that the victim was intellectually disabled but understood that her father's actions were not right. However, she was unable to refuse his advances for fear of incurring her parents' anger and the ensuing punishments.
A subsequent report clarified that the victim was able to understand the nature and consequence of the sex acts, despite her intellectual disability.
Her disability did not impair her ability to make a proper judgment in the giving of consent to sexual touching, the report added.
The accused was also examined at IMH in 2020. He was diagnosed with major depressive disorder with anxious distress but was unlikely to be in a state of relapse around the time of the offences.
No contributory link was found between his mental health condition and the offences.
NO SENTENCING FRAMEWORK FOR INCEST
Deputy Public Prosecutor Yvonne Poon asked for between seven to eight years' jail for the offender.
She said there is currently no sentencing framework for offences of incest, which are punishable with a maximum of five years' jail.
The charges in this case are read with Section 74A(2) of the Penal Code, which allows for enhanced punishment where an offence is committed against a vulnerable person such as the victim in this case.
Ms Poon flagged four aggravating factors, including the man's abuse of trust in his position as the victim's biological father, the victim's vulnerability and the element of sexual grooming.
She said it was especially perverse that the accused interwove sexual acts into his parental acts as a disciplinarian.
Defence lawyer Joshua Tong of Kalco Law disagreed with this point. He said there was no evidence of coercion, and said that the fact that the scolding and sexual acts took place together was "happenstance".
He argued that this case involved incest offences and said incest is an offence criminalising consensual acts between two adults. Some of the precedents raised by the prosecutor involved non-consensual cases.
He argued that abuse of trust is not considered an aggravating factor in incest cases, and disagreed that there was grooming.
He said his client is remorseful and has spent a lot of time reflecting on his actions since 2020.
He said his client knows his actions were wrong and is pleading guilty, not contesting elements of the charge, but is simply asking for a fair sentence.
In response, Ms Poon said the man tainted the father-daughter relationship by introducing sexual elements, whether it was showing her porn or offering his genitalia to her for "learning purposes".
The judge said he needed time to consider the case and adjourned sentencing to Dec 23.
SINGAPORE: Lawyer Christopher de Souza faces possible disciplinary action for improper conduct after a tribunal found that he assisted his client in suppressing evidence by preparing and filing an affidavit that left out certain information.
In its findings published on Monday (Dec 5), the disciplinary tribunal said that the information, if included, would have highlighted that his client had breached undertakings by using confidential information and documents.
This information and documents were obtained due to search orders and were to be used only for a High Court suit, but the client instead used them to file police and other reports against parties the client was suing.
The Law Society of Singapore (LawSoc) had raised five charges against Mr de Souza – a People's Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC and a Deputy Speaker of Parliament – but a disciplinary tribunal found him guilty of only one charge.
The five charges pertain to Mr de Souza's conduct while he was acting in his capacity as a partner of law firm Lee & Lee, representing Amber Compounding Pharmacy and Amber Laboratories in a High Court suit.
In a judgment published on Monday, the tribunal found that there was cause of sufficient gravity for disciplinary action against Mr de Souza for the fourth charge of assisting his client in suppressing evidence.
In response to queries from reporters, Mr de Souza's lawyers said "there is no question" that their client had acted with "utmost integrity in the conduct of this matter at all times".
Senior Counsel Tan Chee Meng and associate Calvin Ong of WongPartnership said: "Four of the five charges were dismissed.
"As regards the remaining charge, this is a matter now before the Court of Three Judges and it is not appropriate for us to comment on the merits at this juncture. Suffice to say that we will strenuously resist it and argue that it too should be dismissed."
The PAP said in response to reporters queries that it will determine the course of action necessary after the Court of Three Judges gives its verdict.
"Mr de Souza has informed us that he denies any wrongdoing. He will argue his case on the one charge, on appeal before the Court of Three Judges," the party said.
"Integrity, honesty and incorruptibility are fundamental to the Party. The standing of each PAP MP reflects on the party, and the party expects all MPs to uphold the highest standards," it added.
Amber launched a High Court suit in February 2018 against its former employee, Priscilla Lim Suk Ling, and her new company, UrbanRx Compounding Pharmacy.
Amber was represented at first by Dodwell & Co, whose lawyers applied for search orders to obtain documents and information from the defendants.
The search orders were granted with the express undertaking that Amber was not to use any of the information or documents obtained except for the court proceedings in the High Court suit.
In April 2018, a total of 116,298 documents were seized pursuant to the search orders.
Amber reviewed the documents and thought that some of them pointed to serious criminal offences on the part of the defendants. In a breach of their undertakings, Amber made three reports in 2018 to the Ministry of Manpower, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau and the Singapore Police Force, disclosing 10 documents.
This use of documents and information occurred before Mr de Souza and Lee & Lee took over the case.
Around November 2018, Lee & Lee was approached to act for Amber in relation to reports made to the police and other authorities. Internal correspondence at Lee & Lee shows that Mr de Souza and his colleagues knew about the breach.
An email sent by Lee & Lee to Amber on Dec 5, 2018, advised the latter to take immediate steps to remedy it.
The five charges preferred against Mr de Souza arise from actions taken between Dec 3, 2018, and Jan 28, 2019. The charges allege, among other things, that he knowingly misled or tried to mislead the court and opposing counsel, by failing to inform the court of Amber's prior breaches of undertakings not to disclose certain documents.
The disciplinary tribunal found that four of the five charges were not made out. Only the fourth charge was made out, with the tribunal calling this the "most serious charge".
This charge alleges that Mr de Souza was a party to and assisted Amber in suppressing evidence. This was in the preparation and filing of an affidavit of Amber's representative Samuel Sudesh Thaddeus, which did not exhibit certain reports and supporting documents that would have revealed Amber's breaches.
The tribunal found that Mr de Souza's actions amounted to improper conduct and practice. However, it accepted that he did not initiate or encourage the non-disclosure.
The tribunal acknowledged that Mr de Souza insisted that Amber and Samuel make full disclosure.
"However, given the respondent’s admitted cognisance of the importance of full and frank disclosure, his failure to ensure that such disclosure was made is not exculpated by the conduct of the client," said the tribunal.
"We appreciate that it is hardest for a legal practitioner to do his duty when the client is difficult, but it is in such circumstances that the legal practitioner must cleave to his or her duties to the court."
HOW THE CASE CAME TO LIGHT
The improper conduct was unearthed following observations made by the Court of Appeal when the defendants launched appeals against Amber.
The case was then referred to an Inquiry Committee. In July 2021, the committee found that Mr de Souza breached his paramount duty to the court and recommended that he be fined S$2,000.
The committee did not form the view that a formal investigation by a disciplinary tribunal was necessary.
However, the Council of the Law Society disagreed and applied to the Chief Justice for a disciplinary tribunal to be set up. Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon appointed the tribunal to hear and investigate the matter in November 2021.
After finding that one of the charges against Mr de Souza was made out, the tribunal ordered him to pay costs of S$18,000 to LawSoc, as well as the society's reasonable disbursements.
The matter of whether any sanction will be imposed on Mr de Souza will be decided in a subsequent hearing. Possible sanctions under the Legal Profession Act range from suspension, fines and being struck off the roll.
JUSTCLICK & CONNECT