Singapore Breaking News
SINGAPORE - A 17-year-old youth taught himself to hot-wire motorcycles by watching YouTube videos so he could steal the motorbikes with his friends.
He would cut the ignition wires to get the engine going, the court heard.
The teen, who cannot be named as he had committed the offences while he was under 18, was sentenced to at least a year's reformative training.
He will be detained at a centre and made to follow a strict regimen that includes foot drills and counselling.
The teen was also barred from holding all classes of driving licences for a year from the date of his release.
His co-accused, 19-year-old Mohamad Syafiq Mohamad Jeffery, was sentenced to 1½ years of supervised probation and prohibited from holding all classes of driving licences during that period.
The court heard that the two youths and their friend went to a multi-storey carpark in Admiralty Drive on Sept 13 last year.
They chose to steal a purple Yamaha YZF-R15 motorcycle, which is worth around $10,000.
Between 1am and 3am, the 17-year-old hot-wired the bike and Syafiq rode it to a friend's house. Syafiq did not have a licence at the time.
Later that same day, at around 8am to 10am, the trio met at a carpark in Canberra Road to disguise the stolen motorcycle by spray painting it black.
They soon realised, however, that they could not start the bike using the same method and abandoned it at the carpark.
Police officers patrolling the area suspected that the spray-painted motorcycle had been stolen, as it did not have a licence plate. They were able to find the vehicle's registration number, which led them to its owner.
At around 6.30pm that same day, Syafiq and the teen tried to steal another motorcycle from a multi-storey carpark in Wellington Circle in Sembawang.
They picked out a silver and blue motorcycle of the same Yamaha model.
After the teen hot-wired it, Syafiq swapped the licence plate of the bike with another licence plate he found in the carpark.
The owner of the blue motorcycle made a police report when he discovered his vehicle had gone missing, but later found it in Yishun.
In sentencing them, district judge May Mesenas urged the two youths to focus on their studies and stay away from negative peers. She also advised their parents, who were present in court, to supervise their children.
The third youth will be dealt with separately.
For theft of a motor vehicle, the two youths could have been jailed up to seven years and fined.
SINGAPORE - Over 38,400 tenants and owner-occupiers will receive funds directly from the Government from Friday (Aug 6) to tide over the latest round of tightened Covid-19 safety measures.
In a Facebook post on Thursday, Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said the financial aid comes two weeks ahead of schedule.
This Rental Support Scheme payout will be equivalent to half a month of rent for the period of May 14 to 29.
"We will provide the rental support directly to tenants, without going through their landlords. This lets tenants receive the cash promptly and reduces compliance burden for landlords," he said in the post.
"I hope this rental relief will help with your cash flow in this period of Heightened Alert."
Mr Wong, who is co-chair of the task force tackling Covid-19 here, said that in total, more than $216 million will be paid out to eligible tenants and owner-occupiers. A second payout will be disbursed in October.
Under the current phase of tightened Covid-19 safety measures, dining in is prohibited and group sizes have been restricted to two.
In May, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced that rental relief will be offered to small and medium-sized enterprises as well as non-profit organisations with an annual revenue of not more than $100 million that are tenants of qualifying commercial properties.
These commercial properties include shops, private schools, theatres, childcare centres, sports and recreational buildings, premises of tourist attractions and meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions venues.
The measure is part of an $800 million support package announced by Mr Wong to help businesses and workers cope with the impact of Covid-19 restrictions.
Woman caught on video not wearing a mask at MBS and other places is expected to plead guilty on Aug 12
SINGAPORE - A woman captured on video not wearing a mask at the Marina Bay Sands (MBS) integrated resort is expected to plead guilty to her charges on Aug 12.
Phoon Chiu Yoke, who is now in remand, appeared in court via video-link on Wednesday (Aug 4).
She asked the court for her release, without conditions attached. Alleged offenders can be released on bail before they are convicted.
Phoon, who is unrepresented, also asked for the return of her passport, stressing that she has a "stellar professional record".
The court denied her application on Wednesday given the "egregious nature" of her charges. She continues to be in remand.
Phoon currently faces 22 charges for various offences including multiple counts of failing to wear a mask at public places.
She first appeared in court last year after she allegedly failed to wear a mask over her nose and mouth "at all times" at Newton hawker centre between 7.20pm and 8pm on May 8 during the circuit breaker period.
She left Singapore for Britain soon after that alleged offence.
She returned to Singapore on June 28 last year and had to serve a 14-day stay-home notice at MBS until July 12.
The court had heard that she allegedly left her hotel room at MBS between 8.07pm and 8.23pm on June 28 last year.
Phoon is said to have loitered around various places in the hotel and is accused of failing to wear a mask while doing so.
Following this, she allegedly failed to wear a mask at public places on multiple occasions between Dec 2 last year and May 24 this year - at MBS, outside the State Courts building, at Clarke Quay Central and at Bras Basah Complex.
The 54-year-old Singaporean was out on bail when she allegedly failed to wear a mask at the Mandarin Orchard Singapore hotel around 3pm on June 25.
On July 24, Phoon was handed her latest charge linked to this incident and her bail of $12,000 was revoked. She was then remanded in custody.
Phoon first made the headlines in May this year after she was caught on video not wearing a mask at MBS and arguing with a safe distancing ambassador.
In the video clip, which was widely shared,, she questioned the safe distancing ambassador on whether she had a badge and whom she represented.
The safe distancing ambassador failed to to get Phoon to put on a mask.
First-time offenders who breach laws under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act can be jailed for up to six months and fined up to $10,000.
Repeat offenders can be jailed for up to a year and fined up to $20,000.
SINGAPORE - Eight bus drivers have tested positive for Covid-19 as at July 30, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA).
The Straits Times learnt that some drivers who had been in contact with confirmed cases were placed on quarantine or stay-home notices in recent weeks.
Responding to queries, the LTA told ST these measures affected less than 1 per cent of the 9,500 bus drivers.
There has been no impact on bus operations, it added.
The LTA did not give details on how many drivers had been quarantined or if the confirmed cases were linked to one another.
It also said more than 99 per cent of bus drivers have completed their first dose of the Covid-19 vaccination.
Public transport operators have also been proactively administering antigen rapid tests on workers based near locations of active coronavirus clusters, it said. This is to pick up potential infections early.
"We will continue to work closely with public transport operators to ensure safe management measures for both workers and commuters are strictly adhered to," LTA added.
"In addition, the operators will continue with their stepped-up daily cleaning and disinfection regime for public transport nodes and vehicles."
Infectious disease experts said the risk to passengers is likely to be low, given that interactions with bus drivers are transient and mask-wearing is compulsory.
"All these will reduce the risk of transmission, as will the air flow exchange that happens when the air-conditioning systems in the buses are operating," said Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of the National University of Singapore's Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health.
Those who are still concerned can ensure they are wearing quality masks and take buses at less busy times, suggested infectious diseases specialist Leong Hoe Nam.
"Try to do social distancing within the bus. This is frequently not possible, but every little bit helps," he said.
"The option to wear a good mask is in your hands. Remember that healthcare workers have protected themselves consistently with good quality masks."
Authorities rescued a female commuter along the Yio Chu Kang MRT train tracks in an incident on Monday (Aug 2) afternoon.
In a Facebook post, public transport operator SMRT said a female commuter at said station climbed over the half-height platform screen doors and got onto the track at about 1.55pm.
It added that commuters on the platform activated the emergency stop plunger and staff immediately responded on-site – with the police and Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) informed.
SMRT said: "At about 2.10pm, the police escorted the person out of the track. She was uninjured."
A video clip circulating online showed the female commuter standing precariously along the train tracks, within a short distance of the train station.
Another clip showing train station staff and SCDF officers on the train platform during the rescue effort has been viewed more than 20,000 times in under an hour.
SCDF told AsiaOne they were alerted to this incident at about 1.55pm, saying: "An SCDF paramedic assessed a person. The person was not conveyed to the hospital."
The Singapore Police Force said in a statement that they had received a call for assistance at Yio Chu Kang MRT station over a female commuter who had been seen walking on the MRT tracks.
"The female commuter was subsequently brought to safety and apprehended under the Mental Health (Care and Treatment) Act," the police said. The police added that she was also arrested for criminal trespass.
SMRT added that train services between Ang Mo Kio and Yishun stations resumed at about 2.20pm and that they are helping the police in their investigations.
During a visit to the port in the morning, she said: "All the stallholders who are back have been tested negative, and they have been put on routine regular testing of seven days, and all trade visitors, similarly, have been tested negative before they're allowed to come in."
The wholesale market at Jurong Fishery Port is the centre of the largest active Covid-19 cluster here with 1,097 cases currently. The outbreak led to cases emerging in 43 markets and food centres around Singapore.
Ms Fu, who visited the port with Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment Desmond Tan, said tenants of the port were progressively opening their stalls and adapting to the enhanced safe management measures.
The port reopened at 3pm last Saturday, after being closed for two weeks, during which the entire site underwent two rounds of deep cleaning.
Even after its reopening, seafood sellers in wet markets saw few customers yesterday. The prices of more common seafood such as red snapper and grey prawn have not increased.
Mr Tay Hock Seng, 51, who operates a seafood stall at Teck Ghee Market and Food Centre, said of his poor business: "Most of our customers are elderly, and their family members have told them not to come out during this period.
"Because of the barriers and crowd control, people are also less willing to enter the market."
The surge in cases linked to the Jurong Fishery Port has put off many patrons, who make little distinction between those who get their supplies from the port and those from Senoko Fishery Port, which was not affected.
For instance, Mr Tay gets his produce from Senoko but has still seen a 70 per cent drop in the number of customers buying seafood from him.
Apart from white pomfret, which has increased from $11 per kg to $14 per kg, the prices for the rest of his seafood have not changed.
He said: "I don't want to increase the prices of my seafood since everyone is having a difficult time now. Some of them are jobless."
In the same market is Mr Tan Ah Yee, 76, who also chose not to increase the prices of his seafood despite the hard times.
Mr Tan, who has operated his stall for 40 years, continues to sell sea bass at $20 per kg, red snapper at $18 per kg and squid at $12 per kg.
He said: "I have customers who have purchased from me for many years; how can I increase the prices for them? I would rather cover the cost and earn less than increase prices."
Workers returning to the Jurong Fishery Port on Monday night were greeted by unfamiliar scenes, with much stricter safe management measures now enforced and workers requiring an orange band to enter the premises.
The port handles about 30 per cent of the country's seafood imports, including those that arrive by land and air.
MPs raise questions about new powers under Bill that will allow S'pore police to respond more proactively
SINGAPORE - A police officer on patrol sees an increasingly agitated person waving a chopper around in a crowded area.
To ensure public safety, the officer uses a taser in accordance with standard operating procedure but injures the person as a result.
Under proposed changes to the law, this officer would not be personally liable as he would have been acting in good faith and with reasonable care, said Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan in Parliament on Monday (Aug 2).
Speaking during a debate on the Police Force (Amendment) Bill, he illustrated how a raft of changes under the Bill would enhance the Singapore Police Force's (SPF) operational capabilities and readiness.
These changes include powers to make a forced entry into premises such as homes to protect people from injury or death, allowing the commissioner of police to delegate some powers to civilian officers, and stricter penalties for evading roadblocks.
Mr Tan told the House that police officers have to make split-second decisions in order to save lives, even if their decisions may lead to injury or damage to property.
While they can rely on the common law defence of necessity, there is a need to make it explicit that officers will be protected from liability if they act in good faith and with reasonable care, Mr Tan added.
He emphasised that the change will not mean that officers can act with disregard. "Officers who act irresponsibly will still be subjected to disciplinary proceedings or even criminal proceedings."
Mr Desmond Choo (Tampines GRC), a former police officer, said any regulations determining what constitutes good faith and reasonable care should not be overly rigid or prescriptive.
"Nothing affects the ability of the officer to discharge his duties more than knowing that the law does not protect them," he added.
"Even the best officers can and will make mistakes. And these mistakes are crucial to the police's collective learning. Mistakes can also come from taking well-managed risks."
Mr Sharael Taha (Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC) said recent allegations against the police on social media underscores the need for such protections.
He cited an incident last month where a shirtless man was subdued using tasers after allegedly challenging officers to a fight at a coffee shop in Lavender.
"What if the individual who was tased had died due to a pre-existing medical condition? Shouldn't the officer be protected from liability?" he asked, adding that there should be stiffer penalties for those who act irresponsibly.
On new powers allowing forced entry during medical emergencies, Mr Tan cited a case in June where the police received a call about a senior citizen who lived alone.
A neighbour had heard a weak voice asking for help and told police that the elderly man had just returned home from the hospital. Unable to contact the man or his next of kin, the officers made a forced entry and found he had fallen down and was unable to move.
While these officers can again rely on the defence of necessity, the Bill will give greater assurance that they can make such forced entries to save lives, Mr Tan said.
On this, Mr Sharael asked how the law will define medical emergencies, and how police officers will make assessments if the emergency occurs behind locked doors.
Nominated MP Shahira Abdullah said the proposed powers will be especially important in domestic violence cases, but cautioned that there should be clear guidelines in place and training for officers.
Use force or negotiate? A look at how the S’pore police handle tense stand-offs
Singapore police to get new cameras, drones, guns and training bots
Dr Shahira, Mr Sharael, and Workers' Party chairman Sylvia Lim (Aljunied GRC) also raised concerns about proposals to allow the commissioner and deputy commissioner of police to delegate some of their powers to non-uniformed personnel in leadership positions within the SPF.
Mr Tan had cited how under the current law, the director of the Commercial Affairs Department has to ask a police officer to issue standard operating procedures to investigation officers on his behalf.
This hampers operational efficiency, he said.
He added that some powers cannot be delegated, such as those under the Public Order and Safety (Special Powers) Act.
Ms Lim said the wording in the Bill is unclear, and asked Mr Tan to explain when such delegations of power will be necessary.
She added: "While these civilians may be senior enough in grade, would they have the necessary experience and credibility to exercise command responsibilities?"
SINGAPORE - A 24-year-old man allegedly damaged Singapore national flags and decorative banners in Punggol a week before National Day.
Ahmad Abdullah (Wan Ahmad Yusof) was charged on Tuesday (Aug 3) with one count each of mischief and possessing offensive weapons - a 15cm-long kitchen knife and a pair of scissors.
He is accused of committing his offences in the early hours of Monday morning.
In a statement on Monday, the police said they received information that Ahmad had cut down national flags displayed in the vicinity of Punggol Walk.
He was found with the knife and pair of scissors after officers detained him.
"Preliminary investigations revealed that the man had allegedly damaged multiple Singapore national flags and decorative banners displayed in the vicinity of Punggol Field, Punggol Central and Punggol Walk," said the police.
On Tuesday, District Judge Terence Tay ordered Ahmad to be remanded in the Institute of Mental Health for psychiatric observation.
Ahmad's case will be heard again on Aug 17.
If he is found guilty of carrying offensive weapons, he can be jailed for up to three years and punished with not fewer than six strokes of the cane.
He can also be jailed for up to a year, or fined, or both, if convicted of mischief.
SINGAPORE - The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) conducted a high-precision counter-terrorism drill in Marina Bay on Monday (Aug 2).
On Monday night, two Republic of Singapore Air Force Super Puma helicopters airlifted troops from the Special Operations Task Force (SOTF) to an outdoor porch area of the F1 Pit Building.
After they moved into the building, the soldiers responded to a simulated hostage situation and neutralised threats.
This exercise scenario was designed to strengthen the SAF's response to terrorism and related incidents, said the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) in a statement.
The realistic training setting tested the SAF's operational readiness and the exercise was conducted with high precision, the ministry added.
The exercise, expected to end on Tuesday morning, was led by the SOTF, with personnel from the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Explosives Defence Group and the Medical Response Force, said Mindef.
It was the first time that an SAF counter-terrorism exercise was held at the F1 Pit Building. The building hosts the yearly Formula 1 night race but can be used for other purposes during non-race periods.
The area around the three-storey building was cordoned off on Monday and members of the public were advised to stay away for the duration of the exercise.
The SOTF was set up in 2009, bringing together elite units within the SAF under one command to tackle terrorist threats.
It combines different units, such as the commandos and special operations forces from the Singapore Army, the Naval Diving Unit, and assets from the army, navy and air force.
It coordinates with the Singapore Police Force during homeland security operations.
"The SAF stands ready to deal with a spectrum of threats to defend Singapore and our way of life, even amidst the Covid-19 situation," Mindef said.
The SAF continues to train and conduct exercises regularly to ensure that it remains operationally ready to safeguard the country, the ministry added.
SINGAPORE - Seven civic, cultural and historic buildings in the Bras Basah-Bugis precinct got a red-and-white makeover on Sunday night (Aug 1) ahead of Singapore's 56th birthday celebrations this year.
Lesser-known arts venues like the Objectifs - Centre for Photography and Film and the National Design Centre, both in Middle Road, as well as Stamford Arts Centre in Waterloo Street got a chance to shine as part of the annual National Day light-up.
The line-up includes first-timers such as The Cathay, which was Singapore's first skyscraper and the earliest air-conditioned cinema here when it opened in 1939.
Also among the illuminated is the nation's oldest surviving fire station - Central Fire Station in Hill Street - which is still active.
Last but not least are the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd in Queen Street and the National Museum of Singapore in Stamford Road.
These buildings, selected by the National Heritage Board, will be lit every night in August from 7.30pm to midnight.
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