Singapore Breaking News
SINGAPORE - A man was charged on Monday (Sept 20) with operating three unlicensed massage parlours in Brighton Crescent, Hougang Street 21 and Jalan Besar.
The Ang Mo Kio and Central Police Divisions conducted a series of enforcement operations between December last year and June this year and found the man to be allegedly operating massage establishments and providing massage services without valid licences.
The 58-year-old man is charged with carrying on a business of providing massage services in an establishment without a valid licence under Section 5(1) of the Massage Establishment Act 2017.
The offence carries a fine of up to $20,000, a jail term of up to five years, or both.
The police will notify the landlord when his tenant has been charged in court with operating an unlicensed massage establishment. After the tenant has been convicted, the landlord must make sure the tenant hands over possession of the premises within one month.
"The police will take action against landlords who knowingly lease their premises to unlicensed massage establishment operators," said the Singapore Police Force in a statement on Monday.
The police highlighted that they take a serious view against any person involved in such illicit business operations and perpetrators will be dealt with in accordance with the law.
SINGAPORE: Taxi fare evasion cases have dropped in recent years, in tandem with a decline in ridership amid the emergence of private-hire car services.
Figures provided by the Public Transport Council (PTC) showed there were 104 cases of taxi fare evasion last year – down about 57 per cent from 2015, when there were 240 such cases. In 2019, the number was 166.
Fare evasion cases predominantly involved cash payments, the PTC said.
This comes as Singapore’s taxi population has decreased, with Land Transport Authority (LTA) data showing the number of cabs standing at 15,497 as of July this year – a decrease of about 45 per cent from 2016, when there were 28,258 cabs in the country.
LTA figures also show that street-hail rides – which can only be taken by taxis – made up just about 19 per cent of all “point-to-point” trips this year.
Both taxis and private-hire cars have also seen a decline in ridership amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Oct 30 last year, the Point-to-Point Transport Regulatory Framework came into effect, with the aim of giving LTA and PTC greater regulatory oversight over the taxi and private-hire sectors.
In addition to requiring that ride-hail firms such as Grab and Gojek be licensed, the framework also gives PTC the powers to enforce against fare evasion by passengers as well as overcharging by drivers on trips booked through ride-hail operators.
The PTC previously oversaw enforcement against taxi fare evasions, prior to the introduction of the new framework.
In response to queries from reporters, a spokesperson for the council said 57 fare evasion cases were referred to PTC and LTA for investigations between November 2020 and June this year.
This comes up to an average of about seven such cases a month.
Of these, 48 were street-hail fare evasion cases while nine were ride-hail cases, said the PTC spokesperson, adding that fares for 21 cases were successfully recovered.
One case resulted in court action, while three are still being investigated, the PTC added.
“For the remaining cases, there were either insufficient details on the passenger to warrant further investigation, the driver had decided not to pursue the matter or the fare had been settled privately between the driver and passenger,” the council said.
During that time there were also 30 reported cases of overcharging by taxi drivers, and four cases of overcharging by private-hire car drivers, the PTC said. Drivers found to have overcharged passengers were given warnings or sent for counselling.
Passengers who do not pay their fares face a fine of S$200 for the first offence and S$400 for a second offence, on top of making restitution of the unpaid fare.
Mr Ang Hin Kee, who is adviser to both the National Taxi Association and the National Private-Hire Vehicle Association, attributed the decline in such cases to the increased use of mobile applications in booking taxi and private-hire rides, as well as the use of credit cards to pay for such trips.
Taxi and ride-hail platforms have also started to blacklist offenders, said Mr Ang, who is also assistant director-general of the National Trades Union Congress.
CABBIES REIMBURSED ON CASE-BY-CASE BASIS: COMFORTDELGRO
Ride-hailing giant Grab said it pays its private-hire drivers first in cases where passengers do not pay their fares.
These passengers will receive a notification via the Grab app informing them that they need to pay the outstanding amount, and their account will be suspended until this payment is made.
ComfortDelGro, which has the biggest fleet of taxis in Singapore with more than 10,000 vehicles, said it has not seen an increase in fare evasion cases this year.
It takes a serious view of non-payment by passengers and plays "an active role" in helping taxi drivers recover fares, said ComfortDelGro group chief branding and communications officer Tammy Tan.
Cabbies are advised to lodge a police report, and the company will look into each case after a report has been made. If passengers refuse to comply, the cases are referred to the LTA, said Ms Tan.
“As a gesture of goodwill, the company will try to reimburse cabbies but that is on a case to case basis,” she added. “We will continue to assist our cabbies the best we can to ensure that they are not cheated of their livelihood.”
Despite the decline in incidents, reports of taxi fare evasion cases continue to make the headlines.
In October last year, a teenager was sentenced to a year of reformative training after exploiting a loophole on ComfortDelGro’s mobile app to cheat the taxi operator out of 117 cab rides worth S$2,600.
And in June this year, a 31-year-old delivery man was sentenced to two weeks in jail and fined S$2,000 for assaulting a taxi driver after refusing to pay the fare.
Mr Ang suggested companies could help by ensuring faster enforcement against fare evasion cases, as well as raising public awareness.
This could act to deter such incidents in the future, he said, though he noted commuters here are “mostly courteous, kind and generous”.
Probation not recommended for S'porean student from top British university who recorded voyeuristic videos of women
SINGAPORE - Probation is not recommended for a Singaporean student from a top British university who filmed multiple women at various places here, a district court heard on Monday (Sept 20).
On July 29, the man, 23, had pleaded guilty to seven counts of insulting the women's modesty and an offence under the Films Act.
On Monday, defence lawyer Kalidass Murugaiyan told the court that he has some questions for the probation officer and psychologist who attended to the offender.
The lawyer told District Judge Tan Jen Tse that he wants to know how the risk assessment was undertaken.
The offender, who cannot be named due to a gag order, is now out on bail of $20,000. His pre-trial conference will be held on Oct 18.
During the earlier proceeding on July 29, the court heard that the clips he recorded involved 11 identified women and one unknown victim.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Foo Shi Hao then applied to the court for the gag order on his identity to be lifted, noting that the victims were unanimous in supporting the move.
The gag order had been issued earlier to protect the women, who could be identified if the man is named. The order also does not allow the university to be named as doing so could lead to his identity being revealed.
Urging the court to reject the application, Mr Ashvin Hariharan, who is also representing the offender, pointed out that the prosecution had been unsuccessful in making a similar application previously.
When Judge Tan ruled that the gag order be lifted, the defence said they may raise the matter to the High Court. In the meantime, the gag order remains.
The offender, who started his university studies in 2018, targeted his first victim, then 18, in the wee hours on Dec 2, 2015. He placed a recording device in a hotel room toilet to film her showering.
In early 2016, the principal of her junior college told her the clip had been circulating online. The police were alerted.
The offender continued targeting more women. He installed a recording device in a toilet in his home, and took an upskirt video of a 20-year-old while she was on an escalator.
The court heard that two of the videos were circulated online.
After receiving multiple reports between early 2016 and June 2019, the police identified the man as the main suspect.
They raided his home on July 3, 2019, and seized seven of his personal devices. Forensic analysis uncovered 16 offending videos and 124 upskirt photographs.
He had recorded the two videos that were circulated online and the other 16 found in his devices. Fourteen of the 18 videos were taken at his home.
He later came clean to the police about what he had done.
DPP Tan Zhi Hao had earlier said: "In total, he estimated that the number of voyeuristic videos he had filmed was 'maybe three digits'.
"He would commit the offences when he felt stressed from school or work. He felt that filming the victims 'was an addiction' to him."
For each charge of insulting a woman's modesty, an offender can be jailed up to a year and fined.
SINGAPORE: Singapore reported 804 new locally transmitted COVID-19 infections as of noon on Wednesday (Sep 15), comprising of 770 community cases and 34 dormitory residents.
Among the new local cases, 238 were seniors above the age of 60, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Three new large clusters have also been detected at Orange Valley Nursing Home in Simei, Jamiyah Nursing Home and at a dormitory at 7 Senoko South Road.
There were also three imported cases reported on Wednesday, taking the total number of infections reported in Singapore to 807.
One of the imported cases was detected upon arrival in Singapore, while two developed the illness during stay-home notice or isolation.
NEW CLUSTERS AT NURSING HOMES
A total of 20 active clusters are currently being monitored, said MOH.
The new cluster at Orange Valley Nursing Home in Simei has a total of 13 cases, all of whom are residents.
"Residents and staff on the affected levels are being tested. All other residents and staff will also undergo testing," said MOH.
Orange Valley Nursing Home said that the first resident was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Sep 7 after the resident was sent to Changi General Hospital for drowsiness and fever on the same day.
All admissions into the nursing home will be suspended until further notice, it said in a Facebook post on Wednesday night.
A total of 13 cases have also been linked to the Jamiyah Nursing Home cluster, where the transmission is among staff members and residents.
"Of the 13 cases, 10 are residents and three are staff," said MOH.
"Residents and staff on the affected level are being tested. All other staff and residents will also undergo testing."
Including Orange Valley Nursing Home and Jamiyah Nursing Home, COVID-19 clusters have been detected at four nursing homes this week.
A large COVID-19 cluster at Ren Ci nursing home in Bukit Batok was reported on Monday while the cluster at All Saints Home in Jurong East was reported on Tuesday.
The new cluster at 7 Senoko South Road dormitory has a total of 26 cases. MOH said the infections were caused by ongoing intra-dormitory transmission among residents.
Residents have been quarantined and are being tested, added the ministry.
MADRASAH IDENTIFIED AS "LARGE CLUSTER"
Madrasah Irsyad Zuhri Al-Islamiah was also added as a large cluster in Wednesday's press release.
The cluster currently has 11 cases, caused by transmission among students in the same class which then spread further to household contacts of cases, said MOH.
The madrasah was previously reported as a new cluster on Sep 7 with a total of eight cases.
The cluster linked to Chinatown Complex has grown to 197, with 11 new cases reported on Wednesday. It now comprises 154 stallholders and assistants, 36 household contacts of workers and seven cleaners or safe distancing ambassadors.
Seven new cases were linked to the cluster at DHL Supply Chain Advanced Regional Centre, bringing the total to 71 infections.
Another five cases were linked to Avery Lodge Dormitory, bringing the total number to 87.
There were 822 patients warded in hospital, most of whom were well and under observation, said MOH.
Of these, 76 cases of serious illness required oxygen supplementation and nine were in critical condition in the intensive care unit (ICU).
Of those who have fallen very ill, 66 are seniors above 60 years.
Over the last 28 days, the percentage of local cases who were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms is 98.2 per cent.
As of Tuesday, 81 per cent of Singapore's population have completed their full vaccination regimen or received two doses of COVID-19 vaccines, while 84 per cent have received at least one dose.
More than 8.88 million doses of vaccines have been administered under the national vaccination programme, covering about 4.56 million people, of whom 4.43 million have completed the full regimen.
Another 179,086 doses of other vaccines recognised in the World Health Organization's emergency use listing have been administered, covering 86,731 people.
As of Wednesday, Singapore has reported a total of 73,938 COVID-19 cases and 58 deaths from the disease.
SINGAPORE - The inquiry committee into the fatal Tuas explosion that killed three workers in February will hold public hearings from Monday (Sept 20).
The first set of hearings until Oct 8 will focus on the "causes and circumstances" of the accident, the Manpower Ministry (MOM) said in a statement on Thursday.
The ministry said that it has investigated the accident and a team of state counsels will present the findings at the hearing.
The investigation included "visiting the site and gathering evidence, identifying and interviewing key witnesses, and commissioning forensic testing and expert simulations for machineries and materials involved in the accident", the MOM said.
Witnesses and experts are expected to testify.
Members of the public can attend the hearings that will be held from 10am to 5pm at Court 8A of the State Courts on these days: Sept 20 to 24, Sept 27 to Oct 1, and Oct 4 to Oct 8.
However, capacity in the court will be limited due to safe management measures, and the dates and timings may change, added the ministry.
Ten workers were injured in the accident on Feb 24. Three people later died from their injuries. The last injured worker was discharged from hospital in June.
The inquiry committee is chaired by Senior District Judge Ong Hian Sun. He is assisted by Mr Lucas Ng, Petrochemical Corporation of Singapore general manager of plant, and Dr Peter Nagler, chief innovation officer at Agency for Science, Technology and Research.
MOM added that a second tranche of public hearings will be held from Nov 15 to 19 to review recommendations to prevent the recurrence of such accidents.
More details on the second tranche of hearings will be announced at a later date.
SINGAPORE - A man was hauled to a district court on Thursday (Sept 16) after he allegedly tried but failed to bribe a policeman.
Chinese national Xu Shoupei, 29, who faces two graft charges, is accused of offering a bribe of $76 to Special Constable Ong Shu Hong on two occasions on July 4.
The Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said in a statement that the policeman rejected the offers.
The matter was then referred to the CPIB.
According to court documents, Xu allegedly offered a bribe as he did not want the officer to conduct an identity check on him.
On another occasion, Xu is accused of offering the policeman $76 as he wanted the latter to release him from custody.
Court documents did not disclose why the authorities conducted a check on Xu's identity.
The accused's bail was set at $7,000 and his case has been adjourned to Oct 13.
If convicted, he can be jailed for up to five years and fined up to $100,000 for each graft charge.
SINGAPORE- A fire broke out at Block 185C of Rivervale Crescent last night (14 Sept).
The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said on Facebook that it was alerted to the fire at about 9pm.
Firefighters arrived as the fire was raging in a unit on the third storey.
SCDF firefighters equipped with breathing apparatus sets entered the smoke-filled unit.
The fire involved the contents of a bedroom and was extinguished by SCDF with one water jet. The rest of the unit suffered heat and soot damage.
Photos in SCDF's post show a bed with what appears to be the burnt remains of a personal mobility device (PMD) and a charred living room.
Three occupants had left the affected unit before SCDF arrived. Two of them were taken to Singapore General Hospital, and one to KK Women's and Children's Hospital, to be checked for smoke inhalation and/or burn injuries, SCDF said.
The police evacuated 10 residents from neighbouring units as a precautionary measure.
No other injuries were reported.
SCDF's preliminary investigation into the cause of the fire indicated that it was of electrical origin from a PMD battery that was being charged in the bedroom.
PMD-related fires went down from 102 in 2019 to 42 last year. This year's number is still being tabulated.
SCDF would like to remind the public about the prevention of PMD fires, with safety tips given in the infographic.
SINGAPORE - A man was so intent on dining at a restaurant amid the Covid-19 pandemic that he allegedly forged a doctor's memorandum, purportedly showing that he was fully vaccinated against the virus.
Chinese national Zhang Shaopeng, 30, who appeared in a district court on Wednesday (Sept 15) via video link from the Central Police Division, was charged with one count of forgery.
Court documents did not reveal his actual vaccination status.
This is believed to be the first reported case of a person being charged in court over forging a vaccination document in an attempt to dine at a restaurant.
Earlier this month, Zhang is said to have forged the doctor's memorandum, which was dated Aug 26.
He is accused of amending the document by adding his name to it so that others would assume that he was fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, the police said Zhang allegedly produced a digital copy of the forged memorandum at an Orchard Road restaurant as he wanted to dine there on Sept 1.
They did not disclose details of the eatery.
The police added: "The staff of the establishment made a check on the memorandum and suspected that it could have been be forged."
The staff requested the man to leave and he complied. They then reported the matter to the police.
After investigations, officers from Tanglin Police Division managed to establish Zhang's identity and they arrested him on Tuesday.
Zhang, who was unrepresented in court, was offered bail of $5,000 on Wednesday.
His pre-trial conference will be held on Sept 21.
For forgery, an offender can be jailed for up to four years and fined.
SINGAPORE - Apple was fined $1,000 for holding a social workplace event at its Orchard Road store on June 18.
"Staff had gathered at the event to celebrate an employee's final day at the establishment," the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) told The Straits Times on Wednesday (Sept 15).
Reporters understands that more than 50 people were involved in the gathering.
Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) (Control Order) Regulations 2020, enterprises permitted to operate must not physically hold social events involving their employees.
STB also said it has stepped up enforcement checks at tourism businesses and precincts, including in Orchard Road, at each phase of Singapore's reopening.
These include both stand-alone stores - such as the Apple store- and shopping malls.
"We will continue to conduct regular enforcement checks and will not hesitate to take firm enforcement action against businesses or members of public who flout safe management measures," STB said.
Under the Covid-19 (Temporary Measures) Act passed in Parliament on April 7 last year, first-time offenders who do not comply with safe management measures will face a fine of up to $10,000 or a jail term of up to six months, or both.
Repeat offenders may be fined up to $20,000 or jailed for up to twelve months, or both.
ITE College Central murder: Retiree admits stabbing ex-wife, prosecutors 'not objecting' to life term
SINGAPORE - A 69-year-old man who stabbed and slashed his former wife eight times at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College Central campus was convicted of a reduced murder charge on Tuesday (Sept 14).
The High Court heard that Seet Cher Hng, a retiree, stabbed himself 13 times with the same knife after attacking Ms Low Hwee Geok, 56, at the carpark of the Ang Mo Kio campus on the evening of July 19, 2018.
Seet was initially charged with murder under Section 300(a) of the Penal Code, which carries the mandatory death penalty.
Last month, the prosecution amended the charge to Section 300(c) for murder by intentionally causing fatal injuries to Ms Low. The charge carries the death penalty or life imprisonment.
On Tuesday, prosecutors told the court that it will not be objecting to a life sentence for Seet.
Seet did not contest the amended charge and calmly told the court: "I wish to plead guilty and don't wish to give evidence."
At the time of the murder, Seet was retired from his job at the ITE Headquarters and relied on monthly Central Provident Fund payouts.
Ms Low was a divisional director of the examinations division at ITE College Central.
The couple married on April 7, 1993, and were divorced on June 13, 2011. They have a daughter together.
The court heard that Seet was unhappy with the division of matrimonial assets.
He believed he did not receive his fair share of the sales proceeds of a condominium unit at Corporation Road that the couple had bought in their joint names while married.
Seet also attributed the divorce to Ms Low's infidelity, the court heard.
Between 2011 and 2018, he made numerous demands via e-mail to Ms Low, seeking a sum of $200,000 to $500,000.
Sometime before Chinese New Year in 2018, Seet left a letter on the windscreen of Ms Low's car, demanding $500,000 and threatening to start legal proceedings.
Ms Low did not respond to his demands, and Seet became increasingly isolated and upset, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hay Hung Chun told the court.
On July 19, 2018, Seet collected a car he reserved through a car-sharing site, and drove to the ITE campus.
He took along a haversack that contained, among other things, three knives, a spanner and a note addressed to the police. The contents of the note were not revealed in court.
One of the knives was engraved with "010609" and "020609" on the blade.
Seet had engraved these numbers as a reminder of the dates that he believed he caught Ms Low having an affair.
He arrived at the carpark at about 4.40pm and waited for Ms Low. At about 7.30 pm, when he saw Ms Low approach her car, Seet got out of his car and walked quickly towards her.
As she got into her car, Seet entered through the front passenger side. Ms Low screamed loudly when she saw Seet, who then grabbed her arm to stop her from getting out of her car.
She managed to break free after a brief struggle but fell as she stepped out from the car. Seet then ran towards her and stabbed her eight times, including three wounds to her chest and back.
He then stabbed himself on his upper torso repeatedly and collapsed on top of her.
A call was made to the police at about 7.45pm. Ms Low was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.
Seet was taken to hospital, where he underwent surgery for abdominal injuries and was placed in intensive care until July 25, 2018.
An autopsy report said Ms Low died from three stab wounds to the chest and abdomen.
A psychiatric report assessed that Seet was not suffering from any major mental disorder at the time of the stabbing.
Defence counsel Wendell Wong described the case as a "painful family tragedy" in court.
Mr Wong, who is assigned to defend Seet together with Mr Loo Khee Sheng, said: "His paramount consideration to plead guilty is to shield his daughter and other loved ones from reliving the tragedy."
The case was adjourned to Sept 22 for mitigation and sentencing.
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