Singapore Breaking News
SINGAPORE: DBS Bank on Wednesday morning (Nov 24) said digital banking services have been restored, even as some customers continued to report issues accessing services.
The disruption of DBS and POSB digital banking services started on Tuesday morning.
At about 8.20am on Wednesday, DBS said in an update on its official Facebook page that "all of our digital banking services have been restored as of 2am today".
"Once again, we acknowledge the severity of the situation and apologise for the inconvenience caused," added the bank.
DBS did not indicate what caused the outage.
However, people commenting on DBS' Facebook update and tracking website Downdetector.sg said that they were still not able to access digital banking services on Wednesday morning.
Checks by reporters showed that there were issues logging into DBS digital banking services on mobile and laptop, with an error notification saying that services were unavailable.
Downdetector showed that reports of outages on DBS dropped at around 2am, but started rising again at about 6am on Wednesday.
Reporters has contacted DBS for comments.
SINGAPORE: Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) personnel tasked with managing the country's COVID-19 home recovery programme have handed over their responsibilities to the Ministry of Health (MOH), said Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen on Wednesday (Nov 24).
As the programme is now stable, it is a "good time" to hand over to MOH, said Dr Ng in posts to his official social media accounts.
In September, the SAF was roped in to support the home recovery programme, as the newly introduced programme was strained amid a surge in cases.
Home recovery allows most COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms to recover at home rather than at hospitals or specialised facilities.
Servicemen helped man hotlines to provide information to patients recovering at home, with more than 450 personnel from the army, navy and air force deployed.
"NSFs (full-time National Servicemen) served as home recovery buddies – providing the first line of contact to patients placed on HRP, assisting them for administrative procedures and ensuring that communication channels remained open for patients," said Dr Ng on Wednesday.
In his post, Dr Ng thanked the servicemen for making a "positive difference" in helping patients recover at home, adding that this prevented Singapore's healthcare system from being overwhelmed.
"SAF commanders, and other personnel tasked to manage the Home Recovery Programme (HRP) since September, have performed well," he said.
"They streamlined processes, introduced digital solutions as well as ensured the right care for different groups of residents infected with COVID-19."
Dr Ng added that a team of SAF advisors would continue to "remain embedded to ensure a smooth transition".
Singapore, 23 November 2021 — Casio EDIFICE announced today the release of the ECB-S100HR Honda Racing Championship White Edition, the latest collaboration with Honda Racing in the EDIFICE line of high-performance metal chronographs based on the brand concept of “Speed and Intelligence.”
Honda Racing refers to the motor sports activities that Honda Motor Co., Ltd. (hereafter “Honda”) pursues around the world. The collaboration between Honda Racing and EDIFICE, both of which have origins in Japan, has evolved since 2018 from a shared dedication to leveraging high-tech capabilities in their global pursuits.
The ECB-S100HR pays tribute to Honda’s distinguished history and achievements in F1TM by drawing its design inspiration from the Honda RA271. Back in 1964, the RA271 was the first entry by a Japanese automaker in an F1™ race, with its white body and red rising sun. This body color, dubbed “Championship White,” became a symbol of Honda’s racing spirit. The outer ring of the dial on the ECB-S100HR is finished with authentic Championship White paint, while the inset dial and buttons are accented with red. The periphery of the glass features a printed pattern that evokes a checkered flag, a nod to Honda’s many victories. The genuine leather band features a two-tone color scheme, with the outer side rendered in white and the underside in red.
The ECB-S100HR offers a comfortable fit on the wrist with its slim, mid-size case and useful features including the Tough Solar power system, which efficiently converts light to power the watch, as well as Bluetooth® connectivity and a high-luminosity double LED light. The watch pairs with a smartphone using a dedicated app, to automatically adjust to the correct time and enable the user to select from any of over 300 cities for the world time. The ECB-S100HR comes with a Time & Place function that records the current date/time and position on a map within the app by just pressing a button on the watch, allowing users to check where they were and when. The inset dial indicator at the 9 o’clock position counts down to the alarm or target time, starting from 30 minutes in advance.
This Honda racing collaboration model will be available at Honda official authorized distributor, Kah Motor from 24 November 2021 to 1 December 2021.
It will be available at EDIFICE retailers and G-SHOCK stores from 3 December 2021.
The Location of Kah Motor: 255 Alexandra Road Singapore 159937
From 26th to 28th November 2021, Ruhens will be having a Black Friday Sale! Customers can enjoy $200 off and receive a free Ruhens Classic Air Purifier with every hot & cold water purifier purchased.
To enjoy the promotion, customers can simply RSVP now: https://www.ruhens.com.sg/blackfriday
Promotion Period: 26 - 28 November 2021. While stocks last.
SINGAPORE - Households should not use ultraviolet-C (UVC) disinfection devices for their homes as many lack safety features that protect users from exposure to UV radiation, the National Environment Agency (NEA) warned on Tuesday (Nov 23).
To prevent accidental exposure and health risks, the agency advised the public not to buy any UVC steriliser product that has no safety features.
It added that UVC-based disinfection should be applied only in an industrial or commercial setting with appropriate safety features and safe use practices.
Exposure to UVC radiation due to inappropriate use or unsafe sterilisers can cause eye or skin injuries. These include damage to the cornea, with burning sensations and sensitivity to light, as well as burns resulting in redness and skin peeling.
"Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been growing demand for and availability of UVC disinfection devices," NEA said in its advisory.
Households buying such sterilisers for disinfection purposes should choose only those with safety engineering features that prevent users from being exposed to UVC radiation.
Examples include motion sensors for portable, tube and desk lamps, as well as bulbs, that automatically switch off the UVC sources when a person approaches them, and gravity sensors in handheld UVC sterilisers and portable UVC wands that automatically switch them off when the devices face upwards, protecting the user's eyes.
For UVC disinfection boxes, there should be safety features that switch off the UVC light when the box is open.
NEA advised users to avoid direct skin exposure to UVC radiation and avoid looking directly into a UVC light source.
It also urged those who have bought a UVC steriliser without any safety features to stop using it immediately, especially if it is intended for use on the skin.
"NEA has been working with major retailers to actively remove listings of UVC sterilisers that are unsafe and pose risk of exposure to UVC radiation," it added.
"All physical stores and online sales platforms have been advised not to sell UVC steriliser products that are unsafe for consumers."
About 8,000 listings of unsafe UVC sterilisers have been taken down from online sales platforms.
Amazon, Carousell, ezbuy, Qoo10 and Shopee have been actively removing those identified on their platforms, NEA added, advising other online sales operators to follow suit.
NEA's guidelines on UVC sterilisers can be found on its website.
SINGAPORE: Some travellers from the United Kingdom are facing difficulties entering Singapore under its vaccinated travel lane (VTL) scheme due to certain gaps in the system.
The VTL scheme, which allows quarantine-free travel to Singapore, was expanded to the UK in early October. Travellers must fulfil certain conditions, such as being fully vaccinated if they are above 12 years old and having an officially recognised proof of vaccination.
However, those aged 13 to 15 are unable to obtain vaccinated travel passes (VTPs) to enter Singapore because they do not have a National Health Service (NHS) COVID Pass proving one’s vaccination status. The UK government only issues these to people aged 16 and above.
Such is the conundrum for Ms Helen Koh's family – specifically, her niece, 15, and nephew, 13, both of whom are long-term pass holders attempting to return to Singapore to reunite with their father after spending two years apart.
“They are fully vaccinated (with both doses of Pfizer-BioNTech). You’re just wanting, insisting on a pass that’s not available in their own country, so we don’t know what to do,” said Ms Koh, 48.
“If (authorities want to) only recognise NHS COVID Pass from the UK as a legitimate platform to verify or certify vaccination status, it’s no problem … But they must understand where is the coverage," she said.
Ms Koh added that the situation is paradoxical because unvaccinated children aged below 12 are allowed to board these VTL flights.
“Why penalise the children between 13 to 15 who are vaccinated? We don’t see the logic.”
Describing her back-and-forth correspondence with authorities, Ms Koh added that the family provided vaccine records for the children, but these were not acknowledged.
"They have the doctor or the vaccine provider endorsing it on a full medical record ... but we were told that 'Oh, sorry, because they cannot get the pass, they are not eligible for the VTL.'"
In an email from the Civil and Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) to Ms Koh seen by reporters, the agency said it noted the challenges faced in obtaining the pass for this group of travellers.
“However, we also seek your understanding that the requirement to produce proof of vaccination that we can authenticate and verify safeguards the VTL and public health,” said the email.
It added that authorities are “constantly working to onboard more issuers”, and suggested they contact the UK authorities who issue the certificates or consider taking non-VTL flights.
Non-VTL flights are not an option for the children, as these will entail a seven-day quarantine that will eat significantly into their two-and-a-half-week school holiday, said Ms Koh.
As their holiday break draws nearer, Ms Koh said: “We were very excited (when we first heard the VTL news)… but now, everybody in the family, we are all losing sleep.”
In response to reporters queries, CAAS said it is aware that the NHS COVID Pass is only available to those aged 16 and over.
"Should there be teenagers aged 13 to 15 who are ‘fully vaccinated’ by Singapore’s definition, but are unable to obtain an NHS COVID pass, they may write to the Safe Travel Office using the enquiry form here with their digital vaccination record retrieved from the public health database of their local health authority."
Their application will be reviewed, it said.
Based on Singapore's definitions, individuals receiving the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are only considered fully vaccinated two weeks after receiving the full regimen at least 17 days apart.
The authority added that Singapore citizens and permanent residents do not need a VTP. These travellers can present their digital vaccination records for verification at the airlines' check-in counter before departure and at Changi Airport upon arriving in Singapore.
CONFUSION OVER ELIGIBILITY FOR UK REGIONS
Separately, some travellers reported confusion about whether they qualified for the VTL, because of the different COVID-19 certification systems across the UK’s various regions.
This was the case for a Singaporean living in Northern Ireland, which does not use the NHS COVID Pass, even though it is part of the UK.
Instead, the territory uses COVID certificates issued by its own health authority, found on the COVIDCert NI mobile app.
"My fear was it will not be considered an accepted certificate unless it is on (the official) website," said the woman in her 50s, who only wanted to be known as Ms Li. She was hoping to return to Singapore to see her elderly mother.
Reporters spoke to Ms Li on Nov 17. The SafeTravel website has since been updated to include Northern Ireland’s vaccine certification.
In response to queries, CAAS pointed out that the certificate found on the COVIDCert NI app is in the EU Digital COVID Certificate format, which is an accepted proof of vaccination for the VTL.
"Thus, such certificates will satisfy our requirement of having an accepted proof of vaccination issued in a VTL country/region," said the authority, adding that these travellers should have been able to obtain approval.
"We have also reviewed the list of acceptable proofs of vaccination from the UK to include the Northern Ireland COVID Certificate. Individuals holding these certificates are eligible for travel under the VTL," it said.
ISSUE OF MIDDLE NAMES
Other travellers from the UK have also faced issues getting a VTP because of varying naming conventions in both countries’ systems.
The NHS’ vaccination certificate does not reflect the individual’s middle name, resulting in a mismatch when uploaded alongside a passport that includes it, said travellers. This then prevented the individual from submitting the application.
On Facebook groups, travellers have shared their own informal solutions, such as asking their doctors in the UK to insert their middle names as part of their first name. Some have also advised others to leave out their middle name in the VTP application, even if it is in their official travel documents.
In response to reporters queries, CAAS said the VTP application portal has been enhanced to be able to recognise and verify vaccination certificates that do not reflect a middle name.
"Travellers who continue to face issues with their VTP application may write to the Safe Travel Office using the enquiry form here and produce their vaccination certificate and travel document. We will review these applications."
SINGAPORE: A serial thief with convictions dating back to 1973 was given seven years' preventive detention on Tuesday (Nov 23) for breaking into a coffee shop and stealing hundreds of cigarette packs and cash.
Toh Teck Soon, 68, was given the sentence for one charge of housebreaking to commit theft.
Preventive detention is a harsh punishment that places a recalcitrant offender in jail for seven to 20 years in order to protect the public from the offender.
The court heard that Toh was working as a helper at Superluck Food Court at Block 317, Yishun Avenue 9 in August this year.
At about 11pm on Aug 10, the coffee shop supervisor closed the premises and left with her employees, including Toh.
Toh had secretly left the transit bin area door unlocked and returned half an hour later. He took the keys for the cash register and drawers that contained cigarettes, and stole cash amounting to S$1440.90 and 385 packets of cigarettes worth almost S$4,000.
Toh placed the cigarettes in a trash bag and took a taxi to a hotel in Geylang. He later sold most of the cigarettes to passers-by for S$2,000 and threw away his clothes to avoid being caught. He bought a watch for S$140, new clothes and spent part of his criminal gains on a massage, drinks, food, transport and other personal expenses.
His supervisor reported the theft to the police hours after, and Toh was arrested. He told the police that he had spent about S$1,000 of the illicit gains on himself.
The prosecutor called for preventive detention, noting that such a sentence targets "habitual offenders whom the court considers beyond redemption" and too recalcitrant for reformation.
Toh has convictions from 1973, and was sentenced to 16 years' preventive detention in January 2004 for theft and fraudulent possession of property, the court heard.
He committed the current offences less than a year from his release from jail, the prosecutor said.
He said Toh's current offences showed premeditation and planning, "as well as wilfully taking steps to evade detection", and Toh made no restitution to the victim.
"In light of the accused's worrying pattern of offending, as well as the pressing public interest in protecting the community from audacious, persistent offenders like him, it is crucial to remove the accused from circulation for a significant period of time," said the prosecutor.
For housebreaking to commit theft, Toh could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined.
SINGAPORE - More than 40,000 tenants and owner-occupiers will receive payouts worth over $470 million from Friday (Nov 26) in a move to support businesses with rental costs incurred during the almost two-month long stabilisation phase that ended on Sunday (Nov 21).
This is the third Rental Support Scheme (RSS) payout, which will be equivalent to a month of rent for the period from Sept 27 to Nov 21. It was announced on Oct 20 by Finance Minister Lawrence Wong.
The rental relief is offered to small- and medium-sized enterprises, as well as eligible non-profit organisations with an annual revenue not exceeding $100 million, which are tenants or owner-occupiers of qualifying commercial properties.
In a joint release, the Ministry of Finance and the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (Iras) said on Monday (Nov 22) that rental support will be provided directly to tenants without going through the landlords, as with the first and second RSS payouts disbursed in August and September.
"This has allowed tenants to receive the RSS payouts from the Government promptly," the statement said.
In total, the three RSS payouts amount to more than $900 million in direct support of businesses' rental costs.
Those eligible to receive the funds and who have PayNow or existing Giro arrangements with Iras can expect to receive the RSS cash payout from Friday.
Those without such arrangements will receive cheques by Dec 10.
The two agencies also said that the cash payout will be disbursed automatically to tenants and owner-occupiers who had received the second payout.
Those who were not eligible for the second payout but are eligible for the third can submit an application to Iras. Applications will open on Dec 10 and close on Jan 21 next year.
SINGAPORE - A Singapore Armed Forces captain linked to an incident where a Bionix infantry fighting vehicle reversed and mounted a Land Rover, killing the driver, was on Monday (Nov 22) found guilty of causing death by a rash act by District Judge Jasvender Kaur.
Corporal First Class (CFC) Liu Kai, a 22-year-old full-time national serviceman (NSF) who was driving the Land Rover, was pinned under the Bionix vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene.
Ong Lin Jie, now 30, was also in the Land Rover when the tragedy took place during an exercise by the 42nd Battalion Singapore Armoured Regiment on Nov 3, 2018.
He was found to have acted rashly by failing to keep a safe distance of 30m between the Land Rover and the Bionix and ordering CFC Liu to overtake it.
Ong, who was a platoon trainer with the Armour Unit Training Centre at the Armour Training Institute at the time, had given the order to move forward even though it was unsafe to do so and without first establishing communication with the other vehicle.
In their submissions earlier this year, Deputy Public Prosecutors Hay Hung Chun, Zhou Yihong, Angela Ang and Benedict Chan said: "As the vehicle commander of the Land Rover, (Ong) was responsible for its safety, which included ensuring that the Land Rover maintained a safety distance of 30m from other vehicles... throughout the exercise."
The court heard that during the exercise, a Bionix with call sign BX13 had stopped just before a T-junction.
The Land Rover Ong and CFC Liu were in stopped about 30m behind it. The prosecutors said Ong did not know why BX13 had stopped and ordered CFC Liu to overtake it on its left.
The DPPs said: "Prior to giving this order, (Ong) did not establish any communications with BX13. Liu Kai drove the Land Rover forward, thereby bringing it less than 30m away from BX13.
"BX13 fired three rounds (and) Liu Kai stopped the Land Rover."
At this point, the Land Rover was about 16m to 18m behind BX13, which started to reverse as part of the combat drill.
It mounted the driver side of the Land Rover, pinning CFC Liu in his seat.
The prosecutors argued that Ong had acted rashly by ordering CFC Liu to overtake BX13 without establishing communications with BX13.
They also told Judge Kaur that Ong's act of ordering the overtake resulted in CFC Liu's death, as it placed the Land Rover less than 30m away from BX13 and resulted in the collision with the Land Rover.
The court heard that the 30m safety distance rule was "one key safety tenet" taught to all commanders within the armour formation, including Ong, and would be re-emphasised during safety briefings prior to all armour exercises.
The prosecutors stressed that the purpose of maintaining this safety distance is to ensure that all parties have sufficient reaction time to avoid any potential collisions.
They said: "By ordering Liu Kai to overtake BX13... (Ong) had placed the Land Rover in the path of the BX13's reverse manoeuvre, resulting in the collision that led to Liu Kai's untimely death."
They added that the tragedy meant "Liu Kai never had the opportunity to complete his national service obligations, unlike his fellow national servicemen".
Ong, represented by lawyer Teo Choo Kee, had testified during the trial in June that he did not expect BX13 to move backwards.
Ong, who has since been suspended from service, told Judge Kaur that he had thought that the Bionix had identified a friendly vehicle in front of it prior to the incident, based on an exchange through radio communications between the Bionix commander and another soldier.
He said he wanted to get into a position where he could observe the Bionix without being caught in the middle of any firefight that might take place, and directed CFC Liu to overtake the Bionix.
When the armoured vehicle started to reverse, he shouted for it to stop and saw that its rear guide was also shouting.
Ong had said: "But the Bionix did not stop and the accident happened."
He will be sentenced on Dec 20.
For causing death by committing a rash act, an offender can be jailed for up to five years and fined.
SINGAPORE: Migrant worker Ahmed Shamim wants to go to East Coast Park next month to cycle and enjoy the fresh air, something he has been unable to do for at least a year.
The 32-year-old was happy to hear the announcement last week that come Dec 3, more workers like him, who live in dormitories, can make community visits.
Last Monday (Nov 15), Manpower Minister Tan See Leng said at a COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference that restrictions for migrant workers living in dormitories will be gradually eased.
Expanding on a pilot programme, authorities will allow 3,000 vaccinated migrant workers a day to visit any location in the community, for up to eight hours a visit. This is up from 3,000 workers a week currently, with visits limited to Little India and Geylang Serai.
The workers have to take a pre-event antigen rapid test before they leave their dormitories as an added precaution.
For months now, Mr Ahmed’s life has revolved around work and his dormitory, and visits to the recreation centre near his dorm.
“(Being) able to go somewhere, maybe once a month, is something good for us, for mental health,” he told reporters.
He misses being able to meet his friends on Sundays and public holidays, he said.
But he also spoke about how he only has days off on Sundays and his hours are long during the rest of the week, which means he has a limited window in which to book a slot to leave his dormitory.
“If they allow us to go every day, we cannot go ... we don't have time,” he said. “Sometimes Sunday also, we need to work.”
Activists and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for migrant workers also expressed such concerns.
Mr Alex Au of TWC2 called the daily quota of 3,000 workers “micro-management by bureaucrats”.
"It would be more helpful to employers and workers if we simply relaxed all controls and let workers leave their dorms on any day,” he said.
“All we have to do, especially since 98 per cent of them have been fully vaccinated, is to ensure that they observe the same safe distancing measures applied to other Singaporeans."
Former Nominated MP Anthea Ong said she is “slightly relieved” at the latest easing of restrictions but highlighted that 3,000 workers a day is a small percentage of the roughly 300,000 workers living in dormitories.
“More than a few migrant brothers have shared how they feel anxious, disappointed, sad, discriminated against and hopeless because they could not understand why they are confined for so long when they are vaccinated like the rest of Singapore,” she said.
Responding to reporters queries, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said workers can choose their timeslots to visit the community and recreation centres using the Exit Pass system.
On the issue of the workers’ rest days, the ministry said it has encouraged employers to stagger days off across the week for workers who reside in dormitories.
“This will allow the workers to plan ahead and apply for an Exit Pass via the SGWorkPass mobile application to visit the community and recreation centres,” said an MOM spokesperson.
According to MOM’s advisory, employers can choose and stagger the workers’ designated rest days online. Workers deployed to projects and works that can’t take place on Sunday will be assigned Sunday as a rest day.
These include renovation work and projects that are affected by the National Environment Agency’s No Work Rule on Sundays and public holidays.
One construction firm owner reporters spoke to, who declined to be named, said that their building works are often affected by such regulations and thus their workers can only rest on Sundays.
For such workers, employers can appeal for them to rest on Sundays, according to MOM’s website.
The Migrant Workers' Centre (MWC) said the rules that prohibit works on Sundays at construction sites are to protect public health, which explains why many migrant workers are off on Sundays.
Therefore the staggered rest days during the week may not be maximised, but there are also safe management measures at worksites that include staggering the number of workers at the worksite at any time.
"This might leave employers with no option but to schedule off days during the week for workers not rostered for work," said MWC executive director Bernard Menon.
"At the MWC Recreation Club, we see an increase in migrant workers coming every day throughout the week. We have gone from practically zero on any weekday to 2,000 and more."
This indicates that rest days or not, migrant workers are coming out of the dormitories and into recreation centres much more than before, he added.
MOM said that its Assurance, Care and Engagement (ACE) Group is also collaborating with NGOs and community partners to increase the variety of activities at the recreation centres, such as organising futsal games and movie and sports screenings in the coming weeks.
“MOM will continue to monitor the situation and ease restrictions progressively and safely,” it said.
SOCIAL ISOLATION WORRYING: NGO
Mr Michael Cheah, executive director of HealthServe, said that life has been tough for this marginalised group and the social isolation has led to a worrying increase in their mental distress and even suicide risk.
“It is a relief that vaccinated workers are finally, gradually being allowed back into the community. This sense of autonomy, freedom and independence, which they have not been able to experience for almost two years, is very important for their overall well-being.”
The medical NGO expects to see a backlog of workers who have not been able to receive timely or proper treatment for chronic medical conditions and other health concerns.
“Given the high vaccination rate among migrant workers, we hope to see further easing of restrictions progressively,” he added.
“For one, allowing workers living in dormitories to cook their own food, which may be a small gesture to some, can be very empowering for them.”
Finance Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the COVID-19 task force, said on Saturday that the Government is taking an incremental approach to easing restrictions for migrant workers as with the rest of Singapore.
"We are very aware that our migrant workers need that time, need that space to go outside. And that's why besides allowing them to go out to the community, we also have eased up considerably their time in recreation centres," he said at a press conference where the relaxing of dining-in and social gathering restrictions was announced for the wider community.
Authorities will monitor the new measures for migrant workers over the next one to two weeks, and continue opening up gradually if the situation remains stable, he added.
JUSTCLICK & CONNECT