Saturday, June 30, 2012

Electricity prices set to fall, tariff for households to drop by 2.4%

From Sunday, the electricity tariff for households will decrease by 2.4 per cent, which would work out to about $2.69 less a month for a family living in a four-room HDB flat.

The latest price will last till the end of September. This is the second price reduction in the last nine months.

It comes on the back of a previous increase in the last quarter of 4.3 per cent, or $4.18 more for the same family.

This will make the tariff 28.08 cents/kilowatt now. At its recent peak, it hit 30.45 cents in October 2008, while the lowest was in January 2002 at 15.02 cents.

Nearly 2.1 million S'poreans to receive GST Voucher

SINGAPORE: Close to 2.1 million adult Singaporeans will receive letters from the government from Monday to inform them of the amount that they will receive this year under the GST Voucher (GSTV) scheme.

The Finance Ministry says the GSTV is a permanent scheme introduced in Budget 2012 to help lower- and middle-income households offset their GST expenses.

About S$440 million in GST Voucher -- Cash and Medisave -- will be given out on 1 August.

Most Singaporeans will not have to take any action to receive their GST Voucher.

However, a small number of eligible Singaporeans who have not signed up for a previous government payout, such as the 2011 Growth Dividend or 2007-2010 GST Credits, will have to sign up by 18 July to receive their payout on 1 August.

They can do so via the following channels:
(a) Online: (sign up by 18 July); or
(b) Physical sign-up form: Available at any community centre, Community Development Council or CPF Service Centre (sign up by 16 July).

Those who sign up after 18 July will receive their payout after 1 August. They have up to 31 December 2012 to sign up for their 2012 GSTV payout.

In addition, about S$180 million in GSTV - U-Save will be credited to the utilities accounts of 800,000 HDB households in July.

This will be the first payment of a half-yearly U-Save payout under the GSTV scheme.

The GSTV - U-Save will be paid out in January and July each year. There is no need to sign up for the GSTV - U-Save.

7 ways to beat the Singapore heat

In April 2010, a construction carpenter Chen Changqin, 42, suffered a heatstroke at his workplace after working long hours under the sun at a Choa Chu Kang condominium.

He is now physically impaired and is unable to speak.

Hyperthermia, which is the overheating of the body, is no laughing matter. If left untreated, it can lead to seizures, brain damage, liver and kidney problems and even heart attacks and coma.

It can even lead to death in extreme cases. In 2009, a construction worker from China died after working for five hours at a scorching Kranji worksite.

According to reports, he could not acclimatise to the heat here as the temperatures in his home village rarely exceeded 11 deg C.

This message of how dangerous overheating can be is especially pertinent as temperatures here are only expected to soar in the coming weeks.

According to the Meteorological Service Singapore, the daily maximum temperatures in the coming weeks may hit 34 deg C, up from 32.7 deg C.

Average rainfall is also likely to fall, all signs of sweltering nights ahead. Data from NTU's weather station revealed that there have been only four days of rain for this month so far, as compared to 15 last year.

Less rain means there is less moisture in the ground to absorb heat from the sun.

The sweltering heat has also sent up the number of patients seeking help from hospitals. Changi General Hospital saw its patient load for heat related cases rise from 14 cases last year to 19 this year in the same period.

Khoo Teck Puat Hospital saw a similar rise, from eight such cases in the first six months of last year to 11 patients with heat disorders from January to June 21.

How to protect yourself against heatstroke

First of all, it's important to be aware of the risks and take the necessary precautions.

People who are in greater risk of suffering from heat-related ailments include young children, the elderly, people who are overweight, exercise buffs and those chronically ill or on certain medications.

According to Dr Tay Seow Yian, Senior Consultant and Head of Emergency Department at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, some medications used for tremors and diarrhea, certain anesthetics and psychiatric drugs, and diseases such as thyrotoxicosis can cause a heightened risk to hyperthermia.

If you tick yes for any of these conditions, pay extra attention to keeping yourself cool and hydrated.

Self diagnosis: What are the symptoms of a heatstroke?

There are 3 main groups of heat diseases: Heat cramps, heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

The first, heat cramps, are muscle spasms that result from loss of large amounts of salt and water through exercise and are considered relatively minor, said Dr Benny Goh, Senior Consultant at the Accidents and Emergencies department at the Changi General Hospital.

They may be painful and uncomfortable, but usually will resolve on their own upon termination of the physical activity.

Heat exhaustion on the other hand is a more severe manifestation of heat disorder that, if untreated, can cause significant morbidity and even mortality, Dr Goh told YourHealth.

Heat stroke is the most severe form of heat disorder and is a medical emergency. Even with treatment, it can result in permanant organ injury and even death, he warned.

To prevent escalation of the condition, it is best to be self-aware of your own body condition.

Typical symptoms include:
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Extreme tiredness or fatigue
  • Light-headedness / dizziness/ giddiness / feeling faint
  • Fainting during or immediately after strenuous physical activity
  • Nausea / vomiting
  • Agitation / disorientation / delirious behaviour
What to do

If someone shows any signs of heat disorders, take him/her to a shady area and try to cool the person down, Dr Goh advised.

Call for help immediately and while waiting, use a wet towel to wrap around the neck, armpit or groin area or splash water on him or her to help reduce the body temperature.

Help the person drink some water if they are able to do so. If he or she is having a seizure, do not give the person liquids. If there's vomiting, it's best to turn them onto their sides so that their airways remain open.

Keep in mind that heat stroke is an emergency, so do call for an ambulance, said Dr Tay.

Do's and Don't's: Simple prevention measures

1. Be prepared

Many patients admitted to hospital for heatstroke are athletes who spend (too) many hours out in the sun.

As such, it's advisable to get adequate rest before engaging in strenuous physical activity, Dr Tay said.

Keep in mind as well that running in the gym is very different from running out under the sun. Many victims of the heat are people unfamiliar with Singapore's humidity and temperatures.

Dr Goh advised to give your body adequate time to acclimatise to any physical activity that you intend to take part in. The duration of acclimatisation should also be proportional to the intensity of physical activity.

So if you intend to participate in a marathon, do practise in the open under similar outdoor conditions.

2. Hydration

In addition, be prepared by bringing along a water bottle and staying hydrated.

Without adequate fluid intake and with excessive fluid loss, dehydration may occur. Dehydration further leads to the body not being able to dispel heat fast enough, thus leading to overheating.

Dr Goh cautioned outdoor buffs to not wait until they are thirsty to drink. You should constantly hydrate yourself before, during, and after any prolonged physical activity, even if you do not feel thirsty.

Sports drinks are a good choice for replacing salt lost through sweating, but water is fine as well.

3. Clothing

Wearing the appropriate outfit can help to reduce the heat built up surrounding your body. Loose clothing also helps improve the ventilation around your body.

This helps to allow sweat to evaporate, which is one of the body's cooling mechanisms.

Choose clothing made from breathable or heat-wicking material to help remove heat from your body. Avoid thick, excessive or restrictive clothing or padding.

Note that light coloured clothing dissipates heat better and darker clothing traps heat.

When the humidity is high, sweat will not evaporate as quickly, preventing the body from releasing heat quickly. Hence, it is advisable to bring along a towel or piece of cloth to wipe away excess sweat to help your body cool down.

4. Ventilation

Keep to spaces with moving air and plenty of airspace. This helps the body cool itself by sweating.

The same applies if you are indoors. Keep the area well ventilated and cool by opening windows, using a fan or switching on the air-con during excessively hot days.

5. Avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks, or heavy meals

According to Dr Goh, heavy meals divert blood flow away to aid digestion resulting in extra heat to your body.

Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks are also undesirable as they cause your body to dehydrate. So avoid taking such food and drinks if you plan to engage in any sport activities outdoors.

6. Use sunscreen

Excessive amount of time spent under the sun can cause sunburn. Sunburn is not only painful, it affects the body's ability to cool itself and results in the loss of body fluids.

As such, err on the side of caution and use sunscreen, preferably with SPF protection no lower than 15.

7. Limit yourself

If you are unwell, or have just recovered from an illness like a flu or cold, do not take part in intense physical activity.

Otherwise, you should get adequate sleep and fluids prior to the event.

I maintain my integrity: Kong

SINGAPORE - "I do maintain my integrity".

These were the words of City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee when he addressed his congregation on Saturday.

It was his first service since Kong and four senior church members were arrested last week and charged with conspiring to cheat the church of millions of dollars. The money allegedly went into financing his wife's, pop singer Ho Yeow Sun, music career.

Dressed in a dark suit, Kong was greeted to applause and a standing ovation from an 8-000 strong crowd when he went on stage yesterday, reported The Straits Times.

The paper quoted Kong as saying, "I also know that you are all here tonight to hear something from me".

"As you know, the past few days have been very challenging for me, my family and my team, and many allegations have been made in the media.

"Obviously, as this is an ongoing case, I cannot comment on the details, but please know that there are always two sides to every story. I look forward to the day when I can tell you my side of the story in court," he said.

Seven minutes into his sermon about a woman who had worshipped Jesus humbly, honestly and whole-heartedly, Kong stopped and told his congregation, "Yes, I do maintain my integrity".

This was met with a second standing ovation and cheers.

Kong then asked his 42-year-old wife to lead the congregation in singing worship songs. During the singing session, the others who were charged - deputy pastor Tan Ye Peng, 39, finance manager Sharon Tan Shao Yuen, 36, investment manager Chew Eng Han, 52, and church management board member John Lam Leng Hung, 44, - went on stage and exchanged hugs with Kong and Ms Ho.

From $127k HDB flat to $9.3m Sentosa Cove penthouse

SINGAPORE - How did the Kongs get from a $127,000 HDB flat to a $9.3 million Sentosa Cove penthouse?

Pastor Kong Hee and his family started with a five-room HDB flat in Tampines, which they bought for $127,000.

They later sold it for $420,000, The New Paper reported in 2010.

From there, the Kongs bought a Horizon Towers unit in River Valley. It had a private lift, two living rooms, four bedrooms and a compact kitchen.

The flooring was marble, with a carpeted family area and a walk-in wardrobe which showed off the fashionista side of Ms Ho.

It was done up in a mix of American classic and contemporary styles.

In 2010, they sold this apartment and moved into The Suites at Central on Devonshire. It was reportedly sold to them for $2.6 million.

There was also a $28,000-a-month Hollywood Hills estate which Ms Ho rented while pursuing her career as a singer in the United States.

She stayed there with her son, an assistant, a nanny and some relatives while going about her music career. She shuttled between the US and Singapore.

Today, the Kongs live in a luxury Sentosa Cove penthouse which cost $9.3 million, according to The New Paper.

The 487 sq m apartment is more than four times bigger than their Tampines flat and has an ocean view.

Woman driver strips naked to prevent medical rescue

*Shown above: The woman desperately tried to stop an ambulance that had rushed to the rescue by lying down naked in front of it.

A woman is in custody after lying naked in front of an ambulance that was trying to reach a mother and daughter she is accused of hitting with her car, police said.

The 4-year-old girl later died, family said.

The accident occurred on June 17 when a 36-year-old teacher sped through a residential community street in Linyi, Shandong province, hitting the mother and her daughter on a bike, as well as several cars on the street.

Video footage online depicted the driver's frantic behavior after her car got stuck in a flower bed, when she desperately tried to stop an ambulance that had rushed to the rescue by lying down naked in front of it.

Later, as medical staff prepared to leave the scene, she forcibly grabbed the girl from the ambulance and pulled her to the ground.

Wang Lewen, the girl's uncle, said she died in the hospital and the mother was in a coma.

Wang said the family used to say hello to the driver as they live in neighboring buildings. "We barely knew anything about her, not to mention holding any hatred toward each other," he said.

Wang said the family decided to put the video on the Internet as they believe more attention will help bring the case to justice.

The video has already been subject of great attention after being reposted on micro blogs and video-sharing websites.

Yi Shenghua, a lawyer at Beijing Yingke Law Firm, said a test of the driver's mental state is necessary before the judicial process begins.

"It is possible that she suffered a mental disorder at that moment as her behavior seems to have gone beyond what a normal person would have done after a traffic accident," Yi said. Yi believed if a test proves the driver had a disorder, she should be given a lighter punishment, otherwise she could face severe penalties for murder.

"The traffic accident might be one act of killing by mistake. But trying to interrupt rescue efforts is an act that tries to deprive others of life," Yi said.

An official from the local police, who only gave his name as Chen, said an investigation is ongoing.

How far can money get you in the music industry?

SINGAPORE - Made my wish to be a superstar, sings Ms Ho Yeow Sun in her English single, Fancy Free.

Ten years ago, Ms Ho, 42, who goes by the stage name Sun Ho, embarked on her secular music career as part of the Crossover Project to reach out to non-Christians.

Now, her music career is part of the focus in the investigations against individuals from the City Harvest Church.

The Commissioner of Charities had found financial irregularities of at least $23 million from the church's funds which were allegedly used with the purported intention of bankrolling Ms Ho's career.

On Wednesday, her husband Kong Hee and four church office-bearers were charged in court with the alleged misuse of the funds.

Notwithstanding the case before the courts, can someone buy his or her way to stardom? And how far can money get you in the music industry?

Industry insiders here and in the US told The New Paper that while money is important in gaining a foothold, talent will be the decisive factor in carving out a successful long-term career.

Money helps, but...

Mr Ngiam Kwang Hwa, managing director of Mandarin music label Rock Records, said: "Money can definitely bring you in, but money can't sustain you. You won't go far if you don't have talent.

"I don't believe that you can groom anyone without any star quality or talent... It depends on what you can offer to the consumer to sustain your music career."

American Robert A. Case, a music career consultant who owns two music publishing companies, said: "I know of people who have millions and millions of dollars, who throw money in as entertainers. And they've failed."

Asked how much it would cost to break into the US market, Mr Gingio Muehlbauer, founder of international music consultancy, said that in the pop music scene, it would cost close to US$3 million (S$3.8 million) for the full works, from producing an album to marketing the singer.

Then, there are also the costs of collaborating with top names in the industry to draw more eyeballs and gain recognition.

Mr Jerry Lembo, president of Jerry Lembo Entertainment Group, said that most notable producers are represented by an agent or manager, and their time, availability and fees would be negotiated by them.

The costs of hiring these producers, he added, would most likely be included in the record label's recording budget.

Mr Muehlbauer said that hiring a top artiste, producer or musicians can cost anything from US$10,000 up to "hundreds of thousands", depending on how well-known they are.

And there are additional costs if you want a collaborating artiste to appear on the video or perform as a guest in concerts, he added.

Besides having talent and financial backing, success in the music industry also often depends on who you know and the relationships you build.

Mr Peng Chi Sheng, a local musician and director of Intune Music School, said: "One of the most important things is who you know.

"Just a call from the right person and you could get linked up to other people."

Mr Muehlbauer said that attending major conferences or events such as the Grammy Awards and big private parties is a great way to get noticed.

He added: "You can pay to get into some of these events. But most of them are by invitation only, so it always comes down to who you know."

Mr Case had this piece of advice for foreign artists who want to break into the US market.

"It doesn't matter if you are from a foreign country. The key to success is to be successful in your own country first," he said.

"Create a buzz in own country or region first, then other countries will take you seriously."

Monday, June 25, 2012

E-commerce gaining ground with each click

When Wang Longxia, 51, saw her colleague's new house furnished with materials that were purchased online - from floor tiles to furniture - she was impressed with his results and decided to take the plunge with e-commerce.

That was two years ago, when online shopping was completely new to her. She made her first online purchase - a book - and was encouraged when everything went smoothly.

Now, she navigates through websites with ease, making purchases such as her mobile phone and a 3,000-yuan (S$601) laptop computer.

She is by no means an online shopaholic, who are usually younger netizens between 18 and 30.

However, as an increasing number of Chinese gain Internet access, people are changing the way they shop, whether they are die-hard Web users or simply trying to keep pace with technology.

Out of 513 million Internet users in China, about 194 million people had made an online purchase by the end of last year, according to the China Internet Network Information Center.

Consumers spent 782.6 billion yuan online last year, which accounted for 4.32 per cent of total retail sales in the country.

China is expected to overtake the United States to become the largest online shopping market by next year, said Li Jinqi, head of the department of electronic commerce and information at the Ministry of Commerce.

Wang, a company manager in Guangdong province, has witnessed the changes in shopping trends in the past decades.

"At one time, I had to dash to several department stores just to find a piece of furniture with the best combination of price and quality," she said.

"It consumed too much time and the selection was very limited."

About 10 years ago, she started to buy consumer products - mainly cosmetics - through television shopping programs.

The programs, selling a wide range of products from pressure cookers to cars, generated sales of 23.4 billion yuan in 2009, or 0.19 per cent of total retail sales that year, according to industry figures.

Shopping in brick and mortar stores continues to be the most common shopping experience in China, but some people have moved their shopping carts from the streets to TVs to computers, just like Wang.

In certain categories, including books, clothing, and consumer electronics, online sales exceed 10 per cent of total retail sales in that category, said Lu Bowang, president of China IntelliConsulting Corp, a market research company.

Online sales of books, one of the first type of products sold on the Internet, account for more than 20 per cent of total book sales.

Other categories, such as building materials and furniture, are likely to see substantial growth in the next two to three years, he added.

Last year, each online shopper spent an average of 4,341 yuan, up 28.8 per cent from 2010, and made 18.2 online purchases, according to a survey of 3,310 people by China IntelliConsulting.

The rise in average spending contributed more to the sector than the increase in the number of online shoppers, accounting for two-thirds of e-commerce growth last year, the survey found.

Online shoppers in central and western China have been increasing their spending more rapidly than those in eastern China, it said.

While current e-commerce websites are simply another outlet for traditional retail, "made-to-order" shopping experiences that consider the specific needs of each online customer will become the future of e-commerce, according to Zeng Ming, chief strategy officer of the Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.

Online retail sales in China will triple to more than US$360 billion (S$459 billion) by 2015, according to a report by The Boston Consulting Group.

You can learn more on how to expose your business online at

Search on for man believed to have fallen off Bedok Jetty

A man is believed to have fallen off Bedok Jetty along the East Coast Parkway on Sunday afternoon.

The incident triggered a search and rescue operation in the waters off the Bedok Jetty, according to a report from Channel News Asia.

According to the report, authorities said they received calls for assistance with regard to a male who fell from the jetty at about 2.20pm.

Apart from officers from the Singapore Civil Defence Force, divers from the Naval Diving Unit are also involved in the search.

More updates to come...

'Grateful not to spend a second night in cold waters'

Above: Mr Hu Jin Jie was among six divers rescued by the Kencana Makmur (pictured).

Adrift in the chilly waters off Malaysia's Tioman island, it was a long 20 hours for Singaporean Hu Jin Jie, 25, after he lost sight of his dive boat last Saturday afternoon.
Thankfully, he was rescued - along with five other divers - by a passing tugboat after drifting about 25 nautical miles (46km) from their dive site.

Speaking to my paper over the phone from Tioman, he said: "I'm grateful that we don't have to spend a second night in the cold water.

"I want to thank the coast guard and the tugboat crew that saved us," said Mr Hu, an auditor.

The other people rescued are Malaysians Yang Jia Xing, 26, Leong Li Kar, 26, Lim Kong Hoo, 27, and Maggie Lim, 27, and Chinese national Xu Zhiming, 33.

Mr Hu and six friends were staying at Salang, a village on the north of Tioman island, a popular diving spot among Singaporeans.

They left Tioman with a dive instructor at about 9am last Saturday morning and headed for the dive site, Pulau Chebeh, he added.

The seventh member of the group, who lost the rest underwater, raised the alarm.

Due to a misunderstanding, the alarm was raised while the six were still diving, AFP quoted Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) officer Syed Mohamad Fuzi as saying.

When the rest of the divers resurfaced, the boat had left to get help, and they drifted away with the current.

MMEA Captain Ab Aziz Idrus said that a search and rescue operation was started at 4.15pm last Saturday, but had to be postponed at 7.30pm due to poor visibility, before continuing at 7am yesterday, according to Bernama.

An officer from the Malaysian marine police told my paper that at around 10.30am yesterday, the six divers were spotted by the crew of the tugboat Kencana Makmur. The tugboat was on its way to Indonesia from Terengganu, Malaysia.

The marine police picked the divers up from the tugboat and they reached Tioman at about 3pm yesterday.

The officer, who did not give his name, added that the divers were visibly tired, but a medical check-up showed they were fine, except for minor bruises.

The divers then returned to their accommodation in Salang and were due to return to the mainland last night.

Despite the daunting circumstances, Mr Hu and his friends remained calm and collected during their ordeal.

When the group of six surfaced around 2pm last Saturday, their dive boat was nowhere in sight, Mr Hu said.

However, they were not overly worried. Mr Hu said: "It's quite normal not to see your boat around, they could be picking up other people."

It was only after they had waited more than half an hour that they realised something was amiss. The group then tried to swim to land, but soon gave up as the currents were too strong.

Still, they retained their cool and tried to attract the attention of passing vessels by waving orange surface-marker buoys.

When asked if he was scared while they were adrift, Mr Hu said: "None of us panicked, we were all calm."

He added: "It's not something within our control. So when a passing ship did not see us, we just chased the next ship that came along."

Survival tips for divers at sea 

What to do if you are lost at sea? my paper gets tips from Mr Gavin Ang, 39, a diver with more than 20 years of experience.

Be seen, and be heard 

You will need some form of signalling aid to catch the attention of passing vessels.

To be seen, one can use a brightly coloured inflatable surface-marker buoy. To be heard, one can use a loud whistle or a diver alert device that emits a loud sound when pressed.

Don't drink sea water 

Drinking sea water will not quench your thirst; it only serves to intensify your craving for water and dehydrate you further.

Keep your wetsuit on 

It is important to keep your wetsuit on as it keeps you warm and prevents hypothermia. It also provides protection from possible injury, such as jellyfish stings.

Singapore lacks sports business talent

SINGAPORE : Sports is increasingly becoming a big part of economies around the globe and Singapore is in a unique position to take advantage of opportunities to transform itself into a hub of sorts, says world-renowned sports marketing guru Patrick Nally.

Top of that list is the opportunity to ride on the city-state's reputation as a top international financial centre, and to extend that into a global business centre for sports.

Formula 1's impending public listing here is being closely watched by other leading sports brands and, when it happens, could set things in motion.

While he is full of praise for Singapore's capabilities, Nally said the dearth of local sports business talent could stop the country from gaining in a big way from the "monster" business opportunities in sports.

Revered as the man who redefined sports marketing and transformed the Olympics and FIFA World Cup into multi-billion-dollar events, Nally said hosting big events such as the SingTel Singapore Grand Prix from 2008 and the Youth Olympics two years ago only showed off the country's organisational prowess.

The London native, who was in town last week, told MediaCorp Singapore needs sports marketing experts in the long term to drive all areas of sports if it is to become a global hub.

"There are two things happening here," said the 64-year-old. "You have the big events where people come and go, and then you have people struggling to try and make things work at the local level.

"What you need are people who understand the business of sports but I doubt there is a university here dedicated to providing a masters degree course in it to equip them with the knowledge of how sponsorship, television programming, licensing and legal structures work.

"You have some agencies but they tend to be international ones, who benefit in being here from a tax point of view but run their own sports marketing for other parts of the world.

"Young talent who see it as a career path must be developed because nobody I am aware of is recruiting people out of Singapore as none are being trained in that area here. And I'm talking about sports as a business, not sports management. I think this is an opportunity missed."

Nally said Singapore's key advantages are its reputation as a business hub and its location at the centre of "a very strong Asian market".

The country's uncanny ability for achieving things disproportionate to its size has also given it the tools to use sports to take its success to another level.

And if Singapore succeeds in attracting other major sporting brand properties aside from Formula 1 to float here eventually, it will be in pole position to take on the mantle as the financial centre for sports.

"If Singapore was suddenly home to the 10 or 20 biggest sporting brands, it would be in a strong position to be a global Forbes 100 list," Nally said.

"Internationally, sport is a monster, a massive industry. It is not about what can happen here within the limitations of your five million people, but the impact you can have on the billions of people on a global scale. Your limitation is only down to creativity."

Nally insisted if Singapore is investing so much in bringing big events like Formula 1 here and building a sports hub, its longer-term objective must first start with education.

"If you look at the amount of money that the country is investing in sport, my goodness just put a small proportion into education so that people understand the sports industry. It will actually reap substantial dividends," he said.

Major accident along Farrer Road, 3 injured

SINGAPORE: Three people were injured in an accident involving a truck and two cars on Sunday evening at Farrer Road near Blk 64.

Traffic was almost brought to a standstill for about two hours on Farrer Road toward Holland Road.

This after an overturned mover's truck blocked three out of the four lanes.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call about the accident at 5pm.

The SCDF despatched a fire engine, one red rhino, two ambulances and two other support vehicles.

Three men were injured including the truck driver - a male Chinese national in his 30s, his passenger who is a Singaporean man in his 20s and a pedestrian in his 40s.

It is believed that the pedestrian was hit by a car while trying to help the other two men.

SCDF said the trio suffered abrasions and cuts on their limbs.

They were sent to Alexandra Hospital in a conscious state.

Eating placenta, an age-old practice in China

SHANGHAI: After Wang Lan delivered, she brought home a baby girl and her placenta, which she plans to eat in a soup -- adopting an age-old practice in Chinese traditional medicine.

The health-giving qualities of placenta are currently creating a buzz in Western countries, where some believe it can help ward off postnatal depression, improve breast milk supply and boost energy levels.

But placentophagy -- the practice of eating one's placenta after birth -- is relatively common in China, where it is thought to have anti-ageing properties, and dates back more than 2,000 years.

"It is in the refrigerator now and I am waiting for my mother to come and cook it to eat. After cleaning, it can be stewed for soup, without that fishy smell," Wang said, adding she believed it would help her recover from delivery.

Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of a unified China, is said to have designated placenta as having health properties some 2,200 years ago, and during China's last dynasty, the dowager empress Cixi was said to have eaten it to stay young.

A classic medical text from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) said placenta -- which lines the uterus and is key to the survival of the foetus -- was "heavily nutritious" and "if taken for the longer term... longevity will be achieved".

China's state media says the practice of eating placenta has re-emerged over the past decade. One maternity hospital in the eastern city of Nanjing reported that about 10 per cent of new parents took their placenta after childbirth.

Internet postings swap recipes on how to prepare placenta. One popular health website suggests soup, dumplings, meat balls or mixing it with other kinds of traditional Chinese medicine.

While trade in the organs has been banned since 2005, pills containing placentas ground into powder are legally available in Chinese pharmacies -- indicating unwanted placenta is somehow making its way to drug companies.

"It is a tonic to fortify the 'qi' and enrich the blood," a traditional medicine doctor at Shanghai's Lei Yun Shang pharmacy said, referring to the "life force" that practitioners believe flows through the body.

"Sales are very good. Basically, every time we have supplies, they sell out very quickly," a clerk at the shop told AFP.

And it's not just mothers who want to eat the placenta.

One new father in Shanghai who did not want to be named said his relatives were eager to try the sought-after item. "My wife and I were still in the hospital... and they ate it," he said.

But strong demand has created a thriving black market with hospitals, medical workers and even mothers selling placentas in violation of the law.

Last year, authorities investigated a hospital in the southern city of Guangzhou for selling placentas for 20 yuan (US$2) apiece.

"They (nurses) take the money and use it to buy breakfast," a source told a the local Xin Kuai newspaper.

They fetch a higher price in other parts of China like the eastern city of Jinan, where dealers ask as much as 300 yuan per placenta, most sourced from hospitals, the Jinan Times said last year.

Last month, South Korean customs said they had uncovered multiple attempts to illegally import over 17,000 capsules apparently containing the powdered flesh of dead babies.

Experts have said the pills may actually be made from human placenta, raising concerns that China's trade in the organs has started to go international.

Some people, meanwhile, are averse to the idea of eating the organ.

"I know it's good for health, but the idea of eating human flesh is just disgusting. I cannot do it," said Shanghai accountant Grace Jiang, who opted to leave the placenta after giving birth to her son.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Double-leg amputee scales Mount Kilimanjaro, proving doctors wrong

MONTREAL (AFP) - A double-leg amputee has pulled himself up Africa's highest mountain, disproving doctors who said he would never be a functioning member of society.'

Mr Spencer West, 31, lost his legs as a child after a genetic disorder - sacral agenesis - paralysed the lower half of his body.

But he didn't let that stop him: the resident of the Canadian city of Toronto arrived at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, some 6,000m above sea level, on Tuesday, calling it an incredible personal feat.

'Reaching the peak of Mount Kilimanjaro was the most mentally and physically challenging thing I have ever done, but in doing so, it reinforced the powerful message of believing in yourself, and believing in others,' Mr West told AFP from Nairobi, Kenya.

Gold losing its shine as its price tumbles in recent weeks

Gold usually thrives in times of financial turmoil but its price has tumbled in recent weeks, wiping out all the gains made this year.

Gold fell 2.4 per cent from Wednesday to US$1,569.23 (S$2,004) per ounce on Friday evening. This is a 12.1 per cent slide from its high of US$1,748.23 per ounce in February this year.

The slide started after the US Federal Reserve extended a programme aimed at keeping long-term interest rates low. Operation Twist, which was supposed to end this month, will now continue till the end of the year.

That has undermined one of gold's traditional strengths - as a hedge against inflation. With long-term interest rates expected to stay low, investors see less need to buy bullion.

1 S'porean diver and 5 others missing off Tioman

KUALA LUMPUR - Search teams were Sunday looking for six scuba divers who went missing a day earlier off a Malaysian resort island after apparently failing to resurface, a maritime official said.

The group, including a diver from Singapore, one from China and four Malaysians, disappeared after going diving off Tioman island on Malaysia’s east coast Saturday, an official with the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency.

Only one person with the group, whose members were aged between 25 and 33 and which included two women, resurfaced after the dive, he said.

Three boats and eight navy divers are involved in the search.

Malaysia’s east coast islands, famed for their corals and marine life, are a popular dive destination. Accidents are rare.

Woodlands crash: 'I didn't even hear the car coming'

WHEN IT happened, it was so sudden that she literally did not know what hit her. All she knew was that something had knocked into her from behind.

As she fell to the ground, she saw a haunting sight - her two young sons were flying through the air.

A car then passed them before skidding to a stop about 20m away.

The boys landed a few metres away, curled up in foetal positions.

A stunned Madam Ho Bee Keng, 35, then turned to her left and saw her mother-in-law, Madam Gwee Ham Siau, 64, lying in an awkward position, blood flowing from her temples.

Madam Ho, who suffered a broken right foot, told The New Paper yesterday: "I didn't hear any screeching of tyres (before the accident).

"People asked me why I didn't get out of the way. How could I when I didn't even hear the car coming?"

She said the four of them were walking on the pavement along Woodlands Drive 14, which is separated from the road by a 2m-wide grass patch, at about 5.45pm on Wednesday.

They were heading for dinner after watching a television show at their home in Block 511 Woodlands Avenue 2.

Madam Ho was walking next to Madam Gwee, with her sons slightly ahead of them, when the accident happened. Madam Gwee died in hospital at 8pm that night.

After the car stopped, she saw the driver get out and stand beside the door.

Madam Ho said she had the impression that the man might have wanted to leave the scene, so she shouted at him in Mandarin: "Don't go!"

Despite the pain in her foot, she got up and went over to him.

"I grabbed his forearm with both hands. He tried to brush me off, but I dragged him back towards the pavement," Madam Ho said.

"I felt dizzy, so I sat down and made him sit with me. I didn't let him go."

The car's licence plate had fallen to the ground, so she grabbed it as well.

"The driver didn't seem worried, he was just expressionless. He spoke to me in English, which I didn't understand."

By that time, passers-by and people at a nearby playground had converged on the scene.

"There were so many people that even if he wanted to run, he couldn't have," Madam Ho said.
She asked a passer-by to call for an ambulance and the police.

Another fetched her mobile phone, which was in a purse she was carrying.

She called her husband, Mr Oh Boon Sing, a 43-year-old chef, but he did not pick up. She then got through to her brother-in-law, who worked nearby. He cycled over within minutes.

Madam Ho said her two sons, Wei Jie, eight, and Wei Jun, six, had passed out momentarily after the accident. When they came to, they started crying.

"Their faces were pale. Wei Jie kept saying, 'It's painful'."

A passer-by stepped up and told her he would keep an eye on the driver so she could tend to her boys, Madam Ho said.

"Wei Jun said he was very tired and wanted to sleep. I was so afraid and kept on slapping his cheek, telling him not to sleep."

Wei Jie's former kindergarten teacher, who lived in the area, also stopped by to help with the children.

The older boy had a broken left leg, while his brother suffered facial cuts and was bleeding from his anus.


Madam Ho said: "I was most worried for my mother-in-law. She didn't move, didn't speak, though her eyelids fluttered. Somebody wanted to help move her but I told him not to."

When an ambulance arrived soon after, it left first with Madam Gwee. Wei Jie was taken by a second ambulance while Madam Ho and Wei Jun shared a third.

They were taken to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital, and Madam Ho was discharged that night. The boys are now warded at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.

She said she couldn't sleep that night because she was worried for her children. Her sister-in-law's family is looking after the boys.

"Wei Jun is very frightened. He screams repeatedly that he wants to come home to sleep. His brother keeps dozing off from the medication."

An eyewitness had told TNP on Wednesday night that one of the boys was on a bicycle when the car hit him.

But Madam Ho said the only bicycle at the scene was her brother-in-law's, which he hastily tossed aside once he arrived.

Madam Ho and her husband were busy arranging for Madam Gwee's wake, at the void deck of their block, and her funeral on Sunday.

The widow of four years had been living with the family in the Woodlands flat since her son married Madam Ho in 2003.

"She doted on the children. She was easy to get along with and there were never any squabbles in our home," Madam Ho said.

The 31-year-old driver of the car told Shin Min Daily News that he had been travelling at about 50kmh at the time and had swerved to avoid a child dashing across the road.

The engineer said he had no intention of fleeing and had in fact tried to pick up one of the boys, but was stopped by passers-by.

The police, who arrested the driver at the scene, said yesterday that they are still investigating the case.

Accidents where vehicles mounted kerbs

Sept 13, 2011 

A taxi uprooted two bollards - made of steel sections and concrete - and ploughed into a bus stop in front of Block 315, Bukit Batok West Avenue 2.

Three men at the bus stop suffered cuts and bruises to their faces, hands and knees.

Oct 17, 2010 

A 24-year-old Immigration and Checkpoints Authority officer was killed when his Mitsubishi Lancer mounted a kerb, spun and crashed into a tree at Admiralty Road West.

His 25-year-old passenger suffered serious head injuries and multiple fractures.

Two passers-by walking on the pavement were hit by broken pieces from the car and taken to hospital for outpatient treatment.

May 1, 2007 

A speeding Toyota Vios crashed into a bus stop at Penang Road, injuring six women.

It mounted a kerb and uprooted a steel bus service information stand and two benches at the bus stop.
The driver was later jailed for 15 months and disqualified from driving for 10 years.

May 13, 1998 

Three people were killed on the spot and another four seriously hurt after a sports car ploughed into a Bendemeer Road bus stop.

The driver was jailed for two years for rash and dangerous driving. He was also banned from driving for life.

The accident prompted the Land Transport Authority to install 1,500 of Singapore's 4,000 bus stops with bollards.

Wild boars attacking humans, need to be managed: Khaw

SINGAPORE - National Development Minister Minister Khaw Boon Wan wrote on his blog on Friday regarding an incident where two wild boars charged at a CISCO security guard and a child.

The incident took place on Friday morning at about 9am.

The wild boars were seen wandering off into the Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park from their home in Lower Peirce area at about 8.30am.

According to The New Paper on Saturday, a five-year-old boy was thrown about 1 metre away after the boar rammed into his rear. The boy was not seriously injured. A Caucasian man was seen carrying the kid away.

A patrolling Cisco protection officer, Mr Arnold Owen Rodriguese, 36, also hurt his hand in a fall after being knocked down by the animal.

A hunt for the wild boars ensued after NParks and Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) officers were called in.

The New Paper reported that at about 2pm, a boar was spotted and put down with a dart gun. Its carcass was then carried away by a WRS van.

Wild boar population needs to be managed: Khaw

However, the incident serves to highlight the need for the wild boar population in Singapore to be managed, Mr Khaw wrote.

Rehoming them, unfortunately, is not an option, he added.

Mr Khaw was speaking in response to a fierce debate brewing following NPark's decision to cull some of the wild boar population in the area.

The decision is being objected to by some residents and animal rights activists.

However, NParks has maintained that the boars are eating valuable plant life and two boars once attacked and killed a pet dog.

In his blog post, Mr Khaw said that while he hopes that all species of life can live in their natural habitat rather than be locked up, this is a "very stretched target".

"In a limited space of just over 700 sq km, it is a zero-sum game and we need to prioritise," he wrote.

He noted that the ministry's priority is to protect Singaporean children, hence the need to act on wild animals occasionally.

"We will be as humane as we can, but the need to manage their population remains," he said.

In the post, he also mentioned the efforts taken to manage Singapore's stray dog population. He wrote that the ministry has been receiving complaints of certain packs of dogs barking and behaving aggressively towards park goers.

He said that while he appreciates the good intentions of animal rights activists who tried to disrupt the rounding up of such strays, he is more worried "about our children, who are defenceless in such adversity."

He said that animal lovers are invited to come forward and adopt the strays if they wish to express their compassion, rather than feeding them "indiscriminately and hindering efforts to manage the stray population."

Singapore nursing homes open "more affordable" branches in JB

SINGAPORE: Some nursing homes in Singapore have set up branches in Malaysia's Johor Bahru to cater to Singaporeans who are looking for a more affordable alternative.

At least two nursing homes have opened branches there, while another is set to open early next year.

One of them is LC private nursing home. It opened a 60-bed branch there early this year.

Patients pay about half of what others pay at its home in Singapore.

Four of its patients in Singapore have already moved to the Johor Bahru facility.

Owner of the home, Dr Tony Chia, said it is a more affordable option for those who are financially-strapped.

Soccer fan dies after 11 all-nighters

A die-hard Chinese fan of England's soccer team died at home in Changsha, Central China's Hunan province, on June 19, 2012, after 11 nights of watching games, since the start of Euro 2012.

The Daily Mail UK quoted as saying Mr Jiang Xiaoshan, 26, was a supporter of England and France, and had spent 11 nights without sleep, all the while spending his days at work.

Mr Jiang watched the match between Italy and Ireland, and drank a lot of beer with his friends in a bar until 5am on June 19, before he returned home to sleep, from which he never woke up.

His mother found him on the bed when she tried waking him up for an evening meal on June 20.
Friends said the news of his death came as a shock as he lived a "relatively healthy life". Mr Jiang was healthy and fit, and was even the main force on his college soccer team. He continued to play after graduation.

According to reports, he was a fanatical football fan who would watch all major tournaments without missing a single match.

Dr Liu Zhiling said multiple factors led to the man's death, including prolonged sleep deprivation, massive amounts of beer, a bath after drinking as well as a low indoor temperature.

Cause of death was low blood sugar and slow blood circulation.

This is not the first time fanatical devotion has led a fan to an untimely death.

According to The New Paper, during the Germany 2006 and South Africa 2010 World Cups, there were reports of people being admitted to hospital after their bodies broke down from the lack of sleep.

The problem is not confined to football fans.

Recently, a Diablo fan passed away after playing the game for three days straight. A writer for gaming news site Gameranx, he was discovered dead in his home over a weekend after suffering a heart attack.

2-year-old girl donates organs to save two strangers

The parents of a little girl who never had a chance to live decided to give meaning to their daughter's death by donating the girl's organs to save two other children.

Nicknamed Xiwang, meaning "hope", the 2-year-old girl from Inner Mongolia was born with a terminal form of cerebral palsy.

Seeing that their daughter could not be saved, the thoughts of the girl's parents turned to how to handle her death.

"Instead of burning our dead daughter to ashes, we decided to donate her organs to save other kids. We called her Xiwang because we wanted to give the hope of life to other children who need our help," said Wang Xiaofei, the girl's mother.

At about 5:30 pm on June 9, when the girl's life was coming to an end, the father kissed his daughter goodbye and watched as she was sent into the operating room in Chifeng City Hospital. The doctors took out kidney and liver from the girl and sent the organs to Tianjin, where the two recipient children were waiting.

Deng Yingxin, Chifeng's Red Cross coordinator for human organ donation, said that the girl was the first female human organ donor in Chifeng and the youngest donor in Inner Mongolia.

Tianjin No 1 Hospital reported that the two children who received Xiwang's organs were in good condition. The families of the two children felt deep gratitude to the girl and her parents.

In the past couple of years, Xiwang's parents spent more than 200,000 yuan (S$39,947) for her medical treatment and had liabilities of more than 70,000 yuan.

Many people wanted to donate money to the girl's parents after they learned of her story and the parents' situation, but the parents refused financial support from others.

"We are young and can earn a living by our own hands. We do not want donations from others." Wang said.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

15 banking titans slapped with Moody's downgrade

WASHINGTON - The health of 15 of the world's largest financial institutions was called into serious question Thursday, as Moody's downgraded their credit ratings, citing exposure risk and to Europe's economic woes.

Some of the biggest names in banking, including Goldman Sachs, Barclays, Citigroup, HSBC and Deutsche Bank, saw their ratings slashed, spelling increased scrutiny from markets and potentially higher borrowing costs.

Moody's said, in essence, that the banks' actions inherently risked massive losses and that they were exposed to the roiling financial crisis and to each other.

"All of the banks affected by today's actions have significant exposure to the volatility and risk of outsized losses inherent to capital markets activities," said Greg Bauer, Moody's global banking managing.

In total four firms were downgraded by one notch, 10 firms by two notches and one by three notches.

Holding companies of a number of the same banks were also downgraded.

Credit Suisse faced the largest downgrade, with its rating slashed three levels from Aa1 to A1.

Under-pressure US banking giant Morgan Stanley was seen as winning a partial victory by only receiving a two-notch downgrade.

The bank welcomed the partial reprieve, but nevertheless questioned the Moody's decision.

"While Moody's revised ratings are better than its initial guidance of up to three notches, we believe the ratings still do not fully reflect the key strategic actions we have taken in recent years," Morgan Stanley said in a statement.

Citigroup was similarly unimpressed with the Moody's verdict.

"Citi strongly disagrees with Moody's analysis of the banking industry and firmly believes its downgrade of Citi is arbitrary and completely unwarranted."

It added that "sophisticated" investors no longer depend so heavily on ratings agencies to make assess credit risk.

The Moody's swathe of downgrades amounts to a fresh indictment of the health of the top tier of the global financial system, which has seen wave after wave of crisis since 2008.

Since the sub-prime crisis, banks have seen the value of their assets slump and their access to capital shrink.

That has repeatedly forced taxpayers and central banks to step in to provide liquidity.

Many governments have been forced to prove bailouts straining already precarious public finances.

On Thursday, Spain became the latest to signal a bank bailout.

Madrid announced that its crisis-torn banks need up to 62 billion euros (US$78 billion) to survive. It is expected to formally ask its eurozone partners for the cash on Friday.

The 15 banks downgraded were: Bank of America, Barclays, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Royal Bank of Scotland, BNP Paribas, Credit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, Royal Bank of Canada, Societe Generale and UBS.

Moody's began their review of the banks in February, and the move was widely anticipated, helping to send the Dow Jones Industrial Average sharply lower on Thursday.

In a separate announcement, Moody's also downgraded British bank Lloyds TSB.

Donations to Singapore charities hit 10-year high

SINGAPORE: Corporations and members of the public contributed more to charity last year.

This is according to the annual report of the Commissioner of Charities (COC) for the year ended 31 December 2011.

The total value of tax deductible donations received in 2011 in aid of local charitable causes was S$896 million, the highest in the last 10 years.

That's an increase of 15 per cent compared to 2010 when S$776 million was received.

Corporate donations rose 19 per cent while donations from individuals went up by 9 per cent.

Last year, the Charity Council released the refined Code of Governance for charities and Institutions of a Public Character (IPCs) following extensive consultation with various stakeholders. The refined code is more flexible, clearer and relevant for charities.

The Accounting Standards Council and the COC office also jointly issued the Charities Accounting Standard (CAS) in June 2011. This standard makes financial reporting simpler and more relevant for charities while enhancing disclosures for greater transparency.

The COC office says it will continue in its efforts to improve governance in the charity sector, to engage with charities and IPCs and to enhance public access to information via the Charity Portal (

NTUC sets wage targets for cleaners

SINGAPORE: The labour movement is embarking on a progressive wage system to further help low-income workers.

Labour chief Lim Swee Say outlined the concept of progressive wages during a cleaning industry forum on Thursday.

Under this concept, NTUC will set specific targets to lift wages of cleaners to S$1,000, S$1,200 and S$1,500 or more.

For example, the labour movement aims to help some 7,000 cleaners currently getting less than S$1,000 to earn at least S$1,000. They work mostly as cleaners in hawker centres, schools.

For those already earning S$1,000, NTUC wants to lift their wages to S$1,200.

These targets could be met when workers go for skills upgrading and productivity improvements.

Mr Lim said: "Our philosophy, our belief is that every job can be improved in terms of skills, in terms of productivity, in terms of outcomes, in terms of wages."

NTUC aims to help 10,000 cleaners receive higher pay under the progressive wage system.

It wants to reach out to 100,000 low-wage workers in 12 industry clusters by 2015.

The progressive wage system is expected to roll out to other sectors.

Mr Lim said that the progressive wage system will operate under the existing Inclusive Growth Programme and Best Sourcing Initiative.

He believes the progressive wage approach is a pragmatic one and would be better than implementing a minimum wage policy.

The labour chief described minimum wages as "sticky wages", and is concerned if employers choose to keep minimum wage down to remain competitive.

"If we set too low the minimum wage it will not solve the problems faced by the low wage workers. If we impose too high the minimum wage then some of the low wage workers may become unemployable," Mr Lim said.

Inflation here to stay sticky, say analysts

Inflationary pressures in Singapore's economy will not be shaken off easily this year, even though inflation will be milder than the 5.2 per cent recorded last year, according to DBS Bank.

The bank, meanwhile, projected a 3.5 per cent growth rate for the Singapore economy this year - 0.5 percentage point higher than the median estimate of 21 private-sector economists and analysts surveyed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

DBS revised upwards its inflation forecast for this year, from 4.1 per cent to 4.5 per cent.
For next year, the bank revised its forecast from 2.6 per cent to 3.1 per cent.

Both high Certificate of Entitlement premiums and high property prices will remain the main culprits behind inflation in the near future, DBS economist Irvin Seah said yesterday.

He noted that inadequate provision for housing in previous years has created massive demand in the sector.

UOB economist Alvin Liew held similar views, even though he noted a slide in oil prices. Oil futures hit an eight-month low in US trading yesterday, to US$79.92 (S$102) a barrel.

"It would have some dampening effect on the transport-cost component," Mr Liew noted.

He expects a more pronounced decrease in the inflation rate next month.

Apart from lingering inflation woes, growth is expected to be sluggish in the second half of this year, DBS projects.

"We expect the GDP growth on a quarter-on-quarter basis to fall back to 1 per cent. The chance of a negative is high," Mr Seah said, adding that it will probably negate some of the gains from the first quarter.

The economy expanded by 10 per cent on a quarter-on-quarter seasonally adjusted basis in the first quarter of this year.

The manufacturing sector's strong showing boosted the economy in the first quarter this year, but will likely moderate in the second half of the year, due to the downside risks in the global environment.

Mr Seah said that although questions over Greece's exit from the euro zone have been dispelled by the formation of a coalition government yesterday, the European debt crisis is far from over.

The sluggish pace of US recovery and its anaemic labour market, and signs of moderated growth momentum in Asia will impact Singapore's economic performance.

Quick-thinking motorist saves unconscious driver

The driver of a car had been unconscious in his vehicle for hours and could have gone unnoticed if not for the man who parked his car next to his.

Mr Francis Loo, 47, the owner of a welding firm, told my paper that he was about to get out of his car at an open-air carpark in Geylang Bahru at about 1pm on Sunday. He was on his way to buy lunch for his father as it was Father's Day.

It was then that he noticed a man in the driver's seat of the car next to his leaning forward at an awkward angle towards the front passenger seat.

Mr Loo said: "He didn't look like he was sleeping. I knocked on his windscreen but there was no response.

It was obvious that something had happened."

Mr Loo then opened the front passenger door of the car - which was unlocked - and immediately felt hot air wafting out. The man in the car was visibly shivering, but unconscious.

When Mr Loo tried to prop him in an upright position, he found that the man's entire polo T-shirt was soaked in perspiration.

He then went over to the driver's side to open the door, and saw that the car key was in the ignition, although the engine had been switched off.

"This poor guy had been lying in the hot car for a while and must have collapsed before he could start the car," said Mr Loo. He posted his account of what happened that day on citizen- journalism website Stomp yesterday.

Mr Loo said that his sister, who was with him, called for an ambulance. He decided against performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation, which he had been trained in, as the man had a pulse and was still breathing.

"The only thing I could do was to fan him," said Mr Loo, who also turned on the car's air-conditioning.

Meanwhile, his sister sought help from a nearby clinic, along with another passer-by.

A clinic assistant there told Mr Loo's sister that the doctor could not help as he did not want to be held responsible if anything should happen to the man.

Mr Loo said: "The clinic assistant didn't actually go in to ask the doctor for help."

Minutes later, a mobile phone inside the car rang. It was the man's wife, who gave her name as Fauziah, said Mr Loo, who answered the call.

She told him that her husband, Kamal, who is in his 50s, had dropped her off at a market nearby at about 8am.

She added that her husband suffers from Parkinson's disease, and might not have taken his medication that morning.

The man was later taken to Tan Tock Seng Hospital in an "unresponsive" state, said the Singapore Civil Defence Force.

Granny, 82, suffers bloodied face after falling on SMRT bus

SINGAPORE - An 82-year-old grandmother suffered a bloodied face and bruises on her arm and shoulders after she fell on board an SMRT bus, reported the Lianhe Wanbao.

The incident occurred on June 14, at about 4.10pm.

Madam Chan Lan Ching was seated on board bus 178 when she took a tumble. She was travelling from Boon Lay interchange to Woodlands, where she was to meet her daughter.

Madam Chan told Wanbao that the bus had accelerated before turning right, causing her to fall from her seat to the floor of the bus.

She said she was flustered and did not know what she had knocked into, but there was blood streaming from her nose and lips. Her face, neck and arms were also aching.

Madam Chan said many people crowded around her to help, but the blood did not stop flowing even after they used up three packets of tissues.

Miss Julie Ann Marie Amen Sigue, 29, a childcare teacher who was on board the bus, told The New Paper that the driver was "very reckless".

"He made a very sharp turn to the right. The bus was almost flying," said Miss Sigue.

Miss Sigue, a Filipino, said there were five passengers on board the bus, including Madam Chan.
When the bus turned, Madam Chan's right cheek and mouth bumped into the seat across the aisle.

"There was so much blood on the floor. I looked for tissue paper and the tissue paper was soaked," said Miss Sigue, who tried to comfort Madam Chan.

The bus stopped 20 metres away from the junction. Two male passengers left, while another woman apologised for not being able to help as she was in a rush.

Miss Sigue said the driver looked worried and called the ambulance after an elderly passenger told him to do so.

Madam Chan was sent to the National University Hospital for emergency treatment and was warded briefly before being transferred to Alexandra Hospital.

When reporters from the Chinese evening daily visited her in hospital on Tuesday, Madam Chan's face was still swollen and bruised, especially around the eye and lip area.

She suffered a gash above her upper lip, which required 17 stitches, a fractured hand as well as bruising on her chest, and neck area. She complained of body aches as well.

The grandmother of 14, who has high blood pressure and diabetes, is not sure when she can be discharged, but hopes for compensation from SMRT.

But she was still able to crack a joke with reporters, saying that it is lucky she is 82-years-old and not 28, "otherwise, if I get disfigured, no one will marry me".

Madam Chan's daughter, Ms Christina Wu, 56, a civil servant, said she cried after seeing her mother in such a sorry state.

She could not recognise her mother at first as her face was swollen and there were blood clots all over it.

She told The New Paper: "I wanted to cry but I didn't want to cry in front of her in case I upset her. So I hid in a corner and cried."

An SMRT spokesperson said they are aware of the incident, after its service leader alerted SMRT's bus operations control centre. The company has been in touch with Mrs Tan's family to render their assistance and have visited her in hospital.

Investigations into the case are ongoing, said the spokesperson.

Insurance manager, 37, dies of heart attack after football game

Left:Mr Wan Hussin Zoohri, former Aljunied GRC Member of Parliament (MP), showing his mobile phone with a picture of his youngest child, Mr Wan Imran Haji Wan Hussin. Right: Mr Wan Imran.

They waited for him to reach home so they could have dinner together on Father's Day.

But he never made it.

On Sunday evening, former Aljunied GRC Member of Parliament (MP) Wan Hussin Zoohri's son, Mr Wan Imran Haji Wan Hussin, died of a heart attack after playing football.

The 37-year-old manager at an insurance firm had earlier shown signs of being unwell.

His brother-in-law, Mr Alif Lim, 50, a civil servant, told The New Paper that Mr Wan Imran had met his usual group of football "kakis" at 5pm to play at Yusof Ishak Secondary School.

"While playing, he felt uncomfortable and went to the toilet to vomit. When he returned, he asked a friend to take him home," saidMrLim Mr Wan Imran lost consciousness on the way back, on Tagore Drive, near Upper Thomson Road.

"His friend said he had fits, before becoming unconscious," said Mr Lim.

His friend immediately called for an ambulance.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said it received a call for assistance at about 7.20pm, and sent an ambulance.

The officers performed CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and used an automated external defibrillator on Mr Wan Imran, before taking him to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH). They continued with their resuscitation efforts en route.

Mr Lim said they were praying at home when they received a call from Mr Wan Imran's friend.
Together with his wife, her parents and two brothers, he rushed to KTPH.

Mr Wan Imran, the youngest of four siblings, was declared dead at 8.36pm.

Never complained of chest pain 

"According to his friend, he was one of the fittest in the group, and would chase every ball," said Mr Lim.

He said Mr Wan Imran's death was completely unexpected, as he never once complained of any chest pains nor had any records of medical problems.

The family is coping well, with support from relatives and friends.

Mr Wan Hussin, who was also former Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Culture, said his youngest son was a pleasant person who respected every one.

"We are closely knit. We gather at home for dinner every weekend and my wife would cook," he said.

He described his son as an ambitious man who wanted to climb the corporate ladder.

"He was promoted this month. We would tease him every morning and call him 'Mr Manager'."

Mr Wan Hussin said his wife had taken the shock better than him.

"From the time he was lying in hospital until the burial, I couldn't stop crying. When I see his face, it just reminds me of his gentleness," he said.

He recalled how his son had given him a back massage before leaving on Sunday.

"My back had been uneasy for two days, so before he went out, he gave me a really good massage. I really enjoyed it," said Mr Wan Hussin.

Coping well 
"That was the last time I saw him alive."

Mr Wan Imran's best friend, Mr Sujen Jayakody, 36, flew in from Sydney, Australia.

Said the medical doctor, who has been based overseas for six years: "We've known each other since our primary school days at St Michael's School (Now St Joseph's Institution Junior)."

As soon as he got the news, he went online to book a flight to Singapore .

He arrived at 2.30pm yesterday and made it to Choa Chu Kang Muslim Cemetery in time for the burial.

"He was a really cheerful person. He was very quiet, so it would take a while to get to know him. But once he warmed up, he would liven up the room," Dr Jayakody said of his friend.

The last time the two met was when he returned from Australia 11/2 years ago.

They kept in touch regularly through Facebook.

"On his last birthday on March 3, he told me that of all the texts and wishes he received, he cherished the one I sent him the most," Dr Jayakody said.

"He's like the brother I never had."

No symptoms till disease is severe 

Cardiologist Soon Chao Yang said coronary atherosclerosis is a disease that leads to blockage of blood vessels of the heart.

"It is not uncommon as everybody eventually will develop it with ageing. Some will get it faster than others," said Dr Soon of Nobel Heart Centre, based at Mount Alvernia Hospital.

He added that there are generally no symptoms until the disease becomes severe.

"Unfortunately, the more severe cases sometimes end up in sudden attacks, such as in this case here," said Dr Soon.

He said factors that lead to this condition include elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, smoking and diabetes.

"To keep all these factors in check, we have to lead a healthy lifestyle and screen for them regularly," he said.

But there are also factors beyond our control, such as gender, ethnicity and family history.

"It is more common in guys, and woman have lower risks until after menopause," he said.

Several social footballers in Singapore have died from heart attacks, but even professionals have not been spared.

They include:
  • PIERMARIO MOROSINI, APRIL 14, 2012: The 25-year-old midfielder, who played for Italian club Livorno, fell to the ground in a Serie B match. He received urgent medical attention on the pitch but never regained consciousness, and was dead by the time he was taken to hospital. 
  • DANIEL JARQUE, AUG 8, 2009: The captain of Spanish side Espanyol died after a cardiac arrest following pre-season training. Club doctors and paramedics tried to revive the 26-year-old midfielder using CPR and a defibrillator, without success.
  • ANTONIO PUERTA, AUG 28, 2007: The wing-back of Spanish club Sevilla collapsed in the 35th minute of a La Liga match against Getafe on Aug 25, 2007. The 22-year-old was able to walk from the pitch but collapsed again in the changing rooms. He had to be given cardiac resuscitation before being taken to hospital. He died three days later.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Singapore 'resilient to global shocks': Moody's Investors Service

Singapore has a high degree of resilience to global financial shocks, despite its open economy and dependence on global finance and trade, said ratings agency Moody's Investors Service.

But the economy is facing structural challenges with slower growth and changes in the political landscape.

Still, Moody's is keeping a stable outlook on its triple-A rating on Singapore's sovereign credit, citing strengths in its economy, institutions and the Government's financial position.

In its annual credit report on the country released on Tuesday, Moody's said Singapore excels in four areas: its strong economy, institutions, government finances and low vulnerability to external shocks.

Moody's has also rated the Government's financial position as being 'very high', despite the move to channel more resources to help lower- income earners.

Europe chooses closer integration to fix euro crisis

LOS CABOS, Mexico: Europe's major powers moved towards greater financial integration on Tuesday, in a G20 summit declaration aimed at boosting confidence in the bloc's plans to fix its spiraling debt crisis.

"We support the intention to consider concrete steps towards a more integrated financial architecture, encompassing banking supervision, resolution and recapitalization, and deposit insurance," the joint G20 statement said.

Backed by key EU members including Germany, France and Britain, the communique followed two days of talks in the Mexican beach resort of Los Cabos in which European leaders came under strong pressure to take firm and quick action.

Beyond the moat-ringed conference center in the hills above San Jose del Cabo, bond markets jacked up rates on Spanish and Italian debt amid self-fulfilling fears that the debt crisis that sank Greece was spreading once again.

The G20 statement said eurozone members will "take all necessary measures" to stabilize the single currency bloc, including moves to "break the feedback loop" that has weak governments piling on more and more debt to bail out their banks.

In addition, should economic conditions worsen, the countries with more financial flexibility "stand ready to coordinate and implement discretionary fiscal actions to support domestic demand," it said.

The United States, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank have all urged greater banking integration in Europe, hoping to instill more confidence as banks falter in some of the worst-hit nations.

US President Barack Obama, worried Europe was not moving resolutely enough to contend with the debt crisis, huddled in a special meeting with European leaders, fearful that economic turmoil could torpedo his hopes of re-election in November.

Obama met Tuesday with Germany's Angela Merkel, France's Francois Hollande, Spain's Mariano Rajoy, Italy's Mario Monti and Britain's David Cameron as well as European Union chiefs Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman van Rompuy.

Shortly after the Obama-EU meeting, the wording of the final G20 communique was confirmed but there were few clues given about the path forward -- perhaps because Europe's leaders gather in Brussels at the end of the month.

The new element was the move towards a banking union. Europe-wide guarantees on deposits and a central authority to close banks that go bust are seen as a way to promote the flow of cash through the system and give more confidence to lend.

Supporters believe union would break a cycle in which banks are obliged to rely on their own troubled countries' governments and central banks, creating a vicious cycle of mounting debt that brings down all of the institutions.

Germany, the largest economy in Europe, has resisted debt burden-sharing out of concern that its own comparatively healthy system will be obliged to help out weaker banks in countries that have lacked discipline.

Merkel remains the driving force behind the eurozone's determination to privilege austere deficit busting over stimulus spending, although US officials say her position is softening.

"In Los Cabos the seeds of a pan-European recovery plan were planted," said IMF managing director Christine Lagarde.

"European leaders committed to take all measures necessary to safeguard the integrity and stability of the euro area and break the feedback loop between sovereigns and banks," Lagarde said.

"Their intention to consider concrete steps towards a more integrated financial architecture is important."

The G20 summit followed hot on the heels of Sunday's pivotal polls in debt-ridden Greece, where parties committed to the terms of their EU and IMF-led bailout held off a strong challenge by a leftist anti-austerity party.

The IMF has indicated that it could now be open to a renegotiation of Greece's 130-billion-euro ($165 billion) bailout program.

But hopes that the Greek vote had helped the single currency bloc turn a corner in the crisis were dashed as attention moved onto the fragile economies of other EU members and Spanish borrowing costs soared to record levels.

US officials have called for Greece to be given more time to get its affairs in order, but Merkel remained unmoved.

"Elections cannot call into question the commitments Greece made. We cannot compromise on the reform steps we agreed on," she told reporters on Monday.

Progress was made in Los Cabos in boosting the resources available to the IMF to help protect vulnerable countries from the backwash of the eurozone crisis.

China led emerging powers in topping up pledges to bring the new pool for emergency loans up to $456 billion (361 billion euros), though only in exchange for a greater say in Fund affairs.
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