Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Watz Online - 4 Apr 2012

Jurong West murder: Her eyes were gouged out

She told her neighbour she was getting married and promised to invite her to her wedding. Two days later, Miss Elsie Lie was found dead in her flat.

Her body was covered in slash marks, and certain parts were allegedly gouged out and flung out of the window from a flat she was renting at Block 633, Jurong West Street 65.

Among some of the grisly evidence found when police combed the area on Saturday morning were Miss Lie's eyes. Paramedics pronounced her dead at 7.30am.

Her boyfriend, divorcee Gabriel Lee Haw Ling, 38, has been charged with Miss Lie's murder.

Before her death, Miss Lie had told her ground-floor neighbour, Mrs Carol Ng, 39, on Friday that she was engaged.

Mrs Ng told The New Paper: "She was clutching a teddy bear when the two of them came to my house on Thursday.

"She told me that had just come back from Genting and she showed off her engagement ring."

The couple had not been seen the past two months. But on Friday night, Miss Lie suddenly returned home.

According to the evening daily, the couple had been fighting from 6.30pm. They stopped when the police arrived around 1am, but resumed half an hour later.

During that time, tenants of the unit which is shared with other occupants - a Bangladeshi couple and another Bangladeshi man - heard moans and groans coming from the room.

It is unclear as to what happened from then till around 6am when the Bangladeshi tenant returned home to find blood trails near the bedroom. He alerted his other tenants, the Bangladeshi couple, who then called the police.

Police found a knife and several household items but did not appear to be the murder weapons, reported Shin Min Daily News......

Ex-SMRT chief finds new job

Outgoing chief executive of train operator SMRT, Ms Saw Phaik Hwa, has found a new job in a listed company which is not in the transporation field.

According to The Straits Times, the 57-year-old did not reveal the identity of the company and added that it was not appropriate for her to do so, given that the company is publicly listed and should make the announcement of her appointment.

After nine years at the helm, Ms Saw resigned from SMRT on Jan 6, shortly after two massive rail breakdowns along the North-South line last December.

The incidents triggered a government-appointed committee of inquiry that will begin on April 16.

Ms Saw's resignation came as a surprise as she had said before that she was staying put despite calls for her to step down.

According to the newspaper, a search for her replacement is ongoing and it understands that possible candidates include an SMRT board member and a senior manager at a property group.

There is also talk that a retiring senior army officer is in the running.
The newspaper also reported that her ability to find a new job is similar to the comebacks she had made nearly 10 years ago.

In December 2002, Ms Saw was named chief executive of SMRT just months after being retrenched from duty-free retail chain DFS Venture Singapore, where she had been at for 19 years

Man, 50 arrested for smashing side mirrors of police car

Officers from the central police division parked their patrol car along Pitt Street at about 8.35pm and left it to patrol the Jalan Besar area.

When they returned about 45 minutes later, they found both side mirrors smashed.

After receiving a tip-off, police arrested the Chinese man along Dunlop Street for allegedly damaging the police car.

Teenager gets 18 months' probation for having sex with minor

A teenager has been put on 18 months' probation for having sex with his then 12-year-old girlfriend.

The 18-year-old had pleaded guilty to four charges in February this year.

Besides having sex with the minor on two occasions in 2009 and 2010, the teenager was also convicted of hurting her using criminal force.

For these, the court also ordered the teenager to perform 100 hours of community service.

He will also be subjected to a curfew, and must stay home between 10pm and 6am.

His mother and elder sister were also ordered to put up a S$5,000 bond in case he fails to comply with the court orders.

For having sex with a minor, he could have been jailed up to 10 years, fined, or both.

On the charge of causing hurt, the accused could have been sentenced to two years' jail, fined a maximum of S$5,000, or both.

For using criminal force on the same girl, he could have been jailed up to three months, fined up to S$1,500, or both

DBS in biggest S-E Asia bank takeover

S$9.1b offer made for Bank Danamon Indonesia
In the biggest banking takeover by a South-east Asian lender, DBS Group Holdings is offering to buy Bank Danamon Indonesia for about S$9.1 billion, including paying Temasek Holdings S$6.2 billion for its 67.4-per-cent stake, as industry experts disagree over the merits of the deal.

The acquisition will make DBS the fifth- largest bank in Indonesia - where bank penetration is low and annual loan growth is running at 20 per cent.

Bank Danamon, Indonesia's sixth-biggest bank by assets, will be merged with DBS Indonesia following the deal.

DBS chief executive Piyush Gupta said: "Indonesia is an exciting Asian market and we believe that we will be able to contribute towards the growth of the Indonesian banking sector, especially in areas such as infrastructure financing, project financing, trade finance and syariah banking.

"With Danamon, we will be able to significantly diversify our revenue mix and further consolidate our position as the Asian Bank of Choice."

According to its website, Bank Danamon and its subsidiaries operate about 2,900 branches and have close to 62,000 employees in Indonesia. Net income last year rose 16 per cent to 3.3 trillion rupiah (S$452 million).

Mr Gupta said he expected the deal to close in the second half of the year, subject to regulatory approval.

DBS, the biggest bank in South-east Asia by assets, will pay for the acquisition of Temasek's stake by issuing 439 million new shares at S$14.07 apiece to Fullerton Financial Holdings, a wholly-owned unit of the Singapore investment giant.

DBS will make a mandatory cash offer worth about S$2.9 billion for the remaining Bank Danamon shares, offering 7,000 rupiah for each share - a hefty 56.3-per-cent premium to its one-month weighted average of 4,480 rupiah. It will finance this part of the transaction with internal cash and future debt issuance.

Temasek is on both sides of the trade, as it already holds a 29.7-per-cent stake in DBS.

The new shares issued by DBS will increase its interest to 40.4 per cent but Temasek has obtained a waiver from having to make a takeover bid for the bank.

Looking to reassure investors over the impact on its balance sheet from the new shares, DBS, which reported a record profit of more than S$3 billion last year, said a dividend cut was very unlikely.

Chief financial officer Chng Sok Hui said: "Assuming the same payout rate of 56 cents a share, the additional payout is about S$200-over-million. That is something within DBS' ability to meet in terms of dividend payment."

But dividends were one of Moody's key considerations when the rating agency yesterday placed all of DBS Bank's ratings on review for downgrade.

Moody's said: "DBS Group as a holding company - has limited earnings capacity whereas it will have higher leverage ratios after this transaction.

"Therefore, DBS (Bank) - as the group's principal earnings contributor - is expected to play a substantial role in supporting the increased debt burden of its parent.

"This will likely require DBS (Bank) to upstream higher dividends to provide the bulk of the funds that DBS Group will need to service debt as well as to pay dividends on its enlarged share capital base."

JP Morgan said in its note to investors: "DBS is a deposit franchise bank with corporate lending history. Danamon is a lower CASA (current account savings account), higher LDR (loan-to-deposit ratio), with larger vehicle, micro-financing and SME portfolios. Integrating these two would pose operational challenges, which cannot be put on a spreadsheet. DBS management has been executing the turnaround well but there is no track-record of integrating acquisitions."

It added: "Given the history of value erosion in Dao Heng, investors would likely be wary of another transaction," referring to DBS' US$5.8 billion (S$7.28 billion) takeover of the Hong Kong bank in 2001.

UBS analysts, however, were more upbeat, saying the acquisition would be transformational for the Singapore bank in Indonesia, adding that the deal "could be earnings-accretive relatively quickly".

The deal could, however, potentially face a hurdle if a plan mooted by Indonesia's central bank to cap foreign ownership of banks at 50 per cent becomes law.

DBS added yesterday it had received approval from Malaysia's central bank to commence talks to acquire a 14-per-cent stake in Alliance Financial Group in Malaysia.

Trading of DBS shares, which closed at S$14.18 apiece on Friday, was halted yesterday for the Danamon announcement.

A combination of a weak global economy, the Government's cooling measures hitting home and peak prices that are putting off investors have led private home prices to fall for the first time in almost three years.

According to flash estimates by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), prices fell 0.1 per cent between January and March, after a 0.2-per-cent increase in the previous quarter. The dip comes as Housing and Development Board resale prices increased at the slowest rate since 2006 - further evidence of a subdued market.

But for the majority of private property hunters here - many of whom had been eagerly waiting for a price correction - they could be disappointed if they now expect prices to fall across the board.

Analysts expect prices for mass market homes in the Outside Central Region, or the suburbs, to continue to head north, even as prices of private properties in the Core Central Region and the city fringes - which are favoured by investors - could fall by as much as 5 per cent this year.

Prices of HDB resale flats rise, but ....

Prices of Housing and Development Board (HDB) resale flats inched up by 0.6 per cent in the first three months of the year, compared to the fourth quarter of last year, flash estimates showed yesterday.

The increase is less than half the 1.7-per-cent rise in the previous quarter, and is the slowest rate of increase since 2006.

Analysts attributed the stabilising prices to government measures, including the ramped-up supply of new Build-to-Order (BTO) flats, increased income ceiling for these flats and the authorities' commitment to speed up the process for first-time applicants.

Data from real estate agencies also showed that the median cash-over-valuation (COV) for HDB resale flats is falling.

According to PropNex, the overall median COV for all flat types has fallen to about S$25,000 since January - a dip of S$7,000 compared to the fourth quarter of last year.

Similarly, ERA data showed that median COV for all flat types in the first three months of the year has fallen by between 16.7 per cent and 18.2 per cent, compared to the fourth quarter of last year. ERA said it expects overall median COV to continue to fall and stabilise at S$15,000 by year's end.

ERA key executive officer Eugene Lim said: "The recent change of rules to (allocate) 15 per cent of the BTO flats in non-mature estates for second-timers has also drawn away some buyers."

SLP International head of research and consultancy Nicholas Mak said that, unless the economy enters a recession, he did not expect HDB resale prices to drop significantly given the strong demand from permanent residents and singles who are restricted from buying new flats.

Mr Mak noted that the moderating prices may not be good news for those hoping to upgrade to private property - at a time when the rise in prices of mass market private homes is outpacing those of HDB resale flats. Mr Mak said: "The dreams of upgrading to a condominium for many HDB upgraders may be gradually going out of reach."

Open court hearing for Hougang by-election case

The High Court will hear an application by a Hougang resident for a by-election to be held in the single-member constituency within three months or within a "reasonable" time.

It set the open court hearing for April 16.

The application was made by 42-year-old part-time cleaner, Madam Vellama Marie Muthu. She had filed an application on March 2 for the Prime Minister to be held accountable for calling a by-election in Hougang, following the sacking of former Member of Parliament Yaw Shin Leong from the Workers' Party.

Two initiatives have been rolled out to help problem gamblers who are not ready or unwilling to seek treatment, and their families.

One is an online interactive self-help workbook for problem gambling, the first of its kind in Singapore.

The second is a psycho-education group open to the public, called "Families in Recovery through Education & Empowerment" (FREE).

Created by the National Addictions Management Service (NAMS), the interactive workbook (available at is targeted at problem gamblers who are experiencing minor to mild problems and those reluctant to seek formal treatment despite severe problems. It serves as an accessible way for them to start "self-guided intervention" before they consider seeking professional help.

Meanwhile, FREE, which began as a pilot in May 2010, has been expanded to reach more families of problem gamblers. FREE takes the form of group sessions where families can better understand gambling addiction, how to help their loved ones who are not in treatment, how to take care of themselves, and how to seek further professional help.

FREE is conducted twice a month in English and Mandarin. 195 people have taken part in the pilot sessions held from May 2010 to January this year. Those interested can call 1800-6668-668 for more information.

NAMS said that between April 2010 to March last year, it treated 398 patients for gambling addiction. Of these, 259 were new patients - which makes up 21 per cent of all new addiction cases seen at NAMS. From FY07 to FY10, gambling addiction remained the third most common condition seen at NAMS, after drug addiction (most common) and alcohol addiction.

NAMS said the rise in patients seeking help for gambling addiction over the years is likely to be due to the "increased awareness of problem gambling and treatment services available", thanks to the efforts of the National Council on Problem Gambling and NAMS.

The police have arrested 13 men for operating and gambling at an illegal gambling den.

In a four-hour operation which started at 12.30am on Saturday, the police raided a private apartment in Siglap and nabbed the suspects, aged 18 to 35.

They also seized gambling chips and poker cards used for the game known as "Texas Poker", as well as S$2,000 in cash.

Preliminary investigations showed that one of the men had rented the unit and converted it into an illegal gambling den.

Anyone convicted of illegal gambling could be sentenced to six months' jail, fined S$5,000 or both.

The police warned owners of residential and business units to ensure that their premises are not used for illegal activities.

It takes a serious view on illegal gambling activities and will continue to conduct strict enforcement against such activities.