Monday, 2 July 2012

Watz Online - 2 Jul 2012

Sex, lies and millions in 'scandal-pore'

Sex, lies and millions in 'scandal-pore'

2012 may be Singapore’s most scandal-ridden year yet, barely halfway through it and already five high profile scandals have pulled at the moral fabric of our once squeaky-clean nation.

Acts, we can only assume (and allegedly) committed in the name of achieving happiness, prosperity and progress, here’s a look at the first – and hopefully, only – five scandals of 2012.
1. Online Vice Ring

Men will be men, and sex with a beautiful young woman is arguably hard to pass up.

Aptly named as the biggest sex scandal to ever run wild in Singapore, the online vice ring involved 48 men who allegedly had paid sex with an underage prostitute after engaging her services online.

Three big names popped up in this sexual foray: Lee Lip Hong, former principal of Pei Chun Public School, Howard Shaw, former Singapore Environment Council head and Chua Ren Cheng, former teacher at River Valley High School.

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The City of Sun Ho

The City of Sun Ho

Heavy beats throb. Strobe lights flash. The crowd is loose. In the middle of the action a woman, clad in a kimono-esque bra gyrates wildly (see music video below). That woman is Sun Ho (also known as Ho Yeow Sun), in ‘Mr Bill’, one of her many music videos.

Dancing isn’t her only specialty; she is also an ex-pastor at City Harvest Church, counsellor and role model to the 23,000 people who attend City Harvest’s church services.

So how did she move from gospel to go-go? We piece Ho’s life, in six music singles:

Read also: City Harvest founder charged

1. ‘Starting Point’

Born on 2 June 1972, Sun Ho claims she had a difficult upbringing. At six years old, she remembers undergoing depression and suffered sexual abuse. Since young, the Anglican High School and Victoria Junior College alumni’s love for music was evident. She was known to be a spontaneous performer who would write her own songs.

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'Broken' Kong Hee: I maintain my integrity

Beleaguered City Harvest Church pastor Kong Hee insisted on his integrity as he spoke to a full house at Singapore Expo Hall 1 early Saturday evening.

In the first English-language service of the church since he and four key ministry members were charged with criminal breach of trust allegedly to support the music career of his wife Sun Ho, Kong said, "I maintain my integrity."

"You have no idea how broken I feel standing here tonight in front of you," a visibly strained Kong said, briefly losing his composure as he thanked his flock for their "love and support".

"The past few days have been very challenging for me, for my family, and my team," he said, explaining that he could not comment as investigations were ongoing.

"Many allegations were made in the media... please know there are always two sides to every story. I look forward to the day that I can tell you my side of the story in court," said Kong, to rousing applause and cheers from members, some of whom broke into emotional tears.

With his wife up on stage with him, he added, "There were times when Sun and I just didn't know what to do." He and Ho then hugged each other and other senior ministry members.

Concerned parents of City Harvest youths turn up for service
Even as thousands continued to show up at City Harvest Church at their second English service this weekend, caution has started to seep into parts of its congregation about church donations.
Several adults were seen accompanying their teenage children during the service but remaining seated and silent throughout the service.
When Yahoo! spoke to some outside the conference hall, they said they were not churchgoers but parents of youths who attended service regularly.

“I’m still okay with my son going for service at CHC – he’s grown up and it’s his choice, but I was worried when I found out you could make donations through credit card – he uses our supplementary card and I’m not comfortable with him donating to a church that I personally wish was more accountable,” said a bank executive, 56, who wanted to be known as Mr Lim.

Mixed reactions among churchgoers

While some turned up to show their support, others wish for more transparency in funds

Thousands turned up at City Harvest Church's (CHC) two-hour morning service yesterday, including concerned parents of the church's youths.

And among the churchgoers who were there to support their leaders, some stressed there could be more transparency in how the church manages its funds.

The church was hit last week with news that five members, including its founder Kong Hee, were charged over alleged misuse of the its funds.

Some parents who were not churchgoers but had children who attended CHC regularly were also seen at yesterday's service, reported Yahoo! Singapore.

A parent told the online news site: "I'm still okay with my son going for service at CHC, he's grown up and it's his choice, but I was worried when I found out you could make donations through credit card. He uses our supplementary card and I'm not comfortable with him donating to a church that I personally wish was more accountable."

Record high of about 15k S’poreans turn out for Pink Dot
Over 15,000 Singaporeans turned up at Hong Lim Park on Saturday evening for the first ever night Pink Dot, illuminating the Speakers’ Corner in a sea of pink.

Since 2009, thousands of straight and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual) Singaporeans have gathered yearly to show their support for the freedom to love, regardless of one’s sexual orientation.

The ambassadors for this year were ex-TV personality Sharon Au, local actor Lim Yu-Beng and drag queen, Kumar.

“This is my first Pink Dot since I’ve been overseas during the past few events,” said Au, as she made her rounds around the event grounds, taking pictures with fans and participants. “All my best friends are gay so this is the biggest thing I’ve done to support them.”

Kidnapped S'porean family back home

They were on their way back to Singapore from Johor Bahru at about 12.45am yesterday, when Ms Rita Zahara stopped her car to buy some fruits from stalls about 3km from the Woodlands Immigration Checkpoint.

Seconds after she stepped away from the car - leaving her 25-year-old sister, daughter, son and maid in the locked vehicle - two men armed with a gun and knife rushed at the car and demanded to be let in.

With a gun pointing at her, Ms Zahara's sister had no choice but to unlock the doors. The men then got in and sped off.

Recounting the harrowing episode yesterday, after her family members and maid were rescued, Ms Zahara, 37, said she called her sister on her phone when she found the car missing. One of the kidnappers picked it up and demanded "all the money" she had and threatened to kill her family if she went to the police.

75% of teenagers in Singapore do not know how to use a condom

That was the finding of a survey carried out by the National University of Singapore involving 900 sexually active teens in the republic, reported China Press.

The survey found that more than three-quarter of the teens who took part in the exercise did not know how to use the form of protection.
Last year, there were 1,737 pregnancies involving girls under 20 in the republic.

While there was a reduction from the number of cases in 2007, which saw 2,183 girls getting pregnant before the age of 20, the situation remained worrying, the newspaper reported.

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18 nabbed in Geylang for various offences

Eighteen people have been arrested in Geylang for various offences in an overnight multi-agency joint operation that ended early Saturday morning.

The operation was led by Bedok Police Division and involved enforcement officers from the Singapore Customs, Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and Health Sciences Authority (HSA).

It covered entertainment outlets, hotels and back lanes located in Geylang.

A statement released by the police said the suspects, comprising 16 men and two women, aged between 18 and 47, were arrested for various offences such as drug offences, peddling of contraband cigarettes, immigration offences, and selling of illegal sexual enhancement products.

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Singaporeans teetering on a short fuse

With 5.2 million people living on a 700 sq km island, Singaporeans are feeling the pressure.

AS the pressures of life in Singapore go up, people’s tempers seem to get shorter.

Law-and-order Singapore is experiencing a rise in social friction with more people involved in quarrels and fights on its overcrowded streets.

Society is by no means tearing at the seams, but the pressure-cooker life is beginning to leave a mark on people used to the good living and in a way the Government may not have foreseen.

Many citizens prefer the Old Singapore that the first-generation leaders had shaped during the first 30 years of independence although it was poorer and smaller.

For them, the transformation has brought more dollars to their pockets, but also too many hardships. More Singaporeans seem to be losing their cool, blowing up in public at the slightest disagreement.

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Singapore Soil Home to Microspordial Spores?

Singapore soil has been stated to be acutely filled with microspordial spores, which the Ministry of Health (MOH) said are not limited to the Turf City pitches.

The above findings have recently come from MOH following the findings of investigations that were ongoing to find out more facts about the outbreak of microsporidial keratoconjunctivitis especially among the people, who were in the city to attend an international rugby tournament that was held at Turf City on April 21 and 22.

Issue became of high concern, when it was found by the medical professionals that approx 159 attendees from participating countries have reported the affect of the outbreak with their symptoms of eye infection like redness and itchiness etc. 89 cases from the list were reported from Singapore.

Experts have explained that Microsporidial spores are common in Singapore soil. These spore-forming organisms are present in the environment and soil and can occur infection to anyone, if enters in the eye in the form of mud.

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Mission clarifies issues over S'pore diplomats' participation in rally

SINGAPORE: The Malaysian High Commission in Singapore has responded to letters published in The Straits Times last Thursday on the alleged participation of three Singaporean diplomats in the Bersih 3.0 rally in Kuala Lumpur on April 28.

Counsellor (Political) Nik Ady Arman wrote that firstly, it was important to recognise the difference between the action taken by the Government of Malaysia and the acts of certain NGOs and interest groups.

He said that while the Malaysian government had summoned Singapore's High Commissioner to Malaysia to address the issue diplomatically, the reaction of the NGOs and other interest groups did not come as a surprise considering the sentiments involved and was just as anticipated, as were the responses expressed by the readers in their letters to The Straits Times.

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Open Letter to Christine LaGarde
I am the Secretary-General of the Reform Party in Singapore. I am also an economist with a double First Class Honors BA and an MA in Economics from Cambridge University. I have almost 30 years uninterrupted experience in the global finance industry in both Asia and the UK with an unblemished record of registration with the FSA. I am therefore writing to you as an economist, as an advocate for democracy, and also as an ordinary Singaporean citizen.
I note your press release dated June 19 2012 at the conclusion of the G20 summit in Mexico. One of the countries you announce as having immediately pledged additional resources towards your goal of building a US$456 billion global firewall is Singapore, with a commitment of US$4 billion. In your communiqué you give some of the credit for the successful outcome of the talks to our Finance Minister, Tharman Shanmuguretnam, in his role as Chairman of the International Monetary and Financial Committee.
Meanwhile here in Singapore since February, I have been raising the issue of opacity in our government's budget, failure to adhere to IMF standards and grave concerns over the constitutionality of our country's pledge to the IMF, to the same gentleman amongst others, albeit with a considerably less successful outcome.
Pay more for using military base: India to Singapore
Arguing that maintenance costs have gone up, India has asked Singapore to cough up more money for using its military base for the advanced training of Singapore Air Force personnel. The two countries are racing against time to complete negotiations for renewing the lease agreement on a long-term basis, with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong scheduled to arrive in India in the second week of July.
“We have asked for more money as costs have really gone up...We hope to reach an agreement with Singapore soon, as we hope it will be signed during (Singapore) Prime Minister’s visit (to India),” said a senior government official. Singapore has given high priority to its military preparedness following its bitter split from Malaysia in 1965.
In October 2007, India, for the first time, allowed a foreign country to station its troops and Defence facilities on a long-term basis, which was a demonstration of India’s reliance on Singapore as an anchor for its ‘Look East’ policy. The agreement for the conduct of joint military training in India between the IAF and the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) was signed in Delhi, as part of the annual Defence Policy Dialogue.
Incidentally, India and Singapore have also signed a similar agreement for Army training, but it will come up for renewal next year. For Singapore, which has an area of just 700 sq km, overseas training for its fighter pilots, primarily flying F-16 fighter jets, is necessary in the absence of any suitable open tracts of land and airspace.