Saturday, 30 December 2017

Singapore Year in Review 2017


Yahoo unveils 2017 Year in Review for Singapore

Yahoo today announced its 2017 Year in Review (YIR) for Singapore. The YIR is an annual recap of the top search trends, happenings and events which caught the imagination of Internet users in Singapore, based on users' daily search habits and an editorial selection of what they read, recommended and shared most on Yahoo in 2017.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was the favorite topic for Singapore, leading the list of Top 10 Singapore Searches in 2017, up from 4th place in 2016. News about the Lee family were also among the most read in the country, with Singaporeans riveted by the dispute over the fate of No. 38 Oxley Road and the subsequent contempt of court case against Li Shengwu, Prime Minister Lee's nephew and the grandson of the late Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew.

The second most searched topic was the battle for Marawi, the five-month-long armed conflict in the Philippines between militants and the country's security forces. It is followed by searches on politicians, with President Halimah Yacob taking third place followed by Donald Trump, Rodrigo Duterte and Kim Jong Un.

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Top 10 Singapore headlines of 2017

As 2017 comes to an end, here’s a look at the year’s top 10 local news headlines:

10. Jailed in Abu Dhabi
Muhammad Fadli Abdul Rahman opened up to Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore about his harrowing experience in Abu Dhabi. (Yahoo Lifestyle Singapore video screengrab)  

9. Buzz over Nasi Lemak burger
McDonald’s Nasi Lemak Burger features fried chicken, egg, sambal and cucumber – what’s not to love?

8.  Big win for local comic artist Sonny Liew
Singaporean comic artist Sonny Liew with his three Eisner Awards. (PHOTO: Chan Shiuan)

7.  Staff shake-ups at local media giant SPH
Singapore Press Holdings CEO Ng Yat Chung addresses reporters at a results briefing on 11 October. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

6. Brisk business at heartland brothels
A woman (left) spotted at the window of a suspected HDB brothel in Hougang and a suspected male customer (right) seen entering the unit. (PHOTOS: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

5. Workers’ Party leader to step down
Workers’ Party secretary-general Low Thia Khiang signs a copy of a commemorative book on the party on 3 November. (PHOTO: Nicholas Yong / Yahoo News Singapore)

4. AGC files contempt of court charges against Li Shengwu
Li Shengwu is challenging an order that let AGC serve papers on him in the US. (PHOTO: Reuters)

3. A Presidential race that never was
(From left) Salleh Marican, Halimah Yacob and Farid Khan appeared to be headed into a three-horse race for the highest seat in the nation but it was Halimah who finally emerged as the only candidate qualified to run for the post. (PHOTOS: Yahoo News Singapore)

2. Bumpy year for SMRT and commuters
SMRT staff seen on the platform of Joo Koon station following a collision between two trains on 15 November. (PHOTO: Hannah Teoh / Yahoo News Singapore)

1. The Lee family dispute over Oxley Road home
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was embroiled in a public dispute with his siblings over the fate of their late father’s Oxley Road home (right). (PHOTOS: YouTube screengrab / Yahoo News Singapore)

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Top 10 Singapore searches in 2017

2017 has been a year of controversies that kept Singaporeans on the edge of their seats, from an explosive feud among members of the first family to the country’s first presidential election reserved for Malay candidates. Yahoo Singapore rounds up the top 10 searches of the year.

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2017 In Review: 14 Of This Year’s Biggest Stories That Made This Year Iconic
14 Of The Biggest Events That Singaporeans Will Remember 2017 For

Time surely does fly and we are at the end of yet another year. From Donald Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States to the continuing fallout of Harvey Weinstein’s sexual assault allegations, plenty of talk was on the international news.

In Singapore though, 2017 was another iconic year. We saw the entrance of a new president without the need for an election, sunk our teeth into a Nasi Lemak burger, and collectively sighed as the trains broke down again.

2017 has truly been a mixed bag.

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2017: Decline of Singapore exceptionalism?

There is just one way to sum up 2017: We are truly in the post-Lee Kuan Yew era. Almost all the significant events that have taken place point sadly to a decline in a perception that Singapore is in the hands of an exceptional leadership.

Before we get into the specific events to round up the year, pause and think about where we are right now. With all due respect to the obviously talented and smart 4G leaders who are waiting in the wings to be the next Prime Minister, I do not see any of them as being ready to take over any time soon.

The exit/absence of the first generation leadership has perhaps not been felt more than during the last 12 months:
  • Tanks but no tanks
  • The PE2O17 non-election
  • MRT fiasco
  • 38 Oxley Road and a cheque that may now bounce
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To Our Favourite Politicians, Here’s What Your New Year Resolutions Should Be

New Year resolutions are like political manifestos. Both are promises made to be broken but you still need them in your life because what’s the alternative? You can’t wake up every morning believing that nothing will get better.

It’s depressing.

So for better or worse, we renew our gym memberships and cut back on soft drinks when January comes knocking. You know what would make things easier though? If our politicians joined us in this annual crusade of self-improvement. Here’s what we would like to see on our politicians’ resolution lists:
Khaw Boon Wan: Come Clean on SMRT

Tan Chuan-Jin: Become a One-man Opposition Army

Nicole Seah: Just Do It

Low Thia Khiang: Start a Blog

Kenneth Jeyaretnam: Reform your Party

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Friday, 29 December 2017

SMRT is cheated of whopping S$9.8 million in contracts by their own employees


Four Singaporeans were charged in court last Friday, 29 Dec 2017, with conspiring and cheating SMRT Trains Ltd of a whopping S$9.8 million in contracts that were awarded to an organisation they had vested interests in.

The offences, which occurred during a five year period between 2007 and 2012, involved three employees of the transport operator, two of whom have since left the organisation.

The ex-employees are 61-year-old former manager Jamalludin Bin Jumari and 59-year-old former assistant engineer Zakaria Bin Mohamed Shariff. The third defendant is 52-year-old current SMRT Trains line manager Zulkifli Bin Marwi while the fourth accused is the 60-year-old director of Enovation Industries Pte Ltd / Enovation Technologies Pte Ltd, Akbar Ali Bin Tambishahib.

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Former and current SMRT workers charged with cheating in case involving S$9.8m worth of contracts

One SMRT employee and 2 others who previously worked for the rail operator, as well as a company director, have been charged with cheating offences involving contracts worth a total of S$9.8 million, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) said on Friday (Dec 29). The offences allegedly took place between 2007 & 2012.

3 of them were each charged with 4 counts of conspiring with each other “to cheat SMRT Trains by dishonestly concealing the fact that they had an interest in Enovation Industries (EI)”, resulting in SMRT being deceived into awarding contracts worth S$3.9 million to EI, said CPIB in a news release.

They were 60-year-old director of Enovation Industries Akbar Ali Tambishahib, 61-year-old former SMRT manager Jamalludin Jumari & 59-year-old former SMRT assistant engineer Zakaria Mohamed Shariff.

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SMRT is cheated of whopping S$9.8 million in contracts by their own employees

SMRT found out the offences and reported the boys to the Corrupt Practices Investigations Bureau (CPIB) in 2012, following inner investigations. The delivery operator advised journalists: “SMRT referred this case to CPIB in 2012 for their investigation. This followed immediately after internal investigations by the company to find out the nature and extent of suspected wrongdoing. We note the charges filed by CPIB today and await the outcome of the proceedings.”

The CPIB printed in a press unencumber on Friday that Jamalludin fled to Malaysia in 2013 and that he was once introduced again to Singapore to stand fees, with the expeditious assist of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

The defendants might be fined and/or sentenced to a most 10 years in prison for the offences. All 4 defendants are reportedly making plans to contest their fees.

read more

related:
Ex-GM Of AMK Town Council Charged with Corruption
What is happening in ‘Clean’ Singapore?
Singapore SMEC hit by World Bank ban
Singapore Multimillion-dollar Shell fuel heist
SMRT cheated of whopping $9.8 million by their own employees
Inside the Keppel Corporation Corruption Scandal
Oil, Bribes, Politicians: What Happened To ‘Clean’ Singapore?
40 million Dollars SkillsFuture scam
Zero Tolerance for Corruption
Singapore’s Corruption Control Framework
Paying high salaries to mitigate corruption
Maintaining Standards of our Civil Service
Business and Rules of Prudence
Crime, Corruption, Scandal & Professional Misconduct 3
Crime, Corruption, Scandal & Professional Misconduct 2
Crime, Corruption, Scandal & Professional Misconduct 1

Thursday, 28 December 2017

16 odd things that are illegal in Singapore

spitting

Knowing the local laws of a country can save you from getting fined or arrested.

In Singapore, feeding pigeons will cost you $500, walking in the nude at home is illegal, and selling gum could land you two years in jail.

We've put together a list of 16 things you might be surprised to find are illegal in the country, from singing offensive songs to spitting:

1. Selling gum
2. Annoying someone with a musical instrument
3. Flying a kite that interferes with public traffic
4. Singing
5. Spitting
6. Distribution of "obscene" materials
7. Connecting to another user's Wi-Fi
8. Forgetting to flush the toilet
9. Walking in the nude at home
10. Feeding pigeons
11. Urinating in a public elevator
12.  Littering
13. Graffiti
14. Taking drugs before you enter the country
15. Same-sex relations
16. Jaywalking

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Wednesday, 27 December 2017

China's AG600: World's largest amphibious aircraft

World's largest amphibious aircraft completes maiden flight successfully

China's first home-manufactured AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft, carried out its maiden flight Sunday in Zhuhai, a coastal city in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

The aircraft, designed and produced by the state-owned Aviation Industry Corp. of China (AVIC), took off from Zhuhai's Jinwan Civil Aviation Airport at 9:39 a.m. and returned 64 minutes later.

The AG600 joins the Yun-20 and the C919 in China's jumbo jet fleet.

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World's largest amphibious aircraft takes off in China

China’s homegrown AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft in production, took to the skies on Sunday for its maiden flight.

The plane, codenamed Kunlong, according to the state news agency Xinhua, took off from the southern city of Zhuhai and landed after a flight of roughly an hour.

With a wingspan of 38.8 metres (127ft) and powered by four turboprop engines, the aircraft is capable of carrying 50 people and can stay airborne for 12 hours.

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World's largest amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight in China
China's domestically developed AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft, is seen during its maiden flight in Zhuhai, Guangdong province, China December 24, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

China’s domestically developed AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft, performed its maiden flight on Sunday from an airport on the shores of the South China Sea, the latest step in a military modernization program.

China has stepped up research on advanced military equipment as it adopts a more muscular approach to territorial disputes in places such as the disputed South China Sea, rattling nerves in the Asia-Pacific region and the United States.

State television showed live images of the AG600 lifting off from Zhuhai airport in the southern province of Guangdong, which sits on the South China Sea coast.

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World's Largest Plane Soars to Success with First Flight
After eight years in the making, its four turboprop engines allow the aircraft to stay aloft for up to 12 hours. | Photo: EPA

A herculean aircraft takes to the skies as China’s AG600, the world’s largest amphibious aircraft successfully completes a one-hour flight out of Zhuhai city.

With a wingspan of 38.8m and a maximum weight capability of 53.5 tonnes, developers say the plane will work as a “protector spirit of the sea, islands and reefs” with its crew of 50 and firefighting, marine rescue, and military capabilities.

After almost eight years in the making, its four turboprop engines allow the aircraft to stay aloft for up to 12 hours and already the government has commissioned 17 orders from the state-owned manufacturing company, Aviation Industry Corp of China.

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China adds an ‘enormous dragon’ to its military arsenal

Even by China’s military standards, it’s big. Known as “enormous dragon”,  the AG600 is the world’s largest amphibious aircraft in production after finally taking off on its maiden flight during the Christmas holidays.

With a wingspan of 38.8 meters and powered by four engines, the aircraft can carry 50 people and stay airborne for 12 hours.

“Its successful maiden flight makes China among the world’s few countries capable of developing a large amphibious aircraft,” Huang Lingcai, the chief designer at Aviation Industry Corp of China (AVIC), told the government-controled Xinhua news agency.

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The AG600 Kunlong large amphibious plane in maiden China flight

A Chinese amphibious aircraft, the largest in production, has made a successful one-hour maiden flight.

The plane, roughly the size of a Boeing 737 but with four turboprop engines, took off from Zhuhai airport in the southern province of Guangdong.

The plane can carry 50 people and can stay airborne for 12 hours.

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China-made amphibious aircraft passes assessment for maiden flight

The AG600, a large amphibious aircraft developed by China, has passed the official technical quality assessment for its maiden flight, according to the developer.

Designed to be the world's largest amphibious aircraft, the 37-meter-long AG600 has a wingspan of 38.8 meters and a maximum take-off weight of 53.5 tons.

The Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) said the technical evaluation was held in Zhuhai city in South China's Guangdong province.

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China's first home-grown amphibious aircraft completees its maiden flight

China's first home-grown amphibious aircraft AG600 on 24 December completed its maiden flight in Guangdong province.

At 9.39 am, the aircraft, code named "Kunlong", successfully soared into the sky from the Jinwan Civil Aviation Airport in the city of Zhuhai. The flight lasted about one hour, reports Xinhua news agency.

"Its successful maiden flight makes China among the world's few countries capable of developing a large amphibious aircraft," said Huang Lingcai, chief designer of the AG600.

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World's largest amphibious aircraft takes off in China
China's home-grown AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft in production, also known as "Kunlong", is seen at Jinwan Airport in Zhuhai in China.- AFP

China's home-grown AG600, the world's largest amphibious aircraft in production, took to the skies on Sunday for its maiden flight.

The plane, codenamed "Kunlong" according to state news agency Xinhua, took off from the southern city of Zhuhai and landed after roughly an hour-long flight.

With a wingspan of 38.8 metres (127 feet) and powered by four turboprop engines, the aircraft is capable of carrying 50 people and can stay airborne for 12 hours.

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China launches world's largest amphibious aircraft with an eye on South China Sea
The AG600 aircraft is around the size of Boeing 737. It is 37 meters long and has a 38.8-meter wingspan. On December 24, 2017, the plane took its maiden flight for about an hour from Zhuhai airport in the southern Guangdong province close to the South China Sea. At least 17 orders for the AG600 have been placed so far

China tested the world's largest amphibious aircraft on Sunday. The 37-meter (121-feet) long AG600 aircraft plane, codenamed "Kunlong," took off from the southern Chinese city of Zhuhai and flew for almost an hour on its maiden voyage.

The aircraft has a 38.8-meter wingspan and four turboprop engines. It is around the size of a Boeing 737 and can carry 50 people.

"Its successful maiden flight makes China among the world's few countries capable of developing a large amphibious aircraft," chief designer Huang Lingcai told Xinhua state news agency.

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AVIC AG600
AG-600.jpg
AG600 (foreground) and Y-20 at the Airshow China 2016

The AVIC AG600, code named Kunlong (鲲龙), also known as TA-600, is the largest amphibious aircraft currently flying. It is designed by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC). The aircraft made its first flight in Zhuhai, Guangdong on 24 December 2017. The AG600 is one of China's three state-approved "big plane projects".

The AVIC AG600 is an amphibious aircraft having the hull of a flying boat for waterborne operations along with a wheeled retractable undercarriage for alighting on land. It is one of the world's largest amphibious aircraft, after the Beriev A-40, and is the largest currently flying. The prototype AG600, built by CAIGA, has a wingspan of 38.8 metres (127 ft) and is powered by four turboprop engines. The type of engine is WJ-6, a modified Chinese-made version of the Soviet Union's Ivchenko AI-20 series. It is designed to have a maximum takeoff weight of 53.5 t (118,000 lb) and a maximum range of over 5,000 km (3,100 mi).

The AG600 is one of China's three "big plane projects" approved by the State Council of China, along with the Xi'an Y-20 and C919. It is intended for both civil and military roles. In civil use, as an aerial firefighter it will be capable of dropping 12 tonnes of water, while in search and rescue operations it will accommodate up to 50 passengers. It is also intended to meet China's strategic defence needs in the South China Sea area, which has been subject to various territorial disputes. The aircraft would provide a fast response and the ability to patrol as far south as James Shoal. 17 orders had been received from Chinese customers before the flight. Target markets also include export sales, with island countries such as New Zealand and Malaysia having expressed an interest. The prototype was rolled out on 23 July 2016 at the Zhuhai AVIC factory. Its maiden flight was made from the runway of Jinwan Civil Aviation Airport in Zhuhai, Guangdong on 24 December 2017, at 09:39 China Standard Time

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China's New Y-20 Is the Largest Military Aircraft Currently in Production
The Y-20 is China's version of the C-17 Globemaster—a tank-carrying, supply-delivering, troop-transporting workhorse of a plane

The first Xian Y-20 military transport aircraft was delivered to the People's Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) on June 15. Developed by Xian Aircraft Corporation, the Y-20 has an empty weight of 110 short tons, making it the largest military aircraft currently in production—larger than Russia's Ilyushin Il-76. Boeing's C-17 Globemaster III is bigger than the Y-20—the C-17's empty weight is about 60,000 pounds more than the Y-20 and its payload capacity is 25,000 pounds more—but production stopped in 2015, making the Y-20 the biggest that is currently rolling out of factories.

The Y-20—which has the official codename "Kunpeng" after a mythical Chinese bird, though it is nicknamed "Chubby Girl" for its appearance—makes China the third nation after Russia and the United States to design and develop its own heavy military transport aircraft.

The C-17 has been a major workhorse for the United States military since it was introduced in 1995, carrying troops and cargo all over the world. It allows the U.S. Air Force to quickly transport large amounts of supplies, move troops, fly large-scale air drop missions, and even transport other military vehicles such as an M1 Abrams tank, three IAV Stryker armored combat vehicles, or six M1117 Armored Security Vehicles. With the Y-20 officially in service—and the Y-20 is remarkably similar to the C-17—the PLAAF's versatility and ability to quickly mobilize large combat forces increases significantly.

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Full Coverage:
The AG600 Kunlong large amphibious plane in maiden China flight
China launches world's largest amphibious aircraft with an eye on SC Sea
China largest-ever amphibious plane with 40-metre wingspan maiden flight
World's largest amphibious aircraft AG600 makes its maiden flight
Chinese-built amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight
China conducts maiden flight of indigenous amphibious aircraft
World's largest amphibious aircraft takes off in China
China's AG600 Amphibious Takes To The Skies On Its Maiden Flight
China adds an 'enormous dragon' to its military arsenal
China's first domestic large amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight
China Flies Biggest Amphib
World's largest amphibious aircraft takes to the skies for the first time
China's AG600: World's largest amphibious aircraft
World's Largest Plane Soars to Success with First Flight
China's first homegrown amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight
China Conducts Successful Flight of World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft
Macau | Largest amphibious aircraft takes flight in Zhuhai
Maiden flight of amphibious plane
World's largest amphibious aircraft AG600 'Kunlong' takes to air in Zhuhai
The world's largest amphibious aircraft takes flight in China
China's first large amphibious aircraft AG600 makes maiden flight
World's largest amphibious aircraft, China's AG600, takes its first flight
World's largest amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight in South China
World's largest amphibious aircraft completes maiden flight successfully
China's first large amphibious aircraft AG600 takes to the skies
World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Successfully Conducts Maiden
China flies its first home-made large amphibious aircraft
China's first home-grown amphibious aircraft completes maiden flight
World's largest amphibious aircraft successfully maiden flight
China launches world's largest amphibious aircraft
Chinese amphibious aircraft completes maiden flight
World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft Completes Maiden Flight
World's largest amphibious aircraft takes off in China
The AG600 Kunlong large amphibious plane in maiden China flight
World's largest amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight
World's largest amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight in China
Chinese-built amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight, East Asia
AVIC AG600 - Wikipedia
China's first domestic large amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight
China's AG600 Amphibious Flying Boat Takes To The Skies On
China launches world's largest amphibious aircraft with
World's largest amphibious aircraft can fly from China to Sarawak
World's largest amphibious aircraft takes off in China
The AG600 Kunlong large amphibious plane in maiden China flight
China launches world's largest amphibious aircraft with an eye on
China conducts maiden flight of indigenous amphibious aircraft
China's first domestic large amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight
World's largest amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight in China
World's largest amphibious aircraft takes to skies in China
China-Built World's Largest Amphibious Aircraft 'Ready for Flight'
World's largest amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight
China's first home-made large amphibious aircraft completes
China's Own Amphibious Aircraft Finally Ready to Fly
World's largest amphibious aircraft takes off in China on maiden flight
Largest amphibious aircraft set for maiden flight
China-made amphibious aircraft passes assessment for maiden flight

related:
China Looks to Build New Powerful Rocket
China launches Manned Spacecraft Shenzhou-11
China launches Tiangong-2 space lab
China Joins Ranks of Moon Explorers
China unveils jet to rival Boeing and Airbus
China's AG600: World's largest amphibious aircraft
The J-20 Vs The F-22 Stealth Fighter
The J-31 Vs The F-35 Stealth Fighter
China's World’s Largest Telescope
The World’s Largest Airport Terminal
Made in China 2025 initiative

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Saturday, 23 December 2017

9 ways to embarrass yourself in Singapore

gross face

Singapore is one of the wealthiest countries in the world and is an island nation packed with expats. It's a country that seems to have perfectly blended cosmopolitan living with rich cultural heritage.

But, as with anywhere in the world, there are local customs people must be aware of and rookie mistakes visitors can make. These mistakes can not only be highly embarrassing but also costly. Singapore has strict fines that ensure society functions the way authorities want it to. For example, if you "illegally" cross the road — within 50 metres of a crossing zone — you will be fined up to S$1,000 (£472, $744) or get 3 months in jail.

Here are some official and unofficial faux pas you don't want to make when you go to Singapore:
9. Taking a picture on the Metro
8. Breaking the hawker stall seating code
7. Wearing very little
6. Not flushing the toilet
5. Not carrying tissues and hand wipes
4. Chewing gum
3.  Playing with chopsticks
2. Spitting
1. Insulting or making fun of the food

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Friday, 22 December 2017

40 million Dollars SkillsFuture scam


SUSPECTED MEMBERS OF CRIMINAL SYNDICATE CHARGED

Several suspected members of a criminal syndicate which had submitted fraudulent claims to SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) have been charged with a series of offences. These include engaging in a conspiracy to submit forged documents to fraudulently obtain training subsidies from SSG, and to conceal the benefits from such criminal conduct.

Preliminary police investigation reveals that the criminal syndicate behind these fraudulent claims operated an organised network that utilised nine business entities, comprising employer companies and training providers, to submit the fraudulent claims. Close to $40 million has been paid out as a result. Police has seized substantial cash and frozen a number of bank accounts involved in the case. Police investigations are on-going.

At the end of October 2017, SSG detected anomalies in claims for training grants. It immediately suspended all payments of grants to these nine business entities and reported the case to the Police.

SSG has also taken immediate actions to tighten its processes, which include implementing fraud analytics, while conducting a comprehensive review of the system.

SSG takes a serious view of any individual, training provider or organisation that abuses its funding schemes, and will not hesitate to take action against those who contravene its funding rules and guidelines. Feedback on such individuals or organisations can be directed to SSG at https://portal.ssg-wsg.gov.sg/feedback.

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The biggest case of defrauding a government agency

There are numerous schemes under the SkillsFuture umbrella. They are meant to help Singaporean workers upgrade themselves, so that they can stay relevant, remain employed, and earn higher incomes. However, some people decided to abuse those schemes.

Recently, five members of a criminal syndicate were charged with defrauding the government. They allegedly made close to S$40 million in fraudulent claims from SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG). They allegedly submitted forged documents to fraudulently obtain training subsidies from SSG. The claims were submitted as applications by companies for reimbursement for training of employees – a scheme that has been around since the 1970s.

As expected, the government got criticised for the incident. How can government be so stupid? How can it lose so much money?

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Suspected syndicate members behind S$40m bogus SkillsFuture claims charged
Members of public visiting and asking questions of the SkillsFuture Credit and courses at a SkillsFuture Marketplace roadshow. TODAY file photo
Members of public visiting and asking questions of the SkillsFuture Credit and courses at a SkillsFuture Marketplace roadshow. TODAY file Foto

In the largest defraudment of a public institution to date, a 41-yr-old Singaporean believed to be part of a crime syndicate was charged in court on Tuesday (Dec 19) for allegedly making S$40 million of bogus SkillsFuture claims.

Ng Cheng Kwee was slapped with 5 charges, which include forging documents to pass off as a public servant in order to obtain training subsidies from SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), concealing benefits from the criminal conduct and obstructing justice.

He is the 5th suspect charged in connection with this case & was described by prosecutors as one of the main perpetrators of the crimes. 4 others - 2 men and 2 women aged 30 to 59 - were hauled to court last month for a series of alleged offences ranging from fraud to receiving as well as hiding criminal proceeds.

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How Did 5 People Scam SkillsFuture Singapore Of $40 Million?
Was SkillsFuture Scam A Case Of Criminal Masterminds Or A Flaw In The System?

During the PAP’s Convention on 19 November, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about the strategies that the Government had come up with to help employees upgrade themselves as the economy grows.

One of the strategies was SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), a way for Singaporeans to learn skills needed for jobs in the future.

However, little did he know that the institution would fall victim to a criminal syndicate in what’s considered to be one of the biggest cases of defrauding in Singapore to date.

We’re talking nearly $40 million worth of stolen money.

What group of criminals would be so daring as to take on a Government programme? And how did they even manage to pull off such a heist? Let’s find out.

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Syndicate stored S$6.7 million & 11kg of gold in Rivervale Crescent safe deposit box: SkillsFuture fraud

A criminal syndicate targeting the SkillsFuture scheme made nearly $40 million of fraudulent claims between April and November.

The syndicate comprising 5 Singaporeans have been charged in court in what has been described as the biggest case. to date, of a public institution being defrauded.

According to a Dec 19 press release by SkillsFutureSG (SSG), preliminary police investigation revealed that the criminal syndicate behind these fraudulent claims had operated an organised network that utilised nine business entities, comprising employer companies and training providers, to submit the fraudulent claims.

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40 million SkillsFuture scam shows the “deplorable state” of civil service and leadership: ex-Presidential candidate

3 men and 2 women, believed to be members of a criminal syndicate, were charged in court this week after they scammed government training grants scheme, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG), of a whopping $40 million through fraudulent claims.

According to a press statement released on Tuesday, SkillsFuture revealed that the group had submitted forged documents to fraudulently obtain subsidies and that the suspects reportedly belong to “an organised network that utilised nine business entities, comprising employer companies and training providers, to submit the fraudulent claims. Close to $40 million has been paid out as a result. Police has seized substantial cash and frozen a number of bank accounts involved in the case.”

Former presidential candidate Tan Kin Lian has weighed in on the scam and has asserted that the case “shows clearly the deplorable state of our civil service and the political leadership.”

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利用九公司名义申请培训补助金 五人团伙诈骗精深局4000万元被控
被告黄清贵是这起骗4000万元政府津贴案的主要嫌疑人,案件定本月26日过堂。(海峡时报)

根据精深技能发展局的文告,这个犯罪团伙利用九家公司的名义,向当局骗取补助金,这些公司包括商业机构和培训供应商。警方已充公大笔现金,并冻结一些银行户头。

一名男子伙同四男女,利用九家公司的名义,涉嫌欺骗精深技能发展局发放4000万元的技能创前程(SkillFuture)培训补助金。

这是至今涉及数额最大的一起公共机构欺骗案,警方调查显示,共有670万元现金和总值约60万元的11公斤黄金被转移到别处

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They’re not the only ones.

While $40 million does make it the largest amount ever cheated, it is perhaps more surprising that this wasn’t the first time SSG had been cheated of their money:
  • In January, a total of 4,400 individuals were found to have submitted false claims by cashing in their credits but not actually attending any courses. Hilariously, the system detected thousands of claims flooding for the exact same course but revealed that everyone involved had actually acted independently. A total of $2.2 million was given out.
  • In July, four men were charged for submitted fake SSG claims worth $73,000 from hundreds of people who didn’t actually attend any courses. The case is still currently ongoing investigations.
  • A duo was sentenced on Tuesday (19 Nov) for submitting fake claims for courses that didn’t exist. They successfully defrauded nearly $20,000.
Here are examples of previous cases which grabbed the headlines in recent years:
  • Over five years, two female former employees cheated the Singapore Statutory Boards Employees' Co-operative Thrift and Loan Society of S$5.1 milllion worth of its members' savings. They duped the organisation into issuing cheques using names of phantom members. In August, Arni Ahmad, 41, was sentenced to 12 years jail, while her accomplice Hanati Jani, 50, was jailed nine years and eight months.
  • Four men – aged between 29 and 41 – were charged in July, after they allegedly submitted sham SkillsFuture Credit claims worth S$73,000 from hundreds of individuals who had not attended any courses. This was done through training provider firm Biz HR Solutionz, which was subsequently suspended from getting government funding under the scheme. The case is still ongoing.
  • In January, SkillsFuture Singapore (SSG) discovered that 4,400 individuals had submitted false claims, encashing their SkillsFuture Credit without attending any courses. The bogus claims, which amounted to some S$2.2 million, were detected after SSG's data analytics system found thousands of claims flooding in for the same course. Investigations showed that the individuals acted independently and did not conspire with the training provider.
  • A magician, S Chandran, was charged in January with 58 counts under the Income Tax Act for making fraudulent claims under the Productivity and Innovation Credit (PIC) scheme. Between June 2013 and November 2014, he allegedly helped 49 claimants to falsely obtain cash payouts amounting to S$1.1 million in total under the scheme. Chandran had allegedly acted as a PIC broker and received about S$400,000 from the payouts. The case is still ongoing.
  • In 2014, former Ministry of Foreign Affairs protocol chief Lim Cheng Hoe was sentenced to 15 months' jail, after he had cheated the Government of nearly S$89,000 over five years, by overstating expense claims for boxes of pineapple tarts and bottles of wine. They were bought as gifts for official overseas trips and visits.
  • In 2011, two former Singapore Land Authority (SLA) officers were jailed for cheating the organisation of S$12.5 million. Koh Seah Wee and Lim Chai Meng submitted false invoices over two years through various IT firms for fictitious maintenance services and goods that were never needed or delivered. Koh, SLA's former deputy director of technology and infrastructure, was jailed 22 years, while former manager Lim received a 15-year prison sentence.
related:
Ex-GM Of AMK Town Council Charged with Corruption
What is happening in ‘Clean’ Singapore?
Singapore SMEC hit by World Bank ban
Singapore Multimillion-dollar Shell fuel heist
SMRT cheated of whopping $9.8 million by their own employees
Inside the Keppel Corporation Corruption Scandal
Oil, Bribes, Politicians: What Happened To ‘Clean’ Singapore?
40 million Dollars SkillsFuture scam
Zero Tolerance for Corruption
Singapore’s Corruption Control Framework
Paying high salaries to mitigate corruption
Maintaining Standards of our Civil Service
Business and Rules of Prudence
Crime, Corruption, Scandal & Professional Misconduct 3
Crime, Corruption, Scandal & Professional Misconduct 2
Crime, Corruption, Scandal & Professional Misconduct 1

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Dongzhi 冬至 (Winter Solstice Festival) 2017

Tang Chyok kow loh, Ah Ma saw ee, nan chyat ee

Dongzhi – China’s Winter Solstice Festival
Tangyuan 湯圓

Although the Chinese have been celebrating the changing seasons for well over 2,500 years (since the famous Han Dynasty) a lot about this famous festival has changed with the modern times. Many of the old customs have drifted into obscurity, but families still take time off to relax and reconnect, sing songs and celebrate their heritage. Visitors can often see families gathered at temples giving offerings to the ancestors. Plus those with Chinese family or friends might even be able to join in on the Dongzhi parties and feasts. However, depending on where one is in the East, the festival could look a bit different.

Singaporeans celebrate by eating the traditional tangyuan, but dress it up with pandan leaves and ginger. Malaysian Chinese simply host friends and family for a meal, while Hong Kong citizens give gifts and dress up in new clothes. The Taiwanese show up everyone and steam nine-layer rice cakes in the shape of turtles, cows, ducks, etc and then eat themselves into food comas (literally, the practice is based on animal hibernation). Foodies, you may have just found Valhalla.

Happy Dongzhi, happy winter solstice festival!

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Wednesday, 20 December 2017

World’s fastest bullet train in China

At 348 km/h - It could threaten airline sales

A bullet train runs among fields in Rongjiang County in southwest China’s Guizhou Province. Source: Xinhua

CHINA recently launched a high-speed bullet train service between Beijing and Shanghai, claimed to be the fastest in the world at 350km/h. The service cuts travel time between the two cities to four hours and 30 minutes, according to state media Xinhua.

While this is good news for locals and tourists traveling within China, analysts predict that this could potentially rattle domestic airline sales as the market opts for the rail service hereon.

According to South China Morning Post, the “intensified domestic competition” might also prompt Chinese air carriers to shift more capacity towards international routes and seek new opportunities from overseas markets, as China’s middle class grows.

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China Xinhua News‏ @XHNews

World's fastest bullet train turns popular. Fuxing high-speed trains' attendance rate reached 95.3% in Shanghai during National Day holiday

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Monday, 18 December 2017

The World's Top 15 Cities

Every year, we ask our readers to rate the best cities in the world, and the results continue to surprise us. Not only do newcomers sometimes float to the top, but longtime favorites also continue to reappear — a testament to a destination’s enduring popularity. This year’s group of winners span the globe, from market-filled Hoi An in Vietnam to Florence, a European culture capital. Of note, however, is what ties these contenders together: Almost all are pedestrian-friendly, possess ample green space, and have a rich history that’s being thoughtfully preserved as the city grows.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

This year’s No. 1 winner — for the first time ever in the World’s Best Awards’ 22-year history — is Mexico’s San Miguel de Allende. “San Miguel is one of the most authentic, creative and cost-effective destinations we’ve visited,” says a T+L reader of the colonial city, a part of which has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. “Over the years we’ve discovered more great restaurants and activities, but the town still maintains its Mexican heritage, culture and charm.”

The World’s Best Cities list also speaks to our readers’ growing interest in Asia, as seven of the top 15 urban destinations are in the region. Kyoto, home to some of Japan’s most well-preserved traditional architecture, Chiang Mai, Thailand, best known for its walled Old City, and Siem Reap, Cambodia, the jumping-off point for Angkor Wat, all made repeat appearances. Here are 2017’s top urban destinations:

15. Barcelona, Spain
15. Barcelona, Spain

14. Udaipur, India
14. Udaipur, India

13. Siem Reap, Cambodia
13. Siem Reap, Cambodia

12. Rome, Italy
12. Rome, Italy

11. Santa Fe, New Mexico
11. Santa Fe, New Mexico

10. Luang Prabang, Laos
10. Luang Prabang, Laos

9. Ubud, Indonesia
9. Ubud, Indonesia

8. Cape Town, South Africa
8. Cape Town, South Africa

7. Hoi An, Vietnam
7. Hoi An, Vietnam

6. Oaxaca, Mexico
6. Oaxaca, Mexico

5. Florence, Italy
5. Florence, Italy

4. Kyoto, Japan
4. Kyoto, Japan

3. Chiang Mai, Thailand
3. Chiang Mai, Thailand

2. Charleston, South Carolina
2. Charleston, South Carolina

1. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

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