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The moral compass of the elites


Alfrescian (Inf)
#1 Dilhan Pillay, CEO of Temasek International

The logic, according to Dilhan Pillay, is that making corporate contributions (and being paid handsomely for it, tens of millions in bonuses in some years) absolves Liew Mun Leong from breaking law (on use of domestic helper), framing a maid (planting objects in her luggage), and from filing a police report?

Liew Mun Leong has contributed much to S'pore, says Temasek
Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong is also a senior international business adviser for Temasek.

Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong is also a senior international business adviser for Temasek.
Calvin Yang

Temasek said its senior international business adviser Liew Mun Leong has contributed to Singapore and its people, and his track record at various firms attests to that.
The investment company's comments come days after the High Court acquitted Mr Liew's former Indonesian maid of theft, in a judgment that also raised questions about the motivation of Mr Liew and his family in lodging a police report against the maid. Mr Liew is also the chairman of Changi Airport Group and Surbana Jurong.
Temasek International chief executive Dilhan Pillay said yesterday: "There are many individuals who have contributed to both public service and to the private sector in Singapore, for the benefit of Singapore and our population as a whole. Liew Mun Leong is one of those persons, and his track record at CapitaLand, at Changi Airport Group and at Surbana Jurong attests to that."

CapitaLand and Surbana Jurong are Temasek portfolio companies.

He was responding to questions from The Straits Times at a virtual media conference on Temasek's performance, and was asked whether Mr Liew's actions go against the company's values and whether it would be looking into the issue.

Mr Pillay said he would not comment further, citing ongoing proceedings on the case. The Attorney-General's Chambers and Ministry of Manpower (MOM) have said they are studying the judgment to see what further action ought to be taken.

He added: "I think we should hear from Mr Liew on his side of the issue and not come quick to judgment until we have heard all sides of things."

Mr Liew had declined to comment on the judgment when contacted by The Straits Times
Last Friday, the High Court acquitted former domestic worker Parti Liyani of stealing from Mr Liew, who is also the former chief executive of CapitaLand, and his family.

Ms Parti, 46, who worked for the Liew family from 2007 to 2016, was accused of stealing more than $34,000 worth of items from them.

In his judgment, Justice Chan Seng Onn cited, among other things, the improper motive behind the allegations of some family members. He noted that "some time prior to her termination", Ms Parti had expressed unhappiness at being made to do the additional work of cleaning the house and office of Mr Liew's son Karl.
"There is reason to believe that the Liew family, upon realising her unhappiness, took the pre-emptive first step to terminate her employment suddenly without giving her sufficient time for her to pack, in the hope that Parti would not use the time to make a complaint to MOM," the judge noted.

When Ms Parti threatened to complain to MOM after her sudden termination, Mr Liew and his son followed up with a police report to prevent her return to Singapore to make the complaint, said the judge.
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Alfrescian (Inf)
#2 Halimah Yacob, PAP puppet and free rider in the Istana.

Halimah would speak up about discrimination on headwear but chose to remain silent on a bigger issue: the misuse of domestic helper Parti Liyani by Liew Mun Leong and family. Is it because Halimah dare not offend those at the top and the immortals who put her in power?

Halimah is not a champion of the weak and the poor.

Discrimination has no place in Singapore society: President Halimah
President Halimah Yacob viewing a product by Arts@Metta at i’mable Collective’s gift market at the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru on Nov 23, 2019.

President Halimah Yacob viewing a product by Arts@Metta at i’mable Collective’s gift market at the Enabling Village in Lengkok Bahru on Nov 23, 2019.PHOTO: SG
Jessie Lim

SINGAPORE - In strong terms, President Halimah Yacob has made clear there is no place for discrimination of any form and against anyone in Singapore.

She said discrimination in the workplace is particularly disturbing during the Covid-19 pandemic as such incidents will add to the anxiety of people already grappling with concerns over their jobs and livelihoods.

"People should be assessed solely on their merits and their ability to do a job and nothing else," she said in a Facebook post on Thursday (Aug 20).

She is the latest leader to weigh in on an incident last month in which a 20-year-old Malay woman was told by Tangs department store to remove her hijab at work, after reporters asked her about the case during a visit to non-profit group AMP in Pasir Ris.

Madam Halimah said that Tangs has since agreed to remove such restrictions and will allow the hijab to be worn at work.

Welcoming the move, she said: "Diversity is our strength and our society has already embraced it. I hope that employers too will fully embrace diversity at the workplace and do their part to uphold the values of a fair and open society."

Ms Nurin Jazlina Mahbob, 20, a part-time handbag promoter working at a pop-up booth on the second floor of Tangs, said she was asked by staff of the department store to remove her head scarf just minutes into her first day on the job.

The incident on July 29 was widely shared after Ms Jazlina's employer, who had rented the booth at Tangs, posted about it on Instagram.

On Wednesday, Senior Minister of State for Manpower Zaqy Mohamad said in a Facebook post: "Religious attire should generally be allowed at workplaces, unless employers have uniform, or dress code requirements which are suited to the nature of their work, or for operational and safety reasons."
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Alfrescian (Inf)
#3 Wong Keen Onn, district judge


Former district judge fined $2,700 and disqualified from driving for seven months over traffic offences

Dominic Low

Apr 20, 2021

SINGAPORE - A former district judge has been fined $2,700 and disqualified from driving for seven months over traffic offences he committed in 2019.
Wong Keen Onn, 63, pleaded guilty on Friday (April 16) to one count of reckless driving and one count of breaching a traffic signal.
Both offences were committed on Aug 9, about a month before he retired, as Wong was driving along the East Coast Parkway (ECP) towards the Ayer Rajah Expressway, near the start of the Benjamin Sheares Bridge.
Court documents state that Wong and another driver, whose car was in front of Wong's vehicle, began switching to a lane on the left at the same time.
While the other car was partly in the next lane, Wong accelerated and drove around the car's left side to overtake it.
This caused the rear right side of Wong's car to collide with the front left side of the other car.

The other driver then attempted to get his attention, including by sounding the car horn and flashing the car's headlights at him.
But Wong continued driving and eventually made two right turns into Bayfront Avenue, with the other vehicle following his car.
He later stopped his car at the junction of Bayfront Avenue and Raffles Avenue, where the traffic light signal had turned red.
Seeing an opportunity to speak to Wong about the collision, the other driver alighted from his vehicle and walked towards Wong's car from the rear.
Before the man could reach him, Wong turned left into Raffles Avenue even though the traffic light signal was still red. He then drove away.
The court heard that there were no issues with road and weather conditions at that time.
A previous report by The Straits Times state that Wong had served as a district judge in the then Subordinate Courts, among other things.
Cases that he presided over include the conviction of several individuals involved in the multi-million Accord Customer Care Solutions corporate scandal and of a Singaporean who participated in a conspiracy to ship 20,000 rifles to Syria.
A Family Justice Courts (FJC) spokesman told ST in January this year that Wong was a district judge of the FJC before he retired in September 2019.
For driving recklessly, Wong could have been jailed for up to 12 months, or fined up to $5,000, or both.
He could also have been jailed for up to three months, or fined up to $1,000, or both, for failing to conform to the traffic signal.


Alfrescian (Inf)
#4 Kris Wiluan.
Well-known in high society and knows many ministers and government officials.

Indonesian tycoon Kris Wiluan fined $480,000 after pleading guilty to 3 market rigging charges​

Kris Taenar Wiluan had been handed 112 charges in relation to violations of Section 197 of the Securities and Futures Act.

Kris Taenar Wiluan had been handed 112 charges in relation to violations of Section 197 of the Securities and Futures Act.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

Grace Leong
Senior Business Correspondent

May 19, 2021

SINGAPORE - Indonesian tycoon and former chief executive of offshore and marine company KS Energy Kris Taenar Wiluan was fined $480,000 after pleading guilty on Wednesday (May 19) to three charges of market rigging.
He had been handed 112 charges of violating Section 197 of the Securities and Futures Act for giving instructions to push up or maintain the price of KS Energy shares on 112 trading days between 19 December 2014 and 13 September 2016. However, these charges were later amended to six amalgamated charges covering the same period.
He pleaded guilty to three of six charges, and the remaining three charges were taken into consideration for sentencing. He has until May 26 to pay the fine. The offence for each charge carries an imprisonment of up to seven years, a fine of up to $250,000, or both.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kevin Yong had sought a fine of $600,000 comprising $200,000 for each of the three proceeded charges, which was the highest sought for market rigging offences.
"Prosecution is seeking a high fine for the purposes of general deterrence and to reflect his culpability as mastermind of the market rigging operation," DPP Yong said.
“For fairness, we considered several mitigating factors. He was cooperative, remorseful and pleaded guilty at the first opportunity. He was also a first time offender and did not have a profit motive for his market rigging offences.”

Before the State Courts hearing began, Wiluan, clad in a black suit was seated a metre apart from his wife, who was holding a prayer card. After his sentence was issued, his wife, who had cried during his mitigation plea, told The Straits Times: “He is a good man. I can vouch for it as I have been married to him for more than 50 years.”
District Judge Marvin Bay, in delivering his sentence, noted: “Mr Wiluan also did not seem motivated by personal gain, and his offending involved just trading in one account... More importantly, the offending did not involve subterfuge by use of false trading accounts or cross-trades to simulate trading activity, and thus did not exhibit the level of deceptive conduct which appears as a common factor in cases where custodial sentences were imposed.
“While I am persuaded that Mr Wiluan is unlikely to offend again, there would be a need to send an appropriate signal of general deterrence to dissuade persons who might be tempted to follow in his path. Such conduct would corrode investor confidence and compromise SGX’s hard-earned reputation as a forum where trades are conducted with probity and transparency."
Wiluan, also founder of Indonesia's Citramas Group, was accused of instructing his employee, Ho Chee Yen, 56, to instruct a trading representative from CIMB Securities (Singapore) to execute trades in the shares of KS Energy through the trading account of Pacific One Energy, a company controlled by Wiluan, on various occasions between December 2014 and September 2016, to "push up" the share price of the mainboard-listed company.

Wiluan, 72, who was ranked Indonesia’s 40th richest man by Forbes in 2009 with a personal net worth of US$240 million, was also accused of instructing Ngin Kim Choo and Yeo Jin Lui, two CIMB Securities trading representatives servicing the trading account of Pacific One, to execute trades in KS Energy’s shares, “with a purpose to push up” its price on certain trading days.
“To achieve his target price, buy orders in the last 15 minutes of trading and during the closing routine were placed to set the closing price of KS Energy shares in a practice commonly known as “marking the close”. Buy orders were also placed at several bids above the last done price, instead of at the most competitive prices and at the minimum trading size, in order to increase KSE share price at the lowest possible cost,” the police said.
The charges against Ho were withdrawn. But “a stern warning, in lieu of prosecution, has been administered against Ho for intentionally aiding the accused with the market rigging,” the police said.
But the prosecution noted that there is “no evidence that the market rigging offences caused other KS Energy investors to suffer losses as Wiluan consistently purchased but never sold any KSE shares during the period of the charges.”
One purpose of the market rigging offences was to prevent potential margin calls by OCBC on the KS Energy shares pledged to the bank as collateral for loans that Pacific One Energy took from OCBC.
But OCBC did not suffer any loss, and Wiluan did eventually pay down the loan to OCBC in full, and also had sufficient assets to provide additional collateral to OCBC in the event of a margin call, the prosecution noted.
Senior Counsel Jimmy Yim of Drew & Napier, who represents Wiluan, said it was not fair to classify him as the “mastermind” of the market rigging operation.
“It is not disputed that there is no evidence Wiluan knew how these methods were being done by trading representatives to effect his purpose. He is the one who instructed them to do it but... he didn’t know the nuances and intricacies of trading. He left it to the brokers, who didn’t warn him.
“I’m not shifting the blame that he should be scot-free, but the facts show his culpability is on the lowest end.
In a statement, Wiluan said that at the time he was “unaware that my actions to support KSE stock were transgressing the Securities and Futures Act.
“I accept that my ignorance and misguidance are no defense and I am very sorry for my actions. I have learnt a painful lesson.”
In Wiluan’s mitigation plea, Mr Yim said: “We ask for judicial mercy as he has a slew of illnesses at his age... The illnesses are serious enough if a custodial sentence is imposed.
“My client has been an important player in oil and gas industry and he has done a lot of charitable donations in many fields... The commission of this offence is out of character and most unfortunate, and he has suffered tremendously.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

Vivian Balakrishnan apologises to PSP's Leong Mun Wai after ‘illiterate’ comment circulates online​

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (left) apologised to NCMP Leong Mun Wai for comments he made in Parliament on Sept 14, 2021.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan (left) apologised to NCMP Leong Mun Wai for comments he made in Parliament on Sept 14, 2021.PHOTOS: MCI/YOUTUBE

Rei Kurohi

SEP 15, 2021

SINGAPORE - Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has apologised to Progress Singapore Party (PSP) Non-Constituency MP Leong Mun Wai for remarks the minister made in Parliament.
Dr Balakrishnan, in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Sept 15), said: "I called Mr Leong Mun Wai today to apologise for my private comments to a colleague in Parliament yesterday.
"I disagree with him on the issue, but I should not have said what I said. Mr Leong has accepted my apology."
During a marathon debate on two motions on jobs and livelihoods in the House on Tuesday, Manpower Minister Tan See Leng and Mr Leong had several exchanges after Dr Tan delivered his speech.
At one point, after Mr Leong had spoken, a voice could be heard saying "he's illiterate".
Later, after another exchange between Dr Tan and Mr Leong, a microphone picked up someone saying: "Seriously, how did he get into RI?... Must have been a lousy school."

It is understood that these remarks were made by Dr Balakrishnan.
Dr Tan is then heard replying: “I’m from Monk’s Hill.”
RI refers to Raffles Institution, where Mr Leong studied in the 1970s, while Dr Tan studied at Monk’s Hill Secondary School. Dr Balakrishnan received his early education at Anglo-Chinese School.
In response to queries from The Straits Times, Mr Leong said he received a call from Dr Balakrishnan on Wednesday and that the minister conveyed his apology for his comments.

Mr Leong said he accepted the apology.
He added: "I am also curious to know who are the other persons who were involved in the conversation and the reason why they held the institution that I attended in contempt."
He also called for everyone to put their time to better use for Singapore and Singaporeans.
PSP, in a Facebook post on Wednesday, made reference to the incident.
It said: “Yes, our maiden parliamentary motion may have been rejected by Parliament. But we believe the public knows and understands why we had to table the motion and get this debate going.
“Unlike some quarters who may find dissenting voices illiterate, we have confidence that our fellow Singaporeans are enlightened and educated, and will not miss the wood for the trees.”

The comments were picked up by a microphone during a debate on two motions on jobs and livelihoods in Parliament on Sept 14, 2021. PHOTO: MCI/YOUTUBE

Video clips of the comments have been widely shared on social media platforms.
Netizens speculated that the voice was that of Dr Balakrishnan, who was sitting next to Dr Tan.
The exchange may have been picked up by the microphone that Dr Tan had used, which he left on after he delivered his speech.


Alfrescian (Inf)
Elitism begats elitism

Forum: Relook need to hand GEP results to pupils in class​

Oct 15, 2021

Our young primary school pupils received their first lesson in education elitism on Tuesday, with the release of the Gifted Education Programme (GEP) selection test results.
In my child's class, pupils were called out by name, and presented with a letter inviting them to take part in the second round of testing.
In an instant, the atmosphere in the classroom changed, and the children were made painfully aware of the "haves" and the "have-nots".
Some of her classmates were visibly disappointed, with one even texting her parents to inform them that she "did not make it".
Those who were chosen were understandably elated, with a boy even waving the letter around outside the classroom as if he had won the Golden Ticket from Mr Willy Wonka in Roald Dahl's novel, while the rest looked on in silence.
This brings up two pertinent questions.

First, could the results have been handed out in a more subtle way, for example, through a mailed letter or e-mail to the parents of successful pupils, rather than being ceremoniously handed to the children directly in class, with predictable results.

Second, it brings up the issue of educational stratification and indeed whether it should be happening at the tender age of nine.

Reuben Wong (Dr)


Alfrescian (Inf)

Bentley driver arrested after threatening to run down security officer at Red Swastika School​


A Bentley is shown pushing against the security officer who stood in front of the vehicle to prevent it from entering the primary school. PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM SGRV/FACEBOOK

Ang Qing

JAN 11, 2022

SINGAPORE - A 61-year-old man has been arrested for a rash act causing hurt, after he was filmed threatening to run down a security officer with his Bentley outside Red Swastika School on Tuesday morning (Jan 11).
A video circulating on social media showed the driver inching his white car forward a few times, pushing the security officer back despite being stopped from entering the primary school in Bedok.
In a statement on Tuesday evening, the police said they had been alerted at about 11.40am to the incident that occurred in Bedok North Avenue 3.
The 62-year-old security officer sustained minor injuries, the police said, adding that investigations are ongoing.
Separately, the Ministry of Education is looking into the incident, said Education Minister Chan Chun Sing.
In a Facebook post, Mr Chan said he was aware of the video showing “a driver trying to enter a school and even using his car to engage in dangerous manoeuvres against a security officer and a school staff”.
Calling this “unacceptable behaviour”, the minister said: “As adults, we should set a positive example for our children in how we treat others with respect, and abide by the rules that are in place for the collective security of our school community.”

In the video, a Bentley is shown pushing against the security officer, who stood in front of the vehicle to prevent it from entering the school.

A school staff member is seen talking to a passenger standing next to the car. After the passenger returns to the vehicle, the staff member uses his hands to help the security officer stop it from creeping forward.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday afternoon, the Union of Security Employees (USE) said the security officer, Mr Neo Ah Whatt, is well and recovering at home.

USE general secretary Raymond Chin, 39, told The Straits Times that Mr Neo has been deployed to the school for nearly three years. He is hired under security firm Reachfield Security and Safety Management.
Mr Chin said: "He said that his right knee was painful and was issued a three-day medical certificate after a medical check-up."
He added that the incident occurred at the school gate at around 7.30am, which is the usual rush hour for parents to drop pupils off at the school.
Mr Chin noted that the car had a valid label to enter the school, but had cut the queue of cars waiting to enter.

A video circulating on social media showed the driver inching his Bentley forward a few times, pushing the security officer back despite being stopped from entering the primary school in Bedok. PHOTO: ST READER
USE executive secretary Steve Tan, 48, called the incident "deplorable".
"(The security officer) had even gone to the extent of standing in front of the vehicle to prevent its entry, as the driver refused to obey instructions," said Mr Tan.
"The union is very disturbed by this case of physical abuse. It is particularly egregious, given that a car was involved."
The union, which has filed a police report on the incident, visited Mr Neo at his home on Tuesday afternoon. Mr Tan and other union representatives gave him a care pack that included boxes of chicken essence and bird’s nest.

Roughly two in five of 1,000 officers surveyed by USE between July and September last year said they experienced verbal or physical abuse while on duty.
Most of the abuse was targeted at older officers and came mostly from members of the public, which formed around 40 per cent of the abuse cases reported by officers.
Mr Raj Joshua Thomas, president of the Security Association Singapore, slammed the abusive behaviour and urged the public to report such incidents.
He said: “Security officers’ duties include ensuring that only authorised persons and vehicles enter the premises they are protecting, and in an orderly manner... It is completely unacceptable for members of the public to try to get their way by bullying, intimidating, causing physical harm to or in any other way harassing officers while they are performing their duties.”
Mr Thomas said the Private Security Industry Act was amended last year to better protect officers, introducing heavier penalties for those who abuse security officers on duty. He added: “It is surprising that this extreme incident of abuse has occurred so quickly on the back of the amendments.”

Madam May Tan, who has a daughter in Primary 5 at the school, described Mr Neo as a jovial and friendly man.
“Every day, he greets us by saying 'good morning' and 'thank you',” said the saleswoman, who is in her 40s, adding that the security officer is well respected.
Some politicians also took to Facebook to condemn the driver’s actions and commend Mr Neo.
National Trades Union Congress secretary-general Ng Chee Meng said “this act of aggression against our officers who are merely carrying out their duties cannot be condoned”.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Desmond Tan said Mr Neo showed dedication to his duty, by standing in front of the moving vehicle to ensure the safety and security of the school premises.
“Security officers play an important role in ensuring that the premises under their care are safe and secure,” he added. “This is why it is imperative to ensure that they feel protected and have a safe environment when performing their duties.
"Abusive behaviour towards security officers should not be tolerated."


Alfrescian (Inf)

Errant drivers, long queues and inconsiderate behaviour a common sight outside schools in the morning, say parents​

Errant drivers, long queues and inconsiderate behaviour a common sight outside schools in the morning, say parents

The congestion along Bedok North Ave 3 outside Bedok Green Secondary School and Red Swastika School on Jan 12, 2022 in the morning. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)

Ang Hwee Min

12 Jan 2022

SINGAPORE: For many parents who drive their children to school, traffic snarls and frayed tempers are everyday occurrences.
Inconsiderate behaviour like blocking the way, cutting queues and parents taking their time at drop-off points are just some of the instances that contribute to the all-around stress, parents told CNA.
“It’s not the part going from your home to the school. It’s always the last 500m outside any school in Singapore. You end up probably spending more time there than you do on half your journey. It’s always that portion which can get a bit hairy,” said Mrs Karen Goh.
“There’s always a golden window. So if you arrive during the golden window, you probably don’t get stuck in the jam very much, it’s very minimal. If you arrive past 7am, traffic just builds up exponentially so then you get stuck for 10 minutes."
And if you miss the window or leave home just a few minutes late?
"You just have to pray," Mrs Goh said with a chuckle.
The mother-of-two and her husband have worked out that making separate trips to Methodist Girls’ School and Anglo-Chinese School (Primary), which their daughter and son attend, is the best way to handle the daily school run.
“If we have to take them together, which we have before, one arrives very early and the other one is on the verge of being late. So we figured maybe it’s less stressful for everybody in the morning if we take them separately,” said Mrs Goh.
On Tuesday (Jan 11), a 61-year-old man was arrested for a rash act causing hurt after an incident outside Red Swastika School.
In the video widely circulated online, a white car was stopped from entering the primary school. The car then inched forward several times, pushing against the security officer standing in front of it.
According to the Union of Security Employees (USE), the car had a valid label to enter the school, but had cut the queue of cars waiting to enter, and moved his vehicle dangerously even when the security officer was standing in front of it.
The 62-year-old security officer Mr Neo Ah Whatt sustained “minor injuries” and police investigations are ongoing.
Mr Neo is “quite well-liked” by students and parents, executive secretary of USE Steven Tan told CNA on Wednesday.
“We asked him whether there are people who abuse him or scold him, is this the first time and so on. Broadly speaking, his recollection was that he’s very happy working at the school. You have the odd occasion of people challenging the rules, but this is his first time encountering something as egregious as this,” he added.


The parents of Primary 1 and 2 students at Red Swastika School have car labels indicating that they are allowed to enter the school to drop off their children, said Mr Aylwin Tay, whose two children attend the school.
All the other parents are expected to use the HDB car park next to the school, where children enter by the school's back gate, he told CNA. There are typically two security officers at the school gate and one more at the exit to help pedestrians and children cross the road safely and signal to cars to move off.
Mr Tay described the 61-year-old driver’s actions in jumping the line as an “everyday occurrence”.
“There are people who will take the chance, use the yellow box to come in from the second lane,” he said.
“And the worst thing is when they try to come in from the second lane, people like me who won’t let them come in because they didn’t queue, (these cars) will (create a) jam. They will just wait there for their chance to turn, and they will block the entire lane,” said Mr Tay, adding that he saw someone do the same thing just two days ago.
“Just before the area where the Bentley turned in yesterday, one of these cars actually did that. He blocked the entire lane because he was trying to filter into our lane to get into the school.”
When CNA visited Red Swastika School on Wednesday morning, the line of cars along Bedok North Road started to build at 7am. The main gates to Bedok Green Secondary School, Red Swastika School, and the entrance and exit of the HDB car park where parents drop off their children are all located along that road.
Red Swastika School only allows parents to start entering the school gates at around 7.10am and by then, CNA observed that the innermost lane was already packed with cars waiting to turn into the HDB car park or the schools along Bedok North Road.
CNA also spotted several cars cutting into the first lane from other lanes, similar to what the 61-year-old driver did on Tuesday morning.
After exiting from the HDB car park, several drivers used the yellow box at the exit to cut across several lanes to the U-turn on the outermost lane of Bedok North Road.
In some instances, they even stopped in the boxes although there were no cars in front of them, sometimes occupying two lanes and holding up traffic.
Stopping in a yellow box is considered a traffic offence outside Silver Zones and School Zones. Owners of light vehicles and heavy vehicles can face fines of S$100 and S$150 respectively.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said in response to CNA queries in 2020 that markings like yellow boxes are used to deter vehicles from stopping and obstructing traffic along a section of the road “where appropriate”.
LTA has also introduced different traffic management and road safety measures, like traffic signs, road humps and road markings to remind motorists to slow down near schools.
To manage traffic flow, some schools deploy their own traffic marshals and adopt staggered reporting or dismissal times where possible, said LTA at the time.
“Where necessary, LTA deploys parking wardens to guide traffic during the affected hours, to complement these measures,” said the authorities in the statement.
The congestion along Bedok North Ave 3 outside Red Swastika School on Jan 12, 2022 in the morning. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Parents with a decal on their cars are allowed to drop off their children at designated times at Red Swastika School. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Cars leaving Bedok Green Secondary School attempt to merge traffic along Bedok North Avenue 3. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
A traffic police officer was seen along the congestion at Bedok North Ave 3 on Jan 12, 2022 in the morning. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
The congestion along Bedok North Ave 3 outside Red Swastika School on Jan 12, 2022 in the morning. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Parents with a decal on their cars are allowed to drop off their children at designated times at Red Swastika School. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Cars leaving Bedok Green Secondary School attempt to merge traffic along Bedok North Avenue 3. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
A traffic police officer was seen along the congestion at Bedok North Ave 3 on Jan 12, 2022 in the morning. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
The congestion along Bedok North Ave 3 outside Red Swastika School on Jan 12, 2022 in the morning. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
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Ms Seah Li May, who has been sending her three children to Red Swastika School in the mornings for seven years, said the traffic situation worsened over the years.
Despite living nearby, the family has had to leave the house about 10 minutes earlier than in previous years.
“Last year, as long as we reach the Bedok Reservoir stretch before 7.10am, we will be able to get into the school by 7.20am. But for this year onwards, I have to be at the Bedok Reservoir stretch by 7am, because the queue is already very long,” she told CNA.
“Ever since the school changed to (a) single session, the traffic has worsened.”
Even though she has a son who is in Primary 2, which means she is allowed to drive into the school, she chooses to drop her children off at the HDB car park where the traffic is slightly better.
“We have the car decal, but the queue is really horrible,” she added.
“(In the) worst case, sometimes we’re in the jam for about 20 to 25 minutes, and then my kids will arrive at school at 7.26am or 7.27am.”
Then there are those who are especially affectionate.
“Sometimes parents will drop off their kids, open the door, take their school bag for them, give them a big hug, stuff like that. Then it will just jam up everybody.”
Such delays stress her children out as well.
“They will always look at the time, ‘Mummy, so late already.’ Sometimes, before the entrance, they say they want to get off because they need to run to school, they don’t want to be late,” she added.
“I told them ‘Just be late, just let the teacher know you were late’ because I don’t think it’s worth taking the risk.”
Other parents choose to leave home even earlier. To get his three children to school on time, Mr Camilius Yang sets off at 6.25am.
His three children, who attend St Patrick’s School, CHIJ Katong Convent and St Joseph’s Institute Junior, are in school by 7am.
Adding that he could identify with the frustration of the 61-year-old driver, Mr Yang said many parents sometimes find themselves stuck outside when a queue has already formed.
“But obviously if I’m blocked by someone I will make a U-turn ... or I will get my kids to drop off at the bus stop and then they walk in. It’s about how you handle it right? I cannot drop you at the doorstep every time because I need to wait in the queue for 15 minutes or so,” he added.
Cars parked along 11 Blackmore Drive as parents wait for students to be released from Methodist Girls' School on Jan 12, 2022. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Cars waiting to enter Methodist Girls' School after student dismissal on Jan 12, 2022. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Traffic along 11 Blackmore Drive as parents wait for students to be released from Methodist Girls' School extended to Bukit Timah Road. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Traffic along 11 Blackmore Drive as parents wait for students to be released from Methodist Girls' School extended to Bukit Timah Road. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Cars parked along 11 Blackmore Drive as parents wait for students to be released from Methodist Girls' School on Jan 12, 2022. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Cars waiting to enter Methodist Girls' School after student dismissal on Jan 12, 2022. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Traffic along 11 Blackmore Drive as parents wait for students to be released from Methodist Girls' School extended to Bukit Timah Road. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Traffic along 11 Blackmore Drive as parents wait for students to be released from Methodist Girls' School extended to Bukit Timah Road. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)
Cars parked along 11 Blackmore Drive as parents wait for students to be released from Methodist Girls' School on Jan 12, 2022. (Photo: Gaya Chandramohan/CNA)


Schools see similar traffic jams at dismissal time. When CNA visited Methodist Girls’ School on Wednesday afternoon, there were many cars parked illegally opposite the school, waiting for students to be released.
At about 12.40pm, snaking lines filled most of Blackmore Drive and spilt onto Bukit Timah Road.
“I think that if you are a regular driver, you kind of know which lane to take, and when you have to keep to your lane. Having said that, I think that in general you just need to employ a bit of graciousness to your fellow co-drivers. Everybody’s trying to get their kids to school,” said Mrs Goh, the mother-of-two.
“I think that if there’s a bit of give-and-take .... the morning ride is a bit more bearable.”
Once, her car broke down at the school gate at 7am - a line of cars waiting behind her. The school sent staff members and security officers to manage and control the traffic.
“You could really see a whole range of human responses, from the understanding ones to the very unpleasant ones. I felt so bad for them (the staff) because it was my fault that the car broke down but they were getting scolded for the traffic,” she said, urging parents to be more understanding.
Parents who drive should also be more patient, not least because there are children using the roads, said Ms Seah, the parent of three Red Swastika students.
“I know everybody’s stressed out and rushing in the morning, sometimes they might just miss the children. So actually (I hope) they pay more attention to the road,” she said.
She also hopes that the authorities will look into improving the traffic conditions along Bedok North Road, adding that parents have written to the authorities “countless times”.
Most schools generally have “very strict” procedures for parents to comply with, said USE’s Mr Tan.
“With every P1 cohort, there will be new parents coming to the school. And apparently, from all the facts that have surfaced so far, it seems like this vehicle was new to this morning drop-off phenomenon,” he added, referencing the incident on Tuesday morning.
But rules are there to be followed, he said, pointing to how the driver was not allowed to enter the school after cutting the queue. "Imagine if you allow one to not follow the queue ... other parents (may) do the same.”
Feedback from security officers in the union show that instances of rule-flouting are more common in the first two weeks of a new school term, said Mr Tan.
In his experience, “very rarely” are there “very egregious” altercations between parents and security officers at schools. Such cases are referred to the police immediately, he said.
In closing, however, he gave short shrift to drivers who break obvious traffic rules.
"As long as you’re a motorist, you’re expected to know (the rules),” he said.
“To tell you not to drive against the flow of traffic, I think there’s no necessity for anyone to have to remind anyone not to do so.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

Australian Woman’s Fight to Prove Singapore Fraud​

Harassed and vilified by unknown parties, she continues to press case despite bank’s explanations​

For six years, an Australian woman named Julie O’Connor (above) has vainly been tilting against the Singapore establishment in an effort to raise claims of fraud and what she calls a cover-up by powerful people over the acquisition of the Singapore and Vietnam assets of an Australia-based firm, Strategic Marine Pty Ltd. She alleges her husband Terry O'Connor, a shareholder, was thwarted in his attempts to acquire a controlling interest via pre-emptive rights he possessed.
For her efforts, O’Connor says she has been vilified on social media, publicly referred to online as a cockroach, obese, her photographs have been doctored into news articles which falsely showed her family members as being convicted pedophiles, all while she says she has otherwise been ignored by Singapore officials, all of whom repeatedly argue that evidence of any crime in Singapore is lacking.
Facebook attack
O’Connor says she has recently been notified by Facebook (below) that she has been targeted by sophisticated spyware not normally used by individuals but rather intrusive states, along with several other Singaporeans at odds with authorities including independent journalists Terry Xu and Kirsten Han and others. There is no indication of where the attacks are coming from.

Attempts also have been made to hack O’Connor’s website, www.bankingonthetruth.com, and intimidating messages have been posted threatening that someone would fly to Australia to kill her, as the screenshots below show.

As far as O’Connor knows, these online attacks/emails have never been investigated by Singapore police, even though some have been sent to her husband and daughter at their place of work. Senior figures from DBS, Singapore Police, and the Singapore Government were copied in, she says.
O’Connor has bombarded DBS Bank, Southeast Asia’s and Singapore’s largest in terms of assets, with emails and letters and has sought help from Marcus Lim, manager of the DBS account for the Monetary Authority of Singapore, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, a Senior PAP minister and chairman of the MAS, Lucien Wong, Singapore’s attorney general, K Shanmugam, the Singapore law minister, and Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong himself, to no avail.
Enquiries by Asia Sentinel to the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the Ministry of Law, and other agencies were met with minimal comment. A spokeswoman for the MAS said ‘MAS takes all allegations of fraud seriously, and had responded to Ms. O’Connor earlier and followed up on her concerns. Our engagements with members of the public and financial institutions are confidential, and the details of such interactions are not shared with third parties.”
The office of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong told Asia Sentinel by email that the office has “corresponded directly with Ms. Julie O’Connor regarding her allegations, and will continue to engage her as necessary. We will not be commenting further on the matter, or responding to the questions you have posed, as it is inappropriate for us to discuss such matters with third parties.”
Allegations against tycoon
O’Connor’s allegations involve Lionel Lee Chye Tek, who at the time was managing director of Ezra Holdings and chairman of its subsidiary Triyards, which were involved in offshore services, ship construction, global offshore, and marine industries. The group at that time was aiming to consolidate its position as one of the largest offshore services players in the Asia-Pacific region and was, at that point, darling on the Stock Exchange of Singapore
Lionel Lee was alleged by others to have caused four forged signatures to be affixed to legal documents on behalf of a no-longer-operating Bahamas company, documents which related to Strategic Marine, the firm Lionel Lee’s company was attempting to acquire. An associate of Lee, the then-CEO of KTL Global, Tan Kheng Yeow, was allegedly enlisted to enter into an irrevocable option deed to acquire power of attorney for the company. O’Connor charged that was an attempt to defraud her husband by persuading him his claim was worthless and that he should sell his 4 percent shareholding for A$1.
After Lee’s initial attempt to acquire Strategic Marine through Tan – for A$7 – was frustrated due to allegations of forgery, DBS would enter the arena. At issue with DBS, she said, were two letters purportedly from bank officials that were used to downgrade Strategic Marine’s week-old independent valuation by A$30-40 million and retroactively strip away O’Connor’s exercised pre-emptive right, prior to Lee’s attempt to acquire the firm for just A$1.265 million. A request to the DBS law firm Wong Partnership to explain the valuation downgrade was not answered.
DBS’s legal staff, O’Connor alleged, was asked by Australian legal firm Minter Ellison to authenticate the two letters, which she displayed for Asia Sentinel and which she describes as littered with errors or irregularities that banks aren’t supposed to make, including lack of a bank address on the stationery, absence of reference, and missing or duplicate bullet points. After eight weeks, she says, during which time Lee completed the acquisition, DBS refused to authenticate the letters, citing banking secrecy obligations.
DBS, through Wong Partnership, says its investigations “confirmed that the two letters in question are authentic and originated from our clients. Further, the results of these investigations were provided to Mr. & Mrs. O’Connor on previous occasions and that the O’Connors refused to accept the findings.”
Lee, acting on behalf of Triyards, ultimately acquired the Strategic Marine assets despite the Triyards Board’s awareness of O’Connor’s husband’s exercise of his pre-emptive right, the O’Connors charge. Lee at the time was represented by the high-profile Singapore law firm Allen & Gledhill, which was headed by the current Attorney General Lucien Wong. Lee's personal lawyer was said to be Edwin Tong, now Singapore’s second law minister.
Lee empire capsizes
Lee’s own empire was headed for a figurative iceberg. KGI Securities Singapore analyst Joel Ng in a research note wrote that Ezra Holdings had been reporting negative free cash flows in the previous 10 years, even when oil prices were above US$100 a barrel.
"Ezra leveraged up too much during the oil boom years, and the low oil price environment over the past two years dealt the final blow," he wrote, adding that the group's persistently weak free cash flows had resulted in a "highly unsustainable" balance sheet.
"Ezra basically wanted to compete against its peers funded with debt rather than equity. I would say it was blinded by its ambition and the fact that credit was readily available during that time," Ng said.
Study highlights mismanagement
According to an exhaustive, five-part analysis of Ezra Holdings and its subsidiaries by National University of Singapore Professor Mak Yuen Teen, titled EZRA and the Tri-tanic: “Based purely on public information, there were arguably failure to disclose material information on a timely basis, false or misleading disclosures, failure to disclose interests in transactions, insider trading, and failure to discharge directors’ duties.”
There were other questions, Mak wrote, “whether contract wins announced by the companies and the secondary listing of EOL just 15 months before it started reporting quarterly losses lured investors into buying notes, convertible bonds, and shares of the companies.”
Mak, in an email, said he was aware of O’Connor’s objections and said there was good cause to investigate them. Lim Tean, a lawyer and founder of the opposition People’s Voice political party, said O’Connor’s allegations are well known in the opposition political community and bear looking into.
Lee Unreachable
Attempts by Asia Sentinel to reach Lee through an associate got no response. By one report, he has moved to Thailand although that has not been verified.
Having paid more than A$300,000 for the shareholding only to be told all other SM shareholders had agreed to sell their shares to Lee’s acquaintance Tan for $1, O’Connor says she became suspicious and began digging. She says she found evidence of four forged signatures on Strategic Marine documents. A handwriting expert hired by the O’Connors analyzed the alleged forged signatures below. The supposedly actual signatures are on the left and alleged forged signatures are on the right. Vincent Lau told the O’Connors he hadn’t signed the documents.

O’Connor possesses a sworn statement from Vincent Lau that he had never seen, signed nor authorized anyone to use his signatures on documents, on behalf of the Bahamas entity which had been wound up 18 months before.
Furious DBS response
DBS Bank answered Asia Sentinel’s queries about the matter with a bristling letter from Wong Partnership, in which the law firm, which represents the bank, demanded that Asia Sentinel repeat the law firm’s letter verbatim in its story and reserved the right to sue.
O’Connor, the letter said, has not been ignored and the couple have raised the matters repeatedly with them. The central issue, according to the law firm, “pertains to the authenticity of the two letters, and investigations confirmed the letters are authentic. The contemporaneous record shows the circumstances under which these letters were sent fully justified their existence. There is no evidence of wrongdoing on the part of DBS or its employees.”
The bank, according to the law firm, “had constantly engaged with Mrs. O’Connor as well as Mr. O’Connor and other third parties. It is unfortunate that Mrs. O’Connor has since been attempting an ex post facto criticism of our client’s investigations as she has simply refused to accept any of the conclusions. Our client, therefore, saw no further purposes in continuing to engage with her.”
Bank refuses further response
A follow-up email with more questions elicited the response that “Unless you are able to furnish any new and relevant information and/or documents to substantiate the allegations made in your emails of 10 December 2021 and 24 December 2021, our clients do not see any purpose in further engaging with you.” It added that Mrs. O’Connor had acted with malice, which seems far-fetched but in legal terms would appear to be preparation for a lawsuit.
O’Connor’s crusade may or may not be valid. The documents show irregularities although even banks could commit errors. At the very least, there is no reason those irregularities and the many other serious concerns she raises shouldn’t be explained by DBS, the Singapore regulators, and legal bodies.
As she says, “Who is being protected and why?” she asked. “Is it Lee, DBS, Allen & Gledhill, the regulators who failed to act, the Audit Committee who stood down and not up? Who failed to look out for the Ezra Holdings and Triyards shareholders?”


Alfrescian (Inf)

Former user recalls secret drug parties in hotel rooms, condos and HDB flats​


This was one of the locations where underground drug activities took place. PHOTO: ST FILE

MAR 13, 2022

SINGAPORE - Nights carefully planned through quickly deleted chats on the messaging app Telegram and hosted in hotel rooms with close circles of friends, or spontaneous meetings at people’s homes, often in private estates. These were the places where underground drug activities took place, a former user told The Sunday Times.
Adam (not his real name), who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “People think drugs are very hard to get in Singapore, but actually before the pandemic they were everywhere, and even now there are people selling them.”
The parties were often organised by children of wealthy families, including expatriates. They are young and loaded – slang for rich and also for being under the influence of drugs.
There would be alcohol and music at the events, while some would retreat to a corner to use drugs.
Most people at the parties Adam attended were under 30.
He went through periods where he would be at one every weekend, with some hosted in expensive hotels and condominiums and others at Housing Board flats.
Some of these parties were organised entirely around drugs, where all partygoers would be partaking; others involved alcohol and other activities with just a few people taking drugs.

At one such party in 2019 in Fajar Road, the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) arrested seven teenagers – aged between 13 and 18.
Some of these drug parties have ended in tragedy.
In 2018, a 19-year-old medical student from the National University of Singapore died after taking 25B-NBOMe, a new psychoactive substance that is a modified version of lysergic acid diethylamide, more commonly known as LSD or acid.

He had attended a “trip” party, a term used to describe getting high. A polytechnic student who organised the illicit gathering was later charged.
The drugs are not cheap. During the pandemic, the price of MDMA, a psychoactive drug commonly known as Ecstasy or Molly, went up to $80 a pill from $50 a pill.
Other drugs such as ketamine went up to $130 to $200 a gram, from $80 to $100 a gram.


Adam said he rarely met drug dealers himself, but he was always in contact with people who knew them.
Encrypted messaging apps are a popular platform.
Checks by ST last year showed that on 20 Telegram chat groups selling drugs and drug paraphernalia, most had about 300 to 500 members while a few had more than 2,400 members.
After payment is made, sellers would leave the drugs with runners or at drop-off points.
Between Jan 2019 and Sept 17 last year, the Central Narcotics Bureau arrested 77 traffickers linked to Telegram transactions.
Adam, now 23 and doing his national service, said he would often gather with groups of close friends – a collection of both Singaporeans and expats and children of expats – to use substances like cannabis and MDMA.
The phenomenon of drug use among Singapore’s international community and some wealthy people here has surfaced in the news from time to time.
In 2019, the scion of a rich business family in Singapore pleaded guilty to cannabis possession and consumption. He was sentenced to a jail term of two years and two months. He started smoking marijuana at 21, while studying overseas, and continued the habit on his return to Singapore.
Adam started at an even younger age. He was 14 when he first smoked marijuana. A group of friends from secondary school had offered it to him at the playground of a condominium where one of them lived.
He said he started doing drugs to deal with anxiety and attention deficit hyperactive disorder and later switched to harder drugs.
“As cliched as it sounds, every drug I’ve done later was for the thrill of finding the next high. I was 15 when I tried acid, 18 when I started using benzos, 20 when I did my first line of cocaine, ketamine and MDMA.”
Benzos is short for benzodiazepines, a class of psychoactive drugs used to treat depression or anxiety, which he has been diagnosed with.
Adam said his parents – his father works in drug rehabilitation – were suspicious. But he continued to do relatively well in school and earned himself a diploma. So they trusted him.
He said he was influenced by what he watched and read. After reading The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by American writer Stephen Chbosky, Adam wanted to be Bob.
Bob was a stereotypical stoner, a character in the American coming-of-age book where several teenage characters use drugs such as marijuana and LSD.
“I did acid for the first time because I was stupid, didn’t know better and thought I was the main character in Skins.”
Skins is a British TV show that also explores teenage drug use.

But escapism from emotional trauma was also at the root of his addiction.
When he was a child, he was sexually assaulted by his sister, who is now in jail for a separate offence involving drug trafficking.
He said the drugs were not just recreational but also a coping mechanism for pain which he felt therapy could not solve, especially during a period of about 10 months beginning in March 2020.
He said: “(During) my worst spiral and drug bender, Molly was my drug of choice.”
He would pop pills every weekend and also tried to end his life several times.
While his first contact with drugs was through his friends, it was also his social group that got him out of hard drugs, he said.
He said: “My friends saw how much I was spiralling and we all decided to stay sober together and cut ourselves off from people who dealt (drugs).”
Adam added that while he agrees with Singapore’s hard stance against drugs, he is concerned that it may drive people to consume whatever they can get their hands on.
He said: “I think drugs are bad and do a lot of harm to families and the community. But it’s not going to stop the young from trying drugs at a party or a rave.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

Thinking Aloud​

Asking awkward questions of the powerful​

Social activists disturb our comfort, making us consider new ways of living together​


Lydia Lim

SEP 20, 2020

We were looking at menus when he popped the question: "So, what do you consider the greatest social problem of our time?"
Unsure how to respond, I kept quiet. The other person in our group of three had known Mr Social Conscience for far longer, so he kept his eyes fixed on the menu and muttered: "I just want to order dessert."
That incident from long ago captures my own experience of being thrown off balance by a friend who was more socially aware than I was. Today, the term for a heightened state of social awareness is "woke", defined since 2017 by the Oxford English Dictionary as "alert to injustice in society, especially racism".
I recall that memory with mixed feelings as I observe the ferment over migrant worker rights and the questions being raised over Singapore's justice system, in the wake of the High Court's recent acquittal of Ms Parti Liyani, a foreign domestic worker who had been accused by her former employer, Mr Liew Mun Leong and his family, of having stolen tens of thousands of dollars' worth of goods from them.
On Facebook, I read a post that said "we live in a time when a maid can bring down a chairman".
Do we?


Social media amplifies anti-establishments points of view that some of us may find new and discomfiting, but Singapore is nowhere near a social upheaval. I stress this because defenders of the status quo may fear an overthrow of institutions in place for decades, and thereafter a slippery slope to national ruin.

But change does not come so easily, as long-time advocates of social causes well know.
The case in which Ms Parti secured an acquittal against theft charges filed by her rich and well-connected former employer is a rare exception. That is one reason it has become a national talking point and source of debate.

Its fallout suggests a greater ease among some sectors of Singapore society to challenge the status quo, to ask awkward questions of powerful people, and to do so more openly than in the past.

Whether or not you think that is a good thing, it is a new reality that all of us have to grapple with.
The new cacophony of causes and voices is jarring to those of us more used to the harmony of old.
Yes, social harmony is important but I believe too much of it can impede progress. Dissonance can rouse us from our slumber.


Still, not all who question those in power do so responsibly. Some are heady with the feeling of being able to express themselves more freely than before; others do so because it's now cool to be "woke".
Those who dally with social causes as a fad are likely to far outnumber those who regard righting certain wrongs in society as a mission. The latter stand out by their actions - they sacrifice time, money and effort in pursuit of justice for those with less power, and they persevere in the face of obstacles.
Among them is Ms Debbie Fordyce, president of migrant workers' advocacy group TWC2. She shared her observations on trendy causes in an interview with academic Philip Holden, which was published on Academia.sg in May.

"I feel strongly about migrant workers because I've been working with this group for so long and I've become aware of what happens while they're in Singapore and after they return home," she said.
"Now, because of the pandemic, they've become a sexy topic, with lots more people wanting to get involved. It's great to have donations and offers to volunteer, but the desire to 'make the world a better place' doesn't require you to seek out a trendy cause...
"Whether with migrant workers, or anyone else in a position of disempowerment, be aware of what inequality, poverty and desperation do to people, both those with privilege and access, and those without. Be prepared to stand up for what you believe."



There was little crowing from the activists at the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home) after Ms Parti was acquitted by the High Court.
Instead, the charity and its activists - who had believed in Ms Parti's innocence from the beginning, helped her secure legal aid and sheltered and supported her during the four years she fought the case - issued a sober, factual statement to highlight "the systemic difficulties that migrant workers face when they are wrongfully accused".
"Such migrant workers are left waiting in a foreign country while investigations are ongoing, without any indication of the length of such investigations," Home said in its statement issued on the day of Ms Parti's acquittal on Sept 4.
The statement continued: "In Yani's case, she was arrested on Dec 2, 2016, charged on Aug 31, 2017, and has spent almost four years at Home's shelter, waiting for the conclusion of her case. We also provided her a bailor for the sum of $15,000, an option which is not available for most migrant workers accused of crimes.

"These migrant workers are often not allowed to work, thus they are reliant on organisations like Home to provide them shelter, food, and financial assistance. During this time, they are also not allowed to leave the country, and have no means of seeing their families back home.
"Consequently, by the time many migrant workers are presented with charges, they choose to plead guilty even if they are of the view that they are innocent of the charges that they are facing. The time it takes for them to serve their sentence may be shorter than the time it takes to go through the court process. Home believes that every individual should be given a chance to a fair trial, and access to legal representation, regardless of their work pass status or nationality.
"Home would also like to express our deep appreciation for Mr Anil Balchandani, who has worked tirelessly to represent Yani at the trial and appeal stage. We are also very grateful for the many volunteers and interns who have been involved in Yani's case and who helped her manoeuvre the complexities of her case."
Contrast that statement to the online bashing by keyboard warriors, including on the Facebook page of Changi Airport Group, which drew some netizens' ire simply because Mr Liew Mun Leong was then chairman of its board. He has since stepped down from the position.
While it is important for citizens to feel empowered to speak truth to power, there is a difference between using social media to call out individuals online, and actual activism. Former US president Barack Obama said as much in October 2019, during an interview on activism. He spoke out against "call out culture" or "cancel culture", which celebrates the use of social media to sit in judgment of others.

"That's not activism. That's not bringing about change," Mr Obama said. "If all you're doing is casting stones, you're probably not going to get that far. That's easy to do." He also pointed out that "the world is messy; there are ambiguities", adding that "people who do really good stuff have flaws".
More recently, during this year's general election campaign, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also cautioned against a culture of trial by Internet.
I welcome more open debate in Singapore on key social issues, but I also think many of us have much to learn about engaging in ways that are respectful and responsible.
The aim should not be to tear down individuals or institutions but to build a better Singapore, based on - to quote our National Pledge - justice and equality.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Netizens suggest SPH CFO is 23-year-old voyeur’s father​

Jewel Stolarchuk
9 months ago


Several netizens have suggested that Singapore Press Holdings’ (SPH) Chief Financial Officer Chua Hwee Song is the father of a 23-year-old Singaporean voyeur, after the young man’s name became public when a gag order concealing his identity was lifted.
Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon ordered the voyeur, Colin Chua Yi Jin, to be named last Friday (24 Sep) after 11 of his victims pushed for the gag order to be lifted.
Colin took upskirt videos of videos and filmed victims using the restroom between 2014 to 2018, throughout the time he was in junior college in Singapore, serving full-time national service and while he was studying at a top university in the UK. He took hundreds of videos and uploaded some of them on pornographic sites.
Colin, who claimed that he was addicted to filming the victims and found it to be a form of stress relief, pleaded guilty to seven charges of insulting the modesty of women and one charge of possessing obscene films, back in July. He is due to return to court next month.
The Chief Justice pointed out that the purpose of the gag order was to protect victims – not the accused. Pointing out that Colin wanted to take advantage of the protection that the gag order afforded him, he said:
“That is not the purpose of the gag order. The gag order has nothing to do with the benefit of the accused person. It is entirely driven by the protection of the victims.”
Questioning the basis of Colin’s application to retain the gag order since the victims accepted the risk of being identified themselves out of concern for other vulnerable women, he added:
“They accept that risk, but they also want to purge the guilt and fear they had that others have suffered and may still be suffering – because of the gag order, they may not even be aware of what’s going on. When you look at that perspective, it’s very difficult to see how your client can even raise this application.”

Chua Hwee Song spotted in photo outside court​

In the wake of the Chief Justice’s decision to lift the gag order, members of the public have suggested that Colin’s father is SPH CFO Chua Hwee Song.
A photo published by the press shows Colin leaving the court with his parents. A man walking alongside Colin can be seen pointing his finger at the camera. Netizens have identified this man as Chua.
One netizen who allegedly served National Service with Colin seemed to confirm his family background and revealed that Colin attended the prestigious Oxford University:

Colin allegedly hid from cameramen for five hours​

Aside from drawing scrutiny over his deplorable acts and family background, Colin has also been accused of hiding within the court for a whopping five hours to hide his face from the cameras.
Channel NewsAsia reporter Lydia Lam tweeted: “My colleague Hani waited five hours to get these photos. He took photos and videos of women, but hid inside the court building since 12.30pm because he didn’t want a woman to take photos of him.”

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Alfrescian (Inf)

Downtown Line CEO charged with injuring motorcyclist, pillion rider in road accident​

Downtown Line CEO charged with injuring motorcyclist, pillion rider in road accident
SBS Transit/TODAY file
Alex Goei Beng Guan, 62, (left), the chief executive officer of SBS Transit DTL, which operates the Downtown Line, faces two traffic charges in the State Courts.
Published June 23, 2021

SINGAPORE — The chief executive officer of SBS Transit DTL, which operates the Downtown Line of Singapore's MRT network, was charged on Wednesday (June 23) with driving-related offences that led to an accident in February.
Alex Goei Beng Guan, 62, faces two charges under the Road Traffic Act of driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.
Court documents stated that he was driving along the slip road of Woodlands Road towards Upper Bukit Timah Road at about noon on Feb 5.
He then allegedly failed to give way to traffic along the slip road of Kranji Expressway towards Bukit Timah Expressway, and collided into a motorcyclist.
The biker, 74-year-old Hashim Hussein, was riding on the second lane of the two-lane slip road.

Goei is accused of causing hurt to him, as well as causing grievous hurt to Hashim’s pillion rider — Madam Supariyah Salamat, 68.
Court documents didn't specify the extent of the injuries suffered by Mr Hashim and Mdm Supariyah.
Goei’s lawyer, Mr John Daniel from Goodwins Law Corporation, asked for time to make representations to the prosecution.
Goei will return to court on July 30 and remains out on bail of S$10,000.
If convicted of causing grievous hurt through his driving, he could be jailed for up to two years or fined up to S$5,000, or both.
Offenders convicted of causing hurt by driving without reasonable consideration can be jailed for up to a year or fined up to S$2,500, or both.

In response to TODAY’s queries, Ms Tammy Tan, the senior vice-president of corporate communications at SBS Transit, said that Goei “regrets the unfortunate incident”.
“This is, however, a personal matter and pending legal proceedings, so it is not appropriate for us to comment further,” she added.
In a writeup on the transport operator’s website, Goei is described as having joined SBS Transit in 1985 and starting at the time with bus service planning and project management.
He was involved in launching the North-East Line and Sengkang-Punggol LRT line, before being promoted to senior vice-president of rail operations in 2013.


Alfrescian (Inf)
The son of former Chief Justice Wee Chong Jin

True fitness group wins lawsuit against founder and ex-CEO over closures​


True Group's former group CEO Patrick Wee was found to have breached his contractual duties and director's duties. PHOTO: ST FILE

Selina Lum
Senior Law Correspondent

July 5, 2022

SINGAPORE - Home-grown fitness chain True Group has won its lawsuit against its former group chief executive officer Patrick Wee for mismanaging the closures of its operations in Malaysia and Thailand in 2017.
On Tuesday (July 5), the High Court found that Mr Wee had breached his contractual duties and director's duties to the group he founded.
Despite knowing that business operations in the two countries were facing financial woes and heading for closure, Mr Wee did not stop selling long-term membership packages, said Justice Choo Han Teck.
"The defendant ought to have known that the members would be outraged, and reasonably so, upon the closure of the gyms, which would in turn damage True Group's reputation and businesses in other countries," he said in his judgment.
The judge said Mr Wee's failure to provide alternative options for members after the abrupt closures also tarnished the group's reputation and damaged its Singapore business.
The quantum of losses that the group can claim from Mr Wee will be determined at a later date.
The group has to pay $62,660.70 to Mr Wee, 57, as he partly succeeded in his counterclaim for unpaid salary.

Mr Wee was sued by three Singapore-based companies in the group - True Yoga, True Fitness (STC) and True Fitness - which operate a chain of fitness centres, gyms and related services under various names.
He founded True Yoga in 2004 and was fired as group CEO in May 2018.
The plaintiffs contended that his failure to properly manage the closure of True Group (Malaysia) and True Group (Thailand) was in breach of his contractual duties under his employment contract as well as his fiduciary duties as a director of the three companies.

Mr Wee contended that True Group (Malaysia) and True Group (Thailand) ceased to be "related or associated" to the plaintiffs after a 2017 restructuring exercise.
But Justice Choo said Mr Wee owed a duty to the plaintiffs to properly manage the closures.
The judge said the evidence showed that Mr Wee knew months in advance that True Group (Malaysia) and True Group (Thailand) were facing impending closure.
Mr Wee was in discussions with potential white-knight investors and insolvency lawyers to plan the companies' exit from the Malaysia and Thailand markets, the judge noted.
Despite this, in May 2017, True Group (Malaysia) sold 43 new memberships, ranging from one-year to five-year plans.
Up to the first week of June 2017, True Group (Thailand) was still selling memberships with terms of up to three years.

Justice Choo added that the staff in Malaysia and Thailand were informed about the closure only days before, while members were informed only on the day itself.
Mr Wee also misled the members in Malaysia into believing that the gyms would remain operational by putting up a notice on May 10, 2017, stating that the Subang Club was closed for renovations.
The club was in fact closed because the court bailiff was taking its inventory and equipment under a writ of seizure.
Justice Choo added that Mr Wee's conduct suggests that he was more concerned with evading responsibility than dealing with the consequences of the closures on staff and members.
Mr Wee had appointed the wife of his friend's tailor - identified only as Ms Moonjaisai - as a director of True Group (Thailand) as early as January 2017.
On May 30, 2017, days before shutting down the Thailand operations, Mr Wee resigned his directorship, leaving Ms Moonjaisai to deal with the legal consequences of winding up and the creditors' claims.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Chua Hwee Song resigns as SPH CFO and from SPH Reit board​


SPH said that Mr Chua Hwee Song is leaving the company to pursue his personal interests. PHOTO: ST FILE
Yong Jun Yuan

JUL 7, 2022

SINGAPORE (THE BUSINESS TIMES) - SPH Reit on Wednesday (July 6) announced that Mr Chua Hwee Song will resign on Friday as chief financial officer of Singapore Press Holdings (SPH), the real estate investment trust's (Reit) sponsor.
According to a separate internal e-mail seen by The Business Times, SPH said that he is leaving the company to pursue his personal interests.
The company noted that Mr Chua, 54, had helped to grow its non-media business, such as the building of the company's purpose-built student accommodation portfolio across 30 properties in 18 countries.
"He also played a key role in (the) successful spin-off of the media business to SPH Media Trust and the subsequent privatisation of SPH by Cuscaden Peak," it said.
In its bourse filing, the Reit's manager said that Mr Chua has also resigned as non-executive non-independent director of SPH Reit's manager as of Wednesday.
He was formerly a member of the manager's nominating and remuneration committee and holds 3,910 SPH Reit units.
This comes after Cuscaden Peak, a consortium comprising Hotel Properties, businessman Ong Beng Seng and two Temasek-linked entities CLA and Mapletree, took SPH private and made an offer to acquire SPH Reit for 93.72 cents per unit in April this year.

On June 30, the chain offer for SPH Reit closed with valid acceptances in respect of 402.9 million units, representing about 14.36 per cent of total issued units. This brought Cuscaden and its concert parties' stake in the Reit to 61.68 per cent.
Units of SPH Reit closed down two cents, or 2.2 per cent, at 89 cents on Wednesday.


Alfrescian (Inf)
The powers to be trying to get Karl to be found to be of unsound mind, therefore he was not his usual self when he gave false evidence.

Karl Liew, accused of lying in Parti Liyani case, to undergo psychological tests​


Karl Liew outside the State Courts in November 2020. ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG

David Sun

Oct 10, 2022

SINGAPORE - Karl Liew Kai Lung, who is facing charges for giving false evidence in the case of his family's former maid, Ms Parti Liyani, is to undergo neuropsychological assessments.
Liew, 45, the son of former Changi Airport Group chairman Liew Mun Leong, was charged in 2020 with giving false evidence and furnishing false information to a public servant.
He is alleged to have falsely told the police in 2016 that he had found 119 items of clothing belonging to him in boxes that had been packed by Ms Parti, who was then accused of stealing from the family.
He also allegedly gave false evidence during Ms Parti's trial that a T-shirt and a blouse, which were exhibits in the case, had belonged to him.
Ms Parti, an Indonesian, was initially convicted in 2019 of stealing $34,000 worth of items from the Liews but was acquitted after the High Court overturned her conviction on appeal in 2020.
Liew was charged in November 2020.

Court records show that his case was last heard in chambers on Oct 7, and that it was adjourned for him to be subject to the neuropsychological assessments.

He is expected to undergo the assessments at Raffles Hospital in late October and early November, with the report to be out in December.
His lawyer is expected to provide an update at the next court session for the case in chambers on Dec 9.
Liew's bail of $15,000 has been extended.

If convicted of furnishing false information to a public servant, Liew can be jailed for up to three years and fined.
If convicted of giving false evidence in the course of a judicial proceeding, he can be jailed for up to seven years and fined.

Ms Parti, who began working for the Liews in 2007, was asked in March 2016 to do chores at Liew's home and clean his office in another location. She had expressed unhappiness at being made to do extra work for him.
The Liew family terminated her employment in October 2016, and she was given two hours to pack her belongings into three boxes.
Ms Parti became angry and threatened to make a complaint to the Ministry of Manpower before returning to Indonesia.
She had asked Liew to pay for the boxes to be shipped to her. The next day, the Liew family opened the boxes belonging to Ms Parti.

The elder Mr Liew later made a police report alleging that some of the items she had packed in the boxes belonged to the Liew family.
Ms Parti was arrested when she returned to Singapore in December 2016, and was charged with four counts of theft in August 2017.
She claimed trial to the charges and was convicted and sentenced to two years and two months' jail in 2019.
She was acquitted after an appeal in 2020, in which the High Court ruled the original conviction was "unsafe", highlighting the police's handling of the evidence.


Alfrescian (Inf)

Sanctioned Myanmar tycoons find shelter in Singapore​

Tue, 18 October 2022 at 7:43 am·22-min read

Aerial view of Keppel Bay with modern residence in Sentosa Cove, Singapore. (Photo: Getty Images)

Aerial view of Keppel Bay with modern residence in Sentosa Cove, Singapore. (Photo: Getty Images)
By Chanyaporn Chanjaroen
(Bloomberg) — Frangipani plants and coconut trees front the three-story villa on Sentosa Island where Myanmar tycoon Tay Za stays when he’s in Singapore. It’s one of two houses his family owns in a development overlooking the South China Sea known as a playground for the wealthy. A short drive away is the Marina Bay Sands casino, where he would often show up carrying a duffel bag stuffed with cash. On a sunny day in June, a yellow Ferrari F8 Spider and a Mercedes were parked outside one of the villas.
Singapore has long been a haven for sanctioned Myanmar businessmen, including Tay Za, who has been accused by the US and others of supplying arms and equipment to the military. He has maintained the right to live and work in Singapore despite sanctions first imposed by the US in 2007 and has incorporated about 10 companies there with operations in palm oil, teak and aviation. The US sanctions against him and other supporters of the regime were lifted in 2016 after democratic elections in Myanmar, then reinstated earlier this year following a February 2021 coup that forcibly removed Aung San Suu Kyi from leadership.

Most Asian countries, including Singapore, don’t support the sanctions. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said they would only hurt the people of Myanmar and have pushed that country closer to China. When asked about Tay Za and Singapore’s policy on Myanmar, a spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry pointed to previous statements by Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who called the situation there “a tragedy.” The minister has said Myanmar needs to resolve its conflicts internally and that people shouldn’t overstate his country’s influence.
That stance is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain as the US ramps up pressure on the junta and global financial regulators weigh blacklisting the country. There are signs Singapore is moving away from its policy of not interfering in the affairs of neighboring countries. It has criticized the military regime, asked banks to heighten their scrutiny of financial flows to Myanmar and stopped authorizing the transfer of any items that may be used to inflict violence against unarmed civilians. But sanctioned arms dealers including Tay Za, who has denied the allegations, continue to operate other businesses openly in the city-state.
“Singapore was at first very reluctant to impose sanctions on the military government, fearful of the impact that it would have on the financial sector,” said Zachary Abuza, a professor at the National War College in Washington who specializes in Southeast Asian politics. “It has started to crack down on some military-linked corporations that are operating in the city-state, but there remain a large number conducting business in Singapore, which provides a financial lifeline for the military as well as a conduit of weapons, munitions and spare parts.”
Leaked 2007 US State Department cables called Tay Za Myanmar’s “ number one crony businessman,” citing his connections with Russian aircraft manufacturers. One of the cables, written by a US embassy official in Yangon and published by WikiLeaks, described how he leveraged his relationship with a Russian ambassador to become the sales representative for companies that supplied Myanmar with arms, ammunition, MI-17 helicopters and MiG-29s.

The UK sanctioned Tay Za in September 2021, saying he “is associated with the military through his extensive links with the former and current junta regimes.” The US Treasury added him to its sanctions list in January, saying he had provided weapons and equipment to the armed forces and traveled to Russia in May 2021 with the head of Myanmar’s air force at the time. The US also sanctioned Tay Za’s sons, Pye Phyo and Htoo Htet, who were deemed “instrumental” to his dealings with the junta, as well as his company, Htoo Group.
Russia was second only to China in selling arms to Myanmar over the 10 years ending in 2021, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, or Sipri, which tracks international arms sales. The group said 30 combat-capable aircraft were delivered in the second half of that period, including 20 from Russia and 10 from China. While most countries build up stockpiles for defense, Myanmar’s military, known as the Tatmadaw, has employed them for campaigns against its own citizens and the Rohingya minority, Sipri said.
Soldiers in Yangon after clashes with protesters in March 2021.  Source: Getty Images

Soldiers in Yangon after clashes with protesters in March 2021. Source: Getty Images
Siemon Wezeman, a senior researcher at Sipri’s arms-transfer program, said the use of middlemen like Tay Za is common in countries such as Myanmar. “They have the knowledge, the contacts and help oil the wheel,” he said. “It’s not that they are doing anything illegal, but they can help facilitate financing and transportation of arms.”
As recently as 2018, when sanctions against Tay Za weren’t in effect, representatives of his Yangon Aircraft Engineering Co. met with Myanmar Air Force delegates to discuss the conversion of ATR 72 aircraft for cargo and troop transport at an approximate cost of $550,000 each, according to leaked minutes of the meeting published by Justice for Myanmar, a group that investigates and campaigns against entities supporting the junta. Another leaked document from November 2017 cited Tay Za’s Myanmar Avia Export Co. as the partner of JSC Russian Helicopters.
A 2019 United Nations Human Rights Council report called Tay Za’s Htoo Group, one of “the largest crony companies” in Myanmar. It was among donors to the Tatmadaw in September 2017, the report said, after the armed forces began what it called “clearance operations” against the Muslim Rohingya population in western Rakhine state that resulted in several thousand deaths and the displacement of an estimated 870,000 people.
Major General Zaw Min Tun, lead spokesman for Myanmar’s ruling State Administration Council, declined to answer questions about Tay Za, arms sales or sanctions against the country. “We can’t answer these,” the council’s information office wrote in an email.

‘1,000% Never’​

Tay Za denies he’s an arms merchant. In a 90-minute interview from Putao, a picturesque town in the Himalaya foothills where he owns a resort, the 58-year-old businessman said he has provided only transportation equipment, not weapons, to Myanmar’s military. He said he has suffered financial setbacks as a result of the sanctions, including having to close his airline because he couldn’t obtain insurance, and is now semi-retired because of health issues.
“I don’t trade arms,” he said, his round face becoming animated on a computer screen. “1,000% never.”
His two sons joined the call. Heir apparent Pye Phyo, 35, dialed in from Yangon in Myanmar, and Htoo Htet, 29, who runs the family bank, was at the W Hotel on Sentosa. Both went to an international school in Singapore, speak excellent English, and chipped in with occasional translations for their father.
Tay Za's son Htoo Htet in 2017. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Tay Za's son Htoo Htet in 2017. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg
“The media has caricatured my relationship with the armed forces,” Tay Za said, explaining that he had a good rapport with the military until 2011, though his “proximity to the government at the time was exaggerated.” He insisted he didn’t go to Moscow last year because of pandemic travel restrictions, disputing US Treasury allegations and a May 2021 report in the Irrawaddy, a publication run by Myanmar journalists in exile.
The publication, citing unnamed sources, said he flew in a private jet from Singapore to Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar, for meetings with senior junta officials before attending a military exhibition in Moscow with Myanmar’s then air force chief. “Those allegations were entirely false,” Tay Za said.
A copy of Tay Za’s Myanmar passport seen by Bloomberg News bears no stamps for travel since its issuance in April 2020. But holders of a Singapore employment pass like Tay Za can have their passports scanned electronically rather than stamped, according to the website of Singapore’s Immigration & Checkpoints Authority, which processes arrivals and departures. An ICA spokesperson said the agency couldn’t comment about individuals and declined to say whether Tay Za left Singapore in May 2021.
Other records provided by a representative for Tay Za, which the person said showed his comings and goings from the gated residence on Sentosa, show that he left the house at 1 a.m. on May 17, 2021, and returned at 4 p.m. on May 21 – enough time to attend the military exhibition from May 20-22, but not enough to quarantine for 21 days in a designated facility, as he would have been required to do under the city-state’s pandemic rules in effect at the time.
Aung Zaw, editor-in-chief of the Irrawaddy, said he stood by his publication’s story. The US Treasury declined to comment.
Tay Za said he would meet in Singapore to answer further questions, then withdrew the offer. A representative for his company said in an email that the 2018 plane-conversion project was “civilian in nature” and did not proceed. He also denied that Myanmar Avia Export was a partner of any international firm.
While the latest sanctions haven’t forced the junta to change its policies, they have taken a toll on Tay Za. The UK has banned him from traveling to its territories. A joint venture with Singapore-based Banyan Tree Group for management of 17 hotels in Myanmar has stalled as a result of what a Banyan Tree spokesman describes as “the present situation.” And earlier this year, the Marina Bay Sands, owned by US-based Las Vegas Sands Corp., told him he’s no longer welcome to gamble there. (That ban may be a boon for Tay Za, who had lost about $70 million at baccarat tables there, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. ) The casino company declined to comment.
Still, he is free to come and go as he pleases. “Singapore remains a central business and financial hub in the region, with corporate services of the highest standard,” Tay Za’s representative said. He “enjoys the Singaporean lifestyle, food, and environment, and over time has built strong relationships with friends in Singapore.” The representative declined to comment about Tay Za’s wealth or gambling habits.

Family Connections​

Tay Za’s family connections helped pave his way in both the military and business worlds. His father, Myint Swe, took the top job at the Tatmadaw Military Research Unit, an equivalent to the US Central Intelligence Agency, after completing a training course at Fort Benning in Georgia, according to a book published by the family after his 2008 death. Myint Swe’s friendship with Ne Win, the army general who seized power in a 1962 coup, helped his youngest son win the armed forces’ trust.
Tay Za married Thida Zaw in the early 1980s after dropping out of a military school. Her family owned Htoo Group, which at the time operated a rice-milling business. Tay Za expanded it into teak trading, aviation, construction, hospitality and banking while making friends with top officials, including Than Shwe, head of state for two decades until 2011.
According to one leaked US cable, Tay Za hired the ruling junta’s children, giving them senior roles in his businesses despite their lack of experience. In return, the document said, he was granted lucrative concessions, including one of the few licenses to import cement when the country was building its new capital Naypyidaw. When Tay Za won an exclusive liquor import permit, he gave the 20-year-old son of a former air force chief $200,000 to operate retail outlets, the cable noted.
Two years after President Bill Clinton first blacklisted Myanmar in 1997, Tay Za incorporated his first two companies in Singapore, Pavo International Pte and Pavo Trading Pte. Company filings say they were for “wholesale of logs, sawn timber, plywood and related products.” In 2004, a year after President George W. Bush imposed an import ban on products from Myanmar, Tay Za registered Air Bagan Holdings Pte. Another Singapore-based entity, Terrestrial Pte, started in 2007, the year Bush expanded the punitive measures.

Oasis of Calm​

Like many wealthy people, Tay Za was drawn to Singapore because it offers stability and anonymity. The city-state is an oasis of calm compared with its Asian neighbors. Since its separation from Malaysia in 1965, it has been governed by one party, co-founded by Lee Kuan Yew, who developed the country into a global financial and commercial hub.
As the world’s third-largest offshore financial center after Switzerland and Hong Kong, Singapore attracts funds from all over. Firms there held $3.5 trillion worth of assets in 2020, about three-quarters of them from overseas, according to a central bank survey. Banks and wealth managers cannot disclose clients’ personal information except to regulators or under court order.
Business incorporation is a big industry in Singapore, and more than 560,000 firms were registered there as of July. Serena Lee Chooi Li is among the beneficiaries. The Malaysian lawyer is or has been the corporate secretary of more than 200 companies, according to her 147-page profile at Singapore’s corporate registry. Among the active ones are Tay Za’s Pavo Trading, where Lee has been secretary since 1999. She also serves or has served about a dozen other entities linked to Tay Za and his family, most of them registered at the same business address on the 6th floor of the Bharat Building, where Lee’s firm is located. Lee declined to comment.
Pavo Trading has been listed by the US as part of Tay Za’s financial network as far back as 2008. Today, the company remains “live” and solvent on Singapore’s corporate registry, which shows the most recent annual general meeting was held June 30, 2021. Tay Za is listed as managing director, director and majority shareholder. Thida Zaw, from whom he is separated, is the other shareholder. The company is named after El Pavo, one of his favorite cigar brands.
While only two of the 10 Singapore-based firms listed under his name are active, the real picture may be more complicated. A dozen other companies were held by his employees or family members as of this year. His sister, Thida Swe, owns Frontier Gold (Singapore), which was active until May. His younger son, Htet Htoo, is a shareholder and director of three Singapore companies. Teo Ah Peng, an employee, is or has been a director of six active companies, some of which have the same address at the Bharat Building.
Tay Za’s Sentosa villa was bought with a mortgage from the Singapore unit of Malayan Banking Bhd., Malaysia’s largest bank, according to records at the local land authority. Although the amount of the mortgage isn’t disclosed, a villa of similar size can fetch as much as S$15 million ($10.7 million) in today’s market, according to property firm ERA Singapore. A house held under his sister’s name, facing one of the island’s golf courses, has a mortgage with United Overseas Bank Ltd., Singapore’s third-largest bank. That house was purchased in 2012 for S$15.3 million, public records show. A spokesperson for Maybank said it couldn’t comment about individual customers but that it follows all applicable laws and regulations. UOB didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Singapore is the largest foreign investor in Myanmar with a total of $25 billion flowing into the poorer country since 1989. Keppel Corp., which counts state-investment firm Temasek Holdings Ltd. as its biggest shareholder, has investments in Myanmar, as does sovereign wealth fund GIC Ltd.
The money has continued to flow since the 2021 coup, despite the sanctions and the deaths of more than 2,000 civilians, according to an estimate by the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners, a human rights group based in Thailand. Myanmar government records show that $297 million of investments came in from Singapore in the six months ending in March.

US Pressure​

The 10 members of Asean, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, have generally avoided criticizing and interfering in each other’s affairs. But that has been changing since the coup. Asean has taken the position that Myanmar’s leaders have failed to observe an April 2021 agreement to end violence in the country, and it excluded them from a summit in Brunei last October. Earlier this year, Singapore’s foreign ministry called for the release of all political detainees in Myanmar, including Aung San Suu Kyi. At an Asean meeting at the White House in May, an empty chair was put out at a lunch to represent the overthrown civilian government.
Singapore usually complies only with sanctions imposed by the United Nations, rather than unilateral measures, and the UN hasn’t taken such action against Myanmar. But Singapore hit Russia with targeted financial sanctions in March after the invasion of Ukraine, even though the UN didn’t act.
The US has been pressuring its Asian ally to get tougher on Myanmar, and there are signs that Singapore is responding. Last October, State Department Counselor Derek Chollet visited the Monetary Authority of Singapore, the country’s central bank, and said the city-state has “significant financial leverage” over Myanmar. His statement came after the central bank said in February 2021 that it didn’t find “significant funds” from Myanmar companies and individuals at banks in Singapore.
That position hasn’t changed, according to a spokesperson for the central bank, who acknowledged that financial institutions in Singapore have been placed on “heightened alert in relation to risks emanating from the situation in Myanmar.” In September, Singapore said in a statement at a United Nations Human Rights Council session that it expects banks “to remain vigilant to any transactions that could pose risks, including dealings with companies and individuals subject to financial sanctions by foreign jurisdictions.”
The Financial Action Task Force, a Paris-based global watchdog, placed Myanmar under increased monitoring in February 2020 for failure to strengthen its anti-money-laundering controls and will consider blacklisting the country at a meeting starting Oct. 18.
DBS Group Holdings Ltd., based in Singapore and Southeast Asia’s largest lender, has closed accounts of some Myanmar nationals residing in Singapore, including several who have raised funds to fight the junta, people familiar with the matter said. In a letter sent to some account holders in June, DBS said it had observed “unusual activities” involving the accounts and would be closing them in 30 days. Some of these individuals later were able to open new accounts at other Singapore-based banks, according to the people familiar.
A spokesperson for DBS said the bank doesn’t comment about individual clients and doesn’t impose any political views on its customers. Unusual activity, the spokesperson said, “can be linked to criminal activity, contravenes our policies, or otherwise represents an unusual or suspicious increase in size and volume of transactions.”
Singapore’s stricter stance has also affected companies that haven’t been sanctioned and have no obvious connections to the junta. “We are seeing that banks these days are increasingly strict when it comes to new account openings by Myanmar individuals or entities,” said Chester Toh, a partner at Rajah & Tann, one of Singapore’s largest law firms, who helped set up the firm’s practice in Myanmar. “Banks which used to be quite happy to do business with Myanmar businesses are getting cold feet, and it has been difficult for Myanmar businesses looking to restructure or pivot away from Myanmar.”
Meanwhile, Myanmar’s central bank, facing deteriorating economic conditions, plunging local currency and a shortage of dollars, has imposed restrictions, including a requirement that firms earning in foreign currencies convert their revenue into Myanmar kyat within one working day at a fixed rate much lower than the black market price. In July, the regulator asked debtors to halt repayments of foreign loans to defend the nation’s dwindling foreign-exchange reserves.
There is no reliable estimate of how much Myanmar money is parked in Singapore, but several individuals sanctioned by the US have long-term employment passes in the city-state and businesses there, according to corporate registry filings.
The Orchard Residences condominium tower in Singapore. Photographer: Wei Leng Tay/Bloomberg

The Orchard Residences condominium tower in Singapore. Photographer: Wei Leng Tay/Bloomberg
Naing Htut Aung, accused by the US in March of procuring arms from Chinese companies while having ties to the junta leadership, owns at least two companies registered in Singapore. His address is a 44th-floor apartment at the Orchard Residences, atop a mall on the country’s most famous shopping street. The unit is owned by his wife, Wai Wai Yin, who is not sanctioned and has been a director of his Singapore-based companies, government filings show. He didn’t respond to emails seeking comment.
Aung Hlaing Oo, described by the US Treasury as a central figure in planning a weapons-manufacturing plant in Myanmar, owns M C M Pacific Pte, a steel-trading company registered in Singapore since 2006. United Overseas Bank has been the firm’s banker, according to a 2017 filing. Neither Aung Hlaing Oo nor his company responded to requests for comment.
Tun Hlaing, director of the Myanmar Directorate for Defense Industries, has been linked to several Singapore companies. His daughter Thet Hnin married Tay Za’s son Pye Phyo in 2020. The wedding was held in a resort town near Mandalay, and the groom arrived in a red Ferrari F8 Spider. Tay Za, wearing a black blazer and matching beret, can be seen in a lavishly produced video posted on YouTube crying during the ceremony before playing on a drum set at the dinner reception held in a glass conservatory lit by hundreds of bulbs.
Thet Hnin Hlaing is involved in her father’s business and was a director of two of his Singapore companies, registry filings show. Her father is also a shareholder in a Singapore restaurant business, Vino Vovo Pte, which reported revenue of S$2.93 million in the fiscal year ended November 2019. Tun Hlaing didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“Singapore remains the business hub for military-linked companies,” said Yadanar Maung, a spokesperson for Justice for Myanmar. The organization said it welcomes more vigilance by Singapore banks and the stock exchange regulator, which suspended trading in Emerging Towns & Cities Singapore Ltd. after the group published information about that company’s links to the junta. “But more needs to be done,” she said, “including targeted sanctions against military businesses, and an arms embargo that will stop Singapore-registered companies procuring weapons and dual-use goods for the Myanmar military.”

Shrinking Empire​

Tay Za’s Htoo Group has shrunk to about 15,000 employees, according to Pye Phyo, down from the 60,000 reported by the Financial Times in 2011. Corresponding banking relationships for his Asia Green Development Bank Ltd. have been terminated, said his son Htoo Htet, who declined to identify those former counterparties. Gone too is the credit-card business, as Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc., both US firms, can no longer do business with the bank.
Tay Za can’t start a process for removal from the sanctions list because of “the current security situation as well as financial constraints,” the company representative said. In an earlier attempt in 2014 to lift sanctions, Tay Za engaged the law firm founded by John Ashcroft, a former US attorney general under George W. Bush. The firm would have been paid between $500,000 and $1 million, depending on how quickly it got results, according to a copy of a previously unreported contract seen by Bloomberg News.
Tay Za’s former wife was removed from the US list in 2015 on grounds of their separation. President Barack Obama lifted sanctions against Myanmar and Tay Za the following year. The representative for his company declined to disclose what if any fees were paid to Ashcroft’s firm. Neither Ashcroft not his firm responded to requests for comment.
The removal of sanctions led to a flood of foreign investment. That year, Myanmar’s economy was among the fastest growing in the world at 10.5%. But conflicts erupted with ethnic groups seeking independence, and in 2017 the armed forces responded to an attack by a militant Rohingya group that resulted in what the UN called “ethnic cleansing.”
The sanctions imposed after the 2021 coup have pushed the junta closer to Russia and China. New arms dealers have emerged, including Kyaw Min Oo, 40, who used to work for Tay Za, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Now managing director of Yangon-based Sky Aviator Co., he registered at least five companies in Singapore from 2015 through 2017 but stepped down from all of them in April, after Justice for Myanmar published an August 2019 letter he wrote to the Myanmar air force saying Sky Aviator is the “exclusive local representation” of Russian Helicopters. In June, the UK added Sky Aviator to its sanctions list. Sky Aviator and Russian Helicopters didn’t respond to requests for comment.
Chollet, the US State Department official, says Singapore has been a good partner in helping isolate Myanmar’s military regime. But Hunter Marston, an adjunct research fellow at La Trobe University in Melbourne who has followed developments in Southeast Asia since 2007, takes a dimmer view.
“Sanctions have never worked in Myanmar, or arguably anywhere else,” Marston said. “They have almost always hurt the people of Myanmar, while the generals have found ways to park the money overseas and distribute the spoils of wealth to their own loyalists within the country. The regime will not cave due to sanctions.”


Alfrescian (Inf)

RSAF lieutenant-colonel allegedly trespassed into NTU dorm, molested woman​


The lieutenant-colonel allegedly trespassed into the dormitory rooms of two women at NTU on Nov 13. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM GOOGLE MAPS

Shaffiq Alkhatib
Court Correspondent

Nov 21, 2022

SINGAPORE – A lieutenant-colonel from the Republic of Singapore Air Force, who is also a helicopter pilot, allegedly trespassed into a dormitory at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and molested a woman.
Neo Aik Chiao, 45, who had flown helicopters including a Chinook, is accused of committing the offences at around 2am on Nov 13.
In a statement to The Straits Times on Monday, the Ministry of Defence (Mindef) said he has been suspended from all duties by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF).
A Mindef spokesman added: “As court proceedings are ongoing, Mindef/SAF is unable to comment further on the case at this juncture. We will carefully assess the eventual findings before deciding on further appropriate actions.
“The SAF holds its service personnel to high standards of discipline and integrity.
“Service personnel who commit offences will be dealt with in accordance with the law. Those convicted of serious offences may be discharged from regular service.”
Neo was charged on Nov 15 with two counts of criminal trespass and one count of molestation.

According to court documents, he allegedly trespassed into the dormitory rooms of two women, aged 18 and 21, on Nov 13.
Court documents did not disclose how he allegedly entered the premises.
He allegedly molested the older woman by touching her left thigh.
Details about the women and the dormitory cannot be disclosed because of a gag order.
Responding to queries from ST, NTU said: “Keeping our students safe is our top priority, and we take trespassing very seriously.
“The police were immediately called to the scene, and the university provided support to the affected students when the incident happened. Security patrols have been stepped up.”
Neo’s case has been adjourned to Nov 29.
For molestation, an offender can be jailed for up to two years, fined, caned or receive any combination of such punishments.
For each count of criminal trespass, an offender can be jailed for up to three months and fined up to $1,500.