Saturday, April 28, 2018

Python sighting at Bukit Batok wet market gets residents in a knot, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Python sighting at Bukit Batok wet market gets residents in a knot, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Python sighting at Bukit Batok wet market gets residents in a knot

SINGAPORE - A stray python caused a stir at a wet market in Bukit Batok on Saturday morning (April 28), with a crowd of people gathering to take photos and videos of the reptile.

A video posted by Facebook user Sunny Rajah shows the large snake coiled in the eaves of a roof.

Several people are shown crowding around, taking videos of it and chattering excitedly.

Mr Rajah later posted a photo of the crowd of about 30 to 40 people, "all waiting for the snake to come out".

Mr Kalai Vanan, deputy chief executive officer of wildlife rescue group Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Acres), told The Straits Times that the group received a call about the python on Saturday morning.

"It is our native reticulated python which was sighted at a wet market," he said. "We believe the python was eating a rat when it was first sighted. The snake had gone back into some roof gap and could not be located."

He added that "there is nothing to be worried about".

"Rats and small birds do tend to use roofing areas as homes and the snake probably decided to stay there to find food," he said. "Areas like wet markets do tend to attract rats and this in turn will attract pythons which are great at controlling rat populations."

Acres urged the public not to be alarmed, and advised them against provoking or handling the snake.

Anyone who spots the python can call Acres on 9783-7782.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

North and South Korea pledge to uphold peace, work towards denuclearisation after historic summit, East Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

North and South Korea pledge to uphold peace, work towards denuclearisation after historic summit, East Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

North and South Korea pledge to uphold peace, work towards denuclearisation after historic summit

GOYANG, SOUTH KOREA - Leaders of the two Koreas on Friday (April 27) pledged in a joint declaration that they will uphold a policy of peace and work with the global community towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.

"South and North Korea agreed to carry out disarmament in a phased manner, as military tension is alleviated and substantial progress is made in military confidence building," said the declaration signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae In after a full-day summit.

They added, in the document titled the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula, that they will seek the support of the international community in their pursuit for peace. They shook hands and exchanged a warm hug after their signing.

"The two leaders solemnly declare before the 80 million Korean people and the whole world that there will be no more war on the Korean Peninsula and thus a new era of peace has begun," the document said, coming after Mr Kim became the first North Korean leader to step foot into the South.

Standing next to Mr Moon after the talks, he said: "Our roles and responsibilities should be fulfilled by us. There could be side effects, there could be outside influences, there could be sufferings, there could be frustrations, but it is through pain and many trials that we are able to make achievements."

He added: "We should overcome challenges and hold hands together. I hope we can bring our will and wisdom together so that we can open up a new era of peace and prosperity."

Mr Moon has agreed to visit Pyongyang in autumn. Trilateral meetings between the two Koreas and the United States, and quadrilateral meetings between the two Koreas, the US and China, will also be on the cards "with a view to declaring an end to the war and establishing a permanent and solid peace regime".

  • Highlights of Panmunjom Declaration

  • South and North Korea agree to:

    - Push for three-way talks, involving the two Koreas and the United States, or four-way talks, involving the two Koreas, the US and China, to declare an end to the Korean War, change the armistice into a peace treaty and establish a lasting, solid peace regime

    - Reaffirm the shared goal of realising a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula through the complete denuclearisation

    - Establish a joint liaison office in border city of Kaesong

    - Hold reunions of separated families on Aug 15 to mark end of Japanese colonial rule

    - Take steps to revive Donghae and Gyeongui railways and other roads that cut across the inter-Korean border

    - Suspend all hostile acts on land, sea and air against each other and work together to turn the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) into peace zone

    - Take steps to prevent accidental military clashes in their disputed sea border

    - Hold regular military talks, including those between defence ministers and top generals

    - Work towards phased arms reduction on both sides

"The declaration of the end of the Korean War and the signing of a peace treaty will establish sound and solid peace on the Peninsula," said Mr Moon.

He said that both he and Mr Kim believe in peace and prosperity and unification, and will hold regular meetings and discussions through a hotline.

The current division of the two Koreas, they said, was a "Cold War relic". They added: "Improving and cultivating inter-Korean relations is the prevalent desire of the whole nation and the urgent calling of the times that cannot be held back any further."

Fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War ceased with an armistice between the United States, China and North Korea, and which has to date not been replaced by a peace treaty. The two Koreas remain separated by a 4km wide, 248km long heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that stretches from coast to coast.

The two leaders also said they would "alleviate acute military tensions and practically eliminate the danger of war on the Korean Peninsula" - including through the ceasing of all hostilities against each other - including land, air and sea, that could cause military tension and conflict.

Among these measures are military talks at the level of those with the rank of general, which will be convened next month (May).

They will strive to develop a "maritime peace zone" to prevent accidental military clashes and guarantee safe fishing activities, while such acts as the broadcast of propaganda messages through loudspeakers and the dropping of leaflets by air are to be stopped from May 1.

Their efforts are so as to "bring a swift end to the longstanding division and confrontation", and to actively develop closer inter-Korean relations. In this light, they will endeavour to resolve humanitarian issues through Inter-Korean Red Cross talks, and to realise the reunions of separated families and relatives on the occasion of the National Liberation Day on Aug 15 this year.

Mr Kim said: "We are the same people, of the same blood, and we cannot be separated. We are not people who should be confronting each other, but are of the same people who should be living in unity."

The two Koreas will also pursue dialogue and negotiations in various fields, including through high-level talks.

An inter-Korea joint liaison office will also be established in the border region of Kaesong to ensure the smooth exchange and cooperation between the two parties. They will also take practical measures to connect and modernise the Donghae and Gyeongui railway lines that cross the DMZ and connect the two Koreas.

The two Koreas have agreed to fully implement all existing agreements and declarations that have been adopted thus far.

Mr Moon said: "I pay tribute to the bold and courageous decision by Chairman Kim. We will jointly take on the leadership role and initiative, so as to set peace on the Korean Peninsula."

Sejong Institute research fellow Lee Seong Hyon told The Straits Times that this is a "landmark deal" which will pave the way for a much-watched summit meeting between Mr Kim and US President Donald Trump.

"Today was about declaring principles, about the big picture," he said. "Trump can definitely use this positive momentum into reality by hammering out a deal with Kim."

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Wednesday, April 18, 2018

O-level exam cheating trial: Student received help from tutors for 5 papers, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

O-level exam cheating trial: Student received help from tutors for 5 papers, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

O-level exam cheating trial: Student received help from tutors for 5 papers

SINGAPORE - For five of his O-level examination papers here, Chinese student Zhou Zice relied on three tutors to help him fill in the blanks.

The tutors, who were stationed at a tuition centre, read the answers to him through a small earphone, which was connected to Bluetooth devices attached to his body and a mobile phone tucked in his back pocket.

Zhou's cheating was undetected during his exam from Oct 19 to Oct 24, 2016.

But another Chinese student Chen Yi who received help from the same tutors was caught by an invigilator on Oct 24.

Zhou, who testified in court on Wednesday (April 18), said that after Chen was caught, the tutors from Zeus Education Centre in Tampines told him to lie if someone from the Ministry of Education were to call him.

He did not elaborate on what he was instructed to lie about, but said no one from the ministry contacted him.

Zhou, 17, was the second witness to take the stand in the trial for the tuition centre's Singaporean principal Poh Yuan Nie, 52, also known as Pony Poh, and two tutors - Poh's niece, Singaporean Fiona Poh Min, 30, and Chinese national Feng Riwen, 25.

The tuition centre's Singaporean principal Poh Yuan Nie, 52. ST PHOTO: WONG KWAI CHOW

Another alleged Singaporean accomplice Tan Jia Yan, 32, who was also employed by the centre, had pleaded guilty to 27 cheating charges on Monday (April 16).

When asked whether Poh Yuan Nie had read him any answers during the exam, Zhou said no. She also did not play a part in assisting him to attach or remove the communication devices on his body, he added.

The four accused allegedly helped Zhou, Chen and four other Chinese students cheat during the O-level exam. All six students sat the exam as private candidates.

Tan admitted to helping to attach Bluetooth devices and mobile phones to the students' bodies, with the other alleged accomplices. The students were also given skin-coloured "in-ear" earphones.

Tan took the exam as a private candidate and had a mobile phone attached to her chest and concealed under clothing. She used communication application FaceTime to beam images to her three alleged accomplices.

Fiona Poh and Feng allegedly worked out the answers and, together with the principal, read out the answers to the students.

Zhou told the court that he came to Singapore in 2015 with the hope of attending an International Baccalaureate (IB) course.

He began classes at the tuition centre after his guardian, whom he had met while on holiday in Singapore a few years earlier, told him to.

Zhou said he is about to begin the IB course here.

The trial continues on Thursday.

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TODAYonline | Beware WhatsApp ‘takeover’ scams: Police

TODAYonline | Beware WhatsApp 'takeover' scams: Police

Beware WhatsApp 'takeover' scams: Police

SINGAPORE — The police have warned WhatsApp users here to be wary of a new scam being conducted on the popular messaging platform, which could result in victims losing access to their accounts, and their friends and family members deceived into buying online gift cards.

In a statement on Wednesday (April 18), the police said they had received reports of WhatsApp users losing control of their accounts to the scammers. But they did not say how many users in Singapore have been affected, or indicate how much money the victims might have lost.

This is how the scam works:

- The victims would first receive a message from one of their contacts – whose WhatsApp account might have already been compromised – requesting for the WhatsApp account verification codes that they have received via SMS to be sent to him or her.

- Once the verification codes are sent to the scammers, the victims would lose access to their WhatsApp account.

- The scammers would then use the compromised accounts to deceive people on the victims' contact lists into buying online gift cards, and sending over the password for the cards.

- The scammers would then profit by re-selling the gift cards online.

The police urged WhatsApp users here to be wary of unusual requests received over the messaging platform, even if they came from people they know.

"Always call your friend personally to verify the authenticity of the request if in doubt," the police added, encouraging users to enable the "two-step verification" feature that would prevent others from compromising their WhatsApp account.

Those with more information on this variant of the WhatsApp scam can call the police hotline at 1800-255-0000, or dial '999' for urgent Police assistance.

Members of the public may also call the National Crime Prevention Council's anti-scam helpline at 1800-722-6688 or visit to seek advice on scam-related matters.

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