Sunday, December 30, 2018

Man throws himself at oncoming car along Woodlands Ring Road, police investigating case, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Man throws himself at oncoming car along Woodlands Ring Road, police investigating case, Singapore News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Man throws himself at oncoming car along Woodlands Ring Road, police investigating case

SINGAPORE - The police are investigating an incident where a man appeared to throw himself at an oncoming car along Woodlands Ring Road last Thursday afternoon (Dec 27).

The police said on Monday that the incident had been classified as a case of a rash act.

Footage of the incident uploaded on Facebook page, taken from the car's dashboard camera, shows the car travelling along a straight road.

A man can be seen in the distance walking on the road in the direction of the car, though there is a pavement next to him.

As the car approaches, the man suddenly turns and runs towards it, throwing himself against its windscreen.

He then falls down in front of the car. Over the next minute or so, various passers-by come over to check on him.

The caption of the video described the incident as an "accident scam". The person who submitted the video, identified only as Ms Ang, wrote: "I would like to alert other fellow drivers who might meet similar scammers even in Singapore.

"This guy just ran towards my car and threw himself onto my car windscreen. I was scared stiff and stuck in my seat."

She added that the man later stood up and fled the scene when she called the police.

Similar cases have occurred in the past. In 2017, a drunken man was caught on video sprinting towards a stationary car at Pasir Ris Farmway 2, before throwing himself on it.

In 2015, a driver lodged a police report after an elderly man hurled himself on his car along Ang Mo Kio Avenue 6. The elderly man allegedly waved at the driver before running towards the car and jumping on the bonnet.

Sent from my iPhone

Special edition: Best of 2018 from The Straits Times

From: "ST Evening Update" <>
Date: 30 December 2018 at 9:02:18 PM SGT
Subject: Special edition: Best of 2018 from The Straits Times

The Straits Times, Evening Headlines
If this e-mail is not displayed properly, click here.

Sunday, Dec 30 2018


Good evening CHANG CHENG LIANG ! Here's a round-up of our award-winning stories and most popular multimedia content of 2018. Thank you for reading The Straits Times, and best wishes for 2019.


He went through brain surgery - awake

After learning he had a brain tumour, Mr Oh Zhi Long lay awake days later in the operating theatre as surgeons removed it. ST tracks his year-long journey to recovery.


Rohingya refugees: One year of half-life, yearning to break free

ST visited Bangladeshi camps to get an insight into the Rohingya refugee crisis in this report that won best news feature at the Editor & Publisher EPPY Awards.


A supersized family and lunch with Mahathir: The Straits Times' top 5 videos of 2018

In 2018 alone, The Straits Times' video team produced almost 1,000 videos. But as the year draws to a close, we have chosen just five of them for you.


Interactive: Asia's sacred art in augmented reality

Take a closer look at these sacred Asian sculptures in this augmented reality project that won a gold accolade at the Asian Digital Media Awards.


Interactive: How far can your passport take you?

The Singapore passport has been ranked one of the most powerful in 2018. How powerful is your passport? We compare the travel documents of 199 countries.


Interactive: Global warming is changing my nasi lemak

Climate change might lead to key ingredients disappearing from well-loved dishes. Play this game to find out more.


Interactive: Thailand cave rescue a race against time

A look at how the operation to rescue 12 boys and their coach trapped in a flooded cave in northern Thailand unfolded.


Education, inequality and sexual harassment: The Straits Times' best-read Opinion pieces of 2018

The Straits Times publishes many commentaries throughout the year. Here is a list of some best-read commentaries of 2018.


Interactive: When Trump met Kim

The 12-second handshake, the courtyard stroll and the unscripted moments of the historic meeting.


Interactive: Can you spend less than you earn? Try the game of $urvival

Test how good you are at managing your budget in this interactive game that won a bronze honour at the Asian Digital Media Awards.

To sign up for more newsletters, click here. To manage, click here.

The shame of dropping out of the Integrated Programme , Education News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

The shame of dropping out of the Integrated Programme , Education News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

The shame of dropping out of the Integrated Programme

Former Hwa Chong Institution student Edwin Chaw is not the only one to feel the "shame" of flunking the elite Integrated Programme.

In recent years, I have come across several such "IP dropouts", as one former Raffles Institution student described himself. Like Mr Chaw, many of them carry the shame of dropping out of the elite six-year scheme for years on end.

The better known their school, the deeper their shame.

Other than Mr Chaw, the dozen or so others who discussed their experience of dropping out of the IP with me did not want to be identified. They feared it would affect their career prospects.

Several also admitted that it would upset their parents who had encouraged and prepared them through primary school to aim for the popular programme that takes in those scoring 250 points and above for the PSLE - the top 10 to 15 per cent of the cohort.

It may take scores of close to 260 to make the grade at top schools such as RI, Hwa Chong, Nanyang Girls' School and Raffles Girls' School.

A small group also enters the IP schools through achievements in non-academic areas such as sports. They generally tend to have lower aggregate scores.

Two years ago, the Ministry of Education (MOE) revealed that about 6 per cent, more than 200, can be expected to drop out before they complete the six-year programme. MOE did not say how many of them had entered the IP schools based on non-academic achievements such as sports. Overall, in 2016, about 4,000 entered the programme at Secondary 1.

The 6 per cent who fail to complete the programme leave at different points, but generally after Secondary 4. There are some who switch to the O-level track in their school itself. Some move to less prestigious junior colleges or the polytechnics. There's also a small number who end up in private institutions such as the Singapore Institute of Management.

Several, like Mr Chaw, head overseas, mostly to Australia, to take up the nine-month foundation programme which enables them to then move on to the degree programme in universities such as Melbourne University and the University of New South Wales.

Those who fail to thrive in the IP fall into two groups. One group is made up of those who had enrolled in the IP through the Direct School Admission (DSA) scheme based on their co-curricular achievements.

The other group comprises those with PSLE scores well above 250. Many from this group say, in hindsight, that they were simply not suited for the IP. They needed a more structured programme and needed a major exam, like the O levels, to hunker down and study.

Asked why they felt "deep shame" over dropping out, several talked about the unhealthy obsession with grades that the IP school students develop. Several said this is especially extreme at RI and Hwa Chong.

Said a former RI student who went on to study for a business degree in a private school: "At RI, everyone was aiming for As. Bs at worst. Just having Bs and Cs, when my classmates were scoring As, really eroded my confidence."

When he left in JC1 to study at the Singapore Institute of Management, he met a group of former IP students. "We would keep to our small group and never admit that we came from the IP schools, because that would just raise more questions."

Another RI student, who had got into the school through his sporting talent, said he always tried to hide the fact that he got in through DSA.

"My PSLE score was very average. In school, those of us who got in through DSA are looked down upon. If you are really excelling in your sport, then that's not so bad, but if you start doing poorly in that as well, then you are really looked down upon. That really affected me and my grades suffered even more," said the student who went to a polytechnic and then headed overseas after national service.

He added: "When I was in poly, I would tell everyone that I chose to be there and hide the fact that I did poorly in JC1."

The other thing that comes through in talking to these former IP students is their deep sense of disappointment with themselves.

Many said the IP system breeds an obsession with grades and competing with their schoolmates.

Said a student from Hwa Chong: "I still remember a friend who scored perfect As, but he immediately went to find out how many others got perfect grades like him and there were more than 200 of them, and he cried because he felt he would not win the coveted PSC scholarship that he had aimed for."

Others, though, put the blame on themselves and their parents.

"In primary school, it was drummed into me by my parents - A was not good enough. It had to be A stars if I wanted to make it to RI. I started pushing myself to the point that I blanked out before the first PSLE paper," one student said.

Another recounted how he turned down a media interview when he entered RI through the DSA. "Everyone already knew I had entered through DSA; I didn't want to reveal how low my PSLE score was compared with the 260s and 270s."

I had written previously about the reluctance on the part of IP school students who had "DSAed" into IP schools. Several agreed to be interviewed only on condition that their PSLE aggregate scores were not mentioned.

The IP started in 2004 at eight schools, including the Raffles and Hwa Chong family of schools. It was targeted at the top 10 per cent of the PSLE cohort who were clearly university-bound.

The idea was to allow these students to skip the O levels and go straight to the A levels or International Baccalaureate. This way, their learning would not be stifled by having to prepare for two major examinations in six years. Instead, the seamless secondary and junior college education would develop their intellectual curiosity and other talents.

But the scheme - called the "through-train" programme for skipping the O levels - became so popular that pupils and parents clamoured to get on board.

More schools responded by offering the IP and it gave rise to tuition centres specialising in helping top students make the cut-off score for IP schools. Several centres also launched courses to prepare students for the DSA scheme, which allows all schools, including those offering the IP, to take into account other abilities, such as in sports or the arts.

Soon, other top secondary schools which were losing their best students to the IP also jumped on the IP bandwagon. There are now 18 schools offering the programme, although the schools that joined the scheme later offer both the O-level and IP tracks from Secondary 1.

But 14 years after the programme began, policymakers and educators face the prospect of the "through-train" IP having become a runaway train.

Educators and policymakers have to ask themselves: Does it still fulfil the original objective of allowing students the space to develop intellectual curiosity and joy for learning?

Sent from my iPhone

Friday, December 28, 2018

Beijing school Using AI to monitor students

Alert! Alert! ... cyber security

Tsunami feared after 6.9-magnitude quake strikes off southern Philippines: USGS, SE Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Tsunami feared after 6.9-magnitude quake strikes off southern Philippines: USGS, SE Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Tsunami feared after 6.9-magnitude quake strikes off southern Philippines: USGS

MANILA (AFP) - A 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the southern Philippine island of Mindanao on Saturday (Dec 29), monitors said, adding that a tsunami threat was possible for parts of the Philippines and neighbouring Indonesia.

The quake struck southeast of Davao City at a depth of 59km, the US Geological Survey said, while the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre said "hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible" along the coasts of Indonesia and the Philippines.

"Hazardous tsunami waves from this earthquake are possible within 300 km of the epicentre along the coasts of Indonesia and the Philippines," the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said.

There was no tsunami threat to the US state of Hawaii, it said.

The USGS initially said the magnitude of the quake was 7.2 but later downgraded it to 6.9.

This story is developing.

Sent from my iPhone

Treat our parents the way we dote on our children

Ban on smoking @ orchard road

When is your child ready to take public transport on his own?

Youth filmed slicing bridge canopy, egged on by another

Sprawling egg century for creatures big and small

Winds of change ... ionic wind technology

Child abuse in China

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

School vice-principal jailed for crashing car into market in Marine Parade and injuring three, Courts & Crime News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

School vice-principal jailed for crashing car into market in Marine Parade and injuring three, Courts & Crime News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

School vice-principal jailed for crashing car into market in Marine Parade and injuring three

SINGAPORE - A school vice-principal has been sentenced to 10 days' jail for ploughing his car into a market in Marine Parade and hurting three people.

On Wednesday (Dec 26), Lim Soon Wai, 52, vice-principal of Beatty Secondary School in Toa Payoh North, was also disqualified from driving for 2½ years for causing grievous hurt through negligent driving.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a Ministry of Education (MOE) spokesman said Lim is an MOE staff member, and the ministry "will review the case based on our internal disciplinary processes".

"MOE takes a serious view of misconduct by our staff, and will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against those who fail to adhere to our standards of conduct and discipline," said the spokesman.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Angela Ang told the court that Lim was trying to reverse his car into a parking space at the carpark at Block 50A Marine Terrace at 12.34pm on Dec 9 last year when the car bumped into the kerb.

He switched gears to drive forward but failed to maintain control over the vehicle, causing it to surge forward. The car mounted a kerb and crashed head-on into a florist's stall in Marine Terrace Market, and struck three people who were in the stall.

A 66-year-old man was flung aside and landed on his back, while the impact of the crash left two women, aged 58 and 33, unconscious.

All three were taken to Changi General Hospital by ambulance.

The man's left foot was crushed from the impact of the collision, causing him permanent disability. The middle toe on his left foot had to be amputated, said DPP Ang.

Due to his now permanently deformed foot, he may develop pain in the foot from prolonged walking, running and standing, the court heard.

The 58-year-old woman suffered a fracture in her right ankle and also injured her right shoulder, while the 33-year-old suffered giddiness and an abrasion on one finger on her right hand.

DPP Ang added that an inspection conducted on Lim's car showed that there was no mechanical fault or abnormality in the vehicle.

The volume of traffic was light at the time of the accident and the weather was fine, with a dry road surface and clear visibility.

For causing grievous hurt through a negligent act, Lim could have been jailed for up to two years, and fined up to $5,000.

Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Tsunami kills at least 168 in Indonesia, nearly 600 injured, SE Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Tsunami kills at least 168 in Indonesia, nearly 600 injured, SE Asia News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

Tsunami kills at least 168 in Indonesia, nearly 600 injured

JAKARTA (REUTERS, AFP) - A tsunami following a volcanic eruption in Indonesia has killed 168 people, with hundreds more injured, officials said Sunday (Dec 23).

National disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said 745 people were injured and 30 were missing.  

"This number will continue to rise considering not all places have been checked," Dr Sutopo told a media briefing in Yogyakarta. 

The tsunami was caused by "an undersea landslide resulting from volcanic activity on Anak Krakatau" and was exacerbated by an abnormally high tide because of the current full moon, he said.

"The tsunami hit several areas of the Sunda Strait, including beaches in Pandeglang regency, Serang, and South Lampung," the agency said.

Video footage posted to social media by Dr Supoto showed panicked residents clutching flashlights and fleeing for higher ground.

The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) said the tsunami was detected at four locations in the provinces of Banten and Lampung at 9.27pm local time.

The highest of the waves was a 90cm tsunami recorded at Jambu Beach in Banten. Another 350cm wave hit Ciwandan seaport in Banten, while two other 360cm waves struck Kota Agung and Panjang seaport in Lampung.

Mr Rahmat Triyono, the head of the BMKG's earthquake and tsunami department, said in a brief press conference that more tsunamis were possible "as long as there is increased activity of the Anak Krakatau volcano".

"If there is increased activity, then we have to raise the alert," he said, adding that the agency was awaiting an assessment from Indonesia's Geological Agency.

He said the authorities were initially unsure whether the waves were caused by a tsunami, as there had not been an earthquake. Saturday's tsunami was different from an earthquake-spawned tsunami, which is usually followed by aftershocks of a lower magnitude. Hence, the chances of a follow-up tsunami are low. 

"Saturday's tsunami was triggered by eruptions. Volcano eruptions can be small in the beginning and big later on," he said.

Mr Rudi Suhendar, the head of Indonesia's Geological Agency, however, said he still could not rule out that weather, rather than an eruption, had caused the tidal surge, as the volcano had been active since the end of June and the amplitude of Saturday's eruption was not the biggest.

Dr Sutopo told Metro TV that tsunamis triggered by volcanic eruptions were "rare" and that the Sunda Strait tsunami had not resulted from an earthquake.

"There was no earthquake, and the Anak Krakatau eruption also wasn't that big," he told Metro TV, noting there were no "significant" seismic tremors to indicate a tsunami was coming.

BMKG chief Dwikorita Karnawati told an Elshinta radio interview the agency is still investigating the cause of the tsunami and warned residents and tourists in coastal areas around the Sunda Strait to stay away from beaches until Tuesday (Dec 25). Residents and hotels in those areas have also been told to refrain from holding beach activities. 


TV footage showed roads blocked by debris from damaged houses, overturned cars and fallen trees. Hundreds of buildings were destroyed by the waves, while nine hotels and 10 vessels were heavily damaged. 

Still, the tsunami was not as devastating as feared. Indonesia's armed forces chief Hadi Tjahjanto, who took an aerial view of the affected areas, said he could see fallen trees only as far as 200m to 250m from the beach both in Banten and Lampung province.

"Roads are mostly accessible, no bridge is collapsed," Marshal Hadi told a brief media briefing broadcast live on national TV.

So far, the western coast of Banten province in Java was the worst-hit, said Dr Sutopo said earlier. 

Mr Endan Permana, head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency in Pandeglang regency in Banten, told Metro TV police were providing immediate assistance to victims in Tanjung Lesung in Banten, a popular tourist getaway not far from Jakarta, as emergency workers had not arrived in the area yet.  "Many are missing," he said.

Over at Carita beach, a popular day-tripping spot on the west coast of Java, 15-year-old Muhammad Bintang said he saw a sudden surge of water that plunged the tourist spot into darkness. 

"We arrived at 9pm for our holiday and suddenly the water came – it went dark, the electricity is off," he told AFP.  "It's messy outside and we still cannot access the road."

MetroTV reported that a live band concert was taking place at a beach in Banten when the tsunami hit on Saturday night. Concertgoers fell victim, as they were pulled by high waves. Footage showed the stage collapsing.

At least seven people were reported dead in Lampung in southern Sumatra. 

Lieutenant Colonel Mohamad Syarhan, South Lampung police chief, told MetroTV that holiday-makers were among the victims, but there had not been reports of any foreign tourists. "We have had reports of residents not being able to contact their loved ones," he said.

The local police have deployed 200 personnel to the affected areas.

Rescue workers and ambulances were finding it difficult to reach affected areas because some roads were blocked by debris, said Ketut Sukerta, head of the disaster agency in South Lampung.

Lt-Col Mohamad said excavators are needed to move collapsed building materials and fallen trees that were blocking the roads.

"We did manage to clear some blocked roads by hand tools," he said. "The coastal residents here have their houses, made of wooden materials, as close as 15m from the beach. Many were hard hit by the high tides last night (Saturday night)."


Although relatively rare, submarine volcanic eruptions can cause tsunamis due to the sudden displacement of water or slope failure, according to the International Tsunami Information Centre.

Professor Ben van der Pluijm, an earthquake geologist from the University of Michigan, said the tsunami may have been caused by a "partial collapse" of Anak Krakatau. 

"Instability of the slope of an active volcano can create a rock slide that moves a large volume of water, creating local tsunami waves that can be very powerful. This is like suddenly dropping a bag of sand in a tub filled with water," he said.

Coastal residents reported not seeing or feeling any warning signs, like receding water or an earthquake, before waves of up to two meters washed ashore, according to media.

Anak Krakatau, known as the "child" of the legendary Krakatoa, is a small volcanic island that emerged from the ocean half a century after Krakatoa's deadly 1883 eruption.

When Krakatoa erupted in the 19th century, a jet of ash, stones and smoke shot more than 20km into the sky, plunging the region into darkness, and sparking a huge tsunami that was felt around the world.  The disaster killed more than 36,000 people.


Indonesia, one of the most disaster-prone nations on earth, straddles the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", where tectonic plates collide and a large portion of the world's volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur. Anak Krakatau is one of 127 active volcanoes which run the length of the archipelago.

Most recently, in the city of Palu on Sulawesi island, a quake and tsunami killed thousands of people.

In 2004, a tsunami triggered by a magnitude 9.3 undersea earthquake off the coast of Sumatra in western Indonesia killed 220,000 people in countries around the Indian Ocean, including 168,000 in Indonesia.

The tsunami was the latest in a series of tragedies that have struck Indonesia, a vast archipelago, this year.

Successive earthquakes flattened parts of the tourist island of Lombok, and a double quake-and-tsunami killed thousands on Sulawesi island.

Nearly 200 people died when a Lion Air passenger plane crashed into the Java Sea in October.

Additional reporting by Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, December 10, 2018

HSA issues advisory on mahogany seeds, or 'sky fruit', after 7 cases of liver injury reported, Health News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

HSA issues advisory on mahogany seeds, or 'sky fruit', after 7 cases of liver injury reported, Health News & Top Stories - The Straits Times

HSA issues advisory on mahogany seeds, or 'sky fruit', after 7 cases of liver injury reported

SINGAPORE - There have been seven cases of liver injury reported in recent years that are suspected to be linked to eating mahogany seeds, which are more commonly known as sky fruit.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said it received these reports over the past three years, where patients had liver injuries ranging from mild liver function impairment to liver failure.

These seven patients, who are in their 40s to 70s, had eaten the mahogany seeds in both raw form and in capsules. Five of them were hospitalised, HSA said in a public advisory on Tuesday (Dec 11).

Apart from liver injuries, a patient had kidney injuries and another had polyarthralgia, which is multiple joint aches and pain.

HSA said that all patients were reported to have recovered or are recovering from their ailments, after they stopped taking the suspected products.

The fruit of the mahogany seeds is commonly known as sky fruit, or buah tunjuk langit in Malay and xiang tian guo in Mandarin.

It is traditionally used in South-east Asian countries to help control blood sugar and high blood pressure.

However, HSA has said that there are no clinical studies in humans supporting its effectiveness or safety.

The patients had eaten the mahogany seeds to control their blood sugar, blood pressure or for general well-being, the authority added.

Five of the patients ate the seeds in its raw form of between 10 seeds in a month and 18 seeds in a day, after buying them from different sources in Singapore and Malaysia.

One had eaten the capsules intermittently, and the other ate two capsules twice a day.

One product, which was bought from a blogshop in Singapore, was labelled "Natural Miracle Healer", while the other was an unknown brand from Malaysia.

HSA said that most of the patients had underlying medical conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, hyperlipidaemia (high blood cholesterol) and fatty liver. They were taking other medications concurrently.

Six patients experienced liver injury 30 to 45 days after eating the mahogany seeds. The remaining patient had liver injury after six months.

While there is no scientific data on the risk of liver injury from taking mahogany seeds, HSA advised consumers who are thinking of taking the products to exercise caution.

"HSA will continue to closely monitor the situation and update the public of any significant findings," it said.

It added that consumers should take note of the following:

- Be aware that local cases of liver injury have been reported in some individuals following the consumption of mahogany seeds (both in the raw form and capsule form).

- Consult a doctor as soon as possible if you feel unwell or develop any of the following signs and symptoms of liver injury when taking mahogany seeds: Nausea, loss of appetite, lethargy, dark urine, the whites of the eyes turning yellow or jaundice.

-Consult your doctor if you would like to try new or complementary remedy which claims to alleviate certain medical conditions, especially for chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension.

Sent from my iPhone