Friday, October 18, 2019

Monks From S'pore Temples Seen Gambling In Casinos, This Is What They Have To Say In Defence

Monks From S'pore Temples Seen Gambling In Casinos, This Is What They Have To Say In Defence

Monks From S'pore Temples Seen Gambling In Casinos, This Is What They Have To Say In Defence

Monks From China Accused Of Being Fake Because They Went Gambling

Monks typically have a squeaky clean image in Singapore. After all, ordained monks have to give up their worldly possessions and live a 'simple' life in accordance with Buddhist teachings.

However, a group of 5 monks in Singapore has gained notoriety for doing quite the opposite.

A member of the public allegedly saw them visiting casinos and leading a very 'worldly' lifestyle — eating meat, smoking, and gambling.

Monks reportedly from Geylang & Redhill temples

The monks from China are reportedly from temples in Geylang and Redhill, according to Shin Min Daily.

The informant noted that they appear to be very pious, chanting at wakes, and attending various Buddhist events.


However, the monks will allegedly go gambling at a casino every month.

They also smoke and consume meat regularly — practices which monks will usually avoid at all costs. The monks were also seen having a puff with a thick stash of $50 notes in hand.


One of the monks were even seen having a game of poker.


Some monks say claims are fake

When Shin Min Daily reporters visited a temple in Geylang, there were apparently 'attendants' who seemed extra wary of them.

These 'attendants' were reportedly there to keep a lookout for strangers and ask them about the purpose of their visit.

Some of the monks, however, said that they were misunderstood and are actually innocent.

This monk claimed that the young woman in the photo was just a 'normal' friend who wanted to discuss religious issues with him.


Another monk claimed that this incriminating photo was taken at an airport, and not a casino, as claimed earlier by the informant.

He added that the photo was taken in 2016 when he visited Singapore as a tourist, reports Shin Min Daily. Whether the man was already a monk by then remains unclear.


Monk says he has a private life too

Separately, one of the monks implicated in the scandal claimed that being a monk was just a job and that he was entitled to his own private life once he changes out of his robes.

He said that there are no laws in Buddhism that prohibit monks from entering casinos.

The monk further explained that he was actually bringing a relative from China to the casino, but had never gambled before.


President of Singapore Buddhist Federation speaks out

Venerable Seck Kwang Phing who is President of the Singapore Buddhist Federation, denies that being a monk is a mere occupation. Instead, he said that it's a spiritual full-time duty.

Thus, monks do not change out of robes as they will become a 'normal' person.

Ven Seck also added that if the accounts regarding the errant monks were true, he hopes that the group will turn over a new leaf.

As damning as the pictures are, let's not forget that this remains a rather one-sided story.

But if true, we hope that they will start anew so they do not tarnish the monasteries they are from and the religion of Buddhism.

Featured image adapted from Shin Min Daily.

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Thursday, October 17, 2019

Singapore and Southeast Asia's first bubble tea experience opens

Singapore and Southeast Asia's first bubble tea experience opens

First look at The Bubble Tea Factory's boba wrecking ball and boba ball pit

The boba wrecking ball at The Bubble Tea Factory. (Photo: Joyee Koo)

We know you love your bubble tea. Who doesn't? And starting Oct 19, you'll be able to take your love for the perennially popular beverage to the next level by immersing yourself in Southeast Asia's first boba wonderland.

Southeast Asia's first bubble tea wonderland boasts more than 10 multi-sensory rooms and installations centered around the popular drink.

The Bubble Tea Factory is a new experiential space that will open its doors in Singapore for two months. The 7,000 sq ft space at *Scape takes visitors through more than 10 multi-sensory themed rooms and installations, starting from a boba-making production line and growing increasingly whimsical through an upside-down bubble tea cup forest; an ASMR slurping tunnel; a boba wrecking ball you can actually swing on; and the piece de resistance – a huge taro boba ball pit filled with 100,000 lavender-hued balls.

Visitors can also sample bubble tea flavoured snacks, purchase bubble tea themed merchandise such as earrings and cup holders from a collaboration with local fashion label Fayth, and end their journey with – what else? – a cold cup of bubble tea. The Bubble Tea Factory is currently partnering with Jenjudan to serve up drinks to visitors, and will later welcome other partners such as Gong Cha.

READ: Confessions of a bubble tea addict: Not good for me, but it's been good to me

Taro Pearl Pit at The Bubble Tea Factory

Hop into a pit of 100,000 "taro" boba balls. (Photo: The Bubble Tea Factory)

The themed space is the brainchild of Weiting Tan, an entrepreneur with a background in tech startups.

"We saw that there was definitely a gap in the space of the experiential economy," the 32-year-old told CNA Lifestyle. "We noticed that buying stuff doesn't make you as happy. You might be excited by a new toy for a week or so, but after that, there's that feeling of, 'Oh, it's just another material good lying around at home.' People are spending more on experiences, like travelling or concerts or sports events, because these memories last you a lifetime. We wanted to do things in that space, but more centred on fun."

Boba-jection at The Bubble Tea Factory

For those who have bubble tea coursing through their veins. (Photo: The Bubble Tea Factory)

Why bubble tea? "We want to work on concepts and topics that are relevant to people here," he explained. "It would be very easy for us to go somewhere else and take an interesting concept and try to bring it over. But it might not be as relatable. Bubble tea is one of those things that people are really passionate about. I've seen friends fight over which one is better than the other; which one has better pearls. Even at work, the team of colleagues next to me were always talking about bubble tea every single day – when they were going to get it; what flavours they were going to get. I was like, 'This is really something that people care about.'"

Blue Coral Utapioca at The Bubble Tea Factory

The Blue Coral Utapioca is an enchanted forest of upside-down bubble tea "trees". (Photo: The Bubble Tea Factory)

To make the experience more multi-dimensional, Tan also drew on his background in tech for the idea of a customised Instagram filter, where users can "drink" a cup of endlessly refillable bubble tea through the filter.

After The Bubble Tea Factory's designated two months are up, Tan has plans to roll out more concepts – he's toying with one based on memes – as well as collaborations with local brands. There are also plans to take The Bubble Tea Factory on tour around the region.

But for now, as the experiential space gears up to open its doors, it's focusing on generating hype here, with free admission for the first 1,000 visitors on Oct 19 between 12pm and 6pm.

And that's the tea.

The Bubble Tea Factory is at *Scape, 2 Orchard Link. It runs from Oct 19 to Dec 18, from 4pm to 10pm on weekdays, and 10 am to 10pm on weekends. Tickets are available via Eventbrite at S$24 (weekdays) and S$28 (weekends)., with opening special deals. For details, visit

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Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Don’t calm down. Exam stress can help you get better marks - TODAYonline

Don't calm down. Exam stress can help you get better marks - TODAYonline

Don't calm down. Exam stress can help you get better marks

Two-thirds of young people in an Australia say they experience levels of examination stress that mental health organisation ReachOut describes as "worrying".

Research shows high levels of exam stress can interfere with attention and reduce working memory, leading to lower performance. Early experiences of anxiety and stress can also set a precedent for mental-health problems in adulthood.

But how we see stress can actually make a difference to the way it affects us. Research shows if we believe stress is a helpful response that will increase our performance in a challenging event, it can be a tool that works to our advantage.

Stress is a normal experience when we have a challenging event. We can experience stress when learning something new, starting a new job or being in a race.

Our experience of "stress" is actually our body getting us ready to take on the challenge. A stress response is helpful as it can increase oxygen to the brain and improve attention, focus, energy and determination.

The runner in a race needs to be "stressed" to compete successfully. The young person sitting in an exam room needs it too.

Read also: Suffering burnout at work? Understand why it happens and take steps to prevent it

Studies show people who are clear about their feelings are more likely to thrive on anxiety and stress and possibly use these to achieve their goals and find satisfaction at work.

Stress and anxiety can work for you. But they become bad when we evaluate events as a threat rather than a challenge and when we believe we don't have enough resources to cope.

Exams are often treated as a threat because there is potential harm or loss related to our self-worth, identity, and commitments, goals and dreams. If we fail, we think we are a failure and we may never get the future we had hoped for. Our whole life is at stake.

Read also: Some Singaporeans feel guilty taking breaks, stressed about doing nothing: Survey


To put it simply, stress can be good if we believe it's good. It'll work for us if we develop a mindset that stress helps our performance, health and well-being (rather than seeing it as debilitating).

In a study from the United States, one group of young people were given information about stress before sitting an exam. The reading material explained stress was not harmful, but that it had evolved to help us cope and perform better. Another group were told to just ignore stress and suppress their emotions.

Researchers found the first group performed significantly better in the exam (average five marks improvement) than the group who used the ignore-and-relax approach.

In another study of exam stress, students who saw stress as an opportunity and used it for self-growth had increased performance and decreased emotional exhaustion. But students who saw stress as a threat showed decreased effort and performance.

These studies didn't examine how to eliminate exam stress. Instead they examined a change in the way students responded to it. Here are some tips for you use stress to your advantage.

1. Read your body differently

Start to read your stress response as being there to help you prepare for the challenge. Instead of seeing it as a threat, try to see it as a coping tool. When you are experiencing stress, you can say to yourself:

I am feeling a little uncomfortable; my heart is beating faster, but my body is getting me ready to compete.

2. Reframe the meaning of the event

Rather than framing exams as a threat, try to frame them as a challenge. Part of the reason they are seen as a threat is because your whole future, identity and worth appear to be at stake. This is not true. Exams are one very small part of your life that does not decide your whole future.

There are always other options, different pathways and opportunities. Vera Wang failed to get into the Olympic ice-skating team and became a world famous dress designer. Sometimes the path we imagine looks a little different.

Not all journeys are straight, and the best ones can have diversions.

3. Accept stress and negative emotions

Some common ways people approach stress is to try to relax, ignore stress and try to reduce it. These approaches actually reinforce that stress is "bad" rather than accepting it as a natural and helpful response. These approaches also lead to poorer performance and emotional exhaustion.

Rather than ignoring the emotions, it's better to feel them, accept them, and then try to use them to your advantage. You can say to yourself:

I feel this way because this goal is important to me, and my body is responding this way because it is getting me ready to perform.

4. Add to your resources

Clearly, changing your mindset is only helpful if you have the resources to cope. It would be like an athlete who is about to compete but has not trained. Put time into study, study in different ways (read, write ideas in your own words, talk about the ideas, draw them) and give yourself time to practise these ideas.

When you have done this, your stress response then draws on these resources.

Stress will always be present in our lives as we take on new challenges and grow as a person. When we see low-level stress as a threat it becomes one. It becomes a red flag that we are not coping, that these feelings are wrong and we should retreat. This is not true.

However, if you are feeling severe stress and anxiety in different settings and for an extended period of time you should see your GP and get support. THE CONVERSATION


Mandie Shean is a psychologist and teacher working in the School of Education at Edith Cowan University. 

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Missing items, temper tantrums and life shifts: One woman’s journey in caring for her mother-in-law with dementia - CNA

Missing items, temper tantrums and life shifts: One woman's journey in caring for her mother-in-law with dementia - CNA

Missing items, temper tantrums and life shifts: One woman's journey in caring for her mother-in-law with dementia

With one in 10 seniors above 60 in Singapore suffering from dementia, CNA took a look at how one caregiver handled the situation when her mother-in-law was diagnosed with the condition.

Stella and mother
Stella Lin Bin and her mother-in-law, who has dementia. (Photo: Hanidah Amin)
(Updated: )


SINGAPORE: It was a typical Friday morning for 85-year-old Leung Fong Yee, who shuffled slowly about the Choa Chu Kang apartment doing her daily chores.

She greeted this reporter without emotion, and did not seem to mind the company, although her 50-year-old daughter-in-law Stella Lin Bin said it took time, patience and medication for the elderly woman to adjust to her diagnosis of dementia and depression.

Describing her mother-in-law as a strong, capable woman, Stella said the octogenarian used to visit Chinatown on her own, but has stopped doing so as she could lose her way now.

Today, she remembers only two routes: One to a nearby coffee shop, and another to the home of a fellow senior whom she is fast friends with.

Already, Mdm Leung is starting to forget people, said Stella. She remembers those she sees on a daily basis, but cannot remember her son who lives in Hong Kong and those she sees only rarely.

Stella noticed a change in her mother-in-law's behaviour about three years ago.

Mdm Leung, a Singapore permanent resident, would repeat old stories of her time in Hong Kong, mixing up her memories from the Second World War, and the 1967 leftist riots in the former British colony.

On top of this, she would claim that her belongings had gone missing, and asked family members "which auntie took my things", and spewed negative comments.

Leung Fong Yee
Madam Leung Fong Yee going about her daily chores. (Photo: Rauf Khan)

Sensing something amiss, Stella took her mother-in-law to Choa Chu Kang Polyclinic.

In the six months that followed, Mdm Leung's condition worsened. She threw tantrums, thinking that "everyone was her enemy", and became increasingly negative. 

Stella would be woken up in the middle of the night by the sounds of the elderly woman crying, and find her things missing only to learn later that her mother-in-law had taken them.

Specialists later confirmed that Mdm Leung was suffering from dementia and depression, and she was prescribed medication.

Mdm Leung was also referred by the polyclinic to non-profit organisation Fei Yue Community Services, which provides free counselling and check-ups for dementia patients.

In the beginning, she would not take the medication properly, taking it all in one go and making snide remarks in Cantonese such as "you're treating me like I'm sick".

It took some time for Mdm Leung to open up to the workers from Fei Yue, but she did so eventually and her condition has now stabilised thanks to a combination of medication, counselling and shifts in lifestyle that Stella has made.

Notes stella
Notes left in the living room for family members to remember the tasks needed for Mdm Leung. (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

"Now we know it's a sickness, we will know to comfort her, and she seldom flares up," said Stella.

Mdm Leung takes pride in being able to wash the dishes, do the laundry and mop the floor, tasks that Stella lets the older woman do, even though she says "it's easier for me to do it, since I can do it quickly".

The little duties entrusted to her let her feel that she has responsibilities, explained Stella.

"It makes her feel like: 'I'm very important in this house, I have a contribution, I'm still OK'," she said. 

Stella also encourages Mdm Leung to have more social interaction, and entrusts her with the care of a cat - a duty the elderly woman takes seriously.

As dementia is an incurable disease, doctors have told the family that Mdm Leung's condition is likely to progress, but the goal is to delay it.

Leung Fong Yee
Madam Leung Fong Yee occupies herself cleaning the house, a task she takes great pride in. (Photo: Hanidah Amin)

Mdm Leung's situation is not rare: One in 10 seniors in Singapore above the age of 60 is currently diagnosed with dementia, according to statistics from the Ministry of Health (MOH), with the number of people suffering from the condition set to grow as the population ages.

"This translates to an estimated 82,000 cases in 2018, with the number expected to go beyond 100,000 by 2030," Jason Foo, CEO of the Alzheimer's Disease Association (ADA), told CNA.


While she copes with her mother-in-law's condition, Stella is also acutely aware of the need to focus on her own needs.

"Caregivers are increasingly facing more stress and burnout due to round the clock caregiving," said Mr Foo.

"They themselves may start to feel social isolation due to the 24-hour care they provide, making it very difficult for them to maintain friendships or relationships outside their charges or family."

He added that some people with dementia may also take their frustrations and aggressions out on their caregivers whether verbally or physically. 

Stella makes an effort to make time for her own hobbies, which range from dance and art classes to photography. The avid photographer's latest obsession is sports photography, she shared, excitedly swopping camera tips and tricks with CNA's own photojournalists.

Mdm Leung and Stella
Madam Leung Fong Yee and her daughter-in-law Stella Lin Bin. (Photo: Rauf Khan)

She advises fellow caregivers not to lose their sense of self and to avoid over-caring such that the dementia patient is deprived of their own agency.

"Don't tell yourself that - in my life, all that's left is caring for my family," she said. "You have to have your own social circle and things you like to do." 

She initially felt frustration over her mother-in-law's condition, but learned from counselling sessions with Fei Yue how to express her feelings to friends.

"There are sometimes caregivers who may not have the patience that Stella has, and usually they will get a maid to take care of the elderly," said senior social worker Sng Bee Li, who cared for Mdm Leung after she was referred to Fei Yue's community intervention team. 

"Even if they have a maid, we will encourage them to have daycare … so they will have some social interaction to keep the mind active."

Dementia stage


Fei Yue's community intervention teams are part of support networks, led by health professionals, made up of counsellors, social workers and nurses. The free services they provide include assessment, counselling and psychoeducation for clients with mental health conditions and their caregivers.

There are 20 community intervention teams, partnering general practitioners and polyclinics and focusing mainly on adults and seniors with mental conditions like depression, psychosis and dementia, with 39 supporting community outreach teams that take over when the conditions have stabilised.

The establishment of the teams is part of steps taken by MOH and the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC) in scaling up resources to provide for seniors with dementia and their caregivers.

An MOH spokesman told CNA that its strategy for dementia focuses not only on those already diagnosed with it, but also on outreach efforts to increase awareness and early detection. 

Some moves by the ministry include adding 1,000 dementia day care places in 2018, launching a Dementia Friends mobile app that provides tips on caregiving and allows caregivers to post information about missing loved ones, and increasing the number of polyclinics offering mental health and dementia services to 12.

Steps to tackle the issue include raising awareness of dementia in the community and the launching of a mobile application for caregivers. (Photos: Agency for Integrated Care)

At the doctor level, more than 190 GP partners have been trained as of December 2018 to diagnose and support people with mental health conditions, while most doctors undergoing specialty training since 2014 are required to take part in a geriatric medicine modular training programme, which includes a dementia module.

There are currently eight dementia-friendly communities including Yishun, Queenstown, Bedok, and Woodlands, where areas are adapted to be dementia-friendly with ramps and large text on signs, and this is set to increase to 15 by 2021, MOH said.

There are also more than 200 go-to points across Singapore with dementia resources that also act as safe return points for those with dementia.

Looking to the future, the government also supports dementia research, with the National Medical Research Council awarding the National Neuroscience Institute a $1.7 million grant for research on the onset of dementia among the young in Singapore, said MOH.

For Stella, the family focuses on each day as it comes.

"The medication is to delay the onset of the illness," she said. "The most important thing is to let her be happy."

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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Typhoon Hagibis: Tokyo and central Japan left devastated - CNA

Typhoon Hagibis: Tokyo and central Japan left devastated - CNA

Typhoon Hagibis: Tokyo, central Japan left devastated

Houses are submerged after Typhoon Hagibis hit the area in Ashikaga, north of Tokyo, Japan
Houses are submerged after Typhoon Hagibis hit the area in Ashikaga, north of Tokyo, Japan, Sunday, Oct 13, 2019. (Photo: Takuya Inaba/Kyodo News via AP
(Updated: )


TOKYO: Eleven people were killed and 15 were missing after the most powerful typhoon to hit Japan in decades paralysed Tokyo, flooding rivers and putting millions under evacuation warning before it plowed up the northeastern coast.

Authorities lifted rain and flood warnings for the Kanto region around a becalmed Tokyo before dawn but imposed them on areas further north after Typhoon Hagibis blasted through the capital.

Four deaths were reported in Chiba, Gunma, Kanagawa and Fukushima prefectures surrounding Tokyo, public broadcaster NHK. Among them was a man in his 60s who was found with no vital signs in a flooded apartment in Kawasaki, NHK said. 

Attention focused on Fukushima, where Tokyo Electric Power Co overnight reported irregular readings from sensors monitoring water in its Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, which was crippled by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

In parts of Fukushima and Nagano prefectures, heavy rain caused rivers to flood their banks, submerging houses and rice paddies and forcing some people to climb onto their roofs for safety.

Houses along the Chikuma river in Nagano were nearly under water and at least one person was rescued from the roof of a house by helicopter, NHK said. Part of a road was swept away in flooding.

A boat patrol searches a residential area flooded by Typhoon Hagibis.
Rescue efforts are underway in Japan for people people trapped in submerged houses in Tokyo and central Japan after the region was hit by Typhoon Hagibis on Saturday Oct 12, 2019. (Photo: AP)

Authorities issued evacuation advisories and orders for more than 6 million people across Japan as the storm unleashed the heaviest rain and winds in years. Some 100 injuries have been reported so far, while more than 270,000 households lost power, NHK said.

The storm, which the government said could be the strongest to hit Tokyo since 1958, brought record-breaking rainfall in many areas, including the popular resort town of Hakone, which was hit with 939.5 mm (37 inches) of rain over 24 hours.

READ: Typhoon Hagibis kills 11 in Japan as rescue efforts intensify

Hagibis, which means "speed" in the Philippine language Tagalog, made landfall on Japan's main island of Honshu on Saturday evening. A magnitude 5.7 earthquake shook Tokyo shortly after.

Major shinkansen bullet trains from Tokyo would begin on schedule Sunday, NHK said, while the Tokyo subway system was also operating.

Bullet trains are seen submerged in muddy waters in Nagano, central Japan
Bullet trains are seen submerged in muddy waters in Nagano, central Japan, after Typhoon Hagibis hit the city, Sunday, Oct 13, 2019. (Yohei Kanasashi/Kyodo News via AP)

Destroyed houses, cars and power poles, which according to local media were believed to be caused b
Destroyed houses, cars and power poles, which according to local media were believed to be caused by a tornado, are seen as Typhoon Hagibis approaches the Tokyo area in Ichihara, east of Tokyo, Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo October 12, 2019. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

One expert, Nobuyuki Tsuchiya, director of the Japan Riverfront Research Center, had earlier told Reuters that further flooding could occur as several surrounding prefectures began releasing water from dams, letting it flow downstream.

About 1.5 million people in Tokyo live below sea level.

The Japan Meteorological Agency issued the highest alert level for 12 prefectures, warning of potential for once in decades rain totals. It lifted the alerts early Sunday.

Just last month, another strong storm, Typhoon Faxai, destroyed or damaged 30,000 houses in Chiba, east of Tokyo, and caused extensive power outages.

Japan's national rugby union team players wade through floodwater at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stad
Japan's national rugby union team players wade through floodwater at Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo, Japan October 12, 2019 in this still image obtained from a social media video. JRFU via REUTERS

READ: Magnitude 5.7 earthquake strikes off Japan's Chiba prefecture

The capital's main airports, Haneda and Narita, stopped flights from landing and connecting trains were suspended, forcing the cancellation of more than a thousand flights.

Many people in and around Tokyo took shelter in temporary evacuation facilities early, before the worst of the storm arrived.

Yuka Ikemura, a 24-year-old nursery school teacher, was in one such facility at a community center in eastern Tokyo with her 3-year-old son, 8-month-old daughter and their pet rabbit.

Spectators who evacuate from Typhoon Hagibis, gather at a makeshift accommodation for spectators of
Spectators who evacuate from Typhoon Hagibis, gather at a makeshift accommodation for spectators of Formula One Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan October 12, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-ji

She said she decided to move before it was too late.

"I've got small children to take care of and we live on the first floor of an old apartment," Ikemura told Reuters.

"We brought with us the bare necessities. I'm scared to think about when we will have run out diapers and milk."

The Rugby World Cup match between Namibia and Canada on Sunday in Kamaishi was cancelled. Two matches were cancelled on Saturday.

Formula One Grand Prix organisers had cancelled all practice and qualifying sessions scheduled for Saturday. 

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