Archive | December, 2010

HSA Recalls Mouth Rinses, Skin Cleansing Wipes

31 Dec

SINGAPORE: Authorities have found bacteria that can affect those with weak immune systems in three products. Care Wipes disposable skin cleansing wipes, Trihexid Chlorhexidine Mouth Rinse and Pearlie White Fluoride Mouth Rinse.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has initiated a voluntary recall of all three products because certain batches have been found to contain the B.cepacia bacteria.

For people who have used these products, HSA said they do not have to be too concerned because the bacteria poses little medical risks to healthy people. However, those with health concerns should consult their doctors.

HSA added that it is best that people stop using these products.

It conducted a check on them after detecting that another product, Oral Guard Mouth Wash, was contaminated last month.

HSA said B.cepacia is a bacterium that can be found in water, soil and other moist environmental sources. B.cepacia poses little medical risk to healthy people. However, people who have certain health problems like weakened immune systems or chronic lung diseases may be more susceptible to infections with B.cepacia. There have been reported cases of B.cepacia detected in products such as mouth rinses and cleansing wipes in other parts of the world.

HSA is currently overseeing the voluntary recall of the affected products and working with the companies to identify the root cause of B.cepacia contamination in the products.

Meanwhile, HSA will continue to monitor the situation closely and continue with its tests. The public will be informed of any significant safety findings arising from its surveillance and product testing.

Channel News Asia

Adulterated Whisky: 5 Charged

31 Dec

SINGAPORE: Five men, aged between 32 and 36 years, have been charged with adulterating 'Johnnie Walker' whisky.

Ong Bee Hock, 36, Shawn Wan Kee Wee, 35, Ho Thiam Hwa, 34, Michael Ong Bee Zhuan, 33, and Ong Bee Hong, 32, are accused of altering the liquor content of 177 bottles of 'Johnnie Walker' whisky on 28 December.

The men, charged in a district court on Thursday, were among 10 arrested by the police for their roles in the reproduction and distribution of adulterated liquor.

They were arrested after a 19-hour island-wide operation on Tuesday.

More than 3,000 bottles of adulterated liquor infringing the trademarks of renowned liquor brands, related counterfeiting accessories, reproduction equipment and a van were seized.

The estimated street value of the items seized is believed to be more than S$94,000.

Ho, who faces another charge of having 79 'Erimin 5' drug tablets, was offered $50,000 bail.

The others have been remanded for further investigations.

Their cases will be mentioned again next Thursday.

Under the Trade Marks Act, a person who counterfeits a registered trade mark can be jailed up to five years and fined S$100,000 upon conviction.

– CNA/ir

Channel News Asia

Rare Disease Reported In Singapore

31 Dec

SINGAPORE: If you have a sore throat, coupled with neck pain, giddiness and a fever that doesn't go away, you should see a doctor immediately. You may be suffering from the “Lemierre's syndrome” which is rare and potentially lethal.

Experts said, there have been fewer than 10 such cases in Singapore over the past 10 years. But this month alone, two cases have been reported.

One of the patients was 32-year-old Vincent Leo.

He thought it was just the flu when he had a sore throat and fever two weeks ago. But when he did not get better, he saw a doctor and found out that he had Lemierre's.

“I kept vomiting and having diarrhoea at night. My left side of my face swelled up a little too. It was even painful to eat and drink,” said Mr Leo.

Dr Jagadesan Raghuram, Chief and Senior Consultant of the Department of Respiratory Medicine with Changi General Hospital, said: “The common bacteria that we have in our oral cavity usually causes this disease…some of these bacteria for one reason or another becomes pathogenic, meaning they invade, and become a cause of the disease.

“What it does is the bacteria, apart from causing local problems like gum disease or local cavities…it can actually spread through the tissues in the oral cavity into the neck…the bacteria that causes this infection actually causes inflammation in the surrounding vessels of the neck.

“And the bacteria can actually seep to other organs like the lung, liver, kidneys, spleen. And if the infection is not controlled or treated aggressively, upfront, this can cause organ failure and death.”

Dr Raghuram said the disease affects young adults between 20 and 40 years old. Treatment includes a four-week course of antibiotics. For the first two weeks, the patient needs to take the antibiotic intravenously in hospital followed by another two weeks orally. Antibiotic treatment can be stretched to six weeks where needed.

He added that patients are also treated with blood-thinners for three to six months because the disease usually involves blood clots in the veins. Dr Raghuram said medical records show that only one patient here has died from the disease. He said the rare disease occurs in about only one in every 1.25 million people.


Channel News Asia

Man Pleads Guilty To Giving S$2.4m Bribe

31 Dec

SINGAPORE: A businessman pleaded guilty to 12 counts of giving bribes worth S$2.4 million to a former food and beverage manager of Swedish furniture giant Ikea.

A District Court heard on Thursday morning that Andrew Tee Fook Boon, 44, had bribed Leng Kah Poh over seven years in return for the latter to place orders with Tee's companies.

The sum involved is one of the highest amounts paid to an individual here.

Court documents revealed that as Tee's company AT35 Services was not doing well, he accepted an offer by associate, Gary Lim Kim Seng, in October 2002 to take over a food supply business.

Tee was then introduced by Lim to Leng, who had full authority in making decisions pertaining to the operations of the Ikea restaurant then. The trio agreed to share the profits if Leng chose AT35 Services as Ikea's food supplier.

From August 2005, a new business, Food Royale Trading, was set up to take over part of AT35 Services. Food Royale would supply dry food items and sauces, whilst AT35 Services would continue to supply marinated chicken wings.

Between January 2003 and July 2009, the businessmen gave Leng money derived from the business dealings with Ikea on 80 occasions.

The conspiracy was uncovered around June, last year by Ikea when an internal audit found the restaurant was purchasing food supplies at a price significantly higher than the market rate.

Ikea carried out an internal investigation into the matter, and the case was referred to the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau.

Tee's case has been adjourned to January 20 when his mitigation plea and the Prosecution's submission on sentence will be heard.

He faced 80 charges in total and pleaded guilty to 12 of them. The remaining 68 charges were taken into consideration.

If convicted, Tee faces a fine of up to S$100,000 and/or a jail term of up to five years on each corruption charge.


Channel News Asia

Body Of 5th Mersing Boat Tragedy Victim Found

31 Dec

SINGAPORE: The body of the fifth Singaporean victim of the Mersing boat accident has been found.

The body of 44-year-old Ng Kian Tek was found by a fisherman in the waters near Bintan Lagoon Resort in Indonesia, on Thursday afternoon at about 1.30 pm.

The body has been brought to a mortuary at a hospital in Tanjong Pinang, which is near Bintan island.

Channel NewsAsia sent a photo from a viewer to the authorities in Mersing, who invited Ng's brother to identify the body.

Channel NewsAsia has spoken to Bintan police chief, Mr Johsnes Widodo, who said the identity of the body was confirmed by looking at the personal belongings found in his pocket.

“We found, on the body, among others a passport, the name was Ng Kian Teck. There were also a wallet, a bunch of car keys, a SIM card, a credit card and also 400 Ringgit,” said the police chief.

Ng's brother has also confirmed his identity by the clothes that he was wearing.

Ng had been missing since Sunday's boating accident in Mersing, Malaysia.

He had been the sole victim still missing after the boat that he was in, sank when it was travelling from a kelong near Sibu island, towards the Tanjong Leman ferry terminal in Mersing.

29 passengers were on that boat which was supposed to carry only 12 people.

Four other Singaporeans died in the accident.

Mersing police are still conducting investigations into the tragedy.

The boatman and the owner of the capsized boat who had been in remand since Sunday were released on bail on Thursday. Their case will be heard on Friday and authorities will determine what charges will be brought against them.

Authorities there have called off search operations now that Ng's body has been found.

Mersing's police chief, Deputy Superintendent of Police Mohd Nor Rashid, said: “We call off, we will call off (the search)…For us, we're very sad because the body is a dead body. We are sad [for] the family. I can only say that I am very proud of the assistance given by all the agencies concern for the search and rescue.”

Singapore's Foreign Affairs Ministry said the family of the late Mr Ng Kian Teck will travel to Bintan after being informed that his body has been recovered.

In a statement, the Ministry said an officer from its consulate in Batam will travel to Bintan to help the family with arrangements. It added a bag containing two Singapore passports bearing the names of Mr Ng and his wife, Chua Poh Lit, was found on the body.


Channel News Asia

Football: Malaysia Marks ASEAN Cup Win With Public Holiday

31 Dec

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysians on Thursday celebrated their first win in more than two decades of regional football tournaments, prompting the prime minister to declare a public holiday.

Malaysia won its first ASEAN Suzuki Cup on Wednesday by beating Indonesia with an aggregate score of 4-2 for the first and second legs of the Southeast Asian championships finals in Jakarta.

The country last won the biennial Southeast Asian Games at the 1989 Kuala Lumpur tournament and had never taken the ASEAN Cup, launched 14 years ago.

The success dominated the front pages of almost all local papers, with the influential Star daily declaring “The Cup is ours” and the New Straits Times plastering a picture of the victorious players across its front and back pages under the headline “CHAMPIONS”.

Premier Najib Razak declared Friday a public holiday to mark the victory, according to state media.

“This is the greatest night in Malaysian football. The team had done us proud and we must build upon this success to propel Malaysian football to greater heights,” he told the Bernama news agency late Wednesday.

An aide to the premier confirmed the announcement and comments Thursday, adding: “The team is expected to depart Jakarta and fly into Kuala Lumpur at 2:30pm (0630 GMT) today and we are expecting a large crowd to welcome our returning heroes.”

Social microblogging website Twitter was abuzz with comments over the win, with the tag of national goalkeeper Khairul Fahmi Che Mat, #Khairulfahmi, taking the number five spot of trending topics on Wednesday, the Star reported.

In the final's second leg, held in Jakarta's Gelora Bung Karno Stadium, Indonesia beat Malaysia 2-1 but it was not enough to overcome the 3-0 scoreline in Malaysia's favour from the first leg in Kuala Lumpur last Wednesday.

Losing the ASEAN Suzuki Cup tournament was a bitter pill for Indonesia to swallow after beating Malaysia 5-1 in a qualification match earlier this month.

Last week's first leg was marred by incidents in which fans aimed laser beams at Indonesian players during the game.

– AFP/ir

Channel News Asia

Ex-SLA Deputy Director Faces Another 70 Charges

31 Dec

SINGAPORE: Former deputy director at the Singapore Land Authority (SLA), Koh Seah Wee, who stands accused of cheating the government of more than S$12 million, was slapped with another 70 charges on Thursday.

Seven of the charges were in relation to his stint at the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore (IPOS) and 63 involved offences during his tenure at the Supreme Court from 1997 to 2004.

While at the Supreme Court, Koh was involved in the procurement process for IT equipment, software, consumables and services.

It is alleged that in recommending the award of contracts to business entities, Koh had concealed from the Supreme Court the fact that he was involved in the management of such business entities and had a share in their profits.

The business entities named in Thursday's charges are Chartered Systems and Services Pte Ltd, Teamware and Professional Business Solutions. Due to his actions, the Supreme Court was induced to award contracts to these business entities.

Koh, who has been in remand since 25 June, now faces a total of 372 charges.

In September 2010, the Supreme Court said it received a request from the Commercial Affairs Department, for assistance into the investigations into the affairs of Koh Seah Wee. The CAD wanted to find out if Koh had committed any wrong doing during his deployment to the Supreme Court from 1997 to 2004.

The Supreme Court said it has since been helping the CAD with its probe.

The Deputy Public Prosecutor also informed the court that the Attorney-General's Chambers will be writing to the Supreme Court for the case to be heard before a Supreme Court judge.

The request is not unprecedented. A similar application was made against Chia Teck Leng, the former finance manager of Asia Pacific Breweries, who was accused of cheating several banks in 2004.

Chia had cheated the banks of nearly S$115 million by creating fictitious and forged documents in the name of the company.

Koh's accomplice, Lim Chai Meng, will also have his case transferred to the Supreme Court, following a similar application by the Deputy Public Prosecutor.

The Attorney General's Chambers said in view of the circumstances of the alleged offences committed by Koh and Lim, as well as the total amount involved, it was considered it would be more appropriate for the matter to be heard by the High Court.

No fresh charges were preferred against Lim on Thursday, who already faces 309 charges.

The Supreme Court has meanwhile set up an independent panel to review its procurement processes and related internal controls.

The panel, which was set up in October, is chaired by High Court Judge, Justice Quentin Loh. Senior officers from two other government bodies are also represented on the panel.

The panel is expected to make recommendations for improvements to such processes and controls.

Similar review panels have also been set up at the Singapore Land Authority and the Intellectual Property Office of Singapore, the other two agencies where Koh had allegedly committed various offences.

A pre-trial conference for both Koh and Lim will be held in the Subordinates Courts on February 17, 2011 on some administrative matters concerning the case.

– CNA/ir/ac

Channel News Asia

Pamela Anderson Advert Too Racy For Hong Kong Airport

31 Dec

HONG KONG : An animal rights commercial starring former Playboy centrefold Pamela Anderson, which is banned at some US airports, has been deemed too racy for Hong Kong, one of Asia's busiest aviation hubs.

The advertisement, titled “Cruelty Doesn't Fly”, features the scantily-clad former “Baywatch” star as an airport security guard who strips passengers of leather, fur and other skins.

A couple, seen nude from behind, also appears in the video commercial created by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

“Given the groping that you see at security checkpoints and the nudity that you see in body scans we're surprised that our lighthearted ad was deemed too risque,” said Jason Baker, PETA Asia's vice president.

The animal rights group said its ad was vetoed by JCDecaux, the advertising agency responsible for airing videos at Hong Kong's airport.

In a statement, the city's airport authority said the commercial was “considered inappropriate” because it might offend some visitors.

The ad — which also features comedian Steve-O, a star of the 'Jackass' movie series, and German punk icon Nina Hagen — is already banned at airports in New York City and Boston, PETA said.

The animal rights group said it is still hoping to run the ad in other Asia-Pacific airports, including Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney.

– AFP/ir

Channel News Asia

Govt To Give Out S$80m Of Utilities-Save Rebates In 2011

31 Dec

SINGAPORE: About 800,000 Singaporean HDB households can expect to receive about S$50m worth of Utilities-Save (U-Save) rebates in January 2011.

The payout is part of the S$80m of U-Save rebates which the government will give out in 2011.

The second tranche of S$30 million of rebates will be paid out in July 2011.

A Singaporean household may receive up to S$190 worth of U-Save rebates in 2011, depending on HDB flat type.

Those living in 1-room and 2-room HDB flats, for example, will get U-Save rebates which will offset approximately 20% of their annual utility bills on average.

The U-Save rebates are part of the S$4 billion GST Offset Package to help Singaporeans, especially low and middle-income households, cope with the higher cost of living.

These rebates can be used to offset utility charges directly. The amount of rebates will be reflected in the utility bills for January and July 2011 for all eligible households.

– CNA/ir

Channel News Asia

Aaron Kwok Spotted Behaving Intimately With Married Lady

31 Dec

BEIJING – Hong Kong actor Aaron Kwok was spotted behaving intimately with female public relations officer Iris Li at a restaurant ealier this month, reported to Chinese media.

The star, who was filming “The Monkey King” in Beijing, was having dinner at a hotpot restaurant in a hotel with his assistant and was later joined by two women, one of whom was 30-year-old Li.

During the dinner, she was photographed laying on Kwok's shoulder and leaning on him.

According to reports, Li, who was a public relations officer for Filmko Entertainment which produces “The Monkey King”, had just gotten married for less than a year.

Reports also said that Li “had been nursing a crush on Kwok” for a few years and had been very “forthcoming” with her feelings for Kwok.

In response to the rumours, a furious Kwok wrote on his micro-blog: “I am used to these lies written about me in magazines. I can only describe these articles as 'basless news that hurt and damage' others.”

His assistant also slammed reports, saying the dinner was nothing more “than an innocent get together after work”.

The 45-year-old actor had been rumoured to be dating supermodel Lynn Hung for the past four years, though he never admitted it.

– CNA/rl

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