Daily Archives: 2015-06-25

ANA offers expanded halal-certified in-flight menu

ANA, Japan’s leading airline, announced a newly expanded halal menu for its in-flight meals to address the wide range of dietary needs by a growing number of international ANA passengers.

“At ANA, we pride ourselves on our attention to detail and for conveying the spirit of Japanese hospitality,” said Tetsuo Fukuda, ANA Executive Vice President of CS & Products Services, Corporate Planning. “As a 5-star rated airline, we will continue to strive to meet the discerning requests of our international guests and accommodate their wide range of dietary profiles.”

Japan is host to a growing number of international visitors, with notable increases from majority Muslim countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia in 2015, with visitor arrivals up 33.4% and 16.1% respectively, between January and May 2015.

Japan has also seen a 35.1% increase in the number of visitors from Singapore during the same time period[1]. The announcement coincides with ANA’s launch of daily flights to Kuala Lumpur from Tokyo beginning September 1, 2015, as part of efforts to expand its international flight network and welcome more visitors to Japan.

Since January 2014, ANA has partnered with Brahim’s Holdings Berhad (hereafter ‘Brahim’s’), a Malaysia-based company and the world’s largest purveyor of halal cuisine, to provide halal-certified meals aboard ANA flights. Through the partnership, ANA Catering Service, which is responsible for all in-flight meals and beverages for the ANA Group, has obtained certification to produce halal cuisine at its facility in Kawasaki, Japan. ANA began serving halal-certified ‘arare’ rice crackers on all international flights earlier this month.

Beginning on July 1, 2015, ANA will begin offering halal-certified Japanese style chicken curry created in collaboration with Brahim’s, as a light meal option. The new menu item will be available on First Class flights between Tokyo and Europe and Singapore, on First Class Tokyo departures to North America, in Business Class travel between Tokyo and Jakarta, as well as the upcoming Tokyo-Kuala Lumpur route, which launches September 1, 2015.

Also on September 1, ANA Business Class and Economy Class passengers will have the choice of organic “Sunpu Aoido Shizuoka Green Tea”, the first green tea in Japan to receive halal certification. On the same day, ANA will also begin serving a high-quality, non-alcoholic sparkling rosé wine in all First Class cabins, which will also be available for a limited time in the Business Class cabin of the upcoming Tokyo-Kuala Lumpur flight, to commemorate the launch of the service. All in-flight meals on Kuala Lumpur departures to Tokyo supplied from Brahim’s will be halal-certified.

[1] Source: Japan National Tourism Organization, published June 18, 2015

A mother visits her son at IMH

My son was transferred from Changi Prison to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) in Buangkok on 23 June at 12 noon.

This was ordered by the court so that he can be assessed to see if he is suitable for a Mandatory Treatment Order (MTO) to be issued by the courts.

I did not know he had been transferred to IMH until the next day. No one told me.

It has been a very exhausting journey these last few months for everyone in the family, but nothing compared to what my son, Amos Yee, has gone through and continues to go through.

Amos has always been a chirpy, confident and very vocal child. He is also very creative, and would spend an endless amount of time on something which he sets his mind on.

But my son is a different person now.

Since his arrest in March and the many twists and turns in the court case, Amos is now exhausted, and yes, frightened. And I can understand why.

He has been remanded in prison for so long (40 days now) – even before he is sentenced – that he probably feels things no longer make sense.

I walked through the entrance of heavy metal doors at block 7 at IMH on Wednesday.

I understand that block 7 is where they also keep the truly mentally ill patients, and those who have committed crimes or offences and who are also mentally unsound.

It is also where my son is being held.

I presented my identity card to the officer, and filled in the required visiting form.

There are about 12 tables in the meeting room which resembles a campus study area.

Amos is more “privileged” than others – he is allowed to receive visits from me three times a week.

It was 4.20pm.

I could see my son for one hour.

I wondered why my son, who is here to be assessed if he has autism, is kept here in the same block as those who are mentally ill.

“I want to go home and sleep,” Amos tells me.

He has been so tired in Changi Prison where he is kept in a cell for 23 hours everyday, with the bright lights kept switched on most of the time, for the past three weeks.

It was impossible for him to sleep.

But there was nothing he could do but to bear with it. So I can understand that sleeping is the one thing he wants most.

He wishes that he could sleep at home and go for daily assessment, but that is not what the court ordered.

But he is here in a mental institute, where he too is kept in a room.

He sees people with “crazy faces” and endures the “crazy sounds” all day long.

He is the only sound person among the unsound.

The thought of this makes me frightened and sad.

Amos is locked up alone, with closed-circuit tvs watching him all the time.

His “cell” has only a urinal and a mattress on the floor.

Nothing else, no bed.

There is not even toilet paper.

And then there is the siren, or alarm, which goes off each time help is summoned to restrain a patient.

That too happens often and adds to the mental anguish.

And again, those screams from the patients. They go on all day and all night.

I take comfort that Amos at least is allowed to read. I can only hope that this will help him get through these 2 weeks in IMH.

Amos2I am told that there is a private ward at IMH where my son, who is not mentally unsound, could be sent to.

But he is ordered to be assessed at Block 7.

Amos made a video and ended up in a mental institute.

I wish he could be home with me so I can care for him.

Mary Toh

Myanmar nationals plot gruesome murder of S’pore PR

Suspects in custody (Photo: Straits Times)

Suspects in custody (Photo: Straits Times)

They had made what seemed to be meticulous plans, and all they needed was a body.

Three Myanmar man were arrested and charged in court on Wednesday with abetment by conspiracy to commit murder.

The three, aged between 32 and 37, are believed to have targeted Mr Aye Maung Maung Thet, 28, a Singapore permanent resident in their murderous plot.

Fortunately for Mr Aye, the trio’s plans came asunder when Mr Aye’s screams for help attracted passersby and the trio fled.

It all happened on Sunday evening last, when Mr Aye was at the multi-storey car park at block 747-A, Pasir Ris Street 71.

Mr Aye was attacked by two of the three Myanmar nationals with a taser gun, who also tried to abduct him.

When Mr Aye screamed for help and attracted the attention of passersby, his two attackers fled the scene.

Mr Aye then made a police report about the incident.

“Upon receipt of the report, officers from Bedok Police Division responded immediately and conducted extensive enquiries to establish the identities of the suspects,” the police said later in a press release. “In an ambush conducted, officers arrested the first suspect, a 37-year-old man, at the vicinity of Balestier Road on 22 June 2015 at about 1.00pm.”

At 9.50pm the same day, the police arrested another two men – both 32-year-old, at a chalet at Aloha Changi.

“During the operation, items such as a meat mincer, chainsaw, kitchen knives, gas cooker, gas cylinder tank, a tool set, trolley bags, plastic sheets, cable ties, cleaver, aprons, chopping board and rubber boots were also recovered from the chalet and seized as case exhibits,” the police, which also released photos of these, said.

The attack and abduction attempt is thus believed to have been an attempt to subsequently murder Mr Aye.

The three men arrested are Yae Wynnt Oaung, 32; Phyo Min Naing, 31; and Singapore permanent resident, Zaw Min Hlaing.

On 23 June, the police were alerted to a case of an abandoned vehicle at the basement carpark of Changi Airport Terminal 3.

“Officers responded to the scene and discovered a white Mitsubishi multi-purpose vehicle parked at the said location. Preliminary investigations suggested that the vehicle is involved in the case and it has also been seized as a case exhibit.”

The three suspects were charged on Wednesday and face up to 14 years in jail for the offence.

Aung Aung

Aung Aung

The police also said it is looking for 29-year old Win Kyaw Kyaw Aung, or alias Aung Aung, another Myanmar national, to assist in investigations into this case.

Preliminary investigations revealed that Aung Aung had left Singapore on the morning of 22 June 2015.

It is unclear what the motive for the alleged attempted murder is.

Here are the photos of the case exhibits which the police have released with its press statement. These photos show the similar array of items which police recovered from the Changi Aloha chalet which are believed to be intended to be used for the dismemberment of Mr Aye:

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m6

Suspects in police custody (Photo: Straits Times)

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m3

m2

m1

 

 

Pasir Ris ONE – HDB “closely monitoring the progress” of discussions

DSC_0486

The Housing and Development Board (HDB) is “closely monitoring the progress” of discussions between itself and the developer of Pasir Ris ONE, the Design, Build and Sell Scheme flats in eastern Singapore.

The development has been criticised for defects and bad design since The Online Citizen (TOC) reported the case on Monday. (See here: “Pasir Ris ONE DBSS – yet another development under fire”)

These included uneven tiles, loose cabinet doors, the use of cheap material, bathroom doors installed awkwardly, room doors which leave big gaps between the doors and the floor, and so on.

One of the main complaints among the many points of unhappiness are the narrow corridors of the premium HDB flats there.

When TOC measured the corridors, it was exactly 1.2m wide.

This is the bare minimum allowed under the old Building and Construction Authority (BCA) rules, which have since been changed to 1.5m to cater to safety and evacuation purposes.

Under the rules, a clear passage of 1.2m must be maintained.

This, however, has put owners at Pasir Ris ONE in a conundrum. If they should place a shoe rack or a bicycle in their corridors, they could be breaking the rules, including those of town councils by-laws which prohibit obstructions in common corridors.

“My neighbours and I cannot even open our doors at the same time,” Mr Shaun Chew, a resident, told the Straits Times.

Pasir Ris ONE is a joint-project by developers SingHaiyi Group and Kay Lim Holdings.

Awkward ceiling & narrow corridor at Pasir Ris ONE

Awkward ceiling & narrow corridor at Pasir Ris ONE

“The designs and plans for this development have been approved and fall within all guidelines stipulated by the BCA, which were established with safety and comfort of residents in mind,” the manager and project administrator from SingHaiyi Group told the Straits Times.

He added that the developer took the feedback of residents “seriously” and will review them.

The residents themselves have created a private Facebook group to exchange information and for discussion.

The HDB, meantime, says it has been actively engaging the developer to address the residents’ concerns.

In another outcry over another DBSS development, this time over at Centrale 8 in Tampines, it is reported that the Minister of Education, who is also a Member of Parliament of the area, has set up a task force to address the home owners’ complaints.

The minister, Heng Swee Keat, will “supervise” the group which is made up of grassroots leaders.

Such problems in new developments have been reported  by new owners of other DBSS flats at the Trivelis in Clementi and Centrale 8 in Tampines in the last two months, along with several other groups of owners of build-to-order flats, such as in Punggol and Bukit Panjang, in the last few years.

In its response to all these, the HDB said earlier in June that the defects were merely “surface imperfections.”

“This is due mainly to the inherent features of natural materials or the nature of construction works that are dependent on manual labour,” a HDB spokesman said.

CEO’s salary “at a responsible level”: SMRT

smrtbusandtrain

SMRT Corp says the remuneration of its president and chief executive office, Desmond Kuek, “is benchmarked to peer companies” and that it “is competitive and at a responsible level.”

Kuek

Kuek

Mr Kuek’s remuneration has been the target of criticisms since the company released its annual report on Monday.

In it, Mr Kuek’s salary was reported to be in the range of between S$2.25 million and S$2.5 million.

This is a multifold increase in just three years.

The former chief of defence force was roped in to head SMRT in October 2012, where he is reported to have been paid S$611,000 for the first six months.

With his new salary range, Mr Kuek is now the highest-paid SMRT CEO the company has ever employed.

His predecessor, Saw Phaik Hwa, who quit amidst widespread unhappiness over service standards, was drawing S$1.85 million at the time.

It was then a record pay scale in SMRT, which was in turn a hike over the previous record of S$1.67 million she received in 2010.

The Straits Times reported on Thursday that Mr Kuek’s salary is also higher than his counterpart at rival transport group, ComfortDelgro, which is a “significantly larger company” compared to SMRT Corp.

Mr Kua Hong Pak, the CEO of ComfortDelgro, was paid between S$1.75 million and S$2 million.

The CEO of SBS Transit, Gan Huay Kiat, received much less than Mr Kuek.

Mr Gan was paid between $500,000 to S$750,000.

Tan

Tan

SMRT Corp director, Tan Ek Kia, told the Straits Times that Mr Kuek’s remuneration package was comparable to those of other “peer companies”.

He also said that “the new CEO’s tasks were more daunting than before.”

Mr Kuek had said in another interview earlier this week that SMRT has “made tremendous progress on many fronts” but that there “is much more to be done to improve rail reliability.”

In December 2014, the TODAY newspaper reported that the number of major MRT delays had hit “a four-year high”.

Read also:

CEOs’ remunerations under fire”.

“SMRT CEO paid $2.2m to $2.5m – a multifold jump in three years?”