- Koreas re-open military hotline
- McDonald’s burger sent to lab for lizard test
- Funds not misused, court told
SEOUL: North Korea reconnected a military hotline to the South that was cut earlier this year at the height of cross-border tensions, Seoul's government said.
The line – one of the two remaining inter-Korea military hotlines – was disabled in late March weeks after the North's third nuclear test and the following month a joint industrial zone was shut down.
The North in early March cut off another line at the border truce village of Panmunjom before reopening it in July when relations showed signs of thawing.
Cross-border army hotlines in other parts of the country were severed years ago when tensions soared and left unrestored since then.
The latest re-establishment of the hotline paves the way for the reopening of the Kaesong industrial zone as it is largely used to provide security guarantees when South Korean businessmen and workers visit the complex.
The North made the first call to the South via the hotline since March yesterday morning, said Seoul's unification ministry, which handles cross-border affairs.
"Reception is still a bit shaky but at least the connection has been restored," a ministry spokesman said. It followed an agreement on Thursday at a meeting of the inter-Korea committee tasked with reviving the shuttered Kaesong complex.
The ministry spokesman said businessmen from the South would be able to visit the zone – 10km north of the border – to check on infrastructure and facilities left dormant for months.
In April, as tensions increased following the North's nuclear test, Pyongyang effectively shut down operations at the zone by withdrawing the 53,000 North Korean workers employed at the 123 South Korean plants there. Seoul subsequently withdrew all its managers.
The two Koreas agreed last month to work together to re-open the complex – a valued source of hard currency for the impoverished North – after Pyongyang changed tack to make a flurry of conciliatory gestures. — AFP
A MCDONALD'S Sausage McMuffin burger which a customer claimed to contain a baby lizard has been sent to a laboratory for testing.
The fast-food chain sent an employee down to the customer's home on Wednesday night to collect the food sample.
Results from the lab are expected "within the next few days", said McDonald's Restaurants senior communications manager Kevin Lim.
"Food safety is our top priority and we take all feedback relating to the quality of our food very seriously."
The customer, known only as Sandy Sand on social networking site Facebook, posted a photograph of the half-eaten burger on the fast-food chain's Facebook page on Wednesday at noon.
It had what looked to be the tail of a lizard sticking out of it, she claimed, adding that the burger was bought from the Ang Mo Kio drive-through branch.
McDonald's has apologised to the customer for her experience.
The photo post has been shared over 500 times on Facebook as of Thursday evening. Numerous threads have also popped up on online forums like hardwarezone.com.sg, questioning if the burger actually contained a lizard.
The customer could not be reached for comment. But in several posts on the McDonald's Singapore Facebook page, she said: "Thanks to McDonald's for (its) attention and sending (its) personnel over at this hour to collect it for analysis."
She added that she hoped "an upright judgment will be announced" and wrote: "Thanks for the prompt action but no thanks for the unforgettable awful experience." — The Straits Times/Asia News Network
City Harvest church leaders wanted to buy a stake in Suntec City and had recalled the church's investment money and loans to raise funds. The transactions involved were legal and in some cases even "common" in the business world.
That was the explanation put up yesterday by defence lawyers who were giving a more prosaic take on financial deals which the state believes were used to conceal a misuse of church funds.
Three prominent law firms including Singapore's Drew & Napier and Rajah & Tann had also drafted these and other allegedly suspect transactions and found nothing wrong with them, the defence argued.
City Harvest founder Kong Hee and five of his deputies were charged last year with misusing about S$50mil (RM131mil) of church funds, partly through the buying of alleged sham bonds.
A prosecution witness had said earlier that former church investment manager Chew Eng Han, one of the accused, told him that the church's auditors had grown "uncomfortable" with the bonds.
Chew then proposed a plan to "restructure" these bonds.
But defence lawyer N. Sreenivasan noted that at the time, City Harvest was in talks to purchase the Suntec stake, and suggested that the various transactions that followed was to finance this.
He also noted that in the end, the church and its investment manager AMAC Capital Partners' bond monies were paid back with interest in full, so they had not suffered any losses as a result of the transactions. — The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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