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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

MPs divided on role and restrictions in Little India since incident

Posted: 21 Jan 2014 06:43 PM PST

MEMBERS of Parliament were divided over the role of alcohol in the Little India riot and the restrictions put in place since the incident.

There was Nominated MP Janice Koh, who asked why alcohol was deemed an underlying cause, and fellow NMP Nicholas Fang, who asked whether breathalyser tests were carried out on foreign workers involved in the riot.

Then there were those like NMP Eugene Tan, who said that 374 liquor licences in the area – including 43 inactive ones – was excessive. He wanted to know how the liquor licensing board issues them.

Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Teo Chee Hean said licence numbers have been stable in the last five years: Between 2009 and 2012, they ranged from 347 to 357.

Meanwhile, a new Bill introduced in Parliament on Monday will give police fine-tuned powers in the Little India area, following the Dec 8 riot there that damaged 25 emergency vehicles and left 39 Home Team officers injured.

The Public Order (Additional Temporary Measures) Bill seeks to give law enforcement officers the power to search and interview individuals entering the area for alcohol and prohibited items, and empower officers to ban individuals from being in the area during specified times if their presence is deemed to potentially threaten public order.

Powers will also be granted officers to swiftly cancel or suspend the business licence of licensees suspected to have flouted the law.

The legislation is proposed to last for up to one year, and refers specifically to the Little India area where an alcohol ban has been enacted following the riot.

"The Bill proposes that the law will be valid for one year. This will provide sufficient time for my Ministry to enact longer term legislation to take into account the findings and recommendations of the Committee of Inquiry (COI), and recommendations arising from public consultations on the review of the liquor licensing regime," said Teo. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Cops take kidnap suspect to crime scene

Posted: 21 Jan 2014 06:45 PM PST

POLICE took one of the two Sheng Siong kidnap suspects back to one of the scenes of crime – Sembawang Park.

Lee Sze Yong, 41, arrived in a silver van at about 4.45pm, escorted by about six officers from the police's Criminal Investigation Department. 

He spent about half-an-hour pointing out various specific locations related to the crime, such as the tree behind a pavilion in the park, where he and fellow suspect Heng Chen Boon, 50, had allegedly asked for the ransom money to be dropped off. 

He was also taken to nearby Jalan Selimang to identify other locations related to the crime. Dressed in a red polo shirt and navy three-quarter pants, Lee appeared sullen, and at one point broke out in tears.

This kidnap case is Singapore's first in about a decade. On Jan 8, the 79-year-old mother of Sheng Siong chief executive Lim Hock Chee was abducted after a morning trip to a market in Hougang. 

She was released about 15 hours later after the S$2mil (RM5.2mil) ransom was dropped off at Sembawang Park as requested by the kidnappers. 

Both suspects are currently in remand and have been charged under the Kidnapping Act. If convicted, they face the death penalty or life imprisonment with caning. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Church’s lease deal ‘didn’t make sense’, court told

Posted: 21 Jan 2014 06:42 PM PST

CITY Harvest Church's S$46.3mil (RM120.3mil) eight-year rental lease agreement with music production firm Xtron puzzled the church's auditor, who said it "didn't make sense".

Under the contract, signed in October 2009, Xtron would have to procure a location to be leased to the church for worship. At the time, its lease of Singapore Expo was to expire on Sept 30, 2011.

Baker Tilly managing partner Sim Guan Seng, who presided over the church's accounts for financial years 2008 and 2009, and for Xtron's in 2009, said: "That's a big sum of money to pay to a company like Xtron."

He was taking the stand for the third day yesterday. 

"In a sense, you are paying for rental commitment when Xtron didn't have a lease to back it up. So we were wondering why was it done. Commercially it just didn't make sense."

The prosecution alluded that the sum of money was used to cover holes in Xtron's account books, after the church invested Building Fund monies into the church-linked firm that was allegedly misappropriated. 

This forms a part of the "round-tripping" charges faced by four of six current and former senior church leaders, who are on trial for varying counts of criminal breach of trust and falsifying accounts. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network


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