April 29, 2017

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Tampines

by Najeer Yusof

INSTEAD of letting your excess food go to waste, why not place them in fridges that others can access?

Two community refrigerators were installed in the lift lobby of Block 441, Tampines Street 43, for residents in the area to donate food to needy neighbours. The two-week-old initiative by Tampines North Citizens’ Consultative Committee (TNCCC) was launched by Member of Parliament for Tampines GRC Baey Yam Keng on Saturday (Jan 21).

One of the fridges was labelled with a “Halal” sticker, to cater to Muslim residents. Food donors were advised to be aware of the items they put in each fridge. Over the course of the first week, we noticed the “Halal” fridge being empty most of the time. According to the residents, the food in both fridges usually disappear within a couple of hours after replenishment. Eggs and meat were usually cleared the fastest. Although this initiative has been intended for the long term, the TNCCC is planning on monitoring the initiative for three to six months. Subsequently, it will decide on the next course of action: making improvements or stopping it entirely.

We decided to monitor the use of these fridges for a week, to see how the residents were using it and this is what we saw:

Residents of block 441 and Mr Baey Yam Keng fill both fridges with groceries on the day of launch.
DAY 1: Residents of Block 441 and Mr Baey filling both fridges with groceries on Saturday, Jan 21, the day the project was launched. The groceries, such as fresh meat, vegetables and fruits were donated by residents.

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Madam Poh Muei Giok, 73, a resident of block 441, taking an ice-cream from one of the fridge. "It is a good idea but some people are misusing it by taking a lot of the food," she said.
DAY 2: Madam Poh Muei Giok, 73, a resident of Block 441, taking an ice-cream from one of the fridges. “It is a good idea but some people are misusing it by taking a lot of the food,” she said.

 

Madam Evangeline Ang, 57, a member of the Residents' Committee, takes a photo of the contents of both fridges to update the other members on what needs restocking. "I come on alternative days to check on the stock and to see what needs restocking," she said.
DAY 3: Madam Evangeline Ang, 57, a member of the Residents’ Committee, taking a photo of the contents of both fridges to update the other members on what needs restocking. “I come on alternate days to check on the stock and to see what needs restocking,” she said.

 

Mr Michael Lim, 61, a retiree who resides in the neighbouring block checks the fridge to see which grocery requires a top up, before heading to the market to purchase them. "I heard about the initiative but I did not have time to come down to check it out till today. I bought fish cakes, meatballs, tofu, apples and oranges to fill into both fridges," he said.
DAY 4: Mr Michael Lim, 61, a retiree who resides in a neighbouring block checking the fridge to see which item requires a top up, before heading to the market to purchase them. “I heard about the initiative but I did not have time to come down to check it out till today. I bought fish cakes, meatballs, tofu, apples and oranges to fill both fridges,” he said.

 

Mr Tay, 52, a member of the Residents' Committee, stacks jars of Chinese New Year goodies on one of the fridges. The goodies were donated to the nearby Community Center by one of the residents. "Someone donated a few boxes of Chinese New Year goodies to the Community Center so I decided to bring them here for the residents to take them," he said.
DAY 5: Mr Tay, 52, a member of the Residents’ Committee, stacking jars of Chinese New Year goodies on one of the fridges. The goodies were donated to the nearby Community Centre by one of the residents. “Someone donated a few boxes of Chinese New Year goodies to the Community Centre so I decided to bring them here for the residents to take them,” he said.

 

Madam Salma Binte Ismail, 62, a resident of block 441, takes vegetables from one of the fridges. "The other day I was able to take some fish. This is a good initiative especially for residents like me who cannot afford to purchase a lot of groceries. My husband is the only one working and due to the recent heart bypass he had, he has not been working much lately. So we are not doing very well economically," she said.
DAY 6: Madam Salma Ismail, 62, a resident of Block 441, taking vegetables from one of the fridges. “The other day I was able to take some fish. This is a good initiative especially for residents like me who cannot afford to purchase a lot of groceries. My husband is the only one working and due to the recent heart bypass he had, he has not been working much lately. So we are not doing very well economically,” she said.

 

Madam Rei Tjoeng, 42, a resident from the neighbouring block, fills the fridge with mandarin oranges. "We may need to think of safeguarding the food inside such that there isn't a growth of bacteria. This can be done with proper storage and clearing any waste inside," she said.
DAY 7: Madam Rei Tjoeng, 42, a resident from a neighbouring block, filling the fridge with mandarin oranges. “We may need to think of safeguarding the food inside such that there isn’t a growth of bacteria. This can be done with proper storage and clearing of any waste inside,” she said.

 

Featured image by Najeer Yusof.

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by Wan Ting Koh

RESIDENTS of the Tampines flat where a concrete sunshade partially dislodged late last week are worried that the other sunshades might give way too, given that the area is a neighbourhood centre with a thronging thoroughfare on the ground floor.

On Sunday morning (Sept 25), a 5m-long concrete sunshade outside a fourth-floor flat at Block 201E, Tampines Street 23 dislodged partially and landed on the corner of the sunshade of the floor below.

Although no one was hurt, it gave residents quite the scare, and now residents are afraid that other sunshades – at least seven on the same facade – might follow suit.

When we visited the area this morning, renovation works unrelated to the dislodged sunshade were being carried out on the slabs of the ground floor directly below where the sunshade had been. The area, which is in between block 201E and a coffee shop, was cordoned off by barricades from the ongoing works.

The flat where the sunshade dislodged was a part of a cluster of four-storey high flats with shops on the ground floor. Block 201E in particular was facing a popular coffee shop, Gong Xi 21. Three other blocks in the area, Block 201A, 201B and 201D also have sunshades installed on at least one facade of the flat.

Residents said they were worried about passersby who might get hurt if other sunshades were dislodged.

Madam Phang Siew Chin, 50, a resident who stays on the fourth floor of Block 201E was tidying her house when the incident happened. She recalled running out immediately upon hearing the loud boom on Sunday morning.

“It is best if they can remove the one on third floor soon. I’m worried that if there’s strong wind and rain it might fall cause it was already hit,” the factory worker said in Mandarin, adding that it was lucky that the ground floor area beneath the sunshade had been inaccessible due to ongoing renovation works. The third floor sunshade that was hit is currently secured by tension cords.

The third floor sunshade which was hit by the one above it is currently being secured by tension cords.
The third floor sunshade which was hit by the one above it is currently being secured by tension cords.

She was one of the residents who had received a letter from the town council after the incident. The letter, dated Sept 26, was from the Tampines Town Council and informed residents of an impending visual inspection of the sunshades. It didn’t say when the inspection would take place.

The letter added: “We wish to assure you that this is a precautionary check and does not mean that the building is structurally unsafe.”

For Madam Noraishah Rashid, 31, whose unit was adjacent to the one with the dislodged sunshade, two town council staff had arrived to inspect the sunshade outside her living room window on Monday (Sept 26), though they didn’t tell her the results of their 10 to 15 minute inspection.

“They didn’t mention anything so we are not sure what is going to happen next. It would be nice if they could tell us,” said Madam Noraishah.

The housewife added that it was the first time something of this magnitude had occurred since she moved there as a baby in 1985. She had only seen cracks on the living room and bedroom ceiling, though that problem was solved earlier this year.

“We are quite worried because anything can happen to my side. I have a four-year-old son and I don’t want anything to happen to him,” she added.

A resident from another block within the cluster said that the possibility of other sunshades falling worried her as many people frequented the area for its market and coffee shops. Madam Kamisah, who only goes by one name, added that she was walking around the area doing her shopping on the day the sunshade became dislodged.

“Every Sunday I walk there so I’m worried. It’s quite dangerous,” said the 53-year-old housewife.

The incident on Sunday has raised speculation on whether the structure was supported by a reinforcement bar, or rebar for short, and how it could have dislodged if it were.

Mr Philip Lee, a civil engineer from Ah Boon Civil Engineering & Building Contractor said that for external structures like the sunshade, a reinforcement bar “must be used” as the concrete was not strong enough to stand by itself.

A rebar, which is inserted into a structure to reinforce it, is usually made of steel and can be part of the flat’s structure as well. Mr Lee gave an example: the sunshade’s rebar could be attached to the one within the ceiling of the flat. If that was the case, there was no chance for it to dislodge, said Mr Lee.

“You cannot have one without the other. The concrete block takes compression while the rebar takes the tension. Even though they are opposite properties, they complement each other,” said Mr Lee, highlighting that both concrete and steel had to be used “together”.

He added: “If the rebar was not there, I am puzzled why the sunshade took so long to drop.”

In responding to queries about the matter, HDB said: “This feature is non-structural in nature, and will not affect the building’s structural integrity. HDB engineers have inspected the block and ascertained that the building is structurally safe.”

“HDB has been working with Tampines Town Council to check the four blocks with similar sun breakers (i.e. Blocks 201A, 201B, 201D and 201E). Visual inspection at these four blocks has been completed and no physical signs of cracks were found. Further checks using scanning equipment will also be carried out,” it added.

HDB also said it is currently looking into whether the sunshade was installed properly and will “recommend suitable follow-up measures” after the investigation.

 

Update: This report has been edited to include the Housing Development Board’s response.

 

Featured image and photo by Najeer Yusof .

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skillsfuture_300x250

BOOM. Life around Tampines Street 23 was disrupted on Sunday morning when a concrete sunshade fell off Block 201E. One side of the 5m-long external structure on the fourth floor broke off at about 10am and dangled precariously on the sunshade of the floor below, sending down a small shower of debris.

The area was cordoned off and a crane came to remove the fallen sunshade. The Building and Construction Authority has directed Tampines Town Council to engage an engineer to investigate and rectify the incident and inspect all other buildings in the area that have the same sunshade.

Prepare for disruption, says DPM Tharman Shanmugaratnam at a post-National Day Rally dialogue with around 100 youth in Bukit Batok. Future changes will mean that jobs that exist today will be displaced and new jobs will be created, like what is happening with taxis and Grab/Uber today, and Singaporeans, especially the youth, have to learn to adapt.

And this means that how we approach learning has to change too: more free play, “a sense of dare and ambition” and more diverse experiences will help foster the mindsets needed for a world fraught with disruptions.

A welcome change is the falling number of babies born out of wedlock. A downward trend from 1,152 in 2006 has brought the number to 863 this year (including births registered without a father’s name). The change is attributed to greater use of contraceptives. While more child benefits have been extended to single-parent families during the last year, unwed parents still do not enjoy the Baby Bonus cash gift and mother’s tax benefits.

Where’s the war on diabetes going? A six-month campaign that reaches out to the Malay community will start next month. Malays account for 24.4 per cent of diabetes cases, even as they form 13.5 per cent of the population. The programme, run by the People’s Association, includes health screenings, fitness programmes, healthy cooking workshops, interactive games and health talks.

 

Featured image from TMG file.

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A FIRE has broken out today (Aug 17) around 1.30pm in the CK building at Tampines, spewing billows of black smoke into the air. No one was injured.

Reader Chris Henson sent us this video which was also posted on his Facebook page. In the clip, someone is recorded saying: “That’s a big fire, a really big fire.” The video was shot from Bedok.

 

Channel News Asia has also posted a video of the fire, which currently has more than 100,000 views, 1,300 likes and reactions, and 148 comments.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) said the fire was raging on the third and fourth floor of the building located in Tampines St 92. Six water jets were used on the exterior of the building to contain the fire. It later said on its Facebook page that paper products, household items and aerosol cans had generated “intense heat, impeding an interior attack”.

Featured image from TMG file.

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by Gillian Lim

THE number of emails related to cat deaths received by the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) has shot up five times in just one year, suggesting the current spate of cat abuse-related cases may only be the tip of the problem and that more investigative resources are needed to deter abusers.

On average, the society has received about 225 emails related to cat abuse or cat deaths a month this year, said CWS chief executive officer Joanne Ng. Last year, this figure was 45.

The numbers come in time as a series of cat deaths were reported in the media since September this year. The latest of these – a spate of seven cat deaths in Yishun, which happened within a span of 12 days – is just a subset of the rising number of cat abuse cases in Singapore, said Ms Ng.

This rise has also prompted Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng to ask the public for footage from their in-car cameras since some of the cats were found near open-air carparks. “The footage is crucial and provides concrete evidence,” he said to TNP yesterday, hoping that evidence can be found if the dates and locations of the cat deaths are released to the public.

CWS receives 50 to 100 cat-related emails a day; 10 per cent of these emails are related to alleged cat abuse and cat deaths, while the rest of the emails were complaints about irresponsible owners, errant feeders and stray cats.

Ms Ng also said that these numbers weren’t completely accurate in reflecting the total number of cat abuse cases in Singapore, as many cases of cat abuse are not reported or investigated. “Sometimes the person who found the abused cat doesn’t want to make a police report or call AVA,” she said. “Plus a lot of the time, most of these cat owners just want to let it go. They don’t want their cat to be cut up for post-mortem tests, and they just want to give their beloved a proper burial.”

This year’s spike of cat-related deaths isn’t just contained within the Yishun area. Two kittens were found mutilated outside a Tampines dormitory last month – this was on top of six additional cats that have died from abuse in the last three months in the same area. Nine cats have been found dead in Pasir Ris Park since June last year, suspected of being poisoned by fish crumbs placed around the park.

Last week, two cats were found abandoned in a zipped bag in Ang Mo Kio. “If they weren’t found in time, we would be looking at two dead cats instead,” said Ms Ng.

Although the fines for animal abuse and pet negligence have been increased ever since the G amended the Animals and Birds Act last year, Ms Ng said that the investigative process needs to be strengthened, and that these cases of animal abuse happen because nobody is being prosecuted.

She said: “If I’m someone that’s sick in my mind and I see nobody getting caught, that would be encouraging to me. It would be the perfect environment for people to abuse animals like this.”

Currently, offenders of animal cruelty will face a fine of up to $30,000 and/or a three-year jail term. Those found guilty of pet negligence will face a penalty of up to $20,000 and/or a two-year jail term.

CWS hopes that forensic investigative resources can be made available to animal abuse cases as the person who committed the abuse has also committed a severe crime. “A breakthrough in the investigation will only happen if we can provide the necessary evidence required to prosecute – which brings us back to resources to do so,” said Ms Ng.

She added: “Without this, our hands are tied. We need the authorities to step up the investigation process and ensure enforcement of laws.”

 

Featured image i’ll try to keep from uploading nothing but felines – oliver just seems to be the only thing willing to make the camera happy these days by Flickr user rawbin underwaterCC BY-ND 2.0.

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by Daniel Yap

FORMER Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan has announced his retirement from politics. In a Facebook post on the evening of August 7, Mr Mah said: “It is time for me to step aside and make way for the next generation. My work here is done. I have decided that I will not be standing for election at the next GE.”

Mr Mah was seen on a walkabout yesterday with PAP activist Cheng Li Hui. It is still unclear who will be taking his place at Tampines GRC. Mr Mah’s team in Tampines GRC won 57.2 per cent of the vote against the National Solidarity Party in 2011. The National Solidarity Party is set to contest Tampines GRC again this coming elections.

Mr Mah stepped down from his ministerial post after the last general election. He also previously held the portfolios of Minister for Communications and Minister of State for Trade and Industry. He has been an MP for 27 years.

Mr Hawazi Daipi, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Manpower, also announced his retirement from politics at a Marsiling National Day dinner. The MP in Sembawang GRC has been in parliament for 19 years. This time around, his Marsiling ward has been made part of Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC.

 

Featured image from Mah Bow Tan’s Facebook page.

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Photo By Shawn Danker

By Shawn Danker

Last week, I was given a somewhat odd assignment by my editors. I was told to go and wander around a locality to spot and document what I had called in my mind, the area’s “surveillance presence.”

There are video cameras everywhere, along the roads to catch speedsters, on the backs of buses to snap those who do not “give way” and at traffic junctions in case daredevils run a red light. Then there are those at watering holes of Boat Quay and the lorongs of Geylang to deter unsavoury elements. And you know, of course, of cameras in cars which bring about a steady stream of road bullying images onto the Net and those installed in childcare centres, kindergartens and schools in case some adult thinks it is okay to slap a kid around. There are even walking CCTVs because our police officers will soon be equipped with recording devices to aid them in their work.

My job as a photographer is sometimes made difficult because of Singaporeans’ aversion to being photographed. But that aversion seems to disappear when it came to being videoed for security purposes. Despite the presence of the all-seeing eye, no one seems to care about being constantly watched. Those who do are told this: “In Singapore, people generally feel that if you’re not a criminal or an opponent of the government, you don’t have anything to worry about.”

I decided to pick Tampines Central for the assignment because I expected suburban Singapore to be somewhat free of camera surveillance. Boy, was I wrong.

Dear Tampines residents, have you ever noticed the cameras watching you?

Photo By Shawn Danker
Watch what you eat while being watched at The East Link Food court at Tampines Interchange.
Photo By Shawn Danker
Not out of sight but out of mind.
Photo By Shawn Danker
If only there was some way to look at the bus queue BEFORE you got to the interchange.
Photo By Shawn Danker
The vendors at Tampines interchange have one electronic jaga on each stall corner.
Photo By Shawn Danker
This cosmetics store is on the lookout for Asia’s new beauty queen with practically one camera per shelf!
Photo By Shawn Danker
Find me if you can: an out-of-sight camera pointing towards the nearby CPF building.
Photo By Shawn Danker
Look up at Century Square’s Chicken Up.
Photo By Shawn Danker
Just a fly on the wall.
Photo By Shawn Danker
Just in case someone manages to steal a massage chair.
Photo By Shawn Danker
We found this one camera watching the comings and goings at the Tampines Mall taxi stand.
Photo By Shawn Danker
Smoke break, you say? By the way, there’s another hidden camera behind that mirror wall.
Photo By Shawn Danker
The bigger the better to see you with: camera at the linkway between the Income Plaza and OCBC centre.
Photo By Shawn Danker
33 cameras stationed at Tampines MRT station. And that’s not counting those monitoring the nearby bicycle parking space.
Photo By Shawn Danker
An electronic watchful eye upon the bicycle parking spaces.
Photo By Shawn Danker
We wonder if this parking enforcement camera, like the street lamp that it’s attached to, is powered by the sun.
Photo By Shawn Danker
The cameras in block 508’s lift do nothing to alleviate the the sense of claustrophobia.
Photo By Shawn Danker
A solitary watchdog on the ground floor of block 507’s multi-storey car park.
Photo By Shawn Danker
I spy with my little eye a cleverly-located camera at the Tampines Regional Library’s service entrance.
Photo By Shawn Danker
The cameras intended to deter illegal parking are of no help after all.

 

 

Featured photo by Shawn Danker.

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