Singapore

January 2015: Tough search for crash survivors

As 2015 comes to a close, The New Paper looks back at the top stories from our pages this year, and offers a glimpse behind the scenes

In January, the Singapore Armed Forces became part of a multinational search and rescue team looking for survivors of AirAsia Flight QZ8501.

The Singapore-bound plane carrying 162 people was on its way from Surabaya, Indonesia, when it went down on Dec 28 in bad weather.

The New Paper photojournalist Ariffin Jamar was among the media crew on board the RSS Persistence.

The search in the Java Sea was slowed down by bad weather and choppy seas.

"There was a lot of waiting... Sometimes we weren't quite sure exactly what was happening," Mr Ariffin said.

On Jan 4, there was anxious chatter as the crew spotted some debris, but they were not sure if it belonged to the plane.

A body was later recovered.

Other items retrieved included what looked like an aircraft's life raft, which Mr Ariffin helped to drag on board.

Said Mr Ariffin: "While it was a difficult two weeks on board because of the weather conditions, it was an honour to be able to play a small part in helping families find closure during a very difficult time."

The multinational search operation eventually recovered 106 bodies.

In a report released on Dec 1, Indonesian investigators said problems with the plane's glitch-prone rudder component and the way pilots tried to respond were major factors in causing the crash.


"While it was a difficult two weeks on board because of the weather conditions, it was an honour to be able to play a small part in helping families find closure during a very difficult time."

- TNP photojournalist Ariffin Jamar, was among the media crew on board the RSS Persistence

High-rise drama in Clementi

At about 11pm on Jan 28, after a four-hour argument with his mother, a 26-year-old man threatened to jump out of his Clementi West Street 1 flat.

The Singapore Civil Defence Force's Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team, which was called to the scene, set up a safety life air pack at the foot of the block. They also rappelled down to window of the flat.

The New Paper photographer Jeremy Long, who was at the scene, snapped a photograph of the man in his bedroom as rescuers dangled outside his window.

Another team of rescuers forced open the bedroom door and apprehended the man, who was naked, when his back was turned.

Mr Long's picture won Picture of the Month in the Singapore Press Holdings English and Malay Newspaper Division monthly awards.

Top legal eagle dies

Mr Subhas Anandan, widely regarded as Singapore's top criminal lawyer, died of heart failure on Jan 7. He was 67.

He was known as "the Basher" for his fiery cross-examinations in court and those who mourned him were a reflection of the storied life he led.

Movers and shakers of society squeezed shoulder to shoulder with ex-convicts at Mr Subhas' wake.

At his funeral at Mandai Crematorium on Jan 8, more than 500 people showed up to pay their last respects, undeterred by a torrential downpour.

These included old friends from when he lived in a kampung in Sembawang.

Said Law Minister K. Shanmugam during his eulogy: "To the legal fraternity, Subhas was like an elder brother.

"His 40 years of experience in overcoming the odds in court, in cases that had originally seemed to be lost, made him a legend in the criminal bar...

"To the people he defended and the general public, he was a hero. His reputation for taking up the toughest cases, often pro bono, and then succeeding against the odds, made him a mainstay in the news and a beacon of hope to the accused whom he defended."

"His 40 years of experience in overcoming the odds in court, in cases that had originally seemed to be lost, made him a legend in the criminal bar... To the people he defended and the general public, he was a hero."

- Law Minister K. Shanmugam, on the late Mr Subhas Anandan

TNP report helps little Supash

Supash Senthilkumar, three, suffered from chronic liver disease and urgently needed a liver transplant.

He had biliary atresia, a condition where the bile ducts do not work properly. Most patients do not live past their third birthday.

When The New Paper met him in November last year, the whites of his eyes and his skin were yellow, and his stomach was distended.

Fortunately, TNP's report resulted in members of the public stepping forward to volunteer themselves as donors.

On Jan 20, Supash successfully underwent a liver transplant operation.

His mother, Madam Supashini, said of the unnamed donor: "We wanted to tell him that he saved three lives - our son's, my husband's and mine."

When contacted yesterday, Supash's father, Mr V. Senthilkumar, said his son is in good health and on a holiday in India with the family.

Columbarium? Not in my backyard

Future residents of Fernvale Lea, an upcoming development in Sengkang, were up in arms when they discovered late last year that a temple with a columbarium would be built near their home.

This was not in the brochures and was not told to them, home owners griped.

Things got heated during a dialogue session on Jan 4 when MP Dr Lam Pin Min and the property developer met residents.

On Jan 29, Minister for National Development Khaw Boon Wan told Parliament that there would be no commercial columbarium at the site.

The site was re-listed for tender. In October, the tender was awarded to Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society for the development of a Chinese temple.

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