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The accident and the payout

Following the incident on Jan 28, 2013, Ms Azlin Amran sued SMRT for negligence and sought about $3 million in damages.

SMRT settled the lawsuit last weekfor a final payout of an amount that neither party would disclose.

Medical reports were tendered in court to support Ms Azlin's claims and attest to the seriousness of her condition.

Through lawyer Nadia Moynihan, Ms Azlin alleged that SMRT had failed in its duty of care and sought special and general damages to pay for her medical treatment, caregivers and loss of earnings.

In its defence, SMRT contested the claims, arguing that Ms Azlin had caused or contributed to her injuries by failing to keep a proper lookout, among other things.

A High Court case management conference was held before Assistant Registrar Janice Wong and the case had been amicably settled out of court.

In March, SMRT was fined $120,000 after pleading guilty to one charge under the Workplace Safety and Health Act.

Tags: smrt, accident, Fall and lawsuit

Woman who fell into SMRT escalator gap: I thought I was going to die

Ms Azlin Amran used to trek, swim, cycle, play badminton and take the stairs up to her 11th-storey flat, but her life changed completely after she fell into an escalator gap more than three years ago. She tells JUDITH TAN ( about her struggle to be independent again

LIFE-CHANGING: Ms Azlin Amran fell into a gap in an escalator more than three years ago. She is now wheelchair-bound.
LIFE-CHANGING: Ms Azlin Amran fell into a gap in an escalator more than three years ago. She is now wheelchair-bound.

One moment, she was on an escalator, rushing to meet friends at Paya Lebar.

The next, she had fallen into a gap on the third step of a descending escalator undergoing maintenance at Tanah Merah MRT station and was unable to move or breathe.

"One of my lungs was punctured and my face was torn open," employment support specialist Azlin Amran, 31, told The New Paper on Monday, describing the incident that changed her life on Jan 28, 2013.

"I was bleeding badly and I thought, 'This is it. I'm going to die.'"

She shouted for help - or thought she was - for over 30 minutes. Fortunately, a passer-by heard her soft cries and called the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF).

"I had lost a lot of blood by then and to keep me conscious, the officers kept talking to me, asking me questions," said Ms Azlin, adding that she could not remember the contents of the conversation itself.

In a previous report, SCDF said its officers arrived to find Ms Azlin conscious and in a sitting position, stuck inside an escalator maintenance pit hole that was waist-deep and located at the upper portion of the escalator.

The rescuers had to first prise open the escalator steps next to her to create more space to effectively set up their rescue equipment.

They used a hydraulic cutter to cut away two beams within the escalator pit hole, located near Ms Azlin's leg and back.


Paramedics also went into the escalator pit hole to give her oxygen and they managed her spine by using a cervical collar to support her neck and head.

The rescue operation took about 25 minutes.

"I continued to tell them that I could not breathe when they loaded me into the ambulance and also at the A&E (Accident and Emergency Department)," said Ms Azlin.

She lost consciousness after she gave her mother's contact details to a doctor at the hospital.

Ms Azlin learnt about her condition from a WhatsApp group chat.

The fall had fractured her pelvis and severed the nerves in her spinal cord.

"When I came to after the operation, I was in the ICU (intensive care unit) and I could not feel my legs," she said.

"Everyone around me was trying to give me hope that I would walk again - until I got my phone back and caught up with what was being discussed in a WhatsApp group I shared with my friends."


Her friends were upset about her being left a paraplegic after the mishap.

"They meant well and were talking about miracles and hopes. They forgot I was able to access the conversation," said Ms Azlin.

"That was when reality hit. I spent every day in the ward crying.

"The painful part was not the accident but realising that I had lost my independence."


She added that she was more sad than angry, but the stubborn streak in her spurred her on.

"The physical pain was nothing compared to the mental, emotional and spiritual pain," she said.

"I refused to let them defeat me, so I worked at regaining my independence.

"I wasn't going to bank my hopes on walking again.

"Nerves do not regenerate, so that avenue was out, but I wanted my independence back. I wanted to return to work."

Ms Azlin was then working as an administrative and operations executive.

She worked hard at physiotherapy and started getting observant about her surroundings.

"For one, I have to get over my fear of escalators and taking the train," said Ms Azlin.

"The first time after the accident, when I saw an escalator track, I thought I was going to faint. I forced myself to get over the fear.

"Also, I realised the gaps between the platform and the train were huge, and without proper training on the wheelchair, I wouldn't be able to travel alone."

Today, Ms Azlin leaves for work at 6.45am, wheeling herself to the MRT station, and returning home at 6.45pm on her own.

Her mother, Madam Azizah Mohd Lajis, 55, still worries for her.

Ms Azlin said: "I know she still gets a bit teary, but I cannot let that stop me from regaining my independence."

The once sporty woman who would go trekking overseas or play badminton with friends now has to "redefine what is adventure for me".

Ms Azlin Amran. 

"I used to love swimming in the sea, feeling the waves beat against my legs as I stood in it," said Ms Azlin, holding back her tears.

"Now I can't even wheel myself on the sand to dip my toes in the waters.

"Going on an adventure now is getting myself to the park where I can enjoy the natural surroundings or sitting by the sea and watching the waves lap against the sand."

But her condition has not stopped her from travelling.

"My last solo trip before the accident was to trek in Nepal. That was when there was a strike in the country," she said.

"Last year, I went on a campervan trip in New Zealand with my mother, my cousin and a friend. It was my first trip after the accident. It was different, but it was exhilarating."


Ms Azlin is back to playing badminton and was competent enough to be sent to Taiwan by the Singapore Disability Sports Council for training.

"I don't want to let my predicament get me down," she said.

"I work hard to regain my independence and not let my own powers to be taken away from me. There is satisfaction in knowing that despite being in a wheelchair, I can still work, travel and play sports."

"It's all about taking baby steps, improvising and living."


One of my lungs was punctured and my face was torn open. I was bleeding badly and I thought, 'This is it. I'm going to die.'

- Ms Azlin Amran

Win X-Men: Apocalypse prizes worth $3,500!

Since the dawn of civilization, he was worshipped as a god. Apocalypse, the first and most powerful mutant from Marvel’s X-Men universe, amassed the powers of many other mutants, becoming immortal and invincible. 

Upon awakening after thousands of years, Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) is disillusioned with the world as he finds it and recruits a team of powerful mutants, including a disheartened Magneto (Michael Fassbender), to cleanse mankind and create a new world order, over which he will reign. 

As the fate of the Earth hangs in the balance, Raven (Jennifer Lawrence) with the help of Professor X (James McAvoy) must lead a team of young X-Men to stop their greatest nemesis and save mankind from complete destruction. 

In anticipation of the film's release on May 19, we have fantastic X-Men: Apocalypse goodies to give away, courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

The top prize is a collectible Magneto helmet, worth $1,200.

There are also 10 hampers to be won.

Each hamper, worth $230, includes a dog tag, a metal keychain, a card wallet, a notebook and a T-shirt.

To win, answer the question below. Indicate too if you are a TNP SuperKaki for extra chances to win.

Contest closes May 24. 



Yishun man pleads guilty to throwing cat 13 storeys to its death

The cat which Lee Wai Leong threw down from his Yishun flat died.

A man suffering from moderate intellectual disability pleaded guilty on Tuesday (May 10) to throwing a cat to its death from the 13th storey of a Yishun HDB block.

Lee Wai Leong, 41, admitted to one charge of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to an adult male Mackerel Tabby domestic shorthair cat at about 10.30am on Oct 30 last year.

He killed the stray cat as he found it too noisy and it had entered his flat before.

Defence counsel Josephus Tan said in mitigation that his client was found by the Institute of Mental Health to be suffering from moderate intellectual disability.

Mr Tan also emphasised that his client, who is facing only one charge, was not responsible for the other cat deaths in Yishun, where at least 39 cat deaths have been reported in the area since September 2015.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Lee Zu Zhao noted the accused's mental condition and did not object to the calling of a probation suitability report.

Lee (below) is expected to be back in court on June 7.


Get the full story in our print edition (May 11).

Subscribe to The New Paper in print and digital at


Maid charged with killing employer's baby in Simei home

Indonesian maid Maryani Usman Utar has been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder.

An Indonesian maid was charged in a district court on Tuesday (May 10) with killing her employer's one-year-old daughter.

Maryani Usman Utar, 30, is accused of one count of culpable homicide not amounting to murder for causing the death of Richelle Teo (seen in the photo below with her mother).

Between 2am and 7.35am on Sunday (May 8), she allegedly punched Richelle's neck and strangled her until she stopped crying, court papers said.

The police said they received a call for assistance at about 9.20am that day, which was also Mother's Day, at the Teos' home in Simei Street 4.

Richelle was taken to Changi General Hospital and was pronounced dead at around 10.10am that day.

Maryani is expected to be back in court on May 17.

If convicted, she faces up to 10 years' jail with a fine.

Get the full story in our print edition (May 11).

Subscribe to The New Paper in print and digital at

Related article: Maid arrested after death of employer's baby


Too young to compete, too young to stop gaming
Rigel's Timothy Lim.

The two young gamers had helped their team, Rigel, to victory in The Legends Circuit (TLC) Winter Singapore, a competition for the multiplayer online game League of Legends.

The win in the competition held in December last year meant Rigel would represent Singapore in the Garena Premier League (GPL) Spring 2016, a competition for teams in South-east Asia.

But despite being key members of the team, Kenneth Goh, 15, and Timothy Lim, 16, could not compete in the GPL held in Kuala Lumpur last month due to their age.

The competition, where six top teams across South-east Asia played against each other, has a minimum age criteria of 17.


Rigel's Timothy Lim (left) and Rigel's Kenneth Goh (right).

Kenneth, who was said to be the 'best player at the foot of this circuit's league' and Timothy, who makes outstanding plays, had to be replaced by members from a rival team from Singapore.

They were upset that they could not participate with their other three team mates, after fighting so hard for a spot in the GPL.

Kenneth said: "I felt really depressed, because I wasn't able to show how good I am on stage. I cried in my room.

"Because I'm still very young, there was no choice, I have to let other people replace me."

The GPL is a stepping stone to teams wanting to compete in international competitions, with the pinnacle being the World Championships.

Rigel, without their two teenage players, finished fifth at the GPL held in KL. Both youngsters felt the team could have done better if they had been in the team.

Competing against veteran players who had more experience in TLC, Rigel was not expecting to win.

Rigel's leader, Poongundran Ranganathan, said: "Their absence definitely affected the team's performance in GPL and it was difficult playing with two new players."

He also mentioned that even after months of training with the two new members, their playing styles were still different and affected how they communicated with each other during the game.

Even though the two teens lost the opportunity to bring Rigel and Singapore to victory, they knew that they are still young and have many opportunities in the future to continue playing competitively in this scene.

Timothy revealed that he looked up to Martin Lew, who replaced him as a marksman for Rigel, and tried to make good use of this situation.

"Sometimes it's good to take a break and watch the games from another perspective," said Timothy.

However, both Kenneth and Timothy will be back with Rigel at the Singapore TLC Summer 2016 on May 29.

Timothy, who would be turning 17 next year, is particularly looking forward to help Rigel qualify for next year's GPL as he would be able to take part then. But Kenneth would have to wait another year before he can represent Rigel at the GPL.

Rigel, initially known as Corvus, was formed early last year and won several competitions in Singapore such as the Garena Novice Cup and Sitex 2015.


League of Legends is a multiplayer online battle arena game developed by Riot Games in 2009. Players form teams of five, working together to invade and destroy the enemy's base.

With 67 million people playing every month and 27 million playing every day, it has grown to have over 20 competitions worldwide and over eight competitions in Singapore.

The League of Legends' 2015 World Championship cash prize money of over US$1 million (S$1.34 million) and Summoner's cup was won by Korean team, SKTelecom T1.

Kelvin Tong: 'I'm so used to being slammed'

Kelvin Tong brushes off negative reviews of his new movie, The Faith Of Anna Waters
ON SET: Director Kelvin Tong with actress Elizabeth Rice on the set of The Faith Of Anna Waters.
Local film-maker Kelvin Tong.

Criticism does not bother him, as his skin is "pretty thick".

Singapore film-maker Kelvin Tong remains nonchalant when it comes to scathing reviews of his latest movie, The Faith Of Anna Waters, which opened in the US last Friday under the title The Offering.

US newspaper Los Angeles Times and Fangoria, a popular US website that specialises in horror entertainment, have criticised the 43-year-old's first English language film, calling it unoriginal and befuddled.

"I'm so used to being slammed, so negative reviews don't affect me any more," Tong told The New Paper yesterday.

"It's all right as I believe film criticism is a necessary part of the entire film process."

He added that being a former film critic himself - he was a film reviewer for The Straits Times in the mid-90s - he knew that one can learn from reviews, especially those written by good film critics.

The Faith Of Anna Waters, which opens here on Thursday, is billed as Singapore's first Hollywood horror film. It stars US actors Elizabeth Rice and Matthew Settle and local actors Adrian Pang, Jaymee Ong and Pamelyn Chee.

The story follows US reporter Jamie Waters (Rice), who flies to Singapore to investigate her suspicion that her sister Anna's death was not a suicide, but linked to multiple deaths. Jamie and Anna's ex-husband, Sam (Settle), have to defeat a demonic entity that has somehow possessed Anna's daughter Katie (played by Australian actress Adina Herz).

Tong, whose earlier films include The Maid (2005), Kidnapper (2010) and It's A Great, Great World (2011), calls The Faith Of Anna Waters an "experimental film".

"I've never done an English film before, and this started out purely as a writing exercise," said Tong, who relocated to Hong Kong four years ago.

After writing a horror story that was set in the US, he showed it to a producer friend, who in turn passed it on to US film production and distribution company Highland Film Group (HFG). Tong said he was extremely surprised that he quickly received funding to shoot the film and an offer to do it in Los Angeles.

Confessing that he freaked out soon after, he added: "I didn't write the story with the intention to shoot it. Then you are suddenly offered this much money, and then it's going to be my first US collaboration."

Tong had a budget that was "extremely high" by Singapore standards - a total of US$6 million (S$8.2 million) to make the film, a 50-50 joint production between HFG and Tong's Boku Films.


Said Tong: "In the US, it's considered a low-budget indie flick. But here, I can make six films with that kind of money."

He opted to shoot the movie in Singapore not for familiarity reasons, but because he "knew how to stretch the money further" compared to a foreign country.

"I'm at the point of my career where I don't need to break box-office records," said Tong, adding that sales of The Faith Of Anna Waters "should be healthy" as it has been bought for distribution in places such as France, Germany, Spain, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines.

"My only so-called Hollywood dream is to be able to work with a Hollywood budget."

That dream, he said, could come true, as HFG has offered him the opportunity to make another horror film.

"I've no story for it yet," he said. "Let's see how this goes and then we can start experimenting again. Maybe this time I may shoot the film somewhere else."

I'm at the point of my career where I don't need to break box-office records. My only so-called Hollywood dream is to be able to work with a Hollywood budget.

- Local film-maker Kelvin Tong

Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne split

Ozzy Osbourne and Sharon Osbourne.
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Tags: US, celebrities and crime