Police seize more than 70 guns over licensing problems

CLOSED: SportSG closed the National Shooting Centre yesterday in response to the incident.

The National Shooting Centre and two armouries here were closed after the Police Licensing and Regulatory Department found serious licensing irregularities there.

It conducted an arms audit at the armouries of the Singapore Gun Club (SGC) and the Singapore Rifle Association (SRA) on Tuesday.

It is believed that a total of 77 weapons were flagged and confiscated by the police during the regular audit, Singapore Shooting Association (SSA) president Michael Vaz, told The New Paper on Sunday (TNPS).

Two weapons had expired licences and came from SGC's armoury. One was a shotgun that belonged to a national serviceman who had left the club and the other was a firearm from Safra.

But it was the other 75 weapons from SRA that raised eyebrows.

Mr Vaz, who is also the president of the SGC, said: "While there is no public safety risk, this is still unheard of. To have 75 weapons confiscated is very serious."

Get the full story in our print edition (Feb 7).

Subscribe to The New Paper in print and digital at www.tinyurl.com/getTNP


Capturing life through an app

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Hair-raising near miss

Bride-to-be Nesh Pilay (above), 25, being assisted by a New York City firefighter after a construction crane collapsed near the beauty salon where she was having her hair done in downtown Manhattan,

Bride-to-be Nesh Pilay, 25, being assisted by a New York City firefighter after a construction crane collapsed near the beauty salon where she was having her hair done in downtown Manhattan,

New York, on Friday morning. The accident killed at least one person and three others were injured by falling debris, Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters.

Four buildings were also damaged. Hundreds of emergency workers responded after the 170m-tall crane toppled and flipped upside down, leaving the metal boom stretched along the length of nearly two city blocks. It was unclear why the crane fell.

PM Lee: Govt will support parenthood, businesses

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Online love: She meets husband only three months before their wedding day

Miss Cheryl Yap went to Romania to meet her boyfriend whom she had met online, causing her father to make a police report. Her story made headlines. But what makes people travel miles for love?

Mr Jothiramalingam Samikkannu, an Indian national, and Madam Kalpana Venkatachalam, a Singaporean, tied the knot in 2011 after meeting through an online matrimony site.
Mr Jothiramalingam Samikkannu, an Indian national, and Madam Kalpana Venkatachalam, a Singaporean, tied the knot in 2011 after meeting through an online matrimony site.

Theirs is the type of love story that parents, friends and even the police would warn against.

They met through an online matrimony site, started a virtual long-distance relationship and, at their first "meeting", he proposed.

It was not until three months before their wedding day that this couple finally met each other in person.

Special needs educator Kalpana Venkatachalam tells The New Paper on Sunday: "All my friends scolded me, saying that he could be a psychopath. But just look at how happily married we are, four years later."

It started when she created a matchmaking profile on a matrimony site. She was encouraged to do so by her mother and her sister.

Madam Kalpana, a Singaporean, admits she did so in a cavalier manner, to placate her family.

She even listed her personal flaws as being a straight talker and possessing a fiery temper.

In 2010, while she was at work, Madam Kalpana received a phone call from the US.

Says Madam Kalpana, who was then 26: "It was this strange overseas number which anyone would normally ignore. But for some reason, I decided to pick up."

It was a decision that changed her life forever.

Indian national Jothiramalingam Samikkannu, then a chef in Pittsburgh, US, says he was attracted to Madam Kalpana's honesty when he saw her online profile.

Mr Jothiram, as he prefers to be known, tells TNPS in accented English: "At that time, my parents were also pressuring me to get married as I was turning 30... So I decided to call her."

Says Madam Kalpana, 31: "He told me to look at his profile on the same site, but I was in a bad mood because I happened to be quite frustrated with (something at work) at the time. I wasn't exactly nice to him on the phone."


She forgot about the call until a week later when he e-mailed her.

Feeling guilty for forgetting, she agreed to text chat with him over the Internet that evening - but "only for an hour".

They ended up chatting for three hours.

In that time, they traded photos, talked about themselves and shared personal experiences. Both had never dated previously and were surprised at how "impressed" they were by the other party.

And at the end of their chat, it was Mr Jothiram who proposed to her, confessing: "I really like you, I think I want to marry you and spend my future with you."

Madam Kalpana was incredulous, saying: "I was really afraid that he would not be who he said he is. I know that there are many bad people out there."

It took months of online conversations to convince her that Mr Jothiram was genuine.

In that time, she fell in love with him.

She also went to his hometown in India and was given little reason to doubt him when the town's residents and his family vouched for his character.

Convincing her friends took a longer time, as they thought Mr Jothiram wanted a marriage of convenience to get a Singapore citizenship.

But their fears were allayed when Mr Jothiram came to Singapore for the first time to meet all of them, including Madam Kalpana.

Mr Jothiram, who have moved to the US about 10 years ago, had originally planned for him and Madam Kalpana to live there.

But he decided to give up his job as a $4,000-a-month chef to work as a restaurant manager in Singapore, earning around $2,600 a month.

Says Mr Jothiram: "I came here to be with my love."

The couple got married in 2011. They stuck together even through a miscarriage and remain happily married today.

Their Facebook pages are plastered with affectionate pictures of themselves.

Says Madam Kalpana: "This was a random guy I met over the Internet and, yes, I was so afraid at first that he was not the person he seemed to be.

"I must have been very lucky indeed."

From Twitter to tying the knot

ON THE SAME BEAT: Ms Siti Aisyah and her Dutch husband Marcel Zonderman bonded online over a love for electronic dance music.

Twitter may have a 140-character limit, but that was enough to bring two lovebirds together.

For around five years, Ms Siti Aisyah tweeted with a Dutch stranger she had met online and they started a friendship that later blossomed into love and marriage.

And while Miss Cheryl Yap connected with her Romanian boyfriend Alexandru Donea over manga, this couple bonded over electronic dance music.

So when Ms Siti, 27, saw the news about Miss Yap's Romanian escapade, she was reminded of her relationship with her husband, Mr Marcel Zonderman, 26.

Says Ms Siti: "In 2007, we were both in a Twitter group that discussed dance music. I made a comment about a song and he commented on my comment.

"After that, we kept on tweeting each other about music."

She deleted her Twitter account in 2012 after her then-boyfriend got jealous over her tweets and direct message chats, even though she and Mr Zonderman discussed only music.

In 2013, she started a new account after breaking up with that boyfriend. Then, Ms Siti rediscovered Mr Zonderman's profile.

Says Ms Siti: "I was, like, 'Wow, that's the guy I spoke to for so long'. He tweeted to say that it had been so long since we last spoke. We decided to move the chat to Skype."

There, the couple caught up with each other's lives and this time, they started sharing personal information about themselves.

"At the time, I was going through a rough patch with my ex-boyfriend. Marcel was very caring and listened to my problems, and soon we (started a serious) relationship," she says.

For a long time, she kept Mr Zonderman a secret from her friends and family as she knew they would worry about it.

"When I finally told them, they thought that I would be taken advantage of. The most hurtful thing was when someone asked me, 'What if this person is completely fake?'"

It all led to the "critical point" of meeting each other for the first time in 2013. But instead of her going to the Netherlands, the couple decided that Mr Zonderman should come to Singapore.

"This must have been the stage where (Miss Yap) was at, meeting each other in person. It's the most important part of online relationships because it can go either way."


Thankfully, it went well. Meeting Mr Zonderman in the flesh convinced her of his sincerity and they got married last year.

Today, their online relationship continues as he works in the broadcast industry in the Netherlands, while she is a patient relations assistant here. There are plans for him to move to Singapore so they can "close the gap further".

She says critics should not have blasted Miss Yap's online relationship because it is definitely possible to find genuine love with a stranger halfway across the globe.

But if she had been in Miss Yap's shoes, she would have arranged for the meet-up to be in Singapore.

Says Ms Siti: "Love can make you do things that are impractical and unconventional. If I had done the same as her and gone to the Netherlands, I think my parents would have called the police, too."

Cheryl Yap's love story

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Everton manager shows off his moves at Jason Derulo gig

Roberto Martinez has got Everton playing some slick football since he took over from David Moyes in 2013.

We are not so sure about his dance moves though. They are on the wrong side of disco.

On Wednesday (UK time), Everton beat Newcastle and it isn't too far fetched to think that Martinez felt he deserved some form of celebration.

A video of the Everton manager jiving to the beat during a Jason Derulo concert in Manchester has emerged.

All we will say is that he’s better off sticking to football.

See for yourself the Spaniard in all his glory.


At a press conference on Friday, he was confronted with the video.

Martinez said that he was a "big fan" of the US pop star.

When asked "Is this you or not?" as he was shown the footage, a visibly nervous Martinez gamely asked: "Is he moving well or not?"

After sheepishly admitting that he was indeed the dancer in the stands, a journalist said: "I was hoping it wasn't."

"Why?," Martinez quickly shot back. "It's always good to get some inspiration from creative people."

He later confessed, "I've got better moves, believe me

Source: Metro, Daily Mail

Five dead, including 10-day-old girl in Taiwan quake

Rescue workers remove people from the site where a 17-storey apartment building collapsed after an earthquake hit Tainan,

A powerful earthquake toppled a 17-story apartment building in Tainan, southern Taiwan on Saturday, killing at least five people, including a 10-day-old girl, and triggering frantic efforts to rescue about 35 people feared trapped inside.

The baby and three of the other dead were from an apartment complex where the floors of a tower block pancaked down onto to each other when the 6.4 magnitude tremor hit at around 4am, at the start of a Lunar New Year holiday.

By 8am, escuers mounted hydraulic ladders and a crane to scour the wreckage, plucking 221 survivors to safety so far, with dozens taken to hospital, a fire brigade official said.


 Rescue workers remove a baby from the site where a 17-storey apartment building collapsed after an earthquake hit Tainan PHOTO: REUTERS

Elsewhere in the city of 2 million people, several buildings tilted at alarming angles but a fire department official said rescue efforts were now focused entirely on the apartment block, where a child’s clothes fluttered from a first-floor laundry line and the smell of leaking gas hung in the air.

“I was watching TV and after a sudden burst of shaking, I heard a boom. I opened my metal door and saw the building opposite fall down,” said a 71-year-old neighbour who gave his name as Chang.

A plumber, he said he fetched some tools and a ladder and prised some window bars open to rescue a woman crying for help. “She asked me to go back and rescue her husband, child, but I was afraid of a gas explosion so I didn’t go in. At the time there were more people calling for help, but my ladder wasn’t long enough so there was no way to save them.”

Rescue personnel work at a damaged building after an earthquake in Tainan, southern Taiwan PHOTO: REUTERS

The quake was centred 43km southeast of Tainan, at a depth of 23km, the U.S. Geological Survey said. Several aftershocks shook Tainan, Taiwan’s weather bureau said.

One elderly woman, wrapped in blankets, was strapped to a board and slowly slid down a ramp to the ground as the cries of those still trapped rang out. Rescuers used dogs and acoustic equipment to pick up signs of life in the rubble.

Authorities said there were 92 households and 256 people living in the collapsed apartment building, but they did not know how many were actually there when the quake struck.

The fire department said 115 people had been taken to hospital from around Tainan.

Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan posted on Facebook that the Singapore Trade Office in Taipei has been getting in touch with Singaporeans there. There are no reports of Singaporean casualties.



The Singapore government was saddened by news of the earthquake that struck southern Taiwan earlier this morning, in...

Posted by Vivian Balakrishnan on Friday, 5 February 2016



Tainan mayor William Lai said it was too early to say if shoddy construction was responsible for the devastation at the apartment complex with the 17-storey tower which collapsed. “We will chase the legal responsibility later,” he told reporters.

President Ma Ying-jeou visited an emergency centre and hospital in Tainan while President-elect Tsai Ing-wen cancelled appointments to help coordinate rescue efforts.

China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, which in is charge of Beijing’s relations with the self-ruled island, said China was willing to provide help if needed, Chinese state news agency Xinhua said. Beijing regards Taiwan as a wayward province.

The quake initially cut power to 168,000 households in Tainan, many of whose residents lived through a massive 1999 tremor that killed about 2,400 people. Later, utility Taipower said power had been restored to all but about 900 households.

Rescue personnel help a victim at a damaged building PHOTO: REUTERS

Taiwan lies in the seismically active “Pacific Ring of Fire”. Television quoted Tainan residents as saying the quake felt worse than the 1999 tremor, centred in central Taiwan.

850 soldiers have been mobilised for rescue efforts.

Authorities said cracks had been found in a dam but there was no immediate danger. Some bullet train services were suspended to the south as track inspections were carried out, Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp said in a statement.

— Reuters, Xinhua