Diabetes by numbers

400,000

The number of diabetics in Singapore today.

670,000

The projected number of diabetics in Singapore 
by 2030.

1 in 3

Ratio of people who do not know they have the disease.

1 in 5

Projected ratio of people 
with diabetes in Singapore 
by 2050.

$1 billion

The yearly cost of dealing with diabetes in Singapore.

We want you in our war against diabetes

New study to recruit and track 2,300 volunteers in efforts to 'change the course of the disease'

RECRUITS: Madam Za Rita Mahat (left) was 'recruited' by her mother, Madam Benet Salina Abdullah, who signed herself and her children up as volunteers for the study.
RECRUITS: Madam Za Rita Mahat (left) was 'recruited' by her mother, Madam Benet Salina Abdullah, who signed herself and her children up as volunteers for the study.


Calling for warriors to go head-on with diabetes.

The National University Hospital (NUH) wants to enlist "soldiers" in Singapore to fight against this silent killer, and it is looking for 2,300 volunteers to sign up for this national service.

No uniform is needed.

Entitled Assessing the Progression to Type-2 Diabetes (APT-2D), it is the first time that researchers and doctors are collecting and studying an array of detailed biological, clinical, environmental and lifestyle information from participants with normal or pre-diabetic blood sugar levels to look at why people develop Type-2 diabetes.

The $20m landmark collaboration between the hospital and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the largest study of its kind in Asia, is funded by the pharmaceutical company and the Health Ministry's (MOH) National Medical Research Council under the MOH Industry Alignment Fund.

Type-2 diabetes attacks when a person's pancreas does not make enough insulin to process sugar from the bloodstream, or when the body does not respond to insulin properly.

It affects about 400,000 people here and can lead to complications such as blindness, heart attacks and amputations if it is not managed properly.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong had declared war against diabetes in Parliament earlier this month.

Senior consultant with the Division of Endocrinology at NUH Sue-Anne Toh, who is leading the study, said the 2,300 volunteers - 800 of whom will be healthy and 1,500 pre-diabetic - will be tracked for three years and their data studied to identify biomarkers that contribute to Type-2 diabetes.

"These include genes, protein in the body, diet, physical activities and lifestyle. We aim to use the results to develop more targeted and effective interventions to improve the outcomes for every patient with or at risk of Type-2 diabetes and change the course of the disease," she said.

Determined that her children and siblings join the battle, Madam Benet Salina Abdullah, 69, who is diabetic, signed them up. The housewife herself was not diagnosed until 2006, the year her younger daughter got married.

Elder daughter Za Rita Mahat, 36, told The New Paper: "Normally the mother of the bride would lose weight and look good, but everyone commented that my mother had put on weight and was looking puffy."

FAMILY AFFAIR

At her worst, Madam Benet Salina's blood glucose level was 18 mmol/l (millimole per litre). Today, she has brought it down to between 4 and 5.5mmol/l.

Learning that physical activity helps bring down the blood glucose level, Madam Benet Salina does brisk walking, plays pickleball and badminton, and swims.

A fan of The New Paper Big Walk, she has participated in it since 2006.

Madam Benet Salina not only signed her children up for the study, but she also managed to convince her siblings to do the same.

Madam Za Rita, also a housewife, said: "That was how one of my uncles discovered he has diabetes."

According to an International Diabetes Federation (IDF) report last year, Singapore has the second-highest proportion of diabetics among developed nations after the US.

It said 10.53 per cent of people here aged between 20 and 79 are estimated to have the chronic disease.


We aim to use the results (of the study) to...improve the outcomes for every patient with or at risk of Type-2 diabetes and change the course of the disease.

- Senior consultant with the Division of Endocrinology at the National University Hospital Sue-Anne Toh

From $1.5million car sales to nothing

Struggle now for dealer who sold 27 cars at 2008 pasar malam

DIFFICULT: Mr John Ling (left) has not sold any cars after nine days at a pasar malam at Serangoon North Ave 3 (top). (Above) A family checks out a car at Mr Ling's booth.
DIFFICULT: Mr John Ling (left) has not sold any cars after nine days at a pasar malam at Serangoon North Ave 3 (top). (Above) A family checks out a car at Mr Ling's booth.
DIFFICULT: Mr John Ling (left) has not sold any cars after nine days at a pasar malam at Serangoon North Ave 3 (top). (Above) A family checks out a car at Mr Ling's booth.

Eight years ago, his pasar malam (night market) sales hit a peak of $1.5 million worth of cars in a week.

He sold 27 cars at a spot near Causeway Point, a shopping mall beside the Woodlands MRT station.

Yesterday, after nine days at a pasar malam at Serangoon North Ave 3, Mr John Ling, 53, who owns SJ Motor Enterprise, said he had yet to sell a single car.

The contrast in his fortunes reflects the changing face of the motor industry, as COE premium prices continue to rise in recent bids despite the release of more car COEs.

Mr Ling started selling cars at night markets in 2003, though his main revenue comes from showroom sales at his Bukit Timah main outlet.

He now owns three outlets in Bukit Timah Shopping Centre where he sells new and used cars and offers car servicing and repair services.

It was the desire to "be where the customers are" that led him to rent space to sell new and used cars at these night markets, he said.

Said Mr Ling: "Pasar malams are just another place for me to sell cars, and it's an added bonus that it is usually quite crowded."

But it was originally a tough sell for the car dealer, who got into the business after starting to fix cars when he was 11 years old.

It took him years to establish himself at the night markets because many people did not trust a car dealer who operated in such a cheap environment, he said.

Once he got going, however, he experienced his best week in 2008, when cars were at their most affordable.

ROARING TRADE

It was around the time when COEs hovered at around $3,000, and buyers were allowed to take 100 per cent loans.

One of his regular customers, Madam Shim Siew Tin May, 45, assistant manager at Princeston, a distributor of floor mats, bought three vehicles for her company.

She bought a Toyota Hi-Ace in 2012 when she first saw Mr Ling's booth at a pasar malam in Toa Payoh.

She later bought two Nissan lorries from Mr Ling in 2014.

"I don't mind the heat (of the pasar malam) since he is a very sincere man who quotes very reasonable prices," said Madam May.

Recently, COE prices have hovered close to $50,000 in all car categories, while buyers can only take loans of up to 60 percent, depending on the type of car, with a maximum loan period of five years.

Said Mr Ling: "Recently, it has become more difficult for people to get loans so it is inevitable that business does not do so well."

He will take a loss for his latest night market foray at Serangoon North. Mr Ling's operational costs at night markets range from $3,000 to $30,000.

A large portion of it is spent on rental of the space and the rest are for hiring manpower to distribute fliers and promote his cars.

Groomers are engaged to polish the cars. He even hires guards when he has a large fleet of 10 to 20 cars to take care of overnight.

The operating costs at the Serangoon night market for nine days is about $4,000 and he would have needed to sell at least two cars to offset it.

In previous years, 30 per cent of interested parties would buy a car but the number has dwindled down to about 10 per cent, he said.

Despite this, Mr Ling does not regret venturing into sales at night markets.

"To me, the most important thing is that I do an honest trade and I trust people will continue to buy their cars from me," said Mr Ling.

Dennis Chew goes home with two Star Awards and many kisses

DJ Dennis Chew says he was kissed by at least seven celebs after Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes win

HAPPY: (Above) Chew showing off one of the lipstick marks he received at the Star Awards Show 2.
HAPPY: (Above) Actress Rui En congratulated DJ Dennis Chew on his popularity with a kiss.
HAPPY: (Above) Actress Rui En congratulated DJ Dennis Chew on his popularity with a kiss. C

Local actor-host-DJ Dennis Chew did not just go home with two awards from Sunday night's Star Awards Show 2.

He also returned with a face covered with lipstick marks.

After his name was announced during the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artistes category, his jubilation was matched by his female colleagues seated near him.

Viewers saw actresses Rui En and Belinda Lee plant big ones on Chew's cheek and lips respectively, but the pair were not the only ones who showered him with kisses after his victory.

According to Chew, Quan Yifeng, Chen Liping, Sheila Sim, Julie Tan and even Mark Lee followed suit.

"I had at least seven lipstick stains on my face that I didn't wipe away until I reached home at 2.30am. I didn't wipe (them) away because I promised (those who kissed me) that I wouldn't.

"Rui En was the one who said to me, 'If you really win, I'll kiss you, but you don't wipe away the lipstick mark'," the 42-year-old told The New Paper with a giggle in a phone interview yesterday.

Chew still had the lipstick marks on his face as he co-hosted the hour-long Post Show Party.

Actor-host Mark told Chew before the announcement that if the latter really did win, he would run over and give him a hug.

But he added a split-second peck on Chew's lips too - a first time for both, said Chew.

Chew added: "That was a brotherly kiss and to me there was nothing wrong. Mark and I are very close and he's my favourite presenter in Singapore."

The duo have been co-hosting a radio show on Love 97.2 FM for almost two years, alongside DJs Marcus Chin and Chen Biyu.

THANKFUL

Besides winning the Top 10 Most Popular Male Artiste award for the sixth time, which he last won in 2014, Chew and Rui En were conferred with the Toggle Most Beloved Celebrity BFF Award at the Post Show Party. (See other report.)

The award was determined by public voting, as were the popular artistes categories.

Chew said: "I'm very thankful for my listeners who have always been supporting me. Thanking them on stage was the least I could do.

"I had people coming up to me telling me that they had made 50 or even 100 calls for me. One of them even showed me their phone bill. I was so touched that they would go to such an extent.

"(Getting into) the Top 10 (is a form of) recognition from the audience, so to me it's an achievement and a moment of glory."

Rui En was the one who said to me, 'If you really win, I'll kiss you, but you don't wipe away the lipstick mark'.

- Dennis Chew on getting kissed by actress Rui En

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