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SIN no more, we're SGP

Singapore will no longer appear as SIN but as SGP at sporting events worldwide.

The Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC) applied to have the code changed and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has approved the application.

"It is official: Singapore is no more SIN but SGP at regional and international sport events," Mr Low Teo Ping, SNOC vice-president and chef de mission at the recent Rio Olympic Games in Brazil, said in a Facebook post.

The Singapore Golf Association also released the news in a brief statement on its website.

"In line with the United Nations' International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) official 3-letter country code, IOC has approved SNOC's application to change Singapore's... code from SIN to SGP," it said.

Singapore's UN country code is SGP.

The IOC database has been modified and the new SGP code will be reflected on the IOC website and in future games, it said.

"We hope to be seeing more of SGP on the leader board of our major golf tournaments," said the Golf Association.

At the Rio Olympics, SIN was used on the results boards beside the names of Singapore athletes.

Singapore's International Air Transport Association airport code remains SIN, The Straits Times reported.

Most of the comments from readers on the newspaper's Facebook page did not approve of the change.

SGP is known as the abbreviation for the Singapore Grand Prix, one pointed out. "Why change something that is not a problem?"

How about SPG, another asked cheekily, possibly referring to the well-known acronym for sarong party girl.

Skills boost for disabled

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Great fun but no Zumba record

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Attempting suicide is illegal, but rare for person to be charged

Should suicide attempts be criminalised?

In conjunction with World Suicide Prevention Day earlier this month, gender equality group Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) called for a repeal of Chapter 16, Section 309 of the penal code, which makes attempting suicide a seizable offence in Singapore.

Those found guilty can be fined, jailed for up to a year, or both.

"Suicide is a matter for social support and public health, not criminal law," said Aware's head of advocacy and research Jolene Tan.

"Treating people as criminals worsens their distress, rather than resolving the underlying difficulties that lead to suicide attempts."

It quoted a 2014 World Health Organisation (WHO) study which states that no data or case-reports indicate that decriminalisation increases suicides. In fact, suicide rates tend to decline after decriminalisation.

The study also noted that of the 192 independent countries and states it looked at, only 35 had criminalised suicide.

Instead of punishing those who attempt suicide, Aware suggested measures such as providing psychological first-aid training to police officers and setting up a specialised unit within the police force that is specially trained to respond to suicide attempts.

However, Miss Serene Ho, who has attempted suicide, disagrees with Aware's stance.

She says when the police informed her that attempting suicide was a crime, it had a deterrent effect on her, adding that they had treated her with compassion and encouraged her to seek counselling.

Knowing that attempting suicide was a crime made her fearful and stopped her from trying again.

She was not charged.

Miss Ho, 41, says the criminalisation of suicide also sends a message that taking one's own life not only traumatises loved ones but also impedes the progress of Singapore.

She says: "Young people with so much ahead of them, ending their lives, would be depriving Singapore of the talent that would help shape the country's future. After all, Singapore's only resource is its people."


Dr Carol Balhetchet, senior director for Youth Services at the Singapore Children's Society, also believes that Section 309 is still useful.

She says: "The law is a good thing because it gets people to think twice before they do something selfish.

"Suicide is a selfish act as the person is thinking only about themselves.

"With the law in place, they will think twice because it is illegal."

Though attempting suicide is illegal, it is very rare for the person who attempts suicide to be charged or for the prescribed sentence to be carried out.

In the case that the accused is brought to court, they usually would withdraw the case after the accused has reached a stable state.

Lawyer Luke Lee says: "People who attempt suicide are usually very desponded, and it would be foolish to charge and prosecute them."

The usual protocol when someone gets caught for attempting suicide is to be arrested by the police before being taken to the hospital.

At the hospital, they will be treated by doctors and counsellors and will be released only when they are cleared as stable.

Mr Lee, who has been a lawyer for 27 years, has yet to see a case where someone who attempts suicide gets sent to prison.

However, there has been at least one report of someone who attempted suicide being sentenced to prison.

In 2012, The Straits Times reported that 18-year-old Kathleen Seah Pei Yi, was sentenced to eight weeks' jail after attempting suicide 13 times.

The teenager had been trying to kill herself since she was in Secondary 1 and was remanded for 3½ months before being kept under probation for a year on the condition that she seeks treatment from the Institute of Mental Health.

But just three days after she was released, she attempted suicide again which ended in her eight-week jail sentence.

Her father told The Straits Times that he had no choice but to call the police on her because he felt that "only the police could save her".

Ways to thwart teen suicide reviewed

The Ministry of Education (MOE) announced in Parliament on Tuesday that it was reviewing ways to prevent teen suicides.

Minister of State for Education Janil Puthucheary, said there are often no warning signs, "so we need to find out the other stressors that were not picked up by the existing system and processes that we have".

This was in response to Mr Lim Biow Chuan, the MP for Mountbatten, who highlighted cases of student suicides that were reported by the media.

A week earlier, The New Paper had reported that two students from a top junior college took their lives within 10 days of each other in August.

Mr Lim asked if these students showed any distress signs before the suicides and why were the warnings not detected.


The topic of teen suicides was also raised by Mr Lim Wee Kiak, the MP for Sembawang, and Mr Saktiandi Supaat, the MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh.

They wondered if a special hotline for teenagers, manned by other teens trained in counselling could be set up, but Minister for Social and Family Development Tan Chuan-Jin said it was not reasonable.

He said: "Counselling such persons requires relevant training, skills, emotional maturity and understanding of life's challenges.

"I think it would not be reasonable to expect teenagers to possess all these pre-requisites."

According to figures recently released by the Samaritans of Singapore, 27 young people, aged between 10 and 19, ended their lives last year - a record for the age group in 15 years.

She had attempted suicide: 'Now I stop others from ending their lives'

Every month last year, more than two young people, aged 10 to 19, killed themselves. This is the highest in that age group in the last 15 years. TNP speaks to a woman who attempted suicide and now champions living

ATTEMPT: About 15 years ago, Miss Serene Ho tried to kill herself by throwing herself into traffic.

About 15 years ago, Miss Serene Ho, 41, tried to end it all after going through a bad bout of depression.

Thankfully, someone was there to save her.

Now, the full-time Chinese tutor is on a mission to save others from doing the same.

"I want to get the message across that these feelings of depression and loss of confidence are temporary," says Miss Ho, who is a volunteer with suicide prevention centre Samaritans of Singapore (SOS).

Having read the news of the teen suicides in The New Paper last Sunday and reports of the debate on the topic in Parliament, Miss Ho decided to write to the media.

She talked about how she believes that the suicide law can deter survivors from trying to kill themselves again. (See report)

She also shared how her guilt and depression led her to try to take her own life.

Miss Ho suffers from brittle bone disease, in which a person has fragile bones that break easily.

The disease made it difficult for Miss Ho to live at home, so she spent most of her childhood at St. Andrew's Orthopaedic Hospital for Children.


Miss Ho, who is the youngest in a family of three girls and a boy, tells The New Paper on Sunday: "You can understand why I am not close to my siblings or my father.

"My mother, who took care of most of my needs, became my best friend and confidante."

Her mother's kidney cancer was kept from her and she found out only after her mother's death, when she was 19.

"She was in and out of the hospital, and I thought her illness was not serious. The day after I visited her, she died. To think that day, I didn't stay long and even went for a movie after that.

"I was wracked with guilt," she recalls.

A few years later, she tried to be a social worker with the National Council of Social Service but did not make it.

"I failed the probation period twice, and they had to let me go. I became depressed and lost my self-esteem," she says.

"My relationship with my family was breaking down, and I had nowhere to turn. That was when I thought life was not worth living and tried to end it all.

"I could not sleep at night, and I had no one to talk to, so I would call SOS every night and tell them my sob story.

"Even with my training in social work at university, I missed all the signs that I was suicidal," she adds.

She decided to take action.

"I had depression then. There was no more meaning to my life," she says.

She remembers rolling her wheelchair to the side of the road "somewhere in Tampines", waiting for traffic to build up so she could throw herself at oncoming cars.She waited for about half an hour for the right moment.

"I don't know why I picked that location then. There were hardly any cars," she says, laughing now.

Still determined to end her pain, Miss Ho returned to her flat, which she shared with her older brother, and downed half the bottle of pills prescribed by a psychiatrist for her depression.

She says: "Instead of killing me, the pills made me very sick. I vomited, and my stomach hurt so much that I sought help from my brother's girlfriend.

"The amazing thing was we went to Changi General Hospital by public bus."

There, she had her stomach pumped and was in the intensive care unit (ICU) for a few days.

Miss Ho says: "It was after I had been moved from the ICU to the general ward that police officers visited. They told me that attempting suicide is a crime. They were not stern. Instead they were gentle and encouraged me to seek counselling.

"The tears I saw in my family's eyes also showed me that killing myself may end my misery but would cause pain to (my) family and friends.

"That was when I realised that suicide is a selfish act. The determination had limited my ability to see the big picture. I would have ended my pain if I were to die, but my act would have (caused) pain to others."

Religion also played a part in her recovery. Her friend from university, Mrs Abigail Lim, 41, took her to church.


Mrs Lim says: "Not only did she come to terms with her mother's death then, she also accepted her physical condition and became more understanding."

Miss Ho now tutors primary school pupils and secondary school students in Chinese and volunteers at SOS on an ad hoc basis.

She shares her story with others at events, some of which are organised by SOS.

She was involved in its latest campaign to distribute black plasters as part of its World Suicide Prevention Week campaign to raise awareness of youth suicide.

She says: "I want young people to know that once when you can get over the bad times, then life is worth living. I am proof.

"I tried to kill myself once and I failed. Now I am here to stop others from attempting to end their lives."

Nathan Hartono in Top 12 of Sing! China
Nathan Hartono.
Lady Gaga.
Fifty Shades Darker.
Colin Firth.

Local singer Nathan Hartono has done it again.

He got into the top 12 of reality TV singing competition Sing! Chinain last night's episode as part of mentor Jay Chou's final group of three contestants.

The 25-year-old first sailed through the blind auditions on July 15 and chose Mandopop star Chou as his mentor.

Yesterday's episode, which airs on Zhejiang TV, featured Chou's team of five battling it out in pairs against Chinese singer Wang Feng's team of five.

Hartono, who faced US-raised singer Karen Lam from Wang's team, told The New Paper: "I found out I was going up against Karen literally seconds before going on stage. I had prepared myself beforehand to stay cool no matter who I would face in the battle round.

"It was beyond my control and all I wanted to do was perform my best."

He added that he was "a little distracted" as out of all the other members of Wang's team, he was most familiar with Lam.

Hartono sang Chou's song Moonlight On Rooftop, as Chou thought it was "appropriate" for his musical style. He also mashed it up with jazz tune Moondance by Van Morrison to make his performance "a little more unexpected".

Lam sang Sam Smith's Writing's On The Wall.

For that round, the judges were a panel of 51 industry professionals such as producers, songwriters and music directors, while the mentors had no say in the voting. Hartono got 41 votes, whereas Lam had 10 votes.

He said the next round will see only five of the 12 contestants move on to the finals.

Hartono said: "I am currently in the song selection phase and figuring out arrangements, so it's a little crazy. I've never learnt this many Mandarin songs this quickly in my life!"

- Tracy Low

New Gaga album title tribute to late aunt

Good news, Little Monsters. US pop star Lady Gagais releasing her fifth full-length studio album on Oct 21 - her first album since 2013 - and here's the title: Joanne.

Named in memory of her father's late sister, the album will feature "extremely autobiographical" songs, the 30-year-old singer told DJ Zane Lowe on Apple Music's Beats 1.

Gaga said the death of her aunt Joanne "left a scar that never healed".

"She is the woman of my past who is becoming and helping me bring more of my honest woman self into the future."

Fifty Shades beats Star Wars for most trailer views

The first trailer for erotic drama Fifty Shades Darker, the sequel to 2015's Fifty Shades of Grey, has broken the record for the most views in a day.

According to Universal, it was viewed 114 million timeswithin the first 24 hours of its release online, beating the 112 million views set by Star Wars: The Force Awakens' trailer last year.

Based on English author E.L. James' 2012 novel, Fifty Shades Darker stars Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan, and will have new characters, played by Kim Basinger and singer Rita Ora.

It opens in February.



"Quite frankly, I'm 55 years old, I naturally assumed I would be replaced with a younger model."

- English actor Colin Firth on originally having mixed feelings about returning for the new sequel Bridget Jones's Baby