Dr M resigns as Proton chairman
Widow of man who died after diffuser accident: Why was there no safety briefing?
Woman whose husband died from burns after he tried to light up an aromatherapy diffuser asks why she did not get safety briefing
In the five months since her husband died from burns after he tried to light up an aromatherapy diffuser, the biggest question that has been plaguing Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman is:
"Why was I not given a safety briefing about the dangers of using a diffuser when I bought it?"
Mr Mohammad Rizalludin Hassan, 34, died last Oct 22 from extensive burns to more than 80 per cent of his body after a flash fire in the couple's Jurong East home.
Madam Nurul saw her husband engulfed in flames on Oct 13 after he lit the diffuser in the bathroom of their master bedroom.
At a coroner's inquiry yesterday into Mr Rizalludin's death, Madam Nurul asked a police investigating officer if safety briefings were given to customers who bought the Avita Aromatherapy Diffuser.
The officer, Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Alex Neo, said customers are usually given a safety briefing and demonstration by employees at the company showroom in Commonwealth Drive
ASP Neo said this was based on his interview with Mr Chok Wai Chen, operations manager of Shiang's International, which sells the diffuser.
Madam Nurul, 34, who has four children with her late husband, said in court that she "did not go through a safety briefing" and she did not get any safety demonstration when she first bought the product in 2014. The diffusers were purchased because of the haze.
"I was verbally told how to light the diffuser," said the primary school teacher.
After seeing an online promotion last year, Madam Nurul went back to the shop alone, and paid a promotional price of $692 for another diffuser and 12 litres of aromatic oils.
Mr Chok had said in his statement: "We cannot be sure if individual members perform the said steps before selling Avita Aromatherapy Diffuser range of products, even if we tell them to do so.
"The reason why we go through the necessary safety procedures before we sell is because we understand that the aromatherapy oils is (sic) flammable and thus potentially dangerous to the consumers of the said products."
ASP Neo also informed the court about a safety video on the company's website.
Madam Nurul then asked when the video was uploaded - before or after her husband's accident.
ASP Neo said Mr Chok "did not specify the timeline" when the video was uploaded.
Madam Nurul asked ASP Neo if there were similar accidents in the past.
There had been none involving customers who bought the diffuser but Mr Chok told him that there had been one involving an employee on the company premises in 2014, said ASP Neo.
Mr Chok had said: "A staff (sic) sustained minor burns when he used the company's aromatherapy oil to light up an already ignited catalytic burner, as against safety procedures."
Mr Chok stated there have not been any reported incidents involving Avita Aromatherapy Diffuser products since they were released in 2007. When contacted by The New Paper yesterday, he declined to comment.
Madam Nurul told The New Paper yesterday how her family had been coping with their loss.
She said: "Emotionally, it's still quite raw, especially when my mother and I had witnessed what happened to my husband."
Her mother, Madam Juraidah Nabi, 53, who also saw Mr Rizalludin in flames during the incident, was visibly affected when she read the first few pages of the investigation report.
She started crying quietly and later placed it on the table in front of her.
Referring to the coroner's inquiry, Madam Nurul said: "The feeling is like reliving the night of the incident."
The inquiry will convene again on April 4.
Emotionally, it’s still quite raw, especially when my mother and I had witnessed what happened to my husband.
- Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman (above) on coping with her husband’s death
THE NEW PAPER, OCT 29, 2015
Trapped vapours from oils flammable
A Singapore Civil Defence Force investigator told the court yesterday that the flash fire was an accident likely to have been caused by the combination of trapped vapours from essential oils and a lighter.
Major Samuel Koh said: "During the pouring of the essential oil into the diffusers, flammable essential oil vapours would have come off and accumulated in the confined bathroom space.
"The naked light from the gas lighter is a competent ignition source which could have ignited the flammable vapours in the bathroom."
The origin of the fire was traced to the vanity top in the bathroom of the master bedroom.
He said in his report: "The scorch marks observed on the various items in the bathroom suggest that a flash fire had occurred within the bathroom."
Among the items found there were two sets of aromatherapy diffusers that had sustained heat damage, two disposable lighters and a burnt bottle of essential oil re-fill.
One of the diffusers was partially filled with oil and its catalytic burner was not fully screwed to the diffuser.
Essential oil fluid from both diffusers and a 5-litre essential oil refill tub kept by the family were analysed.
The temperature at which the liquid gives off sufficient vapour to ignite was determined to be about 16 deg C.
Last Oct 13, Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman had asked her husband, Mr Mohammad Rizalludin Hassan, to help her light up the diffuser.
Mr Rizalludin, an engineer, went into the bathroom and Madam Nurul later said she heard a "loud sound".
She and her mother then saw him coming out of the bathroom, engulfed in flames. The flames were put out with blankets.
Mr Rizalludin died nine days later in hospital.
An autopsy revealed he had died of extensive burns to the front and back of his torso, entire face, neck and legs.
"The scorch marks observed on the various items in the bathroom suggest that a flash fire had occurred within the bathroom."
- Singapore Civil Defence Force investigator
HOW TO USE A DIFFUSER SAFELY
- After filling the diffuser with oil from the essential oil container, wipe off any spilt oil from the diffuser and your hands.
- Close the oil container immediately.
- Before lighting up the diffuser, remove the oil container from the immediate vicinity.
- After lighting up, blow out the open flame after two minutes. Position the burner head away from the reach of children and pets.
- Keep the oil container away from open flames.
- Do not have a lit diffuser next to you when filling up additional diffusers.
- Do not leave the flame unattended.
- Blow out the flame instead of using an object to snuff it.
- Do not try to light a diffuser with the flame of another diffuser.
- Adapted from video at www.myavita.com
Woman at Thaipusam incident: TRS report was 'all nonsense'
Woman testifies that its report on Thaipusam incident was different from version of events she had e-mailed The Real Singapore website
She was unhappy at the way police officers behaved at last year's Thaipusam procession.
So Ms Gowri Yanaseckaran, 32, shared what happened with the editorial team of socio-political website The Real Singapore (TRS), only for the article to appear in a version that differed from her account.
It included a claim, attributed to her, that the incident was sparked by a Filipino family with a young child who was crying because of "noise" created by the musical instruments.
Yesterday, Ms Gowri, a nurse, testified in a statement tendered to the court as evidence that the TRS article was different from her version of events that she had e-mailed TRS.
She also said that she shared an article from another socio-political website The Online Citizen on her Facebook page, using the alias "Ri Nitesha", and called the TRS article "cooked up" and "all nonsense".
Last April, former TRS chief editor Ai Takagi and her husband, Yang Kaiheng, were charged with doctoring and posting that allegedly seditious article, along with five other inflammatory articles and a Facebook post.
Takagi, 23, an Australian national of Japanese descent who is nine weeks pregnant, was jailed for 10 months last week after pleading guilty to four counts of sedition.
Yang, 27, a Singaporean, has claimed trial. (See report above.)
Yesterday, Ms Gowri testified that she was at last February's Thaipusam procession to support her fiancé, who was carrying a kavadi.
During the procession, she saw a group of plainclothes police officers ordering a group of musicians to stop playing their instruments before a tussle broke out.
Uniformed police officers later arrived and cordoned off the area.
Attaching a video of the incident, Ms Gowri wrote to TRS using her online alias and was shocked by the published TRS report.
"I was surprised when I read that... There was no such complaint by a (Filipino) family... I was surprised as I had made no mention of any complaint... in my e-mail to TRS," she told the police.
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Chan Wai Hoong, who was on duty that day, testified that he had ordered his officers to advise the musicians to stop playing the instruments because of a ban on live music, which has since been lifted.
There was no complaint from any Filipino family, he said.
Earlier, Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan wrapped up the re-examination of investigating officer Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Roy Lim.
He revisited the chat logs of Skype account "able_tree", which was shared by Yang and Takagi, seeking to prove that Yang was dealing with web developers and was involved in maintaining the TRS website.
DPP Kannan pointed out that one of the users of "able_tree" had often used Singlish phrases and Hokkien vulgarities. (See report on right.)
For example, "able_tree" told a web developer: "Eh fix my recommendation box on homepage."
When the web developer replied that he had not done anything to disrupt the site, "able_tree" replied: "Not accusing you la. Chill bro."
The prosecution called eight witnesses to the stand so far.
The trial continues today, with Takagi expected to take the stand.
If convicted, Yang can be fined up to $5,000 and/or jailed for up to three years for each sedition charge.
SINGLISH IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Hokkien vulgarities and Singlish have taken centre stage during Yang Kaiheng's trial.
Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan presented to the court a list of Singlish phrases and Hokkien vulgarities that were used by Skype user "able_tree" in the prosecution's case that it was Yang who was using the account to communicate with web developer Damien Koh.
Here are some phrases:
- meh (meaning "is it?"; appeared at least three times)
- liao (meaning "already"; appeared at least three times)
- lor (an expression used to indicate dismay; appeared at least three times)
- zai (meaning "steady"; appeared at least three times)
- sia (another expression usually used at the end of the sentence for emphasis; appeared at least three times)
- sian (meaning "bored"; appeared at least once)
- Various Hokkien vulgarities that appeared at least six times.
Last month, Yang Kaiheng, 27, claimed trial to seven counts of sedition. An eighth charge of failing to produce documents to the police for investigations has been stood down.
The sedition charges are:
- An article falsely asserting that a Filipino family caused an incident between the police and participants in last year's Thaipusam procession.
- A Facebook post with similar content.
- An article alleging that a Filipino employee had bribed a colleague to delete traces of his misdeeds to ensure that only his countrymen were hired by the company.
- An article that "casts PRC women as home-wreckers whose main motive was 'trying to hook' Singaporean men" .
- An article that had an editor's note warning companies about hiring foreigners over Singaporeans.
- An article that claimed Filipino managers working here would give preferential treatment to subordinates of the same nationality at the expense of Singaporeans.
- Copied an article from the website Stomp, doctored it to say that a woman was a Chinese national who allegedly had an accent, and posted it on TRS.