Five things about the budget

ST FILE PHOTO

1 This will be the first time Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat (above) is presenting the Budget.

2 The year referred to in the Budget does not start on Jan 1 but refers to the Government's financial year, which begins on April 1 and ends on March 31 the following year.

3 Tax revenues form about 90 per cent of the Government's operating revenue, with corporate tax as the largest contributor.

4 The Budget will reveal estimates for revenue and expenditure for the upcoming financial year, as well as a revised account of the current financial year.

5 The Budget comprises the Government's operating revenue, total expenditure, special transfers and net investment returns contribution.

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Lions coach Stange wants to end with a bang

Lions coach pays tribute to his players as he targets two wins, starting tonight

SINGAPORE v MYANMAR

(Tonight, 7.45pm, Jalan Besar Stadium)

Judge us by our results, not by the way we play.

That was the message of national football coach Bernd Stange, ahead of tonight's international friendly with Myanmar at the Jalan Besar Stadium.

The game will be the Lions' final tune-up before their World Cup/Asian Cup Group E qualifier against Afghanistan on Tuesday, which will be played Teheran.

German Stange is set to leave his post when his contract runs out in mid-April after almost three years in charge.

During that time, the Lions flopped in the defence of the AFF Suzuki Cup title at home in 2014, but restored some pride when they kicked off their Group E campaign on the road with a 4-0 thrashing of Cambodia and a 0-0 draw with mighty Japan in Saitama last June.

They have collected 10 points and are third in the group, ahead of next week's game against the Afghans, and are all but certain to make the final round of qualifiers for the 2019 Asian Cup Finals.

The Lions have never qualified for Asia's biggest football competition and, while Stange will probably leave his post with the team in a good position to end that run, a huge swathe of local supporters remain dissatisfied, especially when he famously announced his desire to get the national team playing a high-pressing, pass-and-move style of football when he took on the job in 2013.

But at the pre-match press conference at the Amara Hotel yesterday, Stange said: "What does it mean to have good performances?

"We have 10 points from our qualifiers, and we want to be judged on our results... (so) I don't allow anybody to be too negative of our performances.

"Results are crucial, world rankings are crucial and don't forget we have a local team - we don't have any foreign (naturalised) players.

"I am happy with the reaction of the team, even though I have asked the FAS (Football Association of Singapore) in January not to plan (the year ahead) with me after the Afghanistan game.

"The players have reacted very, very professionally, and it shows that they are absolutely focused on their performance and it makes me a little bit proud even if I am going to leave.

"And that's why we want two good performances from the Myanmar and Afghanistan games.

"Our goal is absolutely clear: Try to win both matches."

Stange revealed he had a "good feeling" over tonight's match, having seen the spirit in the squad since they got together at the weekend.

FAVOURITES

The Lions are favourites tonight even though they are without chief striker Khairul Amri (calf injury) and centre back Madhu Mohana, who was not called up as he is suspended for the Afghanistan match.

Tonight's opponents, Myanmar, have seven players out of the 23-man squad promoted from the national youth team, which made a historic first appearance at the Under-20 World Cup last year.

Myanmar have big plans for this group, who have an average age of 22.5 years and who will be vital as they fight for home pride when they host the Suzuki Cup at the end of the year.

Training camps in Germany and South Korea have been lined up for the team, according to their coach Gerd Zeise.

"For us, it's a big event at the end of the year," said the German.

"All preparations are going in that direction to perform well.

"If you host, you must satisfy the spectators.

"So our target is the Suzuki Cup... (and this game) is an important test.

"I saw some of Singapore's matches - they are a very organised and aggressive side."

We have 10 points from our qualifiers, and we want to be judged on our results... (so) I don’t allow anybody to be too negative of our performances.

— Singapore coach Bernd Stange

RECENT UPS AND DOWNS

NOV 2014:

Part of the Singapore squad that were knocked out at the group stage of the Suzuki Cup on home soil, after losing to Malaysia and Thailand in injury time.

DEC 2014:

TNP breaks news of Safuwan Baharudin being offered a trial at an unnamed A-League club, later revealed as Melbourne City.

JAN 2015:

Leaves Singapore for Abu Dhabi, where he plays in two trial matches for City. He plays 68 minutes against an Al Jazira side, featuring current West Ham livewire Manuel Lanzini and ex-Juventus star Mirko Vucinic, before a 75-min outing against Ukranian side Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk. After returning to Singapore, he leaves for Australia on Jan 29 to sign a three-month loan deal with City.

FEB 2015:

Makes a surprise debut and plays an hour as a defensive midfielder in the Melbourne Derby against Melbourne Victory, which City lose 3-0. Becomes the first Singaporean to score in the A-League when he nets in City's 3-1 win over Adelaide United on Feb 28, winning the Man-of-the-Match award. Repeats the scoring trick 11 days later, when City go down 3-2 to Western Sydney Wanderers.

APRIL 2015:

Picks up a spine injury in City's 0-0 draw at Wellington Phoenix. The injury eventually cuts short his stint Down Under, and he returns to the LionsXII soon after.

MAY 2015:

Part of the LionsXII team that beat Kelantan 3-1 in the FA Cup final. The next month, scores twice against Cambodia to help Singapore get their World Cup/Asian Cup qualifiers off to a winning start.

JULY 2015:

TNP breaks news that Safuwan is offered a chance to join J-League side Yokohama F Marinos on loan. The move falls through in the end.

Safuwan features for the Singapore Selection side in matches against Arsenal and Stoke in the Barclays Trophy tournament.

NOV 2015:

The Football Association of Malaysia surprisingly decides not to extend the LionsXII's participation in Malaysian domestic competition from 2016, leaving the LionsXII players in limbo. Safuwan is the only member of the squad who has a year left on his contract with the Football Association of Singapore (FAS). The squad are later disbanded.

DEC 2015:

Just 10 days after the FAS announce the LionsXII players are free to sign for any club, officials from Malaysian Super League side PDRM FA tell TNP they are eyeing Safuwan. Nine days after TNP's report, PDRM and FAS confirm the move.

MARCH 2016:

Sets up one goal and scores the winner as PDRM stun 33-time Malaysia Cup champions Selangor 2-1 in the third round of the Malaysia FA Cup. It is his only goal in six competitive matches for the Cops.

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Maid abuse trial: Couple pleads guilty to starving maid

Couple plead guilty to starving maid

ABUSED: Madam Gawidan worked for (above, from left) Lim Choon Hong and Chong Sui Foon for 15 months.
ABUSED: (Above) Madam Gawidan worked for Lim Choon Hong and Chong Sui Foon for 15 months.

For 15 months, the maid starved while working for the couple.

She was so hungry, she asked for more food so she could look after their three children and do the housework.

They refused, causing her to lose 20kg, which led to her hair falling out. She even stopped menstruating.

While they fed themselves nutritious meals, they made her ask for permission to drink water and would not let her use the toilet at home.

Freelance trader Lim Choon Hong, and his wife, Chong Sui Foon, both 47, had initially claimed trial to starving their former maid, Madam Thelma Oyasan Gawidan, a Filipina.

But yesterday, they pleaded guilty to their offences.

The court heard that while working for the Singaporean couple between Jan 23, 2013 and April 18, 2014, Madam Gawidan's weight plummeted from 49kg to 29.4kg.

She stopped menstruating in February 2013, became weaker and noticed that her hair was falling out.

She finally fled from their eighth-storey apartment at the Boulevard Residence condominium in Cuscaden Walk near Orchard Road on April 19, 2014.

She was later taken by a friend to the office of a foreign workers' advocacy group, the Humanitarian Organisation for Migration Economics (Home), at nearby Lucky Plaza.

Yesterday, Lim pleaded guilty to contravening the Employment of Foreign Manpower (Work Passes) Regulations 2012 by failing to provide Madam Gawidan, 40, with adequate food, causing the weight loss.

Chong pleaded guilty to abetting him in committing the offence.

Lim's job required him to work during the night as he dealt with overseas clients.

The couple have three children who are between 17 and 22 years old.

Both Lim and Chong were stoic in the dock as they appeared before District Judge Low Wee Ping.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Soo Tet said that the couple provided Madam Gawidan with two meals a day while she was working for them.

The first meal, two to three slices of plain white bread and one to two packets of instant noodles, were usually provided at around 1am to 2am.

Chong, a housewife, would mix eggs or very small portions of meat and vegetables - a slice of tomato or cucumber - to the noodles.

Her second meal of five to six slices of plain white bread was usually provided in the late morning or early afternoon.

FORBIDDEN

At some point during her employment, she was forbidden from using the toilet in their home to shower and relieve herself.

Instead, she had to use a common toilet on the third storey of the condominium block.

Beginning in January 2014, Chong would stand inside the toilet while Madam Gawidan showered. The maid was allowed to shower only once or twice a week.

She noticed she was being given smaller portions of food.

DPP Tan said: "The victim was also not allowed to drink water on her own.

"She would have to approach Chong whenever she wanted to drink and Chong would then give her water from the tap."

Once, Madam Gawidan tried to ask Lim for more food, but he brushed her off.

Her mobile phone had been confiscated so she had no way of asking her maid agency for help.

She finally escaped on April 19, 2014 while cleaning an area near the lift.

She went to the nearby Far East Shopping Centre and, with the help of a shop employee, managed to contact one of her town mates, a woman known only as "Lilibeth".

Ms Lilibeth accompanied her to the Home office and officers there referred Madam Gawidan to the Ministry of Manpower.

According to Khoo Teck Puat Hospital's chief dietitian, Ms Gladys Wong Hooi Chuan, Madam Gawidan was supposed to consume about 1,700 calories a day.

Based on her diet then, she consumed only about 900 calories daily.

DPP Tan said: "The victim's body mass index dropped from 24.3 to 14.4, which fell into the category of risk of nutritional deficiency, diseases and even osteoporosis at the World Health Organisation standard."

Chong and Lim, who are represented by lawyer Raymond Lye, are out on bail of $3,000 each and will go for psychiatric assessments.

The couple will be back in court on April 20. For committing the offence, they can each by jailed for up to a year and fined up to $10,000.

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PROSECUTOR

Ex-TRS editor jailed for demonising foreigners

The Real Singapore's former editor Ai Takagi was yesterday jailed 10 months for sedition. RONALD LOH (rloh@sph.com.sg) reports on what went on in court

Hers was a slow-burning brand of sedition - one that allowed ill-will to fester, grow and leave a lasting impression.

That was how Deputy Public Prosecutor G. Kannan described the way Ai Takagi, the former editor of The Real Singapore (TRS), operated.

In 1½ years, she reached out to millions of viewers by doctoring, fabricating and publishing articles that had the tendency to promote ill-will among different classes of people here. This was the most serious case of sedition in Singapore, said DPP Kannan in his submissions yesterday.

He added that past cases merely involved offending material posted on a pet-interest website, a personal Facebook account or mailed out in comic booklets - nowhere as far-reaching.

Said DPP Kannan: "By using a toxic cocktail of overtly vulgar language, innuendoes, leveraging off controversial material to demonise foreigners and outright fabrication, TRS was far more effective at fostering ill-will and hostility than any of the (previous) offenders."

Takagi, 23, an Australian national of Japanese descent, was sentenced to 10 months' jail yesterday for four counts of sedition, with four other charges taken into consideration. (See report above.)

Court papers said Takagi was responsible for TRS' day-to-day editorial operations. She controlled all content on the website and every article was uploaded with her approval.

In his submissions, said DPP Kannan called Takagi a calculating opportunist who drove traffic to her website by generating a groundswell of resentment towards foreigners.

Her motive? Pure commercial greed, he said.

Between December 2013 and last April, TRS raked in almost half a million dollars in advertising revenue, court papers said.

The website had more than 134 million page views from May 2014 to March last year before it was shut down in May.

"For her personal benefit, she was willing to risk damaging the delicate social harmony which has been fostered by the collective effort of generations of Singaporeans," he said.

And Takagi was successful in causing widespread public disquiet, evident from the vile comments - which DPP Kannan said were too offensive to be read out in court - posted by enraged netizens in response to the articles.

FAKE NAME

She used a fake name, Farhan, to actively hide her identity, he added.

He said she was also not remorseful and her last-minute apology in court yesterday was inconsistent with her previous behaviour.

For example, Takagi doctored and published an article on Feb 4 last year, falsely claiming that a Filipino family had caused an altercation between the police and participants at a Thaipusam procession.

Interviewed by the police two days later, she claimed she could not remember posting it and had merely skimmed through the title and added links to the Facebook videos.

On at least 101 occasions, she replied "not relevant" to questions posed by the police officer, court papers said.

It was only when she realised the police had traced the TRS articles to her IP address that she began cooperating with them, said DPP Kannan.

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