Man's death from flash fire ruled 'tragic misadventure'

Foul play ruled out in death of man who suffered severe burns while lighting aromatherapy diffusers

MOVING ON: Mr Mohammad Rizalludin Hassan died while trying to light two aromatherapy diffusers in his bathroom last October. His widow, Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman (left), and mother (right) were in court yesterday.
MOVING ON: Mr Mohammad Rizalludin Hassan (above) died while trying to light two aromatherapy diffusers in his bathroom last October. His widow, Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman, and mother were in court yesterday.
The New Paper, April 1.

It has been about six months since their father, Mr Mohammad Rizalludin Hassan, died from a flash fire while he was lighting two aromatherapy diffusers at home.

Though his four children have been told what happened to him, they are still asking for their father, said his widow, Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman, yesterday.

"They still look for their father. My four-year-old son looks for him," she told The New Paper.

She was speaking to reporters after State Coroner Marvin Bay ruled out foul play and suicide in his findings into Mr Rizalludin's death.


The 34-year-old IT engineer was trying to light two Avita Aromatherapy Diffusers in the master bedroom's bathroom at about 9.30pm last Oct 13.

Madam Nurul had bought the diffusers and 12 litres of aromatic oils from Shiang's International, a network marketing company which manages the Avita brand, in 2014 and last year.

She and her mother, who were in the master bedroom, heard a loud explosion coming from the bathroom.


Mr Rizalludin then ran out engulfed in flames. The women smothered the flames with blankets before calling for an ambulance.

Mr Rizalludin, who had second-degree burns on 80 per cent of his body, was taken to the National University Hospital and transferred to the Singapore General Hospital's burns unit the next day. He underwent skin and bone grafts, among other procedures, but died in hospital on Oct 22.

Before Mr Bay delivered his findings yesterday, Mr Chok Wai Chen, the operations manager of Shiang's International, testified that the company had reminded its customers of the safety protocols and invited them to take a safety refresher course. 

Mr Bay said the flash fire could have been caused by the open flame igniting the vapours evaporating from the fluid in the essential oil refill bottle.

The temperature at which the fluid gives off sufficient vapour that can be ignited was determined to be about 16 deg C.

He advised users to avoid leaving the essential oil refill container uncapped for long and to avoid refilling the diffusers in confined or unventilated spaces where the vapours could build up.

The refill containers should also be kept at a "significant distance" from an ignited diffuser or open flame, he added.

Mr Bay ruled that Mr Rizalludin's death was a tragic misadventure and expressed his condolences to Mr Rizalludin's family, including his mother, Madam Nurul and her two daughters, who were present in court.

Mr Rizalludin's mother could be seen sobbing during the inquiry, and Madam Nurul and her mother were also seen tearing.

After the hearing, Madam Nurul, 34, a primary school teacher, told TNP that she, her son and three daughters - aged from one to nine - are getting by with strong support from her relatives, friends and even members of the public.

The inquiry has been tough on the family because it brought back the horrors of what happened, she said.

"It's like reliving all those images," she said, referring to her seeing her husband engulfed in flames that fateful night.

"My husband was very much well loved by our family. We will try to recover."

It's like reliving all those images. My husband was very much well loved by our family. We will try to recover.

- Madam Nurul Asyikin Norman on the inquiry

Bring football back to the National Stadium, says Leonard Thomas

After hosting a rousing rugby weekend, the National Stadium needs to show off our national sport

GRAND STAGE: The National Stadium, where the popular Rugby Sevens (above) was held, has yet to host the Singapore Lions since 2014. 

So many world-class athletes were on show at the National Stadium over the weekend, powerful, skilful speed merchants with a remarkable ability to sidestep opponents, throw body feints, release teammates with a slick dummy or a slickly timed pass and simply ram through defences.

They starred in front of around 30,000 fans at the HSBC World Rugby Singapore Sevens.

Schoolboy rugby players aged between 12 and 14 from Anglo-Chinese School (Independent) and Raffles Institution also showed off their game in the grand arena in the World First Singapore Schools Under-14 Sevens Series.

As I soaked in the crackling atmosphere and watched the likes of South Africa, Fiji and Kenya impress out on the turf, I wondered if football, our national sport, would ever hit the same heights at the National Stadium.

I've made the call previously, and I stress again, Singapore football must make the National Stadium its home.

It has taken to the stage only sporadically since the stadium's first game in June 2014 when Juventus dazzled a Singapore Selection side, the Lions have not played there yet this year and the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) has to act now to end that embarrassing sequence.

The country's football administrators must not take the easy option and rely on the cheaper alternative that is the Jalan Besar Stadium.

Current football chief Zainudin Nordin and his team cannot simply leave it to the new president and management committee because the election will be held in the second half of the year and by then, it will be too late to negotiate for matches in 2016.

The FAS must accept that the cost to stage matches at the National Stadium will be much higher because the arena is a big stage able to seat 55,000 fans.

After so many internationals and LionsXII games there over the years, the arena at Jalan Besar has hardly formed a bond with fans and, with a capacity of 6,000, it is too small.

Regular S.League games and age-group matches belong there, the Lions need to go back and roam in Kallang.

The FAS has known for some time that it would have to replace Bernd Stange and a top-quality national coach needs to be hired quickly to work with the national players and whip them into shape.


The FAS must find sponsors and put together a unique blueprint for the Singapore national team to play at the National Stadium regularly.

Borrow from the rugby copybook and organise an event-filled build-up days before the main event, music, host sideshows, hire a rock band, offer discounted tickets and hold a schools' final as a curtain-raiser.

In February last year, the FAS signed a $25-million, six-year deal with international sports media rights company MP & Silva that covers the rights to the national and age-group teams, sponsorship rights and international events for the Lions and national age-group sides.

There was nothing to show for it until the announcement earlier this month of the inaugural Nations Cup, a regional Under-21 tournament featuring hosts Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand and Singapore which will be held in Malacca from June 3 to 5.

The deal still has yet to bear any fruit on home soil, after MP & Silva's proposed four-team Merlion Cup tournament for early this year fell through because of the cost of hiring the National Stadium.

Of course, operator Sports Hub Pte Ltd has to make money, but the consortium's management should also be willing to negotiate a favourable fee for all parties because football is the only sport in Singapore that can deliver a capacity crowd of 55,000 at the National Stadium.


Sport Singapore must play an active role here and help the FAS pull this off.

On May 10, Tampines Rovers will entertain Selangor in an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup Group E clash under the floodlights of the National Stadium.

Tampines chairman Krishna Ramachandra must be applauded for making his idea come true and his tactic of marketing it as a Singapore-Malaysia clash is smart, considering Selangor's special standing in our country's football history.

I have no doubt the FAS, Sports Hub and Sport Singapore came together and help Krishna realise his ambition.

Surely they can do so again for the country's national sport that draws on fans from all corners of the island, of any hue and creed.

Crack the formula and the modern Kallang facility has the potential to become Singapore's football amphitheatre.

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Shooter Teo bounces back to claim World Cup bronze

Shooter escapes elimination and wins bronze in 10m air pistol at World Cup

"She has been improving steadily over the last three years, but this is the first time she has reached a final and won a medal on such a big stage. She is really stable and mentally strong in finals." — Singapore Shooting Association high-performance manager Jeanine Heng, on Teo Shun Xie (above, right)

Singapore's Olympic-bound shooter Teo Shun Xie showed what she was made of, when she claimed the bronze medal in her first final on the international stage yesterday morning (Singapore time) in Brazil.

The 27-year-old research officer battled back from the brink of elimination to finish third in the women's 10m air pistol event with 178 points at the ISSF World Cup event in Rio de Janeiro.

Ukraine's Olena Kostevych (201.7 points) and Bulgaria's Antoaneta Boneva (197.7) bagged the gold and silver, respectively.

Teo, 2014 Commonwealth Games gold medallist, who won the same event at last year's SEA Games on home soil, could not be reached for comment.

Singapore Shooting Association high-performance manager Jeanine Heng told The New Paper that the result was a "very significant breakthrough" for the athlete.

"In general, she has been improving steadily over the last three years, but this is the first time she has reached a final and won a medal on such a big stage," said Heng.

"She is really stable and mentally strong in finals, as you could see in the Commonwealth and SEA Games. In Brazil, there were times when she was almost eliminated in the final, but she managed to keep going."

"On the other hand, I almost had a heart attack," Heng added, jokingly.

Teo, who will compete in the 25m air pistol event later this week, was sixth out of eight shooters in the first elimination round - shooters who are last are eliminated in each round - and 0.4 points away from a three-way shoot-out to decide elimination in the second round.

The Singaporean was fourth among five remaining shooters in the fourth round, but leapfrogged over Wu Chia-ying in the following round after the Taiwanese finished fourth.


Teo was eliminated in the next round, but was assured of bronze.

Heng said the shooter could be a dark horse at the Olympics in Rio in August, but cautioned against reading too much into the result.

After all, unlike teammate Jasmine Ser, who is training full time, she is juggling work and training.

Ser has qualified for the women's rifle three-positions event for the Olympics, but will also compete in the women's 10m air rifle event.

Teo has qualified for the women's 25m air pistol event and will also compete in the 10m event.

Said Heng: "This is just one World Cup, so it won't guarantee a medal at the Olympics. But it does indicate that it's not an impossible task - shooters who are under a lot of pressure to perform tend to shoot lower scores at the Olympics.

"If Shun Xie can overcome such stressful situations and perform, she could stand a chance of winning a medal."

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