3 dead, pagodas damaged in Myanmar quake
No kids, but she has other dreams
Michelle Chia, who co-hosts spin-off of Chinese talk show, wishes she had frozen her eggs in her 20s
Michelle Chia wishes she had frozen her eggs when she was younger.
The actress-host used to think about having children but says the opportunity has passed.
She joked: "My eggs very old already, 40 years old! But if it was back in my 20s, I would have done it.
"When (I was) in my 20s, (I thought that) 40 is very old, and by then I would have kids," Chia told The New Paper in a mix of Mandarin and English on the set of the Singapore version of popular Chinese talk show BrainStorm.
"But... my career path and circumstances are different... so I think it's a little bit too late now."
Chia, who will be 41 next month, was married to actor Shaun Chen for two years before their divorce in 2011.
She told TNP that she is in a long-term relationship but has no plans to remarry.
Her 30-year showbiz career has been filled with acting and hosting gigs, but it left little time for her to plan for a family, something she hopes other women will not have to regret.
Chia said: "Singapore should allow women to freeze their eggs, it's not allowed here... It's my eggs, why can't I freeze them?
"I think it should be allowed because these days, women enter the workforce at a young age. They are independent, unlike in the past.
"If you want a couple to both work and have children, the woman should be able to be stress-free and be allowed to freeze their eggs in their 20s, so they don't have to worry about having kids and earning money at the same time."
Her gynaecologist told her that egg freezing is not allowed here, except for medical reasons.
Luckily, she has "three beautiful nieces" who are able to satisfy her longing for children.
Chia is now focused on her new show, BrainStorm Singapore Edition, a spin-off of the award-winning Chinese talk show that focuses on trends in the financial world.
Chia co-hosts the Singapore version with the highly-acclaimed host of BrainStorm in China, Ma Hong Man.
It will premiere on China Business Network (StarHub TV Channel 809) on Sept 3 and air on Saturdays at 7pm.
When she was approached by Singapore-based media company MyChinaChannel to co-host the show, Chia rejected the gig twice because she felt intimidated.
She said: "It's too stressful to host a show about finance and economics. I have no knowledge of the topic at all and, to add on, I would need to know financial terms, which I'm unsure about.
"But they encouraged me and the structure of the show is quite relaxing and different, so I agreed to do it."
Chia, who was in the Channel 8 TV drama The Queen, which aired in February and March, does not intend to go back to showbiz full-time.
She wants to throw herself into her personal interests.
Her main goal is to set up her own wellness business and to achieve "financial freedom" by the age of 45.
She said: "The programmes I take on now are based on my own interests. I'm taking on a new hosting gig soon, which will keep me busy all the way till next January.
"I've spent 30-over years in showbiz and there are a lot of things and ideas which I want to do, but I just never had the time.
"I have many dreams that I want to achieve, like last year, I started learning piano, which was something I've always wanted to do."
Cleaning machine completely burned down: Such fires are 'rare'
Supplier of cleaning machine that burst into flames in Ubi warns against vacuuming up potential fire hazards like lit cigarette butts and incense sticks
A worker jumped off his cleaning machine when it burst into flames at an HDB carpark in Ubi earlier this month.
The fire was a rare occurrence, The New Paper found out from checks with the supplier of Tennant All Terrain Litter Vacuum (ATLV) 4300 and another cleaning company that uses the same model.
Mr Richard Tan, senior product manager at Klenco, the sole distributor of the ATLV 4300 here, said it has sold more than 300 units of the machine in the last 15 years.
"To our knowledge, there has been no other case where the whole machine completely burned down," he said.
On Aug 16, an ATLV 4300 caught fire at a carpark at Ubi Avenue 1.
The operator from cleaning company Clean Solutions escaped injury when he jumped off the machine as it was engulfed in flames and burned to its core.
An earlier TNP report had wrongly identified the vehicle as an automated road sweeper.
Mr Tan, 48, said: "A well-maintained machine should not face any problems."
But he warned that the operators must avoid vacuuming up improperly extinguished cigarette butts and incense sticks.
"They are potential fire hazards," he explained.
Mr Milton Ng of Ramky Cleantech Services said his company has been using the machine to vacuum up litter for more than 10 years.
"None of our machines have caught fire," said the managing director, who is in his 50s.
"Sometimes our equipment get vandalised as there are no proper parking spaces accorded to us by property owners."
He added that the machines are deployed to clean open areas and even terrain such as carparks, pavements and park connectors.
"It is a highly mobile equipment that is able to manoeuvre in most terrains," said Mr Ng.
"Compared to manually sweeping the floor, using the machine is much more productive."
Clean Solutions is waiting to find out the cause of the fire from its insurance adjusters. Its sales director, Mr Sunny Khoo, 46, said the company has been using the ATLV 4300 for more than 10 years.
He added that the machine is serviced every three months.
"Initially, we suspected a short circuit as the cause of the fire, but we are waiting for investigations to be completed," he said.
"We, too, want to know what caused the fire."
TEACHER WITH TB MAY LOSE JOB
Pre-schoolers screened for TB after teacher gets disease
When one of her teachers at the pre-school she runs was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB), she thought parents would flare up at her.
Instead, Ms Ruth Kuasaw support from parents during the crisis.
Yesterday, 80 children enrolled at the Little Greenhouse pre-school at Bukit Batok were screened for TB after the teacher was diagnosed with the airborne disease.
TB is caused by the bacteria mycobacterium tuberculosis, which mostly affects the lungs.
Symptoms include coughing that lasts for at least three weeks, fever and loss of weight and appetite.
Ms Kua, deputy chief operating officer of Global EduHub which manages Little Greenhouse, told The New Paper she will discuss with the management whether to end the teacher's two-year contract early.
Ms Kua, who is in charge of the Bukit Batok branch of the pre-school, said that after the Ministry of Health (MOH) confirmed the case of TB, the school fumigated the premises and arranged for cleaners to sanitise toys, furniture and other surfaces over the weekend.
Parents were kept in the loop with an electronic circular detailing what happened, and the steps taken by the school.
On Tuesday, the staff members followed up with calls to each parent to inform them of the TB screening for all 104 children attending the pre-school.
The first group of 80 was screened yesterday. The remaining 24 children will be screened tomorrow. The teachers will also be tested.
Ms Kua made sure rows of chairs were lined up outside the pre-school for concerned parents who may want to be present during the screening. But most were unoccupied.
"Not many parents turned up. They just left (the screening process) to us, and trusted us to update them," she said.
She added that while some children cried after their injections, most were placated with a sticker or a hug - a reward for being brave.
Ms Kua's decision to be open about the tuberculosis incident was tinged with worries that parents would get angry.
She said: "I would say that as a mother myself, I put myself in parents' shoes at all times...
"If the parents were to shout at us, it's okay.
"Let's explain to them, let's get this clear and get conversations going...
"I'm ready to face all these things at all times with our parents."
To her relief, parents have been understanding so far.
IT projects manager Nishant Kumar Singh, 32, said he was keeping his fingers crossed about his daughter's test results.
He told TNP: "Definitely, we were very worried after hearing about the news. Our child is just two, and the immunity for a two-year-old is really very weak.
"But it's an unfortunate incident that no one can control... If the teacher is not aware of (her condition), we shouldn't blame anyone. We have to be supportive."
Another parent, Ms Connie Ng, 32, said she appreciated the daily updates from the pre-school.
Still, Ms Kua acknowledged that Little Greenhouse's reputation may take a hit.
"To be very frank... it does not reflect very well (on the pre-school).But what's more important is the process of how we handle and manage the situation, work very closely with MOH and follow closely what needs to be done," she said.
An MOH spokesman said that as those with active TB disease rapidly become non-infectious once treatment starts, the pre-school is not required to close down.
Man jailed after killing security guard with one punch
Man jailed three years for causing death of security guard, 74, who told him off for peeing in public
Security guard Chew Choo Chian, 74 went to investigate a complaint about someone urinating in public at Fajar Shopping Centre in Bukit Panjang.
When he told the drunk man off, he was punched.
Mr Chew, who was posted to the mall just 10 days earlier, suffered spinal injuries, went into a coma and died a month later.
Yesterday, Teo Chin Lai, a 53-year-old food packer, was jailed for three years for one count of voluntarily causing grievous hurt.
He was convicted last week after a four-day trial.
Teo Chin Lai committed his offence at Fajar Shopping Centre. PHOTO: TNP FILE
Though it has been about 2½ years since the tragedy, Mr Chew's family still feel aggrieved over their unexpected loss, his younger brother told The New Paper yesterday.
On Nov 18, 2014, Mr Chew was working the night shift when he reprimanded Teo, who was drunk, for urinating behind a door in the mall.
Teo retaliated by grabbing Mr Chew's shirt, then pushed him out of the mall and punched him once on his upper body.
That single blow was so hard, it left Mr Chew with a spinal fracture and injuries to his spinal cord.
Teo Chin Lai was jailed three years. PHOTOS: THE STRAITS TIMES
Mr Chew went into a coma and was hospitalised for about a month before he died on Dec 28.
Yesterday's sentencing hearing was attended by his brother and two younger sisters.
Afterwards, his brother, who declined to be named, said: "He had enough savings to retire, but he took the job to pass the time.
"He was just doing his job as a security guard when he received a complaint about someone urinating in public. He went to check, and that man assaulted him.
"We are still very sad over it. We never thought such a thing would happen."
Yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor Tan Si En said in her submissions that Mr Chew was responsible for the safety and security of the mall.
She said: "There had been no provocation or wrongdoing in any form on the part of Mr Chew. The accused had assaulted an innocent security guard in the course of his duty."
DPP Tan added that Mr Chew's injuries were similar to cases of people falling off a moving horse, being in an accident with the car flipping upside down or a falling down the stairs.
She said: "Further, these injuries eventually led to Mr Chew's death after being in a coma for a month.
"This is the most serious consequence of any offence that can be caused to any person."
Teo, who was not represented by a lawyer, said in mitigation that he was remorseful and apologised for what he did. He also begged the court for just a fine because he would lose his job if he were jailed.
But District Judge Tan Jen Tsesaid a jail term was warranted due to the seriousness of the offence as the victim had died.
The judge allowed him to defer his sentence by a week to sort out personal matters, but ordered him to contact the investigation officer every two days.
Mr Chew's brother said Teo had never approached his family to say sorry.
"His saying sorry in court was the first time we heard of it."
Mr Chew is survived by his wife and their two children, who are in their 40s, said his brother.
His widow was so distraught that she chose not to attend the hearing.
"She also did not want to see the accused," said his brother.
When TNP visited Mr Chew's home in Bukit Panjang last evening, a man believed to be his son opened the door but declined to comment.
For voluntarily causing grievous hurt, Teo could have been jailed up to 10 years and fined.
'Traumatic' detention jolted him to change
They overcame adversity to become top students – and found love
He was a gang member at 15 and ended up in boys' home. She was six when her father became a bankrupt and later suffered a brain aneurysm. But adversity toughened them up.
His detention made him vow to change while her family's hardship motivated her to excel in school.
They both ended up in Ngee Ann Polytechnic and recently received its prestigious scholarship for the third year running. These are their stories - and their love story.
Several years ago, her father was forced to sell the family home after he was declared a bankrupt when his business went bust.
A few years later, just as they were getting back on their feet, he became partially paralysed after a brain aneurysm.
Her mother had to work in a factory and as a dishwasher to support the family.
Those difficult times made Miss Amanda Tan, now 19, realise the importance of education.
Her vow to never endure such hardships again drove her to excel in her studies to clinch the prestigious Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) Scholarship.
She remembers having led a carefree childhood with her parents and older brother.
But in 2003, when she was six, everything changed after her father's car dealership went under because of the financial crisis.
After selling their four-room flat, the family shared her aunt's crowded flat.
Her father found work in a store and her mother worked 12-hour shifts in a factory and later as a dishwasher.
Miss Tan said: "She would get home only around 11pm. I barely saw her."
Despite their struggles, they managed to save enough money to buy a three-room flat.
"We managed to get by. After a while, we just adapted," she said.
But tragedy struck when Miss Tan was 14.
Her father woke up one morning and was unable to move half his body.
She said: "I was very scared. I was still quite young and I had to call the ambulance for him.
"We thought it was because of his high blood pressure. He wouldn't take medication because he thought it was a waste of money."
It turned out to be a brain aneurysm and her father was operated on immediately.
"The doctors said he had only a 50-50 chance of survival," said Miss Tan. "I kept thinking, 'Why must this happen to me?' It was very sad and scary to see my dad like that."
Her father managed to pull through and has mostly recovered. But he can no longer work because of his giddy spells.
Miss Tan used the series of adversities as her motivation to succeed in life.
She scored 12 points for her O levels and is now a business and social enterprise student at NP. She was awarded the NP Scholarship for three consecutive years.
The scholarship is given to students with good O-level results, co-curricular activities and leadership skills.
It has helped ease her financial burden as the $10,200 annual sum covers tuition fees, book allowance and a laptop allowance for freshmen.
Miss Tan, who will graduate next year, wants to be a social worker after being inspired by the medical social workers who helped her family during their dark days.
"I feel more motivated to study hard because my parents are not educated. I need to study to do well for them. I feel like I'm their only hope."