China growth target 
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More young people in Singapore turning to violence

The number of youths getting into violent fights seems to 
be on the rise. But what drives them to such aggression?

He had fists of fury.

At 13, he would prowl the streets and attack random strangers and people he deemed irritating - for no real reason, he admits.

Now 25, Rif (not his real name) admits the attacks were sometimes unprovoked.

He and his friends would go up to people on the street and beat them with fists - and sometimes weapons - because it gave him a sense of superiority.

"People would do things that annoyed me, like make a lot of noise and I could not stand it," says Rif with regret.

"I was good at fighting and wanted to show it because I knew I could overpower them."

Rif admits he grew up with anger management issues but cannot explain what caused it.

He's not the only one. More youths appear to be turning to senseless violence and engaging in brutal attacks.

Foreign workers have often been picked on because they seem to be easy targets.

One of the most violent attacks took place in June 2011.

Sumanthiran Selvarajoo, then 18, attacked Mr Loo Nam Sheng, 64, at an Ang Mo Kio park.

He repeatedly punched and kicked the old man, and even used an umbrella to hit Mr Loo's shin.

The elderly man died at the scene.

There is no breakdown of police figures for random attacks involving young offenders.

But more young people are getting into fights.

In 2014, 322 of them were arrested for rioting - a 13.8 per cent jump from the 2013 figure.

But it is not just a local trend. The World Health Organisation reported last year that worldwide, four out of 10 young people between the ages of 10 and 29 have been involved in youth violence.

These attacks can have deadly consequences.

On New Year's Eve in 2013 in Sydney, an 18-year-old was punched for no reason in what was dubbed a king hit.

The thrill for the attackers was to see who could sucker-punch a random stranger and render him unconscious.

The teenager subsequently died.

A week later, another youth was punched and ended up in a coma.

According to UK's The Daily Telegraph, a Monash University study in March 2014 showed that king hits have resulted in 91 deaths in Australia since 2000.

WORRY

Is there a cause for concern that young people here are following this trend of senseless violence?

Yes, says clinical psychologist Carol Balhetchet.

Dr Balhetchet says: "It does worry me because there have been more cases compared to five years ago.

"I'm wondering why are youths suddenly getting so violent, and I think it could be the pressure-cooker environment here, the stress they face.

"Maybe stress is an easy excuse to explain away their behaviour, but they become aggressive when stressed."

There's a lot of angst too, says Dr Michael Loh, a psychologist with more than 30 years' experience.

Experts believe that this tendency for violence could also be a result of other underlying issues.

"These youths seem to be people who have anger issues and choose to take it out on people who are less likely to retaliate," adds Dr Brian Yeo, a consultant psychiatrist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre.

Rif admits he struggled with anger management issues when he was younger.

He says: "I was hot-tempered, but now I realise it was so pathetic to get into fights so impulsively like that."

Sumanthiran may regret it too now.

On Tuesday, the national athlete hopeful was sentenced to 16 years' jail and 12 strokes of the cane.

But for his victim, it is too late.

Mr Loo just happened to be there and that was the only reason Sumanthiran needed to pick on him.

Previous cases

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Experts: Behaviour linked to teens' formative years

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Man killed by tipper truck in Changi Coast Road accident

Tragedy on Changi Coast Road

DEAD: Mr Zailee Othman was sitting by the roadside as his container truck had broken down when he was hit by a tipper truck, which ended in a ditch.
DEAD: Mr Zailee Othman was sitting by the roadside as his container truck had broken down when he was hit by a tipper truck, which ended in a ditch.

He had stopped his container truck by the road after it had broken down.

As Mr Zailee Othman, a 45-year-old Malaysian, waited for repairs to be done, he sat by the roadside and started to eat a packet of fried rice.

Suddenly, a seemingly out-of-control tipper truck crashed into him.

The accident happened on Changi Coast Road in the direction of Nicoll Drive at 5.30pm last Friday.

Before the truck hit Mr Zailee, it had smashed into a parked silver sedan from Mr Zailee's company.

Two mechanics had been sent to repair the container truck. Both men were unhurt as they were not in the car when the accident happened.

They heard the tipper truck coming from behind the container truck and instinctively dodged it, reported Lianhe Wanbao.

They also shouted out to Mr Zailee, but it was too late. He was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.

Said Mr Zailee's sister-in-law: "It was just a few seconds, Zailee's colleagues were able to dodge it, but he couldn't do it."

The impact was so strong that the back half of the sedan was crushed into the body of the car.

One of the mechanics told Shin Min Daily News that the tipper truck sent Mr Zailee "into the air".

The tipper truck ended up in a nearby ditch, pinning Mr Zailee underneath.

The 36-year-old driver of the tipper truck was taken to Changi General Hospital conscious.

A Singapore Civil Defence Force spokesman said officers used a hydraulic cutter to extricate the body.

Mr Zailee was on his final delivery assignment for the day, and he could have gone home after that, said his sister-in-law.

She said his wife was devastated and fainted several times after she heard the news.

At the mortuary yesterday, she told reporters that Mr Zailee's wife was still in Malaysia - as she does not have a passport - even though she wants to come to Singapore to find out what happened.

The body was taken back to their Malaysia home yesterday.

BREADWINNER

The couple has four sons, aged four to 14, and Mr Zailee was the breadwinner of the family.

His colleagues described him as a friendly and hardworking man who never had problems with his work.

A police spokesman told The New Paper on Sunday that no arrest has been made so far. Investigations are ongoing. - Additional reporting by Ng Jun Sen

THE NEW PAPER, YESTERDAY

What we say

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Four attempt gun shop robbery with BB guns

Owner shoots them with real gun

A botched robbery by four Mongolian men at a Bangkok gun shop yesterday left one of the intruders dead after a dramatic daytime shoot-out in the city's Chinatown district, police said.

The men, who police said held Chinese passports, stormed the store with BB guns in an effort to steal real firearms. BB guns are air guns that usually shoot pellets.

But the men were thwarted after the owner of the store opened fire on the robbers.

Armed police quickly joined in the shooting and three of the raiders were wounded, with one dying later in hospital.

Officers are still hunting for the leader of the network whom they said had entered Thailand several times.

WELL-PLANNED

National police chief Chakthip Chaijinda told reporters at the scene: "They planned the operation well... surveying the shop one day ahead of the robbery.

"Their purpose was to steal guns, but we don't know what they planned to use the guns for."

The shop, Inter Arms, is on a street with trendy bars and restaurants in the Chinatown neighbourhood.

Gun ownership is widespread in Thailand and watchdog groups say the kingdom has one of the highest gun murder rates in Asia.

The Thai government does not provide a specific breakdown for annual gun murders.

However, the website GunPolicy.org, a database of gun statistics run by the University of Sydney, estimates 3.48 murders per 100,000 people in Thailand - a figure on a par with the United States.

There are 6.1 million registered firearms in Thailand, a country with 67 million people, according to the Interior Ministry.

But GunPolicy.org puts the number at closer to 10 million after accounting for weapons bought in the booming black market.

- AFP.


 

THE SINGLE LIFE

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ALL THE WAY: Arion leading throughout in Race 2 to give the jockey-trainer combination of Corey Brown and Cliff Brown the first leg of their double at Kranji last night.
Jockey Corey Brown
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