S R Nathan and the other 12 men


Mr S R Nathan
Director, Security and Intelligence Division, whom Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Defence Minister Goh Keng Swee told to lead the 13-men exchange.

Captain Clarence Tan Kim Peng
Commanding officer of the Singapore Armed Forces Regular Battalion, the precursor of the 1st Commando Battalion. He was one of the first local officers to attend the ranger and airborne courses conducted by the US Army. He was involved with the elite soldiers until 1988, then he became a defence attache in Australia before retiring in 1992.

Captain Gwee Peng Hong
Commando officer who was the commanding officer of the first batch of NS commandos.

Mr Teo Ah Bah
Commando officer.

Mr Tan Lye Kwee
Commando officer.


Mr Yoong Siew Wah
Director of Singapore's Internal Security Department (ISD), 1971 to 1974. He was previously the Director Of The Corrupt Practices Investigation bureau and an officer in the Singapore special branch in the 1950s.

Mr Tee Tua Ba
Officer-in-charge of Marine Police, 1974 to 1976. He became Commissioner of Police before retiring in 1997. He is now serving as non-resident ambassador to Switzerland.

Mr Seah Wai Toh
Superintendent of police. He later became deputy director of ISD after 1974 and was involved in negotiating the surrender of four Vietnamese hijackers of an Air Vietnam flight in 1977.

Mr S. Rajagopal
Assistant Superintendent, counter terrorism unit, ISD. His career was packed with dangerous assignments. He was involved in the Air Vietnam operations. Masquerading as a doctor, he boarded and got the injured out of the plane. Now 76, he serves as the honorary treasurer of the Singapore Police Retirees' Association.

Mr Andrew Tan
Assistant Superintendent, counter terrorism unit, ISD.

Mr Saraj Din
Assistant Superintendent, ISD.


Haji Abu Bakar
Religious teacher who was approached by the Ministry of Defence because of his fluency in Arabic. A civilian, he volunteered to join the men on the flight to Kuwait. He went on to become ustaz abu bakar and remained involved in the rehabilitation of terrorists. He died on jan 25, 2005.

Haji Abdul Rahman
Broadcaster with the Singapore Broadcasting Corporation and fluent in Arabic.

The magnificent 13 of the Laju hijack

After the passing of former president S R Nathan, there has been much talk about the 1974 Laju hijack and the bravery of the 13 men who traded places with the hostages. Who are these men?

HOME SAFE: The return of the 13 men from Kuwait at the Singapore Airport in 1974. They had gone to Kuwait as guarantors of safe passage for hijackers who hijacked the Laju ferry. The team was headed by Mr S R Nathan.

In 2011, before he retired from the highest office, the late president S R Nathan hosted a small tea reception attended by seven of 12 Singaporean men.

It was a private function and some of the men were recognisable faces to Istana staff.

"It was our first and only reunion, and we recounted some of the things that happened in 1974. We were at ease with the results (of the crisis)," says Mr Tee Tua Ba, 74, the former commissioner of police.

Mr S. Rajagopal, 76, a retired counter terrorism officer with the Internal Security Department, was also there, as were several commando officers. He took pictures of the gathering.

He tells The New Paper on Sunday: "I met the President at an earlier event and told him we should have a gathering for the men.

"We had not seen each other as a group since."

That was the day 13 men traded places with hostages of the Laju ferry to guarantee safe passage out of Singapore for four hijackers.

The details were never shared publicly and none of the men believed in self-glorification.

As a result, for more than 30 years, few outside the group knew of the men's readiness to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Then before retiring, Mr Nathan revealed to The New Paper what took place on the Feb 8, 1974, Japan Airlines flight to Kuwait with the four Laju hijackers.

And he gave even more details in his book, An Unexpected Journey: Path To The Presidency.

Among the 13 were commandos, including LTC (Retired) Clarence Tan Kim Peng, Singapore's first US-trained special forces soldier.

And ISD officers including director Yoong Siew Wah who, like the others, was ready to lay down his life.


But there were also two non-security men who had acted as interpreters during the crisis.

One was a former official of the Syariah Court while the other had worked at the then-Singapore Broadcasting Corporation.

Both had died before the Istana reunion.

There has only been one publicly seen picture of the 13 men, taken at a press conference after the men had safely returned to Singapore on Feb 9.

They never again assembled as a group for more than 35 years.


What we say

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Aljunied Crescent resident is first case of locally transmitted Zika virus

Block 102, Aljunied Crescent

The first locally transmitted case of Zika virus has been reported.

The patient, a 47-year-old Malaysian woman working in Singapore, lives in Block 102 Aljunied Crescent, the Ministry of Health (MOH) and National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a joint statement.

The patient had not travelled to any Zika-affected areas recently and it is likely that she was infected in Singapore.

The discovery was made after the patient developed a fever, rashes and conjunctivitis on Thursday (August 25).

After visiting a GP on Friday she was referred to the Communicable Diseases Centre (CDC) at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where she was tested positive for Zika on Saturday (August 27).

She is under observation at the CDC and is recovering.

The statement says that with the "volume of travel by Singaporeans as well as tourists, it is inevitable that there will be imported cases of Zika into Singapore".

There is also the "risk of subsequent local transmission", due to the presence of the Aedes mosquito here.

"While MOH and NEA have stepped up precautionary measures, we expect that there may be further cases, as most infected persons may display mild or no symptoms."

The patient's close contacts, including household members are being screened. MOH is also testing others in the area who have fever and rash.

There are three other suspected cases in the area pending confirmation tests.

For now, as an added precaution, all suspect cases of Zika virus infection will be isolated while awaiting confirmation of the blood test results.

All GPs around the patient's home and workplace have been alerted to be "extra vigilant".

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said: "MOH and NEA are working together to carry out vector control and testing of residents in that area with fever and rashes so as to reduce the risk of further spread. I encourage those who are unwell and with these symptoms to visit their doctors for medical attention. We have also alerted our clinics in the area to look out for suspect cases and refer them to the CDC for testing."

NEA has intensified operations to control the Aedes mosquito population in the Aljunied Crescent area.

While Block 102 is not located in an active dengue cluster, there are two active dengue clusters nearby, each with two cases.

Residents are urged to cooperate fully with NEA officers who may inspect their premises for mosquito breeding.

Zika is generally a mild disease. It may cause a viral fever similar to dengue or chikungunya, with fever, skin rashes, body aches, and headache. But many people infected with the Zika virus infection do not even develop symptoms.

However, infection can cause microcephaly(abnormal smallness of the head) in the unborn foetuses of pregnant women.

For more information on Zika go to www.moh.gov.sg/zika


Tags: ZIKA, mosquito and Singapore

I'm 'totally ordinary' in real life, says Kang Ha Neul

South Korean actor in town to promote period drama says there is a large gap between him and his character

POPULAR: South Korean actor Kang Ha Neul at his press conference here to promote Scarlet Heart, which is a Korean adaptation of the original Chinese drama.
FANTASY: South Korean actors Kang Ha Neul (right) and Lee Joon Gi in fantasy period drama Scarlet Heart.

Sorry to destroy the fantasies of K-drama fan girls - the truth is, real life hardly imitates reel life.

Take it from South Korean actor Kang Ha Neul.

The 26-year-old is in town to promote Scarlet Heart, the highly-anticipated Korean adaptation of the massively popular 2011 Chinese fantasy period drama with the same name.

Kang, who was cheerful and affable during his press conference yesterday, said he is nothing like his character in Scarlet Heart.

In the 20-parter, he plays the stoic and ambitious Eighth Prince Wang Wook.

The prince falls in love with female protagonist Lee Ji Eun (South Korean singer and actress IU),who went back in time from the 21st century to the ancient Goryeo dynasty.

"I'm very ordinary, totally different from Wang Wook," Kang told local reporters via a translator.

"I'm not as smart, I'm not good in martial arts at all... To most people, I'm just a boy next door, a big brother to the young ones and a younger brother to my seniors."

Kang will hold a meet-and-greet session with fans at 5.45pm today in Punggol at Village Square, Level 1, Waterway Point. It is free and open to the public.

Scarlet Heart, which also stars Lee Joon Gi and Baekhyun of boy band EXO, will premiere on Monday the same time as in South Korea.

It will air every Monday and Tuesday at 9pm exclusively on ONE (Singtel TV Ch 513 and 604, StarHub TV Ch 124, 820 and 823).

Kang said: "I'm drawn to roles that bring out traits I don't have.

"The most appealing part about playing the Eighth Prince was portraying the change in his personality after he found romance.

"The Eighth Prince was initially really repressed. He suppressed a lot of his emotions because he felt he had to (behave like a) prince.

"But after meeting IU's Ji Eun and falling for her, he felt liberated. He felt the freedom to do the things he wanted."


Kang said he is aware of how well-received the original production of Scarlet Heart was.

"To be part of such a mega hit, I definitely felt pressure. Eventually, I told myself to just give it a go and enjoy myself. Only then can I do my best," he said.

He is confident the Korean version will outdo its predecessor in at least one aspect - the technical element.

He said: "We have taken the visuals a notch up. Visually, it is very attractive, from the camera angles to the use of colours."

Tags: Korea, drama and Singapore

Infant dies after mother puts him in fridge for 3 hours

CHARGED: Angela Blackwell.
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Surgery for girl, 4, shot with 100 pellets by boy, 8

ORGANS DAMAGED: This four-year-old girl in China has been left with steel shards lodged in her body after she was shot with pellets by her playmate.
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Crammed, unregulated 
& dangerous

Baby's death highlights Japan's nursery woes

CHILDCARE: A nursery in Yokohama, Japan.
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Nathan Hartono was terrified over lost voice

Local singer Nathan Hartono is first S'porean to make it past 'battle' round in reality TV show Sing! China

RISING STAR: Nathan Hartono on Sing! China.
RISING STAR: With his coach, Mandopop star Jay Chou.

Nathan Hartono is the first Singaporean to make it past the "battle" round of the popular reality TV singing competition Sing! China, which is a rebranded version of The Voice Of China.

The 25-year-old local singer and songwriter first made his mark on the show by sailing past the blind auditions on July 15, after which he chose Mandopop star Jay Chou as his coach.

He appeared on yesterday's episode of the show, which airs over Zhejiang TV and featured Chou's team of 10 battling it out in pairs.

Chou ended up choosing Hartono - who performed Cantopop singer Eason Chan's ballad We Are All Lonely - over China opponent Huang Junjie, thus cracking the top five of Chou's team.


In the next round, Hartono will be pitted against contestants from other teams helmed by Sing! China's three other coaches, Harlem Yu, Na Ying and Wang Feng.

Speaking to The New Paper on Thursday over the phone from Jiaxing, China, where Sing! China is being filmed, Hartono, who is Indonesian-Chinese, said: "I was a little terrified because I had lost my voice and was completely unable to sing the week prior (to the actual performance)...

"Thankfully, on the day itself, everything kind of fell into place.

"I had my voice, I didn't forget the lyrics, which is a huge deal for me as it's in Mandarin, and I did what I set out to do on stage.

"(Huang) had a very different (musical) style, so it was hard to make a direct comparison (between us)...

"It's a very cool experience to know that the whole of Singapore is behind me and I'm very happy to have come this far," said Hartono.

For the "battle" round, Chou did not give him many pointers during the rehearsals - which took place the night before the live recording - and only advised him on hitting the right notes.

Hartono was initially worried about having Chou as his mentor, as Chou is the busiest of all the four judges.

And during the beginning stages of the competition, he did not get to see Chou very often.

"The first interaction I had with him was on FaceTime and Skype because he was on tour," he said.

"I was a bit apprehensive at first because I wondered if (our sessions) would be like this the whole time. But once things really got rolling, I got to see him more often."

Hartono described Chou as "obsessive", as the latter had done thorough research on social media about each student on his team before meeting them face-to-face.

"He was trying to get a better handle of how he could help each of us and to find out our strengths and weaknesses," he said.

"It was great to see him care so much. He's the kind of coach who doesn't try to impose a style, song choice or idea on the student.

"He's very collaborative. He would always ask for my opinion first and he would make song suggestions. But if I disagreed, he would be cool and try to cater to me based on my choice."

Tags: China, Music and contest