Dateline Lion City: News in brief from Singapore

IT WAS Day One of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) increase, but judging by the huge crowds of shoppers along Orchard Road and other shopping areas on Wednesday, it seemed like consumers thought GST meant Got Sale Today. 

Few shoppers seemed to care about the one percentage point increase in GST, distracted instead by the massive sales and discounts being offered across the island. 

From Robinson's in Orchard Road to the smaller HDB shops in Toa Payoh, consumers continued their buying spree which had started before Christmas, oblivious that prices may be pushed up to reflect the 4% GST. 

To feed the shopping frenzy, many retailers have also announced that they will absorb the GST increase.. 

Secretary Lynn Marissa Liem, 43, a self-professed shopaholic, was one consumer who was keenly aware of the New Year goodies in store.  

From as early as 9.30am, while the rest of Singapore was still nursing hangovers from Tuesday's countdown parties, she was queuing outside Robinson's, waiting for it to open at 10.30am. 

“What GST are you talking about when there's a sale? The things are so cheap!” she said, as she left the queue of 30 other shoppers waiting to pay for their purchases. 

But for some retailers, like jewellery shop Tiara Creation at Centrepoint, business was slow. 

Its director, Francis Hwam, said:  

“For big-ticket items like jewellery, people will definitely hold back for a while.” 


A SHELTER for drug addicts, which ran into trouble for operating a makeshift filling station to cut costs, now has even bigger problems that can result in it being evicted. 

Neighbours worried about fire safety and pollution from a diesel tank operated by the shelter in a residential estate off Upper Thomson Road, had alerted the authorities about it. 

Earlier this week, the Singapore Civil Defence Force instructed The Promised Land Missions, which runs the shelter, to dismantle the tank and fined them S$300 (RM648). 

But after finding out that the Urban Redevelopment Authority was also looking into possible violations of zoning regulations, the owner of the two-storey terrace house occupied by the shelter gave them two weeks to move out. 

“They have been served a notice to vacate the premises on Dec 30 because of breach of contract,” said the landlord's housing agent. 

“They had not told us they were going to use the place for commercial activities.” 

The shelter houses about 15 reformed drug addicts, former convicts and the homeless. They also operate moving services for work therapy and extra income.  


INSTEAD of nursing hangovers from New Year's Eve revelries, more than 900 people spent the first day of 2003 queuing up, for up to eight hours, for free canned abalone, shark's fin soup and clams. 


In the promotion, the first 888 people to show up with a copy of food distributor Goh Joo Hin's four-page advertisement in Wednesday's edition of Chinese daily Lianhe Zaobao, would get free canned food. 


Depending on their position in the queue, each person received two cans of either preserved seafood, mushrooms or fruits, which ranged in value from S$2 (RM4.32) for the fruit to S$44 (RM95) for abalone. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network  

  • Another perspective from The Straits Times, a partner of Asia News Network. 

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