Month: March 2019

HONG KONG – Chinese traditional medicine is rapidly expanding worldwide as a key pillar of the country’s Belt and Road initiative, but conservation groups say demand for treatments using animal products is driving a surge in illegal trafficking of wildlife.

Since the start of the year, authorities in the Chinese territory of Hong Kong have seized record volumes of threatened species, including 8.3 tonnes of pangolin scales from nearly 14,000 pangolins and its largest ever haul of rhino horns, worth more than US$1 million (S$1.35 million).

The former British colony is one of the world’s primary wildlife trafficking transit points, supplying an array of products including shark fins, tiger parts and rhino horn across Asia and into mainland China.

“One of the most alarming characteristics of wildlife trafficking is the growing use of threatened species in traditional medicines,” conservation group ADM Capital Foundation said in a recent report.

It identified the traditional Chinese medicine industry as accounting for more than three-quarters of the trade in endangered wildlife products in Hong Kong over the past 5 years.

China’s State Council has outlined a multi-decade plan to promote traditional medicine, including setting up hospitals, museums, medicinal zoos and botanical gardens in countries involved in its Belt and Road infrastructure rollout.

The industry is booming.

Worth some US$60 billion a year, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) Bulletin, and growing at around 11 per cent annually, according to IBIS World, practices such as acupuncture and herbal supplementation are finding acceptance globally.

The WHO says it will formally recognise traditional medicine in its compendium in May, meaning more mainstream recognition of practices dating back more than 2,500 years.

While many practitioners have shunned the use of endangered species, environmental groups say traditional remedies including rare animals are still popular in Vietnam and China, where they are used for a range of ills from cancer to skin blemishes and hangovers.

Species including pangolin, rhino, saiga, sea horses, moon bears and tigers are some of the animals critically endangered by the trade, according to wildlife organisations.

Mr Zhou Jinfeng, Secretary-General of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation, said the WHO should take sustainability and science as preconditions for incorporating traditional Chinese medicine into its compendium.

“All medicinal treatment should be on the principle of ‘do no harm’ to those using, or making it and to the species it depends on; meaning in most cases no vertebrate should be used within TCM,”Mr Zhou said, referring to traditional Chinese medicine.

Inclusion in the compendium did not mean the WHO endorsed the scientific validity of traditional medicine, or that it recommended or condoned the use of animal parts, a WHO spokesman Tarik Jašarevic said.

“WHO recommends the enforcement of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, which protects rhinos, tigers, and other species,” he said.


While Hong Kong does not typically manufacture traditional Chinese medicine products, it imports them from the mainland and a wide array, including pangolin scales, saiga horn and shark fin, are readily available in the city’s Western district.

Hong Kong lawmaker Elizabeth Quat said preventing the use of endangered animals in traditional Chinese medicine must happen in the mainland.

“The Chinese government should do something. Manufacturing is mostly in China. The government needs to stop the production of it,” she said.

In online Chinese forums, customers can buy everything from African rhino horn to live young pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, and the powdered horn of saiga, an endangered type of antelope found in Europe and Asia.

While the use of rhino horn is officially banned in China, pangolin and saiga products are legally used in Chinese medicine with the big traditional medicine companies all producing them.

Companies including Kangmei Pharmaceutical and Tong Ren Tang have been given permits by local government bodies to produce medicines with pangolin scales and saiga horns, according to corporate filings.

Gui Zhen Tang, which owns the biggest moon bear breeding centre in southern China, has permits for extracting bear bile, according to its website.

China Traditional Medicine Holdings last year acquired Beijing Huamiao, a company it says holds permits for the “processed products of some of the endangered and protected wild animals”. It did not elaborate.

None of the companies responded to multiple requests for comment.

China’s State Forestry and Grassland Administration and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine did not respond to requests to comment.

Hong Kong’s Health department said the city’s Chinese Medicines Board “has always been concerned about the balance between the protection of endangered species and the use of traditional Chinese medicine,” and it would continue to observe international regulatory trends and monitor the issue with regard to endangered species.

Farming of animals used in traditional medicine has been advocated by China’s Forestry administration and some breeders as a sustainable way to use endangered animals in traditional Chinese medicine.

However, activists say the use of farmed supplies of animals such as tigers and rhinos risks enabling the laundering of wild animal parts.

Many treatments have already substituted herbal products for animal parts, and practitioners say herbal alternatives are just as, if not more effective.

Mr Lixing Lao, director at the School of Chinese Medicine at the University of Hong Kong, said there was no need to use endangered species.

“Chinese medicine is part of the world,” Mr Lao said. “We take care of the human health, the animals. If we use endangered species, it damages our reputation.”


On 21 March, a newborn baby almost died after the expecting mother had to be rushed into operating theatre due to a life-threatening condition. This incident happened in Zhejiang, China and the mother was already eight months into the pregnancy.

According to Sinchew, the 38-year-old mother suddenly vomited white foam and had a seizure before collapsing on to the floor at around 1pm. She was sent to the Emergency Department where she was diagnosed with eclampsia, a serious condition that could prove fatal to both the mother and the baby. 

Her blood pressure was extremely high at that time and the doctors decided to perform surgery in order to save the baby and the mother. While the operation was ongoing, the father surnamed Loo, was waiting anxiously outside the room. Sadly, the newborn didn’t cry at all and when he was born, his body was on the pale side.

After a few minutes, the baby boy had stopped breathing and there was little to no heartbeat detected. However, the paediatrician, anaesthetist, and other nurses didn’t give up. They administered CPR and other treatments to the baby but after one hour of trying, the baby still showed no signs of a heartbeat.

They had no choice but to inform the father who was waiting outside. Accepting the heartbreaking truth, the man decided to stop the resuscitation attempts and expressed his wish to see his son for the last time. Understandably, he broke down upon seeing his baby even though the medical team was still working hard to revive his son.

Suddenly, a miracle happened as the baby’s heart started beating. The doctors and nurses began cheering for the baby as they were shouting, “Don’t give up, baby!” They continued with the treatment and successfully stabilised the baby’s condition in the end.

Clearly, the baby is a fighter. Hence, the father decided to give his son a name that connotes ‘strong’, with the hope that he will have the strength to live on. The doctors were relieved as well and said they’ve never encountered such touching and nerve-wracking incident before.


An emotional photo of a bride holding the hand of her cancer-stricken father has moved the hearts of netizens since it went viral on Facebook earlier this week. The post garnered approximately 46k reactions and 18k shares after it was posted on 26 March (Tuesday).

According to Jessie Tesoro, owner of Happy Smile Studio, the photo was taken by their photographer, Biboy Sajulga, during the wedding of Kris and Herlyn Dumaguin, who are from the Philippines.

Jessie Tesoro said, “As far as I know, the bride’s father has stage 4 brain cancer.” “The day before the wedding he was so excited to walk his daughter down the aisle. Unfortunately, on the same day, he collapsed.”

According to AsiaOne, Tesoro went on to say that a car was parked in front of the church entrance on that day. Before the bride walked down the aisle, she went to her father, kissed him and said, “Pa, I’m going to get married now, ok?”

A father-daughter dance was also planned for the wedding reception. However, this did not happen. Instead of her father dancing with her, the bride’s mother took his place.

An emotional video which was suppose to be a father and daughter dance but the bride’s mother danced in her father’s place instead. Video by Despi John

Posted by Happy Smile Studio on Isnin, 25 Mac 2019


Desperate workers leaped to their deaths, as a huge fire tore through a Dhaka office block Thursday killing at least seven people and trapping others in the latest major inferno to hit the Bangladesh capital.

Six people died after jumping from the 22-floor building while another victim suffered fatal burns, officials said.

Emergency services said at least 65 people were being treated in hospitals.

People were seen screaming for help as hundreds of panicked onlookers crowded the streets of the upmarket Banani commercial district.

Some workers slid down a television cable on the side of the building. Others grabbed ropes lowered by emergency service helicopters which pulled them out of the blaze.

The inferno erupted barely a month after at least 70 people were killed in Dhaka apartment buildings where illegally stored chemicals exploded.

The latest disaster brought new scenes of horror amid fears that the toll would rise. More than 100 ambulances were parked in streets around the building.

Shoikot Rahman heard colleagues raise the alarm and ran to safety before smoke and flames engulfed the building.

“When I heard a fire broke out in the building, I quickly rushed out,” he told AFP. “Many of my colleagues are still trapped in the office.”

Firefighters on long ladders smashed windows to create escape routes. More than one hour after the blaze erupted people could still be seen on the 13th and 14th floors desperately waving for help amid clouds of black smoke.

Army helicopters dangled ropes that victims grabbed so they could be lifted to safety, with crowds below cheering and applauding every time someone was rescued.


Three hospitals reported that six men and women had died or arrived with fatal injuries after jumping from the office block. They included a Sri Lankan man whose body was taken to the army’s Kurmitola Hospital.

Dilkhosh Ahmed at the Banani Clinic said one of the victims had attempted to use the television cable to climb down, but slipped and fell around the eighth floor.

A seventh death from burns was recorded at the Dhaka Medical College hospital.

Helicopters were deployed to drop water on the blaze as scores of firefighters backed by navy and air force specialists struggled to bring it under control.

A top fire official said the flames had been stopped from spreading to adjoining buildings.

“Teams have entered the building and they are scouring the floors for any remaining victims. The building did not have fire-fighting equipment,” said Lieutenant Colonel Julfikar Rahman of the Dhaka fire service told reporters.

Some workers told of risky escapes.

“My uncle and two more people jumped from their floor. His hand and leg are broken and his eye is damaged,” one man said without giving his name.

A man who gave his name as Jico said he had been working on the 19th floor. “The fire started in a restaurant on the sixth floor. We ran to the roof as soon as we heard about it and then used a wooden plank to get over to the next building.”

Fire disasters regularly hit Bangladesh’s major cities where safety standards are notoriously lax.

A massive blaze in Dhaka’s old quarter on February 21 killed at least 70 people and injured 50 others.

Fire service officials said chemicals illegally stored in an apartment building exploded and set alight five buildings and nearby streets. That blaze took more than 12 hours to control.

A June 2010 fire in the nearby neighbourhood of Nimtoli, one of the most densely populated districts of the capital, killed 123 people.

In November 2012, a fire swept through a nine-story garment factory near Dhaka killing 111 workers. An investigation found it was caused by sabotage and that managers at the plant had prevented victims from escaping.

Experts said inspections of buildings in the city frequently found fire stairs blocked with stored goods and exit doors locked.


The Firevase is a flower vase that you literally throw at a fire like a grenade in order to put it out. Produced by a Samsung subsidiary called Cheil Worldwide, the vase works using an outer chamber filled with potassium carbonate that quickly cools and suppresses oxygen when the vase is smashed. A smaller inner chamber then holds the water for your flowers.

Dezeen notes that 100,000 Firevases were originally produced as part of a publicity campaign to promote the use of home fire extinguishers in South Korea. Despite the fact that having a home fire extinguisher has been mandatory since 2017, less than 60 percent of households in the country currently own one.

As a result of the success of the original campaign, which saw the amount of homes equipped with a fire extinguisher increase by 8 percent, Cheil Worldwide is now producing 200,000 more of the vases.

The Verge

Acrobatic stunts seize the sky

March 29, 2019 | News | No Comments

Crowds watching a captivating aerial display by the Royal Malaysian Air Force team during the opening of Lima 2019 at the tarmac near the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre in Langkawi, Kedah. (Above pic) A joint demonstration by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency, naval special forces (Paskal), Royal Malaysian Navy and VAT69 Police commando unit near Resorts World Langkawi.

THE air show in conjunction with the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (Lima) 2019 on the opening day went on smoothly, said Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu.

He said that Lima 2019 proceeded well without any major hiccup.

“Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad launched the prestigious event, triggering a nostalgic feeling of having initiated the first Lima in 1991.

“On behalf of my ministry, I wish to say thank you to Dr Mahathir,” he said in a media conference at the Mahsuri International Exhibition Centre (MIEC) in Langkawi, Kedah, on Tuesday.

Among them were the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) which exhibited their fighter jets SU-30MKM and F/A-18D, the aerobatic team Jupiter from the Indonesian Armed Forces-Air Force (TNI-AU) and the Indian Air Force with their aircraft Tejas.

The show also featured the Malaysian aerobatic team, Krisakti which used the Extra 300L aircraft.

The maritime show was held on Wednesday.

Lima 2019 is being held at the MIEC and Resort World Langkawi until tomorrow.

A total of 406 defence and commercial companies from 32 countries are taking part in Lima 2019 involving 206 local companies and 200 international companies.

The 15th edition of the Lima 2019 exhibition is jointly organised by EN Projects (M) Sdn Bhd, the Ministries of Defence and Transport with the theme ‘Defence and Commercial Connecting Intelligence’.


Time to bring along your dining buddy

March 29, 2019 | Food, Promotions | No Comments

Make a date with your dining buddy, as Flamingo Hotel in Penang now has a Buy 1 Free 1 deal on its popular Sunday Lunch Buffet.

This applies to the adult price only (normally RM60 per person). With each paying adult, another gets to eat for free.

The limited time only promotion is offered to mark the hotel’s 10th anniversary and represents great value for cost-conscious locals.

General Manager Ong Hai Leong said it was their way of saying thank you to crowds who drop by for the value-for-money feast week after week.

The pricing for children aged four to 11 and seniors above 60 remains at a similarly affordable RM28, considering the good spread available.

Appetiser possibilities include rojak, pasembur, Chinese cold cuts, kerabu, acar, salads, ulam and soups such as French-styled Clear Onion or Double Boiled Old Cucumber with Diced Chicken.

Among the hot dishes, one might find Baked Fillet of Fish Meuniere with Sauteed Pesto Pasta, Imported Lamb Stew Navarin, Baked Chinese Salted Chicken, Beef Rendang and Indian Baby Prawns Curry.

On other weeks, there could be American Roasted Blackened Beef, Pan Roasted Buffalo Chicken, Ayam Masak Merah, Lamb Curry with Eggplant or Mackerel Paprik with Vegetables.

Otherwise, help yourselves to local specialties cooked on the spot at action stalls. There is Fried Koay Kak, Roti Canai and Murtabak, Roti Jala with Chicken Curry and Tandoori Chicken.

Claypot Salmon Head Porridge, clear or Tom Yam noodle soup, Crispy Fried Fish, Nyonya Pie Tee and stir-fried vegetables, may also be available.

For dessert, there is a selection of fresh fruits, local pastries, as well as western cakes, jellies, puddings and tartlets.

Save some room for Ais Kerim Goyang, Thai Cendol, Bubur Pulut Hitam, Gandum, Bubur Pengat Pisang or See Kor Th’ng.

The Sunday Lunch Buffet is served from 12.30pm to 2.30pm. It is advisable to book tables in advance to avoid disappointment.

Call 04-8927167 or email to


A man stopped by police on suspicion of drink driving took the unorthodox step of using a can of deodorant as a makeshift breath freshener before facing officers.

Efren Mencia-Ramirez was pulled over after he sped past a police car on a road in South Carolina’s Spartanburg County, before swerving into another lane.

As officers walked towards the 49-year-old, he reached for the can of Axe (branded as Lynx in the UK).

Officers saw Mr Mencia-Ramirez “spraying Axe body spray in his mouth when [the deputy] approached, to cover the smell of alcohol on his breath,” the police report states.

They also found him at the wheel with an open can of beer between his legs and nine empty cans on the floor. Another was open full and one remained unopened.

The last-minute perfumery could not disguise the overwhelming odor of drink.

He smelled of alcohol and exhibited signs of intoxication while talking with officers, the report says.

Mr Mencia-Ramirez was arrested on suspicions of driving under the influence after failing multiple field sobriety tests and taken to the sheriff’s office headquarters, where he provided a breath sample indicating he was almost twice over the legal limit for operating a vehicle in South Carolina.

He was charged with driving under the influence, having an open container, no proof of insurance and no valid driver’s license.

Lynx body sprays typically contain alcohol, making his attempted concealment methods all the more futile.

According to the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, an estimated 10,874 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2017.


A teenager who pleaded guilty to pushing her younger friend off a 60-foot bridge in Washington was sentenced to two days in jail.

Taylor Smith, 19, was also ordered to spend 38 days on a work crew after pleading guilty earlier this month to reckless endangerment for shoving Jordan Holgerson, 17, off a bridge in Moulton Falls Regional Park on Aug. 7. A 10-second video clip of the incident captured on a cellphone went viral.

Smith must also pay a fine of $300 and have no contact with Holgerson for two years.

Holgerson suffered six broken ribs and punctured lungs.

Clark County District Court Judge Darvin Zimmerman noted the severity of Holgerson’s injuries before delivering Smith’s sentence.

“I think you need to do some jail time,” Zimmerman said.

Before sentencing Smith, the judge heard from Holgerson, her mother and the defendant. Holgerson was so emotional that she had a victim’s advocate read her statement.

“This nightmare started for me when I was falling through the air, and I was really terrified,” the statement said. “When I was being pulled from the water, I thought, ‘I’m going to die,’ because I couldn’t breathe. And I was watching my body change color by the second.”

Her mother, Genelle Holgerson, told the judge she believed Smith acted intentionally and should serve as many days in jail as her daughter spent in the hospital after the incident, a total of three days.

“After Taylor pushed her, she did not rush down to see if Jordan was OK, she left the scene,” Genelle Holgerson said. “She did not show up at the hospital to check on Jordan. She did not stop by our home to see if she was OK or in any other way act like a friend.”

Smith originally pleaded not guilty in September but changed her plea last month after being offered a deal by prosecutors, who had recommended she receive no jail time. Instead, they suggested she serve 60 days of home confinement, 30 days of service with a work crew and 30 days of community service.

Smith apologized to Holgerson in court Wednesday and said she has grown as a person and learned to think before she acts.

“I’d like to sincerely apologize to Jordan Holgerson, her family and friends for the pain and humiliation I have caused by my mindless actions that occurred last summer,” Smith said tearfully. “Although it may have seemed like my intent was to harm” and like “I may have moved on without putting any punishment on myself, this is false. Jordan has passed through my thoughts repetitively since the incident.”

Smith was led away in handcuffs following the sentence.


SINGAPORE – The National Environment Agency (NEA) said on Thursday (March 28) that it is investigating after a video of a rat scurrying around the food trays of a Toa Payoh eatery began circulating on social media.

In the clip, which was posted on Facebook on Wednesday, a number of roast ducks can also be seen hanging over the counter where the rat was. On Thursday, NEA told The Straits Times it has inspected the restaurant’s premises following the incident.

Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao reported that the eatery in the video was Lee Kwang Kee Teochew Cuisine, which is located at Toa Payoh Lorong 8.

One of the staff in charge of the eatery told Wanbao that the restaurant strictly abides by hygiene regulations.

He added that the employee who spotted the rat immediately informed his boss and threw away all the ingredients that were on the counter, including the roast ducks. The area was then cleaned and disinfected.

He said that the eatery, which is open 24 hours a day, has its floors and utensils cleaned thrice a day.

He also said the eatery engages a pest control company once a month.

Rat was spotted at this Teochew restaurant at Lor 8 TPY this morning

Posted by Lewis Baba Tay on Selasa, 26 Mac 2019

“There are more than 10 mouse traps in every corner of this restaurant, and I have never once seen a rat here,” he said.

The restaurant’s boss, 54-year-old Mr Lee, told Wanbao that staff are instructed to always keep food trays covered.

However, he said that at the time that the video was taken, the ingredients in the trays were being refilled, which is why they were left uncovered.

Mr Lee also pointed out that there is a rubbish collection point around 30 metres away from the restaurant, where rats sometimes emerge from at night.

“We definitely don’t wish for these things to happen. All we can do is continue to take precautions,” he said.