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Death of ‘Mr Big’ stirs memories of Singapore’s gangland past



SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Early one October morning in 1969, Singapore police officers found the body of a man dumped in a storm drain. He had been stabbed to death, police said, in what became one of the country’s most notorious gang killings.

After more than 50 years on the run, one of the men wanted for the murder, Tan Tong Meng, died of a heart attack in Denmark last month, according to former police detectives, online tributes and media reports.

The death of one of Singapore’s most high-profile gangsters, and memories of the brazen 1969 mob hit, have revived interest in the city-state’s history as a wellspring for organised crime – and surprised younger residents with no knowledge of that past in what is now regarded as one of the world’s safest cities.

Tan’s demise has also polarised opinion between those who applauded his global ambition and others who loathe criminals in a country where drug traffickers face the death sentence.

Tan was 72, and also known as Roland Tan, or by his aliases – “Mr. Big” and “The Hainanese Kid”. He was once one of Singapore’s most storied fugitives and went on to run a powerful European drug trafficking syndicate out of Amsterdam, according to two former Singapore police detectives and media reports.

Tan’s family members did not respond to requests for comment and Singapore police did not immediately have comment. Dutch and Danish police declined to comment.

‘Singapore ever got gangsters?’

Whether revered or reviled, Tan has garnered new attention in his home city.

“Wow such great talent from number 1 … Singapore!” James Chan commented on a May 10 article about Tan’s death in Singapore’s main Straits Times newspaper posted on Facebook.

“This kind of reputation, no thanks. Nothing to be proud of,” said Elliot Koh in one of hundreds of other comments on social media sites and blogs.

Many readers didn’t seem to know organised crime had existed in the city-state: “Singapore ever got gangsters meh?” read one Facebook post.

But some of those old enough to remember when mob culture thrived in Singapore in the years before and after the island gained independence from Britain in 1965 cautioned against romanticising the past.

“When I was young, I have witnessed a guy going round every hawker stall collecting money. We should never take our safe and mafia free country for granted,” said commenter Wilfred Lee.

The story of Mr Big

Tan’s funeral in Copenhagen on April 24 was attended by members of the Hell’s Angels, pictures show. It was streamed on a private Facebook page that is followed by hundreds of family members and well-wishers – many from Singapore – who would not have been able to travel to Denmark due to coronavirus lockdowns.

Photograph montages, including shots of an older Tan’s slight figure in bright patterned shirts, a cigarette in hand, circulated on instant messenger services. A video of a lavish birthday party, where Tan stood over a three-tier cake as guests snapped pictures on smartphones, was widely shared.

Tan, who escaped Singapore in the aftermath of Lam’s death, was one of the country’s most wanted murder suspects in the 1970s with the police offering S$2,000 for information leading to his arrest, a large sum at the time.

He fled to Amsterdam via Malaysia and later moved to Denmark where he married a Danish woman, according to media reports, retired Singapore police detective Lionel de Souza, who investigated Tan, and a second former police source who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Tan ran a restaurant in Copenhagen but moved to Cambodia after being shot by his Vietnamese bodyguard in 2009, according to the second police source and local media reports. He returned to Copenhagen last year, the reports said.

‘Secret societies’

Singapore’s gang culture was derived from “secret societies” formed by Chinese settlers in Southeast Asia in the 1800s, said Jean Abshire, a U.S.-based academic who authored ‘The History of Singapore’.

Gangs involved in human trafficking, prostitution and drug smuggling still existed in Singapore after British rule ended but police crackdowns in the 1990s all but eradicated organised crime.

Some young offenders still revere more powerful cartels of the past, according to a 2015 academic study based on interviews with miscreants.

Lionel de Souza, the retired police officer who investigated Tan and other secret society members, said that gangsters shouldn’t be glorified.

“It’s good riddance to bad rubbish,” he said.

Reporting and photo: Reuters


Emirates undertakes largest known fleet retrofit project



Emirates has kick-started its plans to upgrade the entire interior cabins of 120 Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft – two of the largest commercial aircraft types in service today.

This ambitious project, representing a multi-billion dollar investment to ensure Emirates’ customers “fly better” for the coming years, officially commences in November and is managed entirely by Emirates’ Engineering team.

The target is to completely retrofit four Emirates aircraft from start to finish every month, continuously for over 2 years. Once the 67 earmarked A380s are refreshed and back in service, 53 777s will undergo their facelift. This will see nearly 4,000 brand new Premium Economy seats installed, 728 First Class suites refurbished and over 5,000 Business Class seats upgraded to a new style and design when the project is complete in April 2025.

In addition, carpets and stairs will be upgraded, and cabin interior panels refreshed with new tones and design motifs including the iconic ghaf trees which are native to the UAE.

No other airline has handled a retrofit of this magnitude in-house, and there’s no blueprint for such an undertaking. Therefore Emirates Engineering teams have been planning and testing extensively, to establish and streamline processes, and identify and address any possible snags.

Trials began on an A380 in July, where experienced engineers literally took each cabin apart piece-by-piece and logged every step. From removing seats and panelling to bolts and screws, every action was tested, timed and mapped out. Potential impediments to completing the installation of Emirates’ new Premium Economy Class or the retrofit of the remaining three cabins in just 16 days were flagged and documented for expert teams to review and address.

As part of the programme, new purpose-built workshops will be set up at Emirates Engineering to repaint, re-trim and re-upholster Business and Economy Class seats with new covers and cushioning. First Class suites will be carefully disassembled and sent to a specialised company to replace the leather, arm rests and other materials.

From the trials, Engineers discovered several unexpected solutions for instance: that existing food catering trucks could be easily repurposed to move parts destined for refurbishment from the aircraft to the workshop for their refresh, as these vehicles had doors of the right width and offer sufficient space.

Until the retrofit programme starts in earnest in November, a cross-disciplinary team has been assembled to regularly review the planning process, address any issues, and track updates on various aspects of the project such as procurement, staffing, and training.

Emirates’ new Premium Economy cabin class, which offers luxurious seats, more legroom, and a service to rival many airlines’ business offering, is currently available to Emirates customers travelling on popular A380 routes to London, Paris, Sydney. More customers will be able to experience the airline’s new Premium Economy cabins starting from year end, as the retrofit programme picks up momentum.

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Eleanor helps over 30 Maldives hotels elevate guest services



Eleanor has been named as one of the top 10 concierge software providers globally.

Based on accurate, timely reviews from real users, the HotelTechAwards rank the world’s best hotel software firms and products and it also provides hoteliers direct access to a growing network of hotel technology professionals and decision-makers.

“The guest experience is the cornerstone of our platform. Our unified resort wide solution, Eleanor, has been built for resorts off the back of many years working in the industry and addresses the needs of both Sales and Marketing departments and perhaps just as importantly, the operational requirements of the team on the ground at the property. The days of resorts working with disjointed systems are now behind us,” says Darren Caple, co-founder and CEO.

“We are on a mission to make the guest’s resort experience as easy and as frictionless as possible. Whereas traditional providers in the market have come at this purely from a guest communication perspective, our background in resorts has allowed us to combine this basic requirement with the streamlining of operational processes. The result is truly a resort wide solution that removes the need for countless different systems to be deployed.

Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. More than 30 properties in the Maldives use our Eleanor platform to help butlers and guest services elevate the guest experience. These properties are seeing an increase in incremental revenue by over 30% and operational efficiencies of 600+ man hours per month. We are also beginning to roll out the platform in some Caribbean properties!”

Eleanor is making waves in the hospitality industry by pushing the conventional limits of what a resort guest app can achieve through its unique ability to facilitate direct bookings for services and activities. The traditional ‘request to book’ feature that is common amongst almost all other hotel apps is removed by a power booking and operational platform sitting at the heart of the solution that covers all the resorts’ departments. It’s this module which realises enormous operational benefits and insights for the resort.

“We, at Eleanor, are humbled and honoured that our clients have provided such positive reviews. Feedback from our clients, partners and hoteliers are incredibly valuable for us and we will continue to improve our offering and services”, said Caple.

To celebrate this success, Eleanor is currently offering resorts a free one month trial, together with free setup and training and discounted monthly fees.

Eleanor, founded in 2018 and has its headquarters in the United Kingdom. Created from over 15 years of hands-on expertise, Eleanor allows resorts to deliver consistent, superior service levels to its guests across all stages of their journey with contactless features helping to alleviate sensitive touch-points in the post pandemic period. Eleanor also helps to unlock operational efficiencies and boost incremental revenue and guest loyalty.

Hotel Tech Report’s Best Concierge Software 2022 Runner Up, reviewed as a preferred and reliable hotel software product by the global hotelier community.

For more information, visit

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Emirates’ recruiters scour the world for cabin crew talent with 30 city stops



Emirates, the world’s most global airline, is seeking talented people with a passion for service to join its award-winning cabin crew team.

As air travel returns with a vengeance, the airline’s recruiters are busy meeting and hiring candidates in 30 cities from now until the end of June. In this latest drive, Emirates’ teams will travel from Australia to the UK, and dozens of European cities in between, as well as Cairo, Algiers, Tunis and Bahrain.

Abdulaziz Al Ali, Emirates Group’s Executive Vice President for Human Resources said: “There’s no more exciting airline than Emirates for anyone interested in a flying career, and we’ve received tremendous interest since we began our recruitment drive for cabin crew in November.”

“While parts of the application process are done online, we always make the effort to meet our candidates in person whenever we can, and that is why our Talent Acquisition team is doing a whirlwind 30-city tour over the next 6 weeks to assess prospective candidates.”

Emirates’ truly global cabin crew team represent 160 nationalities, reflecting its customer mix and international operations in over 130 cities on six continents.

All Emirates crew are based in the exciting cosmopolitan city of Dubai, with company-provided accommodation, tax-free salary and more benefits.

Interested candidates can read more about the Emirates cabin crew role, and apply online at:

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