Top stories from The Straits Times on Sunday, Dec 24

Good morning! Here are our top stories to kickstart your Sunday, Dec 24.

Shop tills a-ringing in lead-up to Christmas

Customers in Paragon mall doing their last-minute Christmas shopping yesterday. The reported surge in spending seen by retailers coincides with a new survey which showed that consumer confidence in Singapore went up in the third quarter of this year on the back of the improving economy. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

Crowds thronged Orchard Road over the last two days, as many rushed to do last-minute gift shopping and others came to soak in the festive atmosphere.


Why lawyer Josephus Tan defends the ‘bad guys’

Mr Josephus Tan. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

For defending the couple who fatally abused 26-year-old Annie Ee, lawyer Josephus Tan was not only heckled online, but also questioned by friends and relatives. 


Inspiring hope in a year of many shocks and surprises


Few could have predicted the events of 2017; but amid the gloom, were moments of joy too. 


Headline makers of 2017: Riding the waves of change in politics

President Halimah Yacob greeting visitors at the Istana. Since taking office, one of her initiatives has been to make the Istana more accessible. PHOTO: ST FILE

In a year of shocks, surprises and historic firsts, the personalities who found themselves in the political headlines rode the waves of  2017 and left their own mark on developments. Insight looks back at the top headline makers.


Jetstar flight from Singapore turned back after 3 people get into fight over phone

A Jetstar flight was turned back to Changi Airport after a dispute broke out among three passengers on Dec 22, 2017. PHOTO: ST FILE

The flight to Australia was delayed for nearly eight hours after police were called in to deal with a dispute that arose when an in-flight announcement was made for passengers to switch off their phones.


Risking death as Mount Agung's volcano guardian

Spiritual guardian Jero Mangku Darma is one of the hundreds of temple guardians who the local people believe have the power to communicate with mountain spirits in Bali. PHOTO: MAXI EDUARD

Spiritual guardian Jero Mangku Darma, 75,  won't evacuate from a deserted village 5km from the peak of Bali's erupting volcano, as he prays for protection from the wrath of angry spirits.


Things that go bump in the night in HDB flats

Unexplained noises at night can become a sore point between neighbours in HDB blocks. While some of these issues can be resolved, others can pose a bigger challenge, especially if residents are unable to record the sound or predict when it will occur. PHOTO: ST FILE

Strange, inexplicable noises in our homes can be eerie, but engineers say they are often linked to how sound travels through a building. 


The carpenter of Marsiling brings Christmas cheer with snow and decorations

Carpenter Tan Koon Tat with his Christmas decorations at Woodlands Street 13, on Dec 23, 2017. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Two nights before Christmas, carpenter Tan Koon Tat turned on his snow machine at the carpark entrance next to Block 179, Woodlands Street 13, and watched as children squealed with delight and ran into the floating "snow".


Free breakfast to get workers into office earlier a hit among some firms

Staff at PKF, an accounting firm, tucking in to a free breakfast during an early morning training session last month. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Incentives for employees to arrive earlier, such as free breakfast and exercise facilities, to help ease peak-hour commuter traffic go down well. 


Miss America CEO forced out as controversy envelops the organisation

Miss Georgia Alyssa Beasley advances from the swimsuit component of the 2017 Miss America Competition. PHOTO: REUTERS

Sam Haskell, the head of the Miss America Organisation, was forced to resign on Saturday, a day after the revelation of emails in which he disparaged previous pageant winners.