Inmates cook up a storm in Changi catering kitchen as part of training, rehab programme, Courts & Crime News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – When father-of-two Faruk was sentenced to seven years and 10 months’ jail in 2017 for drug-related offences, he did not expect to find a passion for decorating cakes or learning how to fold pastries while behind bars.

The 38-year-old, who declined to give his full name, spends six days a week in a kitchen as part of his work programme during his incarceration in the Changi Prison Complex.

While his family has yet to try his creations, the former mechanic hopes to make his sons, aged 12 and 13, their favourite strawberry cheesecake, when he is released.

“My family was surprised that I could bake cakes. I could see from their faces that they are happy I’m learning because I have never done this kind of thing before,” said Faruk in a phone interview on Wednesday (Oct 7). “(In the kitchen,) I learnt how to be patient, relax, and come up with more ideas to decorate (the cakes).”

He hopes to work in a pastry shop after his release.

About 30 or so inmates are chosen every year to work in The Changi Tearoom, after they have attended correctional programmes that support their rehabilitation.

They are chosen based on interest or prior experience working in the food and beverage sector. Other programmes include tailoring workshops and working in call centres.

Located in the prison complex, the catering kitchen serves as an industry-standard training ground for offenders.

It is managed by YR Industries, a subsidiary of the Yellow Ribbon Singapore. While the public can usually order catering services from the kitchen, it currently serves only prison staff in the light of Covid-19 safety measures.

Another offender, who wanted to be known only as Michael, said he refined his skills in The Changi Tearoom kitchen.

He is serving a 5½ years’ jail term for drug-related offences. The 29-year-old had previously worked as a chef for a decade before his incarceration in 2018.


Singapore Chefs’ Association chef mentor Dexter Lim (left) plating a course created with Michael. PHOTO: SINGAPORE PRISON SERVICE

He said: “I feel very lucky and very blessed to have this opportunity because there are only so many of us and (I am) able to gain something during this time.”

Michael plans to cook his family and friends a three-course feast after his release. “They deserve everything since I put them through so much and they’ve stood by me, so I want to do what I can for them.”

Faruk, Michael and the other chefs are in the midst of rolling out six-course meals for an online silent auction on Oct 22.

Four sets, each enough to feed four, will be delivered to the highest bidders, with all proceeds going to the Yellow Ribbon Fund.

The menu includes main course options of chicken roulade served with carrot mash and confit asparagus, or seared salmon with butter glazed vegetables, roast potatoes and oriental celery pesto. Dessert will be a florentine blueberry vanilla cheesecake.

They are being mentored by the Singapore

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Trump administration defends census decisions in 2 courts



Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, census worker Ken Leonard wears a mask as he mans a U.S. Census walk-up counting site set up for Hunt County in Greenville, Texas, Friday, July 31, 2020. (AP Photo/LM Otero)


© Provided by Associated Press
Amid concerns of the spread of COVID-19, census worker Ken Leonard wears a mask as he mans a U.S. Census walk-up counting site set up for Hunt County in Greenville, Texas, Friday, July 31, 2020. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Trump administration attorneys were in courts on both coasts Tuesday, fighting over when the 2020 census would end and how the data would be used for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets.

In the nation’s capital, Trump administration attorneys asked a panel of three judges to dismiss a challenge to a memorandum from President Donald Trump seeking to exclude people in the country illegally from being counted in apportionment, the process for deciding how many congressional seats each state gets.

In San Jose, California, Trump administration defended a decision to target ending the 2020 census on Oct. 5, even though a federal judge had cleared the way last week for the head count of every U.S. resident to continue until the end of October.

Tuesday’s virtual court arguments in the District of Columbia were part of the latest hearing over the legality of Trump’s July memorandum. Arguments already have made heard in federal cases in Maryland and New York, where a three-judge panel blocked the presidential order earlier this month, ruling it was unlawful.

The New York judges’ order prohibits Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency oversees the U.S. Census Bureau, from excluding people in the country illegally when handing in 2020 census figures used to calculate apportionment. The Trump administration has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and asked for the judges’ order to be suspended during that process. The judges on Tuesday denied that request.

The New York judges didn’t rule on the constitutionality of the memorandum, merely saying it violated federal laws on the census and apportionment, leaving open the door for the judges in the nation’s capital to rule on other aspects of the president’s memorandum. Other lawsuits challenging the memorandum have been filed in California, Maryland and Massachusetts.

One of the aspects the judges indicated they may consider is whether the Census Bureau will have to use statistical sampling to determine how many people are in the country illegally since there is no citizenship question on the 2020 census that could help answer that. The Supreme Court has ruled that statistical sampling can’t be used for the apportionment count.

To help figure find out that number, Trump issued another memorandum last year, directing the Census Bureau to use federal and state administrative records to find out the citizenship status of every U.S. resident. The Census Bureau hasn’t yet made public how it will use those records to come up with a method for answering that question.

Under questioning from the federal judges, federal government attorney Sopan Joshi said the Census Bureau had no intention of using statistical sampling.

The Washington lawsuit was brought by a coalition of cities and public interest groups, who argued the president’s order was part of

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