Monday, 21 September 2020

SafeEntry check-in etiquette: Don't block the damn QR code!

You’re in a hurry.

You don’t want to be late for the job interview. Otherwise, the interviewer might lament on Facebook about our generation not being hungry enough. Or worse, call you an adult baby.

Why doesn’t the company just do a Zoom interview? Don’t these people know there’s a pandemic going on?

You remember to wear your mask so you don’t have to beat up the bus driver.

"Our bus captain could be seen cowering with his arms shielding his face as the man started punching him repeatedly on the head," said SBS Transit.

Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

When you reach the building, a small crowd is milling around the entrance.

Aiyah, forgot. Must do SafeEntry.

You fumble with your phone to open the TraceTogether or SingPass app.

You’re trying to scan the QR code, but so are the people in front of you, getting in your way. You may beat someone up after all.

Who knew the omnipresent QR code would so take over our lives in 2020? Even when you sleep, you need to scan the SafeEntry QR code to enter your dreams. It’s everywhere.

You consider getting your IC scanned instead. Would that be quicker?

Wait, you spot another SafeEntry QR code that no one seems to have noticed. There are actually a few of them. Why didn’t you see them earlier?

Why do people crowd around one QR code when there are others? This must be what US President Donald Trump meant by “herd mentality”. (Talk about “adult baby”.)

You scan the damn QR code and join the stream of people going in. Suddenly, everyone lurches to a halt. Now what?

You look ahead. Some blur king has stopped to scan a QR code, obliviously blocking everyone behind him. That person needs to be beaten up, but you have an appointment. Maybe someone can give him a stern warning.

People are reluctant to go around him lest they are accused of jumping the queue. You check the time.

Eventually, you make it inside and the security guard or whoever barely even glances at the green SafetyEntry Pass on your phone after all you went through to get it.

Welcome to the new normal, where the nasi lemak is $12.50 for free riders.

While the distribution of the TraceTogether tokens to the general public started last week, many of us are still relying on our phones for SafeEntry.

But despite all the information and advisories the Government has provided during the pandemic post-circuit breaker, it has neglected one critical area which affects every single one of us – SafeEntry check-in etiquette.

I’m here to fill that gap. Here are a few tips to avoid annoying your fellow SafeEntry in-checkers. You’re welcome.

Don’t block the QR code
When scanning the QR code, don’t stand right in front of it, preventing others from scanning the code. Stand to the side so that someone else can have access.

Look for another QR code
If someone is blocking the QR code, there is usually another one nearby. Open your eyes.

Don’t block the way
If you need to stop or slow down to fiddle with your phone or for whatever reason, move to the side and let others pass. This is a generally good tip to live by even if there isn’t a pandemic.

This may be slightly controversial, but if someone fails to follow the previous tip, go around that person, especially in a fast-moving line. Don’t think you’re being nice by stopping and waiting for that person. You’re just making all the people behind you suffer because of that one blur king.

Use the SingPass app’s SafeEntry Check-in feature
Skip the QR code and check in by simply selecting the location on the list. (Not every place may be listed though.) The SingPass app is not just for retrieving your O-level results, you know.

Use the TraceTogether app’s Favourites feature
If it’s a place you visit frequently, just add it to the Favourites list and you don’t need to scan the damn QR code again.

If everyone follows these tips, you may never have the urge to beat anyone up again. And vice versa.

And we may have a little less annoying pandemic.

- Published in The New Paper, 21 September 2020

Hi SM,

I noticed that most of the time, the jam @ entrance into the Building was caused by people standing right in front of the SafeEntry QR code to scan as close as possible, which need not be. This will block the moving queue and others who wanted to scan too.

To minimise the unnecessary jam @ entrance into the Building, just place the QR code approx 2.5m high so others behind the “obstructing culprit” can scan from a distance and be on their way.

Hope this tip help.

Thanks & Regards,
WK Yeow

Monday, 7 September 2020

I went to see Tenet in a Shaw cinema and survived – but my mind is blown

Dear Tenet director Christopher Nolan,

Have you seen Mulan?

If you had directed it, it would probably be called Nalum and it would have been an improvement.

#BoycottMulan for not including the song I’ll Make A Man Out Of You and a sassy cartoon dragon that sounds like Eddie Murphy.

Because of the pandemic, cinemas in Singapore were closed for nearly four months and reopened in July with safe distancing restrictions.

Only up to 50 people are allowed per cinema hall and you must wear a mask at all times except – and this is a giant loophole – when consuming food and drink.

And this is how they get you to fork over your money for their overpriced popcorn and sugar water.

As if that isn’t frightening enough, last week, people were hurt while watching Tenet in a Shaw cinema at Nex mall after a ventilation duct fell from the ceiling.

Wasn’t there a fire during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises at Causeway Point in 2012 as well?

More tragically, 12 people were killed in a mass shooting during a Dark Knight Rises screening in the US.

Watching a Christopher Nolan movie in the theatre has become a rather dangerous proposition.

Besides wearing a mask, you need a helmet, fire extinguisher and bulletproof body armour.

But I went to see Tenet last Thursday anyway because I loved Inception, appreciated Interstellar and Dunkirk, was shocked by The Prestige and am still trying to figure out Memento.

Tenet was the first movie I have seen in a cinema in eight months. I even watched it in Imax because you are such a champion of the format.

But you know where’s the only place in Singapore you can watch your movie in Imax?

Shaw Theatres.

That’s right, the cinema chain where a ventilation duct fell on people.

So I basically risked my life to see your bloody movie.

Was it worth it?

Well, it was nice to see RPatz not sucking anyone’s blood while Denzel Washington’s son establishes his blockbuster cred so that he can potentially take over the late Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther.

Speaking of Marvel movies, since Tenet is essentially about going backwards in time to save the world, it’s a bit like Avengers: Endgame but with less talking raccoon and more Michael Caine.

Coincidentally, Keanu Reeves’ new movie Bill & Ted Face The Music is also about time-travelling to save the world.

It’s stupid and dumb, but what a relief to be able to understand what’s going on in a movie after seeing yours. Hooray for stupid and dumb.

And it’s not just that the timey-wimey stuff in Tenet is incomprehensible.

The dialogue is sometimes so inaudible in the sound mix that the audience can’t hear what the characters are saying to help us comprehend the timey-wimey stuff.

It’s like suddenly everyone in the movie is speaking like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.

I get that you like to challenge the audience, but I beg of you, the next time you direct a movie, please make English subtitles mandatory.

Don’t make me start the hashtag #BoycottChristopherNolan.

- Published in The New Paper, 7 September 2020

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

Is 'Best of Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd' on Netflix really the best? Maybe the chicken episode

A bunch of old local movies and TV shows started streaming on Netflix this month with more coming soon.

"Tofu Street" is a classic.
Posted by on Sunday, July 26, 2020

One that is particularly close to my heart is Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd.

If you watch the first episode, the first credit you see after the opening titles is “Written by Ong Su Mann”.

That’s me.

Do I get any residuals? Of course not. Neither does anyone else who worked on the show, including Gurmit Singh. The only one making any money out of this is Mediacorp.

Still, it was a thrill to see my name on Netflix. More so than finally seeing my cameo in Eric Khoo’s Mee Pok Man, also streaming on Netflix now.

Last I checked, “Best Of Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd” was ranked sixth most watched in Singapore yesterday, the only local production in the Netflix top 10. Sorry, Mee Pok Man.

But that first PCK episode on Netflix is not the first episode of the TV series. For some reason, the 26 Netflix episodes are from the sitcom’s third season – and trust me, not all are the best.

For example, in an episode called Yum Seng, someone in a men’s room bumps into a wall and the wall moves!

As executive producer, I could’ve chosen a take where the wall didn’t move. Instead, I decided on the one with the best performance even though it revealed our flimsy set.

Thanks, Netflix, for making me relive that mistake two decades later and exposing it to a whole new generation.

But the men’s room wall isn’t the only thing that hasn’t held up after all these years.

My woke 20-year-old zoomer daughter is appalled by an episode co-written by me called Excuse Me, Are You An Aquarius, where “Aquarius” is used as a euphemism for a local term that could be considered a homophobic slur. You know what I’m talking about.

I probably couldn’t get away with something like that nowadays. Just last month, Mediacorp had to apologise for depicting a gay character as a paedophile in the Channel 8 drama My Guardian Angels.

Mediacorp said it had "no intention to disrespect or discriminate against the LGBTQ community in the drama".

Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

At least he wasn’t called an “Aquarius”, I presume.

My daughter is even more horrified by an episode where Rosie acts like a dog and is put on a leash. But I wasn’t involved in that one so not everything is my fault.

So if these episodes aren’t the “best”, except maybe for the one where Ah Ma gets a pet chicken, why did Netflix start with the third season and not the first?

Could it be because the third season starts with the landmark episode where PCK completed the Best English course after being chastised for speaking Singlish by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in his 1999 National Day Rally speech?

Many complained the show wasn’t as funny after that.

Yet PCK has endured and this has been a banner year for the character. Besides the Netflix debut, PCK has fronted a couple of Covid-19 videos for the Government and is currently shilling for Shopee.

What’s ironic about the hype over PCK and other Mediacorp shows coming to Netflix is that they have been available for free for years on Mediacorp’s own streaming platform Toggle before it became MeWatch, but no one seemed to care.

That’s the power of Netflix for you. And the lack of power of Mediacorp.

But if Netflix whets your appetite for more PCK, you can watch all eight seasons on MeWatch. I recommend the second and the eighth. They may not be the best in Singapore and JB (and some say Batam), but that’s where my name pops up again.

Remember, I don’t get a single cent.

- Published in The New Paper on 24 August 2020