Sunday 31 July 2011

Never mind YouTube or football, he loves bikes (I mean really, really loves them)

Sometimes a piece of local news doesn’t get the attention it deserves because people are distracted by other events around the world like the killings in Norway, the train crash in China and the death of UK singer Amy Winehouse.

In Singapore last week, we were distracted by this poor guy from China who was vilified for making fun of Singaporeans in a YouTube video.

Mr Wang Peng Fei was expelled from his school and a police report was made against him. He has since fled the country.

I tried to watch the video so that I, too, could be outraged – but it was in Mandarin and being the potato-eating Chinese banana that I am, I could barely understand him.

And it’s not even the familiar Channel 8 drama Mandarin, but some hardcore super-fluent overseas Mandarin that made me feel even more inadequate.

There were no English subtitles or director’s commentary, but then I remembered I wasn’t watching a DVD.

If ever there was a time I wished my Mandarin didn’t suck so much ...

I gave up after five seconds, even though the video is almost four minutes long, which is an eternity when you don’t know what the hell he’s going on about.

So as much I would like to jump on the outrage bandwagon, my kindergarten-level Chinese comprehension skills simply didn’t allow me to.

I felt so left out.

Last week, Singaporeans were also a little distracted by football of all things.

The Singapore team beat Malaysia to make it to the next round of the World Cup qualifiers.

So unlike Mr Wang, China-born Singapore players Shi Jiayi and Chubby Qiu Li don’t have to flee the country.

But if Singapore had lost... who knows?

So anyway, what was the piece of local news that deserved more attention but was overshadowed by the Singapore-Malaysia football rivalry and a YouTube video I couldn’t understand?

On Thursday, The Straits Times reported: “A fetishist who gets a sexual thrill out of riding other people’s motorbikes was spared a prison sentence for theft.”

Say what?

I had to read that more than once just to make sure I got it right: So running loose out there somewhere is some perverted freak who gets off on riding stolen motorcycles?

Now don't you think that's big news?

I believe it was the first I time I had ever seen the word “fetishist” in The Straits Times. Or possibly anywhere else for that matter.

The paper said that the 48-year-old man was diagnosed with the fetish more than 20 years ago. As a teen, he experienced sexual pleasure while riding his uncle’s bicycle.

And we wonder why Singapore’s birthrate is falling.

He later graduated to stealing motorcycles and has landed in jail at least three times since the mid-90s.

So when he’s riding a stolen motorbike, does he wear both a helmet and a condom?

Hey, you can never be too careful.

Last week, he was just placed on two years’ probation for stealing a Honda at Marina Bay Sands.

Did they try to take him to motorcycle fetish rehab and he said no, no, no?

But you know what I find most shocking of all?

The “fetishist” isn’t The New Paper’s Biker Boy Zaihan Mohamed Yusof.

Can a man love motorcycles too much?

Remind me never to ride pillion with him.

- Published in The New Paper, 31 July 2011

Monday 25 July 2011

Celebrating marriage with kiss from Cat III actress

In The Straits Times today: Isn't she a little too old for nude scenes?

Also in Today today: If love is a crime, then send me to jail

EARLIER: Two unfortunate juxtapositions of headline and photo on same day in different papers

Sunday 24 July 2011

Murdoch could’ve praised the Great Singapore Sale instead of the High Ministers’ Salaries

Dear Mr Rupert Murdoch, this a good time?

I know you’re kind of busy nowadays, but I just want to drop a note to thank you for...uh...(air quotes) praising Singapore during your testimony to a UK parliamentary panel last week on the phone-hacking scandal.

But really, you shouldn’t have.

It was just so...unexpected. And random. did we get dragged into this?

You called Singapore “the most open and clear society in the world”, where “every minister gets at least a million dollars a year and the Prime Minister a lot more” and “there’s no temptation”.

Not that we don’t appreciate the shout-out, but...uh...actually, those high ministerial salaries are currently being reviewed by a committee appointed by our Prime Minister himself. know...“awkward”!

Maybe you could’ve said something about the Singapore Flyer. Or the Great Singapore Sale!

No, wait, that’s ending today.

But there’s always the Post-Great Singapore Sale Sale, where you may actually get better deals than during the Great Singapore Sale itself.

Even a multi-billionaire like you wouldn’t mind saving a couple of bucks, am I right? That’s how you become a multi-billionaire – and stay a multi-billionaire.

And hey, the Hungry Ghost Festival is coming. Have you ever seen a getai show? You’d love it!

Do you know Hokkien? Doesn't matter. Just sit back and enjoy the music, colourful costumes and atmosphere.

There will be a getai show in front of Ngee Ann City shopping centre next Sunday. So you can catch a free show and take advantage of the Post-Great Singapore Sale Sale at the same place. How thoughtfully convenient!

So if you really want to endorse something about Singapore, shopping and getai – yes.

But “the cleanest society you can find anywhere”? Uh...actually, littering seems to be making a comeback in Singapore lately.

Well, at least you tried to say something nice about our country – not like that schlubby Hollywood stoner Seth Rogen, who called Singapore “frightening” and “barbaric” a few months ago.

Maybe you should have his phone hacked.


No more hacking of anyone’s phone. You didn’t know anything about it. You were betrayed by people you trusted.

I’m on your side. Look, I have no pies on me.

So...are we good?

Please don’t have me killed.

Or worse, sic your wife on me.

Best regards,
S M Ong

PS: Loved your cameos on The Simpsons!

- Published in The New Paper, 24 July 2011

Sunday 17 July 2011

Hey, kids, it's Harry Potter And The Cup Of Malaysia!

I just read somewhere last week that The New Paper is the top choice for marketers who want to reach out to those between 13 and 17 years of age.

Which means that most of you reading this weren’t even born when Singapore was last in the Malaysia Cup.

You see, kids, there was a time Singaporeans actually cared about local football and this was largely because of the Malaysia Cup.

There was no S-League back then. We couldn’t even (legally) bet on football back then and still we cared!

You must be wondering why all these old people are so excited over this trophy named after the country that forced Singapore to withdraw from its federation in 1965 and made our prime minister’s father cry.

I used to wonder the same thing. I figured it must be because since Singapore will never get anywhere near the World Cup - hey, the Malaysia Cup is a cup too.

And we can actually win it.

There's a Hokkien saying: No fish, prawn will do.

Sure, after Singapore was forced to withdraw from the the Malaysia Cup (deja vu?) in 1994, we have won the Asean Football Championship - now called the Suzuki Cup - three times since the biennial competition started in 1996.

But it’s not the same.

Maybe it’s because it doesn’t involve beating team after team from the country that forced Singapore to withdraw from its federation in 1965 and made our prime minister’s father cry.

Which is why we don’t really care so much about the Malaysia Cup itself. You think any Singaporean knows or cares who won it the last 17 years? We only care when we’re in it.

Unlike for the World Cup and European Cup, StarHub and SingTel haven’t been fighting over who gets to overcharge fans to watch Malaysia Cup matches on TV.

And now that we’re back in it, should we be expecting overpriced Malaysia Cup TV packages next year?

The question is, will you kids care?

My colleague S Murali, sports editor of The New Paper, has said that it’s our job to make sure you do.

So here are my five suggestions to get more young people like you interested in the Malaysia Cup:

1. Add the words "Harry Potter And" to every match, as in "Harry Potter And Singapore Versus Selangor".

2. Live in-match tweeting by the referee, kayu or otherwise.

3. Every player should have Bieber hair.

4. Singapore should beat team after team from the country that forced Singapore to withdraw from its federation in 1965 and made our prime minister’s father cry - and win the Malaysia Cup.

5. If all else fails, the Singapore Lions can change their name to Manchester United - they can even keep their red jerseys.

With your short teenage attention span, you probably won’t be able to tell the difference anyway.

- Published in The New Paper, 17 July 2011

Wednesday 13 July 2011

Not so hairy Potter in 20 years?

Actually, this is the guy who has been appointed to head the UK inquiry into the phone hacking allegations at NewsCorp. He is Lord Justice Brian Leveson. (The picture was taken in 1995.)

Rupert Murdoch, you muggle, beware!

Tuesday 12 July 2011

Minister wants Singapore companies to become like meat-wearing gay rights champion

Swee Say to firms: Emulate Gaga
TO HELP firms succeed in getting customers to go gaga over their business, like what Lady Gaga has done with her music, the Government is spending $84 million over the next five years on more advanced programmes for service staff.

The investment was announced on Monday by Mr Lim Swee Say, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, in a speech at a Customer-Centric Initiative (CCI) symposium.

'Every (company) ought to find a way so that more of you will become like the Lady Gaga of your respective sectors,' he said.

- The Straits Times

You can make up your own punchline.

Sunday 10 July 2011

What NDP organisers can learn from Weird Al Yankovic

Dear National Day Parade (NDP) organisers,

In light of last week’s controversy surrounding the Fun Pack Song (an unauthorised parody of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance), I recommend that the creative director for next year’s NDP be Weird Al Yankovic.

The veteran parodist’s latest album, Alpocalypse – the highest charting US hit of his 30-year career – features a parody of Lady Gaga’s Born This Way called Perform This Way.

If you want a song parody, this is the guy who knows how to do it right.

Although he was made to jump through hoops to get Lady Gaga’s approval to release Perform This Way, Yankovic was ready to drop the song from his album after her manager said no. Eventually, Lady Gaga herself said yes.

You, on the other hand, changed the lyrics to Bad Romance without asking permission. Talk about Singaporeans being ungracious.

Even Dick Lee was appalled.

Sure, Lady Gaga, who happened to be in Singapore last week, eventually said "it's great", but this was after the fact.

Even though Yankovic is not legally required to do so (he claims “fair use”), he still makes it his personal policy to ask permission from the artistes he’s parodying as a courtesy (heard of it?), despite being the mega-superstar that he is.

Who do you have? Beatrice Chia-Richmond (your creative director)? Haresh Sharma (your lyricist)?

I’ve seen Weird Al Yankovic in concert. I own the Weird Al Yankovic boxed set. I’m one of Weird Al Yankovic’s 2 million Twitter followers.

Beatrice Chia-Richmond is no Weird Al Yankovic (even though she has a three-word name like Weird Al Yankovic).

Neither is Haresh Sharma. Yanked out of the NDP, his Fun Pack Song appears to have reached an unnecessary stage.

Also, if you want a song about biscuits, sweets and “kopi-o-o-o-o-o” (did I get the number of “o”s right?), Yankovic is the perfect choice since he specialises in food lyrics.

He turned Michael Jackson's Beat It into Eat It, The Knack's My Sharona into My Bologna and La Bamba into Lasagna.

Admittedly, Yankovic may not be Singaporean enough for the NDP, but he has mentioned Singapore before in his 1994 song Headline News, a parody of Crash Test Dummies' Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm (did I get the number of “m”s right?), where he sang about "this kid who took a trip to Singapore and brought along his spray paint".

Ha! A Michael Fay reference. How 90s.

Worst comes to worst, if Yankovic isn't available for next year's NDP, you can always get Mr Brown.

Best regards,
S M Ong

- Published in The New Paper, 10 July 2011

Sunday 3 July 2011

Want variety? From Transformers 3D to 3D Sex And Zen

Two weeks ago, a reader wrote to The Straits Times complaining about the lack of variety in the movies showing at local cineplexes.

“There are about 150 cinema halls in the various cineplexes and multiplexes,” wrote the reader. “However, only about 20 movies are being screened in these halls.”

Twenty? Isn’t that more than enough?

I mean, how many movies can one person watch?

This weekend, for example, if you want to watch anything other than Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, you’re just being a trouble-maker.

You know how many hundreds of millions of US dollars they spent making and marketing director Michael Bay’s latest feature-length toy commercial so that you’d want to see it?

I want to be able to watch computer-generated images out-act Rosie Huntington-Whiteley anywhere I want, anytime I want.

No screen should be wasted on a non-Transformers movie.

Like what’s this Monte Carlo tripe starring Selena Gomez?

If it doesn’t have a giant talking robot from outer space turning into a race car at the Monaco Grand Prix, I’m not interested.

Wait, I just read the plot synopsis for Monte Carlo. The main character goes to Europe and is mistaken for some sort a British aristocrat. Isn’t that the same plot as Garfield 2?! I may want to watch it after all.

The Straits Times reader also lamented: “Cathay Cineplexes quietly removed their Picturehouse cinema recently. So has Golden Village its Cinema Europa. Both these halls used to screen less mainstream art/niche movies.”

You mean Monte Carlo isn’t a less mainstream art/niche movie?

The reader continued: “Golden Theatre used to have some Japanese arthouse movies, although under the guise of R(A) movies, much to the chagrin of some ah peks. That has stopped too.”

He then appealed to cinema operators to “give Singaporeans a wider choice”.

Well, I have good news for him and those “ah peks”.

Last week, it was announced that Golden Village Pictures will be distributing the Hong Kong blockbuster 3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy in Singapore "just to add variety to what we already have at our cinemas", said a spokesman.

Hooray for variety!

After watching hunks of hard metal wrestle each other in 3D in Transformers: Dark Of The Moon, what a welcome change to watch chunks of soft flesh wrestle each other in 3D in 3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy.

Thanks, cinema operators, for giving us a wider choice.

Let it not be said that they don’t listen to public feedback.

Opening here on July 21, the R21-rated 102-minute “international version” of 3D Sex And Zen will be shown uncut. The same cannot be said of some of the characters in the movie.

I’m not sure which version I saw, but if you’re over 21 and plan to watch it because of all the hype, beware not of the wacky sex scenes, but of the off-putting violence.

There are some things you can do with robots that you shouldn’t do with actual humans. (And vice versa.)

Not that the “ah peks” would mind.

- Published in The New Paper, 3 July 2011

UPDATE: Transformers stomp Singapore box office

Friday 1 July 2011

For some reason, this photo made me smile

OCBC Bank Singapore Cycling Team

Click on picture to enlarge. I mean to see a larger image. I mean ... never mind.