Sunday 25 December 2011

Act blur, live longer?

Spotted at VivoCity on Christmas Eve.

My daughter and I at VivoCity helping to sell my wife's bags.

Merry Christmas!

Friday 23 December 2011

Orchard Road flood deja vu

Wendy's at Liat Towers flooded again today. Sorry, not "flooded". I mean ponding.

Wendy's at Liat Towers flooded in June 2010.

Did someone refuse Joanne Peh water again?

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Santa, U Are The One - Super Junior

Merry Christmas shopping and look out for my fat guy.

(As in the one in Super Junior, not the one in the red suit.)

He makes me happy.


[Kyuhyun] You come around to every child in the world
[Siwon] Always on time you’re never late, every year
[Ryeowook] How does it feel to work, everyone’s off, no one to help you
[Sungmin] How do you reach us all, it’s for sure, no one does it better

[Leeteuk] Christmas is finally here
It’s time to celebrate
[Eunhyuk] ‘cause you make a better world, year after year
[All] Soon you’ll be on your way
Spreading joy everywhere
There’s no one like you
[Sungmin] Santa, you are the one

[Donghae] You creep down the chimneys at night, that’s right
[Kyuhyun] And you always know who has been naughty or nice
[Henry] How does it feel to work, everyone’s off, no one to help you
[Yesung] How do you reach us all, it’s for sure, no one does it better

[Zhoumi] Christmas is finally here
It’s time to celebrate
[Shindong] ‘cause you make a better world, year after year
[All] Soon you’ll be on your way
Spreading joy everywhere
There’s no one like you
Santa, you are the one

[All] Thank you Santa, thank you ( [Donghae] you are the one)
Don’t go Santa, don’t go ( [Eunhyuk] you are the one)
Thank you Santa, thank you ( [Leeteuk] you are the one)
Don’t go Santa, don’t go

[Ryeowook] I hope you enjoy this song
[Yesung] It’s a gift from everyone
[Kyuhyun] Thank you for all that you have done

[Siwon] Christmas is finally here
It’s time to celebrate
[Yesung] ‘cause you make a better world, year after year
[All] Soon you’ll be on your way
Spreading joy everywhere
There’s no one like you
Santa, you are the one ([Leeteuk] Santa, you are the one~)

[All] Christmas is finally here
It’s time to celebrate
‘cause you make a better world, year after year ( [Kyuhyun] year after
Soon you’ll be on your way ([Kyuhyun] on your way)
Spreading joy everywhere
There’s no one like you ( [Ryeowook] no one)
Santa, you are the one

[Ryeowook] You are the one
Santa, you are the one
[Yesung] You are the one
Santa, you are the one

[All] You are the one
I said, you are the one

Sunday 18 December 2011

Do you hear what I hear? Is the MRT train falling apart?

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to take the MRT train from Yishun to Yew Tee.

As always, should you or any of your family be delayed or killed, SMRT will disavow any knowledge of your existence.

It may not sound like much of a mission - until the train you’re on seems like it’s about self-destruct in five seconds.

That was what happened on Thursday evening after I took my kids to see Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol at GV Yishun.

While waiting for the train home on the crowded Yishun platform during the evening rush hour, I half-heard a pre-recorded announcement about a one-hour delay for trains headed for Jurong East due to a track fault.

I didn’t know whether to be impressed that there was a pre-recorded announcement or be dismayed that one-hour train delays occurred often enough that there was a pre-recorded announcement.

How could SMRT have another service disruption less than 48 hours after the Circle Line breakdown? Could the publicly-held train operator be so inept?

Just then, the train headed for Jurong East arrived, which confused me. I thought there was going to be a one-hour delay. Did I mishear the announcement?

I hesitated for a moment, but people were getting on the train as if nothing was wrong and so my two kids and I followed suit.

I mean, what was the worst that could happen?

Once on the train, I quickly checked my Twitter feed on my iPhone for news about a another possible MRT breakdown.

At the time, the closest thing I found was a tweet that said, “Just heard: all commuters chased out of #SMRT City Hall station. No alternative transport. No explanation.”

That sounded serious, but City Hall was about a dozen train stations away in the opposite direction, so I figured we were safe.

I relaxed a little. After the Woodlands station, the kids and I even found seats in the last car of the train and I was playing Angry Birds’ new Birdday Party levels on my iPhone when suddenly, there was a loud clanging.

Then it stopped. It sounded like the train had hit a piece of metal on the tracks.

The passengers looked at each other, silently asking, “What the hell was that?"

But the train was still speeding along unabated and so we thought (or hoped) it was nothing.

Just before reaching Yew Tee station, there was another clanging sound. This time, it was louder and lasted longer.

Now people were starting to panic. Were we all going to die?

As the train arrived at the station and slowed down to a stop, our train car rattled with an ungodly roar that sounded like it was about to fall apart.

When the train doors opened, most of the passengers (including me and the kids) rushed out as if our lives depended on it.

The few who remained behind looked confused as to why people were suddenly fleeing the train.

Maybe those few had their headphones on. Or maybe they were waiting for an official announcement to evacuate.

Fortunately, it was my stop anyway, but for many of the passengers who alighted from the same car as us, it wasn’t theirs. As I headed for the escalator, they were nervously waiting for the next train.

Curiously, only the last car, which we were in, was almost deserted as the train left the Yew Tee station. The rest of the train seemed unaffected.

When I reached home, I searched the Internet for news about an MRT train disintegrating on its way to Jurong East. What I found out instead was worse (or not as bad, depending on how you look at it).

That was, of course, the night of The Great MRT Breakdown of 2011.

Four trains north-bound had stalled between Braddell and City Hall stations after being damaged by a faulty power rail.

Now I wonder if the train that my kids and I were on was also damaged, which would explain the horrific noises.

Yesterday, the north-south line was disrupted again.

Not a good week for commuters.

It had started with a taxi fare hike despite taxi operators failing to meet service standards. Then came news of the SBS bus driver who got lost for two hours. Then came three epic MRT fails in four days.

Even the Prime Minister called for a public inquiry.

Looks like fixing our “world-class” public transport system is going to be a - yes, I’m saying it - mission: impossible.

Tom Cruise for Transport Minister!

- Published in The New Paper, 18 December 2011

Sunday 11 December 2011

How taxis are turning us into zombies after midnight

A zombie apocalypse in Singapore? At least, that was how my wife described it.

It happened on the night of Nov 11 - yes, 11.11.11. Oooh, spooky.

It was past midnight (which technically made it Nov 12, but let’s not pick nits).

She had just left the Red Dot Design Museum (formerly the Traffic Police building) on Maxwell Road with my teenage son and was unsuccessfully looking for a taxi to take them home.

As she wrote in her blog:
“We walked further away from the museum...Then we came to a road where there were lots of taxis with the green light on. We were so happy and so were the groups of people with us.

“And the stupidest thing happened. NONE of the freaking taxis would stop.

“They just zoomed past us and after a while, I realised that the taxis were just going round and round, not picking up passengers. I could recognise some of the taxis."

Frustrated, she complained on her blog: “There ought to be a law against taxis not picking up passengers, Mr Transport Minister! Like caning or something.”

Her ordeal continued:
“So we walked once more. The streets were really deserted save for us, the walkers.

“It was like a scene from the TV show The Walking Dead. The taxis were the humans running away from us.”

How’s that for a twist? My wife and son were the zombies! Along with all the other people who couldn't get a taxi. (M Night Shyamalan must be so jealous.)

If only I could be there with a shotgun and put them out of their misery. Don’t worry, I know to aim for the head.

They would probably thank me for it. Anything is better than the existential frustration of yet another empty taxi going past you as if you weren’t even there despite your frantic waving.

Because of how late it was, my wife and son didn’t have the option of taking the bus or the MRT. She tried using her mobile phone to book a cab but couldn’t get through.

The prospect of spending the night sleeping in the streets like a homeless person loomed larger with each passing cab.

How did a supposedly First World country with a “world-class” public transport system come to this?

And now ComfortDelGro is raising its taxi fares?

It’s enough to turn you into Quan Yifeng.

Last month, the TV host pleaded guilty to “committing mischief” last year in a dispute with a taxi driver where she pulled out the taxi fare meter and spilled water on the receipt printer

Who knew she was pre-emptively acting out against the taxi fare hike for the rest of us?

Quan Yifeng, folk hero … or martyr?

The thing is, no matter how angry you get at the cabbies for not picking you up during the zombie apocalypse, when one finally does, you’re just so grateful to him for saving your life.

After an hour of wandering the streets like the undead, my wife and son eventually found a taxi to take them home because the driver was changing shift and heading in the direction that they wanted to go.

In the cab, the driver explained matter-of-factly to my wife that it’s almost impossible to flag down a taxi after midnight in the area because the cabbies are waiting for bookings.

That was when my wife bit a chunk out of his neck and turned the cabbie into The Driving Dead.

Nah, I’m kidding. My wife just protested feebly and the driver just shrugged.

“It’s like that one,” he said.

Where was Quan Yifeng when you needed her?

- Published in The New Paper, 11 December 2011

Dear Mr. Ong,

I read your article.

Sincerely I wish there is a printing error on what you wrote "Frustrated, she complained on her blog, 'There ought to be a law against taxis not picking up passengers, Mr Transport Minister! Like CANING or something.'"

To cane a taxi driver for not picking up passenger? If your wife's wish really come true, I wonder who dare to be a taxi driver.

By then, what complaint will your wife make again? Mr Transport Minister, make all male Singaporean to join Taxi companies after they complete their National Service?

Why can't she just use her handphone and on call for a taxi? It's just $2.50 or more (could be more), isn't this what we call we pay more for better service? [SM: Actually, I did mention in the article that my wife tried to call for a cab, but couldn't get through.]

It is not easy being a taxi driver now, high rental, expensive petrol, road traffic condition and the worst, facing our very educated and love complaints Singaporeans.

Not all taxi drivers are bad, just as not all Singaporean love complaints. I just wish we can really understand them more and knowing their difficulties in making a living.

Give them some breathing space, tell your wife I tell her this.



I believe that Mrs Ong did not mean that seriously. However, she does bring up a valid point.

I will bet that a lot of us have experienced that taxi blissfully whisking by even though it is unoccupied despite every futile attempt to flag it down.

It is very frustrating and I sometimes think that the taxi driver did it on purpose.

I have sat in taxis that drops me off at a condo I live in where the taxi driver blatantly tells me he doesn't want to pick up any more passengers and promptly turns on his "on call" sign as he pulls up in front of the taxi queue to drop me off.

I can tell you that he had definitely had not responded to a call. And it was way after the usual taxi shift change time.

More stringent measures must be taken against such taxi drivers. Just suspend their taxi driver license for one week and if they continue to be recalcitrant - a 2-week suspension on the second occurrence. On a third occurrence - remove his license permanently.


Sunday 4 December 2011

Why Korean pop group Super Junior is bigger than the Beatles

So did you catch the Mnet Asian Music Awards (Mama) on Channel U last week? It was held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Tuesday night.

I’m not a fan of Korean pop, but I think K-pop group Super Junior, who won the awards for Best Male Group, Album Of The Year and Singapore’s Choice, is the greatest boy band in the world ever.

Yes, even bigger than the Beatles.

I mean, literally.

The Beatles were only four people. Super Junior at one point had as many as 13 members, which mathematically made Super Junior more than three times bigger than the Fab Four.

Take that, John, Paul, Ringo and George! (Speaking of which, Take That is also bigger than the Beatles, but only when Robbie Williams is in the group.)

When I first saw a Super Junior video, I thought it was meant as a spoof of boy bands. I mean come on, why would a band need 13 members?

Who do Super Junior think they are? Earth, Wind And Fire? (If you were over 40, that reference would be hilarious.)

Thirteen is the number of people you need to form a football team with two reserve players.

Thirteen is the number of colleagues Glenn Ong will marry and divorce.

Thirteen is the number of people who will read this column.

But 13 people in Super Junior?

That’s not a boy band. That's someone taking the product development strategy of Gillette razors (the more blades the better), stretching it to the illogical extreme (why stop at mere five blades when you can have 13 in a razor?) and applying it to boy bands.

It’s as if South Korea is thumbing its nose at the West, saying: “You think you’re so cool with your Backstreet Boys and Westlife? Well, we have a boy band with 13 members! Top that, bi-atch!”

Disappointingly, only nine members of Super Junior performed at the Mama show on Tuesday.

At least, my favourite member was there. His name is Shindong, but I just call him “the fat guy”.

He's another reason Super Junior is superior to any boy band out there. What other boy band you know has a fat guy in it?

And he barely sings! He just mostly dances and raps.

He’s my favourite because all the other band members look the same to me. But I can always spot Shindong because, well, he’s the fat guy (although he’s not as fat as he used to be).

An inspiration to chubbies all over the world, he’s proof that you don’t have to be a skinny pretty boy (or sing) to be in a boy band (but only if that boy band can have as many as 13 members).

Apart from looking out for the fat guy in Super Junior, I had another more personal reason for tuning into the Mama show last week - my sister was on it.

Except you couldn’t actually see her. And you could also barely hear her. She was the tired-sounding woman off-camera providing the Mandarin translation for the Korean banter on the show.

I don’t blame her for sounding tired. The live telecast was six grueling hours long. To be honest, even I turned it off after watching my fat guy perform.

My mother was watching for my sister and I tried to get my mum to appreciate the awesomeness of the fat guy’s performance, but she kept asking where each performer and presenter was from. I said most of them were from Korea (well, except for Snoop Dogg, but I hope she figured that out).

Then how could they call it the Mnet “Asian” Music Awards, she complained, when the focus was on Koreans.

Yes, my mama had a point about Mama.

But then I’m used to things being called “Asian” even though their focus is clearly on only one country. We have Channel NewsAsia and AsiaOne. Apparently, Malaysia is “truly Asia”.

“Look at the fat guy, Ma. He’s dancing! How awesome is that?”

But it wasn’t Asian music, she insisted. It was just Korean.

Trust my mama to even ruin Mama for me.

To console myself, I’m going to look for Super Junior videos on YouTube.

Look at the fat guy. He’s dancing! How awesome is that? He makes me happy.

Bigger than the Beatles? I think he ate them.

- Published in The New Paper, 4 December 2011