Sunday 7 December 2014

How to tell the difference between an A*Star scholar & an R21 actress

Like peas in a pod.

Sometimes two things happen around the same time and are so similar that you can get them mixed up.

For example, last week was the one-year death anniversary of two famous people, Nelson Mandela and Paul Walker. Mandela died on Dec 5 and Walker on Nov 30.

Mandela was portrayed by different actors like Idris Elba, Morgan Freeman and Terrence Howard in a number of movies.

Walker was an actor in a number of movies.

You see how easy it is to confuse the two?

Last month, Fandi Ahmad, a symbol of Singapore’s past football glory, was reported to have said in an interview that he wants to retire in Batam.

Soon after, Singapore lost 3-1 to Malaysia and was out of the Suzuki Cup after winning it the last time.

I have trouble telling the two events — Fandi’s interview and Singapore’s Suzuki Cup defeat — apart because they both resemble nails.

As in nails in the coffin holding the corpse that is Singapore football.

Hey, we may have finally found a use for the problematic field in the Sports Hub — burying that coffin.

To answer the mocking Malaysian video asking where the Singapore goalkeeper was during the Suzuki Cup match, he probably went to Batam to retire with Fandi.

Last week, two different Singapore women also made headlines for different reasons.

One is A*Star scholar and scientist Eng Kai Er, 30, who set up a mini arts grant to express her “pain of having a paid job that is not aligned with her interests”.

The other is actress and former Miss World Singapore finalist Angeline Yap, 27, who appears topless in the trailer for the R21-rated local movie Lang Tong, premiering this Saturday at the Singapore International Film Festival.

At least, I think it’s her. There are at least three different women in the trailer. The way the trailer was edited, it’s difficult to tell to whom the bare breasts belonged.

I rewatched the trailer online many times to be sure — and it’s the only reason I rewatched the trailer many times. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So it would seem that Dr Eng and Yap couldn’t be more unlike each other.

Yet, because I read about them around the same time, they sort of blend into one person.

For one thing, both have artistic aspirations.

Besides setting up the arts grant, Dr Eng directed and performed in some theatre thing called Fish at Lasalle College of the Arts’ Creative Cube three months ago.

As for Yap, she told The Straits Times that the nudity in Lang Tong “was used to tell a story and to convey a message more clearly”.

She said: “To me, it’s a form of art.”

Like peas in a pod.

You may argue that it’s easy to tell them apart since only Yap showed her breasts.

Unfortunately, you would be wrong.

In 2009, Dr Eng was in the news after she was caught on camera showing her breasts and much more as she walked around nude in Holland Village at night with a naked Swedish male companion.

For some reason, I suddenly feel like going to Ikea for some meatballs.

According to reports, the unclothed couple were cheered by the crowd. For once, paying for the overpriced food in Holland Village seemed worth it.

But despite entertaining the Village people, Dr Eng and her companion, Mr Jan Philip, then 21, were later arrested.

Court documents said that a 43-year-old man walking his dog had alerted the police. Although I was 43 at the time, I never owned a dog, so it wasn’t me. But I once walked the dog with my yo-yo.

After the arrest, Dr Eng and Mr Philip explained that they went streaking (albeit very slowly) through Holland Village because they wanted to “seek thrill”. Clearly, they hadn’t tried shopping at Sim Lim Square.

Defending her in court five years ago, Dr Eng’s lawyer said that being a scholar at a top medical university, Dr Eng had the opportunity to contribute substantially in the area of anti-viral vaccines.

In the end, Dr Eng and Mr Philip were only fined $2,000 each when they could’ve been also jailed up to three months for public nudity.

Fast forward to present day.

Dr Eng writes on Tumblr to explain why she set up the No Star Arts Grant:
“My PhD project resulted in a thesis that less than five people read, and that not more than these five people actually want to read, about a very obscure virus that no normal people even know the name of, and my findings related to this obscure virus are nowhere near useful (look, I found out that the spike protein of Semliki Forest virus is responsible for the accumulation of autophagosomes in infected cells — what use is this information to you or the world, dear reader?)...”

In short, what Dr Eng is saying is that her contribution in the area of anti-viral vaccines isn’t very substantial at all.

Now she tells us? After she got out of spending three months in jail?

Well, at least now there’s another way to tell the difference between Dr Eng and Angeline Yap.

One has been in trouble with the law for baring too much.

The other is an R21 actress.

- Published in The New Paper, 7 December 2014