Sunday 25 October 2015

City Harvest Church trial: Sharon Tan, from ‘scary old lady’ to ‘chiobu’?

Halloween is coming.

Don’t know what to wear? I have a few scary costume ideas for you.

How about a limping otter with a fishing hook attached to your skin?

Not frightening enough?

How about a disgruntled Hello Kitty fan demanding a full refund at the Hello Kitty Go Around event on Sentosa?

Still not terrifying enough?

How about a Miss World Singapore winner who is not born in Singapore?

Ooh, I just felt a shiver shoot down my spine.

As for myself, I’m calling dibs on the most blood-curdling Halloween costume of all.

I’m going dressed as Sun Ho in the China Wine video.

No, not the white kimono outfit. I’m talking about the skimpy red and black number where I’ll get to show off my midriff.

Say hello to my belly button, everybody!

That’s just my tasteful way of commemorating the conclusion of the marathon City Harvest Church (CHC) leaders trial that began on May 15, 2013.

It was so long ago most people didn’t even know what the word “selfie” meant then, much less the ugly “wefie”.

It was so long ago Wong Li Lin was still married to Allan Wu.

It was so long ago I was still using the iPhone 5, not even 5s.

When the trial started, you could still drink any time you liked in Little India.

CHC founder and Ms Ho’s husband Kong Hee along with five others were accused of diverting church money to fund Ms Ho’s singing career.

On Wednesday, all six were found guilty of all charges, including criminal breach of trust. All that’s left is sentencing.

For many, one sad consequence of the end of the trial is that we won’t get to see former CHC finance manager and Ms Ho’s occasional back-up singer Serina Wee arriving and leaving court in her Outfit Of The Day any more.

Some are even sadder that the photogenic Wee could go to jail.

Local satirical website New Nation said: “Day of national mourning declared after Serina Wee found guilty of all charges.”

It later added: “Thousands of Singaporean men volunteer as tribute to go to prison on behalf of Serina Wee.

Welcome to the SG50 Hunger Games.

But while Wee is getting all the attention, another woman involved in the case has quietly gone through a striking transformation over the course of the trial.

When we were first introduced to Sharon Tan after her arrest in 2012, the former CHC finance manager could have been described as the duff, which stands for Designated Ugly Fat Friend, to Wee.

A duff doesn’t necessarily have to be fat or ugly or female. He or she is just the less attractive friend.

The Duff is also the title of a Hollywood movie that came out earlier this year. Although it was never released in Singapore cinemas, I saw the trailer on YouTube.

According to the trailer, in a group of friends, the duff is “the one who doesn’t look as good, thus making their friends look better”.

And Tan certainly didn’t look as good as Wee. I mean, who can?

Then last year, Tan discovered bangs and with the help of trendy clothes from the blogshop she opened with Wee to take advantage of the publicity generated by the trial, Tan suddenly didn’t look so “duffy” any more. She was like a different person.

Ever dreamt of hearing Serina Wee's voice?
Ever dreamt of hearing Serina Wee's voice? #serinawee
Posted by Serina Wee on Friday, February 21, 2014

And when she showed up in court for her guilty verdict last week with new eye make-up, I wasn’t the only one who noticed the makeover.

As someone tweeted on Friday:

So even though the 40-year-old once looked like she could have been a scary Halloween costume herself, she is now a “chiobu”.

It took only three years.

But so far, no one is volunteering as tribute to go to prison on Tan’s behalf.

I guess once a duff, always a duff.

At least she would fit into the red and black China Wine costume better than I can.

May the odds be ever in your favour more than the judge who found you guilty of all charges.


- Published in The New Paper, 25 October 2015

This article says nothing more than "At first I didn't fancy her but then I did". That's not "humour" - it's just a...
Posted by AWARE Singapore on Tuesday, October 27, 2015

EARLIER: Never mind Serina Wee, look at Sharon Tan!

Friday 23 October 2015

My favourite Hello song not by Adele

Adele just released her highly anticipated new song. Unfortunately, it has a very old title, Hello.

At first, I thought it was a cover of Lionel Richie's classic hit song. Unfortunately, it isn't.

It bothers me when artists release a new song with the same title as a well-known older song.

Like Unbelievable.

So much confusion.

In Adele's case, it's worse because her Hello and Ritchie's Hello are both piano-based ballads.

At least when the Beloved had a song called Hello, it was totally different.

And my favourite Hello song.

Honorable mention:


Sunday 18 October 2015

Khaw-ed by a balloon? MRT breakdowns no enough, so they faked one

Has he quit yet?

It has been 17 long days since Mr Khaw Boon Wan was sworn in as the new Minister of Transport on Oct 1.

Wasn’t there a power fault disrupting train service for half an hour on the North-East Line (NEL) on Tuesday?

It's the first MRT breakdown since Mr Khaw became transport minister.

What, no harakiri?

McDonald’s even brought back the Samurai burger for the occasion. (Don’t forget the seaweed fries.)

After all, isn’t the Ministry of Transport where political careers go to die?

That’s not me saying it. It was The Straits Times.

To quote:
“The transport portfolio seems to be a graveyard for ministers, cutting short promising political careers with its challenges.”
Buried in this graveyard are the ministerial careers of Mr Raymond Lim (2006-2011) and Mr Lui Tuck Yew (2011-2015), who some say committed career harakiri by resigning just before the General Election for the sake of the ruling People’s Action Party.

Someone buy him a Samurai burger.


But it wasn’t always like this.

I know it’s hard for younger Singaporeans to imagine, but once upon a time in Singapore, the sky was haze-free for 12 months a year, compact disc shops were in every shopping centre and MRT breakdowns were virtually unheard of.

Then, on Dec 15, 2011, it all changed.

An estimated 127,000 people were affected by what was then called the worst MRT breakdown in 24 years. Two days later, another breakdown occurred, affecting 94,000 people.

The new normal had arrived.

A big movie around the time was The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1. It might as well be The MRT Saga: Breaking Down Part 1.

But unlike The Twilight Saga, which ended with Breaking Dawn Part 2, The MRT Saga is still ongoing with Breaking Down Part 94 and counting.

So I was surprised to learn that on Wednesday, the Land Transport Authority, SMRT and SBS Transit conducted an exercise to test their management and readiness plans in the event of major train service disruptions.

Don’t they have enough practice already?

Why do they have to pretend to have a train service disruption to test their readiness?

Wasn’t there a train service disruption just the day before to do that?

Or were they not ready?

But I guess no matter how ready you think you are, you can never be really prepared for everything.

The MRT has been the target of vandals, possible terrorists and priority seat hogs, but recently, a new unexpected threat has emerged.


Shiny, metallic balloons.

SBS Transit told The Straits Times that a train disruption on the NEL on April 6 last year was caused by a passenger who had accidentally released an aluminium foil helium balloon.

It slipped into the tunnel at Boon Keng station when the platform doors opened and came into contact with an electrical insulator of the power supply system on the ceiling.

This caused an electrical fault, which led to the disruption.

So all this time, we have signs telling us not to bring durians onto the train when we really should have “no balloons” signs because no train service has ever been disrupted by a durian. Yet.

Since the sale of chewing gum was famously banned in Singapore after gum was found to be the cause of two train service disruptions in 1991, should the sale of aluminium foil balloons be banned next?

Will we soon be asking our friends to buy aluminium foil balloons for us from overseas?

Will dental aluminium foil balloons be exempted from the ban?

Will we still be able to buy aluminium foil balloons at pharmacies for medical purposes?

But so far, all that has been done to prevent any more balloon-related train service disruptions is posters urging passengers to hold their balloons tightly, “especially the metallic shiny ones”.

But if an errant floater does cause another breakdown, at least we can rest assured knowing the transport companies are conducting drills for such an emergency, like they did on Wednesday.

As it turned out, it was the new Transport Minister, Mr Khaw, who asked for the exercise to be carried out this month.

So will the man — whom some have called Mr Fix-It — be able to fix the MRT and whistle his way past the graveyard?

Or will he be foiled by a balloon?

Aluminium-foiled, that is.

- Published in The New Paper, 18 October 2015

Monday 12 October 2015

The North Face 100 (13km) on Saturday, Chua Chu Kang Big Farm Run on Sunday

Talk about a long weekend.

I took part in my first The North Face 100 run on Saturday and my first Chua Chu Kang Big Farm Walk & Run on Sunday.

It was also the first time I made the questionable decision of taking part in two runs in two consecutive days.

The North Face 100

One thing different about TNF100 for me is that it has a list of "compulsory race equipment" each runner is required to carry, most essentially a "hydration system". In other words, water bottles.
50km: 1.5 litre minimum
25km: 1 litre minimum
13km: Half litre minimum
I was running the 13km. So I found this Adidas bottle belt on sale at the Adidas outlet store in IMM.

It was awkward running with three filled water bottles around your waist at first, but after a while, you don't notice them.

Although I've run at MacRitchie numerous times on my own, this would be the first time I took part in a big race there.

You can run around the reservoir clockwise or anti-clockwise. I find the latter to be slightly easier. Fortunately, the TNF100 13km course was anti-clockwise.

The flag-off time was 10am which was the latest I've started a morning race. But because MacRitchie has plenty of shade, the heat was not so bad, unlike the Green Corridor Run.

Into the woods.

Yes, that's the Singapore Blade Runner in front of me (above).

About 1km before the finish line, I saw a guy passed out on the ground getting attention.

This is how another runner described the incident on Facebook.

Hi guys - the race was hardToday but no surprise with training limited because of the Haze - the 25 was also quite a...
Posted by Wendy Riddell on Saturday, October 10, 2015

Luckily, it happened close to the finish line so help could get to the casualty more quickly.

I wanted to stop to take a picture, but didn't think it was appropriate.

So I just continued running.

At the finish line was the biggest spread of post-race refreshment I've ever seen. It could be because this was the first time I took part in an event where the longest distance is 50km.

There were bottles of Aquarius sports drink, bananas, pears, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and a variety of Subway sandwiches. Yes, Subway sandwiches - tuna, turkey, cold cuts and vegetarian.

I picked the turkey. And the chocolate ice-cream.

Hey, I'm in the top 25 per cent of my category. Not bad considering I didn't push myself that hard because I had another run the next morning.

Chua Chu Kang B.I.G. Farm Walk & Run

A very cheap community run. Only $10 (with Passion card) to register compared to the $75 (early bird rate) I paid for TNF100.

No bib. No timing chip. Just a singlet, a goodie bag and a finisher medal.

But since it was in my neighbourhood, I thought I should join it at least once.

I made the questionable decision to run from my home to the starting line, which added 3km to the 10km run - on top of the 13km I ran at MacRitchie less than 24 hours earlier.

I made it just in time for the flag-off at 7.30am.

Ooh, look at the fishies.

There's a reason it's called the B.I.G. Farm run.

After the U-turn around the 7km mark, someone ran up to me and grabbed me from behind. It turned out to be a secondary classmate I hadn't seen in years. He happened to be a volunteer road marshall for the run.

He said I should organise a mahjong session with our former classmates at my place soon. I said, "Fuck you."

I saw an ambulance but no casualties.

Without a timing chip to motivate me, I finished with a very lazy time of about 1 hour 19 minutes for the 10km.

It was interesting to run a new route. All the mass runs around the Marina Bay area were getting boring.

My next big race is the 10km Rail Corridor Run in January.

So I have a long time to recover from my "long" weekend.