Monday 27 June 2016

Performance Series: Jurong Lake: Two down, three to go

I've joined the Jurong Lake Run twice before and have fond memories of it.

So I was looking forward to this one in the Performance Series yesterday.

Unfortunately, the route was different. Instead of one big 10km loop, it's two small 5km loops.

And it was not as scenic as I thought it would be. Worse, I had to run it twice.

It was also rather congested in the first round as the path wasn't very wide. The runners started to spread out only in the second round.

Although the weather was clear, the event area was muddy.

Unusually, the 10km start times ranged from 6.30am to 8am, which was good because it gave runners a wide choice.

I chose 8am so that I could get more sleep and take the MRT. By the time I got there, many runners were already done.

I started to enjoy reading what other runners printed on their shirts.

I think they missed out on a great pun here: "We fast."

"Run to eat, eat to run." Quite a contrast to "Verily, we are fasting".

Comparing the two Performance Series runs so far, I would say the Coney Island route was more interesting, but the pre- and post-race experience at Jurong Lake was better.

Except for the mud.

EARLIER: Performance Series: Punggol Waterway-Coney Island recap

Sunday 26 June 2016

MBS not the only Singapore icon blown up in Independence Day: Resurgence

So it was all just to promote a movie?

All the anti-immigrant nationalism. The resignation of British prime minister David Cameron. The imminent global economic apocalypse (despite Mr Donald Trump not being US president yet).

After Britain voted to leave the European Union on Thursday, UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage celebrated the result, saying:
“Let June the 23rd go down in our history as our Independence Day!”

June 23 also happened to be the day that the movie, Independence Day: Resurgence, opened in Britain as well as Singapore.


Even UK newspaper The Telegraph suggested it could be “the most brilliant movie marketing ploy of all time”.

Using Brexit to promote the sequel makes sense since the original Independence Day movie was basically a cinematic treatise on why we shouldn’t trust immigrants, especially those from outer space with giant scary-ass spaceships.

ET, go home!

Not that I needed any more convincing to see the sequel to the 1996 blockbuster, which literally busted a few building blocks but no ghosts. That’s another movie.

I was particularly looking forward to seeing the destruction of Marina Bay Sands (MBS) because the prices in its food courts are just too damn high.

Asked why he picked the MBS skyline to blow up, director Roland Emmerich said: “Because it’s a very attractive skyline. It’s very kind of nice-looking. It’s the recognisability of landmarks which counts for me.”

If you have seen the moment in the movie’s trailer, that’s pretty much all you get in the movie.

Despite what Emmerich said, I wonder how many people outside Singapore watching the movie would actually recognise the MBS skyline and know it’s in Singapore.

Just to make it really clear, Emmerich could also have blown up the Merlion statue — not the one at Fullerton but the one on Sentosa because it’s bigger.

But then this is Independence Day: Resurgence, not Hitman: Agent 47, and Emmerich has bigger cities to fry.

However, any disappointment I felt in not seeing more of Singapore destroyed in the movie was mitigated by the annihilation of another Singaporean icon.

Spoiler alert. Stop reading now if you don’t want a minor movie plot point revealed to you or if you’ve realised that reading this article is a waste of your time.

The Singaporean icon I’m talking about is actor Chin Han, not to be confused with at least two other non-Singaporean actors named Chin Han.

His full name is Ng Chin Han. I assume he dropped the “Ng” because he’s now based in Hollywood and most people there probably can’t pronounce it.

“It’s Ng.”


“No, Ng.”


“Ng! Forget it. Just call me Chin Han.”

Okay, maybe he is not really an icon (yet), but he should be.

We make such a fuss over local film-makers whose films are shown in international film festivals, but Chin Han is in movies that millions of people around the world actually want to see.

Sure, other Singaporean actors like Fann Wong (Shanghai Knights), Adrian Pang (Spy Game), Ivan Heng (The Fifth Element) and Lim Kay Tong (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story) have occasionally been cast in Hollywood movies.

But Chin Han is the only Singaporean who has consistently appeared in big hits like The Dark Knight, 2012 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier, plus TV shows like Fringe, Arrow, The Blacklist and Marco Polo.

He will also be in the whitewashed Ghost In The Shell, which is based on the Japanese manga and stars Scarlett Johansson, to be released next year.

UPDATE: Channel NewsAsia has just reported that Chin Han has signed with Creative Artists Agency in Hollywood, which is a big deal. He is the first and only Singaporean to do so.

As website recently asked: “Why aren’t Singaporeans paying more attention to Chin Han?”

Someone replied: “Because he is not handsome.”

Now that’s just mean.

If Chin Han were a woman, the Association of Women for Action and Research would be chastising you for commenting on Chin Han’s looks just because she (or he) is a woman.

Another said: “Because in Singapore, he got famous for starring in Masters Of The Sea. Not something most people want to remember.”

Yes, Chin Han was in Channel 5’s first English TV drama series back in the mid-90s, but the problem isn’t that people want to forget that waterlogged soap.

The problem is that people remember what a douche Chin Han played in The Masters Of The Sea and believe that he’s also a douche in real life.

That just shows what a masterful actor he is. He has to be for Emmerich to hire him again after directing Chin Han in 2012 (the movie, not the year).

In Independence Day: Resurgence, Chin Han plays the commander of the moon base who is killed by the aliens early on. (I did warn you about spoilers, right?)

Watching this real-life Singaporean get blown up in the movie was unexpectedly more satisfying than watching the fake CGI Singapore skyline get blown up.

Maybe because he’s such a douche.

Now that’s what I call an exit.

- Published in The New Paper, 26 June 2016

Thursday 23 June 2016

#tbt Chiobu update: Navy chiobu Clarie Teo is still as chio as ever

Navy@Vivo is happening this weekend starting today.

The event got me wondering about navy ME1 Clarie Teo (or has she been promoted?) who won the Internet last year after she was featured in Cyberpioneer.

Once again, I want to reiterate that the Cyperpioner video is not a navy recruitment video.

After she became Internet-famous, she started setting her social media accounts to private - but her Dayre and Instagram are public now.

She was at Navy@Vivo last year. Maybe she'll be there again this year. (UPDATE: She was.)

Last Day, don't miss it! #NavyatVivo16 #NavyatVivo 📷 : @p.yisheng

A photo posted by 巧丽.张 (@xclarieacaciateo) on

A photo posted by 巧丽.张 (@xclarieacaciateo) on

A photo posted by 巧丽.张 (@xclarieacaciateo) on

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EARLIER: This is ME1 Clarie Teo

UPDATE: Remember navy chiobu Clarie Teo? No longer navy but still chio

Sunday 19 June 2016

'Repulsive': Orange Is The New Black cafeteria promo glamorises prison food, could lead to crime wave

Dear Singapore Police Force,

Sorry to bother you.

I know you must be busy dealing with parcel scams, police reports about Facebook posts and clarifying that the guy who posted on Facebook (where else?) about wanting permission to “open fire” isn’t a police national serviceman.

It would be helpful, though, if you also explained why the guy was photographed wearing what looks like a police uniform and it doesn’t say “NPCC” on the epaulet.

I would also like someone to explain to me what the guy meant when he wrote: “I would like to see these £@€$^*s die for their causes.”

What are these “£@€$^*s” he is referring to? How do you even pronounce it?

Why would anyone want to see “pound at euro dollar caret asterisks” die for their causes?

Did the keyboard of the guy who is not a police national serviceman suddenly go haywire when he typed “£@€$^*s”?

Or does he have something against foreign currencies?

Many say he was referring to the LGBT community, but he could just be very frustrated about the Brexit situation.

Hey, aren’t we all?

But I’m not writing to you, the police, about Britain possibly exiting the European Union because that would be strange.

Or about the guy who is not a police national serviceman even though he wore something that looks a lot like a police uniform.

No, I’m writing to warn you about an impending crime wave.

On Thursday and Friday, a restaurant at Liat Towers was turned into a US prison-style cafeteria to promote the new season of R21 Netflix series Orange Is The New Black, which is set in a US women’s prison called Litchfield Penitentiary and has more same-sex kissing than Les Miserables.

To quote the Chope website where you can make reservations:
“Welcome to the Litchfield Penitentiary Cafeteria, where the bad (but totally innocent) women of Orange is the New Black congregate to eat, hang and get mouthy.

“For TWO DAYS ONLY on June 16 and 17, get your COMPLIMENTARY fill of Litchfield grub for the very first time in Singapore.

“Come meet your fellow inmates, wait in line and stay hydrated with a tall plastic cup of our refreshing house beverage: water.”
Netflix even produced a video with one of the show’s stars, Lea DeLaria, saying: “You have to queue if you want to eat. Oh, wait a minute. You guys like queueing in Singapore.”

Then she winked and said “You’re gonna fit right in.”

Just because we like to queue in Singapore, we would fit in a US women’s prison cafeteria? Don’t we have to enjoy same-sex kissing too?

And what would we be queuing for anyway?

On the menu was water, corn, gravy, gruel and Nutraloaf.

You may remember gruel as something Oliver Twist used to eat.

And Nutraloaf is apparently something served to US prisoners as punishment.

No, you wouldn’t want some more.

But local chef Bjorn Shen, who created the menu for the occasion, said: “Since this is not real prison, I’ve made this dish look and feel like a Nutraloaf, but taste much better. Mine’s made of mushrooms, cheddar, quinoa, pumpkin and nori.”

Which raises the question, why isn’t this a real prison?

While I agree that some sort of detention facility on Orchard Road is needed to incarcerate shoppers convicted of fashion crimes like visible panty lines and wearing Crocs, I found this Orange Is The New Black promotion to be a little off-colour.

The US website Jezebel called it “a bad idea”. Author Piper Kerman, who wrote the autobiographical book that the series is based on, called it “repulsive”.

Remember the uproar over Singapore Island Country Club offering a “poverty simulation” class for its members four months ago?

As politically incorrect as it sounded, that was actually for a good cause — to educate and promote empathy for the poor.

And now we have a prison cafeteria simulation with the noble cause of promoting a TV show.

But that’s not even the worst of it.

My fear is that the Netflix event glamorises prison life and would encourage people to commit crime just to get into prison where the food is prepared by the 2013 Chef Of The Year and Hossan Leong is one of the prison guards.

That’s the impending crime wave I want to warn you about.

Please stay alert.

Now excuse me, I have to go transfer money to someone in China to take care of some parcel I deposited there and forgot about.

Good thing someone called to tell me. So lucky.

S M Ong

- Published in The New Paper, 19 June 2016

Saturday 18 June 2016

Sharon Au's Instagram reminds us the woman who played Mrs LKY is kind of hot

Sharon Au played Mrs Lee Kuan Yew in The LKY Musical last year.

She is 41 years old and her vacation photos in particular are amazeballs.

A photo posted by Sharon Au (@sharonau13) on

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EARLIER: Nothing will stop Sharon Au from playing Mrs LKY

Tuesday 14 June 2016

How IDA (& The Straits Times) blew it with the civil service Internet 'ban'

It all started last week with a report in The Straits Times headlined "Public servants' computers to have no Internet access":
All computers used officially by public servants in Singapore will be cut off from the Internet from May next year, in an unprecedented move to tighten security.

A memo is going out to all government agencies, ministries and statutory boards here about the Internet blockade a year from now, The Straits Times has learnt.

There are some 100,000 computers in use by the public service and all of them will be affected.
Note that there was no official government announcement. It's what ST "learnt" from a memo. And it doesn't even quote the memo!

But ST did get a quote from IDA:
"The Singapore Government regularly reviews our IT measures to make our network more secure," a spokesman for the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) said when contacted.

The move is aimed at plugging potential leaks from work e-mail and shared documents amid heightened security threats.

Trials started with some employees within the IDA - the lead agency for this exercise - as early as April. Web surfing can be done only on the employees' personal tablets or mobile phones as these devices do not have access to government e-mail systems. Dedicated Internet terminals have been issued to those who need them for work.
So the IDA spokesman gave some matter-of-fact statement, probably not realising that ST is framing the move as retrograde and Luddite:
Mr Aloysius Cheang, Asia-Pacific executive vice-president of global computing security association Cloud Security Alliance, said the Government's move marks a return to the past - the 1990s - when Internet access was available only on dedicated terminals.
A return to the 90s! Do you want a flannel shirt with that?

IDA now stands for Internet Don't Access.

Because of the ST report, which triggered a wave of criticism and mockery of the Internet "ban" for public servants, the Government had to waste precious resources explaining what the move does and doesn't entail.

Even ambassador-at-large Bilahari Kausikan whacked IDA, saying "the IDA announcement was one of the worst public communications by any organisation I have ever seen; almost a perfect example of how NOT to do public communications".

But the thing is, IDA never really made a proper announcement. It was just reacting to ST learning about the "memo" and the subsequent shitstorm.

It was such a shitstorm that even the PM had to step in.

IDA never saw it coming. It probably thought it made the obviously right decision, which I agree with, except it wasn't obvious enough to many people (as explained by blogger Ian Tan).

And one of those people worked at The Straits Times and wrote the report that started the shitstorm.

As if to make up for it to IDA, ST ran this rather alarmist report on cybersecurity on Sunday:

But it was too late. By then, the damage to Singapore's Smart Nation reputation, which IDA has worked so hard to cultivate, had already been done.

You would think that for a Government that is so often accused of controlling the press, it would do a better job of controlling the press.

Sunday 12 June 2016

Unfounded Alice Fong conspiracy theory: Is Jem covering up something?

This month is the first anniversary of probably the worst thing that can happen to you when you’re dining at Jem.

On June 4 last year, at the Din Tai Fung restaurant in the Jurong East shopping mall, a ceiling pipe burst, pouring what was euphemistically reported as “waste water” on a couple of diners.

“It stunk like faeces,” said a witness.

Now imagine if that had happened to Ms Alice Fong. (Many would probably enjoy that image.)

Then the unbridled rage she displayed in the recent viral video would have been justified or at least understandable.

Ms Fong was also dining at Jem on June 3, almost exactly a year after the “faeces” incident.

But she was in the foodcourt, not Din Tai Fung.

And she wasn’t drenched in waste water, although she did say she found something dirty in her food.

What was this mysterious “dirty” thing?

What if it were something from, say, a defective ceiling pipe perhaps?

Then it was Ms Fong’s duty to take a picture of this “dirty” thing and report it to someone in charge so that a thorough investigation could be conducted and a recurrence of what happened at Din Tai Fung a year earlier could be prevented.

Ms Fong could be like the hero sheriff in Jaws and Jaws 2 (“Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Jem”), trying to warn everyone about the impending disaster, but no one would listen to her until it’s too late and you’re already eaten by a shark or drenched in faecal-smelling sewage.

But as Ms Fong was planning to take the photo, a cleaner tried to take away her food.


Ms Fong later found out that the cleaner might not have heard her stopping him from clearing her food because he is deaf. And the rest is viral history.

Just another case of someone caught behaving badly on video.

Or is it?

Or could it be an elaborate conspiracy cooked up by Jem to cover up its plumbing problems?

Jem is of course infamous for a series of unfortunate events (fires, false ceiling collapse) since the mall’s official opening was delayed in 2013 because the fire permits weren’t ready.

Plus this month also happens to be the second anniversary of another incident at Jem where water came pouring from above.

Two years ago, Jem posted on its Facebook page:
“At 12:15pm, 17th June, the atrium side water sprinklers on level 3 in the mall were triggered, affecting a small section of the mall’s common areas on Levels B1, 1 and 2 and some tenancies in those areas.”
The “too long, didn’t read” version: It rained inside the mall.

At least no witness said it stunk like faeces.

So is it possible that on that fateful day Ms Fong spotted something dirty in her food, a spy planted by Jem inside the foodcourt also spotted Ms Fong spotting something dirty in her food?

To prevent her from taking pictures of the evidence, the spy quickly directed the foodcourt manager to dispatch a cleaner to commandeer her food.

And when Ms Fong complained to the manager about the cleaner, the manager would tell her that the cleaner is deaf, thus provoking her to go on a politically-incorrect tirade about the disabled.

And boy, she over-delivered.

But the most crucial part of Operation Malice Fong was making sure someone in the foodcourt got a good enough view of Ms Fong to take a video of her gesticulating wildly and saying stuff like:
“If he’s deaf, ask him don’t work. Go home and sleep. Just ask the Government to feed him. Go and be a beggar! I don’t care — he took my food!”

All this was to guarantee that once the video was uploaded online, it would go viral and and turn Ms Fong into the worst human being to come along since Ms Amy Cheong, Mr Anton Casey and that former Miss Singapore finalist who made a joke about a man’s “holey” shirt on the MRT.

And while everyone is busy vilifying Ms Fong (who has since admitted she was in the wrong) or decrying the mistreatment of people with special needs, no one is paying any attention to the “dirty” thing Ms Fong found in her food in the Jem foodcourt.

Mission accomplished.

The lesson here?

Next time you spot something dirty in your food, be quicker with your camera.

Happy anniversary, Jem.

- Published in The New Paper, 12 June 2016

Sunday 5 June 2016

Petition to remove derogatory Singlish term 'sotong' from Oxford dictionary

Hi, will you sign my petition?

I am writing one to have a derogatory term removed from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

The term “sotong” uses seafood to tease blur people in Singapore.

It is highly disrespectful to tentacled marine life and if it stays in the dictionary, it will give the impression that it is an acceptable term.

It is actually insensitive and will hurt millions of blur citizens of all ages.

It will pollute the language learning of young generations of Singaporeans and turn them into sotong.

Oh, what hath OED wrought?

Who could've guessed that when a bunch of new Singapore English terms were added to OED in March, we would still be talking about it three months later?

And I’m not the only one petitioning for a derogatory Singapore English term to be removed from OED.

Two weeks ago, someone started an online petition to shoot down “Chinese helicopter”, defined as “a Singaporean whose schooling was conducted in Mandarin Chinese and who has limited knowledge of English”.

The petition has over 450 supporters.

Yes, “Chinese helicopter” was the controversial term I wrote about in this column last month when it was reported that many Singaporeans had never heard of it.

Now the issue is that some Singaporeans — at least 450 of them — don’t want to hear the term any more.

Supporters of the anti-”Chinese helicopter” petition describe the term as “discriminatory”, “humiliating” and “does not sound nice”.

One commented:
“Chinese-educated people are better than English-educated ones because their lessons incorporate moral values and principles, as well as their culture and history. I would think that Chinese who can only speak English should be shamefully called ‘bananas’.”
So one derogatory term is not okay, but another one is?

Maybe this commenter should start a petition to include this definition of Amos Yee’s favourite fruit in OED.

To quote Gwen Stefani, that’s “B, A, N, A, N, A, S.”

Speaking of Stefani, who is ang moh, I’m surprised there isn’t a petition to remove another Singapore English term that some also consider derogatory — “ang moh”.

Wikipedia straight up describes it as a racial epithet.

So shouldn’t there be a petition to change “Ang Mo Kio” to “Caucasian Kio”?

Even Urban Dictionary says “ang moh” is racist.

But then Urban Dictionary also defines “Chinese helicopter” as “When a woman pulls a bloody tampon out and whips it around above her head, spewing red blood all over the walls in a circular fashion.”

Now why hasn’t anyone petitioned to remove that from Urban Dictionary?

At least in the OED, “Chinese helicopter” is flagged as derogatory.

But “ang moh”, defined as “a light-skinned person, especially of Western origin or descent”, isn’t.

Neither is “sotong”, when “used to denote a stereotypically stupid, clumsy, or ignorant person”.

But “sotong” is clearly a derogatory term.

And I know at least one person who would agree with me and I don't mean SpongeBob SquarePants’ neigbour, Squidward Tentacles.

I’m talking about none other than the Prime Minister’s wife, Ms Ho Ching — although sadly for me, it’s “Chinese helicopter” she feels should be removed from OED.

But not because it’s derogatory.

She wrote on Facebook last week:
“I was so surprised to read that the OED had just included the term ‘Chinese helicopter’ as part of their new Singlish entries.

“I had only heard this being used in my late teens in the early 1970s, listening in on the chatter of NS boys from English-stream schools explaining this term they had learnt during their BMT about their NS mates from Chinese-stream schools.

“They had also told stories about being scolded by their sergeants for being ‘blur like sotong’ too...

“Most if not all of the younger generation of Singaporeans would not have heard of ‘Chinese helicopters’, while ‘blur sotongs’ remain alive and current in their vocabulary (even though we now know better that sotongs are actually quite smart and not at all blur)...

“Unlike blur sotongs, the Chinese helicopter has obviously fallen into disuse for decades...

“Given its lack of currency in the Singlish lexicon today, I would support the petition to remove this term from the OED entry.”
So it seems unlikely Ms Ho will sign my petition to remove “sotong” from OED.

Not that I think it will do any good if she does.

The Oxford Dictionaries website says that its policy is “to include informal, slang, or offensive words on the basis of their currency of use”.

Meaning it doesn’t matter if you’re offended by a word — it’s still in.

The OED website also says that as a “historical dictionary”, it is a “guide to the meaning, history, and pronunciation of 600,000 words — past and present”.

Meaning it doesn’t matter if a word has “fallen into disuse for decades” — it’s still in.

So why are we bothering with all these petitions?

Because we’re blur like sotong.

No offence to the squid or cuttlefish.

- Published in The New Paper, 5 June 2016

EARLIER: New Singapore words in Oxford English Dictionary: Get to the (Chinese) chopper!