Monday 28 December 2020

What colour is the Circle Line? No, Virginia, the Circle Line is not yellow (or a circle)

Dear Minister of Transport,

Sorry to bother you.

I know you’re busy taking selfies in front of the Covid-19 vaccine transport plane.

But there’s an urgent issue regarding our national Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system that needs your immediate attention as it’s tearing our country – and my family – apart.

Is the Circle Line yellow or orange?

It looks orangish on the map to me, but my daughter has always called it the yellow line. My wife knows it only as the Circle Line. My son doesn’t care.

Yes, it’s like #dressgate and Yanny/Laurel all over again, but this time, it’s hitting close to home, although I actually live closer to the North-South Line.

In a recent Twitter poll I found, 74 per cent say the Circle Line is yellow and 26 per cent say orange.

If this were an election, yellow would be president now and Coldplay would be playing the national anthem.

But orange has refused to concede and is officially backed by the Land Transport Authority (LTA).

Last year, responding to a query about the colour of the Circle Line, LTA replied in an e-mail: “Pleased to share that Circle Line colour is orange. The tone/shade may vary on different elements such as vinyl sticker, printed on paper or silkscreen… illuminated signs.”

But confusingly, SMRT Corporation has referred to the Circle Line as “yellow line” in a bunch of 2012 tweets.

However, SMRT appears to have recently changed its tune, or at least its colour perception.

Last week, replying to a query, someone in SMRT customer relations wrote in an e-mail: “We wish to share that SMRT Circle Line is orange in colour.”

A screenshot of the reply has been circulating online since, plunging our nation into a bitter colour war.

People are beating up each other black and blue over the yellow and orange at Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.

Some took the opportunity in the hue and cry to vent long pent-up resentment against the Circle Line for not being an actual circle in real life no matter how the authorities draw it on the map.

Fake news! They’re lying to us about the Circle Line being orange just like they’re lying to us about it being circular.

So I don’t know how many were persuaded by LTA’s response on Christmas Eve to a Mothership article wondering whether the Circle Line is yellow or orange.

LTA posted an orange dot with the comment: “‘Orange’ you glad we've cleared this up.”

A Christmas miracle it wasn’t. Peace on earth wasn’t achieved. The pun didn’t help.

My daughter, for one, remains unmoved. She’s part of the younger generation who grew up memorising the MRT lines as yellow line, red line, green line and blue line.

Whereas to her mother and me, they’re the Circle Line, North-South Line, East-West Line and Downtown Line respectively.

At least, we all agree on what to call the North-East Line – NEL. It’s just fun to say.

So for LTA and SMRT to declare that the Circle Line is not yellow, it’s like saying no, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus.

We all know what the truth is, but as a parent, I would like to hold off destroying that part of my daughter’s childhood for as long as I can, even though she’s already 21.

Could you, as Transport Minister, in the spirit of Christmas, override LTA and SMRT, and decree that the Circle Line is yellow?

Do it for the children.

2020 has already taken so much from all of us. Grant us this one thing to end the year on a brighter note. It would tickle us pink. Thank you.

Merry Christmas and happy new year, hopefully.

- Published in The New Paper, 28 December 2020

Monday 14 December 2020

'Black man wearing white': How a UN vote on cannabis in Vienna led to a vote on whether a Facebook comment is racist in Singapore

Everyone makes comments on Facebook. Many even make comments on the Facebook pages of ministers.

But imagine if your comment is called out by Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam, who then conducts an online poll to ask whether people think your comment is racist.


That’s what happened to “Nubela Goh”, turning him into Singapore social media’s latest villain of the week.

And it all started with those party animals at the United Nations (UN).

On Dec 2 in Vienna, Austria, the UN voted to remove cannabis from the most tightly controlled category of narcotic drugs to make research into its medical use easier.

In response, our Ministry of Home Affairs said: “Singapore is disappointed with this outcome.”

Mr Shanmugam told the media: “I put this down to the power of money. Companies see a huge amount of profit, and a very invidious idea that cannabis is not harmful, is being pushed.”

[UN CND Vote on Cannabis] Gave my views on the recent UN CND vote. There is substantive evidence that cannabis use is harmful. Our position on cannabis must be based on science and evidence.

Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Tuesday, December 8, 2020

So that you don’t have to look it up, “invidious” means “likely to arouse or incur resentment or anger in others”.

Last Thursday, to further make his case, Mr Shanmugam posted on Facebook an e-mail from a “former cannabis abuser”, expressing his “gratitude for keeping Singapore safe from drugs”.

The e-mail read:
“I believe many abusers like myself started to try marijuana due to the widespread misinformation of the media portraying it to be harmless and ‘cool’. I fell for that, as did those around me. True enough, it is the gateway to the world of drugs and other abusive substances.”
The Facebook post got more than 200 comments, including this one:
“My msg to this young person, you are an inspiration… Thank you for sharing your personal experience, It is so valuable for ignorant people.”
And this is where our friend Nubela Goh (not his real name) came in, blithely changing his life forever by replying:
“Have you tried weed? If not, I think you might be the ignorant one gaslighted by a black man wearing white.”
It was buried under hundreds of other comments, so it was a fluke that anyone even noticed it.

A Facebook page called Gong Simi Singapore posted a screenshot of Nubela Goh’s reply, remarking:
“Singapore has no room for racism… This guy... called Indians ‘black man’ and calling people ignorant who had never tried weed while discrediting users who tried and warned people about it.”

Singapore has no room for racism. This comment was spotted at Minister Shanmugam's facebook post on the former cannabis...

Posted by Gong Simi Singapore on Thursday, December 10, 2020

Gong Simi Singapore revealed Nubela Goh's real name and his company as well.

Later that day, Mr Shanmugam also posted a screenshot of Mr Goh’s reply, asking: “Would people think this is racist? Or not?”

[Is this racist?] Nubela Goh, made the following comment on my post. Wonder what Singaporeans will think of the...

Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Friday, December 11, 2020

The minister even created an online poll on Instagram Stories, where 88 per cent answered yes.


So a UN vote on marijuana in Vienna somehow led to an online vote on whether a Facebook comment is racist in Singapore. That's 2020 for ya.

Having gone viral, Mr Goh posted an apology of sorts:
“MinShan, there was zero intent in racism here and I apologise if you or any other people are slighted by that statement. No ifs/buts on that apology.

“For clarity: I literally said ‘Black man in a white shirt’ to highlight the fact that he is speaking for the PAP. It stands out. What I was trying to highlight is the WHITE SHIRT.

“If you put it into context sans the figure of speech, what I’m trying to say can be distilled down into this: ‘Have you tried weed? If not you might be the ignorant one gaslight by _someone who speaks loudly for PAP_.’”
Not to nitpick, but Mr Goh literally did not use the word “shirt” at all in his original statement. He actually wrote “black man wearing white”, which implied a shirt but it was not what he said he said.

Mr Shanmugam shared the apology, which wasn’t well received. So Mr Goh rewrote his apology and edited it down to: “MinShan, I apologise for the distasteful use of words.”

Nubela Goh has put up a post, apologising, in the following terms.

He has also asked if I could remove references to...

Posted by K Shanmugam Sc on Friday, December 11, 2020

Then the issue of doxxing by the minister came up, which Mr Shanmugam addressed:
“He (Nubela Goh) has also asked if I could remove references to his name and the name of his company. I have decided to do so, but told him – his name and his company’s name were in his original comment when he posted his comment on my FB page. I put up a screen shot, and made my comment.”
Since “Nubela Goh” already has much of his personal details online for anyone to easily google, he has essentially pre-doxxed himself.

Who could have predicted that a discussion about the dangers of pot could morph into a minor controversy about racism and doxxing?

It’s all the UN’s fault.

- Published in The New Paper, 14 December 2020

Monday 30 November 2020

Online love scam: Why would anyone use Dick Lee of all people to catfish women?

Dear online love scammer,

I am not a woman.

I feel the need to remind people of that now and then because a reader once called me “Samantha”.

Who knows? If I had starred in Number 1, I might have won the Golden Horse award that Mark Lee failed to.

“I'm 52 so I guess to have a long journey I must live till 100," said the actor jokingly.

Posted by The Straits Times on Sunday, November 22, 2020

But because I am not a woman, I don’t know what women want.

And because I don’t know what women want, I would make a lousy scammer.

For example, it would never occur to me to use Dick Lee’s face to attract women and scam them the way you did. That took some kind of evil genius.

Not that I think the 64-year-old is unattractive even though he is no Chuando.

On Saturday, The Straits Times reported:
“In the last two years, home-grown singer-composer Dick Lee has been approached by about 10 women claiming they fell victim to – or nearly did – to online love scams in which his pictures were used.”

The woman is among at least 10 women who have approached singer Dick Lee, saying they fell victim to - or nearly did - to online love scams that used his photos.

Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, November 27, 2020

Wait, does this mean you impersonated him online to dupe these women?

Yes and no. According to one victim ST interviewed, you used pictures of Lee but gave your name as “Alex Cheng”.

Wait, if you sent someone a picture of Dick Lee and claimed to be Alex Cheng, weren’t you afraid that she might say “Hey, that is Dick Lee” and realise that you are lying?

I mean, Lee is a pretty famous guy. He is practically synonymous with our National Day, thanks to his song, Home.

Not only that, the erstwhile Mad Chinaman used to be married to Mum’s Not Cooking host and My Grandson The Doctor star Jacintha Abisheganaden in the 90s. Younger Singaporeans may not remember this, but the two were like Singapore’s Prince Harry and Meghan Markle of their day.

So, yeah, Lee is pretty famous – but in Singapore. And you knew that. The woman ST interviewed is a Hong Kong resident.

Okay, so maybe Lee is not that recognisable in Hong Kong, but why pick him of all the people in the world who are not that recognisable in Hong Kong?

What is it about that coiffed salt-and-pepper hair, boyish grin and well-moisturised skin that you found so irresistible to con women with?

Wait, I think I just answered my own question.

Dear friends thanks so much for always alerting me to fake accounts. I'm sorry some of you have been tricked into losing...

Posted by Dick Lee on Sunday, October 11, 2020

Still, why would you risk using a picture of someone who is a celebrity in a country not that far away from Hong Kong?

Why not a picture of a nobody – like me?

Not that I would want to be repurposed as bait to catfish women for their money. Oh no, not at all. I would feel so used, exploited and maybe just a tiny bit flattered.

Other local celebrities whose pictures have been used in foreign love scams include such handsome specimens as One FM 91.3 deejay Simon Lim, and Mediacorp actors Desmond Tan and Romeo Tan. So Lee is in rather hunky company.

He told ST:
“I’ve had maybe 10 women approach me over these two years to say they were victims or almost victims of scammers who had been stealing from my photos. I’ve received messages from women all over the world – Puerto Rico, Germany, Hong Kong.”
Is it just me or did that almost sound like a humblebrag?

Hey, I just thought of something.

You know who else you should use if you want to stick with Singapore celebrities?

Mark Lee.

I guarantee that if you use a photo of his face, women will throw themselves and money at you like shoppers at a Black Friday sale.

Trust me. I know what women want.

Would I scam a scammer?

- Published in The New Paper, 30 November 2020

Wednesday 18 November 2020

Guide to Netflix's Best of Phua Chu Kang Season 2 and watch for free

Netflix started streamimg its second season of Best Of Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd on Sunday.

Whereas the first Netflix season is just the original third season in its entirety, the second Netflix season is a selection of 26 episodes from throughout the eight-season series (except the third season, or course).

I have embedded the episodes from MeWatch below so even if you don't subscribe to Netflix, you can watch for free.

Edwin Chong played PCK's brother, Chu Beng, for the first seaon.

Rosie's Red

Lock And Key

Pests And Pretence

Baby Blues

Steam Me Up, Scheme Me Down

Peace, Joy, Deadlines & Commitments

Pierre Png took over as Chu Beng from the second season onwards. I started writing for PCK this season.

Foolish Heart
I wrote this episode.
After a heart attack, Frankie Foo retires from the contracting business and gives all his clients to Chu Kang, who saved his life. Margaret decides to start eating meat.

Lucky Strike
Chu Kang signs himself and Rosie up for a bowling competition, even though the latter is uninterested. Margaret is interested but Chu Kang wants her to prove her worth. Margaret ends up coaching an embarassed Chu Kang when she bowls better than him. Grace Young, Lin Ru Ping, Catherine Kee, Benjamin Ng and Sheila Wyatt guest.

Kaya Ok
Chu Kang struggles with a customer who will use anything, including his father to get a good bargain. Rosie thinks Ahma has found a boyfriend, and Margaret gets upset when she hears Chu Beng calling out for Isabella while he is sleeping.


Crushing Experiences
Aloysius has a crush on his teacher and gets into trouble so he can stay in after school hours and be with her. Margaret has a near fatal accident that causes her to change her ways.

For Art's Sake
PCK Pte Ltd is hired to re-paint a room in an arts and crafts school. Chu Beng joins a painting class in which he is asked to pose nude for the class. King Kong accidentally damages a valuable mural and Chu Beng is roped in to cover up the damage. Meanwhile, Margaret and Rosie unwittingly enrol themselves into the same knitting class. Chu Beng finally musters up the courage to strip and pose, but a series of errors culminate in more stripping than anyone bargained for.

Health Matters
Health really begins to matter in the Phua family when a medical check up reveals that Chu Kang has gout while Chu Beng is iron deficient. Rosie and Margaret find themselves on trying turf as Rosie dabbles in healthy cooking for Chu Kang and Margaret contends with the no less than terrifying ordeal of stir frying beef for Chu Beng.


Toto Day
Kang, to his shock and amazement, wins the Toto grand prize of $ 10m ! Everyone starts making plans on how they’re going to spend it. But he bursts their bubble by declaring he’s keeping all the money for himself, closing down PCK Pte Ltd and moving to a seaside bungalow in Perth. The family slowly falls apart from greed and mistrust. And there is another minor complication. Every time Kang tries to collect his $ 10m winnings, he keeps getting knocked unconscious, and waking up to the very same day... over and over and over again. Kang’s curse is that only he realises it’s the same day being repeated. How will he ever get the money?

Lucky Luohan
Chu Kang complains about slow business despite the economic turn around. Rosie buys an expensive Luo Han fish to remedy the situation. Chu Kang becomes horrified by the fact that Chu Kang's dear Koi fish Mimi and Jasper will become jealous. Rosie believes in the Luo Han and seeks a 4D number from its markings, only problem is that she can't see the number and only Margaret can. Rosie starts to spoil the fish by buying premium aquarium and fish food. Oh, the life of a well-loved pet!

The Girl Next Door
Kang and Beng reminisce about Ting Ting (guest star Zoe Tay), the girl who used to live next door, and how she changed their lives. They both discover that they made the same promise to marry Ting Ting when they grew up, and end up arguing over who she would have chosen. Rosie and Margaret hire a private investigator to find her. They panic when they find out that Ting Ting is not only beautiful and successful but still single. They vow to make sure their husbands never get to meet Ting Ting. One day, Ting Ting shows up at their doorstop...

An Offer You Can't Refuse
A pressured Chu Kang inadvertently insults the Godfather, Vito Koh. In return for his life, Kang has to baby-sit the Godfather's 8-year old son Michael, for him. Ordinarily, looking after a little kid should be a stroll in the park for Chu Kang. But because Michael is the son of the ruthless Godfather. Chu Kang knows he has to keep both eyes on the boy - which is exactly what he doesn't do. Things come to a head when he leaves Michael in the care of the clueless King Kong and Ah Goon and the boy disappears.


Phua Phua Baby
Rosie is pregnant ! As the family rejoices, Kang has to come to terms with the fact that he must now start visiting the gynae with Rosie. Kok Peng and Beng try to help Kang overcome his fear of doctors. Aloy's prelim results did not qualify him for JC and he fakes going to school, until Marge decides to do some investigation. Meanwhile, Bobo (Afdlin Shauki) works on his invention, the Robo-Bobo Quasimodo.

Bringing Up Ah Pa
Kang and Beng reminiscent about the past and how their father treated them. King Kong finds a lump in his left breast and suspects breast cancer.

The New Phua
The birth could be any day now. Betsy Foo (Patricia Mok) makes a surprise appearance and tries to secure a confinement nanny job with the Phuas. But she gets sidetracked by King Kong who hopes to rekindle their short-lived 'love affair'. Meanwhile, Magaret is intent on filming every aspect of the expectant mother and the birth, and starts annoying Rosie with a camera in her face. Beng has turned extremely kiasu and is in high gear getting Kang prepared for the birth. Beng regiments the trial runs with military precision and is dissatisfied with the timing. Kang manages to escape Beng's clutches and meets a client he hopes to secure in a multi-million dollar deal. Minutes after signing the contract, Rosie's water breaks and turns the well planned, well oiled, well run operation into pandemonium.


He's The Wife
Chu Beng discovers that Margaret has accepted a job offer in New Zealand and is hurt the she did not tell him personally. Chu Kang encourages him to be a man and assert his husbandly rights.

Breath Of Fresh Air
Rosie tries to manage motherhood on top of the rusual housekeeping duties, and her slimwrap, mahjong and facials. Chu Kang is left eating instant mee, and losing clients because he has to look after the babies. Rosie finally gives in and allows Kang to hire a maid. But the maid Chu Kang hires turns out to be nothing Rosie expected a maid to be !

The Bengmobile
Chu Beng, tired of being constantly humiliated by Chu Kang every time he wants to borrow Kang's car, decides to secretly buy his own automobile. He loves it like a child and parks it a few doors away on the street, anything to keep the purchase from Kang. However, his secret is discovered by Rosie, Bobo and King Kong. They totally understand Beng's need for secrecy. Kang gets very petty and jealous when anyone buys anything new and shiny. They agree to keep Beng's secret from Kang, in return for many, tedious car rides, where Beng acts as their chauffer. The plans hit a dead end when Chu Kang uncovers Beng's new purchase (from the loose lipped Bobo and King Kong) and torments Beng in secret by hiding his new car's engine!

The Reunion
Guest stars future NMP Janice Koh as Margaret's sister Melissa
It's Chinese New Year, Kang devises an elaborate scheme to maximise Romeo and Crystal's ang pow takings. Margaret gets an enexpected visit from her sister Melissa, who makes a shocking request from her. Meanwhile Beng has to deal with an irritatingly polite hotel clerk.


I was the executive producer of this season and wrote these three episodes.

Dunkin' Don'ts
Chu Kang builds a dunk tank for a funfair and ends up facing a very disgruntled ex-client.

Incredulous Tale
UTT from Incredible Tales introduces an incredible tale about Chu Kang and Rosie by bringing home a mysterious unconscious woman who may not be what she appears. Sergeant Dollah (Suhaimi Yusof) from Police and Thief investigates.

Under Another Roof
Chu Kang reunites with former clients Tan Ah Teck and Dolly. Guest stars Moses Lim, Koh Cheng Mun and Jocelyn Yeo.

EARLIER: Is 'Best of Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd' on Netflix really the best? Maybe the chicken episode

Monday 16 November 2020

Changi Jurassic Mile: What's more dangerous than dinosaurs and stray golf balls?

Dear Changi Airport Group,


Yelled no golfer during my visit to the Changi Jurassic Mile last Friday morning. I was expecting golf balls to be whizzing by all around me like bullets during the Omaha beach sequence in Saving Private Ryan.

Medic! Medic!

Have you been hit?

Yes, by a Bridgestone e6 Speed.

Based on recent reports, the Jurassic Mile seems to have become a prehistoric war zone where carnage could come with a Titleist logo.

Last month, a maid was hit on the head by a golf ball presumably from the nearby Tanah Merah Country Club. (I mean, it could be someone at the Sembawang Country Club with an incredibly long drive.)

So you installed additional safety barriers.

But last week, it was reported that the five-year-old son of actor Chen Tian Wen – Mr Unbelievable himself – was almost hit by another golf ball at the Jurassic Mile.

He must have been stunned like vegetable.

He urged authorities to enhance safety precautions even more.

Posted by on Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Despite the danger, I as a quasi-journalist decided to endanger my life by finding out firsthand how dangerous the Jurassic Mile truly is.

And I didn’t even wear a helmet.

And it was Friday the 13th.

The risk is even greater when you consider that whenever I walk past kids playing football in my neighbourhood, the ball would almost always be kicked into my face.

Some call it a superpower. I call it a curse.

For some reason, my face is a magnet for stray balls.

And encounter a golf ball at Jurassic Mile I certainly did.

But fortunately, it wasn’t rocketing toward my football-abused kisser.

The golf ball was resting benignly on the ground among the grass beyond the fence. It wasn’t attracted to my face at all.

Two days after the Nov 1 Mr Unbelievable incident, you added an overhead netting over the presumably more ball-prone stretches of the Jurassic Mile.

But it’s still not safe.

While the golf balls got all the publicity, a bigger hazard remains and I’m not talking about the T-Rex display inexplicably coming to life and chomping on selfie takers.

When I was there, I was more worried about getting injured by not by killer balls or reanimated giant reptiles – but by human cyclists.

As the Jurassic Mile is a too-narrow shared path for both pedestrians and cyclists, signs remind cyclists to dismount and push their bicycles. Many did. Many didn’t.

As far as I could tell, there was no enforcement.

People on bicycles squeezing past families with children stopping suddenly to snap pictures with the dinos is a New Paper story waiting to happen.

You need to do something about it before somebody really gets hurt.

Since you have a giant net to catch golf balls, why not a giant net to catch errant cyclists too?

Also, while I have your attention, why is it called the Changi Jurassic Mile?

Shouldn’t it be the Changi Jurassic Kilometre?

Or if you want to be pedantic about it, Changi Jurassic 1.609 Kilometres.

Did a golf ball hit your head and make you forget the metric system?

Someone forgot to yell “Fore!”

- Published in The New Paper, 16 November 2020

Thursday 12 November 2020

My friend in US voted for Trump four years ago – who did she vote for this time?

Shellshocked by Mr Donald Trump winning the US presidential election four years ago, I found out someone I knew actually voted for him and tried to understand why she did for my column.

Below is our online conversation:

That was in 2016.

After four years of the Trump presidency, I wondered who she voted for last week.

Her answer surprised and disappointed me.

So she has become so disillusioned she didn't vote for anyone.

Well, at least she finally recognises that the man she once voted for is an "arrogant ass".

EARLIER: Trumpocalypse now? I asked a friend if she voted for him & she said 'Yup'

Monday 2 November 2020

I blame 2020 for Robinsons and Sean Connery

A 74-year-old Robinsons sales associate at the Raffles City outlet said: “I’m very sad… When I see the empty counters...

Posted by TODAY on Friday, October 30, 2020

Dear 2020,

You nasty.

And there are still two more months to go.

If only we can cancel you like the Raffles Hall Association cancelled the authors of the PAP Vs PAP book.

We should’ve agreed to a safe word before the year started, like “circuit breaker” or “wap”.

Is it too late to cry Uncle Roger?

Never mind SafeEntry. We need a SafeExit and quick.

It’s not enough that more than a million have died from the pandemic this year and Manchester United introduced its ugliest kit ever, you just killed off two beloved decades-old institutions within days of each other – Robinsons and Sean Connery.

The former announced on Friday that it was closing shop after 162 years in Singapore.

Already queueing for the TraceTogether tokens, Singaporeans are now also lining up to get into Robinsons before the doors are shut for good.

Where do I get my extra firm bamboo charcoal memory foam pillow after that?

I mean, besides Tangs, Metro, OG, Isetan, Takashimaya, BHG, Courts, Harvey Norman and the Internet.

I almost feel guilty for partially causing the closure of Robinsons by cancelling my OCBC-Robinsons Group credit card in March.

I already have too many cards in the wallet in my back pocket, which ruins the smooth curve of my perfectly shaped buttock.

And I realised that lately, I used the Robinsons card only to get a member’s rebate when paying for my all-butter Viennese milk chocolate-dipped finger biscuits at Marks & Spencer.

But no, it’s not really my fault that Robinsons is joining John Little and Oriental Emporium in the great megamall in the sky.

I blame you, 2020.

Don’t you see a pattern here?

Eddie Van Halen, Helen Reddy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Chadwick Boseman, Olivia de Havilland, Regis Philbin, Charlie Daniels, Carl Reiner, Ian Holm, Vera Lynn, Little Richard, Irrfan Khan, Bill Withers, Kenny Rogers, Max Von Sydow, Kirk Douglas, Kobe Bryant and Toots of Toots and the Maytals – you took Toots!

Do you have a bucket list of famous names you want to end before you end?

And as if knocking off two iconic Bond girls – Diana Rigg and Pussy Galore, I mean Honor Blackman – isn’t sufficient villainy, you did what Dr No, Goldfinger and Blofeld couldn’t. You got to the man himself.

Connery was 90 years old.

I remember back in the mid-70s, my father once told me he was taking me to see James Bond. I thought we were going to see Roger Moore as he was the only Bond I knew then.

But the movie my father took me to see was this bizarre post-apocalyptic psychedelic fantasy with near-naked women and a giant flying angry stone head.

Traumatisingly unsuitable for children, the movie had an existential ending that haunted me for many nights to come.

Needless to say, it was nothing like James Bond at all with no Roger Moore in sight.

Why did my father lie to me?

It was only decades later, after he died, that I found out that the movie of my childhood nightmares was called Zardoz.

And the reason my father said he was taking me to see James Bond was that the movie starred Sean Connery.

At the time, I didn't know who Connery was, much less knew he was the original Bond. Eight-year-olds are dumb. I also didn’t know how to pronounce “Sean”.

My plan was to share this poignant anecdote with the Oscar-winning Scottish star if I should ever meet him – and also rag him about the red diapers he wore in Zardoz.

But that possibility is no more, thanks to you. Even 007 was no match for 2020.

Contrary to the title of the much delayed new Daniel Craig-starring Bond sequel, this year has been the time to die for too many.

My only quantum of solace is that I still have my all-butter Viennese milk chocolate-dipped finger biscuits. They’re for my mouth only.

Oh, and stay away from Sheena Easton.

- Published in The New Paper, 2 November 2020

Monday 19 October 2020

From bat to worse: Bat eating bananas versus woman riding baby dino

Bat did not pay for the fruit.

Posted by AsiaOne on Friday, October 16, 2020

Dear bat eating bananas (and not bat-eating bananas because that would be CRAZY),

Hey, save some for me. Or better yet, don’t.

In fact, I may never eat a banana again.

What are you? A Minion?

Have you been tested for Covid-19? I wonder how they would insert a swab up your little nostril.

Why no mask? Want to get fined, is it?

Where’s a safe distancing ambassador when you need one?

Oh, I forgot. You don’t have to wear a mask when you’re eating.

It was an image that shook an entire nation.

And I’m not talking about Mark Lee in drag.

You’re famous now.

But it’s rather insensitive of you to re-enact the scene from the ending of the movie Contagion in the middle of a pandemic.

Too soon, man. It’s still two weeks till Halloween.

Because of you, FairPrice posted on Facebook last Friday:
“We are aware of a video circulating on social media of a bat eating a comb of bananas in the night at our 24-hour store located at 345 Jurong East Street 31. This incident occurred outside the store where the fruits were displayed.

“We have since moved all fruits inside the store to prevent future occurrences, and checks have also been made to ensure any fruits affected have been discarded.

“We are also in contact with the authorities to look into the cause for the presence of bats in the area.

“We apologise for any inconvenience caused.”
Why should FairPrice apologise? You’re the one who should apologise for making FairPrice move the fruits inside. No inconvenience caused for the rest of us.

I’m surprised FairPrice didn’t shut the outlet down for deep-cleaning or just burn it to the ground, you know, considering the whole Contagion thing. No offence.

But you weren’t the only one caught on camera where you shouldn’t be last week.

You know the Jurassic Mile that opened recently near Changi Airport with the outdoor dinosaur exhibits?

There is a video going around of a woman sitting on a baby dinosaur display and rocking back and forth.

A video of a woman rocking back and forth on a baby dinosaur exhibit started making the rounds earlier this week.

Posted by The Straits Times on Saturday, October 17, 2020

It’s a display, not a ride.

Many were outraged by her inconsiderate behaviour. You kind of wish the baby dino would come to life and eat her. Jurassic World 3: Makan Time!

What if because of this and other instances of vandalism, Changi Airport might consider moving the exhibits indoors like what FairPrice did with the fruits because of you?

But you did what you did because, well, you’re a bat. No offence.

The woman is no more civilised than a bat, except she apparently has TikTok.

And this is why we can’t have nice things, like unfenced dino displays and bananas hanging outside the supermarket.

Compared with humans, maybe you’re not so bat, I mean, bad after all.

I promise I will never eat soup made of you, even if it’s offered by Singapore Airlines.

I’m looking forward to see how many people are going to dress up as a bat eating bananas this Halloween.

Say hi to Bruce Wayne for me.

Speaking of which, wear a mask, dammit.

- Published in The New Paper, 19 October 2020

Saturday 17 October 2020

Amos Yee's surprisingly wholesome first claim to fame: Winning a New Paper short film contest at 13 that led to role in Jack Neo movie

So Amos Yee is back in the news again.

Amos Yee had allegedly exchanged nude photos and "thousands" of messages with a 14-year-old Texas girl while he was in Chicago.

Posted by The Straits Times on Friday, October 16, 2020

It seems like we have been hearing about the damn kid forever.

Actually, not forever. You probably first heard about him in 2015 when his video rant against Lee Kuan Yew went viral soon after LKY's death.

But that wasn't the first time Amos made the news.

In 2011 when he was 13, he won Best Short Film and Best Actor for his film titled Jan in The New Paper FiRST Film Fest.

Amos Yee could not find anyone to act in his three-minute short film.

So he played all four roles in Jan, which tells of a boy trying to get three friends to help save a girl diagnosed with cancer.

The 13-year-old said: “I couldn’t find any actors who were willing to help me and I thought a one-man job would impress the judges.”

And impress them he did: He won the Best Actor prize as well as the Best Short Film award at the inaugural The New Paper FiRST Film Fest (FFF) on Thursday night.

The Best Short Film prize came with a trophy and $5,000 worth of prizes from Sony.

Yee not only acted in the film, but he also wrote, directed and edited the short, which was shot in his bedroom over a few nights.

Not bad for someone with no previous film-making experience.

Speaking to Life! after the awards ceremony at Mandopop club Shanghai Dolly, the student from Zhonghua Secondary said he has been bitten by the directing bug.

“Right now, I’m going to make more videos and put them on YouTube and hopefully, continue making films,” said Yee, who plans to emulate the cinematic styles of his favourite directors Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg.

The judges for the competition, which drew 160 entries, were directors Jack Neo and Wee Li Lin, head of film distribution and programming for Golden Village Pictures Maria Lorenzo, TNP film critic Jason Johnson and co-founder of Sinema Old School Nicholas Chee.

Jack Neo was one of the judges of the film fest. This led to Amos being in Neo's 2012 movie We Not Naughty.

At the time, the precocious teen appeared to have a promising career as a child actor.

Three years later, all that would change as Amos Yee became the Amos Yee we know today.

Monday 5 October 2020

I have to (m)ask: How do you define 'eating or drinking'?

Do you remove your mask as soon as you sit down at a table, or do you stay masked until the food is served?

Posted by The Straits Times on Saturday, October 3, 2020

It was the first time I ate out in months because of the circuit breaker.

Even though I knew better, I reflexively took off my mask after taking my seat in the restaurant.

The hostess immediately rushed over and reminded me rather forcefully that I could take off my mask only after food or a drink had been brought to my table.

I was taken aback and chastened by her fierceness. She must have dealt with idiot customers like me too many times before.

Embarrassed, I apologised and quickly put my mask back on. I felt like a child scolded by my mother and deservingly so.

Looking back now, I might have gotten off easy.

Last week, the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment revealed in a news release:
“On 25 September 2020, two patrons were fined $300 each for not wearing their masks when talking to each other at an F&B outlet in Orchard at 2.50am, even though they had completed their meal and their table had been cleared.”

What an expensive meal – a total of $600 plus whatever the two actually paid for the meal and this is Orchard we're talking about.

For that amount of money, they could have gone for a three-hour lunch for two in business class on an SIA Airbus A-380 double-decker superjumbo and maybe have enough left over for some pure Mao Shan Wang durian snowskin mooncakes with edible gold dust.

Here's a look at the various offerings for the Singapore Airlines experience.

Posted by The Straits Times on Thursday, October 1, 2020

But what I really want to know is how the two people were caught.

Did a safe distancing ambassador just happen to stroll past the F&B outlet and spot them not wearing masks?

The ambassador must have stood there and watched them long enough to observe that “they had completed their meal and their table had been cleared”.

But exactly how long is that?

As if that isn’t creepy enough, this happened at 2.50am?

There are safe distancing ambassadors working at that time of night?

I mean, if some stranger is standing outside a restaurant and watching me eat at almost three o’clock in the morning, I would be lucky that it’s only a safe distancing ambassador and not some psycho killer stalking me. Qu’est-ce que c’est?

Thanks to the pandemic, eating out is no longer a picnic.

There are rules.

One rule is keep your mask on except when eating or drinking. But how do you define “eating or drinking”?

Remember the hostess fiercely telling me that I could take off my mask once the food or drink arrived and nearly making me cry?

It seems that “eating or drinking” just means having some food or drink in front of you. You don’t have to be actually stuffing your face.

Would those two people have not been fined if their table had not been cleared? Whatever they had left over on their plates could still count as food.

Or would simply having a glass of water in front of them (which they didn’t even have to drink) have saved them $300 each?

I have seen people exploiting this “eating or drinking” loophole when they’re not dining in. They could be walking outside without their masks on simply because they have food or a drink in their hand.

Disney World in the US closed this loophole by updating its policy to allow visitors to eat or drink only when they’re “stationary”.

Disney World Closes Mask Loophole, Bans Eating And Drinking While Walking

Posted by Deadline Hollywood on Sunday, July 19, 2020

I never thought I would say this, but maybe Singapore should follow Disney World.

After all, aren’t we already Disneyland with the death penalty?

I’m not saying we should have a Mickey Mouse government, but the “mask on except when eating or drinking” rule is certainly ambiguous if not a little Goofy.

- Published in The New Paper, 5 October 2020

Monday 21 September 2020

SafeEntry check-in etiquette: Don't block the damn QR code!

You’re in a hurry.

You don’t want to be late for the job interview. Otherwise, the interviewer might lament on Facebook about our generation not being hungry enough. Or worse, call you an adult baby.

Why doesn’t the company just do a Zoom interview? Don’t these people know there’s a pandemic going on?

You remember to wear your mask so you don’t have to beat up the bus driver.

"Our bus captain could be seen cowering with his arms shielding his face as the man started punching him repeatedly on the head," said SBS Transit.

Posted by The Straits Times on Wednesday, September 16, 2020

When you reach the building, a small crowd is milling around the entrance.

Aiyah, forgot. Must do SafeEntry.

You fumble with your phone to open the TraceTogether or SingPass app.

You’re trying to scan the QR code, but so are the people in front of you, getting in your way. You may beat someone up after all.

Who knew the omnipresent QR code would so take over our lives in 2020? Even when you sleep, you need to scan the SafeEntry QR code to enter your dreams. It’s everywhere.

You consider getting your IC scanned instead. Would that be quicker?

Wait, you spot another SafeEntry QR code that no one seems to have noticed. There are actually a few of them. Why didn’t you see them earlier?

Why do people crowd around one QR code when there are others? This must be what US President Donald Trump meant by “herd mentality”. (Talk about “adult baby”.)

You scan the damn QR code and join the stream of people going in. Suddenly, everyone lurches to a halt. Now what?

You look ahead. Some blur king has stopped to scan a QR code, obliviously blocking everyone behind him. That person needs to be beaten up, but you have an appointment. Maybe someone can give him a stern warning.

People are reluctant to go around him lest they are accused of jumping the queue. You check the time.

Eventually, you make it inside and the security guard or whoever barely even glances at the green SafetyEntry Pass on your phone after all you went through to get it.

Welcome to the new normal, where the nasi lemak is $12.50 for free riders.

While the distribution of the TraceTogether tokens to the general public started last week, many of us are still relying on our phones for SafeEntry.

But despite all the information and advisories the Government has provided during the pandemic post-circuit breaker, it has neglected one critical area which affects every single one of us – SafeEntry check-in etiquette.

I’m here to fill that gap. Here are a few tips to avoid annoying your fellow SafeEntry in-checkers. You’re welcome.

Don’t block the QR code
When scanning the QR code, don’t stand right in front of it, preventing others from scanning the code. Stand to the side so that someone else can have access.

Look for another QR code
If someone is blocking the QR code, there is usually another one nearby. Open your eyes.

Don’t block the way
If you need to stop or slow down to fiddle with your phone or for whatever reason, move to the side and let others pass. This is a generally good tip to live by even if there isn’t a pandemic.

This may be slightly controversial, but if someone fails to follow the previous tip, go around that person, especially in a fast-moving line. Don’t think you’re being nice by stopping and waiting for that person. You’re just making all the people behind you suffer because of that one blur king.

Use the SingPass app’s SafeEntry Check-in feature
Skip the QR code and check in by simply selecting the location on the list. (Not every place may be listed though.) The SingPass app is not just for retrieving your O-level results, you know.

Use the TraceTogether app’s Favourites feature
If it’s a place you visit frequently, just add it to the Favourites list and you don’t need to scan the damn QR code again.

If everyone follows these tips, you may never have the urge to beat anyone up again. And vice versa.

And we may have a little less annoying pandemic.

- Published in The New Paper, 21 September 2020

Hi SM,

I noticed that most of the time, the jam @ entrance into the Building was caused by people standing right in front of the SafeEntry QR code to scan as close as possible, which need not be. This will block the moving queue and others who wanted to scan too.

To minimise the unnecessary jam @ entrance into the Building, just place the QR code approx 2.5m high so others behind the “obstructing culprit” can scan from a distance and be on their way.

Hope this tip help.

Thanks & Regards,
WK Yeow

Monday 7 September 2020

I went to see Tenet in a Shaw cinema and survived – but my mind is blown

Dear Tenet director Christopher Nolan,

Have you seen Mulan?

If you had directed it, it would probably be called Nalum and it would have been an improvement.

#BoycottMulan for not including the song I’ll Make A Man Out Of You and a sassy cartoon dragon that sounds like Eddie Murphy.

Because of the pandemic, cinemas in Singapore were closed for nearly four months and reopened in July with safe distancing restrictions.

Only up to 50 people are allowed per cinema hall and you must wear a mask at all times except – and this is a giant loophole – when consuming food and drink.

And this is how they get you to fork over your money for their overpriced popcorn and sugar water.

As if that isn’t frightening enough, last week, people were hurt while watching Tenet in a Shaw cinema at Nex mall after a ventilation duct fell from the ceiling.

Wasn’t there a fire during a screening of The Dark Knight Rises at Causeway Point in 2012 as well?

More tragically, 12 people were killed in a mass shooting during a Dark Knight Rises screening in the US.

Watching a Christopher Nolan movie in the theatre has become a rather dangerous proposition.

Besides wearing a mask, you need a helmet, fire extinguisher and bulletproof body armour.

But I went to see Tenet last Thursday anyway because I loved Inception, appreciated Interstellar and Dunkirk, was shocked by The Prestige and am still trying to figure out Memento.

Tenet was the first movie I have seen in a cinema in eight months. I even watched it in Imax because you are such a champion of the format.

But you know where’s the only place in Singapore you can watch your movie in Imax?

Shaw Theatres.

That’s right, the cinema chain where a ventilation duct fell on people.

So I basically risked my life to see your bloody movie.

Was it worth it?

Well, it was nice to see RPatz not sucking anyone’s blood while Denzel Washington’s son establishes his blockbuster cred so that he can potentially take over the late Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther.

Speaking of Marvel movies, since Tenet is essentially about going backwards in time to save the world, it’s a bit like Avengers: Endgame but with less talking raccoon and more Michael Caine.

Coincidentally, Keanu Reeves’ new movie Bill & Ted Face The Music is also about time-travelling to save the world.

It’s stupid and dumb, but what a relief to be able to understand what’s going on in a movie after seeing yours. Hooray for stupid and dumb.

And it’s not just that the timey-wimey stuff in Tenet is incomprehensible.

The dialogue is sometimes so inaudible in the sound mix that the audience can’t hear what the characters are saying to help us comprehend the timey-wimey stuff.

It’s like suddenly everyone in the movie is speaking like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises.

I get that you like to challenge the audience, but I beg of you, the next time you direct a movie, please make English subtitles mandatory.

Don’t make me start the hashtag #BoycottChristopherNolan.

- Published in The New Paper, 7 September 2020

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Is 'Best of Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd' on Netflix really the best? Maybe the chicken episode

A bunch of old local movies and TV shows started streaming on Netflix this month with more coming soon.

"Tofu Street" is a classic.
Posted by on Sunday, July 26, 2020

One that is particularly close to my heart is Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd.

If you watch the first episode, the first credit you see after the opening titles is “Written by Ong Su Mann”.

That’s me.

Do I get any residuals? Of course not. Neither does anyone else who worked on the show, including Gurmit Singh. The only one making any money out of this is Mediacorp.

Still, it was a thrill to see my name on Netflix. More so than finally seeing my cameo in Eric Khoo’s Mee Pok Man, also streaming on Netflix now.

Last I checked, “Best Of Phua Chu Kang Pte Ltd” was ranked sixth most watched in Singapore yesterday, the only local production in the Netflix top 10. Sorry, Mee Pok Man.

But that first PCK episode on Netflix is not the first episode of the TV series. For some reason, the 26 Netflix episodes are from the sitcom’s third season – and trust me, not all are the best.

For example, in an episode called Yum Seng, someone in a men’s room bumps into a wall and the wall moves!

As executive producer, I could’ve chosen a take where the wall didn’t move. Instead, I decided on the one with the best performance even though it revealed our flimsy set.

Thanks, Netflix, for making me relive that mistake two decades later and exposing it to a whole new generation.

But the men’s room wall isn’t the only thing that hasn’t held up after all these years.

My woke 20-year-old zoomer daughter is appalled by an episode co-written by me called Excuse Me, Are You An Aquarius, where “Aquarius” is used as a euphemism for a local term that could be considered a homophobic slur. You know what I’m talking about.

I probably couldn’t get away with something like that nowadays. Just last month, Mediacorp had to apologise for depicting a gay character as a paedophile in the Channel 8 drama My Guardian Angels.

Mediacorp said it had "no intention to disrespect or discriminate against the LGBTQ community in the drama".

Posted by The Straits Times on Tuesday, July 14, 2020

At least he wasn’t called an “Aquarius”, I presume.

My daughter is even more horrified by an episode where Rosie acts like a dog and is put on a leash. But I wasn’t involved in that one so not everything is my fault.

So if these episodes aren’t the “best”, except maybe for the one where Ah Ma gets a pet chicken, why did Netflix start with the third season and not the first?

Could it be because the third season starts with the landmark episode where PCK completed the Best English course after being chastised for speaking Singlish by then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong in his 1999 National Day Rally speech?

Many complained the show wasn’t as funny after that.

Yet PCK has endured and this has been a banner year for the character. Besides the Netflix debut, PCK has fronted a couple of Covid-19 videos for the Government and is currently shilling for Shopee.

What’s ironic about the hype over PCK and other Mediacorp shows coming to Netflix is that they have been available for free for years on Mediacorp’s own streaming platform Toggle before it became MeWatch, but no one seemed to care.

That’s the power of Netflix for you. And the lack of power of Mediacorp.

But if Netflix whets your appetite for more PCK, you can watch all eight seasons on MeWatch. I recommend the second and the eighth. They may not be the best in Singapore and JB (and some say Batam), but that’s where my name pops up again.

Remember, I don’t get a single cent.

- Published in The New Paper on 24 August 2020