Monday, 19 April 2021

I got the Moderna vaccine because I didn't know I could choose by vaccination centre

Dear Ministry of Health,

I am sort of a healthcare professional. Or at least used to be.

I was a medic in the navy during my national service and used to vaccinate shiploads of servicemen. That was hundreds of pricks. I mean the injections. The jabs were mostly for tetanus, rubella and hepatitis.

I became rather proficient with a syringe. I had good reviews.

So I am more accustomed to giving injections than getting one.

I wanted to share this fun fact about myself with the young woman giving my first dose of the Moderna Covid-19 vaccine to show that I can relate to what she was doing.

She probably wouldn’t care, although that hasn’t stopped me before. Otherwise, this column would not exist.

But there was a long queue at Hong Kah North Community Club and I did not want to hold up the line with my reminiscence of injecting seamen 35 years ago.

The young woman was pretty deft with the needle too. Maybe even better than I was. It was over before I knew it. I barely felt the prick. It was like nothing.

The pain only hit me the day after and it hit like a sumbitch.

My left shoulder felt as if it had been punched by shiploads of servicemen. The rest of me was also out of sorts.

But I was fine by the next day, although I still feel a lingering ache in my left shoulder even now when I exercise, two weeks after the jab.

My wife, who had the injection at the same time as me, had the same side effects except maybe a little worse. She also had headaches.

She blamed the Moderna vaccine we were given because her mother, who is in her 90s, reported only minor side effects after getting the Pfizer vaccine.

Before you Pofma me, I should clarify that clinical trials for both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines have shown that younger adults tend to report more frequent and severe side effects than older people.

So my wife is wrong to blame Moderna for her suffering. She should blame being younger than her mother.

But despite all the unpleasant side effects, I am still glad I had my shot.

You know why? Because I got a free box of 50 disposable masks and small bottle of water out of it. Woo-hoo!

That is how you get more Singaporeans to go for vaccination – free stuff! Why aren’t you advertising this?

I later found out that a friend who went to a different vaccination centre didn’t get anything. So not everyone gets freebies.

It was only after our injections that we discovered you had published a list indicating which vaccination centre administers the Pfizer and which the Moderna vaccine – but not which centre hands out free stuff.

If we had known earlier, my wife would have chosen the Pfizer one since the Pfizer vaccine is supposedly 1 per cent more effective than Moderna.

That 1 per cent makes all the difference to her.

Don’t you find it funny that even for vaccines, people also care about brand name now?

When I was injecting seamen in the navy, I didn’t know whether the vaccine was from Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson or Dettol.

I didn’t know if anyone had a blood clot or a microchip tracked by Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates implanted in them after getting vaccinated.

Nowadays, we seem to know so much about the Covid-19 vaccines and yet not enough.

Back then, I just made sure to expel any air bubbles in the needle before sticking it in to avoid accidentally giving someone an air embolism. Hopefully, I didn’t kill anyone.

I can’t wait for my second dose to get more free stuff.

- Published in The New Paper, 19 April 2021

Dear Mr Ong

I do understand your articles are meant not to be taken seriously. And I must say that it is humourless most of the time. There is also a lot of creative writing in your articles. However, I wonder where the boundary line is, as far as use of improper English is concerned.

You mentioned 'don't profma me'. Don't you think that the way you write has a great influence on the readers, especially those who are young and impressionable and those who have little or no proper education in the English language?

I have also seen a lot of others using 'whatapps me,' 'pm me', 'dm me', etc The list goes on. Could you possibly be one of those who are encouraging the use of improper English?

With regards
LEE Thien Poh Steven

Okay, boomer.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

I bought the KFC mask and here's my review

So KFC started selling masks today.

Instead of Original or Extra Crispy, the choice is Night or Day. I picked Night because it's black.

The price is $6.95, but if you order it as an add-on with your food, the mask is only $1.65.

KFC makes no claims that it will protect you from any virus and the packaging says it's "not intended for medical use".

It's made up of two layers of fabric, so it's not so flimsy.

The mask comes in only one size though. I feel it's slightly small for my giant-ass flat face, but because of the adjustable ear loops, it doesn't feel too snug or uncomfortable.

I like the KFC mask enough that I may get the other design.

Which is rather similar to the McDonald's pyjamas from two years ago.

EARLIER: Inspired by Alfian Sa'at, I wrote a poem called McDonald's, You Did Not Have My Pyjamas

Monday, 5 April 2021

No April Fool's joke: After 3 years, Burger King finally makes Chocolate Whopper a reality

No one likes to be played for a fool.

Yet, it remains an annual tradition that otherwise veracious people and organisations would lie in the name of April Fool’s.

And it is your own fault for being dumb enough to fall victim to a joke.

It is probably the only time of year when victim-blaming is acceptable and practically a sport. It is all fun and games until it happens to you.

You think you are too smart to be fooled? Me too.

Beware the end of March as the first of April is nigh.

So I started questioning everything I read and even reality itself.

A giant ship blocked the Suez Canal, disrupting 12 per cent of world trade?

Yeah, sure. Was the Easter Bunny on board too?

But a giant ship did block the canal for six days and someone should search the decks for a bow-tied hare with a basket of chocolate eggs.

Speaking of sweet treats, when Durex announced three new condom flavours called Mao Shan Wang, Singapore Chendol and Botak Coconut Sherbet, I knew immediately it was a lie.

Come on, it was so obvious. You put a condom on your penis during sex to prevent pregnancy or disease transmission.

You do not eat it. Why would it come in different flavours?

I was proven right when Durex confirmed that it was a “prank” on April Fool’s Day and said that the three aforementioned flavours were actually the new flavours of Udders ice cream.

I thought that was another joke, but Durex added the hashtag #NotAJoke.

Why would Udders partner with Durex to promote its new flavours?

Now when I think of Udders ice cream, I imagine it tastes like rubber.

I have a question for you – which would you prefer, rubbery ice cream or a chocolate burger?

The rubbery ice cream is hypothetical, but the chocolate burger is not.

At first, I assumed it was another April Fool’s joke when last week, Burger King launched its Chocolate Whopper, described as a “beef patty topped with fresh juicy tomatoes and onion, dressed with a layer of rich chocolate sauce swirly richness and cushioned between the King’s signature sesame drench buns”.

After all, the restaurant chain had teased the Chocolate Whopper exactly three years ago, but that turned out to be a hoax, cheating my feelings.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, I must really want the Chocolate Whopper.

So it shook me to learn that like Pizza Hut’s alleged-crime-against-nature Bubble Tea Blossom Pizza, the Chocolate Whopper is for real.

It seems the joke this time is that it’s not a joke. Well played, Burger King, well played.

We ain’t joking this time! Get your hands on the King’s new sweet and savoury treats this April Fool’s. Available until 15 April.

Posted by Burger King Singapore on Thursday, April 1, 2021

Like a diabetic moth to a sugary flame, I was drawn to the brown abomination.

Surprisingly, the Chocolate Whopper is not as disgusting as it may look and sound. My only complaint is that I could have used more chocolate sauce and less onion. Those two ingredients kind of clashed.

To complete the meal, BK is also offering nuggets with chocolate sauce for dipping plus fries in a chocolate sundae for, ummm... dessert?

All that chocolate! And just in time for Easter too.


Which, by the way, is now officially part of the German language.

Last Thursday, German Ambassador to Singapore Norbert Riedel tweeted: “Shiok, the #Singlish word to express a delightful experience such as eating delicious food, has made it into the Duden, the official dictionary of the German language.”

The German embassy even posted a video online showing supposed German individuals saying “shiok” while eating.

So not only has Singlish been recognised by Oxford dictionary, but also... wait a minute.

What was last Thursday’s date?


Et tu, Germany?

- Published in The New Paper, 5 April 2021

EARLIER: April drool: Flame-grilled Chocolate Whopper is mouth-watering fake news

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Durian flavour? Chendol? Indomie? Condoms with local flavours are suddenly a thing

First, it was Durex.

April Fool's joke? Probably, since Durex said the new condoms will be "launching in just 7 days" from 25 March, which is 1 April.

But then another condom brand, Fiesta, which I've never heard of, also got into the act with another popular local flavour.

Yes, Indomie condoms.

For when you want it quick.

Why stop there?

What about mala condoms? Salted egg yolk condoms? Nasi lemak condoms? Chilli crab condoms?

I guess we can skip the dinner part of a date now since you can make a meal out of the prophylactic now.

Apparently, durian condoms were actually a thing in Malaysia a few years ago.

Monday, 22 March 2021

I feel like a fool for believing Joey Mendoza didn't copy Count On Me, Singapore

Dear Mr Joey Mendoza,

The Internet, right?

Here you are, living your life and making YouTube videos of your jaunty performances of Row Your Boat and other ditties, and out of the blue, some foreign government asks you to “substantiate” your claim that you wrote some song in 1983.

We are aware that a song titled “We Can Achieve” that bears striking similarity in tune and lyrics to our national song...

Posted by Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth - MCCY on Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Who can substantiate anything they did almost 40 years ago?

The only thing I did then that I can substantiate is that I passed my O-level Chinese even though nobody can believe I did.

Fortunately, my O-level cert has not been destroyed in a flood, I mean, ponding.

Unlike all your evidence, which was supposedly lost in the 2005 Mumbai floods.

So you caved.

Mr Joey Mendoza had earlier claimed that he wrote “We Can Achieve”, a song that is practically identical to “Count on...

Posted by Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth - MCCY on Saturday, March 20, 2021

What happened to the living proof that is the 250 orphans you taught the song to in 1983? Floods again?

I believed you.

I thought maybe it really was a coincidence that in 1986, some ad agency paid to write a song by the Singapore Government more than 3,000km away came up with almost exactly the same melody and lyrics as your song, We Can Achieve.

You know what they say, a monkey hitting random keys on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will eventually bang out the complete works of Shakespeare and, apparently, also the words to Count On Me, Singapore.

I didn’t agree with my fellow Singaporeans who accused you of copying one of our beloved national songs composed by a Canadian working for an American company.

It’s like accusing Weird Al Yankovic of copying Michael Jackson.

All you needed were a funny moustache and a Hawaiian shirt, and people would have just thought you were doing a parody. You know, since you already have Weird Al’s hair.

As evidence of your plagiarism, it was highlighted that in the chorus of We Can Achieve, the line “Count on me, India” does not rhyme with “Count on me to give my best and more” whereas “Count on me, Singapore” does.

What nonsense.

I would point out that in the verse of both versions, “We’re going to build a better life for you and me” does not rhyme exactly with “We can achieve, we can achieve” either.

So the lack of rhyme is hardly proof of song theft.

Also, if you are going to steal one of our National Day songs, couldn’t you have stolen a better one, like the ever popular Home written by Dick Lee?

It’s like robbing an Apple store and taking an actual apple.

Or if you were more cunning, you could have cribbed from a National Day song that Singaporeans don’t remember, such as, um… I can’t remember any. But trust me, there are so many.

Let’s just say any National Day song that is not Home and does not have “Singapore” in the title.

Then people might not have noticed your plagiarism.

But Count On Me, Singapore is way too obvious.

I feel like such a fool now for believing you. You are not my sunshine.

Ironically, thanks to your version and the controversy it created, the status of the song has been elevated somewhat, at least, in my mind.

I have always thought that it’s a lame nationalistic jingle forced down Singaporeans’ throats by our Government, but now that I have learnt that people in your country are singing it too (albeit as a children’s song), maybe it’s not so wretched after all.

It's like someone tryinng to steal your ugly girlfriend and suddenly she's the most beautiful woman in the world.

As our Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth said, imitation is the best form of flattery.

That’s what you’ve achieved with We Can Achieve.

So at least something positive came out of your copyright infringement.

Hey, did you write Row Your Boat too?

- Published in The New Paper, 22 March 2021

Dear Mr Ong

I like the way you hammered J Mendoza in today's thenewpaper. Hope he get to read it.

It would have been forgivable, if he defended his action as doing a cover version, rather than claiming to be the originator. This is worse than the similarity between George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" and The Chiffons' "He's So Fine".

Lucky he did not touch our Majulah Singapore or else the composer's spirit would have haunted him.

This episode shows this little red dot cannot be bullied easily. But we are also forgivable, if one is willing to admit and apologise for wrongdoing towards us. Kudo to our MCCY for not pursuing the matter further thus maintaining the good relationship we have with India. It is moment like this that make me proud to be a true blue Singaporean.

With warmest regards

Monday, 8 March 2021

Disney+ or Netflix? If I could pick only one...

Remember the circuit breaker last year? Seems like a lifetime ago now.

Not being essential, I was mostly stuck at home.

We could not eat out. All the cinemas were closed.

Like many, I turned to Netflix for entertainment.

I binged all the well-known shows such as The Crown and Stranger Things. I tried but could not sit through Tiger King.

Soon, I was running out of shows to watch.

Out of desperation and curiosity, I clicked on a banner link of this Spanish series I had never heard of, starring people I had never heard of.

The show was called Money Heist and was about a gang of misfits taking hostages in the Royal Mint of Spain.

I was hooked, which I did not expect.

But if it were not for the pandemic, I would have probably never watched a show like that.

The circuit breaker is now over but not the pandemic. And Netflix is no longer the only streaming giant in town.

At long last, after more than 15 months since its official launch in the US, Canada and the Netherlands, Disney+ is finally available in Singapore.

A bit late, considering the second season of The Baby Yoda Show (also known as The Mandalorian) ended in December.

But just in time for The Series Finale episode Of WandaVision, released last Friday.

As per almost all Marvel Studios productions, stay for the mid and post-credits scene. Spoiler alert: Dr Strange does not materialise.

But apart from the Star Wars and Marvel stuff, Disney+ also offers content from Pixar, National Geographic, Star and, well, Disney.

All this for just $11.98 a month or $119.98 a year.

That is unless you want to watch the new Disney animated extravaganza, Raya And The Last Dragon.

Then it is an additional one-time charge of $38.98.

That is a lot, especially considering that despite the title, the movie has nothing to do with Hari Raya.

You might as well pay to watch it in the cinema, which is the point, I guess.

Or wait three months to stream it on Disney+ without extra charge.

But should you get Disney+ in the first place?

How else are you going to watch Marvel’s next big series, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, which starts streaming in less than two weeks?

You know the No.1 song around the world right now, Driver’s License by Olivia Rodrigo?

The theory is that it’s about a guy she co-starred with in High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, but I won’t say who.

How can you watch High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, you may ask.

On Disney+, of course.

If only we had Disney+ last year during the circuit breaker, I would not have had to depend so much on Netflix to keep myself entertained and sane.

But if I can have only one, which would I pick?

Gun to my head... Netflix.

Because despite Disney+’s massive library that includes the five biggest box-office hits ever, it feels rather hermetic and homogeneous due to the overarching American-ness of it all.

Even Raya And The Last Dragon is an action-packed mocktail of non-specific South-east Asian exotica watered down for Western palates.

Disney+ lacks the diversity and internationality of Netflix, where you can find Bridgerton, Japanese anime, K-dramas and, yes, a series about a money heist at a Spanish mint.

Sorry, Baby Yoda.

I am unlikely to experience the unique joy of discovering and falling in love with a new show I had never heard of on Disney+.

PlusI don't think anyone will evr say: “Disney+ and chill.”

Oh yah, Netflix also has Phua Chu Kang.

- Published in The New Paper, 8 March 2021

Monday, 22 February 2021

Sugar level 100%: Is Pizza Hut's new Bubble Tea Blossom pizza as disgusting as it sounds?

Covid, Covid, Covid.

That’s all we seem to hear about nowadays.

Remember the good old days when the biggest threat to our health was sugar?

It was public enemy No. 1 when Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong dedicated one third of his 2017 National Day Rally speech to diabetes. He wore a purple shirt that day.

Sugar was such a hot topic that Maroon 5 wrote a song about it.

But why no song about the coronavirus, Adam Levine? Why?

Sugar didn’t prompt a $11 billion Resilient Package in this year’s Budget announced last week. Covid-19 did.

But the sucrose menace remains among us. We’re just not practising safe distancing to avoid it.

Perhaps because of the coronavirus pandemic and the stress it’s causing us, we’re even turning more to the sweet comfort of evil sugar for succour. High glycemic index be damned.

Or at least that’s my justification for trying Pizza Hut’s new Bubble Tea Blossom pizza.

Yes, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

The pandemic made me do it. Blame the coronavirus. It’s Covid-19’s fault I’m eating the latest Frankenstein food creation from Pizza Hut.

The concept is simple. People like bubble tea. People like pizza. Why not put them together?

That was also how we ended up with durian and mala pizza. That is, durian pizza and mala pizza separately, not durian and mala together on a pizza, although that sounds much more interesting. Disgusting! I mean, disgusting.

But the bubble tea pizza is definitely not disgusting even though it may sound like it.

It’s “drizzled with Brown Sugar Milk Tea Sauce, topped with chewy marshmallows and fresh boba pearls, spread atop a bed of mouthwatering cheese”, touted Pizza Hut.

One Facebook commenter wrote: “Not only is this a stupid combination but it is a simple disgrace to all pizza.”

Another typed: “This is worse than pineapples.”

My favourite comment: “Halo polis.”

What I suspect is that these commenters hadn’t actually tasted the bubble tea pizza. They were just reacting reflexively to the unholy union of bubble tea and pizza.

But people who did try it weren’t sweet on the saccharine concoction either.

The AsiaOne reviewer said: “The pizza did have a pleasant aroma, but was a tad too sugary for their liking, clashing with the savoury cheese base.”

Bubble tea = 👍 Pizza = 👍 Bubble tea pizza? 🤔

Posted by AsiaOne on Wednesday, February 17, 2021

You see, unlike bubble tea, you can’t customise the sugar level of the bubble tea pizza. So it’s always 100 per cent whether you want it or not.

The 8 Days reviewer said: “The pizza tastes a tad like someone accidentally spilled a cup of brown sugar pearl milk tea on it.”

I’m not sure whether that's a good thing or bad thing. said: “Bad enough that you should try it.”

That sounds like an endorsement to me.

Aiyo. ➡️ Get stories delivered to you on Telegram:

Posted by on Wednesday, February 17, 2021

So I fired up my Pizza Hut app and ordered a large Bubble Tea Blossom stuffed crust pizza.

But when my pizza was arrived, the marshmallows were missing.

I was about to write a complaint to Pizza Hut, but the delivery person returned minutes later with marshmallows in a small plastic container. Crisis averted.

Despite a Facebook comment that the Boba Blossom “looks like some rabbits had diarrhea on the pizza”, I didn’t think the pizza looked like animals had defecated on it, mostly because I'm not sure what that would look like.

While the marshmallows provided some colour, there weren’t enough of them to add to the taste or mouthfeel. The boba pearls did, but the brown sugar sauce sort of overwhelmed everything.

Which I didn’t mind.

I was more disappointed that even though it’s called bubble tea pizza, there was no tea in it.

I mean, you got the bubble, you got the pizza, but where was the tea?

It should be more accurately called brown sugar boba pizza.

I feel misled. I risked type 2 diabetes for this?

Should’ve listened to the Prime Minister.

I blame Covid.

- Published in The New Paper, 22 February 2021

Monday, 8 February 2021

Cancel Chinese New Year? Readers write in: ‘Cancel your own Chinese’

Apparently, my last column about cancelling Chinese New Year went a bit viral.

Why do I say that?

Because three acquaintances who hadn’t contacted me in years (a cousin, a primary school classmate and an ex-colleague) messaged me about it. They all saw it on WhatsApp.

I mean, no one messaged me about my Baby Yoda column. Sad face emoji.

Another indicator is that I received more e-mails for the column than that time I triggered a bunch of Adam Lambert fans, one of whom called me an “ignorant asshat”. Still stings.

A number of the e-mails supported my open letter to Education Minister Lawrence Wong about banning visiting during CNY because of the pandemic.

Like this one (unedited):
Hands n legs up to support it. Drastic times need drastic measure.....well said, fully support it. Strictly no home visiting.
But the more interesting e-mails were those that, uh, disagreed with me, like this one:
Mr Smong

Due to your great proposal that ‘cancel Chinese New year’. I am lovely to tell you you are welcome to cancel your own Chinese. Don’t ‘Let’s’. just your self. you can wait to celebrate your next Christmas.

“Since your are worrying about the covid19 spreading and the safe of Singapore’s. So I strongly suggest you wrapped up your all families and friends at home but not come out anywhere. it would be much appreciated. Or you should send yourself to USA or UK to fight against the ‘Britsh’ virus.

God will be with you
from someone don’t need your represents
Well, that was an unexpected use of the word “lovely”. I suspect the e-mail might have been written with Google Translate.

While that reader welcomed me to cancel my own “Chinese” for proposing cancelling Chinese New Year, another reader accused me of not being one:
Pl don use a chinese name when u are not one. How misleading.
That was it. That was the whole e-mail.

At least it was concise.

Unlike this epic missive which went slightly off-topic:
Hi, SMOng,

Shouldn’t you be writing about making St John Island as an isolation Zone? During the colonial day the British confine all migrants with TB a known contiguous disease in St John Island.

This is Singapore Alcatraz Hotel accommodation. No escape.

Those people who are issue with SHN has slim chance of infecting the public in general.

Hospital has isolation ward to confine patients known to have contiguous sickness.

In fact I’d voiced my feedback in social media many month back with some detail such as using sea lane. At Changi Airport people on arrival detected positive with COVID19 virus can be transport to Tanah Merah ferry terminal than to St John island via the sea lane to serve their 14 days SHN.

Family member is not affected by those that prefer to stay at home or stay in hotel where staffs or general public who take up the $100/- provided by STPB. Chance of community is very very slim.

For SHN people with serious case while being confine in the island they can be ferry to hospital in the mainland e.g SGH, Alexandra, NUH etc.

Logistically they can use similar concept adopted at Changi Expo.

With the latest report on COVID19 virus mutation that is fast to spreading Senior citizens are in greater risk.

If St John Island is leased to private entity, the government can buy back the leasing for ‘X’ nos of year just like HDB buy back some year from HDB owner or using the land acquisition act to overcome legal issue.

Alternatively the private entity under strict guidance of ministry concerns can set up a program house people issue with SHN.

Recreation activities can be incorporated into the program. As for foods Ta Pau and laundry similarly provide the use once throw away clothings

Using your voice and news print hope you do a writeup on my suggestion.

Thank you.
Hey, you are welcome.

I hope your suggestion goes viral and other acquaintances I haven’t heard from in years will get in touch with me again.

- Published in The New Paper, 8 February 2021

Hi there, after reading your recent article on cancelling the New Year visiting I fully agree with you on the reasoning of containing the virus from exploding just like what happened during last year CNY. The nos kept rising after the festive period was over and we had to swallow our pride of not celebrating our Hari Raya like we used to due to the prohibition of house visiting. We endured and understand fully and willingly followed the rules set by the Government as a way to contain the virus from spreading unabated. Those ppl should be more opened and receptive of the true intention of the Government in implementing these difficult rules in order to save lives especially among the senior citizens. As we should be more socially conscious that saving human's life is more important than having camaraderie with friends and loved ones that could result in the loss of precious lives.

Rahman Jalil,

Do it urself don't impose on other's values... If you don't have any.

John kim

Didn't read your viral post. But it's a good suggestion. If we can hunkered down for the better part of 2019. What's the problem to avoid meeting relatives and exposing everyone. I'm a 67 yo Chinese Singaporean. Haven't missed cny celebration all these years.

This time I'm staying home.

Hi SM Ong,

"Well, that was an unexpected use of the word "lovely". I suspect the e-mail might have been written with Google Translate."

Based on the above sentence, you are mean and Hao Lian in my subjective opinion.

Regards and Stay Safe,
Jade Soh

EARLIER: 8 visitors a day? Aiyah, we should just cancel Chinese New Year