Curiouser and curiouser!

Read with interest the fiery statement released by the Artistic Director of TheatreWorks, Ong Keng Sen. By the way, he also happens to be the one who conceived, wrote and directed the performance Diaspora which was "allegedly" reviewed negatively by the Straits Times reporter, Ms. Hong Xin Yi.

Hong Xin Yi’s subsequent review about Diaspora on 22nd Sep 06 left a general negative impression in the minds of some readers. In particular, it commented in passing that the writing was melancholic, simplistic and sentimental.

I don’t know about you but I fail to see how ‘melancholic’, ‘simplistic’ and ‘sentimental’ could have led people to think unfavorably about the show. Isn’t Diaspora after all supposed to be—yeah, I do check from the TheaterWorks homepage—“a celebration of humanity and human tenacity”? So what’s wrong if the reporter felt it to be ‘melancholic’, ‘simplistic’ and ‘sentimental’? Valid and relevant adjectives to describe humanity and human tenacity, I’d say.

The thing is not everybody can enjoy the artwork and receptive to the message that the artist is trying to convey. (Why else people still insist to say ‘comic’, instead of the right term of ‘graphic novel’? Heh)

But still, I don't get why the reporter’s opinion about the show was taken badly. Anybody who has watched the show cares to comment about it?

Not so Fast but definitely Furious

Could have been a beautiful high-flying kick...if only it's more powerful. He ran to the target, sprang to deliver the kick confidently and bounced back.

The snapshots were taken from the vodcast here.

The Lady, or the Tiger?

Intended to take a picture of the rug yesterday morning, but was a bit in the rush & took it when I returned to the pier later in the afternoon. Besides the sharp contrasting colours, I was curious with how the carpet was labeled "The Eye of the Tiger". Yeah, noticed the lack of the plural for 'eye'.

However the store owner had fully set up his merchandises. Obstructing the carpet. Unless you 'brighten' futher the picture, you won't be able to see partially the blue label "...The Tiger".

Still I'm quite satisfied with the picture. Especially with the lady batik robe adjacent to the fabric, which just brings to mind the short story "The Lady, or the Tiger?"

I must admit that I'm impressed with the semi-barbaric (you'll notice this mentioned many a time in the story) king's judicial system. Cost effective (no judges needed). Time saving (no lengthy hearing required). And definitely entertaining (the mass thrilled).

As for the question itself "The bitch, or the hungry cat?", it's clear which one is the answer. Such an excruciating thinking process by the king's daughter would inevitably lead to one decision. The tiger.

- The king's arena (imagine that of the Gladiator).
- Lack of sound except for the that of a heart beating (something like in the Bon Jovi's MTV clip It's My Life).
- The camera shows the surrounding. Audience seen yelling & cheering. But no sound, except that of the heart beating.
- The camera in a jerking manner zooms in to the king's daughter (jerking as in the 1st shot, she's seen from a distance, the 2nd shot is much closer, and so is the 3rd one).
- On the 4th shot, her right arm discreetly gestures to the right.
- (If this were to be made a comedy, the guy would then testily yell, "Your right or mine?!")
- The heartbeat still continues (in fact it crescendoes here) as the guy is shown walking towards a door.
- Pitch-dark (as the point of view is switched to that of the other side of the door), the door is opened & a bright white light washes over the screen.

- A tiger is seen walking back towards the cage purring.

So where did I spot Trainspotting?

The previous visit to MDA homepage has the subsequent pull to one of my earlier articles, "Memorable Advices" in which I mentioned about the movie, Trainspotting. The gnawing question is how I did come across the movie poster if it's banned here? (Result page above)

Didn't recall watching it for sure. What I remember is a nicely varied-in-length of a series of advices employing parallelism.

Does it matter anyway? No, it doesn't. Just attempted to tidy up some annoying loose ends.

It gets messier.

I checked at the eLibraryHub homepage and the search result for the keyword 'trainspotting' shows 8 items. (Result page below)

Now I'm confused and amused. Is it banned or is it not banned? Or perhaps I should not write about it at all--not until I borrow the video from the library@esplanade.

South Park - 10 years running (and still banned)

Reading this CNN article, Scatology and satire: 10 years of 'South Park' makes me hope that the show is no longer banned here in Singapore. Not much logical, is it? Just because the series has existed for 10 years, so the ban is no longer valid?!

Cast the logic aside, I check at the Media Development Authority homepage. They have plenty information there, however the website is relatively simple to navigate. Go to Quick Links. Choose Film Ratings. Click Film Classification Database. Type the title of the movie and then you'll see the rating of the show.

Click the above image to go the result page.

Dang! Now I do wish that the ban has 'expiry date'.


Or "A Winter Scene", a wonderfully brooding painting by Maurice de Vlaminck.

To continue from the previous article, this is the 3rd photo taken. The 4th one is "LE GRAND CIRQUE" by Marc Chagall. Not going to be posted though, because I'm not satisfied with how the photo turns out.

What a "Clown"!

Yes, "Clown" is one of the four pictures I mentioned earlier that I managed to take during the visit to the gallery.

The painter, Bernard Buffet was quoted to say this "Painting, we do not talk about it, we do not analyse it, we feel it."

So I don't talk about the painting (I merely blogged it), I don't analyze it (Sheesh. As if I have the skill and knowledge to do it. Heh), but I'll attempt to feel it.

And this is what I felt. I had this thought that the clown is trying to step out of the painting (see the clown's posture, people! See his left leg stepping forward? And notice his left arm? Thus the arm looks bigger than the other because it's supposed to be closer towards the fascinated / terrified / clueless spectator?)

Wait, what if the clown is not meant to give that 'stepping forward' impression? Afterall, the angle of the torso just looks so wrong. Now let's assume the clown is not supposed to step forward out of the painting. Therefore the left arm is indeed somehow meant to be longer and so are the left fingers. Right. Then what if they are not fingers? What if they are...claws? Own up, Bernard! What were you trying to say? That this painting was intended to be named as "Clown X"? *grin*

Hmm...that's perhaps how the idea of "Weapon X" was derived from.

left to our own devices

Is it a bird, man? It's a birdman!

Birdman - A bronze sculpture by Dali.

Other displays (especially paintings and not just by Dali) are equally impressive. Took about 4 photos before my camera was abruptly seized and I was hurled against the wall, right beside the sculpture of "Triumph Elephant" [1].

Nah, nothing as violent as that.

But it was embarrassing when I was politely advised that taking a picture in the gallery was not allowed. I did take a look at the entrance whether there's indeed such a notice. Nope. So it's not my mistake, was it? No big deal. [2] *shrug*

More info about the event: here. The location of the Opera Gallery is at the 2nd level in Takashimaya. If you use the escalator down from the 5th floor at the entrance of the library@Orchard, you won't miss it.

PS. [1] Besides "Triumph Elephant", Dali's other sculptures were also displayed: "Space Elephant" and "Space Venus". I begin to suspect that Dali could have problems in naming his artworks.

PS. [2] Of course the joke would be on me if not taking pictures in the art gallery is supposed to be known by all. :(

Translated -- not in India

It does take time since I posted about the song, "Made in India" in my article, "Presenting...The RejeX" but I finally get the lyric translated. And yup, the Hindi word 'duniya' does indeed mean 'world'.

Anyway, here it is:
Seen the whole world, from Japan to Rusia
From Australia to America
Seen the dream of love, need somebody as mine
Will get a good friend, one Indian

Made in India, made in India
Need one heart that’s made in India
O ho ho ho made in India, loved one
Need one heart that’s made in India

Body white or black, but honest and good-hearted
No diamond, no gold, no silver
Heart must be Indian, not Western
The one who can love me day and night

Made in India, made in India
Need one heart that’s made in India
O ho ho ho made in India, loved one
Need one heart that’s made in India

The rich are narrow-hearted, the poor open-hearted
I know what is good and bad
Seen the whole world, from Japan to Rusia
From Australia to America

Made in India, made in India
Need one heart that’s made in India
O ho ho ho made in India, loved one
Need one heart that’s made in India

O ho ho ho made in India, loved one
Need one heart that’s made in India
O ho ho ho made in India, loved one
Need one heart that’s made in India

PS. Okay, Alisha. That sure sounds too much nationalism for me. Heh.


Science Fiction Book – Science Fiction Movie – Science Fiction Film Festival – Golden Village – Heart.

It’s about an Indonesian movie, “Heart” directed by Hanny R Saputra. (His previous two movies were also titled in English: “Virgin” & “Mirror”. Okay, do not ask why the titles are not in Bahasa. Guess, he’d specialize in handling those shows named in English. Oh, and in one English word too.)

The plot is predictable, really. Take a look at the synopsis. Many can definitely guess how the story ends. So it’s not recommended then?

But it is. Despite the seemingly common & perhaps, overused theme, the movie managed to secure three awards during the MTV Indonesia Movie Award 2006 for Most Favorite Heart Melting Moment, Most Favorite Movie and Best Song In The Movie. Full story: here—if you can understand Bahasa. Pretty impressive, huh? Would have expected that GIE to win that award for Most Favorite Movie. By the way, GIE was featured in the Singapore International Film Festival 2006 & yes, I did watch & blog about it.

Bleah. I digress.

I recommend “Heart” not because of the awards. Not because I’m a nationalist. Not because--to partially quote the news from the official website--“(Heart) is a movie for anyone who has ever fallen in love and those who will fall in love” which, uhm, practically covers everybody.

I recommend “Heart” because how many Indonesian movies you notice shown in Singapore theatres these days? Try to look at it this way: the cinema operator must have weighed risks before deciding to bring in “Heart”. Thus commercially speaking, the movie must have been judged to be a successful one.

Cropped from the trailer.

Sci-Fi Film Festival 2006

Just in one article before this I wrote that I usually dislike Science Fiction-themed books, but I'm perfectly alright if it's Science Fiction movies. Top on the list, the shows like: "The Matrix Trilogy", "Artifical Intelligence: AI", "The Time Machine" and "I, Robot". Therefore I find myself curious to see what will be shown as part of the Sci-Fi Film Festival 2006. Organized by Golden Village, it will take place from 21 to 24 September at selected GV cinemas such as GV Plaza, GV Marina and GV Grand.

Boy, am I not disappointed!

Only 3 titles would constitute the festival (Refer for the schedule here): "X-Men: The Last Stand", "Fantastic Four", and "The Day After Tomorrow". That...that's all?!

I sure hope that it's just a case of some poor website maintenance. Do tell me that the page is not updated yet. And that there would be more shows shall be included. If only the organizers take their cue from this The Wired article, "SCI-FI TOP 20 Futureplex".

Ender's Game

I usually dislike Science Fiction-themed books but Ender’s Game written by Orson Scott Card ought to be an exception.

The future Earth is bracing itself for the possibility of the third invasion of the ant-like aliens, rightly namely the buggers. Barely surviving the first two attacks, the now-united government of Earth, the Hegemon, decrees that the third battle has to be conducted at the buggers’ home planet. Yes, the Hegemon apparently subscribes to ‘offence is the best defence’.

The Earth prepares to attack the buggers. It has the necessary technology & weaponry. What it needs is the commander of the fleet. As the journey to the buggers’ home planet may take years, it is thus logical to prepare children as the future leaders. Only selected ones are allowed to attend the Battle School, a space station where those children are trained to be soldiers & learn to be leaders as they battle each other’s army in war games.

Andrew “Ender” Wiggin is one of such children. Believed to be the Earth’s best hope, the school administrators intend to make his stay in the Battle School very challenging. He’s the youngest. He’s proven to be the most brilliant among the brilliant children. Many resent losing to him. Even Ender himself at one time acknowledge that winning may not be everything. (But Ender will never realize how true it is, not until he wins his final ‘game’.)

Quoted from the book:
That's the problem with winning right from the start, thought Ender. You lose friends.

The book gives a glimpse about how it feels to be a leader, about how lonely it could feel when you reach the top and about how you deal with expectations. Readers are able to emphatize with how leaders sometimes must make a difficult decision. And live with it.

Not a surprise, therefore, that the Marine University at Quantico adopts “Ender’s Game” as a textbook on the psychology of leadership.

Quoted from the website:
When the Marine University at Quantico required students in one class to read Ender's Game, it wasn't for the strategy -- tactics in 3D space aren't really a big deal for the Marines. Rather, it was because Ender's Game is virtually a textbook in how to develop a strong relationship between a commander and his troops -- with plenty of examples also in how to fail as a commander.

For those who only read books with ‘track record’, consider this: Ender's Game was the winner of the Nebula Award in 1985 & the Hugo Award in 1986. Now, how about it?

In memory of Kaliki

last night, a pack of stray dogs attacked and mauled Kaliki, one of our favourite neighbourhood strays. the man and woman rushed down but it was too late, her neck was already broken.

this morning, the woman informed the feeder and found out that not one but two cats were attacked. the other one did not make it either. it was a blow to the malay family who has been looking after the cats and had gotten them sterilised earlier in the year.

goodbye Kaliki. we will miss your small squinty face and dishevelled orange black hair. a rocker chick at heart who always greeted the man and woman when they come home from atop the malay family's motorbike.

when the man and woman and a neighbour were attending to Kaliki last night, the police came round in response to a complaint about the noise. they said they had called ahead for the dogs to be rounded up and put down. at the end of the day, they just wanted to be fed and Kaliki just wanted a safe place to sprawl and watch the world go by.

To Angie...

A mere coincidence reading your thought at heartstorm's blog,
Nevertheless it left a lingering impression that you're special.
Go and visit her blog, I told myself.
End the curiosity and then move on, will you?
Looking back, I realize I was just a jerk.
I still am, maybe--despite you generously claimed me "my dearest angel".
Not that it matters anymore for you're already gone.
Ending your restless journey & starting your restful one.

Believe that you're grinning right now from Heaven
Especially as you witness how I stagger to find the words
Rightly convey how exceptional you are.
Not that anybody needs to be reminded
As we all know that you are special.
Dreams could be forgotten when one wakes up.
Everything changes--some truth could even be false.
This truth, however, will stay true; I love you.
The thing is who (in his/her right mind) doesn't?
Envy your friends who're blessed of knowing you longer.

Heaven is where you deserve to be, dearest friend.
Oh, rest in peace as our love to you will never cease.

one white paw, one brown paw

Don't judge a book by its cover, nor by its blurb, nor by its price tag

--which shall only be $12. Finally I've got the answer to the previously raised question in this article about how much the book will cost.

"So you think you can write a novel?" will not only serve as a proof that it is NOT impossible to compose a 50,000-word fiction within 30 days, but also it reflects a potential for subsequent anthologies, perhaps titled something like this: "So you think you can write a better novel?" or "No kidding, won't you ever give up thinking you can write a novel?" (with a little caption of "We won't."). Heh. Just a hint or two to the publisher.

To the buyers, have fun reading it. Hopefully you'll feel challenged & join the writing madness this coming November during the annual NaNoWriMo. Set your personal goal & aim to achieve it. I did. I proved what I always believe that "within every reader, there is a writer lurking to emerge".

It is a race where you shall face your worst opponent: yourself. See you at the finish line! ^_^"

The cover for "So You Think You Can Write A Novel?".

The blurb. Click the image to enlarge.

When in Rome, do as the Romans do.

Touch-up keyword: 'graphic pen'. Original image here.

I’ve been trying to search for the information when the IMF & the World Bank annual meeting for this year was decided to be held in Singapore. For sure, it was before 01 March 2006, when an article questioned whether Singapore “can silence activists at World Bank/IMF meet” (Full story here).

It’s now September. Six months have since passed & the echo of the story is still repeated. Six months before the IMF & the World Bank inexplicably issued a “joint statement” to distance themselves from Singapore as they urge the government to “allow all properly accredited civil society representatives to attend (the) meetings”.

And the confusion is escalated with news announcing that even the protest at Batam is officially banned! (08 September)
A move to protest International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank policies - right at Singapore's doorstep - has been officially banned by the Batam police.

But wait, no it’s not! (09 September)
"Yesterday it appeared that permission would not be granted for the conference, but today, following an international outcry, official sources in Jakarta confirmed it can go ahead," the (coalition of campaign) groups said in a joint statement.

Oh damnit, yes it is! (10 September)
"We're assigned to monitor people coming in and leaving Batam. Our job is not to arrest visiting foreign members of NGOs but to warn them that the protest is prohibited in Batam. But if they're committing a crime, we'll immediately arrest them, if there's enough evidence," (Chief of the police's crime unit in charge of port security of Batam) Sarbini said.

So wth shall it be tomorrow? Will there or will there not be any protest in Batam? Whatever it is, the IMF & the World Bank have definitely learnt something to organize a much better event in the future. Do your homework, please. Don't decide a place without bothering to check whether the country has a specific law & regulation that may concern you. Don't exacerbate it further by trying to dictate that country to do what you wish. To have spent at least six months resulting in nothing & to ‘censure’ the host country at the very last minute will do very little to the image of the two organizations.

Ms. Lidy Nacpil, international coordinator for Jubilee South has aptly highlighted in this article:
"We also should not forget that the World Bank and the IMF bear part of the responsibility because of having chosen Singapore in the first place, knowing fully well their track record as far as protests are concerned."

Or perhaps the IMF & the World Bank people are indeed clueless like depicted by the caricature above?

Watchmen? I'd rather read it & the Dossier.

Okay. Can't resist and you see it coming. Getting too predictable, aren't I?

Watchmen. A graphic novel. Written by Alan Moore. If you like his "V for Vendetta" (I have not read this one, though. Only saw the movie) & "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" (the books, LOEG are great, highly recommended & among the first in the list--although the show is a real bummer), you will very likely enjoy this one too.

On another note, the third volume of LOEG will soon be released: League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier.

About the book (quoted from

"England in the mid 1950s is not the same as it was. The powers that be have instituted...some changes. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen have been disbanded and disavowed, and the country is under the control of an iron-fisted regime. Now, after many years, the still youthful Mina Murray and a rejuvenated Allan Quatermain return and are in search of some answers. Answers that can only be found in a book buried deep in the vaults of their old headquarters, a book that holds the key to the hidden history of the League throughout the ages: The Black Dossier. As Allan and Mina delve into the details of their precursors, some dating back centuries, they must elude their dangerous pursuers who are Hell-bent on retrieving the lost manuscript... and ending the League once and for all."

Notice that while the previous two volumes took place in 1898, this one would be in 1950. The phrase "the still youthful Mina Murray" hopefully will provide a clue about what has been so special about her. She's the only female member--in fact, the leader--of LOEG in 1898. Her 'special' talents had not been clearly revealed. Unlike Nemo who provided technological support with his Nautilus, Quatermain with his vast experience, Jekyll/Hyde with his brute force & Griffin with his invisibility.

But Murray? Well, she was able to 'tame' Hyde. Remember the part in Vol.1 on the airborne structure when she just repeatedly slapped Jekyll because they needed Hyde? As Jekyll transformed to the furious Hyde who looked as if he was ready to tear apart Murray, his eyes was 'fixed' to Murray's & he obeyed the latter's chillingly polite request to let go of her wrist.

In fact Nemo too once asked her directly why she's recruited as part of the team. Her answer, if I recall rightly, was curt & something along the line of mind-your-own-business.

"Who will watch the watchmen?"

Who cares, Plato?

Call me petty, but I just love it when someone has a taste of his own medicine. Take a look at this one. The earlier article dated 19 Aug 2006 [1] is about Australia government warning about “an imminent terrorist attack” targeted at three locations in Indonesia, namely Batam, Bali and Jakarta. While it’s understandable that Australia may indeed have their citizens as the top priority—which explains why the alarm was released without informing Indonesia first—it is very much interesting to learn how Australia react when a leading US terrorism expert, Mr. Robert Pape asserted that Melbourne, the second largest city in Australia was at heightened risk of terrorist attack. That is in today article [2] by the way.

The standard reaction is always an expression of shock. Why not? Irresponsible claims that a certain city is prone to terrorist attack would definitely hurt the country economy such as in tourism, foreign investment sector. Politically speaking, such a warning can also be seen as a slap in the face of the government with the implication that they are clueless about what is happening in their country that they'd need an outsider to tell them what to do.

No wonder the strong rebuttal from Indonesia & Australia. (Though for the latter, it is obviously even thicker with ‘irony’. The watchmen are being watched, huh, mate?)

Let me try to recap this in one sentence: America issued a warning about terrorist attack very likely happen in Australia, which in turn had previously issued a warning about terrorist attack very likely happen in Indonesia.

[1] Canberra Issues Batam Warning
[2] Australian PM disputes claim on Al-Qaeda strike

Not about the destination, it's about the journey...of being LOST.

LOST: season finale part 1 of 2 was shown yesterday. I was transfixed most of the time--thanks goodness for the commercials. The jigsaw puzzle is almost completed that I dread to see how the set will look like. I’d refrain from recounting more about it, at least till the overdue summary of the episodes is done.

Considering the last one was posted about a month ago (here), I’ll definitely have a great time to decipher my messy draft (try to scribble during the show with your eyes focusing NOT on the paper).

If only I have the time.

Unesco site? Dirty Tiong Bahru's not ready for that

The Electric New Paper :
Unesco site? Dirty Tiong Bahru's not ready for that

LAST Saturday's edition of The New Paper had a two-page spread that delighted an old Tiong Bahru resident like me. The headline was: 'He wants to put Tiong Bahru on world map'.07 September 2006

LAST Saturday's edition of The New Paper had a two-page spread that delighted an old Tiong Bahru resident like me. The headline was: 'He wants to put Tiong Bahru on world map'.

'He' is Dr Kelvin Tan, president of the Singapore Heritage Society. He wants pre-war Tiong Bahru to be declared a Unesco World Heritage Site alongside the likes of the Great Wall of China and India's Taj Mahal.

Wow! That proposition took my breath away when TNP reporter Ng Tze Yong telephoned me on Friday for my view.

Singapore was, but is no longer, a member of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. But the expectation is that Singapore will rejoin Unesco. Even if our nation does rejoin, I do not think we should try to get pre-war Tiong Bahru on Unesco's World Heritage list. But if what Dr Tan wishes for does come true, I would be happy - and absolutely astonished!

In Tiong Bahru, there is a pre-war section as well as a post-war section that we oldies of the neighbourhood call the Lim Yew Hock flats. Mr Lim Yew Hock was pre-independence Singapore's second chief minister after Mr David Marshall. The low-rise blocks of flats in the pre-war section, some with street-level shophouses, have a lot of undeniable old-world charm. The architecture is art deco - the 1930s style of rounded outlines and bold colours. The Lim Yew Hock section also has walk-up flats, but these blocks are angular and the shapes standardised.

The pre-war flats have many different configurations. Even long-time residents like me, who moved in before the Japanese occupation of the early 1940s, can be pleasantly surprised when visiting a neighbour, amazed by a very different interior layout.
I live on Tiong Poh Road, in a third-storey three-bedroom flat of 97 sq m. My father bought it in 1967 under the Government's pilot Home Ownership Scheme. The price: $20,250 (repeat: $20,250).

Before we bought it, we paid monthly rent of just over $30.
The 99-year lease will run out in 60 years' time. I will be 128 years old then, assuming I am still alive.

Last Saturday's article in The New Paper quoted me as saying that I would be too ashamed to take a foreign visitor to pre-war Tiong Bahru, charming though its architecture may be.
Some of the streets, Tiong Poh Road included, are messy, there is litter and we see vermin often.

The cleaners work very hard. But obviously, there are not enough litterbins that are big enough.

Some among a transient population do not use the bins, leaving plastic bags of wet and dry rubbish on the sides of streets, even on staircase landings.

People who scavenge for a living take bags out of the bins, open them up, take what they want and leave the rest on the ground.

Cars are parked where they should not be, for instance, near popular eateries in the neighbourhood. The drivers seem to get away scot-free most of the time.

The littering and inconsiderate parking, regretfully, are disturbing signs of declining social values as well as inadequate estate management.

Post-war Tiong Bahru is much cleaner. Pre-war Tiong Bahru, recently declared a conservation area, is trying to tell Singapore: Hey, watch it, we're slipping in some areas when we should not.

The writer is a former editor-in-chief of SPH's English and Malay newspapers division. For feedback, e-mail

The word of the week: 'stingray'.

Word association: gentle, docile, defensive, offensive, attack, sting, poison, kill, Steve Irwin.

Only watched 1 episode of his "Crocodile Hunter" long time ago. Couldn't say I like the show. Perhaps I'm just a minority. The news about his death led thousands--no, make it millions--around the world blogging about him. (Google Blog Search results)

Me? Heck, I don't even know what a 'stingray' is.

Reading about it in the Wikipedia, Nature seems to have quite a way to remind that looks do deceive, things are not what they seem and so on and so forth.

Cropped from the vodcast (View it here).

stories of love

we curled round the sofa for the usual tuesday 10pm crime night but got stories of love instead. quite unexpectedly, it blew us all away. poignant, gritty, local and beautiful.

its a breath of fresh air after all that S2006 has come to stand for. overnight potted blooms, gift-wrapped trees, sparkling lobbies and a campaign to smile. even as a lower form of being on this, our, soil, i am starting to think we need all this effort because if cold hard efficiency is all we got, that's all we got.

stories of love warms my fuzzy belly. amidst this machinery of precision, great personal drama can thrive.

sorry delegates, you won't quite get to know who we really are. but razzle dazzle you we will certainly do, so don't leave that credit card at home.

no razzle dazzle, all drama

He is...what he is.

For some reason, it reminds me about the "bloody hell" advertisement.

Despite a milder--and predictable--theme of "I am a hub", I however must admit that the content of this Starhub ad hilarious.

It effectively employs a series of parallelisms of "I am a ..." mostly, before it swerves in the end to "I am in trouble".

With "I am a winner", the main character (MC) is shown to be accidentally winning the auction. $10K for such a wooden statue? The look of his wife tells that he is already in trouble.

"I am a giant" or to be precise, "I wish I were a giant" has the MC welcoming one gigantic guest (business partner? client?) whose peculiar greeting style puts the MC in discomfort. And this is followed by 5 equally huge men, ready to teach him that peculiar greeting style.

"I am a world traveller" is where the MC unintentionally practises the earlier greeting style with a glaring fellow passenger when he's dangling dangerously at the back of a public bus.

"I am a fanatic" tickles me. The expression of our MC's companion which is full of resignation when he has to witness how the MC with--yeah, again--that peculiar greeting style leads to him a possession of a Jimi Hendrix t-shirt.

Lastly with "I am in trouble". That greeting style is used once more in a surprised birthday party of the MC's wife. Which turns out to be a surprise, all right. An embarrassing one.

...but not out of news.

To continue from the previous article, these are some of the headlines followed by excerpts which attracted me:

Edited. Didn't watch the movie, though.

29/08/06. Priests, helpers at Novena Church sued over alleged exorcism
In the writ, Amutha Valli claimed that on 10 August 2004, she went to Novena Church to pray with her son, daughter and a close friend.

But she fainted.

She is alleging that two priests from the church, Father Simon Tan and Father Jacob Ong, claimed she had been possessed by a spirit, and then performed an act of exorcism, helped by seven others.

The ritual is said to have lasted two-and-a-half hours, during which time Amutha claimed she had resisted furiously.

She claimed she was strangled, pinned down and verbally abused.

Blogger’s comment: What puzzles me is what were these “son, daughter and a close friend” doing throughout the alleged exorcism?

30/08/06. Creative may take action against mobile phone makers over Zen patent
This comes barely a week after Apple settled out of court its differences with Creative over the same patent.

Now the Singapore multi-media company says it is looking at mobile phone makers who are said to be also using its patented technology.

For Q4 ended June 30th, Creative reported a lost of $12.7 million, but with its recent settlement with Apple, it expects to return to the black by year-end.

Blogger’s comment: Hmm…suspiciously sounds as if Creative is relying on ‘settlement’ to boost the bottom line. And to think how the top management time is wasted allocated to handle this issue instead of focusing on getting a larger market share of MP3 Players?

Cropped from the site. Click to enlarge.

31/08/06. Feedback Unit to seek public's views on its new mission
It will start a month-long public consultation exercise in September to seek the public's views on its new mission.

They can respond to an online e-consultation paper to be posted on the Unit's website or participate in an e-poll.

Members of the public can find out details of the focus group discussions and sign up via the feedback portal at

They can also call 1800 353 5555 to register.

Blogger’s comment:Some of the issues raised make quite a good reading.

01/09/06. Business angel group provides S$20m in funding for start-ups
Start-ups and incorporated companies which are less than 5 years old will now have access to a fresh source of funding.

Under the scheme announced on Friday, start-ups can get combined equity funding of up to S$2 million each from Mustard Seed and the EBD.

Some S$4 million have already been promised to two companies - one in the semi-conductor industry and the other in IT.

Those interested in applying for funding should email the EDB at

Blogger’s comment: … (and I continue my dream)

Cropped from the official site.

02/09/06. Singapore Biennale impresses art critics
The 10-week art extravaganza, which was launched on Friday night, will showcase hundreds of works by artists from 38 countries.

The Singapore Biennale is a library of expressions with works ranging from the thought provoking ones to the down-right quirky ones.

Themed "Belief", it represents a new chapter in the development of Singapore's cultural scene as it strives to grow the visual arts sector.

The Biennale is being held at various places including places of worship, museums and historical buildings - reflecting Singapore's multi-cultural and multi-religious heritage.

Blogger’s comment: Check out The Straits Times newspaper (the Sunday Life! section) for a recommended & much simplified itinerary to view the exhibits.

Out of work, out of mind...

Last week had been a restful time for me. Guess what? I had a surgery. Nothing life-threatening, thanks goodness. Just removing a tooth. The dentist called the case ‘premolar impaction’. Suffice to say, I have this one tooth popped up in one funny angle (horizontal) & if not extracted, it would create infection or decay to the other 2 teeth.

That’s indeed the decisive keyword. Infection. No way would I want to go through the same situation like the one last time when the wisdom tooth at my lower right jaw had created a hell of infection to the gum. Couldn’t recall when it was. Memory block, I guess. That time I couldn’t use Medisave to partially claim the bill for sure.

Anyway, where was I?

Oh yeah, the bloody gum (literally) was infected. Badly. I was advised to take antibiotics for a few days before the surgery could be carried out. Otherwise, the anesthetic might not properly function.

I was adamant. I said to go ahead. It was Painful. I survived.

Now, let me attempt to be positive for the last week ordeal. Firstly, the premolar impaction had not caused any infection yet. So the anesthetic worked. The surgery was, therefore, painless. Secondly, despite the numbers & types of painkillers given—which I chose not to take for I always pride myself of having a high threshold of pain. Come to think about it, it’s nothing to be proud of. That only means if I realize that I'm in pain, it’s already unbearable & in a serious state—the pain was in fact rather manageable. I didn’t lose my appetite. I could enjoy that century egg porridge in the morning, that chicken porridge in the afternoon & that fish porridge in the night. I could still go to the library to check my emails, others' blogs & the recent happenings. I could even revise my Thailand backpacking trip plan: the destinations, the list of guesthouses I’d stay & the activities. The best part's perhaps that I could still focus on LOST on Channel 5 on Thursday (this week’s going to be the Season Finale Part 1 of 2). Heh.

Admittedly the last week had been enjoyable, albeit costly--in terms of monetary & my annual leaves because medical leaves granted by a dentist are not recognized as...medical leaves. Long story cut short: it's a Company Policy. *roll eyes* But still I welcomed the change. To experience the simple joy of being able to sleep late, content with the knowledge that I would wake up in the next day as & when I would be ready to wake up.

PS. And to think that in the World of Graphic Novels, even villains like Two-Face (the above right image) have perfect teeth.

He wants to put Tiong Bahru on world map

S'porean says small-town charm makes it valuable, like Great Wall and Angkor Wat
By Ng Tze Yong September 03, 2006

THINK 'Tiong Bahru'. What comes to mind?Probably 'sleepy old estate'. Or great food.

But if Dr Kevin Tan has his way, Tiong Bahru will become Singapore's next top tourist attraction, on par with places like the Great Wall of China and Angkor Wat.
The president of the Singapore Heritage Society wants Tiong Bahru's pre-war flats and shophouses to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) is an agency that conserves sites of world cultural and natural heritage.

Unesco's world heritage sites around the world range from national parks like Mount Kinabalu in Malaysia to cities such as Bath and Edinburgh in the UK.

Said Dr Tan: 'While Tiong Bahru may not be as grand as the Great Wall of China, that doesn't mean that it is not as valuable.

'You cannot compare places of heritage. There is only one Great Wall, and there is only one Tiong Bahru.'

A Unesco world heritage site must be 'of outstanding universal value' and meet at least one out of 10 criteria.

One of these is to be 'an outstanding example of a type of building... which illustrates a significant stage in human history'.

Long before the Housing and Development Board (HDB) was formed in 1960, Tiong Bahru was one of Singapore's first experiments in public housing.
'At a time when Singaporeans lived in kampungs, shophouses and attap houses, the Tiong Bahru flats had proper sanitation, electricity, street lighting and proper urban planning,' said Dr Tan.

Public housing is a field in which Singapore now enjoys international recognition.
'Tiong Bahru was an important step in the history of public housing,' he said.

In the old days, Tiong Bahru was known as the 'Hollywood of Singapore'.
'When it was built, it was the only place where Singaporeans could see flats, other than in the movies,' said Madam Geraldene Lowe-Ismail, a heritage guide.

Later on, Tiong Bahru acquired a seedier reputation. Towkays from nearby Chinatown started keeping their mistresses there, and cabaret dancers moved in.

'The nights used to be punctuated by the ruckus of angry wives raiding the flats, looking for their husbands,' said Mr Peter Lim, 68, a writer and media consultant who has lived there since he was 3.

Unlike your usual lego-like HDB blocks, the Tiong Bahru flats were built in the Art Deco style of the 1930s, which emphasised sensuous curves and bold lines.

Corner kopitiams with old marble slab tables and mosaic floor tiles have survived here.
Window grilles with meticulous geometric designs complement the original lime green window panes.

In the evenings, neighbours shout to each other by name from the windows to ask them down for tea.

'Tiong Bahru is a world of its own,' said heritage guide Diana Chua.

Built by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) between the 1930s and 1950s, the Tiong Bahru flats were modelled after British towns like Harlow, Stevenage and Crawley.

Among the 20 blocks of flats and 36 units of shophouses, the tallest are only five stories high.
Although they look the same from the outside, the buildings actually contain apartments of various sizes.

This made Tiong Bahru a community of families of different sizes and social classes.

The URA has gazetted the pre-war SIT flats as a conservation area.

This means that the flats will not be redeveloped and any renovations that change their exterior is disallowed.

Living in Tiong Bahru is charming, certainly. But there is a downside too.

There are no lifts and waste disposal systems here.

'The ceiling leaks and there are cockroaches and rats everywhere,' said Mr Chen, a 60-year-old resident who has lived there all his life.

'I would actually be ashamed of taking a foreign visitor here because it is so messy nowadays,' said Mr Lim.

Indeed, at the heart of the Tiong Bahru debate is the direction of conservation and tourism in Singapore.

Said Dr Tan: 'Tourists are becoming more sophisticated nowadays. They don't come here for attractions like VolcanoLand and Tang Dynasty Village any more.'

Both attractions were multi-million dollar projects that eventually went out of business.

'Tourists are more interested in seeing the true Singaporean way of life,' said Madam Lowe-Ismail.

Like Madam Chua, she supports Dr Tan's dream.

But tourism based on conservation brings with it tough questions.

Doesn't the very act of conserving change a building's character? How much of the old should be kept?

For the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA), conservation is a tough balancing act.

Said a URA spokesman: 'The general public who visits a heritage area may find it intrinsically beautiful and not want it to be changed.

'But the local community often wants a better living and a more pro-business working environment.'

While the URA recognises the value of Tiong Bahru, it feels that further study is needed to see how it meets Unesco's criteria.

After all, Tiong Bahru isn't the only option.

Mr Joseph Lo Kean-Kim, the culture and development coordinator at the United Nations Development Programme, believes that Singapore's strength lies more in its multi-ethnic culture.

The Singaporean said: 'A Unesco World Heritage Site does not necessarily have to be a physical site. It can be intangible things like performances and folklore.'

Madam Lowe-Ismail has seen many a Western tourist fall in love with Tiong Bahru at first sight.

'For them, it's like stepping back into old Singapore,' she said.

Added Dr Tan: 'We don't always need to travel to Europe to see history and culture. We have got our own here in our backyard.'
Not part of Unesco, so S'pore can't vote on heritage sites
THERE are 191 countries in Unesco.

Singapore is not one of them, so it cannot nominate any places for a World Heritage Site listing.

In 1986, Singapore left Unesco amidst controversy.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Unesco had called for a 'New World Information Order' to counter what it saw as a growing commercialisation of the mass media and unequal access to information.

But its move was condemned by the US, UK and Singapore as an attempt to destroy the freedom of the press instead.

In 1984, the US withdrew from Unesco in protest. The UK followed suit in 1985, and Singapore a year later.

Unesco underwent reforms in the following years. The UK rejoined in 1997 and the US in 2003.

Singapore has had Observer Status for the past two years, which means it can participate in Unesco activities.

'Observer Status is a way for a country to decide if it wants to be a member state of Unesco,'
Mr Richard Engelharte, the Unesco regional adviser for culture in Asia and the Pacific, told The New Paper in a telephone interview from Bhutan.

'When we talk about intellectual contribution, size does not matter,' he said. 'Singapore is a powerhouse in generating ideas.'

Singapore may consider reapplying for membership at the next UN General Assembly meeting in October next year.

Said Mr Engelharte: 'Singapore has been participating very actively in our workshops and events. The signs of it rejoining Unesco are good.'

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