nooka sightings: rajon rondo of the boston celtics

rojon rondo of the boston celtics was spotted all over wearing a bright red nooka zub. you can see a cool foto here on his blog. looks good on him [it's our new spring red zub zenh fr 20]

nooka is available at fine stores and here. join nooka and love nooka on facebook and nookaNOW on twitter.

Nooka is an official sponsor of The Juan Maclean US Tour this Spring.

X-Men Origins: Wolverine -- which cinema NOT showing it?

The tragic answer is Cathay Cineplexes. Why, oh why???

What probably is the movie of the year, and my preferred cinema doesn't show it?

Meanwhile I'm trying to console myself by looking at the screenshots of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" from the other 3 major cinemas in Singapore. I think the best one is from Shaw Online. That of Eng Wah looks okay--if not too simple, perhaps. But for sure, not Golden Village (I swear not to ever watch any show there!)

Screenshot of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" from Shaw Online

Screenshot of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" from Golden Village

Screenshot of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" from Eng Wah

(The images above were uploaded to Nikon my Picturetown.)

Anyway more info about the movie, "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" can be found in this ofiicial website of the movie here & in this Wikipedia article here.

Check out also the trailer of "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" at YouTube here! (Man, I have the urge to re-read the comics about the origin of Wolverine, aptly titled as "Origin"...)

I'd definitely watch this show--and to patiently wait after the credits, they say there's an additional ending. As long as I remember not to watch it at any of Golden Village cinemas.

Ghost Sighting at SMK Langgar, Alor Star: Fact or Fiction? (And how about FOREIGN ghosts at SMK Tanjung Lumpur?)

Currently indeterminate. For sure, there are reports about the ghost sighting at SMK Langgar at Alor Star, Malaysia. First, it was on Sunday, 26/04/09 & then on Tuesday, 28/04/09. Casualties? Hysterical schoolgirls who had since been advised to stay home by the Kedah Education director Shahidan Abdul Rahman.

It does seem so much like a real thing if even the state's Education director ought to comment about it. On not totally a separate news, I came across 2 articles about how a school in Kuantan called SMK Tanjung Lumpur was infested by too many FOREIGN ghosts. I guess that must have been one of the risks of globalization.

On a serious note, the 2 articles were published some time in Sept last year. I have not yet found any follow-up news about the foreign ghosts at SMK Tanjung Lumpur afterwards.

The ghostly apparition which spooked some 50 schoolgirls in Langgar, Alor Star, on Sunday made an appearance again this morning.

Another 17 girls from Forms One to Four of SMK Langgar became hysterical after they claimed they saw the apparition in the school canteen at 9.30am.

Kedah Education director Shahidan Abdul Rahman, in an immediate reaction, advised those affected by the incidents to stay home.

"We are still investigating the matter and I advise those still disturbed from the incidents to stay home," he said.

One of students, Nasroh Abdul Rahim, 14, said she fainted after seeing the apparition of a long-haired woman in a flowing white gown hovering in the canteen.

"I screamed and then blacked out after seeing the figure," she said when met at the school.

Incidentally, she was also one of the 50 girls who became hysterical when the 'ghost' appeared the first time.

Nasroh and her friends along with a few teachers were reciting the Yassin in the school surau when the 'ghost' reappeared. Her screaming sparked some of the others to become hysterical.

A bomoh, called in by the school to help check the problem, claimed he had caught a blur image of the 'ghost' on his handphone.

He said he was treating his daughter, Nur Fatihah Nani, who was among the 50 girls spooked in the first incident.

"Like Nasroh, my daughter is still very weak," he said.

From Asiaone, "Schoolgirls who claim to 'see' ghost spooked with hysterics".

Malaysian shamans claim that there are too many foreign spirits at a school in Kuantan called SMK Tanjung Lumpur.

Some of them even claim to have communicated with the spirits responsible for bouts of hysteria at the school since May.

According to them, the spirits have made several demands for leaving the school, including a special feast.

The shamans who have visited the school say that the spirits claim that the new building had encroached on their area, and that is why a group of students would scream hysterically almost every day.

In most cases, the victims claimed that they saw an apparition with long hair, while others claimed they were possessed by an old woman and would act and sound like one.

State mufti Datuk Abdul Rahman Osman is not in favour of striking a deal with the supernatural beings.

As regards a shamans proposal to use the service of an assisting spirit to communicate with other supernatural beings or to treat a patient, Osman said that any efforts to solve the problem should not involve the help of spirits or jin.

“We have communicated with the residing spirits but they were not responsible for the bouts of hysteria at this school,” New Straits Times Online quoted two “paranormals” from Bandung, Indonesia, Rahmat Setiawan and Didi Ardi of Aura Syifa” organization, as saying.

“Most of them become hysterical because of other factors, including examination pressure and family problems. Some are reacting to the harsh treatment meted out by bomoh during the exorcism,” said Rahmat, who prefers to be known as a “mind therapist”.

He said that hysteria was prevalent among the Malays as they had been exposed to ghost stories since young.

“I was told that there are many ghost series shown on local television. We face the same problem in Indonesia as there are many stories on kuntilanak and jembalang being aired every day,” he added.

The victims parents, however, disagree.

Mariah Mat Zain, 50, said: “I”ve seen my daughter turning her head more than 180 degrees. She could also overpower five men when possessed.”

She claimed that her daughter was still suffering from hysteria, even though she had transferred to another school.

“Don”t tell me she is faking it. She’’s too young to do it,” she said.

Doctors said that it was a difficult phenomenon to explain.

“We have to consider what the family will feel if we say that there’’s no ghost or whatsoever in their child’’s body. As a Muslim, I advise them to seek help from ustaz and pray for God’’s help,” said a private medical practitioner.

From Thaindian News, "Malay school infested by too many foreign ghosts!"

Ghosts, spirits, jin and other supernatural beings are abundant at SMK Tanjung Lumpur, claim dozens of bomoh as well as spiritual and faith healers who have visited the school in Kuantan in the past weeks. Some of the bomoh have even claimed that they have "communicated" with the spirits who were responsible for bouts of hysteria at the school since May.

The so-called spirits, which are aplenty based on the names given by the bomoh, have made several demands including a special feast before they leave the school.

The spirits claimed that the construction of the school's new building had encroached on their area and for that reason, almost every day, a group of students would scream hysterically.

In most cases, the victims claimed that they saw an apparition with long hair, while others claimed they were possessed by an old woman and would act and sound like one.

The idea to strike a deal with the supernatural beings was not favoured by religious figures, including state mufti Datuk Abdul Rahman Osman.

Rahman said efforts to solve the problem should not involve the help of spirits or jin.

A bomoh, 70, from Kota Baru said it was common for a bomoh to use the service of a dampingan (assisting spirit) to communicate with other supernatural beings or to treat a patient.

"Many people will not admit it but we have our khadam (servants) among the spirits."

Such a technique will pose a problem, particularly when there are too many bomoh involved.

He said: "I think this school is crowded with foreign spirits. Some of the bomoh may have left them here to show their power."

Two "paranormals" from Bandung, Indonesia, shared a similar belief.

Rahmat Setiawan and Didi Ardi of Aura Syifa' organisation said: "We have communicated with the residing spirits but they were not responsible for the bouts of hysteria at this school."

Rahmat said only one or two of the students were possessed by the spirits while the rest were responding due to a "herd instinct".

"Most of them become hysterical due to other factors, including examination pressure and family problems.

"Some are reacting to the harsh treatment meted by bomoh during the exorcism," said Rahmat, who prefers to be known as a "mind therapist".

For the record, only 35 of the 820 students at the school have been affected.

Rahmat said hysteria was prevalent among Malays as they had been exposed to ghost stories since young.

"I was told that there are many ghost series shown on local television. We face the same problem in Indonesia as there are many stories on kuntilanak and jembalang being aired every day."

However, the victims' parents disagreed.

Mariah Mat Zain, 50, said: "I've seen my daughter turning her head more than 180 degrees. She could also overpower five men when possessed."

Mariah said her Form Two daughter was having hysteria although she had transferred to another school.

"Don't tell me she is faking it. She's too young to do it."

Some of the victims, including Mariah's daughter, have sought treatment at the hospitals and were certified normal.

Doctors said it was a difficult phenomenon to explain, especially if it involved a Muslim.

"We have to consider how the family will feel if we say that there's no ghost or whatsoever in their child's body.

"As a Muslim, I advise them to seek help from ustaz and pray for God's help," said a private medical practitioner.

Whether spirits exist or not, the students' future is at stake and there should be a way to solve the problem.

A victim, seconds after regaining consciousness, said: "Please help us. I want to be free of this problem."

From Asiaone, "Too many 'foreign' spirits in this school".

Tan Kim Tian

Kim Tian Road is a street located within the Tiong Bahru Estate.

The buildings along this road are much taller and newer than those found in historic part of Tiong Bahru Estate.

This road is named after Tan Kim Tian.

Tan Kim Tian was born in Malacca and received little formal education when he was young.

He came to Singapore from Malacca in 1847 and joined Paterson Simons & Co as a storekeeper when he was a small boy.

Tan Kim Tian was quick to take advantage of the good times as Singapore was enjoying very good economic growth as her entrepot trade benefitted greatly from the advances made in steam ship technology as well as the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.

Tan Kim Tian learned and mastered the role of a comprador and head storekeeper in Paterson Simons & Co through sheer determination and diligence.

He also taught himself how to read and write English as well as acquired knowledge in costal shipping.

In 1871, he and his son, Tan Beng Wan, set up Tan Kim Tian and Son Steamship Company, the first local Chinese company to build and purchase steamships.

Tan Kim Tian was also the 1st president of the
Tan Si Chong Su temple.

The temple is also known as Po Chiak Keng (保赤宫) as well as Tan Seng Haw, and was constructed between 1876 and 1878. It was built as the ancestral temple of the Tan clan, in the Chinese belief that people with the same surname share a common ancestry.

By the turn of the century, the Tan family was one of the most well known families in Singapore.

Note: Another road bearing Mr Tan’s name, Kim Tian Place, was officially named in 1968.

Source :
Living hell By Chor Boon Goh & Wikipedia

The "Vanishing" of Manohara Odelia Pinot: The Furious/Anxious Mom Says One Smiley Photo Is Not Enough

Will there be TWO smiley photos produced on Manohara Odelia Pinot together with her Malaysian-prince husband, Tengku Temenggong Muhammad Fakhry?

Surely there would be a lot of photos taken on the two of them after they made a surprise appearance in that wedding? Why is it a surprise anyway? Because they were not actually invited?! Hmm...perhaps.

Anyway, I begin to sense that what ought to be a domestic issue has blown out of proportion--way out of proportion--to become a national interest. After all, who doesn't like a fairy tale, even one which may turn out to have an unhappy ending?

The mother of Indonesian-American teen model Manohara Odelia Pinot, who said her daughter had been kidnapped by her Malaysian husband, says a picture published in a Malaysian newspaper on Sunday showing her daughter smiling was no guarantee she was happy.

The picture shows Manohara, 17, and her Malaysian-prince husband, Tengku Temenggong Muhammad Fakhry, at the wedding on Saturday of the son of Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party vice president Datuk Husam Musa.

The prince and Manohara, who was dressed in a bright pink outfit, sat side by side and appeared to be relaxed and enjoying the event at Husam’s house in Kota Bharu, the capital of her husband’s state of Kelantan.

“A photo can never guarantee what Manohara really feels,” Daisy Fajarina said on Monday. “I need to talk and meet her to make sure that she is fine. But [her husband’s family] do not allow me to contact my own daughter.”

She regretted that the Kelantan Palace had used a picture of Manohara, published in the New Straits Times, to make people think her daughter was fine.

“Why do they just publish pictures? Pictures can lie and people’s facial expressions always change. We cannot give a sad expression all the time,” she said, claiming the prince’s family would not have cut off access to her daughter if they had not had something to hide.

Manohara was 16 when she married the prince on Aug. 26 last year in an Islamic ceremony at Kelatan Palace.

She returned to Indonesia in October but later went back to her husband.

The alleged kidnapping occurred when the prince’s family and Manohara, her mother and sister were in Saudi Arabia for the minor Islamic pilgrimage, known as umroh . Both families were preparing to return to Malaysia, but once the prince, his family and Manohara were aboard the jet, it took off, leaving Manohara’s mother and sister behind.

Last Thursday, Daisy and Manohara’s sister, Dewi, reported the affair to the National Commission on Violence Against Women after failing to reach Manohara via official channels.

Daisy said on Monday she had not received any formal acknowledgment that a ban on her from entering Malaysia had been lifted, as officials there claim.

Last week, she claimed that early last month a representative of the prince’s family came to Indonesia and offered her an apartment and a sum of money to break ties with her daughter.

“Manohara is ours,” Daisy claimed the emissary said.

From Jakarta Globe, "Manohara’s Mom Says One Smiley Photo Is Not Enough".

Guests at the wedding of the son of Pas vice-president Datuk Husam Musa were surprised when Kelantan prince Tengku Temenggong Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Petra and his wife, Cik Puan Temenggong Manohara, made an appearance.

Despite the Internet buzz on her whereabouts, Tengku Fakhry, 31, and former model Manohara Odelia Pinot, 17, looked rather relaxed and enjoyed the ceremony which was held at Husam's house in Kampung Kota, here.

Shortly after their arrival, the prince and Manohara, who was dressed in a pink baju kurung with a matching selendang, greeted the guests who were sitting in a tent.

They then proceeded to the house to meet the bride and groom.

They had lunch with the newlyweds, Ahmad Syafi Husam, 21, and Indah Purnasari Didin, 18, and Husam and his wife Datin Ruhana Abdul Rahman. The couple spent about 40 minutes at the ceremony.

From New Straits Times, "Manohara and her prince make surprise appearance at wedding".

While many might think the nation talks of nothing but elections, online media and local newspapers have been obsessed with a fairy tale that has turned into a family’s nightmare — the apparent kidnapping of their teenage daughter by her Malaysian-prince husband.

Not even the Ministry of Foreign Affairs knows what has happened to former model Manohara Odelia Pinot, 17, after she was whisked off in the prince’s private jet in Saudi Arabia on Feb. 26.

Teguh Wardoyo, who heads the ministry unit charged with protecting Indonesian nationals living overseas, said on Wednesday that the Malaysian government was remaining silent. “They won’t even speak to our ambassador, who has asked them to investigate the case,” Teguh said. “The fact that Manohara’s husband is a prince seems to be hampering the investigation.”

Her husband, Tengku Temenggong Muhammad Fakhry, is a prince from Kelantan State.

Manohara married Tengku in Malaysia in August 2008, but then reportedly returned to Indonesia in October complaining of domestic violence, Teguh said. She was 16 at the time of the wedding, of which her father, Reiner Pinot Noack, disapproved. She later returned to her husband.

The kidnapping allegedly occurred when the prince’s family and Manohara, her mother and sister were in Saudi Arabia for Islam’s minor pilgrimage, or umroh. Teguh said both the families were preparing to return to Malaysia. But when the prince, his family and Manohara were aboard the jet, the door was closed and the jet took off, leaving Manohara’s mother and sister behind.

Her mother, Daisy Fajarina, has since accused the husband of kidnapping Manohara. She has not heard from her daughter.

“Malaysia is a law-based country, but where is the law when they have not answered our request?” Teguh asked, adding that the ministry had tried hard to trace Manohara. “The Malaysian government has even issued a ‘visitor prohibition’ against the young lady’s mother,” he said. This was considered a sign of disrespect by Malaysia as it had cut a mother-daughter relationship.

Before marrying Tengku, Manohara was reportedly in a relationship with Adrie Bakrie, the son of Coordinating Minister for People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie, and had been voted one of Indonesia’s 100 Precious Women by Harper’s Bazaar fashion magazine.

Din Syamsudin, head of Islamic organization Muhammadiyah and vice chairman of the Indonesian Council of Ulema, urged on Wednesday for Foreign Ministry and police action. “I am afraid she is in a very bad situation.”

From Jakarta Globe, "Fairy Tale of a Prince and His Bride Turns to Nightmare".

Previously on this case:
- Tengku Temenggong Mohammad Fakhry - the unnamed Malaysian Prince who allegedly kidnapped & abused his (unfortunate) wife, Manohara Odelia Pinot

- Manohara Odelia Pinot - a young, beautiful, (unfortunately?) married Indonesian-American model...and allegedly abducted by a Malaysian prince?!

Update on 30/04: Ms. Daisy Farajina, the mother of Manohara Odelia Pinot, was reported to threaten to sue the Kelantan royal family. I wonder how on earth, she will get to do that?!

If we don't get to see her, we will sue the Kelantan royal family. That's the stand of Ms Manohara Odelia Pinot's family.

They claimed that the 17-year-old Indonesian-French model was abducted by her husband, a Kelantan prince.

In a report published in Utusan Malaysia yesterday, sister Dewi Sariasi Pinot, 20, said she will be heading to Kuala Lumpur soon with her lawyer to discuss the suit.

The saga began when her mother, Mrs Daisy Farajina, told Indonesian newspapers that as the two families were about to leave Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, after completing the umrah (minor pilgrimage), the private jet carrying the prince and her daughter left.

Mrs Daisy and Dewi were left behind.

The mother also claimed that her daughter has complained her husband abused her.

Since the umrah incident at end of Feb, she claimed that she had been denied entry into Malaysia 'at the request of the Kelantan palace'. Ms Manohara was 16 when she married the prince, Tengku Muhammad Fakhry, 32.

But yesterday, businessman Mohd Soberi Shafii said Mrs Daisy had allegedly got into a rage at the prince's house.

He also denied any abuse and explained that the abduction allegation was a misunderstanding.

While he confirmed that Ms Daisy was barred from entering Malaysia, he said this was done to prevent her from causing 'chaos' at the palace. Her arrival in Malaysia was close to the Sultan of Kelantan's birthday.

The Malaysian Immigration Department revoked the restriction against her entry last Friday without elaborating, reported Malaysia's Berita Harian. Meantime, palace officials were tight-lipped.

From The New Paper, "Family: We will sue royal family, unless...".

Update on 18/05: What, now United Nations is going to be dragged into this case?! Just let the mother see her daughter, can't you?

The Malaysian royal family has not yet decided whether to allow the mother of the teenage Indonesian-American wife of a Malaysian crown prince to visit her daughter, a humanitarian activist said on Monday.

I Nyoman Adi Feri, chairman of the International Humanitarian Commission (KKI), said the Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia, Zainal Abidin, has since last Tuesday urged the Kelantan Palace to grant Daisy Fajarina access to her daughter. Manohara Odelia Pinot, 17, married Kelantan Crown Prince Tengku Temenggong Muhammad Fakhry last year.

“The Kelantan family has not responded to our request concerning Daisy Fajarina’s desire to meet with Manohara,” Adi said.

He said the dispute between Daisy and the Kelantan royal family should be settled through a dialogue. The two parties have recently traded barbs, with Daisy claiming her daughter is being tortured and kept against her will, while the family has accused Daisy of being greedy.

“We want both families to settle this dispute through a consensus in an ethical manner befitting our Eastern culture,” Adi said, adding that if the families could not settle the affair, the
KKI would bring the issue to the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Daisy reported the case to the National Commission on Violence Against Women (Komnas Perempuan) and the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) at the end of April. The case is currently under investigation.

“As [Manohara’s family] has already reported this case to the human rights commission in this country, we can now take this issue to the international level, which is the United Nations Human Rights Council,” Adi said.

He said that as a mother, Daisy had every right to see her daughter, and vice versa.

“Forbidding a mother to meet her own daughter, or forbidding people to meet each other, is a violation of human rights,” he said.

However, Adi acknowledged that settling the case would not be easy.

Dewi Sari Asih, Manohara’s sister, said she and her mother would not stop trying to contact Manohara.

“We will continue fighting to see her and to witness that she is fine,” Dewi said. “We have not received any news of any new developments in this case. We still cannot contact Manohara.”

The alleged kidnapping occurred after the prince’s family, Manohara, her mother and sister went to Saudi Arabia for Islam’s minor pilgrimage, or umroh . As both families were preparing to return to Malaysia, Manohara’s relatives were left on the tarmac as the prince’s jet took off.

Manohara, named one of Indonesia’s 100 Precious Women by Harper’s Bazaar magazine, was 16 when she married the prince.

From Jakarta Globe, "Humanitarian Body Wants Manohara Case Taken to UN Council".

The Curious Case of David Widjaja: Who are the FOUR key witnesses to testify for David?

The latest development about this curiously dragging case of David Widjaja is that there would be four key witnesses to testify that David Widjaja did not commit suicide. At least, according to the news published by Jakarta Post. (Strange that Singapore newspaper does not mention about it. Yet?)

Persistent till at least the Truth is revealed, David's parents "have insisted their son was murdered, denying he would never commit suicide and claiming they had evidence to prove it. They will underline the oddities found at the crime scene".

In an attempt to convince judges that David Hartanto Widjaja, an Indonesian student who died at the Nanyang Technology University (NTU) campus in Singapore in March, did not commit suicide, his family will present four additional key witnesses at a coroner's inquest in Singapore from May 20-26.

David was found dead after allegedly committing suicide at his campus in Singapore, where he was reportedly having difficulties with his studies. According to witnesses, the student died after jumping from a balcony of a campus building.

The university said David was under stress because his grades had dropped due to his addiction to online games and he was in danger of losing his scholarship.

In a statement issued shortly after his death, it was claimed David was in a meeting at the office of his mentor, Professor Chan Kap Luk, when he went berserk and stabbed his teacher in the back. He then left the office, stabbed himself repeatedly, then jumped off the balcony, the university claims.

David’s parents, however, have insisted their son was murdered, denying he would never commit suicide and claiming they had evidence to prove it. They will underline the oddities found at the crime scene.

The family and an independent verification team filed the case with the coroner’s court last week and gathered their own witnesses to support their case.

“One of the witnesses is a professor whose office is located next to Chan’s. The professor, named Chang Chong Wah, said he thought there was no reason at all for David to commit suicide because he was working on a high-profile, PhD-caliber project,” the team’s leader, Iwan Piliang, said Monday in Jakarta.

David was working on a Computer Vision (CV) technology project, mostly applied in the entertainment and military industries, at the time of his death.

“David was a genius and he never complained of any problems with his studies at all. Before he died, we had regular talks and I did not notice any stress at all in him,” David’s older brother William said.

The team also said they had found many unexplainable oddities at the crime scene. For instance, even though the NTU statement said David was the aggressor, Chan had fewer wounds than David.

“Chan had only five wounds on his body while David had 36. Most of them were on his right arm,” Iwan said.

“However, the latter fact does not match the fact David was right-handed. If it was true he cutg himself after stabbing Chan, then the wounds should be on his left arm.”

He added there was no blood at all found near the balcony, which many said David had climbed prior to jumping.

“David had so many cuts and bled profusely, there should have been blood in the area surrounding the balcony,” Iwan said.

The inquest is a vital part of David’s family’s search for justice to clear his name. If the court rules David’s death was indeed suicide, the case will be closed. If it suspects foul play, a further investigation will take place.

Inquests are common in the Singaporean judicial system. They have the ability to limit the state’s power in stopping an investigation into a case.

From Jakarta Post, "Four key witnesses to testify for David".

Previously on this case:
- The Curious Case of David Widjaja: Family of NTU student questions police about university's statement | Expedited inquest into Widjaja's death
- The Curious Case of David Widjaja: The alleged victim to testify at inquiry | The coroner's inquiry on 20/05 - 22/05, 25/05 & 26/05
- The Curious Case of David Widjaja: Now a criminal lawyer is hired...
- Another (ridiculous) theory about the curious case of David Widjaja: it has to do with his final year project??
- Shame on you, NTU -- how much in advance an appointment needs to be made?!
- The Curious Case of David Widjaja | The parents 'clarify'; NTU makes a false claim?; Indonesian bloggers to 'verify'.
- And other posts in this blog (which I have yet found time to list down. Heh): here.

Dr Thio Su Mien & her ‘baseless’ statements on AWARE sex educational programmes

In today’s Straits Times, “Get facts on sex ed right”, a senior lawyer Dr Thio Su Mien was quoted to have said that "the Aware programme encouraged lesbianism and homosexuality. She said the programme taught young girls from the ages of 12 to 18 that it is okay to experiment with each other”.

She also made a claim that she had talked to some parents about this, and they were flabbergasted. No kidding, one does not have to be a parent to be shocked about this. Especially about how the above claim (bold in red) was issued without further elaborations and proofs. Or is it because these "some parents" were too flabbergasted to pursue further & ask?!

In the same article, Senior Minister of State for Education S. Iswaran opined that “the ministry had not received any complaints about the programme, and has had no reason to intervene thus far”. Far from being neutral, he too was said to suggest whoever made the claims (actually so far only this Dr Thio Su Mien—oh, by the way she is the 'feminist mentor' of the new guard of AWARE) had better got the facts right.

In the earlier news from Channel NewsAsia yesterday, “MOE seeks clarification on claims on AWARE's programmes”, it is reported that MOE has contacted Dr Thio Su Mien to clarify the claims she was reported to have made on the organisation's sexuality programmes.

In addition, MOE gave some detailed statistics (there were none from Dr Thio Su Mien) that “11 secondary schools engaged AWARE to run workshops on sexuality last year. The organisation also conducted assembly talks on topics such as self esteem at a few schools. Schools that engaged AWARE found its programme content appropriate for their students, adhering to MOE guidelines.”

The Director for Education Programmes of MOE, Ms. Sum Chee Wah also released a “Reply to Recent Comments and Claims About AWARE’s Sexuality Education Programme in Schools”.

Yes, MOE is being serious about any baseless statements or statements which had not yet accompanied by concrete evidences—something which are now the burden of Dr Thio Su Mien to produce.

Failing which, I would not be surprised if the so-called old guard of AWARE will mercilessly slap Dr Thio Su Mien for defaming them.

Update on 06/05: Perhaps Dr Thio Su Mien has indeed been right all along? The latest news has MOE suspended AWARE's sexuality programme. But what I am curious at is that MOE received complaints from parents only after Dr Thio Su Mien has made public her 'unhappiness' about the programme. Parents, be more proactive, please?!

The Ministry of Education (MOE) has suspended the Association of Women for Action and Research's (AWARE) sexuality programme after a thorough investigation.

In a press statement released this afternoon, the ministry said that the "Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Basic Instructor Guide" had been pulled off because it did not conform to MOE's guidelines in some aspects.

In particular, "some suggested responses in the instructor guide are explicit and inappropriate and convey messages which could promote homosexuality or suggest approval of pre-marital sex".

However, it also pointed out that there were positive aspects in the guide, like accurate information on sexually-transmitted diseases and HIV and the role-playing practice for students to say 'no' to sex.

Giving a reason for its decision, MOE said that the Singapore education system did not promote alternative lifestyles to students.

It said: "MOE's framework for sexuality education reflects the mainstream views and values of Singapore society, where the social norm consists of the married heterosexual family unit."

Apart from looking at AWARE's sexuality programme, the ministry also investigated the course materials used during General Paper (GP) lessons in junior colleges. The material had allegedly carried information on alternative lifestyles.

However it found that there was no AWARE influence present in these lessons: Teachers had used such materials to promote discussion on family structures and to promote critical thinking on contemporary issues.

MOE also urged parents to play a bigger part in sex education.

"Parents are ultimately responsible for inculcating values to their children. MOE's sexuality education programme aims to complement parents' role in helping students make informed... decisions regarding sexuality," it said.

MOE's decision to investigate AWARE's sexuality programme was a swift turn from its earlier stance late last month.

In a letter to the Straits Times forum, the ministry had said that it saw no reason because it had not received any complaints from parents about the programme.

However, two days after the letter was published, MOE said it decided to proceed with investigations as parents had started to express concern over AWARE's sexuality programme. In the meantime, an online petition - that collected about 1,300 signatures - had been circulating, calling for schools to "exercise greater care in bringing in sexuality programmes in future".

From Asiaone, "MOE suspends Aware's programme for schools".

Update on 07/05: The news makes it sound more neutral. Not just AWARE's sexuality programme is suspended, it's now "all sexuality education programmes run by EXTERNAL groups in school" as well. I wonder how many such external groups are there.

All sexuality education programmes run by external groups in schools - including the controversial one by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) - have been suspended by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

In addition, the ministry will implement a new, tougher vetting process for the selection of such external programmes by schools.

The move comes about a week after some parents told MOE that they were concerned about the content found in an instructor guide for Aware's programme, which was posted online.

The Aware programme for schools was one of the touchstones of a spat within the organisation, which ended last Saturday with the ousting of a month-old leadership team who had railed against what they called 'pro-homosexuality' content in it.

MOE conducted an investigation after some parents expressed concern.

Yesterday, the press secretary to Education Minister Ng Eng Hen, Ms Jennifer Chan, said in a letter to The Straits Times that the basic instructor guide for Aware's programme did not conform to MOE's guidelines on sexuality education.

'In particular, some suggested responses in the instructor guide are explicit and inappropriate, and convey messages which could promote homosexuality or suggest approval of premarital sex,' she said, without elaborating on the inappropriate responses.

A copy of the guide posted online contained lines such as 'anal sex can be healthy or neutral if practised with consent and with a condom', and 'homosexuality is perfectly normal. Just like heterosexuality, it is simply the way you are'.

However, Ms Chan pointed out that some parts of the guide were positive: It gave accurate information on sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV, for example.

But, she stressed, the ministry and its schools 'do not promote alternative lifestyles to our students'.

She added: 'MOE's framework for sexuality education reflects mainstream views and values of Singapore society, where the social norm consists of the married heterosexual family unit.

'Parents are ultimately responsible for inculcating values to their children, and the MOE's sexuality education programme aims to complement parents' roles in helping students make informed, responsible and values-based decisions about sexuality.'

The ministry, she said, had reviewed the current process used to select external groups to run school programmes, and found that they could be improved.

It will also do more to ensure that training materials and programmes in schools are in line with its framework on sexuality education, and will review ways to give parents more information about sexuality education.

Other groups which conduct sexuality programmes in schools include the Singapore Planned Parenthood Association and the Family Life Society.

The new leadership of Aware said it was not surprised by MOE's move. It said it stood by its programme, but was prepared to make changes if necessary.

In a statement, it said the instructor guide was a confidential document used strictly for instructor training.

'Like all instructor guides, ours contains far more information than is used. The guide includes possible responses for instructors should certain topics, such as homosexuality and premarital sex, be raised during sessions,' it said.

'They are not necessarily the responses actually used, as our instructors always use language and terms appropriate to their audience.'

The statement added that Aware's aim has always been to help students make 'informed and responsible decisions about their sexuality in the context of values taught by their parents'.

Meanwhile, senior lawyer Thio Su Mien, the self-described 'feminist mentor' of the ousted Aware leadership, said she was 'pleased' that MOE had looked into the matter and acted in a 'responsible fashion'.

Former president Josie Lau declined comment.

Several parents contacted also welcomed the move.

Mr Vincent Lim, a 34-year-old private tutor and father of two young children, said: 'It is good news for parents. I hope that educators focus on inculcating strong family values and having stable relationships in our sex education programme. The family is the backbone of society.'

From Straits Times, "External sex education programmes suspended in schools".

And the following is the official press release from MOE, "MOE Statement on Sexuality Education Programme". I like best the last part about how parents are ultimately responsible for inculcating values to their children. That is so true.

1. In recent weeks, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has received feedback on the Sexuality Education Programme conducted by AWARE, as well as other lesson material not involving AWARE. MOE has done a thorough investigation. This statement presents the Ministry's findings and future steps.

2. MOE and the schools do not promote alternative lifestyles to our students. MOE's framework for sexuality education reflects the mainstream views and values of Singapore society, where the social norm consists of the married heterosexual family unit.

3. Today, schools are allowed to engage external vendors to supplement MOE's sexuality education programme. MOE has reviewed the internal processes for selecting and monitoring vendors and found that they can be improved. MOE will put in more stringent processes to ensure that training materials and programmes delivered in schools are in line with the Ministry's framework on sexuality education. Schools will suspend the engagement of external vendors until the new vetting processes are completed. The Ministry is also reviewing ways to provide parents with more information about sexuality education in the specific schools that their children are in.

4. MOE has examined AWARE's 'Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Basic Instructor Guide'. The Guide contains some positive aspects, like the accurate information provided on STIs/HIV and role-play practice for students to say no to sex. However, MOE's assessment is that in some other aspects, the Guide does not conform to MOE's guidelines. In particular, some suggested responses in the instructor guide are explicit and inappropriate, and convey messages which could promote homosexuality or suggest approval of pre-marital sex.

5. In view of this, AWARE's programmes in schools will be suspended and subjected to the new vetting processes.

6. MOE has also investigated feedback about materials used during General Paper (GP) lessons in junior colleges which carry information on alternative lifestyles. These materials and lessons did not involve AWARE. GP lessons are meant to promote critical thinking and discussion on contemporary issues. MOE investigations showed that the teachers had used these materials to initiate discussion on family structures, and not to promote alternative lifestyles. Nevertheless, MOE will remind school leaders and teachers to exercise greater professional discretion in guiding their students when such topics are discussed. They should also adhere to social norms and values of our mainstream society.

7. Parents are ultimately responsible for inculcating values to their children. MOE's sexuality education programme aims to complement parents' role in helping students make informed, responsible and values-based decisions regarding sexuality.

Update on 09/05: AWARE Sexuality Education Programme was said to 'exceeded guidelines'...and not in a good sense.

On a separate note, Mr. Iswaran's remark about the schools are given 'considerable autonomy' might be seen as pushing the blame back to the schools for not doing a proper & regular review of the suitability of the external sex education prgramme. Although some might also think that it is the responsibility of the MOE, instead.

Parents are quite right to be concerned about some parts of the Association of Women for Action and Research's (Aware) sexuality education programme, Senior Minister of State for Education S. Iswaran said yesterday.

He said that after investigations were conducted into the programme, 'there's a sense that they have exceeded the guidelines'.

On Wednesday, the Ministry of Education (MOE) said that all sexuality education programmes run by external groups in schools will be suspended until a new, tougher vetting process for such programmes is put in place.

Among the suspended programmes was the controversial one by Aware. The ministry had said it had some suggested responses which are 'explicit and inappropriate, and convey messages which could promote homosexuality or suggest approval of premarital sex'.

Neither the ministry nor Mr Iswaran gave details of which parts of the Aware programme they were referring to.

The basic instructor's guide for Aware's programme, a copy of which was posted online, contained lines such as 'anal sex can be healthy or neutral if practised with consent and with a condom', and 'homosexuality is perfectly normal. Just like heterosexuality, it is simply the way you are'.

Speaking after a community event yesterday, Mr Iswaran said the core sexuality programme devised by the MOE would continue in schools.

This programme, he stressed, strives to keep sexuality education in line with mainstream values in Singapore.

It is based on the family as the basic unit and conservative mainstream values in Singapore, he said.

Asked yesterday if the ministry was negligent in taking so long to uncover the specifics of the Aware programme, Mr Iswaran explained that there are more than 350 schools here, and they are given considerable autonomy.

From Straits Times, "Guidelines breached".

next fix

these are some more samples from Fix2 Exhibition by Torlarp Larpjaroensook

'Dirty Bitch' by Sun Koh - SIFF Singapore Panorama 2

My disclaimer to this write up is that I think I need to watch 'Dirty Bitch' again. There were too many backstories and pretext to it that I didn't really get the hang of the supposed 'Bitch' in the story. Having said that, it was my favourite of the Singapore Panorama 2 - a real mish-mash of works though many centred around some form of madness.

'Dirty Bitch' was a lot of madness but in an orchestrated kind of way. Madness because of the violent reflexes and dramatic excesses. But orchestrated because of a certain precedent it was trying to follow (which I knew because of the context under which 'Dirty Bitch' was made. The Rotterdam International Film Festival has invited Sun among a few other Asian filmmakers to make a film tribute to a film master. So it was Claire Denis in Sun's case and her inspiration came from Nenette et Boni, apparently an graphically violent film. Here is a summary of its story to do some of the talking for me...

19 year old Boni lives alone in the Marseilles flat he inherited from his mother and makes a living working on a pizza stall. To break the routine of his humdrum life, he mixes with arms traffickers and fantasises about the woman who runs a baker’s shop. One day, Boni’s 15 year old sister Nénette appears out of the blue and says she is pregnant. Boni has not seen his sister for years, since his parents separated, and is reluctant to let her move in with him. Gradually, Boni develops an affection for his younger sister and her unborn baby, not realising that Nénette has no wish to keep the baby...

In a cluttered HDB flat, under the roving eyes of a young man (who claims to be a cop) and guided by his 'colourful' (language) narration(not always in tandem with the visuals), we are led into an weird struggle between him and an underaged pregnant girl who seems to also pregnant with a lot of rage. Their mental fantasies intersperse, with each one trying to mutilate the other sexually and physically. Providing an almost juctapostional kind of contrast to the mayhem is the rabbit motif. Apart from a white rabbit wiggling its way around the house, our 'Dirty Bitch' has a pair of rabbit slippers too. And almost like a kind of violation later, the clean white rabbit furs are splattered with curd-like red blood. It's a mouthful to desribe the journey so far but its freeness of form (naaratively) was a very liberating experience for the audience.

The abortion portion offered yet another surprise - a musical segment. And rightly cast, Loretta Chen makes an authoritative presence enough to compete with Serene Chen's grasp of the complex titular character. The only pity is we do not get to hear her talk too much otherwise, it wouold be quite a treat to heat her 'whip-of-a-tongue' do her job. Instead, she lip-synches to a French song, which I suppose might be taken fromn Nenette et Boni. And I felt perhaps this is part that could alienate some audience. And it's also hilarious how out HDB 'Nenette' can suddenly sing in French. Speaking of language, the guy's Mandarin narration sounds also too refined and mis-matched for its content. Maybe it's the Mandarin accent, or should it have been Hokkien? Or perhaps even English in a proper manner (to sound like its from a third voice) because of the very Western overtones in the content of the narration.

Finally, I thought the film left the audience with a little subversion to take home. 'Dirty Bitch' after the madness decides to apply for a job. In a an empty lecture theatre sit a panel of 3 corporate animals, all looking stern and judging. But the uneasy silence does not daunt our 'bitch' for she is determined to get something out of it... until, some kind of hell breaks loose the panel starts boozing and dancing. Hovering betweem a sardonic kind of humour and a sense of resignation, the film seems to end with a message, surprisingly (after its randomness), for her and for us.

'Untitled Horror Project' by Ali Akbar Asykari - SIFF

The film is preceeded by a warning message about the potentially disturbing nature of the content. A group of students are out to shoot a film late at night. Like the film itself, the group is a picture of lackadaisical randomness. They amble and ramble from point to point, keeping the audience guessing when something is going to happen. The program says 26 min. 15 min into the film and still nothing has happened. Or was I not observant enough? Was there a moving whatsit lurking somewhere behind the pillar? Or is the apparition meant to be so transparent that you cant see it with your naked eye? By now, there are no prizes for guessing which famous film UHP seems to remind me off.

'Child of the World' by Ho Rui An - SIFF

Kevin, a teenage boy, is unable to cope with his mum's death and he creates a little utopia for himself right in the comfort of his own bedroom. His little utopia consists of a model of a house, some terrain and a little figurine that supposedly represents him. Under the filmmaker Rui An's skillful hands, we get to see his utopia in stop-motion moving image, built from paper mache, paper shreds and other paper derivatives. In fact, the mixed media treatment of the story, a combination of live action and stop-motion animation, serves the story well by shuffling us between 2 different worlds, one imaginary and one real.

Interestingly, his utopia seems a little apocalyptic. Perhaps due to the paper-mache texture, the terrain appears battered against a dark sky and much of the stylised or caricaturised props or sets bordered on the grotesque. The only source of comfort that belonged to Kevin's imaginary world was a guardian. In fact, he writes letters to this imaginary guardian, seeking solace and perhaps even an answer. On the side of his bedroom door lies the real world, resided by his concerned sister. She is both anxious and helpless about her brother's condition. Her anxiety is unbridled that when she got a chance to enter the room and discover his paper models, she loses her composure. Not sure if its the acting or the script constricting her emotional breadth but her character was could have more dimensions that just that of anxiety. For the brother, while his state of delusion is credible at most points, the dramatic transition of accepting his sister's care was wanting. I guess all in all, its the imagined that defined the film more.

Any (Dream) Job Will Do!!

With the current bleak economy situation, who can fill their stomachs with merely idealism? Although I must admit I fully agree with this article by Mr Wang Say So, "Learn from the Regrets of the Flatulence Analyst"--in which the blogger urges the fresh graduates to think twice about following the advice from the Manpower Minister Mr. Gan Kim Yong to “take up any job that is available”--I have to admit also that if I were one of the fresh graduates & I am still unemployed just because I have not clinched that dream job, I'll have to swallow my pride & indeed eventually to take up any job that is available.

The thing is that I may not know that the job I "anyhow take because I'm so desperate" will turn out to be a dream job too. A job that I might be very much enjoying despite the initial humiliation derived from the realization that the job is taken only because I'm desperate--and not to mention that I might even and very likely have to settle for lower pay. A job that I can excel & develop myself.

Of course it may turn out to be a bad dream job as well.

But hey, if that's the case, I could always choose any other job that is available & repeat the cycle.

If it turns out to be a dream job, good for me!

If not, start again hunting for the next job that is available! (I begin to sound like a broken record...)

And who knows by then (after so many cycles of persistently securing those jobs one after another), the economy does recover & I'll be able to apply the job that I'm truly aiming for.

All the best for the fresh graduates out there! Don't give up. Oh, and you might want to read this article, "Any job will do" from about how Helienne Lindvall has taken on all kinds of jobs in order to pursue her musical ambitions.

PS. Okay, so perhaps I'm somewhat influenced by the song, "Any Dream Will Do". Check out the Lee Mead full official "Any Dream Will Do" video in YouTube here.

PPS. By the way, there's nothing wrong with lower pay. At least according to this Straits Times article, "Why settle for lower pay?":
Career consultants and placement agencies say those who are over-qualified for their new jobs and have to take a pay cut often do well in their new careers and are promoted more quickly.

Lower pay is better than no pay at all. And it really is just a matter of adjusting your lifestyle if you have to endure that 'lower pay'.

Ivy's Farewell

My room mate just left Singapore. Tear! Ivy wanted to take a rest from her inconsiderate (I'm already being kind) boss and get married. Sigh! Her prince finally found her and I couldn't have been happier for her. But I'm really going to miss our late night chats, rants about demanding bosses, and raves about shopping and the glittery things we spent our incomes on. Yet, I believe there's a time and season for everything. And the season for love has arrived. Nuks.

Sheryl, Ate Ethel, Sokee and I bid her goodbye last night as we all went all the way to Changi to spend one last time with her. Some of Ivy's friends were also there.

It will sure be going to get a lot lonelier now... I'm looking forward to a new room mate though. Any takers?

Down Moments

Blessed are the moments when I feel discouraged, for I have never been closer to my God as now. I need to stop focusing horizontally - on my self, and really start fixing my eyes upward.

I just received the news - my UBC MBA application was denied. How many nights have I been dreaming about the moment when my 'sack' will become a 'scholarship'? Apparently, I dream too much and too far. So here I am feeling like an utter failure, and apologizing constantly to God and to the mirror for being a disappointment.

Fortunately, I have my podcast to encourage me. There are 3 suggestions by Chuck Swindoll:
1. Claim His strength.
2. Remember your Love.
3. Seek His fullness.

I need to be enveloped with the deep, deep love of Jesus - vast, unmeasured, boundless, free... Right.NOW.

'Dream'/'Meng Xiang' by Josiah Ng - SIFF

It is so unfortunate that feel-good films do not go down well with programmers because every festival is scrambling to find edge and er.... pain. 'Meng Xiang' is a very well-produced short film about overcoming the odds to find triumph. However, the mise-en-scene and dialogue are as predictable as the title sounds. A secondary school boy pursuit of swimming comes at the expense of his studies. His father is an ex-swimmer who is now sadly, a pool cleaner. It is not difficult to infer how his father would feel towards his pursuit. In fact, 'Meng Xiang' reminds me of many early days SBC/TCS TV dramas set in the swimming, one was 'The Flying Fish' in the early 80s and the other has Chen Liping in it, in the late 80s. And they all culminate in a triumphant final race, loyal to this 'genre'.

So while, it does not break out of the 'swimming drama' genre too much, it does offer a gem of a line that stuck in my head - in Singapore, what ever you do, you either become number 1 or become part of the crowd, there is no place for number 2. Sadly, it has truths in every field. Also, the actors were sincere in their performances, giving me a lump in my throat when father and son hugged. What's more, they got crane shots! So I hope none of this effort goes to waste and it finds itself more avenues for public or even TV (quite 'telemovie' if you ask me) showcase.

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Zhang Ziyi - Vivi Nevo: the wedding cancelled?

Well that's what The Star Online said in its article, "Zhang Ziyi cancels wedding plans". The article dated on 25/04. However on the more recent news like from China Daily, "Zhang Ziyi attends romantic wedding of Salma Hayek", it's still mentioned about how Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi and her prospective husband Vivi Nevo arrived for actress Salma Hayek's wedding in Venice, Italy. The wedding was also on 25/04, by the way.

The Daily Mail also has an article--titled, "Salma Hayek shows off wedding dress fit for a billionaire's bride at lavish Venice wedding ceremony"--which quoted about Zhang Ziyi with her fiance Vivi Nevo (actually just has their photos together holding hands--hardly things to do when Zhang Ziyi just called off the wedding.)

So which news is right?

In a turn of events, Chinese star Zhang Ziyi said she has cancelled her plan to marry Israeli billionaire beau Vivi Nevo.

China Press quoted her as saying that she wanted to concentrate on her career.

Met by reporters in Hong Kong, Zhang said she was enjoying her life.

Although marriage plans might not be in the immediate future, Zhang was however considering having a baby two years from now, the newspaper said.

On reports that she was not getting on well with Nevo’s seven-year-old daughter, Zhang denied it and said they were “buddies”.

Nevo had last year revealed that he and Zhang were engaged and planned to tie the knot this year.

From The Star Online, "Zhang Ziyi cancels wedding plans".

Or perhaps it's not a matter of cancellation, it's just a postponement? If the wedding would not take place within this year, it does not mean it won't happen in the year(s) after.

Emporio Armani ambassador Zhang Ziyi appeared in Hong Kong on Wednesday to promote the fashion brand.

Zhang, has been paired with Taiwan/Japanese actor Takeshi Kaneshiro (Jin Chengwu in Chinese), the first Asian male face, in Emporio Armani's advertising campaign this year.

The actress spoke frankly about her relationship with her would-be husband Vivi Nevo. However, she denied their wedding plans for 2009 that was reportedly spelled out by Nevo last year while confirming she would only come up with her baby plans after two years.

Actress Zhang Ziyi leads the female list and is set to take second spot when Forbes China unveils its 2009 list of Chinese celebrity rankings in the middle of March.

When asked about her thoughts on being the best-selling mainland actress, Zhang played it down, saying nothing had been confirmed yet.

The actress, who actively campaigns for public charities, will take part in a series of events marking the one year anniversary of the Sichuan earthquake.

From, "Zhang Ziyi coy over marriage and baby plans".

Update on 08/08: Zhang Ziyi's relationship is reported to be on the rocks. What, isn't it an old news?!

Tongues are wagging about the state of affairs between Zhang Zi Yi and her Caucasian boyfriend. Word is their engagement is off and both have been separated for the past two months.

The Chinese actress hooked up with 43-year-old billionaire, Vivi Nevo in 2007. Even since the couple got together, Zhang has been seen rubbing shoulders with the elites. She also started acting like an American-born-Chinese and spoke English all the time. But in the last two months, she has not been seen with Vivi and reportedly returned to her hometown in Beijing.

The couple originally planned to get hitched this year in August. However, their sudden decision to annul the marriage in previous months has set tongues wagging. Sources say Zhang flew to America and failed to salvage their sinking relationship.

Zhang's latest film, Sophie's Revenge, is set to be released soon. In the movie she will portray the role of an abandoned girlfriend who tries all sorts of methods to win back the affections of her boyfriend. When asked if it was a case of reel life meeting real, the actress begged to differ, "The kind of women I like and respect are the ones who are more independent and opinionated. They have their own beliefs and values. How can they center their lives around a man?" She believes that a perfect woman is capable of making her own decisions and will never be led on by a man.

From Yahoo! News, "Zhang Ziyi's relationship on the rocks".

Update on 09/08: Oh wait, Zhang Ziyi insisted that her relationship with Vivi Nevo are "steady" & "everything is all right!" it does seem like a déjà vu for me. Or is it a (strong) denial?

Actress Zhang Ziyi has denied rumors that she has broken up with her billionare fiance Vivi Nevo.

"I saw the rumors on the internet. They are ridiculous!" Ziyi told reporters at the premiere of her new film Sophie's Revenge in Beijing on Sunday.

"My boyfriend and I are in a steady relationship," she said,"everything is all right!"

The couple, who began dating in 2007, originally planned to tie the knot this year in August. However, the wedding has been postponed due to "their busy schedules", which triggered various speculation.

From China Daily, ""Everything is all right" about Zhang Ziyi and Fiance".

Update on 11/08: Kudos for Channel NewsAsia for a more balanced & revealing piece of news regarding the topic.

Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi's relationship with Israeli billionaire Vivi Nevo is stable and things between the couple "are normal", said her manager, denying rumours that the pair have split.

This statement comes after the 30-year-old was spotted without her engagement ring during an interview last month, prompting the media to speculate about their relationship.

Vivi had disclosed in July last year that he intended to wed Zhang in 2009 and confirmed that their engagement took place in March. However, he revealed last month that the wedding had been postponed.

Rumours like the uneven distribution of Vivi's property, his dislike for Zhang wanting a lavish wedding followed by his subsequent decision to delay the ceremony and remain single, indicated that things were perhaps, not so rosy between the couple.

In an interview with last month, Zhang related her first experience producing a movie - romantic comedy "Sophie's Revenge" - and how she had not relied on her partner for help. She also mentioned the need for women to be independent and not to rely solely on men for everything or to "be led by the nose" by them.

Despite Zhang's need for independence, she admits that a phone call from her partner asking her to rest early when she is working late still touches her heart.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Zhang Ziyi & fiance still together, says manager".

Update on 14/08: Break-up rumours are baseless, Zhang Ziyi insisted as she flashed her huge engagement ring.

Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi has refuted rumours that she and her Israeli billionaire beau Vivi Nevo have called off their wedding, Sin Chew Daily reported.

As proof, Zhang, who recently turned up at a talk show in China to promote her latest film, donned her huge engagement ring.

Zhang was quoted as saying that she was sick and tired of all the rumours related to her wedding plans.

“I can’t understand why I have been the target of rumour-mongers since the day I became an actress,” she said.

“We are fine,” she added, responding to rumours of her break-up with Nevo.

From Diva, "Ziyi: Break-up rumours are baseless".

nookanooka soon in tokyo

i was told to customize a nookanooka for a character designer-related show in japan in june but that's all the information i have so far. i'm very excited to post photos of the piece i did, including 2 process shots that show my hand-drawn sketch [the hand painting is my designer paul here in the nooka studio]. as i designed the nookanooka myself, i found quite a mental block to design a "custom" version [how does one work on a collab with oneself!?] and went through 5 nookanookas before arriving at a design i think works!

my first sketches were very graphical, applying 2-D patterns to areas of the character [playing on the hyper-dimensional elements of the nookanooka story]. my second set was to play solely with texture and color, even as far as getting quotes from a taxidermist to cover one of the nookanookas with deer fur [to play with the shape-shifting elements of the story]! what i ended up with is what you see in the fotos: simply using the nookanooka as a canvas to bring a doodle to life, perhaps alluding to the various emotive states the character can display. my working title is Hello Killy [ハロー霧].

i will post again when i know more details on the show.

nooka is available at fine stores and here. join nooka and love nooka on facebook and nookaNOW on twitter.

Nooka is an official sponsor of The Juan Maclean US Tour this Spring.

Singtel fires a helpdesk staff who told customer 'to go to hell' in email -- What if it's just a typo?

You may think it is what the Singtel helpdesk staff deserves to get. Telling a customer to 'please go to hell!!' is for sure nothing helpful. Especially not for him/herself.

But I've just had to wonder if it may be a case of a simple typo. The helpdesk staff might have meant 'help' instead of 'hell'. Will that honest mistake (if that's really what happened) have to lead a firing?

Even the rude & not-professional use of double exclamatory marks might lead to at least, a scolding or a warning. And not the staff being shown the door!! Ah, me too commits the same mistake, but this blog is hardly intended to be a professional one.

Being asked to "go to hell" is probably the last thing one would expect from a technical helpdesk reply, but this was exactly what a STOMPer received.

In an email to the citizen journalism website, the STOMPer, who did not give his name, said that he wrote an email to Singtel's internet customer service department to resolve a technical issue.

From the attachment sent by the reader, the problem seemed to have been a latency issue, in which the network or Internet service seems to run slower than it should.

The reply from the technical service staff was a one liner, "Hai sir, please go to hell!"

Writing about his unpleasant experience, the STOMPer said, "I called them to verify that this email address (from the reply) belongs to the ISP (Internet Service Provider).

"When I showed them the email, the supervisor apologized right away and said that he would make investigations."

The citizen journalism website contacted the telco, which said that the staff in question had been fired.

In an email reply to STOMP, a spokesman for the company wrote:

"We are very sorry for the incident and have apologised to the customer.

"SingTel takes a very serious view of this matter and after our investigation, the staff has been dismissed."

From Asiaone, "Tech helpdesk asks customer to "go to hell"".

The ISP helpdesk staff who cursed a customer in an email has been fired.

This update from SingTel follows a STOMPer's contribution detailing how he emailed the staff for help on a technical issue but was told 'to go to hell'.

In an email to STOMP, a SingTel spokesman wrote:

"We are very sorry for the incident and have apologised to the customer.

"SingTel takes a very serious view of this matter and after our investigation, the staff has been dismissed."

From STOMP, "Fired: ISP helpdesk staff who told customer 'to go to hell' in email".

'Lion's Pride' by Wesley Leon Aroozoo - SIFF

For people who do not know Wesley, he made minor history with his NTU admission procedures. In is nothing short of drama but to keep my friendship with this prodigy, I will not reveal anything here. When was the last you felt like doodling a genital behind the toilet door? Well, you could have made the same short film as Wesley here under that influence. This is not meant to be offensive because I lost myself helplessly to laughter watching his film.

'Lion's Pride explores the life of a 'Chinese lion (those in the traditional dance) after the clammer of Chinese New Year. Over a long shot of lush, tropical vegetation, our familiar lion enters the frame painting a surrealistic picture. What titillated me was you just could not fathom the drift of the film at this point. Like many of Wesley's shorts, there is always a strange concoction of different genres. Then, judging from the 'nature documentary' style of the narration, I began to piece it all together. Basically it's lion feeding, sleeping, stretching and err....... playing. Not sure if I should take home anything profound from the pantomime. but my guess is not because I think I can see Wesley smirking somewhere out there.

'Pang Sai Palace' by Pat Pot - SIFF

How can anyone let a name like 'Pang Sai Palace' pass you by? You begin to wonder if it's a euphemism for a public toilet, a place for a poo-fest (some twisted motivation behind this!) or a toilet with gold-plated seats and toilet paper used only by the royalty. Deep within the recesses of our minds is a yearning to laugh out loud at primary school toilet humour and I braced myself for it only to be slightly let down by the wry and understated quality of the humour.

'Pang Sai Palace' seems like a spoof of Channel News Asia from the style and the sliding text at the bottom of the screen, resembling the stock price and news updates. It interviews the people close to Sam Lamb, the creator of 'Pang Sai Palace'. The story goes that Sam actually died in his own 'Pang Sai Palace' , not sure why and the program is meant to commemorate his noble achievement. Somehow, the humour never really took off and I feel it is constrained by the choice of a making a mock TV program that features people who do not directly address the 'content' of his business. So it had effectively only nudged the humour mill.

Having said that, I do look forward to watching 'Charlie and his Chocolate factory'.

'Uncle Downstairs' by Justin Fernando - SIFF

Amidst Toaist offerings for the dead laid on the pavement outside the HDB void deck, is a tiny little plastic soldier perched on a mini platter meant for fruits. Its significance was never adequately explained though it served a narrative function later on. 'Uncle Downstairs' could be term we sometimes refer to 'familiar strangers' in our void decks. I used to have a '3rd-floor auntie'. So in the story, I guess it's what a restless little Indian boy calls an old Chinese man who is habitually seated beside the 'Mama' stall. ('Mama' store is a small shop in the void deck selling titbits and newspapers and is typcially run by an Indian, in this film, a Chinese auntie runs it). The film explores a playful relationship between the boy and the old man. The lady's role, though just a bridge or a supporting character, provides an interesting maternal counterpoint to the 2 'babies'.

The boy, on hearing the 'uncle' create whistles on the sweet wrapper, starts pestering him to impart some of his blowing skills. The 'uncle refuses' and the boy finds ways to jolt him out of his daytime stupor at the side of the 'mama shop'. What results is a little cat and mouse game that's
endearing, but predictably so. Actually, I was more arrested by the banter between the boy and the lady. She was grumpy and very much in an 'act-sy' way. It made her character very annoying. But at the same time, there was a wee moment when she loosened her defences against the boy and let her motherly instincts do the talking - she admonished him against eating too many sweets for fear of tooth decay. It humanised an otherwise flat character.

'Undle Downstairs' also had a surprising end that caught me off-guard, redeeming what was a pretty uneven film.


the woman saw "if there're seasons" and fell in love with this liang wenfu song.

it made me think about little old ladies and their community cats. i dedicate this to them...

First Fix

This is a sample of the art pieces which will be exhibited in Fix2 next Saturday, 9th until the end of May.

Many materials are fixed and given the new value by a handyman named Hern

Supported by Gallery See Scape

open hour: 11am - 20pm

'Happy Place' by Jeevan Nathan S - SIFF

Jeevan breaks the visual pattern of the afternoon's screenings with a film that features some remarkable black pencil drawings. Pardon me if the comment sounds 'trivialising', but the pencil masterpieces made the film quite a treat after seeing quite a bevy of bad camera angles. The film is about a brother who tries to save his dying sister from a very dark and apparently 'evil' house. Taking her away, he then brings her to the 'Happy Place' (sounds like MacDonalds!). If the quality of bed linen and duvets are measured by threadcount, I am not what you call the number of evolving frames for animation. It seemed like a lot and the overall animation was very smooth and sleek.

'She Shapes a Nation' by Dana Lam - SIFF

The amount of effort put into a video like this can only be described as mammoth. It certainly warrants a screening on a grander scale, with a more specific purpose. Instead, the significance of this video seems compromised by being screened alongside pieces like 'Pang Sai Palace'. 'She Shapes a Nation' opens with talking heads interviews with the early female activists and social leaders in Singapore. The initial interviews do not command too much noticing from me because I surmised that it might turn out to be another TV-style documentary. But I feel the filmmaker must be too learned on this issue for a staid documentary. She is Dana Lam, a previous president of AWARE.

In fact, the interviews milked a lot of personally unique experiences the women had in terms helping to raise the profile of women in Singapore. Every women had an anecdote to share instead of politically correct statements to reiterate. I cannot forget Yu Foo Yee Shun relating her experience with people whob hurled 4-letter words at her. Neither can I forget that Sun Koh, the filmmaker led her parents to pay a fine for breaking the 'Stop-at-2' marker. In fact, Dana reached out to a good cross section of women which would have been a challenge in the capacity of a younger and more average filmmaker.

Another interesting aspect of the video is seeing how some earlier women leadesr have moved on. I remember when i was in school, Dr Seet Ai Mee, Dr Aline Wong and a few other female figures took up significant roles in a male-dominated Parliment. If I am not wrong, they were the first women MPs. Not to be sexist, but I was always been curious to observe how the women 'wore the pants' in Parliment, often exuding a very different kind of aura from men. So having these women in the documentary certainly enriched the film for me personally.

'Rhythm of The Wind' by Poh Keng Ling - SIFF

Not much I could comment intelligently about this 3 min expressionistic piece. But it is sure coming at a right time when the air seems to be getting quite still and heavy in the heat of the night. Can die under this weather!

'My Father Sazali' by Sazali Bin Masraji - SIFF

I had a soft spot for this slightly soapy father-son drama set in a barbershop. First, it's personal both for the director and also, I have deeply-affecting father-son issues myself. Secondly, the sense of irony is so strong and yet natural that drama speaks for itself without too much alternative treatment.

A dashing young man aspires to become what his father wants to prevent him from doing precisely - to become a hairdresser. And the irony of it is that his father's failing business spurs his son even further to pursue this business as a act to make his father proud. The dilemma transcends races really (in fact on the same day, there was another film called 'Dream' about a aspiring swimmer and his father, an ex-swimmer). I can imagine even more heartbreak in a Chinese context.

While I was not too impressed with the theatrics of the mother figure right at the beginning, it subsequent scenes in the film made watching it quite a poignant experience. In an age of metrosexual vanity where men visit the salon as often as women, the barbershop stands like an anachronism and interestingly, it is the foreground to sun-scorched exterior of passing traffic, as if to symbolise how the world is passing it by. And there were many things that helped humanise the barbershop to make it seem quite a sanctuary in the film. There were comforting presence of regular customers, the stubborn presence of old-fashioned decor, the very personal scrapbook Sazali made and finally, the tenderness of the affectionate moments between father and son. Perhaps, if it was less soapy, it would have stood a better chance at the being among the finalists.

'A Bundle of Joi' by Melissa Ho Xueling - SIFF

A thoughtfully crafted film is often discernible right from the very first frame, or first few frames. Over warm and intimate details like Chinese herbs simmering in chicken broth, steam filtering through from the pot kissing the camera lens, we are transported into the world of Joi and her grandparents, who live together is a small but cosy flat. Joi is a 4-5 year girl who is raised by her grandparents and has naturally developed a strong affinity to them. Over a series of footages of daily living and narration, I developed a proximity to the characters whom seemed so natural in their roles. There was nothing to tell me if this was a documentary or fiction or a semi-documentary with real characters 'directed' in a situation familiar to them. I am inclined to think it is the last one.

The situation is familiar, the characters are everyday people but in the boundaries of this film, their experience seems illuminated by sheer uninhibited nature of their behaviour. While the granny is most of the time absorbed in her cooking and feeding, the girl is oblivious to her surroundings. Part of her endearing nature also stems from her care-free manner that reminds me of the girl in Sun Koh's 'My Secret Heaven' (who must be so grown up by now). Even the grandfather was loveable in his occasional teasing remarks at his equally silver-haired wife. Which made separation (when Mummy came to take the little girl home) a highly frictioned process.

Jobs availiable [sic] at Sentosa IR

Jobs availiable [sic?] at Sentosa IR. Meaning what? It's liable to have jobs available at Sentosa Integrated Resorts? Heh.

The screenshot above is from Straits Times, "Jobs availiable at Sentosa IR".

Perhaps to err--especially a typo--is truly human. To make fun of the mistake is 'blogistic'. Whatever...

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