South Korea's open sex club | Why am I not surprised?

And just after I have read about the Naked News Korea baring their 9 news anchor ladies topless proudly. I do have to revised my thought about Koreans. They're...I'm at a loss for words.

A new type of sex club in the Gangnam area is heating up debate on sexual freedom in open spaces. A theme club which opened in a Gangnam street last month is gaining popularity by allowing members to openly have sex on the premises, said police officials yesterday.

The entrance is strictly restricted to couples who have received in advance their adult age certification through the club's website.

Under the club's motto that "all sexual taboos are taboos," visitors freely have sexual relationships with their partners or involve themselves in partner swapping or group sex, according to officials. The rest of the crowd is free to watch any other couple.

The voyeuristic club is largely supported by its visitors, among whom many left messages on the website bulletin board, saying that they wished to revisit the place in the future.

Despite the social shock, however, investigators have feeble legal grounds to regulate such controversial clubs.

"The club managers claimed that many legal experts confirmed the club to be legal, as the sexual relationships are not based on prostitution but on the voluntary actions of the visitors," said a police official.

They are also planning to publish advertisements in the media this month and have finished the draft versions, according to officials.

"Considering the negative effects that it may have on the general sense of morals, we feel the need to restrict the club," said a police official.

"However, as the club is not involved in any specific illegal actions such as drug trafficking or prostitution, we have difficulties in applying any legal restrictions."

Criminal law experts also differ in their opinion concerning this unprecedented type of business.

"If all parties have a full prior understanding on the sexual activities within the club, they may only be punished for excessive physical exposure, which is only a minor offense," said Professor Cho Kuk of the Seoul National University Law School.

Cho, nevertheless, pointed out the need to add a new clause to the present criminal law that may regulate the club owner who has provided for the space for such open sexual relationships.

Though some other experts said that open sexual activities in the club hall may be legally restricted, most of them agreed that the business type narrowly escaped the control range of the present law.

The controversial club's website is presently cut off due to a traffic overload, but is under no legal restrictions, according to police officials.

From Asiaone, "Open sex club raises decency debate in S.Korea".

Half year report 2009: Singapore shares up 39%

Check out the list of 10 STI gainers & how much their market capitalisation had surged: here. The ten companies mentioned are Olam International, Jardine C&C, Golden Agri-Resources, Noble Group, Wilmar, CapitaLand, CapitaMall Trust, SembCorp Marine, Keppel Corp, Jardine Matheson.

Shares listed on the Singapore stock market ended the half-year 39 per cent higher than on Dec 31, bringing total market capitalisation at yesterday's close to $545 billion.

The dramatic gain in market capitalisation - up from $329 billion just six months ago - came on the back of the sighting of green shoots and the loosening of credit markets. Also, commodity prices have surged due to China's planned infrastructure spending and expectations that the United States' commodities demand may soon recover.

SingTel retains its crown at the top of the bourse, with a market capitalisation of $47.8 billion, after an 18 per cent increase over the last six months.

Market capitalisation is calculated by multiplying a company's share price by the number of its common shares.

SingTel was followed by agri-business group Wilmar Holdings at $32 billion and DBS Group Holdings at $26.9 billion.

Wilmar's market capitalisation had jumped a massive 80 per cent. Another commodities player, Noble Group, took the 19th position, increasing its market capitalisation by 83 per cent since Dec 31 to $6.17 billion.

The property sector also saw many counters bouncing back after taking a pummelling at the height of the bear run. Sharp gainers included Keppel Land, City Developments and Yanlord.

Experts have mixed views on when the market will bounce back to the $677 billion value it saw in June last year.

'I'm of the view that earnings expectations will start to improve as we push closer towards an economic recovery from later this year,' said Dr Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital Investors.

'Commodity plays will probably be an outperformer over the years ahead, as China's industrialisation proceeds and supply remains constrained,' he said.

From Straits Times, "S'pore shares up 39%".

Update: Whether it's true that STI shall come out higher over the next year as the economy recovers will remain to be seen. Till then, be prepared of all the possibilities...

The Singapore stock market has exceeded market-watchers' expectations in the first half of 2009. The STI has shot up from a year-to-date low of just under 1,500 in early March to the current level of 2,333 – an improvement of 60 per cent.

This would be the sharpest rise in the region, partly because other markets did not fall as badly.

Wong Sui Jau, general manager,, said: "By March 9, generally everything was oversold. People were very negative on the economy. There was basically no good news out there at all in March this year.

"Purely on things like bargain hunting, things started to look up. Then, we had the 'green shoots' theory coming out and some indicators that were giving hope to investors."

Daryl Liew, chief investment strategist, Providend, said: "At the beginning of the year, we were thinking that the markets will be kind of flat because the global economic outlook was really quite bad.

"But we were quite surprised with the rise in the markets – it's not just the STI that has gone up; it's a global phenomenon. All global markets bottomed out in March and all have risen, just to different degrees.

"I think the key driver in the initial part of the rally was the emergence of the 'green shoots' – something that Ben Bernanke first mentioned. That buoyed global markets. Linked to that, there was a change in investor psychology.

"Markets had fallen so much, I think a number of investors sitting on a lot of cash decided that they would just jump in because valuations had come down to decent levels."

The commodities sector has been leading the way. Many investors view such stocks as a way to benefit from a possible surge in commodity prices, which is typical during an economic recovery.

"Not only did the 'bulls' like commodities, the 'bears' liked it as well. Some bearish investors felt that all this printing by governments all around the world would cause the value of money to come down and value of real assets like commodities would move up," said Wong.

"Commodities is one area they like, so you had two groups of investors piling into commodities and that's what drove them up. Year-to-date the best performing counters are the commodities and energy related counters."

Other sectors that have also done well include financial services and property. On the other hand, sectors that lagged behind are the more defensive ones such as utilities and transport.

But the upcoming second quarter earnings season may dampen any enthusiasm in the market. Some think the markets may even retrace lows seen in March and some observers expect a correction of between 5 and 20 per cent across the region.

Liew said: "Effectively, when you look at the situation now, we think technical indicators seem to be predominant now, rather than fundamentals. That's because a lot of investors are not looking at it on a fundamental basis.

"It's not just the stock markets; property markets are also going crazy. People are jumping into markets because they're afraid of losing out. So I think that's something that got us a bit concerned.

"When earnings come out, we suspect companies will be struggling, incurring losses, and that doesn't really justify a rise in stock markets because PEs are going to look quite bad."

But he also felt that the correction would be cushioned by investors sitting on cash on the sidelines, waiting to get in. Other market-watchers added that the corrections may occur against the backdrop of an economic recovery, which will mitigate falls.

Wong said: "There are a lot of investors, fund managers that miss the first phase of this run-up. They didn't participate or came in late. I think any correction, even if it happens, will be met by further fund in-flows into the market.

"This will make such corrections relatively limited in terms of potential downside. Furthermore, they are occurring in the backdrop of economic recovery."

Overall, however, analysts agreed that the local bourse is bound to come out higher over the next year as the economy recovers.

From Channel NewsAsia, "STI exceeds analysts' expectations in first half of 2009".

of DBS and POSB cut savings | Still want to be a saver?!

This ought to be the best reason not to be a saver! Seriously, even before the interest rate for saving account was cut (it stood at 0.25% for the first $50,000), it hardly makes any sense (or cents, hur hur) to keep your money in the bank.

Investing seems the only way to go! (Which of course can mean both way: go up or go down...)

Bad news for the legions of savers already being squeezed by the meagre interest paid out on their deposits. Today, interest rates on the millions of savings accounts at both DBS Bank and POSB will be trimmed to levels not seen since 2005.

POSB savings and passbook account holders, who previously got 0.25 per cent for the first $50,000, will now get just 0.125 per cent. For those holding a deposit of $10,000, the decrease works out to $12.50 less a year.

Prior to Wednesday, DBS Savings Plus account holders got between 0.125 per cent for the first $3,000 and 0.175 per cent for the next $47,000. But now they will get only 0.1 per cent for the first $50,000.

From 2003 to 2005, DBS and POSB savings account-holders received about 0.125 per cent for the first $50,000. Those rates were later revised upwards.

A DBS spokesman said that the interest rates on deposit accounts, such as DBS Autosave, DBS Savings Plus, POSB Passbook and MySavings Account, will be adjusted from Wednesday. 'In line with market practice, we are informing our customers via notices at the branches, on ATM receipts and statements and on our website,' he added.

DBS and POSB are not the only ones reducing their rates to near zero. Over the last few months, many other banks - both foreign and local - have cut their payouts, some in lockstep, some one after another.

United Overseas Bank pays 0.125 per cent for the first $15,000 in savings, while OCBC Bank offers 0.125 per cent for the first $10,000. These rates were adjusted in early April, following a rate adjustment by DBS, a banker said.

The foreign players are also currently paying very little. Standard Chartered Bank's passbook savings account gives savers 0.125 per cent for an amount between $1,000 and $2,500.

Deposit rates are falling along with the rate that banks pay one another to borrow cash - the Singapore Interbank Offered Rate (Sibor). Sibor is a key influence on the rate that banks pay depositors and is hovering at 0.68 per cent, near the all-time low of 0.56 per cent in June 2003.

Another factor causing the low rates is that most Singapore banks do not need to attract deposits given that they are not looking to significantly expand their loan books during the downturn.

From Straits Times, "DBS and POSB cut savings".

All in a day's work

How bimbo can I get?!?! Had a good laugh (and mentally kicked myself) today because of this.

Heads up: I was apologizing to boss because I was slow to pick up his complicated (not!) instruction... then i misspelt something which made the ensuing email exchange hilarious!

Note: Pls click on pic to read print screen.

Jules to Boss: It dawned on me just now...what you asked me to do..

Your slowpope,

Boss to Jules: No worries, Ms. Pope....

Jules to Boss: Er - slowpoKe... (Sheesh)

Boss: OK.. I thought it was some sort of Filipino Catholic thing ... :ob

Hahahha I should submit this to Reader's Digest, no?

Naked News Korea's one of topless nine news anchors wants audience to focus on the news

Yeah, right. Of course, Ms. Lee Se-yeon! (Whatever did she think when she said (or is it a plea?), "Please focus on the news rather than the breasts."

You can view the rest of the nine topless news anchor ladies here. (Courtesy of China Daily, "South Korea broadcaster presents 'Naked News'")

Lee Se-yeon is one of nine presenters of Naked News Korea, the channel where anchors appear topless for an adult news program. Lee (23) had a "normal" career working for a company before joining Naked News and started the interview with the Chosun Ilbo by saying, "Please focus on the news rather than the breasts."

"I worked in a manufacturing company for five years, and I got bored with the routine. I wanted to break out of that cycle and find a new challenge."

Asked if it was a difficult decision to expose her body to the public, Lee said, "People often say I'm bold. I'm confident about how I look and what I am. Also, I'm used to it now after three months of training after I got through the audition." She disagrees that viewers will be more interested in her body than the news. "I don't think that will necessarily be the case. Honestly, there are many other sources of real pornography. They might look at my body and breasts when watching the program, but I'm sure their ears will be listening to the news," she said.

Lee said the company plans to maintain the current level of nudity and go no further since it reflects the cultural norms in Korea. Therefore, it is highly contextual to the changes in people's thoughts and trend. "If there is a consensus among people on more nudity, the contents can go along with such changes," she said.

What if her future boyfriend is against her appearing on Naked News? "Why would he be against it? I don't think I will be attracted to such a person," she said.

From The Chosun Ilbo, "Topless Presenter Wants to Focus on the News".

Update on 31/07: bad news for the fans of the show. Just after 1 month since Naked News Korea started, it is reported today to have been stopped. Money reason was quoted to be the reason.

Fret not, you might still be able to take a look at the news anchors (no, they are not NAKED, you pervert) at this YouTube clips, "Naked News Korea", "Korean Naked News 1", "Korean Naked News 2", "Korean Naked News 3", and "Korean Naked News 4".

After all of the circus hoopla and controversy surrounding the launch of the Korean version of the Naked News franchise, its existence now hangs by a pithy thread as production came to a screeching halt since Thursday -- just one month after its inception. The problem? Money.

Nine of the anchors have yet to be compensated for their work during the month the service has been up while customer service has ceased its operation leaving 260,000 paid subscribers for the month of July, hanging, according to local reports.

The problem began when management of the Naked News Korea branch requested its anchors contracted to present news only in semi-nude form (i.e. in lingerie and bikini tops) to strip down completely for its pay-for-play adults-only version.

This prompted five of its anchors to hand in their resignations while the rest of its personalities stayed on.

This shift in content direction had come after management felt the noose around its neck tightened by the Korea Communication Commission.

After its launch, the nation's media watchdog had been steadfastly applying pressure for the company to scrap its "teen version," as they felt it was too suggestive and inappropriate for teenaged viewers.

The website has been re-airing previously recorded shows since a week ago with no clear resolution on the horizon.

The sports daily Ilgan Sports conducted an interview on Wednesday with one of the program's anchors who asked to remain anonymous and revealed she had been unable to get a hold of management in order to clarify their grievances over unpaid wages.

"We've been told to be patient and to wait but we have yet to be informed of anything. There is no one we can contact who can clear this up. No one's returning our calls and we've just been informed the company's head John Chau have flown out of the country," she was quoted as saying.

"We feel like we've been conned and cajoled into doing this. Even through opposition from family members of our participation in this program we all felt we were pioneers taking part in something new. We've reported this to the Ministry of Labor so we just have to wait and see what happens."

From The Korea Herald, "'Naked News' hangs by a thread".

A blogger "Intellectual Snob" vs. Netizens: No score yet...

When you read about how a blogger by the nick of Intellectual Snob riles netizens, you'll be interested to read more about her (yes, this Intellectual Snob claims to be a female).

The annoying fact, however, is that the article does not mention about her blog address. Well, you can try to google for "Intellectual Snob". And you know what, her blog address is indeed easily found: and I've to admit I'm IMPRESSED!!

You just have to read her articles to realize how intellectually snob this blogger is.

By the way, not trying to be a snob myself, but the definition of an intellectual snob is "One who uses intellect as a hammer to beat on others". How apt!

A blogger who is taunting her readers with bigoted comments about students here is causing a stir in the online community.

The blogger, who calls herself Intellectual Snob, described Singaporeans educated here as 'frogs in the well', compared to those of her ilk.

She claims to be from Raffles Girls' School and Hwa Chong Junior College, before furthering her education at prestigious Ivy League colleges, Yale and Harvard.

She apparently spares no efforts in blasting students here as 'stupid', 'unsophisticated', 'annoying' and 'provincial'.

In a strongly-worded post, she wrote: 'There is no directive on paper restricting frogs from being appointed in analysts, economists and trading roles.

But the competition is just so cut-throat that these frogs simply don't stand a chance.'

The blog has drawn hundreds of comments and generated furious online discussion in various forums, such as Stomp, AsiaOne and HardwareZone.

Administrative executive Michael Tan, 29, said: 'It's quite unbelievable how someone who is supposed to be so educated can fail when it comes to being considerate and thoughtful.'

A blogger, who calls himself Anything That Interests Me, wrote: 'Just because I am from the National University of Singapore means that I am not clever? This is a vacuous statement, and I can't believe that woman can hold that belief.'

However, the identity of Intellectual Snob remains a mystery.

In response to my paper's queries, Yale said that it is not possible to pin down her identity while Hwa Chong Institution said it was 'unable to ascertain if the anonymous blogger is indeed from the purported institutions'.

There were those who doubt she is who she claimed to be.

A civil servant, who held an overseas government scholarship, said: 'Someone who has sufficient smarts should know that if senior management or even colleagues in the government organisation that she's working in find out her true identity, it is likely to jeopardise her career or, at the very least, make it less comfortable for her at her workplace.'

It could well be someone who is not a scholar but 'dislikes such overconfident scholars and parodies the stereotype', she added.

From Asiaone, "Intellectual Snob riles netizens".

MediaCorp & RecordTV trial: the same RecordTV that settled the lawsuit with Motion Picture Assocation of America in 2001?!

Is this RecordTV the same with the one ZDNet Asia article mentioned in 24 May 2001? In that article, RecordTV (, to be precise) was quoted to be selling its assets as a result of legal and financial troubles.

In the same article, RecordTV was said to have "settled a lawsuit with the Motion Picture Association of America that charged the company with copyright violations for recording movies and streaming them online without permission. RecordTV agreed to pay $50,000 and said it would not record or showcase any of the works owned by the big studios without first gaining permission".

If it's the same RecordTV company, I'm very confident MediaCorp will have a great day suing this defiant company...

An internet start-up is suing Singapore's largest broadcaster, MediaCorp, for millions of dollars in a case that places web-based recording services under the spotlight.

MediaCorp in turn claims RecordTV is infringing the copyright laws in its programmes and broadcasts by allowing users to record programmes shown on Channel 5, 8 and Channel NewsAsia.

At the crux of the matter is whether a company can offer recording services of free-to-air TV programmes to internet users who want to view them online. Is the company infringing copyright laws by doing so?

MediaCorp, represented by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, alleges that RecordTV makes unauthorised copies of MediaCorp's programmes. RecordTV users, who have to be based in Singapore, then have up to 15 days to view the programmes.

RecordTV has been operating the internet-based service since July 2007. RecordTV's CEO, Carlos Fernandes said the service is just like having a video recorder at home.

The company is suing MediaCorp for groundless threats of copyright infringement. It said the copies of MediaCorp's programmes are simply made by the consumers and are for private use.

Day One of the trial on Monday saw Mr Singh alleging that RecordTV was out to make money from the service. Although free for now, Mr Singh said the company had a projected revenue of S$12.3 million from the time it started till now.

Streams of potential revenue included subscription, advertising and licensing fees.

Mr Fernandes agreed during cross-examination that RecordTV's business model does have the potential to "grow exponentially" and if taken to its fullest potential, the company could be worth more than S$30 million.

The company is seeking damages for loss of value or business potential amounting to S$23 million and a loss of S$7.5 million in funding among other things.

The defendants also challenged Mr Fernandes' credibility pointing to information he had sent to potential investors. Mr Fernandes agreed that some of these were "exaggerated and stretched" to "show the potential" of his company.

Mr Fernandes had claimed in emails to investors that RecordTV had 100,000 registered users. But it was found that these users were, in fact, not based in Singapore and were inherited from a US-based company that sold off its assets.

On RecordTV's accusation that MediaCorp is making a groundless threat to "stifle innovation and the growth of a new industry", Mr Singh said Mr Fernandes had in fact taken "false credit for the work of someone else" as the idea for a web-based recording service had been around in the US since the year 2000.

Mr Singh added: "These are serious allegations made of the defendant who is a national broadcaster, we are entitled to challenge and debunk them."

Record TV's website is currently temporarily unavailable. The trial continues on Tuesday.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Web-based recording services under spotlight as MediaCorp & RecordTV go to trial".

An Internet start-up here has taken national broadcaster MediaCorp to court for making purportedly groundless threats of legal action.

Hearing for RecordTV's pre-emptive lawsuit began in the High Court yesterday.

The case has its seeds in 2007. That July, the start-up launched its website which allowed registered users to ask for MediaCorp's free-to-air programmes to be recorded for viewing.

That month, MediaCorp's lawyers sent RecordTV a letter asking it to stop its service and threatening to sue it for copyright infringement.

RecordTV's lawyers wrote back, alleging that MediaCorp's move was 'calculated to stifle innovation and the growth of a new industry'.

Their letter added that the Media Development Authority had confirmed that RecordTV did not need a licence to run its service - then free - as it was neither a video-on-demand service nor a broadcaster.

MediaCorp sent a second lawyer's letter in September 2007. Days later, RecordTV fired the first salvo, suing MediaCorp for making unjustifiable threats.

MediaCorp has counter-sued the start-up for copyright infringement.

RecordTV, represented by Mr Koh Chia Ling and Mr Ang Kai Hsiang, is seeking a court order to stop MediaCorp from making any more of such threats. It is also seeking damages.

The current trial deals only with liability and not the quantum of damages, but RecordTV claims to have suffered $30.5 million in losses - $23 million in revenue and $7.5 million in loss of funding.

From Straits Times, "Start-up sues MediaCorp".

Web VCR service said that it is selling its assets as a result of legal and financial troubles.

The Los Angeles-based company, which briefly offered consumers the ability to record TV shows and play them back online, said it plans to sell its intellectual property, including trademarks, domain names and technologies.

The announcement provides the latest cautionary tale for companies seeking to marry television and the Internet, a troubled relationship that has led to numerous legal tangles. Although RecordTV hoped to avoid courtroom battles, the company soon followed the path of Canadian start-up, which aimed to put live broadcast TV on the Web in 1999. iCraveTV was hit with massive lawsuits from U.S. and Canadian broadcasters. As a result, its efforts fell into ruins.

Last month, RecordTV settled a lawsuit with the Motion Picture Association of America that charged the company with copyright violations for recording movies and streaming them online without permission. RecordTV agreed to pay $50,000 and said it would not record or showcase any of the works owned by the big studios without first gaining permission.

"We were kind of in a catch-22," said RecordTV Chief Executive David Simon. "We couldn't raise funding because of the legal issues...but we couldn't also fight the lawsuit without raising funding."

Founded in November 1999, RecordTV set out to create a Web-based VCR through its technologies, dubbed One-Click Recording and Useit. One-Click Recording let people record content from local TV and basic cable programs and stream it via their computers; Useit is a digital rights management technology that prevents unauthorized copying and downloading.

Since its inception, the company has been plagued with controversy, drawing backlash from major movie and TV studios.

"We gave up and couldn't keep fighting," Simon said. "Maybe one of the movie studios itself who own the content and has the ability to do it and the rights to do it can do something with (our technologies)...but at this point, I guess I've got to give up the ghost."

From ZDNet Asia, " faces a sell-off".

Update on 01/07: See what Day 3 of the trial reveals...

Day 3 of the trial between Singapore's largest broadcaster MediaCorp and an internet start-up company threw up the issue of just who is the maker of the copies of MediaCorp's free-to-air programmes available to users of RecordTV's website.

RecordTV said it makes the copies on behalf of registered users who are simply recording the programmes for their own use. However, MediaCorp said it is RecordTV which makes copies of its programmes and not the user.

RecordTV is suing MediaCorp for millions of dollars for "groundless threats" of copyright infringement. MediaCorp, in turn, claims RecordTV is infringing the copyright in its programmes and broadcasts on Channel 5, 8 and Channel NewsAsia.

RecordTV's CEO, Carlos Fernandes, maintains that the service he offers functions like a video recorder at home. He said it is the user that makes the recording of a programme and not RecordTV.

So in RecordTV's case, it is not the company that makes the copies of MediaCorp's programmes, but the registered user who requests for the copy to be made.

MediaCorp, represented by Senior Counsel Davinder Singh, shot down this argument. He said the "request remains merely a request" because the user has "no control over what he asks for".

Mr Singh said RecordTV controls the recording system. For example, the company can choose to shut down the system at any time and choose not to allow a user to playback the recording.

A RecordTV copy of Channel NewsAsia's "Amazing Asia" programme was played in court as evidence. It showed that the system had recorded 26 minutes worth of programming although "Amazing Asia" was only five minutes long.

In cross-examination, Mr Singh alleged that based on RecordTV's patent application, which had been disclosed in court on Tuesday, the system could be modified to be able to stretch or shorten the actual recording time to allow for advertisements to be inserted in between programmes.

Mr Singh said: "You (Mr Fernandes) say that the shows are recorded on behalf of users. That is not so. Users can only express the wish to watch a particular show, but what he gets depends on the system," he said.

Mr Fernandes agreed, although he added that the wrong recording timings were the result of a "system malfunction".

It also emerged that Mr Fernandes had made wholesale copies of the recorded programmes without informing the defendants or the court. The recordings of these TV programmes were back-up copies and files which would otherwise be erased during normal operations.

Mr Fernandes had said these were back-up copies for the "purpose of discovery" during trial. However, the recordings were never submitted for discovery.

Mr Singh alleged that the back-up copies were made for the purpose of creating a library of MediaCorp's programmes, which could later be used for commercial purposes such as offering Video-on-Demand.

Mr Singh said: "What has been happening on the quiet is you have been making additional copies in full knowledge that this case is all about whether copies can be made and yet suppressed that fact from this court.

"So instead of only a service where users request the recording before its broadcast and can only watch it 15 days after, you now have a library which people who want to watch may be persuaded to pay to watch for an indefinite period."

During re-examination by his lawyer, Ang Kai Hsiang, Mr Fernandes explained the social objectives of RecordTV.

He said Singaporeans are not watching TV that they are paying for and he described his service as helping consumers gain "utility from this MediaCorp content that they would otherwise not see, maybe not even hear of".

He added RecordTV has not made any revenue so far, although he pointed out, that is not to say it will not make money in future.

The trial continues.

From Channel NewsAsia, "RecordTV controls its web recording system, says MediaCorp in trial".

Update on 03/07: We'll soon be able to know the outcome of this case. Who shall win? MediaCorp or RecordTV?

The civil suit between RecordTV and MediaCorp drew to a close on Friday after a five-day hearing.

Among those on the stand was MediaCorp's senior vice-president for Network Programming and Promotions, Khiew Voon Kwang.

He told the court that the two "cease and desist" letters sent to RecordTV should not be viewed as threats as they "merely stated the consequences" of alleged copyright infringements.

Mr Khiew agreed with RecordTV lawyer Koh Chia Ling's suggestion that legal proceedings was one of the consequences.

RecordTV, which provides an online facility to record television broadcasts, had sued MediaCorp for making "groundless threats" of copyright infringements.

The two "cease and desist" letters were sent on July 24 and September 21, 2007, after consultations with MediaCorp's in-house counsel and external law firms.

The second letter gave RecordTV till September 28, 2007, to comply. But RecordTV "pre-emptively" commenced the current proceedings. MediaCorp responded by filing a counterclaim, alleging copyright infringements.

When asked by MediaCorp's lawyer how the alleged copyright infringements were committed, Mr Khiew said RecordTV made unauthorised copies of MediaCorp's free-to-air television broadcasts and films.

Two other witnesses were also called on Friday. MediaCorp News vice-president for corporate services Han Chuan Quee had submitted her affidavit of evidence on the subsistence and ownership of copyright for the company's films.

She was not cross-examined on the subsistence and ownership issues.

The other witness, private investigator Wilfred Nathan – who was hired by MediaCorp – testified on investigations conducted on RecordTV's website.

Mr Nathan's company had recorded six programmes in October 2007 using RecordTV's website.

Both sides will return to court on Monday as MediaCorp wants to amend its counterclaim.

This is after RecordTV's managing director Carlos Fernandes revealed for the first time during his testimony earlier this week that the company had made back-up copies of MediaCorp's television programmes.

Lawyers for both companies will then file written submissions, with the judge giving his judgement at a later date.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Civil suit between MediaCorp, RecordTV draws to an end".

Update on 21/12: The verdict is out and the winner is MediaCorp!

Singapore multi-media company MediaCorp has succeeded in its counter claims of copyright infringement against Internet start-up RecordTV.

The company was held by the High Court to have infringed copyright laws by allowing users to record programmes shown on MediaCorp's Channel 5, Channel 8 and Channel NewsAsia.

RecordTV had initially sued MediaCorp for millions of dollars for groundless threats of copyright infringement.

In giving his decision on Monday, High Court Judge Andrew Ang said MediaCorp had made out its case against RecordTV and he will issue his grounds of decision shortly.

Justice Ang also ruled that damages in favour of MediaCorp would be assessed by the Registrar.

Responding to the judgement, MediaCorp's deputy CEO for TV, Chang Long Jong, said the broadcaster was delighted with the verdict. It is also an important precedent for intellectual property owners operating in the new media space.

Mr Chang said as Singapore's national broadcaster and Southeast Asia's largest content producer, MediaCorp is proud of the pivotal role it plays in nation building and community cohesion through its programmes.

The court's ruling is affirmation for MediaCorp to continue to produce quality programmes that will entertain, educate and inform viewers.

From Channel NewsAsia, "MediaCorp wins counter claims of copyright infringement against RecordTV".

Update on 01/12/10: it's unbelievable but MediaCorp is reported to lose its suit?!?!

A SMALL start-up offering an online service that allowed consumers to watch national broadcaster MediaCorp's programmes online will be able to resume service, after the Court of Appeal ruled in its favour.

The decision, which is a stunning reversal of a High Court ruling last year, also sets precedents here in the controversial intersection between copyright and online media.

The long-running case began in 2007 when MediaCorp sent the start-up, RecordTV, letters demanding that it halt its free service - which allows consumers to record the broadcaster's free-to-air television shows and watch them online at a later time.

MediaCorp had yet to sue for any copyright infringement then, but RecordTV decided to launch a pre-emptive strike, suing MediaCorp first on grounds that these threats were 'groundless'.

It argued then that the letters dampened consumer interest in the service, and also crimped its ability to raise funds from investors.

The case, which remains the only reported one of this nature here, was heard in the High Court last year and ended in a defeat for RecordTV - with Justice Andrew Ang ruling against it.

From Straits Times, "MediaCorp loses suit".

Physical & sexual assaults from 3 prisoners against a prisoner | What, no poem this time, eh Justice Tay?

Oh yes, it's been three years since I first noticed with a healthy dose of wonder when Justice Tay Yong Kwang closed his judgement with a poem. Yes, I'm referring to this post, "Hang ‘Im High, But Spare Us The Poem!"; and today I've just read about how Justice Tay Yong Kwang will handle a trial of three prisoners facing charges in the High Court on Tuesday for physically and sexually assaulting a fellow inmate in Changi Prison last year.

No, I doubt we shall witness another display of poetic skill by Justice Tay.

Three prisoners faced charges in the High Court on Tuesday for physically and sexually assaulting a fellow inmate in Changi Prison last year.

The crimes allegedly took place in April and May 2008.

The trio, aged 20 to 21, indicated that they would admit to the physical assault charges but disputed all the sexual offences.

All three are accused of making the 22-year-old victim perform oral sex on them.

One of them, Mohammad Zameen Abdul Manoff, is also accused of sodomising the victim.

All three are also alleged to have forced the victim to swallow human faeces.

The charges were read out to Mohammad Zameen, Iryan Abdul Karim and Muhammad Hamdan, but no plea was taken.

The trial judge, Justice Tay Yong Kwang, explained to the trio that they will plead guilty before another judge to those charges that they have admitted.

After they are sentenced on those charges, the case will go back to Justice Tay for the trial on the disputed charges to be conducted.

The trio face more than 40 charges in all and were not represented in court by a lawyer.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Prison inmates face physical, sexual assault charges".

Update on 07/07: 2 inmates defending themselves, grill the alleged abused victim?! I'm impressed...

TWO prisoners, defending themselves against allegations of torturing their former cellmate and forcing him to perform sexual acts, took turns to grill their 22-year-old victim from the dock on Tuesday.

The first, Iryan Abdul Karim, 21, holding a bundle of documents in his hands, continued his systematic questioning, which began on Monday afternoon, before challenging the victim's version of events.

The second, Muhammad Hamdan Abdul Rahman, 20, launched his cross-examination with a speech accusing the victim of telling lies to seek revenge.

At one point, Hamdan was told by High Court judge Tay Yong Kwang that it was pointless to argue and he should put his case to the victim instead.

The two, together with Mohammed Zameen Abdul Manoff, 21, face multiple charges of physically and sexually assaulting the victim in their Changi Prison cell between April 27 and May 4 last year.

The victim, who cannot be named under a court order, was hospitalised for two months.

In general, the trio have admitted beating up their former cellmate. But they dispute parts of his account and maintain that he was a willing party in the sexual acts.

'I'm not claiming innocence, neither am I guilty of all the charges that you are accusing me of,' said Hamdan on Tuesday as he accused the victim of exaggerating and fabricating statements.

But the victim did not waver from his account.

Zameen is expected to cross-examine the victim on Wednesday.

From Straits Times, "2 inmates grill abused victim".

Update on 24/07: The verdict is out. The three accused were found guilty.

Three inmates at Changi Prison were found guilty on Thursday of what prosecutors described as one of the worst cases of physical abuse in years.

Iryan Abdul Karim, 21, Muhammad Hamdan Abdul Rahman, 20, and Mohammed Zameen Abdul Manoff, 22, repeatedly beat a former cellmate, and forced him to commit oral sex on them, eat human faeces and be sodomised by one, between April 24 and May 7 last year.

The trio, who defended themselves during the 12-day trial, did not deny beating the 22-year-old, but they disputed details such as the dates of the abuse and they insisted the oral sex was consensual.

In closing, Justice Tay Yong Kwang said: 'Even accepting that the events may not have occurred in the same sequence as alleged, it's clear that you all are guilty as charged.'

He convicted all three of the physical and sexual assault offences after making minor amendments to some charges. They will be sentenced on Monday.

Following the guilty verdict, Deputy Public Prosecutor S. Sellakumaran pressed for a deterrent sentence so as to send out a clear message that there is no place for bullies in Singapore's prisons.

He pointed out that the victim, who had to be hospitalised for more than two months, nearly died as a result of the premeditated attacks and had been assaulted so frequently that the trio could not recall exactly how many times they had done so.

During the trial, the three maintained that the oral sex had been consensual as the victim had offered oral sex, without them asking for it, to stop the repeated beatings. In his closing arguments on Thursday, Hamdan said: 'I don't know about law, but I believe that when a sex act is committed by two consenting adults, no laws have been broken.'

This defence, however, was rejected by Justice Tay, who said that forced consent, in law, is not considered consent. The judge told them: 'I understand the points you are making, that he made the offer, but in the circumstances of the case, the consent you are talking about is not recognised by the law.'

The reasons cited by the trio for their sadistic acts were petty and senseless, and were mere excuses for beating him up, argued the DPP. He said none of them had shown any real remorse, but had blamed the victim instead, even calling him 'stupid' while on the stand.

From Straits Times, "Trio guilty of abuse".

Update on 28/07: The punishment is out! 16-19 years jail & caning. Justice is served.

Three prisoners who tortured their cellmate for eight days by beating him and making him submit to sexual acts and eat faeces were on Monday each jailed between 16 and 19 years and ordered to be caned.

The 'crude and cruel' atrocities they committed in the Changi Prison cell speak for themselves, High Court Judge Tay Yong Kwang said when he sentenced the trio on Monday. 'Their actions were inhumane and repulsive,' he said.

Between April 27 and May 4 last year, Iryan Abdul Karim, 21, Muhammad Hamdan Abdul Rahman, 20, and Mohammed Zameen Abdul Manoff, 22, repeatedly punched, kicked and stepped on their cellmate.

To stop the beatings, the 22-year-old victim offered to perform oral sex on them, and did so a few times. Zameen sodomised him once. The trio also made him eat human faeces.

The victim, who cannot be named, suffered multiple rib fractures and was hospitalised for two months. His attackers conducted their own defence and admitted assaulting him, but insisted that the oral sex was consensual.

On Monday, Justice Tay noted that the three had claimed trial to fight the charges not because they wanted to make the victim recount his traumatic ordeal, but because they wanted to dispute points of his allegations. The questions they posed the victim were fair and relevant to what they perceived to be their defence, he said.

The judge noted that they admitted beating up the victim, although they said they were angry with his incessant lies and bragging. They also admitted making the victim eat faeces, but disputed his account of when it took place and the events that led to it.

As for the oral sex charges, Justice Tay noted that the dispute over this arose from the three men being young and untrained in law; they held a 'simplistic but mistaken' understanding of the legal concept of consent.

The only real dispute was over one of the three oral sex charges faced by Iryan - of which he has been acquitted - and the sodomy charge against Zameen - of which he was convicted.

Noting their 'sad criminal records', Justice Tay said the three were intelligent young men whose lives could have turned out a lot differently. He said they should use their time in jail to do some serious soul-searching and to learn to curb their impulses before something worse happens.

From Straits Times, "Judge slams trio".

Get with it, Tiong Bahru residents - it's a hotel, not a brothel

The Straits Times
Online Forum Section
June 30, 2009

SADLY, Singapore still has a long way to go before it matures as a society, even if it has done well economically.

Hotel 81 - which is a hotel, not a brothel, by the way - in Tiong Bahru bears this out.

Like the issue of housing dormitories for foreign workers in Serangoon Gardens, some residents are saying 'somewhere else, but not here'.

Presumably, it is okay in Geylang.

It is also okay in Chinatown, and many other locations not considered inordinately prone to 'vice' (for the complainants have not, as far as I know, protested against the very existence of Hotel 81).

'But hey. I came to live in this pleasant neighbourhood. Put it somewhere else.'

Unfortunately, there is no social or government contract when you buy a property or choose to live in a particular location, for you to 'expect' things to be exactly how you want them.

Like the recent online letter by Mrs Bendjenni Udiana Jamalludin about how some men dressed well but lacked social graces ('They were well-dressed but behaved like louts', last Saturday), Singapore can develop economically but fall well behind in social development.

Perhaps more can be done in school to ensure the next generation 'grows up'.

Kevin Kwek

Hotel 81 in Tiong Bahru is a test about changing mindsets

The Straits Times
Online Forum Section
June 30, 2009

ANOTHER furore seems to be brewing over a location for a budget hotel in Singapore.

If this had been a major hotel development, I wonder if it would have invited such a reaction.

If one goes to Tiong Bahru, one will notice many prominent hotels within a 2km radius.

So why do we pick on a budget hotel to drive home a point of protest?

Hotel 81 is a local set-up, and its business caters to Singaporeans as much as to foreigners.

It provides many employment opportunities for Singaporeans, especially during this economic downturn.

Hence, to deprive it of a decent place to do business is to prevent a prospective employer from expanding its business.

From hospices to funeral parlours to pubs, Singaporeans are fast coming across as possessing a 'my-turf-is-my-turf' mentality.

This siege mindset is harmful to the economy and will deter potential investors from doing business in Singapore.

After all, if businesses are not located within the city, where else do we locate them?

Singapore is an island nation and space is a major constraint.

We cannot build another island as we did for Jurong Island.

Given this constraint, we have no alternative but to change our mindset - be more open with the space we must share with others.

The sooner we do this, the better we will be prepared for the future.

Because, in time to come, as the population expands and public buildings compete for more space, we can count our blessings if we find a hotel in our neighbourhood rather than something else.

Douglas Chua

Malayisa sadly boleh? No Stranger to Royal Shenanigans

No Stranger to Royal Shenanigans. A truly diverse-in-content article from Malaysia Today & written by M. Bakri Musa.

“If life isn't about human beings--journalists & bloggers alike--and living in harmony, then I don't know what it's about.”

Don't write off traditional media, say pros. And this was said not because they are working for traditional media, huh? Oh well, that's a possibility.

But if that's the case, doesn't that mean the pros' thought somewhat a bias?

Journalists and bloggers faced off to discuss the relevance of theirmedia platforms recently.

The conclusion? New Media platforms like blogs, Facebook and Twitter may be all the rage now but traditional media can - and will - continue to thrive, said media professionals.

This was the general sentiment at an animated panel discussion organised by Ogilvy Public Relations' media arm, 360 Digital Influence, last Thursday.

Panellists included US blogger and award-winning former journalist Thomas Crampton, Singapore Press Holdings' digital- media head, Mr Felix Soh, and former Straits Times journalist Arti Mulchand.

Among the issues raised was the relevance of traditional media, such as newspapers, in the world today.

Mr Daryl Tay, author of media blog, was a strong advocate of New Media platforms.

He said: "I challenge parents, or anyone who has children growing up in this generation, to say that their kids wake up in the morning and pick up the newspaper.

"But (when it comes to) what someone posts on Facebook, or texts or tweets, that is what they pay attention to."

But how credible is the content posted on such platforms?

Mr Crampton, who is also the Asia-Pacific director of Digital Influence at Ogilvy, said: "Twitter is the largest and fastest rumour mill."

In contrast, traditional media relies on the verification of facts and accuracy of information.

He added that New Media is "anti-society".

"Traditional media is more mass media and mainstream, while social media is more niche," he said.

"The problem with this is the loss of serendipity."

The bottom line, though, is that both must learn to exist side by side and draw on each others strengths.

Blogger Lucian Teo, 32, a Web-management director who attended the conference, said: "Whichever outlet we use, be it new or traditional media, it all boils down to good stories that deserve to be heard."

From Asiaone, "Don't write off traditional media, say pros".

PS. the title of this article is inspired by one of Orlando Bloom's quote, “If life isn't about human beings and living in harmony, then I don't know what it's about.

The New Paper 1, pervert 'nottiboy134' 0

The notorious online marketer cum pervert, by the nick of 'nottiboy134' had been reported to remove all his websites after his online conversation with The New Paper reporters.

Does that mean the evidences of his wrong doings had been well hidden? If one wants to investigate thoroughly, there's always the magic of 'Cache'.

I'm quite disappointed to read how one of his victims after lodging a police report did not follow up with a magistrate's complaint. Even though she's continued to be harassed. And just because she was moving abroad for her study.

This kind of "flight instead of fight" thinking is what makes such a pervert continue to spread his terror.

She didn't even know him, but he knew everything about her - her name, phone number and other personal details.

He began stalking her, and for eight years, she lived in fear of him.

So, who's this pervert? None other than the notorious online marketer, now in his 30s, known by his online moniker, nottiboy134.

Last week (21Jun), The New Paper on Sunday ran an exclusive report on his brazen online activities.

He ran several sex-related websites - most disturbingly, one which featured pictures of scantily-clad preteen girls, some as young as 7 years old. All the sites have since been removed.

But nothing can remove the memory of being stalked for Joan (not her real name), 23, now an undergraduate.

She told The New Paper on Sunday that the man had stalked her well before he gained notoriety as a self-proclaimed pervert targeting pre-teens and a so-called sex coach.

Now based in Australia for over a year, she wrote in to The New Paper on Sunday after a friend alerted her to the report about nottiboy134.

When The New Paper on Sunday confronted the man with the allegations, he just shrugged them off. (See report on facing page.)

She claimed she first met him at a fast-food outlet in Woodlands about eight years ago. She was in Secondary3 then.

She said: 'He approached me and asked if I would be his friend. I found him quite weird and tried to brush him off.'

But the man, she claimed, somehow managed to find out her name and phone number in an online chatroom. He also regularly sent her messages on the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) platform.

'He started off being friendly and nice, but later, the conversations would turn sexual,' she recalled.

Fightening turn

Soon it took a frightening turn - he began following her to school.

She recalled: 'He would wait for me at the MRT platform when I was on my way to school.'

She added that he would board the train together with her and give her 'obscene looks'.

He would then alight several stops before her but continue looking at her through the MRT door as the train moved off.

She said: 'This happened at least five times, and I used to be so frightened that I would go home and cry.'

On another occasion, he watched her from outside a fast food outlet where she was working part-time.

'I was wearing new earrings that day. The same night, he sent me a message saying, 'You were wearing nice earrings.' It was really disgusting,' she said.

After she told her mother about the stalking, her mother told the man over the phone to 'back off'.

Joan said the stalkings stopped after her family moved into a new home the same year. But online harassment continued.

She said: 'He sent me obscene e-mails and told me he had saved pictures from my Friendster account to look at.'

She said the pictures on her Friendster profile at the time were taken at the beach, where she was wearing a bikini.

'I got really annoyed with him, so I used vulgarities at him and asked him to stop harassing me,' she recalled.


To her surprise, he called her and asked if she would meet with him as he wanted to apologise.

Said Joan: 'I didn't want to meet him alone, so I took a male friend along. My friend warned him to stay away from me.'

Both Joan and her friend, Don (not his real name), were just 16 at the time.

The New Paper on Sunday managed to contact Don, now 23, a property agent. He has known Joan since they were both in secondary school.

He said: 'After the first time we met the man, I bumped into him a few times at Admiralty MRT station and he would always stare at me.

'Finally, I decided to confront him at a nearby food court. I asked him what he wanted. He replied that he was waiting for me to punch him.'

But the confrontation, Don claimed, was broken up by a middle-aged man.

Don described nottiboy134 as soft-spoken, bespectacled and about 1.8m tall.

However, Don claimed that after the confrontation, the man began sending spam messages to him through Friendster.

'He would send me messages asking me to save Joan and to call a certain phone number as soon as possible,' he said.

Don claimed he just ignored those messages.

But Joan told The New Paper on Sunday that when she 'had enough' of his antics, she lodged a police report in 2007.

Why did she wait so long to file a report? It was the last resort, she claimed.

She said: 'I posted a copy of the police report on my blog, because I knew he would read it. For a while, the harassment stopped. But, after about five months, I started getting messages from him again.'

She decided not to pursue the matter further as she was getting ready to move abroad to further her studies.

'I didn't file a magistrate's complaint like the police advised me to, but maybe I should have - because he obviously thought my threats about taking action were empty,' she said.

A police spokesman said the report lodged by Joan had been classified as a case of intentional harassment.

Said the spokesman: 'Police investigation then revealed that the Internet addresses of the culprit were overseas-based.

'As there have been fresh developments recently, police will continue with our investigation and deal with the culprit in accordance with the law.'

Asked if she was aware of the man's recent online activities, she said she was 'not surprised', given the man's history of disturbing behaviour.

She claims she still gets messages from him from time to time.

She said: 'When I move to a new blog address, he manages to find it. He tells me he is waiting for me to come back to Singapore. I am really sick of it.'

He shrugs off allegations

He sounded dismissive and even cocky when confronted with all the allegations.

The New Paper called the man on his handphone several times but he didn't answer any of our calls.

He only responded to our SMS and told us to contact him online via MSN Messenger through his online moniker nottiboy134.

We then identified ourselves as reporters and asked him about Joan's claims that he had stalked her.

But he shrugged off the allegations and didn't want to confirm it.

All he would say is 'I do no wrong' and laughed off the suggestions that he stalked girls. He even said that it's more likely that girls are stalking him.

When asked if he had sexually harassed Joan online, he said: 'We all talk sexual anywhere, don't we?'

He didn't want to verify if Joan's claims were true, and said that 'if I tell u more also no use, perhaps someday if we become very good friend, I tell you the truth'.

We asked him if he wanted to clear the air about all the allegations and he said that he doesn't need to.

What about his sex coaching services?

He said that he conducts lessons online on how to 'hook' girls - and he charges about $500 for his coaching.

The money is to be deposited into his POSB account.

He became defensive when we asked about his various sex-related websites which featured pictures of scantily clad pre-teen girls.

He said that the 'website contains nothing' and 'those are Japanese girls'.

He claimed that there were no local girls involved although one of his websites clearly showed some localgirls.

After that, he stopped responding to our messages.

All his websites were also removed after our online conversation.

From The New Paper, "For 8 years, he stalks her ONLINE, ON PHONE, ON TRAINS".

One is Enough!

I saw something that baffles me this afternoon.

A recycling company was seen emptying both the blue and yellow recycling bin into the same truck.

And while I was snapping the picture, I noticed a car that drove against traffic into Kim Pong Road and Lim Liak Street.
(And this is not the 1st time I’ve seen this)

Okay, back to the Recycling thingy.

If they are going to dump all the contents into the same truck, why must they place two bins all over the Tiong Bahru Estate and the rest of Singapore?

One bin would suffice right?

Next time, I wouldn’t even separate my recycling stuff when I dump it into the bins.

What’s the point right?

Check out my other similar post:
Getting Red over Green

'Mu Dan' by Lincoln Chia (FLARE 2009)

Imagine a film that could stir you up and make you lose your sense of a framework in terms of appreciating it. ‘Mu Dan’ is a audacious attempt by Lincoln to explore and even exploit what his actors have and where they will bring him (rather than the other way round). I guess this is why despite the fact that his characters are near-theatrical, I was in full suspension of disbelief. To be blunt, it’s like porn – we forgive all the inconsequential stories and dialogue. We just sway along.
I can imagine ‘Mu Dan’, with its subversion, is hidden somewhere in the fantasies of any imaginative director. But Lincoln has taken it a step further to play it out, in good taste though. A middle-aged mother is driven on the brink of loneliness and starts getting cranky. It does not help that her mildly rebellious son brings home his object of affection, a blonde-wigged Chinese girlfriend, to her disliking. This is where Lincoln defies the rules of behaviour and explores what we really want deep down inside as humans. After having a wig hurled at her by the enraged girlfriend, the mother makes a 180 degree turn, delighting the audience.
Not all have the magnetism of Li Xie, a seasoned stage actress. Actually, there is only one Li Xie. Slithery and seductive, the mother unleashes a new persona to the outside world……in that blonde wig. While Li Xie’s been anchor for the plot before this, now she actually drives it. Every action counts, it seems. They are performed with such intensity (and it felt like every muscle was clenched) that it was easy to read the nuances. They have been many ways local directors have justified camp (read : Hock Hiap Leong by Royston Tan) and in this case, Li Xie justifies it single-handedly. This is not to discredit Lincoln the director. After all, we did move away from Li Xie to the son’e girlfriend who is actually a lingerie model. In a single flutter of her glitter-dusted eyelids, she looks up at something, drawing my attention to uncanny parallel with the born-again mother, widening the reference in the film’s title.

'Respirator' by Michael Tay (FLARE 2009)

Michael shared that he has a penchant for telling stories that carry a fantastical component. In ‘Wet Seasons’, there was a moving skeleton, in ‘Respirator’, the titular object is the centre of the story. The ‘Respirator’ is a revolutionary medical device that can replace a heart. In Chinese, the word used is ‘Metal Heart’. I guess a more romantic sounding name in English would be ‘Respirator’. What I felt made both work is that the human issues interlocked with the fantastical devices are really what props up the drama.
In ‘Respirator’, a child is on the brink of death and the only way to save him is a heart transplant. A doctor pressures his ex-wife (who is the real mother) into doing the operation for guaranteed financial sustenance for an indefinite period. Poor helpless mum, her seeming lack of education about things traps her into a grotesquely complicated looking ‘respirator’. Never mind if I spotted the look of silver paint on cardboard, the issues were riveting (pardon the pun) and the characters throbbing with life. Careful casting paid off well. The mother is a bag of anxiety and her untrained and frail voice is subtly affecting. Boon, the boorish brother redefines ad-libbing with his choppy and crude speech.
I also like Respirator for its brave attempt at a neo-scifi genre, something very much out of reach for many short filmmakers due to budget reaons. In fact, it is not just a brave attempt but a very shrewd and smart attempt. After all, the actual device, at its cheapest could be a composition of materials from your DIY store sprayed with lots of silver paint. But Michael’s clearly milked a fair amount of drama out of it.

'Kitchen Quartet' by Nicole Woodford (FLARE 2009)

‘Kitchen Quartet’ is Nicole’s take on the 6 degrees of separation. The common element in the different stories is something close to the hearts of many Singaporeans – food. The film deserves some credit for adding a more uplifting touch to the usual working class survival issues. Apart from a happy ending, the film also has a slightly saturated look that perhaps serves to make the food in the film more appetizing!

Shu An, a young chef gets fired by the manager because an important food critic, in one of his moods, found the food difficult to stomach. The novelty of this cause-and-effect type of plot makes it easy to neglect the giving meat to the characters. But delightfully, in ‘Kitchen Quartet’, the four characters are as full-bodied in flavour as the hokkien mee that everyone seems to like! We could almost name this film Hokkien Mee too.

Through well-paced relevations on each character, we trace the all important connections between the characters. Food critic secretly likes Hokkien Mee but gets his maid to buy. His son discovers it and starts cooking it for his father. Meanwhile, Shu An tries to cook it for her Hokkien Mee hawker mum after knowing her mum will never grow to like haute cuisine. They finally converge when the critic openly brings his son to the stall. In between all that, personal contradictions and dilemmas are exposed, sometimes comically, sometimes, in a heartwarming way. The bottom line is ‘Kitchen Quartet’ never slips out of ‘major key’ while dealing with gritty, real-life ‘minor key’ issues.

'Promises in December' by Elgin Ho - FLARE 2009

There is something in practiced strokes of the taxi driver Alan’s cleaning motion or the sense of homeground surety in her Bahasa chatter on the phone that tells me Elgin understands his subjects well. In Elgin’s study of two characters who cross paths, he explores deeply both the behavioural and the contextual aspects of the characters.

In Alan, due attention is paid to poignant back story behind the chatty front of the taxi driver. Alan is seen to do much housework e.g. cooking despite already being the breadwinner. On the other hand, he has a wife who is obsessed with praying at temples, often in desperation. In this, Elgin shows how personal good-natured beliefs can bring a family apart. And instead of the usual Christian examples, this one is slightly different. While Raymond anchors the role fairly well (except for some moments reminiscent of his TV days), it is Janice Koh who surprises with her short but emotionally charged moments.

In Siti, due to the geographical barrier, most of her story has to be imagined. Actually this could be potentially more gripping if Elgin has left some doors half open. What we know about Siti’s own life in Indonesia is mostly from her accounts to the taxi driver as well her bits and pieces of information dropped here and there. In the final scene, we also get a glimpse(an imagined one?) of her living conditions in Indonesia. In terms of gaining proximity to her world, I personally felt her spoken moments in the taxi and even some moments of silence brought me further than actual re-enactment of her shanty town life. I also felt the first-hand sounds of the tsunami where a little implausible, almost adding nothing to my empathy for the character. Maybe the imagined is always more vivid than the actualization.

But in all, this film took on a very ambitious issue of the tsunami. Though not always easy to bring out what really cuts in such an epic event, Elgin has at least done a substantial amount of ground work.

My Underwear,My World-Danny Lim(Flare 2009)

My first impression to this film.Did the screenplayer used to did that in the past?
The boy seemed to remind me of the childhood memory where we used to catch Power Rangers on our Television in the past.

A comical film that foster the bond between the father and the son.
Because of the comical conversations they had and the 'underwear' kid reminds me of the Childhood memory of the director(in a way or another).
In the film, the father intend to try to close up with his son,but instead it fails.
(Sort of reminds me of a scene in Jack Neo's I not Stupid 2 where the father mentioned the same thing and the son was stunned).

I like the visuals presented in the screening.Great Animation and visuals presented.

Simply enjoyed this film and it leaves me a very deep impression of it.

Neighbourhood Ghost-Felice Tang(Flare 2009)

What will happened when a blind man meet a nerd along the street and the nerd bumped onto him by accident?

The Blind man assumed that he is dead in the car accident,but in reality he was survived and he assumed that he had a ghost kid following him behind him,but actually it was the nerd who is behind him at all times with his white cane and he wished to return the cane to him.He assumed that he can find his friend who did not say farewell to him and attempted to find the friend and give him a scolding.

Kitchen Quartet-Nicole Midori Woodford(FLARE 2009)

In this film, the food Critic tasted this particular promising female chef and gave a bad review on her unknowingly,which lead to her suspension from the Restaurant.

As such,the Female Chef forced to questioned her culinary skill,she re-examined her relationship with her mother,who is a Hokkien Mee seller,while the Critic's son is yearning to spend time with his father,and uses food to connect the relationship between him and his father.

Unexpectedly,after patronizing the stall for the past 20 years,the Critic mentioned that the plate of Hokkien Mee is the best ever he had ever patronised for the past 20 years.Unknowingly,the Critic commended to the Hokkien Mee Fryer,whom is the one who he gave a bad Review on in the High Class Restaurant.

Respirator-Michael Tay(FLARE 2009)

To Save her son from dying from a rare heart disease,a Single mother has to undergo a bizarre operation but recovers from it only to learn of the terrifying Consequences.

If you are the mother in the film,will you make sacrifices to your dying son?
In this Film,I can feel the mutual bond between the biological son and the Single mother.
The agony of the mother with the weird looks from the trainee Doctors and miserable expressions(Practically which the mother had to bear).

With Some comical scenes in the film with the Taxi Driver,known as Mr Boon and his Sister.
It act as a catalyst to neutralise the dry content of the film to a mild comedy film.

Luigi Finally Snaps!

After years of abuse from Mario, the forgotten plumber has had enough. Luigi Finally Snaps! A few screenshots from the YouTube clip:

of a rude STOMPER vs a rude salesgirl...

I was reading this STOMP article, "Rude salesgirl calls me a 'bitch' because I didn't buy anything" & I have this to say to the STOMPER: you too are rude for taking the salesgirl's photo (she's quite cute in a fierce way--holding her phone looking a bit startled as her photo was taken. Heh) without her permission.

Even if you have a grievance against her, the complaint/feedback email to the boss should be sufficient. You can describe your bad experience & the time of the incident. The boss would then be able to conduct his/her own investigation & revert to you.

In Depth: Michael Jackson

A wonderful, thrilling compilation of articles by CNN on Michael Jackson.

Ishak Ismail: Singapore's first Muslim Malay army general

In the meritocratic society, such a news should not be overly publicized. Ishak Ismail is a general in SAF because he has earned his place! The fact that he is a Malay or Muslim or both is secondary. And should be of no importance with regards to him being the general.

Congratz, Mr. Ishak Ismail!

To hear Colonel Ishak Ismail, 46, tell it, his decision to become a regular officer in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) was greeted with some incredulity.

Yesterday, his time in the military was capped in historic fashion - he has become the first Malay general in the SAF.

His promotion marks a milestone in Malays' efforts to be fully accepted in the military, a controversial issue ever since it was disclosed in 1987 that the SAF adopted a cautious approach in placing them in key positions.

Four other colonels were promoted to the rank of Brigadier-General or Rear-Admiral (One-Star) this year.

They are: Commander, Air Defence and Operations Command, Colonel Kwek Kok Kwong; Head, Joint Communications and Information Systems Department, Colonel Lee Shiang Long; Chief of Medical Corps, Colonel (Dr) Seet Hun Yew Benjamin; and Commander, Maritime Security Task Force, Colonel Tan Wee Beng.

The SAF is promoting 464 officers from the army, navy and air force to the next higher rank with effect from July 1 this year.

From Asiaone, "SAF's first Malay general".

Singapore's military promoted a Muslim Malay to the rank of general for the first time since the predominantly Chinese city-state broke away from Malaysia 44 years ago.

Army Colonel Ishak Ismail, 46, will become a one-star brigadier general on July 1, the Defense Ministry said in a statement late Thursday. Ismail is currently commander of the 6th Division.

The government strictly regulates public speech on race and religion, fearing any hint of sectarian conflict could undermine stability and prosperity in the tiny, multiethnic island and strain relations with neighboring Malaysia, where Malays are a majority. Political parties based on race or religion are not allowed.

Malays, who comprise about 14 percent of the 4.8 million population, trail ethnic Chinese in education and income. About 5.4 percent of Malays attend public university compared to 30 percent of Chinese, and Malay households earn a median monthly income of 3,050 Singapore dollars ($2,093), a third less than the SG$4,570 average that Chinese families make, according to the Education Ministry and Statistics Department.

Muslim Affairs Minister-in-charge Yaacob Ibrahim, who is also Environment and Water Resources Minister, told the state-owned Straits Times that the promotion showed that hard work and playing by the rules would bring rewards in a meritocratic society, the newspaper reported.

"No Malays should now feel like they can't do it," Ibrahim said, according to the paper.

Ibrahim declined further comment on the promotion through his spokesman Peer Akbur.

Malays are making strides in the security, education and health care sectors, said Jufferie Rashid, a spokesman for leading Malay association Yayasan MENDAKI.

"The promotion is the armed forces' recognition of his contributions," he said. "We are confident that with the improving educational profile, we will see even more Malay Muslim professionals in the future."

From Taiwan News, "Singapore promotes first Muslim Malay army general".

Kelantan prince ORDERS estranged wife, Manohara Odelia Pinot to return by July 2?!?!

What the hell??? In which century does this royal foolness think he live? You don't order your wife around, prince. Wake up!!!

Oh sure, she would return. With vengeance that comes when you're slapped with a legal suit.

The Tengku Temenggong of Kelantan Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Sultan Ismail Petra has ordered his estranged wife Manohara Odelia Pinot to return to him by July 2, failing which he will proceed with legal action.

Stating that he was her lawful husband under Syariah law, he said Manohara's rightful place was by his side and that she should obey him as long as it was according to the law.

Tengku Muhammad Fakhry said this to Manohara in a letter that was passed to his lawyer in Indonesia to be forwarded to her.

A copy of the letter was also sent as a press release to the media by his lawyer Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar here yesterday.

Tengku Muhammad Fakhry's letter further read that he had engaged Zainul Rijal as his Syariah lawyer and Mohd Haziq Pillay as his civil lawyer.

Manohara, 17, a former Indonesian teen model, had fled from her husband on May 31 when they were in Singapore to visit his father, the Sultan of Kelantan, who was being treated at the Mount Elizabeth Hospital for a heart ailment.

She returned to Jakarta after accusing the 31-year-old prince of abusing her physically and sexually.

A medical examination in Jakarta allegedly stated she was repeatedly slashed with sharp objects on her chest and had been burnt with a cigar on her forehead.

Manohara had previously said she wanted to divorce her husband. Tengku Muhammad Fakhry lodged a police report on June 11 against her allegations.

From Asiaone, "Kelantan prince orders estranged wife to return by July 2".

Update on 03/07: As expected Manohara Odelia Pinot ignored the 02/07 deadline by her allegedly frog prince. But wait, even worse, it is said that the man serving Syariah law notice was believed to be bashed up by mum Daisy Farajina! This in turn 'forced' Malay Mail to dig more into the supposedly dark past of Daisy Farajina. ( the way, I always believe the name ought to be 'Fajarina', and not 'Farajina'...What a poor exposé by Malay Mail if it can't even get the name right, huh?)

Controversial Indonesian beauty Manohara Odelia Pinot, 17, has failed to respond to the notice of nusyuz demanding her to return to her husband, the Tengku Temenggong Kelantan Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Sultan Ismail, 32, by yesterday.

The prince is now expected to seek a declaration under Syariah law that she is disobedient. If Manohara is declared nusyuz, she stands to lose her rights as a wife, her “Cik Puan Temenggong” title and material claims.

Nusyuz demands a wife to remain loyal and return to her husband’s side and execute her duties as a wife.

From Malay Mail, "MANOHARA ISSUE: Manohara defies husband's notice".

The messy Manohara affair has just got nastier. The mother of the Indonesian beauty has been accused of turning violent, again.

Daisy Farajina and a group of people allegedly assaulted a server with a law firm who went to her Jakarta home to serve a notice under the Syariah law to Manohara Odelia Pinot.

The man was, reportedly, badly beaten up in the incident last Saturday but has since been discharged from hospital.

The notice of nusyuz allegedly riled up Daisy, who is said to have a violent streak, and is reportedly wanted by police in France for the assault of an "adopted" daughter.

The Syariah notice demands the 17-year-old Indonesian teen model to return to her husband, the Tengku Temenggong Kelantan Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Sultan Ismail, 32.

Manohara has until today to do so, failing which the prince will seek a declaration that she is disobedient. If Manohara is declared nusyuz, she stands to lose her rights as a wife, her "Cik Puan Temenggong" title and material claims.

"As her rightful husband, Tengku Fakhry is ordering that she, as a loyal wife, return to his side and execute her duties as a wife as stipulated by Islamic law and as a princess," said a lawyer.

"If she fails to do so, Tengku Fakhry will exercise his rights under the Islamic law without referring to her." Tengku Fakhry has appointed Zainul Rijar Abu Bakar and Mohamed Haaziq Pillay to oversee the Islamic law and common law matters respectively.

The incident is the latest in the continuing Manohara-Tengku Fakhry saga that took on a higher profile after Manohara escaped from her hushand in Singapore on May 31.

She has accused Tengku Fakhry of physically and sexually abusing her and said she was also injected with tranquillisers.

Tengku Fakhry has lodged a police report, in Kuala Lumpur, denying these allegations.

According to a medical examination conducted in Jakarta, Manohara had been "repeatedly slashed with sharp objects on the chest and had been burnt with a cigar on her forehead".

However, this report has not been made public, sparking doubts about its authenticity.

From Malay Mail, "Manohara affair gets NASTIER!".

Controversial Indonesian teen model Manohara Odelia Pinot’s stepfather raped her adopted sister and forced her to masturbate him, court documents reveal.

In one sick instance, Manohara’s mother Daisy Farajina, 44, forced her ex-French husband Jurgen Reiner Noack Pinot, 66, to caress the woman’s body in front of her.

Pinot, who admitted in court that he was afraid of his wife, did this after Daisy had undressed her adopted daughter, known as Noack, an Indonesian. She then untidily cut her hair as punishment. This happened when Daisy learnt about the sexual relations between Noack and her husband.

Pinot, a financial consultant, was sentenced to four months jail by a magistrate’s court in Grasse, France, last year for sexual assault.

He was also found guilty of “submitting a vulnerable person to undignified working conditions”, court documents made available to the Malay Mail revealed.

The documents, which were translated to English from French and certified by the Alliance Francaise, the official centre for the French language in Kuala Lumpur, revealed that Daisy was sentenced to 18 months jail in
absentia (without her being present) by the same court for submitting a vulnerable and dependent person to undignified working conditions and assault since 1998.

The punishing techniques of Daisy, plus the degrading living conditions of Noack, irked the court which ruled that Daisy was the main culprit.

The beatings were so severe that on the day Noack made a police report, the examining doctor justified total work incapacity of at least a week based on the bruises she suffered.

The offences occurred between April 2004 and April 2007 when they were living in Cannes.

Pinot admitted that he did not try to stop acts of violence by Daisy out of cowardice.

The documents revealed that Pinot had said his wife was out of her mind and that he was even scared of her
because she had knives and scissors in her hands.

While Pinot is believed to be living in the US now, Daisy remains a fugitive in Indonesia.

Daisy fled France after Noack denounced acts of rape and assault in a police report in April 2007.

A warrant of arrest for her was issued on June 26 the same year and she has been on Interpol’s “Red Notice” for the past one year. Interpol had asked Jakarta whether Daisy could be arrested and sent to France.

This was refused as Indonesia and France do not have a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. Pinot had a previous conviction in May 2006 when he was sentenced by the Grasse criminal court to a suspended term of one year imprisonment and a RM15,000 fine for cheating.

Daisy met Pinot in 2001 in London and they married a year later. The disclosures come in the wake of our front-page report yesterday that Daisy and a mob assaulted a server of a legal notice at her home in Jakarta
last Saturday.

The notice of nusyuz allegedly riled up Daisy and the server ended up in hospital badly bruised. The Syariah notice demands that Manohara, 17, return to her husband, the Tengku Temenggong Kelantan Tengku Muhammad Fakhry Sultan Ismail, 32.

The charges in full, translated and certified by Alliance Francaise, can be read here.

From Malay Mail, "Manohara's mum's dark French secret | Adopted daughter abused by stepdad and Daisy".

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