Found some 'Kinda' escape in 'Saint Jack'

The National Museum Cinematheque woos its followers with something of a more fetishish nature this time. It features 'Once Upon a Time' old films that give you a peek into facets of Singapore that are lost. These movies from its' Once Upon a Time in the Orient' series feature mainly films that were shot on location in Singapore and most, Singapore itself is an essential character in the story.

'Saint Jack' the opening film, packs the most these festishish finds. Made in 1979, while navigating through the story, you find yourself playing 'spot the location' from its scratchy 35mm film footage. In 'Saint Jack', Chinatown is teeming with street stalls and 'Ah Ma's in samfoos and people are still living on stilts where the waterside bars of Clarke Quay are today. Perhaps Jack Flowers, the lead character, would have changed his trade to gambling if he could envision that one day the 3 IR towers would loom over the bumboat-strewn Clifford Pier. For the 80s kids like myself, the ubiquitous cane furniture tingled my sense of nostalgia.
But nostalgia does not quite nail down the aura of the film. Other than the Chinese songs that wafted through the grimy Chinatown streets and the fitted bell-bottoms with awkwardly-high waistlines, the film portrays a Singapore actually quite unfamililar to many. 'Saint Jack' follows a hustler named Jack Flowers who dallies with loads of women and even more men. He is the white male visitor's guide to finding sexual outlets in Singapore. He is Ang Moh (as they used the term to his annoyance) but has struck a common chord with the locals. The only people who are out to make his life difficult are the triad gangs. The usually efficient Singapore police seem not much of an obstruction. I mean, how could a shuttle bus for whore-activities not invite any raids? So indeed, the Singapore seen through Jack's adventures is a hot bed of vice, dubious trades and women whose jobs are primarily to please men.
According to Ben Slater in his introduction to the film, the producers rather naively sent a copy of the film to the Singapore censors in 1979 in hope of releasing it it the local cinemas. The film was banned. While the rationale for the decision is obvious, I am more interested in the truth behind what's been portrayed. Tan Pin Pin's 'Invisible City' unearths the flip side of common history for us. We hear history as it is told by the plebians rather than history books that bear the authorities' stamp of approval. 'Saint Jack', as many would say is a white man's gaze or even a Hollywood gaze of Singapore in the messy 70s. But perhaps, it could also be read like a third-party gaze. So has Singappore really been misrepresented? I am in no position to answer since I have not lived through the 70s. Many of the young film appreciators in the audience similarly are likely to only be able to marvel at a Singapore more unique than 'Unique' as STB defines it today.

I am inclined to believe these things happened because the film displayed a lot of 'earthy' knowledge of social behaviour and nuances. It did not really explain what an Ang Moh translated to. It had a pretty 'candid' scene in which the hookers were chilling out in the house and one of them crooned to a popular Mandarin tune. The striptease act was so 'makeshift' and was performed in a space that resembled your HDB bedroom. It does show that the director's knowledge of Singapore goes beyond the Singapore Sling and the Raffles Hotel. But if the film still looks alien, perhaps it's a not just a 'white man's gaze', it's a 'white man's gaze at a anomalous blotch on the social fabric'. A peek at a sub-culture.
When the movie ended, the key cast and crew members were asked to come down to the stage for a Q & A session. This point of the evening attracted a lot of eager gazes, some were unforgiving too. There was a sense of 'This is how I will look 30 years from now' as our eyes swept across varicose veins, balding heads and love handles. Among the cast, you could feel how the audacity of the project had united them. This film had to be shot under the name of 'Jack of Hearts' and a false synopsis was given to the authorities to allow the filming to be carried out smoothly. The only pity was a few of the more remarkable characters were not present, including Ben Ghazarra, the lead.
Spending time in the theatre watching 'Saint Jack' took me away from depressing HDB enclosures and formulaic shopping malls, overrespresented in local films. Discussing shooting difficulties of the 70s provided a respite from the typical current industry issues concerning we have discussed to tedium. But was it just an escape, a fetish-fulfilling cinematic experience? Certainly more than that. Watching it was a benchmark-shifting exercise. Long before Roystan Tan featured lean young boys in homoerotic encounters or Kan Lume featured carnal acts between women, there is Saint Jack. I now know someone's 'reached the moon' way before us in 1979.
Check out these Saint Jack links:

Kinda Hot Blog (by the author of 'Kinda Hot' (on the making of Saint Jack) Ben Slater)

CEPAS card: a cashless society?!

It sounds rather ominous, I'd say. A cashless society: where people do not have any cash?

Okay, seriously. It actually means that the future when people are to conduct their transaction without using any cash.

That's where CEPAS card comes into the picture. CEPAS (stands for Contactless e-Purse Application) is a Singaporean specification for an electronic money smart card. CEPAS has been deployed islandwide, replacing the previous original EZ-Link card effective 1 October 2009. (Yes, it also has an article in Wikipedia on CEPAS).

It will soon be more convenient for you to pay for your transactions using your CEPAS stored value cards.

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and five companies from the industry are spending S$16 million to increase the number of point-of-sales terminals for using these cards. The aim is to increase these terminals from the current 5,000 to 24,000 by 2011.

The five companies involved in the Call-for Collaboration with IDA are EZ-Link Pte Ltd, Nera Telecommunications Ltd, Network for Electronic Transfers (NETS) Singapore, PaymentLink Pte Ltd and Way Systems Solutions Pte Ltd.

This was announced by Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Lui Tuck Yew, at the Infocomm Industry Forum on Monday.

Singaporeans are currently holding nearly six million CEPAS cards, using them to pay for their travel on buses and MRT trains as well as purchases from some retailers.

This convenient mode of payment is set to be expanded very soon. The infocomm industry is broadening the use of the CEPAS card for payment to many more outlets like shopping malls, food outlets and convenience stores.

It is all about creating awareness of a cashless society.

Jeremy Tan, managing director of PaymentLink, said: "There are a lot of inconveniences in using cash and coins. Because we have been using (this mode of payment) for so many years, a lot of us don't recognise the inconvenience - but actually if you think about it, the coins that you get, the change, the calculations that you need to do, the bowl of coins that we have...

"The consumers already have the cards. It is now (a matter of) getting the merchants to be comfortable (with payment by card)."

Hence, IDA and the five companies involved in setting up point-of-sales terminals will be providing incentives to encourage merchants to install the devices. Among the perks is a terminal rental waiver for at least a year.

The key to encouraging Singaporeans to go cashless is also to ensure that there are adequate facilities for them to top up their CEPAS cards with sufficient money so that they can use the cards to pay a whole range of transactions, thus avoid using cash.

Nicholas Lee, executive director of EZ-Link, said: "We recognise this issue from the start and we have been working with DBS bank to equip its islandwide network of DBS-POSB ATMs to (enable customers) top up the EZ-Link cards as well when they withdraw cash. That will span over 900 machines islandwide."

He added that EZ-Link is also working with the operator of the AXS machines, which number 200 now, to accept the EZ-Link card as a means of top up.

When fully implemented by 2011, IDA believes the additional point-of-sales terminals can generate over 94 million e-payment transactions per year.

From Channel NewsAsia, "CEPAS cards can be used in more places by 2011".

And also a related post published in early November this year:
From next year, consumers can use their ez-link cards at more shops and restaurants.

PaymentLink - card operator EZ-Link's partner, previously known as QB - plans to expand the number of shops that accept the new Contactless e-Purse Application Standard (Cepas) card by three times.

More than 5,000 retail points accept this payment method at present. They include 7-Eleven stores, SMRT taxis and eateries in National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University.

The company, which started ez-link payment services in 2002, hopes to triple the number of retail points to 15,000 by the end of next year.

It has already roped in retail giant Dairy Farm Singapore, which will install 1,000 terminals in 226 branches of its supermarkets and convenience stores, including Cold Storage and Giant, by the second quarter of next year.

Dairy Farm Singapore came on board because ez-link is a very convenient form of payment and has a large consumer base, said its spokesman.

"Many users of ez-link are also our customers, hence we decided that it would be beneficial to add ez-link to our portfolio of services," said the spokesman.

More than six million ez-link cards are in circulation here.

This is the right time to expand the network as infrastructure for the Cepas system has been completed, said PaymentLink's group managing director, Mr Jeremy Tan.

The card's stored-value capacity has also been increased from $100 to $500, opening up more avenues for consumers to use it for retail transactions, he said.

"We are optimistic about the growth potential for contactless card payment here," he added.

Last month, Network For Electronic Transfers (Nets) launched its multi-purpose contactless card, FlashPay, breaking EZ-Link's monopoly over the $1.3-billion transit market.

This card can be used at 2,500 stores, such as Old Chang Kee and Polar Puffs.

About 39,000 of these cards have been sold, said a Straits Times report two weeks ago. IT executive Hor Woei Ming, 24, uses his ez-link card to pay for taxi fares and buy drinks from vending machines.

"It is especially helpful when you don't have cash," he said.

But he does not foresee using it for more expensive purchases, as he will not store too high a value in the card, which is not password-protected, he said.

From Asiaone, "More retail outlets to accept ez-link payments".

Kseniya Simonova, sand animator: 2009 Winner of Ukraine's Got Talent

Kseniya Simonova is a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine's version of "America's Got Talent." She uses a giant light box, dramatic music, imagination and "sand painting" skills to interpret Germany's invasion and occupation of Ukraine during WWII. (Oh, and she has earned herself a place in Wikipedia post on herself. Heh.)

Check out the amazing video as she does the magical painting here or in YouTube, "Kseniya Simonova - Sand Animation (Україна має талант / Ukraine's Got Talent)" which has so far gathered 9,005,753 views!

Not many people around the world watched the inaugural season of Ukraine's Got Talent on TV last spring. But since then, the winning performance—a live sand drawing by Kseniya Simonova—has received more than 7 million views on YouTube and won raves for its mesmerizing depiction of the Soviet Union's fight against Nazi Germany. Gracefully manipulating handfuls of sand atop a light box, Simonova created ever-transforming images that were projected onto a screen: a bucolic village disintegrates into a war zone, a woman grows old waiting, her piteous face transforms into the Ukrainian monument to its Unknown Soldier.

Thanks in part to Simonova's performance, live sand drawing—also known as live sand animation—is quickly winning new fans and widespread notice from Mexico to China. Part performance art, part visual art and part storytelling, the craft has been featured at Cirque du Soleil and Christian youth camps, Russian nightclubs and corporate events. Live shows enchant audiences not only because the visual effect is riveting, but because they tell a story, typically about love, war, or faith. Artists, who can command tens of thousands of dollars for a single gig, storyboard their shows the way directors do their movies, so that each image flows seamlessly into the next. The effect is like a patriotic fireworks show or a pop concert, designed to pluck heartstrings and astound crowds.

So far, there is just a handful of well-known sand artists. But Mexican-American artist Joe Castillo, who also performed live sand drawing on America's Got Talent, expects that to change. "Right now sand art is new and unique," he says. "There are lots of artists out there, and once they get light tables ... well, I've got a couple years before there's a sand artist on every corner."

Sand-animation films first appeared in the late 1960s. But Canadian filmmaker and animator Caroline Leaf, a pioneer of the art who completed her first film while at Harvard, doubts the performance-based live form grew out of her work. "I was always alone in a dark room doing very meticulous adjustments," she says. "It seems instead they're responding to the plasticity of the material."

Although sand is malleable, it is not easily controlled. Once it is poured, pinched, or flicked away, there's no going back. Artists must relinquish perfectionism. "You can't fix or erase it," says Ilana Yahav, an Israeli artist who has performed at the Kremlin accompanied by four live bands. "You have to move your hands with the music, so you can never stop for a second." As a result, no two shows are the same—and oftentimes, says French artist David Myriam, an accident creates a "marvelous effect."

The most established live sand artists—Castillo, Yahav, and the Hungarian Ferenc Cakó—also create TV commercials for clients such as Qwest, Animal Planet, and Mercedes-Benz. But they say nothing compares to the energy of working a live crowd. After Castillo performed at the September opening of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology outside Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, people approached him weeping. Even the judges at Simonova's winning appearance sobbed. With such strong reactions, it's little wonder companies—and countries—increasingly hire these artists for big events. "There's a natural fascination with artists at work," says Leaf, who regrets she has only seen live sand drawing on YouTube. It won't likely be long before she can see it on any street corner.

From Newsweek, "Drawing Lines in the Sand".

Intimate Joy

Intimate Joy By P.Gnana

Those P.Gnana artworks are available for viewing at the gallery (The Gallery of Gnani Arts ) between 11 am to 7 pm Tue - Sun.

The Gallery of Gnani Arts

One Cuscaden Road#01-05 The Regent Singapore
Singapore 249715

Tel: (+65) 63391230, 67253112

The Bestto Boy & Mobile Gallery See Scape

The Journey of Switchhead

History -- Bestto Boy is a switch light, made in the electronic factory which located in the suburb area of Osaka. When a big thunder storm destroyed the factory, bestto boy and his brothers were splashed away.

Present -- Bestto Boy is resurrected. he had been found in an old electrical supply shop on CM-Hangdong road.

- Bestto Boy has the thunder-phobia
- Bestto Boy is confused whether he is AC or DC
- etc.


ความเป็นมา -- เบสโต้บอยเป็นสวิทช์ไฟ ผลิดที่โรงงาน
อุปกรณ์ไฟฟ้าในแถบชานเมืองโอซาก้า วันหนึ่งพายุพัดทำลายโรงงาน

ณ ปัจจุบัน -- เบสโต้บอยกลับมีชีวิตขึ้นมาใหม่ มันถูกพบเข้าที่
ร้านขายอุปกรณ์ไฟฟ้าเก่าๆแถวถนนเชียงใหม่ - หางดง

- เบสโต้บอยเป็นโรคกลัวพายุจับใจ
- เบสโต้บอยชอบปลาแต่กลัวน้ำ
- เบสโต้บอยสับสนว่าตัวเองเป็นกระแสตรงหรือกระแสสลับ
- ฯลฯ

mobile Gallery See Scape consists of all art and design works from Hern Shop, Lady Keang and nice herbal tea from our neighbour Malateh. p' Hern renovates his first car into a gallery and wants to spread some vibes of the aesthetic life he has into wherever this car is parked. On the roof,he wishes to create a garden where people can really sit above and enjoy themselves, finally, with the help from P' Jay Santiphap who had come up with the posture of sitting on the roof with legs hanging down among the little wheatgrass field which he had even grown himself, p' hern's dream of mobile gallery came true..

Michaele and Tareq Salahi: White House gatecrashers; Michaele Salahi facebook displays state dinner photos!

The complete photos of the state dinner that Tareq Salahi and his beautiful wife, Michaele gatecrashed confidently can be found in Michaele Salahi's facebook page here. Yes, the photos are accessible for all!

When India’s soft spoken Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was talking business with his host United States President Barack Obama who had thrown a grand party for him, he had no idea that two people were there uninvited. In India even those invited to such parties are turned away if they don’t possess invitation cards and their cars don’t show parking slips issued by authorities.

Oh yes, in "Tarek and Michaele Salahi couple crashes state dinner and Tareq Salahi Facebook" has a refreshing way to tell the story. Heh.

The Secret Service may pursue a criminal investigation of the couple who crashed a White House dinner honoring India's prime minister, but events at the security checkpoint may determine whether the security breach is a crime or just an embarrassment.

Jim Mackin, an agency spokesman, said the possible turn toward criminal charges is one reason the Secret Service has kept mum about what happened when Michaele and Tareq Salahi arrived at the checkpoint Tuesday. They were not on the guest list for the dinner honoring Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Federal law makes it a crime to knowingly and willfully falsify statements on matters within the federal government's jurisdiction.

Nobody disputes that the couple, candidates for a reality TV show, were allowed through security. The Secret Service acknowledges that its procedures weren't followed. Yet, it remains unclear whether the couple lied to the security officers and, if so, whether they violated federal law.

'As this moves closer to a criminal investigation there's less that we can say,' Mr Mackin said. 'I don't want to jeopardise what could be a criminal investigation. We're not leaving any option off the table at this point.'

The Salahis lawyer, Paul Gardner, posted a comment on their Facebook page saying, 'My clients were cleared by the White House, to be there.' He said more information would be forthcoming. Several messages left at Gardner's law firm on Friday were not immediately returned.

From Straits Times, "Criminal probe on crashers".

The Storm Warriors: Nice use of 'comics art' in its official website

Yes. Visit the official website of the movie, "The Storm Warriors". Under 'Gallery', you click 'Comics Art' & you'll be presented with a 12-page artwork. The above screenshots are the comics art for the 2 characters 'Second Dream' & 'Chu Chu'.

For those who missed the first movie, The Storm Raiders, you may be interested to notice that Golden Village is offering "The Storm Warriors Movie Marathon". You get to watch THE STORM RIDERS and The Storm Warriors back-to-back on the big screen! It costs you $26 (if you are a GV Movie Club members) or $32 (if you are a non-member). The price includes free flow of popcorn & drinks.

The synopsis of the movie, The Storm Warriors is quite linear (the special effect must compensate the simple plot, I guess). Quoted from Wikipedia post on The Storm Warriors:
The evil Japanese warlord Lord Godless (Simon Yam) desires to conquer China. He imprisons a large number of pugilists and attempts to make them subjugate. Among the captives are Cloud (Aaron Kwok) and the Mou Lam legend Nameless (Kenny Ho). Wind (Ekin Cheng) comes to their rescue and the trio fight with Lord Godless.

However, they are no match for him and suffer grave wounds. Cloud's lover Chu Chu (Tang Yan) is knocked out when she shields him from Godless' attack. The other pugilists sacrifice their lives to buy time for the trio to escape, hoping that the trio will return to defeat Godless one day and save their nation.

Chu Chu is badly injured and remains unconscious. Cloud feels remorseful and vows to take his revenge.

Wind chooses to take the evil path to improve his prowess in martial arts more quickly and defeat Lord Godless. During his training, he meets Second Dream (Charlene Choi), who will become his future lover. Meanwhile, Godless' minions come to attack and they disrupt Wind's training when Wind tries to save Second Dream from the invaders. Wind disappears after killing some enemies.

Lord Godless took The Emperor in captivity and stationed his troops in Heaven Cave. Cloud arrived alone and started a combat with Lord Godless. Lord Godless had the upper hand. Suddenly, the half-evil Wind appeared and joined the battle. Durng the fight, they inadvertently discover the "Lung Mak" (aka Dragon Bones), the spiritual foundation of the Chinese empire. They also recognize that the Japanese invaders were actually planning to seize the secret object and use it for the domination of China. The secret has been concealed in an ancient tomb, a forbidden ground below the Chinese imperial palace.

Course completed

This landscape of a peranakan building in Singapore was the concluding piece in water colour for the one year certificate course in Western painting at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts,Singapore.I took up this course in January 2009 . The course consisted of pencil drawing,charcoal,water colour and oil painting.
I was lucky to have Mr. Goh Ee Choo as my teacher.Being a very experienced teacher, he catered to the individual needs of his pupil and demonstrated every technique and skill involved in each medium. For a self taught artist like me, it was exactly what I was looking for. I enjoyed every moment of this learning experience.Just got my results.Even at this age I was eager to see my results and just like a child,it made me feel very happy to see the grade.
Next few weeks I would like to plan and start working on a theme. I still need to find out the medium I would like to use. I have decided to do a few pieces in water colour first as I find that the most challenging medium. It is a very interesting medium to work with but has its own limitations.
I would also love to practice drawing portraits and figures in charcoal and do some more research in composition and colour scheme.

I have been experimenting with painting on different surfaces.Just to get the feeling of painting on plastic, I joined rejected CD covers and used that as my canvas to create the piece on the left titled 'four seasons'.I found the surface too smooth and it did not absorb the paint.This made it difficult to produce brush strokes on the first layer.I had to wait for the first layer to dry. By applying a few layers,I got the desired result.

Last week I did this portrait in pastel from a photograph.I can see my portraits getting closer to the original photos.

Something very interesting happened today. I found the website of a schoolmate who has become a self-taught artist.We were childhood friends but we took different paths after we left school and lost touch. I remember her filling the margins of the pages of her exercise books with sketches, mainly faces.She still seems to focus on portraits and figures.One I liked most is The Debutante in charcoal.

Clemen Chiang Freely: Sued & Refund

Clemen Chiang, the founder of Freely Pte Ltd was sued by 48 people in the Small Claims Tribunal & ordered to refund close to 80 per cent of their fees for the seminar and a full refund for the cost of the software and 'webinars'.

The latest news today has Clemen Chiang's appeal was dismissed by the High Court.

Thanks to a Straits Times expose on degree mills last August in which the report named ('Dr', yeah right) Clemen Chiang as having a PhD from an unaccredited university, these 48 people realized that they had made a wrong decision. One was quoted to comment: "I signed up because of his PhD. Option trading is a complicated thing. I thought this guy should know what he is talking about since he had a PhD in it".

Well, you know what they say about this: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach". And to make it more relevant in this shameful case of Clemen Chiang's Freely refund, "Those who can't teach yet want to teach, sue them!".

My sincere hope that Clemen Chiang--irregardless of his questionable PhD degree--may indeed a sort of 'expert' in options trading. His option is running low & he has now close to $180K to pay back to the 48 people he almost conned.

Then again if he's really such an expert, he won't have wasted his time trying to educate people in options trading, would he? The logical thing is that Clemen Chiang would just continue enriching himself with his 'expertise' in options trading.

The conclusion is left without saying. People who read his ad, should have felt alarmed. Oh well, maybe his 'PhD' degree indeed was quite convincing.

A company belonging to a self-styled expert on option trading lost an appeal yesterday against claims awarded by the Small Claims Tribunal to 48 people amounting to $176,583.

They had filed the claims after The Straits Times reported that Freely Pte Ltd's founder, Mr Clemen Chiang, allegedly obtained his doctorate in option trading from an unaccredited university.

The 48 people claimed they would not have attended Mr Chiang's three-day course on option trading or bought a $960 computer program if he was not the holder of a PhD from an accredited university.

In yesterday's appeal in the High Court, Freely alleged that the company was not given a fair hearing by the Tribunal hearing in March.

The Tribunal is part of the Subordinate Courts and a Referee - who can be a Magistrate, a District Judge or a Senior Officer - can hear claims involving the sale of goods or services not exceeding $10,000.

"The Referee appeared to have made up his mind even before the hearing was concluded, as his immediate oral decision, which he read from a prepared text, took about two hours to be read out, with translation into Mandarin," said Freely's lawyer, Senior Counsel Giam Chin Toon.

But Justice Woo Bih Li, who heard yesterday's appeal, countered that it was common for judges to write their judgments and make the necessary changes, even as the hearing is ongoing.

After a day's hearing, the High Court judge dismissed Freely's appeal without citing his grounds of decision. The Tribunal has more than 400 claims against Freely still to be heard.

From Today, "Freely loses appeal against claims payout".

And from earlier news on 13 March 2009 (somehow I missed it. Heh.):
A GROUP of 49 people scored a legal victory over a self-styled expert on option trading who turned out to have a dodgy doctorate from an unaccredited American university.

A dozen of the course participants said they had paid Mr Clemen Chiang between $3,600 and $4,000 last year for a three-day course on option trading - a complex and risky investing technique which often amounts to betting on share-price trends.

Several had also forked out another $960 for training software and a handful paid $1,600 to $12,000 more for online tutorials referred to as 'webinars'.

Mr Chiang, a 34-year-old Nanyang Technological University engineering graduate, has been running these seminars for a few years at his Freely Business School in North Bridge Road.

He would tell students his own success story of how he made millions, and he drew hundreds of participants.

He claimed to have a PhD in option trading, a rarity in the finance industry here.

But when it came to light last year that his doctorate was from the unaccredited Preston University in Alabama, the group of 49 wanted their money back.

Yesterday, the Small Claims Tribunal found that Mr Chiang had misrepresented his qualifications. It awarded all participants a refund of close to 80 per cent of their fees for the seminar and a full refund for the cost of the software and 'webinars'.

Mr Chiang, who still calls himself 'Dr', attended the hearing but did not speak to The Straits Times.

The Small Claims Tribunal is part of the Subordinate Courts and can hear claims involving the sale of goods or services not exceeding $10,000.

Outside the tribunal, several participants said they felt cheated when they read a Straits Times expose on degree mills last August. The report named Mr Chiang as having a PhD from an unaccredited university.

Sales representative Terence Tan, 41, said: 'I signed up because of his PhD. Option trading is a complicated thing. I thought this guy should know what he is talking about since he had a PhD in it.

'So imagine my shock when I found out that his degree was not from a recognised university.'

Like some others, he felt the course fell short of providing a good understanding of option trading.

Engineer William Hui, who paid $8,000 for himself and his wife to attend Mr Chiang's course, said: 'He should have called it 'Millionaire mindset', because for a whole day, it was just about how much money he made, his Sentosa Cove bungalow and his wife's Hermes Birkin handbag costing over $10,000.

'When he finally went into his so-called method of trading in options, I found it lacking. And then he tried to sell his software for another $960.'

Mr Chiang still claims to have a PhD on several of his websites, but makes no mention of Preston University, which American education authorities have called a 'degree supplier' offering 'fraudulent or substandard degrees'.

Last August, he told The Straits Times that he was also pursuing another PhD at the University of South Australia.

When asked then why he had opted for a degree from an unaccredited institution, he said he wanted to complete a PhD in double-quick time.

Because Preston University was listed as a partner of a private school registered with the Education Ministry here, he said he thought it was an accredited institution.

It was only later that he realised that Preston was not accredited in the United States, he said.

Like other business people who had bought fake degrees, Mr Chiang said then that it helped to pave the way in business.

Checks last year found more than 200 people - including prominent businessmen and financial consultants - flaunting degrees, MBAs and doctorates from degree mills and unaccredited, substandard institutions.

From Straits Times, "Trading 'expert' ordered to refund fees".

Angela Chang's blur "joke"...I don't get it! Do you??

I don't get this Taiwanese artist Angela Chang reference to Bee Gees' song, "I Started a Joke". How on earth is it applicable to her situation?!

So Angela Chang has a problem with her mum & it's somehow aired in the public. And that is being a joke, because???

Anyway. Perhaps I should just let it be. Let this vagueness pass without any expression of wonderment?

Eleven years ago, she decided to be an entertainer.

But now, Taiwanese songbird Angela Chang is resigned to the fact that her private family problems have become part of public entertainment.

The doe-eyed 27-year-old told The New Paper last Friday: “I started out hoping to provide enjoyment for everyone. But now it’s all coming back to me. My family difficulties have become a joke.”

Angela, who rose to fame acting in Taiwanese drama My MVP Valentine, was in town last week to promote her sixth album, titled The 5th Season.

And Angela knows the public is more interested in her season of domestic disputes. In September, her parents went to Taiwan’s Next Magazine with allegations that she had refused to take care of them.

Her mother also accused Angela’s Vietnamese friend Jenny of putting a hex on Angela.

Angela’s mum commented that the stick-thin singer-actress looked like she was in a trance and had dark circles around her eyes, insinuating that she could have been taking drugs.

Legal action

Later that month, it was Angela’s turn to spill the beans about her parents when she held a press conference in Taiwan.

According to Angela, the eldest of three children, she had cleaned cars and delivered lunch-boxes to support the family since the age of 15, after her dad stopped working due to a heart problem.

And last year, after recovering from a heart ailment in Canada, she returned to an empty home in Taiwan. She claimed her mum had taken off with her savings, amounting to NT$100 million ($4.3m).

Angela’s music label Linfair Records has since issued a statement dismissing all the allegations about her, and indicated it may take legal action against Next Magazine for its “non-factual” reporting, to protect Angela’s reputation.

But Next Magazine insisted it was merely “reporting whatever she (Angela’s mum) told us”.

The magazine’s spokesman added that if Linfair Records plans to take legal action, they should be clear about the facts involved or risk being guilty of making false allegations.

Angela’s family argument escalated quickly to become a public dispute between the two companies – and it all took place during the final stage of confirming the songs in her new album.

Angela self-deprecatingly included a cover version of the Bee Gees classic I Started A Joke in The 5th Season. It is the only English song on it.

The lyrics go: “I started to cry, which started the whole world laughing, oh, if I’d only seen that the joke was on me.” Angela told The New Paper: “That was exactly how I felt at that time.”


Is the domestic dispute resolved? “Thank you for the concern, but I hope to settle this on my own,” said Angela with a weary smile.

She did reveal, however, that she is tired of losing her privacy, but has accepted it as part of her job as a public figure. “You gain some, you lose some,” she added philosophically.

She also said her working schedule is draining – up to 12 hours on a short day, but longer when there’s filming to be done.

Yet, having the love and support of her brother, 18, and sister, 26, makes it all worthwhile, she said.

Both siblings are now working. Her sister had accompanied her to the Taiwan press conference where Angela spoke out against their parents.

Said Angela: “I have always been a responsible daughter and sister, and I hope to give my family a better life.”

But most people wouldn’t wash their dirty linen in public. So was all this staged by Angela to milk publicity for her new album? She denied it, saying:“When such a family problem happens, nobody really knows what to say or do.

“Every member of the public is entitled to his own opinion, but not all are true.”

Angela added that after more than a decade in showbiz, she has discovered that “everyone learns different things due to his unique experience in life”.

“I’m actually just like any normal human being.”

From Diva, "Angela Chang: ""I started a joke"".

Hafary Holdings IPO

Hafari Holdings IPO seems quite appealing at 20 cents per share. However, it's only through placement. Can't apply it using ATM. Darn!

The business model might not be attractive. But I like the fact that Hafari Holdings is quite established (it has a history of about 30 years and recognised as one of Singapore's leading suppliers of tiles). And at least for the last 3 years, their financial record seems quite solid (the past three financial years saw the group's revenue grow from $19.9 million in FY2007 to $30.8 million in FY2009. Net profit rose from $2.9 million to $3.4 million).

Hafary Holdings, a local supplier of tiles with almost 30 years of history, has launched its initial public offering of 32.5 million new shares at 20 cents each, in line with its proposed listing on the Catalist today.

The IPO of 32.5 million new shares represents 20% of Hafary’s enlarged share capital of 162.5 million shares. At 20 cents per share, the placement is priced at a historical price earnings ratio of 7.4 times, based on the group’s net earnings per share of 2.7 cents for FY2009 (year ended 30 June 2009) and pre-placement share capital of 130 million shares.

Collins Stewart is the sponsor and placement agent for Hafary’s listing on the Catalist. Listing and trading of the group’s shares is expected to start at on Dec 7.

Hafary says it intends to use the net proceeds of $4.8 million to fund possible acquisitions, joint ventures and/or strategic alliances when opportunities arise, and for the general working capital purposes of the group.

In the past three financial years, Hafary’s revenue grew from $19.9 million in FY2007 to $30.8 million in FY2009, representing an annual compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.4%. Profit after tax grew by a CAGR of 8.3%, from $2.9 million in FY2007 to $3.4 million.
Hafary says repeat customers accounted for about 76.7% of revenue in FY2009.

Since its establishment in 1980, Hafary says it has grown into one of Singapore’s leading suppliers of tiles with a head office, two showrooms and three warehouses occupying an aggregate built-in area of approximately 139,199 sq ft.

Through the group’s robust sourcing and procurement network, Hafary is able to carry a broad variety of tiles from China and Europe; and through economies of scale, has the ability to sell these to customers at competitive prices.

Hafary says it is eyeing Vietnam as a strong potential market, “given the country’s strong economic growth and growing affluence.”

From The Edge, "Tile supplier Hafary launches IPO of 32.5m shares at 20 cents each to raise $4.8m".

Homegrown tile supplier, Hafary Holdings, plans to raise net proceeds of S$4.8 million in an initial public offering in Singapore on Thursday.

It plans to list on SGX's Catalist board and is offering 32.5 million new shares at 20 cents each.

Established in 1980, Hafary is one of Singapore's leading suppliers of tiles with a head office, two showrooms and three warehouses.

The firm's customers include general walk-in customers at their showrooms, interior design or renovation companies, as well as project customers involved in major property developments who make bulk purchases.

The group plans to use all the net proceeds to fund possible acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances when opportunities arise, and for general working capital.

Trading of the shares is expected to start on December 7. Collins Stewart is the sponsor and placement agent for the IPO.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Hafary Holdings to raise S$4.8m in Singapore IPO".

Singapore homegrown tile supplier Hafary Holdings has launched its initial public offering (IPO) for a Catalist board listing.

The company is offering 32.5 million new shares through placement at 20 cents each. This reflects a historical price-earnings ratio of 7.4, based on the group's net earnings per share of 2.7 cents for the financial year ended June 30, and its pre-placement capital of 130 million shares. The IPO shares represent 20 per cent of its enlarged share capital of 162.5 million shares.

Collins Steward is the sponsor and placement agent for the listing.

Application for the shares closes next Thursday.

Hafary, which has a history of about 30 years, is described as one of Singapore's leading suppliers of tiles. The past three financial years saw the group's revenue grow from $19.9 million in FY2007 to $30.8 million in FY2009. Net profit rose from $2.9 million to $3.4 million.

The company aims to pay 20 per cent of FY2010 net profit as dividends.

Hafary intends to use its expected net proceeds of about $4.8 million to fund possible acquisitions, joint ventures and strategic alliances, and for general working capital.

Although a significant portion of its business is local, Hafary is looking to expand into Vietnam as it 'shows strong potential', according to CEO Low See Ching.

'Given the country's strong economic growth and growing affluence, we believe that there is space for us to develop and expand there.'

Trading of its shares is expected to start on Dec 7.

From Business Times, "Tile supplier Hafary Hldgs launches IPO".

A Haiku as I slowly walk home

The dark leafless trees,
Their branches embrace the sky,
in silent prayer.

The Holy Cow

The Holy Cow By P.Gnana

Those P.Gnana artworks are available for viewing at the gallery (The Gallery of Gnani Arts ) between 11 am to 7 pm Tue - Sun.

The Gallery of Gnani Arts

One Cuscaden Road#01-05 The Regent SingaporeSingapore 249715

Tel: (+65) 63391230, 67253112

Bond Of Love by P.Gnana

Bond of Love By P.Gnana

Those P.Gnana artworks are available for viewing at the gallery (The Gallery of Gnani Arts ) between 11 am to 7 pm Tue - Sun.

The Gallery of Gnani Arts

One Cuscaden Road#01-05 The Regent SingaporeSingapore 249715

Tel: (+65) 63391230, 67253112

Eternal Companion Series 110

By P.Gnana
Those P.Gnana artworks are available for viewing at the gallery (The Gallery of Gnani Arts ) between 11 am to 7 pm Tue - Sun.
The Gallery of Gnani Arts
One Cuscaden Road#01-05 The Regent SingaporeSingapore 249715
Tel: (+65) 63391230, 67253112

Eternal Cow Painting by P.Gnana

When it is a painting by P. Gnana, the emotion arrests your heart before the concept reaches your mind. It is significant to note that a painting from his current and celebrated Eternal Companion series was acquired by the President of the Republic of Singapore (Hon. President Mr S. R. Nathan). Another painting by this eminent artist, from the same series, has been acquired by the Singapore Art Museum (National Heritage Board).

Born and brought up in Neyveli (Tamil Nadu), Gnana is a distinguished Singapore-based international artist whose works are collected in Latin America, Europe, South Asia and Southeast Asia. Gnana is also a recipient of the LASALLE Scholarship of the LASALLE College of the Arts (Singapore), from where he received his formal training in the art of painting.

Having been a professionally-trained mechanical engineer before receiving his formal training in painting, an enormous sense of perseverance and an undaunted desire to ‘search’ via art, are what truly made P. Gnana the significant creator he is today. In the early days of his career as an artist (about thirteen years ago), Gnana was almost entirely drawn towards figurative rendition that was enhanced by his undeniable strength in creating colours that were appetising to the art-hungry. Then, there came a phase whereby he decided to discard figurative expression as he realised a spiritual challenge in pursuing abstraction in his artworks. “Can I express what I want to, without figures?” was the question that lured him to the unfathomable world of abstract expressionism. This was a monumental phase that fetched Gnana an absolute sense of freedom as an artist - art for the artist’s sake.

However, every process reaches a saturation point. Gnana’s obsessive affair with pure abstraction provided him with an important, lucid insight into nothing else but himself. Having had daringly submerged his spirit into two imperative opposite modes of expression - figurative and pure abstraction - Gnana started to look towards another challenge, with a thirst for another exciting change. And this time, he found the challenge in a very down-to-earth thematic concept - the psyche of the human being who dotes on his receptive animal.

The cow has always been one of Gnana’s favourite animals. When Gnana was a little boy, his parents used to own and breed cows in their home in Neyveli. This childhood affiliation towards the cow is being beautifully rekindled through his much-appreciated current body of artworks: the heart-wrenching Eternal Companion series of paintings (oil on canvas).

Every painting in the Eternal Companion series touches upon a universal feeling of love that is accentuated by the comforting fact that no one person or animal is alone in love. The notion of emotional ecstasy and the enjoyable taste of being cherished are pictorially portrayed in a stylised, semi-figurative mode. Very often in this series, the moon is symbolically cast in the role of an undistracting cupid. The caressing and cajoling of the characters in the series affirm that, when it comes to portraying the true essence of love and affection, no word in the dictionary is as apt as a painting. To sum up his inspiration for the series, Gnana himself says, “Afterall, everybody needs a shoulder to lean on.” We cannot help but agree with him. – Vidhya Gnana Gouresan (Art Curator)

2 lions kill a white tigress

Dorothy's (from The Wizard of Oz, who else?!) famous exclamation of "Lions and tigers and bears! Oh, my!" will do better to be revised as "2 lions vs. a white tigress? Oh, my!". Yeah. Okay, not funny.

The poor white tigress, a 17-year-old Isabella was ripped to pieces when 2 lions sneaked to her cage. The killers--Sultan, 14, and Elsa, 11--are said to feel 'cage-sick' (just like homesick). That's why they tried to enter Isabella's cage (previously it's theirs! Yeah, yeah, I too don't understand the rotating system of cages that the zoo implemented.)

Two lions have torn an extremely rare white tigress to shreds after penetrating into her cage in a Czech zoo.

"Normally they live separately and can never come into contact with each other'' David Nejedlo, who runs Liberec zoological park, said.

According to Mr Nejedlo, the lions Sultan and Elsa beat the security system and managed to enter via a gate into the tigress Isabelle's cage.

The 17-year-old Isabelle, who gave birth to white tiger triplets in 1999, lasted just a few seconds in the unequal contest.

Hearing the animals roar, a breeder ran to the scene but came too late to help the tigress.

The zoo in Liberec is the only establishment in the Czech republic to breed the white tiger, of which only a few dozen remain in the world.

Isabelle was brought to Liberec in 1994 from the Swedish zoological garden in Eskilstuna.

In 1999 she gave birth to Artemis, Afrodita et Achilles.

The white tiger is the most emblematic animal in the Czech zoo, founded in 1919, and the local ice hockey team are nicknamed the "White Tigers of Liberec''.

From, "Lions tear rare white tigress to shreds".

Two lions at a zoo in the northern Czech Republic have killed a rare white tigress after entering her enclosure.

The incident happened at Liberec Zoo - the only one in the country which has white tigers.

Zoo workers were alerted by the cries of the tigress, but were unable to stop the killing.

White tigers - the result of a recessive gene - find it difficult to catch prey in the wild because their colouration stands out in the jungle.

The lions - Sultan, aged 14, and Elsa, 11 - managed to open a trap door leading to an open-air area occupied by the 17-year-old tigress, Isabella.

Surviving daughter

Lions and tigers in the zoo share the same pavilion overnight, which they leave for separate open-air enclosures during the day.

But the open-air enclosures are rotated, and zoo authorities believe the lions were trying to get into the area where they had spent the previous day.

"The current security system has been in place for 12 years and such an accident has never happened before," said zoo director David Nejedlo.

There are three surviving white tigers at the zoo, including Isabella's daughter.

The zoo is the oldest in the Czech Republic and was established in 1919.

From BBC, "Lions kill rare white tiger at Czech Republic zoo".

A rare white tiger has been savaged to death by two lions who forced their way into her pen at a zoo.

Helpless keepers watched in horror as the lions slaughtered 17-year-old Isabella in seconds.

The killer cats, Sultan, 14, and 11-year-old Elsa, prised open a heavy metal trap door to get into Isabella's enclosure.

Keepers at Liberec Zoo in the Czech Republic heard the attack and ran to the scene but could do nothing to stop it.

Luboa Melichar of the zoo said: "We tried to distract the lions but it was hopeless.

"Afterwards, we had to wait as one of the lions stood over the tiger long after she had died."

The lions and the white tigers take turns to use the openair enclosures at the zoo and keepers believe Sultan and Elsa wanted to get back to the pen they had been in the day before.

When they got in and saw Isabella, their instinct told them she was invading their territory.

The zoo have three surviving white tigers. One of them is Isabella's daughter.

Only a few dozen white tigers are left in the wild.

From Daily Record, "Lions sneak through trap door at zoo to kill rare tiger".

'Up' extras: what happened to George & AJ?

AJ & George helplessly in shocked as they witness the house flying.

AJ & George helplessly in shocked--still--as they drive away.

AJ helplessly in shocked--still--during the night. Note: he's too shocked to even change his attire.

Likewise what happens with George. Surprised his wife does not ask why the hell he sleeps with his working uniform on.

AJ & George helplessly in shocked while being interviewed by a TV reporter in the next morning. Can safely assume they are still wearing the same clothing.

If you watched Up, you were probably dying to know what happened to the black dude (the name's George) and the white guy (he's AJ) with a mullet who came to put Carl Fredrickson in a old folks' home, Shady Oaks.

In the animated movie, Up, they witnessed first hand how Carl Fredrickson escaped with his house with his house elevated to air, thanks to countless balloons.

In this new short film by Pixar, more are revealed about what happened next to George & AJ. I like best to see their consistent look of shock. Ah, why don't you just check out the clip, "Pixar Short: George and AJ"? Heh.

Malaysia GST 4%

The plan is to implement a 4% goods & services tanx by 2011. Bad move, Malaysia. You should have announced that the plan is for 7% GST (like how the current GST rate is in Singapore).

And then, you should let the news sinking in to the hearts & minds of Malaysians. They will be angry. They will voice their displeasure. And then only, you announce that you are willing to lower the GST rate to be 4%.

People will be appeased. You too achieve your initial plan of the 4% GST. If only that simple!! Heh.

Malaysia's government plans to impose a 4 per cent goods and services tax by 2011 to boost revenue by an additional 1 billion ringgit (S$407 million) annually, a senior official on Thursday.

Second Finance Minister Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah said the new tax was crucial to the country's economic well-being and would replace the current narrowly applied 10 per cent sales tax and five per cent services tax.

The GST is a broad-based consumption tax levied on transactions at all stages of production of goods and services, while Malaysia?s current sales and services taxes are single-stage taxes applicable to selected goods and services.

The change to its tax regime comes as the government seeks to cut its budget deficit, which is expected to surge to 7.4 per cent of gross domestic product this year, as well as reduce reliance on income from state oil company Petronas which contributes 40 per cent of its revenue.

'The revenue source must be sustainable. If we can get sustainable revenues, we can get a good budget,' Ahmad Husni was quoted as saying by national Bernama news agency. However, he said essential goods such as rice, sugar, cooking oil and flour as well as domestic transportation would be exempted from the GST to ensure it would not burden the poor.

The bill on the sales tax will be tabled in Parliament for its first reading next month and is expected to be passed by March and to be implemented 18 months after that, he said.

From Straits Times, "M'sia to impose GST in 2011".

Malaysia plans to introduce a 4.0 percent goods and services tax (GST) in 2011, replacing current sales and services tax in a bid to diversify national revenues, a minister said Thursday.

The government had previously proposed to introduce a GST from the beginning of 2007 but the plan was deferred due to widespread opposition.

"We are replacing the current sales and services tax, which is currently between five and 10 percent," Second Finance Minister Husni Ahmad Hanadzlah said according to state news agency Bernama.

He said the tax legislation will be submitted in parliament in the current session which ends mid-December. A second reading will be in March next year and implementation would take place 18 months later, he said.

The government has said the changes would provide a more comprehensive, transparent and simple tax model.

"The revenue source must be sustainable. If we can secure a sustainable revenue, we can get a good budget," he said.

Husni said the government was expected to earn 1.0 billion ringgit (294 million dollars) in the first year of the GST implementation.

The GST would replace the existing taxes on sales and services and would not put pressure on prices, he said, adding that to ease the burden on consumers, staple foods such as rice, sugar, cooking oil and flour will be exempted.

The plan drew immediate criticism from opposition lawmakers who said it will cause living costs to spike.

Charles Santiago from the Democratic Action Party (DAP) which is a member of the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance said the government needed to release more details about the shake-up.

"There is a sense of caution because it could have an impact on the lower and middle classes, particularly in food, health care and clothing," he told AFP.

Opposition legislator D. Jeyakumar from the Socialist Party warned that "the GST percentage will start low but will increase over the years."

"It is definitely a bad move. The government is attempting to shift the taxes from the rich to the ordinary people," he said.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Malaysia plans 4.0% pct GST in 2011".

Tax will not burden poor or middle class, says PM Najib.

The Goods and Services Tax (GST) Bill will be tabled for first reading by the end of the current parliamentary sitting on Dec 17 to stimulate discussion on the tax among Malaysians.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the cabinet, at its meeting last week, agreed on the timing of the tabling of the bill.

The possibility of the GST being introduced was mentioned at the tabling of the 2010 Budget.

The GST will allow for the widening of the tax base and increase revenue collection in an era of a lower tax regime.

The GST will mean a more efficient collection mechanism of getting at those who slipped through the taxation net by taxing some of their spending.

Currently, Malaysia employs the sales and service taxes for some consumption.

“(If implemented) the GST would not be a burden to the poor or middle class or lead to inflation,” Najib told Malaysian reporters here on Monday.

If introduced, the GST would be less than the current sales and service taxes of between five and 10 per cent, he added.

As part of a more efficient economic management system, it would help narrow the nation’s current budget deficit, something to which the government is committed to.

Najib said international investors whom he met on Monday saw this as a sign of fiscal responsibility, especially with the planned reduction of the deficit.

The only countries in the region not employing the GST are Malaysia, Brunei and Myanmar.

From New Straits Times, "GST Bill to be tabled by Dec 17".

Update on 13/10: Malaysia is to postpone GST implementation. Yay! The grumbling voice of the citizens are too loud to ignore, huh?

THE Malaysian government on Wednesday said it would again delay the implementation of a controversial goods and services tax due next year in the face of strong public opposition.

'The government would like to announce the postponement of the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST),' the finance ministry said in a statement.

The announcement, the latest in a series of delays in the scheme originally mooted in 2007, came ahead of the annual budget announcement on Friday by Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is also finance minister.

Veteran opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang said the government's decision to delay the GST could mean it is preparing for elections next year.

'The opposition has organised a national campaign against GST. There is no justification for GST at a time when there is abuse and corruption,' he told AFP.

'The government knows that if it goes ahead with the GST, public displeasure will boomerang through the air and whip the people who introduce it.' The GST would have helped Malaysia broaden its tax base away from the oil revenues which it currently depends on.

From Straits Times, "M'sia to postpone GST".

Not eating meat will not make one unsexy. Or will it?

Be sexy, don't eat meat. Especially not those yummilicious lamb chop. Save the sheep (like how the above babe sportingly embrace the smelly animal. Lucky lamb! Hur hur.)

Want to be sexy? Don't eat meat - that's the message behind a campaign to promote vegetarianism in China, where meat consumption is booming on the back of rapid economic growth.

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals unveiled the campaign on Thursday, fronted by sultry Taiwanese actress and singer Barbie Hsu.

Hsu, better known in the Chinese-speaking world as 'Big S', will appear in adverts in fashion magazines and websites in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong within the next few weeks to promote the benefits of giving up meat.

Vegetarianism is not a widely popular concept in China, where until fairly recently many people struggled to feed themselves, and where all sorts of creatures - some of them endangered - are considered food, to the chagrin of environmental groups.

PETA's China campaign follows on other global efforts involving celebrities, such as its annual 'sexiest vegetarian alive' awards, which last year were given to performers Anthony Kiedis and Leona Lewis.

In the China adverts, a smiling Hsu holds a little yellow chick up to her face above the slogan 'vegetarians make chicks happy", though the wording in Chinese literally translates as 'Love her, love vegetarianism'.

From Straits Times, "Be sexy, don't eat meat".

The stupidest Facebook group: I have to practise suicide.

Yes. It has to be the stupidest Facebook group ever. Rightly reflecting its shameful stupidity, the Facebook group called itself, "I have to practise suicide".

See, suicide is not something one can practise. What for? To make the suicide a perfect one?

There's no such thing like a perfect suicide. It's either a successful one or a botched-up one.

Police in Hong Kong were on Thursday trying to trace the founder of a Chinese-language Facebook group whose members claim to be planning a mass suicide on December 21.

The investigation was triggered after a 15-year-old member of the group was stopped by friends as she tried to throw herself off the roof of a Hong Kong school a fortnight ago.

Police found she was one of 190 people who had signed up to the Facebook group called "I have to practise suicide." The group has been removed from the popular social networking site.

Members shared tips on the best ways to kill themselves and goaded each other to join in a mass suicide on December 21. A social worker who interviewed the suicidal schoolgirl alerted police.

Some reports in Chinese-language newspapers on Wednesday said the group had been disbanded while others quoted members saying that a core "suicide team" remained active.

Headmasters from 35 schools have been contacted about the Facebook group and advised on how to monitor students for any signs that they may be involved, police said.

Youth suicide rates are notoriously high in the wealthy city of 7 million with experts saying the pressure to achieve good grades in school and emotionally detached parents are to blame.

Hong Kong's overall suicide rate has fallen markedly in recent years thanks to initiatives such as erecting suicide barriers on tall buildings and putting helpline labels on packets of charcoal.

Burning charcoal in a confined space to produce carbon monoxide is a common suicide method in Hong Kong.

From IOL, "Facebook group planning 'mass suicide'".

Hong Kong police are seeking the Internet user behind a Facebook group that encouraged teenagers to commit mass suicide, a report said Thursday, after a 15-year-old member tried to kill himself.

Nearly 190 people joined the group "I have to practise suicide," which called on members to take their own lives on December 21, the daily South China Morning Post reported.

However the site's unknown creator had also posted a message on the social networking site saying that the group was just an "inside joke," the Post said.

Members were supposed to talk about ways to die in a "retarded way," such as "jumping off a chair," the creator wrote, adding: "I'm not encouraging suicide. It's supposed to be an inside joke."

The site was removed from Facebook when local media reported the story.

Police launched their investigation after classmates stopped a teenage boy who belonged to the group from throwing himself off the roof of their school two weeks ago in Tin Shui Wai.

The working class neighbourhood in the city of seven million has been nicknamed "City of Sadness" because of its social and domestic violence problems.

Last year, a mother and her two young children died in a grisly murder-suicide in their Tin Shui Wai home.

From My Sinchew, "Hong Kong police track Facebook suicide group: report".

Update on 01/12: a second Facebook group with equally stupid name has appeared. "I have to (practise) suicide", it's called. HK police are hunting the creator now.

Hong Kong police said Friday they are hunting the creator of a second Facebook group encouraging teenagers to commit suicide.

A force spokeswoman said experts from its Commercial Crime Bureau were investigating a social networking group named "I have to (practise) suicide" after a page with an almost identical name was exposed earlier this week.

"We are now investigating the two cases. No one has been arrested so far," she told AFP.

The new group emerged on Wednesday and nearly 100 people signed up, according to media reports.

"What is the meaning of beloved is in love with another...while everything adults do is right, what we do is all one knows we exist, why don't we all commit suicide?" the group wrote on its site.

It was created after the media reported this week that another Facebook group -- "I have to practise suicide", with no brackets in the title -- had called on its 190 members to kill themselves on December 21, and was linked to an attempted suicide.

The South China Morning Post said Friday that the police had already traced the creator of "I have to practise suicide".

It cited police sources saying the culprit was a local teenager who set up the site for fun.

The group came to light after police launched an investigation into the case of a 15-year-old boy who tried to throw himself off the roof of his school two weeks ago. The boy was a member of the group.

From Yahoo! News, "Hong Kong police probe second Facebook suicide group".

Warriors of the 3 Kingdoms: yes, there are at least two beautiful warriors???

Warriors of the 3 Kingdoms. Well, unlike EVONY (which claims to be the BEST free web game), Warriors of the 3 Kingdoms is not making such a daring announcement. However like EVONY, they too employ (why am I not surprised) not one, but two beautiful lady warriors!

Sure, in the Romance of the Three Kingdoms there are no formidable (in terms of beauty or martial power) lady warriors. At least, not mentioned whatsoever. But hey, as long as this game can attract more attention, why not?

Not really related posts:
- Sex sells: EVONY - Best Free Web Game (Part 2)
- Sex sells: EVONY - Best Free Web Game

CapitaMalls Asia IPO & first day of trading (25/11/09)

CapitaMalls Asia IPO has ended & it's reported that its public offer of 95 million offering shares at $2.12 per share was 4.9 times subscribed. No, I did not subscribe to CapitaMalls Asia IPO.

I managed to get my hand on its printed prospectus from one of its shopping center, though (good effort of setting up a booth & distribute the print out). But what rather turns me off is the fact that the prospectus is very thick.

Sure, it makes a very nice reading with all those figures & colours. Yet, to think they wasted so much money to print all those booklets? No so environmentally friendly, huh, CapitaMalls Asia?

With that thinkin (frivolous, perhaps, for some), I decided not to be part of the rapists of the Earth (may you rest in peace, trees who were destined to be transformed as CapitaMalls Asia IPO prospectus).

Property developer CapitaLand's latest unit to list, CapitaMalls Asia, has attracted strong interest for its initial public offering.

CapitaLand said on Tuesday in a statement to SGX that its public offer of 95 million offering shares at $2.12 per share was 4.9 times subscribed.

It raised $988.5 million from 44,507 valid applications at the close of the public offer at noon on Monday and will begin trading on Wednesday.

All of its 11.6 million reserved shares were applied for by the directors, management, employees and business associates of the CapitaLand Group, including CapitaMalls Asia and its units.

About $24.7 million was received for the reserved shares, the firm said.

Upon completion of the IPO and assuming the full exercise of the over-allotment option, CapitaLand's shareholding interest in CapitaMalls Asia will be reduced from 100 per cent to 65.5 per cent, and the IPO would have raised approximately S$2.8 billion, said the firm.

From Straits Times, "CapitaMalls raise $2.8b in IPO".

Property group CapitaLand said that it raised $2.8 billion by selling 34.5 per cent of its retail arm CapitaMalls Asia (CMA) in its initial public offering (IPO).

Both the placement and retail shares were oversubscribed, and the company also released all over-allotment shares. In total, 1.34 billion shares were sold at $2.12 apiece.

The listing of CMA - which has a $20.3 billion portfolio of 86 malls in Singapore, China, Malaysia, Japan and India - is Singapore's biggest IPO since Singapore Telecommunications raised more than $4 billion in 1993.

Analysts expect CMA shares to gain today on their debut, fuelled by demand from institutional investors keen to gain exposure to China's fast-growing consumer market. More than half of CMA's malls are in China.

In a note, DMG & Partners analysts Brandon Lee and Jonathan Ng gave a valuation range of $2.42- $3.01 for CMA's shares. This is between 14 and 42 per cent above the IPO price of $2.12.

CapitaLand had earlier set an indicative range of $1.98 to $2.39 for the IPO, but later decided to price it below the mid-point of the range - a move that analysts said was to ensure that the stock trades well after it debuts.

CapitaLand yesterday reported demand of about 2.5 times for the placement tranche of 1.059 billion shares. An additional 174.8 million shares were over-allotted due to strong demand from investors.

Also, the public offer (excluding reserved shares) of 95 million shares was 4.9 times subscribed. In addition, all of the 11.7 million shares reserved for the directors, management, employees and business associates of the group were also taken up.

'Upon completion of the IPO and assuming the full exercise of the over-allotment option, CapitaLand's shareholding interest in CapitaMalls Asia will be reduced from 100 per cent to 65.5 per cent, and the IPO would have raised approximately $2.8 billion,' CapitaLand said.

CMA chief executive Lim Beng Chee said that the company is well-positioned to ride on strong consumerism trends in Asia and will continue to grow its business in the region, with an initial focus on China and Singapore.

CMA marks the sixth entity within the CapitaLand group to be listed on the Singapore Exchange. CapitaLand has previously said that it could record a one-time gain of $883 million from this IPO.

Part of the proceeds will be paid out as a special dividend to the group's shareholders. The company will also use some of its proceeds to invest in its residential and service residence business units. In particular, CapitaLand is looking at Singapore, China, Australia and Vietnam for growth for the overall group.

CapitaLand's shares lost four cents to close at $4.11 yesterday.

From Business Times, "CapitaLand raises $2.8b from CapitaMalls Asia IPO".

Update on 25/11: CapitaMalls Asia performed wonderful in its first day of trading. The counter is closed at $2.30 (compare to its IPO price of $2.12).

CAPITAMALLS Asia shares rose more than 8 per cent on their Singapore debut on Wednesday before trimming gains, as investors bought into Singapore's biggest public offering for 16 years to gain exposure to China's fast-growing consumer market.

At 0130 GMT (9.30am Singapore time), CapitaMalls was traded at $2.25, or 6.1 per cent higher than its initial public offering price of $2.12 a share, after slipping from opening at $2.30. Analysts had expected it to gain about 10 per cent from its IPO price.

'We have always endeavoured to price our transaction to leave something behind for our stakeholders,' said CapitaLand CEO Liew Mun Leong at a ceremony to mark the debut of the Singapore developer's shopping mall unit.

Its IPO was 2.7 times subscribed with strong institutional demand from Europe and the United States, said parent company CapitaLand, which will retain about 65 per cent of CapitaMalls and plans to use the IPO proceeds to fund its expansion in Vietnam and grow its Ascott serviced residences business.

Analysts say CapitaMalls, which owns or manages 86 shopping malls including 50 in China, offered a way to tap the region's growing consumer demand, especially in China where retail sales rose 16.2 per cent in October from a year ago.

The sale of CapitaMalls shares, at 1.55 times book value compared with parent CapitaLand's 1.4 times, may spark a trend of firms floating minority stakes in their most attractive subsidiaries to 'unlock' the value of the assets.

From Straits Times, "CapitaMalls gains on debut".

Update on 26/11: The counter closed at $2.30 (that is up 8.5 per cent over its IPO price) is deemed to be against expectations for a 10 per cent jump. For the record, its second day trading also closed flat at $2.30.

Shares of CapitaMalls Asia made their much-anticipated debut on the Singapore Exchange on Wednesday.

The counter closed at S$2.30 - up 8.5 per cent over its IPO price - against expectations for a 10 per cent jump.

The listing was the largest in Singapore in 16 years. The IPO was 1.7 times oversubscribed, with the institutional portion garnering about 2.5 bids for every available share.

Liew Mun Leong, chairman of CapitaMalls Asia, said: "We have received very strong response from the local retail investors and international institutional investors, of which more than 65% are from US and Europe.

"They believe in the future of Asia's growing economies, particularly in the domestic and consumer spending sectors."

CapitaMalls Asia owns or manages 86 shopping malls across five countries in the region.

CapitaMalls Asia shares had begun with what appeared to be a rousing start, rising 8.5 per cent over its IPO price to S$2.30. But the initial excitement fizzled somewhat, as the counter dropped to an intra-day low of S$2.23 at midday.

The bulls then returned after the lunch break, sending the stock to an intra-day high of S$2.31 before settling at its opening price of S$2.30.

The performance fell short of analysts' expectations. Roger Tan, vice-president of SIAS Research, said: "At this point of time, I think investors are a bit cautious because it's the end of the year. And so far volatility in the US markets and in China and in Asia has been pretty high.

"So I guess investors would prefer to keep a little bit of whatever returns that they've made over the year in cash, hoping to see whether... we can come back in January to ride another bull run."

Analysts said CapitaMalls Asia's large issue size could have weighed against the IPO. It had offered 1.16 billion shares in its IPO, while another 175 million shares were issued under an over-allotment option. All in, the IPO raised S$2.8 billion.

There was much anticipation surrounding CapitaMalls Asia, especially after the debut of China-based canned food maker Sino Grandness earlier this week, where the counter shot up 52 per cent on its first trading day.

But some analysts still believe that shares of CapitaMalls Asia could hit S$3.00 in a year.

From Channel NewsAsia, "CapitaMalls Asia ends trading debut at S$2.30, up 8.5% on IPO price".

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