Spiky Lamp Posts

One thing I learned about New York City is that anything can be fun and turn into art as well. Looking at the lamp posts from a distance I was intrigued on finding out what was them decorated with. It was eye catching, super cool and looked awesome.

Once I got closer I realized it was made using the simplest thing on hand and I wondered how come no one ever thought about it before.

I stood there and had to take a few pictures so I can share a fun, cool and creative way of making the lamp posts appealing without having to re-design or try to go fancier to make them look better.

The Pictures were taken at Astor Place.

Naruto Stick Fight

Hehe. Cool, isn't it? Grin.

For the clueless, this is Naruto. Find out more from Wikipedia, "Naruto" and/or Narutopedia.

Image Source

Singapore Population Trends 2011 & arising questions...

Here are the burning questions after reading the statistics from the Population Trends 2011:

What explains the decline of the number of permanent residents? Is it because more stringet requirement for the foreigners to apply to be PR-s? Or is it because more PR-s became citizenship? Or is it because less application for PR-s? (In other words, being a Singapore PR is no longer attractive?)

I'd like to know the breakdown of this figure for a better picture.

I too am wondering how the social changes are going to be if there are just two categories: Singapore citizens and foreigners. Get rid PR-s from the equation, and see how the impacts (if any) will be.

Latest statistics from the Population Trends 2011 report released Wednesday showed Singapore's total population stood at 5.18 million as at end June this year.

The report also showed there were 3.79 million Singapore residents, of whom, 3.26 million are Singapore citizens and 530,000 are permanent residents.

There were 1.39 million non-resident foreigners as at end June.

The report said the total population expanded by 2.1 per cent, or 107,000, in 2011, due to increased number of citizens and non-residents.

The number of Singapore citizens grew by 0.8 per cent between 2010 and 2011 to 3.26 million.

Growth in the number of non-residents was 6.9 per cent in 2011, down from the peaks of 15 per cent in 2007 and 19 per cent in 2008.

In contrast, the number of permanent residents declined by 1.7 per cent to 532,000, after growing 1.5 per cent last year and at least six per cent each year between 2005 and 2009.

Reflecting the ageing population, the proportion of Singapore residents aged 45 years and over expanded over time.

The median age of the resident population rose from 37.4 years last year to 38 years in 2011.

Consequently, the ratio of working-age residents to elderly residents dropped.

There were 7.9 residents aged 15-64 years for each resident aged 65 years and over in 2011, a decline from 8.2 in 2010.

In 2011, the Chinese formed the majority at 74 per cent of the resident population, followed by the Malays with 13 per cent and the Indians with 9.2 per cent.

The report also showed the first decline in general marriage rates since 2003.

The Singapore Department of Statistics said in 2010, 24,363 marriages were registered.

That is 6.6 per cent lower than the 26,081 registered in 2009.

Sociologists said this is a particularly worrying trend given that the number of singles in the population has risen.

With more singles, the general marriage rate should be going up but it has gone down instead.

Experts said the reason singles are not translating their relationships into marriage may have to do with global economic uncertainty.

Singles may be too focused on maintaining economic and job stability to even date.

The Population Trends report also found more people aged 30 to 34 have never been married.

It found more couples are not having children and there are more families with only one child.

Experts said the fact that more women are marrying past their prime reproductive years means the likelihood of them growing larger families will be smaller.

From Channel NewsAsia, "S'pore population trends released".

To NEA: no news on last night typhoon or storm hitting Singapore?!?!

The truth is out there. No, it's not. Just a very strong wind ravaging the trees last night some time after midnight. The howling of the wind was enough to wake me up from my panadol-induced sleep.

Disappointing that there's no such an announcement or news update about the peculiar wind from National Environment Agency.

The only evidence I was not hallucinating was from this cartoonist/blogger, "Typhoon pass by Singapore...?" who ended his post with, "I am so bloody afraid when i heard the sound." (He too referred to the sound of the wind.)

Another evidence was also found from this STOMP, "Deepavali vendors out of luck as tent collapses in storm". Partially quoted:

"This happened at the bazaar in front of Mustafa Centre, in Little India.

"Around 11.30pm or 12 midnight, a storm hit, and the strong winds first lifted the tent up.

"When the winds let up, the tent came crashing back down, and the scaffolding was not strong enough to support its weight and hence collapsed.

"It was also raining heavily at this time, so the rain soaked through the tent, damaging the goods that my father and fellow vendors had already put out on display.

Some people speculate that the strong wind has to do with the Typhoon Nesta which killed 18 people in Philippines. Yes, the very same typhoon which tail wind lashed on Sabah’s west coast.

I'll be monitoring local newspaper closely for any further update on what on earth that strong wind hitting Singapore last night.

Any other readers experience the same, please kindly let me know! (I checked with my colleagues from Woodlands, Sembawang, Yishun, Changi - they so far did experience the same!!)

Lust, caution: being a lover to a runaway maid?!

Yeah. Stupid love story involving a somewhat noble man who persuaded a runaway maid who freelanced as a prostitute to stop being one & sheltered her in his place for about 3 years?!

A man was jailed for seven months on Wednesday for harbouring an Indonesian woman who had overstayed for close to three years.

Syed Muhammad Bashir Syed Samsudin Barakkbah, 25, pleaded guilty to sheltering Safitri, 26, at his Bedok Reservoir Road flat from November 2008 to July 11 this year.

The court heard that Safitri was working as a domestic helper when she ran away from her employer's house in 2008. She then freelanced as a prostitute in Geylang.

Bashir befriended her in October that year. Subsequently they became lovers. He then persuaded her not to work as a prostitute and offered her accommodation at his place with his parents. It was after he had brought her home that she confessed that she had absconded from her employer.

From Straits Times, "Man jailed for harbouring runaway maid who overstayed".

Fit, but not necessarily Slim

Because being slim does not by default equate to being fit. Yeah, I saw the above advertisement & put aside my admiration to the model, I couldn't stop thinking how (potentially) misleading the ad was.

On another note, Wisegeek has a curious article, "Why are Fashion Models So Thin?". You may want to check it out. Heh.

ShoutOUT! : Creative Video Awards returns for its third year

'Playback' by last year's winner Tan SiangYu

Ths Creative Video Awards (CVA) returns for its third year this September for a new season, offering an exciting opportunity for both professionals and members of the public to fight for the ighest honour in video production.

Co-organised by Singapore Media Academy (SMA) and MediaCorp Channel 5 (Ch5), the competition has two categories – Professional, which provides a platform for creative individuals, production houses and reelancers to pit their skills against one another, and Open, for the general public with a keen interest in reating videos.

Acclaimed local film-maker, Royston Tan will lead a five-member judging panel made up of noted individuals
from different sectors in the media industry to judge the competition. All awards will be appraised by the panel,except for the Most Popular Award (Open category), which will be decided solely based on audiences’ SMS oting. SMS voting will also account for part of the total score in determining the Grand Video Award (Professional category).

Up to S$40,000 worth of cash and prizes are to be won this year. CVA promises to provide participants with unparalleled opportunities for their works to be showcased – all winning entries will be televised on Ch5 in a dedicated television showcase after the competition. Winning videos will also be automatically submitted for the 14th Very Short International Film Festival (France) for selection.

Says Tan Siang Yu, Grand Video Award winner 2010/11, “The win provided much exposure and also opened doors for me and my team. Other than the multiple screenings on Channel 5, I also competed at an international level with Very Short International Film Fest (VSIFF), where the film was screened simultaneously in over 20 countries.

Apart from the main competition, SMA will also conduct a complimentary video-making seminar, and two handson workshops to the public, as part of its fringe activities for budding talents to learn the curves in video
production at different levels.

Registration starts 26 September, and the video submission deadline is 9 December. Results will be announced at the concluding Awards Ceremony on 13 January 2012.
For more information about the competition, please log on to www.eSMA.sg/CVA.

Yam Ah Mee in Celebrate Life on the Circle Line

Catch PA chief executive director Yam Ah Mee in his first-ever musical performance this Sun, 02/10. Titled, "Celebrate Life on the Circle Line" the musical will be held at the Buona Vista Circle Line station at 10am. The performance will feature other TV and stage artistes such as Chua Enlai, Irene Ang and Alaric Tay.

In case you have forgotten the extraordinary Yam Ah Mee (you should not!), the following 2 clips will serve as a good reminder. Heh.

Yam Ah Mee Election Club Mix (GE 2011)

the mrbrown show: the yam song (yam ah mee music video)

Singaporeans will get a chance to catch People's Association (PA) chief executive director Yam Ah Mee in his first-ever musical performance this Sunday.

Mr Yam will appear in "Celebrate Life on the Circle Line", a musical celebrating the opening of 12 new stations on the final stretch of the Circle Line, which will open its doors to the public on Oct 8.

The musical will take place Oct 2 at the Buona Vista Circle Line station at 10am. The performance will feature other TV and stage artistes such as Chua Enlai, Irene Ang and Alaric Tay.

Entertainment, games and prizes for everyone

The whole-day event will start from 10am and end at 6pm. Visitors will be able hop on the train at any of the 12 stations from Caldecott to HarbourFront for free, throughout the eight hours.

A free bus shuttle service will be available to ferry passengers between Marymount and Caldecott stations (bi-directional) throughout the day from 10am to 6pm at intervals of 10 minutes.

The activities and entertainment will take place at six stations - Buona Vista, Holland Village, Botanic Gardens, Kent Ridge, Telok Blangah and HarbourFront - each hosted by a celebrity deejay.

The public can look forward to full-filled activities such as sand painting, jewellery making, kampong games, giant Jenga, Lila drumming and origami folding.

There will also be free guided tours throughout the day at Haw Par Villa starting from 10.30am with the last tour at 5.15pm.

From Asiaone, "PA Chief Yam Ah Mee to debut in musical".

'The Artist' Series

In concentrating some of the things that we have been talking about on this blog since the beginning I am starting a new series. The focus has always been from the perspective of the young and emerging artist trying to figure out the 'Art World' and all the twists and turns involved. There have been several interviews with artists as well as issues concerning subjects such as preparing a portfolio, visiting galleries, politics etc. There have also been several posts relating to international and regional art scenes. Now to hone in on what it is to be an artist in this time I am launching 'The Artist' series.

The idea is that artists in this time more than ever are wearing many hats out of necessity, resourcefulness, changing roles and expectations. I would really love for you to participate and share your stories and experiences with us.

Tattoed Calves - Great Spot for Ink

Walking in the Downtown area I noticed awesome looking Ink from across the street and I decided to stop the woman who proudly displayed fantastic work of art.

Calves are awesome areas in the body to have decorated with Ink designs, especially when you have flawless skin. there was more to photograph since the person has such amazing taste for body art and I hope I get to feature most of her tattoos and piercings soon.

Outstanding, thats how I can describe all the amazing wrok she has on the rest of her body which is appealing and easy on the eyes. It is a great feeling to stand out from the rest on a high artistic level like she does.

If you're interested in having your work displayed or your business featured on Inked Plus email me for detail: InkedPlus@Live.com

Best Film pick at SIFF Silver Screen Awards

Hello Goodbye is a very deliberate film about lives crossing each other – something quite unlikely in real life but it makes me still willing to suspend my disbelief and lose myself in a world where lines can be crossed. A chambermaid starts an exchange of words on the feedback card with the businessmen guest whose room she cleans. This results in a chance meeting but one that is hit and go. We are not what he hit (!) but basically their meeting was the beginning and the end and life goes back to normal. While I would preferred a less easy payoff to the build-up exchange between them, the film still found a way to circularize the story by bringing our attention back to the void in her married life – her husband wants to have dinner finally.

The film paces itself as elegantly as the wallpaper in the hotel room (which I learnt was a set built in NTU!) The silent treatment and the soft lighting also complements the film well. It is unfortunately too safe a film and the hotel room chamber with guest interplay seems like something out of a Korean drama. While, I would give it a thumbs up for effort and style, I hesitate to raise my hands if its about adding something new to cinema.

At the time when I wrote this Hentak Kaki had already won Best Film. But no matter. Hentak Kaki rests almost completely on the thorny yet funny exchange between 2 men and the extent of the drama and characterization stays largely within the counseling room. This was my issue with film. It was a piece of theatre put on lenses. There was nothing the film explored that added depth and layered our view of the 2 men. Both friends, they get into a verbal exercise under the constraints of a Detention Barrack counseling session – an exercise that is punctuated comically by either attempts (mostly the convict) to get real and confront the real issues.

This makes Hentak Kaki a brilliant script, filled with irony, comedy and eventually raw emotions. But the execution leaves much room to broaden the cinematic treatment. The film does in fact attempt to depict the back story to the warrant officer’s sense of frustration – it shows him at the clinic talking to his medical officer and him in acute agony over his ligament injury. Somehow, the director’s literal treatment of the issue also limits the audience’s view of the matter. I mean, it is not just about a choice of job, it is about a perspective in life that film lightly scrapped through. And only in spoken words.

Watching the film Sisters really convinces me the point of the film is more conceptual than narrative. In a household that is celebrating a marriage, there are not enough ‘sisters’ to help in forming the familiar human barricade to test the groom before he is allowed to kiss the bride. The older folks resort to playing sisters, almost in a desperate fashion to salvage what is left of Chinese tradition. With the domineering auntie taking centrestage with her ‘sister’ role play, you wonder if the film is about struggling to keep up tradition. But the term ‘Sisters’ seems to have yet another meaning. The brother of the bride had evidently dallied with the groom in previous encounters, some emotional and it creates an awkward situation when the ‘sisterly’ games are played.

The film culminates in an awkward moment at the door of the bedroom when big ‘auntie sister’ gets the brother to role play as the bride and the groom has to express in his sincerest fashion, his love for the bride. The groom does a suave job, the family lets him go but the brother gets emotionally tangled at the spur of the moment, which was both narratively awkward as it was emotionally in that situation. While not every film needs a closure, the film, if it was to be more than just a exploration of the ‘sisterhood’, needed to find a way to feed the hungry ghosts of the past or put the ghosts back to sleep.

Speaking of ghosts, Threads, which is about a lady who makes funeral clothes meeting her own end, kind of spooks me with the stilted acting more than anything else. I think Mdm Yu, the seamstress character is the real thing in real life and the directors made the assumption that casting her in the role would be perfect. (I may be wrong in making this assumption). The lady who played the character tended to over-articulate her lines, almost to operatic effect. The film suffers on a few grounds. Again, like many of the films curated in the finalist line-up, the treatment was too literal and in this instance too linear as well. For a topic like death, the film could have played around narratively a bit more than just taking through the trite and teary hospital bed departure scene.

The film however, was not without its poignant moments. When Mdm Yu goes to buy another bale of cloth for a job, she buys an extra bale for herself to make her own funeral clothing. The shop owner is stunned into silence and offers it free to her as a kind gesture. Sharon Wong who played the daughter, anchored much of the film with her believable treatment of her character even though parts of it were to TV-acting. Threads is a film with a lot of colourful potential, if only the director could see beyond the obvious and give us a new clothes on an old body.

My pick for Best Film is Hello Goodbye which is an overall balanced film in its various crucial aspects that made it what it is.

Production Talk - 'The Hole' by Tan Shijie


‘The Hole' is a simple story of mother and son, who are farmers. Long-widowed Ka-san feels compelled to have her only son Kenji marry, to his stubborn refusal: Kenji is happy to keep things as they are. On the day they are to visit father's grave, Ka-san broaches the subject again, and during their journey Kenji begins to understand his mother's hopes and fears.

What inspired this film?

The first desire in the very beginning of the project was to make a domestic film, something simple and unaffected. I was attracted to a character who is at first immature and selfish, but then gets a glimpse of someone else’s point of view, allowing him a chance to overcome himself. Whether or not this overcoming is entirely altruistic, is something I wanted to leave a little ambiguous.

Why the choice of a Japanese setting?

The second desire in the very beginning of the project was to make a film in Japan. Before I even thought about making films, I was watching a lot of Japanese Cinema; I was always thrilled by how Japanese films are so variegated, in terms of style, content and form. I suppose you could say it was as a small, personal pilgrimage of mine.

What convinced me that this story could take place there, was that there is something very specific about the mother-son relationship in Japan; a bond very sentimental and heightened, at least in my understanding of it, more than most Asian cultures. It seemed the right place to tell that story: it invested the characters and the situation with a dramatic weight automatically.

How would you have told the story differently in a Singapore setting?

The very basic through-line of a selfish character overcoming himself could conceivably be told anywhere. Setting the film in Japan had, in addition to the things I mentioned above, the rural, traditional setting, which gives it a sense of timelessness; in Singapore, this would not be possible.

The first thing: in Singapore, I do not think I would use marriage and mothers-and-sons. Perhaps Fathers? Helping the ineffectual Son get interviews at jobs he doesn’t see himself in? My first instinct is that it might be comical too. I am just speaking hypothetically here; in truth, if I were to properly answer this question I would have to make another film!

What inspires you to make films? You seem to have a keen eye for human
interaction and relationships

The possibility of connecting with other people. As much as I love the cinema as an art-form, I think it is meaningless if the films you make do not make a connection with the audience. Communion is its function. If there is one audience member that was touched, one person who watched the film and was moved, then I will feel that I did my job. It is this that gives me the most satisfaction, and convinces me to make another one. I’ve always thought that showing an audience your work is like confessing love to a stranger, saying “this is me.”

Thank you for your compliment- I just have an interest in human relationships, and what it means to be a good human being. These are questions I ask myself; I’d like to think that these things are important, and that’s why I make films about them.

What were some of the biggest challenges in making this film?

The biggest were the logistical issues: we shot in an area quite removed from the city, and there was no budget to move the crew to temporary housing close-by. So there was, at the least, a two-hour drive to location everyday. This meant less time, more tired cast and crew, and more stress.

Shooting car scenes as well, took a lot of time, because we would have to find the right spot, shoot the scene, and if necessary go back to the beginning spot to shoot again. But since it was a mountain road, it was not possible to U-turn; we had always to keep driving until we could, which could be quite far away. All these take time off from shooting; apart from being a scheduling problem, it also meant that the rhythm and momentum of working was interrupted again and again – luckily, I was surrounded by colleagues of integrity and professionalism, who worked hard to see the film through.

Take us through some of the interesting things that happened in your production.

There is this scene in the film, when Kenji hears his Ka-san call out to him at the far end of the cemetery. After the shoot, at dinner with the cast and crew, Asada-san (who plays Kenji), told me that we had shot that scene, in the very cemetery where he had discovered that his own mother had collapsed. It was a special revelation- when things like that happen you always feel like it is bigger than mere coincidence.

What I remember most about the shoot, was the very last day- when we shot the field scenes on the mountain. We were shooting the last scene in the schedule, and did not have a lot of time to do it. The mountain was four hours away from Tokyo city, and there was not a lot of daylight because the sun set behind mountain; it would be dark by three-thirty in the afternoon.

So we were down on the field and had to shoot a motorcycle driving past, situated several kilometres away; the sun is touching the tip of the mountain, we had fifteen minutes of daylight. We rushed the first shot, and it didn't work- had to do it again. 10 more minutes of daylight.

For some reason, the road suddenly had frequent cars passing by, which would have made the shot unuseable. We waited, but it wouldn’t subside - it was tense; the sun was setting.

All this while though, some kilometres away, there were men doing road works, and they were packing up for the day. My producers had a brainwave and asked if they could help: they gladly agreed, and put up road cones for us, and started to regulate the traffic!

So, we rolled the camera, and took the shot. It worked. When it came the time to call wrap, I had to shout because a lot of the crew was on top, at the road; so my voice literally echoed in the mountains- it was met with cheers, hugs and some tears; we were all so tense, like a coiled spring, that when we finished, there was real joy and relief.

That was one of the most special moments for me; on a winter mountain, the cast and crew hugging and congratulating each other at the end of the shoot. It is special when a group of individuals are united in a purpose like that.


St. Marks - New York City

St. Marks is one of the best hangout areas in Downtown Manhattan. Here you can find plenty of everything for everyone, awesome bars, food places and clothing stores. When you visit the strip you will notice most people have something in common, appreciation for Body Art.

St. Marks have an eclectic selection of restaurant and food spots where you can pick a quick bite or sit at a table to have dinner alone or with friends. There is plenty of Vegetarian / Vegan Restaurants and quick bites as well.

One thing you will notice for sure is the endless amount of Tattoo / Piercing Parlors from start to end. This area has an interesting appeal all year round and people who live or work in the area are welcoming and pleasant.

It is a very relaxed and casual environment, totally inhibited where you can simply be yourself and don't have to worry about non-sense or fake impersonations of what the perfect everything should be, St. Marks is already perfect by being free spirited and open to reality.

Art can be anywhere, everything is surrounded by creativity and artistic vision, from a van full of graffiti to public art exhibits.

Best Director pick at SIFF Silver Screen Award

Best Director

Big Feet, the film about a girl and her Olympian dream of running was a breath of fresh air among the finalist cohort because it lets its characters breathe and .... run. With her swinging limbs, her whimsical moments in the classroom, her unbridled energy when she sprinted, the little girl was very much in her element and it steals your heart for a moment. Many of the other shorts tended to fit actors into roles mandated by the script too much like a formula. At a later point of the film, she gets too competitive for her own innocent age, as influenced by her father, and it struck me that this girl is such a godsend for a director - especially her nuanced transition from friendly racer to medal chaser, without overdoing the new 'kiasu' self she had discovered. I personally thought the masterstroke of Carl Lewis opened a new narrative tangent in what would then otherwise be just another parent-child relationship play.

Band of Mischief was a bagful of emotional baggage. It begins with suicide and ends with death. In between, the characters are constantly seeking for revenge. I do like the dark irony of the Halloween dressing up to deliver close-to-real scares. The audience gets their gore fix yet the director manages to deliver it more cleverly than just giving it to you point-blank. It is layered and it plays with your expectations of whether real blood was going to shed or when it would be. I personally am not a fan a flashbacks. The director could have used a bit more strategy in his narrative flow instead of planting flashbacks at the point of the 'torturer' inching towards the school bully with his electric drill, even though the cliffhanger moment was powerful. The film was also excessive at the various set up and resolution points, which I thought the director could have done with more economy in telling us who these people are. Overall, this was a rather uneven film that packed in suspense and gore and yet romanticised it at the end. It is a bagful of gems but the director needs to decide what to dish out.

Hentak Kaki would fit in very nicely into a stage play. Two characters interacting under play-pretend kind of situation, trying to slip into truthful conversation when nobody is watching and yet slipping back into their occupational roles to cover up. In the format of a film, I thought the director failed to reinvent the banter. I applaud the actors for delivering their roles pitch perfect. The Indian detainee was a little theatrical but the Warrant Officer seemed like someone you imported out of a camp! Good acting aside and also clever in 'turning around' a counselling session, the director could have thought more beyond confines of the barracks. Let us uncover his life a bit more, go beyond the stern, reprimanding voice we are so used to hearing, observe his moments out of his army fatigues. Why should we care that he is stuck in his career? Only Singaporean men would, we all what warrant officers behave as they do.

Sisters is a film about a man about to marry a girl whose brother he had some previous dallying with. The problem with the film is that it remains just that, to illustrate the cross-affair. What made the film interesting was almost the single-handed performance of the auntie who played a 'sister'. Firmly seated into her role, she delivers her lines with gravitas and oils the drama in the film with her piercing glares and command for and of attention, played effectively to humorous effect at various points. By the way a 'sister' is one who creates 'barriers' and challenges to the marrying groom who is supposed to surmount these in order to get his bride. The choice of someone beyond the conventional age to be a 'sister' was a brilliant one though the film faltered on it being too much a one-sided tennis game. The groom and even the sulky brother could have stepped up to their roles beyond cock-teasing. If one observes carefully, all the other characters are actually evenly believable in their roles, which shows the director's seasoned hands. If only we could see that drama that ensued after the rather abrupt ending.

My choice for Best Director is a tough one between Big Feet and Sisters (and perhaps Red Veil too) but I give it to Sisters for giving us a auntie who makes sure you listen up.

Written by Jeremy Sing

Bedok Reservoir suicides: Killing oneself is not an answer!!

A further continuation of this post, "Bedok Reservoir dead bodies due to suicide?".

Suicide is a sin. Life may be very harsh to you, but to give up by taking an easy exit should never be an option.

On the other hand, I find this particular song, "Suicide" by Rihanna to be somewhat suitable for this tragedy:
loving you is suicide
i don't know should go or should i stay
i'm tryna to keep myself alive
knowing there's a chance it's all too late
but i heard you say you love me
that's the part i can't forget
and i wish that you come save me
cos i'm standing over the edge

i should let you go
tell myself the things i need to hear
but my brain is why you're wrong
that's why i'm loving you when you're not here
feels like i drown in your every word
and every breath that's in between
somehow you got me where it really hurts
it's killing every part of me

Rest in peace, Mdm Tan Sze Sze and her son, Jerald Chin Le Hui. Do not be vengeful ghosts.

Over the past year, Madam Tan Sze Sze, 31, had become increasingly short-tempered and irritable. She was fiercely protective of her only child, a three-year-old boy, and spent most of her time looking after him.

At one point, she told her mother that life had become too much of a torture.

Madam Tan had frequent fights with her estranged husband over his access to their son.

Her husband sometimes called in the police and applied for a court order to give him access to the boy on weekends, said Madam Tan's family.

The former secretary was found floating face down in Bedok Reservoir yesterday morning. She was holding on to her son, Jerald Chin Le Hui.Her sister, Ms Celeste Tan, 30, said Madam Tan had been suffering from depression for the past year, but she simply refused to seek help.

On Sunday, some men came knocking at their flat in French Road in the Lavender area, Ms Tan said in Mandarin.

When they identified themselves as policemen, Madam Tan grabbed Le Hui and crouched in a corner, repeatedly saying that she was afraid.

"The men said that if my sister did not comply with the court order, she would be fined. If she could not pay the fine, she might have to go to jail and the punishment would be heavier the next time."

Ms Tan said her sister had once allowed her husband to take Le Hui home sometime last year. But Le Hui, then two, came back with a bleeding nose.

Madam Tan's husband told her that it was an accident, and that it was just a bit of torn skin. But his nose did not stop bleeding for two days and he cried constantly.

After that, Madam Tan refused to let Le Hui go with his father. He was only allowed to see his father in the vicinity of their home in the presence of Ms Tan or her mother.

Things turned ugly when he threatened them with a lawsuit, Ms Tan said.

Madam Tan's mother, Mrs Tan Geok Lai, 53, claimed he would kick up a fuss at their home. She admitted to yelling at him to go away.

She said the couple had got married in 2006 after about two years of courtship, but did not live together for most of their marriage.

Not long after registering their marriage, their relationship became strained when Madam Tan found a condom in his car. When she asked him about it, he said that it belonged to his friend.

While they were renting a flat in Ang Mo Kio, Madam Tan became pregnant.

But the couple returned to their respective parents' homes before Le Hui was born.

Madam Tan's family believes that her death may be linked to her fear of going to jail over her refusal to let her husband take Le Hui home.

Said Ms Tan: "She loves Le Hui a lot. She is an introvert and does not have any friends. He is all she has.

"What if she lets Le Hui go over and he returns with bruises or cuts? The first time it happened, she couldn't stop crying."

Despite all that happened, Madam Tan refused to divorce her husband even after her family advised her to grant his request for a divorce, said Ms Tan.

Said Ms Tan: "My sister is very loyal and I guess she really did love him a lot."

Madam Tan and Le Hui were dressed in red tops when their bodies were found. Their fingernails were also painted red.

Ms Tan said she saw a red thread around her sister's wrist when she identified their bodies yesterday afternoon.

Dressed in red
It is a Chinese belief that when someone dressed in red kills herself, the person's spirit will return as a vengeful ghost.

A police spokesman said they were alerted to the two bodies at around 6.50am. At 7.15am, a paramedic pronounced them dead at the scene.

The police have classified the deaths as unnatural and are investigating.

Madam Tan and Le Hui visited Mrs Tan at her workplace in Clementi Central on Tuesday morning, just before they went missing.

Mrs Tan said in Mandarin: "She and Le Hui were both wearing red. Ah Sze looked very pained, very hurt.

"She told me that she was going to leave this world and I told her not to."

The pair left soon after, at about 10am. Mrs Tan tried contacting her daughter a few minutes later but her mobile phone was switched off.

At 2.30pm, Mrs Tan finally reached her. In their last conversation, Mrs Tan tried in vain to dissuade her daughter.

Said a stoic Mrs Tan: "I told her not to be silly. But she told me 'Do you think that I am so bored that I will joke about this? I will definitely die today'."

"I asked her to come and have lunch with me but she said that this was the last time I would hear her voice. If I didn't let her talk, I wouldn't be able to hear her voice again.

"I heard water and asked where she was but she refused to tell me."

Madam Tan reminded her mother that it was the 23rd day of the month in the Chinese calendar.

When she previously talked about killing herself, Madam Tan always said that she wanted to die on the 23rd as that was the day that her grandmother and father died.

When Madam Tan passed the phone over to her son, Le Hui told his grandmother: "Ah Ma, Mummy is very noisy. She keeps crying."

The call was cut and Mrs Tan couldn't reach her elder daughter again despite several attempts. She later found Madam Tan's set of housekeys in Mrs Tan's letterbox and feared the worst.

She said: "Ah Sze always said that because she brought Le Hui into this world, she must bring him along when she leaves this world too."

Ms Tan made a missing persons' report that day and cried herself to sleep, knowing that her sister wouldn't be coming home again.

Whenever she spoke about killing herself, Madam Tan would say that she would rather drown than jump off a building.

On Wednesday night, Mrs Tan headed out with Ms Tan and her son-in-law to nearby West Coast Park as they thought she might have gone there.

They called out to Madam Tan in tears, but there was no sign of her or Le Hui.

The next morning, their bodies were spotted by a passer-by at Bedok Reservoir. Mrs Tan suspects that Madam Tan chose that location as they had lived in Bedok seven years ago before moving to French Road.

Said Mrs Tan: "I feel like I am in a dream. But in her letter, she said that she was going to look for her father.

"If she can be happier in the other world, then I should just let her go."

In the same handwritten letter, Madam Tan thanked her mother for taking good care of her and her son, and told her to take good care of herself.

Today, Ms Tan turns 30, and next Friday, Madam Tan would have turned 32.

But there will be no birthday celebrations this year.

Madam Tan and Le Hui's wake will be held at French Road from today till the funeral on Sunday.

From Asiaone, "'Mummy keeps crying'".

A bitter custody battle continued after a tragic death Friday when the wake of a mother and son whose bodies were found in Bedok Reservoir was disrupted by angry family members who tried to drag the woman's estranged husband from a van and block his escape.

Police later arrested one of her relatives when they went to the husband's house to confront him.

Tan Sze Sze, 32, and her three-year-old son Jerald Chin were found dead on Thursday morning by officers from national water agency PUB. They were reported missing two days before.

Angry family members set upon her husband Willy Chin, 33, when he arrived at the wake to pay his respects.

Tan's mother and younger sister, who were waiting by the road, wrenched open the door of the van in which he was a passenger and tried to pull him out. Throughout, they hurled vulgarities at him and accused him of causing the deaths.

Chin managed to break free and close the door but a few family members chased after the van while Tan's mother tried to block its path.

After 10 minutes, it managed to leave the area. Police were also called to the scene by passers-by.

But the family did not let the matter rest. Tan's mother, sister, the latter's husband and two other relatives decided to confront Chin at his Jalan Bukit Merah house.

They created a scene when they did not get to see him. Police later arrested the sister's husband when he refused to leave.

Tan's mother, Teo Guek Lai, told reporters her daughter had become increasingly upset after becoming embroiled in a bitter custody battle with her estranged husband. She also feared her son would be taken from her after she was fined for not allowing Chin access to Jerald.

“Her son was her life,” Teo said.

The day she went missing, Tan told her mother she planned to kill herself and take her son with her. She was later found cradling the boy, their bodies joined at the wrists by red string. They were wearing red T-shirts and their fingernails were painted red, a customary Chinese symbol of revenge after death.

Earlier, Chin gave reporters his side of the story at his home in Bukit Merah.

“I didn't do anything wrong. From start to finish, I just wanted to see my son. If she had just allowed me to take my son out on weekends, I wouldn't have had to pressure her by going to court,” he said.

He added that he went to her flat every weekend in the past year to try to see his son, but largely to no avail.

Chin, a restaurant chef, last saw the boy in February. Tan's sister brought Jerald down to see him for half an hour.

Looking tired and distressed, he added that when he first heard the news of his wife and son from the police, he was at a total loss.

On Friday morning, Tan's family went to Bedok Reservoir to carry out prayers and rituals.

Mother and son were later laid side by side in matching white coffins. Jerald's was covered with stickers of animals and adorned with some colorful balloons - some of his favorite playthings.

Toys selected by his nine-year-old cousin Shawn, whom he was close to, were also placed beside him in the casket.

“He always played with me... I miss him,” said Shawn.

From Jakarta Globe, "Anger at Wake for Mother and Son Found Dead in S'pore Reservoir".

F1 Night Race 2011 - Photos Galore

So I got a $1,288-ticket for a Grandstand Turn 2 for yesterday 2011 Formula 1 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix! (I do wish I could have said it that I was given the ticket in my capacity as a blogger. Alas, that's not the case! Heh.)

Anyway here are some of the photos I snapped:

1. Yes, so it's not night yet. I was early.

2. So I did a lot of walking. I came from Gate 1 (Zone 1 - refer to the map below) & I wandered all the way to Zone 4. Hur hur.

3. Here I was at Zone 4 - Padang.

4. And at Zone 4 - Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. Getting ready to watch Bollywood Express performance. Jai Ho!!

5. Then after laughing out loud at Forbidden Broadway hilarious performance (sorry, no pictures. Busy laughing!), I sneaked back to Grandstand Turn 2 & snapped some photos of the race.

6. Yeah, this was another of such photos. Mostly blurrish. I have much to learn. Heh.

7. The 10 planets blazing near Gate 1. Yeah!

8. Some stalls--beside those selling the usual merchandises--had also a game! This man didn't allow me to try, though. Hur hur.

9. Back to Zone 4 - Esplanade Outdoor Theatre for Neal & Massy Trinidad All Stars (Trinidad) performance.

10. Behold Marina Bay Sands - possibly the second best integrated resort after Resorts World Sentosa!

OTHERS (from the official website of Singapore F1 - 2011 Formula 1 Night Race - Singapore Grand Prix):

Download Circuit Park Map

Bollywood Express

Forbidden Broadway

And the following YouTube clips of Forbidden Broadway will give you the idea why I failed to take any of the photos of its show:

West end live 09 Forbidden Broardway Lion king

Forbidden Broadway - Les Miz

Not Google+: The First Antisocial Network

Joining Not Google+ is simple: "Don't join Google+." The next step is simple as well. "Once you've done that, don't invite your friends to join Google+."


The Straits Times : At home in Tiong Bahru

Pre-war conserved apartments in Tiong Bahru have become popular with yuppies who like the area's nostalgic charm

The Straits Times
Life Section
24 September 2011
By huang huifen

Mr Terence Yeung and Ms Bella Koh -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM
Tiong Bahru is where the heart is for designer couple Terence Yeung and Bella Koh.

Mr Yeung, an interior designer-lecturer, and Ms Koh, a fashion consultant, lived in a third-floor unit in Eng Hoon Street for eight years. When they moved house in March this year, it was to a unit just two streets away.

Ms Koh, 30, says: 'We are reluctant to leave this neighbourhood because it is such a convenient location. It has a market and is just a few minutes away from town. It also has a charisma that keeps you here. It has evolved and has so many things happening now.'

The couple moved to a 1,350 sq ft two-bedroom apartment in Eng Watt Street because they had always wanted a ground-floor unit that had courtyard space for their eight cats to roam in.

The courtyard (above) in their new ground-floor apartment is meant to be a space for their eight cats to roam in. -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM
The apartment cost more than $1 million and they splashed out a six-figure sum on renovations. Many of these apartments have less than 56 years left on their 99-year lease.

They figure the renovation will save them money in the long run. Mr Yeung, 41, says with a chuckle: 'We designed the house in such a way that it will be better than a hotel or a spa so that we don't have to travel anymore.'

Indeed, in a land-scarce city where space is a form of luxury in homes these days, the clever play of perspectives in this one evokes the feel of a luxe European hotel.

Take, for example, the 2.6m by 2.6m white French doors that separate the kitchen area from the bedrooms. Mr Yeung chose that height to create an illusion of space when entering the area leading to the bedroom.

'The entrance defines the experience when you enter a space. If you enter a narrow door, you will feel that the space is very tight and suffocating, and vice versa,' he says.

The illusion of space is repeated with a 3.2m by 4m six-door, white-washed oak bookshelf, the first thing you see when you walk through the French doors.

Similarly, the door leading to the master bedroom measures 3.2m by 0.9m, giving the sense of entering a spacious suite.

The spa mood is captured in their bedroom bathroom through the use of beige 'travertine' material for the wall, flooring and sink. A rainshower and bathtub complete the experience.

There are also green spaces, too. The airwell next to the kitchen is now a herb garden where Ms Koh can gather fresh ingredients for cooking. Two life-size deer stuffed by a taxidermist complete its wild look.

The airwell next to the kitchen is now a herb garden (above). -- ST PHOTO: DESMOND LIM
Mr Yeung's design agenda was influenced by the building's Art Deco style: 'The interior should have a European feel to complement the Art Deco architecture of the building.'

The aim to return to its roots also saw him reconfiguring the walls and doors of the original plan of the apartment. Yet it remains as functional as it is aesthetically pleasing.


Best Performance and Best Cinematography at the SIFF Silver Screen Awards

Marc Garbiel Loh in First Breath After Coma

If I were to walk away from this year’s SIFF Silver Screen Awards Finalist films remembering one thing, it would be the penchant for the dramatic and the beam of light sweeping across the La Salle logo in a disproportionately high number of short films. Put aside La Salle, their productivity is commendable. What I would like to focus on is the choice of films for this year’s finalists – high on theatrics but low on filmic quality, with several shorts fitting nicely into a TV genre. With a tagline ‘See Different’ and a trailer with a caricaturized fight, it might be natural to draw the conclusion that we need to view this year’s films with a different set of lenses.

Here are who I think are likely to take home the respective trophies and why.

Best Performance

It is almost like a Jerry Hoh and Oon Shu Ann special when they repeatedly appear in the various nominated films. Oon Shu Ann has an aesthetically strong face with a determined look that certainly helps anchor the films she starred in. She played a hotel chamber maid in ‘Hello Goodbye’ with subtlety and economy of expressions, fitting the narrative needs of the role well. Her thoughtful glances speak volumes for the otherwise quiet film. She then plays a stubborn and brave young boxer who will bear the pain of her bruises for a slice of honour. Despite her nomination for this film, it is less preferred one to ‘Hello Goodbye’ because she seems to wear the same adamant look , which can be tiring to watch for an already intense film.
Jerry Hoh despite the frequency of his appearances seems sideline by the nature of his roles – fillers to tell the story of the protagonist. I would like to see Jerry play a really bad guy one day. How about that for a real change?

While Sunny Pang was nominated in 3 Days Grace and Benjamin Chow was nominated for Band of Mischief, their roles failed to make a leap beyond the literal. Sunny played a son who has to take care of his father who has a stroke and it is a thorny and painful job. I blame his hair for the role. It seems to condition him into becoming more of a pose. And we spend most of the time seeing his physical expressions of frustration but none of his dilemmas, if there was one. Then again, it could directorial. And what's with Benjamin Chow's nomination for his rather predictable and off-the-shelf portrayal of a muppet-haired school bully?

Oon Shu Ann in Left Hook

This leaves Marc Gabriel Loh as my favourite contender against Oon Shu Ann in the Best Performance category. Marc takes us through a journey with his crush, his fears, his self-doubts with a performance that is nuanced and befitting of the bittersweet overtone in the story. It is easy to turn a blind eye to the intricacies of his performance when the character that he is playing simply overrules our focus - one that borders on the freakish with his gender-straddling persona. But looking beyond the gender-bending, one finds an likeable heart, a quietly determined spirit and most importantly, someone who does not try too hard. Having said that, I think Fie's (Marc's role) mother deserves a special mention award as well for playing a mother that was predictably resigned to her fate yet surprisingly comic at the right points. She is a 'Feshyen Feshyen' Mum!

Marc Gabriel and the feisty lady playing his mother

My choice for Best Performance : Marc Gabriel Loh in First Breath After Coma
Besides Marc, I was also particularly captured by the respective performances of the lady who played Marc's mother and the Indian girl who played Netra in 'The Red Veil'. Netra had a unspoken charm about her that conveys the complex feelings she had when dressing the younger girl who was about to be 'baptized' into the same rocky journey she's been through as a prostitute.

The actress who plays Netra in The Red Veil

Best Cinematography

This year’s nominees reflect a stronger dramatic and narrative focus at the expense of cinematography. Most of the camera seemed to be simply tools to the plot, without helping to tell the story in a different way.

Blue Tide seemed like a foreign imported TV soap you can watch out of Channel 8. The variety of off-centre, partially framed, heavily shadowed shots resembled what seemed like a good fan boy tribute to the HK crime features. The only problem is there was nothing inventive and everything genre-driven about the approach.

The next nominee Band of Mischief romanticizes the act of revenge in the setting of a school. While playing with clich├ęs like the ‘suicide-worthy’ rooftop wide shot, it threw a handful of tricks when it helped re-enact a torture scene, making torture so real and making what is ‘teenage’ so ‘adult’. There was even a steady cam shot that followed the walking protagonist with his back turned to us while he narrates the resolution. But the style of the camera did not complement or support the narrative but seemed single-mindedly aesthetic. Not a good thing when you start noticing the brush strokes of an artist more than the work of art itself.

Left Hook, like Band of Mischief and Blue Tide, fall into a genre look. This time, it is that of a fight club with oestrogen. The punches, the bursts of sweat beads, the quick sweeps and the shadowed lighting served the boxing-themed film well. Then again, the genre qualification of the film seems to douse the need for reinvention. The film must be applauded for it high production values and especially making bruises look real on the actresses face. Of course, good lighting on the part of the camera helped realize the look.

Window of Dreams among the nominees is my biggest puzzle for the documentary was a narrative triumph more than a cinematographic one.

The Red Veil

The Red Veil, if not for its poor indoor lighting would have been great contender for best cinematography. Perhaps making a corn field look scenic was too easy a job. Nevertheless the drifting shot of the actress as she moved down the line of drum-beaters achieved a kind of visual poetry that was hard to find among the rest of the finalist shorts in which the literal ruled the day.

This leaves Hello Goodbye as my favourite for Best Cinematography. It made a hotel room look deeper than its dimensions especially when nothing much was happening in the room except for cleaning, dusting and daydreaming. In a whimsical film about pining, the creators have managed to turn a standard hotel room into a sort of an emotional sanctuary. The soft lighting that filters through the curtains, the light distilled through wardrobe cabinet lourves and the overriding hues of the film makes this film live beyond its thin storyline. It makes you remember the place as much as the characters that filled the spaces. Which in my opinion may not be too far from what the director might intend, for the hotel room was in fact an emotional anchor in the film as much as it is a visual anchor.

Hello Goodbye

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