HORROR - Nanyang Technological University


HORROR - Nanyang Technological University







NEWS | 3








News Bites






NTU will invest about $15.5 million

to install a solar panel system by

2016. The installation is the largest

ever planned for a single site in

Singapore, and will cover some

50,000 square metres. It will provide

enough energy for more than 1,000

HDB households annually.



Three NTU students escaped

unharmed after their car took a

nosedive into a canal on October

31, following a car collision. Strong

currents dragged the car for more

than 50m after it crashed through

the railings. The accident took place

at the junction of Nanyang Crescent

and Nanyang Avenue shortly after

noon Two students were unhurt

while one had slight injuries.




NTU, together with the Action

Community for Entrepreneurship

(ACE) , will jointly host the sixth

edition of the World Entrepreneurship

Forum (WEF) in Singapore next year.

The WEF aims to be a meaningful

platform for entrepreneurs, policy

makers, and experts from different

parts of the world to promote

sustainable entrepreneurship.



Clean water advocate Dr Adrian Yeo

and award-winning photojournalist

Sam Kang Li were two of 26 alumni

recognised by NTU in the Nanyang

Alumni Awards on October 13.

These awards are presented to

alumni who have attained exemplary

achievements in their field of

specialisation, or have contributed

significantly to the betterment

of NTU or society. Other notable

recipients include new MP Sim

Ann and former TV news presenter

Serene Loo.



Heavy downpours causing flash

floods in various parts of Singapore

are expected to continue over the

next few weeks. Singapore will

receive more rainfall during the

north-east monsoon season which

is expected to last from December

to March. But PUB said despite the

sudden heavy rainfall that hit, water

levels dropped quickly and traffic

was not severely affected.



Two more platforms will be built at

Choa Chu Kang (CCK) LRT station

to ease crowding on the existing

platform. Currently, commuters

board and alight from the trains at

a single platform which sees high

human traffic during peak hours.

The new platforms will free up

the existing platform for boarding

passengers. They will connect to

the link bridge leading to CCK MRT






NTU will construct a new Learning

Hub and boost the number of

residential places under its Campus

Master Plan. The Learning Hub,

which will be ready by 2014,

consists of tutorial rooms stacked

into towers. Open for 24 hours, the

seven-storey building is designed to

promote togetherness in learning.

The number of residential places will

also be increased by 5,000 places

by July 2015. Works for the first

two halls at Nanyang Drive have

already begun.



Job growth in Singapore is expected

to slow to 2 per cent. This is due

to a structural policy shift to boost

competitiveness and productivity

and reduce overcrowding, according

to labour chief Lim Swee Say. Mr

Lim, who is also the Minister in

the Prime Minister’s Office, said a

workforce growth of 4 per cent a

year is no longer sustainable from

both an economic and social angle.



More than 100 Singaporeans

dressed up in their zombie best for

Singapore’s first ever Zombie walk

over the Halloween weekend. Two

different zombie walks took place,

one along Penang road near Park

Mall, and a larger zombie walk

took place along at Clarke Quay on

October 27. Organiser Gillian Ang,

27, said she was inspired to organise

the event here after seeing it at the

San Diego’s comic convention.



Hurricane Sandy has resulted

in 146 deaths as of November 1. It

is the largest Atlantic hurricane on

record, with a diameter spanning

1,800 km. It swept the Caribbeans,

the Mid-Atlantics and Northeastern

United States in late October. In

the United States, it hit 24 states.

Total damages in all affected

countries totalled USD$55.4 billion

in estimates.



A Greek journalist has been charged

with breaking private data rules after

he published the names of more

than 2,000 wealthy Greeks believed

to be holding Swiss bank accounts.

Costas Vaxanavis, the editor of “Hot

Doc” weekly, published “Lagarde

List”, the list containing the 2,000

people, allegedly originated from

Christine Lagarde, who sent it to

the authorities of several European

Union (EU) countries.



Disney has bought the Star Wars

franchise from Lucasfilm for $4.05

billion. Disney plans to make the

seventh episode of Star Wars movie

in 2015, and will pay about half

in cash and half in stock, issuing

40 million Disney shares in the

transaction. George Lucas, the

founder of Lucasfilm, will continue

as a creative consultant for the

franchise. The last Star Wars movie

was ‘Revenge of the Sith’, released

in 2005.



At least eight people have been

killed and thousands displaced

after powerful Cyclone Nilam

swept off India’s southern coast.

8,000 people in the low-lying area

of Tamil Nadu state have been

moved to temporary shelters. Nilam

crossed the southern coast at around

4.30 pm, according to the India

Meteorological Department.



galore in NTU – Page 6

Halloween horrors in NTU

IMAGINE NTU with tentacles

hanging from walls, gruesome

body parts served as food and scary

zombies haunting the hallways of

the university campus.

That was how students and

faculty celebrated Halloween the

past three weeks — dressed up as

ghoulish characters and scaring

others out of their wits — just for

the fun of it.

Organised by Epiphany, NTU’s

English and Drama Society,

‘Fiendish Fiesta’ was housed in the

School of Humanities and Social

Sciences (HSS).

There, students from all

faculties gathered in creepylooking

costumes, shared horror

stories and read poetry.

Sarah Daud, 20, Epiphany’s

Vice-President of Publications,

said the best part of Halloween is

being able to dress up and take on

a different role.

She said, “Everyone comes to

school every day wearing the same

old things all the time. At least

during Halloween, you get to be

someone else.”

Besides HSS’s Halloween

party, students from the Wee Kim

Wee School of Communication

and Information (WKWSCI) also

celebrated Halloween. Students

came dressed as different

NTU teams embark on first OCIP collaboration

IN an unprecedented school-wide

collaboration, six teams across

NTU will work together this year

to supply a Laotian village with

clean water. They aim to furnish

the village with water dams, pipes

and water collection points.

Through this large-scale

collaboration, the teams hope to

make a lasting change that benefits

the local community.

“This project will culminate in

a tangible end product, so together

we can form a stronger purpose

when planning a project that will

truly impact and improve the lives

of our beneficiaries,” said Hall 5

expedition director, Justin Loh.

“There’s a limit to how much

help one team can render as they

usually come and go without

continuity,” he added.

The project will be carried out

by teams from the School of Civil

and Environmental Engineering

(CEE), School of Physical and

Mathematical Science and residents

from Halls of Residence 2, 3, 5 and

11. Each team will contribute 25


SPOOKY: Children went trick-or-treating dressed in their ghoulish best.

characters such as Pac-man, Super

Mario and the Addams Family.

As part of the event, the school’s

Communication and Information

Club organised haunted trails

which, according to the club’s Social

Secretary, Shahrin Izhar, 21, scared

members to the project, with a total

of 150 people involved.

From May to June 2013, during

the semester break, the six teams

will take turns to visit Na Phong

village, each handling different

stages of the construction process.

“Students can

come together and

work with people

from other faculties

and halls.”

Ms Wendy Gwee

Senior assistant director

Student Affairs Office

The process will only be finalised

after the CEE team returns from a

reconnaissance trip, which will take

place from 7 to 12 December.

The CEE team will also design

the blueprint for the dam, which will

be built at the top of a mountain,

and pipes connecting the water

supply to the village.

even the ‘ghosts’ themselves.

“There was a first-year student

dressed as Wednesday Addams who

looked pale and scary herself but

she was still so scared during the

haunted trail,” he said.

Schools were not the only

Aside from construction, the

teams also plan to teach basic

English to primary school children

in the village school.

The idea for a big project was

conceived as there was a great

interest in Laos amongst the OCIP

teams in 2011 and 2012, said Ms

Wendy Gwee, the senior assistant

director at the Student Affairs Office.

While overseeing the OCIP

teams in Laos this year, the overallin-charge

of the Overseas Exposure

Programme (OEP), met up with Mr

Peter Tan, a Singaporean who has

lived in Laos since 1995. Mr Tan

happened to be the point of contact

for a number of projects being

carried out last year.

The guesthouse owner, who

has facilitated more than 30 OCIP

collaborations with Singaporean

organisations such as Ngee

Ann Polytechnic and Singapore

Buddhist Lodge, took Ms Gwee to

Na Phong village to explore future

project opportunities.

Ms Gwee said the idea to

supply the remote village with

water came from the villagers

themselves, who have to trek long

places where students celebrated


In Hall of Residence 11, the

Junior Common Room Committee

organised musical performances,

a ‘best dressed’ costume fashion

show and a spooky treasure hunt

for thrill-seeking residents.

According to resident Koh

Hui Lin, 19, decorations were

put up around the block a week

before the event to build up the

Halloween mood.

“I felt excited during the event

as I saw a lot of people dressed

up,” said the first-year psychology

student who attended the event

dressed as a ghostly bride.

“The event was a joint effort

from a lot of people, like the

cultural performance groups and

the organisers who prepared the

decorations and the food.”

The NTU faculty joined in the

festivities as well.

Halloween-inspired games

included ‘creepy Hangman’, where

balloons filled with talcum powder

were popped on faculty members.

Ms Caroline Essame, 49, hosted

a Halloween party for residents

and their children staying in

staff houses.

The party was held at the ‘Gory

Garden’, the scarily decorated

backyard of Ms Essame’s house

at Nanyang View, which was the

main attraction.

As part of the festivities,

Halloween games like biting donuts

hung on a string and wrapping a

friend up with toilet roll to create

your own mummy were played too.

After a round of games, the

children left for trick-or-treating

around staff houses, dressed as

witches, sword-wielding ninjas

and other ghoulish characters.

For Ms Essame, festivals like

Halloween mark the passing of

time in Singapore, where there are

no distinct seasons.

“Being British, I’m used to

having time marked by seasons,

and you don’t have seasons living

in the tropics,” she said.

“And I found, having lived

here for so long now, that it’s the

festivals that mark the passing of

time, whether it’s Chinese New

Year, Deepavali or Christmas. And

I think Halloween is just part of

this cycle of time.”

Ms Essame, who specialises in

creativity and child development,

added that Halloween helps

children develop social and

emotional skills by managing fear.

“Halloween is about exploring

fear, being scared, and going out in

the dark and yet getting something

good from going in the dark,” she said.

“I think playing with the rituals

of Halloween help children learn

about fear and risk, and if you go

into the darkness once, you will not

be so scared of it the second time.”

BEHIND THE EFFORTS: Tan Wa, 8 and Amanda Tang, 21, the Hall 5 Twenty One Young Hearts

Committee Vice-Chairperson in Laos Pong Song Village.

distances across mountainous

areas to access clean water.

At the Laos Night 2012, OCIP

groups that previously went to

Laos came together to share their


During the event, Ms Gwee

noticed a “shared common interest

among those groups to return to


Laos to ensure continuity.”

She subsequently opened up

the project to the floor at the OEP

briefing this year.

“Students can come together

and work with people from other

faculties and halls, for a sustainable

cause they feel passionate about,”

she said.





Memoirs of 20 th century's

influential Chinese

SHOE designer Jimmy Choo,

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew,

and City Harvest founding pastor

Kong Hee all have something in

common – they are featured in the

Chinese Heritage Centre’s (CHC)

latest book on prominent Southeast

Asian (SEA) people of Chinese

ancestry who have impacted the

world in the 20th century.

Titled Southeast Asian Personalities

of Chinese Descent: A

Biographical Dictionary, the book

was released last month in the National

Library Building.

The book is the first authoritative

study of its kind in the

English language and the most

comprehensive biographical dictionary

on people of Chinese

descent over 10 SEA countries,

according to Professor Wang

Gungwu, Chairman of the East

Asian Institute.

Other prominent individuals

featured include ex-Thai Prime

Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, Indonesian

contemporary artist FX

Harsono, and Singaporean singer

Stefanie Sun.

The book is a collaborative effort

by more than 170 authors and

contains more than 600 biographical


Professor Leo Suryadinata,

chief editor of the dictionary and

director of CHC said: “The dictionary

was created for scholars

as well as for those who wish to

know more about the Chinese and

for Chinese people who want to

know more about their roots.”

One of the challenges faced in

writing the book was to decide on

which individuals to feature.“

"The board was supportive but

warned that this was a difficult

project because there are millions

of Chinese in SEA,” said Professor

Tommy Koh, former chairman

of CHC and former ambassador to

the United Nations.

“75% of Chinese

people reside in

Southeast Asia,

and to ignore their

history would mean

ignoring a large

part of history in

Southeast Asia.”

Professor Leo Suryadinata

Director of Chinese Heritage Centre

“How do you define who to

put in inside the book Some may

be pleased to be added in and

others would feel offended if they

are not,” added Professor Koh.

It took six years of intense

research before the book finally

made it to print.

Professor Suryadinata encountered

difficulties in proving

the Chinese ancestry of some of

the influential people he wanted

to feature.

“I wanted to interview several

prominent and influential peo-

ple who supposedly had Chinese

backgrounds, but my fellow colleagues

were denied permission

to interview and we lost out on

what could have been valuable,”

he said.

“We also have to exclude several

others who had no proof that

they were of Chinese descent. It

was difficult but we needed to

maintain the academic value of

the work.”

“I almost gave up half way

through the project because it was

extremely difficult to meet the requirements,”

he said.

“We needed to maintain the

academic value of the work.”

Explaining the reason for his

book, Professor Suryadinata said

it is very important to take include

people of Chinese descent

in history.

“75% of Chinese people reside

in SEA - a huge number - and to

ignore their history would mean

ignoring a large part of history in

SEA,” he said.

Professor Suryadinata hopes

to reflect the success of Chinese

descendants as well as discrimmination

against them in indegenious


The book was also created in

an effort to preserve and promote

understanding towards the Chinese


“Rapid modernisation has

caused many cultures to be

washed away,” Professor Suryadinata


“We hope that this book will

open the eyes of readers and perhaps,

discover something about

themselves after reading it.”

LABOUR OF LOVE: Chief editor of the dictionary Professor Leo Suryadinata presents a copy to NTU President Emeritus Dr Su Guaning during its

official launch. PHOTO | KENJI KWOK



Research goes hand

in hand with teaching:

NTU President

WE are not cutting back on

teaching quality.

That was the message sent out

by NTU President Bertil Andersson,

in light of recent concerns

that the school may compromise

teaching in a bid to become more

research intensive.

This was a response to

NTU Students' Union President

Christian Wihananto, who

questioned NTU’s priority on

research over teaching during

the student leaders’ sharing session

last month.

The sharing session was

conducted in the School of Biological

Sciences on October 19.

It allowed student leaders to

express their concerns over issues

they face in NTU.

Said Wihananto: “As a student,

observing how NTU positions

itself, and how the media

made it out to be, I can't help but

enquire if NTU is emphasising

research, and may compromise

teaching in that pursuit.”

Wihananto expressed concerns

that researchers may not be

the best lecturers or teachers, and

questioned whether NTU judges

someone’s value as a researcher

or a lecturer.

But Professor Andersson replied:

“NTU’s 47th position takes

into consideration both studentcentric

measures as well as research


"From experience, good researchers

are also good teachers.

There is no sort of controversy

between research and teaching,"

he added.

He also reminded that both

QS and Times Higher Education

World University Ranking take

into consideration teaching quality

in its indicators, and that the

quality of research goes hand in

hand with teaching.

Professor Andersson addressing

the issue of rising cost of living

in NTU during the two-anda-half

hours sharing session.

He attributed the rise in cost



HEART TO HEART: Professor Andersson reassures students that good researchers make good


of living in NTU to the rising cost

of living in Singapore in general.

“The campus is not shielded

from the rising cost of living in

Singapore,” he said.

He also stated that the university

is trying to make the rise

a gradual increase instead of a

sudden one in order to reflect

the general increase of prices

around Singapore.

With regards to the university’s

plan to upgrade its current facilities

and construct new buildings

such as the new mini-city, Professor

Andersson said it serves “to

make better investments”.

“Good researchers

are also good

teachers. There

is no sort of


between research

and teaching."

Professor Bertil Andersson


Nanyang Technological University

In a post-meeting interview,

Professor Bertil Andersson commented

on how productive the

meeting went, and that it was the

first step to improving communications

between the university

management and its students.

He said: “The policy that we

need to have is consultation

and then communication. And I

think in some instances this has

not been as good as I would like

it to be.”

But at the end of the day, the

university has to make hard decisions

when it needs to, added

Prof Andersson.

“The management of the university

must take unpopular decisions,

but at least we listen to everyone

and try to accommodate as

much as possible,” he said.





PASSENGERS of NTU’s internal

shuttle bus services can now expect

shorter delays in bus arrivals

as Tong Tar Transport finished

installing Global Positioning

Systems (GPS) in all of its buses

last month.

Mr Philip Lee, the operations-in-charge

for NTU-Tong

Tar shuttle buses, said the management

decided to take up this

project to “omit discrepancies in

bus routes”.

The GPS system tracks the

location of NTU shuttle buses in

real time.

It allows Tong Tar Transport

to supervise bus drivers who take

detours or idle off during operation


The planned routes for some

buses were not being followed

and there were some delays in

sending out more buses when

detours, diversions or faulty

machinery are detected.

With this new system, cases

of drivers taking “too long a

break” can now be traced.

“Although such cases do not

happen frequently, we still want

to remove them completely,” said

Mr Lee.

Installation of the new GPS

system began in September and

is now in place for most shuttle

buses in NTU.

In addition to real-time route




Hall 1 duo spreads the love with music

“We’ve been playing in a band

ever since our polytechnic days

THE next time you walk past Hall and we thought — why not”

of Residence 1, do not be surprised It appears their music has

by two guitar-wielding figures struck a chord with passers-by.

serenading you.

Julien Masson, who stays

Block 16 roommates Nicholas directly below their unit, said he

Chow Jiehong and Dalton Lim likes their taste in music.

Junjie, both 22, lined Christmas “There is a good mix of classics,

lights along their window and

chillout and acoustic songs,”

play music for passers-by to spread the 21-year-old French exchange

their love for music.

student said.

They are both first-year “They sing really well too.”

students from the School Koh Wan Yi, 19, a first-year student

of Mechanical and Aerospace

from the Wee Kim Wee School


of Communication and Information,

“We wanted to make the place also had praise for them.

livelier and share our music with The Hall 10 resident was on her

others. And what better way to way to Canteen 1 one Monday night

do this than catching people’s attention

when she heard the duo singing

with Christmas lights and Ronan Keating’s ‘When You Say

music,” Chow said.

Nothing At All’ by the window.

Most weekdays, the duo would She said, “They shouted out to

stand by their window from 9pm me and waved at me. They even

to sing popular hits like ‘Collide’ played me a song!” the 19-yearold

FEEL-GOOD MUSIC: Nicholas Chow (left) and Dalton Lim play songs to passers-by from their brightly decorated room. PHOTO | MATTHEW NG

by Howie Day.


When not playing, they would “I thought they were really

broadcast music from radio stations


Social Sciences, who stays above be it within or outside the rooms, will try to stop before 10pm or

like 98.7FM and Class 95 FM However, other residents like the duo.

should cease by 10pm.

lower our volume. But, sometimes

on the amplifier.

Sarah Jane Fernandez, 19, felt they “They typically start playing at However, should residents people just need some getting

Lim said they were inspired by should tone down the volume of 9pm, which coincidentally is the wish to continue playing, they are used to.

to make new friends through sharing

their music in the later hours of time I start studying and it can be strongly encouraged to lower their "We did receive a complaint

their passion for music. the night.

quite distracting.”

volume so as not to disturb others. from our neighbour about the

“We try to promote a more open “I feel they play at the wrong A check with the Hall 1 security

When asked if complaints volume but we toned it down and

culture by saying hi to everyone guard, Mr Alphonsoes, time,” said the first-year student

made against them would make he’s fine with us playing music by

and sharing our music,” he said. from the School of Humanities and showed that all musical activities, them stop playing, Chow said, “We the window now.”

School spirit at space race

RACE FOR SPACE: The virtual race showed school spirit, with over 13,000 staff and students vying for 25GB of space. GRAPHIC | JEROME NG

25GB of storage space was all it

took to get NTU into the same

league as Harvard University.

NTU made it to fourth place

in the Global Leaderboard in

the Great Space Race campaign

launched three weeks ago by

Dropbox, a cloud storage service.

More than 13,000 staff and

students flooded their Facebook

pages with Dropbox missile pictures

and tweeted updates.

NTU met the point threshold for

25 GB just 20 hours after the race

started on October 16.

Steven Toon, 23, was placed 20 th

on the Dropbox’s NTU top students

list based on the most number of

schoolmates referred by a user.

But the third-year student at

School of Materials Science and

Engineering did not care much

about NTU’s ranking.

Instead, he only referred his

friends through Gmail contacts so

he could benefit from the space.

However, others were keen on

proving the NTU school spirit amid

the competition.

Joshua Sim, a second-year

student from Nanyang Business

School spread the word about the

race because of his school pride.

“I didn’t want our school to

lose. Not to NUS at least,” said the



GPS to reduce

wait for buses

tracking, Tong Tar can monitor

which engines are switched on,

off or are idle (when the engine

is running but the vehicle is not

moving) and the data will also

be logged.

Replacement buses can be

quickly arranged and sent out

should any faults such as low fuel

or engine and brake malfunctions

be detected.

With the GPS, Tong Tar hopes

to rectify such problems quickly

and easily, especially at night.

Currently, the average waiting

time for shuttle buses ranges from

8 to 15 minutes.

But some students, like

Sivaranjani Singaravelu, have

experienced longer waits during

non-peak hours.

“Around 3.30 to 4 pm, the

waits for the shuttle buses can

be as long as 45 minutes sometimes,”

said the first-year student

from the School of Electrical and

Electronic Engineering,

Others have expressed doubts

over the effectiveness of the GPS

in shortening bus waiting time.

Lee Yilin Amelia, 19, a firstyear

student from the School of

Material Science Engineering

said: “The current NTU shuttle

bus app estimates waiting time

by showing us where the buses’

locations are, but it is unreliable

and not updated in real time.

“I doubt the new system will

improve the buses’ efficiency.”


Old is gold for

book lovers

ENGROSSED: A wide variety of books were available at the recent book fair.


ONE man’s trash is indeed another

man’s treasure, especially for

bookworms when the second-hand

book fair comes rolling in.

The area beside LT 1A becomes

a temporary home to a

variety of publications, from past

issues of National Geographic

magazines to even copies of

the Bible.

These book bazaars are run

by Evernew Book Store. The most

recent one, though, was held

in conjunction with the NTU

Students’ Union.

The fairs take place in NTU

about eight times a year.

With the book fairs being held

right at the heart of the campus,

book enthusiasts can capitalise

on the convenience and get their

book fix.

Klaryssa Marie Augustine, 19,

an avid reader who visits secondhand

bookstores, says: “It’s good

that NTU holds used book fairs

frequently, and since these fairs

are often held in school, people are

more likely to buy.”

The first-year English student

enjoys scavenging through the

troves of books and picking out

a few to feed her “obsession”. But

the greatest draw, besides the convenience,

is exactly what secondhand

books are all about – the

low prices.

“Since the books are incredibly

cheap, I can buy as many as six

books for the price of a brand new

one,” she said.

Another freshman, Kaede

Lim, 19, a sociology student,

shares similar sentiments. “I

think new books are worth every

cent but I wish they cost less,” she

said. “So I turn to second-hand

books. They’re a wonderful and

cheap alternative.”

But it is more than just a sale.

For Gareth Seah, 23, the book fairs

motivated him to read more.

Said the third-year psychology

student: “I’ve actually

been reading more the past few

months because of the book fairs

at Canteen A.

“At first I bought a few for

fun because they were so cheap,

but since they were lying around,

I just read them,” he says.

While most of the benefits of

the book fair are tangible, some

readers have taken a step further

to use the books as a vantage

point to understand their previous


“I can buy as

many as six books

for the price of a

brand new one.”

Klaryssa Marie Augustine

First year student

School of Humanities and Social


“Quite often, I open the books

and find annotations, ticket

stubs and even Polaroids that the

previous owner used as a bookmark,"

said first-year maritime

studies student Melisa Yeo.

“I think personal items left

within the pages of the book

are like trivia about the faceless

strangers who have read the very

same book that you were attracted

to,” said the 19-year-old.

While second-hand books

hold a certain history behind the

pages and its owner, not many

readers are thrilled at old books

filling their shelves.

Damien Augustine, 22, a

second-year Business student

says: “Buying a book is not just

about reading it. It is also about

ownership. I love reading and

I don’t want to own something

that I know someone else has

already used.”

However, fear of failure is

an oft-cited reason why students

hesitate to start their own business.

Professor Foo Say Wei,

deputy director of Nanyang

Entrepreneurship Centre, thinks

that Singaporeans will always

want to ensure that their choices

will inevitably lead to success,

and that the Asian culture is also

averse to failure.

“All entrepreneurs

have humble


You just have

to keep these

people in mind as


Zhang Yaoxian

Third year student

School of Biological Sciences




Student entrepreneurs:

Prepare for failure

FAILURE is something that Zhang

Yaoxian, 23, is familiar with.

The stress from juggling

schoolwork, hall commitments

and a sideline business may have

been too much to handle and his

business died off in his first year

in university.

Now a third-year student at

the School of Biological Sciences

(SBS), Zhang is the co-owner of

TuitionKing, a tuition agency that

matches parents to prospective

tutors for students ranging from

primary school to junior college.

A revamp of his business model

in March has freed up time for

him and his partner to focus their

energy on school.

One of many student entrepreneurs

in NTU, Zhang thinks

that failure is something that is

constantly encountered while

pursuing entrepreneurship.

“The important thing is that

you have to keep going,” he said.

“Most people only see the successes

of others, but I can confirm

with you that all entrepreneurs

have humble beginnings. You just

have to keep these people in mind

as inspiration.”

For many students, grades

remain their priority.

Max Lee, 21, the owner of

InstaMax, an online business

selling gadgets, thinks that the

amount of time required for

starting a business is a significant


“Many students do not have

the extra push to try out their

own business and will rather focus

their time on their studies,” said

the first-year student from the

Nanyang Business School.

Professor Foo agrees. He said:

“Students want to get a good degree

first. So they do not want to

start a real business while studying.

I would also not encourage

students to start a real business

unless they have a fantastic idea

that has time value.”

The entrepreneurs interviewed

exhibited a never-say-die attitude

and enthusiasm when discussing

their businesses.

Calvin Foo, 23, thinks that

youths now are much smarter,

and will work hard to get what

they want. The third-year student

from SBS is the co-owner of

Katalyst Group Pte Ltd, a T-shirt

printing company.

“If I am working, I would put in

100% of my effort. If I am running

a business, I would also put in a

100%,” said Foo.

“But if I work, that results

may not belong to me but if I have

my own business, be it a failure

or success, it belongs to me.”

Robot helps detect autism

early in young children

FINE-TUNING MINOR GLITCHES: Sun Chun Yang, 22 a final year student at School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering (MAE), monitors 'Frank'

attentively as she programmes its movement. The robot is a project managed by MAE, combining the field of Robotics with Psychology in a move

to diagnose autism in children between the ages of 9 and 16. The team behind the project, including PhD student Lili Liu and research associate

Alex Gravier, consider Frank to be a new approach to autism diagnosis and treatment, as psychologists are "inconsistent and unpredictable".

The project, which is supported by NTU and the National Health Group, is waiting to undergo clinical trials in mid-November, which will be held

at Singapore General Hospital.








From radio DJ to storyteller

WHILE being on the air is what

makes radio DJ Vernetta Lopez

most at home, she felt strongly

enough about sharing her story

that she put her thoughts to paper

for her new book, Memoirs of a DJ.

Speaking at the NTU Page

Turner’s Society on October 15,

Vernetta shared her experiences

as a writer and anecdotes from

her book.

The book starts with her recounting

her days as a Mass

Communication student at Ngee

Ann Polytechnic (NP). Her experience

with radio began with hosting

shows on Radio Heatwave, NP’s

campus radio station.

As a student, making mistakes

and gaining hands-on experience

helped in moulding her career. She

also emphasised the importance of

making the most out of the practice

she got in school.

“Don’t make it playtime; it’s not

something where you can just go

in there, shuffle about and leave

again,” she said.

Just as every word counts on

radio, Vernetta shaped her writing

and thought process for the book

in the same way. She was careful

to avoid phrases that she found

overused in conversations, like

STORY OF A DJ: Vernetta Lopez shared her life experience with NTU audiences in a book talk on October 15.

‘two peas in a pod’.

“I’d rather say, ‘two peas in a

durian shell’,” she said in jest.

Besides the writing style,

Vernetta kept true to the purpose

of her memoir and did not discount

readers on details of her life.


The account that generated

the most buzz was her divorce

with radio DJ Mark Richmond.

It was the first time she had gone

public about the details, dedicating

two chapters to her marriage.

“I’ve done my best to be respectful,”

she said. “You can’t write

an autobiography without touching

stuff like that.”

She found that narrating the

account and looking back at those

difficult moments has helped her

learn more about herself.


Even though she expected criticism

from some readers, Vernetta

was more concerned with telling

her stories as a means to reach out

to others who may find themselves

in similar situations.

“I wanted the book to maybe

help somebody along the way,

somehow,” she said.

“You think the whole world is

looking down on you and persecuting

you forever. But actually,

it’s never the end of the world.”

She recalls how a reader approached

her at one of her book

signings, and told her that her book

had come at the right time and had

resonated with her.

For Vernetta, such unique instances

are the intangible benefits

of being an author.

“I think if you want to become

a writer,” she said. “It’s really about

taking a step back, every so often,

to explore and feel, see, smell and

remember all the little moments

that bring to life any story that you

want to bring back to the present


Writing the memoir has opened

up a new chapter in the 39 years

of her life, and also a new phase

in her career.

It is the first book she has

written and “hopefully the first of

many to come”.

Lost in Singapore, found in Boston

DR LEONG KAIWEN might have

been expelled from four junior

colleges for calling his teachers

“insane”, but he still realised his

dream of getting a PhD from a US


With the help of a relief teacher,

he stayed home and spent the

time leading up to his National

Service enlistment preparing for

two SAT tests and the ‘A’ Level examinations

as a private candidate.

“All I needed to know, I taught

myself,” he recounted.

He passed the SAT and all his

‘A’ Level subjects, and was accepted

by Boston University while

in National Service.

The 30-year-old assistant professor

in economics shared his

experiences at a book talk in NTU

on October 17, to promote his

new book, Singapore’s Lost Son:

How I Made It from Dropout to

Millionaire Princeton PhD.

Co-authored with two current

Princeton University students,

the book describes Dr Leong’s

life journey and the lessons he

had learnt.

He graduated from Boston

University with bachelor’s and

master's degrees in the fields of

economics and mathematics, and

went on to Princeton University to

obtain both a master's degree and

PhD in economics in 2011.

“My learning curve is concave,”

he said. “I learn slower, but

ultimately catch up. Even if you

don’t succeed, but still try your

best, you will see results as long as

you don’t give up,” he said.

In his book, he said he earned

his first million after graduating

from Boston University by investing

in Shanghai real estate.

Explaining the reason for his

book’s title, Dr Leong said he was

lost in “every sense of the word,

both emotionally and mentally.”

“I felt lost in Singapore and was

overwhelmed by the environment.

“But I found myself in Boston,

and came back stronger and better,”

he said.

One of his main points in the

talk was for NTU students to know

that it is possible to overcome any

difficulties they may face in their

studies as long as they have the

right mindset.

“People who have overcome

the same challenges [that] you are

going through are no more special

than you and me,” he added.

“They don’t have additional resources,

and neither are they more

brilliant or courageous. Rather, it

is because of their attitude.”

Dr Leong was straightforward

about his past experiences during

the talk, revealing how he was

sexually assaulted by his martial

arts coach at age 10.

The episode left him traumatised

and unable to concentrate on

his studies for years.

“I shielded myself in my own

little world,” he said. “People

thought I was autistic.”

When asked why he was

willing to share his traumatic

experiences publicly, Dr Leong

said he wanted to be a guide

for those who have undergone

similar setbacks.

“When I was going through

this, I didn’t have someone like

myself to motivate me,” he said.

“I wish to share what works

for me and let people know my

suggestions for them are viable

options they can try.”

However, he said motivational

talks are not the be-all and

end-all for those looking for a shortcut

to success.

“A lot of people say motivational

talks are important, but my motivation

is about fighting for what’s

important to me,” he said.

He said that such talks would not

work if people were unsure of what

they truly wanted to do.

“If I say I want to go to Point X,

that’s unclear,” he added. “But if I say

I want to go to Jurong, that’s clearer.

I know where I’m headed.”

That in turn relates to his secret

of getting into the Masters’ and

PhD programme in a top university

in the US — a topic broached by

many attendees.

“You will need track record

grades and professors who believe

in you,” he said.

“But most of all, you will need

the insane belief in yourself that

you can do it, because everything

else falls into place after that.”

A HEARTWARMING MOMENT: Economics Professor Leong Kaiwen signs a book for an audience member. PHOTO | COURTESY OF NTU LIBRARY



oincidentally after

The Huckleberry Friends

gathered some fame

and recognition, Andy

Williams—the singer

of “Moon River", the song that

popularised the term “huckleberry

friends”—passed away.

“We owe him our name, and

a whole lot more. RIP, Andy.” A

post on The Huckleberry Friends'

Facebook page reads.

The Huckleberry Friends

definitely owe much to Andy

Williams: their rendition of “Moon

River" launched them to stardom.

The trio, made up of Jonathan

Chan, 22, Tok Xue Yi, 21, and

Marcus Tan, 22, were invited to

perform at the Singapore Press

Holdings’ 20th anniversary

celebration, various dinner and

dances at NTU and charity events,

where they proved to be a hit.

The three formed the group

simply because of a love for music.

“Something just clicked,” said Xue

Yi, a third-year Digital Animation

student at the School of the Art,

Design and Media (ADM). “We meet

up almost daily to practice—I’ve no

complaints though, it’s always fun

to hang out with them. I’m very


Marcus, a second-year English

Literature student, added, “Even if

we weren’t a band, I’m just glad to

have met them.”

Often taking on songs that are

energetic, catchy and fun, The

Huckleberry Friends agree that

their roles can be “pretty fluid”, as

all three can carry tunes well and

play the guitar. Xue Yi usually

sings, while Jonathan supports with

backup vocals and Marcus plays

the guitar. Other times, Marcus

and Jonathan take turns to lead

the vocals or play the guitar, while

Xue Yi steps back to become a

supporting vocalist.

“We don’t want to stereotype

ourselves into certain roles. We

usually throw around ideas for

music arrangements, and see what

works,” said Jonathan, a second

year Visual Communications

student of ADM.

Unconventional instruments like

the blow organ and the xylophone

will occasionally be brought in to

jazz up their music.

“I love the different sounds, it’s

so boring to have just a guitar at

times,” said Jonathan, who revers

the band Mumford & Sons, which

Jonathan calls “folk/ indie/ rock”.

“That’s what I want to go into,

actually. I think I’d love to do folk,

but there are not enough people in

Singapore interested in folk. There

are lots of weird instruments like

double bass, banjos, mandolins—

with 10 people on stage for the big

bands. I’d like to say it’s my native

style, but I haven’t done it before,”

Jonathan added.

The best thing was they were

not prepared to win anything.

Five months ago, the three were

mere acquaintances. Today, The

Huckleberry Friends has already

made their mark on the local



FRIENDS MAKING A SCENE: Five months ago, Marcus Tan, Tok Xue Yi and Jonathan Chan (from left to right) would not

have imagined that just three months down the road, they would be making it onto the newspaper for their music.

music scene, where they competed

in the Britmania edition of The

New Paper’s LOUD Cover Contest

in August. They emerged as the

first runners-up, after their cover

of “Valerie" by British singer Amy

Winehouse impressed judges.

Jonathan was previously the

winner of the contest’s Jason Mraz

edition held in June with his cover

of “A Beautiful Mess".

The acoustic band had prerecorded

“Valerie" without prior

knowledge of the contest, while

Jonathan forgot about the contest’s

deadline till the night before when

he scrambled to film it with his

sister's help

The trio’s musical resumes are

also built differently.

Xue Yi, the most prolific of the

three, had produced three original

tracks as her final-year project at

the School of Music and The Arts,

where she did a part-time diploma.

Xue Yi was talent-spotted and


brought under the mentorship of

Noise Singapore, an initiative by

the National Arts Council, during

which she wrote and performed

a song at its annual “Make Some

Noise” concert in March.

“Singing came quite naturally—

my father’s side of the family loved

it. I guess that got to me,” said Xue

Yi, laughing at how she used to sing

“Lemon Tree" while jumping on the

sofa as a child.

Jonathan played the piano since

Primary 2, and attained Grade

Eight Certificate by 15.

“It was an Asian kid thing,”

he said. “I picked up the guitar in

Junior College as lots of people

played it in my church, and started

singing in army because I was quite

bored then.”

Marcus was the only one to

have discovered his flair later,

after picking up the guitar at 16.

Two years later, his band clinched

second place in Rockafella, an

annual rock band competition

organised by Catholic Junior

College, which spurred him on to

further his music.

“We were pretty well-received

then, but in retrospect, it was really

bad,” Marcus said, musing that it

took about 50 tries for him to “get

used to being looked at”.

“The nerves never really go away,

but it’s much better than when I

started,” he said, reminiscing about

his days at Catholic High School

where he also performed. “Singing

for a crowd in secondary school was

the most terrifying thing ever. My

heart was pounding so fast.”

Jonathan similarly described

what he felt was the band’s first

official gig at Timbre@Substation

as “a really scary, but good

experience”. Moving past the jitters,

Jonathan and Marcus have been

performing weekly at The Beaver’s

Pub and Grill since late last year.

They only stopped recently as their

school commitments got heavier.

Inspired by momentuous events,

emotions, or simply a need to create

something, all three have penned


Xue Yi uses her phone to record

melodies that randomly spring to

her mind, even if it means singing

to her phone on the train.

“I’d lose the idea otherwise,”

she said.

The three plan to write new

songs next semester after Xue

Yi returns from an exchange

programme in Germany.

Hoping to see the local music

scene grow, Jonathan said: “Just put

yourself out there. Don’t be afraid

of criticism—enter competitions, get

advice from friends. Try and if the

music’s good, it’ll stick.”

Juxtaposing music with his

other passion—design, he said that

music gave him more freedom as

he “isn’t beholden to other people’s


“In design, you have to liaise

with clients, and you have briefs

that you have to cater to, you

know” he said. “A career is typical

like that. But with music I guess I

didn’t want that to happen.”

SUBSCRIBE to “The Huckleberry

Friends” on their

YouTube channel at youtube.


to listen to their music. You

can also find out more about

them on their Facebook page

at facebook.com/TheHuckleberryFriends.










Price: Around $30 per person

CHA Cha Cha is a Mexican café

straight out of the movies. Located

in the heart of Holland Village, the

signboard’s bright neon lights and

red-and-green checkered tables are

hard to miss.

Cha Cha Cha is owned by the

Morales family who have been

running the family restaurant for

more than 30 years.

Begin your meal with the nachos

($13.50). Topped with shredded

chicken and coated with a generous

amount of melted cheese and

jalapeno slices, it makes for a great


Strongly recommended is the

langostino ($26), a platter of king

prawns garnished with finely

chopped parsley and fried garlic,

it is served with green salsa, sour

cream, rice and a juicy grilled

tomato on the side.

The prawns are lightly


Price: Around $40 per person

STROLLING down the vibrant

walkway of Cuppage Terrace, it

would be impossible to miss the

brightly coloured Viva Mexico.

Huddled amongst an array of al

fresco restaurants and bars and

framed by colonial-style houses, this

quaint restaurant serves authentic

Mexican cuisine, prepared by a

Mexican chef.

To beat the heat, begin with a

cool glass of pina colada ($15) — a

cocktail mixed with a delicious

blend of rum, pineapple juice, and

coconut cream. Garnished with a

pineapple wedge, the pina colada

was easy on the palate with a mild

rum taste and a light froth.

MUSIC FOR THE MOUTH: The prawns in the langostino are sweet and lightly charred to perfection.

charred and have a great texture

to them, their natural sweetness

complemented by the herbal taste

of the marinade.

The DIY prawn and chicken

fajitas ($26) is a must-try. A sizzling

hotplate of peeled prawns and

barbequed chunks of chicken is

served alongside four sheets of

thin flour wraps, complete with

sautéed onions and green and red


Customise your wrap with

chicken, raw capsicum and lettuce

VIVA LA MEXICO: The chicken quesadilla (above) is tasty but slightly dry, and the

pina colada (right) is a refreshing drink with very subtle hints of rum.

For appetizers, opt for the the

chicken quesadilla ($19). The 12-

inch tortilla filled with chicken

and melted cheese is served with

guacamole, sour cream and a salsa

dip. Although the dry chicken

did little to whet my appetite, the

accompanying sour cream and

guacamole added a creamy, tasty

touch. The salsa dip complemented

the dish with its tanginess, but is not

shreds, and top them off with green

salsa and sour cream. It was a messy

experience trying to eat the wrap

with “class”, but having the sauce

dribble down my fingers while

savouring my self-made fajita made

for an authentic Mexican dining


Top off your meal with Cha Cha

Cha’s specialty dessert – churros

with vanilla ice-cream ($6.50).

Churros are deep fried crispy

pastry strips popular in Mexico

and Spain. The ones served at Cha

fiery enough to satisfy spice-lovers.

A trip to a Mexican restaurant

is not complete without trying the


Viva Mexico’s beef burrito is a

large wheat tortilla stuffed with

beef and Mexican rice drenched in

mustard, olive oil and vinegar. The

shredded beef filling was tender and

juicy, and the sauce brought a tasty

and zesty punch to the dish.

Cha Cha were thin and bite-sized,

making them easy to eat. Dusted

with white sugar and complemented

with thick vanilla ice-cream, it was

the perfect ending to the savoury

main courses.

I find no fault with this charming

Mexican café.

Friendly staff, catchy R&B

music, a boisterous atmosphere

and delectable food – if you wish

to get an authentic Mexican dining

experience, Cha Cha Cha Restaurant

is a great choice.

Do give the crab enchilada ($24)

a try. Perfect for seafood lovers,

this chef’s recommendation is

a corn tortilla stuffed with soft,

succulent crab meat and smothered

in tomatillo (a slightly sweet fruit

commonly used in Latin American

sauces) gravy and a sweet and tangy

chilli-pepper sauce. The enchilada

is then topped with melted cheese

and sour cream. The accompanying




Hispanic Jose Cerda

gives us his two cents

worth on Mexican food.

“It’s all about the

aroma and taste. It has

to be smelt before it is

even seen,” said the

27-year-old Mexican salsa


He added: “When I eat

Mexican food I want to be

instantly transported back

to my mum’s kitchen.”

A Mexican meal

typically consists of a

meat, usually a beef or

chicken, orange Mexican

rice and a vegetable,

usually beans.

Flour or corn tortillas

are considered staples

and are the equivalent of


Mexican food is a

balancing act between

spicy and juicy.

“The spiciness can

either make you more

engaged, or turn you off

altogether,” he said.

“If vegetables are fresh

and crisp, it helps bring

out the flavour of the


"If the cream is too

sour, it helps to lighten

the taste of tortilla. A

right amount of lime

always helps.”

Most of the Mexican

food found in Singapore

can be considered good

at most but not authentic.

“The food here can

never compare to the

food back home,” he


“My mum’s cooking

had the distinct smell

of a spice called Adobo

and nobody here really

captures that exact


basmati rice and salad added much

heartiness to the plate. Refried

beans whisked into a bean puree

added a wet, pulpy texture to this

otherwise dry dish.

In all, Viva Mexico provides a

cosy ambience, much complemented

by the absence of long queues and

large crowds. This place is ideal for

people who want a vibrant al fresco

dining experience.








SWEET OASIS: Tuckshop is ideal for seeking respite from bustling crowds.



AN industrial precinct is not a

place you would expect to find a

boutique café like Tuckshop.

A mere 10-minute bus

ride away from City Plaza at

Geylang, Tuckshop has a quiet and

comfortable ambience.

An array of furniture such as

chairs, paintings, cushions and

artificial plants line the entrance.

They are also for sale.

The German Pork Schnitzel

($13.50) is a must-try, as it

matches up to its counterparts

offered in German bars and

restaurants which usually cost at

least $25.

The pork collar layered with

an egg batter and deep fried with

bread crumbs is the perfect main

course.The tender meat goes well

with the mushroom sauces and is

served with fries and a salad on

the side.

Tuckshop also offers gourmet

coffee such as the Cubano ($4.50),

a brew more bitter than your

average coffee. But its thinness

prevents its bitter quality from

overwhelming your tastebuds.

This Boston specialty may be

deemed too diluted for seasoned

coffee drinkers however.

Apart from the usual Western

fare, they also offer Asian dishes

such as the Ribeye Yakiniku Beef

and the Sweet and Sour Pork with

Rice which tastes like Hainanese

Pork Chop rice.

The service is also prompt and

the staff are friendly and patient.

The café is a perfect hideaway

to catch up with friends over

quality food.



GEYLANG is no stranger to

people who love tucking into beef

kway teow, frog leg porridge and

Hokkien mee.

But here is a healthier reason

to visit Geylang.

Yes Natural F&B, located just

behind Aljunied MRT station,

sets itself apart from the usual

calorific fare.

But this is not just any ordinary

bakery. The breads and cakes

here do not contain eggs and

preservatives. They use natural

ingredients instead.

The bakery has a variety of

pastries including mixed nuts

scones, bamboo charcoal loaves,

and tangerine walnut buns.

The Cinnamon Raisin bun

($0.70), for instance, is a small

bread with a soft centre that is

topped with a generous amount

of raisins. The sweet combination

of cinnamon and raisins and its

light, fluffy texture makes it an

ideal teatime snack.

Other flavours include Char

Siew, Purple Sweet Potato and

Soya Walnut, which you can mixand-match

at three for $2.

The Green Tea Sliced Cake

($2) was a pleasant surprise. The

dashes of green tea powder did not

overwhelm the taste of the vanilla

sponge cake, making it light and


While the bakery looks

ordinary, the pastries are fresh

and sport unusual flavours.

Variety, check. Organic option,


ORGANIC BAKERY: None of the breads and cakes do not contain eggs and


BARGAIN POWER: It is rumoured that most blogshops get their clothes wholesale



THERE is more to City Plaza than

meets the eye.

On the outside, it looks old

and forgotten. But inside, it is

where most blogshops have been

rumoured to get their clothes


The shops that offer

contemporary fashion are mostly

on the third floor, with around

10 shops bunched together in a

small lane.

It pretty much resembles the

air-conditioned level of Bugis

Street, but without the crowds and

with cheaper price tags.

Surprisingly, few shoppers

have made the trip themselves

given the popularity of online


“It is easier to do my shopping

online and have the blogshops

mail the clothes to my house,”

said Michelle Lim, a second-year

student at the School of Physical

and Mathematical Sciences.

The shopkeepers sell their

items both as individual pieces

and wholesale.

Ferris, on the third floor, is one

of the shops worth a visit.

A vintage printed top or a pair

of dip-dyed denim shorts, which

is all the rage now, are going for

$10 each. It offers wholesale prices

when shoppers purchase six pieces

or more.

Pink Squirrel is a small shop

on the second level which offers

sweet-looking dresses you often

find on blogshops.

The items are usually priced at

$28 each. But with a purchase of

more than three pieces, the price

can be reduced to $20 per piece.

The trick for getting more

bang for your buck is to take your

time to scour the mall thoroughly

and venture into the nooks and

crannies. Bargaining skills also

come in handy when negotiating

prices with retailers.

Do gather a group of friends

when visiting the mall to gain

bargaining power by purchasing

in bulk.





know the time has

come when I push

open the door of the

lecture theatre and feel

a nostalgic pull in me,

knowing that this will be one

of the last couple of months

I am doing it.

It is the same feeling I get

when I now take shortcuts

around school, and inwardly

chuckle over how I took way

longer to get my bearings

right when I was a clueless


Rather than taking an

arduous walk round school

from Lee Wee Nam Library

to the Humanities and Social

Sciences (HSS) Building, I

now take a shorter route by

going up a flight of stairs

on its left till I see Learning

Vision, the daycare center

for staff’s children. I then

turn right and go down a

long staircase till I reach HSS


I remember being

constantly surprised

by helpful students who

even bothered to bring me

right to the doorstep of my

classes, when I asked them

for directions. It feels surreal

that I now help people with

directions instead of asking

for directions myself.

When I see my seniors

posing for jumpshots on the

day of their convocation

at Nanyang Auditorium—

ecstatic graduates captured

eternally in photos, I tell

myself that this will be me

in a couple of months’ time.

Now that I am in my final

year as an English Literature

undergraduate in NTU, I

look back and muse how I

survived these years.

I remember a wise piece

of advice from my friendly

seniors who emphasized the

importance of planning—

planning your timetable,

always be mindful of your

degree requirements.

Find out how many

academic units (AUs) you

need to clear in total and

then plan accordingly. Find

out the nitty gritty bits.

It may some simple, but

this bit of advice certainly

proved to be very wise.

Fastest fingers first.

This catchy alliterative

piece of advice on how

to emerge triumphant

in the ‘war’, has been

drilled into me since I

entered the university.

Extend planning to all

aspects of your academic life.

Plan your timetable well—

that includes your exam

timetable as well (yes, that

small box in the lower right

hand corner of STAR Planner

that many a student neglects

to pay attention to until the

dreaded dates loom).

Avoid having exams in

the same day with only a

short break in between, or

even worse, practically backto-back

exams. It is really

nerve-wracking to rush from

one exam hall to another,

especially if they are far

from each other.

I remember the frenzy

when I had to dash from

where I had an exam at

Sports and Recreation

Centre, to my next paper at

Nanyang Business School.

What you need after an exam

is a break. You would not

want to start your next exam

with hands sore from writing

furiously, feeling like you

just had your brain fried.

The first challenge I faced

as an NTU undergraduate

was the feared day of course


And I am not alone.


I once overheard a group

of students gesticulating

wildly over half-eaten

noodles, talking in agitated

tones about fighting the

‘STAR wars’.

Surely only NTU

students will get what they

are lamenting about—that

dreaded day when we have to

sit in front of our computers

and ‘fight’ with everyone

else in the same course and

year as us, for modules that

we want.

Fastest fingers first. This

catchy alliterative piece of

advice on how to emerge

triumphant in the ‘war’, has

been drilled into me since I

entered the university. The

school consists of students

from so many different

faculties, but these acronyms

and phrases truly resonate

with any NTU student.

What happens when you

do not get a module you

desperately need Don’t


Sometimes I wonder

if NTU students have

some energy stored

up for emergency

situations. I have seen

many a student trudge

slowly to the library,

and when a rare vacant

seat is spotted, dash

up and plonk down on

that seat.

Regina Moh, 21, final-year

Business undergraduate,

says, “Write to the school

and beg to be added to the

module. Tell your friends

to inform you if they drop

the module, and email the

administrator with your

request to be added to the

class!” With determination

like hers, no war is too tough

to fight.

For those who do not stay

in hall, we share the same

predicament—long train

rides. I usually overcome

the dull drudgery of these

train rides by reading my

textbooks on the train. It

makes time seem to pass

really fast and I also get to

unwind when I reach home

without feeling guilty.

When it comes to

studying, many of us head

to the libraries in school

for their convenience

and conduciveness. But

it is very difficult to get

a seat, especially during

the assignments and exam


Sometimes I wonder if

NTU students have some

energy stored up for

emergency situations. I have

seen many a student trudge

slowly to the library, and

when a rare vacant seat is

spotted, dash up and plonk

down on that seat.

Perhaps from knowing

that the chances of getting a

seat in the library are as slim

as the chances of getting

onto the 179 bus in NTU

during peak hours.

Izzat bin Abdul Raman,

24, final-year English

Literature undergraduate,


laughs as he shares how he

usually resorts to getting

seats. “Stare at people till

they give up their seats!”

If you lack the guts to

try that, go to the more

unpopulated places, the S4

Reading Rooms at Nanyang

Business School (NBS)

and the spacious library

at National Institute of

Education (NIE), just to name

a few.

During the exam period,

the school also opens

seminar rooms in NBS and

the School of Humanities

and Social Sciences for

students to study at.

NTU leaves me with a

warm and fuzzy feeling—it

is so many things to me; an

old friend, a book with its

last chapter still unwritten,

a journey on a choppy sea

but always knowing there is

an anchor.


Breathing Spots

Have a picnic on the hill of

the School of Art, Design

and Media (ADM). Enjoy

the spectacular view of

NTU from the top if you

want a escape from the

canteen crowd. The second

floor of HSS Building

also has a breezy outdoors

space overlooking Yunnan


Book Smart

If you need to borrow a

reserve book from the

library for a project or

assignment, and find the

strict 2 hours loan period

insufficient to photocopy or

read the book, borrow it on

a Saturday. Reserve books

loaned on Saturdays after

10am can be returned on

Mondays before 11am.

Brain Pool

Form discussion groups

with friends in the same

modules as you. When preparing

for a difficult exam,

my friends and I each

made mind-maps for a few

chapters, and we shared

them with each other. This

was a much more efficient

way of studying which

saved a lot of time.

Handling Electives

When you can choose

which modules to take,

try to get inter-related

modules. Some modules

have overlapping course

materials. That means

you get to study less and

save time. If you are taking

an elective on film, such

as Fictional Film: From

Hollywood to Bollywood, it

would be wise to also take

another elective in film to

complement it. Examples

include Asian Horror Film,

and Survey of Experimental

Film, which can be

found under GERPEs for

Art, Humanities and Social


Make your mark

If you cannot find a CCA

that fits you, you can start

your own. Gather others

who are interested in what

you have in mind, and

submit a proposal to the

Student Affairs Office to

register your own club.



ACRYLIC TO WATERCOLOUR: (Top) ‘Foreshortened’ was a full-canvas acrylic painting Jedidah Tan, 20, did for her Ordinary

Level art examinations, inspired by her late pet dog. (Bottom) Moving on from acrylic painting, Jedidah does more

watercolor paintings now—many of which can be found on her website. PHOTOS | ANTHEA SOH, COURTESY OF JEDIDAH TAN



SHOULD Jedidah Tan’s studio

catch on fire, she would save the

painting which she completed four

years ago. Titled ‘Foreshortened’,

the artwork was inspired by her

own dog (who passed away a few

months back). It portrayed the life

as experienced through the eyes

of pets.

“I hold it very dear to me as I

remember him each time I look at

this painting,” Jedidah said with a

hint of reminiscence. This intricate

piece was the 20-year-old’s first

painting done on a big-scale


A big fan of exploring new

concepts and ways of working,

Jedidah has already experimented

with a range of mediums, including

drawing, painting, photography,

silkscreening, sculpturing, and

filming, while being influenced

by her own experiences and views.

Recently, she has ventured into

digital design.

Why was your dog the inspiration

behind ‘Foreshortened’

When you love someone a lot, you’d

want to put yourself in his shoes

because you’re concerned about

his feelings, right I was really

attached to my dog and so I was

really curious as to how he sees us

as owners from his point of view.

Tell us a little more about


In my work, the perspective always

stems from a lower eye level,

looking from the bottom up. The

colours symbolise the mood of the

dog. During playtime, it is more

colourful as compared to the use

of a blue palette when he gets

neglected or scolded.

Jedidah Tan, 20

Visual Communications major


How would you describe your

style of art

Expressive and illustrative. My

purpose in pursuing art has always

been because it acts as a form of

escaping or just letting lose from

all the stress that I have been going

through throughout my education

years. I love to be imaginative

because it is important for us to be

able to dream. Creativity is only

limited by one’s imagination.

Who influenced your art

I have many influences depending

on the phase I am going through.

During the period when I was

obsessed over doing realistic

paintings, I surveyed Chuck Close’s

work on ‘photorealism’. But when

I think of being expressive, I

look to Jackson Pollock. I am into

illustration now, so I am heavily

influenced by Mattias Adolfsson.

Apart from all these artists, I am a

big fan of Disney Pixar because it

never fails to amaze me.

Which is your favourite art


Drawing and painting will always

be my favourite. It is very important

to go back to the fundamentals and

I enjoy drawing the most because

it has no restrictions.

What are your views on the

art scene in Singapore

I think the art scene is slowly

growing in Singapore as we can

see the government encouraging

it publicly. But I think Singapore

can afford to be a little more open

to the art scene. I feel that there

aren’t much opportunities for

artists like me here at this point

of time. Maybe in the future

there will be, but I’m not too sure

about that.

What are your plans upon


I find the creative industries

in Singapore too corporatebased

for me and I dream of

migrating to somewhere else

where I can grow as an artist

and as a designer. My aspiration

deep down inside me, is to set

up my own little store down the

street that sells cute stationaries,

notebooks, cards, fabrics and

other knick-knacks, and thus put

a smile on every face.

Hailing from a fine arts

background, Jedidah said that

being in ADM has taught her

that there is a world of difference

between art and design. She

observes that designers need to

fulfill a brief or design in the

corporate world, according to the

client’s wants which will greatly

limit personal expression.

“I believe that the art scene

in Singapore can prosper even

more, if we are able to find a

balance between design and the

fine arts,” she said.









YOU would not normally expect military

regimentation and contemporary art to share

a common heritage.

But the Gillman Barracks made the

intersection possible.

Nestled in the serene atmosphere of

Alexandra, the barracks — a former British

military camp — houses 13 galleries featuring

a variety of artists and medium, and is the

National Arts Council’s (NAC) latest bid to

groom Singapore to become Asia’s arts hub.

Other than being a spot for art enthusiasts,

the colonial-style building has also been

transformed into a chill-out spot, with

eateries like Timbre and fine-dining

restaurant Masons in the vicinity.

The NAC also aims to groom young local

talent. Come 2013, students of the School of

the Arts, Design and Media can display their

works in the gallery space allocated to them.

As part of the National Arts Outreach

Program, the NAC also conducts free

walking tours of the barracks.

And We Dreamt We Were Birds

This surreal installation featuring 12

floating military beds by Singapore-based

artist Donna Ong looks like a scene right

out of the 2011 blockbuster hit Inception.

The haunting, yet whimsical piece highlights

Singapore’s colonial roots—with the bunk

beds signifying the British soldiers who used

to occupy the Barracks capturing the history

of the Gillman Barracks in a poetic manner.

Interaction with the exhibit is encouraged,

blurring the lines between the art piece and

the audience.

Blended by Desire

Ardent fans of graffiti street artist Banksy

and sk0l (the sticker lady) should not miss

this exhibit. “Blended by Desire” features

the work of four Jakarta-based street artists

in the form of installations, wall paintings

and videos.

This piece plays up the artists’ desires to

express themselves amidst the noise and

clutter that characterise the modern world.

The installation includes a graffiti piece with

tongue-in-cheek wordplay — “Stop following

me” in reference to the social media twitter.


This psychedelic installation by Japanese

avant-garde artist Yaoyo Kusama features

sculptures and paintings with colorful

repetitive patterns.

Plagued by psychiatric problems since

young, Kusama finds creating repetitive

patterns cathartic.

This internationally acclaimed artist has

works that have been featured in MoMa

(Museum of Modern Art) in New York

and collaborated with luxury brand Louis

Vuitton. Metallic reflects her evolving style,

as she explores different colours and shapes.

Vertical Submarine

Rebellious, thought-provoking, and done

with a stroke of satire, art collective Vertical

Submarine are three individuals who call

themselves “part-time pranksters with fulltime


In fact, one of their tongue-in-cheek

initiatives, “Flirting Point”, was a light

installation, displayed outside the Singapore

Art Museum in 2010. With a few benches

and a sign that read “flirting point”, the team

created a designated area for the forbidden

act of flirting, mocking the restricted society

we live in.

Vertical Submarine has also ventured

beyond doing art installations, releasing

their first theatre production Dust in 2011.


BRINGING in new blood, Pulse is an

independent exhibition that aims to keep the

heart of the art scene thumping in Singapore,

featuring works from 10 young artists who

are students, fresh graduates and amateur

artists. It all began with three ambitious girls

who wanted to support local artists by giving

them an opportunity to showcase their work

in a professional gallery.

“The momentum has always been there,

I only think that a lot of the independently

initiated events do not receive a wide

exposure and are isolated to certain groups,

so you see the same people attending the

same type of events,” said Ms Izziyana

Suhaimi, a fresh graduate from the School

of the Arts, Design and Media.

Facing the cold realities of student debts

fresh out of art school, Pulse recognizes that

the world of a young artist is fraught with

a compendium of contradictions, highs and

lows, encouraging and discouraging factors

that could make or break the young artist.

As such, the exhibition exudes a keen spirit

of hope, passion and fierce determination

among these young artists, bringing their

works from the periphery to centre stage.

“What is really important to us is to

showcase the artists’ processes and journey

in making their art, and not only the final

artwork,” says Ms Suhaimi. “Hence we

have requested the artists to keep sending

us photos of their processes. We will also

be exhibiting some of their sketchbooks,

which sometimes can be more interesting

and revealing than the artworks.”

In addition, the organising team also

documented the artists at work on video—

mostly from home—and interviewed them

to seek out how they deal with the lack of

support in terms of space, time, and funding.

Pulse opens this Friday. Join local artists

in an artsy celebration from 7 to 9pm with

Mr Iskandar Jalil, a Cultural Medallion

recipient for Visual Arts, as the Guest of

Honour for the opening night in the heart

of Kampung Glam.


THE Space Program, a concept created

by Foreign Policy Design Group—a local

design company, aims to use design to

redefine ordinary places in Singapore. By

amalgamating principles of design, intellect

and contemporary culture, The Space

Program creates an experience that is part

museum, part store and part installation.

Their first exhibition, launched at the

lobby of New Majestic Hotel, encourages

the audience to reconsider the importance

of heritage in contemporary Singapore.

The highlight of the installation—a 2-meter

washboard, represents the hard work and

pain the founding fathers of Singapore had

to go through.

The collective hopes to eventually bring

this concept of challenging the notion of

space to cities all over the world.


ART HIGH & ART LOW: (Left) In Metallic, Colourful and psychiadelic marks the work of Japanese avant-garde Yaoyo Kusama. (Above right) Military beds at the And We Dreamt We Were Birds exhibition invites its

audience to float along with its poetic narratives. (Above) Blended by Desire was able to blend hard issues with a high element of fun.





SPELLBINDING: Parts of Exeter like Gandy Street, were said to have influenced scenes in her Harry Potter series.



had just arrived in the small

city in the southwest of

England. My stomach had

nothing but airplane food,

and I was shivering from the

harsh winter wind.

It was January in Exeter and

I was scrambling to get basic

necessities before the shops closed.

Despite the severe cold, I was

distracted by antique beauty

everywhere: ruins right in

the middle of High Street and

menacing gargoyles guarding the

entrances of banks.

These architectural designs

instantly reminded me of a

magical quality, something out

of Harry Potter perhaps.

Over the next few months, I was

surprised to discover many places

in Exeter which bore striking

resemblances to the various

locations featured in the Harry

Potter series.

It all started when I stumbled

onto a street that seemed right out

of the books. Strolling away from

the Exeter City Centre, I found

myself in a narrow, cobbled alley.

I was in Gandy Street, lined

with quirky shops on each side.

Most of the shops featured shop

windows chock-full of odds

and ends strung together as

decorations, from bottle corks to

friendship bands.

I felt as though I had been

transported to Rowling’s fictional

Diagon Alley, a cobble-stoned

alley where Hogwarts students

buy their wizarding supplies. And

like when Harry who first stepped

onto the street, I too wished for

“eight more eyes” to look at all the

shops and windows stacked with

extraordinary things.

Brimming with excitement,

I entered some of the dimly lit

shops. To my immense delight,

I discovered that many of their

wares seemed to come right off

the Hogwarts supply list.

A love potion boasting the

abilities to “charm the boy you

fancy off his feet”, a lip balm

made of “beeswax to give you

bee stung lips”, and sets of old

parchment and quills were some

of my favourite items in the store.

Some of the shops sell more

conventional goods, such as

jewelry and furniture, but even

A love potion boasting

the abilities to “charm

the boy you fancy off his

feet”, a lip balm made

of “beeswax to give you

bee stung lips”, and

sets of old parchment

and quills were some

of my favourite items in

the store.

then, they differentiate themselves

from other mainstream brands.

The furniture shop, for example,

sells mainly curios and African


As I left the shop and wandered

back to the main street, I was

greeted with familiar retail outlets

like H&M, Zara and Topshop. It

was as though the quirky street I

stumbled upon was just a dream.

My next Potter encounter came

in the form of a pub, popular

among students of the University

of Exeter where I did my exchange

— The Old Firehouse.

From the outside, the Old

Firehouse resembles any old shop

house. I had initially walked past

it without noticing it there.

Harry Potter fans would have

guessed that this façade inspired

The Leaky Cauldron — a popular

watering hole among magic folk,

whose shabby, broken-down shop

front was meant to keep out the

Muggles, or non-magic people.

Inside the pub, I noticed peeling

paint on the crumbling walls,

which looked as though they were

carved from stone. The whole

interior was very realistic.

The atmosphere is one of

warmth and camaraderie shared

between old and young alike.

I remembered a familiar scene

in Harry Potter where Tom, the

landlord of the Leaky Cauldron,

greeted Hagrid heartily like an

old friend. I smiled as I soaked in

the busy and loud atmosphere all

around me.

It was only much later that I

discovered that J. K. Rowling, had

spent her undergraduate years at

the University of Exeter, which

bears resemblance to Hogwarts

in the movie.

The buildings around the

Streatham campus boasts gothic

architecture; complete with

towers and grand halls with

sinister-looking granite sculptures

hanging on the walls.

The sheer beauty of its

buildings and student halls made

me look forward to school, even

during bleak winter days when

temperatures could go below -5


However, I thought the

University of Exeter was the most

beautiful on rainy days. Dark

clouds cast a shadow on the school,

which augmented the gothic

structure of the buildings.

And like Hogwarts, the

University of Exeter stands

impenetrable, with the pointed

tips of its buildings and that

of the Exeter Cathedral in the

background, glistening with rain

and thunderstorms.

My stay in Exeter turned out to

be nothing I had anticipated.Little

did I know that I would find myself

in a different time and place,

without so much as a Time-Turner.






rees, trees and more trees—that was my first impression

upon arriving at Sabah as part of my school’s

Short Overseas Journalism Practicum (SOJOURN),

which involved three different home-stays.

Usually tucked away in the midst of kampungs, the culture

of home-stays in Sabah is a community initiative to

allow tourists to experience the Sabah culture in its entirety.

From only a few selected districts 14 years ago, homestays

in Sabah have expanded to nearly all districts, with

each one offering its own charm and attractions.

Miso Walai Homestay

Homestay Operator: Ms Salasiah Ahmad, 26.

Fee: RM75/pax per night

THIS is the very first home-stay to originate in Sabah, the

Miso Walai Homestay, which is also within the Kinabantagan

district. Despite it being the oldest home-stay in Sabah,

proper amenities such as electricity and WiFi are provided

here – a plus point for many tourists who cannot get away

from their electronic devices.

Here, tourists will get a chance to try the Kulintang, an

instrument made up of a few gongs, and learn the indigenous

traditional dances – Titikas, Menoumpas and Mengli

Sungai – which are performed during festive occasions in

the villages. If instruments and dances are not your thing,

try the traditional games that they offer – such as Kayutiga

and Lemparkaki.

Home-stayers also get to visit the Agop Batu Tulug, a

steep limestone formation containing more than a hundred

carved wooden coffins watched over by bats and swallows.

The coffins are said to resemble different animals associated

to the beliefs of the Orang Sungais.



WREXHAM’S WARMTH: Their hospitability, coupled with the cosy

atmosphere of the restaurants makes Wrexham unforgettable.

ulling up in front of Wyn Hall Terrace after almost

seven years in May last year, a sense of familiarity

Pengulfed me.

Yet, Wrexham is the most unlikely place anybody would

visit in Wales. While Cardiff is equivalent to our Orchard

Road, being the most popular visitor destination in Wales,

Wrexham would be akin to Tiong Bahru—situated in a quiet

and quaint estate where people look to find something different,

away from the city.

As I stepped out of the car, I was given a warm embrace

by Mr and Mrs Beattie, a couple in their mid 70s and longtime

friends of my father. Despite being almost ten thousand

kilometres away, I still felt at home in Wrexham as I

spent time with the Beattie and the Jones families.

Their house looked exactly how it was when I first visited—the

black metal gate and red brick path that led to the

house, the walls and mantle adorned with pictures from the

present and the past, and a family portrait that hung above

the fireplace.

Sitting by their lit fireplace and cupping warm mugs of

SIMPLE PLEASURES: The rustic charm of the home stays in Sabah

allows visitors to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.


Bilit Homestay Kinabatangan

Homestay Operators: Ms Melati Binte Jangai, 49, and

Mr Hamka Itin, 52.

Fee: RM360/pax to RM390/pax for 3D2N

THIS homestay is located in the Kinabatangan District. Because

of its location next to the Kinabatangan River, tourists

get to participate in different outdoor activities such as

night trekking and tree planting – all in an hour’s cruise

away to an island surrounded by an oxbow lake, Bringing

visitors away from the hustle and bustle of city life.

According to Ms Jangai, tourists play a part in conserv-

tea in my hands, I relished spending time and rekindling

relationships with the Beatties.

The warmth and hospitality was not limited to the Beattie’s

as Mr and Mrs Jones, a working middle-aged couple

and my aunt’s business parents, offered to take us out for

dinner on our first day in Wrexham. They brought us to

Pant Yr-Ochain (pronounced as pant a rockin’) for dinner

later that evening.

This gastro pub has history seeping through its walls,

dating back to the 19th century. Pant Yr-Ochain’s traditional

log fireplace and the aged-teak furniture makes one

feel at home. For those who want a picturesque view, the

back of the restaurant overlooks a lake, bringing you closer

to nature.

Over a meal of the quintessential British fish and chips

and also one of Pant Yr-Ochain’s signature dishes, I got to

know their 15-year-old son, Elliot Jones.

After dinner, they invited us over to their house, and

showed us around. The Jones’ house was big, yet the eclectic

mix of old and refurbished rooms brought together a

comforting appeal that made mr feel right at home.

Housing a drum set, a piano, a guitar and a pool table

in one of the rooms, the Jones’ home was a haven for their

children, allowing them to nurture their musical talent and

create a relaxing space with friends after school. The walls

of the room were occupied with photos of Elliot, Samantha

and Alex growing up together.

Another place of interest were the slate caverns in Llechwedd

(pronounced as LLEC-weth), where we descended

nearly 150 metres underground in Europe’s steepest mining

cable railway to experience the life of a miner. Despite travelling

for almost an hour to the slate mine, our efforts were

rewarded when we saw how magnificent it was.

The last night in Wrexham was spent with the Beatties

over dinner at The Golden Lion, another restaurant rich in


Renowned for its ghost stories as it is for its food, The

Golden Lion has its own famous legend, a ghost named

Old Jeffery who is rumored to visit the restaurant, moving

bottles from behind the bars and leaving glasses and chairs

ing the environment via the process of tree planting. They

obtain the tree seedlings from the nurseries and plant them

in the jungle on an island, in a bid to ensure the survival of

the rich wildlife there.

Penampang Village Homestay

Homestay Operator: Ms Evelyn Masudal, 63.

Fee: RM300/pax for 3D2N

IN the Penampang District, home-stay visitors get a chance

to help in the preparation of the Drunken Chicken, a traditional

dish combining chicken with Lihing (traditional

Sabah rice wine).

Visitors can participate in the entire process from catching

the chicken, to preparing and cooking it.

They can also immerse themselves in other activities in

the home-stay–such as visiting Ms Masudal’s homegrown

herbal garden, where they can find traditional Sabah herbs

with strong medicinal properties.

Other than food and herbs, take a chance to don on the

costumes of one of Sabah’s indigenous groups, the Kadazandusuns.

Out of the home-stay, visitors get to visit the “Tagal”

(meaning “no fishing”) system at Kampung Babagon to

learn about the way locals conserve fishes in the Babagon

River ecosystem, in a collective move to maintain its population

in the river. In the same kampung, they can involve

themselves in pineapple planting in the kampung as well.

Compared to other home-stays such as couchsurfing,

witnessing how Sabah has seamlessly incorporated its cultural

activities has brought the practice of home-stays to a

whole new level.

Gone are the days where home-stays only involved one

staying at their host’s house. Instead, one is now highly encouraged

to assimilate into the community, making it their

second home.

THE BEATTIES : Margaret and Larrie Beattie who have lived in

Wrexham all their lives, find The Golden Lion one of the best

restuarants in the area.


upturned from time to time.

I thought it was going to be a simple affair with just the

five of us. But to my surprise, Mr Larrie Beattie rallied his

whole family to have dinner with us.

The hospitality of the Welsh was undeniable as we were

entertained throughout the evening reminiscing the good

old days over authentic British and Welsh food such as,

black pudding—a type of sausage made from pig’s blood

and oats. It is chewy like a sausage, but stodgier with a

slight coppery tang that adds to the taste—a heavy delicacy

best balanced by tea.

Wrexham, a town situated in North Wales and a pioneer

for the Industrial Revolution, has a rich Welsh heritage.

However, amid the numerous historic sites and buildings, I

found myself drawn to the finer details of Wrexham itself:

the families and their houses.

The Welsh definitely take pride in their homes, making it

a source of refuge in the cold and a chance to gather everyone

in the summer with barbecues in the garden. After all,

its number of historical sites or buildings do not matter—its

people define Wrexham.

























EXPERT GUIDANCE: (From left) Music producer Jason Tan teaches FFF participants Rachel Lee, Amanda Lee and Syaheedah Iskandar how to create music on computer software Reason. (Right) SPIN IT: Amanda Lee entertains at the FFF Girls DJ

Bootcamp graduation bash with her own set of music mixes. PHOTOS | EDWARD TEO

DOES Singapore need an all-female

DJ boot camp The ladies behind

FFF definitely think so. FFF Girl

DJ Bootcamp, in its fifth year running,

was spearheaded by local

female DJs Cherry Chan, Debbie

Chia, Natalie Tan and Pamm Hong

in 2008.

The bootcamp aims to educate

and empower women through

music and DJing, particularly in

a friendly and fun environment.

Awarded twice by JUICE

Singapore as ‘Best Contribution

To The Scene’ in 2010 and 2011,

FFF Girl DJ Bootcamp is not just

any workshop for amateurs and


Out of more than 80 applicants

this year, only eight girls were chosen

to participate in the workshop,

which was held on four consecutive

Saturdays in September and

October at Zouk Wine Bar.

Leaving the participants (or

kittens, as they are affectionately

called) in the hands of local producer

Jason Tan, the FFF organisers

took a break and relaxed outside

the Wine Bar. They are a bunch of

self-declared cat lovers who have

plastered the official FFF website

with pictures of the feline creature.

Natalie was quick to mention,

“Don’t ask us what is ‘FFF’, because

we don’t know ourselves.”

So mystery solved – ‘FFF’ is purely


What spurred on the idea for


Debbie: We all have different reasons.

Personally, I was given a lot

of opportunities and I had such a

great time deejaying that I wanted

to share it with other girls to let

them experience it too. It’s a way

of giving back – you take some and

you give some.

Other than gender, can we get

some insight into the selection

process for FFF

Debbie: It’s a panel, so all of us look

through the applications. For me,

I look out for taste. I feel that you

can teach skills but not taste. You

have to listen to a lot of music and

you need experience for that. So I

tend to notice girls with good taste.

And as a DJ, part of your role is

to live music and also educate

listeners through a good selection

of music.

Natalie: We also ask other questions,

like their level of commitment

and what they think a DJ’s job

is. To us, it is quite important for

them to be relatively practical and

grounded in reality. Their reason

for participating in FFF should

not be related to their ego.

Guys and girls are very different

in the way they think

and learn. Is that a reason

why you guys decided to

organise an all-female bootcamp

Natalie: Definitely. Girls tend to be

more social than guys, and they

need a softer approach.

Cherry: Guys tend to be like, “Okay

I’m here and I already know what

I want to learn. Teach me specifically


Debbie: Yeah. And you have to

criticize girls in a gentle way, like

cushioning them. Towards guys

you can just make fun of them. In

fact, that’s how guys learn.

Natalie: We also have to make

sure that there is no competition,

because girls tend to get competitive

on a certain level. We try to

manage that.

Cherry: We’re creating a nurturing

environment to learn. Especially

with music gear and technology,

it’s all quite geeky. Guys wouldn’t

mind sitting for 15 hours with a

machine, but it’s not very natural

for girls to do so.

Of course there are girls who take to

the geeky stuff naturally but most

girls will be like, “Oh my gosh there

are so many knobs and buttons!”

Are there any celebrated differences

between female DJs

and male DJs

Cherry: In terms of performance

aspects, good female DJs are

sometimes more visual, like Scarlet


Natalie: She’s a personality. She

wears couture to perform and she

also sings. After she sings she

might take off a portion of her

outfit to reveal something else. It’s

a drama, but at the same time, she

can mix. Unlike Paris Hilton, who

needs someone else to mix for her.

Cherry: I think it still depends on

individual personality. There are

girls who mix just like guys.

Natalie: It’s hard to generalise.

Debbie: There are guys who are

feminine too.

Cherry: But they cannot dress up

as much. All they can do is probably

put lights on their head. They

don’t have make up to play with,

although some have started putting

on like theatrical stuff.

Any thoughts on the local

female DJ scene

Debbie: The state of the industry

is very bad right now. Because of

the Paris Hilton wannabes, there’s

a lot of false image of female DJs

right now, which we are trying to


Cherry: When you say “female

DJ”, very often the entertainment

industry comes into mind, which

includes model DJs. “I’m gonna

look shiny and hot!”

Natalie: Or, “I’m gonna take photos

with my breasts hanging out!”

Cherry: Or putting your headphones

on your breasts. Why put

your headphones on your breasts,

not your ears We are trying to

fight against that. People should

be focused on your music and not

how hot you look or how little

clothes you wear. That belongs to

the entertainment industry, which

is not what we do. I think we have

to differentiate between the entertainment

industry and the music


Last question: why cats

Cherry: Why not cats

Natalie: We all like cats.

Cherry: Debbie used to like dogs,

but we’ve all gotten her to switch.

Natalie: We like fuzzy things, and

cats are the common denominator.

FERVENT FELINES: (From left) This year’s organisers comprise Jean Reiki, Natalie “Pixiedub”

Tan, Debbie Chia, Cherry Chan and Eileen Chan, who hope to empower women through DJing.





Taylor Swift



WHEN Taylor Swift released

her radio-friendly single ‘We

Are Never Ever Getting Back

Together’ two months ago,

many wondered if she was

ditching her country roots to

be a full-fledged pop princess.

On the contrary, Swift’s

fourth album Red features

darker adult-pop songs,

with livelier-sounding

tracks positioned awkwardly

between them.

Perhaps influenced by

current music trends, Red

displays Swift’s willingness

to experiment with electronic

music. ‘I Knew You Were

Trouble’ features a dubstepinspired

arrangement, and

in an MTV interview Swift

justifies this as an effort to

portray chaos in the song.

The heavily bass-driven

‘22’ is a toned-down version

of Pink’s ‘Raise Your Glass’

— an anthem for singles to

rock out to. These songs are

undeniably catchy and Swift’s

auto-tuned vocals are a fit.

Away from predictive pop,

Red reaches out to the other

end of the music spectrum.

Intimate songwriting and

darker arrangements that

lean towards the alternative

genre can be heard on songs

like ‘State of Grace’ and ‘All

BURNING RED: Since the release of her new album, Taylor Swift has only one preferred colour for her lips. PHOTO | INTERNET

Too Well’ — a shift from the

usually bright guitar tones in

Swift’s previous albums.

The drums in ‘State of

Grace’ initially sound like

something from a punk

rock band like Fall Out Boy.

The song gives a nod to

alternative-pop — a musical

path Swift might soon take

— but the generic tune fails

to make an impression.

Nevertheless, the 22-yearold

delivers a touching

performance in ‘All Too Well’,

painting an unforgettable

romance with heartfelt

imagery in her distinctive

storybook-songwriting style.

The song is one of the best

songwriting Swift has ever

done, as she laments, “You

called me up again just to

break me like a promise/ So

casually cruel in the name of

being honest”.

The melancholic music

accompaniment works too —

the use of clear to distorted

guitar tones will evoke

sympathy from listeners.

After nine tracks that

alternate between overly

produced pop and honest

songwriting, Red reaches its

most confusing point at the

collaborative ‘The Last Time’.

Despite being the featured

artist, Gary Lightbody of

Snow Patrol takes control

right from the start. While

the song provides musical

depth for Red, Swift struggles

to make it her own as her

vocals are overshadowed

by Lightbody’s emotional

and beautiful performance.

The haunting arrangement

showcases Snow Patrol’s

signature sound, but makes

no effort to integrate Swift’s

identity as an artist.

Luckily, the same mistake

is not made in ‘Everything

Has Changed’, featuring

British singer-songwriter


Ed Sheeran, an independent

artist who recently broke into

mainstream charts with his

song ‘The A Team’. This time,

the two vocalists complement

each other with ease as the

song grooves to the infectious

drumbeats from sticks and


Swift’s breathy vocals

in ‘Sad Beautiful Tragic’ are

reminiscent of her recent

collaboration with folk band

The Civil Wars for the Hunger

Games soundtrack. The song

hints of folk and country

as a banjo is plucked in the

background. However, Swift’s

vocals are inexpressive and

fail to fully convey the

sadness in the lyrics.

Although Swift still

identifies herself as a country

artist, ‘I Almost Do’ is the

only other rare song on Red

that belongs in the country

genre. Country-style guitar

riffs sound as Swift sings,

“And I just want to tell you/

It takes everything in me not

to call you”.

Other tracks with hints

of country music include the

title track and ‘Treacherous’,

and this further demonstrates

how Swift is slowly moving

away from her roots.

Red marks the beginning

of Swift maturing in music

style, as she stops picturing

castles and fairytale love.

Sadly, the album sounds too

conflicted musically for a

successful crossover.

If it is any consolation,

Red’s bubblegum pop songs

will guarantee Swift a

position on the pop charts

once again.



SOLO MISSTEPS: Benjamin Gibbard’s debut solo album is decent but fails to impress. PHOTO | INTERNET


Benjamin Gibbard


BENJAMIN Gibbard, known

for being the frontman of

independent rock band Death

Cab for Cutie, has many

musical identities.

The previous frontman

of the American electronic

band The Postal Service is

also known for his side project

All-Time Quarterback and his

first band Pinwheel.

Like his musical career,

Gibbard’s debut solo album

Former Lives has many

musical identities. Produced

over 8 years, the album feels

like a compilation of the

outtakes of his musical career.

Former Lives encompasses

tracks from a range of musical

genres including country folk

and soul-pop.

Unlike his other albums

with Death Cab For Cutie,

there is no consistency

throughout this album.

Instead it seems more like a

mishmash of styles brought

loosely together.

The opening track,

‘Shepherd’s Bush Lullaby’,

feels more like a prologue

to the album. The a cappella

style — a genre Gibbard did

not explore in the past —

is surprising as it marks a

refreshing change from the

signature heavily layered

sound of Death Cab For Cutie.

With lyrics like, “Under

my umbrella/ I sing a cappella/

This melancholy whimsical

tune”, the track resembles a

modern day nursery rhyme.

The album peaks at its

fourth track, ‘It’s Bigger Than

Love’. It is a catchy duet with

Aimee Mann about a couple

struggling with their dreams

in big cities like New York

and Paris.

The upbeat tune combined

with Gibbard’s familiar tenor

vocals will grow quickly on

the listeners.

Another notable track,

‘Duncan, Where Have You

Gone’, is a soul-pop ballad

with classical piano riffs in

the background. It sounds rich

and sentimental. Peppered

with rhetorical questions,

the lyrics are contemplative

and at times melancholic,

“Your biggest dream is just

to be a stranger/ Passed on

the street”.

However, Former Lives

simmers down near the end

with predictable songs like

the folksy ‘Lady Adelaide’ and

‘Broken Yolk in Western Sky’.

With his stroke of lyrical

genius, Gibbard manages to

save this otherwise mediocre

album with his impeccable

storytelling ability. His

graceful lyrics seem more like

snippets of poetry and prose.

The only downside to his

carefully crafted lyrics is his

vagueness and emotional

distance. Known for writing

lyrics that closely resembles

his life, Gibbard’s trademark

brutal honesty is sorely

lacking in this album. This

renders his writing beautiful

but suppressed.

In a Huffington Post

interview, Gibbard said he did

not want to produce overly

melancholic material just

because of his divorce from

Zooey Deschanel, “I think it

kind of cheapens the purpose

of writing in the first place.”

Overall, there is nothing

really exceptional about

Former Lives. It is a pleasant

listen, however, it seems

more like a formulaic mixtape

than a painstakingly

produced album.











FIVE years after his debut album Life in

Cartoon Motion, Mika returns with his third

studio album. Unlike his previous albums,

The Origin of Love is “not as layered” and

features “simplistic pop music”, as described

by Mika in interviews.

Contrary to his statement, this album

still sounds distinctly Mika. Keeping to his

psychedelic-pop musical style, The Origin of

Love is infused with catchy beats accompanied

by his distinctive vocals.

Daft Punk and Fleetwood Mac have been

named by Mika as influences on his musical

style, which may go some way to explain

the usage of electronic beats in most of the

tracks in this album.

Unfortunately, this experiment in musical

style produces mixed results.

For instance, the thumping electronic

beat of ‘Overrated’ overpowers Mika’s underwhelming

delivery. Furthermore, ‘Love You

When I’m Drunk’ features an uninspiring

beat that serves to distract listeners from

Mika’s strong vocals than complement them.

Yet, the electronica element is triumphant

in ‘Emily’, which is easily the standout track

on this album. As a drum beat loops and

synthesisers play in the background, Mika

playfully exhorts a lady named Emily to live

her life to her fullest. Never falling out of step

with Mika’s vocals, the electronic-inspired

instrumentation is used most effectively in

this song.

Despite the goofiness of the lyrics in

‘Emily’, The Origin of Love has lyrics that

are otherwise a step up from previous Mika

albums. Handling deeper themes such as war,

bullying and romance, the lyrics are thoughtprovoking

and belie the catchy music.

In ‘Kids’, Mika makes his anti-war point

with lyrics like, “There won’t be a me and

you/ If we keep on fighting like we do” and

“Take your kid gloves on, this is love not

war/ Give our peace a chance, make it worth

fighting for”. Sobering lyrics like these recur

throughout the album, giving it a depth that

goes beyond what one may call shallow pop


Bullying, which Mika was a victim of

during his childhood, is also covered in

‘Popular Song’. Unlike the earnestness of the

other lyrics, the lyrics in this track mock the

bullies of Mika’s childhood, with sarcastic

lines like “Standing on the field with your

pretty pompons/ Now you’re working at the

movie selling popular corn”.

Love and heartbreak is also a commonlyraised

theme in The Origin of Love. ‘Lola’, the

second track on the album, explains how

somebody may choose to reject the notion

of romance through lyrics like, “What’s the

point in singing silly love songs/ Who do

they think they are to tell us”

‘Stardust’, the following track, contains

emotional lyrics that almost contradict the

energetic electronic beat, such as “Throw me

HIGH FIVE: Since the release of his debut album five years ago, Mika has won five music awards. PHOTO | INTERNET

a lifeline and open my door/ And pick up my

heart that you left on the floor”.

Heavy-handed as some of the lyrics may

seem, Mika still manages to deliver them

convincingly in a sterling vocal performance.

In numerous songs, he displays astonishing

vocal control across a wide range of notes.

This is best seen in ‘Make You Happy’, where

Mika croons the opening verses, but shifts

to his falsetto with little effort during the

final bridge. Mika’s evident singing talent

is one of the highlights of this album, and

with good reason.

The Origin of Love is, in Mika’s words, a

more simplistic effort than his previous albums.

However, he has still managed to show

his growth as a songwriter and as a vocalist

in this album. While the electronica-based

instrumentation is largely disappointing, the

album is another enjoyable effort from the

flamboyant Brit.




Dan Rhodes

$32.95 at Books Kinokuniya

Published by Cannongate Books

IS throwing a pebble at strangers considered

art Aurélie Renard thought so. She had it

all planned out. Her pebble would hit someone

fantastically interesting, and she would

follow that person for a week, sketching

the scenes of his or her interesting life. Her

completed art project would gain the admiration

and support of her peers and professors.

Instead, she hits a baby in the face.

Aurélie is left with no choice but to yield

to the mother’s wishes, who decides to leave

her baby, Herbert, in Aurélie’s care for one

week as a punishment. From here, Aurélie’s

week begins unfold dramatically.

Set in Paris, This is Life is author Dan

Rhodes’ fifth novel. The book chronicles the

intertwining lives and situations of Aurélie

and the city’s other residents.

Rhodes keeps things light and interesting

by introducing many unconventional characters.

Le Machine is an artist who promotes

his art piece, which consists of collecting

every excretion from his body in giant

glass jars. Sylvie, Aurélie’s best friend, is

so beautiful that two of her former lovers

who have been obsessed with her killed

themselves when she ended their respective

relationships. Not forgetting Eric Rousset,

the owner of the last surviving erotic cinema

in the whole of Paris.

The narratives of all these characters

are intrinsically linked to one another, and

Rhodes’ writing style is charming enough

that the reader is willing to suspend all

disbelief and accept these coincidences.

But some parts are still too unbelievable.

The mood of the entire novel is playful,

and in line with the humourous plot.

Rhodes repeatedly pokes fun at modern

artists who take themselves too seriously.

He caricaturizes them through the character

of Sebastien, a snobbish and arrogant

artist who always orders the most unpronounceable

coffees. Sebastien is often

shown making over-confident claims of his

definite future glory and brilliant ability

to ‘subvert the zeitgeist’.

However, because the novel brings in

so many interesting characters, there is

too little space left for plot development.

Although This is Life spans over 400 pages

long, most of it is spent on descriptions and

internal monologues.

As a result, the connections between

the characters end up being quite predictable,

and there is no real motivation

that drives the story forward. In fact, the

entire story is laid out within the first

three-quarters of the book, and the happy

ending of the book is dragged out over the

last 100 pages.

Although the book often veers off

into the fantastical, Rhodes still manages

to keep the reader hooked onto the book.

His medley of unique characters and their

antics is more than good enough to keep

readers entertained. This is Life may not

be the most groundbreaking or influential,

but it is still worth a look.




Glenn Knight

$24.61 at Books Kinokuniya

Published by Marshall Cavendish

TO call Glenn Knight’s The Prosecutor

an autobiography would be off the mark.

While the book does touch on the personal

life of the once powerful Deputy Public

Prosecutor, it is mainly a recount of the

cases Knight took when he served in the

Singapore Legal Service.

His distinguished career was marred

by legal troubles. He served as the first

Director of the Commercial Affairs

Department and in 1980, received the

Gold Public Administrator Medal. He was

disbarred in 1991 after being convicted

of corruption and was again convicted in

1998 for misappropriating money while in

office. In 2007, he was reinstated after garnering

support from members of the Bar.

Knight’s trials garnered much public

scrutiny and The Prosecutor is his way

of standing up for himself. He presents

his claim of innocence through a short

chronicle of his early life before narrating

the various court cases that defined

his influential position. Through these

cases, Knight presents himself as one who

honours justice and integrity.

Despite the initial letdown upon realizing

that The Prosecutor reads like a

casebook, readers will soon realise that the

court cases are as captivating as Knight’s

life. From corruption to homicides, Knight

makes it a point to describe each case

vividly and in layman terms. He spares

no details, even in the most gruesome

murder cases, allowing readers to paint an

elaborate picture of every case.

He also tears apart the notion of an absolutely

just and formidable legal system.

In a chapter that recounts the collapse of

Pan-Electric Industries in 1986, Knight reveals

that Mr Tan Koon Swan, a prominent

stakeholder found guilty of abetment in

criminal breach of trust, was in fact innocent.

“It was extremely painful for me

to suddenly discover that the Singapore

courts had got it so wrong,” wrote Knight.

While the Attorney-General’s Chambers

claims that Knight got his facts wrong in

that chapter, readers are nonetheless given

both sides of the story to form their own

opinions on the final verdict.

That being said, Knight’s failure to

elaborate on his own trials is puzzling. In

his book, Knight claims innocence. If that

is true, readers cannot help but wonder

why he spent so little pages backing up that

claim. Perhaps the man still has something

to hide, or perhaps, as he says, he would

rather not “dwell on those dark days”.

Whichever it is, one can only wonder.

In short, The Prosecutor is more than

a chronicle of a lawyer’s life — it is an

insight to Singapore’s legal sphere. It is

not for readers who expect to have their

heartstrings tugged by sorrowful cries

of injustice, but more for those who wish

to have an glimpse into the struggles of

those who have the power to save lives and

thwart deaths through the arms of the law.









Daniel Craig, Judi Dench,

Javier Bardem


“YOU know the rules of the

game. You’ve been playing

it long enough,” MI6 chief

M tells James Bond at the

beginning of Skyfall. 007’s

been at it for 50 years, and the

23rd Bond film is definitely

one to remember.

The movie celebrates the

anniversary in style, bringing

nostalgia to audiences

familiar with the series,

as well as reinventing the

formula which may set the

tone for future movies.

Bond’s last appearance on

the big screen was four years

ago in the disappointing

Quantum of Solace. It was not

a bad movie, but one that took

itself a little too seriously with

its convoluted environmental

terrorism plot.

With Skyfall, the writers

have rebounded with a

stripped down and more

coherent story that visits both

Bond’s and M’s past.

The film begins in

Turkey, with Bond working

alongside new partner Eve

Moneypenny (Naomie Harris)

to retrieve a stolen hard drive

containing a list of NATO

agents working undercover in

terrorist organisations.

BEST OF THE BEST: Daniel Craig (left) and Javier Bardem (right) deliver the most delightful performances the Bond franchise has seen. PHOTO | INTERNET

Chasing through the

city on car, motorbike and

culminating in a fight on top

of a moving train, the entire

sequence is exhilarating and

indicative of Sam Mendes’

top-notch directing.

But while action sequences

tended to overwhelm the plot

in previous Bond films and

got carried away, Mendes

skillfully uses the action in

Skyfall as a vehicle to propel

the emotional drama.

Daniel Craig looks very

comfortable in his third

outing as the legendary 007,

exuding sauveness and wit

that were sorely missed in the

previous film.

It is hard to believe his

casting as Bond was once

doubted by critics, because

the actor has now cemented

his place among other legends

who have filled 007’s shoes.

Craig looks set to be the

mainstay of the franchise for

as long as he chooses.

Interestingly, Bond’s

characteristic philandering

ways are hardly existent

this time, with the sexiest

scene showing Bond getting

an intimate shave from Eve.

Instead, the main Bond girl is

M herself, which Judi Dench

delivers with great tenacity.

In previous films, Dench’s

character often took a

backseat to 007’s globetrotting

adventures. Skyfall sees the

MI6 chief’s relationship with

Bond develop beyond that of

an agent-handler, exposing

the iron lady’s vulnerabilities.

She also becomes more

of a surrogate mother to

her trusted agent, whose

orphaned past first hinted

at in 2006’s Casino Royale

is explored in greater detail

this time.

Academy Award winner

Javier Bardem plays the

main antagonist Raoul Silva,

and his eerily charming

performance makes him the

best villain in the Bond series

so far.

Half-persuasive and halflunatic,

Silva has a dark

history and is not the typical

one-dimensional villain bent

on world domination. He has

a personal vendetta against M

and his carefully conceived

plan is never fully revealed,


allowing him to always stay

one step ahead of Bond and

keep the audience guessing.

Iconic gadget master Q

makes his return to the series

after a three-movie absence,

with Ben Whishaw bringing

a fresh face and delightful

geeky drag.

Ralph Fiennes also

delivers a classy performance

as Chairman of the National

Intelligence Council Gareth

Mallory, a largely ambiguous

character whose intentions

are unknown as he exudes

a sense of authority while

keeping a close eye on MI6.

Skyfall may be grim,

but cinematographer Roger

Deakins ensures that it is

delivered in the prettiest

fashion. Reflections, colours

and wide-angle shots are a

staple, and no other Bond

film comes close to this level

of stylish presentation.

The dazzling neon

lights of Shanghai provide

a spectacular backdrop for

a nighttime assassination,

while the final confrontation

between Bond and Silva in

Scotland is a deadly game

of cat and mouse played in

shadows and silhouettes.

The Bond franchise may

be 50 years old now, but Sam

Mendes has shown that it is

still possible to teach an old

dog new tricks.

Skyfall continues the

modern evolution of the

series, injecting intelligence

in the plot while keeping the

film just as fun as it is cool.

With masterful directing

and cinematography, this is

quite simply the best Bond

movie yet.





Katie Featherson, Kathryn Newton, Matt Shively



4 is a watered-down and

abysmal sequel without

much surprises or

explanations. Sadly, it does

not replicate the success of

its predecessors.

Up to now, t he

Paranormal Activity

series has maintained a

healthy level of horror in

its theme of haunted homes.

Unfortunately ideas seem to

have been exhausted in the

fourth installment.

Once again, there are

plenty scenes of bodies

dragged into rooms by

an unexplained force, or

things in the house falling

without reason. The movie

also capitalises on its old

ways of scaring its audience

with sudden sounds and

unexpected movements.

It is also disconcerting

that the scenes constantly

cut to darkness instead of

following up with the events

of the next shot. Besides that,

nothing else is shocking or

truly frightening.

The movie is further

weakened by the evident

lack of plot.

Although the movie

begins with a promising link

to the first and second movies

— Katie (Katie Featherson)

killing her husband, sister

and brother-in-law, and

kidnapping their son, Hunter

— her story is not featured as

the central plot.

Instead the movie follows

the lives of two teenagers,

Alex (Kathryn Newton) and

Ben (Matt Shively) as they

notice unusual behavior in

the house during their Skype

calls to each other.

Things get creepier when

their neighbour, Katie’s son

Robbie (Brady Allen) stays

over with Wyatt (Aiden

Lovekamp), the family’s

youngest child.

Allen manages to pull off

the strangeness of Robbie’s

character. Unfortunately this

is not well explored as this

is mostly discovered through

Alex’s perspective.

Furthermore, the main

horror element involving the

three characters is revealed

mostly towards the end in an

abrupt fashion.

As the movie revolves

around the young couple,

the movie becomes more

comedic than horrific.

Perhaps this time, the

directors were going for

something different, as the

interaction between the

young couple, Alex and

Ben, brings a couple of cheap

laughs. Ben tries to diffuse

the seriousness by dropping

sexual innuendoes about the

supernatural spirits.

This may appeal to the

younger crowd who may

take to Ben’s “charms”. But

for most audiences, the

adolescent sexual humor

undermines the horror

element in the movie.

Also, in this installment,

it seems that Ben is the male

CHEAP SCARE: Without innovation, the Paranormal Activity series has become increasingly stale. PHOTO | INTERNET

lead who takes charge of

the supernatural problem

as seen in the other films.

However, he appears equally

bewildered and does not

take charge of ascertaining

the seriousness of their

dangerous plight.

Unlike previous

Paranormal Activity movies,

the cause of the supernatural

activity is not investigated,

leading to a lack of focus.

The haunting is also

underwhelming as it is not

rooted in any historical past.

In all, Paranormal

Activity 4 is definitely a

letdown. The movie is a

rehash of what has been done

and the lack of creativity

in the horror elements is





Historical Thriller

Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin,

John Goodman



WHEN filming a movie based on a historical

event, it is a challenge for directors to preserve

historical accuracy without sacrificing

dramatic license.

Loosely based on the “Canadian Caper”

that took place during the Iran hostage crisis

of 1979, director Ben Affleck’s Argo has accomplished

this to a certain extent.

While it manages to portray the rescue

of six American diplomats from Iranian

revolutionary forces with decent accuracy

and gripping drama, it is biased towards the

American side of the story.

Set in a chaotic Iran undergoing the rise

of Islamic fundamentalism, Argo details how

CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) carries

out his unorthodox rescue mission. Mendez

— an expert in disguise and exfiltration — decides

to film an exotic science-fantasy movie

called “Argo” as a cover for the operation.

Under the pretext of filming “Argo”,

Mendez is granted access to Iran. This enables

him to contact the six beleaguered

diplomats who have escaped the overrun

American embassy and sought refuge at the

house of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor.

As the Iranian revolutionaries slowly

uncover the identities of the six unaccounted

American embassy personnel, Mendez faces

the immense pressure of having to extricate

them in a timely and unsuspicious manner.

Although Ben Affleck’s decision to cast

himself as a Latino-American may be controversial,

Affleck’s portrayal of Mendez is

fittingly serious and broody throughout.

The side story of Mendez trying to fulfill

his duty as a father by occasionally calling

his son to check on his progress, however,

feels like a weak attempt at soliciting sympathy.

Except for the first call, during which

his son gives him the inspiration to initiate

his rescue mission, the side story serves no

other purpose to the plot.

As Affleck’s portrayal focuses on the

CIA’s role in the operation, the bulk of Argo

shows the CIA’s cooperation with Hollywood

for the rescue mission. Factor in Affleck’s

penchant for suspense and one gets plenty

of heart-thumping scenes.

The climax comprises a series of exciting

scenes. For instance, a call to the phoney

“Studio Six” in Hollywood to confirm the

legitimacy of the Argo film’s existence

nearly goes unanswered and threatens to

blow their cover.

While such scenes makes Argo a gripping

watch, the movie is not without any problems.

There is a noticeable downplay of the

Canadian government’s involvement.

Historically, Ambassador Taylor had

a prominent part to play in the Canadian

Caper. Apart from securing fake Canadian

passports for the American diplomats, he

TAKING THE LEAD: Ben Affleck proves his directing prowess once again while playing the lead role in Argo.

also provided intelligence on the hostage

crisis to both American and Canadian intelligence

agencies. But Ambassador Taylor is

depicted as only a sedentary observer. It is

only revealed in conversations with Mendez

that Taylor had a part to play, but he is never

seen in action.

Regardless, it is clear Affleck meant for

Argo to focus more on the CIA’s role in the





Canadian Caper. Viewers who are not picky

about historical details could overlook this

minor flaw.

As a standalone film not subjected to the

scrutiny of historians and Canadians, Argo is

an excellent American thriller that perfectly

captures the unpredictable and dangerous

atmosphere of rescue missions.




Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams,

Justin Timberlake


IT has been 19 years since moviegoers last

saw Clint Eastwood star in a movie he did

not direct (1993’s In the Line of Fire). This

year Eastwood returns to that in Trouble

With The Curve, an enjoyable father-daughter

reconciliation story set in the minor league

baseball of the southern United States.

Eastwood plays Gus Lobel, a veteran

scout for the Atlanta Braves, a baseball

team. Gus’ eyesight is failing him and his

job is threatened by a younger hotshot

Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard), whose

approach to baseball is more modern (computers

and statistics), whereas Gus prefers

using his instincts and gut feeling.

In essence, Gus represents the old golden

age of baseball and Phillip the more forwardlooking

side of baseball.

The plot focuses on the relationship between

Gus and his daughter Mickey Lobel

FINAL SWANSONG: This is the first time in 19 years that Eastwood (right) has starred in a movie he did not direct, and it may be his last film too. PHOTOS | INTERNET

(Amy Adams). Mickey is a high-flying

corporate lawyer who is one case away from

becoming a partner at her firm.

She bitterly resents her father for keeping

her with her relatives so he could continue

working in baseball when her mother passed

away. This resentment is also channelled to

other men.

The last thing she wants is to be around

Gus. But his old friend, Pete Klein (John

Goodman) talks her into a chance to patch

things up with her father.

Things turn sour, as every encounter

between Gus and Mickey turns into an

argument and ends with her storming off.

However, Mickey decides to stay because of

her love interest Johnny Flanagan (Justin

Timberlake), a former protégé of Gus.

Both end up helping Gus to evaluate

the season’s top prospect Bo Gentry (Joe

Massingill), who hits home runs almost

every time.

In just his third acting role in a decade,

Eastwood delivers yet another powerful

performance that will remind viewers of his

role in Gran Torino (2008) with his constant

crankiness and bluntness. Despite his tough

exterior, Eastwood shows a softer side when

he reconciles with Mickey.

However, the movie is a little draggy.

Randy Brown’s script creates further problems

by getting too serious at times, throwing

in inappropriate family drama late in

the movie and working overtime to answer

numerous plot inconsistencies. Luckily, the

acting talent is strong enough to make up

for it.

The movie shows a rarely seen side of

the Southern American working class heartlands:

cheap motels, pool halls and decrepit

sport facilities.

It pays homage to experience, gut instinct

and character, which ultimately triumphs

over technology.




Historical Thriller

Ben Affleck, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin,

John Goodman



WHEN filming a movie based on a historical

event, it is a challenge for directors to preserve

historical accuracy without sacrificing

dramatic license.

Loosely based on the “Canadian Caper”

that took place during the Iran hostage crisis

of 1979, director Ben Affleck’s Argo has accomplished

this to a certain extent.

While it manages to portray the rescue

of six American diplomats from Iranian

revolutionary forces with decent accuracy

and gripping drama, it is biased towards the

American side of the story.

Set in a chaotic Iran undergoing the rise

of Islamic fundamentalism, Argo details how

CIA agent Tony Mendez (Ben Affleck) carries

out his unorthodox rescue mission. Mendez

— an expert in disguise and exfiltration — decides

to film an exotic science-fantasy movie

called “Argo” as a cover for the operation.

Under the pretext of filming “Argo”,

Mendez is granted access to Iran. This enables

him to contact the six beleaguered

diplomats who have escaped the overrun

American embassy and sought refuge at the

house of Canadian ambassador Ken Taylor.

As the Iranian revolutionaries slowly

uncover the identities of the six unaccounted

American embassy personnel, Mendez faces

the immense pressure of having to extricate

them in a timely and unsuspicious manner.

Although Ben Affleck’s decision to cast

himself as a Latino-American may be controversial,

Affleck’s portrayal of Mendez is

fittingly serious and broody throughout.

The side story of Mendez trying to fulfill

his duty as a father by occasionally calling

his son to check on his progress, however,

feels like a weak attempt at soliciting sympathy.

Except for the first call, during which

his son gives him the inspiration to initiate

his rescue mission, the side story serves no

other purpose to the plot.

As Affleck’s portrayal focuses on the

CIA’s role in the operation, the bulk of Argo

shows the CIA’s cooperation with Hollywood

for the rescue mission. Factor in Affleck’s

penchant for suspense and one gets plenty

of heart-thumping scenes.

The climax comprises a series of exciting

scenes. For instance, a call to the phoney

“Studio Six” in Hollywood to confirm the

legitimacy of the Argo film’s existence

nearly goes unanswered and threatens to

blow their cover.

While such scenes makes Argo a gripping

watch, the movie is not without any problems.

There is a noticeable downplay of the

Canadian government’s involvement.

Historically, Ambassador Taylor had

a prominent part to play in the Canadian

Caper. Apart from securing fake Canadian

passports for the American diplomats, he

TAKING THE LEAD: Ben Affleck proves his directing prowess once again while playing the lead role in Argo.

also provided intelligence on the hostage

crisis to both American and Canadian intelligence

agencies. But Ambassador Taylor is

depicted as only a sedentary observer. It is

only revealed in conversations with Mendez

that Taylor had a part to play, but he is never

seen in action.

Regardless, it is clear Affleck meant for

Argo to focus more on the CIA’s role in the





Canadian Caper. Viewers who are not picky

about historical details could overlook this

minor flaw.

As a standalone film not subjected to the

scrutiny of historians and Canadians, Argo is

an excellent American thriller that perfectly

captures the unpredictable and dangerous

atmosphere of rescue missions.




Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams,

Justin Timberlake


IT has been 19 years since moviegoers last

saw Clint Eastwood star in a movie he did

not direct (1993’s In the Line of Fire). This

year Eastwood returns to that in Trouble

With The Curve, an enjoyable father-daughter

reconciliation story set in the minor league

baseball of the southern United States.

Eastwood plays Gus Lobel, a veteran

scout for the Atlanta Braves, a baseball

team. Gus’ eyesight is failing him and his

job is threatened by a younger hotshot

Phillip Sanderson (Matthew Lillard), whose

approach to baseball is more modern (computers

and statistics), whereas Gus prefers

using his instincts and gut feeling.

In essence, Gus represents the old golden

age of baseball and Phillip the more forwardlooking

side of baseball.

The plot focuses on the relationship between

Gus and his daughter Mickey Lobel

FINAL SWANSONG: This is the first time in 19 years that Eastwood (right) has starred in a movie he did not direct, and it may be his last film too. PHOTOS | INTERNET

(Amy Adams). Mickey is a high-flying

corporate lawyer who is one case away from

becoming a partner at her firm.

She bitterly resents her father for keeping

her with her relatives so he could continue

working in baseball when her mother passed

away. This resentment is also channelled to

other men.

The last thing she wants is to be around

Gus. But his old friend, Pete Klein (John

Goodman) talks her into a chance to patch

things up with her father.

Things turn sour, as every encounter

between Gus and Mickey turns into an

argument and ends with her storming off.

However, Mickey decides to stay because of

her love interest Johnny Flanagan (Justin

Timberlake), a former protégé of Gus.

Both end up helping Gus to evaluate

the season’s top prospect Bo Gentry (Joe

Massingill), who hits home runs almost

every time.

In just his third acting role in a decade,

Eastwood delivers yet another powerful

performance that will remind viewers of his

role in Gran Torino (2008) with his constant

crankiness and bluntness. Despite his tough

exterior, Eastwood shows a softer side when

he reconciles with Mickey.

However, the movie is a little draggy.

Randy Brown’s script creates further problems

by getting too serious at times, throwing

in inappropriate family drama late in

the movie and working overtime to answer

numerous plot inconsistencies. Luckily, the

acting talent is strong enough to make up

for it.

The movie shows a rarely seen side of

the Southern American working class heartlands:

cheap motels, pool halls and decrepit

sport facilities.

It pays homage to experience, gut instinct

and character, which ultimately triumphs

over technology.
























Local columnist Sumiko

Tan’s commentary on how

Singapore was in her “golden

age” drew much flak from

netizens after it was published.

It garnered responses

pointing out how the income

gap has widened, housing is a

major headache for many, and

the decreasing quality of life.

Yet, was she that off the mark

According to the Oxford

Dictionary, the Golden Age is

“an idyllic, often imaginary

past time of peace, prosperity,

and happiness”.

As long as we remember

that ‘golden’ does not mean

‘perfect’, and try not to overlyromanticise,

I think we will feel

a little prouder of Singapore’s

achievements thus far.

Sure, our housing prices are

far from competitive. They are,

in fact, painful to look at. This

may have been exacerbated by

the influx of foreigners setting

up homes here, but our land

shortage is an age-old problem.

And remember, Singapore

is a safe country — tourists and

Singaporeans alike do not have

to worry about snatch thefts,

much less armed robbery and

human trafficking syndicates.

This is a lot more than we can

say for most of the countries

around the world.

I, for one, do not mind living

in a small and insanely expensive

apartment. After all, it

is set above a street I can walk









Our Golden Age










along with a peace of mind at

three in the morning, after getting

off a cab I boarded without

the fear of being kidnapped.

I actually prefer this to

driving an affordable car

through a seedy neighborhood

to reach my double-storey bungalow

with a sprawling yard

– the same yard my neighbor

may have a kidnapped girl hidden

in his secret basement. So

before we compare land prices,

let us think of the security we

are paying for.

Even in the most prosperous

of countries, segregation

exists. The Gupta Dynasty,

India’s oft-talked about Golden

Age, had the caste system set

firmly in place. No one praises

the Great Leap Forward and

its attempt at equality more

than the Tang Dynasty, where

standard of living across society

differed greatly but produced

much great art and other


When a meritocratic country

moves forward, some

groups are bound to lag behind.

What we can hope for is

a society that speaks out for

the less fortunate.

Judging by the very pieces

spawned as a result of Sumiko’s

article, we know Singapore

is moving towards that. We

may only be able to tell when

Singapore’s Golden Age truly is

in retrospect, but let us not discount

where she is right now.

Facebook: The Nanyang


Website: www3.ntu.edu.


General Enquiries:


Why JFK is my hero




very man needs a hero,

someone he can look up

to and try to emulate. I

have a few, but for the

perfect example of being

a man, no one beats John F.

Kennedy (JFK), the 35th President

of the United States.

Whenever I express my unabashed

love for JFK, I receive a reaction

similar to the one comedian

Bill Hicks got, as detailed in his

stand-up routine: “Quit talking

about Kennedy, man. That was a

long time ago.”

It’s true. JFK died in Dallas,

Texas in 1963, some 25 years

before I was born. Yet I still feel

a strong connection to the man

whom many Americans, and even

more Singaporeans, know only as

a name from the history books.

In his brief reign at the top, he

managed to achieve great things.

He fought for civil rights for

African Americans. He started the

American space program. He even

prevented the Cuban Missile crisis

from breaking out into nuclear

war, before being assassinated.

His presidency lasted a thousand

days. It seems like such a

short time to change the world.

But change it he did. He was a

rock star — millions attended his

rallies and were inspired by his

words, including future President

Bill Clinton.

His speeches, spoken so long

ago, still ring true today. It seems

that for every situation in which I

need inspiration, JFK has a handy

quote for me.

Starting a new journey: “We

stand today on the edge of a New


Experiencing a crisis: “Do

not pray for easy lives. Pray to be

stronger men.”

Performing a difficult task:

“We choose to go to the moon not

because it is easy but because it

is hard.”

The list goes on.

As the Chief Editor of the

Chronicle, I have encountered

many problems, both personal and

professional. People find inspiration

in the strangest of places, and

JFK comes to my mind whenever

I’m feeling down or frustrated. I

start thinking to myself, “What

would JFK do in this situation

How can I solve the problem with

his trademark style and flair”

But other than as a source of

inspiration, JFK represents everything

that I want to be. He was a

fashion icon, a great hit with the

ladies, always poised and in control.

In short, he was the exemplar

of an alpha male — guys wanted

to be him and girls wanted to be

with him.

In a time when greed and hate

dominate our headlines, the world

needs someone like JFK to restore

hope and challenge us to be better


Since Singapore is sadly lacking

in both talented and inspirational

politicians, John F.

Kennedy will, for now, remain as


the standard bearer of my choice.

His story is that of the shooting

star — lighting up the sky

for one brief, shining moment,

and then going out with a bang.

The Kennedys are no stranger to

tragedy, with JFK’s brother Bobby

also assassinated and his son John

Jr. dying in a plane crash. But the

family endures.

In the words of JFK, “A man

may die, nations may rise and fall,

but an idea lives on.”

I don’t know what the future

may hold, but I do know that no

matter what happens, JFK’s ideals

of courage and freedom will be a

guide for the rest of my life.

Ich bin ein Kennedy!



Amy Cheong: a public trial



hen I first heard

about the Amy

Cheong debacle

that took place

a few weeks ago,

rather than asking why on earth

she said such a thing, I thought:

“Are we perhaps over-reacting to

one individual’s remark here”

To be clear, I am not in any

way condoning Ms Cheong’s

insensitive remarks. Such racist

sentiments have no place in Singapore

and anyone who attempts

to damage the racial harmony we

have should be taken to task.

But as I watched the outpouring

of vitriol from netizens

against Ms Cheong, I wondered if

they were perhaps exhibiting the

same hate at someone who was

singled out.

I can understand if netizens

wished to point out the error of

her ways, but what many were

doing seemed to be going way

beyond that.

Apart from calls for her resignation,

there were also photos

of her being distributed across

social media networking sites

just so that more netizens could

ridicule and scorn her. Her family

was not spared from the online

vilification either.

Were such actions really necessary

What she did was impulsive;

simply a reaction in the

spur of the moment that could

have applied to any one of us.

Bullying: More than just sticks and stones




he speaks no single

word in her YouTube

video; holding up card

after card, Amanda Todd

tries to tell someone,

anyone who cares to watch, about

her nightmare of being bullied

in school. Three years ago, in a

moment of impulse, the Canadian

teenager had flashed herself to a

stranger over webcam.

It left her with no friends,

and a failed suicide attempt that

only earned her more taunts from

schoolmates. A few weeks ago,

Todd killed herself.

She may not have been physically

hurt or tormented by her

aggressors, but the social exclusion,

rumours that kept swirling

around, and the cyber-bullying

drove her into an emotional abyss.

Many victims of bullying

eventually find a way to deal with

the situation, but I can imagine

what Todd was going through, and

I know all too well that it is a truly

difficult journey fraught with fear,

She is only human after all.

Who among us can proclaim

to have never posted something

online that we later regretted

Many of us are quick to chastise

over social media as it gives

us the benefit of avoiding a direct

confrontation with the provocateur.

Online abuse is like a

hit-and-run; we say our piece

and then we flee, never having to

worry about how the other party

whom we hurt feels.

The human touch is compromised.

Empathy is short-changed.

So what should have been

the right way to respond to such

brash remarks then

I’m not saying that we should

just “close one eye” and ignore

such impudence.

I am reminded of a passage

from a book called The Brothers

Karamazov by the Russian novelist

Fyodor Dostoevsky that left a

deep impression on me.

In the passage, one of the

characters in the story postulated

that the best way to reform a

criminal was not to excommunicate

him or her from the state. Instead,

their hatred should be met

with graciousness, bigotry met

with open-mindedness.

Only by appealing directly to

the heart will the criminal be inspired

to change for the better.

In the same way, I feel that we

should not have met Ms Cheong’s

remarks with intolerance and

scorn. While we should point out

to her the error of her judgement,

it was not necessary to go to the

self-loathing and insecurity.

In secondary one, I was bullied

by two friends. I knew something

was wrong when they started to

exclude me from their activities,

and soon enough, they stopped

talking to me altogether. When I

was around, they would speak to

each other in hushed whispers.

They also left mean comments on

my blog and insinuated that I was

unattractive and not good enough

to be their friend.

Hence, most of the time, I

went for recess alone. In secondary

school especially, recess is

the time when one can see most

clearly how classroom politics

plays out. For one, there is a vicious

stigma attached to eating

alone or attempting to join another

clique’s table.

Some days, I felt so lonely and

self-conscious that I ate alone in a

bathroom cubicle or at an obscure

corner in the library. In that period

of solitude, I came to identify

with Cady Heron, the protagonist

of cult classic Mean Girls, which

was released that year.

extent of mocking and abusing

her online like that.

Indeed, while disciplinary

action should have been taken

against her, demanding for Ms

Cheong’s resignation might have

been too much.

Perhaps it would have been

more appropriate to suspend her

from work for a few weeks as


And while she’s under suspension,

make Ms Cheong undergo

cultural classes. Immerse her

My self-esteem had reached an

all-time low and I cried almost every

day at home. I kept wondering

if there was something wrong with

me. It took me several months to

rebuild my self-confidence before

I felt ready to find new friends.

I felt so lonely that

I ate alone in a

bathroom cubicle

or at an obscure

corner in the


Be it physical or emotional,

bullying leaves the victim helpless

and fearful. In many cases,

the victim ends up with no friends

because others are too afraid to get

involved and thus, risk becoming

the bullies’ next target. Feeling

alone and distressed, some victims

try to find an outlet for their pain.

Some even turn to self-harm and

in Todd’s case, suicide.

in the Muslim world and let her

learn to appreciate the diversity

and graciousness of their culture.

If they are able to respond to

her with kindness and graciousness,

then I truly believe that

only then will she feel guilt for

what she has done and want to

change for the better.

By meeting Ms Cheong’s racist

remarks with more hatred and

abuse, we are not solving the issue

at the root of the problem.

What we are doing is merely

My experience made me realise

how potent even subtle bullying in

the form of social exclusion and

unkind words could be — I felt so

worthless and insecure throughout

the ordeal.

A 2008 study conducted by

the Singapore Children’s Society

found that I was hardly alone; 1 in

4 secondary school students were

victims of bullying.

I feel that parents play a pivotal

role in addressing this serious

problem, as they have the greatest

influence on a child’s values and

mindset. By emphasising to youths

the importance of respecting

others, parents help to nurture a

generation of compassionate and

empathetic individuals.

Name-calling and nasty

pranks cannot be simply dismissed

as naughtiness or a “phase” that

children go through; the impact

that these can have on the victim

can be crippling and painful.

Take for instance the experience

of a 13-year-old boy in Otsu,

Japan who committed suicide

after being constantly taunted




using the power of intimidation

to prevent any of such further

comments. But the racist sentiments

will still be there, only

buried beneath the fear of provoking

an online firestorm.

As Mohandas Gandhi said:

“An eye for an eye makes the

whole world blind”.

Perhaps we should all harbour

this thought in mind before we

decide to counter hate with yet

more hate, bigotry with yet more

bigotry in the future.

and beaten up by his schoolmates.

Regrettably, his teachers were

aware of his predicament — but

had simply laughed it off.

Teachers, too, need to be

equipped with the knowledge and

sensitivity on how to detect and

handle bullying in schools.

Singapore’s Ministry of

Education has developed a School

Bullying Management Kit for

secondary school teachers, so that

teachers know what to do when

they are aware of bullying cases.

Hopefully, this scheme will prove

to be successful.

Now at 21, I have long forgiven

those former friends, but I still

can’t bring myself to rebuild our

friendship; I have since lost all

contact with them.

We cannot deny that more

needs to be done to stop bullying.

It is heartbreaking that children

and teenagers all over the world

are becoming depressed, withdrawn

and even suicidal because

they are being intimidated or

harassed by other children who

do not know better.




No place for ticket hoarders




was short-lived.

am a huge fan of Lady Gaga,

so when I found out she was

coming to Singapore last

May, you can imagine my excitement.

That joy, however,

Within an hour of tickets going

on sale, they were completely sold

out. As if the situation could not get

any more ridiculous, I found more

than 20 of these tickets selling on

eBay for twice the price that night.

I was beyond frustrated. If you

find yourself vehemently agreeing

with me in light of the SMTOWN

live tour concert on November 23,

then you and I are both victims of

ticket scalping.

What is ticket scalping Simply

put, it is the act of buying a desirable

commodity, such as tickets to

a K-pop concert, and selling it at

inflated prices once the demand

exceeds the supply.

I find this to be completely

unfair and unethical. Many fans go

to great lengths for a ticket. Some

rush from work, while others camp

overnight or sneak out of class to

make their purchase.

Within an hour

of tickets going

on sale, they

completely sold

out. I found more

than 20 of these

tickets selling on

eBay for twice the

price that night.

To me, finding out that tickets

were sold out in less than an hour

is ridiculous.

Every ticket these scalpers

buy prevents K-pop fans from

watching Super Junior or Girls’

Generation live. And for avid fans,

the thought of this is enough to

cause excruciating frustration.

Even worse, finding them blatantly

selling those tickets on eBay




for exorbitant prices is like a slap

to a hardcore fan’s face.

I do not deny that it makes

perfect sense in our capitalist

economy. You get the ticket first,

you sell it for a profit, you win.

Logically, there should be nothing

wrong with this. But this is a

cruel mockery of basic ethics.I remember

reading an article against

scalping by an author who had an

ardent love for toy collecting. In the

midst of his tirade of angry arguments,

he rightly stated that toys

were for playing with, and scalpers

debased the meaning of a toy.

In the same way, a ticket is

more than just a piece of paper. It

is an opportunity for music fans

to experience the joy and magic of

watching their idols perform live.

Scalpers debase the ticket when

they reduce it to a mere commodity

and exploit fans, especially those

willing to pay the inflated amount.

You get the ticket

first, you sell it for

a profit, you win.

Logically, there

should be nothing

wrong with this.

But this is a cruel

mockery of basic


In the event that scalpers are

unable to sell their tickets, both

fans and organisers will suffer.

Firstly, tickets that could have

gone to fans are wasted.

Secondly, a supposedly “sellout”

concert having empty seats

will reflect badly on the organisers.

Some 5,000 fans may have been

expected to be in the mosh pit

for the upcoming K-pop concert.

But with ticket scalping going on,

there will be less fans enjoying the

fireworks, flying stunts and water

features at the live extravaganza.

More should be done to prevent

ticket scalping, that is illegal in


A mere Facebook warning from

SISTIC that “the resale of tickets is

strictly prohibited is insufficient.

If we want tangible change,

SISTIC should take concrete steps,

such as placing limits on the number

of tickets that can be bought by

individuals. It should also stagger

the release of tickets so that customers

are more inclined to wait for

the next batch instead of buying

them on eBay.

If more steps are taken, we

might be able to shut down these

scalpers so future fans can catch

their favourite stars.

In the meantime, we can only

hope our fingers are nimble enough

to score us tickets straight off official

ticketing websites.



Free our scholars



hen NUS law

scholar Alvin

Tan and his girlfriend


Lee made headlines

with their joint sex blog, I

couldn’t help but notice the emphasis

on scholarly expectations

in the ensuing media coverage.

Many of the media outlets

had never failed to mention Mr

Tan being a law scholar in their

reportage. There also seems to be

an imbalanced coverage on Mr

Tan compared to his girlfriend.

What resulted was the huge

number of netizens wanting his

scholarship to be revoked, other

than the possibility of legal action

against him.

My question is this: would

society have viewed this differently

if he is not a scholar

I was reminded of a similar

case in 2009, when a 24-yearold

female Singapore A*Star

scholar stripped bare and walked

around Holland Village with her

male Swedish friend.

She was, perhaps surprisingly,

not stripped of her scholarship.

However, this was the only

case that was persecuted, out of

many other cases of public nudity

since 2008.

It proves only one point –

that the society at large does

have a higher level of expectations

for scholarship holders.

As a scholar myself, I couldn’t

help but empathise with Mr Tan

and his current predicament — of

how scholarships strip us of our

personal choices, in ways spoken

and unspoken.

I took a flip through my

scholarship deed signed more

than three years ago. True

enough, it proved my point right

— some of the terms and conditions

mentioned how scholarship

holders should “refrain from participating

in activities which are,

or likely to be, inimical or otherwise

harmful, damaging or detrimental

to the interests, security

and/or international standing of


However, the ultimatum was

on how a scholar should “conform

to the provisions as set out

in the scholarship which may be

amended from time to time”.

During the briefing conducted

by my awarding organization

after signing the contract,

I also remember vividly how the

abovementioned terms and conditions

were tirelessly repeated.

Some of you might disagree

that accepting monetary aid by

the sponsor organisation would

quite naturally equate to a conformation

to its rules and regulations.

In fact, a scholar holds

the prestige of representing the

organisation and needs to act as

its symbol of excellence.

While I agree that some of the

rules that scholars are bounded

to are necessary, it should not

go overboard. What saddens me

is no matter what the reason

for accepting a scholarship is,

a scholarship holder is now defined

by values set by an organisation,

losing his entitlement to

personal choice in the process.

In this case, Mr Tan fell victim

to that.

Besides expectations set by

the organisation, the extent of

media coverage is a huge influence

on the public’s expectations

of scholars. Media has always

shaped public perceptions and

opinions – much of the value of

information we get today such as

beauty trends (what qualifies as

beautiful) and alternative lifestyles

(what is the notion of a

family) have all been influenced

by the media in its many forms.

Media and our personal opinions

are hence almost inseparable.

With the huge sensationalising

in the media today – there is

definitely a need for us to discern

how much information to

take at face value.

If Mr Tan was merely mentioned

as an undergraduate, or

even simply, as a student, don’t

you think he might have gotten

lesser backlash from the subsequent

media reports

Another influence on society

expectations lies in the difference

of how each individual

defines morality today. Just an

example – if I posed a question

on whether Britney Spears

is considered slutty, I am sure I


will get views on both sides of

the spectrum.

Just like how Mr Tan and his

girlfriend have maintained their

stand in a video released to the

public that they will not make

a public apology for “breaching

some moral code that you hold

dearly to yourself”, people of

different moral standards should

not expect others to feel the

same way.

And who is to determine if

one’s morals standards is right

There’s no way any one can accurately

do so. And perhaps, educational

qualifications or how

high up the corporate ladder one

has climbed does not necessitate

someone to act in a certain way

society deems fit.

Perhaps what is more important

in this whole saga is the

expectations of Mr Tan’s loved

ones. At least, those who born

and bred him have more right to

criticise his behaviour than the

general public.

Yet, what they gave him was

their trust and support.

So, if the ones closest to his

life are supporting him, who are

we as members of the society to

expect a certain code of conduct

from him

The truth is, no one can — so

spare the rod and cut this guy

some slack, for a scholar is also a

human being like any one of us.

The future will

be better as our

policy makers

will help us

to make more



Tan, 20, HSS Yr 1



yes but in terms

of the arts

scene and social


more can be done.

Zoolikhsan Abdul Rahman,

21, MAE Yr 2



financial sector

may not be there

yet, but I still

remain optimistic

for the future.

Cheng Xin, 21, SCE Yr 1


are past the

Golden Age.

It depends on the

new generation

of leadership to

determine where

we go.

Low Tze

Ren, 21, EEE Yr 1

are still

moving forward,

and our

foreign talents

might help us

with further


Farah Diyanah, 21, NIE Yr 1




Who’s ahead in the sack race



bpl talk

ALTHOUGH only less than a third

of the Barclays Premier League

games have been played, several

managers already have their jobs

on the line as the pressure intensifies

ahead of the crucial winter


Players may be feeling the heat

as their teams languish at the bottom

of the league table but their

managers are the ones who pay the

price. Here are the top five picks

for the winner in the managerial

sack race.

1) Mark Hughes (Queens Park


Hughes’ Queens Park Rangers

reside in the bottom three of the

league. With QPR’s owner Tony

Fernandes heavily investing in the

team in the summer, he is unlikely

to put up with such performance

much longer.

Despite the arrival of 12 new

faces, they have not been able to

produce the results, scoring a mere

seven goals and conceding 18.

If the team’s poor results continue,

manager Mark Hughes could

very well win the sack race.

2) Brendan Rodgers (Liverpool)

The most controversial pick of

the bunch, Brendan Rodgers has

yet to produce results for Liverpool.

After allowing record-signing

striker Andy Carroll to depart on

loan without a proper replacement,

Rodgers saw his team lose two of

their three opening matches.

Expectations are high at

Merseyside and Luis Suarez cannot

shoulder the goal-scoring

burden alone.

While he has been one of the

Liverpool’s best players, erratic

performances from the likes of

goalkeeper Pepe Reina has undone

his good work. New signing Fabio

Borini has also yet to impress.

With Liverpool in 12th place,

the club is not faring better than

sports talk

Breaking the human barrier

LEAP OF FAITH: Felix Baumgartner proceeding with his supersonic jump.


RECORDS are meant to be broken.

Every one surpassed marks a

greater triumph of man’s tenacity,

skill and ingenuity.

History was made on October

14 as the world watched Felix

Baumgartner jump — and it was

no ordinary jump.

Fearless Felix, as he is known,

became the first man to break the

sound barrier in freefall with his

supersonic jump from space as he

attempted the highest sky-dive

SACK: Mark Hughes is the prime choice to be shown the exit. PHOTOS | INTERNET

ever recorded by Man.

But Felix’s outrageous stunt

does not stand in isolation.

If anything, it brings to light

some other physical feats that the

best of us have to offer.

Wang Weibao from China balanced

himself on four fingers for

19.23 seconds in Beijing on last

November, earning himself the

record for the longest duration

balancing on four fingers.

One-handed push-ups are near

impossible for most people — much

less balancing on four fingers.

Don’t try this at home though;

it would be quite unfortunate if

anyone broke their fingers.

Meanwhile, how much weight

do you think your tongue can lift

Just ask United Kingdom’s

Thoman Blackthorne, who set

the record for the greatest weight

lifted with a human tongue in

Mexico City in 2008.

Blackthorne lifted a 12.5 kg

weight that was hooked through

his tongue on the set of El Show


With people all over the world

breaking records so frequently, it

makes one wonder how adventurous

and quirky students can go.

I have my own claim to fame

as well — as one of 1,320 Republic

Polytechnic students who broke

the world record for the highest

number of participants in a leapfrog

event four years ago.

With all the talk of breaking

records and challenging human

limits, maybe the NTU student

body should also try to set records

that we can truly call our own.

With our student athletes leading

the charge as they attempt

to break national records, and

hopefully world records in the

future, we can also aspire for such


We could start small: How

about trying for the longest distance

travelled on a pogo stick,

or the greatest number of people

doing jumping jacks together

it did under Ray Hodgson, though

the fans continues to believe in

Rodgers’ philosophy.

3) Paul Lambert (Aston Villa)

For a team that was once pushing

for a top six finish, languishing

near the relegation places will not

make the fans happy.

Following an impressive season

with Norwich last year, Paul

Lambert has not been able to

work his magic with the Aston

Villa team, despite having some

good players like Darren Bent and

Gabriel Agbonlahor at his disposal.

If results do not go their way

soon, the Aston Villa board may

not be as patient as they had been

with Alex McLeish.

4) Nigel Adkins (Southampton)

You cannot help but feel for the

Saints and their manager. After

their back-to-back promotions,

their first taste of Premier League

action this season came in the form

of both Manchester clubs.

There is no defending their

leaky defense, which has let in almost

30 goals, the worst defensive

record in the league so far.




They will have to produce

results soon to avoid a relegation

struggle at the end of the season.

5) Chris Hughton (Norwich)

Last season, Norwich finished

in an impressive 12th place under

Paul Lambert. Even before taking

the job, Chris Hughton knew he had

big shoes to fill.

While he did manage to hold on

to key players like Grant Holt and

John Ruddy, the opening day 5-0

drubbing away to Fulham clearly

showed that the Irishman started

off on the wrong foot.

What initially looked like a

promising appointment for the club

may yet end in another tragedy.


Football is full of surprises

- and so is the sack race. Jose

Mourinho’s sudden departure from

Chelsea in 2007 despite winning

back-to-back league titles is proof

of this. A small blip can spell

the end of a manager’s reign, as

Liverpool fans continue to regret

Rafa Benitez’s sacking, after he led

them to Champions League glory

and a second place league finish.


A SHOW OF TENACITY: Players stretching for the ball in a game of captain’s

ball during the NTU Street Challenge. The event was affected by bad weather

as the rain forced many sports to be moved into the Sports and Recreation

Centre. Despite suffering delays and longer waiting times, the event still

ended successfully as participants received their prizes at the end of the day.




Off the books, on the road


BREATH-TAKING: The iconic Henderson Waves Bridge found along the Southern Ridges is an ideal place to rest and enjoy the scenery after a long run.

Southern Ridges


parks, namely Mount Faber Park,

Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark,

Kent Ridge Park and Labrador

Nature Reserve, form the Southern


The ridges, covering a distance

of 10km with relatively even terrains,

serve as a perfect jogging

track for beginners as well as shortdistance

marathon runners.

The serenity and tranquility

derived from a stroll along the

boardwalk will refresh and rejuvenate

tired minds.

Punggol Waterway

Strategically placed, the

Punggol Waterway is conveniently

located in the heartlands.

The park is creatively designed

with four themes - Nature Cove,

Heritage Zone, Recreation Zone and

Green Gallery.

While runners can enjoy the

sight of mature trees and vegetation

situated along the Heritage

Zone and Green Gallery, their

children can enjoy water and sand

play at the Recreation Zone.

The Nature Cove also provides

a scenic view of the Waterway and

different leisure activities.

MacRitchie Reservoir and Bukit

Timah Hill

These two spots are a favourite

among joggers and nature lovers.

Seasoned runners can choose

to jog all the way from MacRitchie

Reservoir to Bukit Timah Hill.

The HSBC Treetop Walk at

MacRitchie Reservoir is a great

way to reward yourself after a

run, located about 4.5km from the

Macritchie Reservoir Park.

You can catch a bird’s eye view

of the wildlife that lives in the forest

canopy from the bridge.

Those who prefer a more challenging

terrain could try out Bukit

Timah Hill, where it can get pretty

intense with its steep inclines.

For those less inclined to jogging

and seeking a more vigorous

experience, there are even specially

allotted mountain-biking trails.

Gardens By The Bay

Perfect for the time-starved

professional to grab a quick run

during lunch breaks, especially for

Bus A Route

THIS popular 3.6-kilometre route

will take you one round around the

entire campus.

The stretch between the Sports

and Recreation Centre and the Wee

Kim Wee School of Communication

and Information provides runners

with a steep uphill challenge.

The proximity of this route to

the activities happening on campus

makes it one of the most appealing

and vibrant of running routes on


Round the Halls Route

those planning an internship in the

heart of Singapore.

However, it is important to note

that this is a popular tourist spot,

making crowds rather common.

Perhaps it would be wise to

go for a run during the off-peak

holiday periods.

HEALTHY LIVING FOR ALL: The various routes available between MacRitchie Reservoir and Bukit

Timah caters to both seasoned and amateur runners. PHOTO | NICOLETTE SOH

varying the start and end points.

However the area around the

halls tends to be rather secluded,

so ladies may want to jog with a

companion after it gets dark.

For those seeking a less strenuous

workout, this route boasts

gentle inclines and is less intense

than the Bus A route.

This route can be lengthened to

NIGHT RUN: Joggers running behind the Sports & Recreation Centre. PHOTO | RAPHAEL LIM the jogger’s preference simply by UPHILL: The jogging route beside Hall 8.

Jesus Gallego Rol, Michael

Ballack’s lawyer, on why the

former Chelsea and Bayern

Munich footballer could not

pay his speeding fine.

Tennis player Novak Djokovic

admitting his fatigue after

crashing out in the second

round of the Paris Masters.

Liverpool manager Brendan

Rodgers bemoaning his squad

after his side’s 1-3 defeat to


Felix Baumgartner on the

usefulness of his recent

skydriving record.



running routes in Singapore – Page 39

NTU hit by running fever

MAKING UP FOR LOST TIME: Participants eager to get the run started after the rain delayed the flag off time.

THE participants of this year’s

NTU X-Campus Run proved their

mettle against a damp course and

chilly weather brought about by a

torrential downpour that started

an hour before the race.

The race's flag off at the Sports

and Recreation Centre, which was

supposed to start at 6.30pm, only

began half an hour later.

Held on October 17, the event

which was open to the public

boasted a 6.75km route for participants

to run around campus.

This included the infamous

long slope beside the School of

Biological Science that pits runners

against a long uphill path.

But the race went smoothly

with final-year School of

Humanities and Social Sciences

undergraduate Colin Tung clocking

the fastest individual time of

23min 47sec.

“The weather was cool and

windy, and this certainly made

conditions favourable for a quick

pace,” said the 23-year-old.

He won the Team Category with

teammate Yvonne Lin.

Fang Jian Yong, an experienced

runner of various races, felt

that the course was good for novice

long-distance runners.

The 23-year-old Singapore

Institute of Management undergraduate

was the winner for the

Men’s Individual Category.

This year’s edition consists of

three categories, Men's Individual,

Women's Individual and the Team

Event which sees each male and

female pair adding up their times.

“The hydration points along

the way were useful, despite the

relatively short distance. It allows

less competitive runners to enjoy

the experience,” Fang said.

“The weather was

cool and windy,

and this certainly

made conditions

favourable for a

quick pace."

Colin Tung

Team Category Winner

Humanities and Social Sciences

“Despite only being a campus

run, the race was well organised

and feels just as good as the runs

organised at a national level.”

The issue of safety was certainly

a concern given that the

race flagged off near sunset. This

also coincided with the evening

peak traffic.

“I was initially worried given

the narrow race routes and various

crossing points,” said Assistant

Professor Michael Patterson, one

of the runners.

“But the road marshalls kept

the race smooth and the element

of danger was greatly minimised,”

he said.

President of the NTU Runners

Club, Benjamin Tan, 24, who led

the planning of this event, said

that the race is intended to spread

the club’s love for running and

to identify potential athletes for

NTU’s track-and-field team.

“The runners appear to really

enjoy themselves and hopefully

we have achieved our aim of instilling

running into the sporting

culture in NTU,” said the final

year Electrical and Electronic

Engineering undergraduate.


Team Category


1st Colin Tung / Yvonne Lin 52.48mins

2nd Chua You Boon / Tiffany Tan 56.19mins

3rd Ting Siong Chow / Ang Rui Mei 65.18mins

Men Individual Category

1st Fang Jian Yong 23.51mins

2nd Tiong Wei Jie 24.51mins

3rd Robert Alexanderson 25.16mins

Women Individual Category

1st Vanja Cnops 28.18mins

2nd Chua Kai Leng 29.02mins

3rd Tee Chin Yun 31.44mins

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