Archive | August, 2010

Hungry Little Ghost Festival

31 Aug

Taiwanese singer-host Alien Huang, also known as Little Ghost, will perform here on Saturday
Hungry Little Ghost Festival
August 31, 2010

IT’S probably fitting that Taiwanese singer-host Alien Huang has so many projects going on during this Hungry Ghost Festival.

MINI-CONCERT: Singer Alien Huang is performing at Dragonfly in St James Power Station on Saturday night.

Fans of the 26-year-old would know that his nickname is actually Little Ghost.

In an interview in Taipei, Huang said: ‘It’s the Hungry Ghost month now, so naturally, it’s time for Little Ghost to shine.

‘I have a new idol drama, an upcoming album and will be holding my first paid gig in Singapore soon.’

On entertainment news programme 100 Per Cent Entertainment, he plays sidekick to fellow host, Mandopop star Show Luo.

His debut pop-rock album Love Hero, released last December, earned rave reviews.

Local fans can see him perform at Dragonfly in St James Power Station on Saturday night.

‘It’ll be a mini-concert and I’ll be singing more than 10 songs over an hour,’ he said.

‘Over the past few weeks, whenever I have a break from filming or hosting, I’d stay at home and force myself to memorise lyrics.

‘I really don’t want to slip up on stage and disappoint all my Singapore supporters.’

The moniker Little Ghost was coined by Taiwanese director Niu Cheng-Tse several years ago, when Niu was directing him on the set of a drama series.

‘Director Niu noticed that I was very playful and had an offbeat sense of humour. I would tell jokes with a deadpan face and make everyone laugh.

‘There’s a Chinese saying – ‘ren xiao gui da’ (referring to mischievous kids with many bright ideas), so he coined the name ‘Xiao Gui’ (Little Ghost) for me.’

Huang said the name stuck.

So, has Little Ghost experienced any spooky, supernatural encounters in real life?

Huang said: ‘I’m not the superstitious sort, but well, there was once when I was sleeping in my room and one of my 4,000 toy figurines and collectibles started acting crazy.

‘It lit up on its own and produced funny noises, it freaked me out then.’

His elderly relatives, who were ‘more versed in dealing with unexplained occurrences’, suggested he ‘cover the figurines’ eyes with cloth’.

Battery problem?

Huang refused and managed to convince himself that the incident was an isolated one.

‘It probably happened due to a battery problem,’ was Huang’s explanation.

Currently single, Huang said getting a girlfriend isn’t easy.

‘As an artiste, it’s even more difficult as I work irregular hours and can’t go on dates as often as other guys do,’ he said.

‘Also, I’m a public figure. If I land myself a girlfriend, it won’t be possible for us to hold hands in the open.

‘It’s hard to find a girl who understands this predicament of mine.’

He doesn’t set very high demands for his partner-to-be though.

‘I don’t believe in fitting people into categories. It doesn’t matter if she is thin or fat, or has long or short hair.

‘As long as she is pleasant-looking, that’s great. More importantly, we need to be able to communicate well.’

This article was translated from the latest issue of U-Weekly. For more news on Asian entertainment, get a copy of U-Weekly, for only $2, out on news-stands today.


The NewPaper

A $1.5 Million Show?

31 Aug

A $1.5 million show?
Concert organiser says tickets for Super Junior’s first S’pore concert will not be more than $300
By Kwok Kar Peng
August 31, 2010

KOREAN boy band Super Junior will hold a concert for the first time in Singapore in January.


And fans can expect an extravagant show along the likes of Aaron Kwok and Jay Chou as it’s touted to be one of the most expensive concerts to be held here. (See report on facing page.)

Concert organiser Running Into The Sun, an affiliate of Fly Entertainment, told The New Paper it believes the concert production cost will exceed its initial budget of $1.5 million.

Mr Terence Ang, 45, chief marketing officer for Fly Entertainment, said the Super Junior Super Show 3 here will follow the recent one held in Seoul as closely as possible, down to the stage design.

The popular group is known for its hit songs like Sorry, Sorry and Bonamana.

The group currently has 13 members but only 10 will perform at the concert. The other three are currently out of action as one is in national service, one is pursuing an acting career, and one is considering leaving the group.

But despite its high production cost, the concert, which will be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium on Jan 29, will not mean sky-high ticket prices for fans.

Tickets, which will be on sale via Sistic from November, will not exceed $300, said Mr Ang.

A major highlight of the concert is the huge stage, which The New Paper understands will cost more than US$500,000 (S$679,000) to set up.

Mr Mac Chan, 40, project director for the concert, said the stage will have a unique design.

He was in Seoul to view the Super Show 3 on Aug 15.

‘The usual concert stage allows only the audience in front to get close to the performers,’ he said.

‘But with Super Show 3, the stage will have runways leading out to form a circle.’

He added that there will be four standing mosh pits within the circle, a second stage in the centre and three raised platforms.

Mr Chan, who was the lighting director for the last two National Day Parades, said that the huge stage set-up will allow the 10 band members to appear at different locations during the show.

So far yet so close

This means even those seated at the back will be able to get up close and personal with their idols.

Miss Cheryl Han, in her 20s, a publicist for Fly Entertainment, agreed. She was at the Seoul concert too and sat in the upper section.

‘In some concerts, you see only a small shadow of the performer but not with Super Junior. No matter where you sit, the boys come very close to you,’ she said.

‘They even ‘flew’ to (the audience sitting at the back) while wearing wire harnesses and threw confetti at the audience.

‘If you are seated at the right spot, you can probably even touch them if you jump up.’

Miss Han added that the band members also appeared on raised wheeled platforms and were pushed along the aisles to get closer to the fans.

But whether the group will do the same stunts during its Singapore concert depends on whether it will be approved by the authorities here, said Mr Chan.

While the production team wants the stage in Singapore to be exactly the same as the one in Seoul, they have met with an obstacle.

The Singapore Indoor Stadium is rectangular while the Seoul concert venue is a perfect circle.

The former is also slightly smaller.

Mr Chan added: ‘The Korean venue allowed the concert organisers to remove some of the seats to create the stage extensions, but we are not sure yet if this is possible with the Singapore Indoor Stadium.’

Super Junior supporter Miss Nor Hidayah Mohd Idris, 23, an editorial assistant, told The New Paper that she’s very excited about the impending concert.

A fan for slightly more than a year, Miss Nor Hidayah has even travelled to Kuala Lumpur to watch the group’s Super Show 2 in March. She spent about $500 in total.

When she was in Korea for a holiday in May, she made a trip to a radio station in Seoul to watch two Super Junior members record their radio show.

She also went to the group’s music showcase here in June.

For the concert in January, she said she’s willing to pay up to $250 for a ticket.

‘I went on fan forums and blogs to view photos taken at the Super Show 3 (in Korea),’ she said.

‘It seems fun because it’s interactive. The large stage is very good because they can interact with fans seated in different areas.

‘But it also means that the members will be scattered and you won’t get to see some members as often than if the stage is smaller.’

Superstars, super expensive

FORKING out at least $1.5 million to stage the Super Junior concert here seems like a huge risk.

Especially since concert organiser Running Into The Sun is a new kid on the block. The company, which has its beginnings as a special projects unit in Irene Ang’s Fly Entertainment, was formed officially in July last year .

But Fly’s chief marketing officer Terence Ang said they wanted to show that the company was able to handle a big-scale concert.

He added: ‘There were initial concerns about the cost. But after we did the Super Junior showcase in June, we knew what kind of fans the group has and we are assured that we can bring in the concert.’

The Super Junior Galaxy Showcase, presented by Samsung and SingTel in June, gave away tickets with every purchase of a mobile phone. All 2,000 tickets were snapped up within hours, Mr Ang said.

He added that ticket-holders also queued 37 hours at the showcase venue so they could get the best spot at the free-standing event.

This is not the first concert organised by Running Into The Sun. It had previously organised the Swing Out Sister concert at East Coast Park last December, attended by about 1,000 people.

And as the special project unit in Fly, it had also organised shows such as the annual Vlee Conference, a stand-up comedy show which has been running since 2007.

Mr Ang said the Super Show 3 has already attracted more than five ‘big sponsors’, including a telecommunications company, a beverage company and a bank.

The $1.5 million bill does not include accommodation and food for the Korean entourage of 80, made up of artistes, dancers, designers, engineers, production crew, administrative staff, producers and security.

The hefty price tag has put Super Junior in the same league as big names like Hong Kong’s Aaron Kwok, Taiwan’s Jay Chou, Korea’s Rain and British band Muse.

Director of Scorpio East Productions Adeline Low, in her late 30s, told The New Paper that Chou’s recent The Era 2010 World Tour in July had cost more than $2 million.

The sum included concert production costs, advertising and promotions, air tickets, accommodation and food.

Aaron Kwok’s De Show Reel concert in May last year cost more than $1 million, she added.

Scorpio East Productions had organised both concerts.

When Rain came

Another concert that chalked up a bill of $2million was Rain’s Coming World Tour brought here by Unusual Entertainment in January 2007. Ms Koh San Chin, 32, marketing manager of Unusual Entertainment, said it was one of the most expensive concerts the company has organised.

She added: ‘It was mainly because production costs were high. There were six cargo containers of props, lots of pyrotechnics and special effects.

‘For example, it ‘rained’ for the first time in the Singapore Indoor Stadium, and there was a conveyor belt.

‘There was also a 110-member crew who all stayed in the same six-star hotel.’

The founder of LAMC Productions Lauretta Alabons, who declined to reveal her age, told us that the Muse concert which her company had organised in February this year had cost more than $1.5 million.

But she declined to reveal more details.

The NewPaper

$60,000 Spent On Jet-Setting Son, 3

31 Aug

Star Bucks
$60,000 spent on jet-setting son, 3
Big spender or penny-pincher? Stars speak their mind on money matters
By Kwok Kar Peng
August 31, 2010

WHILE most children here can only fantasise about having their own tree houses, young Sol Richmond has one right in his living room.
FAMILY COMES FIRST: Beatrice Chia-Richmond (with husband Mark Richmond and son Sol) doesn’t mind spending money to expand her son’s mind.

The structure, made of real wood, stretches from floor to ceiling and is 4m wide. His mother, Beatrice Chia-Richmond, creative director of concert promoter Running Into The Sun (RITS), laughingly calls it extreme parenting. The family lives in a semi detached house in the east.

The 36-year-old, who’s married to former TV presenterMark Richmond, told The New Paper that she spent $4,000 on the tree house when Sol was only nine months old.

The boy is now three and still enjoys playing hide-and-seek there.He is the couple’s only child. Chia-Richmond added: “I love him and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him.

“I want him to have different experiences because I believe exposure and experiences are important to a child.

“The last thing I want is for him to be narrow-minded and unexposed.”

She admitted that she and her husband enjoy splurgingon their little one.

Chia-Richmond said she gets Sol whatever he wants, whether it’s clothes or toys. She said her husband buys toys for the boy “in a big way too”.

“Sol has around 100 toy cars and 20 toy aeroplanes of different models, sizes and colours, lots of books, musical instruments and other toys,” said Chia-Richmond.

“I don’t set myself a budget when it comes to him.

Of course, I wouldn’t spend a thousand dollars on a pair of shoes for him because he will outgrow them.”

She said she puts more emphasis on the quality of his clothes. Each piece of clothing costs $40 to $100.


Another of her indulgences is taking her son overseas.

“I’ve taken him travelling with me since he was four months old because I can’t bear to be without him,” she said.

“We’ve been to places like the US, Australia, Spain, Paris, London and Hong Kong.

“I looked at his passport once and laughed.He could be the most well-travelled three-year-old.”

At one point, Chia-Richmond added, the boy would be in Singapore for a week before flying off again.

She estimates his trips at 10 a year, and spends around $2,000 each time on just the boy’s travel expenses.

One reason is that they travel only on Singapore Airlines (“He needs his personal TV set on the plane.”) and the boy has to pay the full fare for his own seat.

This means that Sol’s three years of jet-setting have set the couple back by $60,000.

The couple take turns to pay the travel costs, she said.

She added that she brings home a five-figure sum each month through her work in RITS , hosting corporate events and as an artistic director with theatre company Toy Factory.

She is currently directing the stand-up comedy show, The Vlee Conference, which will be held at Zirca The Cannery from Sept 1.

Chia-Richmond considers the money well-spent, and doesn’t think she is spoiling her child.

“I don’t qualify things in terms of money…You cannot put a price on life experiences,” she explained.

“I want him to be versatile and know that there’s a world beyond him, his school and playground.”

But she added that the best gift to a child is still time, and admitted that she turns down at least one job every month to spend more time with him.

The NewPaper

MEMEY – NORMAN Bertunang Raya Keempat

30 Aug

Ditulis oleh Nonie

Akhirnya pasangan merpati sejoli ini sepakat mengikat percintaan mereka kepada ikatan pertunangan. Berita gembira ini diakui sendiri oleh Memey ketika ditemui pada majlis berbuka puasa Skop Production.

“Memey dan abang Norman sepakat bertunang pada raya keempat (13 September) nanti di Kota Tinggi Johor.

“Keputusan ini dibuat last minute. Abang Norman ajak Memey bertunang beberapa hari lepas dan mungkin tak sampai setahun kami ikat.

“Mungkin awal tahun depan hari bahagia itu bakal menjelang. Semuanya bergantung pada perbincangan antara keluarga kami nanti.

“Sekarang Memey terkejar-kejar nak siapkan hantaran dan fokuskan kepada majlis itu nanti. Insyaallah Memey sudah bersedia bergelar isteri dan ibu kepada anak-anaknya,” ujar Memey tidak pasti sama ada anak-anak Norman bakal turut serta pada majlis bermakna itu nanti.

Ini bermakna Memey dan Norman Hakim bakal beraya sebagai tunangan orang pada Raya Aidilfitri ini. Dengar kata baju raya pun sudah ditempah sedondon berwarna merah.

Apa-apa pun ManggaOnline ucapkan semoga berbahagia dan selamat bertunang.

Mangga Online

Queens Of The Beauty Regime

30 Aug

Queens of the beauty regime
The New Paper New Face finalists learn how to put their best faces forward
By Kenneth Goh
August 30, 2010

MOST girls would avoid fast food and chocolate when it comes to keeping their skin radiant for a modelling competition.

But not this New Paper New Face finalist, Eliza Tan, 19.

The media studies and management student from Nanyang Polytechnic does not believe in shunning french fries. She also enjoys a chocolate bar every day.

Her skincare routine is also fuss-free.

Said Eliza: ‘I wash my face with facial foam once a day. If there is a pimple breakout, I will apply pimple cream.’

She is one of The New Paper New Face 2010 finalists, who attended a skincare workshop earlier this month, conducted by Clinelle’s consulting skincare specialist, Ms Jasmine Tham.

The two-hour workshop consisted of determining the girls’ skin types, followed by a hands-on session of cleansing, exfoliating and moisturising their skins.

Beauty nap

The girls also had time for a 10-minute power nap while letting their facial masks set.

Eliza discovered the importance of keeping her skin hydrated to achieve a healthy glow. She plans to get a moisturiser after attending the workshop.

But the Nanyang Polytechnic student admitted to a bad habit: squeezing her zits.

‘I find it annoying and gross to leave them alone, so I have the itch to remove them,’ she said.

Another finalist with pimple woes was fashion design student Noor Kamilah, 20.

The NAFA student suffered a severe case of acne in secondary school. The cream she used left her skin dry and peeling.

‘I wash my face three times a day and apply a blemish cream that hides dark pigmentation before I sleep,’ she said.

Her biggest enemy: finding more time for facials during her hectic school schedule.

‘I would love to sit down and take an hour to try out all the facial products used today,’ she said.

Proving to be luckier in the skin department is CHIJ (Toa Payoh) student, Petrina Ann, 17.

She didn’t have to grapple with breakouts, but that did not mean that she took her good skin for granted.

Said Petrina: ‘I wash and moisturise my face five times a day, which includes recess time and before I leave school. I also scrub my skin three times a week.’

She credits her mother for inculcating good skincare habits.

‘My mum would spend hours shopping for skincare products and she would compare the ingredients used in different products and share them with me,’ she said. ‘Somehow, I subconsciously followed her lead.’

Petrina, too, managed to pick up some tips from the workshop.

‘I used to apply toner around the areas near my eyes. Now, I know that it is bad for the sensitive skin there,’ she said.

For behind-the-scene exclusives, visit to go to The New Paper New Face 2010 official website.

Also look out for the finalists on the New Face 2010 Facebook page or on Twitter (#newface2010).

If you’re serious about skin…

CLINELLE products ease skin conditions such as acne, pigmentation and premature ageing. The skincare products are free of artificial fragrance, colouring and skin-damaging irritants.

It’s all about keeping the skin happy.

Clinelle is one of the sponsors of The New Paper New Face 2010 and will be giving out a subsidiary title called Miss Clinelle Happy Face.

So what are they looking for?

The winner of the title should have a fresh-looking and healthy face. And because beauty is more than skin-deep, she should have a pleasant and vibrant personality to match her radiant skin.

The winner will be revealed at The New Paper New Face 2010 finals on Oct 7 at Takashimaya Square.


The NewPaper


30 Aug

2 Wheels Good
Exchange of letters between a cyclist and motorist sparks debate on how much of road space two-wheelers should take up
By Danson Cheong
August 30, 2010

JUST how close to the edge are cyclists supposed to go?

The edge of the road, that is.

Most drivers here think cyclists ought to stick as close to the kerb as possible so they don’t obstruct traffic.

But the argument from the two-wheeled camp is that occupying more of the lane would make cyclists safer and more visible.

This debate was ignited following two letters sent to The Straits Times forum pages last week.

Wire journalist Damian Evan, 30, was cycling to work along Havelock Road when a motorist sounded his horn at him.

Irritated, Mr Evan shook his fist at the driver before he ‘failed to stop for the traffic lights’, claiming his anger got the better of him.

Mr Evan subsequently wrote a letter of apology to The Straits Times forum.

The driver, Mr Chris Gan, 37, responded with a letter of his own – claiming Mr Evans was ‘riding in the middle of the left lane’ and ‘obstructing traffic and endangering himself amid passing vehicles’.

He sounded the horn as an act of concern, he said, and to ‘remind him to stay closer to the kerb near the double yellow lines’.

Mr Gan asked: ‘Are there traffic rules for cyclists? Shouldn’t they be cycling on the left lane near the double yellow lines?’

With an increasing number of cyclists taking to the roads here, more of such incidents are bound to take place.

The question now is, how close to the edge are cyclists supposed to be?

Vague law

The law is vague on the issue.

According to the Road Traffic (Bicycles) Rules, ‘every bicycle shall be ridden close to the left hand edge of the roadway and in such a manner as not to obstruct vehicles moving at a faster speed’.

It is silent on how close and in what manner cyclists have to ride.

Mr Evan, who has been cycling here for about nine years, reckons cyclists should not hug the kerb and cycle about 60cm (or an arm’s length) away from it.

‘It’s just much safer,’ he explained.

Other cyclists and cycling safety advocates shared his sentiments.

Mr Steven Lim, 43, president of the Safe Cycling Task Force, advised riders to cycle just outside the double-yellow lines.

He explained: ‘By doing this, you would have about 11/2 feet (about 50cm) of space between you and the kerb.

‘The most important thing is now you have some space to take evasive action in case of emergencies.’

He pointed out that if drivers try to overtake too closely, the extra space might be all that separates staying upright and lying face first on the ground.

Ms Joyce Leong, 54, founder of cycling club JoyRiders, agreed: ‘Cycling about an arm’s length into the lane would also make cyclists more visible, especially if you’re riding alone.’

Additionally, the kerb is widely acknowledged by cyclists as a veritable obstacle course.

‘There are all sorts of debris – broken glass, garbage, puddles, potholes and drain gutters – that you have to avoid,’ said Mr Benoit Valin, who commutes to work every day.

The 32-year-old scientist added: ‘Often the gutter is two to three inches (5 to 8cm) deeper than the asphalt. If you cycle too close, you would fall in and lose your balance.’

While all these cyclists are against kerb-hugging, many drivers are quick to point out that cyclists who do not ride on the yellow lines are often ‘road-hogging’.

One driver, Mr Ng Kok Leong, 49, a civil servant, even went so far as to say ‘even if cyclists keep close to the kerb, they’ll still be an obstruction’.

He added: ‘Drivers will still have to slow down to overtake them.’

Another driver, Ms Sarah Auyong, 19, an undergraduate, agreed.

She said: ‘Cyclists can be a hindrance and an obstruction especially during heavy traffic, when it might be difficult or dangerous for drivers to pass them. They should stick closer to the kerb.’

Some cyclists also felt cycling in the middle of the lane can be challenging, especially for newer riders.

Business consultant Ted Chan, 40, said: ‘Cycling in the middle of the lane takes a lot of guts.

For inexperienced riders, it can be very difficult. Especially in heavy traffic when drivers might be impatient.’

But Mr Valin points out that motorists should spare a thought for cyclists.

He asked: ‘A cyclist might be in your way, but that is no reason to try and overtake him dangerously.

Highway Code

Motorists should also realise that they are required to give at least 1.5m of space when passing cyclists, a rule spelt out in the Highway Code – but one which is rarely practiced in reality.

Mr Lim said: ‘This makes the space between you and the kerb even more vital. It’s a life-saver.’ The trio put the bad behaviour by drivers down to an incorrect mindset.

Said Mr Lim: ‘Many people don’t realise that bicycles are mandated by law to be on the road.’ Currently, under Rule 28 of the Road Traffic Rules, cycling on footways is prohibited (with the exception of Tampines, Singapore’s only cycling town).

Added Ms Leong: ‘Drivers should really hop on a bike and ride on the roads. Perhaps once they discover how dangerous it is, they’ll be more tolerant.



Keep to a single file when cycling on narrow, one-lane carriageways like Neo Tiew Road.

Ms Leong said: ‘This gives cars coming from behind some space to pass.’


On wide roads and when cycling in a big group, it’s much safer for the group to cycle two abreast.

Mr Lim explained: ‘Cycling two abreast allows a big group to be more compact. It’s safer since the group will take less time to cross junctions.’

Ms Leong added: ‘Most of our group rides are quite big. By cycling two abreast, cars treat us like one long vehicle. When they try to overtake us, it’s much safer.’


Dangerous especially if riding on road bicycles with thin tyres – which can get caught inside the drain covers.


Small, sharp objects like broken glass are often swept to the side of the road.


Deep potholes near the kerb could cause riders to lose balance and fall.


When turning right, cyclists should ensure the coast is clear before filtering right.

Mr Lim said: ‘You should filter like a motorcyclist, but do so safely.

‘I recommend using the pedestrian crossings only to turn right if the rider is not confident enough. Especially when you’re tired and slow, using the pedestrian crossings in such instances is much safer.’


The NewPaper

No Medals, Just Useful Lessons From YOG

30 Aug

2 Wheels Good
No medals, just useful lessons from YOG
August 30, 2010

OUR Youth Olympic Games cycling boys did not win any medals and, with a placing of 29 out of 32 countries, they did not attain the result they hoped for.

But the YOG has taught the impressionable young riders enduring life lessons.

Alvin Phoon, 17, said: ‘It was disappointing for us, but you learn to accept it and move on.

‘I expected us to do better but we suffered quite a few unfortunate crashes. Stuff like crashes you can’t prevent, you just have to try and do your best.’

Recounting his experience in the road race, Alvin said he crashed early in the race. He and his teammates, Travis Woodford, 18, and Daniel Koh, 17, got held up as a result, and were further held up by a second crash involving other riders.

‘We then tried to catch the group but by then it was too late. Crashing is part and parcel of racing,’ he added.

Moving on, Alvin, who is studying at Mayflower Secondary School, has high hopes for the SEA games next year.

He said: ‘Competing in the YOG has shown me where I stand internationally. I think I’m halfway there. I’ll be ready next year.’


The NewPaper

SMU Students Go The Distance To Promote S'pore Youth Olympics

30 Aug

2 Wheels Good
SMU students go the distance to promote S’pore Youth Olympics
August 30, 2010

A JOURNEY of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

The same can be said for a 2,010km cycling expedition.

For six intrepid cyclists from the Singapore Management University, their first pedal stroke began in Phuket, Thailand, on July 18.

Part of the SMUXtremists – the university’s outdoor and extreme adventure club – the group were cycling back to Singapore to raise awareness of the Youth Olympic Games and to celebrate the university’s 10th year since its founding.

Said expedition leader Kelvin Liew, 22: ‘The YOG was just round the corner and we wanted to do what we could to raise the hype. At the same time, we wanted to challenge ourselves and find out what we could accomplish.’

The 28-day journey, which comprised 19 days cycling and nine rest days, took the group through the scenic countryside of Thailand and Malaysia before arriving in urban Singapore on Aug 14.

Its longest expedition to date, the club began training for it last December.

Mr Liew said: ‘It was tough finding time to train. We were training three or four days a week, up to 100km each time.’

But the members’ efforts paid off when they faced adverse conditions during their expedition.

The team, which comprised two women and four men, faced torrential rains during the 18 days they spent in Thailand.

Expedition adviser Tan Jing Min, 22, said: ‘It was the monsoon season and our route took us through the coastal areas.

‘It was really cold, but the toughest part was to keep the bikes in serviceable condition.’

The team covered anywhere from 80 to 160km each day.

Being a woman, Ms Tan felt she was at a disadvantage. ‘We definitely lose out to the guys. But we’ve all done expeditions before, so we know what getting on the saddle every day is like.’

The weather let up when the team reached Malaysia, but then it was the heat that bothered them.

Mr Liew said: ‘It was really difficult in Malaysia, even though the terrain was flat. The heat was really unbearable and the road conditions were really bad.’

The six plucky riders got a respite when their cycling buddies rode up to Kukup to accompany them the rest of the way back.

Ms Tan said: ‘It was really heart-warming, seeing their faces and finally meeting our family at the end after so long. It made it all worthwhile.’

The NewPaper


30 Aug

Are some magazines going too far with ‘shock’ covers like the one below?
By Tan Kee Yun
August 30, 2010

THEY are covers that leap out at you.

We’re talking about the recent issues of Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair, that have sold out – or selling out fast – at bookstores and key news-stands.

In Rolling Stone’s September issue, the three leading stars – Alexander Skarsgard, Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer – of hit vampire TV series True Blood are stark naked and streaked with blood, their bodies pressed closed to one another.

Look a little closer and you’ll notice that brooding Moyer has his right palm over actress (and wife) Paquin’s left breast.Scan your eyes over to Vanity Fair, and the monthly US magazine, had Lady Gaga as its August cover girl.

To be sure, these are not the first nude covers, with pictures in the same vein inside, that the magazines have done.

But have they outdone themselves this time?

Reactions among parents, magazine readers and those in the publishing business were varied.

Secondary school teacher Yong Mee Ying, 45, said she would shun such titles.

‘The people behind these publications should have considered the fact that when they are placed on news-stands, kids are able to gain access to them,’ said the mother of two girls aged 13 and 11.

‘More bold pictures on the Internet’

‘Call me conservative, but I wouldn’t like my kids to be flipping them,’ she added.

Ms Margaret Song, a secretary in her mid-40s, disagreed.

‘I actually find the Rolling Stone cover tastefully done,’ said Ms Song.

And she wouldn’t mind it if her 21-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son bought these ‘sexy cover’ issues either.

She said: ‘I believe in letting my children be exposed to different things in life.’

Indeed, the Internet renders the nude covers a non-issue, said Miss Tina Tan, deputy editor of local weekly entertainment magazine U-Weekly.

‘Youngsters have seen many more bold pictures on the Internet,’ said Miss Tan.

‘To a certain extent, magazine editors are putting out a lot more daring covers to attract readers, partly because of this immunisation to sensational pictures.’

Matter of taste

Besides, said other supporters of such covers, the point is not the nudity in itself but its treatment.

Shots of undressed superstars can be tastefully done, argued Miss Kerri Teo, 19, a first-year student at the Singapore Management University.

‘Some people might even go so far as to call those pictures a work of art. I believe it takes a lot of creative direction for the photoshoot,’ she said.

Local magazine editors had their own take on the latest covers.

The three we spoke to, including U-Weekly, said that covers are the first thing that grabs a reader’s attention.

Make it snazzy enough and you could convert the browser into a buyer.

Said Ms Elisabeth Gwee, editor of Her World, Singapore’s leading women’s fashion and lifestyle magazine, said that studies have shown that ’80 per cent of consumer magazines’ news-stand sales are determined by what is shown on the cover’.

Ms Gwee added: ‘The average reader spends only three to five seconds scanning a magazine cover before deciding whether to buy it.’

Mr Richard Augustin, managing editor of New Man, a men’s magazine distributed here and in Malaysia, agreed.

‘Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and even Playboy boast great writing and content…they don’t have to ‘resort’ to such (scintillating) covers.

‘But it is a fact that it is becoming increasingly difficult to survive in the highly competitive magazine market,’ explained Mr Augustin.

So, will we ever see a jaw-dropping cover in local magazines?

Not likely, it seems.

‘The most recent ‘daring’ cover we did was Zoe Tay in a Chanel bikini and bomber jacket back in July last year,’ said Ms Gwee, adding that the issue received ‘great reviews’.

Likewise, Miss Tan said that sexy images in U-Weekly are often mild, as the magazine ‘positions itself as a family entertainment publication’.

New Man’s Mr Augustin said that given the opportunity, he would love to ‘push the envelope’.

But he felt there was ‘no chance…of seeing anything (as) remotely’ brazen as the Rolling Stone’s True Blood issue, citing strict laws.

In an earlier report, the Media Development Authority (MDA) had said that close to two million publications are imported into Singapore every year.

To facilitate the clearance of publications, the MDA has a Registered Importers Scheme where publication importers are expected to self-regulate based on a set of content guidelines provided by MDA.

Laws aside, Mr Augustin added: ‘Our regional celebrities are also less liberal and more traditional compared to international stars.’

In the end, the shocking covers may be just a matter of creating that momentary buzz.

Loyal Rolling Stone reader, Mr Sazali Aziz, 23, an administrator, said: ‘Based on its brand name and content alone, the magazine doesn’t have to resort to ‘shock tactics’ – like plonking pictures of scantily-clad celebrities on covers.

‘But the publishers do so, perhaps, to get people talking.’

Rolling Stone & Vanity Fair had nude celebs on cover before

THE True Blood issue of Rolling Stone was not the first nude cover it rolled out and got tongues wagging.

In 1981, the magazine put portrait photographer Annie Leibovitz’s picture of a naked John Lennon on its cover, as a tribute to the deceased musician.

Lennon is seen curled up and kissing his wife Yoko Ono.

Over the last two decades, other naked celebrities featured on Rolling Stone include funk rock outfit Red Hot Chili Peppers, singers Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears.

Like Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair is no stranger to celebrity nudity.

On its August 1991 cover was actress Demi Moore, seven months pregnant with her second child – in the buff.

Another of Vanity Fair’s memorable skin-baring covers was its March 2007 issue. It showed actresses Scarlett Johansson and Keira Knightley – both without a stitch on – posing with fashion designer Tom Ford.

In 2002, Rolling Stone had caused a furore with the apparent ‘new direction’ it was taking.

According to British daily The Guardian, Rolling Stone, the magazine that single-handedly invented rock journalism, was slammed by critics for being a ‘sellout’ with ‘inclusion of airbrushed cleavages and lacy lingerie’.

What particulary raised the ire of fans was the publishers’ decision to put pop princesses Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera on its covers – in different stages of nudity.

Pop critic Robert Hilburn, in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, said that Rolling Stone’s’own editorial decisions in recent years have done more to harm its credibility…than any threat from its direct rivals’.


The NewPaper

More Than A Sneak Peek Of Her Assets

29 Aug

Net Noise

We round up the Internet sites or videos that people are talking about
More than a sneak peek of her assets
August 29, 2010

What’s the noise:

Reality TV star Kim Kardashian gave fans a sneak peek of her upcoming project by plastering it onto her Twitter page.

Kardashian, 29, posted a picture of her in a skimpy bikini, looking oiled and tanned and lying down in front of a metallic background.

The picture is from Kardashian’s upcoming 2011 calendar, where the socialite will be seen in a variety of steamy poses.

Kardashian wrote: ‘New Twitter background…it’s a sneak peak from an upcoming calendar shoot.’

But her fans’ (including 4.5 million Twitter followers) happiness may have been shortlived.

Kardashian kept the picture up for only a day.

What we say:

Always the Queen of self-promotion, Kardashian sure knows how to get her fans all excited.

Lately, she’s been showing off her curves in numerous photo shoots, including a provocative spread with teen star Justin Bieber for Elle magazine.

With all that exposure, it’s easy to forget that Kardashian hasn’t really contributed much to the entertainment industry.

Seto Nu-Wen

What people say:

‘She has a gorgeous bod…There is not a woman on the planet that would not kill for her figure.’


The NewPaper