Saturday, April 18, 2009

Breaking ties with the bitch who birth me!

This post is not appropriate for those who are filial or think they are filial. If you are anything of the above, please DO NOT read on.

If you read on, it implies that you are in agreement with my terms and conditions. That you would not judge or critise my thinkings and actions. You can keep them to yourselves.

I have disallowed any comments for this post (or maybe any other posts) cos I simply dun give a crap to anyone's feedback or whatever comments to this post.


I am still feeling tired but better than what I felt earlier this week.

And then came the life drama of the month.

As usual, initiated by my very drama mama or better known to me as the BITCH who birthed me.

To be completed

Friday, April 17, 2009

Local Top Twitter

The Straits Times
17 April 2009

Schoolboy is top Twitterer here

He has more followers on twitter than rock star Bono. -ST

By Tan Weizhen

FEW people are likely to be too interested in the one-liners a 15-year-old Singapore schoolboy posts online about his life, his interests or his thoughts, except perhaps his parents, family and friends.

But Xavier Lur (, in Secondary 3 at Maris Stella High, has corralled 54,567 netizens from the world over into following the updates he broadcasts on Twitter, a free social-networking utility big in the online world since last year.

With that number of 'followers' or friends, he is the top local Twitterer.

Irish rock star Bono has only a third as many.

Many politicians, showbiz people, athletes and ordinary netizens get on Twitter to offer updates on their lives; people become followers to get these updates, to stalk celebrities or simply to make friends the world over.

But why are almost 55,000 people 'following' the updates or 'tweets' put out by this Singapore schoolboy?

Xavier's popularity appears to stem from his knowledge about things tech and his tender years.

This self-described technology blogger puts out tweets on the latest tech trends, for example, the latest mobile phone applications.

His close friend Zhou Tong, 14, noted that Xavier has also put out tweets about the social networking site Facebook - ranging from tech tips on how to make one's profile more visually presentable to comments on Facebook's design revamp.

One tweet Xavier sent out announced that he and Zhou Tong were developing a 'social asking platform', which whipped up a flurry of excitement, say his followers. People were just intrigued that a 15-year-old could write a computer program for this.

Xavier said adults overseas are a big part of his audience, many keen on a peek into school life here.

Like any schoolboy, he has views on his teachers - some flattering, others less so, laced with some humour.

He describes his life as a Singapore student, including days he stays home from school for 'e-learning', his class trips and about creating class blogs.

Sometimes, his tweets are more personal, about his father's business trips.

Other days, he is plain mischievous, if also resourceful, and willing to share his ideas on how to save labour: 'Too lazy to write a Chinese composition titled Health Is More Important Than Wealth, so I used Google Translate to translate it from English.'

He is helpful, too, with tips like 'How to insert images in a word document without embedding', accompanied by a link to the actual method.

He has, in turn, used Twitter as a 24/7 helpdesk for getting answers to his own tech questions 'within a minute or so', and stirred debate among netizens with questions like 'Which programming language is the easiest to learn?'

He said that vitally, using Twitter has improved his communication skills and taught him about other cultures and 'the outside world'.

He grew his network of Twitter friends when he had time on his hands during a school break.

He now spends an hour online daily, sending out about 20 tweets, but still makes time for soccer, badminton, his friends, or even helping his mother with 'adult' tasks like submitting online passport applications.

Interestingly, his ambition has little to do with the tech world. He said that when he grows up, he wants to become a financial investor 'just like Warren Buffett, and maybe a psychologist'.

He has a younger brother who is keen on online computer games.

Fellow Twitterer Eric Chua, who follows Xavier for his tips, said the teen stands out for his useful tips, for example, on blogging and how to run online businesses.

Mr Chua, 27, and the owner of a start-up involved in video production and online publishing, is himself among the top five Twitterers here.

A distant second to Xavier, with 13,147 followers, he got on Twitter mainly to recruit suitably skilled people to join his start-up.

But Twittering is also about social networking. He has met chief executives, former politicians and authors online.

'The world is now flat,' he declared.

Of the other three top Twitterers, one is a social worker and two, Internet marketers.

Social worker and avid blogger John Yeo, with 5,676 followers, said he joined Twitter mainly to share blogging tips.

Sleeping on the job

New Paper
16 April 2009

Caught sleeping on the job

Traffic warden sacked

THE traffic warden parked his motorcycle, took off his white uniform shirt and hung it on the bike's handlebars.

He then lay on the ground near the bike and took a nap.

But someone saw the incident at a Jurong carpark, snapped pictures and posted them on Stomp on 16 Mar.


The warden was sacked by his employer, Certis Cisco.

A spokesman was quoted on Stomp as saying: 'Unacceptable behaviour such as sleeping on the job is a serious misconduct and carries a penalty of termination.

'At Certis Cisco, all our employees are committed to uphold high standards of professionalism, service excellence as well as exhibit other equally important core values such as care and integrity.

'We do not tolerate any behaviour that runs counter to these values.'

Suntec security guard not 'feeling well'

HER arms were folded and her head was bowed. A fan stood nearby, blowing at her. The security guard at Suntec City was fast asleep.

Again, someone took pictures and sent it to Stomp.


It happened on 15 Mar when the IT show was on at Suntec City.

In a reply to Stomp, a spokesman for Suntec City Management said its investigation revealed that the contracted security guard had not been feeling well, but she failed to inform the management and remained at her assigned duty post.

'Appropriate action has been taken,' said the spokesman, without elaborating.


New Paper
16 April 2009

Should NEL officer be punished for sitting?

Picture of him in priority seat posted online leads to disciplinary action


AS OTHER passengers stood around him, the train officer plonked himself on an empty priority seat on the North-East Line (NEL) train.

His action was caught on camera by a commuter who sent it to Stomp, The Straits Times' interactive website.

The commuter felt the officer, dressed in a lime-green uniform shirt, should have given up his seat to other standing passengers.

His employer thought so too. SBS Transit, which operates the NEL, said it has taken disciplinary action against the officer.

But it would not reveal the exact form of action it took.

The incident took place on 29 Mar at around 10.30pm. Ms Tammy Tan, SBS Transit's vice-president of corporate communications, said the man was a customer service officer. He works on board the trains to help passengers in need and to respond to technical difficulties.

Explaining the need to discipline him, Ms Tan added: 'As a company guideline, staff who are on duty are expected to give up their seats to passengers as part of our customer service standards.

'In situations where they fail to do so, disciplinary action will be taken.'

The officer was sitting on a priority seat, which is allocated for needy passengers such as the elderly, the disabled and pregnant women.

These seats are located next to train doors with signs above the seats to indicate that they are for needy passengers.

Ms Tan said if the train had been empty, it was okay for the officer to sit down as long as he performed his duty.

But most of the 18 people whom The New Paper spoke to felt the officer did not deserve to be punished.

When we showed them the picture, many pointed out that all the passengers standing nearby were able-bodied young adults.

Mr Lee Ting Wei, 19, a full-time NSman, said: 'Perhaps SBS Transit should have just told him off.

'Any punishment more than that would have been too harsh because there were no pregnant women, elderly or disabled passengers around at that time.'


Madam Heng Sue San, 37, a housewife, agreed. 'If there is no one in need of the seat, I wouldn't make a fuss,' she said.

'But if the seat is intended for the elderly and there is someone like that around, I would expect him to give up the seat.'

Mr S W Hor, 55, a lecturer, was sympathetic towards the officer. 'It doesn't matter even if he is an (NEL) employee. He could have been tired and should be allowed to take a seat,' he said.

Mr Hor also wondered if the matter had been blown out of proportion because the picture was posted on the Internet.

But some people felt that the officer deserved to be disciplined.

Retiree A L Tan, 78, said: 'Since he works for the (train operator), he should have known better than to not let other passengers have the seat.'

Housewife Yeo Ah Sim, 67, felt the officer should have set a good example. She said that many young people don't give up their seats, but as a NEL employee, he should have shown more courtesy.

The other train operator, SMRT, has a similar code of conduct for its staff.

A spokesman said: 'We encourage staff to be friendly and helpful to passengers. This would include behaving in a courteous and gracious manner like giving way to alighting passengers and giving up their seats to needy passengers.

'Staff in uniform are also expected to maintain a good corporate image by dressing and behaving appropriately at all times.'

However, SMRT would not comment on the form of disciplinary action taken, saying that it would be on a case-by-case basis.

Geraldine Yeo, newsroom intern

New AWARE woman in the hot seat

New Paper
17 April 2009


New woman in the hot seat

By Benson Ang

SINCE they were voted in late last month, the new committee of the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) had remained tight-lipped.

And yesterday evening, when the committee met for the first time, it was no different.

When The New Paper arrived at the Aware Centre along Dover Crescent at 6.30pm, three of the committee members were already there.

Then other members showed up and entered the centre, ignoring queries by the media. One woman even shielded her face with a plastic file as she hurried in.

Why was a committee member of a high-profile organisation so apprehensive about showing her face? No answers were forthcoming.

Late meeting

Their meeting ran from 7pm till 11pm, after which they announced the new president to replace veteran member Claire Nazar, who had resigned without providing a reason less than a week after being voted in .

Ms Josie Lau Meng-Lee, 48, is now head of Singapore's foremost women's organisation, appointed by the other 10 committee members.

Previous media reports describe Ms Lau as a bank officer.

NEW BOSS: New Aware president Josie Lau. TNP PICTURES: MOHD ISHAK

After the meeting, the committee members were still tight-lipped about their backgrounds, why they had moved to take control of Aware and what they planned to do with the 24-year-old women's organisation.

But after midnight, it issued a press statement announcing Ms Lau's appointment and outlining some of its aims.

The new team said it intended to build on the solid foundations laid by the founders of Aware and continue to promote the participation of women, on equal terms with men, in political, social, economic and cultural life.

Ms Lau said in the statement: 'In these challenging times, the new team will actively seek to collaborate and align Aware with other women's organisations, with outreach to girls and women who are affected by the current economic downturn.

'The new team aims to empower women who have been retrenched and equip them with new skills.'

She said Aware will work with training agencies to launch programmes of practical assistance, including budgeting, finance and debt management, career-planning and management of change.

It will continue to provide emotional, psychological and legal support for women.

She added: 'We call on all women of Singapore to rise to the challenge of taking on leadership roles in our nation. We invite volunteers to help make Aware a positive agency of change for the beneficial transformation of our society, where all people regardless of race, religion or sex are valued and have a place under the sun.'

But the gulf between the new committee and Aware's old guard is obvious.

At about 10.15pm, Ms Caris Lim, one of the two veterans left in the new committee, walked out of the meeting, saying that she was not happy with what was happening inside.

On Tuesday, a petition signed by 160 Aware members was delivered to the new committee calling for an extraordinary general meeting (EOGM) within 14 days to improve the transparency of the situation.

Controversy has plagued Aware since an unprecedented number of new members showed up at the annual general meeting (AGM) on 28Mar and voted in the new leadership.

CHEERS: Ms Lois Ng (far left) and the other committe members applaude after their new president Josie Lau (first from left) made a short speech.

Nine of the 12 contested positions went to new members.

The long-term members are concerned with the action of new members voting enbloc at the AGM, Ms Nazar's sudden resignation and whether the new committee will continue with the vision and values of Aware.

Ms Corinna Lim, 44, a veteran Aware member, who spoke for the 160 members, said that these values were 'equality, respect, helping women in need, diversity and empowered choice'.

'Choice, choice is very important. There are rumours that the new committee is very conservative and doesn't want to promote choice...

'It just raises a lot of questions, and that's not good for Aware.'

She added that if the members were not satisfied with the answers given by the current committee, then they may call for a vote of no confidence and vote in a new committee.

An EOGM is not confirmed, but is expected to take place in about a month.

Written to forums

Some members of the new committee and the people who voted them in have written letters to The Straits Times to speak out against the repeal of Section 377a of the Penal Code, which criminalises sex between men.

In October 2007, Ms Jenica Chua, the secretary of the new committee, accused Mr Siew Kum Hong of overstepping his boundaries as a nominated Member of Parliament and of advancing the gay cause when he submitted the petition to repeal 377a.

In August 2007, Dr Alan Chin, an Aware associate member who supported the newcomers, wrote a letter warning about high-risk gay lifestyles.

When contacted, Dr Chin declined to be interviewed.


New Aware committee


Josie Lau Meng-Lee


Charlotte Wong Hock Soon

Honorary secretary:

Jenica Chua Chor Ping

Assistant honorary secretary:

Sally Ang Koon Hian

Honorary treasurer:

Maureen Ong Lee Keang

Assistant honorary treasurer:

Chew I-Jin

Committee members:

Caris Lim Chai Leng

Catherine Tan Ling Ghim

Irene Yee Khor Quin

Lois Ng

Peggy Leong Pek Kay

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The new public order act

New Paper
15 April 2009

MPs raise questions about public order act

By Lediati Tan

YOU could be ordered to leave and stay away from a designated area for up to 24 hours if you behave as if you are a threat to people and public order.

The move-on order - based on the Australian model but with a narrower scope that applies only to a person's behaviour - was introduced in Parliament last month under the proposed Public Order Act (POA).

The order allows police to give offenders a chance to stop his unlawful activity without being arrested.

Currently, police officers either warn and observe offenders from the sidelines or arrest them on the spot.

With the new move-on order, if the offender cooperates and leaves the designated area, there will be no arrests and no record of it.

But three MPs - Mr Siew Kum Hong, Ms Sylvia Lim and Mr Low Thia Khiang - opposed the new move, while other MPs raised concerns.

Dr Teo Ho Pin (Bukit Panjang) asked why police would issue a move-on order if the person is about to commit, is committing or has just committed an offence.

Mr K Shanmugam, Second Minister for Home Affairs, explained: 'Move-on powers are intended to be pre-emptive to de-escalate a situation before an offence occurs...

'Such an option gives the person engaging in an illegal protest a chance to cooperate with the police and leave.

'This recognises the right to expression without compromising on the police management of public order.'

Adding offences?

But Mr Siew felt that the move-on powers adds a further offence to the list of offences committed by civil disobedience activists.

He said that if a group of people is not committing an offence but they are given move-on orders by the police which they do not comply with, the group then ends up committing an offence.

Mr Siew suggested that all move-on orders be recorded in a public register to 'ensure transparency and accountability in how police officers use their move-on powers' and prevent these powers from being abused.

Mr Shanmugam, however, disagreed.

He said that he wanted to keep the move-on power low-key and not make it an offence.

Mr Shanmugam also responded to Ms Lim's queries on consumer rights in the context of the move-on power.

Ms Lim had asked whether the move-on order would be used on consumers with legitimate grievances against traders - such as in the case of food poisoning, or bank customers who have lost money due to mis-selling of products - if the trader complained to the police that they were interfering with trade.

'So long as the public are not committing... any offences, why should they be told to disperse?' asked Ms Lim.

Mr Shanmugam replied that police involvement would depend on whether the situation endangers law and order.

If the consumers gathered to demonstrate in front of the business, it becomes a cause-based activity and requires a permit.

The prohibition under the POA on the filming of certain law enforcement activities also raised eyebrows. Some MPs were concerned that police abuse cases could be covered up if filming of such activities were not allowed.

Ms Lee Bee Wah questioned the rationale behind the prohibition.

She said: 'If we carry out our enforcement in a humane and civilised manner, then there should be nothing to hide.'

Mr Shanmugam reiterated that the law was not intended to prevent the filming of routine police activities or abuse by the police.

Wah.....3 officers have broken bonds since 2000

New Paper
15 April 2009

3 officers have broken bonds since 2000

Death of scholar prompts queries over SAF HR policies in parliament session

By Low Ching Ling

IN RECENT weeks, the family of the late Captain (Dr) Allan Ooi have engaged the Defence Ministry (Mindef) about his death in newspaper forums.

The incident prompted MP for Tampines GRC Irene Ng to raise questions in Parliament about bonded Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officers.

Here is the exchange between Ms Ng and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean :

Ms Ng: Can bonded SAF officers apply to leave the service early?

Mr Teo: All officers who... take up sponsorship are aware that they have a moral obligation to serve out the full period of their... bonds, which goes beyond the legal obligation to pay back liquidated damages if (they do) not fulfil the bond.

An officer who wishes to be released early while under bond can submit a formal application through the proper process.

Under what circumstances will approval be granted?

The application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and the officer will be counselled and interviewed by his superior officers.

How many applications have been made and approvals granted over the years?

Since 2000, we have allowed three officers to be released prematurely from their bonds.

Can the Minister review the way the SAF contracts army personnel to make sure that, before a person signs... the contract terms are clearly explained to him, and to... his parents if he is below 21?

First, if anyone is signing a sponsorship deed and needs clarification on its terms and conditions, he can and should seek these clarifications, which Mindef has and will continue to provide.

The individual signs the deed voluntarily and is not compelled to do so until he has fully understood the terms of the sponsorship or scholarship.

This is particularly the case when it is an in-service officer who may well already be in his 20s or 30s, and decides to take up a scholarship or a sponsorship to go on for a course for further career development.

Second, most of our sponsorships or scholarships require two sureties to also sign the deed.

These sureties (are) usually one of the parents, a close relative or someone whom they know well... Mindef also provides clarification to these sureties.

While the bonded officer has a moral obligation to serve his bond, the SAF... also has a moral obligation to... make him want to stay... Do the SAF's HR policies ensure that?

In the case of sponsorship, Mindef has already taken the first step, which is to provide sponsorship for the course, sometimes with salary for the officer while he is on course.

So, Mindef has already fulfilled a fairly major part of the obligation towards the officer by sponsoring him for the programme.

These programmes may be six months, or as long as six years in the case of medical scholarships.

The SAF invests substantial public funds and time to train these officers. There is an expectation that such officers will... fulfil their moral obligation to serve the organisation in return.

The SAF is not an unreasonable organisation. The terms and conditions are quite fair and reasonable and that is why we do have people who are prepared to come forward to serve the SAF...

There are many interesting and challenging jobs in the SAF... In most cases, because the officers whom we choose to sponsor are our better officers, they do have a pick of the better positions available.

Given that Mindef has convened a Board of Inquiry and made findings that the matters related to Capt (Dr) Ooi's service were managed appropriately, would the Minister consider making the findings public or at least available to the family?

Mindef has been in contact with the family since Capt (Dr) Ooi went Awol in October last year. We will continue to do so.

If the family were to request for the findings... Mindef will make available a summary of the findings to them.

Deluded and GAY!

This is the new facebook status of AP.

A few days ago, he posted something that made me think he was deluded. And then this status statement came out and I think he is not only deluded but also gay.

Maybe he is having some sort of mid life crisis or identity crisis?

Does this not come out from the mouth of someone gay? A straight man would not say something like this....
mite not like e baggy jeans..but i mite like whats underneath it...wld u b my filipino boy....LOL

And yeah, I have always suspected that AP is gay. He is not that gayish and gets along with people of both sexes. But people his age are mostly dads and granddads. And he is still hanging out with boys half his age. And having sleepovers, as I suspected, looking at the photos in his facebook.

Hmmm....Who does it remind you of?

The Gloved One. For those too dumb to understand...Michael Jackson!

Yeah, yeah, I am minding my own business.

Becoming a recluse

I had just read a blog in which the author mentioned a friend's facebook status.

The thing that struck me was this...that he was
tired of people in general... that he's just feeling more and more reclusive, and that the less he go out and interact with people, the more relax and peaceful he'll feel...

Gosh, I felt the same way too.

I am just so tired of people. All sorts of people. Strangers and even people I know.

And I cannot help it!

I am some sort of a recluse. It has been ages since I have met up with some one I know, besides SO.

But recently, I am plagued with anxiety when I have to interact with anyone else. Like the supermarket cashier or those hawkers that sells rice or noodles.

Frankly, I preferred to hole up at home with my TV, my mobile phone and my laptop.

Everything else is simply redundant to me.

If SO were to die before me, I think I would probably end up like those elderly who lived alone and died alone, unknown.

That is my plight, my status.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Delusions of AP


I just read this from AP's facebook status. Yeah, the very AP who said my facebook photo was too thailandish.

I think he is having some sort of delusions. Frankly, does this sound like the words of a sane person?
one same earth..u cn keep ur vertu,lv,gucci,ck,dkny,tod,tomford, ur not impressed..the day u breathe a different kind of air than mine, come to me, i bow to same earth

Come to me...I bow to you?? He is getting deluded and bizarre. I dun think he is depressed.

And in my present state of mind, I cannot reach out to him.

It reminded me of Mavis Hee, a local singer, who screamed at some guys in a hotel, "Call me GOD".


New Paper
29 June 2006


Mavis Hee sent to Institute of Mental Health after she trails hotel guest and yells: 'Call me God'

Friends and fans wonder: What made he snap?

By Maureen Koh


That is the word for the behaviour of homegrown singer Mavis Hee.

She allegedly tailed a hotel guest from the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Singapore into a corridor, ranting incoherently most of the time.

Then suddenly, said a hotel bellboy, she shouted at the guest, in the presence of others: 'Call me God!'

The police were called, and she was taken to the Institute of Mental Health (IMH).

The incident took place last Thursday around 9pm.

Said a bellboy who did not want to be named: 'The guest looked quite uncomfortable but did not seem to know what to do.'

He added: 'No one really knew who she was or recognised her. Our concern was more for our guests.'


A staff member from another department in the hotel who realised that something was amiss, had alerted the security department.

Two of the hotel's security officers went to take control of the situation. However, when they were unable to obtain a satisfactory response from Mavis, the hotel decided to call the police.

The hotel's director of public relations, Mr Anton Kilayko, told The New Paper: 'As with standard operating procedure, two colleagues from the security department were deployed.'

He said they were unable to provide further details.

Mr Kilayko explained: 'We are leaving investigations to the police. However, it is our responsibility to protect the privacy of our hotel guests - and everything has to be kept confidential.'

It is not known if Mavis knew the guest or what sparked off the shouting.

Mavis, 32, was taken to IMH the following day and warded for psychiatric observation.

Industry sources and friends who know her personally were shocked when they read the news in yesterday's Shin Min Daily News.

Ms Merisa Chu, chief promotions manager at HIM Music, has known Mavis for nine years. She has also handled the singer's album promotions.


Ms Chu told The New Paper: 'Mavis is really a very nice person. Even though she is no longer releasing albums, we still keep regular contact with each other.'

The last time Ms Chu saw Mavis was in April, with four other friends.

She added: 'I did not sense anything odd at all. Our conversations were about very mundane stuff, like work, music and updates on how we were.'

Another long-time friend who had worked with Mavis when she first entered showbiz is Ms Sheila Koh. She expressed disbelief when The New Paper contacted her.

'Are you sure? Did you get the right name? Could this be some prank that someone's pulling? Are you sure it happened here? In Singapore?'

Ms Koh added: 'I have been away for a while too and had been meaning to contact her. But you know how it is, we just never get around to it. And the last I heard, she was always busy with shows in China.'

The New Paper also spoke to two of the singer's fans.

Mr Lionel Ng, a freelance designer, snorted when we first spoke to him.

'Please lah, how can this be? You are talking about Mavis and this happening in Singapore? At such a posh hotel?'

When it became clear that it was no prank, Mr Ng said: 'I just cannot believe it. Mavis does not look like someone who'd snap just like that. There must be something troubling her... and maybe she's just too stressed out?'


He said he keeps in touch with her.

He said that in May last year he had told her that he had split up with his girlfriend.

Claimed Mr Ng, 30: 'She even sent me a few SMSes to comfort me and advised me to learn when it was time to let go.'

The last time he heard from Mavis was an acknowledgement to a Chinese New Year greeting that he had sent her this year.

Clerk Lynn Tan, 27, said: 'If this is true, it is very sad. We have long heard that Mavis has been troubled by her love life, but we've never confirmed if that was true. Maybe she just could not take it any more.

'We truly hope that she can pull through.'

She's been away from the scene for a few years

MAVIS Hee, a former assistant photographer, was named Singapore's Faye Wong when she started out in showbiz.

She released her debut album, Knowing Well, in 1994. And followed that with a string of hits which took her to Taiwan, Hong Kong and, finally, China.

Her wide appeal in China even saw Mavis appointed a cultural ambassador in 2001.

Mavis has also dabbled in acting, with bit roles in a few TV drama serials.

She was 'handpicked' to star in famous cinematographer Chris Doyle's first directing effort, Away With Words, in 1999.

Mavis has had her share of bad publicity - from critics panning her bad dress sense to gossip about her personal life.

In 2000, she had to battle rumours that she was having an affair with her married producer, Chen Jiaming. She denied this in an interview with this newspaper.

She has been lying low for the past few years - though she was said to have been performing regularly in China.

Chronic fatigue syndrome and Mood Swings

I am so tired these days. So weary and worn out. Not from work or housework or anything like that.

Besides that my shoulders are aching and I have mild chest pains.

I just felt so and I simply cannot help it. I think I am suffering from Chronic fatigue syndrome.

CFS as defined by Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Symptoms of CFS include widespread muscle and joint pain, cognitive difficulties, chronic, often severe mental and physical exhaustion and other characteristic symptoms in a previously healthy and active person.

I am also feeling a bit depressed. Sometimes, I even find myself on the verge of tears for no reasons at all.


For those of you who dun have such issues, it is easy to say, "Snap out of it!".

Oh please, you just DUN understand! Talk is CHEAP. Dirt Cheap! It is so easy to just mouth off! It is so simple to say Snap out of it when it does not happen to you. It is not as easy as that!

Walk a mile in my shoes and maybe you will understand. If you have some sort of compassion.

Mostly I dun like to voice out aloud all these personal "issues" cos when it is verbally expressed or expressed in whatever manner, it just seems so foolish and petty.

This is not just being in the right state of mind as I had read in some blog. This has something to do with the chemical imbalance in the brain. It has not been scientifully proven what sort of chemical imbalances that causes emotion distress or anxiety, but it is definitely NOT just trying to get attention from people.

And it is not some imaginary thing as some people thought.

Imagine Allan Ooi telling his friends or family in confidence, " I am depressed over my present job and I see no future at all. Just feel like ending it all."

Half of the people who heard this would probably think he was just stressed and joking. Most of the rest would just think it is a silly, ridiculous and stupid idea, bore out of boredom and frustrations. How many can actually empathise with what he was going through at that point in time.

Yeah, when such "suicidal concepts" are expressed out, they just sounded so .... minor and petty. Nothing to die for.

Until it is too late and the person attempted suicide or end up dead.

I had an experience some time back. I was seeing this counsellor cos I was depressed. I was foolish to think that the counsellor would help me in some way so I did voiced out all my "concerns". Naively and innocently. I was young then. And stupid to think people would understand.

After the so called "confessions", she told me I was just seeking attention and a perfectionist. She said I was not happy cos things did not go my way.

In other words, I dun think she believed me at all. Why? Cos I had no previous attempts at suicide.

Maybe to her, my life and death issues were just too minor, too petty, too stupid. This is what she made me felt after my "confessions". And I regretted telling her.

My depression worsened and within the next few weeks, I attempted suicide.

Luckily or unluckily, I survived.

I was "forced" back to the counselling center a few weeks after that. This time under another new counsellor.

However, I had lost faith in counselling by then. And the first and last words I said to the new counsellor was, Save it. You wun believe me. You dun believe it. What's the point then?

And I kept my big fat mouth shut after that.

I attended a few sessions after that and I was not very open to counselling any more. I was just sitting there, wasting my time.

The new counsellor said he was sorry with what happened to me and the prior counsellor. And that he would try to win my trust back.

But it was too late. I had lost my faith, respect and trust in all these counselling help agencies.

At around the same time, I was also seeing this psychiatrist.

I dun think he believed in me either. Maybe it was just me. I wasn't very believable?

In fact, he told me in one of the session to just go and jump or do whatever to die and he would not give a damn. Why? Cos he simply dun care.

And he was NOT a newbie. He was this old man in his 40s or 50s.And a senior psychiatrist.

Well, I dun know if it was reverse psychology or whatever. But I did thought of dying that week then. And taking him along for the ride.

I stopped seeling him soon after that and a few months later, another attempt.

Anyway, this post is NOT to lament about how suicidal I am now. I am NOT suicidal NOW.

Actually this post is suppose to be under another topic, but somehow, the feel and words just flowed. So yeah, it is a bit off topic here.


Anyway, I was feeling so exhausted these few days and slept for an average of 14-16 hours a day. But even after all these hours of sleep, I still felt so worn out and tired.

And I really dun have the energy or strength to deal with any form of stress and drama.

I have this blood test on friday and a medical appointment on saturday.

But I just dun have that energy to discuss with the doctor any of my medical condition. This blood test and medical consultation are part of my quarterly every 4 months regular routine going on for years to monitor my uric acid level as well as my liver, kidney etc.

So I told SO that I wanted to change the appointment to another date. Preferably a day next month.

SO was just adamant that I go this week. He even threatened to die. That bitch! He thought I was just going though some bitchy tantrums.

I was really really worn out. I just told him NO. I told him not to force me or I would take drastic actions. What I was thinking was that if he simply refuse, I would just book myself into some hotel alone and disappear for a few days.

I just need that calm and peace. I could not deal with anyone at this point of time. I am NOT ready.To see a doctor or anything like that!

Well, he finally relented. And helped to change the appointment to middle of May.

I am still tired but also relieved. I dun know why I felt so. It is as if a huge load had been lifted off my back and chest.

Frankly, now I am still very tired but also just a tiny teeny bit happier.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Toy Boy Club

New Paper
13 April 2009

Some S'porean women spend hundreds of dollars or more to flirt with the toy boys in these KTV clubs

Tai-tai: I visit club because I can't resist temptation

By Maureen Koh and Tan Kee Yun

IN her own words, she's happily married to a businessman who lavishes her with expensive gifts and dotes on their sons.

Her two teenage boys are 'good kids, obedient and respectful'.

But all that is not stopping the 42-year-old tai-tai from seeking - and paying for - the company of toyboys at karaoke clubs.

Yes, she said she knows that her nights out could easily tear the family apart, as her husband thinks she's out playing mahjong with her tai-tai friends.

Yet, said Madam Wang, who agreed to be interviewed on condition we did not use her full name: 'The temptation is just too irresistible.

'I'd feel something was missing if I had to skip one of my regular visits to the club.'

Her regular haunt is one of several KTV-like clubs catering to women that have sprouted across Singapore.

There are at least 11 such clubs, all of which opened in the past year.

Young, good-looking men sing, dance and cuddle up with women like MadamWang at these places.

The New Paper on Sunday team spent four nights over three weeks at seven clubs in areas such as Tanjong Pagar, Katong, Jalan Besar and Shenton Way.

Women easily made up 95 per cent of the clubs' clientele - and they were treated like queens.

Whether it was raucous sleaze or discreet fun, everyone got a chance with the male hosts.

When we first spotted Madam Wang at a club in Jalan Besar around 7pm on a weekday, she was on a high chair, leaning across the glass-top table, smiling at a Thai host.

He held a slice of watermelon, teasing her. Each time she was about to nibble at the watermelon, he'd move his hand away and her lips would nearly meet his.

The routine, repeated several times in the four hours that Madam Wang was at the club, left her giggling.

She said later: 'It may sound silly to you, but he made me feel young all over again. That's one feeling I don't get from my husband any more.'

That 'youthful feeling' comes at a price. The bill for about three hours of chatting, entertainment, a plate of fruits and three jugs of beer for our team at the club came to nearly $500.

Madam Wang said she spends about $1,500 each night. If she takes a male host out to supper, it can set her back by another $150 an hour.

'Selling dreams'

Such clubs are successful because they 'sell dreams' - as it says in the club's tag line. At such places, said psychologist Richard Lim, women can 'indulge in the thrill of an alpha-female relationship' and 'fulfil their needs to be desired'. (See report on page 14.)

The club's black, wooden doors appear intimidating. But the door bitch (or bouncer) was far less intimidating than those you're likely to encounter at some other clubs.

She is likely to usher you into the dimly-lit club without much fuss - even if you have not made a reservation.

With a friendly smile, she settled her guests into the sofas, couch seats or bar stools - all arranged in a mix-and-match fashion.

There is no dress code. Women customers were dressed mostly in office attire or simple black dresses.

At two-hour intervals, about 30 male entertainers from Thailand, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea - and even Singapore - took turns to strut on the stage.

They were geared up to dazzle in smart, fashionable attire.

Some wore body-hugging shirts or tight tees that showed off their toned muscular arms. Others were suited up in sleek leather jackets and black pants.

And almost all of them sported immaculately waxed and tousled hair, like trendy pop celebrities.

After the emcee called out their numbers - no names - they stepped up and mumbled into the mike. Most times, we couldn't really hear what they said, except the names of their countries.

What followed was like what goes on in Thai discos where customers can buy flowers for their favourite entertainers, with the two floor managers approaching customers to stake their claim on their choice for the night.

Garlands of plastic flowers were priced at $30, $50 and $80, while sashes started from $100 and went up to $1,000.

There was no live band. The men sang karaoke-style and performed with much gusto and improvised dance moves.

Results varied drastically, ranging from some who could do a nifty imitation of professional singers to those who seemed to be tone-deaf.

But singing appeared to be secondary. Most of the men were young and hunky, with some sporting model looks.

Making their rounds

The men went from table to table between their sets to chat or play dice games over drinks.

They flirted and teased, sometimes with a hand on the lap, or an arm across the shoulder, a whisper or just holding hands.

Think simple 'boyfriend touches' - an effect that is probably lacking in the women's lives.

There were no vulgar moves in the club, except for the occasional over-indulgent woman. One was locked in a tight embrace with a Chinese entertainer - despite the presence of her eight women friends.

The Chinese host seemed to be the most popular, getting about $1,800 worth of garlands and sashes whenever he sang.

While the owner of the club declined to be interviewed, he insisted that the club was 'like any other normal karaoke club'.

What takes place after closing hours is beyond his control, he added.

That is when the story becomes murky, with some women and the men singing different tunes, as we discovered during our stake-out...


New Paper
13 April 2009

They're not just looking for sex

Experts say women visit such clubs so they can feel loved and desired

By Maureen Koh and Tan Kee Yun

DO the rising number of clubs catering to women - at least 11 which have opened in under a year - necessarily mean that women are becoming bolder or wilder?

No. It could be a sign of emotional angst.

Loneliness, said psychologist Richard Lim, is often a silent killer of marriages.

'Often, it hits women more than men,' said Dr Lim, who has been practising relationship counselling for more than 10years.

'And illicit affairs can sometimes fulfil a woman's need to be desired.'

Women who only visit such clubs may not even feel that they have broken their marriage vows.

Dr Lim explained: 'For them, they think it's harmless flirting, nothing more. And they feel that as long as sex is not involved, there's no real sense of being unfaithful.'

But it appears that sex is sometimes involved. And that, of course, may lead to complications and difficulties.

Seeking comfort

Ms Chang H M, 49, principal therapist at Care Corner Counselling Centre, told The New Paper on Sunday: 'Most of these women head to such clubs to seek comfort in their lives.

'For many years, they could not feel the love from their husbands, so from their point of view, it could very well be a scenario like this: 'Since my husband is out all the time working and making money, with no time for me at all, I'll go out, enjoy myself and spend his money'.'

She added: 'Every woman needs love. And for those few hours they are in the club, the young, handsome men working there are able to shower them with love that their husbands aren't able to.'

Sexual pleasure for women is usually closely linked to emotion, said Ms Chang.

'We cannot deny that some ladies do want to indulge in the enjoyment of sex with those young boys, but it's likely that most just want to feel loved, and are not looking for merely the physical act itself,' she added.

But Ms Chang said one should not judge and criticise the women's actions. Instead, there is a need to find out what lies at the core of their need for attention.

Ms Lim Puay Leng, 32, a senior social worker with Fei Yue Community Services, agreed.

She said: 'In many cases, the main reason for a woman seeking 'alternatives' to her marriage is that her husband is unable to meet her emotional needs.

'Some become very depressed because they are unable to get their husband's attention, and they can't share their misery with anyone else.'

Ms Lim felt that in any breakdown of a relationship in which one party has strayed, it was important to hear both parties' voices.

She explained: 'It's never one side who is totally wrong.'

Ms Lim said that in recent years, though the number of men involved in extra-marital affairs still ranks significantly higher than the number of women who do so, she has witnessed 'an increase in men who call counsellors suspecting their wives (are) straying'.


New Paper
13 April 2009

One host promises our reporter...

'I'll make you feel like a woman again'

WHILE most of the club performers do not end up in bed with their woman customers, some welcome the extra income.

When The New Paper on Sunday team first visited one club, one of the men offered 'more personal attention away from the public eyes' - for $150 an hour.

Number 70 - as he was introduced - also promised the reporter: 'You won't be disappointed with my service, guaranteed to make you feel like a woman again.'

All the 22 women customers who spoke to us insisted they did not have sex with the male hosts.

But the men told a different story. Most claimed that some women would drop hints about taking the entertainment to another level. And there were others who asked about rates openly.

Budget hotels were the most common rendezvous spots.

To prove he would be worth the money, No70, who is from Shanghai, provided a referral - Madam Wang.

He pointed to her and said: 'I saw you talking to her, you can ask her what she thought of my service.'

When we asked Madam Wang, she initially insisted that she only chatted with him.

But pressed further, she added: 'He was good, I was happy, but it's not all the way like you think it is.'

She did not want to give more details and subsequently avoided our calls.

But for the men at the club, extra activity can only happen after work.

The 26-year-old man did not want to confirm if the club owner knew or approved of his moonlighting.

He said: 'Let's just say we keep each other mutually happy with whatever arrangement we have.'

There was also the personal attention this reporter got from another host, Number 89 from Thailand.

He has been here for about a month and has picked up Cantonese from a fellow Thai.

Going out for supper was fine, but No 89 hesitated when asked if he'd consider other activities.

He claimed: 'I usually like to keep it clean and simple for first-time customers, until I'm really familiar with you.'

But that did not keep him from giving us his undivided attention.

And when we left abruptly on the first night while he was on the stage, he looked genuinely dejected.

Back for more

On our second night, he came by our table and said: 'Oh what happened that night? You didn't even tell me you were going off.'

And when he realised we had spoken to two other boys, he smiled sadly before walking away.

Later, when we revealed that we are journalists, No 89 claimed he 'knew there was something different about the group'.

Added the 28-year-old host: 'I felt you were special but I didn't realise how 'special'.'

While he professed his eagerness to make a new friend, No 89 declined to be photographed.

He was only willing to share 'stuff that were not trade secrets'.

The hosts don't have a basic salary and most of them are here on social visit passes.

He claimed: 'Those who don't have a permit are told to claim they're customers if there are any checks.'

The real money they make, he added, comes from the garlands and sashes, and the drinks that customers order for the night.

Said No 89: 'The percentage varies from boy to boy, depending on our popularity. The hotter ones get a bigger cut.'

On an average, they can easily earn $3,000 to $4,000 a month.

He added: 'But the really popular ones can make up to even $2,000 a night.'

Not all the men are comfortable with physical flirting or teasing. Jeed, 28, a Thai, spoke of his short and unpleasant stint at the club.

He had worked previously as a singer at the Thai pubs in Chinatown and Golden Mile.

Jeed confided that he 'didn't know what I was getting into' when he signed on for a stint at this club.

But when he realised it was so different from his previous gigs, where he got to sing with a live band and even had dancers backing him up, he said he 'felt bored'.

He later returned to his hometown, Chiangmai.

- Additional reporting from Gan Ling Kai

Monday, April 13, 2009

Lady Transformer

New Paper
12 April 2009

S'porean transforms the Transformers

INSTEAD of looking for a job, Ms Sabrina Ng has decided to play with toys.

And why not, considering that the fresh graduate's fascination with Transformers toys is helping her make a steady income at a time when her peers are finding it tough to get a job.

The business graduate is currently making waves in the local and international toy scene by creating customised versions of Transformers toys.

Each day, Ms Ng, 24, devotes close to 12 hours to give the toys a 'complete make over'.

Other than giving the models a paint job, other aspects she fiddles with are the aesthetic appearance of the hands, as well as adding accessories like shields.


Only recently becoming a fan of the series after the release of the Transformers movie in 2007, she has been customising for a year, with help from her boyfriend, Mr Syed Muzaffar, 26, who is in the fitness line.

'At first, we started customising because of our love for Transformers, and not so much about the money. We never expected all of this to happen,' she said.

With the help of the Internet, and support from noted US toy customisers like Mr Michael Morgan of Action Figure Customs, and Mr Michael Accardi (also known as Frenzy Rumble), Ms Ng has built a name for herself in the international custom Transformers scene.

To date, the highest paid for piece - a 10-inch movie version of Optimus Prime, with accessories - was auctioned off online for about US $1,000 ($1,520).

The six-inch models she works on a regular basis cost about $20 from retailers.

But after going through her precision customisation, the toys usually fetch US$360 after a seven-day period of bidding.

Despite the lucrative returns, Transformers customisation - which she describes as an 'excellent hobby'- is not what she intends to do on a permanent basis.

'I do want to find a job in human resources, making use of my degree, but the job market isn't too good right now, so I'll be doing this for the time being,' she said.

One returning customer, and creator of, a local website for Transformer enthusiasts, Mr Justin Chua, 27, alerted The New Paper to Ms Ng's work.

He owns one of Ms Ng's work - Hearts of Steel Optimus Prime - and another two are on the way.

'I bought something I really liked, and even though I paid a certain sum for the work, it's really worth it,' he explained.

'They are not something I can get from the manufacturer.'

Ms Ng is currently collaborating with Mr Accardi, an established combiner - the art of combining parts of various Transformers - from the US.

ROBOTS IN HER DISGUISE: (Top) Ms Sabrina Ng, with some of the Transformers models she and her boyfriend have customised. (Above) Painstakingly done by hand, Ms Ng patiently dry-brushes a section of a Transformer. --TNP PICTURES: KELVIN CHNG

When asked about why he chose to work with Ms Ng, he said: 'She has a great eye for detail and her painting skills are top notch.

'I wouldn't trust my custom projects with anyone else.'

The collaboration piece will coincide with the launch of the second installation of the Transformers movie series due out in June 2009.

So it comes as no surprise that her one wish is 'to appear on Transformers 3 in 2011!'

Those who want to find out more about the custom Transformers, can visit Ms Ng's website,

Nude for virtual pets

New Paper
12 April 2009


'I like the thrill... It's just for fun'

Some netizens stunned by move; counsellor & psychiatrist wonder if she'll keep promise

By Liew Hanqing

IT SEEMS she is willing to exchange real-life nude pictures of herself for something that exists only in cyberspace - items for her online pet.

Is that all her modesty is worth?

The question doesn't seem to bother the Facebook user, who introduces herself as Ling Er, an 18-year-old Singaporean.

Photo from Facebook

Her offer has drawn some flak, even from other netizens who are blase about such shenanigans.

As one of them put it, she may have taken games addiction and online barter to a new low.

The teenager set up a Facebook group last month to get netizens to give her virtual items for her character in the popular game Pet Society on the networking site.

Birthday suit

The name of her group: My birthday suit contest. (name changed to my pet society page)

To date, some 133 users have signed up as members of the group.

The game, which can be played by Facebook members who download it, allows them to create and play with a virtual pet, buy it items, and pit its 'skills' against those of others.

The object of the game is to acquire as many points as possible.

These points allow players to acquire more virtual items for their pets' homes.

On her Facebook group, Ling Er has appealed to netizens to give her their most valuable Pet Society gifts possible.

She claimed that senders of the best five gifts would get a set of nude pictures of her in return.

They have to do so by 1May.

She has even listed those who have sent the most valuable gifts so far.

The teen wrote on the site: 'I will send you guys pics of me in my birthday suit that I was born with.'

Er, does she mean baby pics, perhaps? Who knows.

But since the group was set up, it has attracted more than 100 members, almost all of them men.

In an e-mail reply to The New Paper, Ling Er said she started playing Pet Society just over two weeks ago, and that she plays the game daily, but for less than an hour each time.

She declined to reveal her real name.

The teen said she had started the Facebook group 'just for fun'.

'Also, I like the thrill and I want more gifts (for my pet),' she added.

Asked if she sensed any danger in sending her nude pictures to total strangers, she replied: 'In this day and age, it is easier to find pictures of this nature online than news updates from around the world.'

And will they really be her own pictures? Well, all we know is that she has already put up some that are supposed to be preview pictures.

Photo from her FaceBook

She claimed that other local women had taken and distributed nude pictures of themselves online with little consequence.

'They're still doing fine,' she insisted.

However, keeping or distributing obscene pictures is against the law.

Ling Er said she has received virtual gifts from more than 10 people in her group.

These include a virtual lamp, guitar and bath tub.

A member of the Facebook group, who declined to be named, said he had joined the group 'for fun'.

He said he had come across the link to the group from a friend's Facebook profile and decided to join on a whim.

'The name of the group sounded interesting, so I decided to have a look. I don't even play the game,' he said.

He added that he found it odd that anyone would offer nude pictures to strangers for virtual items.

'If the items were real, it would be understandable,' he said.

Student Kevin Chua, 16, who is an avid Pet Society player, added he was surprised when a friend told him about the group that had been set up.

He said: 'It's not something you see every day. I just hope she doesn't get into trouble doing this.'

He added that he knew of people who traded virtual items on Pet Society forums and groups on Facebook, but had never seen somebody offering such a deal before.

'It's quite shocking to see what people would do just to get items for an online game.'

Psychiatrists and counsellors that The New Paper spoke to raised their doubts as to whether the promise would be kept.


Said Mr Charles Lee, senior counsellor at Tanjong Pagar Family Service Centre: 'I think she is using sex as the attraction. We don't know if she will give the photos, it could just be a good gimmick.'

However, Mr Lee and Dr Brian Yeo, a consultant psychiatrist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, said that the act only served to reflect her lack of modesty.

Said Mr Lee: 'Assuming that she really sends nude photos, it just shows her low self-esteem. How she does not care about her privacy? It shows that her relationship with this pet is ranked above her own privacy.'

Parents we spoke with also expressed their concern.

Mrs Magdalene Wong, 53, a mother of two, felt that it was worrying such things could be happening on the social networking site.

She said: 'It's quite shocking to know that it's being used in such a competitive way. Other people who see it might decide to do something that may be even worse.'

- Additional reporting by Joanna Hor, newsroom intern

Pick a pet and pamper it

IT is a wildly popular game on social networking sites, such as Facebook and MySpace, that basically involves taking care of a virtual pet.

At the start, you can customise your own pet by choosing its facial features and colour and by naming it.

Next, you will be taken to its house, where you are required to play with it, buy it items and feed it.

The aim of the game is to earn as many 'Paw Points' and 'Pet Society Coins' as possible.

This is achieved by making sure that your pet is healthy, happy and clean.

The status of your pet will be indicated on the right side of the screen by three icons - a heart, a smiley face, and a shower head.

To earn more Paw Points and Pet Society Coins, you should feed, wash, stroke and play games with your pet.

You can also visit others with pets.

As you earn more Paw Points, you will be able to unlock new items that will upgrade the living conditions of your pet.

Coins enable the user to buy new items for the pet or buy gifts for the pets of friends.

You can select the item you want to give and drag it to a gift box.

You can then can select the friend you want to give the gift to.

- Joanna Hor Peixin, newsroom intern

Goodbye Rich

I dun know Richard Stanley, the late CEO of DBS.

I had read of his rare cancer which was diagnosed in late January. I was a bit shocked cos he was still quite young and it was a bit too suddenly.

I know people get cancer and all sorts of diseases all the time. But I am still shocked whenever that happen.

And then 2 and a half months later, Richard died. It was much too sudden.

Yeah, healthy young people died all the time but I was still shocked by this facts of life. It was just 2 months plus. So soon? Too soon?

As someone who was quite financially well off, he can afford to have the best treatments and doctors available. And yet, he ended up dead.

Life is so unpredictable.

I dun think Richard or his family would ever think he would die so young and so early in life.

One day, Richard was suffering from flu symptoms and the next few days, he was diagnosed with leukemia. And less than 3 months later, he was dead.

Life is a joke. A cruel bitter joke sometimes. One moment he was at the top of the world and the next, he was just ashes.

That's what life is all about. All fragility. Easy huffed out in just moments! Here one moment and gone the next.

Frankly, if something similar were to happen to SO, I dun think I can handle it.

I dun know how I would react or handle the situation. I would probably collapse and crack. Into many pieces. Or I would probably become stark raving mad.

But then if I would be the one to get a terminal disease, I would not be surprised at all.

My health has not always in the best state.

I have gotten gout and cataracts some years back. Doctors have told me it was quite rare for some one my age but not that impossible. They have seen young patients with similar conditions. But in small numbers.

Anyway, when someone died in their prime, it is very diificult for the family get over, cos it happen so unexpectedly. So suddenly.

It was too unexpected and sudden, even for me. A total stranger.

So, Rest in peace, Rich and goodbye. You have lived a good life.


Straits Times
12 April 2009

DBS CEO dies of cancer

By Gabriel Chen

FRIENDS and family on Saturday night flocked to the wake of DBS Group Holdings chief executive Richard Stanley, who died on Saturday morning after a short battle with leukaemia.

In his nine-month stint as CEO, Mr Richard Stanley not only made his mark professionally by seeing DBS through one of its most trying times, but he will also be fondly remembered for his warm, personable leadership style. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

His body is resting at the Singapore Casket and his funeral will be held tomorrow at the Church of St Teresa in Kampong Bahru Road.

In a statement, the bank said Mr Stanley, 48, died at 8.36am.

His family 'kept vigil all night long and were by his side as he slipped away peacefully', added the statement. He is survived by his wife, Ms Koh Li Peng, and three children.

Mr Stanley was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukaemia in late January and had been responding well to treatment.

After two rounds of chemotherapy, his doctors believed that his cancer was in remission. But his weakened immune system made him susceptible to infection, said the bank. His condition rapidly deteriorated over the last 48 hours and he succumbed to the infection.

DBS chairman Koh Boon Hwee said that DBS staff are deeply saddened by the loss.

'We will miss Rich and our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time of bereavement,' he said.

DBS also said that Mr Koh will continue to oversee management, a role he took on after Mr Stanley's diagnosis. 'There will be no change in the bank's strategic direction,' it said. 'It will announce succession plans in due course.

Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, who spoke to reporters at a constituency event in Marine Parade, said he was very saddened by the death of Mr Stanley, and extended his condolences to his wife and family.


Infection after chemotherapy led to death

HOW do you deal with a cancer that attacks blood?

Early diagnosis and treatment improve the odds of beating this fast-spreading blood cancer, or acute myelogenous leukaemia (AML).

But it was an infection, soon after his latest round of chemotherapy, that led to the sudden death of DBS chief Richard Stanley yesterday.

In fact, doctors had felt that Mr Stanley's AML was treatable when it was diagnosed in late January. Mr Stanley, 48, went to see a doctor when he had flu-like symptoms, including fever and a cough, over the Chinese New Year holidays.

Tests over the next three days confirmed he had AML.

The bad news came just nine months after he became chief executive of Singapore's biggest bank. He took leave, for up to six months, and began chemotherapy treatment at once.

In a staff memo then, DBS chairman Koh Boon Hwee said doctors felt Mr Stanley's condition was treatable and full remission was possible.

Haematologists who spoke to The Sunday Times yesterday explained that AML is a type of cancer in which the bone marrow makes abnormal white blood cells. These leukaemia cells build up in the bone marrow and blood, so there is less room for healthy cells. The causes of AML are mostly unknown.

It is a very serious illness and the cancer can worsen very quickly if not treated. Dr Benjamin Mow, consultant haematologist at Mount Elizabeth Hospital, said: 'If it is not treated, the person can die within three months.'

Patients have even died within two to three weeks of diagnosis due to complications from the disease or during treatment, said Dr Koh Liang Piu, senior consultant at the National University Cancer Institute.

Even with treatment, chances of recovering fully come with caveats. A normal, healthy person might have a 40 per cent to 50 per cent chance of recovery. But the elderly or sickly will have less than a 10 per cent chance, said DrKoh.

A relapse is common, occurring in three or four out of every 10 'cured' AML patients, he said.

In the less serious cases, the patient will have to go through four cycles of chemotherapy as treatment. The more serious and risky cases will need both chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, said doctors.

Because AML patients lack white blood cells needed to fight infection and disease, they have to be isolated during treatment to minimise the risk of infection.

Their single-bed isolation wards are specially cleaned. The few visitors who see them have to wash their hands and wear a face mask before entering the room. Such care is needed because, often, it is infections which lead to death among AML patients - especially after chemotherapy treatment.

Said Dr Koh: 'After chemotherapy, the patient's immunity is very low for the next two to three weeks. This is when the risk of infection is very high. Usually, death happens during this period.'

In a statement yesterday, DBS said Mr Stanley contracted an infection after chemotherapy, after which his condition 'deteriorated rapidly' in the last 48 hours.

Mr Stanley was treated at Mount Elizabeth Hospital. His doctor, consultant haematologist Dr Freddy Teo Cheng Peng, could not be contacted yesterday.

Infections can come from anywhere - from airborne bacteria to the pre-existing bacteria carried by the patients themselves. In very serious infections, such as blood or lung infection, the patient can die within hours, said Dr Koh.

Internal bleeding is also a common cause of death among AML patients, the worst being bleeding in the brain. This can happen suddenly and results from a lack of healthy platelets which help to form blood clots.

Said Dr Mow: 'Usually when the patient no longer responds to chemotherapy or becomes very sick, it might be too late to do anything else.'

Sunday, April 12, 2009

ORAL sex can lead to throat cancer

New Paper
11 April 2009

Sex act linked to throat cancer

ORAL sex can lead to throat cancer, say US scientists.

A study conducted by Johns Hopkins University has revealed that the human papilloma virus (HPV) poses a greater risk in contracting cancer than smoking or alcohol.

Oral sex is the main mode of HPV transmission.

And those who had already experienced a previous oral HPV infection were 32 times more likely to develop cancer.

The American study of 300 people also found that that those with more than six partners were almost nine times at greater risk of contracting the disease.

During the study, men and women who had been recently diagnosed with oropharyngeal cancer had blood and saliva samples taken and were also asked about their sexual practices and family history.

They found HPV16 - one of the most common cancer-causing strains of the virus - was present in the tumours of 72 per cent of cancer patients, reported the Daily Mail.

Scientists said the majority of HPV infections had no symptoms and often did not require treatment.

But they also said a small percentage of those who contracted high-risk strains may go on to develop cancer.

Study author Dr Gypsyamber D'Souza told the BBC: 'It is important for health care providers to know that people without the traditional risk factors of tobacco and alcohol use can nevertheless be at risk of oropharyngeal cancer.'

Co-researcher Dr Maura Gillison said that oropharyngeal cancer is still relatively uncommon and that most people who contracted HPV probably wouldn't develop throat cancer.

Dr Julie Sharp, science information officer at Cancer Research UK, said: 'As this was a small study, further research is needed to confirm these observations.

'We know that after age, the main causes of mouth cancer are smoking or chewing tobacco or betel nut, and drinking too much alcohol.'

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Pitiful fines for PUBLIC transport operators

New Paper
10 April 2009

Profit of bus operator: $40.6 million
Fine for poor service: $4,500

No need for heavy fine, says expects

PUBLIC transport operators make millions of dollars every year, but when their service standards drop, they get slapped with what appears to be pitiful fines.

It's no more than a slap on their wrists, some commuters complained.

Earlier this week, bus operator SMRT Buses was fined $100 by the Public Transport Council (PTC) for overcrowding on service 925.

The other operator, SBS Transit, was fined $4,500 because some of its buses were overcrowded while others did not arrive frequently enough.

This was the third time both operators had been fined by the PTC for not meeting service standards.

But they received lighter fines this time after improving their performances.

On paper, the fines seem insignificant when one takes into account the profitability of these two public-listed companies.

SBS Transit's net profit was $40.6 million for the financial year ending 2008. For SMRT Buses, it was $1.5 million for the same period.

Industry-watchers, though, said that the fines are not meant to be hard-hitting.

Dr Paul Barter, an urban transport policy expert from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, agreed that these fines are inconsequential compared to the earnings of the operators.

But introducing punitive fines may worsen the situation, he said.

'Huge fines make it worse. These operators may not have enough money to employ more bus drivers or upgrade their infrastructure,' he added.

As a result, their service standards could get worse next year.

Dr Barter said: 'In this case, no one wins. Huge fines are not the right way because we want a viable industry and we want them (the operators) to do well.'

'Symbolic signal'

The fines are symbolic and the intention is not to drive the operators into the red but act as a signal for them to improve.

He said: 'This is a public punishment. Fining them is bad publicity (for the operators).

'There's a hidden message that it's not the punishment that hurts. The fine puts pressure on these operators to do well and to keep their franchise.'

In this case, the reputation of the company matters more than the fine.

'The operators need to be seen to be doing the right thing. But if they're not doing well enough, there's always the threat to yank the licence from them in the long run,' he added.

The current fines are the result of a review that took place from 1 Jun to 30 Nov last year. Reviews are done every six months.

SBS and SMRT were fined $9,300 and $1,000 respectively in the previous PTC review.

Dr Michael Li, a transport economist from Nanyang Technological University's business school, said that the fines serve as wake-up calls to the operators.

Though the fine may be as low as $100, it is still bad press for these operators.

He said: 'We shouldn't overreact to the fine, it shows that PTC is keeping a close eye on these operators. If we look at the number of trips the operators make, the number of breakdowns or overcrowding is small.

'It's a lapse in service and I am sure the operators don't want the fine, or the bad publicity.'

On the other hand, the fines imposed on SMRT and SBS Transit for lapses in their train services are more severe.

If they fail to meet the Land Transport Authority's (LTA) time intervals, they can be fined between $10,000 and $1 million.

The operators are required to consistently meet the minimum requirements of a set of Operating Performance Standards (OPS) set by LTA.

This means that operators have to run trains at the smallest possible intervals that the system will allow for during peak hours.

For example, between 7.45am and 8.30am, the wait should be between two and three minutes.

During the lunch-hour peak, commuters at Raffles Place should see a train pull up every three to four minutes.

LTA fined SMRT $387,176 over a seven-hour disruption to train service along the East-West line in January last year.

The fine - Singapore's largest ever for a rail-related incident - was imposed to reflect the seriousness of the incident, LTA said then.

Dr Li said that the fines may be heftier on rail operators for good reasons.

For starters, the train operation is almost predictable in terms of scheduling compared to buses.

He added: 'When one bus breaks down, you still can call for a back-up bus. But for trains, spare ones may not do because the track is already dedicated to that section.

'And the impact of a train delay or breakdown on commuters is many more times that of a bus. That's why the fines are higher.'


10 April 2009

Fine is too light, say commuters

A MERE slap on the wrist.

That's what Mr Colin Lim, 39, thinks of the fines meted out to the bus operators.

The cafe owner told The New Paper: 'If a commuter does not pay the bus fare, he would be fined $20.

'But one of the operators is fined only $100 for overcrowding on buses. It doesn't seem fair.'

The Public Transport Council (PTC) announced last year that bus and train fare cheats would have to pay a $20 penalty from 1 Jul last year.

Mr Lim also wrote to The Straits Times online forum yesterday to give his views on the issue.

He said: 'Fines amounting to merely $4,500 and $100 are pocket change to the bus companies and may send the wrong message to them.'

Mr Lim said he was no stranger to overcrowded buses.

About a month ago, he was waiting for bus service 980 along Upper Thomson Road at about5pm.

He said he waited about half an hour for the bus.

And when the bus finally came, it was so crowded that he was forced to stand on the steps at the front entrance.

Packed like sardines

On several occasions, he said that even though the buses were packed like sardines, he saw uniformed employees from the bus companies at Rochor Road in Little India 'pushing' as many commuters as they could on the buses.

Some netizens also criticised the fines handed out to the bus operators.

Said David: 'I doubt the deterrent measures carried out by PTC is effective enough. It's equal to not taking any action at all. So why go through the hassle simply for show?'

But some were more sympathetic towards the bus operators. Another netizen, Damien, said: 'To be fair, it is almost impossible to prevent overcrowding of (buses) during peak hours.

'If the PTC fines the operators for every instance of overcrowding, it would accumulate into a significant amount that will greatly affect the company's revenue and profits, which can be spent instead on more efficient public transport methods.'

Joanna Hor Peixin, newsroom intern

Friday, April 10, 2009

Auction this Sunday

I was reading the papers when I came across this ad for a public auction this Sunday 12th April.

Frankly, I have never been to any auctions before. But I have heard that if one does not quite mind the background of the item, one can get cheap items.

Well, when I say cheap, I dun mean low cost. What I mean is that the items are cheaper than the open market. Most of the items are jewellery or watches etc.

Of course, the prices also depends on the other bidders.

If someone else is also interested in the same item and is also willing to pay, then there may be a price war.

The auction starts at 1pm and viewing of the items from 11am onwards.

Venue is Hilton Hotel, Vista room 3, Level 3, 581 Orchard Road.

The catalogue is available at

My say on Facebook

Previously I was denied that chance to speak out after I was kicked out of my school 's facebook group.

And today, while surfing the net, I found out through a member of the group that they are having a gathering this weekend!

Of course, I am NOT invited since I was no longer part of the group.

But this event was an open event and open to everyone, not just members!

Frankly, I really have no intention of meeting them this soon. Years ago, in school, I had nothing in common with them and now, I also dun see anything common.

It was just finally my chance. I have been bottling up my feelings of indignant after being booted from the group TWICE! And I just want to make known how I feel.

So I RSVP "Maybe" in order to post and made the following wicked comments.


Can I attend?

I guess cannot. Cos I was kicked out of the face book group. TWICE! So I suppose I am not that welcome.

And the thing is no one even had the decency to ask if I was a classmate before booting me out of the group and then making the group a closed one after that.

Well, how do you know how I was your classmate then?

Cos I know...

(Content is of identities of the members and their past history)

End of the World in 2012!!


oohm...end of the world.

Did not think it would happen in my generation or even the next generation.

And if this doomsday solar storm really is to come in 2o12, I hope to be among the first to die.

After all with no electricity, no power, no water and then hunger, thirst and diseases.

Life would just be suffering as mankind adjust to primitive life without modern electricity.

Will modern technology help evade this event?

Well, only time will tell.


New Paper
9 April 2009

A solar storm coming?

Space scientists warn of possible disaster in three years' time

By Ng Tze Yong

A GRIM prediction of a world teetering on the edge of apocalypse has come, not from the lips of soothsayers or lunatics, but from space scientists.

In a report funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) and issued by the US National Academy of Sciences earlier this year, space scientists warned of a massive solar storm wreaking havoc on Earth in 2012.

A solar storm - essentially plasma balls spewing from the surface of the sun - can distort the Earth's magnetic field.

A particularly big one can destroy the tens of thousands of expensive and hard-to-build transformers in power grids worldwide.

This will plunge major cities like Singapore into blackouts, which are expected to last months, or even years, as new transformers are painstakingly manufactured.


Meanwhile, with no power, modern life grinds to a standstill.

In the first moments of this catastrophe, trains will collide and planes will crash, as their communications systems fail.

Satellites will crash back to Earth like meteors.

Hospitals, with their life-sustaining support systems, will see some of the most urgent needs at first.

But eventually, millions may die from hunger and thirst.

With no power, food cannot be processed or delivered. Water cannot be pumped from reservoirs into homes.

Back-up generators will help, but only for a few days before their fuel runs out.

As sewage systems fail, diseases will break out.

Horses will replace cars, the financial system will collapse and, in a silver lining of sorts, there will certainly be no more e-mails for you to clear.

Unsurprisingly, the report has generated much buzz.

Some accuse Nasa of scare-mongering in a bid to draw more funding.

But some independent experts have also praised the report as 'fair', 'balanced' and 'thoughtful'.

In an e-mail interview with The New Paper, Dr Mike Hapgood, who chairs the European Space Agency's space weather team, wrote: 'The report brought in expertise from a diverse range of organisations in academia, government and industry...and the ideas were tested by debate in the best traditions of the science and technology community.'

The report is not controversial for its subject, but for its conclusions.

Solar storms are, after all, nothing new. Several hit the Earth every year but most are harmless, resulting only in auroras, the spectacular light shows usually seen in the night sky over the polar regions.

But mankind's increasing reliance on technology has made us vulnerable in unprecedented ways.

Just how exactly does a storm 150 million kilometres away make your bedside lamp go kaput?

A solar storm comes in three parts (see graphics right), harmful in various ways.

It is the third and main force, a sledgehammer of an electrified gas cloud called the Coronal Mass Ejection (CME), that delivers the killer punch.

By upsetting the Earth's magnetic field, the CME induces currents in the long wires of power grids.

The grids were not built to handle this kind of destructive overload.

So disaster will strike at transformers in power grids worldwide - where voltage is converted up or down for the transport and consumer use of electricity respectively.

The increased currents create strong magnetic fields that saturate the transformers' magnetic cores.

This gives rise to runaway current in the transformers' copper wiring, which rapidly heats up and melts.

Replacing a fried transformer is not like replacing a spark plug on a car engine. They are expensive machines, and no one keeps a spare transformer around the house in case a solar storm hits.

It will take years before the transformers are painstakingly rebuilt, and the world fully recovers.

Hope may lie in an ageing satellite named Ace.

Short for Advanced Composition Explorer, Ace is a space probe positioned directly between the sun and the Earth, built precisely to study solar storms.

Ace plays a crucial role because no matter how large the solar storm approaching Earth is, we can only predict the potential damage it causes once we know its polarity.

Just like a magnet, a solar storm has either a north or south polarity. If it's north, the storm may bounce off the Earth's magnetic field harmlessly.

But if it's south, we'll have to brace for fried transformers.

There is one way to save these transformers - shut them down before the storm arrives. But that will be a big gamble.

Ace is able to provide between 15 and 45 minutes of warning. But a power station needs about an hour to shut down.

This means the decision to shut down a power station must be taken before the destructive nature of the storm is known.

At stake are billions of dollars in lost business and millions of saved lives.

The sun goes through a 22-year cycle of fluctuating solar activity. The next peak is expected in 2012.

What if the perfect storm arrives then?

The report does not offer solutions. It is intended to spark a discussion but even that is an uphill task.

'It is hard for people to worry about solar storms when there are empty stomachs to feed,' said Mr Ang Poon Seng, vice-president of The Astronomical Society of Singapore (Tasos).

Mr Hapgood agrees that it is hard to prepare for Low Frequency High Impact Events (lingo for catastrophic but rare events like solar storms), but it would be foolish not to.

Apocalypse may be near. But it is perhaps also necessary to maintain some perspective in matters of such colossal nature.

Said Mr Albert Lim, president of Tasos, half in jest: 'You have a higher chance of getting knocked down crossing the road than getting fried in a solar storm.'

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Suicidal blogs may not mean suicidal kids

The Sunday Times
5 April 2009

Suicidal blogs may not mean suicidal kids

Parents urged to look for tell-tale symptoms before seeking help
By Nur Dianah Suhaimi

Children and teens blog about just anything, even suicidal thoughts, but this does not necessarily mean they want to kill themselves, say psychiatrists.

Really suicidal children would be withdrawn and display symptoms such as not eating or sleeping well, and refusing to go to school, they say. Thus, they urge parents to look out for the tell-tale signs before calling up for an appointment.

The Institute of Mental Health sees about 2,000 to 3,000 young patients each year. But in each of the past two years, it has been seeing more than 3,000 children and teens, said Dr Daniel Fung, chief of the hospital's department of child and adolescent psychiatry.

Those in private practice are also seeing a spike in child and teenage patients. These numbers do not necessarily mean there has been a spike in mental illnesses among the young, the psychiatrists emphasise.

While greater public awareness and better outreach play a role, other factors include children of busy parents becoming lonelier.

Last week, consultant psychiatrist Brian Yeo wrote in The Straits Times' health supplement, Mind Your Body, that more parents are taking their children to his clinic after reading their troubled blog postings.

'These children mainly write about suicide and, sometimes, even homicide. Their postings can be so scary that their friends will alert their teachers,' he told The Sunday Times.

Psychiatrists explain that it is quite common for children to harbour suicidal thoughts. Dr Fung cited a recent survey on suicidal thinking showing that 30 to 40 per cent of children have had suicidal thoughts at one point or other.

But most of the time, they are not serious about taking their own lives. They are just seeking attention, he said. 'Parents are very busy with work and don't have time to talk to their children. The convenient way out is to send them to a psychiatrist.'

Psychiatrist Ang Yong Guan, who has his own practice, used to see a new child or teen about once a month. Now, he sees a new one every week. He said: 'Most of them have some form of anxiety problem. But many of these cases do not even need psychiatric help. They need their parents' attention.'

The Tinkle Friend children's counselling helpline has also seen a sharp increase in the number of calls it received. Last year, it received over 4,000 calls from children, a four-year high. Said Ms Yap Lee Lan, the helpline's coordinator: 'The majority are lonely... They just want someone to chat with.'

Psychiatrists say that if a child is not really withdrawn or showing tell-tale symptoms, dragging him off to a psychiatrist might further jeopardise parent-child relations.

Said Dr Fung: 'Seeing a psychiatrist should be the last resort. It's better for the parents to talk to their children and find out what the problem is.'

Don't panic if your child's blog contains morbid thoughts, say psychiatrists. It could just be that he is trying to get some attention from friends. These are the signs that show a child is really suicidal:

# Not eating and sleeping well

# Refuses to go to school for no reason

# Socially withdrawn and keeps to his room

# Frequently crouches in a foetal position

# Has a habit of punching his fist or banging his head against the wall

# Talks negatively - like saying that life has no meaning - not just in blog postings but in daily conversations with others as well


# Samaritans of Singapore: 1800-221-4444

# Family Service Centre: 1800-838-0100

# Singapore Association for Mental Health: 1800-283-7019

# Care Corner Mandarin Counselling Centre: 1800-353-5800

# Tinkle Friend: 1800-274-4788

# Touchline (Touch Youth Service): 1800-377-2252