Singapore is playing against China for the gold medal in table tennis for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. Today, there are going to be 2 singles, then a double and then 2 singles as China plays against Singapore in Wang Nan vs. Tianwei Feng, Zhang Yining vs. Li Jiawei, Guo Yue/Zhang Yining vs. Yue Gu Wang/ Li Jiawei, Wang Nan vs. Yue Gu Wang and Guo Yue vs. Yianwei Feng. The crowd in the Peking University Gymnasium is fantastic as the crowd warms up to the games with cheers. Singapore’s HD5, I heard, will probably delay the telecast a little as our Prime Minister delivers his National Day Rally Live too. For those who wants to tune in Live, do catch it at Starhub’s Channel 605.

7:34pm: The game starts and after 13 rounds, Singapore’s Feng is currently leading 8-5 against China’s Wang, world No. 5.

7:37pm: Time out now and the game continues as Singapore leads with a game point at 10-8 against China. This is indeed one of the most exciting matches as now Singapore lost 1 point to lead 10-9 against China.

7:39pm: Singapore’s Feng wins the first round with 11-9 against China’s Wang. This is indeed unexpected as Singapore takes the lead in the first round of the Singles.

7:40pm: China takes a 2-0 lead in the second round as Singapore misses 1 and serves another long. 3-0 as Feng serves another long.

7:42pm: 6-0 as Feng kept serving longs against China’s Wang. There’s indeed a lot of pressure by just looking at how the players stump their feet. 6-1 as Wang served a long and 7-1 as Feng served another long. 8-1 now as Feng netted the ball. 8-2 as Wang netted the ball. 8-3 as Wang netted the ball again as Feng draws a smile on her face. It’s really an impressive battle. Feng served a long and trails 9-3. Ouch!

7:45pm: 10-3 and 11-3 as China wins the second round of the first Singles.

7:46pm: The 3rd round of the Singles started with China getting 1-0 against Singapore as Feng longed the ball, followed by 1-1 as Wang longed the second ball. 2-1 for China as Singapore longed the next ball. 3-1 for China as Singapore failed to receive the serve from China’s Wang. 3-2 now as Wang netted the ball. Both sides are under huge amount of pressure as Feng’s swing back hand failed to control the ball giving a 4-2 lead to China. 5-2 now as there’s too much spin, sending the ball off the table. 6-2 for China with a clearly upset Feng from Singapore.

7:50pm: Feng netted the ball to give China a 7-2 lead. 7-3 as Wang netted the ball. 8-3 as Feng longed the ball. Driving shots on the table as China now leads with 8-4 and 8-5 as China gave a long to Singapore’s Feng. This is indeed one of the fastest game I have ever watched so far. The strokes and backhands were indeed magnificent and beautiful.

7:53pm: From the game so far now, it seemed like China is bent on winning the gold medal. As pressure builds on China’s Wang, Singapore trails with a 8-6 score. Singapore missed again to get a 9-6 as China spinned the ball. China longed the ball to lead with 9-7. It’s just 1 more point to match point now. Singapore served and netted the ball, giving China a game point at 10-7. However, it’s not done and dusted as China longed the next ball, giving the score a 10-8 lead. Still game-point for China. Finally, Singapore lost as Feng served a long to China. 2-1 now as China takes the game to the next round.

7:57pm: Wang Nan is now in the groove as the audience.

7:58pm: Game started with Wang netting the all. 1-0 for Singapore but not for long as Singapore served a long to give China a 1-1 equalizer. Singapore then netted the ball to give China a 2-1 lead. Wang is looking more and more composed as the match goes. Singapore then served an attack that China failed to return to give Singapore a 2-2. China then netted the ball to give Singapore a 3-2 lead. Singapore netted the next ball to give China a 3-3 score. Wang then gave an attack that Feng failed to receive. 4-3 for China.

8:01pm: Singapore’s Feng hit the ball way too high up to give China a 5-3 lead and she’s badly in need of a strategy to beat Wang. Another long from Feng gave China’s Wang a 6-3 lead. China then served a long to give Singapore a closer margin at 6-4. It’s obvious that the pressure is on Feng. A little touch of the net on the next serve and it’s incredibly tense. Singapore then served a long to give China a 7-4 lead as Feng shook her head. She doesn’t seem to know how to control the game as it is a mix of defence and attach. 8-4 as Singapore served another long. China served a long to give Singapore an 8-4 margin. 3 more points to bring China to game point. 2 points more as Singapore netted the ball. 9-4 now. Another long from Singapore sent the game to a 10-4 game point for China.

8:05pm: Feng attacked and Wang failed to return. 10-5 for China now. Pressure building up. 10-6 now and finally 11-6 as Feng longed the ball. China now leads 1-0 against Singapore in table tennis. 9-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-6 for Singapore’s first Singles Feng vs. China’s Wang Nan.

8:09pm: Singapore’s Li Jiawei played at the age of 6 came to Singapore at the age of 18 and celebrated her birthday on 9th August 2008, a day after the Olympics opening. She will be playing against China’s Zhang Yining, world No. 1.

8:11pm: Zhang netted 2 balls to give Singapore a 2-0 lead but smacked to give Singapore a run in 2-1. Zhang failed to receive the next ball to give 3-1 to Singapore. 4-1 as Zhang longed the next ball. 5-1 as Zhang failed to receive the next ball wall. 5-2 as Singapore longed the next ball. Zhang smacked the next ball to give Singapore a 5-3 margin. China then longed the next ball for 6-3 to Singapore. Singapore then longed the next ball to give China a closer margin at 6-4. China longed again to widen the margin at 7-4. Singapore netted the ball to give China a closer margin at 7-5. China failed to clear the next at 8-5. China longed the ball to give Singapore a 9-5 lead.

8:16pm Game point to Jiawei with 1 10-5. 10-6 as Li netted the ball, and 10-7 with another net-hit ball. 10-8 as Jiawei longed another ball. She was 5 points in the lead at game point and she’s now left with just a 2 points advantage. Li Jiawei is really under a great test while Zhang is just doing a job with great confidence. Singapore netted the next ball and is left with 10-9. Lastly, Singapore won the game with 11-9 as Zhang longed the next ball. If Singapore failed to win this round, it would have been mayhem here! Haha…

8:20pm: The game this far had been heart pounding and jaw dropping. The court is so quiet that anyone can just hear a needle drop! The game started again as China longed to give Singapore a 1-0 lead. Singapore netted the next one to equalize on 1-1. Singapore then longed the ball to give China a 2-1 lead. Now 3-1 as Singapore longed. 4-1 as Singapore flew the ball out of the court. 5-1 as Singapore failed to clear the net. The speed at which they are going puts the Boeing planes a shame. China then longed to give Singapore a closer margin at 5-2. Singapore longed to give China a 6-2 lead. Zhang Yining is called a quiet assassin because she’s so unassuming. Singapore longed again at 7-2 but China longed to give Singapore a 7-3 margin. Singapore longed again to give China an 8-3 lead. Singapore failed to clear the net to give China a closer sniff of game point at 9-3. One more point for China to game point. Singapore then longed the next ball to give China a game point lead at 10-3. Singapore finally flew the ball to let China win at 11-3.

8:26pm The game leveled to 1-1 as China wins the second round of the game as Zhang Yining equalizes with Li Jiawei. The 3rd game commences with Singapore serving. Singapore failed to clear the net to give China the first score at 1-0. Singapore went on a long rally with China but failed to return an extremely far ball to give China a 2-0 lead. 2-1 as China failed to clear the net. China long to give Singapore a 2-2 equalizer. Singapore longed the ball with an aggressive stroke to give China a 3-2 lead. China failed to clear the next ball to give Singapore 3-3. Singapore longed the next ball to trail at 4-3. Then Singapore failed to catch the next one to give China a wider margin at 5-3. Singapore longed at 6-3 as Jiawei seemed to be unable to handle long balls. Net. 6-3. Singapore longed the next one as China leads with 7-3. Long again as China leads with 8-3. Singapore sent the ball off the table after a long rally at high speed and intensity. 9-3 for China, but you can’t possibly ask for more. 10-3 as Singapore longed the ball. Game point to Zhang Yining of China. China then longed the next game to give the game a 10-4 score. Just 1 point for China. Net. 10-4. Singapore finally failed to clear the net to give the game a 11-4 score. 2-1 for China for this Single’s game, Singapore Li Jiawei vs. China’s Zhang Yining. As the game plays in slow motion, you can see Zhang’s tongue sticking out on the right corner.

8:35pm: 4th game as Singapore trails 1-0. China then failed to receive the ball to give the game a 1-1 followed by a long to give Singapore a 2-1 lead. Will this be the last game?

8:36pm: China hit the net – another free ball for Singapore. A moment of wonder as Singapore leads with 3-1. Singapore longed the next ball. 3-2, and 3-3 as Singapore longed another ball. Net and out and it’s 3-4 to Singapore. China failed to receive to give Singapore a 4-4 equalizer. China then gave a corner that Singapore can’t receive. 4-5. Zhang’s a magician! Singapore then netted the next ball to trail at 4-6. Quiet. Singapore served but longed to give China a lead at 4-7. This is a wide gap indeed but slim chance. China smacked the next ball which Li failed to receive. 4-8 to Singapore. 4-9 as Singapore longed the next ball with a heavy spin. China longed the next ball to give Singapore a 5-9 score. Just 1 point more for game point. Miracle?

8:41pm: 6-9 to Singapore as China longed. Time out for China. Wow! The game is simply incredible. Everything that Jiawei serves is returned from China with interest. Back from break as the court silences. Jiawei bounces the ball and serves! China netted the ball to give Singapore a closer margin at 7-9. The break didn’t seem to help, however, China served a corner to give China a match-point at 7-10. Finally, the ball was sent flying at 7-11 as Singapore failed to receive the ball properly. 9-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-7 for the next Singles as China leads with 2-0 in Singapore’s bid for the gold medal against China in Beijing 2008 Olympics.

8:46pm: You are with Jean from Simply Jean as she blogs LIVE for the Singapore vs. China Beijing 2008 Olympics table tennis game. The mascot is now out – and we all know that he is out when they suspect that the game will end too soon. Jingling is the name of the panda mascot as she dances to the music at the Peking University gymnasium. On the score board now, Guo Yue/Zhang Yining vs. Yue Gu Wang/ Li Jiawei for the next game which is the first doubles. If China wins this game, Singapore goes home with the silver medal.

8:50pm: Sounds of Zhong Guo Jia You can be heard in the gymnasium as the audience raises to the occasion. Who says that the Chinese needs to be told what to do? Heh. In the practice now, some Singapore fans are cheering on the Singapore team. The Umpire for the next game is Sonja Hubety. The Chinese team certainly looks very happy now. Will this game seal the fate for Singapore? Stay tuned!

8:52pm: During the practice session now, Singapore kept dropping the ball. It will be sensational if Singapore does win this round. The game starts as China flies the ball to give Singapore a 1-0 lead. A new ball is going to be used as they test out the ball. A defensive backhand sends the ball out of the table to give Singapore a 2-0 lead. A netted ball from China gives Singapore a 3-0 lead and a second time to give Singapore a 4-0 lead. It does seem like China always seem to lose the first game but wins the rest. Singapore then failed to served over and then hit the net to give China 2 points at 4-2. Singapore then longed to give China a closer margin at 4-3. Singapore then picked up a point at 5-3 as China failed to receive the ball. Singapore then longed the next ball to give China a closer margin at 5-4. Jiawei then smacked the ball to give Singapore a 6-4 lead as China failed to receive the ball properly. Singapore then longed the ball and the score stands at 6-5. Singapore longed again to give China an equalizer at 6-6. One wonders if this will indeed be the last game. China netted the ball to give Singapore a lead at 7-6. China then longed at 8-6. Long rally but Singapore longed the ball at 8-7. 3 more points for Singapore. Will they make it?

8:58pm: Singapore then longed again to give China a 0 margin at 8-8. Singapore finally failed to receive the ball to give China a lead at 8-9 for Singapore. 8-10 game point for China as Singapore longed the next ball. Singapore finally longed the ball to end the game at 8-11. If this goes on, then it’s just 2 more games for China before it’s gold medal time. It’s indeed an exciting game here!

9:00pm: It’s been a fantastic game so far. 0-1 as Singapore served and lost the ball. 0-2 as Singapore dropped the ball. Singapore then failed to cross net at 0-3 and failed to receive at 0-4. Singapore called for time out now as the audience cheered for China. 1 minute allowed for the time out. Singapore beat the South Koreans at 3-2 and Nederlands at 3-0 as well as the USA. However, this is unlikely to be repeated here tonight. Singapore serves and China longed the ball to break Singapore’s egg at 1-4. Jiawei failed to receive the ball as Singapore slips into 1-5. The audience can be heard cheering for the Singapore team as Wang longed the next ball at 1-6. Wang longed the next ball as Singapore slips further into 1-7. Guo netted the ball to give Singapore 2-7. Guo failed to receive the ball properly as Singapore creeps up at 3-7. 3-8 to Singapore as they netted the ball. 3-9 to Singapore as Wang longed the ball again. Jiawei smacked the ball against Guo to bring the game up to 4-9. 5-9 as Singapore served a corner ball. However, Jiawei longed the next ball as China goes into game point at 10-5. 11-5 as Singapore’s Wang longed and failed to bring the ball in properly at their opponent’s table.

9:07pm: If Singapore loses the next game, China will walk away with a gold while Singapore settles for a silver. The game started and China failed to clear the net to give Singapore a 1-0 lead. China then failed to clear the net to give Singapore another point at 2-0. China then served a ball to emptiness at the opponent’s table to give themselves 1 point at 2-1. Singapore serves and within 2 rounds failed to clear the net to give China a 2-2 equalizer. Jiawei then sent the ball flying to bring the score to 2-3. Singapore longed again as the score slips to 2-4. Singapore’s Wang then hit the net but the ball got through. 3-4 there. China then failed to receive at 4-4. 4-5 as Wang failed to receive. Jiawei hit the net at 4-6. China then longed to close the margin for Singapore at 5-6. Singapore can definitely do with more points. China then longed against at 6-6. Equalizer for Singapore! But not for long, I guess. Is the floor too slippery?

9:12pm: Comments was that China was dripping to much perspiration as the floor was mopped. Wang failed to clear the net as Singapore slips to 6-7. Singapore’s Wang sent the ball flying at 6-8. Exciting moment here! Wang serves! And after 2 rounds, longed the ball to bring the score to 6-9. China needs just 2 more points. Jiawei longed the ball as the game goes into game point. 6-10. 2 more minutes to China’s gold medal!

9:14pm: 11-8, 11-5, 10-6 so far for this doubles. China needs just 1 more point to win the gold medal. Gold medal point here. China serves! And Singapore’s Jiawei longed the ball! China wins the gold medal! But Singapore seems just as happy with their silver medal! Congratulations to China for achieving the gold medal and to Singapore for the silver medal. It’s celebration time here at Peking University Gymnasium. 11-8, 11-5, 11-6 for the doubles as China wins 3-0 against Singapore. The announcer declares China as the winner of the Women’s Team Table Tennis. The games of Wang Nan vs. Yue Gu Wang and Guo Yue vs. Tianwei Feng never had to take place as China already wins 3 games out of the 5.

9:19pm: Minutes to the Table Tennis Team Women Victory Ceremony, or the medal presentation ceremony, now as the crowd cheers to the win. Hmm… the minutes seem to be taking longer than usual as the mascot cartoons are being played on the big screen.

9:28pm: The ceremony begins. The table tennis players are welcomed into the gymnasium as the presentation party marches into the court. Cheers can be heard as the teams walks in and is ushered by the presentation party who are wearing blue sleeveless cheongsams. Too bad no cameras with me here else it will be a good moment to catch. Mr Ng Ser Miang, IOC committee member is there to witness and perhaps present the medals to the winners. China comes in first while Singapore is second for the silver. The South Koreans smashed the Japanese this afternoon to come in 3rd for the bronze medal. The Koreans walk up to the podium to receive their medals. Dang, Park and Kim are being given the medals as they are each also given a bouquet of flowers. This is the first time that table tennis is competed as a team event. The Singapore team walked one round to shake hands with the Koreans as Jiawei, Feng and Wang are being present the medals. Flowers are also being presented to the players. China is announced and they walked round to shake the hands of the Koreans and Singaporeans before going up the podium to receive the medals. Wang Nan, Guo Yue and Zhang Yining receives their medals as flowers are presented to them. They then turn and waves to the crowd. The team is indeed adored by the crowd. Now, everyone stands at attention as the national anthem of China is being played. The flag is also being raised while the anthem is played. Guo Yue bites onto the gold medal as they pose for a photo taking session. Zhang then throws her flowers to the crowd as they walk out of the gymnasium.

9:39pm: We hope you have enjoyed the live blogging so far. This is indeed a rare moment for Singapore. Let’s hope for another medal at their next Olympic match!

Petrol prices are rising and falling and no one knows how long this yo-yo will last. ERP gantries are springing up as if there were ERP-trees that could sprout seedlings. Congestions are getting from bad to worse even with these gantries erected because traffic jams are simply directed from one road to another – and it won’t be for long before ERP-seeds are being planted there.

For car owners, this might be a good time to sell their cars and for aspiring car owners, this might be a good chance for them to lay their hands on a good deal. Either way, there’s always the difficulty of getting onto a common portal for them to buy and sell their cars. Would they have considered getting onto ST701?

News of ST701 first came to me when they decided to have beauty queen Miss Singapore World 2006 Colleen Francisca live in a 50 square-meters glass-walled house to show that a person can survive solely on the ads found on the ST701 classified ads site. I found it a little hard to believe because… how can anyone actually survive just on online services?! But she did! Not only that, but a lucky fellow actually got to spend some time with her and still walk away with a $1000! That’s probably one of the biggest scope for any guy out there.

So anyway, I decided to take a peep at ST701 because I had always been eyeing at the Suzuki Swift 1.5L

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Picture: Home page of ST701

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Picture: The Cars section at the main page

The home page is simple to navigate and I thought it’s nice and simple. Of course, I am saying this after I got a cultural shock at Straits Times’ new layout, which I think I’ll take some time to get used to. Clicking onto the Hatchback section, it returned a shortlist of all the hatchbacks that are available for sale now. I keyed in "Suzuki" at the search box on top, and it returned 4 pages of Suzuki Swifts! It does seem like there are a lot of people who are placing ads here!

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Picture: Search results

With so much results, I was hoping that I’d be able to keep a few on my watch list. This was easily done by clicking on the heart-shaped icon that’s just next to the picture of the car. Moreover, if I wanted to do a comparison, I could just click on the graph icon that’s just next to the heart-shaped icon. Everything’s very easy and intuitive. If you are really lost on what the icons mean, you can just do a mouse-over on the icons and a tab will display what the icons mean.

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While doing my comparison, I was asked to create a comparison table, which I think does make sense since I may be comparing other non-related things as well. There’s also a "Back to previous page" option which prevented me from getting lost on my searches. One of the things I hate most is to lost my search results, but I thought it’s quite well thought here. Adding new car sales for comparison is as easy as clicking on the correct comparison tables. Moreover, the pictures of the cars are actually visible in the table, so I’d know what cars I put in.

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Picture: The comparison table

When I am done with putting cars into the table, I clicked on the table name and a nice comparison table is displayed. From here, I was able to compare the price, engine types, power, top speed and additional information amongst other things. Overall, I thought it was quite a pleasant experience as everything was very straight-forward and informative. The only peeve I had was on the part where I had to register… where in the midst of registration, I wasn’t able to go back to my search results after registration. However, I did manage to use the back button, so it’s not that bad.

ST701 gets my thumbs up as a comprehensive classified ads website which is as good as the print counterpart. Speaking of which, I wonder if I am able to find this car in ST701.

16082008(002)

Heh.

Singapore has finally secured at least a silver medal, thanks to the table tennis team! Li Jiawei, Wang Yuegu and Feng have advanced to Sunday’s finals to play against the winner of the China-HongKong match at 7:30pm. Eyes will definitely be glued to the television as Singaporeans hold their breathe for a shot at the gold medal. This will effectively place Singapore somewhere higher up on the medal tally, in which Singapore has always been at the bottom.

Let’s all hold our breathe from now till Sunday for a gold medal. Go Singapore, Go!

A medal for S’pore finally!

By Jeanette Wang

IT HAS been a 48 year wait, but Singapore has finally clinched their first Olympic medal since 1960.

The Republic’s paddlers, led by two stunning victories by Feng Tianwei, beat South Korea 3-2 in the women’s team semi-finals at the Beijing University Gymnasium on Friday.

The team of Li Jiawei, Wang Yuegu and Feng have advanced to Sunday’s final (to be played at 7.30pm) and are now guaranteed at least a silver medal.

World No 9 Feng finished off as she started, beating world No 21 Park Mi Young 11-7, 12-10, 3-11, 11-9 in 47 mins.

Earlier, she had given Singapore a dream start when she crushed world No 26 Dang Ye Seo 11-5, 11-5, 11-2 in the opening clash of the best-of-five match team event.

The tie was then levelled 1-1 when world No 6 Li lost 11-5, 8-11, 11-9, 6-11, 9-11 to world No 11 Kim Kyung Ah in a thrilling 56 min-long encounter.

It was the same player the Singaporean had lost the singles bronze medal to at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

But Li bounced back from that defeat and partnered Wang to victory over Park and Kim in the doubles rubber, powering to a 11-7, 11-6, 11-9 win in just 28 mins to put the Republic 2-1 up.

The South Koreans levelled it again at 2-2, after Dang beat World No 7 Wang 11-9, 14-12, 11-9 in 33min.

But, finally, with the hopes of a nation on her shoulders, 21-year-old Feng produced a performance of maturity and composure beyond her age to send Singapore’s women’s table tennis team into the record books.

A weightlifting silver in the 1960 Rome Olympics by Tan Howe Liang has stood as the city-state’s only Olympic medal.

Singapore will face the winner of a semi-final to be played later on Friday between China and Hong Kong. If Singapore’s women lose the championship match on Sunday, they would still take home the silver.

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Sport/Story/STIStory_268441.html

Article extracted on 15th August 2008

When Straits Times first got their makeover about less than 2 weeks ago, I was lost. "Breaking News" merely linked me back to the first page which features only 5 "top stories" that rotates on its own; sometimes leaving little time for you to read the abstract. They have since kept their abstracts to one liners but that’s not the only peeve. The "latest news" link seemed to have disappeared completely too, and it was only after much clicking that I realised that they moved the entire thing to the bottom of the first page. Having non-distinct titles like "Singapore", "SE Asia", and so on doesn’t help much to distinguish it from the regular "Print Edition" section. I am just hoping that a brown background means latest news and a blue one signifies current print.

"The Print Edition" section no longer seemed to exist anywhere on the page and it was only after much navigation that I realised that it was renamed to "The Straits Times Digital". There’s perfectly no inkling that "digital" would mean "The Print Edition". Going into this section used to present (almost) the entire set of headlines. Now, it only presents 5 headlines and you’d only get to view all of it when you click to go into that particular section. Worse, to get back to the main page, you’d need to click on "breaking news". The "home" button simply returns you to "The Print Edition".

Now, The New Paper is contemplating a makeover. I shudder at the thought of having to relearn all the navigation on the website. Then again, I don’t really frequent there often. Yet.

Oh, did I mention about the irritating ad that keeps popping out like a sore pimple?

The New Paper to get a makeover

It marks its 20th anniversary with new look, edgier content; revamped paper out on Sunday

By Diana Othman

THE New Paper (TNP) will be getting a makeover to mark its 20th anniversary.

The revamped daily, which makes its debut on Sunday, is promising a new look, more sports and edgier columns.

‘The paper’s brand of purposeful and lively journalism…has evolved over the years,’ said editor Ivan Fernandez.

‘After 20 years, we have acquired a lot of experience. We want everything we cover – local news, lifestyle or sports – to have street-wise edge.’

Advertisers got a sneak peek at the redesign during a dinner last night at Dempsey Hill.

The paper will feature a new masthead, new fonts and a new colour palette. The masthead, though, will retain TNP’s iconic tick.

Mr Fernandez said the colour scheme will change every day, giving it a ‘chameleon-like look’.

There are also big changes planned for the inside pages.

A new column called Street Talk will provide commentaries on trends, reports on hot-button issues and interviews with movers and shakers.

A Harvard-trained economist will write a twice-weekly column called Boston Brahmin, which will tackle normally dry money-related topics in a punchy and easy-to-digest way.

TNP will also expand coverage of lifestyle issues, entertainment and sports – especially soccer.

The paper’s London-based soccer journalist Iain Macintosh will be accompanied by a new voice, Ms Alison Ratcliffe. Also based in Britain, she will bring a women’s perspective to the English Premier League.

There will also be a Punter’s League where readers can pit their prediction skills against one another and win prizes.

Meanwhile, Mr Fernandez said the newspaper plans to build on its strengths, such as human interest stories. He said TNP aspires to convey information to the man in the street in an interesting way.

TNP’s readership is 531,000. Its average circulation this year is 112,386 for the Monday to Saturday editions, and 138,565 for Sunday.

The new Sunday edition will offer a magazine-like lifestyle section titled Enjoy, with robust entertainment and lifestyle coverage.

There will also be a section called Inflation Beaters, which will contain tips on how readers can save on their shopping bills. It will be accompanied by two pages of coupons, offering hundreds of dollars in savings.

The response from guests after the presentation last night was positive. They lauded the vibrancy of TNP’s new design and colour palette.

‘It is quite funky and has more energy,’ said Mr Anthony Kang, president of advertising agency Dentsu Singapore.

‘I think it can appeal to the young but, at the same time, its essence will remain just as strong, especially in sports and entertainment.’

Others offered equally glowing reviews.

‘I like it! It is very colourful, just like a magazine. The different-coloured mastheads are also interesting,’ said Ms Lily Chandia Halim, a product marketing manager from Acer Computer (Singapore).

She added: ‘I find the new TNP more comprehensive, especially how the content is arranged in its different sections.’

diothman@sph.com.sg

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Singapore/Story/STIStory_268252.html

Article extracted from straitstimes.com on 15th August 2008

Warning letters have been sent to several KTV outlets asking for payments for royalties. Apparently, most of these outlets have already paid for some form of "rights" – which allows them to reproduce copies of audio and video. However, this payment does not seem to cover royalties that are being paid to publishers. This reminded me of the time that we had to pay $1.50 or so for some 版权 "copyrights" fee; and this was multiplied by the number of people that went for the KTV session. Needless to say, all of us were sulking over it because it was a hidden cost and there were quite a few of us. So now, we not only know that it’s really a fee that the KTV outlets pay, but we also know that it does not cover the royalties.

As in the "copyrights" fee, we learn that the outlets will be passing the cost back to the consumer – and with the exorbitant fee that the publishers are asking for, it does seem like the end of good deals is near. Either that, or it just get added on as some hidden fee. I hope they will put it up-front at the counter.

Karaoke outlets asked to pay royalties

By Carolyn Quek & Serene Luo

THE cache of songs stored by karaoke outlets for patrons to pick and choose from is now at the centre of a copyright wrangle.

The Composers And Authors Society of Singapore (Compass) sent out letters to over 300 karaoke establishments islandwide late last month, asking that they pay royalties to the music composers and lyricists for the songs in their collections.

The karaoke places were caught flat-footed. The royalties involved – estimated at $3 a song for the first copy and $1,000 for each subsequent copy – could run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Compass licensing manager Melvin Tan said that thus far, karaoke outlets have been paying only for ‘reproduction rights’ to make copies of the audio and visuals that go with the songs. This does not cover royalties for writers of the music or the lyrics.

The issue has arisen because of the Karaoke-On- Demand storage server, a gadget onto which suppliers copy digital music videos. Such devices are leased out to karaoke outlets at $250 to $350 a month.

Mr Andy Lim, 36, managing director of Octopus Holdings which owns 40 karaoke pubs, said he was taken aback by the letter. He has paid InnoForm Entertainment, which collects royalties for 10 record labels here, more than $150,000 since April last year, believing this would take care of everything.

On Wednesday, he and his 40 operators lodged reports with the Commercial Affairs Department, accusing InnoForm of having ‘cheated’ them. But InnoForm director Nancy Chua said clauses in the contracts with its karaoke operator clients state clearly that only reproduction rights were covered.

Compass’ Mr Tan said the warning letters were sent out because four publishers had sought its help in January to recover what was due to them.

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Singapore/Story/STIStory_268244.html

And this is quite an interesting highlight on the different copyrights:

Who holds copyrights?

THE right to reproduce songs belted out in karaoke bars is divided into two categories:

Copyrights to the lyrics and music

These are held by composers and lyricists under music publishers like EMI Music Publishing and Sony Music Publishing.

The Composers and Authors Society of Singapore collects these royalties for its members.

Copyrights to the singers’ vocal and video recordings

These are usually owned by record labels that paid for the work.

Entertainment company InnoForm collects these royalties on behalf of 10 record companies in Singapore.

Article extracted on 15th August 2008

I don’t usually blog about Olympics stuffs, but I guess this is too good to miss. Singapore’s table tennis duo is in the run for the silver medal – if they manage to defeat their nemesis – the South Korean duo in today’s semi-finals. However, should they lose, they will be in a 6-team play-off for the bronze medal. The Singapore duo has smashed their way through to the semi-finals through 3 straight victories, only to face possibly the second toughest pair in the semi-finals – Kim Kyung Ah (World No. 11) and Park Mi Young (World No. 21). The latter are known to be defensive players and it will almost be a test of stamina during the match. The team pairing was done using a draw and it does seem that Singapore got the shortest stick. Will their streak of victories end at the hands of the South Korean duo? Catch it live at HD5 at 2:30pm today (15th August 2008).

Moment of truth

Beat South Korea today, and Singapore are guaranteed the silver medal. Lose, and Singapore will go into a six-team play-off for the bronze

By Marc Lim, Sports Correspondent

BEIJING: At around 6pm today, Singapore will know if their long Olympic medal drought is over.

Or if the wait will continue.

At around 6pm today, Li Jiawei will know if her birthday wish to end 48 years of hurt has come true.

Or if her nemesis from the 2004 Athens Olympics, South Korea’s Kim Kyung Ah, has managed to put one over her again.

The luck of the draw often decides the fate of teams. And it is safe to say that Singapore drew the shortest stick in the women’s team tournament yesterday.

In South Korea, Singapore have the toughest possible opponents they could have gotten in the tournament draw.

As second seeds, Singapore had already been assured of avoiding top seeds China until the final.

But yesterday, their chances of featuring in the gold-medal match and, more importantly, being guaranteed at least a silver, took a blow.

‘It’s a tough draw,’ admitted national coach Liu Guodong, whose charges had earlier trounced the Netherlands 3-0 to top their qualifying group and book a semi-final berth.

‘But, if we want to make it to the final, we have to beat even the strongest opposition.”

Singapore would have preferred to meet China’s semi-final opponents Hong Kong, whom they beat 3-1 in the 2006 Asian Games.

Also, Singapore’s Feng Tianwei does not usually do well against defensive players like the South Korean choppers.

It was only in May, at the China Open, that Li and Co lost 1-3 to the Korean team of Dang Ye Seo, Park Mi Young and Kim.

Kim will be a name familiar to them, as she was the one who beat Li in the women’s singles bronze-medal play-off at the 2004 Athens Olympics.

Kim and Park are the two choppers – or defensive-style players – in the Korean side. As a doubles pair, they have been invincible against Singapore opponents.

Said Korea’s coach Hyun Jung Hwa: ‘Our doubles pair are better than Singapore’s and that’s why we think we have a better chance against them.

‘We are happy with the draw. Playing China would have been a 70-30 prospect for us. Against Singapore, we have a 50-50 chance.’

The best-of-five team format consists of two singles, a doubles, followed by two more singles if necessary. Every player will have to feature in at least one singles match if the tie goes all the way.

Both teams are almost certain to keep to their doubles pairings of Kim-Park and Li-Wang.

Li and Wang Yuegu have been training together for only a month and are Singapore’s weakest link.

They showed it again yesterday when they were taken to five games by the Netherlands’ Li Jie and Elena Timina before prevailing 11-8, 5-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7.

Said Li of the doubles: ‘We weren’t very good today, we weren’t playing our best, which explains the five-setter.’

But the players’ individual form, including Feng’s, has been encouraging.

None of the trio has dropped a game in Beijing, with Li looking the most solid.

But, against Korea, it is Wang who will be the key.

Said the Netherlands’ coach Pieke Fransen, whose team also boast two choppers: ‘Wang is the best player in the Singapore team to handle defensive players. She is more patient than the rest.’

Indeed, patience will be needed if Singapore want to beat Korea.

Said Japan’s coach Kinji Kondo, whose team lost 0-3 to Korea yesterday: ‘My advice to the Singapore team is to be patient. Korea’s doubles needed five games to beat us, so they can be beaten.’

Singapore coach Liu said that a win would prove that Singapore are worthy title contenders, adding: ‘We have come this far, now we just have to believe that we can do it.’

At about 6pm today, Singapore will find out if they can indeed do it.

marclim@sph.com.sg

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Sport/Story/STIStory_268328.html

Article extracted from straitstimes.com on 15th August 2008

Which is worse – getting a pig head hung on your door, or getting your cars scratched and acid poured on it? Suddenly, the tactics used by loan sharks didn’t seem that bad after all. Pig head – just send it to the coffee shop to roast it; painted wall – just clear it or paint over it; glued lock – just change the lock… but vandalized cars? Expensive leh

Anyway, it seemed that the cooling of the property market is forcing some people to take extreme measures to ensure that the deal pulls through, with residents of Laguna Park being the latest "self-imposed victims" of such actions. Here, there are 4 possible parties who may be involved – residents who wants to sell the place, residents who do not want to sell the place, the investors who bought the units there, and the developers.

Since there’s still no names out, let us speculate a little here on the motives of each of the possible groups:

Residents who want to sell the place – to make the residence as horrid a living place as possible so that the residences who are not selling may give in and change their minds

Residence who do not want to sell the place – to give the residents a warning that they are not to be trifled with

Investors – similar to residents who want to sell their places, but they do not stand to lose out on the neighbourliness part

Developers – to create a misunderstanding between the residents and then jump in to offer a "peace solution" – selling the place

Oh well… speculations, speculations. Until the culprits are caught, no one is guilty yet.

NAME calling: check. Anonymous letters: check. Scratched cars and damaged property: check.

Residents of an East Coast condominium are now entering the next phase of what has become an especially fractious en bloc sale: finger-pointing.

At a Laguna Park meeting last Saturday, residents against the collective sale squared off against those in favour. They each blamed the other for a recent spate of vandalism which saw cars doused with what was likely to be acid.

The situation is the latest example of en bloc battles that are bleeding the neighbourliness out of neighbourhoods. As the fever for collective sales cools and profits thin, some insiders say the battles are becoming nastier.

Property consultant CBRE says a total of 112 sites sold for $12.45 billion last year. So far this year, six sites have been sold for $360.03 million.

Residents in some estates have seen a surge in pressure tactics, from name-calling and flyers shoved into letter boxes to paint thinner poured on cars.

But just who is behind the crimes is a matter of much debate.

En bloc vandals work on the sly and have yet to be caught, but those in the property industry feel that investors are the ones playing dirty.

Property consultant David Chia said that the crimes are unlikely to have been committed by long-time owners, as they would not want to risk the embarrassment of being found out.

‘This narrows it down to investors who have nothing to lose,’ he said.

Many of these investors bought multiple flats at the height of the en bloc fever last year and are eager to sell them off in the face of a cooling property market.

But investors such as Mr Simon Teh, 50, disputed the accusations: ‘Why should we go and fight and vandalise cars? That doesn’t help us get 80 per cent approval for the sale and, worse still, we can get jailed.’

Mr Patrick Kumar, 53, who has been involved in three collective sales, agreed: ‘Violence will just harden a person’s sentiment not to sign.’

As an investor, he said, he was ‘more likely to placate the residents’. ‘Investors are there for the money, not for the violence,’ he explained.

Instead, he passed the buck to owners living in the condominiums, saying some might be anxious to catch the tail end of the en bloc wave and cash out.

Another bogeyman cited by unhappy home owners: agents appointed by the sales committee, who usually collect a fee of 0.2 per cent to 1.5 per cent of the property value.

Veteran ‘en blocker’ Mr Kumar said agents are the ones who ‘rile people up’ and keep track of who has signed the collective sale agreement and who has not.

But Mr Jeremy Lake, CBRE’s executive director of investment properties, maintained otherwise.

He said: ‘We will be proactive, but we also know that if we push too far, it would be counter-productive.

‘In fact, we do take appropriate steps to dissipate tension during meetings.’

Property consultants who deal with en bloc sales say the ugliest cases, like in Laguna Park, are rare.

More common, said Mr Karamjit Singh, the managing director of Credo Real Estate, are shouting matches during residents’ meetings.

Property firm Savills’ director of marketing and business development Ku Swee Yong said: ‘When it comes to en blocs, even educated people become idiots.’

LIM WEI CHEAN & MELISSA SIM

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking%2BNews/Singapore/Story/STIStory_266799.html

Article extracted on 11th August 2008

Free breakfast sets will be given out to those who buy a copy of the Straits Times tomorrow at Chevron House, Buzz pods (Tampines and Sun Plaza) or at any of the 62 Shell 7-Eleven outlets all over Singapore. The set will comprise of *scream* a cream bun, a doughnut, a box of cereal and a can of coffee. Sounds like a good way to start the morning… but, erm… where’s the milk for the cereal?

Editor: The scream was when I saw a cockroach running across the room. Sickening cockroaches!

5,000 breakfast sets up for grabs

TO MARK the relaunch of The Straits Times tomorrow, we are giving away 5,000 breakfast sets to those who buy a copy of the paper at certain outlets.

Get your copy at Chevron House in Raffles Place, the Buzz pods at Tampines Mall and Sun Plaza, or at 62 Shell 7-Eleven outlets all over Singapore and you will receive a cream bun, a doughnut, a box of cereal and a can of coffee.

Readers who wish to subscribe to the paper can visit our roadshows tomorrow at Chevron House, Tampines Mall and Sun Plaza from 7.30am to 3.30pm.

You can also subscribe by calling the SPH circulation hotline on 6388-3838 during office hours or by visiting www.sphsubscription.com.sg

For more information, please e-mail circs@sph.com.sg

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/STIStory_265365.html

Article extracted on 7th August 2008

Oh yes, I had been wondering why no one had questioned about the diesel levy. Seems like it has become a permanent fixture, hasn’t it? Or are they waiting for diesel prices to go down to sub-$1? While I do sympathize with cab drivers have to eke out their living, but increasing taxi fares through creative terms is definitely not the way to go.

What will they think of next? Location surcharge?

Here’s my point

THAT 30-CENT TAX

‘Time to stop the diesel levy.’

MR TAN SHAO KEN: ‘I think it’s time to stop the 30-cents diesel levy on cab commuters. ComfortDelGro stated that the levy was to decrease taxi drivers’ burden due to the inflation of diesel prices. Prices of petrol and diesel have dropped, so shouldn’t the levy be dropped, in fairness to commuters?’

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/ST%2BForum/Story/STIStory_264658.html

Article extracted on 5th August 2008

Yes, M1 finally started to provide home broadband services – but lo and behold, it’s tapping on Starhub’s infrastructure, which means it probably utilizes the same cable modem that is already serving Starhub Cable Modem customers. There’s however, no news if the existing Starhub cable modem is compatible with the M1 service.

Besides lower pricing plans, existing M1 cellular phone customers (editor: I nearly typed existing M1 cellular customers, which has a different meaning altogether) will also enjoy additional discounts.

In the midst of such competition, it is not known if the ISPs in Singapore will switch to a volume-based price tier, which "penalises" heavy users in their monthly charges. These are potentially users who make use of online services such as BitTorrent, online radio stations and possibly online gaming. As M1 is new to the home broadband service, it is not known if they will be able to manage the monstrous appetite of bandwidth by the heavy users.

While M1 may be offering lower prices, it’s not known if they will be matching freebies that’s traditionally hung as a carrot to bring in new subscribers. This is something which subscribers – both new and old, have to factor in while doing their maths.

M1 offers cut-price deals for home broadband users

By Alfred Siew, Technology Correspondent

MOBILEONE (M1) just raised the stakes in the race for speed, in a move that may give users here better bundle deals for broadband and mobile services.

Yesterday, it became the latest home broadband provider offering cut-price deals that could stoke up a new round of competition for broadband services.

The cellphone operator’s cable modem service to homes is similar to StarHub’s existing service because M1 is leasing the cable modem network from StarHub to connect up homes. Internet users can hook up the modem to the Internet using a cable point.

However, the new entrant is offering lower prices – a boon for home users looking for better deals. The fastest broadband service in town, a 100 megabits per second (Mbps) offering, costs $88.50 a month from M1. StarHub charges $99.29 and offers freebies, while SingTel does not yet have a 100Mbps service.

A slower service, at 10mbps, costs $43.50 a month from M1, while SingTel charges $58. StarHub, which does not have a 10Mbps service, charges $65.06 for a 12Mbps offering.

Faster services enable more users at home to use the Internet for multiple purposes. They may, for instance, download files and surf the Internet at the same time.

Experts say M1’s entrance could mean better deals ahead for consumers – especially those already using the operator’s cellphone services. M1 said its cellphone customers will get an additional 5 to 10 per cent off its new home broadband services.

The move is aimed at keeping customers who may be tempted to buy a bundle of pay-TV, mobile and home broadband services offered at a discount by rivals SingTel and StarHub.

In a statement yesterday, M1 chief executive officer Neil Montefiore said that its home broadband offering will turn M1 into a ‘multi-play’ operator instead of being just a cellphone player.

Analysts are not surprised by the move. Research director Foong King Yew from IT consultancy firm Gartner said M1 could not afford to offer just cellphone services while its rivals roll out attractive bundle deals.

‘M1 has no choice, because the world is moving towards multi-play offerings,’ he added.

Source: Straits Times Interactive, http://www.straitstimes.com/Singapore/Story/STIStory_264648.html

Article extracted on straitstimes.com on 5th August 2008