Hougang to meet Geylang in Plate final

Bala's men eye silverware after setting up final date with Geylang

MATCH-WINNER: 
Iqbal Hussain's (No. 14) late strike sends Hougang through to the Plate final.

PLATE SEMI-FINAL

HOUGANG UNITED 2

(Fumiya Kogure 45, Iqbal Hussain 80)

BALESTIER KHALSA 1

(Mirolsav Kristic 56)

If they do pull it off, it will not mean they have ended their barren run in terms of silverware, but Hougang United coach K Balagumaran does not care.

He believes that winning The New Paper League Cup Plate competition will give his players a taste of what it is like to win something, and spur them on next season.

Hougang, who have not won a trophy in their six-year history, are one hurdle away from glory after they defeated Balestier Khalsa 2-1 in their Plate semi-final clash at the Jalan Besar Stadium last night.

Hougang will square off against Geylang International in the Plate final on Saturday.

Geylang sank Warriors FC 1-0 in the other semi-final yesterday, courtesy of a late strike by Mark Hartmann.

"Just one more step and we can make history," Bala said, after Iqbal Hussain's late strike sent the Cheetahs through.

"I saw more from players like Na'iim (Ishak) and Khairul (Jumahat) today compared to the first game of the tournament and guys like Iqbal (Hussain) have also stepped up.

"This gives me a good selection headache for the final. We performed well and deserved to win today."

Hougang were actually slow to get off the mark in the first half and had to withstand wave after wave of Balestier attacks.

Last year's runners-up could have opened the scoring after just 60 seconds when Raihan Rahman misjudged the flight of a pass, allowing Fadhil Noh to run through on goal, but he could only fire straight at Ridhuan Barudin.

Balestier continued to create chances but were unable to find the back of the net.

The Cheetahs struck a sucker-punch with the last kick of the half.

Japanese playmaker Fumiya Kogure showed why he picked up the S.League Player of the Year award last year with an inch-perfect free-kick near the edge of the penalty box that left Naqiuddin Nodin rooted to his spot.

SPECTACULAR

They nearly doubled their lead after the interval, but were denied when skipper Jozef Kaplan's shot off Naqiuddin's weak punched clearance was blocked spectacularly on the line by Fadli Kamis in the 55th minute.

Hougang were punished seconds later when substitute Hazzuwan Halim lofted in an inviting cross for Miroslav Kristic to guide home.

The 26-year-old almost turned provider in the 72nd minute when his cross found Jamil Ali in the penalty box, but the latter's ferocious shot drew another excellent save from Ridhuan.

It all went downhill for the Tigers from there.

Substitute Gary Loo picked up a facial injury in the 78th minute.

Coach Marko Kraljevic had already used up all three of his substitutes and was forced to carry on with 10 men.

Iqbal, who had been a menace all game with his willingness to take on players, profited two minutes later when he cut inside his defender before rifling home.

Balestier's misery was compounded when Fadli was sent off in the 89th minute for two yellow cards and Hougang hung on for the win.

"I think I should go to church more often," Kraljevic joked, after the match.

"I feel we should have won the game and, after we scored the equaliser, I brought on Jamil (Ali) and Gary (Loo) to try and change the game. But we couldn't do it and the same thing happened to us against Geylang and Home, so I think we were unlucky.

"But we just have to move on and focus on the Singapore Cup and S.League from here."

  • HOUGANG: Ridhuan Barudin, Khairulnizam Jumahat, Yusiskandar Yusop, Delwinder Singh, Faliq Sudhir (Nurhilmi Jasni 64), Nur Na'iim Ishak (Huzaifah Aziz 74), Raihan Rahman, Afiq Noor (Samuel Benjamin 86), Fumiya Kogure, Jozef Kaplan, Iqbal Hussain.
  • BALESTIER: Naqiuddin Nodin, Fadli Kamis, Nurullah Hussein, Hanafi Salleh, Zulkhair Mustaffa, Syafiq Zainal (Hazzuwan Halim 51), Tan Danial Farhan (Gary Loo 70), Ho Wai Loon, Smajovic Sadin, Fadhil Noh (Jamil Ali 70), Miroslav Kristic.
  • TNP Man of the Match: 
Ridhuan Barudin (Hougang)

Skipper Farra has faith in Stags' reserves

Skipper Farra backs young reserves to shine against fancied Japanese outfit

ALL SMILES: Tampines captain Mustafic Fahrudin (second from near left) has backed the team's youngsters like Gautam Selvamany (far left) to shine.
Tampines’ Billy Mehmet.

SEMI-FINAL

ALBIREX NIIGATA v 
TAMPINES ROVERS

(Tonight, 7.30pm, Jurong East Stadium)

Tampines Rovers stalwart Mustafic Fahrudin has enjoyed a stellar career in local football.

He has five Great Eastern-Yeo's S.League winners' medals on display at home (2005, 2006, 2011, 2012 and 2013).

There have been two wins, in the RHB Singapore Cup - in 2005 and 2006.

He was also a key figure in the national teams that lifted the regional AFF Suzuki Cup in 2007 and 2012.

But the 35-year-old has never lifted The New Paper League Cup.

Ahead of his side's semi-final tonight against the tournament's defending champions Albirex Niigata, Farra, as he is popularly known, is gunning to break that duck.

"This is a good opportunity for us," he said.

"We are already in the semi-final. Now, we just need the extra push."

He is well aware the Stags walk out onto the Jurong East Stadium pitch tonight as heavy underdogs.

Albirex have been leading the way this season and the Japanese club lead the S.League with eight games left.

The Stags also go into the game without seven national players, who are on duty with the Lions, who take on Cambodia in Phnom Penh on Thursday.

INJURED STAR

To make matters worse, big-name signing Jermaine Pennant is struggling with an ankle injury, and will likely miss the game, while midfield spark Shahdan Sulaiman (leg fracture) and striker Sufian Anuar (hamstring) are definitely out.

But Farra is unperturbed.

"Yes, it's a big challenge," he admitted. "But we go into this game without any pressure because we are missing more than half our team.

"Also, the young players who have come in have done really well.

"I like the way these young guys train, their ideas, their touches, their bravery... I have a good feeling."

Stags striker Billy Mehmet agreed.

"To be honest, when this competition started, I wasn't expecting too much," said the 31-year-old English targetman.

"But all that went away after 45 minutes in our first game, when we were leading (Hougang United) 4-0!

"I knew what our (other) players could do, and now even the young boys coming in have stepped up to the plate.

"I was surprised, just like everyone else... But now we're in the semi-finals, I won't be surprised if we go all the way."

Tampines edged the last meeting between the two teams 1-0, exactly 33 days ago in an S.League meeting, but that was with a full complement of players.

Albirex coach Naoki Naruo pointed to Mehmet as the Stags' dangerman, and White Swans defender Kento Fujihara insisted the Japanese side would not underestimate their opponents.

"Tampines still have some experienced players and their technique is good," said the 24-year-old centre back.

"It's very difficult to deprive them of the ball. All our players need to work extra hard.

"The result (defeat last month) didn't affect me mentally... and we are not out for revenge.

"But we know tomorrow is a very important game, so we will do our best with a strong spirit."

Tampines coach Akbar Nawas was in bullish mood.

"It will definitely be tough," he said.

"We have to give Albirex due respect. But that's it.

"We have a semi-final to play, and it can go either way."


Now we’re in the semifinals, I won’t be surprised if we go all the way.

— Tampines’ Billy Mehmet

Get set for a superhero showdown

Warner Bros and Marvel Studios brought their best to San Diego Comic-Con, but whose line-up wowed us?

They came, and they conquered.

Warner Bros and Marvel Studios brought out their big guns at the recent San Diego Comic-Con, the annual gargantuan fanboy event that has become a platform for Hollywood movie studios to get people excited about their upcoming projects.

Fans were not disappointed as the two major studios went for broke, with Warner first out of the gate with three heavyweight DC movies - Wonder Woman, Justice League and Suicide Squad.

It also has the highly anticipated Harry Potter spin-off, Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, along with fan favourite The Lego Batman Movie.

Over in Marvel's court, president Kevin Feige promised plenty to come and he was not kidding.

Their offerings included Doctor Strange, Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and even a brief tease of Thor: Ragnarok.

So who will reign supreme in this showdown between Marvel and DC superheroes?


GIRL FIGHT

WONDER WOMAN (JUNE 2017)

Marvel may have edged ahead with its superb range of superhero movies. But kudos to DC for giving us the first real superheroine in the flesh.

Gal Gadot was the silver lining as Diana Prince aka Wonder Woman in the disastrous Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. The Israeli actress wowed again in the trailer of her standalone movie, simply titled Wonder Woman.

How can one woman be so elegant yet has no issues taking down an entire army? The scenes of her brandishing a sword, or wielding her Lasso of Truth, or stopping bullets with her shield - in a word, just amazing. Oops, that's two words.

 

 

CAPTAIN MARVEL (2019)

So what if Marvel announced that Oscar-winner Brie Larson will star as Captain Marvel in its first female-centric superhero flick?

Carol Danvers, an air force pilot who becomes Captain Marvel after her DNA is fused with that of an alien, may be one of Marvel's most popular female characters, but her story is not as sexy as Wonder Woman's.

And, let's face it, Larson lacks the same X-factor as Gadot.

VERDICT Sorry, Marvel. DC wins this round.


TIME FOR LAUGHS

JUSTICE LEAGUE 
(NOV 16, 2017)

Director Zack Snyder's gloomy Batman V Superman was DC's answer to Marvel's The Avengers, but it failed to live up to the hype. His upcoming Justice League is much lighter. Ben Affleck's Batman, as depicted in the trailer, no longer grunts but delivers lines such as, "I heard you can talk to fish" to the ultra-serious Arthur Curry aka Aquaman (Jason Momoa).

 

 

GUARDIANS OF 
THE GALAXY VOL. 2 (MAY 4, 2017)

Director James Gunn revealed that Kurt Russell will be joining this sequel as Ego the Living Planet, who happens to be Star-Lord's (Chris Pratt) daddy. In the comics, Ego is literally a living planet and is one of the weirdest villains in the Marvel universe.

VERDICT Let’s bear in mind that Justice League is still helmed by Snyder, who’s not noted for his sense of humour. Guardians Of The Galaxy is the left field in the Marvel cinematic universe, so this is going to be one interesting ride, especially after the mega success of the first movie. Money’s on Marvel.


MAGIC MOMENTS

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM (NOV 17)

Led by Eddie Redmayne, this movie is a long-awaited return to the Harry Potter universe, telling the story of how wizard Newt Scamander (Redmayne) tracks down an array of magical creatures in 1920s New York.

 

 

DOCTOR STRANGE (NOV 3)

Doctor Strange is a "left-turn in the Marvel Universe", dealing with the supernatural rather than technology and mythical beings.

Benedict Cumberbatch stars as the titular doctor, whose surgical career ends after his hands are injured in a car accident. He finds The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton), who opens his mind to all things magical. Of course, there's a bad guy who needs to be stopped.

 

 

VERDICT It’s been five years since the last Harry Potter movie. Will Potterheads take to a new series without the likes of Harry and company? Reactions to this and the Doctor Strange movie have been equally ecstatic, which is to say the jury is still out.


SCENE STEALERS

EZRA MILLER IN JUSTICE LEAGUE

There is no debate that Miller's Barry Allen aka The Flash is the best thing in the Justice League trailer. Clearly the comic relief of the movie, Miller nails the part of the energetic tech guru who also happens to have the gift of super speed.

TOM HOLLAND IN SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING

Marvel's new incarnation of Spider-Man, played by Tom Holland, stole the limelight in Captain America: Civil War. Cheers erupted at Comic Con when Holland went on stage to reveal how his Spidey flick will focus on teenage problems such as girls and homework, as much as on his superhero feats.

VERDICT Both are charmers. Miller scores higher in the looks department, with women already going gaga on Twitter about his character. But Holland is a talented actor and is headlining a beloved franchise. Sorry, Miller. Blame it on Snyder if things go south.

 

'Retailers must revamp'

Earlier this month, Mr R. Dhinakaran became the new president of the Singapore Retailers Association. TNP speaks to the veteran businessman about the challenges faced by retailers in the current economy

EXPERIENCED: Mr R. Dhinakara has been in the retail industry for more than 30 years.

Challenging times are ahead for retailers, with some of them, even major brands, closing shop and pulling out of Singapore, said Mr R. Dhinakaran, who is in his 60s.

The managing director of Jay Gee Melwani Group, which manages brands such as Levi's, Aldo, and Converse, was appointed the new president of the Singapore Retailers Association (SRA) after Ms Jannie Chan stepped down early this month.

"I'm taking over at the worst time... and I hope to protect and safeguard the interests of retailers," he told The Straits Times after the appointment.

Mr Dhinakaran, who has been in retail for more than 30 years, believes the local retail industry needs to make major reforms for Singapore to retain its title as a "shoppers' paradise".

He said: "The retail sector has evolved greatly. Many larger retailers have suffered as a result of over-expansion in recent years and are currently downsizing.

"The industry we see today is a much more challenging one than what we saw previously. Essentially, retailers need to revamp, readjust and retool."

STRUCTURAL REFORM

The retail sector has been gloomy since 2013, but what makes this dip different from previous years is that it is not caused by a particular crisis, such as the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) epidemic, and the 2001 and 2007 recessions.

"The industry is currently affected not only by external factors, but also by fundamental structural problems," said Mr Dhinakaran.

He highlighted the tight manpower market as one of the key issues, with fewer younger Singaporeans joining the retail sector. Another is high rental costs, with real estate investment trusts (Reits) that run many shopping malls here, pressuring the mall managers to raise rents for higher returns.

He said: "Going forward, this is the long-term reality and retailers must consider their next moves carefully. How can we meet these structural challenges in a more positive manner?

"These issues are new, and we have never faced them before. We must strategise for the long term with these challenges in mind".

CHANGING PATTERNS

The retail experience has changed through the years, and mindsets need to change with it, said Mr Dhinakaran.

"Many years ago, a salesman would guide the customer through the whole purchasing experience, and even follow up by offering after-sales service," he said.

"Now, customers come into the store knowing more about the products than the retail staff, because they have done their research online."

He added that retailers needed to adapt to these changing patterns, and turning to e-commerce and technology was one way.

E-COMMERCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Retailers can't run away from e-commerce and technology, said Mr Dhinakaran.

Those with brick-and-mortar stores have to find a way to go online, and vice versa for those who have just an online presence.

"With the advent of e-commerce, successful retailers must have a hybrid system.

"They must exploit their brick-and-mortar stores, leverage on technology, and expand on e-commerce platforms with click and collect options," he said.

INDUSTRY FEEDBACK

Mr Dhinakaran believes that constantly gathering feedback about retailers' struggles in these challenging times will help.

"One of my goals as SRA president is to have frequent feedback sessions for retailers. We will take their feedback to the Government and relevant agencies to seek assistance," he said.

These could include labour issues, productivity matters, and research on the retail industry's practices.

He also encouraged more small and medium-sized enterprises to join the SRA to leverage on industry support and knowledge sharing.


"Now, customers come into the store knowing more about the products than the retail staff, because they have done their research online."

- Mr R. Dhinakaran

Tags: Retail, Shopping and reform

Organisers: Selena Gomez concert will go on

US singer Selena Gomez hints at personal problems online, prompting fans to worry about concert here tomorrow.

ANTICIPATED: Gomez is scheduled to perform tomorrow at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in her first-ever concert here.
HAPPY: Miss Titan Tyra, who will be going for the Selena Gomez concert, said she was not worried that the show would be cancelled.

Local fans are in a tizzy over Selena Gomez's latest social media update.

It seems that the past few days have been especially tumultuous for the 24-year-old US singer-actress, who is currently touring in support of her latest album Revival.

She embarked on her 80-date Revival Tour in Mayin Las Vegas, and the tour will end in December in Mexico.

Part of the tour includes her first-ever concert here at the Singapore Indoor Stadium tomorrow,followed by a meet-and-greet session.

But Singapore fans are now worried about whether the show will go on, and are also feverishly speculating if their idol plans to quit the tour - or music altogether.

The online drama started on Saturday night, a day after her 24th birthday.

Soon after performing in Jakarta, the first stop of the tour's Asian leg, Gomez posted a cryptic message on Instagram, hinting that she had been dealing with some personal turmoil.

She wrote: "Tonight I felt extremely unauthentic, unconnected to both myself and my music.

"I've never really felt like my materials, wardrobe or video could define me. I act on a moment and fear something that hasn't happened.

"I'm stagnant, I stay still and don't just sit with myself first and ask, 'Is this where I am, wholeheartedly?'. I've always told the truth, I'm always true to my word, I've shown who I am but I need to rethink some areas of my life creatively and personally. Had to get that out.

"Not being negative about anything I've done. I'm grateful for every single moment I get here - Indonesia you were LOUD and clearly inspiring. Love you so much."

When contacted, Ms Shila Wijaya, head of communicationsfor concert organiser Midas Promotions, told TNP that "the show here is proceeding as planned".

She said: "With a local act (Gentle Bones) opening the show, we are pleased to say that it's going to be a great night for all involved."

Miss Titan Tyra, a 21-year-old student who produces videos on YouTube, told The New Paper: "As an online content creator, sometimes the people or brands I work with give me pointers on what to say or how to act. It takes away from my real personality.

"I think that might be what Selena means by feeling inauthentic - when other people are trying to define her identity and what she 'should' do."

The 21-year-old won a pair of Category 1 concert tickets and a meet-and-greet pass through a Cornetto Singapore ice cream contest.

She added: "I was disappointed that she cancelled (her Singapore concert) in 2014 (to get treated for lupus), but I know Selena loves her fans and she would not have made that decision if she didn't have to.

"So I wasn't worried... I didn't think she would cancel again unless she absolutely had to."

School Of The Arts student Nadya Zaheer, 17, said: "I think she is a bit lost (over) why she is in the music industry and wants to take time to reflect.

"I am just so happy she is being honest with her fans so we can give her the support she needs. We understand the pressure she faces every day from the media and we want her to know that whatever it is, we will stand by her all the way."

GOOFING AROUND

Snapchat, however, seems to tell a different - and happier - story.

Before the Jakarta concert, Gomez appeared on her Snapchat account to be in great spirits, goofing around with her friends in what looked like the lobby of her hotel.

Wearing rose-coloured shades, she giggled in a few other videos, saying "the jet lag is real" while mock complaining about the heat.

As she skipped around the concert venue, she said she was "very, very happy and excited" to be in Jakarta and "everybody here is super nice".

The day after, on Sunday, Gomez's Snapchat shenanigans continued and nothing seemed amiss.

In videos she posted of herself and her crew at lunch, she seemed cheerful as she played a game of Heads Up.

Gomez even went ahead with her Kuala Lumpur concert at Malawati Indoor Stadium last night - despite Malaysia's Parti Islam SeMalaysia's (PAS) youth wing calling for her gig to be cancelled.

The youth wing's propaganda committee chairman, Mr Hafez Sabri, was quoted in The Star as saying that her "sexy" appearance would "tarnish the sanctity of the month of Syawal", which is when Muslims celebrate Hari Raya Aidilfitri.


"I am just so happy she is being honest with her fans so we can give her the support she needs."

- Selena Gomez fan 
Nadya Zaheer

Teen tried to have sex with girl, 4

Judge sentences him to 6 years' jail, 3 strokes of cane

Premium content not available

Man gets 12-and-a-half years' jail for sex attacks on own daughter

Yesterday in High Court, two men were dealt with for sexually assaulting their female relatives. TAN TAM MEI (tammei@sph.com.sg) reports

Jail for man who started sexually assaulting daughter when she was 10

He sexually assaulted his own daughter on at least three occasions - twice when she was 10 and another time when she was 19.

For his offences in 2005 and 2014, the man, 51, was sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail in court yesterday.

He cannot be named to protect the identity of his biological daughter, who is now 21.

The part-time handyman pleaded guilty to three charges - one for carnal intercourse against the order of nature and two for using criminal force to outrage his daughter's modesty.

TNP PHOTO ILLUSTRATION

Four other charges, two relating to outrage of modesty and two concerning sexual exploitation of a child, were taken into consideration for sentencing.

Yesterday, the court heard that the man sodomised the girl in October 2005, after picking her up from school.

She was only 10, and no one else was home then.

He attacked her a second time later that month.

AGAIN

About a decade later, on Oct 12, 2014,he struck again, touching the girl's private parts and performing a sexual act while lying next to her on her bed.

His daughter, who was then 19, made a police report the next day and revealed that her father had sexually assaulted her before.

The man was arrested about a week later.

In court yesterday, Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Agnes Chan said that the acts were pre-meditated as they has taken place when no one else was home.

She said that the young and vulnerable girl acted with absolute trust and obedience, and had dutifully followed her father's instructions while he carried out the offences in 2005.

After the second offence in October 2005, the girl had "innocently queried" her father as to whether "all fathers did such sexual acts on their daughters".

She said: "As the victim's biological father, the accused's duty was to provide for, and protect his daughter. Instead the accused blatantly exploited and abused his position, as well as the trust and authority which has been reposed in him as a father."

He had been "emboldened" by his daughter's "misguided silence" and repeated his behaviour, which then impelled the victim to report the matter to the police, DPP Chan said.

In his mitigation, the man's defence lawyer, Mr Gino Hardial Singh, said that a psychiatric report from the Institute of Mental Health stated that his client had suffered from an acute stress reaction around the time of the 2005 offences.

It was during that time that his client's wife had run away from home and was found to be having an extramarital affair.

The report also said that his client might have had mild depression at the time of the 2014 offences, which was the same year the man went through a divorce.

Mr Singh said: "(My client's) judgement and appreciation of his actions at the material time was, at least to some extent, clouded by the stress he was undergoing."

NO EXCUSE

However, DPP Chan said: "Any mental state or marital issues do not in anyway excuse his reprehensible conduct to his daughter.

"The victim in this case was also conditioned to suffer in silence for the fear of defying her own father."

In the girl's impact statement, she said she lived life under stress and fear while living with her father.

The statement said: "I felt sad because my own father was doing this to me and I always hoped to seek help but I had no courage to, given my timid nature and fear for my safety...

"The scar that my father has left on me is irreversible."

Could you be the next 
Miss Universe S'pore?

We are on the look out for a new queen to fly Singapore's flag at the world's most elite pageant, on the biggest stage of her life. The winner will receive $10,000 in cash and a Canon camera worth $1,000. Registration is now open to women aged 18 to 27, and participants can sign up at missuniversesingapore.com.sg/registration.html. The closing date 
for applications is Aug 17.

For more information, go to missuniversesingapore.com.sg

Miss Universe Singapore 2013 'rises above' haters

Miss Universe S'pore 2013 kept getting 'mean comments' about her looks, but...

GROWTH: Miss Universe Singapore 2013 winner Shi Lim says taking part in the competition made her stronger.

Shi Lim took part in Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) 2013 because she thought it was something "new and exciting to do".

She won the title, but little did she know what she was in for.

Lim had just graduated from New York University with Bachelor of Arts in individualised study (specialising in cognitive science) and was helping her father with his business investments at the time.

She told The New Paper: "I was bored with whatever I was doing back then. I had also dabbled in some freelance modelling so I thought I'd use those skills in the pageant.

"In a lot of girls, there's this desire to be on stage, so I wanted to see how that would turn out for me."

 

This year, Singapore's most prestigious pageant is back in a big way, with new presenter Singapore Turf Club and new imaging partner Canon Singapore on board.

For the first time, TNP will be MUS 2016's official media partner and co-organiser with the Miss Universe Singapore Organisation.

The winner will receive $10,000 in cash and a Canon camera worth $1,000.

Registration is now open to women aged 18 to 27. (See report, inset.)

It was during MUS that Lim realised the spotlight came with its fair share of negativity.

"I don't think the public was very accepting, not only of me but of pageant queens in general, so having to deal with that was difficult," said the 27-year-old.

She received the most backlash after she won.

"While the competition was ongoing, there were a lot of Internet trolls saying negative things about the contestants. But after I won, I heard everything from 'she's too short', 'she's too fat', 'she's too skinny' or 'she's not good or pretty enough'," said Lim, who stands at 1.77m.

SELF-ESTEEM

She admitted that even though her family and friends urged her to ignore these haters who "didn't even know her", the comments were "a big hit" to her self-esteem.

"When you're actually in that position, it's not as easy as that. You do take it to heart. I was really quite depressed for awhile because I wasn't equipped to handle everything that was being thrown my way," said Lim, who even "dropped off" social media for a time because any picture she posted "would get really mean comments".She "learnt a lot as a person" from being beaten down, and emerged with more self-awareness.

She said: "I had to force myself out of my own shell and become confident... You either let people's opinions trample all over you, or you rise above it and become a stronger person.

"When you're in a (pageant), you're surrounded by so many other beautiful girls and you're being judged for your appearance.

"With so many people coming to a consensus based on my looks, I needed to know for myself what was beautiful within me, beyond other people's validation.

"That was a big question I had to deal with and (it forced me) to look inwards and understand myself as a person more."

She added that the MUS experience made her "grow up and become less naive", and gave her a "better idea" of what she wanted to do in life.

She now knows that being in front of the camera isn't something she wants to pursue as a career.

Lim is still assisting her father but hopes to pursue freelance writing.

Being Miss Universe Singapore also led her to find love.

Her businessman-boyfriend is the older brother of Miss Universe Myanmar 2013, whom she met at the international pageant in Moscow that year.

"(MUS) is a very unique experience that not many people will have. For me, (there) was a lot of personal growth and coming into myself.

"Regardless of what you take away from it, you will never come out learning nothing.

"It will be something you cherish for life," she said.

Lim Chu Kang murder suspect taken to alleged crime scene

ACCUSED: Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock accompanied by plain-clothes police officers at Gardens by the Bay yesterday.
ACCUSED: Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock accompanied by plain-clothes police officers at Gardens by the Bay yesterday.

A visitor to Gardens by the Bay yesterday received some unwanted attention when he arrived dressed in a bright red polo shirt and a pair of bermudas.

He had shackles on his hands and feet, and there were two men standing close by his side at all times.

The man in red was Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock, 48, who was charged with the murder of Chinese engineer Cui Yajie, 31, last Thursday.

Khoo was accompanied by plain-clothes police officers as he was taken to the scene of the alleged crime.

He is accused of killing Ms Cui between 8am and 10.11am on July 12 at Gardens by the Bay East in Marina Bay.

Her remains were found one week later at Lim Chu Kang Lane 8, about 40km away from the location where she was allegedly killed.

Chinese newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported that Khoo was seen speaking to the officers as they were walking from the information centre of Gardens by the Bay.

FIDGETED

Khoo was calm at first, but fidgeted when he noticed the Shin Min photographer and tried to hide his face behind the officers.

He behaved in a similar way last Thursday when he was taken to the State Courts in a police car.

Meanwhile, Ms Cui's parents, who were expected to arrive in Singapore from Tianjin, China, yesterday, have appointed local lawyer Chung Ting Fai to handle their matters here.

This comes after a man reportedly impersonated Ms Cui's father and was seen collecting money on behalf of the family near Chinatown last week.

On Sunday, Mr Chung issued a statement, written in Chinese, warning the public about the alleged cheat.

Ms Cui's parents had told Lianhe Wanbao last week that they were not aware of their daughter's relationships in Singapore.

Ms Cui, who had been working here for the past four years, was last seen on the night of July 11 at her workplace near Fusionopolis Walk in Buona Vista.

Khoo is currently remanded at Central Police Division and his case will be mentioned in court again on Thursday.

If found guilty of murder, he faces the death penalty.

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