PEOPLE -> AirAsia Flight QZ8501
Airline's licence might be revoked
AirAsia not licensed to fly from Surabaya to S'pore on Sundays
PEOPLE -> AirAsia Flight QZ8501
A 'rough' hunt for clues
TNPS photojournalist ARIFFIN JAMAR is on board RSS Persistence as it joins the multinational effort to find missing plane
Confessions of Singa's manager: He culled beloved courtesy mascot to grow kindness in S'pore
Singapore Kindness Movement's associate general secretary, Mr Cesar Balota, was the brains behind the firing of Singa the Courtesy Lion.
In letting Singa go, Mr Balota has drawn flak from the public, who accused him of killing a national icon, and also from those within SKM, who had doubts about what it would lead to.
People may question him on how a "foreigner" is qualified to teach Singaporeans about kindness.
But the Filipino-born Singaporean, who settled here more than 30 years ago, says: "Kindness is a universal value - it's not Singaporean, or Filipino, or western... It's something human."
Read the full report in our print edition on Jan 4.
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Demand so low it's more cost-effective to import calendar
TRADITIONAL: The tong sheng calendar shows the almanac, the dos and don’ts, as well as the best timing of the day. TNP PHOTO: JEREMY LONG
Another traditional calendar that is fast disappearing from the local scene is the tong sheng calendar.
The daily calendar, complete with the Chinese almanac, is printed on low-grade paper.
It is imported from countries such as China as it is not cost-effective to produce it locally, says Mr Charlton Kwan of Chee Seng International.
Demand has been dropping over the years and slowed to a trickle last year, says Ms Helen Chan, 50, a manager with Living Calendars which hot-stamps corporate logos onto calendars.
Ms Chan says: "More than five years ago, we used to have a lot of corporate orders for tong sheng calendars.
"Now we get only one or two orders for the calendar a year."
Mr Kwan, who has seen demand for the calendar drop more than 50 per cent over the past 10 years, says the role of the almanac on the calendar has been taken over by apps on mobile phones.
Ms Chan adds that the fans of this calendar are the older generation.
"They prefer to tear one piece every day, knowing that a day has gone by. It is a habit."
Keeping tradition going as long as possible
Quintessentially Singapore calendar's popularity waning
The classic wall calendar listing horse-racing days is a rare find in today's households. We look at how the calendar is made and why it's a time-consuming process
For eight months, she pores over Gregorian dates, lunar dates and the almanac.
She also liaises with various organisations to obtain significant dates for the respective religions and cultures.
Then she gets down to proofreading the artwork that will make the horse racing calendar.
It is tedious work, especially when accuracy is crucial, says Ms Chew Fong Ling, 28, who works with Chee Seng International.
The firm specialises in producing calendars, diaries, leather products and red packets.
Ms Chew is one of the faces behind the production of horse-racing calendars here, which retail for about $2.50 each.
Such calendars have seen their popularity wane over the years, giving way to modern desktop calendars and smartphones.
But the traditional calendar, which shows the horse-racing dates here and in Malaysia, still has its fans among the older generation.
The calendar features monthly pages, each day filled with details such as the Chinese lunar date, Islamic date, Hindu date, public holidays, school holidays and even daily do's and don'ts according to the Chinese almanac.
Most times, the calendars are given away free by companies to their customers, or they can be bought cheaply.
But the amount of work that goes into the production is tremendous.
Ms Chew and her colleague, Ms Marie Tan, start working on the calendar as early as April.
Ms Chew says her role is to source for the additional information that goes in with the dates, while Ms Tan, 44, a graphic designer, creates the artwork.
The challenge comes when the dates from different associations for the same faith or event don't match.
That means they have to do more research and calculations on their end plus double-checking with the various organisations repeatedly. This is to ensure accuracy, explains Ms Chew.
"In the end, we have to decide which one is more reliable and follow that," she says.
Ms Chew also has to pore over the Chinese almanac on calendars imported from China, and summarise the do's and don'ts of each day to be incorporated into the calendar.
After nearly eight years into the job, both women say they can now recognise certain Tamil words despite not understanding the language at all.
After the designing stage is over, the next process right to the end product is labour-intensive. This includes cutting the printouts into various sizes, collating, gluing and metal-binding them manually, before distributing them to the smaller printing companies and shops.
Despite the hard work, Ms Chew is pleased when she sees people of different ethnicities use the same calendar.
She says: "It is truly a Singaporean calendar."
US slaps new sanctions on North Korea Cyber attack on Sony Pictures
Now - Beloved 'Auntie Jenny' of Block 33
S'pore shipwreck survivor tells her story publicly for first time
The date was April 3, 1983.
Those on board the 15m-long catamaran sailing out of Changi Sailing Club expected their pleasure cruise to be anything but notable.
But by the end of the week, the world would come to know of the Siddhartha and its six passengers and crew.
One of them was Singaporean Jenny Toh Swee Neo, then 35, the co-owner of the yacht.
Now 65, her wrinkled hands hold up a faded brochure with the words "Yacht Siddhartha" while speaking with us. Even though it has been more than 30 years, Miss Toh remembers her days running a private charter service with then-boyfriend, German national Peter Marx like it was yesterday.
The attack on the Siddhartha made headlines then, but this is the first time she is telling her story publicly. Back then, she had left it to Mr Marx to answer the questions.
Slowly, she narrates the entire incident to The New Paper on Sunday over old newspaper cut-outs at her home last week.
She hasn't forgotten a single detail. But it is a story that she has shared only with close friends so far, so it takes some persuasion for her to open up .
"It was such a long time ago," says Miss Toh with a wistful smile.
Miss Toh on board the yacht Siddhartha.
On April 3, the couple took on a charter for four German ham radio operators - amateur radio enthusiasts who travel to remote locations to broadcast signals to others around the world.
They had decided on Amboyna Cay, an island in the Spratly Islands group. Claim over it is heavily disputed by Vietnam, China, Malaysia, Taiwan and Philippines.
"We thought it was uninhabited," says Miss Toh.
On April 10, as they circled the island, they discovered they were wrong.
They saw men in military uniforms waving flags at them. Two cannons were pointed in their direction.
"We didn't know if they were asking us to go towards them or go away. So we tried sailing away."
Then she heard the frightening sound of artillery fire.
"The first salvo missed us. The second one didn't. The shells kept on striking the ship.
"Peter was struck by shrapnel on his shoulder. One passenger got hit and fell overboard. No one saw him again," says Miss Toh.
Another of their passengers broadcast on their ham radio: "They are shooting at us... The boat is on fire... We are leaving now."
The five remaining passengers who survived the gunfire swam out to their dinghy, which had been freed from its tethers by the explosion.
They huddled together in the dinghy, keeping their heads low to avoid detection and watched as the Siddhartha burned in the distance, broke apart and then sank.
Miss Toh and her then boyfriend Mr Peter Marx
STAYING ALIVE WAS A STRUGGLE
Says Miss Toh: "Peter and I looked back. There was our yacht on fire and there went our livelihood. I had three cats on board too."
Exhausted from their close escape from death, they soon realised that the dinghy was no lifeboat - there was no food, water or means to communicate with the outside world.
It could barely accommodate five people and had a hole in it due to shrapnel damage.
Miss Toh ripped her skirt into two, plugging the hole in the boat with one piece and tending to her boyfriend's wound with the other.
"I just sat there in my panties. We didn't talk much to conserve our energy. All we could do was wait," she says.
Meanwhile, other ham operators around the world heard their distress call and alerted the authorities.
Soon, an international search-and-rescue effort was under way.
But for Miss Toh and the others on the dinghy, staying alive was a struggle.
The days were scorching and the nights were freezing. They waited for rain to alleviate their thirst, but there was nary a drizzle.
By the fifth day, everyone was fighting their individual battles against hallucinations and thirst.
Says Miss Toh: "When I pinched myself, the pinch mark didn't disappear. That was how badly dehydrated we were."
She thought about her family back at home and her own mortality.
She says: "If my time is up, then so be it. I did not panic because I became at peace with myself.
"I just looked at the waves in the day and at the stars at night. I was fully prepared to die."
On the eighth day, one of the German passengers, Mr Gero Band, took a desperate gulp of sea water to quench his thirst.
Within hours, he died peacefully. The others rolled his body overboard after saying a short prayer and watched it drift away.
"We all thought Peter was next to die because of his wounds. If only Gero had waited one more day."
They were eventually spotted by a passing Japanese container ship, the Linden, the next day. They could barely walk up the gangplank to the ship.
The four survivors arrived in Hong Kong to the cameras of "more than 200 journalists who were waiting for us".
As to why she doesn't talk much about the incident, Miss Toh says: "It was so long ago and no one remembers the incident now.
"It was hell. I don't know if anything can be worse than what I went through.
"From that day on, I made it a point to live life to the fullest and devote it to others around me."