Five issues facing Jose
Mourinho will be a breath of fresh air, says Gary Lim
Like LVG, Mourinho has little regard for aesthetics but the difference is, his methods work
"Louis van Gaal is to leave Manchester United, with immediate effect," confirmed Manchester United in a statement.
The statement added "a decision on a successor as manager will be announced soon".
The announcement made on Monday evening (UK time) ended the speculation over the Dutchman's future at the club, a future that reports had called time on last week.
It has also been widely reported in major media outlets that the 64-year-old Dutchman will be replaced by former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho in the United hotseat.
Tthe two lacklustre seasons under van Gaal amde his exit inevitable.
It is the impending appointment of the 53-year-old Mourinho that promises intrigue for the next few months at least.
For many, the admiration is mutual.
According to ex-United players such as Rio Ferdinand, Mourinho is a born winner.
His high standing in the game is founded on the successes he attained everywhere he went - from the Portuguese Primeira Liga to English Premiership to Italian Serie A to Spanish La Liga.
The Portuguese is seen as the managerial solution that cures all ills.
United, crippled by the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson since 2013, need an instant remedy.
The FA Cup triumph last Saturday could not make up for the disappointing fifth-placed finish in the Premiership and, more importantly, the staid fare the team have been dishing out ever since van Gaal took over the reins from David Moyes in 2014.
Van Gaal had lost not only the fans, but also the dressing room, where the Red Devils were often confounded by his bizarre instructions, including a rule that requires strikers to always take a touch on the ball before they can shoot from balls coming across the penalty box.
Ironically, Mourinho himself was ejected from his post at Chelsea midway through last season because he had already lost his players by then.
And neither is he an advocate for the swashbuckling style of football that seemed to come so naturally to the Red Devils during the good old Fergie days.
His title-winning seasons with Chelsea were built around a core value of winning at all costs, with little regard for aesthetics.
But, unlike van Gaal's, his methods work.
Mourinho is "as close as you could ever get in football to guaranteeing success", said former England striker Gary Lineker on Twitter.
Rebuilding United does not require an overhaul.
The biggest fear for the club this summer should sort itself out with his appointment.
Their best player David de Gea, who was disillusioned under van Gaal and considering a move, will now find it tough to leave.
That de Gea and Mourinho share the same agent, Jorge Mendes, certainly helps.
Wayne Rooney, Marouane Fellaini, Morgan Schneiderlin, Chris Smalling, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial look likely to feature prominently in his plans.
The return of Luke Shaw from injury eases pressure on the defence.
If Mourinho can also solve the enigma that is Memphis Depay, he also has a potential world-beater in his hands.
Three, maybe four, solid signings should restore normal service for the Red Devils.
United fans can trust the charismatic Mourinho to work his charm in the transfer market.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a self-confessed admirer of his former Inter Milan coach and currently a free agent, may now swop Paris for Manchester.
Unsettled Real Madrid attacking midfielder James Rodriguez, already rumoured to be on United's radar, will also follow the developments keenly.
Given his preference for combative players with a strong physical presence, Mourinho will also be expected to bring in a couple of defensive players.
His impending arrival will bring a new breath of fresh air to Old Trafford.
It leaves one to wonder what took the club so long.
"There are two ways of looking at it. It’s rock ‘n’ roll from a commercial point of view. It will catapult United back onto the front stage. They have been quiet for the last few years.
From a football decision, there is always a doubt about a new manager no matter who it is. This is at the very top and one of the people who has done it for years.
But he has to go and do it all again. The past is forgotten about and, if he thinks he has been in goldfish bowls before, he is really going to be in one now. Will he do it? It’s not simple."
- Former Manchester City striker Niall Quinn
"At the moment, he is the one who is available and, with Pep (Guardiola) going across the city at Man City, they needed something like this to compete.
Perhaps he is not the right man for getting young players through into the side but, with Jose, it’s all about winning trophies. It doesn’t matter who the personnel are. If he produces trophies for them, it won’t matter who the players are."
- Former Liverpool defender Jamie Redknapp
Cultivating the kiting spirit
Enthusiasts gather every weekend to help each other get kites aloft at Marina Barrage
Focused eyes, hands gripping the reel, feet locked in position and arms straight and steady.
It takes concentration to fly a kite, but that does not mean you cannot have fun.
There are various factors that come into play for kite flying, such as wind condition and even humidity level.
Even for seasoned flyers, nothing can be done when the wind is too gentle or moving from the wrong direction.
But as local enthusiast Erich Chew, 48, tells The New Paper, all you really need is some help.
At the weekends, Marina Barrage is the go-to location for kite flyers, experts and amateurs alike. There is also a friendly community willing to help those looking to get their kites airborne.
Kite flyers gather at Marina Barrage on Sunday to fly big and small kites.
"During the weekend, when a lot of children cannot get their kites up, I always see people offering their help to set up the kite to help them have fun," said Mr Chew.
Last Sunday, many families and kite-flying enthusiasts gathered at the field next to the barrage carpark at 3pm, trying to get their kites in the air.
Unfortunately, the humid weather was not working in their favour.
Kite flying requires a certain amount of patience, for it was only after 4pm that the kites finally coloured the sky with the wind blowing constantly.
Every weekend, Mr Chew joins a group of kite flyers who come together to indulge in their hobby.
The previous week, they took a 60-metre-long octopus kite for a spin.
Mr Chew's video of that kite went viral on Facebook, and had more than 14.8 million views at the time of writing.
On Sunday, they had a 30-metre-long red octopus kite - merely half the length of the previous week's monster.
Mr William Yeo's 30-metre-long octopus kite, custom-made from China.
It took three people to launch the kite and after two hours, it soared into the sky.
From the short time TNP spent with the group, the camaraderie was obvious.
(From left) Mr Steven Swee, Mr Suparman Iban, Mr Ong Ah Huat, Mr Soh KH, Madam Maggie Mok, Mr Johnny Yap, Mr Erich Chew and Mr William Yeo, befriended one another through kiting.
"We work very closely, and we do everything together. We all play our part to work as a team," Mr Chew said.
Madam Maggie Mok, her husband Johnny Yap, and their 11-year-old son Yarden, run Show Kites Singapore, a non-profit group that aims to promote kite flying among Singaporeans.
There are a range of kites on display once the wind picks up. From the octopus and blue Pokemon-looking dinosaur, to smaller kites that move in a such a synchronised fashion you would think they were connected.
But you don't have to be a kiting expert to fly. Anybody visiting the barrage can purchase a kite of their own at the Barrage Cove convenience store. Depending on the kite's size and design, it costs $15 to $33.
Uncle Lim, 65, who works there, enjoys seeing people from all walks of life visit the store.
He says: "The beauty of the Marina Barrage is it has a vast area to accommodate different types of activities without interference or intruding on other group activities."
According to Madam Mok, the community here, while not as big as in other countries, is growing.
"When the wind is good at certain parts, people will travel to the same field. So we know each other, since we sometimes fly together. It's an exchange of kiting spirits when we meet. We'll talk kites and share kiting stories."
It's an exchange of kiting spirits when we meet. We'll talk kites and share kiting stories.
- Madam Maggie Mok on the camaraderie among kite flyers at Marina Barrage
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Harvesting to be disallowed during spawning
A clammy situation for cockle importers
'Si hum' supply harmed by pollution, rising temperatures
The cost of blood cockles, commonly referred to as 'si hum', has gone up.
Local importer and supplier Siong Hong Seafood used to pay $100 for 65kg, but now pays as much as $170.
Its general manager Lee Ya Xiong, 48, told The New Paper that pollution and rising temperatures have led to a drastic fall in Malaysia's cockle harvest.
"We have no idea how to solve this problem," he said.
At its peak in 2005, Malaysia produced 100,000 tonnes of cockles for both local consumption and export.
Only 16,000 tonnes were harvested last year, Malaysian newspaper The Star reported.
One of the issues was the deteriorating water quality in the cockles' breeding environment.
Singapore's live cockle imports from Malaysia dipped from 2,500 tonnes in 2014 to 2,000 tonnes last year, Agri-food and Veterinary Authority figures show.
From January to April this year, 600 tonnes of cockles were imported from Malaysia.
Siong Hong accounts for 70 per cent of Singapore's total cockle supply to local food vendors, said Mr Lee.
So far, Siong Hong has managed to keep the price of cockles affordable for hawkers and restaurants here, at $4 per kilogram.
One of Siong Hong's customers, 363 Katong Laksa in Holland Village, said that cockles are slightly more expensive now, but it has yet to pass on the higher costs to consumers as it is still bearable.
"At least we don't have problems getting cockles from the supplier," said outlet supervisor Gina Tang Qin Yu, 43.
The Katong Laksa outlet uses up 18 to 20 bags of cockles each day, with each bag weighing 500g.
Local harvester Ah Hua Kelong has helped ease the cockle crunch.
The kelong harvests about 20kg of cockles twice a month, said its marketing manager Bryan Ang, 27.
"Most of the cockles that we supply locally are those found together with prawns," he told TNP.
Supply has dropped for the kelong located off Changi and Sembawang. But this has been due to heavy rain in recent months.
Pollution affects its production in Malaysia, while Ah Hua Kelong is in the East of Singapore - far away from the affected areas, said Mr Ang.
"Supply is still not enough to meet demand, but we don't want to spoil the environment," he added.
The blood cockle is an essential ingredient in popular local dishes such as char kway teow and laksa, explained Mr Lee. "It can't be replaced with other meats for the delicious taste. It's just not the same," he said.
The company will continue importing as there is still a huge market for cockles in Singapore.
"Besides, we've heard from our sources in Malaysia that the situation in the sea is improving," said Mr Lee.
Dine on a high
Just across the Second Link, you can eat dinner while being suspended in the air
If you're seeking a new dining experience, it's time for you to get on board. Literally.
Strap in and get lifted over 45 metres into the air while tucking into a four-course meal with Dinner In The Sky Malaysia.
The Belgian-based novelty service, introduced in May 2006 in Brussels, has since hosted over 5,000 dinner events in 40 cities around the world.
This is its third return to South-east Asia.
Held in Kuala Lumpur last year and Penang in February, the hour-long dining experience made its debut in Johorlast Friday at Puteri Harbour, and will run for a month.
SCENIC: Reporter Natasha Meah taking in the view at Puteri Harbour. PHOTOS: TNP / CHOO CHWEE HUA
Celebrity blogger Wendy Cheng, aka Xiaxue, who attended the media launch last Sunday, told The New Paper: "It wasn't scary at all because the table is very stable. It was very romantic and unique, with a fantastic view. I will definitely go again if I have the chance.
"I love how the seats can rotate - you go from feeling very safe and secure to being petrified because your feet are dangling in the air."
Celebrity chef Justin Quek of Sky On 57 at Marina Bay Sands agreed that it's "an amazing concept" although he thought the food selection could be "refined".
He said: "They should have more prestigious dishes and serve different beverages other than just water.
"They can also have themes instead of following the same menu every day."
Mr Arvin Randahwa, chief executive officer of 2Spicy Entertainment which brought Dinner In The Sky to Malaysia, said: "It's only natural to target Singaporeans as Singapore is only 20 minutes' away.
"It's not the same as the Singapore Flyer - there are no walls around you. It's also really affordable for Singaporeans."
Here are four things you need to know about Dinner In The Sky Malaysia.
UPLIFTING: A crane is used to lift the platform, which can seat up to 22 diners, 45 metres into the air.
The four-course meal comprises cold starter, soup, main course (choice of lamb, chicken, wagyu beef or cod fish) and dessert. They are prepared by Tosca Trattoria Italiana of DoubleTree by Hilton Johor Bahru.
There is also a separate menu for vegetarians.
The table seats a maximum of 22 diners who are joined by the chef on the crane-lifted platform.
The food is prepared in advance and stored in heated trays.
The event is open to anyone in good health and above the age of 18. Diners must be at least 1.45m tall and lighter than 150kg.
Pregnant women are not allowed but the experience is possible for wheelchair users and people with mild disabilities.
While seated guests wear safety belts, the standing presenter and two crew members are secured with safety harnesses. A safety supervisor is in constant communication with the crane operator and ground crew.
Diners are advised to use the restroom prior to taking their seats.
In case of emergency, the platform is lowered.
If it rains, the platform is lowered to the ground and the rest of the dinner continues in an indoor lounge.
KEEP IT SMALL
No bulky items like big bags or cameras are allowed on the table. They can be kept in lockers on the ground at the indoor lounge.
Only mobile phones, GoPros, drone cameras and compact SLR cameras that are no bigger than the size of your palm are allowed.
What: Dinner In The Sky Malaysia
Where: Puteri Harbour, Nusajaya, Johor
When: Till June 19, 7pm and 8.30pm daily
Tickets: RM599 (S$203) and RM699 from www.dinnerinthesky.my