Lynn Poh gets divorced, returns to TV

Actress Lynn Poh, who returns to Channel 8 after 6 years, opens up about her failed marriage

MOVING ON: Poh with The Truth Seekers co-stars Chen Hanwei and Somaline Ang.
MOVING ON: (Above) Lynn Poh married bank executive Ryan Gwee in 2011.
THEN: Lynn Poh as Haze in the TV series As You Like It in 1999.

Remember blur queen Zhu Zhu from popular sitcom Don't Worry Be Happy (1997), or bikini-clad yuppie Haze in As You Like It (1999), one of Singapore's first TV series that explored sex and one-night stands?

Lynn Poh, the local actress who played these memorable Channel 8 characters and who was also known for hosting variety show City Beat circa 2000 alongside Jeff Wang, Sharon Au and Lina Ng, is back on our small screens after a long hiatus.

Her last Channel 8 series was 2010's Your Hand In Mine.

Poh, 39, will be playing a supporting role in upcoming Channel 8 crime drama The Truth Seekers as Yamamoto Akizuki, the devoted Japanese wife of investigator Bai Qingxiong (Chen Hanwei) and mum to teenager Xue Er (Somaline Ang).

The Truth Seekers, also starring Rebecca Lim and Desmond Tan as Bai's colleagues, premieres on April 28 at 9pm.

"I was drawn to the script and I like my character a lot," Poh told The New Paper over the phone last Friday.

"Yamamoto is a traditional Japanese woman who'd do anything to protect her husband and family, to the point that she'd even sacrifice herself.

"That was something that really resonated with me. It's strange but I feel that the roles I've played have mirrored the different stages of my real life.

"I feel that Yamamoto's experiences reflect my recent marital troubles. Or when I was filming As You Like It in the late 90s, I was exactly like Haze. I was young, single and badly wanted to get myself married off by 30."

Unfortunately, Poh's life has not exactly been a smooth ride.

She tied the knot in 2011 to bank executive Ryan Gwee in a star-studded, glitzy wedding banquet at St Regis Singapore.

And marriage was the main reason she cut back on acting then.

SETTLE DOWN

"It was my plan to settle down," said Poh, who is also a part-time property agent.

She and Mr Gwee "divorced two to three years ago". They have no children.

"The past few years have been very difficult and challenging for me, but I'm getting better," she said.

"Like any human being with feelings, I went into marriage with all my heart. I worked so hard to keep it going and of course, I had hoped that it would last."

Poh said she has "stayed single" ever since her divorce and "is not actively looking for love".

"To be honest, I'm a bit afraid of getting into a new relationship. Maybe it'll take some time. Right now, my aim is simple: I just want to make myself feel happier every day."

Poh was offered the role in The Truth Seekers and to her own surprise, getting back into the groove was "quite easy".

"Most of my scenes were with Hanwei and he is a great partner, that certainly helped," she said.

When asked if she planned to return to acting full-time, Poh said: "I'll have to see if there is the opportunity. In the meantime, I'll just go with the flow."

But she doesn't miss the trappings of showbiz.

She said: "I keep a low profile and I'm not proactive in contacting my old colleagues from the TV industry. I'm not really close to a lot of them.

"I think I'd be happier if I hear comments from viewers like, 'She has done a good job despite being away from the acting scene for so long.'

"It would show that my hard work has paid off."

Fun facts about the Olive-backed Sunbird

1 The bird was featured in the $20 notes of the Bird Series that were issued between 1976 and 1984 by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

2 They are often mistaken for hummingbirds as they are both tiny in size and are seen collecting nectar using their long and slim beaks.

3 Both males and females feature bright yellow underparts and dull olive-brown backs. However, only males have unique metallic purple-black throats.

4 Sunbirds have adapted well to our urban environment and can sometimes nest along corridors of public flats, and even in the bedrooms of large houses.

5 Its close relative, the Crimson Sunbird, was picked last year by the Nature Society's Bird Group as the unofficial national bird of Singapore.

Retiree becomes sunbird guardian

Retiree keeps watchful eye on nest of sunbirds found outside his flat

FEATHERED FRIENDS: Mr Ong Ah Huat found a bird's nest on a tree outside his flat a month ago and helped attach strings and metal wires to lend support to the nest.
FEATHERED FRIENDS: Mr Ong Ah Huat found a bird's nest on a tree outside his flat a month ago and helped attach strings and metal wires to lend support to the nest.

When he first found feathers, leaves and other debris in the corridor outside his Hougang flat on the 14th storey a month ago, he thought someone living above was being inconsiderate.

However, Mr Ong Ah Huat's annoyance soon turned to joy when he found a bird's nest hanging from the branch of a water jasmine plant he was growing.

The surprises did not stop there.

About a week later, the 80-year-old retiree noticed there were two little eggs hidden inside. The eggs hatched into tiny chicks about a week later.

He told The New Paper in Mandarin: "The birds are always chirping away nonstop. But I don't find it noisy, I think it's melodious."

Mr Ong lives in the flat with his 79-year-old wife and son and daughter, who are in their 40s. He has been helping his new feathery friends move into the neighbourhood and aiding them with their "renovation" efforts.

Mr Ong said he would sometimes pick up debris from the nest and glue them back, but only after making sure that the mother bird had left.

He also helped by tying metal wires and strings around the nest and branches to lend the structure additional support.

Mr Ong said: "The birds looked really pitiful... I was afraid the nest would fall or the wind would blow it away."

Mr Alan OwYong, 69, a former chairman of the Nature Society's Bird Group, said the birds are Olive-backed Sunbirds, the most common sunbird species in Singapore.

Mr OwYong said: "It is best to leave the nest and birds alone when nesting.

"Any external disturbance can be perceived by the nesting parent birds as threats. They may abandon the nest if they think the threat is real."

He added: "But in this case, it is fine to secure the nest if it's in danger of falling.

"(But) try to minimise close contact even though this sunbird can tolerate such disturbances."

Mr Ong, who often broke into laughter when speaking to TNP about his newfound friends, said the birds have given him a lot of joy.

He said: "I feel so happy and lucky that out of all places, they chose to build a nest on my potted plant."

"The birds looked really pitiful... I was afraid the nest would fall or the wind would blow it away."

- Mr Ong Ah Huat

Man fined $6,000 for attacking cops

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Cosplay's the thing

Trend among fads gaining traction 
in Myanmar after end of junta rule

COLOURFUL: Cosplay is one of a host of sub-cultures mushrooming across Myanmar as the country moves into a new era of freedom under a newly-elected civilian-led government.
COLOURFUL: Cosplay is one of a host of sub-cultures mushrooming across Myanmar as the country moves into a new era of freedom under a newly-elected civilian-led government.
COLOURFUL: Cosplay is one of a host of sub-cultures mushrooming across Myanmar as the country moves into a new era of freedom under a newly-elected civilian-led government.
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Long-term repercussions for S.League if Tampines problem isn't solved

Act fast for S.League's sake or Tampines predicament could 
have long-term repercussions

GIVE THEM CREDIT: 
The Stags (above) have done much to generate the new-found interest in the S.League.

COMMENT

Those who backed the S.League applauded when the Football Association of Malaysia decided late last year that the LionsXII would no longer compete in club competitions across the Causeway from 2016.

The Singapore side, packed with internationals, were disbanded and the players were duly snapped up by S.League clubs, with eight signed by giants Tampines Rovers.

Tampines then made a bigger splash by securing the services of former Liverpool and Arsenal winger Jermaine Pennant - the biggest name to play in the S.League in its 20-year history.

After years of struggle, there were positive vibes surrounding Singapore's professional football club competition once again.

Now this.

Just when S.League matches have witnessed bigger fan turnout, enjoyed greater coverage and seemed to be building momentum, news of Tampines' cash-flow issue has hit hard.

This is serious and needs to be addressed urgently.

The club that have done so much to generate the newfound interest in the S.League have asked the Football Association of Singapore (FAS) for financial help.

There are no easy solutions here and FAS chief Zainudin Nordin was spot on when he said they would not fast-track monthly subsidies to Tampines because other clubs have been in financial strife before and it was not an option then.

But a solution must be found quickly. Because if the Tampines project led by new chairman Krishna Ramachandra ends up on the scrap heap, the repercussions could well be felt for years to come.

The FAS and Krishna must work together to strengthen Tampines' management team after recent resignations.

The club are well supported and are peppered with stars led by Pennant.

Tampines are S.League title favourites and are good enough to challenge on more fronts.

Zainudin says new sponsors and donors are the way to go and, while it is always a tough sell after the S.League's lean years, the club have favourable prospects on the field and the FAS and Tampines should already be working in tandem to come up with a blueprint to woo potential backers.

A sizeable number of Singapore fans have just started to take notice of the S.League and they will be lost, possibly forever, if Tampines go backwards.

Such a loss of faith can have even bigger consequences when it comes to current sponsors and the prospect of wooing potential partners.

BOLD AND INNOVATIVE

I have praised Krishna for his bold initiatives and innovative moves, like securing Gerard Houllier as the club's international ambassador.

The 44-year-old lawyer did not hide when the club's cash-flow issue came to light recently, but I wonder how Tampines are in this predicament.

S.League clubs are each due around $600,000 in annual subsidies from the FAS - which are paid out in monthly tranches of approximately $50,000 - with an additional amount of some $300,000 to come should they meet pre-determined targets.

As I understand it, each S.League club must present their plan for the year to the FAS, who will sign off only if expenditure tallies off with the club's annual budget.

Tampines would have known they would have a sizeable wage bill because of the star-studded squad led by big-name local coach V Sundramoorthy.

They would also have factored in expenses like playing in the AFC Cup - the second-tier continental club competition.

The club's earnings from jackpot operations ceased last October, so they would have had to rely on sponsorship money and FAS subsides to make ends meet.

There has been no news of Tampines losing any sponsors.

Former chairman Teo Hock Seng, who handed over the reins to Krishna last November, recently stepped down as adviser of the club.

But Tampines sponsor Komoco Motors, where Teo is the group managing director, has already disbursed $360,000 of the $400,000 promised for the year.

While the average annual budget of an S.League club hovers between $1 million and $1.5m, it is believed Tampines' operating costs are more than $2m.

Tampines are apparently ready to allow some of their stars to move to other clubs during the mid-season transfer window.

There have been missteps, and new strategies to be adopted, but I hope a solution is found quickly to ensure the club do not lose all of their lustre.

No one wants to go back to the poor old days of recent past.

49 and counting

Nadal equals record of claycourt titles

Rafael Nadal
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Finally, rower Saiyidah secures Olympic ticket

Saiyidah storms to B-final win and books historic Olympic ticket

“It was an immense relief and it made every ounce of pain I felt so worth it.” — Saiyidah Aisyah (above) on her Olympic qualification

Many felt it was Mission Improbable when she made the switch from the lightweight to the openweight category eight months ago to pursue her Olympic dream.

Saiyidah Aisyah made the move because this year's Olympics features only one women's lightweight rowing event - the double sculls - and she didn't have a partner.

History was also against her attempt to make the grade for August's Rio Olympics as no Singapore rower had qualified for the Games.

But yesterday morning, the feisty 27-year-old made history when she won the 2,000m women's single sculls B final at the Fisa Asia and Oceania Continental Olympic Qualification Regatta to secure the last of seven slots available at the meet.

At the Tangeum Lake in Chung-ju, South Korea, Saiyidah (above) clocked 7min 53.13sec to win, finishing ahead of five other competitors including runners-up Phuttharaksa Neegree of Thailand (7:54.22) and Qatar's Tala Aladin Abujbara (7:55.66).

HURT

Speaking to The New Paper later, Saiyidah said: "When people tell you that it feels good to finish a race after giving your all, they are all lies!

"The moment I finished, all I could think about was that I was in so much pain. My legs hurt, my head hurt and everything was so bright.

"But when I realised that I had qualified for the Olympics, the feeling was unreal.

"It was an immense relief and it made every ounce of pain I felt so worth it."

Saiyidah had come close in the semi-finals on Sunday.

She had needed to finish in the top three of her race to book her ticket to Rio, but came in fourth instead.

Instead of choking in the B final, the 2013 SEA Games champion and 2015 SEA Games double bronze medallist chalked up the biggest achievement of her rowing career.

"As the days passed, I managed to calm my nerves better," she said.

"Yeah, it has been a crazy journey in South Korea this time but, with every chance I missed, I knew I had to fight even harder in the next one.

"I didn't really think of the last race as the final chance for me to qualify because that would have definitely added more pressure.

"I actually went into the race thinking of it as another chance to qualify, another opportunity to fight and that made me excited, not nervous."

Saiyidah plans to take her training from Sydney to Europe.

"From now on, it's going to be train, train, train. I will possibly participate in some regattas in Europe because it will be winter in Sydney," she said.

ADAPT

"Preparations so far have been pretty hard. I have had to work a lot on my strength because of the change from lightweight to openweight.

"I remember having those crazy trainings and telling my coach Alan Bennett that the pieces were hard and he said, 'It's the Olympics, it's meant to be hard'.

"And the results are showing - I did a 7:44.12 in the heats which was a personal best for me."

Based on results at the last Olympics in 2012, a time of under eight minutes was good enough to make the top 24 and the quarter-finals.

Saiyidah thanked those who helped finance her Olympics bid through crowdfunding, after she raised more than US$12,500 ($17,000) which helped defray training costs and living expenses in Sydney.

Her cause has also been helped by government-funded initiatives like the Race to Rio 2016 programme, which she was on from October to February, and the Sports Excellence Scholarship, which she has been on since March 1.

Under the spexScholarship, athletes receive stipends ranging from $1,200 to $8,400 a month in financial support, and also receive programmatic support to prepare themselves to excel at major Games.

“From now on, it’s going to be train, train, train. I will possibly participate in some regattas in Europe.”

— Saiyidah on her plans

 

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