Thomson Road had thriving racing scene long before F1 came to S'pore

Miss Anne Wong-Holloway during her racing heyday.

Way before the Formula 1 Singapore Grand Prix snaked around the Padang, there was the Thomson track.

And way before Singaporeans cheered for Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton, there was Miss Anne Wong-Holloway.

Miss Anne took part in the Singapore Grand Prix which had drivers racing a 4.8km circuit in Thomson Road.

Miss Anne, now 67, raced competitively for about five years.


She was one of a few women who competed in races at the circuit, which opened in 1961.

In an interview with The New Paper on Sunday, Miss Anne still remembers many details about her racing days.

"There is nothing quite like racing back then. It remains as one of the best times of my life," says Miss Anne, who worked in advertising before retiring.

Growing up, her car mechanic father exposed her to cars at a young age.

"There were always cars at home or at my father's workshop," she says.


Laughing, she adds: "I was quite naughty back then. The first time I was on the road was when I was 12, way before I got my driver's licence."

Even after she got her licence as soon as she turned the legal age of 16, driving on the roads was not enough for Miss Anne, who was 12 when the Thomson circuit opened.


As soon as she heard about other people joining the open races, she told her father she wanted to try.

Not only did he say yes, he got his friend to lend her a car. It was a Hillman Imp.


Miss Anne says: "Before I knew it, back in Easter of 1970 when I was 21, I was there in that car, testing the circuit out."

But her first experience was not perfect. She describes the track as "tricky" and even saw an accident while she was there.

Says Miss Anne: "The circuit had all these turns and none of the safety features of today's races.

"There was a Ford Escort that crashed, and it looked so bad, like it was wrapped around a lamp post."


Her first race a week later did not end well either. Her engine failed, and she did not complete the race.

"I was disappointed when my car engine pengsan (Malay for fainted), but it was something that I wanted to continue doing."

And she did.

Miss Anne took part in more races at Thomson and started to do well in some of them. She says she was often the only female competitor.

"But I didn't think of it as (something) different. I just saw myself as a racer, someone who wanted to do what she enjoyed," she says.

Her proudest moment was during her first overseas race in Batu Tiga in Shah Alam, Malaysia, just a few weeks after she first started racing.


She finished third in a friend's Mini Cooper. That inspired her to race overseas.

"The two drivers ahead of me were experienced drivers but getting third place out of the 30 drivers was still an achievement. I enjoyed myself," she says.

Over the next four years, she took part in races in other parts of Malaysia such as Penang and Ipoh.

Her racing career even took her to Macau, where she was champion at the Macau Grand Prix.

Miss Anne says: "I was still an amateur but emerging first out of 22 racers left me shocked. There were so many professional (racers), I was humbled by that victory."

Even when the Thomson circuit closed down in 1972, she continued racing overseas.

Two years later, she decided her time in the fast lane had "run its course".

"It started getting costly, and I found that if I wanted to keep it up, I would have to spend more money. It became pointless to me."

But the need for speed never left her.

Although it has been 40 years since she last raced, she keeps up to date with Formula 1, watching the night race here on TV each year.

The Formula 1 Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix will take place from Sept 16 to 18.

Her favourite racer?

She answers without hesitation: "Fernando Alonso".

"He drives in an aggressive way and he has a lot of talent. He is the best driver around."

Miss Anne Wong-Holloway. PHOTO: ANNE WONG-HOLLOWAY​

Jack Neo's daughter gets married

It was a bittersweet day for Jack Neo.

The local film-maker experienced a mixed bag of emotions when he walked his daughter, Ethel, 25, down the aisle yesterday.

He was over the moon, yet he could not shake off the sense of sadness.

"Different feelings and memories came flooding back when we were doing the slow march into the church sanctuary," the 56-year-oldtold The New Paper on Sunday over the phone.

"I didn't expect this day would come so soon."

HAPPY DAY: (Clockwise from left) Jack Neo, his son-in-law, Peter Lau, his daughter, Ethel and his wife, Irene. PHOTO: FACEBOOK/JACKNEONCK

The ceremony was held at Bedok Methodist Church.

Neo has three other children, sons aged 22, 17 and 12.

He admitted that it was initially hard to accept that his only girl is now a married woman.

He said: "It was the part of the (wedding) ceremony where I had to hand her over to the pastor, that really hit me hard.

"Reality finally sank in when they were pronounced 'man and wife' and she was introduced as Mrs Lau.

"She is no longer Miss Neo... She is not mine any more."


Neo said the days leading up to the wedding were rough as he was overwhelmed by emotions.

His wife, Irene, is handling the emotion better than him, he said while laughing.

Neo said: "Maybe it is because talks about marriage have been going on for years.

"When a video of her growing up - from baby to adulthood - was screened, it was a test of self-control.

"I called the video, A Movie: 25 Years In The Making."

In his thank-you speech, Mr Peter Lau, 31, told Neo: "I grew up watching (the long-running variety show) Gao Xiao Xing Dong (Comedy Nite), Liang Popo and Liang Ximei... and I can't believe that you are now my father-in-law."

Neo said the couple had agreed to wait for Ethel to get some working experience before exchanging vows.She has her own online business, while the groom is a training manager at Golden Village.

They will be having their wedding dinner in December.

Neo is thankful that his son-in-law is someone he can entrust Ethel to.

"They have been dating for seven years, so we knew very well what kind of person he is," he said.


"He is my daughter's first and only boyfriend. I trust her judgment.

"(Peter) has also shown to us that he truly loves my daughter and is one who will look after her well."

While he feels that his daughter is still young, the Neos did encourage her to settle down early.

"I married Irene when she was 25. I was 31, like Peter."

The next milestone Neo is anticipating will be his first grandchild.

"I have been a father for so many years, it is time to get promoted. My wife gave birth to Ethel when she was 26, so Ethel can follow her mum's example too," he said.

He added that it is good to start a family while they are young, especially if they want to have a few children.

"There are several government incentives now, they might as well make full use of them," he added, laughing.

"Don't be like me... I am 56, and I still have to worry about PSLE."

While Ethel may no longer be Miss Neo, Neo is happy that she is not leaving the nest yet.

The newlyweds will live with the Neos until renovations at their own home is completed by year end.

"I can still see her every night at home," said Neo.

"So nothing has changed... yet," he said, laughing.

"Reality finally sank in when they were pronounced ‘man and wife’ and she was introduced as Mrs Lau. She is no longer Miss Neo... She is not mine any more."

— Jack Neo on his daughter, Ethel

Confessions of a booth babe: 'You need a thick skin'

Miss Rachel Oh

No consumer electronics fair is complete without booth babes.

And if you have been to Comex 2016 this weekend, you might have come across Miss Rachel Oh, and the other models at the Casio booth.

The 23-year-old says: "We're not just here to look pretty, we have to sell cameras!"

Clad in mini skirts and tight-fitting clothes, these girls' job is to rake in the crowd and stand out from the other exhibitors.

But it is no easy task for the models - there are no shifts and all of them work from 11am to 9pm for four days during the fair.

That means being on your feet all day, making sure you keep a smile and are ready to answer questions from any potential buyers.

Miss Oh says: "The toughest part of the job is not the fatigue, but trying to 'psycho' people into sticking around at your booth to look at your products.

"You have to have a thick skin and a lot of stamina."

It is her third time working as a booth babe at a trade show, and Miss Oh says she loves the experience despite the hard work involved.

"I just like working together with all these girls. The job also pays very well and there is commission for each sale too," she says, declining to reveal how much she typically earns.


So attractive are these jobs that competition for them is fierce - Miss Oh even took leave from her daily job as an administrative assistant to be a part of Comex 2016.

Before a show, the models would hear of job openings through word-of-mouth and they undergo a stringent interview process to qualify.

Part of the job interview involves a role-playing exercise where the candidate has to sell a product to the interviewers.

So if you think booth babes do not know what they are selling, you're wrong, she says.

"Before every show, we are also briefed on the products and what they are about. We actually have to geek out and do some studying too," she says.

"Luckily, I'm selling these easy-to-use cameras, not something way more advanced."

Senior sales staff are also on hand to help out if the customer has a difficult question about the product.

Because she has to attend to anyone who stops and looks, Miss Oh says she has also seen her fair share of men who are more interested in her than the product.

They would end up asking for her contact number, without success.

Miss Oh says with a shrug: "You slowly realise that they were never interested in buying anything and they just wanted to talk to you.

"It's normal, just part of the job."

Two lucky winners stand a chance to win a total of $1,000 in cash by snapping a selfie with a booth babe at Comex 2016.

Comex, organised by Singapore Press Holdings subsidiary Sphere Exhibits, ends today at the Suntec Singapore Convention and Exhibition Centre.


1 Before every show, take extra make-up with you as it tends to run out over the course of the event.

2 With only an hour of lunchtime, make full use of it to rest and recharge.

3 Make sure you have sandals, especially if the job requires you to be in high-heeled shoes all day.

Tags: IT, Technology and Beauty


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Malaysia bans school trips to Singapore

Officers from the National Environment Agency (NEA) carrying out fogging activities in an effort to prevent mosquitoes from breeding and curb the outbreak of Zika.

Malaysia's Education Ministry has imposed a temporary ban on school trips to Singapore and the Philippines as part of its bid to prevent the spread of the Zika virus.

The ministry informed local education authorities about the ban on Sept 1, Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid said yesterday.

"A circular was issued to all district education offices, state education departments and schools for all trips to Singapore and the Philippines to be postponed for the time being because of the cases of Zika in those countries," the New Straits Times quoted Datuk Seri Mahdzir as saying.

On Sept 1, Malaysia had reported its first case of Zika in a 58-year-old woman who had visited Singapore. On Sept 3, it recorded its first locally transmitted Zika case, a 61-year-old Sabah man who did not have any recent history of travel abroad and later died of heart-related complications.

Singapore reported its first locally transmitted case of the Zika virus on Aug 27. The patient was a 47-year-old woman who had not travelled to any Zika-affected areas.

The first Zika case in Singapore was recorded in May after a 48-year-old man who had visited Brazil tested positive for the virus.

The Philippines has also reported its first case of locally transmitted Zika infection for the year, with a 45-year-old woman in the central city of Iloilo, testing positive. She also had no recent history of travelling to any Zika-affected country.

Mr Mahdzir said the Education Ministry's directive will remain in place until the country's Health Ministry issues an update on the Zika situation in Singapore and the Philippines.

A Singaporean woman in Taiwan has become the seventh imported case of Zika there, The Straits Times reported. The 20-year-old from Aljunied Crescent was travelling with friends when she was hospitalised with a rash, joint pain, headache and conjunctivitis, and tested positive.

She is likely to have caught the mosquito-borne virus in Singapore, Taiwan's Centre for Disease Control said. She will be isolated till tomorrow.

There were 14 new cases of Zika in Singapore as of noon yesterday, Singapore's Health Ministry said.

A potential new cluster was found in the Jalan Raya/Circuit Road area, involving one new case.

Seven of the new cases were found in the Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive/Kallang Way/Paya Lebar Way cluster.

One is linked to the Bishan Street 12 cluster and one to the Bedok North Avenue 3 cluster. The remaining four cases have no known links to existing clusters. The total number of locally transmitted cases stands at 318.

Tan Cheng Bock: Don't jump to conclusions

Dr Tan Cheng Bock.

Don't jump to the conclusion that changes to the elected presidency are meant to keep him out, Dr Tan Cheng Bock told his supporters yesterday.

Dr Tan, 72, one of the four candidates in the 2011 election, lost narrowly to President Tony Tan Keng Yam.

He had earlier announced his intention to run again in the election, due next year.

But under the proposed changes to the Elected Presidency in the Constitutional Commission's report released on Wednesday, Dr Tan will no longer be qualified to contest.

Many Singaporeans have expressed their concern about this, he wrote in a Facebook post yesterday.

"I have been kept busy assuring them that the Constitutional Commission Report will be tabled in Parliament in the form of a White Paper on (Thursday).

"Parliament will debate it, make amendments, support it, or even reject it.

"We should not jump into conclusion that the whole exercise was to prevent me from running."

And he added: "After all, the people in charge are men of virtue and integrity and would not resort to doing this."

Disrupters or service providers?

Rent a gown or cocktail dress is the newest twist on the sharing economy, currently defined in large parts by taxi service Uber and home-rental site Airbnb.

It has the potential to disrupt the $1 billionwomen's apparel market here, experts say, and forever change how and where women get their fashion fix.

But it is not a new concept "given how one would rent bridal gown and bridal evening wear", says Dr Lynda Wee, an adjunct associate professor in retail at the Nanyang Technological University's business school.

"The difference is bridal gowns are easily found through publicity and physical stores. (Now) with just a click, any individual can rent her dress to the masses." she says.

Dr Wee explains that with globalisation and technology, "we now interact and socialise more at networking events, embrace a different lifestyle and need these things".

"Previously there was a lack of 'rent' business enterprises, so we have to buy our own. For such dresses, it is also about being rare.

"When the dress gets overexposed or seen too many times, it lacks uniqueness and hence, appeal," she adds.

With Facebook and Instagram, women do not want to be seen, let alone photographed, more than once or twice in the same dress, especially when the dress is haute couture.

Former editor-in-chief of Elle Singapore Sharon Lim explains that haute couture, which literally means high or exalted dressmaking in French, is actually a legal term set by the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie de Paris.

Today, however, it is sometimes used to describe custom-fitted clothing from a luxury high-fashion house.

"It is super expensive because of the materials and craftsmanship that go into the design and making of a piece," she says.

"Because these outfits are so distinctive and memorable, they can be seen as wearable art (with price tags to match). And because of this, they are rarely worn twice, as it is seen as a faux pas if you do."

Tags: Fashion, Economy and Income