My unfounded Alice Fong conspiracy theory
She spotted something dirty in her food and Jem foodcourt cleaner tried to take it away. Why?
This month is the first anniversary of probably the worst thing that can happen to you when you're dining at Jem.
On June 4 last year, in the Din Tai Fung restaurant in the Jurong East shopping mall, a ceiling pipe burst, pouring what was euphemistically reported as "waste water" on a couple of diners.
"It stunk like faeces," said a witness.
Now imagine if that had happened to Ms Alice Fong.
Then the unbridled rage she displayed in the recent viral video would have been justified or at least understandable.
Ms Fong was also dining at Jem on June 3, almost exactly a year after the "faeces" incident.
But she was in the foodcourt, not Din Tai Fung.
And she wasn't drenched in waste water, although she did say she found something dirty in her food.
What was this "dirty" thing?
What if it were something from, say, a defective ceiling pipe perhaps?
Then it was Ms Fong's duty to take a picture of this "dirty" thing and report it to someone in charge so that a thorough investigation could be conducted and a recurrence of what happened at Din Tai Fung a year earlier could be prevented.
Ms Fong could be like the hero sheriff in Jaws and Jaws 2 ("Just when you thought it was safe to go back to Jem"), trying to warn everyone about the impending disaster, but no one would listen to her until it's too late and you're already eaten by a shark or drenched in faecal-smelling sewage.
But as Ms Fong was planning to take the photo, a cleaner tried to take away her food.
Ms Fong later found out that the cleaner might not have heard her stopping him from clearing her food because he is deaf.
Or is he?
Or could it be just an elaborate conspiracy cooked up by Jem to cover up its plumbing problems?
Keep in mind that this month is also the second anniversary of another incident at Jem where water came pouring from above.
Two years ago, Jem posted on its Facebook page: "At 12:15pm, 17th June, the atrium side water sprinklers on level 3 in the mall were triggered, affecting a small section of the mall's common areas on Levels B1, 1 and 2 and some tenancies in those areas."
The "too long, didn't read" version: It rained inside the mall.
At least no witness said it stunk like faeces.
So is it possible that on that fateful day Ms Fong spotted something dirty in her food, a spy planted by Jem inside the foodcourt also spotted Ms Fong spotting something dirty in her food?
To prevent her from taking pictures of the evidence, Jem quickly hired an actor, perhaps through Irene Ang's Fly Entertainment talent agency, dressed him up in a foodcourt cleaner's uniform, complete with the cute hat, and directed him to take away the food no matter how much Ms Fong protested.
The "cleaner" would just pretend not to hear her.
And when she complained to the manager about the "cleaner", the manager would tell her that the "cleaner" is deaf to provoke her into going on a prolonged, politically-incorrect tirade about the disabled.
And boy, she over-delivered.
But the most crucial part of Operation Malice Fong was making sure someone in the foodcourt got a good enough view of Ms Fong to take a video of her gesticulating wildly and saying stuff like: "If he's deaf, ask him don't work. Go home and sleep. Just ask the Government to feed him. Go and be a beggar! I don't care - he took my food!"
All this was to guarantee that once the video was uploaded online, it would go viral and and turn Ms Fong into the worst human being to come along since Ms Amy Cheong, Mr Anton Casey and that former Miss Singapore finalist who made a joke about a man's "holey" shirt on the MRT.
And while everyone is busy vilifying Ms Fong (who has since admitted she was in the wrong) or decrying the mistreatment of people with special needs, no one is paying any attention to the "dirty" thing Ms Fong found in her food in the Jem foodcourt.
Even though the cleaner, whose name is Mr Png Lye Heng, is not an actor pretending to be deaf.
But there could still be a spy planted in the foodcourt
So be quicker with your camera the next time you spot something dirty in your food there.
Happy anniversary, Jem.
He's a $2,000 jackpot winner
The New Paper Match & Score contest winner says: I'll splurge on food at Geylang Serai bazaar
He could not believe his luck when he flipped open a copy of this newspaper yesterday morning.
Mr Tham Jia Jun, 25, an auditor, hit the jackpot in The New Paper Match & Score contest, walking away with $2,000.
"I usually read it every day, and was very surprised to see that I had all the winning numbers," he said.
"I'm going to share it with my family and also use it to pay for some of the courses I am taking."
There were also three others who walked away with $100 each, including Mr Mohd Sani Hassan, an operations controller who turned 58 on the same day.
He said he had never felt so lucky in his life.
"I can't believe it, I finally won," he said.
"I missed the previous time by one number, and I never thought I would be so lucky on my birthday."
He intends to use the money to have a post-birthday celebration meal with his wife.
Another winner, Mr Mualim Sujaee, 53, a part-time service ambassador with SMRT, said he managed to buy "only six copies" as the paper was sold out in most places.
"The New Paper is always sold out very fast, and I'm very lucky to have managed to buy the six copies and won," he said.
"I'm going to use the money for Hari Raya."
Madam Suhartini Adam, 51, a cook, also walked away last night with $100.
She said: "I buy five to 10 copies each day, and I'm going to splurge the money on food at the Geylang Serai bazaar."
Images of football jerseys are printed in TNP from Monday to Thursday, with the jerseys featuring either a number or a country.
New printing technology allows every copy of TNP to include a different combination of jerseys.
The jerseys will be valid only for that week.
These jerseys can then be collected to match the winning combinations published in TNP from Friday to Sunday.
A daily jackpot prize of $1,000 snowballs if the jackpot goes unclaimed for the day.
There will also be combinations for $100 and $200 cash prizes.
Up to $31,000 can be won from the contest until July 10.
Winners must collect their prizes at the SPH News Centre, at 1000 Toa Payoh North, between 8pm and 9pm on the same day.
Electric, the way to go
Last month, The Business Times' associate editor VIKRAM KHANNA renewed his car's COE for only five years. He explains why
Spending eight hours online affects his weight
He goes to bed at 6am and gets up at noon.
His friends often call him a sloth because he rarely moves, choosing instead to spend about eight hours daily on his laptop watching YouTube videos and playing online games.
Jerome, 19, describes the online world as an avenue for stress relief.
The Ngee Ann Polytechnic graduate, who will be enlisting into NS in a month's time, says: "I go online to pass time and play with my friends.
"It helps to forget any worries in real life."
He sees gaming as a form of escape from thinking about the future, such as furthering his education and finding a job.
Jerome explains that his gaming habit has led to him having irregular meal times too.
"I'd have lunch at 7pm and dinner at 3am sometimes.
"I like it when everyone has fallen asleep because it is peaceful," he says.
"After everyone sleeps, I feel more awake because I get my own alone time in isolation."
His irregular eating pattern has affected his weight. Despite being 1.7m tall, Jerome weighs only about 56kg.
His parents used to tell him to sleep earlier and cut down on the time he spends gaming, but they recently have been more accepting of his habit as he will be enlisting soon.
But keeping those hours can affect Jerome's mood.
He says: "Sometimes, I'd wake up after four hours and won't be able to fall back asleep.
"I'd get very agitated and moody throughout the day."
About the survey
Excessive online use is bad: Experts
What experts say about the effects of excessive usgae of Internet and digital devices.
How internet habits are affecting Singaporeans' health
S'poreans are spending more time online than the regional average, contributing to an unhealthy lifestyle for some
He gets up only at noon and the first thing he does is switch on his computer.
As the two - yes, two - screens come alive, Mr Aloysius Kee, 19, starts on his daily routine.
One screen is for watching videos and the other, for playing games.
He does both concurrently online for about six hours a day and leaves his seat only when he needs a toilet break and when his stomach growls.
Mr Kee says: "I'll play until the wee hours of the morning and regret it, but it's still worth it."
He is one of the many young people here who lead a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle.
Singapore placed ninth out of 15 countries across the region in insurer AIA's 2016 Healthy Living Index Survey. China came in first as the healthiest, while Hong Kong ranked last.
Of the 10,316 regional respondents, 501 are Singaporeansand most of them say they spend too much time online, whether it is on their mobile phones or computers.
Two in three say they have difficulty breaking away from their screens.
And almost the same number admit they spend too much time on social networking websites and the Internet.
While the regional average is three hours daily for non-work usage, Singaporeans spend 3.7 hours.
Mr Kee's average is almost double that. The Singapore Polytechnic graduate, who is waiting to enlist into NS, weighs 100kg, partly because of his online addiction.
He fell in love with gaming after his father bought him his first PlayStation when he was five.
He says: "I didn't know what a PlayStation was at that time, but once I started, I couldn't stop.
GAMER: At six hours a day, Mr Aloysius Kee is spending almost twice the average time Singaporeans spend online for non-work usage. TNP PHOTOS: ARIFFIN JAMAR
"I also had many friends who would play MapleStory (an online game) with me in primary school, and that got me hooked on computer games."
Mr Kee, an only child, often felt lonely.
He says: "I can't remember why my father bought me games, but they definitely helped with my loneliness."
Mr Kee was also drawn to how video games allowed him to explore a whole new universe.
"When I'm gaming, I have the freedom to be an adventurer who explores different worlds.
"I love to see new things in a fantasy setting because there are no such things in real life," he says.
He bought four more gaming consoles over the years and now has more than 100 video games.
As he went on his gaming binge, his weight rose from 70kg in 2009 to 100kg in 2014.
The excessive use of digital devices leads to a lack of sleep, change of diet, and mood swings, counsellors and psychiatrists tell The New Paper on Sunday.
Again, Mr Kee says he can relate to the perils of gaming.
When he was living in a three-storey semi-detached house, he would fill his room with snacks and drinks to avoid climbing the stairs.
And when his supplies ran low, he enlisted the help of his helper.
Mr Kee says: "At least back then, there were physical education lessons. Without them, the only exercise I would have got was running after the bus in the morning."
In 2012, his family of three moved to a five-room HDB flat.
Now, his gaming devices are installed in the living room and it takes just 10 steps for him to go to the kitchen or toilet.
He does not leave his home much and he says he has not taken on a job after graduating.
He says: "I go out once or twice a week with either my mother or some of my friends.
"I'd go for badminton or a swim with a few friends once a month, but I wouldn't join them if it's too early."
Mr Kee goes to bed at around 3am every day and turns down any outings that start before 11am.
His mother Madam Lim, a nurse, says: "I'll tell him to cut down on the number of hours he plays and to go to bed early."
But despite her pleas, he says he cannot quit his love for gaming because "it's very relaxing".
He rarely weighs himself unless it is compulsory, saying: "If I don't remind myself of my weight, I wouldn't have to worry about it.
"I want to shed weight, but I don't have the motivation because gaming helps to take my mind off things."
But he hopes "things will change within these two years... Hopefully, I'll get in shape after NS".
Kiss was intended to be comic, says Les Miserables organiser
A kiss between two male actors has been removed from the musical Les Miserables after complaints from members of the public.
The kiss was part of the performance until June 2, and led to at least two complaints to the Media Development Authority (MDA).
In a statement to The New Paper on Sunday, an MDA spokesman confirmed complaints were made, and said "the same-sex kiss was not highlighted in the script when it was submitted to MDA for classification."
It was for this reason that the performance was given a General rating.
"Upon receiving feedback from members of the public, MDA reviewed the performance and confirmed that the scene was present," said the spokesman.
"MDA advised the applicant that the inclusion of this particular scene meant that the performance had exceeded the 'General' rating issued.
"Under our classification code, such a scene would fall under an Advisory rating.
"The applicant decided to remove the scene so as to keep the General rating for the rest of its run."
The spokesman said the MDA will be taking further action against the breach of licensing conditions.
TNPS understands this could include a warning or a fine.
Mr Moses Lye, who heads organiser Mediacorp VizPro, said: "Beggars at the Feast is a comical scene during which the villain Thenardier makes fun of the wedding guests. He gives one of them, whom he describes as queer, a quick peck on the lips.
"The kiss was intended to be comic. On June 3 we took action and worked with the producers to adapt the scene."
Those who saw the scene said the kiss was brief and was not a key aspect of the musical.
Mr Surendran Subramaniam, 30, who acted as Gavroche when Les Miserables was staged here 20 years ago, watched the performance here on June 2.
"It wasn't something that I was really thinking about after or was even affected by, but I feel it is just part and parcel of acting," the ship broker said.
"Removing it will probably not affect the show in any way."
Despite the incident, the musical, which was supposed to run from May 31 till July 17, has been extended until July 24 at Esplanade.