United falter again as City charge on

Man City biggest winners of the weekend as another title rival falters

BLOW: United goalkeeper Sergio Romero allowing Bafetimbi Gomis' 
(in white) shot to squirm under him for Swansea's winner.


(Andre Ayew 61, Bafetimbi Gomis 66)


(Juan Mata 48)

Just three weeks in, the English Premier League appears to be all over bar the shouting.

Manchester City's runaway lead looks set to become increasingly unassailable in the weeks and months ahead.

Manuel Pellegrini's side have been at their most effusive; a rampancy aided by the continued falterings of their chasing pack.

Chelsea's crown has slipped before August even ended. The crisis that surrounds Jose Mourinho's side shows no signs of dissipating while Arsenal, similarly, have seen their renewed assault fall by the wayside in recent weeks.

Momentum is firmly with Manchester's "noisy neighbours".

Across town, Manchester United are all too familiar with the perils of writing off your contemporaries.

Thirty years ago, they were being lauded as champions-elect after embarking on a similar early-season winning streak.

They finished that campaign in a distant fourth place, 11 points adrift of champions Liverpool.

Defeat by Swansea City this morning (Singapore time) is unlikely to provide much succour.

Louis van Gaal's 50th game as United manager was exactly the same as his first. The problems, however, have altered somewhat.


History repeated itself at the Liberty Stadium, as it did for Wayne Rooney.

He heads into potentially a sixth successive game, including last season, waiting for his first EPL goal - a feat last reached in 2006.

Should he fail to find the net against Liverpool in a fortnight's time, he faces the threat of repeating his 2008 and 2012 goal thirsts.

Ahead of his Old Trafford milestone, van Gaal revealed that his decision-making on every fibre of life at United remains subject to Rooney's advice.

The Dutchman may wish to seek his captain's counsel ahead of tomorrow's transfer deadline - if he has not already.

Another striker is likely to be the elephant in the room for the pair.

It is said that a feast often follows a famine.

After Rooney's 878-minute goal drought ended against Club Brugge in the Champions League play-off in midweek, the suspicion was that Swansea would be fresh gluttons for punishment. It never arrived.

There were signs of a potential renaissance; not least when he burst through with just two minutes remaining, only to be thwarted by Ashley Williams' last-ditch interception.

For Rooney, the burden of expectancy transcends club and country.

He could well return from the upcoming international break with Bobby Charlton's England goal-scoring record equalled, if not surpassed.

A further four strikes in Old Trafford colours would see him draw parallel with Denis Law as the club's second-highest scorer.

It is only a matter of time before Charlton's long-standing tally of 249 United goals, currently 16 ahead of Rooney, is bettered.

Yet how long the 29-year-old can remain at the highest level is subject to conjecture.

Much like the flawed succession plan for life after Sir Alex Ferguson, van Gaal has yet to provide a solution to losing Rooney's prolific potency.

Movements over the next 48 hours will be make-or-break for United's season. There's little time left to save it.

Actor Romeo Tan: I was fat and lazy in my youth

Local celebs Romeo Tan and Jayley Woo share how their days as students in ITE changed their lives for the better

Romeo Tan.
ITE ALUMNI: Romeo Tan and Jayley Woo at ITE College East yesterday.

Fat, lazy and stupid.

That was what Romeo Tan was called throughout his childhood years.

Weighing 92kg and in the Normal (Technical) stream at Ngee Ann Secondary School, Tan, who was 16 then, felt that he had nothing worthwhile going on in his life.

The popular, good-looking local actor - who now weighs 72kg - was speaking to about 1,000 students at ITE College East in Simei yesterday during social outreach programme The Celebrity Stopover, organised by MediaCorp.

He was joined on stage by local actress Jayley Woo, who also shared her experiences of being an Institute of Technical Education (ITE) alumnus.

In an interview after the one-hour sharing session, Tan, 30, told The New Paper: "I mixed around with the bad students in secondary school, took MCs and skipped school all the time to hang out with them."

Even though his parents hired tutors for him, the rebellious boy's aim was to make the tutors so angry that they would resign.

He recalled: "I changed so many tutors that it made my parents disheartened. I was so fat and lazy. I had low self-esteem and I didn't dare to look people in the eye."

After completing his N levels and scoring borderline grades, Tan's life turned around when he studied multimedia technology at ITE MacPherson, a two-year course which he was interested in.


His passion saw him scoring excellent results and he was awarded a certificate of merit, ranking among the top 5 per cent of the graduates from his course.

He then went on to graduate with a diploma in digital media design from Nanyang Polytechnic.

Even though he took a longer route to attain his diploma, Tan said that it was during his time in ITE that he picked himself up and thought about what he wanted to do with his life.

"I was very demoralised as I was always getting scolded for the most part of my childhood. Some teachers even called me Fat Romeo," Tan said.

"However, in ITE, I lost 20kg by running... six times a week and by controlling my diet... I became more chatty and started to study hard."

Tan got into acting after coming in fourth in Star Search 2010 and was offered a contract by MediaCorp shortly after.

Tan's advice to his ITE juniors is to "always pursue something that interests you as you are likely to do better in it".

And it seems like his advice resonated with many of the students, who were listening intently during the sharing session.

Mr Bryan Tan, president of ITE College East's student council, told TNP: "I learnt a lot from Romeo, especially when he shared tips on how to study hard and score good results to go to polytechnic."

The 18-year-old added: "Because he used to be an ITE student, I felt that I could relate to him and what he had been through."

Fellow student Darshan Raj, 18, agreed: "Jayley talked about being bullied in school and Romeo talked about losing a lot of weight. I have experienced both bullying and weight loss, so I was quite inspired by them.

"I think the most important advice they gave us was telling us to follow our passion and our dreams."

ITE gave her a fresh start in life

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Chan Chun Sing: 'I do my best at the task I'm given'

In the third of our four-part series on Singapore's '4th Generation' leaders, Minister Chan Chun Sing tells Koh Hui Theng (kohht@sph.com.sg) that he is unfazed by online criticism because his conscience is clear

Minister Chan Chun Sing talks to The New Paper about his term as Minister
Mr Chan Chun Sing
ALWAYS PREPARED: A peek into Mr Chan Chun Sing's car boot shows he has a hard hat and at least 11 polo T-shirts of different colours because 'you need different ones to match the backdrop at union events'.

The former Chief of Army experienced a baptism of fire when he left the military to run for public office.

Then 41, Mr Chan Chun Sing was one of the youngest among the Cabinet members when he was appointed Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports (MCYS) after the 2011 General Election.

He went on to helm the newly created Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) in 2012 before taking over as a full Minister a year later.

His rise was among the swiftest among the 2011 batch of new politicians, and whispers of him being a future prime minister followed.

But his informal speech and mannerisms rubbed some people the wrong way.

Brickbats and derisive comments came, fast and furious, especially on the Internet.

The 45-year-old said: "Of course, (nobody) would want to have such unpleasant experience(s) but it's almost inevitable (when you take) this road; you will get your fair share of such nasty incidents.

"You just hope that it doesn't affect you personally and your family." (See report, below.)

During the hour-long interview at his Marina Bay office last week - before the General Election date was made known - Mr Chan often peppered his answers with Chinese sayings.


Asked if the vitriol stings him, he answered: Be in this for the correct reasons, do things conscientiously and wen xing wu kui (Mandarin for clear conscience).

His latest move to the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) this year also set tongues wagging once more: Was it a prelude to the top post or a step down?

"I've never been the type to choose what I want to do or where I want to go," Mr Chan said.

"I never thought that the PM will send me to MCYS and then MSF, but I'm given a task and I try my best to do what I can, make a contribution to take care of the people whose lives I am charged to take care of.

"It's (not) about what you do individually that's important. It's about what we do as a team that's important."

Hence his joking promise to put his ex-MSF colleagues out of a job: "The better that I take care of the workers, the less busy MSF will be."

When it comes to sharing his thoughts online, the father of three said: "I don't spend every moment thinking how to boost the number of 'likes'.

"Because very early on in my career, I have come to the conclusion that the number of (Facebook) likes has no correlation to the English word 'like'."

People have this romantic illusion that ministers get chauffeured around, have servants waiting on them. the reality is that the minister also has to buy toilet paper, buy vegetables, buy food, buy eggs...

— Mr Chan Chun Sing


WHO: Chan Chun Sing

WHAT: Minister in the Prime Minister's Office and secretary-general of National Trades Union Congress

FAMILY: Married with a daughter, 14, and two sons, six and three


2011: Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports and Minister of State for Information, Communications and the Arts

2012: Acting Minister for Social and Family Development and Senior Minister of State for Defence

2013: Minister for Social and Family Development and Second Minister for Defence

2015: Secretary-general of National Trades Union Congress

Mr Chan Chun Sing on...

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'They'll do well as long as their hearts are true'

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Manicurist earns accountant's wage thanks to ringgit plunge

While Singaporeans cheer the plummeting Malaysian ringgit, the slumping value is a double-edged sword for Malaysians living in Singapore.

HAPPY: Miss Betty Sii plans to buy a three-bedroom house in Sarawak.

There was no way she could have secured a job that would pay her RM5,000 ($1,681) if she had remained in Sarawak.

"Impossible," said manicurist Betty Sii, 25.

"My highest education is PMR (Malaysia's version of the GCE O Levels). Nobody will offer that kind of money there," she added.

The impossible, however, became possible when the exchange rate slumped to a low of RM3.03 to the Singapore dollar last Tuesday.

"I was definitely happy (about the exchange rate) when I saw the news," she said.

"It means that I am earning about RM6,000 now. That wouldn't have been possible at home."

According to the latest salary guide by recruitment company Kelly Services, RM6,000 is the monthly pay of an accountant with a degree and three years of work experience.

"If I were in Sarawak, I could only dream of a pay cheque like that," she added.

With her $2,000 salary, Miss Sii is able to pay her $600 room rent here and give her mother - who lives in her hometown of Miri in Sarawak - a monthly allowance of RM1,000.

Meanwhile, the attractive exchange rate has pushed Miss Sii to seriously consider a bigger financial commitment - buying a three-bedroom house back home.

She claims to have been contemplating the idea for quite some time.

"The property that I'm looking at would cost me about RM200,000 but I should be able to afford it with my current salary," she said.

"If I get a house for myself now, it would be good for me in the future.

"Anything can happen, so at least if I start now, then I'll have something waiting for me if I had to move back," she added.


Before she moved to Singapore in April 2013, Miss Sii tried working in Malaysia for about five months, taking up a job as a salesgirl in a retail store.

"My basic pay was RM800. There was commission too but the most I ever got for it was RM200," she said.

Earning a measly pay cheque made life feel completely different to what it is like now.

She said: "It was tough to live with that kind of pay.

"Even if things are cheaper there, it's really hard to live on RM1,000."

While the exchange rate makes it cheaper for Miss Sii to support her mother, she is worried about how the bad economy will affect prices back home.

She said: "It's a good thing for me but this also means that things over there could start getting more expensive and that's my only worry.

"If it does start getting expensive, then eventually, the increased exchange rate will not mean as much to Malaysians working here."

Miss Sii's 36-year-old sister is also based in Singapore. Her sister works as a facial therapist.

"My brother is working in a publishing house in Sarawak while my sister and I are living and working here in Singapore."

Being able to travel back home only twice a year is tough on Miss Sii but the bigger picture is more important to her than anything else.

"I get homesick and I miss my family but I always try my best to focus on why being here is good.

"Me being homesick is not as important as my mum being able to live comfortably back home.

"And that is reason enough for me to look past everything else."

Weak ringgit huge burden on his family

Jump in costs worries Malaysian student

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Bangkok bomb blast suspect 'not cooperating'

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