People of colour

Graffiti artist creates mural of indigenous faces for Rio Olympics to show we are 'all one'

ART ATTACK: Mr Kobra (above) working on the mural, which aims to break the record for largest mural created by one artist.
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Selena Gomez's concert in S'pore gets mixed reactions

CONCERT: Selena Gomez kicked off the Singapore leg of her Revival Tour at the Singapore Indoor Stadium last night.

The leather crop top and high-waisted pants were there.

And so were the hits.

But if there was going to be any complaints about Selena Gomez's first concert in Singapore, it would be that she was dishing out pretty much Same Old Love, to borrow her song title.

The US singer-actress got her fans, who were mostly female and young and of whom there were nearly 7,000, jumping and screaming at the top of their lungs when she appeared on stage and kicked off the Singapore leg of her Revival Tour at the Singapore Indoor Stadium at 8.45 last night.

The 24-year-old opened with a high-octane rendition of the tour's titular track, then launched into several of her hit songs.

For a while, everything looked promising.

Mr Azman Mahmud, 26, who works in the health industry, said: "It felt surreal (when she sang Same Old Love) hearing it live, compared to just playing it on my iPhone.

"I think she knew that it was a local favourite and she milked every moment of it. You could really tell from the energy she put into that song."

But alas, Gomez didn't quite Kill Em With Kindness and the excitement did not last.

Accompanied by her six-piece band and nine back-up dancers, she zipped through 19 tracks from her current and previous albums, barely stopping and hardly pausing to speak to the crowd.

She ended her gig in 75 minutes flat, leaving some fans gasping for more.

"When you're ready, come and get it, na na na na, na na na na" she sang, but she should have heeded her own advice: Her fans were perhaps not ready for so many songs, so fast.

Perhaps she was tired. Or a little "unconnected" to herself and her music, as she confessed to being right after her Jakarta gig. (See report below.)


Student Carmen Huang, 16, a Selenator (that's what Gomez's fans are known around the world), described the concert as "amazing" and said she "enjoyed every minute of it", especially when the star performed Who Says, which she released back in 2011 with her band The Scene.

"That song really took me back to when I was about 11 years old. I remember singing that song over and over again when it first came out back then," she said.

But the student from St. Joseph's Institution confessed she was "really sad when the concert ended".

"I wish she had sung more of her older songs, but I guess she didn't want to spend too much time on it or maybe it just didn't suit the crowd, I'm not sure," she said.

Carmen was not the only fan expecting more.

Nur Deanna Ismael, 13, who watched her first pop concert last night, said: "I've seen short clips of Beyoncé's tour before today, but this doesn't come close to being as extravagant as that.

"I expected it to be more interesting, but it felt like she was saying stuff just for the sake of saying it.

"There wasn't much interaction with the audience either."

Mr Nicholas Tay, 30, who was at the gig with his girlfriend, also felt Gomez could have done better.

"I felt she was going through the motions as she sang one song after another," he said. "It seemed like she wanted to get it over and done with."

Still, fans being fans, most were willing to forgive and were happy just to see the star perform live.

Nur Deanna said: "I enjoyed myself and it was still a memorable experience for me."

Winning MUS 2014 was ticket to her modelling career

Miss Universe Singapore 2014 Rathi Menon saw runway career take off after winning title

When Rathi Menon won the Miss Universe Singapore (MUS) crown in 2014, there appeared to be a renewed faith in Singapore's chances at the international pageant.

Netizens threw their support behind the leggy 1.75m-tall beauty, who silenced naysayers with her beauty and grace and was hailed as one of our most promising MUS winners in recent years.

The former pharmaceutical technician at Mount Pleasant Vet Centre told The New Paper: "I guess I was a fresh face and I also had a proper team preparing me for the competition.

"I had a stylist on board and even our national costume was made by a designer from Venezuela so everything was so well-planned, and I guess that's what got recognised.

"So for once, Singaporeans saw a change in that aspect and that's why they thought I could place (in the Top 5 at the Miss Universe contest).

WINNER: (Above) Rathi Menon when she took the Miss Universe Singapore title in 2014.

"But I wasn't really concerned about (getting a) placing. That was not my goal. I just wanted to represent Singapore well. I was really happy that I got that recognition and that people were really supportive and were rooting for me."

This year, Singapore's most prestigious pageant is back in a big way, with new presenter Singapore Turf Club and new imaging partner Canon Singapore on board.

For the first time, TNP will be MUS 2016's official media partner and co-organiser with the Miss Universe Singapore Organisation.

The winner will receive $10,000 in cash and a Canon camera worth $1,000.

Registration is now open to women aged 18 to 27. (See report, above.)


Miss Rathi, 25, took part "by chance", saying: "I chanced upon the advertisement and I thought, why not give it a try... (Even though) I didn't have any modelling experience, I just took it as a challenge."

To those thinking of joining MUS 2016, she had this piece of advice: "Don't think so much about it - it's not like you're making the decision to become a doctor or lawyer and investing six years into this."

After competing in the international pageant in Miami, Miss Rathi found she had a shortcut into the next phase of her career.

Winning MUS was "a direct ticket to modelling", she said, because she was immediately signed up by Upfront Models Singapore and she graced the covers of magazines like ELLE Singapore and Nylon Singapore.

But she wanted to aim higher, so she quit her job and moved to the fashion capital of Milan, Italy, in January, immersing herself in the modelling industry there for three months.

Miss Rathi, who is pursuing a part-time degree in human resource management at the Singapore Institute of Management and hopes to work as a human resource specialist, deferred one semester of school to go to Milan.

"It was awesome and I love the fashion industry there. There's a huge difference," said Rathi, who did mostly showroom modelling and fashion shows.

Although she is having fun and is creating long-lasting memories, she considers modelling to be "something on the side" only.

"This has been a good opportunity. I'm enjoying it, but...I do get restless when I'm not using my brain to work things out," she said.

Still, the exposure has helped her with self-improvement.

She said: "I've learnt that first impressions are everything. It's as simple as the way you dress and present yourself and talk to people.

"Wherever I go and whatever I do, people are watching, so it's important to carry myself well."

Robot Kitty event staff: Organiser owes us $50,000

Robot Kitty event crew furious, say organiser owes them $50,000 in unpaid salaries

TERMS: Some of the Robot Kitty Singapore event crew's contracts stated they were to begin work on June 9 for 12 days. Their salary was to be paid on July 22.

More than 70 peoplewho worked for Mighty Eight, organiser of Robot Kitty Singapore, as temporary crew members last month (June), have claimed they are owed salaries amounting to $50,000 in total.

They are mostly students who were required to perform duties such as ushering, briefing and manning stalls at the Suntec Convention Centre event.

Some of their contracts stated they were to begin work on June 9 for a 12-day period. Their salaries were to be paid on July 22.

But none of them have received payment so far.

The figures were disclosed to The New Paper yesterday by The HR Ecology, the company that recruited the workers - aged between 17 and 24 - on behalf of Mighty Eight.

Mighty Eight's director, Mr Teo Choon Leng, has not been contactable, except when a group of workers confronted him at a warehouse sale.

Malcolm Chua, 17, was one of the workers who had unsuccessfully tried to reach Mr Teo.


The tertiary student told TNP yesterday: "This has been a very troublesome and upsetting process (of trying to get our salaries). We're feeling tired and helpless."

Malcolm said his group of co-workers, who had been promised salaries of between $400 and $1,000, have filed 19 police reports.

One report lodged by Nicholas Ho, 17, on July 25, said he had been notified on June 23 by The HR Ecology to collect his pay directly from Mighty Eight's office.

Mr Teo was supposed to contact Nicholas "on a future date to proceed down to the (Mighty Eight) office to collect the pay".

But it never happened.

Malcolm showed TNP his contract, which stated that Mighty Eight would pay him $800 in "service fee".

Malcolm said: "I was basically earning $6.50 an hour. If I had known, I could have found better paying jobs without the hassle I'm facing now."

The issue of non-payment of salaries has surfaced online.

Ms Rachael Lee posted on Facebook: "We have run out of options and hope that you (netizens) will help us out."

She told TNP yesterday that she was hired to brief visitors at the event.

She was one of two people who confirmed Mr Teo's identity when they were shown his photograph.

Ms Lee said phone calls made to Mr Teo at his Genting Lane office and a visit there proved fruitless as the office has been left vacant.

Last weekend, some disgruntled workers, including staff from The HR Ecology, confronted Mr Teo at a warehouse sale in MacPherson, where he was selling Robot Kitty merchandise.

Malcolm and his colleagues demanded their unpaid salaries.

Mr Teo allegedly told them he had no money and they should find a lawyer and go to the Ministry of Manpower.

Said Malcolm: "He told us he owed other people $3 million. There was no 'sorry' said to us. From the start, I think he had no intention of apologising."

The claims against Mighty Eight may not be covered under the Employment Act, as there is no employer-employee relationship. The work done by Malcolm and his co-workers is termed as contract for service or independent contractors.

But one of the avenues for redress is to file individual claims at the Small Claims Tribunal, said lawyer Satwant Singh.

Mr Singh said: "The lesson here is to do background checks on the company you intend to work for. What you learn from your research could save you a lot of heartache later."

When the TNP team visited Mr Teo's flat at Ubi Avenue 1 last night, nobody was home.

His mobile phone number is no longer in service.

"This has been a very troublesome and upsetting process (of trying to get our salaries). We're feeling tired and helpless."

- Malcolm Chua

Restaurant won't sponsor future NUS Students' Union events

After orientation camps scandal, restaurant says it won't sponsor future Nussu events

The front page of The New Paper on July 26. After our report, a restaurant has said that they will not sponsor future events organised by the NUS Students' Union.

The fallout of the National University of Singapore's (NUS) orientation camp scandal shows no sign of easing.

The New Paper has learnt that a sponsor will no longer work with the NUS Students' Union (Nussu) for future events, while others are monitoring the situation.

Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung also weighed in on the situation yesterday, condemning the "reprehensible" sexualised activities carried out during the camps. (See report, below.)

This came after a TNP report on Tuesday about first-year students having to re-enact simulated rape scenes and sing cheers that denigrated women during these camps.

Wrap & Roll, a Vietnamese restaurant chain with four outlets here, had sponsored about $6,000 worth of food for this year's camp organised by Nussu.

It had previously sponsored camps at NUS Business School and it was the first time it was sponsoring a camp by the students' union.

A spokesman for the restaurant told TNP yesterdayit was shocked to discover that such activities were happening and thus will no longer work with Nussu.

"This is not a good image and the organisers went too far," said the spokesman.

"There was no reason for them to cross the line and we do not want to be associated with them."


A spokesman for another sponsor, Saint Games, a video-gaming cafe, said it would be observing the situation and reviewing its sponsorship.

"We do conduct reviews from time to time. But we have never touched the programmes," said the spokesman. "We will be observing the situation."

It is not known how much or what Saint Games sponsored.

A spokesman for Brand's, known for its essence of chicken, said it will not stop its product sponsorships.

The spokesman said: "Nevertheless, we do not condone any behaviour that denigrates the dignity of individuals and trust that any such activities will be dealt with appropriately."

A spokesman for Tiny Photo, an event photography agency, said it was unaware of any reports of misconduct and said they only sponsor the Rag and Flag activities and not the Nussu camp itself. 

According to Nussu's Executive Committee Budget for the academic years of 2015 and 2016, the union received $95,000 as sponsorship income for the year.

The document, which can be found on the union's website, also details an expenditure of $237,544 by the Freshmen Orientation Central Committee.

DBS and Standard Chartered, both listed on the website as strategic partners, are aware of the recent scandal.

A DBS spokesman said that its partnership with Nussu is "primarily around the DBS NUSSU Debit Card".

The spokesman said: "We have taken note of the recent allegations and are monitoring the situation closely."

A spokesman for Standard Chartered said: "We have an existing agreement with Nussu on a co-branded credit card, which we have stopped offering to new customers in 2012. We do not have any involvement in events or activities initiated by Nussu."


Minister: Remember purpose of university education

Acting Education Minister On Ye Kung wrote a Facebook post which condemned the sexualised activities at the National University of Singapore's orientation camps. PHOTO: ST FILE. 

Following The New Paper's report yesterday, Acting Minister for Education (Higher Education and Skills) Ong Ye Kung put up a post on Facebook yesterday evening, condemning the sexualised activities at the National University of Singapore's orientation camps.

Here is his post in full:

Entering university is a heady experience.

It is an adventure that as a father to two teenage girls, I hope that my own children will get to go on.

University prepares us to tackle the toughest challenges of our times - climate change, abject poverty, terrorism, ageing populations, diseases, widening income gap.

Orientation marks the start of university life.

Every year, student leaders and staff organise activities and camps.

Students sometimes have to go through difficult and challenging experiences - but these are what memories are made of, how bonds are forged, how tribes are formed.

Activities can be rigorous, creative, even wild; students may push boundaries.

But at all times, we must respect human dignity and remember the point and purpose of a university education.

Pretending to ejaculate into the face of a fellow student plays no part in this purpose - it is a reprehensible act that cannot be tolerated; goading others to act out a rape scene not only degrades the real suffering of rape victims, it inflicts fresh humiliation on female students.

Protesting such acts has nothing to do with being prudish or a bad sport, everything to do with respect for human dignity.

Orientation is still ongoing or will be starting soon at some universities.

I have asked that orientation activities be carried out in a manner that respects the dignity of the freshmen.

As for what was reported to have happened at NUS, the university has made clear to me that it does not condone such incidents; it is conducting an investigation and will take strong disciplinary action against those found responsible.

I thank the staff and student volunteers for their hard work and the many hours of planning that have gone into the orientation programme.

I know that much of it was useful and edifying.

Let us forswear the parts that were not.


Murder suspect shows cops where he bought weapon

TRAIL: Toh Sia Guan, 64, did not seem bothered by the onlookers as investigators took him to several locations in Geylang yesterday morning.
TRAIL: Toh Sia Guan, 64, did not seem bothered by the onlookers as investigators took him to several locations in Geylang yesterday morning.
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