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The M Interview: Hugh Jackman embraces ageing

BAD GUY: Hugh Jackman plays vicious buccaneer Blackbeard in the new Peter Pan movie Pan.
KAYA AND ME: The writer gets a big hug after giving the Aussie star a jar of kaya at her interview at The Peninsula, Hong Kong. 

Hugh Jackman fans here will remember that when the Australian hunk visited our shores last year to promote X-Men: Days Of Future Past, he had eggs and kaya toast for breakfast at a Ya Kun Kaya Toast cafe in China Square.

When this reporter was part of a video chat with him earlier this year for his movie Chappie, he reminisced about having kaya toast.

So what did I do when I got the chance to meet the star, who turns 47 next week, at Hong Kong's The Peninsula hotel last week for his latest flick Pan? I gave him a jar of kaya, of course, to his great delight.

"This is the stuff I've been telling you about," Jackman told his entourage, laughing, before thanking me and giving me a big bear hug, to my surprise and great delight.

"Hope it won't kill your Wolverine diet," was the only reply I could muster.


"Oh, I'm allowed to indulge every Thursday, so when Thursday comes, this bottle is coming out!" he said.

Looking at the massive and well-cut actor, best known for playing ripped X-Men mutant superhero Wolverine, it's unlikely that the gooey coconut egg jam will do any damage.

We let Ya Kun Kaya Toast in on the Australian actor's joy upon receiving the kaya and their spokesman said: "We are proud to share this rich Singaporean heritage with Hugh Jackman and trust that he'll enjoy the kaya along with his toast."

Jackman was promoting Pan, the swashbuckling origin story of how author J.M. Barrie's beloved Peter Pan got to the fantastical world of pirates, warriors and fairies called Neverland.

Opening here tomorrow, the fantasy adventure flick features Jackman as Blackbeard, a ruthless, vicious buccaneer who has been capturing children for decades to mine for pixum, a very rare gem from which pixie dust is extracted.

In director Joe Wright's new version of the fairy tale, which stars Levi Miller as Peter, Garrett Hedlund as Peter's buddy James Hook and Rooney Mara as warrior Tiger Lily, the purpose of the pixie dust is not to help people fly.

Instead, it grants immortality, something Blackbeard sorely craves.

In reality, ageing is a process Jackman has embraced with open arms.


"I think my personal view on ageing is probably very different from most people," he told M.

"I feel like I'm a much happier person as I grow older. As a younger person, a teenager, I acquired a lot of fears such as the fear of heights and being afraid of the dark."

He shared how he was such a fearful kid that he would not even dare to enter the house on his own after school and would rather wait outside.

Perhaps such negative emotions stemmed from his rough childhood - his mum left the family when he was eight - and Jackman hated the feeling of being scared.

"The fears started to go away as I got older, when I was 15 or 16."

He added, chuckling: "Of course, I don't have as much energy as I used to, but I'm happier."

Growing older also meant having more stability in life, but he is not planning on resting on his laurels despite having already established his Hollywood career.

"I definitely would love a break from working," said Jackman, who has an average of two movies being released each year.

He has finished work on Eddie The Eagle, a biopic of the UK's first ski jumper to enter the Winter Olympics, in which he plays ski coach to Taron Egerton's titular character.

He is also preparing to start work on The Greatest Showman On Earth, where he portrays P.T. Barnum, founder of the Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Then there is his third and final solo outing as Wolverine, in the yet-to-be-titled sequel scheduled for a 2017 release.

"I have a friend in the business who never decides what he wants to do next until he finishes a job. Then he goes, 'now what do I do'?

"It's hard to do that as you are often planning what you need to do next while still on a job," he said, alluding to family commitments.


Jackman has been married to Australian actress Deborra-Lee Furness since 1996. They have two adopted children, a son Oscar, 15, and a daughter Ava, 10.

"I'd like to one day operate from that point of view... to just finish the job and see how it goes.

"That's my goal. I don't know how, if and when I can pull that off," he added, laughing.

Time off for Jackman is to find a little bit of Neverland whenever he can.

"The thing I like about Neverland is the idea of timelessness," he said.

"In the movie, you don't really see the sun rise or set, so you don't feel the days go by... you just feel the timelessness.

"For me, the happiest times are when I feel the world slow down, where I can just be with the kids, cook a meal, not worry about my lines or things I need to do," he said.

"I find it hard to fit everything in and I think that's a common problem (faced by everyone).

"My personal Neverland, my sanctuary, is to just be able to do the things in life without the pressure of time."

My personal Neverland, my sanctuary, is to just be able to do the things in life without the pressure of time.

— Hugh Jackman

Three new people get leadership positions in Workers’ Party

(From left) Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, 36, Mr Leon Perera, 45, and Mr Kenneth​ Foo Seck Guan, 38.

The Workers' Party inducted three new people into its Central Executive Council on Tuesday (Oct 6) during its monthly meeting.

It was the council's first meeting since last month's general election.

Mr Mohamed Fairoz Shariff, 36, was appointed as webmaster and a member of the media team. The former librarian was a candidate for East Coast GRC. The team polled 39.27 per cent of votes compared to People's Action Party's 60.73 per cent.

Mr Leon Perera, 45, was also appointed a member of the media team. The CEO of an international research consultancy was also a candidate for East Coast GRC in the election last month. He is now a non-constituency Member of Parliament.

Mr Kenneth​ Foo Seck Guan, 38, was appointed Deputy Organising Secretary to assist Mr Pritam Singh and Ms Lee Li Lian. He was part of a team that contested in Nee Soon GRC and lost.

There were also a few changes involving current CEC members.

Dr Daniel Goh was appointed chairman of the media team, with Mr Gerald Giam as vice-chairman. Party chairman, Ms Sylvia Lim, was also appointed a member of the media team.

The party said in a statement on its website that the "changes in appointments are meant to strengthen the CEC to meet the expanded scope of leadership work".

Where's the best place to die?

Singapore ranked 12th in the world in the 2015 Quality of Death Index, which measures the availability, affordability and quality of palliative care.

This put the city-state second in Asia, behind Taiwan, which ranked sixth in the world.

Singapore's ranking moved up six places from 18th in 2010.

The Economist Intelligence Unit assessed 80 countries in five categories: general environment (20%), human resources (20%), the affordability of care (20%), the quality of care (30%) and the level of community engagement (10%).

The report stated that greater healthcare spending, including funding of hospice palliative care services, helped improved affordability of palliative care in Singapore.

But the country is weakest in the category of community engagement, coming in at 22nd.

Find out more about palliative care in Singapore below.


Men get $10,000 beard transplant to boost confidence

Hipster beards has been a rising trend since last year.

Baby-faced men have gone to such extent as to pay thousands of dollars to patch up their bare faces.

The New York Times recently interviewed a group of men who have spent thousands to transplant the hair on their heads on to their faces using a technique called Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE).

According to Daily Mail, these men have trouble growing their facial hair and they seek out these procedures because they feel that having facial hair boosts their confidence and make them feel respected and more macho.

The rising trend can be attributed to the hipster beards that were the rave in 2014, as reported by the Guardian.



Mr Jose Armos, 28, a paramedic in Miami, said he looked so young that some of the patients seemed doubtful of his capabilities.

"They would look at me and be like, 'Ok, is this 16-year-old really going to take care of me?'" said Mr Armos. "It was hard for people to trust me because I had that baby face."

Wanting to look stronger and more manly, Mr Armos had a full beard transplant - from sideburns to chin - which cost about US$7,000 (S$9,942).

According to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, a nonprofit medical association, beard transplants grew from 1.5 per cent of all hair restoration procedures performed internationally in 2012 to 3.7 per cent in 2014.

As compared with plug-like grafts of about 15 hair follicles when hair transplants were done even a decade ago, each hair follicle is now transplanted individually so that the hair would look more natural.

Ray, 53, said he had always wanted to grow a beard ever since he was 12, but no strand ever appeared on his cheeks.

After his first procedure, in 2011, Ray wanted his beard to be denser and climb higher up his cheeks. He had a second transplant in 2012, and a third time in 2013 from another hair restoration specialist. In total it cost him $22,000.

“I don’t really even care that much if people know that I’ve had the transplants,” Ray said. “I just don’t want them to know how much I’ve spent on it, because then they’ll think I’m crazy.”

“A lot of guys go through a midlife crisis and they buy the sports car. I just got a beard.”

Here are some A-list celebrities who've been keeping their scruff.

Jake Gyllenhaal in the movie Proof in 2005 (left) and on (right) Sept 10 this year for "Demolition" premiere in during 2015 Toronto Film Festival.


British actor Daniel Radcliffe arrives for the Lawrence Olivier Awards in London on April 28, 2013 (left) and for the 20th Century Fox press room during Comic-Con International 2015 on July 11, 2015 in San Diego, California (right).


(Left) Shia LaBeouf starred in Wall Street 2 in 2010 and posing (right) during a photocall for the film "Fury", on Oct 18, 2014 in Paris.


British actor Robert Pattinson at Cannes Film Festival (Left) in Cannes, Southern France, on May 18, 2014 and at "Maps To The Stars" Press Conference (Right) during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival  on Sept 9, 2014 in Toronto, Canada.


The closest a celeb here came to spotting a beard was local television and radio presenter Divan Nair - but he decided on only a moustache and goatee, saying that "the 'stache has plans to take over my face" on his Instagram in July.


What do you think of beards? Yay or Nay?

Sources: New York Times, Daily Mail, the Guardian



Taxi vs UberX drivers: How different are they?

The new minister of transport Khaw Boon Wan talked about possibly looking into car-sharing apps like Uber. We look into some of the operational differences between UberX drivers and taxi drivers.

​Will private car-sharing apps such as UberX and GrabCar see more regulation soon?

New Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan mooted the idea of reviewing these apps to ensure a "level playing field".

In a blog post as the new minister of the often-troubled ministry, Mr Khaw wrote that during the campaigning for the recent General Election, he had met a number of taxi drivers who felt that such car-sharing apps such as UberX were unfair.

Credit: Uber

One of the reasons Mr khaw brought up in his blog post was the fact that Uber drivers do not require a vocational licence - unlike taxi drivers.

UberX users need not be worried yet as it appears that Mr Khaw is open to a more consultative approach towards regulating the industry.

Credit: ST

He said that moves to ban the app in countries like Germany were an "over-reaction".

Mr Khaw also added: "We must not resist new innovations and new business models. Our instinct must be to flow with the time, keep an open mind to innovations. But we must always be fair to players, whether incumbent or insurgents, and strike a balanced approach."

Last Friday (Oct 2), Mr Khaw blogged that he had tasked Senior Minister of State for Transport Ng Chee Meng to study if private-hire drivers had an unfair advantage over taxi drivers since they “do not need a vocational licence”.

So what exactly are some of the key differences between UberX drivers and taxi drivers?

We take a look below.

1. Who can drive?

As Mr Khaw pointed out, while taxi drivers require a vocational licence, private hire drivers do not. And this has been a point of contention for taxi drivers.

According to the Land Transport Authority (LTA) website, taxi drivers undergo a training course at the Singapore Taxi Academy.

This course costs $335 - and takes about 95 hours to complete.

This vocational licence is valid for three years.

One of the issues the LTA is currently studying is whether to make private-hire drivers obtain vocational licences.

It must be noted that Uber drivers are not allowed to pick passengers up from the street or a taxi stand.

They have to be booked in advance via the app.

While taxi drivers have asked for licences to be made compulsory for private-hire drivers, Uber drivers have noted that the app asks for customers' ratings that can affect a driver's standing within the company. 

Drivers who are not rated well can be suspended. 

2. Rentals?

Generally, a taxi driver has to pay more rental than an Uber driver choosing to rent a car.

A taxi driver has to rent a taxi from any one of the seven taxi operators in Singapore. The rental rates vary according to the operator and the type of taxi.

Currently, they can range from $70 to $115 per day, according to latest figures on the LTA website.

However, past media reports have shown that rental costs are often above $100 and can go up to $135 for newer models of taxis.

Meanwhlie, Uber drivers can choose to drive their own car or rent a car.

To keep rental cost lows, companies like Uber and GrabCar have been snapping up used vehicles to grow their rental fleet.

An Uber driver who spoke to The Straits Times in June said he paid $65 a day to rent a Toyota Altis.

To drive their own car, this is what they need:

Credit: Uber

3) Earnings

Taxi drivers get to keep all of their earnings after taking into account rental and fuel.

On the other hand, Uber drivers get to keep 80 per cent of it while 20 per cent goes back to the company.

It's not clear who takes home more at the end of the day - it depends on the number of trips each person takes.

But both systems have its advantages and disadvantages.

It must also be noted that at most times, the price of booking an UberX comes close - or is sometimes cheaper - than a taxi.

4. Mileage

Unlike taxi drivers, UberX drivers are in complete control over the number of trips they want to take on.

In 2014, LTA introduced new requirements for taxi drivers to meet.

They would have to meet a daily minimum mileage of 250km on weekdays. And during the peak periods, 85 per cent of a taxi company's fleet must also be on the roads.

5. Incentives

While taxi drivers are imposed with a minimum requirement, UberX drivers are rewarded with incentives instead.

A look at the incentives for drivers on the Uber website shows that drivers are rewarded for making trips during peak hours.

For example: If a driver drove for 75 peak supply hours and made 1.9 trip per hour, he or she is guaranteed $2,700.

The peak hours during the weekdays are from 7am to 11am and 5pm to 11pm. And peak hours on weekends are from 10am to 10pm.

On top of that, there is also a loyalty incentive based simply on the number of trips made over a period of time.

If a driver made 100 trips per week for the last four weeks, the driver will earn $400.

Many taxis run on cheaper fuel such as natural gas - so taxi drivers tend to save on fuel compared with UberX drivers.

However, UberX drivers who drive their own cars are required by the company to show proof of a more comprehensive insurance meant for commercial purposes. 

Rental companies which rent their cars to UberX drivers are also on comprehensive insurance.


Quan Yifeng's daughter scores role in blockbuster China TV drama

Quan Yifeng (right) hugs her daughter Eleanor Lee.

She's only 16 but she's already going places.

Quan Yifeng's daughter Eleanor Lee has just scored a role in upcoming blockbuster China TV drama, Tribes And Empires.

In the show, she plays the younger self of the lead actress Karlina Zhang and will appear in the first eight episodes of the 50-episode series.

Since Eleanor starred in an Apple commercial (below) for China in February, she has been offered roles in four movies and TV dramas, according to her godfather, local celebrity hairstylist Addy Lee.


In fact, she just flew back from a three-day shoot in Spain for an ice cream commercial. 



But Lee (above, in grey, doing Eleanor's hair) said that he and Quan have had to reject all four shows as the filming schedules would interrupt Eleanor's studies.

He told The New Paper: "Me and Eleanor's mum are very strict with her.

"We finally agreed to let her act in Tribes And Empires because the filming for the show would not interfere with her studies.

"We told her that if she wants to continue acting, then she has to keep her grades up.

"For me, that means that she should get all As and is only allowed to score two Bs, for her exams.

"Eleanor said that she would try her best."

The doe-eyed beauty used to score Cs for Chinese until two years ago when she mixed more with her schoolmates from China at the international school that she attends here.

Nowadays, Lee said that she scores A for Chinese, which would stand her in good stead when she flies to Hengdian in December to film for Tribes And Empires.

So what is her weakest subject that she needs to work on?


Eleanor Lee is a budding model and actress at 16. PHOTO: ADDY LEE

Joked Lee: "Eleanor is just like her mum, both of them are bad at Maths.

"They both don't know how to 'count' money well.

"The money that Eleanor earns from her commercials and acting jobs is in safe hands with the management team that has been hired to look out for her interests.

"She will also have people I trust who will follow her when she goes overseas for filming."

Eleanor told Shin Min that she is looking forward to playing her character in Tribes And Empires.

This is because her straight-talking character "who dares to anger in order to express her opinion" reminds her of herself.

Of the acting classes that she has taken up, she said: "My teacher said that I was too good at controlling myself.

"So I had to learn to relax myself. Only then could I cry.

"Crying scenes worry me the most."

Eleanor is signed to Beijing Shen Yi Entertainment which manages China artistes like Li Sheng, Wan Qian and Gao Ziqi. 

Quan told Shin Min that she was initially worried about her daughter following her footsteps, career-wise.

"My daughter is only 16 and I thought she would find acting very awkward.

"She's not a child actress, she's also not mature.

"But her management company likes her a lot as they feel that she is very likeable.

"I am happy that they have made great efforts to make sure Eleanor's studies have not been disrupted."

China president turns down helping to name Mark Zuckerberg's unborn baby

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (right) and wife Priscilla Chan.

China president Xi Jinping said no to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and he was firm about it too.

Never mind that both men and their spouses, along with the Obamas, were attending a White House state dinner last week that also saw many VIPs from the US tech and media sectors in attendance.

Mr Zuckerberg had made the request of asking Mr Xi to help him and his wife Priscilla Chan give their unborn baby girl a Chinese name.

Shanghaiist reported that in front of everyone there, Mr Xi firmly declined, saying that it would be "too much responsibility".

According to Page Six, Mr Zuckerberg had spoken in Mandarin to Mr Xi but that had not helped his cause one bit.

Mr Zuckerberg's response to the snub has not been reported .

Source: Shanghaiist, Page Six

Since Mr Xi declined, maybe Singaporeans can help Mr and Mrs Zuckerberg.

Take our poll:





Tuition centre shames kids publicly over unpaid fees

Banners like this one were hung up in public places, shaming the kids whose parents allegedly didn't pay their tuition fees.

A tuition centre in Selangor allegedly posted banners of four children whose parents did not pay fees.

Major Chinese newspapers in Malaysia reported that the banners were spotted around Sungai Long and Cheras last Friday (Oct 2).

Parent Vinne Chin said she stopped sending her son to the centre in Kajang after five months as he was not improving academically and paid up after he left.

But the centre’s management claimed she did not settle her May payment.

The property agent, 39, told The Star:

 "I paid his fees on May 12. Suddenly in July, they called and said I did not pay.

"I was shocked and they resorted to humiliating my son by posting a banner in his school."

Ms Chin said she received a warning on Sept 12 in a text message in Mandarin stating that if she does not pay her tuition fees immediately, they will take drastic measures.

She added: "I saw a banner of the four kids including my son on Oct 3. We took it down immediately.”

The banner, captioned in Mandarin, read: "Owe tuition fees but refuse to pay up! Do they deserve such parents!"

A mother, known only as Ling, told Guang Ming Daily she learned about the incident after her friends alerted her that her son's picture was featured on the banners.

She admitted she owed the centre RM600 (S$195), adding that she had been facing financial difficulties.

Describing the banners as “too much”, she said she would settle the fees and demand an apology from the tuition centre, The Malaysian Insider reported.

Netizens decried the tuition centre's loanshark tactics.



Tuition Centre in Sungai Long operating like Ah Long.Shame on you.

Posted by Francis Gomes on Monday, October 5, 2015



Balakong assemblyman Eddie Ng said a girl did not want to go to school because she was afraid her friends would humiliate her over the banner. 

At a meeting with the parents this morning, he told them he felt the situation was unfair for the children:  

"I have spoken to the parents and I feel pity for their kids."

While he was not against any party in the dispute, Mr Ng said that if the centre does not respond in the next few days, police action would be taken.

He added: "I also hope that the parents do not take advantage of the situation because I am helping them with the issue of the banner.”

He also said that if the parents have not paid, they should make arrangements with the tuition centre to settle their dues quickly.

Sources: Star Online, The Malaysian Insider, Guang Ming Daily, Facebook

Man, 42, assisting police after death of five-year-old son at Leedon Heights

The scene at Leedon Heights on Tuesday (Oct 6) morning.

UPDATE: The 42-year-old man will be charged in court on Wednesday (Oct 7) with murder. 

A 42-year-old man is assisting police in the investigation of the death of his five-year-old son. 

A police spokesman said the man was found injured outside the Bukit Timah Neighbourhood Police Centre at about 5.10am this morning. 

An ambulance was called and the man was taken to hospital for treatment. 

Subsequent investigations led the police to the man's home at D'Leedon condominium at Leedon Heights, off Farrer Road. 

There, the man's son was found lying motionless in a bedroom. 

He was pronounced dead by paramedics at about 6.15am. 

Police have classified the case as one of unnatural death. 



The New Paper understands the family is of European origin and consular officials were seen visiting the property. 

At about 9.15am, a distraught-looking woman was seen talking to police officers outside the building. 


Read the full report in our print edition on Oct 7.

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