Colombian President wins Nobel Peace Prize

Mr Santos (above)
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Hartono finishes second in Sing! China

Nathan Hartono performing during the Sing! China finals.
Nathan Hartono performing during the Sing! China finals.

Singaporean singer Nathan Hartono finished second in the first season of Sing! China on Friday (Oct 7).

Hartono had 45,613 votes compared to the winner Jiang Dunhao, 21, who had 59,882 votes.

For a while, it looked hopeful as Hartono's performance of The Longest Movie garnered him a total of 35,577 audience votes.

He was the third to perform in the second round of the final held at the National Stadium in Beijing, and had kept his top spot, until Jiang Dunhao (below), 21, from Chinese rocker Wang Feng's team came up.


Jiang glided easily to the top with 39,962 votes from the audience following his performance of Wang's River. Both Hartono and Jiang went on to compete in the final round.

First to perform, the Indonesian-Chinese sang a medley of Singaporean Mavis Hee's classic Moonlight In The City and Hong Kong diva Anita Mui's Woman Flower, where he even pulled off a mimic of an erh hu instrument. Up next was Jiang, 21, from Xinjiang, who sang mentor Wang's Window Sill.

In a Whatsapp voice message to The New Paper, Hartono said: "It's an amazing feeling, it's a great weight off my shoulder. (While) I've been pretty relaxed throughout this entire process, every song tonight was a big challenge for me.

"There was a new obstacle in every song and I am happy I got through it."

Nathan Hartono (right) performs with Jay Chou during the Sing! China final. PHOTO: YOUTUBE / SING!CHINA OFFICIAL

Local video game Masquerada is truly a work of art

A GameStart Asia 2016 attendee tries out Masquerada.
A GameStart Asia 2016 attendee tries out Masquerada.

It uses a rustic art style inspired by French comic books while boasting a cast of prominent voice actors from the US.

But under the beautiful mask of Masquerada: Songs and Shadows lies a heart that was conceived and built – right here, in Singapore.

After two years of development, the 2.5D isometric tactical role-playing game by local game maker Witching Hour Studios was released for PC on Steam last Friday (Sept 30) for US$24.99 ($34).

It is also available to try out this weekend at GameStart Asia 2016, which is being held at Suntec Convention Centre Halls 405 and 406 from 11am to 8pm.

Masquerada is such a gorgeous game, Witching Hour creative director Ian Gregory Tan often hears gamers say they cannot believe it was fully-developed in the Lion City.

"I get it all the time - including the other games we make!" the 31-year-old told The New Paper on the sidelines of GameStart on Friday.

"There's this general belief that Singaporeans are unable to lead creative endeavours.

"Masquerada is a project that, from pre-production and concept all the way down to the polish of the game, is Singaporean."

Witching Hour Studios creative director Ian Gregory Tan speaks to a gamer at GameStart Asia 2016 about Masquerada.
Witching Hour Studios creative director Ian Gregory Tan speaks to a gamer at GameStart Asia 2016 about Masquerada. TNP PHOTO: GREGORY LOO

I gave the full version of Masquerada a whirl at GameStart - and I was certainly blown away.

The staff at Witching Hour have poured their hearts into the fictitious city of Ombre and it definitely shows.

From its beautiful art style to the depth of the game's lore - within Ombre there is a variety of castes and factions featuring a multitude of ranks - it is clear that the universe of Masquerada has been crafted with utmost love and care.

"The majority of what is awesome about the game's lore comes from Nicholas Chan, our in-house writer," said Mr Tan.

"He has built a world that is incredibly beautiful and melancholic."

The story follows Cicero Gavar, a former high-ranking official, who is summoned from exile back to Ombre to investigate the disappearance of a friend.

On top of that, the characters are brought to life by the wonderful voices of actors like Matthew Mercer (Leon S. Kennedy in Resident Evil), Jennifer Hale (Commander Shepard in the Mass Effect series), Ashly Burch (Tiny Tina from Borderlands 2) and Felicia Day, who is known for her roles in TV shows like Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Supernatural.

And like any good detective novel, Masquerada's intriguing story makes it almost impossible to put down - I only (reluctantly) left the Witching Hour booth after an hour of playing because I had work to do.

I'm certainly not alone.

To date, the game has been downloaded several thousand times on Steam according to Mr Tan and the feedback they have received on social media has been good.

The game currently has a rating of 8 out of 10 on Steam.

He said: "It's been really positive and I'm very glad that some people have been really touched by the story.

"These are very personable characters who are very realistic and go through their own trials and tribulations.

"Between that and the art and the music, the reviews have been very good. I've been getting a lot of personal e-mails from people who have been very taken by what they've seen."

Clearly, Masquerada is putting Witching Hour on the global map - something that all Singaporeans should be proud of.

This isn't just a world-class video game - it's truly a work of art.

Made in Singapore, no less.

TAXI TALK - This cabby's biggest bugbear: Young punks

Mr Jimmy Gan, 61, has been driving the taxi for 26 years.

In his 26 years as a taxi driver, Mr Jimmy Gan has probably seen it all.

Scheming passengers who bolt upon reaching their destinations to avoid paying the fare is nothing new - he has seen many such customers.

Among his toughest customers are "young punks" who board his cab in groups of three or four and direct him to multiple stops at various ends of the island, only to run off.

Mr Jimmy Gan used to own a renovation business before he became a taxi driver. TNP PHOTO: NOOR ASHIKIN ABDUL RAHMAN

He has also had his fair share of unwell passengers throwing up in his taxi.

But Mr Gan, 61, is not the one to harp on the negative.



Instead, the easy-going veteran cabby prefers to take everything in his stride.

He told The New Paper: "To tell you the truth, the bad overrides the good most of the time (in this industry). Perhaps it is my nature to forget them and not take them to heart.

"The day is still long, tomorrow will be a better day. So as far as possible, I try to make it easier on myself so that the job is less stressful.

"We give and take, we cannot take things too hard to survive in this world."

So how does he deal with difficult passengers or bad days?

Mr Gan takes coffee breaks, sometimes with his 'kakis' to recharge. TNP PHOTO: Noor Ashikin Abdul Rahman

"If I can sense that the passengers are (up to no good) and purposely making me drive all around the island, I will advise them to split cabs as that is more cost-effective for them. Usually, I'm pretty successful," he said.

And if passengers end up evading the fare, he let it slide.

"If it's only $10 or $20 then it's not a big bomb. Is it worth making you so unhappy? Forget it," said Mr Gan, who drives a Trans-Cab taxi.

Mr Gan, who does the early shift, became a taxi driver in 1990 after his renovation business failed.

The sole breadwinner and father of three grown children has been with multiple taxi companies over the years, including Comfort and CityCab.

On weekdays, he usually starts at about 6.30am and ends at 5.30pm.

Mr Gan with some of his fellow cabby buddies at lunch. TNP PHOTO: NOOR ASHIKIN ABDUL RAHMAN

He might be in his 60s and has been in the trade for far longer than his younger counterparts but he is far from "jaded".

Eager to learn and improve himself, Mr Gan signed up as a driver-partner with ride-hailing service Grab in 2013.

He had initial reservations about the service but was eager to try it out for himself.

He admitted that many of his friends - both taxi drivers and non-taxi drivers alike - constantly debated the pros and cons of ride-hailing services like Grab.

"There was even quarrelling among ourselves, with some saying that it was stealing their rice bowl. I told them, 'If you can't beat them, join them. Why not?" he said.

According to Mr Gan, he has enjoyed a 15 per cent increase in income since joining Grab.

Before this, he earned anything from $20 to $100 daily.

But a steady income is little comfort for some of his cabby friends within his age group.

"Some of them are not willing to learn, some are also stubborn. But I always tell them that is they are not willing to change or upgrade, they will become obsolete one day," he said.




1 When all the taxi drivers seem to 'change shift' all day...

"Sometimes, these drivers need to run an errand so they will switch on the 'Change Shift' sign. That is the good thing about this job, the freedom for the driver that can comes with it. But if taxi drivers do not indicate that and turn passengers away or insist that they are only going to a particular destination, then they are inviting complaints," said Mr Gan.

2 When taxi drivers drive too fast or too slow...

Inform them - it's that simple.

"I prefer passengers informing me nicely instead of just keeping quiet and then writing a negative feedback later on," he said.

3 When taxi drivers are unsure of the route...

Simply ask the passenger if they have a preferred route.

"Some taxi drivers I know, usually the newer ones, are too shy to ask in case they lose face. Even after 26 years, there are many corners of Singapore that I am unfamiliar with. We are all learning every day," said Mr Gan.

4 When passengers bring the King of Fruits into the vehicle...

Long story short - don't. It takes a long time to get rid of the smell of durians.

"We ferry passengers all day. When the smell circulates in the cab, thanks to the aircon filter, it takes two or three days before it completely disappears. When that happens, passengers might complain or send us a feedback," he said.

5 When taxi drivers seem to take the longer route...

"We typically take the fastest route to the destination so that we can pick up other passengers. More often than not, taxi drivers do not mean to take the wrong or longer route but they are unsure and are too shy to ask the passengers," said Mr Gan.


Taxi Talk - This taxi driver is a passionate biker

He's deaf and driving for Uber

Cumberbatch helps launch kids charity initiative

Doctor Strange is taking his heroics off-screen.

British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, 40, has launched Hero Acts, a Marvel campaign for international charity Save The Children.

Marvel Studios has pledged to donate US$5 (S$7) for every fan who uploads a photo of himself striking a superhero pose to, up to US$1 million.

Said Cumberbatch in a video released yesterday: "We filmed Doctor Strange in Nepal and several other countries and everywhere we went in the world, I met Marvel fans.

"But I also saw kids who are facing enormous challenges, challenges that no one should ever have to face. With the help of our fans, Hero Acts can change that."

The superhero film Doctor Strange, opens here Oct 27, also stars Rachel McAdams and Tilda Swinton.



Miss Universe Singapore 2016

Joeypink Lai. 24, Real Estate Agent.

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DiCaprio to swop Hollywood for Mars?

Is Leonardo DiCaprio really aiming for Mars?

While interviewing US President Barack Obama and climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe at the South By South Lawn talk on climate change on Monday, the 41-year-old US actor (right, with Mr Obama and Ms Hayhoe) let slip that he had signed up for a shuttle trip to Mars.

At one point, Ms Hayhoe brought up the importance of not getting overwhelmed by all the reports. Then she joked: "As long as we haven't signed up for the trip to Mars. I don't want to know if anybody has, I think you're crazy."

To which DiCaprio responded with an "I did", eliciting a comment from Mr Obama that "(DiCaprio) will acknowledge he's crazy".

DiCaprio was possibly referring to the trip to Mars planned by Canadian-US inventor Elon Musk, which will not take off until 2025.

Stefani looks to childhood for new show

US singer Gwen Stefani has shared the inspiration behind her animated show Kuu Kuu Harajuku, which airs on US children's network Nickelodeon.

"I loved make-up and hair and dressing up, and fantasy and playing house. I was so into all that stuff," said the 47-year-old.

"It's fun to be able to now put everything I love into something I think all little girls will love."

The show follows five girls - Love, Angel, Music, Baby and G - who form a band HJ5 as they live in their fictional Harajuku world. It premiered in the US this week.


S'porean arrested for supporting ISIS

THREAT: Terror group ISIS.
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