April 29, 2017

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2016

by Lim Qiu Ping

AS 2016 draws to a close, we bring you the lowdown on what has gotten people in Singapore salivating and queuing up during the year. These are 13 food items, ingredients, and ideas that had customers ooh-ing and food establishments jumping on the bandwagon to offer the same or something related.

 

1. Korean fried chicken

korean-fc

Image Crisp Korean Fried Chicken by Flickr user Edsel Little (CC By-SA 2.0)

Yes, the other sort of ‘KFC’ which has been available in Singapore for a few years now but only exploded in popularity in 2015. In 2016, popular food blogs are still listing where to find the best Korean fried chicken in town. Looks like the siren call of crispy skin and meaty goodness slathered with viscous sweet and savoury sauce is here to stay.

 

2. Churros

churros

Image #churros! by Flickr user Lim Ashley (CC By 2.0)

First, we saw churros as a dessert item in cafes. And then, churros chain shops such as Churros Factory and Churros 101 started cropping up in the F&B scene in 2015. They are available even in our pasar malams, accompanied by local dips such as gula melaka. To date, the queue for this sugared fried dough remains.

 

3. Bingsu

bingsu

Image by Flickr user Lim Ashley (CC BY 2.0)

Shaved ice will always be appreciated in sunny Singapore. Throw in the Korean wave, the variety in flavours, fantastic designs and a bowl big enough to share; the popularity of bingsu has yet to abate after a year.

 

4. Light bulb drink

light-bulb-bub-tea

Image by Instagram User/ mr_mrs_p0tat0

Drinking from a light bulb is a new gimmick that has appeared this year. Bubbs, a Taiwanese bubble tea franchise which packages its drinks in a light bulb, opened a store in May. Then the Chicken Up Korean restaurant had a one-for-one light bulb drink promotion in August. There are now cafes providing their drinks in this adorable, Instagram-worthy container.

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5. Seafood white bee hoon

white-bee-hoon

Image White Bee Hoon by Flickr user Zhao! (CC BY 2.0)

Take pan-fried bee hoon and simmer it in flavourful seafood broth – this is the basics of the seafood white bee hoon. Years back, seafood white bee hoon first appeared in Sembawang and today, there are a restaurants and stalls offering their version of the dish.

 

6. Buttercream flower cake

buttercream-flower-cake

Image 버터플라워3 by Flickr user D Story (CC BY-ND 2.0)

The baking community is wowing over beautiful cake designs using buttercream flowers. The concept might be old, but this current trend originates from Korea, where baking enthusiasts and professionals re-created the Wilton buttercream flower techniques and equipment to startling effect. Just check out one such YouTube how-to video showing off the craft:

7. More cheese

cheese-fries

Image Curry Cheese Fries by Flickr user Chun Yip So (CC BY 2.0)

Swiss cheese fondue was once considered the fanciest cheese dish around. Today, cheese fries can be found even in your neighbourhood bubble tea shops. Currently, Korean and Thai barbeque restaurants are upping the ante by offering melted cheese to dip your slightly charred meats in. And let’s not forget the cheese tarts from Bake that are still commanding queues.

In the upmarket scene, the cheese wheel rolled into town this September. No longer is it enough to sprinkle cheese on your pasta – toss your noodles in it!

 

8. Re-inventions of toast

toast

Image French toast @ Wired Cafe @ Harakuju by Flickr user Gullhem Vellut (CC BY 2.0)

Ice-cream melting over the thick Shibuya toasts caught our attention in 2015, and this year, the gooey-centred richness of Lava toast takes its turn to wow us. Meanwhile, kaya toasts are perennially favoured, whether through the chain shops or the hidden gems. One principle is evident: toasted bread is in, whatever the form.

 

9. Rainbow foods

rainbow-dumplings

Image Rainbow bites by Flickr user kitty chirapongse (CC BY 2.0)

The rainbow cake had its turn in the spotlight in 2014, and some say the fad has cooled by now. The colour idea, however, persisted. Currently, rainbow creations include the kueh lapis, pudding cake, pancake, cake in a bottle, liqueur shots, bagel… And there is also a rainbow cheese toast. It is hard to imagine rainbow foods ever going away completely, especially when they are so Instagram-worthy.

 

10. Foods with salted egg yolk

liu-sha-bao

Image by Flickr user Felix Chia (CC BY 2.0)

If even McDonald’s is jumping on the bandwagon, things are serious. They tried to woo taste buds with their salted egg yolk burger but the bar had been set too high by June this year. Since the Golden Lava custard buns came into Singaporean’s consciousness a few years ago, products infused with this ingredient have expanded to include meats and seafood (other than crab), cakes, croissant, jams, dips, chips and many more.

Related: 5 must-try salted egg yolk foods

11. Hong Kong confectioneries

egg-tarts

Image Crispy Egg Tart by Flickr user Azchael (CC BY 2.0)

Conversations of Hong Kong foods no longer revolve around dim sum or teahouses. It is their big-name confectioneries that are garnering raves. The Jenny Bakery brand with its famed butter cookies got the first foot in late last year. Hot on its heel is Mr Rich Bakery brand. Then this year, Honolulu Café opened and their egg tarts are often sold out quickly.

The most recent player is Tai Cheong Bakery, and their egg tarts also command long queues.

 

12. Superfoods

acai

Image G by Flickr user André Schirm (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Eating food, more than just about the items consumed, is a mentality and behaviour. The movement towards a healthier lifestyle continues and the market for health products is growing.

Known superfoods such as kale and rocket leaves are now found in our supermarkets and the aisles for health foods are getting longer and more plentiful. The 2016 superfood buzzword is acai and there are now eateries dedicated to whipping up menu items of this berry-goodness.

Related: Will acai bowls help you lose weight?

13. Omakase

jap-chef

Image Itame by Flickr user Japanexperterna.se (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Local customers have become more discerning. Today, having a Japanese meal involves more than scoffing down as much cheap sushi as possible or hunting down the best-tasting ramen.

It is now about the exploration of the cuisine. “Omakase” means “I’ll leave it to you” and it will be up to the chef to surprise and delight you with exquisitely crafted items made from seasonal products. Establishments that have managed to balance between quality and budget – such as the Teppei Japanese Restaurant, with their meal sets priced from $40 to $60 – could have a waiting list that is months or, if the customer is fortunate, weeks long.

 

What else do you think qualifies as a food trend in 2016?

 

Featured image Cooking by Flickr user WorldSkills UK. (CC BY 2.0) 

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by Tan Chu Chze

THE year 2016 has been nothing short of crappy. Not that no good things have happened, but plenty of crazy things occupy our consciousness simply because they don’t make sense. And this is made obvious from the way we are choosing our words. Here are four words that have taken over our minds:

 

Post-truth
Oxford’s choice of word of the year are usually interesting ones. Last year’s was an emoticon. This year’s is ‘post-truth‘. The reason they seem like strange and novel choices is because they are also strange and novel words. Oxford Dictionary keeps track of words that people use – online and off – and takes note of words that spike in frequency. ‘Post-truth’ has become significant to our vocabulary that way.

It refers to circumstances where the objective ‘truth’ is no longer as important as subjective feelings. In definition, that sounds a lot like ‘populism’, which is probably the main impetus of the rise in the word ‘post-truth’. Yet, there remains a significant difference between the two words.

‘Post-truth’ appears to take ‘populism‘ to the next level. While ‘populism’ describes people voting irrationally, ‘post-truth’ bluntly posits that people are irrational. It is as if the word is playfully, yet ominously, ushering a new age in human development where logic and reason are suspended. How true is that? We’ll have to wait for 2017 to find out. But, it definitely deserves a place on the list as it seems indicative of a paradigm shift.

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Xenophobia
Also known as the fear, hatred, or dislike of anyone or anything foreign. Unlike Oxford Dictionary, Dictionary.com selected this word based on user searches, meaning a heckuva lot of people looked up ‘xenophobia‘ on their site. People seemed most interested in the word around June this year, following Brexit.

What this means is that people generally wanted to understand or clarify the meaning of ‘xenophobia’. The word itself isn’t new or particularly rare in public use, but the fact that it was searched so many times shows that people were becoming more conscious of it. Perhaps other people are using it more in everyday speech, or are hearing it in the news more often… but what is certain is that we want to know its meaning.

‘Xenophobia’ finds its place on this list because it gives name to the demon that possesses our society. It has spawned other monsters, such as populism and terrorism and let loose the biggest monster of all, chaos.

 

Surreal
Merriam-Webster’s offering takes a similar approach to Dictionary.com – it selected ‘surreal‘ for an unusually high number of searches on its site. The searches had three significant surges this year. They were during the Brussels terror attacks in March, the Turkish coup and Nice attacks in July, and finally the US presidential elections in November.

While these events are undoubtedly real, they felt surreal, which is the feeling of intense irrational reality of a dream. If that is the case, 2016 is nothing short of a nightmare the world is waiting to wake up from.

Of course, not all surreal moments are reflective of bad ones. Joseph Schooling’s gold at the Olympics is a clear (good) dream come true. At least for Singapore lah huh. However, other moments like the seemingly unrelenting list of celebrity deaths easily overshadow that joy. If anything, the interest in the word ‘surreal’ shows that this year has been especially difficult to make sense of, even after finding the meaning of the word.

Here’s our take on the word applied to Singapore.

 

Trump
If one could personify everything that is post-truth, xenophobic and surreal, it would have to be – unquestionably – Trump. His name encapsulates the irony that pervades 2016: literally meaning “to win”, but really representing a loss. Donald Trump continues to defy common sense, being a businessman to take US presidency while having the unpopular vote. Completely unpresidented unprecedented.

And for being vacuous and polarising yet absolutely and unpalatably irresistible, Trump was named Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. He is so hard to ignore, and on that virtue alone ‘trump’ finds a place on this list whether we like it or not.

 

Featured image “The most pathetic person in the world is someone who has sight, but has no vision.”Helen Keller by Flickr user Kate Ter Haar. (CC BY 2.0) 

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A flip clock showing 8:30am
Morning call at 8.30!

GOOD morning, everyone! It’s the last day of the year. Are you glad to see the back of 2016? The world has one more day to survive before flipping open a new chapter and going by what happened yesterday, it’s safely boring.

Hopefully, it will stay that way even as New Year parties get into full swing. Revellers the world over can expect more security checks at countdown parties tonight. One security innovation is to place water trucks in strategic places to prevent any mad driver from crashing through crowds, a tactic which is finding favour among terrorists.

Here in Singapore, those going to Marina Bay for the nation’s biggest party can expect bag checks and long queues at entrances. With 30,000 people expected, let’s hope they get to party before midnight.

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Singapore’s nine Terrex vehicles, however, will be spending New Year’s Day in Hong Kong. Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen said in a Facebook post the Government is working at all levels to get the vehicles, detained since Nov 23, back home. It is being done “quietly and out of the limelight where it is more effective”. He’s telling everyone to view the seizure “in its proper context”.  It isn’t even an existential or potential threat like terrorism, he said. That’s true but hopefully, he will elaborate on what is the “proper context” to view such an unfriendly act by the Hong Kong authorities and whether China, which has been assiduously absent from official communications, has a part to play.

Still on security. The fuss over hiring Taiwanese as auxiliary police officers here continues with Certis Cisco now touching on the issue of pay. It is maintaining that Singaporeans will still get a bigger salary package than potential foreign recruits. Successful Taiwanese candidates, for example, will get a $4,000 bonus – $2,000 upon joining and $2,000 when they complete the two-year contract. Singaporean APOs, however, are offered a bonus of $15,000 – $5,000 upon joining and $10,000 when they complete a three-year contract. Singaporeans also don’t need to be graduates to be employed.

So Certis Cisco is maintaining that it has to look abroad for manpower simply because there aren’t many takers for the job here. But the question it hasn’t answered is: Why Taiwan?

 

Featured image from TMG file.

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by Felix Cheong

 

6. Let’s talk about sex, baby

IT WAS the stuff of dirty memes and dirtier jokes, a line that could have been scripted by the wise guys behind The Noose.

But nay. It came from the horse’s mouth – specifically, Senior Minister of State Josephine Teo’s: “You need a very small space to have sex.”

This was uttered, straight-faced but not so straitlaced, as a rejoinder to young couples’ complaints that they need a flat first to have a child. (Mrs Teo oversees the National Population and Talent Division.)

However pro-procreation her message is, you can’t help but wonder what kind of kinky subculture has just been endorsed by the G.

Closet sex, crawlspace sex, car sex – if it can barely fit two bare bodies, it’s fair game and game on!

 

7. Paging Kenneth Yeo Wee

What do you do when your boss tasks you to find a replacement for Kenneth Yeo Wee? Why, you advertise for a replacement for Kenneth Yeo Wee, of course!

This was the duh! moment the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA, renamed IMDA after its merger with MDA in August) had to deal with in June. The job posting for a permanent, middle-level position was inadvertently advertised on several job portals as “Replacement for Kenneth Yeo Wee”.

The statutory board had to make a sheepish apology and the human resource employee responsible for the boo-boo was duly “counselled” (civil-service speak for a dressing down). It was not reported if he was made to post a job ad calling for a replacement for himself.

Come 2020, perhaps he might be called upon to write an ad for “Replacement for Lee Hsien Loong”.

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8. Color Me Badd

Three incidents this year have coloured my perception whether Racial Harmony Day (celebrated annually on July 21) should simply be renamed Racial Cosplay Party.

Despite multiculturalism being central to the Singapore Core, there is still a lot of cultural ignorance. Three such boo-boos took place in October, one after the other.

The first was The Smart Local’s not-so-smart and definitely-not-very-local video titled “Singaporeans Try: Indian Snacks”. (The title itself is a dead giveaway of the ignoramus – or ignoramuses – behind it.)

It featured the website’s staff (presumably Singaporean) eating Indian snacks as if they were on Fear Factor trying alien food.

That naturally alienated many Singaporean Indians. To add chilli padi to the injury, the video ended with a cheery “Happy Deepavali”.

As my grandmother used to scold me: “Happy your head ah!”  

In the same week, Mediacorp’s online streaming service Toggle found itself toggling between sheepishness and rueful apology when it pulled an episode of its drama series I Want to be a Star from circulation.

The reason? Actor Shane Pow was seen wearing an Afro wig and, more embarrassingly, black face make-up.

The Pow! that greeted such blatant racism on social media was heartening. But within a few days, it was upstaged by another incident.

A Cold Storage outlet had put up a sign advertising a 38 per cent Deepavali discount on beef – perhaps a last-ditch attempt to beef up sales?

That this is akin to a Hari Raya promo on pork must’ve been lost on the junior staff who had put this up. To its credit, the supermarket chain quickly stopped the promo and apologised for its staff’s insensitivity.

That such incidents crop up almost every year – remember actress Sharon Au imitating an Indian girl’s accent during a National Day event last year? – show multiculturalism here is still very much a work in progress.

 

9. You can’t tell it’s a fake?

When a camera manufacturer can’t tell if a winning photo has been doctored, it’s time for a face-palm moment.

This was exactly what happened in January when Nikon awarded the first prize of its photography contest to Mr Chay Yu Wei.

His winning shot, titled “Look Up”, showed a plane flying overhead, framed by a ladder.

If Nikon had bothered to look up such an image and/or look closely at it, it would’ve known the shot wasn’t an original idea and, more importantly, spotted the telltale signs of Photoshop.

Instead, it had to wait for netizens to do the CSI and out the cheat, who apologised for his “mistake”, claiming his aim in adding the plane was “just for fun”.

The excuse certainly didn’t fly with anyone, especially since it was clearly a photography competition, not Photoshop.

 

10. Ho Ho Ho! Just monkeying around

By far the most tantalising malu moment this year must be Ms Ho Ching’s April post of a monkey raising its middle finger.

That such a rude photo was uploaded on Twitter by the Prime Minister’s wife – and the CEO of Temasek Holdings – was newsworthy enough. But it was the timing that had tongues wagging and wags telling tall tales.

This was in the middle of a public spat between Mr Lee Hsien Loong and his sister, Dr Lee Wei Ling, over the first-year commemoration of their father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Names like “dishonorable son” were called. The Straits Times got dragged into the mess because Dr Lee’s regular column was scrapped. There were accusations of censorship and talk of plagiarism.

Lee v Lee – it was as good a prelude as it got to the Hollywood summer blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

In the end, it took a monkey – rightfully, in the Year of the Monkey – to break the stalemate.

Ms Ho, describing herself as a “Twitter newbie”, apologised for her mis-tweet.

By way of mending fences, she also said: “There are enough troubles in the world. Far from adding oil to fires, I would prefer we try to solve and resolve problems, among friends, within families and between neighbours.”

Nice move – using laughter to deflate tension, deflect attention and direct people to see sense.

 

This is my last And on Saturday column. Thanks for reading my pieces over the past year. It’s been a fun ride/write. Have a great Christmas!

 

Featured image by Sean Chong.

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by Bertha Henson

PIP wondered if his clique will remain the same when kindergarten starts next year. There goes Dud Teh brandishing his gun again and getting really buddy-buddy with Chin. And look at Nah Jeep pushing around that new girl in town, telling her to be nice to his distant relatives.

And who knows what Joko’s thinking? Pip was getting fed-up. He can’t fly his remote controlled planes into Joko’s backyard and he still hasn’t got his trucks back from Hong Kee.

Oh no, he thought, here comes trouble… Chin was stomping over.

Chin grinned: “Look at my new toy. It can go underwater, you know. Stole it from the big white house down the road. Haha! Hey, Dud Teh, come play with me!”

Dud Teh trotted up, pleased that he wasn’t the only one who was getting on the nerves of those people living in the big White House. He had been standing outside the fence calling them names.

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Pip looked at Dud Teh, who came over to his house for dinner last week. He was really popular. Pip wished he was as popular. Then again, he was treated really well when he went over to the big white house a few months ago. But what’s the point? The owner has sold the place to a billionaire tycoon who probably doesn’t even know anything about the neighbourhood.

Oh no, Chin is walking over…

Chin teased: “Hey pipsqueak! Playing with your imaginary trucks? Haha. Told you not to get too friendly with the people in the big white house and to say bad things about me…”

Pip squeaked: “But I didn’t. Never… I just said that you shouldn’t be pissing into the pond because we all swim in it. Hey, can you tell Hong Kee to return me my trucks? My family wants them back. They’ve been nagging me.”

Chin harrumphed and walked away with Hong Kee trailing in his wake.

Nah Jeep sidled up to Pip.

Nah Jeep beamed: “It’s okay. We still have our train set to play with.”

Pip looked at Nah Jeep, wondering how many Lego bricks he would have to come up with to build the train set. Nah Jeep looks pretty smug, he thought. He was the life of the party when he held a party in his house last month. He seemed to have shrugged off all accusations about stealing from the family kitty.

Pip shut his ears. Loud country and western music was blaring from the big white house. Goodness! Are the new owners already moving in? And is that Chin’s hated cousin going down the road to meet them with a bowl of Taiwanese noodles? Chin saw that too and he was going ballistic, almost nuclear.

The clique stopped playing and held their breath. They weren’t the only ones watching. The kids in the other kindergarten which taught cheese-making and beer-brewing were also watching, although the little union was missing the one they called Jack.

Poor Jack, thought Pip. He will be buying clothes from the karang guni man soon because he didn’t think with his head.

Pip’s reverie was interrupted by the sound of bellowing. The tycoon in the big white house was having a karaoke session, despite Chin’s consistent heckling. The tycoon sounded drunk. “Too much vodka,” thought Pip.

It’s time, thought Pip, to take cover.

 

For more of our world news coverage, read other pieces here:

  1. Trump-China tension takes the spotlight
  2. The news – according to Donald Trump
  3. Indonesia and SIA: Bullying in progress?
  4. Terrex APC seizure: What do we think? How do we react?
  5. Return our… SAF vehicles!
  6. Return our… SAF trucks! Part 2
  7. Toy Story: The return of the SAF trucks
  8. Terrex tank seizure: Hold your fire
  9. An FAQ guide to the SG-KL High-Speed Rail
  10. NDR 2016: On China and other foreign relations
  11. Headlines around the world: Tribunal ruling on the South China Sea
  12. Hague ruling: China rebuked at least six times
  13. Frenemies in the South China Sea?
  14. Treading lightly on 1MDB
  15. Infographic: The 1MDB saga, so far
  16. 1MDB: Foreign watchdogs come sniffing…
  17. What’s the fuss about 1MDB?
  18. Is Brexit an “own goal” for Britain?
  19. How to brace for Brexit (if it even worries you)
  20. Just in: Britain’s out
  21. Bad Brexit! Bad!
  22. Word in the New$: Brexit
  23. Brexit: Buyer’s remorse, the morning after
  24. Don’t get all stupid over Brexit
  25. Why some see Brexit as a golden (literally) opportunity

 

Featured image by Sean Chong.

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skillsfuture_300x250

by Iffah Nadhirah Osman

IT FEELS like we just welcomed 2016 yesterday. Before you know it, we’re left with the last few days before 2017 arrives. So much has happened this year and it wouldn’t be complete without a summary of it. If you felt the year passing by like a flash and missing out on these happenings, you can do a catch up here. In no particular order, here are the top 10 most unforgettable moments of this year:

 

1. Joseph Schooling won Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal

On Aug 13, Singapore received good news from the Olympics at Rio as swimmer Joseph Schooling won the country’s first gold medal in the 100m butterfly event. Schooling beat Michael Phelps with a timing of 50.39 seconds. Phelps was nearly a second behind Schooling, clocking 51.14 seconds.

Being able to swim with his idol, Phelps, and winning the race “feels surreal” to Schooling. He went back to his alma mater, Anglo-Chinese School (Junior), and inspired youths of the next generation. Parliament House was also one of the destinations that Schooling visited with his parents. In this very rare occasion, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong asked for a selfie with Schooling, who has brought pride to this little red dot.

 

2. Donald Trump in the United States presidential election

The words coming out from his mouth leaves you in disbelief at times. It was down to the two candidates in the US presidential election – Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Both were debating and trying to win the hearts of their people in order to be voted the 45th US president.

During the final presidential debate, Mr Trump claimed that “nobody has more respect for women than I do”. His “locker room talk” has been exposed, where he made obscene comments that sexualise women. He even dragged Mrs Clinton’s husband Bill Clinton into the picture, indicating that he had done things far worse.

As if saying that wasn’t enough on national television, he added that Mrs Clinton is a “nasty woman“. Mr Trump is now President-elect, waiting for his inauguration on Jan 20, next year. Do you trust that he’ll “make America great again”? We’ll see.

 

3. Nigel Farage resigned as United Kingdom Independent Party leader

After Nigel Farage successfully campaigned UK to leave the European Union, he decided to take a rest. A referendum was held on June 23 and 52 per cent of all who voted chose to leave EU while 48 per cent voted to stay. Leaving the EU also meant that UK’s economy would suffer. The pounds fell to and remained a 30-year low when Brexit happened.

Many were also annoyed that Mr Farage had made an empty promise. He had disowned the pledge he made to spend £350 million from the EU cash on UK’s National Health Services after Brexit. On the day that the results of the referendum were out, he denied that he made such a pledge. Mr Farage said that it “was one of the mistakes that I think the Leave campaign made”. In order for this separation to happen, UK and EU have to come to an agreement under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which is hoped to be triggered by end March 2017. It is then expected that UK will officially part with the EU by the summer of 2019.

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4. Battle of the 7s

Do you prefer the Samsung Galaxy Note7 or the iPhone 7? Note7 was launched in August, while iPhone 7 was released in September. But Samsung’s plan of an earlier release date backfired. News from around the world has reported that the Note7 would catch fire while charging. It exploded in a man’s pocket, causing burns on his leg.

After much complaints, Note7 was recalled. Not once, but twice. Meanwhile, loyal fans of Apple queued overnight to get their iPhone 7 the moment it was released in Singapore. So far, the only issue with iPhone 7 are customers not getting their preferred handsets as stocks run out quickly.

 

5. Pokemon gotta catch em all

Fans of Pokemon were excited when news broke that the Pokemon Go game was finally released in Singapore and 14 other countries on Aug 6. If you thought this game would only attract youths, you’re wrong. Even adults were seen playing this mobile game. Players would do anything to get the rare Pokemon breeds into their Pokedex. You’ll see a crowd camping at a Pokestop or areas where you can get these Pokemon.

But before that, the Singapore authorities are quick to warn players not to enter restricted areas and always put their personal safety at the front. Four months in and Niantic Inc announced that the latest Pokemon called Togepi and Pichu from the Johto region of Pokemon Gold and Silver are available. On top of that, limited edition Pokemon Pikachu in a Santa hat is out there until Dec 29, waiting to get caught by trainers.

 

6. S R Nathan died at 92

This year, we lost our Former President S R Nathan, at age 92. He suffered complications resulting from a stroke that occurred more than two weeks prior and passed on at the Singapore General Hospital on Aug 22.  He left his wife, daughter, son and three grandchildren. PM Lee Hsien Loong who has known him for 40 years described him as “a man guided by a deep sense of duty to the nation” and “a true son of Singapore”.

Many netizens also shared this period of sadness. Thousands went to pay their last respect to Mr Nathan at the Parliament House and visited the Istana to write on the condolence board. They waited under the hot sun for hours but that didn’t matter. During the State Funeral Procession, Mr Nathan’s casket, placed on the 25-pounder gun carriage, passed by significant landmarks and was greeted by Singapore citizens along the roads.

 

7. Minister Heng Swee Keat is up on his feet again

Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat collapsed during a Cabinet meeting on May 12. It was said that the sudden stroke occurred due to a ruptured aneurysm. Mr Heng was immediately attended to by three doctors in the Cabinet and sent to Tan Tock Seng Hospital for a surgery.

After six days of suffering from severe stroke, he woke up, scribbled on a paper asking, “Is there a Cabinet meeting today? Where are the papers?”. His month and a half stay at the hospital ended on June 25. Mr Heng resumed work and was able to talk and walk normally. In The Straits Times interview published on Dec 18, Mr Heng talked about the Future Economy as well as his journey to recovery.

 

8. Zika virus outbreak in Singapore

The first case of the imported Zika virus was reported on May 13. The patient was a 48-year-old Permanent Resident of Singapore had travelled to Sao Paulo, Brazil. Three months afterwards, Singapore reported its first locally-transmitted Zika virus infection. Aljunied Crescent/Sims Drive was identified as the largest Zika cluster and at one point, had 298 reported cases of infection.

On Aug 31, a pregnant woman who lived in the Aljunied area contracted the disease. It’s risky for the babies as the virus can cause birth defects such as microcephaly and brain damage.  Pregnant women who develop fever, rash, red eyes or joint pain are encouraged to test for the virus. The G has taken serious measures to try and curb the disease from spreading by implementing vector control.

 

9. Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen ranked 77 on US Billboard Hot 100 Charts

So the Pen-Pineapple-Apple-Pen song hit the US Billboard Hot 100 Charts, ranking 77th, on Oct 29 in US. Kazuhiko Kosaka, also known as “Piko Taro”, 53, is the man behind the song that went viral. He received a Guinness award for the 45 seconds song, as it is the shortest song to have made it to the US charts. The video that was uploaded on Youtube on Aug 25 and currently has garnered over 102 million views.

It’s a simple song. Piko Taro danced while he imagined fusing an apple, pineapple, and pen together. Ever since the video was uploaded, more parodies and covers have appeared on the Internet. Piko Taro even recorded a video tutorial on the PPAP dance moves.

During a press conference at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan, Piko Taro premiered a “long version” of the PPAP song which lasted for two minutes.

 

10. Song Joong Ki in Descendants of the Sun 

Descendants of the Sun (DOTS) is a 16-episode Korean drama that has drawn much attention in Asia and other parts of the world. This show features heart-throb actor Song Joong Ki who plays the role of Captain Yoo Si Jin in the South Korean special forces. While it’s nice to have a fan base, Mr Song said that his privacy has been invaded. Pictures of his home to that his ex-girlfriend have been circulating.

That aside, Thailand’s Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha has also encouraged his people to watch the drama as it portrays traits such as “patriotism, sacrifice, obeying orders and being a dutiful citizen”. In China, DOTS hit 440 million views. The Chinese authorities have warned that watching it could be “dangerous and even lead to legal troubles”. The finale episode was aired on April 14 in South Korea and China but shown in Singapore a day later on streaming service, Viu.

 

Featured image Growing Social Media by Flickr user mkhmarketing. (CC BY 2.0)

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by Bertha Henson

IF IT’S not a dream nor a nightmare, it must be surreal. So many people looked up the word this year that the dictionary people at Merriam-Webster anointed it Word of the Year.

Meaning “marked by the intense irrational reality of a dream”, or “unbelievable, fantastic, the word joins Oxford’s “post-truth” and Dictionary.com’s “xenophobia” as the year’s top choices. The Merriam-Webster choice probably best captures the world’s amazement or rather, shock, at events such as the Brussels attack in March and the Bastille Day massacre in Nice in July. Then there was Britain’s decision to Brexit and Mr Donald Trump’s ascension to the White House.

Closer to home, there’s a Korean Rasputin who is causing the downfall of a President. And there’s yet another President who delights in calling US President Barack Obama names.

Note that the word “surreal” evokes more of a nightmarish quality than a dream-like state. Singapore had its surreal moments too in 2016. You might not agree with us, but here’s our list:

 

1. Singapore took an Olympic gold medal.

It isn’t just Joseph Schooling’s dream, but ours too. Who would have thought the 21-year-old could have beaten America’s great Michael Phelps in the pool? But he did so in 50.39 seconds in the 100m race. He received S$1 million in prize money, a standing ovation in Parliament and the adoration of citizens. Singapore would have moved from a surreal state to unreal if a public holiday had been declared as a result of the Olympic gold.

GOLDEN BOY: Joseph Schooling was spent most of the time on the top deck of the Duck & Hippo bus, waving at his supporters along the parade route. He did take occasional breaks by moving to the lower deck, when the parade bus was moving along the expressway. There were two Duck & Hippo buses that were a part of the parade entourage. Some of the media were on the same bus as him, while the rest were on the bus in front.
Joseph Schooling’s victory parade on Aug 18. (Photo: Najeer Yusof/TMG)

 

2. PM blacks out on national television.

After going on for about an hour at the National Day Rally on Aug 21, Singaporeans watch their prime minister stumble. Those at ITE College Central saw the flurry of activity on stage while those at home were left perplexed. Was it a heart attack? No, it was the heat and Mr Lee Hsien Loong was back to rallying the country after a little more than an hour. Well done, sir!

 

3. Zombies on the hunt.

They were walking across roads heedless of vehicles, gathering in parks and going bump in the night. Their eyes were glued on their mobile phones. One even found a real dead body at Woodlands Waterfront Jetty. The Pokemon Go virus infected whole families when it first reached Singapore’s shores on Aug 6. It appears, however, to have lost much of its infectious quality now.

Pokemon hunters at Yishun Park.
Pokemon hunters at Yishun Park on Aug 11. (Photo: Najeer Yusof/TMG)

 

4. Cabinet ruffled

While the guessing game was going on about who will succeed Mr Lee as Prime Minister, one of the front-runners collapsed at a Cabinet meeting. Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat, 55, suffered a stroke on May 12. Cabinet ministers must have been utterly stunned. But what is more surreal is that Mr Heng has fully recovered and is now back at work.

 

5. Dying on the tracks:

Two SMRT workers were hit and killed by an oncoming train while they were inspecting the tracks at Pasir Ris around 11.10am on Mar 22. How could this ever have happened? SMRT said the two men were part of a technical team investigating an alarm from a signalling monitoring device. The team of 15 men had been moving on the maintenance walkway in a single file, heading to where the equipment was when the accident happened. In April, SMRT acknowledged lapses in safety procedures, leading to the accident. And on Sept 14, SMRT sacked the train captain involved as well as an assistant engineer after an internal disciplinary inquiry.

Note though that the results of the investigations by the Land Transport Authority, the police and Manpower Ministry had not been released at that point. The coroners’ inquiry would also be made public only early next year. As a result, there was a public outcry at the perceived injustice.

Video taken from Voices of Singaporean Indians Facebook account.

Then came Dec 1. SMRT, the director of control operations Teo Wee Kiat and senior officer Lim Say Heng were charged by the Attorney-General’s Chambers. SMRT was charged under Section 12 of the Workplace Safety and Health Act, which states that it is the duty of every employer to take measures necessary to ensure the safety and health of employees at work so far as is reasonably practicable.

Teo Wee Kiat was charged because Section 48 (1) of the same Act states that an officer of the corporate body is by extension guilty of the offence committed. Lim Say Heng, one of the two men sacked, has been charged with causing death by a negligent act under the Penal Code.

The pre-conference trial has been set for Dec 30 and investigations to who else might be responsible for the accident are still not concluded. No humorous jab at this story. The surreality from this tragedy underscores how workplace safety should not be taken lightly.

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6. Mystery signals

Commuters using the Circle Line in the months of August, September and November had to endure stoppages and even suspension of mobile services because SMRT couldn’t pinpoint a signal interference affecting the trains. It got the telcos to jam phone signals and wags suggested that the line was haunted by Hungry Ghosts. Data scientists from Government Technology Agency were roped in to help figure that the fault lay in a particular train, dubbed “PV046”. Due to its defective signalling hardware, it was causing communication problems in surrounding trains and triggering their emergency brakes. Once PV046 was taken off the tracks, everything’s fine again.

 

7. No name, no blame

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong declined to name nor give details of sanctions imposed on 16 officials and healthcare workers who were tardy with the reporting of the Hep C outbreak in Singapore General Hospital last year. He told Parliament in April that he didn’t want to “develop a blame culture”. If not surreal, his explanation was at least eyebrow-raising.

 

8. Covered trains

So FactWire, a Hong Kong news agency, flew a drone over Jurong Port and snapped pictures of train carriages on their way to being shipped out in the dead of night. Surreally surreptitious. The report went viral. It claimed cracks have been found on the car bodies of 35 trains and Singapore had been quietly shipping them back to the manufacturers in Qingdao, China, for repairs. Immediately, questions of what, where, when, who, how and why arose.

Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said the matter has been “mis-spun into a controversy“. He attributed FactWire’s news to its anti-China political agenda and said that there is a difference between “safe” cracks and a “serious” one. Singaporeans – especially the six out of 10 who takes public transport regularly – must be pacified though.

Explaining why the public had never been told about the cracks, Mr Khaw said:

“[…] You have to weigh the downside of coming out with much ado about nothing when it’s not serious and cause unnecessary panic.”

Was it indeed “much ado about” nothing? You decide.

 

9. $2 chicken rice stall

It exists?! And it has been granted a Michelin star?! Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle at Chinatown Food Complex, owned by Mr Chan Hon Meng, has been selling his soya sauce chicken rice for $2 since 2008. For a taste of his food, patrons are willing to queue two hours. When asked how he could cater to the disappointed customers because he could only prepare and cook so many chickens a day, he replied: “Would you like to eat something good, or something not so good because I compromise?”

Video taken from Michelin Guide Singapore Facebook account.

 

10. TMG asking for donations

Sir, real. Really, sir, real. Because this is our aspiration: “We want to practise truthful reporting that is firmly embedded in the perspective of those occupying the middle ground. It’s not sexy or outrageous. Neither will our views be intemperate and immoderate. But we will take a stand because the middle ground is a quiet lot which deserves a voice.”

Let’s make it happen.

 

Featured image i am looking you by Flickr user Antonio LirioCC BY 2.0

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by Felix Cheong

IT’S a given that no year is complete without its share of boo-boos and gaffes. Sometimes, it’s just bad luck or bad timing; other times, poor foresight or even poor eyesight.

Whatever it is, 2016 was certainly rich in face-palm moments. Kicking off our roundup of the year, here’s my selection of the 10 most malu episodes in Singapore:

 

1. The Bermuda Triangle field

Beware, ye who liveth in Kim Keat Avenue. Beware the evil field that doth taketh a liking to anything with wheels.

An SMRT driver obviously didn’t heed this warning. While trying to take an off-service bendy bus on off-the-beaten-track shortcut in September, he found himself stuck in the field behind Block 195.

The obligatory tow truck came, but the field wasn’t obliging – it held the bus captive for some 10 hours.

You would’ve thought other drivers would do well to stay away. But no.

Two months later, an ambulance found itself mired in the same Bermuda Triangle – again, while trying to take a shortcut.

The rescue vehicle was itself “rescued” a few hours later.

Singapore Pools is currently taking bets that a third incident will take place anytime soon.

 

2. Self-driving into an accident

In the brave new world of artificial intelligence, machines are all about timing and precision. In October, that impeccable timing was put to the test.

Just a day before the Land Transport Authority (LTA) announced a trial run of driverless buses plying the Nanyang Technological University campus in 2018, a self-driving car unceremoniously hit a lorry at Biopolis.

Talk about bad timing. And the accident happened despite two engineers being onboard the nuTonomy vehicle travelling at a low speed. Why they didn’t hit the brakes is a mystery only a computer can figure out.

No injuries were reported, since a bruised ego isn’t technically reportable.

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3. Can’t get own house in order

Not to be outdone, SMRT – the butt of most of my jokes in my column this year – experienced a similar synchronicity in September.

First, it reported to the Singapore Exchange it was bidding for a public rail project in Bandung, Indonesia.

Fate, however, didn’t take kindly to SMRT biting off more than it can chew. The very next day, the Bukit Panjang LRT broke down for six hours – not the first, and certainly wouldn’t be the last.

It got so bad that a high-level SMRT executive opined that scrapping the entire line was one of the options being considered.

This was later dismissed as “not feasible” by Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan.

Which makes you wonder: If SMRT can’t even get its own house in order, why is it setting up house in someone else’s backyard, all the way in Indonesia? Payback time for the haze?

 

4. Putting your foot where your mouth is

Just when you thought we’ve evolved millennia away from the “Me Tarzan, You Jane” mentality, out pops lawyer Edmund Wong.

In August, while defending a student from China charged with molest, Mr Wong brought up two big reasons – or more politically incorrectly, the victim’s breasts.

He asked her to stand up so the court could see how attractive she is and said (this is so cringe-worthy it’s worth quoting verbatim): “I want to show that if she is wearing a very low cut (top) with a very voluptuous breast protruding out, (of a) half cut (top), then of course…the higher the tendency that people might commit such an offence.”

Maybe the district judge took offence at his bad English. Or the fact that anatomically speaking, breasts usually come in a pair, not one. Whatever the reason, he was not amused. Sentencing Mr Wong’s client to five months’ jail, he hauled Mr Wong over the coals for his unacceptable behavior.

That’s not the end of his comeuppance. The Attorney-General’s Office has already filed a complaint against him to the Law Society.

Little wonder Mr Wong was the unrivalled winner of this year’s Alamak! Award, a tongue-in-cheek prize given by women’s rights group AWARE for the most blatant and annoying instance of sexism.

 

5. Foot-in-mouth disease

Celebrities, of course, are not immune to the foot-in-mouth disease. In fact, by their very public presence, every Freudian slip or slip of the tongue becomes a big deal in a social media cup. Two outstanding examples this year: Mediacorp actresses Rebecca Lim and Rui En.

In February, Ms Lim had supposedly called time on her acting career in an Instagram post: “I’m retiring. I know you may have questions for me and I will answer them real soon. Meanwhile, be happy for me.”

Fans were shocked. The media was intrigued. But before you can say gostan, she clarified it was just a publicity stunt for NTUC Income.

Fans were more shocked. The media was more intrigued.

It didn’t help that NTUC Income’s head of strategic communications came up with a gobbledegook explanation: “We wanted to introduce the concept of retiring as a journey. Therefore that word was used. If you notice, we didn’t say ‘retiring’ to what. It was very generic.”

Needless to say, the whole campaign was “retired” – to thy kingdom (in)come.

Two months later, fellow actress Rui En also found herself in the centre of a social-media maelstrom.

She had knocked over a motorcycle while trying to park her car in a carpark in Clementi Avenue 2. The owner of the damaged bike confronted her but she said: “Do you know who I am?”

I’m sure that’s how they settle disputes in China. But not in Singapore. If there’s any quote this year pithy enough for a T-shirt, this would be it.

Rui En had since apologised for her choice of words and in July, was charged in court and fined $700 on one count of careless driving.

 

Part 2 of Top 10 malu moments of 2016 will be published next week.

 

Featured image by Sean Chong.

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Featured Image by WikiCommons user Sengkang. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

by Bertha Henson

THE problem with report cards that are done by the people reporting on themselves is that they tend to be favourable. It’s an ownself-check-ownself system. The institution/group can choose what to ignore and what to highlight. That’s the problem with the Public Sector Outcomes Review that was released yesterday. This is not to pour cold water over the work of the public sector which is very, very efficient and effective.

So in the biennial report compiled by the Finance ministry, we read about the rise in household incomes, low inflation and unemployment and how pioneers are satisfied with their health subsidies and more children are attending pre-school. There are few blots in the copybook and predictably, the rail system was one of them. Those who have been following the news would be au fait with some of the outcomes but there are still some interesting nuggets – and pledges made.

 

Waiting time in polyclinics

What the report said: “In 2015, 98.6% of patients at our polyclinics waited less than 100 minutes for consultation.”

Now hands up anyone who thinks that 100 minutes, which is close to two hours, should be the benchmark? It’s no wonder that almost all patients met this very long waiting time. Or was there a typo and another zero was added? The last biennial report had no mention of waiting times, by the way.

Here are the promises from the Health ministry. Two new polyclinics will open in Jurong West and Punggol and two more family medicine clinics will open in Tampines and Keat Hong in 2017. It is “on track” to open Sengkang General and Community Hospitals in 2018.

 

Just how many people got help? 

What the report said: “Since the launch of the SSO network as well as changes to the income eligibility criteria for ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance, we are reaching out to a much larger group of households who need help.”

There are now 24 social service offices and eligibility was expanded to families with a gross household income of up to $1,900 or per capita income of up to $650.

Except that the statistics it highlighted showed that the number of households getting help from ComCare have come down from 41,920 in 2014 to 39,548 last year. There’s even a graphic under the title: More receiving help. Perhaps, what the report meant to say was that more money was disbursed, from $115 million in 2014 to $130 million last year. That’s what the annual ComCare report, also released yesterday, said.

The right statistics are: Compared to FY2014, the number of households receiving ComCare Short-to-Medium Term Assistance increased by 7 per cent from 27,461 in 2014 to 29,511 last year.

So, why  fewer households overall? Because  kindergarten subsidies administration, also under ComCare, was transferred to Education CDA with effect from 1 Jan 2015.

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No cash, just CPF

What the report said: “In 2015, the DSR for first-timers buying 4-room new flats was 22 per cent.”

Besides home ownership numbers which remained high, the debt servicing ratio, which is the proportion of monthly salary that goes into paying for a home, was the main item under housing. It’s good news because this means that most first-time buyers could pay for their flat through their CPF instead of cash. There aren’t any statistics though on new HDB initiatives such as the Lease Buyback.

The promise from HDB: The number of rental flats will go up from 53,500 now to 60,000 next year.

 

Rail problems – and promises

What the report said: “In 2015, trains clocked 133,000 train-km before encountering a delay of more than five minutes, a distance that is 40 per cent more than the 93,000 train-km recorded in 2014. But we can do better. We are targeting to achieve 200,000 train-km for 2016. There is also room for improvement in minimising the number of train delays lasting more than 30 minutes, which doubled in 2015 compared to 2013.”

We know enough of rail problems, so here’s a rundown of the promises to make public transport – as well as other forms of connectivity  –  convenient and fast :

  • By 2018, the sleepers, third rail and signalling system of the North-South and East-West Lines will all have been replaced.
  • By 2030, the rail network will expand from about 200km today to around 360km. By then, eight in 10 households will be within a 10-minute walk to a rail station.
  • By the second half of 2017, Terminal 4 at Changi airport is set to open.
  • In 2019, the retail and lifestyle complex, Jewel Changi Airport, is expected to begin operations.
  • By 2018, the number of public Wi-Fi services hotspots, or Wireless@SG, will double to 20,000 at an increased  speed from the current 2Mbps to 5Mbps.

 

On the water front

What the report said: “Ongoing projects at 76 locations will be completed over the next 3 years and works at 26 new locations will commence in 4Q 2016.”

This is about drainage to prevent an recurrence of ponding. So if there’s plenty of digging, just go with the flow. The key construction project is the Stamford Diversion Canal due to be completed in early 2018. You can see the map here.

As for water of the drinking sort, we’ve been quite good at keeping the tap tight. We used 151 litres of water per person last year, slightly up from 150 litres. But Johor’s Linggiu Reservoir, a major source of water for Singapore, dropped from about 80 per cent at the start of 2015 to 25 per cent in September this year. Besides the present two desalination plants, a third will be completed in Tuas by 2017, a fourth and fifth in Marina East and Jurong island by around 2020.

It doesn’t mean we should be wasting water though.

 

Only 87 days of clean air? 

[NOTE: Singapore experienced 87% of days as clean air days in 2015 rather than the absolute number of 87 days. Likewise, the number were 96% and 99% in previous years. We apologise for the error.]

What the report said: “The haze was the primary reason why we had fewer days of clean air in 2015 compared with 2014. Singapore also experienced one of the worst haze episodes on record in 2015, with all primary and secondary schools in Singapore closed for a day in September that year.”

What was the count in the preceding years? Between 96 and 99. So it seems we’re only breathing the good stuff for only one-third of a year. What’s the guess for this year then? And how will we prevent the haze from happening or blowing our way next year or the year after? There’s a roadmap to a Haze-free ASEAN by 2020 but don’t hold your breath.

But here’s more on moves to have cleaner air that’s within our control:

  • In 2017, Euro VI emission standards introduced for new petrol vehicles. No exact date.
  • In 2018, Euro VI emission standards started for diesel vehicles.
  • Emission standards will tighten (from Euro III to Euro IV) for motorcycles with an engine capacity of 200ccc on Jan 1, 2018.
  • From Jan 1,  2020, this will apply to motorcycles with smaller engine capacities.

 

Kicking the drug habit 

What the report said: “The number of drug abusers arrested per 100,000 population in 2015 rose by about 5 per cent from 2014. While the number of repeat abusers arrested in 2014 and 2015 was relatively stable, there was a rise in the number of young drug abusers. In 2015, new drug abusers increased by 20 per cent compared to 2014, and nearly 70 per cent of these new abusers were aged below 30 years.”

Despite tough laws and campaigns over the years, Singapore doesn’t seem to have made any dents into the drug abuse problem. Instead the euphemism used is “stable”. And with young people turning to drugs, rather more done should be done don’t you think?

 

 

Featured image from TMG file.

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film, cinema, movie

by Cheong Yaoming

UNLESS you’re been living under a rock in the Sahara Desert, you would have heard of a certain movie set in a galaxy far far away. But it’s not only the new Star Wars movie that has sent geeks into uncontrollable orgasmic fits. A wave of fantasy, science fiction and superhero trailers released recently in a short span of three weeks, between November and December, has helped plenty. Here’s a quick guide to the slew of films coming your way in 2016. Yup, if you’re a fantasy/sci-fi/superhero geek, it’s shaping to be a good year.

1. Captain America: Civil War

The third movie in the series and the first movie of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase Three. Phases One and Two featured recurring Marvel heroes and villains across 12 movies. This trailer was released by Marvel Studios on Nov 24, 2015.

Phase One had Iron Man (one and two), The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger which culminated with The Avengers. Phase Two featured Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man.

That’s a lot of back story to catch up on so here’s a chronological viewing list before you head to Netflix and Hulu. There are handy plot synopses at IMDb and Wikipedia. Too much to handle? Don’t worry, you’ve got until May next year before Captain America: Civil War comes out to a cinema near you.

2. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

The main rival to Marvel Studios – DC Comics – is slowly catching up with its first collective superhero movie (Marvel Studios already has two of those). The latest trailer for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was unveiled on Dec 2, 2015.

Following the Christopher Nolan’s successful Batman trilogy and Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel (yes another reboot of Superman), the two iconic superheroes are finally coming together on the big screen for the first time. Spoiler alert: You may want to skip the last minute of this trailer as it contains important plot points and reveals important characters. Then, hold out a few more months before the film’s March 2016 release.

3. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

Moving from one popular children’s cartoon series to another (Transformers, and now TMNT), Michael Bay is rolling out a sequel to his 2014 reboot in June 2016. On Dec 8, Paramount Pictures uploaded a 14-second teaser trailer followed by this full trailer the next day.

Iconic villains Baxter Stockman, Bebop and Rocksteady are featured in this movie while the turtles will join forces with their human ally Casey Jones – played by Stephen Amell, who currently stars in the TV series Arrow as the superhero Green Arrow. The last movie hit US$493.3m (S$69.5m) in the worldwide box office; will the sequel do any better? If it does, you know what Michaelangelo will say about that: “Cowabunga!”

4. X-Men: Age of Apocalypse

If you stayed behind to watch the after-credits scene of X-Men: Days of Future Past, you might have caught a glimpse of the main villain for this movie. Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox has confirmed the Apocalypse storyline with the movie’s trailer released on Dec 11.

Some notable new faces include Sophie Turner (Sansa Stark, Game of Thrones) plays Jean Grey and Olivia Munn (Deliver Us from Evil) take on the role of Psylocke. Rounding up the cast are James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence and Evan Peters who are reprising their roles as Professor X, Magneto, Mystique and Quicksilver.

X-Men: Age of Apocalypse opens in theaters May 2016.

5. Independence Day: Resurgence

Another trailer from 20th Century Fox was released a fortnight ago (Dec 13). After close to 20 years, “ID4” as it was known back then, is finally getting a sequel.

Director Roland Emmerich is back and has revealed that this will be the first of a two-part sequel. But sadly, not all the main characters are making a return. Will Smith (Cpt Steven Hiller) was reportedly demanding US$50m (S$70.5m) to star in the two movies. The studio apparently balked at his demands and Emmerich decided to kill off Smith’s character. Guess Mr Smith won’t be making a “resurgence” in this Independence Day: Resurgence. The movie is scheduled for a June 2016 release.

6. Star Trek: Beyond

One of the latest trailers to be released (Dec 14) sees the third movie of the franchise directed by a new director – Justin Lin of The Fast and the Furious fame – takes over from the director of the first two movies, J J Abrams.

All main the Starship Enterprise crew return for the third outing with some interesting new characters. Does the sexy kick-ass female alien seem familiar? That’s the sexy kick-ass female henchwoman from Kingsman: The Secret Service, Sofia Boutella. That manly husky menacing voice? That’s Idris Elba (Heimdall, Thor and Marshall Stacker Pentecost, Pacific Rim).

There’s an insider joke between Scotty (Simon Pegg) and Kirk (Chris Pine) in the trailer’s opening moments. The song referred to as “a good choice” (Sabotage by The Beastie Boys) was the same one in the car chase scene of the first Star Trek movie (in this series) involving a young Kirk. The movie is slated for July 2016 opening.

7. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

If these two words – Lumos Maxima – don’t ring a bell, how about these three: Joanne. Kathleen. Rowling. The Harry Potter film series may be over, but J.K. Rowling isn’t done enthralling us Muggles with her whimsical wizarding world.

The focal point of the teaser is the character played by 2014 Academy Awards Best Actor Eddie Redmayne and the title is the same as a textbook used by Harry Potter in the first book/movie of the series.

The teaser trailer was released on Dec 15 and the movie is scheduled for Nov 2016 release. Bonus trivia – Lumos Maxima is a charm spell first introduced in the third book in the series (Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) and was featured before the title card of the movie.

 

Featured image abgewickelt, entwickelt? by Flickr user Stefan, Public Domain Mark 1.0.  

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