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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Stripping off layer of red tape

Staff attire at the Bikini Bar on Sentosa Island
Cutting through red tape has never been this sexy.  For years, nightlife and entertainment companies like Emerald Hill Group had to work around strict rules on what their staff could wear.

Waitresses and entertainers at establishments such as pubs and bars had to abide by prohibitions on attire set out in public entertainment licence.

For instance, the licence had stated that employees and entertainers could not be “scantily attired or dressed in swimsuit, bikini or bunny costume or any costume which is transparent”.  This archaic rule had prevented theme bars like Bikini Bar on Sentosa Island from flourishing.

The rules were clearly out of date.  Customers were more skimpily clad than the waitresses, and if you walked around Orchard Road, some of the girls were even more scantily clad.

The police in charge of these licences refused to budge and said it was the law.  It was all quite frustrating.
That was in 2004.  But by 2006, the introduction of the Pro-Enterprise Panel (PEP), an official feedback channel for businesses to seek intervention or improvement.

The PEP is a unit under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, chaired by the head of civil service.  Members of the PEP comprise both the civil servants and businessmen.

Within a few months, the PEP worked with the police to review the rules and by 2007, they had been tweaked.  Now waitresses are allowed to wear bikinis although they still cannot wear clothes that are too revealing.

However, the police even provided a drawn illustration in the licence rules of which body parts had to be covered.  Waitresses at the Bikini Bar now wear bikini tops and shorts, fitting theme of the beachfront bar.

I think the rule lift makes all our lives a lot easier.  It is a simple change and our tourism industry benefit as a whole.

Singaporeans rank 7th in the top 10 night owls list

We all know how important a good night’s rest is to our body and mind.  Yet in a recent global study on sleep habits, results showed that 54% of Singaporeans turn in only after midnight, with 27% hitting the sack between midnight and 1.00 am.  The other 27% turned out their lights after 1.00 am.

Many attribute their late sleeping habits to the stresses and strains of our highly pressured society.  Long working hours combined with the lack of physical exercise can lead to a disruptive sleep pattern. 

Many Singaporeans are staying up late to enjoy whatever is left of their time after work with their family and friends, or simply to chill and relax their minds before bed.

In the long run, it is unhealthy to deprive our body of the optimal 8 hours of sleep every night.  Not getting an adequate amount of sleep can lead to cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes. 

If you average is less than 6 hours of sleep per night, your resistance to viral infection is lowered by about 50% over those getting 8 or more hours of sleep.

One way to mitigate the lack of sleep hours is to invest in a good mattress that gives you complete and uninterrupted rest, all through your sleeping hours.  Even 6 hours of continuous sleep is more restorative than 8 hours of interrupted sleep. 

A good quality mattress will increase your chances of getting restful sleep all night long, even if your partner tosses and turns.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Three Synthetic Drugs to be banned

The Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) is taking a pre-emptive strike against three synthetic drugs before their misuse picks up here or leads to a fatality.

From Monday, BZP (1-benzylpiperatzine), TFMPP (1-3 trifluoromethylphenyl piperazine) and mephedrone (4-methyl-methacathinone) which are abused as ecstasy substitutes abroad and have reportedly caused deaths will be banned.

The three drugs which are controlled drugs in some other countries including the United Kingdom, Denmark, Sweden and New Zealand are not openly sold here but are known to be brought in while labelled under bath salts and plant fertilisers.

Consumption of the three drugs causes euphoria and heightens alertness when consumed.  However, they could lead to side effects such as seizures, psychosis, heart palptations and nausea.

In some other countries it is sold as plant food.  CNB’s consultants with the Trade and Industry Ministry, Agri-food and Veterinary Authority and the Health Authorities here confirmed that there was no known legitimate use for these drugs in industry, research or medicine.

Media first reported in February that some party goers in Singapore were consuming mephedrone, a controlled drug in countries including Denmark, China, Germany and Sweden.   

Drugs abusers told that they purchased their supplies off the Internet for about $30 a gram.  Mephedrone sellers state on the packaging that chemical is “not for human consumption” although it has no known use as a fertiliser for plants.

According to the CNB, there was no feedback that the abuse of these drugs was on the rise here, BZP and TFMPP come under the piperazines family.   

A separate component within this family which is found in products sold legally in pet shops here to de-worm dogs, will not be categorised as a Class A controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act.

BZP and TFMPP are sold in the black market in tablet form.  From Monday anyone convicted of using them can be jailed up to 10 years, fined $20,000 or both.  Traffickers can be jailed between 5 and 20 years and given between 5 and 15 strokes of the cane.

So do not try them and think twice on the consequences?  Don’t play play!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Yogyakarta in the line of fire

Death toll mounts, thousands force to flee from hot ash ejected by Central Java’s “Mountain of Fire”.  City faces threat as volcano keeps spewing thick ash and fiery gas; death toll rises to 138.

Mount Merapi threatened the historic city of Yogyakarta yesterday as it continued to rumble and groan, spitting grey clouds of ash and gas 8km into the air, coating windows, windshields and leaves hundreds of kilometres away.

Officials admitted it was difficult to anticipate what next to expect from the killer volcano.  Residents of Yogyakarta said outdoor activities have ground to a halt.  Every inch is covered with a thick layer of ash that has also darkened the sky for days.

If you stay outside for five to ten minutes, it makes your eyes sore and irritates your skin.  Many shops and restaurants have shuttered including those in the shopping area of Jalan Malioboro, as families huddle to discuss whether to stay or to evacuate the city.

On Friday, searing gas surged down Merapi’s sides, torching houses and trees and incinerating villagers caught in its path, many as they tried to flee. 

The number of people who have died as a result of that blast rose to 94 yesterday.  That brought the death to 138 since the latest eruptions began two weeks ago.

Many of those killed on Friday were from Bronggang 15 km from the crater.  The authorities have expanded the mountain’s danger zone to 20 km from 15 km.  Rescuers yesterday picked through the rubble as officials prepared for a mass burial of those killed.

Yogyakarta, a city of 400,000 steeped in Javanese culture and tradition, is 28 km from Merapi’s crater.  The impact of the eruption on the city was unlike anyone had experience before.

Volcanologists said it is unclear what will happen next with the 2,968m tall mountain.  Friday deadly explosion came despite predictions that the volcano would ease up after two weeks of minor eruptions.   
Yogyakarta city is now on the highest alert level.

Since Friday at dawn, residents in the seven sub-districts have been told to be ready to be evacuated at any time.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Where to shop for Sari in Singapore

Labels and stores where you can find traditional costumes and modern Indian flair.

Traditional Indian Costumes:

Pure Earth: 02-48 The Centrepoint
This store stocks a line by Indian desigern Rashmi Gogn called The Goddess.  Designed specially for festivals and traditional occasions, the outfits are made of rick silks in vivid colours and with intricate embroidery.  Prices start from $229 for traditional outfits, while embroidered tops are priced at $79 and printed shift dresses go for $159.

Minora Centre: 202 Serangoon Road
This store offers saris and blouses for the festive season.  If you are looking for something special for parties check out the saris by Indian designer Neeta Lulla, who has designed for Bollywood star Aishwarya Rai.  Prices start from $150.

Modern Indian Costumes:

Mantra : 02-29 Mandarin Gallery
You will find cocktail dresses by local designer Sabeena Bani Ahuja with Indian elements such s embellishments, draping and embroidery here that sit will in any contemporary wardrobe.  Bejewelled bibs are priced at $150, short dresses start from $180 and long embellished dresses are available from $350.

Style Mart : 149 Selegie Road
A mix of traditional saris and contemporary cocktail dresses and gowns under local designer Kavita Thulasidas' label, Asian Women.
Traditional costumes also come with contemporary details such as crystals, halter-neck tops and tie-dye effects.  Tops start from $350 and cocktail dresses from $500.  Bangles start from $48 and earrings from $32.

Cot:lour Kraf : Quintessential, 02-01 Pacific Plaza
As its name suggests, the trademark of this Indiqan accessories label is bracelets in kaleidoscope of coloured jewels.  Unique designs include bangles with crystals that are more than double the standard size. Prices start from $29.

Isharya : Quintessential, 02-01 Pacific PlazaThis jewellery label by San Francisco-based Radhika Tandon and her Bombay-based sister-in-law, Gauri Tandon, is a mix of Bollywood glmour and cool Californian style.
Think gleaming yellow gold necklaces and chandelier earrings in vibrant colours like orange, turquoise and gold.  American celebrities Gwen Stefani and Drew Barrymore are among its fans.  An 18k gold-plated necklace with agate stones is priced at $979, while a matching bangle costs $659.

The Dos & Don'ts for Sari

      The most common method of wearing sari is to wrap the cloth around the waist, create pleats in front and drape the final length around the shoulder.
     These days however, many experiment with other looks.  The cloth can be worn over the head, draped over the chest or tucked into the petticoat.
     Tie your drawstring on the petticoat as tightly as possible.  The sari is tucked into it before you drape it, so the underskirt should be tightly secured to keep the outfit in place.
     The choli is supposed to be fitted so that it does not get in the way of the pleated skirt or pallu after the sari is draped.
     White and black are still considered inauspicious colours by the older generation when worn to weddings and religious festivals like Deepavali.
     Do not expose your ankles.  The sari should be long enough to graze the floor but not so long that it will cause you trip.
     If you are a sari novice and are afraid that things might fall apart, reinforce pleats or drapes with discreet safety pins or ornamental brooches.  Also pick a lightly embellished one made of a soft material like chiffon or silk as these materials can be folded and draped with ease.  A sari with lots of embellishment might be harder to drape and secure due to the weight of the beads and crystals.

Dress for Deepavali

     Today as Indians everywhere, even those who do not practice Hinduism still celebrate the festival of lights and sari will be out in all sumptuous colours and patterns.
    But one of the oldest garments in the world it is depicted in artefacts that date back to 100 BC is also inspiring the most current looks in fashion capitals.
     The rise of Indian-inspired fashion can be traced to the success of Indian fashion designers in the global stage.  Both the rise of India as an economic power and the popularity of Bollywood movies have also earned Indian fashion cachet with the designers and celebrities.
     With the influx of Inidan expatriates in recent years, Singapore has also seen more events that offer Indian fashion.  Even non-Indian shoppers now want hints of Indian design on contemporary clothing.
     Sari means strip of cloth in Sanskrik but it also refers to the entire outfit, including the blouse and underskirt.  Strictly speaking the sari is a piece of seamless cloth wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder.
      Saris feature  multitude of decorations: woven, printed, embossed with velvet, embellished with sequins and in Sari (embroidered in gold colour fibre) and Bandhani (tie-dye) designs.
    Choli is a tight-fitting sleeveless or short sleeved blouse that comes in variety of necklines.  It is typically made of cotton or silk and the colour usually matches that of the sari.
     Women who are more conservative usually go for designs that cover their front and back fully.  There are also backless and halter-neck styles.
     Petticoat, this waist to floor cotton or polyester slip-worn under the sari is tied tightly at the waist by a draw-string and holds the sari in place as it has to be tucked into this underskirt.  It should not be visible and should match the base sari colour as closely as possible.
     Pallu is the end portion of the sari which is draped, usually on the left shoulder and falls till about knee level.  It can also be tucked in at the waist or used to cover the head or the neck.  It is often intricately decorated.   

Wish every Hindu a "Happy Deepavali".