Chingay 2011

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Contributors

Exactly four years ago, I participated in Chingay as a volunteer; and now, attending as a member of the audience. The feeling is definitely different. However, my impression of Asia’s grandest float parade still remains the same. This year is the second year in which Chingay was held at the F1 pit building.

Sad to say, Chingay 2011 wasn’t as good as expected. Firstly, perhaps it was due to the rain before the parade. Muddy paths were everywhere and the audiences’ spirits were dampened by the downpour. Many ended up with nice and pretty looking, but muddy shoes. Road signs were also not very specific, but kudos to the friendly ushers, I managed to find my way to my seat. Secondly, I don’t know if they were the official photographers, but there were a whole bunch of cameraman just before the front row audience with their cameras on standby, completely ignoring the audience behind them. My seat was along the isle, and sometimes they just brushed pass me without saying sorry. It was really annoying at times, but well, didn’t wanna kick a big fuss out of it. Enough of rant, let’s talk about the main show.

The show started off with the appearance of 50 Harley Davidson motorcycles and vintage cars together with loud firecrackers and bright yet smoky sparkles. There was also Star Wars characters, God of Fortune and flying helium balloon dragons which built up the hype. Then came our Prime Minister Lee and his wife and the crowd went into frenzy. After which, there was also a fire party, which included a fire dragon float. The parade continued with performers from various ethnic groups, organisations, schools, GRCs, and not to forget the largest-ever contingent of Malay and Indian participants in which 1200 Malays and 300 Indians were involved. There were even performers from other countries such as Denmark, Mexico, Taiwan and Sri Lanka. It was really a heart-warming experience to see the 8000 performers putting in their best to make Chingay successful.

The parade ended off with a dazzling finale where all performers and participant were involved in the passing of the lamp (传灯). This is actually a custom back in the olden days of China where lighted candles were lit and passed on, symbolising the continuation of life. But of course, due to fire hazard issues, we were given a LED torch and then led by the People Association Youth Movement and elderlies from various GRCs, we successfully passed the lamp on. We also witnessed the Chinese writings of passing of the lamp by our very own President Nathan. The parade ended after the releasing of a lantern-wrapped-helium-balloon by PM Lee, and subsequently the sky was lit up by a fireworks display.

Frankly speaking, I felt that this year’s Chingay was a successful one but there are room for improvements. Nevertheless, It was really one of the most fun and memorable event that I have ever attended. If given the chance, I really hope to have the free pass, where I could go down into the parade itself. I went there with a heart full of enthusiasm and I came back with an ecstatic mind and a whole lot of pictures. So, enjoy the pictures and pardon the quality.

Text and photos by Tan Junye

GUEST ENTRY: Passione per la Velocita

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Contributors

Zero to Hundred Time To Attack 2010 Round 3

Guest Contribution By Dr. Nazli Haffiz

Italy vs Germany: If this article is about football (soccer for you Yanks), this would be a mouth-watering fixture, more so if it’s for the World Cup. I’m a fan of Germany’s approach to football – composed, systematic and efficient but somewhat predictable. Italians on the other hand, have more flair, or more accurately, they invented it and shoved it in their football boots. I know Brazilians and their fans would argue on this, but I would have none of that as I’m trying to write an article about cars.


And since we’re talking about cars, I’ll be changing my allegiance to the Italians. Now, Italians and Germans have built some of the most exciting cars in the past few decades from the stables of Lamborghini, Ferrari, and Porsche to name a few. No doubt they have some of the fastest cars on the planet and although there is a deep love for speed, speed is only part of the passion. Like loving a lady, passion for speed involves sensuous emotions, caressing the intricate lines of the body, savouring the sounds during foreplay as well as the whole experience of it.


The words passione per la velocita  (meaning passion for speed in Italian) in itself sound so sexy!

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Men of Mud

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Contributors

Rainforest Challenge 2010

 Guest post contributed by Hugh Ujhazy

The morning air is heavy with the smell of diesel fuel and cigarette smoke. Bleary eyes and anxious activity mark the departure from Johor Bahru into the untouched jungle two hours north. Planning, strategising – what have we forgotten? Will the winch cables last the next week? Do we have enough fuel, spare tyres and food?


Fifty cars, two hundred people, spare parts, mechanics and more strategising than teenagers on their first date. The objective is to traverse four stages of increasing difficulty along marked trails (if they can be distinguished by that term) through second growth jungle that has not seen a vehicle for over 20 years. Why on earth do they take part in the Rainforest Challenge?

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GUEST POST: Launch of Mercedes-Benz R-Class in M”sia

Written by Cheryl Tay on . Posted in Contributors

Guest Post Contributed by Hugh Ujhazy 

The open road, wind in your hair, the smell of leather, the bass note of a performance engine caressing your inner ear. That’s the image we cherish. The one we hold onto. The one we clutch desperately. Sad, really. The reality of city living and driving is moving people and things from A to B where the route from A to B is subject to roadworks, road rage and general road congestion.


Even though the popular sport utility vehicle has taken tremendous mind share, it’s hard, in most cases, to realize that ultimate dream. Getting a baby carrier, two children under the age of eight, mom and dad into a Porsche 911 could happen but only in an alternate universe where the laws of physics are subject to major rearrangement.


Rather than face the challenge of rear-engined, air-cooled, performance-optimized driving (with the family in tow), there is a compromise that gives push you back in your seat performance (when needed) and yet manages to carry the afore-mentioned load of stuff from the previously referred A to some designated B. The Mercedes-Benz R-Class has been a behind-the-scenes player in the Mercedes stable for some years.


Overshadowed by the exotic SLS, the stately S-Class and the day to day sedan appeal of the E-Class, the virtues of the R lay forgotten behind an unfortunate mishmash of bloated styling and mixed marketing messages. For 2011, Mercedes has looked long and hard at the needs of us who have families and want to move them around conveniently. Seven true seats (not a fold out afterthought that robs all storage space from the vehicle), the R is a true contender against the Audi Q7 and the BMW X5, and it offers more space in a truly lifted package.

Benefiting from a new front end shared across the range, the stance is slightly more aggressive and well planted, having lost the droopy nose of the previous models. Some time at the gym has trimmed the previously generous flanks, narrowing them and creating an attractive line down the side of vehicle. The rear is still dominated by the full tail gate but the lighting package and rear glass help minimize the dominance of metal. All told, the styling changes have unified the R300 with the M- and B-Class models.


In addition to the grille, the front end features daylight running lights or new chrome-ringed fog lamps in the grille’s lower bout. Overall, the appearance is newer, wider and in Mercedes-Benz speak, more assertive. In the rear, the exhaust finishers are integrated into the rear fascia. Among the safety features are Mercedes-Benz Blind-spot assist, Pre-Safe and Neck-Pro front seat head restraints.


Configurable as a four-, five-, six- or seven-passenger vehicle, it can be equipped with centre consoles between the middle row of seats, as well as a back row that reclines. The amount of cargo space depends only on how many seats you fold forward, or order in the first place. R-Class vehicles ordered without third-row seating are equipped with an under-floor storage area. Overall capacity is 15.2-cubic feet with all three rows in the upright position. Fold them flat and capacity tops out at 85-cubic feet.


The R-Class defends its luxury status by avoiding the sliding doors of mini-vans, opting instead for swing out rear doors that yawn cavernously to give access to the interior. Luxury abounds inside. An AMG sport package with custom seats and trim is one way to go. A refreshed interior with aluminum and chrome highlights and extravagant wood trim dresses up the cabin. The seating configuration is good, although it does take several tries and adjustments to finally get the seats to fold forward for the flat-floor cargo area to finally be realized.


In Malaysia, the R-Class offers the 3.0-liter V6 petrol engine producing 268 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. of torque. The CGI diesel versions will not be sold here in Malaysia due to the amount of sulphur in the fuel. Performance buffs can mix the engine with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The R300 rides on a suspension comprised of upper and lower control arms, coil springs, shocks and stabilizer bar in front and a load-leveling air suspension out back.

The mix of leather, styling and an eco-friendly powertrain (plus the inevitable and dominant three-pointed star on the grill) make this a vehicle that won’t be for everyone. Fully imported into Malaysia, it tops out close to RM500,000. That said, this is the vehicle for conquering distance and inner city traffic alike. A vehicle that will park close to your neighbour’s Q7 and feel comfortably superior.


Staying clear of the bread-box minivan styling chosen by Toyota and Hyundai, the R-Class offers a fully-imported, beautifully-appointed and extremely comfortable ride for the whole family. Performance from 0-60mph in around 8.6 seconds is not nose-bleed territory but respectable for a vehicle over two tonnes in curb weight. When pushed on positioning the vehicle in the market, Mercedes places it as a first-class people mover. Given the 11l/100km fuel economy and a comfortable seating arrangement for a true seven adults, they have delivered against their claim. The Mercedes-Benz R-Class is available now in Malaysia from all Mercedes-Benz dealers.

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