Tan Kee Yun
The New Paper
Friday, Jan 16, 2015
It's not every day you get to see a Singaporean celebrity in the news for "dating" a casino empire heir.
So when local singer Yumi Bai - one-half of Mandopop duo By2 - was photographed last month in Hong Kong by the paparazzi holding hands with Mr Mario Ho, the 20-year-old son of Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho, it set tongues wagging instantly.
Apple Daily reported that the couple were out shopping at Causeway Bay and the younger Mr Ho had helped Yumi, 22, with her coat while she was trying on clothes.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) undergraduate also carried pastries that he and Yumi had purchased.
At one point, he even kneeled to take pictures of his date.
But in an interview with The New Paper, Yumi brushed off the rumours. "I hope that with regard to this matter, everyone wouldn't overthink. I have a lot of guy friends and I often treat them like my younger brothers. Maybe that's why it led to the misunderstanding," she said in Mandarin.
Yumi and her identical twin and fellow By2 member Miko sent their answers to our interview in an audio recording. They are currently based in Beijing, but were in Singapore last month to do a countdown show in Johor.
Yumi said she is on the search "for someone with a mature mind, who knows how to appreciate and make sacrifices for me".
She added: "I also like muscular guys, as I am a gym rat myself. If he has six-pack abs, even better! "Both Miko and I fancy tall guys - 1.9m would be perfect."
Perhaps that was another way of hinting that Mr Ho, who appeared to be about the same height as Yumi in the photos, did not fit the bill. Apple Daily reported that Yumi made Mr Ho's acquaintance last November, when she was at MIT in the US for a month-long course.
He is the third of five children of entrepreneur Angela Leong, Mr Stanley Ho's fourth wife. Yumi and her older sister, who are both unattached, made it clear that should they date someone as wealthy and high-profile as the younger Mr Ho, they would not feel the pressure.
"When it comes to making friends, there shouldn't be accompanying conditions," said Miko.
Added Yumi: "I have many friends who are highly successful in their fields of work."
FOUR THINGS ABOUT BY2
1. THEY HAVE NOT DONE PLASTIC SURGERY
When quizzed about the never-ending Internet chatter about them having gone under the knife, Miko threw us a Chinese idiom which translated to "a clean conscience does not fear false accusations".
Last month, PlastyTalk, a plastic surgery news site, analysed how the twins' appearances have changed drastically in the six years since their 2008 showbiz debut.
The website pointed to their "more shapely-looking eyes", "less bulky noses" and "sharpened jawlines and chins".
Back then, By2 denied undergoing plastic surgery. Yumi told the media that she was a huge fan of photo-editing apps and had edited a particular photo of the sisters, leading to the rumours.
"It's so common to have such Internet speculation in showbiz," Miko told TNP. "I'm not bothered by it."
Yumi agreed: "Some people look at a pretty girl and immediately 'condemn' her for having work done to her face.
When they find a girl ugly, they'd make comments like, 'She needs plastic surgery'.
"It's so contradictory and laughable."
2. THEY WANT TO BE PART OF THE SG50 CELEBRATIONS
Here's a shout-out to the organisers of this year's National Day Parade: If you haven't found a guest performer, get By2.
"It has always been one of our biggest dreams to sing (at the event)," said Yumi. "If we get the opportunity to do so, we will feel very proud as Singaporean artists."
3. THEY HAVE THEIR OWN CHINA-BASED CLOTHING LINE
The twins moved their careers from Taiwan to Beijing mainly for their new clothing line Double Trouble, which specialises in trendy, youthful wear for females.
"We want to spend more time in China to fully develop our brand," said Miko.
"It's our aim to evolve into multifaceted artists one day." They have also recorded a new yet-to-be-titled seventh album, slated for release "sometime this year".
4. JET-SETTING HAS BECOME PART AND PARCEL OF THEIR LIVES
They travel around the region for work so much that Yumi likens flying to "taking a taxi". Miko did a quick mental calculation and said that on average, they "are on a plane 40 to 50 times a year".
"It is important to stay healthy when we are constantly jet-setting," she said.