By Tan Kee Yun,
The New Paper,
Feb 23, 2016
It was billed as a first-of-its-kind sporting event in Singapore, yet at the media launch of The Celebrity Sports Day yesterday evening, local actress Rebecca Lim was conspicuously missing.
On the event's poster featuring pictures of all the participating celebrities, the 29-year-old's photo was not only one of the biggest, it was placed in the first row and right in the centre.
Despite the affirmation of her popularity, Lim was a no-show at the launch at Bugis+ shopping mall.
Her absence was glaring, as if she was deliberately lying low over her "retirement" fiasco that happened less than two weeks ago.
Nothing of the sort, Lim's manager told The New Paper over the phone.
"No, Rebecca couldn't make it because she is currently filming a new Channel 8 drama The Dream Job," said her manager.
"Her filming schedule is very tight as overseas actors are involved in this particular drama production.
"She will be there for The Celebrity Sports Day actual event, that's for sure."
Lim is slated to play captain's ball at The Celebrity Sports Day on March 12.
On Feb 12, Lim shocked many when she posted she was "retiring" on her Instagram page.
Fans were led to believe she was quitting showbiz.
Her post turned out to be a ill-conceived, poorly executed publicity stunt involving insurance company NTUC Income to remind young Singaporeans to plan financially for retirement.
After a follow-up Instagram post on Feb 13 to clarify her message, Lim went quiet on social media.
Her close pal, actor Ian Fang, 26, told The New Paper that he has been in touch with Lim after the incident and "everything is okay".
"She still has a very positive mindset, her energy is positive and she is doing her job as usual," said the Shanghai-born star.
Never one to mince his words, Fang added that he was aware of the barrage of online criticism levelled at Lim.
"Many people would say that it is unfair she is being slammed, but I think it's time for her to learn something now," said Fang matter-of-factly.
"Better that she gets the (criticism) right now than later in her career."
Lim's other close friend, local actor Desmond Tan, 29, said:
"There will be naysayers on every occasion. Let's just give everyone some time to get over this."
Actor Romeo Tan, 30, is filming The Dream Job with Lim but showed up at the launch because he did not have scenes to shoot yesterday.
He preferred not to broach the topic.
"I met her on the set of our drama, but I didn't bring it up. It's her personal matter after all," he said.
Fellow actor Elvin Ng, 35, said he had given Lim a call to find out if she was all right.
"Rebecca didn't expect the backlash, but she's an intelligent girl... I know she'd grow stronger after this," he said.
Ng was speaking from experience.
In 2010, he and veteran compere Guo Liang had a much-publicised blog stand-off that made headlines.
On his blog, Ng scolded Guo for being rude and disrespectful and the latter retorted with a similarly lengthy written response.
While the duo has since made peace, Ng recalled dealing with "backlash" from some netizens.
"There will always be people who will make nasty comments without knowing the whole situation," he said.
"We just have to deal with it. With time, the incident will be forgotten and it won't affect one's career whatsoever."
More than 50 celebrities will flaunt their sporting talent at The Celebrity Sports Day next month.
And it should be a walk in the park for at least four hunks The New Paper spoke to, as they are - by their own admission - very athletic.
Desmond Tan, Romeo Tan, and Elvin Ng are on the Blue Team led by host-actress Kym Ng, while Ian Fang is on the Red Team helmed by veteran actor Tay Ping Hui.
The four boast a solid background in sports.
Said Ng: "During my army and university days, I represented my GRC (group representation constituency) in inter-constituency football."
Fang claimed he "almost got selected for Singapore's national football team".
"I would have pursued football further if not for my mum, who insisted I focus on my studies," he said.
Desmond Tan, a commando officer during his national service (NS) days, is an all-rounder, for he "runs long distances, plays football and participates in triathlons".
Romeo Tan, who was an officer in the Republic of Singapore Air Force during his NS days, said he was a late bloomer.
He had a lot of jogging practice because he "spent his entire secondary school years jogging".
He said: "Back then, I weighed 92kg and I was in the Trim And Fit Club. I was always running to lose weight."
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