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Sun, Aug 02, 2009
The New Paper
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Celebs' phone-y tricks
by Germaine Lim

WANT to protect important information like telephone numbers in your handphone?

Take a leaf out of TV host Mark Lee's book.

To safeguard identities in his handphone's contact list, the 41-year-old told The New Paper he ascribes codenames like Ah Beng and Ah Yoke to his celebrity pals.

That is why he was not worried that friends like Fann Wong would receive prank calls when he lost his handphone in late May.

An absent-minded Mark had left his handphone on the roof of his car before driving off from his Yio Chu Kang condominium home to a petrol kiosk.

He even retraced his steps to look for it but it was nowhere to be found.

Mark has placed an ad at the condo security office, offering a $500 reward to the person who returns it, but so far, no one has responded.

Nevertheless, Mark said he feels assured that his celebrity friends won't be harassed if anyone stumbles on the phone.

Unlike Paris Hilton. The American socialite panicked when she misplaced her Blackberry in France early this year, reported the Daily Mail.

With phone numbers of celebrities like Nicole Richie and Lindsay Lohan, Hilton had good cause for concern. It is not known if she finally retrieved it.

Hilton had a similar incident in 2005 when her T-Mobile Sidekick handset's online account was hacked into. As a result, A-list friends like Christina Aguilera and Eminem had their phone numbers leaked online, reported the Washington Post.

Supermodel Naomi Campbell and actor Kevin Bacon have also reportedly had their Blackberry units stolen.

It is not known if there was any fallout.

But like Mark, other local personalities also use the method of nicknaming their celebrity friends in the phone contact book.

You would never guess who's who in Phua Chu Kang actress Irene Ang's handphone's mysterious and ever-changing contact list.

Actress Zoe Tay, for example, is identified by her car plate number in Irene's phone. Irene believes not many will be able to link the number to the actress.

Another, TV host Allan Wu, has gone through several identity incarnations like 'Wu man' and 'Wu clan' in the 40-year-old's contact list which stores over 4,000 telephone numbers.

If you, like celebrity coiffeur David Gan, have a contact list filled with stars like Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai and Memoirs Of A Geisha actress Zhang Ziyi, you too would be extra careful.

The 47-year-old said he keeps only a handful of contacts in his phone, preferring to store most of them in a phonebook he keeps at home.

David also lists his A-list friends like Taiwanese band Energy's members Ady, Penny, Joe and Xiao Gang by their quirks and birthdays, instead of their names.

But if you're a celebrity friend of 881 actress Mindee Ong, you should thank your lucky stars she hasn't lost her handphone.

Though she also uses nicknames, the 29-year-old identifies her contacts by attaching their photos.

So much for this 'foolproof' method.

But TV host/actress Michelle Chong doubts people care enough about Singapore celebrities to make prank calls to them.

The 32-year-old claims she has had her handphone stolen twice before.

Michelle said: 'People have better things to do. They probably just want monetary gains from (the sale of stolen handphones).'

Still, one can never be too safe, so she always excludes last names in her phonebook.

And no, she never stores photos in her handphone.

Michelle said: 'I don't want people to know it's my phone, and I don't want any photo to possibly incriminate anyone.'

Don't expect to find photos in Irene's handphone either. She prefers to use her digital camera which she has with her all the time.

Irene, who changes handphone models thrice a year, added: 'I take photos because I need to, like when I'm on assignment.'

On the other hand, trigger-happy Mark and David do not mind storing photos on their handphones.

But they have learnt an important lesson about having backup copies.

Lost photos

David's Nokia, with a Ferragamo teddy bear ornament from Ziyi, was nicked in Guangzhou four years ago.

To this day, he is still licking his wounds over photos taken with stars like Carina Lau and Ziyi because he did not keep duplicates.

Now, he no longer hangs sentimental ornaments from his handphone and makes it a point to regularly upload photos onto his home computer.

As for Mark, 'precious' photos taken of him and his 1-year-old daughter Calista are now probably lost forever because he too did not back up with copies.

A bummed-out Mark said: 'They were photos which captured my daughter's actions. These candid moments don't come by every day.'

In one, Calista had propped a leg on Mark's face when the father and daughter had fallen asleep on the same bed.

There were also photos taken with celebrities like Pan Lingling and Vivian Lai.

The mobile phone also had nearly 100 video clips of his wife, Catherine, and daughter.

But the funnyman is not worried about having an 'Edison Chen' moment.

Mark joked: 'The only consolation is we're all fully-clothed (in the photos).'


This article was first published in The New Paper.

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