Monday, November 26, 2007

Relativity

The law of relativity, founded by Einstein is one important Physics law which underpins the principles of Science.

In life, I believe this law is also applicable. Man often gets a sense of meaning through relativity. In short, this relativity stems from the comparison with others.

Man often focuses on what others have that we do not have and feel a sense of regret or sadness.

But at the same time, man does not treasure what he has until the time that he loses it. Then, it is late to regret.

5 Singaporeans drowned in Cambodia

22 Singaporean rowers of the National Team participated in one of the traditional dragon boating festivals in Cambodia where their boat capsized, drowning five of the members.

These five members were found to be without life-jackets prior to the drowning. This sad episode threw a question: Why were life jackets not worn?

In common dragon boat racing, though life jackets are advisable to be worn, many rowers do not wear due to the belief that these life jackets may impede their movements. And often, the sailors set off once they have determined that the sea is calm.

It must be emphasized that this incident is a freak one. There was a sudden influx of currents which capsized the boat. Experienced rowers wearing life jackets may also drown in such an environment.

However, life jackets do minimise the probability of drowning.

Educational Shows

Though Singapore’s home-made TV productions has come a long way since independence, I believe its contents can be further improved.

Often, new local entertainment shows or dramas are of the similar mould or if not, exactly similar to what local viewers had seen of its Taiwan or Hong Kong Counterparts.

Chinese serial shows are often of the same genre, focusing on an extended family where the protagonists are often embroiled in a series of quarrels and caught in a complicated web of love and relationships, etc.

At least, there is still the broadcast of Hong Kong and Taiwanese productions on the free-to-air channels which is a real breather.

Recently, there is a new Chinese documentary showing on Channel U at 2130 hrs on Tuesday where Professor Yu Dan from China waxes philosophical about the Confucian beliefs and melded with the high tech animations to reinforce the messages. It is an extremely educational show. Such shows are sadly to say, lacking in this complex era of changes.

Flu Bug

Singapore seems to be gripped in a mini flu epidemic in the recent weeks. Many colleagues of mine were given medical leaves due to the common cold. In the buses and MRTs, it is getting commonplace these days to witness passengers sneezing and coughing, and to a certain extent, infecting others who have not contracted the disease.

This mini-epidemic often coincides with the close of the year when there is a change in the weather from hot to rainy. But this year, unlike other years, the weather is the most unpredictable: the morning and afternoons are unusually hot, then there is the occasional rain and at night, it may get extremely hot, humid and uncomfortable, especially when one’s house is not air-conditioned.

At this period when common flu is prevalent, one who has contracted the disease should consult a doctor and refrain from going out and infecting the uninfected. Doctors here have warned that the flu strain this year has mutate to a more drug-resistant strain and thus this strain of flu is more challenging to counteract than its predecessors.

December is a month of celebration, a month of reflection and a month to prepare to usher in the coming New Year. It is a saddening thought to be infected with cold or other diseases and not being able to participate in the yearly celebrations.

Herein lies the importance maintaining one’s health: exercising regularly, eating fruits and drink enough water, having sufficient sleep and observing one’s food intake.

We can only seek to minimise getting infected, a 100% protection against disease is unrealistic.

Personally, I believe man’s health and immune system has deteriorated as a result of the ecological damages brought to Mother Earth. This is one of the unfortunate consequences of the ecological damage.

Millions of years ago, scorpions and other insects were bigger than present day human but as a result of the changing environmental conditions of the earth, they have shrunk to present size.

Similarly, the consequences of ecological damage left one to fathom.

Strongest Man in the World

The strongest person in the world is one who has control over his mind, emotion and his whole self, and one who does not easily falls prey to the influence of externality.
Admittedly, it is hard to be influenced or affected by the outside world. Though we may act rational and behave in a wholesome manner, others may behave and act below what we expect them to be, and behave in a manner unacceptable to our morals, ethnos, beliefs and ways of life.

The simplest thing is to ignore them but saying is far too easy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Internet addiction

Internet is a priceless invention but it has brought about its share of social problems. In Singapore, one of the countries in the world with the highest internet connections, one can witness the social problems brought about by this new medium of communication and information.

With internet, one can email, play games, watch movies, communicate and chat via an array of different means; carry out banking transactions, listen to music and indulge in a whole slew of other activities.

The social ills of internet stem from its inappropriate use. Companies suffer from decreased productivity when their staffs misuse the internet for chatting and other non-work related activities during working hours.

We are also seeing an increasing number of internet addicts among the youngsters, who are easy preys to the lure of the internet. Youths who spent hours and hours everyday in the net, rooted to their seats, are common phenomena in our society.

Playing games and chatting with friends are common activities the youths indulge inside the internet. Being addicted to the internet, these young folks will not hesitate to rebel against anyone, even their parents and siblings, who chastise them for spending too excessive an amount of time in these activities. One must be aware that plugging off the power supply to the computer is akin to plugging off the life of these youths! Heavy addicts may even resort to violence when their ‘life’ is being taken off!

One must be cognizant that internet addiction can be a serious social problem. Youth are the pillars for the future of our country. It will be a worrying trend if our future leaders are steeped into these less purposeful activities on the internet.

The incident of the ridiculed trishaw driver

Enough has been said of the news of the local trishaw driver who was ridiculed by some foreigners.

For those who were not aware of the news, it went like this: A group comprising of two to three foreigners hailed a trishaw in one of the tourism belts in Singapore. Along the journey, they poked fun, insulted and ridiculed the old trishaw driver in English, a language the poor uncle did not know. And all these insulting and bullying were happily captured by them in their camera phone videos which were then posted by them on Youtube and circulated to the world. The worst part was that no payment was made to the uncle at the end of the trip.

Immediately, the video footage sparked an intense outburst and drew flak among the netizens. As a Singaporean, I find it deeply insulting for these white men to be discriminating towards Asians.

The great colonial times have already passed, it is now the time of the rising Dragon!

Scams

Reading the news today, I find it unbelievable that a teacher, supposedly to be highly educated, can fall prey to swindlers from China.

Singaporeans may not be really clever judging by the significant numbers of Singaporeans who were tricked by these swindlers. They ranged from professionals to those in the lower rungs of the society.

Taiwanese Li Ao has labelled Singaporeans stupid. It is time for Singaporeans to show the world that they are not stupid and not falling prey to tricks which are meant more for children.

Singapore’s old men are also being targeted by some China dolls for their wealth of income accumulated over a lifetime of hard work. These poor men lost their entire wealth to these dolls eventually and suffered.

This is what I have read from a book the other time.

In terms of shrewdness,

1 Chinese Man (China) = 2 Taiwanese Man=3 Hong Kong men = 4 Singaporeans

Are Singaporeans getting lesser wiser compared to their regional counterparts as a result of being raised in a comfortable environment?

Recall of China’s products

China’s products have been in the news quite a number of times this year for all the wrong reasons: defective design, defective quality and even possibility of containing toxic chemicals.

This may prove to be an impediment to China’s growing economical power which is poised to take on the globe.

Singapore population

Figures released this week by the authority revealed the following statistics of our population:

3.68 million Singaporeans and Permanent Residents and

1 million foreigners: 756, 000 working (110,000 E Pass workers and 646,000 holders of work permits).

Foreigners and permanent residents are becoming common sights in our society. Though some Singaporeans are less welcoming of them, it is noteworthy to see that some of these permanent residents and foreigners making good contributions to society, with an increasing number of them being involved in grassroots work.

They are also making a mark on the landscape of Singapore with enclaves formed over time. Some of these enclaves are specially earmarked for them by the government, others developed over a period of time from a natural result of their congregation over time.

It is easy to pass remarks at foreigners resulting from some preconceive ideas we may have about them. It is more useful for Singaporeans to understand them and welcome them into our society for they too are contributing to the common good of the nation.

To a certain extent as a result of an increasing population, I begin to realise that Singapore may be getting more and more crowded than before. Just try going to the shopping centres in the city and in Orchard on weekends!

One can also witness the throngs of people coming out from the train which had arrived at a platform of a MRT station situated in a residential hub. Immediately, the quiet platform is transformed to a bustling marketplace in a matter of seconds !

Leadership Lid

As one leadership guru says, if one comes under a manager with a leadership lid (or ‘capacity’) which is lesser than that of himself, two things are bound to happen:

One, the employee will find it stifling to be under the command and control of the manager, deemed an ineffective under in his eyes and there will be rebellion.

Two, the employee will quit after sometime to ‘escape’ from the control of a less-than -effective leader.

Are leaders born? The answer is a resounding YES as which man is not borned?

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Work

I think I have written quite a number of articles on work as I am of the belief and convictions that work is a very important part of life.

Work itself is an attitude, develop a good working attitude, and work will be a breeze. Take a real interest and passion in your work and you will soon like it.

I have read from one good book that there is no perfect work as there are no perfect people.

True sometimes, one will get bogged down by the negative work attitudes emanating from other lesser colleagues. Such an attitude is contagious and it soon spreads and poisons the proactiveness and morale of the whole team.

I find that work in itself has infinite opportunities of learning, it depends on one to discover these learning opportunities and to be better off, armed with these opportunities.

Cyclists

Recently, traffic police revealed statistics which indicate an increasing number of cyclists being caught cycling on the wrong side of the law: expressways and pavements. One cyclist was even killed while cycling on the road shoulder of the expressway.

While it is understandable that it is foolish to be risking one’s precious life cycling on the expressway amidst the fast moving vehicles, it is disconcerting to note that cycling on the pavement constitutes an offence too.

I am a regular cyclist and I shall admit that while there are definitely reckless cyclists threatening the safety of pedestrians on the pavements, there are also reckless motorists on the road who threaten the safety of cyclists.

A majority of our pavements in the country are bicycle-friendly and it is such a relaxing experience to be cycling on the pavements, taking into sight the nice scenery of our heartlands and knowing that one is safer on the pavements rather than to be on the roads, provided one cycle slowly and steadily.

I believe many Singaporeans are still unaware that cycling on pavements is an offence: one can just see the slew of people cycling on the pavement everyday.

The compromise between pedestrians and cyclist on pavements is similar to that between motorists and cyclists on roads. It boils down to tolerance and gracefulness.

Second Advisor

In an unusual and surprising move, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr Lee Yi Shyan, who is a MP for the East Coast GRC was suddenly appointed to be the Second Advisor for the Joo Chiat SMC, assisting the Advisor for the constituency, Mr Chan Soo Sen in the grassroots and constituency works there.

What made the move strange was the fact that there was no precedent to appoint a Second Adviser in the SMCs. A Second Advisor to a constituency is usually appointed with the aim to equip potential PAP candidates with some ground experience before the General Election, but this is also not often.

It is thus unusual considering that the next General Election is some 4 years away and that Mr Lee has already had a consistency under his charge.

Only time will tell of the rationale behind the move.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Nature of Singapore

In tiny Singapore where life on the weekends can be pretty mundane, where time on weekends are mostly spent in shopping malls and restaurants (just see the throngs of crowds on weekends at these places!), an alternative get-away would be the farms of Singapore.

To many, Singapore is largely urban but there are still rural areas on the outskirts of Singapore in the northern parts. There are over ten farms that one can spend time visiting on the weekends and savour the rural landscape and rustic charms.

I have been to such farms in Singapore and it is definitely a day worth spending at these places. Away from the maddening crowd, one get up, close and personal to nature, to animals and to plants. One is also able to see the places of Singapore less explored. A website that must be recommended for interested farm-goers is http://www.kranjicountryside.com/

Apart from farms, there are also parks to visit where one can feel the breeze of the sea and feel soothed. Cycling, jogging and skating are also activities one can indulge in, in parks like East Coast Park.

However, as a regular park goer, I find that parks like East Coast Park is increasingly being ‘urbanized’ by an increasing crowd and getting dirtier as a result of a larger volume of refuse generated by the park-goers.

In time to come, there may be really a need to explore true uninhabited islands to feel truly at peace and at ease with nature and with oneself.

Having stayed on a remote island where there is really nothing at all, I have also appreciated how technology has made living more convenient and comfortable for human beings. To a certain extent, as a Singaporean, I have also learnt to appreciate the Singapore government’s excellent job in making living an orderly and pleasant experience for all on the island.

Leadership

Yesterday, I attended a talk on leadership presented by a director of one MNC in Singapore. The speaker was an eloquent, fantastic presenter, who peppered his speech with live anecdotes and practical examples.

Personally, I myself had read books after books on leadership. And taking the presentations that I had attended and the books I had read on leadership in totality, there are definitely myriads of leadership definitions in the world today!

Personally, I view leadership as the following:

a. Taking charge of yourself before taking charge of others

b. Having discipline and the means to work with people.

c. Being an exemplary example to others, with a clear direction to lead others.

These are just the main salient points of what I believe in leadership. I believe leadership must start with oneself. It is unfortunate to witness that in some organizations, people climb into leader positions not by capability but by perceived capability and by some other means.

One will only know the effectiveness of one’s leadership skills by what one’s followers or subordinates say. Over time, one will be able to sieve out true leaders from who came into leadership positions by other means.

Ancient Chinese Civilisation

Watching the Hong Kong serial drama now airing on Channel U every weekday, “The Conqueror’s Story” where the protagonists in the story are Xiang Yu and Liu Bang of the Chu-Han period, I am kept mentally and visually simulated.

The 5000 year old Chinese civilisation certainly holds tons of valuable lessons to be learnt from the rise and fall of the dynasties and I welcome Chinese dramas based on these themes.

Such drama serials are not only exciting in content, visually exciting, these are great educational tools as well.

For this drama that I am currently watching, one can witness the power of emotional quotient demonstrated by Liu Bang at play, which eventually won over the hard technical power and prowess of Xiang Yu who was less attuned to the use of wise men and who lacked people skills

In short, people’s leader vs dictatorial and authoritative leader.

On a separate front, I wonder why the Television Corporation of Singapore (TCS) could not really produce a drama series which could really rival that of Hong Kong

I do not think it is a matter that TCS has a short history as compared to its Hong Kong counterpart. The crux of the issue, I believe, lies in the skills of the artistes and the directing skills.

Sudoku

Flipping through the TODAY newspaper every Saturday, I come across the logic game ‘Super Sudoku’ where it was aptly described as ‘tough for the die-hard Sudoku junkies’.

Admittedly, I play Sudoku less than ten times in my life at a level deemed to be ordinary, easy for many, on those occasions when I am really free. Looking at the description of the ‘Super Sudoku’ in the newspapers, it seems to be a difficult puzzle for many, even for regular players.

Having nothing to do while travelling in the MRT yesterday, I dug up a pen and attempted to solve this supposedly difficult puzzle. And guess what? I managed to solve this puzzle within a modest timing of 25 minutes !

Though this timing may not be impressive to Sudoku players, the fact that I, an average player with not much practice in Sudoku, is able to solve the puzzle, is more important !

The ‘tough’ description of the game may deter people who are not regular Sudoku players from attempting the challenge, but only those who really try the game will find it otherwise.

The lesson learnt from this simple episode is immense: In life, we are often told that a task is very tough, near impossible, and this will often deter many of us from attempting the task. This is where the challenge comes in.

People who will rise to the challenge will be those who build up the mindset, the perseverance to overcome the challenge, ignoring the tagname given to the tough challenge and constantly believe in themselves that they could do it.

A positive mindset to overcome the odds, coupled with the confidence to take on the challenge are keys to overcoming challenges or obstacles in life.

Though not all challenges can be overcome, one can take comfort for having at least tried to solve the challenges. This is applicable to life as well.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Who really works?

No man is an island at work. Everyone depends on another in order to complete a certain task in work. One’s attitude towards work is important not only to himself but also to his colleagues around him. The latter fact is true as one’s work attitude in work is infectious, it affects others and this is particularly true for personnel holding managerial positions at work.

Can you imagine if one’s boss is a slacker or a complete mess himself, so much so that he cannot even lead himself, lest others? Often the section or department under him would become demotivated, leading to a decline in staff morale and overall productivity.

Such managers are not leaders, they shall not be even called managers in the beginning as they could not even manage themselves. Scores of such officers may be appointed to a high flying position based on the belief that they are capable and not due to the very fact that they are capable. They may be proven in their earlier ages that they WERE capable in studies and co-curricular activities, but this capability shall not be interpreted as capability in future work.

Often when there is a huge hierarchy in organizations, the management may become distant from the actual staff doing the ground so much so that power may be devolved to the ranks which are just slightly above the lower ranks. The latter ranks may call the shots much more than the higher management in terms of ‘real’ or technical powers, and the higher management hence may ‘give way’ to the lower management as a compromise.

It may be perturbing also to witness in some organizations, the hardworking ones are penalised, doing a slew of work which is not only theirs but also those of their managers or subordinates, as the latter do not carry out their own work not because they cannot but because they do not want to.

Instead of contributing at work, one may see these officers with a wrong attitude at work playing computer games, reading news at internets, hogging the pantries, reading newspapers, chit-chatting, busy on the phone, using the company’s utilities for washing.

The hardworking and committed ones may be penalised, the lazy, the unworthy and uncommitted ones may enjoy doing no work and drawing the same pay.

I view it as a matter of conscious. At the end of a day, I feel proud to earn my daily wages, it is not against my conscious if I work hard or commit sufficiently to earn my wages.
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