Monday, December 31, 2007

Top Singapore Short Stories in 2007

As year 2007 comes to a close, let us recall some of the key stories that grabbed the headlines in Singapore this year.

These stories are listed in no order of priority:

UNSW Bombshell

The University of South Wales (UNSW) pulled its campuses out from Singapore as quickly as it have them set up, leaving many students in a fix. Many affected students eventually accepted the university’s offer to continue their education in Australia.

A380

The much awaited A380 giants finally soared to the sky after years of waiting and delay. A new ruling is implemented to prevent couples from making love in some of the very posh cabins.

Taxi touting

Letters written to the Straits Times complaining and lamenting on taxi touts finally caused the authorities to act by lifting the penalty for taxi touts.

F1

Singapore will host its leg of the F1 tournament right on our sunny shores come 28 September 2008! And yesterday, Punggol residents had their taste of a F1 when their constituency staged its own Gold Kart race. Gold Kart races will soon make their appearances in other parts of the island for Singaporeans to experience the F1 thrills and to prime the whole nation in the F1 countdown.

Amri Mohd Samat

Singapore surgeons performed a miracle operation on Amri, cutting off his lower half in a bid to save his life from flesh-eating bacteria. The operation was a success and the optimism and positive outlook of the man towards life after the operation is also applauding and gratifying to all.

PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examinations)

A Muslim girl topped this year’s PSLE with a record score of 294 in the history of the PSLE, with no tuition aids, but with very encouraging parents who created a learning and exploring environment for their daughter since young. The girl was no nerd, excelling in other co-curricular activities as well.

Dragon boating death

Five young, promising and athletic National Dragon boat racers lost their lives when their boat capsized in a river in Cambodia during a race there. Investigations soon found that the victims were all without life vests. A rigorous committee was set up to investigate their deaths and at this moment of writing, the investigation results are still pending. There incident threw the whole nation into two schools of thought on whether dragon boat racers should wear their life vests during racing. It is most likely that a ruling for all dragon boat racers to don their life vests in all races will be on the cards soon.

Dave Teo Ming

Dave Teo created a stir in Singapore when he left his 1 SIR camp in Kranji with a M16 assault rifle and ventured off to Orchard road. Security lapses in the camp have been questioned and again in Singapore, a committee has been set up to investigate these lapses to ensure such an incident will not happen again, especially when it occurred in a wave of school killing incidents around the world. The most notorious school killing was undertaken by a Korean student in one of the America’s universities who killed dozens of his classmates and eventually ending his life. Morbid videos that he sent to NBC are chilling and shed some lights to his reason for the massacre he committed. It is widely believed that the Korean murderer was a victim of school bullying.

ASEAN football champions

Singapore emerged as the champions of ASEAN this year when it defeated its worthy opponent Thailand. The match was cloaked in political shade after Thailand’s tussle with Singapore over Temasek’s investment and the alleged link of some of our political leaders with Thaksin.

ASEAN Idol

Without much fanfare, Hady, our Singapore Idol (2nd season) clinched the first ASEAN idol !

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova came to Singapore for an exhibition match and defeated her worthy compatriot: the 6th ranked Anna in an exciting and adrenalin-pumping match. She is a gorgeous beauty who tower many local men with her 1.88 m frame !

Relationship with neighbours

Singapore has seen its relationship strained at times this year with its neighbour over the following issues:
With Malaysia: Pedra Branca’s right
With Indonesia: Halt of granite supply and sales to Singapore (which may affect Singapore’s development of the IRs) and the alleged monopoly of some of Indonesia’s Telcom industry
With Thailand: Allegations of links with Thaksin and investment of Temaesk in Thailand’s companies.


MRT deaths

More and more Singaporeans are choosing a fast end to life by jumping into MRT tracks to be hit (hopefully dead in their thinking) by an approaching train. Their deaths not only cause grief to their surviving families but also halted MRT services and caused inconveniences to hundreds of passengers. Some of these incidents are not reported in the newspapers any longer as these incidents may be getting too commonplace. Newspapers may also no longer want to fall prey to the agenda of the suicides: when the first such case occurred, donations poured from Singaporeans island wide to the grieving family whose sole bread winner committed suicide in a bid to gain sympathy and attract some monetary assistance to his financially-drained family. The man succeeded with a resounding victory, posthumously.

Charity scene

The charity scene in Singapore has been blighted by scandals involving the NKF, the Children’s society. Even probes are underway for the Ren Ci hospital whose ‘icon’ is the beloved Reverend Ming Yi. When probes broke, Singaporeans even questioned over the authenticity of the reverend’s doctorate, which he obtained through distance learning from an Irish university, after checks on the university with the Irish authorities failed to ‘locate’ this university.


Environment

Environment has been in the spotlight this year. Al Gore and his associates won the Nobel prize for his effort in environment conservation. As the earth falls more and more ill as a result of man’s action and man realises more and more repercussion of his actions, the onus is for man to act collectively to save our earth and the time in now! One chilling environmental anomaly to share: Castiglione di Cervia, a small village of 2000 people in Northern Italy become first to be hit by a tropical disease, the Chikungunya, a relative of the dengue fever.

En-Bloc

“En-Bloc” is a term that is introduced into our daily lexicon in year 2007. In year 2007, Singapore witnessed 109 estates being ‘en-bloc-ed’, creating a revenue of $13 billion for homeowners. The demolition of apartments due to the ‘en-bloc’ led to housing shortages in the city, causing spike in rents. Coupled with the property boom, the prices of housing increases further forcing sellers to move to smaller apartments of cheaper locations.

2nd Adviser

Minister of State for Trade and Industry, Mr Lee Yi Shyan was appointed 2nd advisor for Joo Chiat SMC (Single Member Ward), in a very unusual arrangement in Singapore’s political history where a full time advisor cum MP (member of parliament) is cocurrently seconded to another ward.

1.7%

Unemployment hit 1.7%, the lowest figures in almost 10 years.

$16 billion

Singapore attracted $16 billion in manufacturing and projects, generating $3 billion of total business spending in services. Norwegian firm, REC, invested in Singapore, the world’s largest solar plant. Exon-Mobil has signed an agreement with the authorities to build a 2nd world-scale chemical complex here.

13th ASEAN summit

Singapore hosted the 15th ASEAN summit whereby ASEAN countries signed the landmark ASEAN Charter, which set the path for an ASEAN Economic Community by year 2015.

43 Golds

Singapore clinched 43 Golds, in one of the best showings by a team comprised mainly of youths in the SEA (Southeast Asia Games).

881

Homemade movies brought regional acclaim to our shores: 881, Homeswan stories, to name a few.

Singapore Day

The first ‘Singapore Day’ was organized in New York which brought together 6,000 Singaporeans working overseas in New York for a rare and homely gathering.

172,000

172,000 jobs were created in the first 9 months of 2007.

UP, UP, UP

The cost of living continues its upward spiral. The government cited three reasons for the increase: a) adjustment of GST from 5% to 7% b) increase in the annual value of HDB flats push the value of flats up (but it affect only 5% of the population who has no home ownership and lives in rented homes) c) worldwide increase of food and energy. The 4 years of sustained growth has also created problems: a) shortage of prime office spaces b) resource constraint in the construction industry c) a tight labour market. Inflation is rising faster than expected too.


Dengue Fever

Dengue fever infections spiral unabatedly from May to August which prompted NEA (National Environment Agency) to mobilise its team of officers to tackle the problem at the bud. ‘Intensive Source Reduction Exercises’ are conducted to rid the root of the dengue scourge. The efforts pay off and the infections tapered off to a normal level.


An Economic Anomaly?

With the unusual strong showing of its economy (7.5% growth rate) in 2007, Singapore is lauded as a developed nation growing at the pace of a developing nation.

$1.94 million

After the highly scrutinised pay revision of top civil servants and ministers, $1.94 million is the annual pay of an entry-grade Minister in Singapore now.

6.5 million Singaporeans

Policymakers are gearing up for 6.5 million Singaporeans in their policy making considerations.

666,000 millionaires

That is the number of millionaires with liquidity of US$1 million in Singapore. The rising number of the richer Singaporeans inevitably leads to an ever-increasing income gap.

1 million foreign workers

1 million foreign workers now reside in Singapore, contributing to Singapore but nevertheless creating some challenges to Singapore.

377A

To repeal or not? Singaporeans are divided into 2 schools of thought, in the discussion of whether law forfeiting Gay Sex shall be repealed in Singapore. The topic drew an aggressive discussion and hot airing in parliament and the verdict attests to the traditional conservative Asian values of Singaporeans in general.

GST increase

GST increased from 5% to 7% on 1 July 2007


4th University

A 4th university is on the card with Minister-of –State Lui leading a study to explore the form that this new university will take

Annuity

The government wants Singaporeans aged 85 and above to be covered with compulsory annuity.

CPF reforms

Reforms would be made to CPF, promising higher interest returns, later drawn out age for the minimum sum and annuities to be made compulsory for Singaporeans and paid using their CPF.

WorkFare Income supplement

Another shield of society for low income and older workers, in addition to education, compulsory home ownership and the 3 ‘Ms’: Medisave, Medishield and Medifund.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Waterloo Street

The part of Waterloo Street flanked by KuanYin temple and the Indian temple, OG shopping centre, Albert Complex and the food centre is a microcosm of daily Singapore life. The rhythm of life is encapsulated on this street. Here, one can see a good representation of the different races living on this island and as well as the various groups of foreigners congregating on this lively street.

Every time I come to this street, I am also enthralled by the many ‘performers’ on the street. These can be peddlers selling some ‘magical’ charms or acrobats performing intriguing acts. Of late, I spot a tiny ‘performer’ (woman in a child’s body) borned with both legs twisted to the front, so that her feet and head face different directions. She was singing on a karaoke set and asking for donations from the crowd of on-lookers.

There are many other interesting ‘performers’ on this street and what I have observed is that many of these ‘performers’ do not look local. Though these performers liven up the street and make the street definitely more interesting than many others in Singapore, I do not know whether their acts carried out on this street contravene any laws or regulations.

Soliciting for donation or money in general has become almost central to this street, from beggars, performers, flower sellers to people asking for donations to help the unfortunate in other countries. Hitherto, I still do not know whether the donation seekers are genuine or bogus seekers exploiting on the charity of temple-goers.

Nevertheless, waterloo street with its mix of good food, culture, religious places of attraction, shopping centres, computer mega stores and a National library in its vicinity is certainly a nice place to hang out at.

Hawker Centres

I have recently completed reading the book titled Singapore Hawker Centres: People, Places and Food written by Professor Lily Kong from the National University of Singapore. This book rightly captures the essences of our Hawker Centres and its relevance to the lives of Singaporeans from the past to the present.

Our ubiquitous Hawker Centres are really the gems of our small nation. Dining out and eating with friends have almost become a ritual of our daily lives, not just as a mean to fill our empty stomach. In fact our hawker centres, a central part of our lives have become one of “the 1000 places that one must visit before one dies”.

There is no more addition to the existing number of hawker centres in our country. What have been springing up are food courts, restaurants, cafes and the likes. The quality of food served at very affordable prices is the main draw of hawker centres. Conversely, many food courts I have patronised before served very low quality food in very small serving portions at very high prices. Good food can be found in restaurants but they come with premium prices, GST, compulsory service charges, etc.

Our hawker centres, after upgrading have become much more spacious and elegant and have almost become daily attractions for Singaporeans.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Teacher's Pay

Teachers will get a hike in their salaries and fatter bonuses with effect from next year, the Ministry of Education announced.

This announcement brought cheers to the 29,000 teachers in Singapore, at least in my opionion :)

It is a challenging time and exciting time to be a teacher in Singapore.

In this era, knowledge is dynamic and ever-changing and these demand constant upgrading of the teachers to imbibe the constant changing information, transform them into knowledge and impart to the students.

The Ministry is giving generous scholarships, bursaries and allowances for teachers to upgrade their qualifications, from bachelor to Masters and even doctorates.

Imparting knowledge to the students in this era may be more challenging than the yester-years. Now there are a wide range of techological devices to impart knowledge. Different facets of knowledge transfer asides, the students of today may be more sophiscated than before and the teachers of today have to really connect with the students to guide them along.

Teachers, apart from teaching, also spend hours on co-curricular activities.

So with all these challenges, it may be justifiable for the pay hikes of teachers.

But are the teachers of today more interested in teaching as a career only or because of the intrinisc benefits they obtain from the transformation and guiding of students?

It is hard to tell.

But what is evident in Singapore is that our education system, honed and refined through the years have become internationally acclaimed and become our Singapore quality export.

Maths and Science textbooks produced by Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB) have been reproduced in some states of America to be used as teaching tools, to take for an example.

Knowledge is criticial to today's economy as in a knowledge-based economy, knowledge is power, therein lies Singapore's heavy investment in education. However, other countries like China and India are playing catch up.

Singapore students may be enjoying a high quality of education but their demeanours still need to be improved.

Just look around, many teenagers displaying all forms of intimacy at a young age. Giving up seats to elderly may not be in their "dictionaries" too.

Moral education shall be stressed, at this era, where a host of changes confound lives and where morality is slowing and surely declining.

Bhutto Assassinated !

In just two days time, 2007 will come to a closure.

It was a rude awakening and a shock to denizens the world over when the daughter of the Muslim Word, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated during a public rally on 27 Dec 2007 (Thu) Singapore time.

Bhutto had a vision for Pakistan, a country fraught with malaise and struggle. She stood as the symbol against terrorism and a beacon of hope for a better tomorrow for Pakistan.

Surviving assassinations many times before, and despites reminder morbid death notes by her nemesis, she returned to Pakistan in her attempt to liberalise Pakistan, unafraid and determined.

She has died, as a result of cowardly terrorist act but the world over shared her vision and mission.

The terrorists have won this time round but the fight against terrorists will continue and be strengthed further !

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Transport Woes

I find it increasingly difficult to take the MRT these days as the train is always packed to the periphery, to the extent that sometimes, one’s body can be pasted like a sucker-fish to the door of the train (no kidding!)

The overcrowding of the MRT at most times of the day may be attributed to the population increase, the simply reluctance of the passengers to move into the interior of the train and the recent price hikes of petrol which may encourage more use of public transport among the population.

With Singapore gearing to an ever-increasing population, it is a real challenge to accommodate transportation needs of the people in this land-scare island. Though MRTs are efficient modes of public transport, to curb overcrowding of the train, more services at higher frequencies may be necessary but this would inevitably lead to higher fares.

Mannerism and basic courtesy of Singaporeans are embedded attributes, which are unfortunately hard to change over these years despites numerous campaigns targeted to address the courtesy issue.

The higher price of petrol may aid in energy conversation as more people may switch to public transport, thus bringing down the level of vehicle emission in Singapore. However Singapore is a small player and the small improvement made to the emission level is negligible compared to larger countries.

With COEs, parking fees, ERPs and the higher price of petrol, I find public transport more attractive than car ownership. Owing a car and commuting by car is a real monetary commitment at the expense of convenience.

Pros asides, public transport has its cons. The long waiting time for buses, the inconveniences of crowding with people…. it is all a matter of compromises.

Of late, I find that buses are certainly excessive electrical consumers. These buses are freezingly cold in the mornings that I take them that many passengers resort to the wearing of sweaters. Seen in this perspective, buses are not so eco-friendly. And why should buses have TVmobile? Do passengers really need them? These mobile TVs installed in buses, only create more noise, disturbing passengers sleeping and use up more electricity, in my personal opinion.

In contrast, MRTs are getting warmer and warmer, most probably due to more and more passengers taking the trains.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Increases

Prices of many essential items such as flour and oil have increased in the recent few weeks, leaving many Singaporeans concerned and worried.

Basic necessities asides, the price of petrol has also skyrocketed a little, leading to corresponding increases in the prices of petrol and inevitably higher taxi fares.

Prior to these increases, GST this year has increased from 5% to 7%, and with the recent increases of many items, prices of hawker fares have subsequently seen a hike.

All these increases this year may have put a strain on the pockets of the average Singaporeans, thus when the latest increases to top civil servants and ministers were announced, some Singaporeans lamented that it was not the most appropriate time for the increase.

I would not dwell on the link between top pay and top talent. I believe one shall have read the lengthy justifications made for these pay increases in the newspapers. To me, the salaries of the top civil servants are definitely high but these may be reasonable for the duties and responsibilities they hold, as compared to the ‘16th’ person in the median of the same profession ’.

What we see in Singapore is a growing chasm between the rich and the ‘not so rich’, with millionaires in Singapore being 66,000 and growing. However, looking at some of my less well-off colleagues who still have a comfortable asset, their homes, I believe the government’s policies of compulsory home ownership is working well.

Year 2008 is coming in just a week, there are telling signs of a slower economy next year. Singapore is betting on the IR, the Youth Olympics and the F1 to ride against these challenges, but can they endure against the constant vortex of change?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

SEA Games Results

The SEA games ended last Saturday 15 Dec 07 with Singapore at the 6th position, clinching a total gold medal tally of 43.

Our result at the SEA games was neither impressing nor poor. It was mediocre and to a certain extent fell short of expectation. We had a patchy performance with excellent results in some sports and under-performance in traditional strong arenas.

It led some Singaporeans to wonder whether the heavy investments in our sports and our athletes were worthwhile? Consider countries like Thailand, which did not have such a heavy investment in their athletes nor handsome rewards for them as Singapore, and yet these countries produced sterling results at the SEA games.

To me, talent is both nature and nurture.

One may argue that Thailand is a much larger country than Singapore. In a bigger country, the number and quality of the talent pool may be definitely much greater than that of a small country like Singapore. With sufficient training given to its athletes, it is not hard for these large countries to excel in sports.

In Singapore, it may be harder to find natural born sports talents among the smaller pool that we have. With this constraint, our strategy in developing local sport talents is to develop our local athletes. These strategies pay off as we witness our local sportsmen in the top of the leagues in sports like water polo and bowling at the SEA games.

Singapore has also imported foreign talents to our national sports team and developed them. Many of these talents borned in countries like China and Indonesia eventually become Singaporeans and represent Singapore in regional and international games. It may be indeed difficult for many Singaporeans to dismiss the fact that these foreign talents are not born in Singapore and some controversies inevitably sparked over their nationalities whenever they clinched the titles for Singapore.

Singaporeans who could not get over the nationality tag of these foreign talents shall understand the attraction and development of talent in sports is akin to that in other arenas. Work teams today are made up of diverse groups of people with different nationalities, so is with sports. Soccer teams playing in the famous leagues and world cups also bore testimony to this fact.

On the other hand, large countries which may have a larger pool of talents may not certainly excel in sports if they do not develop their athletes. Consider Laos, a country of significant land mass and population. Mired in economic difficulty, it is hard for Laos to grow and develop its economy, let alone develop its local sports talent.

To summarize, to excel in regional and international sports, nature, nurture and sourcing of talents are critical. On hindsight, considering the small population of Singapore, its results at the recent SEA games may still be encouraging.

Purchases

Recently I bought a game item from a reputable retail shop in a shopping centre. The item was sealed up in a neat transparent packaging with the price tag clearly labeled. After payment, I happily brought the item home. Impressed with the neat and transparent packaging which in my impression, conveys quality of the product, I did not open the game item until a few days later.

Imagine my shock when I tore open the plastic wrapping and the stickers, only to find an aged box, which showed once the packaging, was torn. Examining the game item, I realized some parts of the item were missing !

It definitely pays to check one’s items after purchase and not to assume the purchased item has no defects, no matter how well packaged the item may be. I endured some inconvenience to bring back the game item to the shop where I bought it and convinced the staff there for a replacement, especially tedious when I had thrown away the receipt.

I realized how applicable the adage “Do not judge a book by its cover” in this episode and was more convinced of the necessity to check and verify and not to assume in all matters we do.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Poaching

While passing the park connector between Tampines Avenue 10 and Pasir Ris, there are evidences of people poaching wildlife.

Laying nets, armed with some traps, they straddle the shallow rivers, the canals and lay their baiting traps, hopefully to catch some wildlife.

These can be fishes, or sometimes some rare creatures such as iguanas.

Most often, they fail in their attempts as they are not skilled but once their baits are caught, they may be rewarded handsomely.

And if they themselves are caught, the cost is even greater.

Marriages

This month seems to be a month of marriages, with me witnessing, one after another, my friends, stepping into the aisle, being congratulated by friends and relatives.

To get married at the age of twenty-plus in this age is considered early. Marriage is a commitment and my friends are already signing on this life long commitment at this tender age.

Married or not, there are pros and cons, and it depends on one’s viewpoints of things. Responsibilities come flooding once one gets married. Being a good husband, a good father, taking care of wife and children, managing accounts and expenses and having real little time for oneself.

All these commitments are challenges. To some, these are pros and they relish these challenges. For others, these commitments may be costly and one prefers to be single and free of commitments.

Singapore is at a development stage where we need more babies as our population is ageing and declining. To tackle the problem of our population shrinking, our youth needs to procreate and to procreate more.

Though the government has dangled more and more carrots to attract earlier marriage and more procreation among our population and also played some match-making roles, the procreation rate may still need to be ratcheted up at a faster pace.

My personal opinion is that apart from an increasing worldwide social trend of people preferring to remain single, the higher and higher costs of living may also deter some from starting a family or having more children.
Higher costs of living is inevitable, however it is a blessing that the government is trying to reduce the stresses of this bugbear through its various initiatives.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Mailbox

With the advent of Email (Electronic-Mail), postage mail has been, to a certain extent relegated. Postage mail however is still a necessity in today’s world, especially when original copies of documents or parcels are to be sent from one point to another in the world. This necessity renders the sustained presence of mailboxes in Singapore.

Together with the relegation of postage mail in today’s era is the ‘relegation’ of the location of the mailboxes. Mailboxes used to be located in populated areas, within easy reach of the mailers, e.g. inside the MRT stations. However after ‘911’, these mail boxes suddenly ‘moved house’ to be relocated at a further distance from crowded places like the MRT stations.

The mailboxes are not the only facilities to have ‘moved house’ after ‘911’. Dustbins, a common sight in MRT stations were removed from the stations shortly after the incident.

The relocation of these facilities stem from security concerns, which are worthy causes. It is a worthwhile trade-off of conveniences for security.

Rain

The seasonal monsoons are here again, bringing with it plentiful rain to this tiny island, lending a tinge of Christmas to this all-summer country.

Areas in Singapore are not all flood-proof. Low-laying areas in the country are susceptible to floods. It was not unheard of for horticulture farms, homes and other factories to incur losses after flood water ravage their properties and assets. With excellent drainage facilities constructed, these flooded areas are fortunately a minority.

In neighboring countries, the damage caused by floods is tremendous, ravaging homes, whole stock and barrel, livestock and even precious lives. The magnitude of these floods is far greater than our local floods where the maximum height is only waist-deep.

As a result of man’s action, climate has changed. It was reported yesterday that it is raining hailstones in Australia, which is an unusual fact considering that it should be summer now in that country.

Hailstones are no kidding stuff. Falling from great heights, they smashed the windows of cars and homes and injuring others.

Man is seeing the repercussions of his constant destruction of the environment.

Singapore- A Nation of Campaigns?

Singapore is a ‘campaign’ country. Since two or three decades back, we had a slew of campaigns such as the ‘Courtesy’ campaign, the ‘Save water’ campaign, ‘Two (Children) are enough’ campaign, etc. Some campaigns such as the anti-littering campaigns are evergreen, which persist till today while some faded into oblivion due to irrelevance in today era.

These campaigns are medium of mass public education, intended to achieve a social or economical aim of the nation.

Of late, campaigns of a new nature have come to the fore. Though the aims of some of these new campaigns are still mainly economical, to a certain extent, they have taken on an international and global twist.

When Singapore hosted the World Convention the year before, there was an aggressive campaign to showcase to the world that our people are friendly and ready to welcome the international delegates via the ‘Smile Singapore’ campaign.

Currently, Singapore is in a bid to host the Youth Olympics in year 2011. Preliminary rounds have indicated Singapore to be in the 2nd position in the running for the hosting rights. To ratchet up the momentum and drum up local support for Singapore to host the event, a campaign is in the offing. Some signs of this campaign are
It is hard to miss the colourful banners put up across the island or the advertisement blitz via the mass media to canvass for support among the community.
Some youths have been appointed ambassadors for the event.
Plans to include ‘lessons of the Olympics’ (do not ask me what it is, I am not sure too) into the syllabus in schools are also on the card.

Drumming up support for this event is but one of the twin objectives of this campaigning. The other apparent aim would be to show to the judging panel that Singapore is ready to take on the job!

Another campaign with a modern day twist is the ‘Bring-Your-Own-Bag-Day (BYOBD)’ spearheaded by NEA. ‘Environmental-friendly’and the like are buzzwords of this era. This campaign with a green twist aims to encourage shoppers to use recyclable bags, instead of plastic bags to contain their purchased items. Response to this campaign among shoppers has been reported to be forthcoming and NEA is considering increasing the frequency of the BYOBD from once per week to a more regular basis.

It is premature to predict whether BYOBD would ultimately achieve its goal of reducing the consumption of plastic bags in Singapore. Such campaigns ultimately calls for mindset changes and it may take years before the community is accustomed to these changes and the fruits of these campaigns are reaped.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Urban Legend 3: Monkey Business

This evening, I went for my routine cycle cum jog session to Bedok Reservoir.

After an invigorating run, there was a commotion sparked up by some monkey business.

Literally not figuratively speaking, monkey business.

Out of the blue, a monkey appeared swinging from trees to trees at the reservoir. It piqued the curiosity of many joggers who paused to take a look. Some took out cameras to take photos of the creature, who was obviously proud of the interest it has created in the tranquil reservoir.

For once, I did not know where this creature come from to claim a stake in Bedok Reservoir.

Monkeys are common in the water catchment areas, Bukit Timah areas but in Bedok Reservoir?

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Experience

Experience is the sum of interaction with people, with the environment and hence experience is always dynamic. Some folks who have been to a certain place individually may not want to revisit the place with a group as they believe that the experience is the same: visiting these ‘old’ places. But they are wrong. With groups, the experiences gleaned will be different, with interaction with others at different dates and in different environments. All these make for different experiences, different enjoyment and shall be cherished. It is like playing games: playing with different people will make the fun of the game different.

STOMP

STOMP continues to be a popular news online medium in Singapore where Singaporeans can become reporters and their articles viewed by many others. Pictures are often convincing and it often validates the stories told by these ‘reporters’ but I must really caution that pictures can also be biased. There may be only one picture but the interpretations can be a dozen. One must judge the credibility of the stories at face value only.

Smoking Ban

I really advocate the smoking ban to be extended to all HDB flats. Living in a non air-conditioned unit, everyday, I fall victim to the suffocating cigarette smoke emanating from my neighbours below and which penetrates my room. The only solution is to shut all windows (which make the room also suffocating) and reopen the window again and the battle continues………..till the person stops smoking

Mocca

Mocca, a platform for users to post advertisements free-of-charge has come to the fore with a big bang via an aggressive and humorous advertising blitz. There are hundreds and hundreds of advertisements of all types being posted on Mocca. Of late, I discovered a whole slew of advertisements offering sexual and discreet services. Though Mocca provides a free platform for genuine buyers and sellers, certainly it also fall prey to the oldest profession in the world. Sex sells and do continues to sell, via a whole gamut of medium in all places!

Late Employees

Employees who are late for work everyday are a drain on the company’s resources. Imagine if there is only one employee who us late for just ten minutes per day: in a month, about 100 minutes of working hours will be gone and extrapolated to a year, 20 man-hours will be wasted, and the company may have more than one such employee.

Though it is true that quality of work takes precedence over the quantity of time spent in work, nevertheless, lost man-hours due to constant lateness on the part of the employees should be something management shall look at.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Urban Legend 2


What are noticeboards for?

For this one, it serves as a rubbish bin!

But I find it disbelieving that this notice board is used as a rubbish bin for it is extremely difficult to slot these papers in.

Or rather, how does one put all these refuse in? for this noticeboard looks locked.

Urban Legend 1


This picture was taken on a raining day.
I really believe the white mist shrouding the towers is low laying clouds.


Sunday, December 02, 2007

Civil Service Bonus

Civil servants this year will get between 3 to 3.3 months of bonus + $220. This bonus includes the 0.5 month bonus +$220 that Civil servants had been given in July 2007, 2 months of bonus in December 2007 and a ‘Growth Bonus’ from 0.5 to 0.8 month pegged to the performance of good performers.

Normally, the stand of the Civil Service in giving out its bonus is not to be seen as leading Private Sector in this practice, but rather as a guideline.

Shortly after the release of the bonus handouts, private sectors are reported not to peg their bonus with that of the Civil Service as it is akin to comparing apples and oranges, and they have their own practices.

There is one reader who wrote in to the Straits Time today to challenge the notion of the good performance of the supposedly good performers of Civil service and calls for transparency to dishing out public funds to these good performances and she even question the bonus itself.

The reader seems to be steeped in a culture of envy in the letter. She should have known that the bonus of Civil Servants which is widely publicised is really transparent in this aspect. Further more, these bonuses dished out are average, some private companies can pay their employees more than six months of their salaries as bonuses.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

1 Dec 2007

Today is 1 December 2007, the last month of the year. With two holidays in this month, two half day offs granted on the eves of Christmas and the New Year and with many colleagues taking off and leave, this month will fly and soon 2007 will be history.

2008 will be the year China hosts the Olympics and Singapore hosts the F1 tournaments and besides these great events, there will be a slew of interesting happenings coming up.

However, there is a possibility that recession may set in year 2008. Recession is a vicious, cyclic occurrence. With the most recent two previous recessions in 1997, 2003, it may seem time that recession will indeed set in year 2008.

But Singapore is confident that the recent slew of international projects it has undertaken (or will be bidding and hopefully getting them), will help our country tide over the recession.

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