Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Chinese New Year

Though Chinese New Year is just a week’s away, I still do not have the CNY mood.

In fact, as I grow older and older and evolve into a mature adult, the festiveness moods of major festivals become more and more elusive and I begin to feel less and less excited about major festivals like CNY and the New Year.

I still recalled my childhood days when Christmas, Chinese New Year and New Year are always so special. There is always a magical touch to Christmas accompanied by its seemingly ceaseless rainy days; a very joyous mood for CNY as we visited my grandparents’ house and mingle with our relatives.

As I grow older and older, all these feelings become dimmer and dimmer. One by one, my grandparents left and due to the busy work commitments of relatives to stay alive in this hectic society, there is not much of a contact with each other. Visiting relatives on CNY becomes nothing more than a customary practice.

But aforementioned reasons apart, I believe it is the sense of the world that I slowly make out as I ventured into adulthood and into the society.

Along this journey from childhood to adulthood, more and more problems or challenges come to the fore as we undertake more responsibilities at work, and spend hours at work earning money in a society when the costs of living are always heading north. Also, health problems start to come as one grows older.

Worse still, we begin to see the evil sides of human beings, especially at work, when some people’s attitudes and ‘politics playing’ run counter to our cherished virtues of an ideal world when we were young.

Alas as we take on these challenges and learn from the multiplicities of diverse experiences, we become wiser by the day.

Drowning

A Secondary 1 boy drowned while learning to swim at the Clementi Swimming Complex during the inaugural swimming lessons conducted by his secondary school. Ironically, these swimming lessons are started to teach the students basic swimming and water survival skills.

This incident flashed back my memories many years ago when I was similarly in Secondary 1, attending a swimming lesson conducted by my secondary school.

As the swimming lessons were conducted some 2 hours after school ended at noon, my friends and I decided to go to the pool early for practices.

Developing leg cramps while swimming inside the pool after half an hour, I waved frantically at my other friends who had ventured far away from me. My mouth kept gulfing the chlorinated water as my head went deeper and deeper down the waters…..

It was a close shave as my friends swum back to me and pulled me to safety.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

China Snow Deluge

I was shocked to read that China has been battling a deluge of snow for several days since the previous week in many of its provinces.

The snow deluge has claimed approximately 20 lives hitherto and cost the Chinese economy $4 billion!

Chinese New Year is coming soon and what should be a happy festival for the Chinese has been marred by this freak snow deluge.

As a result of this natural calamity, all forms of transport networks, land, sea and air have been crippled, thus paralyzing all rescue efforts for the victims.

Looking back, Singapore is fortunate to be located in the part of the globe where it is free from earthquakes and natural disasters, though from time to time, we feel the tremors emanating from the Indonesian quakes.

The major threats Singapore face are economical recessions, slowdowns and other less conventional threats like epidemics and terrorism. Another main threat is global competition.

One of the regrettable fallouts from the Chinese calamity was that of unkind merchants hiking exorbitant prices of necessities such as food and drink from the thousands of people stranded in railway stations.

Times Bookshop

Stepping into Times Bookshop has never been a disappointing moment for me. There is an aura of class about the bookshop which lends a trendy and classy feel to reading. All the latest titles are available here, some of which, a voracious book lover like me, have not come to know at all.

Reading is made trendy here at this bookshop. The books are crisp, like fresh loaves of bread being displayed in a confectionary. The titles on display are bestsellers with a myriad of exciting themes to cater to all kinds of readers.

Lest I am thought of promoting this bookshop, I must admit that one is compelled to purchase a book from the outlet until one sees the price tag attached at the back of the book!

For me I prefer my dose of books from the many libraries around Singapore. Though the books may be older (unless one reserves the newer titles), they still make for an interesting read, and for free.

I am not miser, just that I do not really believe in buying books for once the knowledge of the books have been ‘absorbed’, these books may be a waste laying around in my home, since I knowing that I will not have the privilege of time to reread them……… unless they are recirculated to friends, etc.

Chikuniya

Chikuniya has arrived in Singapore !

However, Chikuniya is not the latest shopping centre like Takashimaya, neither is it a Japanese food. It is not a fruit like Chiku too !

It is a scourge which has claimed 11 victims hitherto in Singapore. It is spread by the Aedes mosquitoes which were the source of the dengue bulge in Singapore last year.

Chikuniya infection at this point of writing is concentrated in Little India of Singapore and the National Environment Agency (NEA) has stepped up its efforts to rid this scourge.

Though rarely deadly, the diseases bring much discomfort to the victims, with rashes, fever, etc.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan has acknowledged that this problem is a knotty issue and inter-agency taskforces have been formed to tackle the disease in a comprehensive manner.

MBA rankings

Nanyang business school has clinched the 46th spot in the latest global MBA ranking by the Financial Times (FT), reference: http://rankings.ft.com/global-mba-rankings, moving several notches up from its position of 67 the year before.

This is the first time a Singapore business school has entered into the top 50 MBA ranking league. NUS business school was unranked in the MBA list this year due to ‘an incomplete data collection’. Another business school, SMU business school just commenced its MBA programme this year, distinguishing itself from other business school with its strong focus on soft skills such as negotiation skills which are in high demand by companies currently. The other characteristic of SMU MBA is that it is an accelerated one year course, offering the fastest route to graduation in the local education industry, Reference
The top business school in Singapore still goes to Insead (French business school), which has a local campus here.

Comparing the prices of the local business school here, a SMU and NUS MBA costs around $42,000 to $46,000 while a Insead MBA costs more than $100,000. NTU MBA costs around $22,000.

Singaporeans may be quick to notice that it may be more worthwhile to obtain a MBA from Nanyang business school due to its higher ranking and cheaper price compared to that a NUS MBA.

However, for those who prefer not to do a dissertation, NUS MBA may still be appealing ….

Monday, January 28, 2008

Death. Living Courageously and Existing ... ...

Today, I see for myself how people live, and how people die .....

How we lead our lives is really our choice!

It is sad to see how an unfortunated struggles courageously with life and the other, a perfectly healthy man chooses to make a big fuss of the smallest dumbest things in life !

DEATH

These few days, I have been dreaming about death.......

Heard so much about death these days, first Suharto's and then at work today, learnt that one of my manager's brother had passed away suddenly due to a heart attack.

Though death seems elusive to many, it can actually strike anytime, anyhow and anywhere.

Fit sportsmen have collasped and failed to be revived .....


LIVING COURAGEOUSLY

As I made my way home, I witnessed a blind man alighting from an SBS bus. He was independent, and as he mounted the pavement, he walked all by himself, aided by a walking stick. He was so close to the end of the kerb where the heavy traffic surged by. It was very dangerous indeed and as my heart went out to him and in the midst of deciding to go and give me some assistance, the blind man knocked his head on a lamppost! It was a most pitiful sight but the blind man refused to give up. He gave the lamppost a touch in a bid as to familarise himself with this obstruction so that he would not hit it again in his walk in the future. As he was fidgeting, luckily two passer-bys who saw him rendered help to him.

EXISTENCE

In the midst of preparing for an activity for my staff, I had spent quite a lot of time and effort in order to give my colleagues a great and fun time mingling together after so many years of not getting together. It pained me to hear comments from an old colleague, complaints instead that due to the venue chosen for the activity (a retreat), he would be late for home for 15 min!!

Imagine, my old colleague's myopia was not confined to him alone. Many of my colleagues also shared this myopic view, failing to see what a great gathering and interaction this activity would facilitate.

As far as I am concerned, I try my best to provide them an avenue for such gatherings and explain to them the bigger view (goal) of such an activity and in general, life as in totality.....

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Singapore vs Moscow

Singapore and Moscow are now the last two contenders for the first Youth Olympic to be held in year 2010, with the results to be released on 21 Feb next month.

In my opinion, Singapore has done a lot in its bid for the Olympic games and in its efforts to galvanize the nation to support its bid.

One question remains: Do Singaporeans really really hope or/and want this game to be held in Singapore? or is the bidding for this game more for economical purpose?

Transport Revamp

With the railway network being increased to 278 km from the current present of 130 km, Singapore's public transport is really getting more and more attractive to Singaporeans.

With one or more new railway stations coming up every other year commencing year 2010, Singaporeans are becoming more and more linked to each other in terms of proximity: it is faster to travel from one place to another.

There will be more competitors for the bus and MRT coverage in Singapore, more buses will ply the streets and there would be more railway stations coming up.

Basically all the recent updates on the future transport scene in Singapore are parts of Transport Minister Raymond Lim's proposal presented to parliament in the recent weeks. It covers the following:
a) Bus
b) MRT
c) other users.

Singaporeans are now awaiting part C of the revamp plan to be presented.

Living beyond 100

Tonight, I watched a commentary which featured an old man, aged 102 still living his life independently without much help from his children.

His fitness level is better than people half his age! It is truly amazing and though his wife has since passed away more than 20 more years, his life is indeed a blessed and happy one. His youngest child is already 59 yrs old and he is great-grandfather to a dozen healthy kids.

It is indeed great to live a long life if one is healthy.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Suharto

Suharto bidded the world farewell today around 3pm after three weeks of struggle. He passed away at the age of 86 due to multiple organ failures.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Train Disruption


Mayhem today which turns out to be a Monday.

A service vehicle broke down around 545 am today between Tampines and Simei MRT Station and as a result the railway transport was disrupted from Pasir Ris MRT Station to Tanah Merah MRT Station for more than 7 hours!

The many shuttle buses provided for the passengers caught unprepared for the breakdown did not do much to pacify them.

Ironically, today's breakdown occured just days after Transport Minister Raymond Lim presented the land transport revamp plan in Parliament.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Changi Airport Terminal 3

Changi Airport Terminal 3 opened on 9 January 2008 and today I had the good opportunity to visit this lovely terminal.

One could not help but be amazed by the sheer engineering efforts put into the construction of the terminal as well as the manifold planning undertaken for the operation and maintenance of the terminal.

The terminal is simply too big, and walking from one end to the other end may aid in the burning of calories for those who requires a good workout.

The place is simply too large, too cosy and currently too quiet as the terminal is waiting for the utlisation of more airlines. The terminal may be a haven for tired souls as they took a nap or more in the many corners of the terminal.

I could not help but comment that this terminal epitomizes the quality of Singapore.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Age

Fact be known, there are many kinds of age: real age, biological age, mental age, social age and etc.

Some people look older than their real age as their biological age is more than their real age.

Some people are wiser than their real age as their mental age is more than their real age.

However, only real age can be quantified.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Investment

Though I am a cautious man, I have made a stupid mistake of investing a sum of money into a fund which falls in value rapidly after its inception.

Touted as a fund which gives good returns, and managed by experienced global investment fund managers, the fund does not pay justice to what it has been branded!

Investment is really a game of luck and so me just get it lucky with their "Midas touch" but others' get their fingers burnt.

Happiness

I am currently reading a book which expounds on Aristotle's thinking on Happiness.

In the book, there are myriads of definitions of Happiness but what I find very true is that "Happiness is the highest good that man seeks in life".

To see this, just see the logic in some of the everyday conversations overheard:

"I want to be strong in order to be happy"

rather than "I want to be happy in order to be strong".

thus to be happy is the highest good one seeks, most of the things that man seeks in life is finally to seek happiness.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

ERP

Flipping through the newspapers today, I read that even more ERP (Electronic Road Pricing) gantries will be put up at housing estates all over the island.

The addition of more ERP gantries is an attempt to curb the traffic problems in Singapore contributed chiefly by congestion and long traffic jams, on the back of an increasing population.

Possessing a car in Singapore is becoming less and less attractive as the costs of owning one are getting higher and higher. Well-heeled Singaporeans may not feel the pitch but average Singaporeans may have to think twice before committing to purchase a car.

Besides the main bugbear of the expensive COEs, (Certificates of Entitlement) other factors have come to the fore and contribute to the high price of car ownership in Singapore.

Recent price hikes in petrol are concerns to car owners as they witness their wallets getting flatter after every refueling. With the addition of more ERP gantries, motorists have to pay more on entering the gantries too.

Roads are also getting more and more packed, traffic jams are taking centrestage on the roads daily and it is becoming a challenge to find a parking lot these days. These attendant problems, to a certain extent, also take the smiles away from drivers.

In the coming months, there will be a coming review, a possible revamp and a rethink of our transportation system in order to cope with the rising population and alleviate the existing traffic problems.

Public transport may stand to gain as more owners ditch their cars for buses ad MRTs and environment will benefit due to the lesser emission from a fewer number of cars.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Mypaper

Mypaper, a free weekday Chinese daily, distributed to thousands of Singaporeans, predominantly at MRT stations all over the island, in the early mornings has undergone a revamp today.

It has gone bilingual, making it the first daily in Singapore to boost of both English and Mandarin contents.

With the addition of the English coverage, the number of pages dedicated to each English and Mandarin section has not been compromised. In fact, there is even more scope of news, more sections, more pages, more advertisements and inevitably more weight, both literally and figuratively.

In fact, there are oodles of features in the newspapers that I cannot complete during my close to 45 minutes in the MRT!

Besides Mypaper, another free daily, TODAY, takes to the street every morning (except Sunday) too. Together with my daily dose of the Straits Times, the Lian He Zao Bao, TV news and online news (STOMP, The Electric New Paper), these free dailies offer an intriguing mix of news, locally and internationally from a myriad of perspectives.

It is enriching to one to read news and learn to understand things in different perspectives but the challenge will be reading time!

At the end of the day, when one is tired from a day of work, some sections of the newspapers have to be necessarily skipped in order to free more time for other personal commitments.

Archiving online contents

The National Library Board (NLB) is undertaking a task to archive online contents of relevance to Singapore. These content include blogs of ordinary Singaporeans, which are growing at a phenomenal rate. The NLB aims to archive approximately 100 blogs about Singapore in time to come.

The NLB acknowledges that blogs written by Singaporeans can be an invaluable source to learn about Singapore life. Accounts of daily lives of Singaporeans, unabridged and uncensored, offer rich repositories of information of Singapore which other mass media may fail to purvey of.

At this era, knowledge and information are making inroads to the softcopy world rapidly to the extent that the hardcopy world may not be able to contend with.

The step by NLB is applauding and is a move in the right direction.

Eco coffins

Eco coffins are making a foray into Singapore. Eco coffins, as the name implies are coffins, which are eco-friendly. These coffins are made from dried paper-like pulp, dead or mature wood rather than growing wood which are fell for the purposing of their makings.

These coffins also burn faster, thus emitting a lesser amount of pollutants into the atmosphere. As usual with all things novel, some people have their reservations to depart from the world in such coffins.

However for me , I do not mind departing the world, with still an ability to do something worthwhile for our earth !

Monday, January 07, 2008

Communications

Have you ever played a game whereby a message is relayed from one person to the next, only to discover that the original message to be communicated does not square with that received by the final player?

Such a game, though simple, contains a very important message, i.e. the importance of listening.

Listening is an art and a skill; it differs from hearing in the sense that listening requires one to be attentive enough to grasp the actual contents of the speech so as to understand it. Listening is a skill, which is gaining currency as one of the leadership skills.

But in real life, every often, one would just listen to the speaker at the beginning of the speech and when the speaker is halfway through his speech, the listener would often lose focus of the actual contents of the speech. Colored by his own perceptions, biases and experiences, no doubt, the listener continues to listen to the speaker but he has already painted his own version of the speech.

The original contents of the speech are lost as the listeners interpret the speech differently from what was supposed to be told, miscommunication of information hence results.

This miscommunication of information could have serious repercussions. As we have discussed using the example of the game, a piece of wrong information could deviate from the original contents even more as it is passed from one mouth to the other.

Misunderstandings in life mainly stem from miscommunication, which may be caused by poor listening skills.

However, miscommunication, which results in misunderstandings in daily lives, may also be caused deliberately by others in order to achieve a vested interest or personal objective.

Every office has shades of ‘office politics’. The key ingredient of office politics is the dissemination of wrong information or rumours. Every office has its grapevine.

Do not underestimate the power of rumours in the office, it can bring an outstanding performer at work, one who is not involved in any ‘office politics’ and does his best for the company consistently and competently down to shambles.

Office politics is a dirty game, as the Chinese saying goes “人在江湖身不由己”, to all of us working, we would tend to be embroiled in office politics somehow.

There is no perfect work as there is no perfect people. Different people at work have different likes and dislikes, work agendas, different means of climbing the corporate ladder.

Some climb the corporate ladder by means of their real hard work and talents, others resort to rumours and office politics to bring their opponents down one by one and achieve their ultimate aims.

Sad to say, man can be even scarier than ghosts at times.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Young PAP

Young PAP (YP) launched an introductory session last night for young Singaporeans to know more about the party.

Half of those 500 who attended were non -party members and among them are those who have a keen interest in politics.

PAP is not the only political party of late to rejuvenate its slate. Other political parties, which are called the Opposition parties in Singapore have been gearing up for the next General Election in year 2011.

Among their efforts are more grassroots works and outreach, more dissemination of their publication and the perennial work of attracting, developing and retaining of "better quality" candidates in their parties.

However, sadly to say, opposition parties have nothing much to offer to Singaporeans except to engage in a verbal sparring with PAP once every 5 years.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

RJC and RI to merge

The boards of Raffles Institution (RI) and Raffles Junior College (RJC) are considering a seamless education path from Sec 1 to JC 2, following the ‘through-train’ programme that its students are currently undergoing, which enables them to proceed to JC level without taking the ‘O’ Levels. However the merged institution will still open its space to some of the students outside of RI to pursue their ‘A’ levels at the college.

Their sister school, Raffles Girl School (RGS), however was not acceptable to the merger, fearing that its strong tradition and decade-long culture of producing women leaders would be relegated after the merger.

Singapore education scene has seen much changes and revamps over these recent years. These changes are a response to globalization and Singapore leaders are priming its citizens for the global era where new skills and thinking are necessary. Its educationists have identified news areas of thinking and topics to inculcate in the students.

One such attempt is the ‘Teach less, Learn more’ whereby teachers would teach lesser of a subject and makes more room for students to explore topics on their own. This attempt draws bouquets but as well as brickbats. Ultimately, the success of this attempt depends on how motivated the students are. For those less motivated, attempts to teach lesser may result in less knowledge and more complication for the students as the topics are explained in fewer details. Coupled with the difficulty and lack of motivation to research the topics further, these less motivated students will sink deeper into a confounding and confusing state which may make them give up on a certain topic ultimately.

Sudden Deaths

Local comedian Jimmy Nah or more popularly known as MC King, aged 40, has passed away suddenly yesterday, leaving many of his friends and Singaporeans shocked and surprised.

Jimmy had always projected a cheerful and happy image to all and he had no general health conditions except of his slightly obese frame. In his last moments at his home, his mother found him choking badly, his face turning blue black and purple.

It was a very sudden death for Jimmy and Singapore has in recent years, seen many such sudden deaths, many of which involved simply healthy Singaporeans.

Just days before Jimmy's death, a 40-yr old Army major passed away after completing a 1.2 km run. It really seems to me that death waits for no one and one should just grasp the day and seize everyday.
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