Friday, February 29, 2008

The Search for Singapore's most wanted continues ... ...

Today is 29th of February, a date which only occurs once every 4 years. On this special day, Singapore and its people are not at ease, especially for the Singapore police and military force as the hunt for Mas Selamat, the JI detainee who escaped from Whitley Detention Centre, continued unabated.

Photos and descriptions of Singapore’s most wanted man are plastered everywhere in Singapore, from MRT stations, to office buildings, bus stops etc, to inform anyone who ever see this man to report to the police immediately. I noticed some tourists and expatriates reading this description, seemingly surprised that such an incident would actually surface in Singapore. This incident certainly tarnish Singapore’s image as a safe country and leaves the robustness of its security system in doubt. It may have a slight repercussion on how the world view our country as a venue for the Youth Olympics.

Mas Selamat is akin to ‘Osama Bin Laden of Singapore’. It was described in news reports that he is a ruthless JI leader who had plotted to crash a plane into Changi Airport Control tower and who had hatched plans to bomb up American expatriates at Yishun MRT station just some years ago. Mas Selamat has also escaped Indonesian police custody before, and thus it seems he is experienced in plotting escapes, even though he walks with a limp.

Information on Mas Selamat has been circulated to the Interpol to seek its help too.

No one in Singapore would like to resemble Mas Selamat at this moment right now, but ironically a 58 year-old man called the police that he was Mas Selamat who planned to bomb up few locations in Singapore. He has been captured and given the gravity of the circumstances, he would no doubt be seriously punished.

There have been lots of speculation on how such a dangerous man would be able to escape from local police custody, the Ministry of Home Affairs is forming a committee to investigate this matter thoroughly.

Meanwhile, the search for Mas Selamat continues ………..

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mas Selamat

A carpet-combing manhunt at all corners of Singapore is now on!

Detained JI member Mas Selamat escaped from police custody on 27 Feb 08 (4 p.m) !

A lapse in security at the Whitley Detention Centre on Wednesday was the cause for the escape of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI) member Mas Selamat Kastari.

Mas Selamat had been taken from his cell to another part of the detention centre for a visit from his family. He then asked to be allowed to visit the toilet, where he escaped. This was the second incident in recent months that serious security lapses had occurred. Just last August, National Serviceman Dave Teo Min has escaped from his military camp, armed dangerously with a M16 rifle. Nevertheless he was caught eventually.
This incident highlights that security lapses do still occur in the seemingly impenetrable fortress: the Singapore’s security system.

The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and Singapore Police Force (SPF) were heavily mobilized and deployed to nab the dangerous criminal. The vicinity where Mas Selamat escaped was heavily guarded with hundreds of soldiers and policemen.

Lots of resources and military manpower were spent just to nab a single man, it is inconceivable to think what would happen if an adversary chooses to attack Singapore during this period while its troops were heavily deployed to nab the JI criminal.

It is a relief that the incident occurred a week after the Singapore Air Show, else bad publicity would certainly be generated to the many international media and tarnish the reputation of Singapore.

Singapore has just clinched the inaugural Youth Olympics Games, the escape of such a dangerous JI criminal as Mas Selamat would certainly tarnish Singapore’s international reputation as a safe country.

At this point in writing, it was reported the search for Selamat was called off suddenly by Mindef around 7 pm. No reason by the authorities were given.

The hunt is still on for Mas Selamat!

Singapore Air Show

Singapore Airshow, Asia's largest aerospace and defence event, was a joint venture between the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and the Defence Science & Technology Agency. It was one of the top three air shows in the world and served as a global marketplace and networking platform for the military and civil aviation community. Singapore Airshow 2008 was held from 19 to 24 February 2008.
The show drew bouquets and brickbats from the public. Criticism was leveled at the long waiting times due to huge throngs of crowds, jams, overcrowding which pointed to, in part, the poor organization of the show. There were also complaints about insufficient traffic signs leading to the destination and traffic conditions.

Due to the long waiting times caused by jams, overcrowding, long queues, some who had paid $20 for a ticket, simply headed home, refusing to fall prey to the long and nerve-wracking queues.

Nevertheless, the show was a spectacular and brilliant display of air power for thousands of Singaporeans who had flocked to the exhibition site. The event was also certainly a revenue spinner for Singapore.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Singapore 2010

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced on 21 Feb 08 that Singapore had beaten Moscow to host the inaugural Youth Olympics Games (YOG) in 2010.

The announcement brought cheers and exhilaration to the hundreds of supporters and officials including the Prime Minister, Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean and the sport officials (notably the bid advocates: Parliamentary Secretary for MCYS, Teo Ser Luck and IOC member Ng Ser Meng) who had gathered in front of City Hall to celebrate Singapore's YOG bid 'regardless of the results'.

One point that had tilted the winning scale in favour of Singapore was the promise by the Singapore government that the Olympics Games Village (which the IOC authorities had cited that Singapore had lack of) would be duly completed before the games.

The work has just began and with just two years to go, it may be hectic.

The hosting of the YOG has given Singapore's economy a strong shot in the arms.

Singapore would host a small scale Asian Youth Games next year (2009) as a 'preparation' before the mega scale YOG.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Coastal Park Connector

Today (17 Feb), I set off on my bike at 1625 hrs from my place of residence to East Coast Park. However, East Coast was not my destination, in fact, every time I cycle, the only destination is the starting point which is my home. I enjoy the process of cycling because cycling is my hobby though many also cycle with an objective like going to places of work.

The agenda of today’s cycling was to try out the coastal park connector (>8km in total length) which I have always wanted to try since its opening. This coastal park connector links Changi Beach to East Coast Park.

After 30 min of cycling, I reached East Coast Park and continued blazing my bike all the way towards Changi. Along the way, I enjoyed the sea, breezes and watching the aeroplanes flying above me and not to forget the myriads of different groups of people tearing down the park in their skates and bicycles.

Finally I reached SAFRA resort. This landmark symbolises the end of the East Coast Park and after another 1 minute of cycling, I found myself commencing on the Coastal Park Connector.

The start of the connector was set on connectors which are a series of winding bends against a very interesting backdrop of different colours of plants, which I thought for a moment was man-made vegetation.

Soon, I reached a zebra crossing, and this was the only gap for the whole of the coastal park connector and thus it was not so bad for cyclists.

After crossing the zebra crossing, the winds and bends became gradually fewer and soon the park connector ran parallel to Changi Coast Road and I immediately knew this long and parallel road will not terminate that easily as it is indeed a very long journey to complete this portion of the park connector – 8 km in total length!

My legs soon grew tiring as I cycled like there was no tomorrow on this portion of the park connector. However I was treated to majestic views of the gigantic aeroplanes taking off along me as I cycled; it seemed that my bicycle and the aeroplanes were racing with each other but of course, the aeroplane manoeuvred and soon it was up in the air many times faster than my poor struggling bike. I was immensely satisfied at having cycled this portion of the connector as it offers an unparallel, unobstructed and complete view of the aeroplanes taking off………..from the basic manoeuvring to the changing of trajectories and the final taking off.

As I cycled on this hot day and my legs becoming more and more aching, I suddenly felt my bladder needed relief. The rich and luxuriant canopy of rich vegetation tempted me to seek relief in the army way via camouflage. It was also quiet and remote with no cyclist in sight and this fact also tempted me to……… but it was just a joke, I recalled that there was a free toilet at Changi Beach Park for me to do my business.

It was really a wonderful workout for one’s body cycling along this portion. It was really relaxing to partake in views of the giant aeroplanes, nature and the fast vehicles trailing by along Changi Coast Road.

Though this portion of the road was long and seem to be never-ending, one will not be a loner on this connector as occasionally, I would meet cyclists, donned in somewhat professional cycling suites and many of them were expatriates.

After a tiring cycle, I reached Changi Beach Park. With my adrenalin still rushing, I continued my venture and blazed past SAF ferry terminal where I witnessed many recruits in No. 4 very carefully folding their sleeves to ensure the standard “Smart 4”. I pity these recruits but no choice, every man needs to go through NS in Singapore unless under certain circumstances. I do not also want to be reminded of NS, it was a sad time for me.

I paused my cycling at a certain location in Changi Beach where there are certain kind of special trees like Christmas trees. The ground below them are made up not of soil but dead branches of these trees. With the strong breezes, the gigantic aircrafts hovering above me with their ear-piercing thrills, the strong aroma of satays from some BBQ pits, and the sights of joggers and beach goers, it was truly a very refreshing moment! By the way, the park connector along Changi Beach is called the Loyang Park connector.

The sky grew darker and darker and I did not pause at the popular Changi Village food and hawker centres for a bite but instead headed home through ‘devising’ my own journey along some park connectors and pavements.

Finally, I returned home at around 1910 hrs, after slightly more than 2 hrs 30 min of cycling.

Currently there is a hot raging debate on where cyclists should belong: on the pavement or on the road. The legal answer is the latter though in Singapore, one will see dozens of cyclists on the pavement everyday! Those who advocate cyclists should travel on the road shall try it out and experience for themselves how extremely unsafe it is !

And along my journey back, I still saw buses packed full with botak recruits heading towards Changi Ferry Terminal and one is inclined to shout at them: “ORD LOH !”

It is not a perverted thought to shout that two words, my platoons mates and I heard this cry many times from civilians as we travelled along the road in either military trucks or in buses, wearing army uniforms.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Budget 2008

Finance minister Tharman presented the Budget 2008 package in parliament today. The budget statement was a highly anticipated one, in face of rising prices and cost of living and the impending downturn in global economy.

It was good news for all Singaporeans, especially those from lower- and middle- income families. I shall not dwell at length on the details of the Budget package here as the statistics and figures are lengthy.

To sum up the budget package: it is a good package for Singaporeans amidst the rising costs of living.

CityJam 2008

Chingay Parade 2008 took to the streets on 16 Feb 2008 (Saturday). Orchard road, a yearly venue for the hosting of the parade is currently undergoing an ‘overhaul’ or upgrading, and hence the parade found its way to the street in front of the old Supreme Court and City Hall this year.

Colourful floats decorated the streets, and for the first time, F1 racing cars trailed past the audience in a demonstration of what is to come on 28 Sept this year when Singapore hosts its leg of the F1 racing competition.

But what perhaps was the most special about this year’s Chingay Parade was the post parade party: “CityJam 2008”- an all-night long partying in front of City hall.

CityJam 2008 was an initiative by the People’s Association Youth Movement (PAYM), in collaboration with St James Power Station and Tiger Brewery. It offered revellers a very rare opportunity to dance and pub right at the door steps of CityHall. Ticket were priced at $15 (advance booking) and $20 (door).

On that very night, once the crowds for the Chingay parade dispersed and the preparations for CityJam were ready; revellers, a mix of locals and foreign expatriates from Greece, UK, USA, Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines, etc coalesced onto CityHall for an all-night of fun and partying.

The famous Cuba band from Zouk wowed revellers with its hip and fast dance amidst the vast arrays of colourful and exciting visual displays. On this very night, CityHall metamorphosed into a huge dancing floor.

Kim Chuan Water Reclamation Plant

Kim Chuan Water Reclamation Plant made its way into the annals of Singapore’s history as it said bye to Singaporeans on 15 Feb 08 after an approximately 60-year of operation. The plant is the first of three Water Reclamation Plants slated to be shut down in order to make way for the slated Deep Water Sewerage Treatment System.

As Singapore develops, its fa├žade is rapidly changing: creations and destructions………….. it is sad to see many old iconic and sentimental monuments like the National Stadium, the Old library, the Oasis restaurants made their ways for newer amenities.

This may be the price of development.

Valentine Day (14 Feb 08)

Valentine Day is a day couples celebrate their love together. Essence asides, V-day in Singapore is getting more and more commercialised in my opinion, to the extent that the degree of expenditure on this special day is taken to translate to the degree of love for some.

The commercialisation of festivals/ special days is not applicable to V-day alone; we can witness similar trends for festivals such as Chinese New Year, Christmas and the like.

However, I have observed that it is V-day that hefty or even exorbitant prices may be charged for some special programmes, meals or items. Love can be irrational and this may sometimes lead to people making irrational purchasing decisions and footing an irrational price, especially on this special day.

I believe retailers leverage on this fact.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Another Orang-utan tradegy

Just few days after the famous Orang-utan Ah Meng passed away, her grand-daughter, Atina (‘Anita’, (name of her mother) spelled backwards), caught her neck in a hammock and has it crushed by Anita and the pack of other Orang-utans after their frantic attempt to rescue her.
With Atina’s death, the Singapore Zoo has 23 Orang-utans remaining.

Singapore Flyer Opens

The world’s largest Ferris Wheel, the Singapore Flyer opened on 11 Feb 2008.

Maiden rides on this wheel are not cheap: costing an average of $8,888 per capsules.

There are 28 capsules on the wheel, which can accommodate 28 persons per capsule.

Each ride on the wheel lasts for 30 min and the cheapest tickets are priced at $29.80 per adult.

Elites in Singapore

According to a report on Elitism published by the Straits Times on 18 May 07, based on a survey conducted by Singapore Press Holdings’ research department on students aged 15 to 24, Elites are defined as students who are studying or have graduated from these institutions:

Anglo-Chinese School (Independent)
Hwa Chong Institution
Methodist Girls’ School
Nanyang Girls’ High School
National Junior College
Raffles Girls’ School
Raffles Institution
Raffles Junior College
Singapore Chinese Girls’ School
Temasek Junior College
Victoria Junior College

Elitism, I believe is just a perception. I do not think all students hailed from the abovementioned schools are elitists.

Jack Neo has the last laugh

Despites hordes of critics and unfavourable media reviews, Jack Neo’s Chinese New Year flim “Ah Long Pte Ltd” garnered a whopping $1.47 million in ticketing revenues within the first three days of opening since the first day of Chinese New Year. His flim’s revenue bettered “Kungfu Hustle”, starring Jay Chou, which was released on the same day too. Singaporeans has again given Jack Neo a strong vote of confidence though personally I believe his latest flim was really ‘substandard’. Jack has initially wanted to ride on the notorious murder case of Huang Nan for the plot of his next flim as reported the year before, however, it was nixed due to widespread public outcry. I believe Jack finally modified his plot to one featuring Ah Longs.

Gone…………… Seoul’s Namdaemun Gate (13 Feb 08)

A suspected arson fire has destroyed Seoul’s Namdaemun Gate, Korea’s most famous landmark. A 600-year-old treasure has been lost.

Police have arrested a man who allegedly set fire to the gate because of a land dispute with a developer. The Namdaemun Gate, which used to admit people to Seoul when the city was bordered by a wall, is today in the middle of a busy intersection, with nearby skyscrapers looming out of the exhaust fumes.The loss of the landmark has shocked South Korea and, indeed, the world. The BBC relates the reaction of one Korean newspaper: “With our history of 5,000 years, the spirit of Koreans and part of ourselves was destroyed.”Firefighters battled the blaze for hours, and footage of their struggle can be downloaded online. Rebuilding the gate—whose original name, Sungnyemun, ironically means fire—is expected to take three years, according to tourism officials.
Throughout the centuries, many notable landmarks have been lost to fire. One of the Seven Wonders of the World is among the earliest arson victims: the Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, which is in modern-day Turkey. Another famous landmark, the Parthenon in Athens, was severely damaged by shells and mortars in 1687.Fire has also ravaged most American cities at one time or another, according to the Aurora Regional Fire Museum. Most of those fires, though, started accidentally.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

End of 4-day CNY Super Long Weekend

Today marks the end of the super-long weekend for Chinese New Year (4 days in a row commencing from 7 Feb to 10 Feb).

During these 4 days, many Singapore Chinese spent their time visiting relatives and friends and indulge in sessions of heaty food and drinks........ till they discovered the side-effects of such an indulgence.

After 4 days of eating heated stuff and gulping litres of carbonated drinks, I too feel very heaty and going to fall ill soon. I drink lots of water too but it also did not help.

There is also a number of Singaporeans flocking to the favourite haunts during CNY (Chinatown, River Hongbao and the Sentosa Flower Festival this year). Istana, Asian Civilisation Museum and the National Museum were also open for free to the public on the first two days of the Chinese New Year.

Many shopping centres were closed during the first two days of the CNY and Singaporeans wanting a snack or meal outside of home would have to purchase from the few stalls that were open for business on these two days.

My own experience trying to find food outside at the few food stalls opened during these two days: there is a deliberate mark-up in prices of the meals: I paid an extra 50 cents for my bowl of noodles ! and the stallowner made no apologies for it.

The harsh reality of the end of holidays has sunk in and many working Singaporeans are now in bed or preparing for bed for the restart of another working week.

Public holidays are coveted days of working adults! The next public holiday would be on 21 March 08 (Good Friday) which will lead to another long weekend, albeit a shorter one of 3 days of rest.

Greek Masterpieces from the Louvre







The current refurbishment of the Louvre’s Classical Greek and Hellenistic galleries affords an unexpected and unique opportunity to present a selection of Greek masterpieces at the National Museum of Singapore. Despites Louvre’s huge collection of over 45,000 Greek and Roman artefacts, it seldom loans more than a dozen items at a time from the department. The present exhibition is not only exceptional in this respect- with 130 works of Greek Arts on loan here- it is also the first time that many of the objects have left the Louvre since arriving there. Normally separated according to material, a division imposed by architectural constraints at the Louvre (stone sculptures are exhibited on the ground floor, while vases, bronzes and terracotta figurines are displayed on the first floor, where the floorboards can only support the weight of small objects), this exhibition is therefore a rare chance to view objects of different materials displayed thematically. Carefully selected, the artefacts combined to give an overview of Greek civilisation at its political and artistic height in the so-called classical period (5th to 4th centuries BCE).

The exhibition begins with an introduction to Athens and aims to conjure up, through portraits of famous men, depictions of foundation myths and works of arts associated with the Acropolis and the city’s burial-grounds to provide a sketch of the environment in which the Greeks lived.

Ah Meng rest in peace

I saw the TV footage of Ah Meng being laid to rest in a coffin on TV just now. It was sad that Ah Meng, our affable great Orang-utan has finally passed on. Many Singaporeans came to pay their last respects to Ah Meng. Ah Meng has touched the lives of many Singaporeans. I think if I am an author like Roald Dahl, I will be inspired to write a story about Ah Meng. I would also end the story of Ah Meng by having a great state funeral procession attended by all Singaporeans, and animals of the Zoo, birds flying in the sky.... It would be a colorful and interesting procession where human and animals pay their last respect to this great ape and come together. The procession participants comprising of different animals walk at different speeds, and for this one day, forget about the complex relationship that separate the man from the other animals, preys and predators, herbivores and carnivores.......the rule of the jungle between different animals and between man........ just for today. The unity of man and animals will touch the sky and halfway through the procession, the sky started to drizzle, seemingly touched by the collective union of man and animals today. The presiding officer for this great parade who will deliver an eulogy in English (a language known to Singaporeans) and in differenet animal languages will be none other than Tarzan himself. Ah Meng will also receive a posthumous public service medal. All of the above is just my idea of a great story, a tribute to our beloved Ah Meng.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Should Ah Meng be conferred the Public Service Medal ?

Though Ah Meng is an animal, she has contributed much to Singapore in public service. Do you think a posthumous Public Service Medal (PBM) should be conferred on her for her outstanding social service to Singapore? Though the public service medals are given out to human, the authorities can be creative and create a separate category : the animal category to confer her the PBM (posthumous). Or better still, award her with a BBM or BBM(L)?

Ah Meng

" Ah Meng, the Sumatran orang utan that was considered an icon at the Singapore Zoo, died on Friday. She was about 48 years old and had died of old age. In 1971, Ah Meng was confiscated from a family which had illegally kept her as a pet. She then found her home at the Singapore Zoo. Ah Meng was the first to host the Zoo's famous 'Breakfast With An Orang Utan' programme. She soon became a celebrity, both locally and internationally. She had been featured in over 30 travel films and 'interviewed' by more than 300 writers. In 1992, Ah Meng received a special award from the Singapore Tourism Board in recognition of her contribution towards tourism in Singapore. As an icon of the Singapore Zoo, Ah Meng has met numerous foreign dignitaries and world-renowned celebrities such as Prince Philip, David Copperfield, Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor. Ah Meng also contributed to the Singapore Zoo's captive breeding programme. She had five children and became a grandmother in 1990. As a tribute to her, the next orang utan to be born at the Singapore Zoo shall be named Ah Meng Junior. And to commemorate Ah Meng's efforts towards generating a greater awareness on the plight of orang utans in the wild, the Singapore Zoo will intensify its conservation work for orang utans. The public can see their beloved orang utan for the last time at the Zoo on Sunday, 11am. She will be buried on the same day. Fanny Lai, Group CEO of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said: "We mourn the passing of Ah Meng. She has touched the hearts of everyone who has met her and contributed immensely in helping to promote awareness of how each and every one of us can play a role in anti-poaching, anti-deforestation and conservation matters. We will miss her dearly." Alagappasamy s/o Chellaiyah, who is also known as Sam, said: "I have taken care of Ah Meng since she first came to the Zoo. Her departure makes me extremely sad and it will take a long while for me to adjust to not having her around. On the other hand, I am very happy that I have had the opportunity to take care of Ah Meng and her family all these years." Ah Meng will certainly be missed by many, including President S R Nathan, who spoke to reporters at the Istana Open House on Friday afternoon. He said: "Ah Meng has been so much of a symbol of the Zoo. A lot of people – locals and foreigners – have enjoyed her company. I'm sure the patrons of the Zoo will miss her a great deal. But that's life." " ------ChannelNewsAsia
The demise of Ah Meng is top news in the local dailies today, with many pages dedicated to this icon of the Singapore Zoo. Such coverages of demises are normally reserved for top politicians, statesman or businessmen, and this led me to wonder whether there would be a grand funeral procession for Ah Meng too, with the other orang utans and animals of the Zoo following behind the hearse. (Just joking, no malice intended).
After the demise of Ah Meng, I ran a check in Google on this iconic animal and there was an interesting (though somehow degrading) article on this favorite primate (see article).......think this article is meant more as a joke.
Comparing with other Orang utans, Ah Meng has led a very meaningful, celebrated life with an "illustrious career", death due to old age is inevitable.
Ah Meng, Ah Men

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Within centimetres from Death on First Day of CNY

With no visiting or relatives coming to my house to visit, sitting at home the whole day on this first day of CNY was unbearable and the hot and humid weather did not much to alleviate my boredom.

When the weather turned slightly cooler around 540 pm, I mounted my bicycle and cycled to my favourite Bedok Reservoir Park for a refreshing jog. Such ‘cycle-cum-jog’ exercises are rituals I observe regularly.

Soon, I reached the lighted zebra crossing near the junction of Tampines Avenue 1, 2 and 5 and stopped for the oncoming cars to halt. Checking that the cars have halted, I continued to cycle across the junction, at this moment, halfway through, a taxi suddenly drove across in front of me, hitting the front wheel of my bicycle and I was flung to the road. I was indeed lucky, for any faster, I would be killed. I was within cm from death!

The errant taxi driver stopped his taxi metres after he hit my bicycle and opened his door, asking me whether I was okay. I did not answer him and instead remembered hard his taxi plate number. He did not apologise too, and he left shortly.

I examined my bicycle and found it could not be ridden further. I parked it at a void deck near the place of the incident and walked home.

I was not hurt and I considered myself lucky for everyday there are many Singaporeans who fall victim to reckless drivers.

I would also try to salvage my bicycle who has faithfully served me since 2001, accompanying me to many interesting places with many memories.

Neither I nor my good friend bicycle would be victims of reckless drivers.

I felt sad for dumping my close friend on the first day of CNY, in a far-flung and dirty bicycle parking area from my home.

CNY Celebrations cum Countdown TV show

Yesterday, like many of the Singaporeans who were holed up at home watching the CNY countdown cum celebrations show on Channel 8, i awaited the final defining moment of the countdown to the Year of the Rat. Just before the countdown, as usual and as expected, Jack Neo did a promotion of his flim (to be released on CNY 7 Feb 0 'Ah Long Pte Ltd' with lead actress, Fann Wong. What I felt irritating is that their babble nearly went beyond the defining moment of 0000 hrs and I could see host Quan Yifeng becoming very nervous as Fann kept rattling on how good their movie is...... Once Fann stopped her rattling, the TV footage focused immediately on the few seconds count down to midnight. My New Year mood, was somehow marred by their promotion of the movie on this countdown show. Otherwises ,yesterday's Channel 8 show was excellent. I particularly liked the segment where 12 TCS artisties took to the catwalk, modeling the fashion designs of the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac as it was a refreshing item. Jack, always capitalises on such huge scale shows to promote his shows. It makes good business sense obviously. Jack's flims often play on the same genres, with the same casts, and with typical storylines of previous international flims. The Straits Time review of Ah Long Pte Ltd yesterday gave it a thumb down, as I have expected. He has also atttempted to make his flims profitable by trying to attract a specific large population: Civil Servants ('Just follow law'), Students and parents ('I not stupid') and this time round: Rich Ah Longs and victims of loan sharks? I am not decrying Jack Neo as a lousy director, just want to point out that his flims, with the same old genre, are not interesting to me. However, his flims may have a number of local supporters as box-office results of his flim featured highly in the news just one or two weeks after every release. It may be that I do not appreciate his flims which I believe are boring and that many Singaporeans like his flims on the otherhand OR Singaporeans watching his show, deemed non-appealing to me, like this kind of genre. Anyway I have not watched or am not going to watch any of his movies, and I rather spend my 8 to 11 bucks on a Western or Asian blockbuster. Last but not least, I still support local flims, but flims which are appealing, at least to me.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The Maths of Chinese New Year

Today is Chinese New Year’s eve; our company has a mini ‘makan’ celebration before it closed at noon when all employees go back for a long long weekend and celebrations.

It is common for each of us colleagues to greet one another, exchanging handshakes at such occasion.

Obviously I could not afford to shake hands with each of the colleagues present in this crowd of 25. If everyone is to shake hands with one another, say for our crowd of 25 and each handshake takes 5 seconds, it would need a total of 25 minutes for all colleagues to shake hands with one another!

Actually this phenomenon is commonly known as the ‘handshake problem’ and one can read about it in the internet. I can give a simple mathematical explanation here:

Assuming that there are n people and each person is to shake hands with one another.

Visualise this n number of people standing in a row, the 1st person stands out facing opposite the remaining members and shakes hand with the remaining (n-1) members and leaves the row.

Next the 2nd person stands out, again facing the remaining members and shakes hand with the remaining (n-2) members and leaves the row.

Then the 3rd person stands out, again facing the remaining members and shakes hand with the remaining (n-3) members and leaves the row.

This continues till the 2nd last person (this will be the (n-1)th) person stands out, again facing the remaining members and shakes hand with the remaining 1 member and leaves the row.

There will be no more handshakes after that.

The number of handshakes will be the summation of all the handshakes commencing from the 1st person to the 2nd last person.

Thus to summarise, for the rth person, he will experiences (r-1) handshakes, i.e: The 1st
person (nth person, r = n) will experience (n-1) handshakes, and the last person (r =1 ) will experience 0 handshakes.

Summarizing (r-1) from r = 1 to r = n and using secondary school summation techniques, we arrived at (n squared-n)/2 handshakes!

Thus if a group of 25 people is to shake hands with one another, there would be a total of 300 handshakes involved!

Maybe you can give this simple mathematical problem to your teenager relatives in Sec 3 or 4 during visiting and saves the angbao if they cannot solve it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Rat and Mouse

The year of the rat (or mouse) leds me to a more in-depth study of the differences between a mouse and a rat.

Yes, I know a rat is bigger than a mouse, but trawling through the rich database afforded by the internet, these are some of the worthwhile findings:

What do the terms rat and mouse mean?

Rat and mouse are actually not scientific classifications. These words are common names for rodents that look alike to the casual eye.
Rat is used to describe medium-sized rodents with long thin tails. There are many species of rodent that are called rats -- kangaroo rats, cotton rats, Norway rats, black rats, African pouched rats, naked mole rats, wood rats, pack rats, Polynesian rats, and many others. These different rodent species may not be closely related to each other at all!
Mouse is used to describe tiny, sparrow-sized rodents with long thin tails. As with rats, there are many species of rodents called mice which may or may not be closely related to each other: house mice, field mice, deer mice, smoky mice, spiny mice, and dormice are all called mice.
So, which rats and mice are you talking about? Generally, people are referring to the domestic or pest rats and mice, which means Norway rats (Rattus norvegicus), black rats (Rattus rattus), and house mice (Mus musculus).

The upcoming year can be called the Year of the Rat or the Year of the Mouse but personally I prefer the latter as Rats are also nicknames for crooks !

New Clothes

It is customary for Chinese to buy new clothes for the Chinese New Year and today after work, I rushed to buy one for myself, in time for the Chinese New Year on Thursday.

The new clothes herald the beginning of a new Lunar Year and it is considered one of the traditionary customary practices.

And when one buy clothes for CNY, bright colours such as red and orange are strongly recommended.

Halal Canteen

Boon Lay Primary School has for a certain time declared its school canteen Halal after all the stalls in the canteen achieved Halal Certification.

The school authority has made it a ruling restricting the bringing and consumption of non-Halal food in the canteen.

This ruling drew flak and some furore from the students and particularly, their parents.

In the press statement released today, the MOE has acknowledged this ruling is flawed and the school retracts the ruling with immediate effect.

Anyway, how can a school make its canteen Halal? In so making the ruling, the school authority has make it obvious that it does not comprehend the meaning of Halal certification.

Halal certification is normally awarded to stalls of a food premise serving Halal food or to a food product rather than awarding to a venue.

One can have a canteen with all food stalls Halal which means one can still bring in non-Halal food and consume them in the canteen.

On the contrary, to have a Halal canteen is tantamount to observing Halal practices in the canteen.

Singapore's Population

With the latest revision, Singaporeans who are abroad working, studying and living overseas for more than 1 year will not be included in the official headcount of the population.

Factored in this revision, the official population of Singapore is 4.59 million, down by 0.09 million (90,000) from the pre-revised statistic.

That means 90,000 Singaporeans are overseas for more than 1 year.

The latest figure of 4.59 million includes the 1.01 million foreigners in Singaporeans, and hence the actual number of Singaporeans living on this island is 3.58 million.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Fireworks

Fireworks have been the hallmarks of major celebrations in Singapore, making their marks during New Year, Chinese New Year, National Day, etc.

It is always interesting to note the throngs of people which make their way to the premises where fireworks are ignited on each of these occassions.

Many came especially early, just to book a seat or a vantage spot to witness the magical moments of the fireworks, which may last up to 10 minutes.

With the advent of technology, many have also captured these captivating moments in their cameras and video cameras for posterity.

It is also amazing to see the speed at which the crowd disperse after the end of every firework, and the tons of remnants of refuse left behind.

Astrology

Chinese New Year is coming in just 3 days’ time and it also opened a ‘floodgate’ of astrological readings, with astrologers coming to the fore, proclaiming which signs are lucky and which signs are not in this rat year.

Its all a matter of beliefs, and one should not believe too deeply into these astrological readings.

Its also a matter of probability for in this world of millions, definitely and easily there will be many who fall into a situation as predicted by the astrologers.

The famous astrologer Nostradamus predicted ‘Doomsday’ at the turn of the century, but alas to the relief of the earthlings, this day never materialized or will it be more appropriate to say, not yet?

Stamp Collection

I still recalled the days when I was an amateur stamp collector in my childhood days; I was always the eager kid who sieved out envelopes after envelopes of letters addressed to my family.

My relatives also contributed to one or two dozens of my foreign stamps and the rest were given by my Primary 5 teacher who had a family in China.

Returning to class after periodic overseas trips to China, my Primary 5 teacher would distribute the stamps in a balloting fashion, to the students in a ‘mini-sea’ of hands raised.

These sources contributed to my growing stamp collection.

However as I grew older, my interest in stamp collection slowly and gradually waned. Stamp collection became more and more obsolete compared to other more popular hobbies in the teenagers’ years; e.g. computer games.

With the advent of email, postal mail became less popular too and these old-fashioned stamps were very soon replaced by electronic ones.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Rain and the CNY

It has been raining incessantly for these two days.

As usual, rain offers a good respite from the super hot and humid weather to Singaporeans.

But the incessant rain these days are not really welcome as it come at the wrong time, just days before Chinese New Year.

Thus inconvenience is caused to many Singaporeans shopping for CNY goodies, clothes and bargains.

I believe to a certain extent, businesses selling CNY goods will be inevitably affected! especially those 'pasar malam' stalls in Chinatown.

With the increasing cost of pork, Ba-Kwa this year also increases to a maximum of $50 per kg.

This huge price tag goes to 'Lim Zhi Yuan', the busiest and the king of Ba-Kwa in Singapore, come CNY period.

Dreams and 4D

Have a special dream?

This dream may convey some lucky numbers for you to buy 4D.

Another nice URL for 4D fans

Salary comparison

How better off are you when compared to the rest of Singapore taxpayers?


Tea

Tea is the most consumed beverage in the world after water.

It is widely known that tea, regardless of black tea, green tea or red (oolong) tea contains polyphenols which give tea its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help protect our body from free radical damage.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the anti-cancer properties of polyphenols. Some studies indeed suggested that tea's polyphenols may reduce risk of gastric, esophageal and skin cancers if one consumes 4 to 6 cups daily. Other laboratory studies have found that polyphenols help prevent blood clotting and lower cholesterol levels.

Thus tea is a healthy drink to be consumed to many.

As with all things novel, herbal tea, which is making its entry into the supermarkets are considered by many to be a healthy drink owning to its 'herbal' naming.

Black tea, green tea and red tea derive their leaves from a warm-weather evergreen tree known as Camellia sinensis. The leaves from this tree contains polyphenols. Herbal tea is not derived from this leaf and so does not have this particular health-promoting properties. Indeed, some herbal teas in the market are NOT tea at all. They are only infusions made with herbs, flowers, roots, spices or other parts of some plants. The proper term for this type of beverage is "tisane". More info

Recently there has been a study which reveals that tea does have its side effects.However, regular tea drinkers should not be alarmed at the results of the aforementioned study. It is common for researchers to come out with studies to debunk common perceptions of the many advantages of certain healthy foods or healthy practices.

One should live life in moderation, and that will be the best practice.

Disgusted

I feel disgusted after having read one of the story featured in STOMP about ambulance attendants making out with their girlfriends in the ambulances.

Ambulances are supposed to save lives and respond to emergencies. The hygienic conditions in ambulances should also be well-upkept. And in the first place, the attendants should not even do the act while on duty.

Full story here

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Chinese Horoscopes

When one talks about Horoscope, the first things that come into the mind will be the Western Zodiac (Cancer, Gemini, Capricon, Aquarius, etc) and if one is Chinese, the Chinese Zodiac of the 12 animals and thus there appears to exist 12 horoscopes for the Chinese based on the 12 animal years.

However, for the Chinese, to be more specified, the lunar calendar has a sixty year cycle. In the Chinese horoscope, the five basic elements of Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth, which make up all matter, are combined with the twelve animal signs of Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Lamb, Monkey, Rooster, Dog and Pig to form the sixty year cycle. One's Chinese horoscope is based on which lunar year in this sixty year cycle one was born, and thus one can fall into one of the 60 more specified horoscope.

Example, if one is born in 1996 and 2008, (after the lunar month), one is a 'rat' according to the Chinese Zodiac, but since 1996 and 2008 are the year of the fire and earth respectively, one is a 'fire rat' if born in 1996 after the lunar month and a 'earth rat' if born in 2008 after the lunar month. For more information.

But according to my preceding post, for this year 2008, the year of the rat starts on 4 Feb 08. Thus if a baby is born on 4 Feb 08, he or she is an 'earth rat' and not still the 'fire pig' as more accurately put, the year of the 'fire pig' of 2007 shall end on 18:59 China Time Zone.

Chinese New Year is on 4 Feb 08 and not 7 Feb 08!

Many people thought Chinese New Year this year falls on 7 Feb 08 but actually it falls on 4 Feb 08 !

In China's time zone, the first day of the Brown Rat Year is February 4th, 2008, because February 4th, 2008 is the first day of Tiger month and the Tiger month is the first month of the year in Chinese Fortune-Telling Calendar system.
In the Chinese Fortune-Telling calendar, the first day of the first month, Tiger month, is called "Start of Spring", which is when the sun enters the 315th degree on the tropical zodiac. In the China's time zone, the time of the Start of Spring is at Feb-04 19:00. So the first day of the Brown Rat year 2008 is on 04-Feb-08.
The time of the Start of Spring is on Feb-04 at 06:00 for US EST zone and on Feb-04 at 03:00 for US PST zone. So the first day of Brown Rat Year in USA is same in China's time zone.
People born in late January or early February may be confused about their birth year Chinese astrology animal signs. This is because it is a common misconception that the astrology animal signs begin on the Chinese New Year day. Actually, Astrology animal signs are based on the Start of Spring, the first day of astrology year. For example, if a baby was born on Feb-05 2008 before the Chinese New Year Day, then its animal sign is the Rat because the birthday is after the Start of Spring.

Good website for knowing more about Chinese Horoscope and Chinese New Year

Friday, February 01, 2008

University Town

Yesterday, PM Lee graced the groundbreaking ceremony of University Town to be housed along Kent Ridge.

One of the first uses for this University Town is to house the participants of the Youth Olympics when it is ready by 2010.

The construction of the University Town further boosts the chance of Singapore clinching the hosting right of the Youth Olympics 2010 especially after the international judging panel cited in the preliminary judging round that the lack of an Olympics Village to house the game participants is Singapore’s Achilles Heel.

Now it is left to the final rounds: Moscow vs Singapore for the hosting rights of the games.

The construction of the University Town further affirms that Singapore is extremely serious and sincere to host the world’s first Youth Olympic Games so much so that large amounts of money is invested into the construction of University Town whether or not Singapore is to ultimately host the games. Singapore is taking no chance to host the games!

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