Friendly Dude

Deng Xiao Ping's bust along the Singapore River

Deng Xiao Ping’s bust along the Singapore River

Been taking walks around town since presentations are all done. Took some pictures, I liked this one more than the rest.

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Why Importing Athletes Probably Can’t Hurt

Feng Tian Wei, Singapore's first individual Olympic medalist in over 40 years

On Wednesday, 1 Aug 2012, Feng Tian Wei became the first Olympic medalist for Singapore in over 50 years. I am a Singaporean, and for this, I am proud. Some will go on about her roots being from China, making her not actually Singaporean. Well, I say, so what? If they can do better than what our current stock of players, then we must put them up as our best foot forward. A win, in many cases, spurs support and that in turn spurs more wins. If this is what it takes for us to get started, then I say why not?

With hope, these ‘imports’, as they are often referred to, will help build up a team that is natively Singaporean. That will not happen soon though. Look around the London 2012. Athletes from geographical locations other than the one they are representing are strewn all over. Some countries have niches in which they traditionally perform very well in. They get governmental support to train atheletes in that area. Many athletes are recruited, and the best are cherry-picked to represent their home country. What then happens to those who aren’t? They aren’t the best there, but surely they could beat the best in many other countries. It makes sense for them to look overseas if they are to continue their quest for a place in the Olympics. And so they willingly become ‘exports’.

I feel this does two things. One, it evens out the sporting landscape a little. Two, it drives improvement in the sport. With talent spread the world over, the best must get better as more athletes get training from some of the best on the globe. Sports benefit greatly in that way, and audiences will inevitably get a better show. The proverbial win-win.

We sometimes like to say ‘haters gonna hate’. I guess that is true. Perhaps some foriegners in Singapore deserve a stern chiding, but the flying in of athletes is something I can live with; and I don’t say this just because we’ve won something. Or do I?

Samuel

On a warm island evening,
An old friend comes by in a daydream.
‘When you’re all pipe, slippers and rocking chair,
Can you pretend that you’ve lived?’
And then he took off.

Goodbye Sam.
You’ve gone long before it was okay.
Your humble, eccentric ways we have learned to love.
Your quiet strength I will always remember bolstering our quests.
Now, your reminder.
Rest well, friend.

[*ve] happy in love

Went on a job today covering the Jewel Box Wedding Gallery. Many couples were there to make plans for their perfect day. Women were sharing the various cheesy ways their husbands proposed, men hung on to their credit cards with little will.

And they were happy. Perhaps the institution of marriage has lost much of its magic so deeply rooted in ’till death does us part; but to be happy means everything.

There was also a Max Mars bridal fashion show, photos later!

(:

P.S. I didn’t even feel sorry for myself. That’s a welcome change.

Taming the Inconvenienced Mob

It is about time SMRT thought about partial train closures. These operations will inevitably inconvenience many commuters and cause a good amount of grief, but they are a necessary step a system that is 30 years old needs.

For those of us who are still going on about how maintenance should have been done more comprehensively in years past, well, can’t turn back the clock now can you? So if it’s a blame game you want to play, go right ahead, but those comments will effectively amount to nothing now. At this point, as with any other point in time, we can look both forward and back, but only one way is most productive.

SMRT needs to think, and think hard, on how to make the partial maintenance closures as unobtrusive a possible. A partial closure is no trivial operation. It is a big project with many moving parts. To expect it to proceed without a hitch is ill-advised. This time, the words “Sorry for the inconvenience” must amount to more than just a pleasantry.

A letter sent in by a Today reader Ronald Chan (Temporary MRT closures the right way to go, 17 April 2012) has some instructions on how to tame the inconvenienced mob:

Continue reading

Thinking for Ourselves

It has been established that the spate of rumours in Singapore regarding the kidnap of children was nothing more than a hoax, with no real incidents inciting real panic.

Some parents have come out to say that the authorities should have come out and nip rumours in the bud. How very typical! It’s always the authorities should this, the authorities ought to that.

Think of the consequences that denouncing the rumours before conducting proper investigations. Which would have ripped at the fabric of peace more, some rumours alleviated after thorough investigation, or a hasty put down that had to be retracted. I think the latter would cause more panic. The latter would cause people to question the abilities of law enforcement.

It is the duty of law enforcement to get down to the truth and only dispel fear when the threat is truly bogus. False promises are the domain of politicians.

Though the Singapore Police Force, fortunately, haven’t had many opportunities to utilise its crime fighting prowess, I think the famously prevalent culture of ‘cover backside’ in government agencies may have worked in their favour this time.

More importantly though, people need to understand that social media sites are products of the internet. Anyone is entitled to say almost anything, with or without verification. The same way one needs to see through the white lies and political correctness in an office environment to get to the truth, one needs to first of all question the sources of rumours before being a ‘good citizen’ and clicking the share button.

Many would be quick to pin the blame on a government body; but think about it, a bit of verification before clicking ‘Share’ would have spared many a considerable amount of grief.

Rant: We the Victims

A young adult of Singapore worries about many things. Home prices, their probable inability to afford to comfortably raise a family in the future, dying alone, calories. Chiefly among them and almost always most imminent, is getting a good, stable job and getting started earning their keep.

Getting a job, much less a well paying one, is a serious problem. Politicians and people with flashy degrees and fat paychecks can go on about it being simply a matter of bad timing; that it is just too bad that some of us graduated right when the biggest banks in the financial world were shutting down in the face of crisis. They are right that the timing was indeed bad, but there is a major problem that many fresh graduates face.

The good jobs, even entry level ones, are often looking for experienced personnel, and that is completely understandable. In many companies though, an internship does not necessarily count. The reason for that is that the work that most interns do are not the type of specialised things that regular staff are required to do.

Well, if you aren’t going to let the interns learn the ropes but instead leave them the coffee-bearing duties that result in next to no work experience, then of course you aren’t going to consider interns. These companies have effectively employed labour for next to no money and milked them of their time in exchange for little or no knowledge or viable experience. What happens then? Many university students are faced with the prospect of doing work that they are vastly overqualified for. Between an entry level job that requires experience and a job looking for candidates that are less qualified (and therefore are paid less), graduates are faced with no choice.

And this was all okay as long as the schools were giving ‘credit’ to them. Nobody objected. Neither the companies, who were happy to employ cheap labour by the batch, nor the students, who were happy to just get an easy credit. But is this what schools should accept? Does it not amount to a shortchanging their students?

I’m probably never going to finish this post properly. Back to work.

Thank you, SMRT technicians

For at least 2 decades, Singapore’s trains served us faithfully. Arriving within minutes of each other, almost always on schedule. Ferrying us to work and back home, to nightspots, to school, hungover. It does not make the problem less serious or give those affected their time back, but I hope it gives some sense of scale.

A pat on the back to the men and women who were activated to remedy the hiccups. You are some of the world’s most efficient people. Fixing a large problem like that could not have been easy, and with such speed!

(Of the bureaucrats who run the organisation, one can only wish to say the same.)

Here’s a thank you from a Singaporean. Hope it makes it through all the grousing.