I saw this old lady among the busy lunch crowd around harbour front today. She was approaching each passerby, looking desperate, trying to grab hold of their hands.. I walked towards the old lady and realised she was holding a box of pens, trying to sell each one at 3.50.
I asked her where’s she from and if she need any assistance.. She just shook her head and mumbling that she is selling pens and no one is buying. Trying to probe further but no further response, I bought a pen and passed her $10. And from a distance I observed the crowd.. Many just shrugged her off.. Some paused for a moment, glanced at her and moved on.
I don’t know her story but her helpless eyes were telling me that she was not there just to earn some extra bucks or as her hobby..
Maybe our government does not have power and reach to help those that fall through the cracks despite all the grassroots effort.. and maybe our government does not have the political will to provide a safety net to the old and vulnerable…
So it will be up to us Singaporean to take action.
If you see the old lady somewhere among the office crowd, pause for a moment, reach out to her and buy a pen from her. It’s really a good pen.
Update: After I posted this on Facebook, my dear friend Roy reminded me that COMCARE can help. So if you see her on the street, you may want to call 1800 222 0000.
I don’t usually fancy National Day Songs, as I think they are cheesy and too official. I guess many of the song writers are being commission by Ministry of National Development to write those songs, so bo bian (no choice), have to perform national duty. When comes to patriotic songs, I think Hong Kongers did much better than us (see here).
However, look outside of those official songs, you will find gems. Here are my 7 favourite songs that define my Singapore and probably only fellow Singaporean can relate to. Happy SG50 Singaporean!
1985 – 翁素英、蔡振雄 – 岛的儿子
Theme song of SBC (now Mediacorp) TV Series “亚打籽“。The TV series told the story of villagers who live in Pulau Tekong and had to leave their beloved island due to redevelopment of the island into Military training base. The song reflect the love of the island and in larger extend, love of Singapore and how modernisation has change our landscape, from kampung to a modern city.
1985 – 巫启贤- Kopi O
Another theme song of TV Series “咖啡乌” aka Kopi O aka Coffee without milk, by Eric Moo. A lovely song that describe how a cup of Kopi O wash away all our worries, and it’s true. Time to head down to Coffeeshop.
1990 – 梁文福：新加坡派
This is the song that describe going up in Singapore from the 60s into the 90s. By Xinyao Pioneer Liang Wern Fook. I love the interlude: 浪子心声 in the 70s, to “I just call to say I love you”, “We are the World”, “明天会更好” in the 80s, songs that represent those era.
1990 – Dick Lee: Rasa Sayang
One of my favourite songs during my secondary school day. I remember getting the album “The Mad Chinaman” from my neighbourhood in Bukit Ho Swee. Love all the songs in that Album including “Bengawan Solo” and “Mustapha”. That’s the only Dick Lee’s album I have bought.
2004 – Dick Lee – We are Singapore (Cool Version)
Another song by Dick Lee (Not his song strictly speaking but he improvise it). Perform live during his 30th Anniversary concert. The KNNB*** is a surprise. It’s censored in the video so I can’t really sure if he blurted out the 3 words. I like the Lee Kuan Me part too.
2006 – Hossan Leong – We didn’t start the fire
As part of “Talking Cock in Parliament”, the lyrics is just hilarious.
2009 – Electrico -What do you see
The only official National Day Song in the list. The reason I love it is that it’s so different from other Official Song. A little bit of rock certainly do no harm.
Bonus: 2009: Mr Brown – Lekuasimi
A perfect spoof of “What do you see?”, by Mr. Brown.
Woo hoo! It’s been a week since our well beloved Singapore Botanical Garden bestowed with the title UNESCO World Heritage site, joining the old timer of Angkor Wat, Borobodur Temple among others. Ain’t we celebrating?
While we rejoice with our new found fame, I also notice that few of our very owned Singapore sites will also be awarded with the prestigious recognition DAMN IT, Demolition Award for Monuments of Not so ImporTant.
Before I reveal the new nominees, let’s take a look at some of past achievers who have unlocked this prestigious award:
1. Singapore National Theatre
It was found to be structurally unsafe and obstruction to construction of an expressway (Erm.. Exactly what’s the reason again?), it was awarded with DAMN IT in 1986. Now, two miserable plaques are erected to remain us of her glory past.
2. Van Kleef Aquarium
Like brother in-arm, Van Kleef Aquarium was awarded same glory as National Theatre, but 12 years late, in 1998.
3. Old Outram Park Housing Estate
No big deal. Come on, it just another housing estate, and was awarded DAMN IT in 2003. A beautiful plot of empty grass is what’s left of.
4. National Library – (The Old)
In Singapore, every minute count so in order to save 5 minutes of commuting time within CBD area, old building definitely has to go away. So she made the wonderful sacrifice and awarded with the DAMN IT in 2004 – And a tunnel runs through it… Every brick well damned!
And here I am to present the latest DAMN IT achievers. Following the footsteps of those pioneers, these 3 wannabes have certainly done their generation proud.
1. Dakota Estate
Just a stone throw away from the new minted Sport Hub, tucked between 2 MRT Stations and within the high affluent Tanjong Katong compound, it’s only matter of time before this plain old Dakota Estate caught the eye of the judge to be selected for the award.
2. Rochor Estate
Following the trends of pioneers making way for better connectivity to the city, the colourful Rochor Estate proudly stands it way and so “Siam Lah”, the bulldozer says.
3. Tanglin Halt Estate
Another housing estate in the city fringe, part of the now-defunct Queenstown estate. Also a rare gem beside the Commonweath MRT Station, she too make her way to the DAMN IT.
While the nation celebrating 50 years of independence, and thousands turn up at Botanic Gardens to watch SSO performing “Black Swan” and “Benhur”, do let us remember those who DAMN IT, for the seek of progress of the nation. RIP.
With each update from Prime Minister Office, it seems Singaporean are drawing closer to accept the facts that we are now on the final journey with our founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew.
As a born and bred Singaporean, “Thank You” seems to be the best words that I can find in this very moment.
Thank you for leading Singapore out of British Colonial rule, that my maternal grand parents could bring up their nine children, selling Teochew porridge along the old Clark Quay, without constant harassment and raid of British police officers.
Thank you for leading Singapore out of Malaysia Federal, to become an independent republic, defining the country as a meritocracy society, that my grand parents, parents and generation of us can earn a living and prosperous by equal opportunities.
Thank you for transforming our lives, that my paternal grandfather could move from an old cart which he pushed every day for a mile from River Valley to No.4 Road (四马路), to a stall of his own at Albert Street Food Centre, where my uncle continue to master his trade selling dessert.
Thank you for transforming our lives, that my newly-wed parents could move from attap house where whole village sharing a single toilet to a 3 room flat in Depot Road, where they raised their family and have an asset to rely on, during their retirement age.
Thank you for the vision that I am able to converse well in both English and Chinese, and the chance to experience the beauty of both languages, and given me the added advantage to survive in this interconnected world.
Thank you for the vision that allow us to survive without the mercy of our neighbour, that we can have our own sustainable water supply, surrounded by beautiful city scape of Marina Bay.
Thank you for nurturing a nation from impossible into miracle, from slums into metropolitan city, that expats all over the world desire to live in.
Thank you for dedicating your life so that I can write this blog in the comfort of a place called home.
But wait… drum rolls.. A young train driver comes to the rescue.
Recently, he got the internet talking about the teasing public announcements he has made in one of the boring Thursday morning on North-South Train.
“If you’re planning to leave anything behind, please make sure it’s something I can either use or sell. Otherwise, please remember to take all your belongings with you,”
“Since its a Thursday today, what you do today will determine whether tomorrow will be a ‘thank goodness it’s Friday’ or ‘oh goodness, it’s Friday’.”
For those of you who have not boarded SMRT train before, the public announcements are usually pre-recorded with perfect but monotonous voice, so having a real person making announcement is quite a big deal, let alone with some cool bites. Luckily, one passenger recorded the video and through Yahoo Singapore, this story got viral and won praises from netizens.
Hopefully, it’s not another stunt staged by a social media agency. From the subsequent official press releases (yawn…) here and here, it seems to be a genuine case of a driver just wanting to do something special and add spices to his work. It also revealed that the driver Tan Ming Hui did seek clearance from his supervisors before performing the stunt.
With all buzz about “humanising the brand”, “customer experience”, “employees empowerment”, this is one genuine example of how a small act can have big impact on customer and brand experience. I’m sure the act of this front line staff generate more positive vibes than all the marketing and PR campaigns that the corporate communication did in the year.
So are there some genuine lessons that companies can learn here?
(This is a mock announcement video recorded during the press conference)
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