Tag Archives: singapore

Have you seen this old lady selling pens?

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.

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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.

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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.

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Overdose of “Home”? These are the 7 songs that define my Singapore

SG50
SG50

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.

 

So what’s your favourite Singapore songs?

 

3 sites in Singapore awarded with DAMN IT. They are…

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

Source: http://awparchitects.com/projects/category/civic-cultural/singapore-national-theatre/
Source: http://awparchitects.com/projects/category/civic-cultural/singapore-national-theatre/

Now:

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.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_National_Theatre
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singapore_National_Theatre


2. Van Kleef Aquarium

Van Kleef Aquarium
Source: http://singaporemagazine.sif.org.sg/the-man-who-loved-singapore

Now

Like brother in-arm, Van Kleef Aquarium was awarded same glory as National Theatre, but 12 years late, in 1998.

Van Kleef Aquarium - Now
Source: http://sgfilmlocations.com/2015/02/01/air-hostess-1958/


3. Old Outram Park Housing Estate

Source: http://www.nowhere.per.sg/?m=200610/page/2
Source: http://www.nowhere.per.sg/?m=200610/page/2

Now

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.

Source: https://lostnfiledsg.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/pearls-hill/
Source: https://lostnfiledsg.wordpress.com/2015/02/08/pearls-hill/


4. National Library – (The Old)

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_National_Library_Building
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_National_Library_Building

Now
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!

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_National_Library_Building
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_National_Library_Building

 

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

Dakota Playground

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

Rochor Estate
Source: http://wikimapia.org/590434/Rochor-Centre

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

Tanglin Halt Estate
Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/sites/straitstimes.com/files/20140929/ST_20140929_SJTANGLIN29ZP87_697186e.jpg

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.

A week from sadness to solidarity

A week to be remembered, when a giant left us, a nation cried and awakened…

22nd April- Well wishers leaving flowers, gifts and cards at the “Quad” in Singapore General Hospital, wishing Lee Kuan Yew well

23rd April- Mr Lee Kuan Yew passed away…

24rd Nov- Lee Kuan Yew passed on.. A memorial tribute in Tanjong Pagar Community Club

 

Penning down our thoughts.. no words can describe out gratitude, sadness to our founding father

 

A photo that brought out much tears to my eyes.. A frail old man still insisting to stand up, right arm to his heart and reciting the Singapore pledge. Sir, you have far exceed the fulfilment of the pledge

 

25 April- Queuing up for State Funeral. A student giving out free drinks. under hot afternoon sun

 

Office workers, house wife, executives, retirees, Singaporean from all sort of lives queueing up, and the queue formed a long snaking queue at Hong Lim Park

 

The queue passed by Fullerton Hotel where flags at half mast

 

Final lap of the queue before going into the Parliament House for a 2 min glimpse and salute to Mr Lee

 

29 April- And pouring rain, and we drenched, and we stood firm on the muddy soil, our soil, to pay our respect.

 

We postponed our Nepal trip by a day so that we can witness the state funeral. Glad that we did .

老李,您走好

3月23号凌晨5点,正想起来上厕所,看了手机。虽然早有准备但还是哭了,Eve被我吵醒,问我怎么了,我说李光耀过世了,她哦了声,催促我再睡一会。

早上八点起床,打开Channel 8,看着李总理的演讲,打给老妈说李光耀过世了,放下电话,我又哭了。应该是他最艰难的一次演讲。

早上八点半,没什么心情上班,也怕在同事面前按耐不住情绪,还在犹豫要不要去公司。Eve穿了黑色衣服准备上班,问我穿得怎样,我说不错,她走前我们拥抱了下,我又哭了。

早上九点躺在沙发上,打开公司电脑,发了些邮件,在微信上update下,想着呆在家里更难受,决定还是去公司。

早上十点,先在Old Airport Road的咖啡店叫了云吞面和Kopi Siewdai,边吃,边刷刷手机,看看Facebook,Twitter上的updates。

十点半,上了30号巴士,扫描了下周围的人,和平时一样,大家没什么表情。

十一点到公司,电梯播着Channel News Asia的update,同电梯的老外也盯着看。

进了办公室,有意避开同事,先去找IT想把刚买的iPhone6 byod一下,IT说要老板批准,罢。没和同事打招呼就回到座位。

发了whatsapp给小B说今晚没心情去健身,Fitness First的卡今天不用换,他回了叫我开心点,我没回复。

尝试上悼念网站,发些悼念语,发不出。继续处理邮件,把下午会取消。

十二点,上海来的尹宏亮lync了我下,说他在新加坡,可以和北京来的Jennifer一块吃饭。我马上答应,正好可以不用和新加坡同事吃饭,避开话题。选择了泰国餐,

餐馆里,我们嘻嘻哈哈,八卦,瞎聊,我轻扫描了周围,大家也是嘻嘻哈哈。

下午一点半吃完回到座位,开始写些ppt,和Edina讨论印尼媒体投放和网站的问题。Celeste lync我说她听说我哭了,我说是,寒暄几句。

看了calendar,晚上有concall,但不想外国同事问起,就发给美国老板Denise说晚上没心情参加concall。然后又看了看Facebook的update,眼里又流下来,隐约擦掉,装着若无其事的样子去厕所。看到Caroline在位置上,我知道她也很难过。

下午五点半,想要准时下班,Melissa临时说要和vendor讨论budget问题,马上concall,我说好。Concall上把vendor说了一顿后。打给Eve说晚上我去Old Airport打包。

傍晚下午六点,上了30号巴士,坐在二楼的座位,想脑袋空一下,玩了下2046,没破纪录。看了个远在欧洲的新加坡旧同事在Facebook update 说Feeling Homesick,车上眼泪又流了下来。

傍晚六点半到站,Old Airport Road Market在清洗没开,打给Eve,她说不如她打包,我说好啊,然后回家。

七点前到家,打开Channel News Asia,看看老李的事迹。半小时后,Eve打包回来,四美的肉圆米粉汤,不错。吃完继续看电视,查了下去尼泊尔的事宜,刷刷Facebook。

接着收到Denise的邮件说you can take as long as you want to mourn.. Take care. I can’t imagine how Singaporean are feeling now (大意)。我又哭了。

晚上十点半,Eve说早点睡,也催促我早睡,躺在床上,睡不着,又上网看看各国媒体对老李的报道。还是睡不着。

凌晨两点,更新博客。

老李,我小时候,我爸是这样称呼你的。老李,您走好。

岛的儿子

Sir, thanks for everything, really everything…

Image Credit: http://jamalrafaie.com/
Image Credit: http://jamalrafaie.com/

[Update: Mr Lee passed away on Mar 23 3:18am]

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.

Sir, thanks for everything, really everything…

A public announcement that may worth more than a million

announcement3Singapore’s public transport company SMRT (Singapore Mass Rapid Transit) has a long history of bad publicity from frequent train breakdownever-increasing fare hike (with zero co-relation to the up and down of oil price), to vandalism due to lack of security, to even the negative story of chartered train by a  school (I have to admit that I see nothing wrong in offering chartered train to students). Despite numerous public campaigns to improve corporate image and customer satisfaction,  it’s seems that their corporate communication team are still having a uphill task. In recent survey, Customer Satisfactory Index of MRT continue to slide by 6% year on year.

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)