Tuesday, March 12, 2019

That 20 minute Delay on Downtown Line 3 Open House

This is an uber #throwback post, which had remained in my draft folder since October 2017. Thought I would just complete it.

On 21 October 2017, the third phase of Downtown Line (DTL3) opened to much fanfare. In many stations along the DTL3 route, various activities engaged the curious commuters who had come forward to try out a transportation option that would become the main daily option for many.

Eunos Grassroots Leaders joined in the official launch by Senior Minister of State for Transport and Health Dr Lam Pin Min at the Fort Canning station.

The Knack Stop booth retailed souvenir items that Singaporeans who take public transport would easily relate to.

Celebrities galore.

SMS Dr Lam Pin Min was joined by various Grassroots Advisers of constituencies which had a new DTL3 station. Aljunied GRC was represented by Grassroots Advisers Victor Lye and Chua Eng Leong.

The Civil Defence shelter at Bedok Reservoir Station was open for tours.

There were activity books given to children too!

The exuberance of the official launch was probably doused temporarily by a track fault which lasted for about 20 minutes. As the door closing chime rang off, signalling the resuming of train service, I exchanged eye contact with this stranger and we both nodded to each other. A shared sense of relief at the service recovery on Open House day, as what I posted on fb that day:

If I could just rewind a little... to the 31 May 2017, where I was fortunate to join in a preview of a tour to Fort Canning, Bencoolen and MacPherson stations.

Each station bears a distinct colour (for instance, red for MacPherson's) and mural designs that reflect local community flavour. Bencoolen is the deepest station at 14 stories underground. Lots of engineering achievements, including how Singapore River was diverted to accommodate construction of the Fort Canning station. 

Come to think of it, Downtown Line 3 has not only changed transportation modes, it has also changed the communities surrounding the stations, bringing people to walk paths they would otherwise not have strode.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016

10 Unforgettable Moments with Baby YC - 6 months of Fatherhood

They say children grow up the fastest in their first 2 years of age.

In the wink of an eye, Baby YC has now passed the 6 months mark. For the occasion, I shall pen down some of the touching/teary moments we spent together, and which are etched deep in the heart.


1) We flew to Vietnam!

So we applied for a passport for Baby YC.

Should we? Should we not? But there is cosmic radiation on planes...

Eventually, we decided that the Mummy should take a trip back to her hometown to spend the last leg of her maternity leave. And for her extended family to see Baby YC for the first time.

"The clouds... can eat or not?"

Vietnam Airlines gave us an additional 10kg for Baby YC. Since he did not require seats, there was no additional cost to fly him. It was a packed flight and we were way back in queue. The airport staff was helpful to secure two adjacent seats for us. #ChangiAirport :)

As first-time young parent travellers, we were extremely conscious of inevitably causing disturbance to other passengers. Fortunately and unfortunately, en route to Hanoi, we were seated near a toddler that kept screaming at the top of his voice. Baby YC ended up being a much quieter boy, not even giving a frown when the plane took off and landed. The toddler's screams later made him cry. But for a first flight, we were so blessed with such a well-behaved boy!

2) Baby YC meets his Uncles, Aunties, Cousins, Grand... Great Grand... 

We thought we were visiting her Grandparents as usual. When we reached her Grandparents' place, we were greeted by her extended family members and relatives who had all gathered for the occasion.

"Yoz Cousin, how ya' doing?"

I did not have the luxury of paid leave to be in Hanoi for a month, so I returned to Singapore and subsequently flew back to Hanoi to bring my wife and Baby YC home. I thought I would have had two weeks of peaceful sleep in the nights, but I was wrong. Ended up missing them in the night :(

On my return trip to Hanoi, Baby YC burst out crying in a way that we had never witnessed, when he saw me. He wailed even louder when I tried to carry him. That was a heart wrenching moment. It is as if he was angry that his father left him for weeks. Gradually, he "forgived" me and the first smile thereafter was reassuring.

3) Baby YC goes on Hunger Strike

Baby YC went into photosynthesis mode for a month or two. Smart of him to know his way of demanding to be fed latched on. Practically did not drink any milk in bottle for the longest of times. We felt puzzled when doctors after doctors were in disbelief of our paranoia. His weight grew with each visit to the clinic, and was at the 90+th percentile as compared to infants of the same age.

Where did all the weight gain come from?

"Like a Boss"

Visit to the clinic

4) One day, he started crawling (in a way)

He turned to his side and tada~ crawl mode. He started pivoting himself and crawling... backwards.

What cha' looking at?

Sitting (albeit unstably) skill unlocked

After 6 months dominating our bed, he now sleeps on his own.

Never too tired to be on his belly ever since

And then this happened

Baby YC growing fast!

5) We go Walk Walk

Inconvenient to go outdoors with Baby YC, but it would otherwise be draining to walk the baby round and round at home.

National Gallery has some fantastic kids activity corners

Enjoying the view munching his fist

Those legs....

6) The Weekend when both of us were away

Clash of schedules resulted in both my wife and I overseas for the weekend.

"I still have my bolster!"

7) Baby YC's Parents became Masseurs

Thanks to Angeline who, as part of her infant massage course requirement, needed to teach a group of parents how to massage their babies, both me and my wife became masseurs for Baby YC.

Baby Networking session in progress

"Mum, what are you waiting for?"

8) Baby Spa

9) #nobodysleepsifidontsleep

"Who's that sleeping beauty?"

"Hehe. Papa I know you are still there."

And when he finally sleeps, we go all out to ensure the sleep is as long as it can get.

Self-invented "Butt locker" to lock the butt in optimal sleeping position

Only parents will know

10) Are we teaching him enough?

We attended some Preschool Seminar and talks to get ourselves prepared for the 6-month milestone. The guilt is strong if we know we could have taught him more but we did not. Right brain training classes looked too stressful and unreal. Music classes seem fun. We are opting for FUN.

Infantcare is of great help for working parents like us, though it also meant less time for interacting with Baby YC during weekdays. Weekends become extremely precious.

It seems like just yesterday that he was born. It was not too long ago that he discovered he had hands, and then he started grabbing everything and shoving it to his mouth. 6 months ago, he smiled, now he giggles and infects us with laughters. As he amazes us day by day with his growth, we continue to draw inspiration from our Baby YC.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

What do you Fear?

If you are into movies, you probably find the title of this blog familiar.

It was a question posed to Bruce Wayne (Batman) in Batman Begins (2005) - "What do you fear?"

Although I had watched the movie for umpteenth times, a recent overseas trip gave me an opportunity to re-watch Batman Begins again. The movie still beats all the shows in the 30-odd channels that was screening that night.

So, the very reflective question:

Come to think of it, phobias are often formed out of a negative episode that one encountered in the past. For instance, getting grazed by a twig shot out from a grasscutter's cutting machine might keep you a distance away from a grasscutter in the future.

In resolving phobias, I found an article from Wisdom Ninja that concisely spells out 10 proven steps to overcome your phobia

  1. Identify your Phobia
  2. Talk about what you fear
  3. Make a hierarchy of fears
  4. Relax
  5. Display
  6. Generate Positive Thoughts
  7. Expose Yourself to your Fears
  8. Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle
  9. Beware of Drug Consumption
  10. Be Patient

Source: Wisdom Ninja

It need not be, as what Ra's al Ghul (2005) says it to Batman,

"To conquer fear, you must become fear. You must bask in the fear of other men. And men fear most what they cannot see. You have to become a terrible thought. A wraith. You have to become an idea! Feel terror cloud your senses. Feel its power to distort.. to control. And know that this power can be yours. Embrace your worst fears. Become one with the darkness."

That is, of course, unless you have a spacious underground space under your dwelling, and a family business producing military weapons for your private consumption ;D

Friday, July 29, 2016

Farewell to STU General Secretary Edwin Lye

From 1 August 2016, while you start your daily routine, history would be made.

For the first time in Singapore's history, a senior Trade Unionist will start work in the Employers Federation. The Vice President of the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) and General Secretary of the Singapore Teachers' Union, Mr Edwin Lye Teck Hee, would leave the labour movement and join the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF).

The average Singaporean would probably see it as an ordinary switch in career. Casting your sight beyond Singapore, you would realise that it didn't make much headlines only because this is Singapore, where the Government, Employers and Unions enjoy a constructive relationship. This trust and collaborative relationship is otherwise called "Tripartism", and often cited as Singapore's National Treasure.

Indeed, if hashtags were a measure, Tripartism is so rare globally that in Instagram, you find mostly photos from Singapore with #Tripartism.

How else would cross-posting of public officers and trade unionists, and senior trade unionist receiving a SNEF award and becoming an Employer representative be imaginable?  In most countries, getting trade unionists and employers to sit together would be already too much to hope for. International Labour Organization's Director-General Guy Ryder once said, "Singapore tripartism passes the essential test of good results." 

It seems it really passed the test.

Photo with Edwin on his last day in STU office

It has been 10 months since I got seconded to the Singapore Teachers' Union. Learnt a lot from Edwin on proactive Industrial Relations and Union operations. Edwin has always been an open and patient Union Leader who takes the effort to explain the historical context and thinking behind any actions taken, and does so with great clarity.

Here's wishing Brother Edwin all the best on his new role at SNEF!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hari Raya Aidilfitri 2016

The month-long Hari Raya celebration is coming to a close. I always find it a blessing to be in Singapore where we not only get to celebrate our own ethnic festivals, but we also observe or, most of the time, participate in other ethnic celebrations. And as we get to know more about the traditions and cultures of another ethnic group, each year's festive celebrations carry a different experience.

Beyond the extensive *bling bling* Hari Raya light-up decorations lining the street from Eunos MRT Station all the way to Geylang Serai, it is the practice of traditions and cultural interactions that define the festival and which are what makes Hari Raya unique in Singapore.

Globally, a series of attacks threatened to undermine the sacred month for Muslims. These include the Orlando nightclub shooting, Nice attack, Atatürk Airport attack in Turkey and the suicide attacks in Saudi Arabia at the end of Ramadhan. In some parts of the world, the religion came under assault in the wake of the attacks. 

In Singapore, this year's Hari Raya happened to fall in July, the month of Racial Harmony celebrations. In form and/or in substance, Singaporeans are reminded by the world around us that the social fabric could very well be ruptured if we do not continue to safeguard racial and religous harmony.

I am fortunate to be able to participate in a series of activities during this period.

On 22 June 2016, Eunos and Kaki Bukit Grassroots Advisers and Grassroots Leaders joined Mr Amrin Amin, Parliamentary Secretary for Home Affairs and residents of The Leo Dormitory in breaking fast (Iftar). It was my second time visiting the Dormitory, the first being an introductory visit before the Dormitory went into operation in 2014.

Ambassadors, appointed among the residents, assist in organising various activities for the residents of diverse nationalities. The month-long Iftar (break fast) is one such activity that the residents plan and execute themselves, with support from the Dorm's management.

In keeping with tradition, when communication technology was not as advanced, drum was sounded to inform the neighbourhood that it was time to break fast. 

Group photo with fellow Grassroots Leaders

On 25 June 2016, a brigade of motorcycles roared off to make over beneficiaries' homes, as part of the annual Ramadhan-on-Wheels (ROW) project by the Malay Youth Literary Association (4PM).

The same morning, Tabung Amal Aidilfitri (TAA) Trust Fund held its disbursement exercise at Eunos Community Club. Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli graced the event and presented cheques to Malay Muslim Organisations and beneficiaries. One of the ways that TAA Trust Fund collects its zakat (alms) is through the collection boxes located at Geylang Serai as well as shops across the island. The zakat collected in 2015 is disbursed to recipients in 2016.

These programmes encapsulate the spirit of Ramadhan, in assisting the less well-off among the community and sharing the festive joy with them.

On the same evening, Eunos CC Malay Activity Executive Committee (MAEC) and TAA Trust Fund jointly held the Majlis Iftar. The speaker was delivering a message in Bahasa Melayu when I heard "Hidayah". Turned over to Eunos CC staff Hidayah who was just beside me, and innocently told her that the speaker had called her name. Found out that in arabic language, Hidayah actually meant "Guidance".

To learn culture, it's always best to plug yourself in the midst of it. Also learnt about the significance of Ramadhan to Muslims that evening. Ramadhan is more than just a month-long of cleansing the physical body through fasting. It also involves the cleansing of the mind and soul, and a time of reflection. 

Fast forward to the eve of Hari Raya on 5 July 2016, where residents at Eunos Vista (Zone '7' precinct) organised the annual Kenduri together with neighbours. 

While we can sit back and LIKE neighbourliness stories posted online, such as the Sembawang family who break fast annually together with their neighbours along the corridor, we can also initiate or participate in such activities. I, for one, would set a goal of organising next year's Chinese New Year event with neighbours, and reach out to 2 Muslim families to open their house for their neighbours at Eunos Division next year! 

Had the best Mee Siam I ever eaten

Jalan Raya to a neighbour's place on 9 July 2016. I met Shaikh through grassroots activities. He is one of the Eunos Heights Community Gardeners, and I always joked that he had the best view of the happenings in the garden from his bedroom window. Had the pleasure to makan the awesome dishes plus the desserts, all made by the family. Enjoyed the catch-up and got to know more about the talented and hardworking family.


A week later, had the opportunity to taste Malay cuisine again at fellow grassroots volunteers Jamal and Latifah's place. The Malay wedding at the void deck right opposite their block provided music and songs for our ears.

My Hari Raya "celebration" culminated with Muhibah Raya, organised by Eunos CC MAEC. Besides Sufie Rashid who dazzled the audience at the Hari Raya dinner, Aljunied GRC Grassroots Advisers Chua Eng Leong and Shamsul Kamar also peppered the programme with light-hearted entertainment. 

The key ingredient to racial harmony and social cohesion is the social capital and trust that exist across the ethnic communities. The People's Association grassroots movement consciously create platforms to bring people together. It is a never-ending process and we will always agree more can be done. One day, race and religion will see no boundary. Till then, let's take the initiative to appreciate each other's culture and be the catalyst to strengthen our unique social fabric.