Sunday, January 25, 2009

Bingo & Treasure Box Nite 2009

24 January 2009

A day before Chinese New Year's eve, the market would be open 24 hours to allow for last minute shopping of New Year goodies. Every year for the past 3 years, there would be a Bingo & Treasure Box Nite at the market to engage the residents while they do their shopping. This idea was mooted by Hock Rong and had turned into an annual event.

This year, the event is led by Eunos CC Youth Executive Committee (YEC). In preparing for the event, we had to print out all the Bingo tickets, decorate the treasure boxes and purchase 100 different prizes.

The difference this year is that Mayor Zainul would also be presenting Ang Pows and goodies to needy residents.

My Uncle Francis is the Fortune God for this year.

This is my first time emceeing for a grassroots event. Hundreds of Eunos residents really made me nervous. The crowd was spontaneous and eager to clinch away the prizes. Even before we started the games proper, all of the 500 tickets were already grabbed.

We were blessed that the big prizes were won at the very end of the whole game such that the excitement climaxed till the end.

Ming Choo and Wei Kiat played crucial role in the success of the event as they were managing the coordination that happens off stage. We were thankful that Toh Wee joined us too.

Withering Plants

23 January 2009

Since the start of 2009, the weather had turned weird in Singapore. Strong winds and low temperatures at night had cheered some and jeered others. However, there had been no rain if I recalled correctly. Which explains why I had been noticing the withering grass along the roads.

Hock Rong and I were on our way to Bedok Central to do some shopping of prizes for the Bingo & Treasure Box Nite on Saturday, when I took some photos of the browning of the landscape.

Just nice I had been reading MM Lee Kuan Yew's Memoirs and just finished the part where he talked about why he decided to make Singapore a garden city. One of the desirable results from a green landscape is the boosting of morale for Singaporeans. A pleasing view would help to also impress foreigners.

With the bright sunny weather drying up the plants in this time of economic uncertainty, I do wish for some rain to revive the greenness in the neighbourhood. How ironic!

PAYM Singapore - Hong Kong Youth Exchange Programme Interview

16 January 2009

After hosting the Hong Kong delegates and getting to know friends from Hong Kong, I sure wish to be able to visit Hong Kong and experience their culture. That's why I decided to sign up for the People's Association Youth Movement's (PAYM) youth exchange programme to Hong Kong.

I am extremely thankful that Hock Rong had also signed up for the programme, despite some difficulties with his work schedule.

We reached PA HQ slightly before our interview timeslot and got to mingle with the other interviewees. I haven't been interviewed since 2 years ago, so I thought I could have done better.

After the interview, we had our dinner at a steamboat buffet restaurant at Geylang. The restaurant is owned by a MediaCorp martial arts stunt artiste. Other than the both of us, the rest of the customers were all from China.

19 January 2009

Immediately after Toastmasters chapter meeting, I received a SMS from Cher Ling that confirmed the passing of the interview. Awesome!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Being Appreciated with ... Food!

18 January 2009

Due to my involvement in the organising of the Toastmasters International District 80 Semi-Annual Convention Welcome Dinner, I was invited to an appreciation lunch at MusicPoint @ SAFRA Tampines.

A whole lounge was reserved for the function. Hock Rong was invited to attend to "observe" our Toastmasters event. Both of us, together with Adelene, clustered together and formed the youth voices for the day.

I was surprised to receive an appreciation letter from the hands of the District Governor Goh Wei Koon DTM. I played a minor role as a member in the organising committee for the welcome dinner, yet I was appreciated for my work in front of the many experienced toastmasters who contributed to the convention as a whole.

This is one of the many things I like about Toastmasters. In every competition, in every meeting, Toastmasters put in the extra effort to ensure that everyone is being appreciated, irregardless of the amount of contribution. As a result, everyone feels good and valued.

Later at 7pm, Mr Pang Loo Sen PBM treated grassroots leaders to dinner at Hua Yu Wu (华裕园) restaurant for our contribution to the success of the Emergency Preparedness Day. It was a major constituency effort which drew in more than a thousand residents.

I was excited to know that Eunos Civil Defence Executive Committee had won the title of the best CDEC in Singapore this year, the 6th consecutive year.


Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gambling as a form of Tax

I was at the coffeeshop when Aunty Nancy came by to have her lunch. She had recently been to a tour on the operations of Singapore Pools, Singapore's largest legal lottery operator. She shared that members of the public can witness the makings of the winning numbers at Paradiz Centre. Also, Singapore Pools allocate a percentage of its earnings to charitable causes.

With that said, she commented that gambling is actually a form of tax in Singapore. When one gambles, a portion of that gamble goes to good causes. If you win, you get a tax refund. If you lose, you are just paying your day-to-day tax.

Gambling has surfaced as a very hot topic ever since the Singapore government decided to allow the building of casinos in the city state. There have been so much debates about the decision such that it is meaningless for me to reiterate them in this blog.

I have seen how gambling destroyed people's careers and family. I had seen the destructive experiences that gambling could impose. But there is also the happy face of gambling.

If the monetary component in gambling makes it a form of tax, then the psychological factor would make it a form of spiritual tax. Gambling provides the "feel-good" factor, just like any other addiction. It also provides a hope for the middle and low income group - the one chance to strike it big and live a luxurious life.

In the end of the day, gambling like tax will just suck your money into a black hole. And as taxpayer, you don't directly enjoy the benefits of your contribution. So if gambling is a form of tax, then why bother gambling?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

One Day Chinese New Year Shopping Tour

17 January 2009

This event is organised by Eunos Zone '3' Residents' Committee. At 8am, we left for the Pasir Panjang wholesale centre to shop for new year goodies. Although my campus is just walking distance away from the wholesale centre, I have never set foot here in my whole life.

The tour included a trip to several wholesale factories and a temple (situated in a HDB unit) at Jurong area. We had lunch prepared by Sheng Siong Seafood stall. Was surprised that it had businesses in the food and beverage industry as well.

Despite the bad economy, shoppers carried boxes and boxes of goodies back home. I was so tired after the entire session that I went into hibernation.

Talents are Everywhere

Everyone is a talent in one way or another. People don't usually exude their strengths upon first contact with other people, hence making the cliche "Don't judge a book by its cover" a more vivid statement.

People displaying their talents will leave an impression in the minds of others. Well, everyone loves looking at something that they themselves can't do right?

While everyone is gifted in one way or another, not everyone would be able to leverage on their talents to achieve desired outcomes. This is the reason why I always make it a point to maximise the potential of peers or team-mates through understanding their strengths.

On 7 January 2009, Hock Rong and I were cycling to Blk 85 market for supper. As we cycled past a coffeeshop that was already closed for the day, we heard a group of guys strumming the guitar and singing. The voice sounded sincere and rich with emotions. I proposed to Hock Rong that we get the contacts of the group to perform in future grassroots events, and we did.

We approached them and made known to them about our intentions. They were caught in surprise and kept telling us that they were amateur singers. The singer's name is Ismail. As we were chatting to his friends, he strummed his guitar and sang. After 3 songs, we were convinced he would be a great singer. It took quite some time to give him the confidence to perform in front of a crowd and we left our numbers with him. Hopefully he reverts to us.

Just as we were leaving, he shook my hand and with tears in his eyes, he smiled and thanked us for noticing them and stopping over to extend the invitation to perform. I was in high spirits thereafter.

Everyday so many talented people walk past us without us knowing. Have you made the point to notice and praise someone today?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

One Night Stay at Novotel

11 January 2009

Mother had a complimentary one night stay at Novotel Hotel, so we went on the eve of my new school term.

At 2pm, we checked into the hotel. The receptionist gave us a free upgrade to a premium suite on the 24th floor. There were iMac computers at the lobby to allow customers to log on and surf the web. Novotel is not as big as most hotels but it is definitely cosy. From our window, we could see the Singapore River and the city landscape.

As usual, we toured the facilities around the hotel. The small swimming pool is outdoors. There is a small gym with no staff. Wearing slippers, I burnt some 10 calories before we left for our lunch at Liang Court.

I didn't know that there was such a shopping mall catered for Japanese. At Liang Court, most of the restaurants serve Japanese food. If I did not just walk in from Novotel, I would thought I was in Japan when I saw the product items in the shopping mart. Needless to say, we had Jap food for High-Tea!

We ate at BOTEJYU Okonomiyaki restaurant and ordered variant dishes to try. At one point, I kept sprinkling the seaweed powder onto my bowl cuz' it tasted so good.

I retreated back to the hotel to sleep. When I woke up, we left for Chinatown to do some shopping at OG and dining.

At 11.30pm, Lin Qiang and I went to Satay Club restaurant to watch the football match between Manchester United and Chelsea. Sear joined us after his movie. Our principal motive was to enjoy the match but ended up getting a dish for each of us and a 18-satay plate that costs $15! The food is undeniably good, but Lin Qiang's chicken chop was too small, smaller than his fist.

The match was fantastic. Manchester United won an astounding 3-0 against Chelsea.

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Media - "A Boon or A Bane?"

10 January 2009

Reached the Glass Hall @ Singapore Art Museum an hour early to prepare for my role as a facilitator for the policy forum. Organised by Tampines GRC youth groups, the PAYM policy forum series, New Media - "A Boon or A Bane?" is a very popular theme. The Straits Times had just reported the government's feedback on the Advisory Council on the Impact of New Media on Society (AIMS) suggestion on the day's paper.

The participants came from all walks of life. I was fortunate to meet new friends. These include an IT analyst working in a bank, a member of the AIMS committee, a Volunteer Relations Executive from MENDAKI, a student from TPJC, Minister George Yeo's blogging partner, youth leaders as well as working adults.

The guest of honour was Tampines GRC MP Irene Ng. The other panelists were AIMS chairman Cheong Yip Seng and Touch Cyber Wellness & Sports Manager Poh Yeang Cherng.

After speeches by the panelists, the participants went into their groups and discussed. There were 3 different categories - New Media & Politics, New Media & Family, Ethics & Responsibilities. I facilitated my group in the discussion of New Media & Politics.

I used to think it's as easy as a brainless activity to facilitate discussions but when I was in the hot seat, I changed my thoughts. To balance the different personalities within a group was challenging. Some knew the subject in and out while some were new to the topic. Luckily, everyone was enthusiastic and the discussion didn't even stop a second.

The event was covered by the press. Student Eunice represented the group to present our points of considerations. She did a great job and her remarks were reported by Channel NewsAsia:
By Pearl Forss, Channel NewsAsia | Posted: 10 January 2009 2047 hrs

.... "Currently, to leave feedback on the established channel REACH, you are required to register your name and encouraged to enter your NRIC number.

Said one participant: “If you are required to enter your NRIC before you can leave a comment on the forum, then people will stop leaving texts in the forum because it is still tracked." ....
During the Q&A, I spotted two familiar faces. One of them turned out to be Seelan Palay, one of the 18 Tak Boleh Tahan activists which protested outside Parliament House. Initially I thought the session would face some contention if they were to ask questions. They did pose their queries, and I felt that they were gentlemen and not as arrogant or loud I thought they would be.

Seelan Palay, himself, quoted MM Lee's speech which was made decades ago and asked MP Irene Ng's views. The speech made him sound authoritarian. Ms Irene Ng responded that the MM Lee's speech was suitable for the political situation then and could not be said to be applicable now. Seelan Palay nodded in agreement.

After the forum, Wei Kiat, Baohui and I went to watch the movie, Red Cliff 2. The plot was awesome. Settled dinner at Xin Wang cafe.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Walking the Ground

5 January 2009

Went with Uncle to promote the Chinese New Year Gathering event, organised by Eunos Zone 3 Residents' Committee.

I went to the Block where I last saw the injured cat, as that block is the furthest away from the RC and it is a good time to check out the residents. There are many senior citizens staying at the block. I met a resident, Julia, who had complaints on the estate cleanliness. I promised to send her feedback to the coming RC meeting.

At another Block, I got to chat with a resident, Mrs Fong, who happened to share the same surname as us. She even knows a bit of Hakka. Anyway, she displayed the spirit of neighbourliness with her close ties with the other residents. She was supportive of our committee and bought 2 tickets.

Even though we managed to sell only 6 tickets, it was still a fruitful trip as I had now known 2 new friends from my zone.

After eating dinner at home, I went to volunteer at the MPS. Later, went jogging 10 rounds around the Petal Garden...

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Eunos Edusave Merit Bursary Presentation Ceremony

4 January 2009

RC Chairman Mr Sawaran Singh drove us to Bedok North Secondary School for the Edusave Merit Bursary (EMB) presentation ceremony. We volunteered our weekend morning to ensure an enjoyable and memorable experience for all the hardworking students.

I remember receiving EMB and Edusave Scholarships when I was a student. I would usually attend the function alone, if not with Mother, and would feel nervous yet excited. Bearing this in mind, I greeted the students, asked them if it were their first time receiving and congratulated them while ushering them to their seats.

During the ceremony, I was on stage to ensure that the certificates were awarded in sequence. There, I observed the little actions of the students on stage. Most would be overwhelmed by the handshake with the Guest of Honour, Mayor Zainul, and the audience. I got them to stand in line for the group photo taking before they returned to their seats.

All the grassroots leaders and Mayor Zainul went to the event "New Head for the New Year" at the Old Temporary Market. It is an event organised by the Lions Club, Zone 2 & 5 RCs for old folks to receive free haircut as well as free food.

At 1pm, I reached Tampines Changkat CC to attend a policy forum facilitator training. The training session is to prepare us for facilitating the policy forum "New Media: A Boon or A Bane", which would be taking place on 10 January 2009. Got to meet new friends - Tony, Shikin and Ephraim, all YEC members. Kelvin the trainer shared with us the useful tips for pre-event considerations, during and post-event actions.

On the way back, joined RC members at the coffeeshop. Hock Rong came slightly later. They started drinking beer and I retired to get my much desired rest before giving tuition to my cousin. Fascinatingly, they drank for more than 4 hours!

Sheng Hong Family Day

3 December 2009

In the evening, went to Sheng Hong Temple's Family Day carnival. I was invited by Mr Sim during one of the MPS. The whole place was so crowded that locating Eunos table seems a daunting task. I ventured my way to the VIP area and was happy to see Shirley, Mr Tan, Mr & Mrs Lin.

We took a picture with MediaCorp DJ and actor Marcus. He looked a bit awkward as he was wearing a shirt with a middle finger on it.

Straight after the dinner, Hock Rong turned into an Emo Kid.

My First CCC Meeting

2 January 2009

After spending some time with Father and my Uncle, I began working on my RC minutes of meeting at the CC while Edmund and Hock Rong discussed YEC updates.

I was invited by Eunos Citizens' Consultative Committee to be a youth observer. I felt honoured to be seated among the various committee Chairpersons. Mayor Zainul joined in the meeting too.

Reports were presented from various agencies. Grassroots organisations are one of the more professional voluntary groups I had come across.

I was assigned to be a member of a subcommittee dealing with Membership. During the meeting, FaceBook was mentioned and some of us had a great laugh...


New Year with Baohui

1 January 2009

Chatted with Hock Rong until he gave up at 11am. Mr Yap and my Uncle saw us and thought we woke so early.

There was a National Geographic outlet and we took a tour around. A group of people were looking at a glass-walled freezer. I thought someone would want to enter it and experience Atlantic atmosphere but no one did.

Baohui tried to search for the book, Twilight, but didn't manage to find it in the bookstore. I wonder if the movie is really that fantastic.

In the evening, we went to Hougang Mall to develop some photographs. On the way back on bus, I spotted something strange...

There was a spelling error on the banner! Christmas was spelt as Christams. Thinking positively, it is a good decision not to waste resources to reprint the banner.

Monday, January 05, 2009

New Year Countdown @ East Coast

31 December 2008

Zone 3 RC members had a mini steamboat gathering to celebrate the arrival of 2009. I helped in the preparation of food and enjoyed doing so. Some residents were singing karaoke at the same time.

I managed to install the RC printer machine to the computer successfully. That sprung an interest to pack up the RC office. As we were doing so, we found some shirts that were issued years ago and no one knew about their existence (except the issuer).

My family joined in thereafter and Lin Qiang had his share before he left to stay out for the night.

When my parents returned home, I proceeded to Zone 2 to join in their BBQ countdown party, before venturing off to East Coast.

When 2009 arrived, I witnessed the shooting of distress signals of the ships lining the East Coast of Singapore. The park was crowded. The pub nearby provided great beats and the led the countdown yelling.

Later, went to Mac with Wei Kiat and Hock Rong to play Monopoly, and were told board games were not allowed in the fast food restaurant.

The 2 Places I Dread the Most

30 December 2008

There are 2 places which I hate going to. They are the Airport and the Hospital. And I went to one of them today.

I have sent quite a handful of people away from the Airport ever since my Secondary schooldays. The transparent glass that divides the leavers and the stayers leaves the only communication channel open between tearful eyes and moving lips.

Likewise, trips to hospitals can never be a good thing. When visiting patients, the pain they are suffering makes one feel for them, but no matter how much empathy you have, you can't reveal them. I always had to put on a trembling smile and forcing back tears in order to worry others. The sight of other patients also injects some uneasiness into one.

In the evening, I went to Kg Chai Chee CC for the speechcraft competition. I was quite contented with my photo of the CC, which was used as the background for the certificates. Was the photographer for the event and enjoyed using the camera as a weapon to yield in smiling faces and nervous stares.

After Toastmasters, went jogging with Hock Rong round the Bedok Reservoir and enjoyed the oily Chicken Chop at the coffeeshop for supper...