Friday, February 27, 2009

Chancellor's Challenge Shield 2009

21 February 2009

This is an annual event organised by NUS Political Association to create awareness in current affairs. It is a contest in which teams of students from various Junior Colleges and Universities sit for a mini-exam to test out their level of general knowledge and current affairs.

My team was SpideySense, comprising of Minru, Gary and myself. After the preliminary round, we discussed our answers and found out that when one answered wrongly, the other 2 answered that right. As a team, we neutralised each other... but we didn't get to the finals.

During the lunch break, we went for the free health check-up at MPSH 4.

The Guest-of-Honour was Mr Steven Chia, Channel NewsAsia news presenter. He was humorous in his speech and his charisma won over the participants.

The finals was held after lunch. It was a battle among Hwa Chong Institution, NUS and Victoria Junior College. HCI students were impressive, clinching the top award, followed by NUS and then VJC.

Even though I didn't win the top 10 individual award, I enjoyed myself very much. I got to make a new friend (Gary) and also had a brain-squeezing session during the finals.

YOUTHSpeak on Budget 2009

19 February 2009

Had a long rest after the exhaustion incurred from the 7-day Hong Kong cultural exchange. Reached People's Association Headquarters at 7pm to attend the first national-level PAYM Policy Forum. Being overseas in Hong Kong had deprived me of the updates of the Budget Debate, so thought of learning more about it through the session.

The Guest-of-Honour was Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean. He gave a brief lecture on the Resilience Package and explained the governments' decision.

Also speaking was Associate Professor Tan Khee Giap, Associate Dean, Graduate Studies Office and Co-Director, Asia Research Centre, Nanyang Technological University. He predicted that Singapore would be among the last to recover from the recession, a point which was dismissed by Mr Teo.

Most of the concerns from the floor were targeted at the availability of job opportunities. Questions were raised spontaneously.

Hong Kong Exchange friends:

Eunos CC YEC:

PAYM Singapore – Hong Kong Youth Exchange Programme 2009 Day 7

18 February 2009

Checked out early in the morning and had a debriefing session. Enjoyed the complimentary drink from the hotel and departed to the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

A staff from the International Relations office told us more about CUHK. NUS students participate in the CUHK Summer Programme as well as exchange programmes with the varsity. I'm very tempted...

CUHK is built on a mountain and the sceneries are fantastic. Jonathan and George are from the school and they came to join us.

George succeeded in persuading Shirley into letting us view his dormitory. He claimed to be a jip yan (folded man), a term to describe students who stay in the dorm most of the time and don't participate in hall activities.

We had lunch at the Clubhouse Restaurant of Chung Chi College Staff Club. CUHK is divided into different colleges. I believe it's something like the house system we have in our junior colleges. Each college would have its own dormitories as well.

Hock Rong and I bidded farewell to Jonathan and George, the two energetic youths who home stayed at my place. It was quite a dreadful feeling to have to bid farewell for the second time.

Thanks to Wee Keong for the consolidation of the ordering of Wife's Biscuits!

At the airport, everyone took the final chance to capture the memories...

A picture with my saviour for the day:

I was the last to enter the departure gates. Can't imagine how time flies and now we have to say goodbye.

We departed at 6pm on flight SQ 865 and reached Singapore at about 9pm. I tried Singapore Sling for the first time and felt proud of this cocktail drink.

Goodbye Hong Kong. Hope to see you again soon!

Special thanks to Shirley & Nicole (for guiding and taking care of us around Hong Kong); Cher Ling, Derrick & Kenneth (for ensuring the safety of the Singapore delegate); all the Hong Kong delegates (for their energy and the unforgettable memories we had); as well as all the Singapore delegates (for all the fun and friendship).

Photographs from:
Shirley, Liling, Connie and Vivian.

PAYM Singapore – Hong Kong Youth Exchange Programme 2009 Day 6

17 February 2009

In the morning, we went on a visit to Magic Kingdom, a social enterprise. I had heard of social enterprises in Singapore but I had a deeper understanding of the concept after the presentation. The magicians performed some entertaining shows to us and also taught us a little magic trick.

We had lunch at Tao Heung Restaurant.

The Chinese has a saying that in every 10 gambles one make, one would lose 9 of them. Asia is seeing the expansion of its gambling industry. 3.1% of the population experienced problem gambling in Hong Kong (2005) while 2% of Singaporeans were affected in the same year, said Ms Elda Mei Lo Chan, Centre Supervisor & Certified Gambling Counsellor and Trainer.

Gambling is risking something valuable in an activity that has a time limit; and which one cannot use skills or intuition to know the results. In this sense, the Centre also handles problem “investors” who are addicted in warrants, accumulators, and contra trading.

With the IRs soon to be completed, measures have to be taken to ensure that problem gambling rate is minimized. There are many learning points from the approach taken by TWGHs Even Centre.

TWGHs Even Centre adopts a holistic and multi-disciplinary approach, assisting problem gamblers through hotlines, counselling and therapies. Having a dedicated counselling channel for problem gamblers is useful, considering that the waiting time for a session with a psychiatrist in public hospital is nearly 2 years. Problem gamblers are given financial and debt counselling, emergency relief and temporary refuge as well as psychological treatment.

Group therapies aim to create a holistic person, developing new lifestyle holistically to rid off the addiction of gambling.

TWGHs Even Centre also actively engage in community education. Advertisements targets at the importance of family and how gambling could destroy it. It has also created a board game specifically to educate about the low chances of winning in gambling.

The Centre’s social workers are professionally trained and participate in research and conferences. Accredited training is also provided to teachers and police.

Next, we went to The Peak via the Peak tram. The weather was breezy and cooling. I kept my sweater to enjoy the chilling effect, something I could never enjoy in Singapore.

We were given free time to browse the shopping malls. Shopping at a tourist attraction spot didn't seem appealing, so we went to take pictures instead.

At night, we had our Farewell dinner at the Crystal Ballroom, YMCA The Cityview Hotel. Time had passed so quickly that not too long ago, we were in the same room enjoying our welcoming lunch.

The emcee struck a chord with all of us by saying that there is no longer "Hong Kong delegate" and "Singapore delegate" because we are all friends. Indeed, the friendship fostered during this stay had been a deep one.

There were stage games and I was glad to be able to participate in one of them. The objective of the game was to transmit a message (in Cantonese) across 4 people, 2 of whom were Singaporean.

The whole long of mouth twisters turned out to be a list of food items. I guess Shirley must have had a hard time understanding my Cantonese.

After the dinner, Hock Rong, George, Jonathan, Karen and I went to Mong Kok to do some shopping for souvenirs. Jonathan was a very powerful bargainer. Hock Rong also wielded his power with his limited Cantonese phrases. Karen shared how her Mum managed to buy a big travel luggage at around HK$50. Amazing.

George and Karen had to return home early. Jonathan brought us to meet up with the others at the Big Tree Pub. At the MTR station, Hock Rong wanted to go to the toilet but there weren't any in the station. Jonathan then told us that there were secret toilets that the staff would bring us to if we (tourists) asked. True enough, one of the staff guided us all the way into the staff toilet. Good service!

At the Big Tree Pub, we played some games until some of us began to doze off.

Back at the hotel, we assembled at Alex's room and chatted about the happenings of the day. Hock Rong and I managed to smuggle Jonathan into our room until the next morning! While waiting for Hock Rong to return, I had a candid chat with Vivian at the freezing cold hotel lobby.