Monday, December 25, 2006

merry christmas...

spending christmas in london isn't really exciting... on the contrary, it seems that asian societies are more into christmas than western societies... it's christmas now!!!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!!!

spent chirstmas eve at home after a treacherous 20hr bus ride, having dinner with a few people. nothing cool like back in singapore where there'll be xmas performance in church or plodding down orchard road... oxford road and trafalgar square just doesn't seem hip or happening... but i guess i enjoy the cozy warmth of christmas eve, though it's not cozy enough i guess... dinner tomorrow will be with shining, shujun, bryan and joseph... i guess it's really gonna be like a 'family' affair... was thinking of inviting more ppl, but i guess christmas should be kept simple, spending time with loved ones is more important than partying with groups of unknown people...

home is where the heart lives...

just finished watching love actually... 1st watched it after prom in 03, but the show is more moving this time round, especially when you miss someone, neglect someone... love transcends all boundaries and it can manifest in many different forms... i guess love is all we need to keep us alive, it gives us the single hope that is of value o our life... the show started by stating the fact that the messages/calls made during 9/11 were filled with love and not hatred... it's true that we all need love...

it's painful when you feel that you have too many things/people to love, you'll just get torn apart... but i guess it's more important to love the people that truly matter to you... i've been neglecting so many people, and especially my dearest... it's a very big sacrifice to be with me, where A takes up most of my life but yet i don't wanna end up like adam sandler in click... there's a price to pay for everything in life...

23 dec marks the start of a new birth, a new journey for you and i want to thread this journey together... not that things are going to be rosy but it will be a blessed journey, a journey that will be filled with love that is deeper that the our love combined, a journey that is towards the similar ultimate goal in life...

i love you eve...

merry christmas...

tabula rasa - blank state

just got back from skiing, which was packed with food, skiing, nkf spoofs, spasticated jokes and most importantly, cute french and israeli guys... (!!! not that i'm interested in guys, but gals out there you may wanna check them out when you go on tour the next time round...) okie the grading of the slopes are as such: green, blue, red, black... and we skiied down the red slope on the 1st day of lessons... i think we were abit garang after our first official skiing lesson in the day... we took the gondola up to the peak in the afternoon and wanted to ski down the blue slope, but some stupid guy told us that the blue slope had a steep part and asked us to ski down the red one instead, and we actually believed him... so here we went, skiing down the red slope, based on faith... thank god for his journey mercies and the fog... fortunately, we didn't ski off the edge of the mountain, and the fog made visibility low, so that we wouldn't fear the steepness of the slope... thank god too for nice people to save us (the stragglers), they guided us down the red slope by encouraging us to slowly ski down... thankfully, we made it back to ground level safely... cleared 600m altitude in 1.5hrs which was kind of long, but at least we made down safely... as much as i enjoyed the company of the other skiiers, especially the indian london doctors and the israelis, i guess the mountain has taught me several important lessons... first of all was to conquer my fear of heights, although i'm still very fearful of heights, but i'm not that afraid not... and the tenacity of the human spirit is also tested during the most critical points in time... my mind was in a state of tabula rasa... it was totally blank, we just concentrated in getting down safely, rather than fearing the steepness of the slope...

anyway, the kids are so cute on their skis and they are really pro in skiing man... i guess i'll prolly send my kid for skiing lessons next time...

Friday, December 15, 2006

5 years?

thinking about the fact that i'll be here for about 5 years is kind of freaky... imagine my own batch of singaporean friends who will only be in london for 3 years... and i'll probably be mixing around with nearly two cycles of different people... at least for the first three years, i still have familiar people to mix around with, but from the fourth year onwards? it's just weird... a scary thought...

btw, i have been advertising chilumlump, they found him very interesting and dumb, just like me... elmo and him are having a good time sleeping/baking on the radiator... chilumlump is clamouring to see lumpy and minilump and miffy though he has nothing much to say to them too, he has grown dumb (cannot talk). he can't wait till feb...

Saturday, December 09, 2006

3 aspects of life in autumn 2006

It has been an enjoyable and eventful autumn term, it seems that it was just yesterday that i left the airport. time just whizz past and it's the end of term now... before i left, the three things that i set out to concentrate on in london were god, studies and running and thankfully, managed to have integrated these three aspects into my life and they have been quite fruitful.

God

Before i came here, i was quite apprehensive that with heavy workload and lack of christian friends, i would just neglect my spiritual relationship with god. thankfully, god has drawn me closer to him through my friends. it all started with a simple phone call to shining, asking her if i could put up at her place with bryan and joseph while searching for apt during my first wk in london. a chain of events led us stay together, and i guess because of them too, i went to all souls church and ocf (overseas christian fellowship) i really thank god that i like the church alot, the messages are so contemporary but the service is tradiational and serious. thank god too for ocf and my small group!! they have been important in keeping my faith alive and making my stay in london to be filled with the love of brothers and sisters in christ. i guess this is the power of having a fellowship... haha, it seems that its really enjoyable to go for bible studies on fri nights and supper following that... i really do enjoy the time with them... it kindda reminded me of my own cabbages small group back in singapore...

Studies

This term has been quite hectic, i wouldn't say extremely though. I started off feeling kind of stress about rationalising and brain storming of ideas and concepts but as time goes by, i guess we all began to understand the gameplay better. though the workload is still heavy but i think i managed to keep the stress level lower. it has been an eye opener too. having coming straight from a levels, we are all to accustomed with our rigid system and final product driven mentality, and i am still learning to get use to AA's culture of continuous experimenting and learning from mistakes. i used ot think that learning from mistakes and improving from mistakes was easy but after a term here, i realised that we were soooo lacking that aspect in our education system. we would always fixate our thoughts and ideas on getting to the final product or outcome... but our tutors would always want us not to have a fixed outcome and just have faith in experimenting. reviewing on my performance, i guess i have not really been every creative and i just don't have the artsy flare, i guess i'm a very information based and rational type of designer... i dun really have the fluff and creative juices that produce works that evoke the senses... but i know my passion at least... haha, thank god for my media studies... there were four courses for media studies to choose from for autumn term: drawing, construction and drawing, information system and videa. i chose drawing and info sys (we have to make 2 choices and the tutors will randomly select us)... the main reason why i chose drawing was because i do not know how to draw for nuts at all!!! but thankfully i ended up in info sys class cuz that was where my real passion lies... making maps and diagrams through tonnes of information... haha, it was really fun... hee, managed to get my first result back, which was very encouraging, a dist! heee... i guess this is the only course where the tutor actually gave a dist, for the drawing classes, the highest grading was only a high pass.. but this is just the first term... shall continue to work hard... i guess i should put in more effort into my studio work and try to learn as much as possible...

Running

Haha, i just joined a track club (Highgate Harriers) a month ago and it is really refreshing to be back on track again... easpecailly training at such a scenic location of the foot of parliament hill and the start of hampstead heath... running at 2 deg was also new experience and challenge... slowly getting my fitness back too... hopefully i'll be fit enough by apr 07 for competitions...

Monday, November 20, 2006

Marriage Takes Three

I once thought marriage took
Just two to make a go,
But now I am convinced
It takes the Lord also.

And not one marriage fails
Where Christ is asked to enter,
As lovers come together
With Jesus at the center.

But marriage seldom thrives
And homes are incomplete,
'Til He is welcomed there
To help avoid defeat.

In homes where God is first
It's obvious to see,
Those unions really work
For marriage still takes three.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Art of Commercials

Been watching loads of youtube commercials for inspiration. Perhaps, the art director is more business savvy than the company, cuz he is able to think of the best way of advertising...

Beer Ad #1



Beer Ad #2



Phone Ad

Friday, November 17, 2006

A 2nd take on social issues and archi.

Sern Hong: "Something for all to ponder upon. This was what came to my mind as I was travelling around in Europe for the past 2 weeks. 'What I find interesting is about the topic of how powerful an architect can get and how fearful is an architect in trying to be politically correct in his visions. Also, architects for eons have been talking about "social engagement" but in reality, how successful is it? The ones holding the power to change are the developers and politicians. While architects are boosting their ego in their so-called conferences to 'change the world', the rest of the world are moving on. Maybe the response of architects to these proposals are too small to be noticed and probably all just talk.' "

Joshua: "Let me give a different perspective to that. I think we need to define for ourselves what we mean when we say we want to change things around us. Due to our training and the things we are involved in outside of architecture, many of us tend to be more socially conscious. However, social issues are more complex than we think they are. Some of these social issues are better handled by specialists form other professions. Some of these issues require years of research and understanding into the matter before a credible solution can be found. I’m doing my design thesis on an Autistic school. I wanted to explore how the built environment can better encourage and stimulate those who don’t learn the normal way, to learn better. But I realize that is not even possible to do within an 8 month thesis. After finding out more and visiting other autistic schools, I began to appreciate a little more why some people will say that the physical building does not matter as much as the heartware. Not that I agree totally with that statement therefore. But I think we cannot be too na├»ve in what we are trying to do also. My conclusion is really that the way to go is through collaborations. Getting people from other disciplines involved in the making of spaces will give us different perspectives on the matter. Maybe even a clearer perspective. The question really is, Are we ready to share that space with others? Are we ready to say that we don’t have all the answers? Are we ready to put aside our ideals (which might not be accurate in the first place) to accept others’ views so that we can find a better solution together?”

------------------------------------------

Extracted this from my friend's email. Perhaps a 2nd take on this issue.

Existance.

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: "I don't believe that God exists."

"Why do you say that?" asked the customer. "Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things."

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."

"How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!" "No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside."

"Ah, but barbers DO exist! That's what happens when people do not come to me."

"Exactly!" affirmed the customer. "That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! That's what happens when people do not go to Him and don't look to Him for help. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world."

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Revisting an Old Inspiration

Thanx guowei for your clip on Derek Redmond. It's one of the few clips that can move me to tears and it's good to re-watch it again... I just went for Nottingham Games (an annual sports event for singaporeans and msians, organised by U Notts) last saturday and took part in a friendly road race. Running 6km at 5 deg with shorts and singlet was bad enough and to make things worse, I didn't sleep the night before. Was aiming for 4th but came in 7th with a timing of 26 mins 50 sec, which was kind of pathetic, but hopefully I shall be smarter and wear more next year.

This clip brings out all the virtues of a sportsman, but more importantly, it reflects the real life. Would you still carry on after you fail? Being successful is recovering from failure while failure is being successful in things that don't matter.

Anyway, it's time to get my butt moving, been eating too much and sitting around infront of the comp too much. My plans of getting running dosages have been stalled for some time, and it's difficult to get it started but it has to start somehow.

Planning Theory = Solving Social Problems?

It's funny that alleviating poverty and social divides has been the talk of the town during the Venice Bienalle. There were heated arguements about the whole bienalle being a failure, as it only showcased urban policies and nothing architecture. A few question thus arises:

1. To what extend is architecture part of state level policy planning?
2. To what extend can architecture affect the social outcome of the city or villages?
3. To what extend should architects play politicians?

I guess these are very pertinent questions that we should try to answer and I can sadly say that most of the time, despite all the plannings and stuff, the social model may still fail. It's a hard slap on our profession, but I guess it may be the harsh reality that planning do not always materialise as how they plan. I guess we should go back to basics about serving people at the most basic and personal level. Now that I am writing a paper on urban problems, it is so easy to sink into planning theory or statistics. I am very interested and concerned about solving social issues in an architectural sense but whenever I ask myself when was the last time I actually volunteered and cared for the needy, it seems that my aims and actions do not match.

Updates.

Space.
Patterns.
Forms.
Geometry.
Structure.

Life has been revolving around these words and they are engulfing me, as a person. I've been lacking:

Love.

I have been neglecting my house mates, my friends, my parents, my family, evelyn, myself and god. No doubt my treshold level for stress is relatively high, but sometimes I just clamour for more time to love people, love things. It isn't that the stuff that I'm doing now isn't lovely, but revolving my life around archi is dangerous and seductive. It is seductive as archi itself draws reasoning and inspiration from life, every aspects of life, from social to political to economics. I can't just view the Cold War as just a political, social issue, I'm starting to view it in a spatial sense. 1989 is not about the fall of the berlin Wall anymore, it's about the destruction of the intelligent urban spatial configuration of Berlin. Even, the IDF reads architectural theory in their urban skirmishes with the Palestines. I can't just read social issues as purely social problems too, i would start thinking of them as urban issues. Even my trip to the Venice Bienalle was an academic one, everything was surrounding archi. Imagine the day when I analyse everything in my life in an archi form, that would be tragedy. Although I love the wholeness of this field, I fear for the isolation and elitism that may arise from this whole set up. Given great reputation and the "non-existent" rules and regulations, it's easy to sink into being full of oneself. Although, it's a great school and the people are quite nice, but it's the environment that gives me the elitism feeling. This is probably one of the main reasons why I would wanna stay with some non-archi students. So that I can be more human.

But anyway, I shall post some links up for you guys to have some idea of what i've been doing these past 2 months.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

2 happy things.

i am happy.

because of 2 things.

[first] school is getting more and more interesting. it seems that my jc subjects are finally put into good use again. i just started on my media studies classes today and it was on manipulating numbers and transforming them into 3d modelling patterns. In which, it was fun to use the formulas again to make the patterns and graphs with formulas. Next up, physics is back into action again, i'm analysing the luminosity of the light bulbs in relation to the street lamps in st ives. Yes! History is definitely applicable and it's certainly great to be immersed in it again. But readings are piling up though, in addition to other good reads like fukuyama and derrida. Watch this space for completed projects.

[second] it's evelyn's birthday!!! happy birthday to you... happy birthday to you... happy birthday to evelyn....... happy birthday to you... lumpy is also finally one year old too... lumpy will get a present too...

okie, 2 happy things... shall retreat to my monster den...

Sunday, October 15, 2006

educators or teachers? an update on St Ives trip

After my cornwall trip and all the tutorials i had so far, I came to the conclusion that my tutors are not really teaching at all, they are facilitators and consultants. Most of the time, each tutor gives different opinions which makes the continuation of my projects difficult. It's also kind of interesting to switch from grading based education to a system where there is only pass or fail... It's ironic that it doesn't provide you as much drive but yet you will be very concern about failing too... Seriously, it's easy to fail, you just need to fail one single component and that's the end of it... My course is divided into 4 subjects per year.

1. Studio - the main design projects
2. History and Theory - 3 essays a year to hand up only
3. Technical Studies - civil eng suff, with one case study and one physical model structure test
4. Media Studies - 2 main courses a year (i took information systems - information, programming and how they translate into architecture.. it's kindda mathematical and intersting)

as you can see there is neither exams not no gpa or cap grading system... perhaps i'll give a comparison with nus at the end of my school term and see if AA system is as busy or tough... school has been picking up...

I remember sarah mentioning to me about her first studio trip in nus to bangkok, which was filled with 40 sketches of the building facades, which left them totally no time to enjoy the place. Well, I was expecting something like that too for my St. Ives trip, but it turned out to be something different, it was a project about finding patterns, making them visually apparent on prints and there is another essay which i have to write on the landscape and urban forms of st ives... St Ives is a coastal area in the city of Cornwall which is located on the south western part of UK. It's a small town with loads of green hills and beaches, and ironically the food is more expensive over there.

there were so many different ideas of patters: circular growth of mosses, human traffic, tidal patterns, sand patterns, shop patterns, demographical pattern and my group did on street lamp patterns. I will post the photos up once i'm done with the project. Pattern recognition and representation seems to be fundamental part of architecture, as compared to the traditional free hand sketching. Although, the ability to sketch is important, and i hope to improve of it, cuz i can't draw for nuts, i guess having a deep appreciation of the environment is more important. It is this ability to spot an understand the built environment that will allow us to be very conceptual and analytical. That's the difference between American (US and Canada) schools and European schools. Perhaps it's best to be well trained with the technicalities of architecture too during internship, to ensure my desirability in singapore's architecture industry, which is still very commercialised and conservative.

I realised that more than half of my classmates smoke and it can get kind of intoxicating when they smoke in the meeting area too. Anyway, got to know qutie a number of classmates better through the trip and some of them are really nice. John actually went to look for me in the streets at 2am (i was still counting the street lamps and light bulbs) just to see if i was alright. Sylvie is such a great person to talk to, perhaps it comes with age. It seems that I have more in common with the older people in my class as compared to those who are younger than me. It's easy to talk to anyone apart from eastern eu, cuz there is still this language and cutural barrier which i will try to eliminate it over time.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder - Love.

You are asked to "make something beautiful"! What does this mean? What is beautiful and how does one make it. "Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder" and you are asked to make it - are you someone who tells the truth? I guess the emphasis lies on the "making". Can you make something? Can you make something that is beautiful? Can you make something that you think is beautiful - in 4 days? How do you start? What can you make? What means making? Has it something to do with you, your hands, your body and your voice, How can beauty be made? One might say that architecture is utilitarian, funcational; it keeps the rain out. But can it be beautiful? can it be just for hte sake of being beautiful? Is something funcitonal beautiful, more beautiful? Might this be one clue of how to find beauty? You are asked to "make something" that you think is "beautiful".

My very first introduction project brief. Deadline - next tues.

School has started officially and it has been an interesting week visiting architectural practices and going for all the get together sessions. By the way, there are 52 students in 1st year. Friendships are formed through this short week and I hope that they will blossom and last, and they will not just be work relations but of true friendships. I guess this introductory project is very apt in bringing out the beauty of everyone. It is only through the discovery of the beauty of everyone that will make our education pleasant and lovely.

OCF (Overseas Christian Fellowship) is kind of great! I went for their fellowship meeting yesterday and it feels like back at home, singaporean christians worshipping god and having a cozy fellowship together. Anyway, shi ning and jonathan shared about what she did during summer to the whole fellowhsip and it kind of resounded with my me.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New beginning with an old heart.

The long and arduous journey started on 16 Sep and it has evolved into a path filled with complexity and anxiety. Finally the housing and furniture issues have been settled, although there are still some glitches with the furnishing. First day at school was really an eye opener, it’s such a melting pot here in London and especially AA, there is absolutely no dominant nationality in school. There are so many students from different countries with very mixed parentage. There’s this Jordanian/Romanian girl and this French/Japanese girl who looks like Jocelyn. There are people from Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, India, France, Britain, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Channel Islands, Qatar, Jordan, Greece, Romania, Sweden and so on. The list keeps going on. It was exciting to talk to each other, it was a very open-hearted experience; very different from Singapore where I would probably feel kind of reserved in talking to new people. There was no need for brainless ice breakers or orientation games, the environment itself provided a very good platform for communication and sharing.

AA thrives on participation or participatory democracy as what Brett Steele, director of AA says; and I feel that it is very evident right from the start of school, everyone interacts in this closely knitted environment literally (AA is only made up of 2 sets of 4 town houses). Participation and debates are the essential tools for survival in here, the exchange of ideas is more important than the actual product. The ability of the AA in pitching itself as a talking shop – as it constantly conducts public lectures weekly – allows the development of ideas to flow freely. Especially with such a good mix of people, there is really a lot to be learnt from each other – the students, tutors and the public. It has an architectural education that has not been really worked out, it changes constantly, so forget about the prospectus, it’s probably been revised and revisited unknown number of times. It is only through the uncertainty and changes that will lead to growth. Most good projects are the very ones that provide more questions for developments, rather than a ‘the end’ type of solution. Finally, he closes his speech by saying that architecture is not a profession, but an obsession.

Although there are only 44 of us in the first year, Singaporeans did make a statement by having 4 representatives (9%) – the highest number in AA first year history. It would be even more amazing to think of it in terms of AA student per country population or size of country. There’s me, Kai, Sarah and Zamri. It was really a small world to met Kai and Sarah through my friends, Li Guang and Shi Ning respectively. They are from NYP digital media design and it is really great to see their 3d animation works. Interestingly, we only met Zamri at the welcome lecture today and we were kind of delighted to have him around. Zamri is this 32 years old architectural assistant in WOHA; he graduated from SP many years back and worked for William Lim before joining WOHA. He needed to be refreshed again and wanted to find a possible change in his profession. The interesting thing about AA is that it doesn’t really train you to become an architect but rather, they train you how to think and debate about social, political and design issues. This is probably what makes it stand out from the other schools. There is a myriad of professions that are so architecturally related, sociology, anthropology, politics, geography; I guess the list may be inexhaustible. Well, I may have another profession after 5 years of study but as of now, I just want to ‘play’ with an open mind and heart.

The lessons are structured such that there will be the History and Theory modules on Tuesdays morning, Media modules on Tuesdays afternoon and Technical modules on Thursdays. In addition to the 3 main components will be studio work which will have a presentation every Friday. There is no unit system for first year, so we only get to choose specialized studios from year 2 onwards. Well, it’s seemingly slack from the given timetable but it hellish workload awaits me. We will start our field trip to somewhere in UK from 9-15 Oct (sadly the studio went to Barcelona last year) and the location is unknown until Thursday when our first studio project meeting commences. As for the remaining two days before school really starts, we will be visiting some design firms around London. Well, most people signed up to visit Hadid’s firm, but I decided to go visit some socially centered firms. I wanted to sign up for dRMM which is a firm that produces highly innovative and socially useful architecture; and it makes non-standard architecture from standard constraints. However, I couldn’t go for that cuz of our project meeting. So, the other alternative was to visit David Adjaye whose works are quite civic and cultural in nature. Well, our introduction week will end off with a freshers’ party and I really hope that it will not be a smoky affair.

Although, things are exciting for me, but I still do miss home. Part of me wants to be exposed to all the new things, but the other part of me is longing for friends and family back home. No matter how interesting or great the people are over here, they are incomparable to the warmth I get from my home, Singapore. I just live really near the Regent’s Park and London Zoo. It only takes me 5mins to jog there and the park space is really beautiful, with huge green pastures, it’s even more serene than Botanical Gardens. If I were to compare the distance from my house to Regent’s Park, it would be the same distance from Coronation to Botanical Gardens. As I was running through the park, enjoying the breeze, I had the romanticized idea of walking the heffalumps with eve, having a soccer match with the jiaobins in the soccer field, having a bible study in the open. The feeling will be simply great. Furthermore, the security isn’t really tight here, the police do not bother about fights as they are so common. Fights occur outside my house very frequently as my house is a bohemian and weird area, it’s like geylang without prostitution with a good mix of far east shopping centre flavour. One of the UCL seniors was robbed along the streets and a murder occurred early this year due to some drug turf disputes with the murderers hijacking the whole bus to escape from the police. All these examples really make me appreciate my home much more. Those of my course mates who have been to Singapore all said that it is a very good place to live in, clean, green and safe. I guess if only we are more contented with our lives back home, it would really be great to live and only then we will truly be Singaporeans.

* Message from Chilumlump*

Mommy, uncle c hasss beenm soo niceer to mee, he gave me a purple pillow to be my bed. See, I have learnt how to type nowdjf althootegh, my fingeeaers are fattt and I press tooooo many keeys sometimmes. Me miss lumpy, me wonder every night if lumpy can sit on dumbo and fly over hheere toot loookl foore mee. Uncle c prays foore mmooomy everrry niighte sssooo thaat sh€ee wwill be happy.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

houses

thank you for all of your prayers, i'm fine and well in london now. i have been rushing around trying to look for accomodations to stay in and i've finally found quite a neat and decent place to stay in. there are 6 of us (me, kai, bryan, justin, joseph, shu jun) sharing a 3 bedroom and a studio apartment house beside the camden tube station, 2 mins away from the biggest supermarket, 15mins away from school, 10mins away from regents park. it is a very good catch cuz of the location and the furnishing of the flat. i'm hoping to shift in this friday.

well, before we found this property, there were lots of saga going on. firstly, we approached this property agency, foxtons, which provided high end rentals, but they seemed to be kind of biased. although they seem professional, but they didn;t really treat us well as our budget is quite low. we found this really pretty place at myddleton ave near finsbury park which was very peaceful and serene but sadly it was taken up and the agent didn;t really want to serve us the other property. we were not very satisfied with his professionalism and thus we decided to check out other properties. we found this good property in belsize park which was quite peaceful but decided to search for other better properties too. bryan and joseph got in touched with this dodgy guy, mickey whom we suspect to be a porn ring leader, who wanted to rent his 2 bedrm house at 250 per wk. he was quite helpful when we told him that we were bryan's friends and that we needed a house too.. so he brought us to some house near finsbury park. however, the place is really a "shit" hole. if i can grade the oldest one room flat in singapore on a grade of 100 as 20, i would grade that finsbury park house which mickey showed us to be 0.5... it was really bad, broken windows, security cameras everywhere, rubbish dump beside the house, it's just disgusting.

next, mickey brought us to his house which he wanted to rent to bryan and joseph. at first 250 for 2 bedroom at kings cross seem to be a great deal but after viewing the property, it was definitely a nono for them. kai and i had a very eeky feeling about the house. firstly, each of his room has a tv, dvd player and a vcr with a mixer and he showed us his collection of porn dvds. he has this "secret" room which he padlocks it and we are not allowed to enter at all. one of the room has pink curtains and some teddy bears. his house is also full of model posters. we kind of suspect that he is in some illegal black business. we were very skeptical about his "secret" room, what if it's a store room for drugs or it's a torture chamber. we decided that it's best for bryan not to go for that property. it got even more bizzare when he suddenly offered bryan 100 per week, which is too low a price in london. although, the money seems quite attractive, but we will only regret it if we live there.

thankfully, we chanced upon this refurbished flat in camden this morning, if not we will still be roaming for houses.

i must emphasize that singapore is still very much better than here, even though we deny ourselves to be a first world country. the efficiency is very much better in singapore. just take a look at hsbc, which calls themselves to be the world's local bank; their efficiency is simply attrocious, we had to wait for such a long time in settling our bank procedures. even after waiting for such a long time to be served, the bank was still unable to meet our requirements, which is so unlike singapore. secondly, looking at the type of public housing they have here, i can definitely say that singapore's public housing policies are very much superior than most first world countries. be contented, you can't find another place that is as clean and green as home.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

i love you and take care...

thank you everyone for coming to the airport to send me off... i will miss you everyone... thank you for being part of my life all these years!!! i really love you and i'm very blessed to have you all... i guess my journey will start here... god bless!!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Happy Birthday Singapore.

"Do you love singapore?"

The children roared, "YESSSSSSSS!!!"

"One people, one nation, one singapore. That's the way that we will be, forevermore..."

This was a typical scene during national day celebrations when i was in kindergarten. I will never forget the zest we (the kids) had whenever we sang these patriotic songs and this was my personal favourite ndp song when i was a kid.

However, as i grew older, the general interest among students in national songs gradually wane off like my previous post observation... Even the hanging of national flag isn't that popular anymore. Are these the effects of the Gen Y syndrome or has Globalisation 3.0 (refer to The Flat World, Thomas Friedman) fully set in?

It doesn't really matter... What matter most is the ability to answer the question yourself... Do you love your country...

"I do..."

Everytime i hear the national anthem special occasions, there will be this gush of emotions within me. Not being too mushy about patriotism, it just comes naturally to me that I am proud to be a singaporean, despite our negative parts. I guess questions about patriotism shouldn't asked at all, cuz isn't it natural to love your country?

Sometimes, it takes a few trips overseas to realise the beauty of Singapore and to appreciate ourselves more. There is no need for comparison between Singapore with any extremely undevelop country to understand that we are very fortunate and far better off. Even comparison with developed nations and cities, we are already better off in many aspects... cleanliness, order and even in our social civic. Who says the "fine" system isn't fine for us? I guess the habit of not littering started back then as a result of the fear of being fined, but by now people are more civic minded and it has become innate in us that we do not litter. Maybe one day, we will just find everyone emptying their trays automatically in fast food chains. Even giving up of seats, i would say we are a gracious bunch of people and it is very common to see people giving up their seats to needy. To my surprise, in some cities, there are people who do not give up their seats even with the priority seats signs pasted up. Are we really right to say that we are not civic minded? Even in buses, the passengers do not automatically move to the back and the bus driver simply doesn't even care. Conslusion? I guess we are in the process of becoming very civic minded, even though there's still more to be done.

We like to complain and its really true. E and i were "complaining" once we touched down... eeewww, why is this airport like that? so lousy... nothing compared to changi...
eeewww, why is their train station so dirty...
eeewww, why do people litter here? i thought they don't litter?

well, these complain sessions definitely prove the fact that singapore is really a comfortable place to live in. though maybe too much of a comfort zone for us sometimes...

high living expenses in singapore? rising transportation cost? i wouldn't say that rising 10cents in transportation fares or having a taxes will not hurt the majority of us that much, cuz we are really enjoying very cheap public transportation and very very low tax rates. the usual clamour for a welfare system would definitely work if everyone is willing to give up to 50% of ur moolah to the state every year... be contented... be appreciative of what we have...

lousy arts scene? is it really that bad? i wouldn't think so... maybe years ago i would have felt that way, but after getting to know the sprouting art movements in singapore, i would say that in fact we have quite a vibrant arts scene... who know's what rojak? who farm is? not many people know such groups, but they are the credible art forces out there slowly infusing their artistry in our society. perhaps it isn't that fair to complain that our local productions have no standard when we don't support them ourselves. and how would we define what the "standards" are? is a jack neo film any inferior to a 2046? his shows always cater to the general public, direct, plain and simple... any singaporeans would understand the show even with language barriers.. so, should films be artistic in order to be good or can plain and simple show be award winning too? the debate always be on going but it doesn't really matter, cuz whatever film produced, it must be produced with love for the people, for the country. what good does it have, if it doesn't speak to the audience with a heart?

we like to create hyper-real landscapes... chinatown, old stamford library... it's always a love hate relationship when it comes to urban planning... perhaps, there will be a day where we can all be really happy with how we live, work and play.

schools have to be more creative... moe should look into instilling creativity... singapore has no identity... the government should provide a creative environment and create identity and the government should be more liberal too... therein, lies an ironic statement... these are also nostalgic lamentations on the need for a state driven effort in boosting creativity in singapore... does it work in that manner? Rather than clamour for the need to have more creative spaces or lamenting about the lack of identity, we should in fact take charge and collaborate and work with the ministries and state organs in coming up with projects that will shape singapore... rather than oppose, why not collaborate?

I feel that this is our time, our generation is part of the history in the making, in building a strong identity for our nation... Do not only look back at our forefathers as the founders of singapore, we are also the very founders of our country in future. What is present will become history, we will also be considered founders years and centuries down the road. 41 years isn't a long period of time, there're many years to come and it's time for us to shine...

Reach for the stars but count our blessings along the way...

Happy Birthday Singapore.

national anthem progression...

[1991] "MARI KITA RAKYAT SINGAPURA, SAMA SAMA MENUJU BAHAGIA...MAJULAH SINGAPURA..."

[1994] "MARI KITA RAKYAT SINGAPURA, SAMA SAMA MENUJU BAHAGIA...MAJULAH SINGAPURA..."


[1997] "MARI KITA RAKYAT SINGAPURA, SAMA SAMA MENUJU BAHAGIA...MAJULAH SINGAPURA..."

[2000] "Mari Kita Rakyat Singapura, Sama Sama Menuju Bahagia...Mahjulah Singapura..."

[2003] "mari kita rakyat singapura... sama sama menuju bahagia...mahjulah singapura..."

- an observation of singing of national anthem in school from kindergarten to jc... sad reality...

Friday, July 21, 2006

it's showtime...

leaving in less than 24hrs time... my portfolio is done... it's showtime...
please pray for:
1. flight safety
2. god's grace in giving my best for the interview
3. guidance in the school that is best for me

results and trip updates will be up soon...

Monday, July 17, 2006

the best overall haul...

the points breakdown for hwa chong as of today...
a div - 172
b div - 164
c div - 147

we have technically won the championship titles!!! its finally the fifth time that hwa chong garners the triple champ of a, b, c div title... the other years which we won it were in 88, 98, 99, 02... watching my nationals brings back lots of memories, seriously, its probably the "only" thing that i look forward every year... i remember mentioning before that my year starts in aug and ends in jul and i have been living by it for 6 years... it sounds like i have no life, but that is the extent of how much track and the team mean to me... time has gone, my prime has gone, memories will be memories... sweet and bitter memories will only be encapsulated by time... but it's definitely great to relive the moments of triumph and anguish...

anyway, here are some statistics and facts about hwa chong track...
- we have 15 records in total, with 1 from a div, 7 from b div and 7 from c div...
- 6 new records were re-written this year
- we have won a total of 72 overall championship titles out of a possible of 131 titles since 1968...
- divisional points... c div 237pts (2002) b div 198pts (2004) a div possible 190pts (2006)
- total divisional points... 533pts (2002)... will this year be better? 51 more points on final day will break the 2002 record...

well, it was nearly broken today, if he had continue jumping... i was so longing to see it being re-written... c div long jump all time distance... (if i didn't remember wrongly)
6.36m - 1999
6.27m - 1993
6.14m - 2006
6.11m - 1991

countdown...

5 days to departure...
7 days to interview...

here's a preview what my probable future school does...
http://www.aaschool.ac.uk/aadvd/

Sunday, July 02, 2006

the architect of life.

england is out of the world cup... i am sad, it was devastating watching the match last night... although i do agree that england isn't up to the mark, but i still feel that they deserve the semifinal spot... anw, maybe the argentine referee was just still being loserish about the falklands war... oh well, that was was fought 20 years ago!!! maybe the memories are still there... it was also 20 years ago where the hand of god tore england apart...

i'm feeling like i'm over my prime, just like beckham, who isn't what he was 8 years ago... i do agree that we are all in a transit and it's quite a scary transit where the plane is about to leave and we do not know what gate to depart by... will i have an evergreen "career"? will i find back the passion and energy again? sometimes is just scary to live knowing that you do not want to be in the real world, and convincing yourself that the matrix isn't the place to be in... but thankfully, there's god, who's the architect of my life, providing me the unexpected paths and these unknown paths stimulate some vitality into my life... maybe it is only through him, that we can have the reassurance that our lives are not wasted... cuz sometimes, it's really meaningless to spend 30 years of your life doing the same expected routine everyday... perhaps one day, there will come a situation whereby it's possible for everyone to move in and out of their vocation freely as and when they want... until the day comes, i still trust in my architect...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

racing against time.

i'm still at the office. came back after my appointment at ttsh. yeap, this signifies the beginning of my journey into the design world, endless nights and days, without much monetary reward. but i do enjoy the work alot, though it could have been better if i'm stress free from my AA portfolio preparation. but i guess this is my life, it has always been full of events. some projects which i've done.. safra video, condo submisison layout, spore buddhist welfare services bus design, and more to come... although, these are not major projects but it provides good training in photoshop, managed to learn a few new shortcuts... currently working on crazy horse submission layout.. time to completion = overnight...

not to worry too much about where i'll go, cuz god will lead me through it... even if there's no AA, the gap year option is still kindda viable... the thought of working with expeditio, habitat for humanity and maybe bridge 2 far II is kindda exciting... anw, it's too late to change my air tickets to london... sri lanka just got bombed but i'm not very concern about it cuz their planes are good, just that it may not be that safe to get out to colombo to kill time during our return transit. but it's worth to go i guess...

okay, the results are out. there are nodules in my lungs, showing signs of infections, but the test shows that i'm TB negative... but i still need to be under TB medication for a period of 4 mths, to prove to foreign authorities that i'm free from that disease.. it would be stupid be rejected by a foreign university on the basis of my abnormal lungs condition.. anw, there is a 1% chance of getting liver problems from the medication which i don't think it will pose any problems...

it's time to get back to work...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

life:track

Life and track

life:track is the theme for my portfolio, which i'm preparing for AA. Well, i hope to depict my life through illustrations of train lines and tracks. It represents the intricacy of my life (or rather everyone's life) that each project is somehow related to one another. Life is sometimes about connections and oppotunities, but these opportunites may not be one's entitlement, but rather they are previleges which shouldn't be taken for granted of. I really pray for a direction and an educational path that is good and it seems that AA is my last fortress. It's like a make it or break it situation now, cuz spending another 1.8k for the trip there for an interview is really a monetary burden. Well, it may be the treshold of a new era.

Life and beyond

A week ago, I was shocked to be informed about the news about the passing on of a senior of mine. I wasn't very close to her, but i do feel this sadness within me that she has left. It somehow reminded me the period of late 2003, where i had this bout of "depression". I'm not sure if i should put it as depression or distraught by the passing on of two person, one of whom was another senior and the other left in a incomprehensible way. I am always affected by the passing on of ppl who i know, especially those of our age. Oh well, i am worried about my health condition too but it doesn't really warrant a grave concern though. My bicuspid aortic prolapse and my lung nodules seem to be serious but i really hope they are just abnomalities, rather than real problems. My ct scan results shows signs of infections (there's this sizable blot of 'thing'). fortunately, it's not cancerous growth, but it indicates signs of TB. I'm hoping my test result is negative, but even then i may need to be placed on TB medications just to reduce the blot of thing.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Choices.

First, it was NUS
Second, it was Cincinnati
Third, it was Wesleyan
Fourth (and i thought i was final), it was NUS
Fifth, it is Carnegie Mellon, AA, Delft, Cincinnati
Final = ??? So where will i end up?

Sigh, getting jittery about my admission results. I really hope for a positive result, my first choice, CMU. Three reasons why CMU is the best choice:

1. Solid technological driven university
2. It allows me to take double major
3. CMU track & field team belongs to NCAA div3 aka my standard

Okie, fingers crossed!

Anw, i shall look forward to my internship at DP. Woooo... wonder if i'll get to use cad or revid. maybe i'll just build models. that's still a great experience.

Let's TAP on Saturday.

How ironic, that my life got busier after the end of my stint in the national service. at least i know that i'm doing stuff that is meaningful and it's sth that i am interested in. Three months have past and we're down to the final days of preparation before it's D day to the start of the exhibition. I'll be spending probably a few sleepless nights in the following days getting the exhibits up. Okie, here's another advertisement for my exhibition.

Let's TAP
Date: 3 - 17 June 06
Venue: NLB Level 8

Please do come and support this exhibition, it's a product of a group of social conscious architecture students.

Monday, May 22, 2006

COOKIE MONSTER SEARCHES DEEP WITHIN HIMSELF AND ASKS: IS MEREALLY MONSTER?

BY ANDY F. BRYAN

- - - -
Me know. Me have problem.

Me love cookies. Me tend to get out of control when me see cookies. Me know it not natural to react so strongly to cookies, but me have weakness. Me know me do wrong. Me know it isn't normal. Me see disapproving looks. Me see stares. Me hurt inside.

When me get back to apartment, after cookie binge, me can't stand looking in mirror—fur matted with chocolate-chip smears and infested with crumbs. Me try but me never able to wash all of them out. Me don't think me is monster. Me just furry blue person who love cookies too much. Me no ask for it. Me just born that way.

Me was thinking and me just don't get it. Why is me a monster? No one else called monster on Sesame Street. Well, no one who isn't really monster. Two-Headed Monster have two heads, so he real monster. Herry Monster strong and look angry, so he probably real monster, too. But is me really monster?

Me thinks me have serious problem. Me thinks me addicted. But since when it acceptable to call addict monster? It affliction. It disease. It burden. But does it make me monster?

How can they be so callous? Me know there something wrong with me, but who in Sesame Street doesn't suffer from mental disease or psychological disorder? They don't call the vampire with math fetish monster, and me pretty sure he undead and drinks blood. No one calls Grover monster, despite frequent delusional episodes and obsessive-compulsive tendencies. And the obnoxious red Grover—oh, what his name?—Elmo! Yes, Elmo live all day in imaginary world and no one call him monster. No, they think he cute. And Big Bird! Don't get me started on Big Bird! He unnaturally gigantic talking canary! How is that not monster? Snuffleupagus not supposed to exist—woolly mammoths extinct. His very existence monstrous. Me least like monster. Me maybe have unhealthy obsession, but me no monster.

No. Me wrong. Me too hard on self. Me no have unhealthy obsession. Me love cookies, but it no hurt anyone. Me just enthusiast. Everyone has something they like most, something they get excited about. Why not me? Me perfectly normal. Me like cookies. So what? Cookies delicious. Cookies do not make one monster. Everyone loves cookies.

Me no monster. Me OK guy. Me OK guy who eat cookies.

Who me kidding? Me know me never actually eat cookies. Me only crumble cookies in mouth, but me no swallow. Me can't swallow. Me no have no esophagus. Me no have no trachea. Me only have black fabric throat. Me not supposed to be able to even talk.

Me no eat cookies.

Me destroy cookies.

Me crush cookies.

Me mutilate cookies.

Me make it so no one get cookies.

Everyone right. Me really is cookie monster.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

A Familiar Song.

i think so of you may have a faint memory of this song. it's been almost 4 years since this song was composed. it's time to do some rendition to it.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

The Joy of Competition.

Just came home after having supper with solo, mm and alvin. We chatted more than we ate and it was great to hear about how each other is doing. Well, mm suggested a track outing to his dad's fish farm in jb and i definitely up for it. Hopefully, we'll get to go soon and use this as a chance for the trackers to reunite again. Anyway, solo described his training stint in germany and it was really an eye opener. They have competitions every weekend and track in germany is like a pastime, people compete regardless of competency, age and they wouldn't mind travelling inter-state just to compete. This is something which Singapore is really lacking and it's kind of sad. Track is being viewed as something that is competitive and i can understand why people don't want to continue after JC. Firstly, if they are not up to national standards, they will feel malu competiting in the open category, second, they have better things to pursue than to train and compete on weekends, third, there are very little competitions in Singapore. This is really sad. I really hope that i will carry on my love for track when i'm overseas. Hopefully, i'll be able to squeeze some time out for training.

Anyway, today's training was not bad, slowly gaining my speed back but i'm still lagging alot behind. Jia you... It'll soon be back.

This is a personal website of a member in the exhibition, his photos are great!!
http://www.blackbistro.com/

Sunday, May 14, 2006

The Aki Path Begins.

i have been kind of busy these few weeks especially, so many things have happened and they are all occuring at the same time. thankfully, they are positive ones. in a final bid for a good overseas education, i made three last ditch attempts in applying to architecture association (AA) in london, delft in netherlands and carnegie mellon in US. There are two concerns on my mind now currently. one, whether i will be accepted by these universities, two, whether the board will allow me to be sponsored for these schools. as of now, my future is still a question mark. surprisingly, the board was asking what if i'll only be considered for admissions next year and i told them that i wouldn't mind not studying for a year and do constructive work, like working in an archi firm for half a year and doing comm service overseas like teaching english in sri lanka and so on. it's a gap year opportunity that is hard to come by but i seriously doubt that it will materialis. i can only pray and hope for the best now.

for those who still do not know about it, re:act (a organisation which i'm in) will be having an exhibition, called Let's [TAP] Talk About Places at the national library from 3 jun to 17 jun. Please do come and discover the various ways in experiencing a place. Well, i have been kind of excited about this whole thing. It all started out with me surfing the DesignSingapore website and i came across re:act's advert for the exhibition. At first, i thought that it was just a simple travelogue exhibition but it turned out to be sth that is of a much larger scale than that. However, it has been an eye opener for me in many ways. i get to experience the methods and problems in organising an exhibition, learn how to view an issue from a multifaceted perspective. most importantly, most of these exhibitors are archi (aki) students and it is very enlightening to listen to their experiences about the course and their view of archi as a professsion that goes beyond the design realm. i shall not talk too much about the various ways in discovering a place, come for the exhibition and you'll find out. more details will be publish in due time, so watch this space.


Here is a sample of a way in experience time and space.
http://epic.makingithappen.co.uk/new-masterfs1.html

Friday, May 05, 2006

S'pore 'bigger than PAP'.

October 5 2003
By Susan Long.

Time to get off the autopilot, says a former civil servant
SINCE Mr Ngiam Tong Dow retired from the civil service in 1999, affairs of state have weighed heavily on his mind. The highly respected former Permanent Secretary worries about Singapore's long-term survival and the kind of society the next generation will inherit. At 66, the HDB Corp chairman insists he is 'no radical', just a concerned Singaporean with three grandchildren, who wonders 'whether there will be a Singapore for them in 50 years' time'. In Tea with Think, a weekly interview series, he gives a candid appraisal of the civil service, and his prognosis of what the lack of an alternative political leadership means for Singapore. The interview will be continued next week.

Q. With all this pessimism surrounding Singapore's prospects today, what's your personal prognosis? Will Singapore survive Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew?

A. Unequivocally yes, Singapore will survive SM Lee but provided he leaves the right legacy. What sort of legacy he wants to leave is for him to say, but I, a blooming upstart, dare to suggest to him that we should open up politically and allow talent to be spread throughout our society so that an alternative leadership can emerge. So far, the People's Action Party's tactic is to put all the scholars into the civil service because it believes the way to retain political power forever is to have a monopoly on talent. But in my view, that's a very short term view. It is the law of nature that all things must atrophy. Unless SM allows serious political challenges to emerge from the alternative elite out there, the incumbent elite will just coast along. At the first sign of a grassroots revolt, they will probably collapse just like the incumbent Progressive Party to the left-wing PAP onslaught in the late 1950s. I think our leaders have to accept that Singapore is larger than the PAP.

Q. What would be a useful first step in opening up?

A. For Singapore to survive, we should release half our talent - our President and Overseas Merit scholars - to the private sector. When ten scholars come home, five should turn to the right and join the public sector or the civil service; the other five should turn to the left and join the private sector. These scholars should serve their bond to Singapore - not to the Government - by working in or for Singapore overseas. As matters stand, those who wish to strike out have to break their bonds, pay a financial penalty and worse, be condemned as quitters. But it takes a certain temperament and mindset to be a civil servant. The former head of the civil service, Sim Kee Boon, once said that joining the administrative service is like entering a royal priesthood. Not all of us have the temperament to be priests. However upright a person is, the mandarin will in time begin to live a gilded life in a gilded cage. As a Permanent Secretary, I never had to worry whether I could pay my staff their wages. It was all provided for in the Budget. As chairman of DBS Bank, I worried about wages only 20 per cent of the time. I now face my greatest business challenge as chairman of HDB Corp, a new start-up spun off from HDB. I spend 90 per cent of my time worrying whether I have enough to pay my staff at the end of the month. It's a mental switch.

Q. What is your biggest worry about the civil service?

A. The greatest danger is we are flying on auto-pilot. What was once a great policy, we just carry on with more of the same, until reality intervenes. Take our industrial policy. At the beginning, it was the right thing for us to attract multinationals to Singapore. For some years now, I've been trying to tell everybody: 'Look, for God's sake, grow our own timber.' If we really want knowledge to be rooted in Singaporeans and based in Singapore, we have to support our SMEs. I'm not a supporter of SMEs just for the sake of more SMEs but we must grow our own roots. Creative Technology's Sim Wong Hoo is one and Hyflux's Olivia Lum is another but that's too few. We have been flying on auto-pilot for too long. The MNCs have contributed a lot to Singapore but they are totally unsentimental people. The moment you're uncompetitive, they just relocate.

Q. Why has this come about?

A. I suspect we have started to believe our own propaganda.
There is also a particular brand of Singapore elite arrogance creeping in. Some civil servants behave like they have a mandate from the emperor. We think we are little Lee Kuan Yews. SM Lee has earned his spurs, with his fine intellect and international standing. But even Lee Kuan Yew sometimes doesn't behave like Lee Kuan Yew. There is also a trend of intellectualisation for its own sake, which loses a sense of the pragmatic concerns of the larger world. The Chinese, for example, keep good archives of the Imperial examinations which used to be held at the Temple of Heaven. At the beginning, the scholars were tested on very practical subjects, such as how to control floods in their province. But over time, they were examined on the Confucian Analects and Chinese poetry composition. Hence, they became emasculated by the system, a worrying fate which could befall Singapore.

Q. But aren't you an exception to the norm of the gilded mandarin with zero bottomline consciousness?

A. That's because I started out with Economic Development Board in the 1959. Investment promotion then was all about hard foot slogging and personal persuasion, which teaches you to be very humble and patient. I learnt to be a supplicant and a professional beggar, instead of a dispenser of favours. These days, most civil servants start out administering the law. If I had my way, every administrative officer would start his or her career in the EDB. Hard foot slogging.

Q. YOUR idea of creating an alternate elite is not new. What do you think of the oft-mooted suggestion of achieving that splitting ranks within the People's Action Party?

A. Quite honestly, if you ask me, Team A-and-Team B is a synthetic and infantile idea.
If you want to challenge the Government, it must be spontaneous. You have to allow some of your best and brightest to remain outside your reach and let them grow spontaneously. How do you know their leadership will not be as good as yours? But if you monopolise all the talent, there will never be an alternative leadership. And alternatives are good for Singapore.

Q. In your calculation, what are the odds of this alternative replacing the incumbent?

A. Of course there's a political risk. Some of these chaps may turn out to be your real opposition, but that is the risk the PAP has to take if it really wants Singapore to endure.
A model we should work towards is the French model of the elite administration. The very brightest of France all go to university or college. Some emerge Socialists, others Conservative, some work in industries, some work in government. Yet, at the end of the day, when the chips are down, they are all Frenchmen. No member of the French elite will ever think of betraying his country, never. That is the sort of Singapore elite we want. It doesn't mean that all of us must belong to the PAP. That is very important.

Q. What do bad times mean for the PAP, which has based its legitimacy on providing the economic goods and asset enhancement? Is its social compact with the people in need of an update?

A. Oh yes. And my advice is: Go back to Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew's old credo, where nobody owes us a living. After I had just taken over as the Housing Board's chairman in 2000, an astute academic asked me: 'Tong Dow, what's your greatest problem at HDB?' Then he diagnosed it himself: 'Initially, you gave peanuts to monkeys so they would dance to your tune. Now you've given them so much by way of peanuts that the monkey has become a gorilla and you have to dance to its tune. That's your greatest problem.' Our people have become over-fed and today's economic realities mean we have to put them on a crash diet. We cannot starve them because there will be a political explosion. So the art of government today is to wean everyone off the dispensable items. We should just concentrate on helping the poorest 5 to 10 per cent of the population, instead of handing out a general largesse. Forget about asset enhancement, Singapore shares and utility rebates. You're dancing to the tune of the gorilla. I don't understand the urgency of raising the Goods and Services Tax. Why tax the lower-income, then return it to them in an aid package? It demeans human dignity and creates a growing supplicant class who habitually hold out their palms. Despite the fact that we say we are not a welfare state, we act like one of the most 'welfarish' states in the world. We should appeal instead to people's sense of pride and self-reliance. I think political courage is needed here. And my instinct is that the Singaporean will respect you for that.

Q. So what should this new compact consist of?

A. It should go back to what was originally promised: 'That you shall be given the best education, whether it be academic or vocational, according to your maximum potential.'
And there will be no judgment whether an engineer is better than a doctor or a chef.
My late mother was a great woman. Although illiterate, she single-handedly brought up four boys and a girl. She used to say in Hainanese: 'If you have one talent which you excel in, you will never starve.' I think the best legacy to leave is education and equal opportunity for all. When the Hainanese community came to Singapore, they were the latest arrivals and the smallest in number. So they had no choice but to become humble houseboys, waiters and cooks. But they always wanted their sons to have a better life than themselves. The great thing about Singapore was that we could get an education, which gave us mobility, despite coming from the poorest families. Today, the Hainanese, as a dialect group, form proportionately the highest number of professionals in Singapore.

Q. You say focus on education. What is top of your wishlist for re-making Singapore's education system?

A. Each year, the PSLE creams off all the top boys and girls and dispatches them to only two schools, Raffles Institution and Raffles Girls' School. However good these schools are, the problem is you are educating your elite in only two institutions, with only two sets of mentors, and casting them in more or less the same mould. It worries me that Singapore is only about 'one brand' because you never know what challenges lie ahead and where they will come from. I think we should spread out our best and brightest to at least a dozen schools.

Q. You advocate a more inclusive mindset all around?

A. Yes, intellectually, everyone has to accept that the country of Singapore is larger than the PAP. But even larger than the country of Singapore, which is limited by size and population, is the nation of Singapore, which includes a diaspora. My view is that we should have a more inclusive approach to nation-building. We have started the Majulah Connection, an international network where every Singaporean - whether he is a citizen or not, so long as he feels for Singapore - is included as part of our diaspora. Similarly, we should include foreigners who have worked and thrived here as friends of Singapore. That's the only way to survive. Otherwise, its just four million people on a little red dot of 600 sq km. If you exclude people, you become smaller and smaller, and in the end, you'll disappear.

Q. What is the kind of Singapore you hope your grandchildren will inherit?

A. Let's look at Sparta and Athens, two city states in Greek history. Singapore is like Sparta, where the top students are taken away from their parents as children and educated. Cohort by cohort, they each select their own leadership, ultimately electing their own Philosopher King. When I first read Plato's Republic, I was totally dazzled by the great logic of this organisational model where the best selects the best. But when I reached the end of the book, it dawned on me that though the starting point was meritocracy, the end result was dictatorship and elitism. In the end, that was how Sparta crumbled. Yet, Athens, a city of philosophers known for its different schools of thought, survived. What does this tell us about out-of-bounds markers? So SM Lee has to think very hard what legacy he wants to leave for Singapore and the type of society he wants to leave behind. Is it to be a Sparta, a well-organised martial society, but in the end, very brittle; or an untidy Athens which survived because of its diversity of thinking? Personally, I believe that Singaporeans are not so kuai (Hokkien for obedient) as to become a Sparta. This is our saving grace. As a young senior citizen, I very much hope that Singapore will survive for a long time, but as an Athens. It is more interesting and worth living and dying for.

About Mr Ngiam Tong Dow : -
1959: Obtained First class honours in economics from University of Malaya.
1959: Joined Administrative Service. Postings to the former Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Finance Ministry, and the Economic Development Board.
1964: Topped his Master's in Public Administration programme at Harvard University.
1970: Became the youngest-ever Permanent Secretary at age 33 at the Ministry of Communications. Subsequent postings as Perm Sec in the Ministries of Finance, Trade & Industry, National Development, and the Prime Minister's Office.
1990: Appointed chairman of Development Bank Of Singapore. Later also of the Central Provident Fund Board and HDB.
1999: Retired from the civil service as Permanent Secretary (Finance), a post he held for 13 years.
2003: Named chairman of HDB Corp. Currently also a director of Yeo Hiap Seng Limited, United Overseas Bank and Singapore Press Holdings.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

ECT: one year on.

ECT - the abbreviation that was formed by ronald - has been used for 3 years and it took on another meaning a year ago. One year on, life is pretty much the same, in fact, it just got busier day by day, but thanx to e my life has been filled with laughter and happiness.

e is an amazing and special character that entered my life about 7 years ago, but the story only started last year. e has the ability to make people laugh with her adorable expressions and multi-role personality. she takes on many roles, like a shoe whore, a cat, a roaring lion, lumpy's mother who fell over the window, a dying cockroach, the worm in my stomach, the old cow, the lamb who was silenced and many more. all these roles are the exceptional gifts in her and they never fail to brighten up my day. i guess for most people, they would think that these acts are childish or eccentric, but it's just so heartwarming to immerse in the little fun of it. e definitely not the prettiest nor the cutiest being around, but she is definitely adorable in her own right; she has a charm in her character and mannerisms that never fail to liven people's lives. thank you e. and do not think that e is gullible, she is smarter than you think. she is able to finish reading 4 novels in a day, know the workings of an economy and knows where the best deals are in town and the coolest online accessories and apparels stores. we are currently embarking on the 'yuppies's life'. though we do not have the money to live in a loft nor drive a z4, but we definitely like to explore the under-discovered parts of singapore. it feels good to plod down ann siang road, club road, or even the serene parts of upper pierce, with occasional dining at up-class boutique restaurants (of course we had discount coupons with us) like space @ my humble house, fish market @ greenwood and occasional viewing of concerts.

our dream will continue, we hope to be avid explorers and travellers, discovering singapore and conquering the world. of course, we will conquer it with lumpy.

- eccentricity. the main force of life. love it. live it. -

Saturday, April 22, 2006

it's all the work of the boss up there...

i went training this morning and coached the jumpers too. too bad that david had to attend to the a gals, if not i would love to see yi tian clearing her pb again. well, she is quite talented in clearing 1.32m for a fresh tracker. I guess it wouldn't be a problem for her to squeeze into top 8 during nationals under the tutelage of david or terence. As for jasmin, i guess if she is able to combine both her power and techniques, she should be able to clinch a place in top 8 for long jump. kyle has the bounce and the height to make it into top 8 if he really trains hard. I guess these are the 3 potential talents for hcis now and i would really love to see them achieving it.

chatted with chen lao shi in the midst of training too. he asked me if i'm going nus or overseas for studies and my reply was "not sure" (after yesterday's interview) he was sharing with me his miraculous story of how god has led him through his education; how he wanted to go poly but ended up in hc cuz he failed his english and couldn't get into his diploma course; how the availbility of psc moe schship was made known to him by the principal and how he thought he had screwed up the interview and his A levels (A,B,C), but in the end he was awarded the schship. What he wanted was to go poly but god gave him a better path. Similarly, although i felt quite good after yesterday's lck schship interview (felt even better than wesleyan's), i decided not to think so much about it and let god decide if i deserve a schship and the place of education that suits me the best. However, i just like to say that the questions asked were so close to my heart that i was able to open up and share with them, it is really unlike other interviews where they ask you the same mundane questions. Like what chen lao shi shared, in retrospect, i have been very blessed with all the gifts and guidance god has given me; from my appeal to chinese high, to being brought up and down in life and in track. in fact, i can say that my life has been full of miracles till this present day. miracles do not need to be earthbreaking or magical, they can be as simple as talking to an old friend, but the effect can be a multiplier.

being a bridesmaid or bride may be important now, but it may not be as important in future. there are many paths to success and there are also many variations of success. does success equal to managing a team of 1000 people under you or does it equal to serving a 1000 people around you?

only you will have the answer.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Slow Reader

It takes me about 2 hours to finish reading the whole of straits times and I'm only at pg 80 of The World is Flat since I started reading last week. Its time for me to improve my reading speed.

A Foreign Policy Reflection.

Came across this interesting article in Straits Times review today.

US foreign policy: Between idealism and realism
By George Friedman

IRAN says it has enriched uranium. Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is claiming that Shia in Sunni states are traitors to their countries. The French are in political and economic gridlock.
With all these urgent things going on, it is time to talk of something important, something that has driven and divided American politics for centuries and will continue to do so: the argument between those who have been called idealists and those who have been labelled realists in US foreign policy.
When the United States was in its infancy, France experienced a revolution that was in many ways similar to the American Revolution. Some Americans wanted to support the French revolutionaries, arguing that the US had to pursue its moral ideals and stand by its moral partner. Others pointed out that the American economy was heavily dependent on Britain, the major market for American goods. Moreover, the young country relied on its ability to send exports to Europe, and the waters were controlled by Britain.
Whatever moral inclinations the Americans might have had towards France, prudence required that they not take on Britain. The idealists tried to frame their arguments strategically and the realists tried to create a moral cast for their argument, but the problem, in the end, was simple: America's survival depended on not alienating a country that was everything the colonists had fought against.
This argument has constantly torn apart American thinking about foreign policy. Consider this example from the more recent past: In World War II, the US was allied with the Soviet Union, which was ruled by genocidal maniac Josef Stalin. At the time that the US allied with Stalin, Adolf Hitler was only beginning to climb into Stalin's class of killer.
There were those who argued that the alliance with Stalin was a betrayal of every principle Americans stood for. Others, like Franklin Roosevelt, recognised that unless the US allied with Stalin, Hitler would likely win the war.
Those who opposed an alliance with Stalin based on moral ideals certainly had an excellent point - but those who argued that, apart from an alliance with the devil, the Republic might not survive, also had an excellent point.
Consider a final example. In 1972, the US appeared to be a declining power. It was losing the war in Vietnam and its position globally appeared to be deteriorating. The Soviet Union had split from China years before, and the confrontation along their frontier had, on occasion, been bloody. War was possible. Richard Nixon created an entente with the Chinese that was designed to encircle the Soviet Union. In retrospect, the strategy worked. However, in establishing relations with Mao Zedong's China, the US once again aligned itself with a murderous regime. The alternative was an unstoppable Soviet regime.

A shallow prudence
IN EACH of these cases, the US confronted this dilemma. On one side was the argument that unless the US stood for its moral ideals, it would survive but lose its soul. Siding with Britain, Stalin, or Mao, might have been prudent, but it was a shallow prudence that would eliminate the raison d'etre for the American regime.
On the other side was the argument that there could be no moral regime unless there was a regime. The US did not have the strength to resist, on its own, Britain, Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union. Without such questionable allies, the moral project would be impossible because the US either would not survive, or would survive as a spent force.
It is important to note that these arguments cut across political and even ideological grounds. In 1972, people on the left celebrated Nixon's alliance with Mao, and it was the right wing which raised moral doubts. Of course, many on the right supported Nixon and some on the left, not taken by the romance of Maoism, were appalled at the alignment.
Similarly, it was the left in World War II which wanted an alliance with the Soviets, and Winston Churchill - far from a leftist - stood with them. In other words, the debate has never been an ideologically coherent argument. It has been all over the place.
The current incarnation of this argument concerns the US-jihadist war, and the ideological complexity is clear.
There are two flavours of idealists here. First, there are those who argue that, in waging its war against the jihadists, the US should never do anything that will violate basic principles of human rights - and that it should avoid alliances with states that are themselves oppressive. So, for example, some argue that working closely with Saudi Arabia, a kingdom they regard as antithetical to US moral standards, is unacceptable.
There are also those who argue that the primary reason for going to war in the Middle East is to create democracies.
There are two sorts of idealists here. There are the neo-conservatives - some of whom sincerely believe the pro-democracy argument, and others who have adopted it as a justification for military campaigns they supported for other reasons. But alongside the neo-conservatives, there are liberals who argue that the protection of 'human rights' - often used interchangeably with 'democracy' - should be the primary justification for any war. Recall liberal support for the Kosovo war.
On the other side of the rhetorical divide are those who make two arguments.
The first is that - as in the historical cases involving Britain, the Soviet Union and China - the practical reality is that the US must always work with allies when fighting in the Eastern Hemisphere, and that those allies will frequently be morally repugnant to Americans. So whatever you may think of the Saudis' view of women, an alliance with Saudi Arabia has been indispensable in fighting the war against Al-Qaeda, regardless of whether the later Iraq campaign was justified.
In other words, the argument for alliance in the past remains valid today.
This is extended to the argument that the US should have as its goal the creation of democracy in the Middle East.
The counter-argument goes like this: Democracy in the Middle East may be, in some moral sense, a good idea, but American power - though enormous - is not infinite. The jihadists in Iraq and elsewhere have not been crushed, and the US needs regional allies. The Americans, the logic goes, cannot simultaneously seek alliance and try to overthrow regimes.

A large sword
THE idealist argument - that a country that pursues only its physical and economic security will lose its moral foundation - is not a frivolous argument.
At a certain point, the pursuit of security requires the pursuit of power, and the pursuit of power is corrupting. At the same time, pursuing justice without a sufficiently large sword will get you whipped. And staying out of the fight does not mean that the fight won't come to you. The American moral project can be lost in two ways: through opportunistic corruption or through annihilation.
Politicians do not have the luxury of contemplating the paradox of being. They must make decisions, and inaction is very much a decision.
George Washington decided that safety trumped political principle and broadly steered clear of the French revolutionary regime. Franklin Roosevelt saw the path to preserving democracy through alliance with Stalin. Nixon swallowed political principle by flying to Beijing.
In retrospect, it is very difficult to see how any of them could have chosen differently. A doctrine emerges in looking at these three examples: the pursuit of political principles is possible only when one is willing to look at the long term; the near term requires ruthless and unsentimental compromise.
Had the idealist demand that the US never work with oppressive nations been honoured, Hitler might well have won World War II. The pursuit of democracy that forces the US beyond its military and political resources will ultimately weaken democracy. Moral demands that are not rooted in political and military reality achieve the opposite of the desired end.
But the realist position also has its weakness. Sometimes being ruthless becomes an end in itself. Sometimes the defence of the national interest becomes a justification for defending one's own interest.
These are not simple matters but, as noted, politicians do not have time to contemplate them for very long. Their natural inclination is to act and the action they gravitate towards is the pursuit of power. It is interesting to note that the president most often associated with the pursuit of human rights, Abraham Lincoln, was - in the course of its pursuit - a ruthless violator of those rights. No one violated constitutional protections more systematically than Lincoln and no one was more dedicated to those protections. The paradox, however, is simply solved: The path from point A to point B is almost never a straight line. Anyone who heads in a straight line will fail. This is a lesson that is equally applicable to the neo-conservatives and Amnesty International.

Pirouette between factions
THIS discussion becomes important now because the US is pirouetting between factions in the Islamic world. The US won World War II by pragmatically taking advantage of the totalitarian states and allying with Stalin. The US won the Cold War by taking advantage of a split between Communist states and allying with China. And, viewed from a high level, the US is in the process of trying to win the jihadist war by taking advantage of the split between Sunnis and Shia and allying with Iran.
There are excellent moral arguments in favour of fighting a war to bring democracy to Iraq. There are excellent moral arguments for never having gotten involved in Iraq in the first place. There are excellent moral arguments for not having gotten into Desert Storm - against having based troops in Saudi Arabia and making Al-Qaeda furious with the US in the first place.
From all directions, the world is filled with outstanding moral arguments, and they have their place.
But first there is the reality that exists now. The US has too many enemies and too few forces through which to impose its will. As in World War II and the Cold War, splitting the enemy is a practical imperative that precedes all moral imperatives. In this case, that means playing off the various factions within the Muslim world and making the best deal possible with one power or another. In any deal, the US will wind up allied with someone that the Americans disapprove of, much as their future ally will disapprove of them.
The US may well wind up making a deal with Iran over Iraq. Alternatively, a Sunni coalition led by Saudi Arabia might give Washington the opportunity to negotiate with the Baathist guerillas in the Sunni Triangle. Whichever path is followed, it will be condemned by both left and right for dozens of excellent moral reasons.
US President George W. Bush has been pursuing the path of pragmatism, however clumsily or adroitly, for months now. He will make a deal with someone because going it alone is not an option. The current situation in Iraq cannot be sustained, and all presidents ultimately respond to reality. Mr Bush might have to eat some words about democracy and the US' commitment thereto, but if Roosevelt could speak of the Four Freedoms while working with Stalin, all things are possible.

Copyright: Strategic Forecasting Inc

Friday, April 14, 2006

5 Misses in 15 Minutes

It all occured between 20:05 and 20:20.

Miss #1: Cycling across the left filter lane ignoring my car's movements
Miss #2: Running across the traffic junction when the pedestrian signs were red
Miss #3: Running across the road from the front of a bus
Miss #4: Cycling against traffic in the middle of a two lane road
Miss #5: Running across the road from the center divider

All these near misses could have led to injuries or maybe fatalities and ultimately. Drivers, please drive carefully but more importantly, pedestrians and cyclist, share the road wisely.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

a debut.

i guess everytime when i start posting an entry will be on track, but anw i decided to post an entry cuz apparently my website is not ready yet and it's time for some ranting again. life has been pretty much the same, or rather busier if i were to be specific as compared to my good old days in school or saf.

The only difference is that money is part of the time equation now, which can be quite a good motivation. But is it really the main source of motivation? I was chatting with e and we came to a conclusion that if a person who doesn't know what he or she wants in life, the easiest path to pick would be the route to wealth and 'happiness'.

For those who do not know where or what i am doing now, i am currently relief teaching in hwa chong international. for those who might think that it is a subsidary school, it is not. it is an independent and private school, which renders it a business organisation. the school fees are 15k a year for a student, which adds up to 60k in 4 years and that is enough for me to complete my undergrad studies in nus 2.5 times!! what a brilliant social entrepreneurship movement by the school. Similarly I came to a conclusion that it is not that difficult in getting into a US university. With a humble SAT score, the world's most powerful man actually managed to get obtain a degree from Yale. Answer: you got to have money. It's true, even with a place in a university, you need money to get into it. Well, I have been contemplating the idea of loaning 120k to study in Cincinnati, but I guess that it is not really a wise thing to do. Ultimatly, a bachelors is not the end point for me and the school is not great enough to me to take that risk.

Oh well, I'm back to training again, it feels refreshing after being in the doldrums for the past 2 years. I managed to clear 6.1m after 2 trainings and it is the furthest leap in two years. However, this is still far from my target. What is my target? What am I training for? I guess i'm just training for fun now and for memory, to enjoy the feeling of being a student again. I seriously do not foresee the possiblity of a full committment in training when i start school. Training for me has taken on a new meaning, a new discovery. I was introduced with some refreshing ideas and training techniques. Sir (aka mr yeo) has been commenting that I am making loads of fundamental errors in body control and this actually translate into dialy life activities. The lack of courage and the problem of hesitation is causing me not to perform back and side flips properly. The lack of focus and control over my legs is causing me not to convert my run up to a jump smoothly. The way in overcoming it is not only by training more, but also to curb these problems in my daily life. It works in a cycle, if I can curb these problems during training, I will be less likely to fumble in my life. On the other hand, if I can be very focused in my work, I will be able to perform during training.

It's back to work...