Tuesday, May 30, 2006


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



- - - -
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!!

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.

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.