China had put in a lot of effort to preparing Beijing and their country for next year’s Olympics, which will see visitors from different parts of the world conjugating for the participation of the games. Be it athletes or spectators, China will want them to go back to their home countries with fond memories of their experience in Beijing, or other parts of the country for the more adventurous.

The preparation of their country reminds me of the times when Singapore underwent a huge campaign to get people to be courteous and welcoming to delegates for the World Bank / IMF meetings held in 2006. Singaporeans were constantly reminded to show hospitality when approached by any foreign visitors and to maintain a smile always. In fact, I even participated in their Smile 2006 campaign last year, which was set out to collect as many smiling pictures as possible so as to form a welcoming mural for the delegates. Volunteers were set off to take impromptu photos of Singaporeans in the midst of their daily lives and I would say that we have done a great job for the campaign and all of us deserved a pat on the back for the effort.

Almost overnight, construction sites near the convention center suddenly disappeared and roads were nicely laid. On top of that, beautiful flowers were planted along the roads in town and for a moment, I thought I was teleported into another green city. Towering cranes and piling machines were removed and for once, I could easily see Suntec City from Raffles City without being blocked by metal scaffoldings nor machines piling away. For once, there was serenity. In fact, it all seemed too surreal.

The big day came and almost everyone seemed to be on the alert and ready to help anyone who is in need. Volunteer guides and drivers were gathered and briefed to assist the delegates. I also remembered vaguely that the drivers were reminded not to talk too much or say anything bad about the nation, although I am not sure how much truth there is in this claim.

The event was finally over and we’ve got a thumbs up for running the event. However, even a delegate commented that it was all too surreal. Everywhere she turned, she would see smiling faces; and it can really get a little scary if you think about it. She commented that everything was nice, but could sense that it wasn’t exactly very natural. Good, but too good is probably appropriate here.

Soon after, the flowers withered and plants that didn’t look good enough were removed. We were told that this is going to be a one time effort and there’s a good chance that most flowering plants would not survive for too long. For me, it was rather sad to see the plants go, but I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Some Singaporeans lambasted that the government was putting up an act and for putting up a gag order on political groups that wanted to speak, and that everything that the delegates saw was a facade. To a certain extent, I do agree that the government was putting in a lot of effort, facade or otherwise. However, like most countries, the government would want to create a welcoming environment – a place where visitors will feel good; but does this warrant a gag order?

Well, I don’t really know, but to quote 2 infamous lines from our very own ministers, first from Dr Vivian Balakrishnan on the liberalization of bar-top dancing, although somewhat unrelated:

If you want to dance, some of us will fall off that bar-top. Some people will die as a result of liberalising bar-top dancing, not just because they have fallen off the bar-top. Because usually a young girl, with a short skirt, dancing on a bar-top, may attract some insults from some other men, and the boyfriend starts fighting. Some people will die. Blood will be shed for liberalising this policy.

And from Prof Ho Peng Kee on rejecting a cycling event organized by the Worker’s Party:

You may be well behaving, but there may be other people whom you come across when you cycle who may stop you, may want to debate with you and that may attract a crowd, therefore will result in problems the police want to avoid.

You can probably get a sense that they want to avoid worst-case scenarios, and hence anything that can even remotely cause a riot is probably disallowed. One thing’s for sure. The events by the political groups were never realised and we will never know for sure if Singaporeans are matured enough to handle this.

To the lay person like myself, the World Bank-IMF meetings was quite a non-event for me, save for the photo that I’ve sent for the mural. Before long, the cranes and the piling machines came back, the road blocks were up and the noise returned. The area surrounding Raffles City towards Suntec City was filled with the usual dust, smoke and noise…

… and life goes on.

Visit Malaysia 2007Today’s Malaysia’s 50th National Day where they celebrate 50 years of independence! Actually I don’t know much about the history of Malaysia, but I know they have good fireworks across the causeway that I would have been able to enjoy from the comforts of my corridor, to make up for what I missed for my own country’s fireworks.

But I did a google anyway, and you can find interesting reads here, here and here; and there’s even a beautiful WordPress-Malaysia Day banner here too. I’d have used the official Malaysia National Day logo… but I thought this Visit Malaysia 2007 logo to be rather nice… and attractive. 🙂

So, despite all the quarrels with Malaysia about their KTM land, their water supply, our treated water back to them, the causeway, Singaporeans being robbed, slashed and murdered, complaints of us buying up all their rice, oil, sugar, toileteries, toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper and petrol and eating up all their seafood, we would still continue supporting them in their economy. 🙂

Sometimes we just need to give and take a little. 😛 Malaysia boleh!

And Kenny Sia boleh too! 😛

Cheated badly…

Rants August 27th, 2007

I had been taken for a ride over the weekend. I am not sure if the other person thinks that it is a good joke or prank, but I am definitely suffering the repercussions of his joke. I am not sure why he would want to continue this game, but I just found out that he’s not an entirely honest person. People may not want to blow the whistle, but I don’t think that he deserve my kindness now.

I had been kicked out of my house because of my 3 cats and now I need to look for a place to stay. I put a short note on my MSN stating that I was looking for a room. Ryan Lin (Webzoomr) saw that and offered his place for me to put up, at least for the time being. He’s a nice person, at first, and offered the master bedroom since I am a girl. I insisted on the smaller room but he insisted otherwise. In addition, he didn’t want to accept rent from me, which I was surprised by, but we agreed to split the cost if I were to use the aircon.

So that was it. Arrangements were made for me to move in last Friday (24/8/2007) evening. Apparently my cats and his dog would take up a room and he and I will take up one room each. He supposedly had an appointment with the “Yolk guys” in JB on Thursday and was spending the night there. He was supposed to come back on Friday night and I was supposed to meet him then.

And hence, my friends and myself waited. And waited. And waited. No sign of Ryan. Eventually, as it approached 12 midnight, one of my friends offered me his place for the night, and faced with no signs of hope, I shifted to my friend’s place for the night. There was a case of a guy being slashed and my friends and I hoped that nothing bad happened to him.

At his place, I went online and Ryan was on MSN. He mentioned that he had the wrong food and had diarrhoea. Apparently, he was back at the hotel after seeing the doctor and would not be coming back on Saturday. The earliest that he would be back would probably be Sunday morning. For the rest of Saturday, I was basically left doing nothing. I had my PC with me, my laptop, 2 monitors, a luggage, 3 kitties and their stuffs. Basically, I was immobilized. Zilch. Saturday wasted. No work done.

Come Sunday. I ping’ed him in the late morning and early afternoon. Apparently he was supposed to check out at 3pm, then 5pm. Then he went offline. We talked over MSN and I told him that I would be waiting for him at the McDonald near his place. And again, there was no show. No even an SMS. Sunday night was gone.

Today, I checked my email and he said that I couldn’t move in. One apology. No reason given.

Hey, Mr Ryan Lin @ Maung Myo Thwe Lin @ Webzoomr, if you didn’t intend to let out your place, why don’t you just let me know earlier. You made me wait for 3 nights, wasted my entire weekend and gave me the number of some other guy by the name of Mike for me to look for him for a place to rent? What do you take me for? A fool? I think I am really a fool for believing you in the first place.

Now I am stuck outside, PC, Laptop, monitors. luggage, kitties and stuffs in hand and I’ve got nowhere to go now. All thanks to Mr Ryan! I might be able to find accommodation shortly, but I am now on the losing end and may not be able to find a place for the kitties.

If you have a solution for me, please email me or let me know. I am pretty much in dire straits now.

Woohoo! Seems like we have an early Christmas present this year. The government is adding more gantries to the expressways. Midway through counting the number of new gantries, I suddenly lost count and thus assume that there will be between 5 to 9 more new gantries. Of which, I predicted the new ones after Dairy Farm and CTE-before-PIE-exit correctly! Whoopie! If only I am that good with 4D or Toto. : ( Thank goodness there isn’t any at TPE or SLE.

They are also extending the hours of the CTE ERP from 7:30-9:30 to 7:00-11:00. So, if you are heading to CBD, you only have between 11:00-12:00 to beat the CTE ERP as well as the CBD ERP. I bet all cars will wait till 11:00 and start clogging the CTE to avoid paying the CBD ERP – a good reason to extend the 7:00-11:00 ERP timing to 7:00-12:00! Haha… am I smart or what?

In fact, if I am the government, I will just make the ERP whole day… then everyone will start clogging the expressway regardless of time. Then I will increasing the ERP cost such that there is now “higher fees” and “lower fees” instead of the current “fees” or “no fees”. Hence, I will start to have a base fixed income.

In fact, I think I will just add ERP gantries at the entrance of every carpark such that the moment you leave the carpark, you will be charged a premium. To make things easier, I will make it mandatory for every car to have a GPS – just like the IU reader now. Then for every 175m that the car travels, 10c will be deducted from their cashcard.

When the cashcard runs out of cash, the engine will be turned off and the car will stall. To activate the Expressway tow-truck, a premium will be charged. Since there will now be a jam, I will up the ERP rates again, citing traffic jam! Heh heh… What a wonderful revenue traffic control model.

This is uniquely Singapore. 🙂

IN A bid to reduce traffic congestion along expressways and roads and encourage commuters to use alternative routes, the Land Transport Authority (LTA) is setting up nine more Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) gantry points, including in the HDB heatrtlands, and extending the operational hours of current points.
Each new gantry will cost between $1mil and $1.5mil to build.

From Nov 1, the morning Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) hours will be extended from 7am to 11am during weekdays on the south-bound Central Expressway (CTE) for motorists entering CTE from the slip road between Ang Mo Kio 1 and Braddell Road.

Currently, the ERP hours are from 7.30am to 9.30am.

Motorists will also be charged 50 cents for entering the CTE between 7am and 7.30am as well as between 9.30am to 11am.

There will be no changes to ERP charges at the other three gantries on the south-bound CTE.

On the north-bound CTE, a new gantry – before the Pan-Island Expressway (PIE) exit – will be operational between 5.30pm and 10.30pm.

On the east-bound East Coast Parkway, two new gantries have been installed – one before the Rochor Road exit and the other on the Ophir Road slip road.

They will be operational between 6pm and 8pm on weekdays.

On the south-bound Bukit Timah Expressway (BKE), a new gantry has also been built after the Dairy Farm exit, before the BKE joins the PIE. It will be operational from 7.30am to 9am.

Five more new gantries are planned. They will be built at Toa Payoh Lorong 6, Upper Boon Keng Road, Kallang Bahru Road, Geylang Bahru Road and after Hume Avenue.

The LTA says it will monitor the traffic conditions along those roads. If they do not meet the optimum speeds of above 45kph on expressways and 20kph on other roads, LTA will activate the gantry points.

LTA made these announcements on Thursday following Transport Minister Raymond Lim’s visit to the completed first phase of the upcoming Kallang Paya Lebar Expressway (KPE).

straitstimes.com, Aug 23, 2007 – Latest news section

Heartbroken

General August 22nd, 2007

There was once this girl, X, who like this guy, Y but thought that Y didn’t like her. Many times, X was left dreaming about Y being her knight in shining armour, but that remained a dream.

Soon after, Y decided to go overseas for a short while. While X missed him, she couldn’t do much but just watch him go. Afterall, Y will be coming back one day. Occasionally, they exchanged emails whenever Y stopped by an Internet cafe. X was always delight to receive his email and would sometimes wait anxiously by her computer. Y would tell her interesting stuffs that happened during his trip.

When Y finally returned, X was delighted, but pretty much kept it to herself. She didn’t want to lose the friendship if Y is taken aback and starts to avoid her. So… things remained the way it was.

X and Y went out often, but X didn’t dare ask for much. Having Y’s company is good enough for her. While X thought that Y might be interested in her, she didn’t have the courage to ask Y about it.

Soon after, X thought that Y was beginning to avoid her. Not knowing why, and not being able to withstand the suspense, she approached Y and found out that he was starting to see someone else. Y told X that he liked her, but wasn’t sure if the reverse is the same. X was heartbroken, and finally admitted to Y that she liked him… but it was all to late. Her heart had been broken to pieces. Putting it back together will never be the same again.

X can only wish Y all the best. :'(

I have got nothing against people who could not articulate properly because I am one of them! Haha… but, I heard this on an advertisement and I thought it was quite strange that they would pass something like this:

… I am looking for a companion because I lost my last week…. (shows picture of dog) Soapy! Call me at this number …

Which I think really means:

… I am looking for a companion because I lost mine last week…. (shows picture of dog) So please, call me at this number

Hmm… I thought the previous mocca.com advertisement was already…. not that tasteful, in my personal opinion… but… poor articulation really drives me up the wall!

Or maybe it’s just my ears…. Soapy !!!

A catty life

General August 15th, 2007

Life hasn’t really been the same since the 3 kittens joined the family. And as I am typing this post at 3:40am, they are running round and round the sofa set. Darn! Shouldn’t have switched off the lights!

Getting them accustomed to the new environment was quite a chore. First, the 3 consists of a pair of siblings and another from another family. Don’t ask me how I got this combination – it’s complicated. Then there was the difficulty of getting them to share the place – eat, sleep and do business together. Thankfully the 3rd was QED, but getting them to eat together from the same bowl is 1 big task! In fact, getting them to be together without them hissing at one another is already one big headache. Sigh. They are less than 3 months old each (10 years human age?) and I wonder what enmity that great can cause them to deliver first blows at striking distance.

More on that later. Now… gotta type my reports again. My never ending reports. And oh… did I mention that I am going to post something up on youtube? 😛

Meeting (BH)

Events August 12th, 2007

Venue: Starbucks, Holland Village

TDM stuffs

Heh heh… school has reopened and everyone’s busy searching for unheard-of classrooms and lecture theatres and turning up for lessons where the lecturer’s missing. Oh well, that’s the start of the new school term for you.

I had been placed on waiting list for some subjects and will be hunting down looking for the respective supervisors to sign some forms. This semester will be slightly different for me because I would also be taking up some teaching assignments. This is going to be quite nerve wreaking because the main lecturer is away for conference and the 2nd lecturer is… well, probably going to be missing. Heh. I am left to my own device. God help me.

So many things have happened and I have so much stuffs to write – National Day stuffs, studying abroad stuffs (and not returning home?), managing my projects, thinking if I should start expanding… and so on. So much work, so little time. I wish I have 72 hours a day.

And oh… if you had gone for the Nuffnang movie thingie, then you would probably see me in… but I don’t think any one except for the usual suspects recognise me. I spoke to Wendy briefly when some of her fans came up for photos with her… I thought I heard her mumble something…. but… nevermind. Haha.

I also learnt that I lost a potential project. Oh well, one more setback for raising that fees to study medicine.

Kk… back to work. Will blog more later. 🙂

Read this on straitstimes.com today. Well, it seems like the entire episode has come to an end… and the blogosphere probably has another target to chatter on – the repeal (or not) of Section 377A, which in my personal opinion, is imminent. 

AN ERRANT Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) officer, the subject of a complaint letter written by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s son Li Hongyi, has been fined. This brings to a close the much-talked-about case that set the Internet abuzz last month.Second Lieutenant Li, a national serviceman, had earlier been formally charged and reprimanded for broadcasting his e-mail beyond the military chain of command.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, the Defence Ministry confirmed yesterday that the officer whom 2nd Lt Li blew the whistle on has been fined $2,500 after a General Court Martial (GCM) on July 27.

Colonel Benedict Lim, director of public affairs at Mindef, said that the officer had pleaded guilty to being absent from his place of duty on two occasions and for conduct unbecoming of a serviceman.

Col Lim did not identify the officer, nor were any further details given of the offences. But 2nd Lt Li’s e-mail stated that he was a regular holding the rank of lieutenant.

Under the Singapore Armed Forces Act, a court martial can result in a range of penalties. These include imprisonment, discharge from service, detention in the SAF detention barracks, a reduction in rank, forfeiture of seniority, a fine or a reprimand.

Col Lim said that the hearing was held in open court at the SAF Court Martial Centre at Kranji Camp. No further details were available.

GCMs decide on cases independently from the chain of command, said Col Lim. They are generally presided over by a national service (NS) officer who is a district judge in the Subordinate Courts – in this case, Lieutenant-Colonel (NS) Aedit Abdullah.

On June 28, 2nd Lt Li sent an e-mail, complaining about his fellow officer’s misconduct, to top military brass and the Defence Minister. It was also copied to numerous other military personnel.

In the 2,000-word missive, 2nd Lt Li detailed the circumstances of how the lieutenant had gone absent without official leave on at least two occasions.

He wrote that he had reported the matter to his superiors, but no disciplinary action had been taken.

He questioned the ‘quality control’ in the process by which officers were selected and described the lieutenant’s continued service as ‘an embarrassment’.

The letter found its way into blogs and online forums, setting off much chatter among netizens.