Archive for the ‘One Of Us says’ Category

Olympic glory and then some….

Feng Tian Wei just won an individual medal for Singapore, a feat last accomplished by a born and bred Singaporean some 52 years ago. Some would argue that nowadays, foreign talents can be found anywhere rendering their services to countries who are more than willing to adopt them as their own. For the less welcoming, their arguement would be that the glory was “bought”. Already, online buzz has it that the win is not truly by a Singaporean. To be fair, if Feng and the rest had stayed in China, they may not even make it to the national team and see themselves fighting for a medal in the Olympics. So, do foreign talents who delivered the goods deserve the rewards? I’m all for may the best man/woman wins and whatever rewards that comes along the way. I guess it isn’t so for some and this whole idea of foreign talent, especially those brought in through sports runs a lot deeper than this.

First and foremost, we need to examine why our highest gold medal achievement from a local athelete is in the Asian games, before China’s rise as a global sports power. Tao Li, Feng and company all hailed from China in their early years. Even in the SEA Games, our dominance by local atheletes only extends to the water sports. As for the other disciplines, we only get a splattering of winners every now and then. Are we a sports nation, when strictly local born atheletes are rallied upon to deliver the goods?  I must admit, Singapore do have alot of facilities for sports enthusiasts, enough for some countries turn green with envy. But….this is where the difference lies. Some of those countries which have less actually produces a lot more world class atheletes than we. Why is that so, one might ask?

I guess part of it lies on the mental strength and discipline and at the same time, also the circumstances surrounding Singapore’s own survival in this complex world we live in. People of my generation and before have been ingrained with the fact that sports are mostly done to keep fit and for the occasional competition at a low level. Even nationally, our benchmark isn’t high. Just look at football. Singapore pays almost, if not the, highest cable fees in the world just to watch club level football in England. Despite such fanatical support for the sport, where is our own national team rank, worldwide? I rest my case.

As parents, we inculcate almost the same principals to our kids. Getting a good education is the key to a good carreer and ultimately a comfortable retirement. For most of us, chasing the dream usually means getting the standard of living we desire. Though there’s nothing wrong in that, reaching the highest level internationally is a whole new ball game. Life as a professional athelete is short and many here  cannot see what becomes of life after retirement.  Also, admittedly, only a handful have the talent and the potential to reach such heights. But that shouldn’t stop the majority from practising the Olympic spirit in whatever they do. I do not know what exactly the Olympic spirit stand for but my own observation is that giving 100% isn’t quite enough; it has got to be the performance of the lifetime. Somehow, local born Singaporeans just can’t measure up when it matters most. It’s especially sad given the fact that  in many other fields we win awards quite regularly. Could it be that our Singaporeans’ genes are inferior because we have been brought up in such comfort that those with the talent simply cannot muscle enough effort to realise their potential? All the financial incentives the various government bodies provide will not be enough; encouragement must be self motivated and the ambition to succeed must burn like a wild fire. The likes of our foreign born table tennis players deserves to be emulated, their desire to excel at the highest level must be ingrained in our younger generation of atheletes so that in time we can finally come out of our shells and become true champions in our own right.

It’s a tall order. I sincerely hope the day can come soon enough.


Preserve this very important and valuable asset worth more than gold and silver.

This morning when I stopped at a traffic light beside an ambulance belonging to the Muslim Missionary Society of Singapore, I was elated to observe that the ambulance was donated by Loyang Tua Pek Kong. This is cotton dry evidence that religious and racial harmony is very much alive in Singapore, and this makes me proud of being a Singaporean.

I may sound sentimental, but I cannot help to ‘rewind fast backwards’ of the time when Singapore was plagued with racial and religious disharmony and problems. It was through the resolute and determination of Mr Lee Kuan Yew and his team of old guards that Singapore today enjoys genuine racial and religious harmony.

Let all Singaporeans of good conscience preserve this very important and valuable asset worth more than gold and silver.

by Lionel

Why I will not sign the petition to save the Sticker Lady

I am not going to sign the petition to move the charge againts Skl0 from Vandalism to Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance), because it would go against the spirit of what a good legal system ought to be.

In a good legal system, laws are decided by the people, and then applied without exception, fear, or favour to everyone. This is why it is very important to have good people in Parliament, because they are the ones who decide on the wording of the laws, and therefore the scope of each individual law, and what offences should and should not be punished.

I believe this episode simply illustrates the inadequacy of our current laws in supporting a culture of innovation and self-awareness. I agree with most of the comments about how Skl0 is a good and thought-provoking artist. Unfortunately, our laws as they exist today do not support such artists. Such artists are punished together with all the other miscreants that Skl0’s supporters believe should be punished.

If you want to petition, please petition your local MP to go to Parliament and change the law, so that Skl0 and others like her will not be punished in future.

But because the law is the way it is currently, she has to face the S$2,000 fine (no caning for her because of her gender, something which the law also currently provides her protection for).

So by all means offer Skl0 a job and give her money to pay off her fine. Just please don’t screw around with our system of law-making and law-administering, because once you do that, you give license to those who would override the laws for their own selfish ends.

Just adding a follow up comment here from the other discussion thread.

This is in response to someone who thought I meant that the law is not worded properly.

I am not suggesting that the law isn’t well worded. I am saying that the law is worded specifically to include acts such as Skl0’s under the definition of behaviour that deserves to be punished. The law is worded this way because when that law was written, the damage to the public was perceived to be greater than the benefit such acts bring. If things have changed since that time, then we need to change the law, and the way to do it is to get your MP to bring it up in Parliament so the people whose job it is to make and amend the laws actually do what they’re paid to do.

You might not agree, but some people believe that what Skl0 did was wrong, law or no law. You have to respect their views as much as you want them to respect yours. And you have to settle your differences through well-reasoned debate in Parliament (by proxy through your MP), not take your grievances before the Emperor and ask him to rule in your favour.

And that’s because we are not ruled by an Emperor.

We are a democracy, and the more people realise what that means and how it works, the better a chance we have of making Singapore the place we want it to be.

by Benjamin Kong  

We can only have our youthful physique for so long. But we can certainly double/triple our positive youthful imprints on the community for a long time to come – Desmond Choo

Ok, the comic strip was something that got me thinking when I was having Punggol Nasi Lemak supper with my activists 😉 That is quite an aside 🙂

I was inspired by one of my young volunteers.

She had been helping us out at the Coffee Session for about a year. Used to seek help but decided that she also could do more for the community. At the end of that session, she said to me, “Can we talk?” That is usually recipe for saying I’m going to take a break for while.

To my surprise, she flipped open her laptop and showed me her proposal on making our Sessions better! There were clear problems and solutions mapped out. She had gotten a couple of other youths to work out the proposal. It was something that I had dreamed about for so long! That my young volunteers would take the initiative, inject their idealism and creativity in the journey of service.

The future of the community belongs to the younger generation.

It is not as daunting a duty as many imagined. Quite frequently, it is about making those differences one small step at a time. Appreciating the past, and making sure that their youthful imprints are embedded in the solutions for today and tomorrow.

The team researched on the historical context. They pointed out problems that had blindsided me. And came out with very exciting ideas. I could see the passion and thoughtfulness. I could feel their eagerness to make that difference. They inspired me with their go-out-there-and-get-it-done energy!

The leaders of today will never have the monopoly of ideas. The youths and future leaders have to be the authority on solutions of our tomorrow. 

We can only have our youthful physique for so long. But we can certainly double/triple our positive youthful imprints on the community for a long time to come. Cheers!

Desmond Choo

A campaign for rationality. Stop and think, before you speak, scream, condemn, praise, untter.

A Note to Self. A Note Friends

THINK before you speak.
Especially if you can, then you must.
Stop and think, before you speak, scream, condemn, praise, untter.

So much noise in Singapore
Some good noise, but, so much blah.
Blah that is no longer rah rah or funny.
Blah that is polarised for the sake of polarity.

Where are your ideas from ?
Whose ideas do you follow ?
who do you run with, and what are you after?

Now that we have found our voice to scream, limbs to run,
It does not mean we shut our eyes and our ears,and our minds.

Think before you speak
If you can, then you must.

A campaign for rationality and criticality.

by rebecca ye

Cyberbullying in NUS

Change from without is needed when change from within is obstructed by administrative interests. Photo by the writer.

Excerpt :

A student from a financially-disadvantaged background speaks up for a financial aid issue, and instead becomes the victim of vicious cyberbullying from fellow students, with the bulk of the comments focusing on her writing style. This bewildering case of cyberbullying is related to KRC’s engagement with the USP financial aid issue, which you can read more about in this companion article. The first three paragraphs provide a brief background of the incident, and can also be found in the companion article.

A Brief Background
The University Scholars Program (USP) is an interdisciplinary program for NUS undergraduates. Previously, students in the USP did not have to pay any fees over and above NUS tuition fees to be part of the program, and could enjoy a whole range of subsidised global study trips, exchange programs and conference grants. However, when the USP moved into University Town in August 2011, a two-year compulsory residency component was included into the program. This component adds an additional $11,060 (at least) to the USP students’ fees.

USP professors and students had raised concerns that a weak financial aid scheme coupled with an inflexible compulsory residency critierion, would constitute a barrier to entry into the program for financially needy students, but only using internal, private channels of communication.

In October 2011, KRC raised the same concerns, but on a public platform.


To continue reading, please refer to this link : Cyberbullying in NUS

I have friends, but not because I’m Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter

I wrote about the distinctions I made between close friends, true friends and comrades some months ago.

After that article appeared, I received a sarcastic e-mail from a reader who said: ‘One would be extremely fortunate if one can count to two the number of comrades one has in his life. If it is so hard for an average person to find true friends, it is manifold harder for you because of your family relations.

‘It may be arrogant for me to call you child-like since you are older than me. But I have no better word to describe your friend-categorisation process.’

I often receive fan mail. Sometimes I hear from readers who disagree with something I wrote. But rarely do I encounter this degree of hostility and sarcasm. What’s more, the disgruntled reader re-sent the same e-mail two months later.

His reference to my family relates to the fact that I am the daughter of former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and the sister of current PM Lee Hsien Loong. The writer suggested that my ‘family relations’ may induce people to act friendly towards me.

He misunderstands the Singapore system. Being a member of the Lee family may mean that I do stand out, but that does not afford me any special power.

I cannot advance the career of anyone, other than the staff of the National Neuroscience Institute (NNI), of which I am Director of. And even within NNI, if I allowed my close friendships with some of my staff to influence my appraisals of them, and consequently their pay increments and promotions, I would lose the trust of all my staff.

My friends – NNI staff or otherwise, doctors or something else – are friends because of mutual goodwill. We either share common interests or have in some way helped one another.

Take, for instance, the security officers (SOs) who have protected my father and family for decades. Some of them are my close friends – having remained so even after they left the police force.

The SOs are paid by the Government to look after us, but they often go beyond fulfilling their duties. And the goodwill goes both ways, for I have always helped them whenever they have approached me with their problems, usually medical in nature.

My father has always treated his SOs with courtesy and warmth. He and my family could have been just courteous to the SOs, rather than being warm and friendly as well, if we had been intent on maintaining a social hierarchy.

The SOs tended to be in awe of my father, but they readily accepted my late mother and me as friends.

In addition to doctors and SOs, my other friends come from varied backgrounds.

For instance, the friends I made while in pursuit of physical fitness, like my physiotherapist and sports trainer.

There are friends I made while doing fund-raising for charitable causes – wealthy people mostly. But more important than their wealth is their kindness and willingness to give to society.

There are friends I made because of my father’s various appointments over the past five decades. These include some of his principal private secretaries, special assistants and personal assistants.

And finally, there are the friends I made while pursuing various other activities, including writing columns and what I call ’tilting at windmills’ in pursuit of certain causes. This heterogeneous group, some of whom I have known since childhood, are also comrades, for we share the same aspiration – to make Singapore a better country and a better society.

My pedigree as Lee Kuan Yew’s daughter does bring me in contact with certain people whom I otherwise may not have known – including SOs, the odd millionaire and civil servants.

But my pedigree also isolates me from people with preconceived notions about my family and me, and from people with dubious reputations, including some extremely wealthy people whom I go out of my way to avoid.

I do not think, however, that my family connections alone can account for my having so many friends, close friends and comrades.

I have become friends and stayed friends with various people as a result of the conscious effort by all concerned to help each other, and also to help others when we can because it is the right thing to do.

Perhaps I have so many close friends and comrades because my family’s position brought me into contact with many good people whom others may not have had a chance to meet.

But I think the more probable reason is that I am willing to extend the hand of friendship, be it to colleagues or people I meet in the course of my life.

Perhaps my sarcastic letter writer short-changed himself with his cynical attitude towards mankind, which may explain why he has pitifully few close friends or comrades.

By Lee Wei Ling
The writer is director of the National Neuroscience Institute. Send your comments to
 The Straits Times, Published on Jun 3, 2012 

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