Archive for the ‘Justme says’ Category

Why Lift Upgrading takes Two Years

REPORT: FABIAN KOH – The New Paper – 23 April 2012

HOW long does it take to install a new lift in your HDB block?

lf conditions are ideal, it would take less than a year, contractors say.

But that’s if they work on only your block full-time.

ln reality, it would take more than double that time to get it up and running.

The length of time it takes to complete HDB Lift Upgrading Programme (LUP) came up in Parliament earlier this month, when West Coast GRB MP Foo Mee Har asked if the time taken to complete an LUP project can be shortened.

Residents in Pandan Gardens had asked her why it can take as long as two years.

Minister of State for National Development Lee Yi Shyan told Parliament that although advances had been made in the process, it still takes about two years to complete LUP for each block.

But why so long?

Mr James Tan, project manager of Teambuild Construction, told The New Paper that it is because each LUP project is completed in stages.

They do not complete one block before moving to the next, but instead keep all the blocks progressing at the same pace of construction.

Mr Tan’s company is in charge of building the lift shafts for (LUP).

Mr Tan said:“The number of lifts we have depends on the contract that we have for a project.”

Each estate or precinct, as HDB calls them, may have five to seven blocks.  A contract would include around four to seven estates.

“Teambuild Construction has contracts that put us in charge of about 80 to 100 lifts. This number,however, may vary based on the contracts,” said Mr Tan.
All the lifts are built upwards in stages (refer to graphics), said Mr Tan.

They will complete the first stage of construction at the first block, then move on to completing the first stage at the second block, and so forth until all the blocks within their charge, are completed to that stage.

After that, the same cycle is repeated for the subsequent stages.

The various work sites have to be prepared to receive the steel lift shafts at the same time.  The lift shafts are pre-fabricated off-site.

Said Mr Tan: “lt is more efficient if we prepare all the steel lift shafts at once, then send them out to be installed altogether.

“The manufacturing of the steel lift shafts are done concurrently with the preparation of the ground, such as piling works and digging of the lift pit.”

Building process

This first part of the lift-building process could take up to four months for a four-storey block.

The work site is then handed over to the company that will install the lift car.

Mr Quah Eng Hing, general manager and director of Chevalier Singapore Holdings, explained that the first thing they do when they take over the work site is to check the verticality, or straightness, of the lift shaft.

They then get to work on the lift interior, with a two-man team working on each lift.

Mr Quah, who is also Honorary Secretary of the Singapore Lift and Escalator Contractors  and Manufacturers Association (SLECMA), said that his company’s part of the work, at best, can be completed in three months, for a four-storey block.

Said Mr Tan: “lf a lift was built individually, a four-storey one would be completed in just under  a year.”


We are all the same

Written on 10 January 2012


“Are you going to school?” I asked little Aliyah.

“No.” she shook her head and ran off to play.

It was the first day of the new school year. Aliyah is seven years old and she was supposed to embark on her new journey in life with the other little ones.

Unfortunately, that may not be possible, for now.

Aliyah is a Filipino. Both her parents are also Filipinos and all places for foreign students have been filled up in the schools that they had applied for.

This Filipino family is my neighbour. They rent the flat three doors away from mine.

With a tinge of sadness, Aliyah’s mummy who works in a fast food restaurant, said to me

“I pray hard that she can get a place here.
I don’t want to go home “.

Unable to explain, but I felt apologetic instantly. Looking at mother and child, flashes of adjectives that I have been hearing / reading about foreigners came to mind but no matter how hard I tried, I was not able to link any to the duo.

“Foreign trash”, “Cheap cina PRC”, “Husband snatchers”, “Low class”..and the list goes on.

Yes, above are some names that I have come across both offline and more frequently, online.

It is sad that decent people have been called names by some locals. What did these foreigners do to deserve such? Like us, all they want is just to earn a decent living and to make lives better for themselves and their children. They probably see Singapore as their ticket to have their wish come true.

A certain group of Singaporeans have been crying foul that foreigners have been taking away their jobs. And thus the “attack” on these foreigners. They call them names, complain that they are the reason why we are not able to get into the train, and that they make us feel like we are in a foreign land. Sadly, even children are not spared.

It does not help that politicians choose to milk the situation and stoke the sentiments of the people. Ms Nicole Seah of NSP, during her GE11 campaign, said

Now, everytime I take the train, it feels like I’m in a different country. It is like taking a holiday, I don’t even need to bring my passport

That, to me, is too extreme a statement to make.

We behave as if each and every of our jobs is lost simply because of a foreigner. I believe there are many jobs that Singaporeans shun, and it is these foreign workers whom we so antagonize, that get those ‘unwanted’ jobs done.

Foreigners are here seeking opportunities that probably their own countries are not able to provide. In the event that they find it hard here too, they will have no choice but to return or go elsewhere. Why do we need to express hostility towards them is something I cannot comprehend.

Of course, there may be some bad apples amongst the thousands of foreigners working/studying here. Many have yet to understand and adapt to our local culture. But who is to say that we Singaporeans are perfect ourselves? Do we not rush for any “lelong” or push and shove just to grab that free sample?

About 150,000 Singaporeans are today studying or living overseas. How will we feel if our own flesh and blood are being labelled “Foreign Trash” in another country?

Do not get me wrong. I am a born and bred Singaporean. I love Singapore and I love my fellow Singaporeans. Our Government is currently at task in regulating the influx of foreign workers and I have trust that actions taken are for the betterment of Singapore.
Whatever is the case, it does not give us any right to “bully” another person just because we are holding the pink I.C while he/she is not. Let us not develop into a nation of xenophobes.

So, as we stood up for one another whenever any perceived racist remark is being made, let us also show the same empathy for our foreign friends. After all, we are all the same. We belong to the same human race living on planet earth.

Lastly, I sincerely hope that little Aliyah will get to go to a local school here. She is such an angel 🙂

SMRT Breakdown – What it Actually Tells Us.

Written on 16 December 2011

ST: Commuters walking on the train tracks between City Hall and Dolby Ghaut stations. They took the three-minute walk through the tunnel after being trapped in the train for about an hour - PHOTO: LIM HWEI LEE

The carriages were pitched dark, filled with stale air. This was what probably thousands of commuters experienced when their train stalled in the tunnel on December 15 2011.

To prevent suffocation, a passenger broke a window with a fire extinguisher. After closed to an hour, the trapped passengers were finally being ‘released’, only to find that they have to walk along the dimly lit tunnel to the next nearest station.

I would never have imagined such a scene in Singapore.

We have always boasted being first class in almost everything , our transport system being one of them. Yes, train breakdowns have been quite frequent recently but one of such magnitude, I do not recall.

Amidst all the anger among citizens, one thing we can all learn from this is, NEVER take things FOR GRANTED.

SMRT , has recently, in my opinion probably been taking things for granted. From security lapse to constant train disruptions and the latest mishap. Can all these be avoided? Well, I am no engineer but I certainly think that the experts within the company should have been able to dealt with these better, after all, machines are under command of humans, no?

Perhaps the top management has also taken for granted that their operational crew are taking care of stuff? Could all the recent mishaps been avoided if each and everyone of them put in more effort to see to it?

Of course, we the commuters, whom have all this while been enjoying our excellent infrastructure , might have not been too appreciative of our system too, especially when everything is working without any hitch.

Yes, Singapore has been too well managed. So much so that many of us have taken it for granted.. We expect everything to be perfect to what we want.

Yes, this breakdown has caused many inconveniences and angst.

But what this major breakdown actually showed us is – no system is perfect. We must never ever take for granted the good that we have been enjoying. To maintain a good system, efforts are needed. Things do not just fall into place from the sky. We have to work hard towards excellency.

Similarly, Singapore has had years of peacefulness, harmony & efficiency. We, the people, have been too well taken care of till we do not realise it. Most of our children have never had to go hungry for a day.

But, all these can just go down the drain should we not be careful.

No system is a guarantee and Singapore does not have any special privilege either.

Quote: “Only a stomach that rarely feels hungry scorns common things.” ~Horace

see also:

A Happy Bird in Singapore

Written on 27 November 2011

Of late, there is a lot of buzz about happiness level in Singapore. Especially in the social media, the air of unhappiness about Singapore seem to be on the high side.

We even have a certain politician, Mr GG, of a certain “Non-Sense Party”, proclaimed in his FB page that “Singapore sucks!”.

(That, was a shocker to me, having come from a politician who could have been my MP had his party won in my GRC in GE11. My GRC, after all, happens to be in Singapore)

Well, for the record, I am a happy born and bred Singaporean. Yes, you can say I’m a happy bird 😉

I am happy that my husband and I are able to provide our children with a roof, 3 simple meals and clothes to wear. They attend neighbourhood schools, and are just average students.

Am I rich? Let’s just say, I am not poor by my own standard. But by other Singaporeans’ standard, I may well be a poor soul. So, why is it I am happy in / with Singapore?

Singapore is natural disaster free, we can roam in the dark not having to worry much about being mugged; we are one of the least corrupted countries in the world; our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the world; despite our colourful racial fabric, we do not have racial riots since decades ago; we do not even have to make a trip down to Orchard Road for our retail therapy anymore.

There are so many good stuff in Singapore, so why are there still Singaporeans who are not happy with Singapore?

Take a stroll down Orchard Road. Chances are you will see a Ferrari or a Lambo parked at one of the front entrance of a 5 star hotel. We used to have only a handful of high end malls like Paragon where most of the patrons are the rich tai tais. But now we have ION, Marina Bay Sand etc. Even students are carrying bags that may be more expensive than my T.V.

Singapore has one of the highest percentage of millionaires in the world and the number is increasing (from current 183,000 to probably 408,000 in 2016). On the other end of the scale, however, our median income per resident is about $2,710 (as at 2010).

You see, we human beings can be quite an envious lot. When we see what others have, it is natural that we may want to have the same thing too.

Everyone is queuing for Iphone, I must have one too. Ipad- yes, I want one too. 3D Smart TV, high end camera, Prada and yes, cars, big cars, fast cars, Korea tour, Europe.…the list just go on and on.

But while others who may still have balance even after satisfying all their luxurious wants, some of us will have to struggle to lay our hand on just one. And when we get too consumed into the mentality of ” what others have, I must have too” it may then be developed into unhappiness and worse, resentment.

I got my mobile at $0 with the cheapest plan. My family takes the public transport & we get around our neighbourhood on our bicycles. Our annual vacation is at the chalet.

A recent report stated that Singaporeans are mostly unhappy with insufficient savings.

Savings = Income – Expenditure.

So to increase savings, we either increase our income by working doubly hard & smart or we reduce our expenditure.
(note:- if our economy does not do well, we may lose our job = $0 income, & we will definitely not be happy refer –> Money ≠ Happiness? )

My simplistic view has always been to take care of our basics first and only when we have excess, we go for an occasional ‘want’

Do I have ‘wants’?

Of course.

But I will remain a happy bird as long as my ‘wants’ remain as ‘wants’ and not turn into ‘needs’

Perhaps in 5 years time, I may be one of the 408,000, sipping my “kopi luwak’ at the front porch of a unit in Sentosa Cove.

Till my fanciest dream come true, I am absolutely happy surfing the net at the slowest speed of 6mbps in the comfort of my cozy 4 room HDB flat with my 3-in-1 by my side, knowing that my 11 year-old will reach home safely by himself when the dismissal bell rings.

Money ≠ Happiness ?

Written on 7 November 2011

[“Can we survive without money? ”  “Can we truly be happy without money?” ]

How often have we heard ,-  “Money can’t buy you happiness” ?

But the truth is, can we survive without dollar & cents ?

Long gone are days of barter trade.

Our basic needs now will require money. – a roof over our head (even if we rent a one room flat from the Government) – 3 meals (even if it’s roti / plain porridge / instant noodle…) – clothes (even if it’s from pasar malam)

And if we want to satisfy our wants, we will need MORE money. We want to live in a 5 room flat or a Condominium. We need more money. We want to own a car. We need more money. We want to own a BIG car. We need even more money. We want to travel and see the world. We need more money We want to own that Prada. We need more money. We want our kids to attend piano class, enrichment class, ballet. We need more money……& the list goes on.

Yes, money cannot buy us everything. But without money, can we truly be happy?

No. I do not need to fulfil my WANTS  to be happy. I can live without those WANTS.   But I will be miserable if I am not able to at least meet my minimum needs. I would have failed as a parent if I am not even able to provide basic meals (even plain roti) for my kids.

Then, of course, there are those who feels happy simply by sharing their wealth. When the needy is able to receive that important dollar as aid, his/her basics can be met and should thus feel happy too. But where does that dollar originate from?

Simply, some people can be happy with just sufficient money to get by. Some, on the other hand, will need more before they smile.

No matter what, there is no denying that money – though not everything –  & whether we admit or not, plays a role to the road of  happiness.

How then are we going to obtain that all precious ‘happiness ticket’ ? We can either work for it or we wait for it to drop from the sky.

A country’s GDP is an indication of how wealthy a country is.  Country with higher GDP often spells more opportunities for work. And as an individual in ‘ pursuit of happiness’, isn’t this important?

Complaining about our Singapore Government’s concern over growth but at the same time, demanding that our Government provide free education, free / low healthcare, free transport, low housing prices, low tax…… this is akin to our child wanting us to buy him a psp, an Xbox, an iphone, a yearly overseas trip and complaining that we are only concern about our work & not spending time with him.

The truth is, we all need to work to earn that dollar. Cause at the very least, that dollar = survival = simple happiness.

So, the next time before we make noise  about concern over GDP growth, let’s put our hand to our heart and ask ourselves,

“Can we survive without money? ”  “Can we truly be happy without money?”

Errrr…perhaps you can sell me your iphone for a pack of salt?

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