With education and entrepreneurship at the core of everything I do, this blog serves to provide you with information from my perspective, based on my knowledge, skills and experience on various issues close to my heart namely, general education, peacebuilding, public speaking, civil society and theatre/ drama.
Being quarantined in two different nations provided me with some perspective into how COVID-19 operations and SOPs are executed. This perspective gave me a better understanding into how things are done on the ground and experienced.
Arriving at Nongsa Ferry Terminal in Batam, my sister and I were the only two Singaporean passengers onboard and were immediately brought to the quarantine room prior to immigration clearance. Once there, our details were taken down, the officers in the room were dressed in their uniform and were comfortably and casually seated at their desks.
We were seated at a leather chair in the room and watched as one personnel put on the white PPE in front of our own eyes. I was shocked, impressed, surprised that the officer didn’t go into a separate room to change. I was beginning to question their infection control procedures, and was now curious as to how our swab test would be performed.
Once she had donned her PPE, she pulled out her own chair put it near the door, took out a UTM tube and a swab stick and proceeded to request for one of us to be seated on that chair for the swab test.
There was no disinfecting of the chair before we sat and she proceeded to swab my sister first, it was an OPNP swab (oral and nasal swab). I was shocked and worried because the swab stick used for the NP was the same swab stick used for the OP swab. This means that I was gonna get swabbed by a swab stick bigger than a cotton bud to be put through my nasal passage.
I observed and watched my sister. After she was done, no disinfecting of the seat was done and I was next. I was put through the same process and after I was done, we were asked to clear immigration, which was located just outside.
And when we returned back to the room, the personnel had already doffed and was back to doing her work. Questions arose with regards to infection control measures and procedures, and at that moment, I forgot about my grief. I was more worried about contracting the virus if the measures seemed to be quite lax. We were told it would take about 2-3 days to receive our swab test results and hopefully, it would take lesser time than that since there wasn’t many swabs to be tested, but the concern was that in the whole of Batam, there was only ONE LAB processing.
Not encouraging to hear that but we can only pray for the best.
Once we cleared immigration, we were driven to our quarantine hotel, Harris Hotel Batam located at Batam Centre, which was a good 30 minutes drive. We were asked to make deposit for minimum 2 nights and then we were brought up.
This was my first visit to Harris Hotel Batam. The only other hotels I’ve stayed in were at cheap hotels that were managed by the local mafias, so this was a huge upgrade from anything I’ve experienced.
The room was spacious and comfortable. There was ample space to pray and workout, plus a window view of the port where I could see the ferries lined up next to one another in the waters.
The first full day of quarantine was bearable, food tasted great at the start and they provided juice with the meals. The meals were catered by the hotel itself.
As the days went by, and the same type of meals were served, we requested for a change of meals and they were happy to make the change at no additional cost. Whenever we got bored and sick of the food, room service was affordable enough for us although they didn’t have hot chocolate. That was quite a disappointment.
But all in all, we were out of quarantine in 4.5 days after the swab test results were proven negative to continue with our grieve and to settle family matters.
The Singapore experience is always a bit more daunting perhaps, as with everything in Singapore. From the moment the ferry longsides, you have officers waiting for you to put you in organised lines checking on your documents.
And then a different group of officers stop to check you once again as you enter the immigration office area to direct you to the queue you’re supposed to head to. And since all of us paid a visit to the hospital whilst we were in Batam (which I lost my cool but that’s for another story), we were redirected to a different line where the Senior Officer took charge of us.
We were then issued a letter informing us that we have been placed on 14 days SHN. We first received this via email and then, a confirmation once again plus information on the fact that we have to pay SGD$2,000 for the SHN plus for the swab test.
(You can appeal for a waiver but that’s dependent on ICA whether or not they wish to approve your application/appeal for a waiver. My sister and mother were given whilst I wasn’t. So, it’s currently up for a second round of appeal. Doesn’t seem like we have much of a compassion or understanding that I was forced to travel because my father passed away overseas, and not because I wanted to frolic. So, that’s an added depression to my list of growing depressing things happening to me.)
Once the information was relayed, we were redirected to an area ‘guarded’ by Certis Cisco officers who were there to ensure we didn’t just run off and disappear or they’d have a bigger problem on their hands, and us, a bigger issue with the law.
Check-in at was at Mercure Bugis Hotel and once a few signatures were penned, we were immediately ushered to our rooms. The rooms, were ¼ smaller than the one we had in Batam and the toilet, no bidet. So, private business requires a bit of improvisation. And of, laundry is SGD$20 for 4 pieces of clothing, any clothing. And our swab test would only be done closer to the date of our check-out.
Because I was expecting the meals to be quite a bore, I came prepared with 7 cup noodles and some snacks to last throughout the 14 days SHN. Or so I thought..
If Harris Hotel served us a variety and provided us with the ability to request for a change, Singapore as how it is, is as restrictive as it sounds. No changes allowed because the meals are catered by a caterer since the hotel does not have a Halal restaurant.
So, by the 3rd day of SHN, I realised I was growing into depression. Depressed from the grief, from the understanding that it’s 14 days long and the fact that I’m going to have to be forced to continue to eat rice and some form of curry dishes every single day.
I’m not sure what the caterer’s understanding of Halal food is but it certainly isn’t curry alone because Halal dishes can be everything and anything else besides curry. So, thank god we had wonderful friends and family members who kept delivering food to us every few days to keep us sane.
When the day for our swab test came, we were individually ushered down to the 7th floor for a poolside swab. Organised as always, our IDs checked by the administrative staff, of whom I almost got angry at since I almost would have definitely been turned away as she mistook me for the other client behind me who had a flu.
The swab was different compared to the one we had in Batam. We were given an NP swab using an NP swab stick. And once we were done, we were ushered back to the room immediately, locked in once again.
The swab test result were updated to us via the hotel concierge three days later and we still had to remain in the room till the end of the SHN before we could leave.
So, there you go, the difference and similarities between the two Swab Tests and Quarantine.
Both equally depressing, but if I had to compare, I’d prefer Indonesia’s quarantine procedure instead of Singapore, but I’d choose Singapore’s managing of the swab test infection control measure.
Polling agents play an important role in Singapore’s electoral process.
It is the first and possibly, the one location that could cause a voter to have a change of heart and/or mind if they were being influenced at the polling centres.. The polling agent’s role is that of an enforcement officer, to ensure that there is fairness by all parties.
Fairness to ensure that no candidate or polling agent from another party is able to influence a voter through any means or ways possible.
Some ways that could possibly be done to influence, is to whisper “Vote XXX” to a fellow voter or to stand at a location close enough to apply undue influence/pressure on the voter to vote for a certain party. The polling agent could also observe to ensure that the ballot boxes are properly sealed and not tampered with prior to and during transportation to the counting centre.
This is why, the job of the polling agent, is critical and important.
For alternative parties, trying to find individuals to volunteer as polling agents is no easy feat when compared to the incumbent who has access to a pool of volunteers within their capacity as PA Grassroots Advisers. As much as PA has claimed to be apolitical, personal experience tells me otherwise as I have received messages calling for support for the grassroots adviser.
Therefore, if you’d like to lend a hand to the alternative cause and would like for your issues to be debated in parliament, besides voting for the alternative and encouraging others within your constituency to do the same, you can also volunteer your time to assist and to rally others around you to volunteer to help the alternative cause.
Newer and smaller partiers like Red Dot United, would no doubt be in need of such volunteers as do other older and smaller parties like Singapore People’s Party.
Do reach out to them directly, and sound out your interest to volunteer in our democratic process.
To read more on the role of polling agent, click here.
Singapore’s fight against COVID-19 was lauded previously by World Health Organisation as the GOLD STANDARD but we can see now that there the gold standards were there for the political optics. Even today, the Singapore government is still looking at optics from a public relations point of view to managing this outcome.
Why is optics so important for the People’s Action Party who’s governing Singapore?
The answer is a simple one – General Elections.
When the virus first struck our shores, we were told by our PAP Politicians against better advice from a group of 4 doctors who suggested that everyone should wear masks. The group of 4 doctors suggestion came very early on in February as it was mentioned, ‘that the ratio of seven cases that are currently in the intensive-care unit out of the 47 confirmed infected cases, is not a low figure’. This was in February.
Reasons cited included:
– ‘Wearing a mask is not the most important thing to do to keep the coronavirus at bay’
The major difference between the two is that a Circuit Breaker pushes the responsibility of staying home to the citizens whilst a Dorscon Red imposes on its’ citizens to stay home.
The severity of the messaging is similarly different too.
With Circuit Breaker, citizens still feel nonchalant about the situation and are not taking staying home seriously and will find all means and ways to get out of the house. This is evident looking at how the government has struggled to keep citizens indoors and have resorted to more ‘tightening’ measures by imposing/threatening hefty fines and imprisonment for those who are caught flouting the rules.
The problem with these tightening measures is that it is ineffective.
And the reason why the government does not wish to escalate to Dorscon Red has not been made known but speculation is rife and one of the most obvious reasons is simply because the government needs schools to remain available as polling stations and counting centres since the government plans to run the elections during this period.
One of the other things to be worried about is how those who are affected due to COVID-19 could be exempted from voting.
This is serious because the voices of those who have been affected by this virus would be silenced.
As the second densest country in the world, our government has shown how badly it has fared in managing this crisis compared to the third densest country in the world, Hong Kong, which from the very beginning imposed the harshest of measures which has successfully kept the virus under control.
I won’t blame Singaporeans for being lackadaisical at this juncture since the Singapore government, formed by a team of supposedly high-ranking civil servants, army generals as well as police officers have perhaps displayed similar attitudes when the virus first reached its shores.
Singapore still has to deal with a clusterfuck – the outbreak in workers dormitories.
I would have thought that our experience in managing SARS would have taught us a lesson, and it probably did, but perhaps, we have been smug about how well we managed it that we are taking a second beating and losing badly.
Who do I feel the most for?
Our frontliners for sure who have been battling this from Day 1. They must be burned out and in need of a tag out, but unfortunately, there’s no one there to tag them out.
Definitely hope the government will not just tighten, but put a stop to this and raise the level to DORSCON RED to send an important message to Singaporeans to stay home, and to definitely just delay the elections until this is over.
It may be unconstitutional, but this is a different time and certainly, men can make laws to make it constitutional to do so.
Insurance, was a topic that I remember was quite sensitive for many years in my household as I was growing up. I never knew what insurance was but I knew it as ‘gambling with our lives’ or putting a price on our lives.
Even today, insurance is still debated amongst Muslims.
On one camp, we have those who say it is NOT PERMITTED, for the reasons I’ve mentioned earlier as well as we need to let God decide what’s best for us.
On the other camp, I’ve learnt that it is ALLOWED, because it provides you with financial security not just for yourself, but for your loved ones should something untoward happen to you. It is much akin to Muslims way of describing what the Prophet described as ‘tying your camel to a tree’.
I believe that both has its’ own merits and whilst the former has entirely submitted themselves to God’s will, the latter has decided that it is still better to be prudent even when we are submitting to God’s will.
I happen to belong to the latter group and let me share with you why.
In 2005 when I was serving my National Service, I purchased a Personal Accident plan from AVIVA Insurance. I paid $33.50/month for it with hopes that I never have to use it. That’s the whole idea of getting an insurance. It sounds stupid but that’s how it works.
5 years later, on August 13, 2010, I met with a motorcycle accident. I fractured my arm and couldn’t ride to work nor perform daily tasks nor work as a drama trainer for a whole period of 90 days, which extended to a further 90 days.
As a freelancer, not being able to work is the worst thing that could happen to me. No income, no form of sustenance and yet, the bills continue to need to be paid.
Thankfully, I remembered I had my personal accident plan.
I submitted a claim for it for the first time and it provided me with much relief. I didn’t have to beg anyone to give me money, or borrow from anyone. The amount wasn’t as much as what I could have earned as a freelancer but at the very least, there was INCOME REPLACEMENT for the time I couldn’t work.
This became a turning point in my life and changed the way I approached insurance.
Insurance is a cost that you need to include in your monthly overheads, but no doubt, it is as essential, like your mobile phone, a privilege only to those who can afford them. Nonetheless, I like to believe that if you can afford a mobile phone, it might be advisable for you to get yourself insured too.
As you can see from what I shared earlier, my Personal Accident insurance cost me $33.50, that’s cheaper than what I used to have to pay for my monthly mobile bill! And with more insurers out there, you can easily purchase a Personal Accident insurance for less than that which provides you with reasonable income replacement payouts for your rainy days.
Click here to see which insurers are recommended and charging you a low fee for it!
What are the other types of insurance that I think is essential?
- Personal Accident (is a must! Even a sprain or food poisoning is considered claimable!)
- Hospitalisation (is good to have. This complements your PA. Should you get warded, you’ll get paid additional for it)
- Medisave Rider (to avoid paying hefty bills even with a hospitalisation)
- Travel (if you frequently travel overseas, even to JB or Batam! For your peace of mind even for a 30 minute ride into JB to top up your tank)
These would be the essentials in my opinion in no particular order except for Personal Accident.
This post is not sponsored by any company, but seriously, insurance for me is ‘tying my camel to a tree’.
If the Singapore General Elections were to be called for today, there is a huge chance that the opposition could win by a humongous landslide.
Whilst the PAP government is trying hard to ‘fix’ the opposition, they have also ended up fighting their own fires, fires that they started themselves and have found themselves surrounded with.
Fixing the opposition
There’s really only one thing they’ve been trying hard to fix, Aljunied-Hougang Town Council’s High Court judgement.
Better still, if WP appeal fails and Sylvia Lim as well as Low Thia Khiang are made ineligible to run for office in the next elections.
That’s the game plan at least, from the look of it.
But they seem to have shot themselves in the foot as they attempt to debate/pass a motion in parliament through none other than the next supposed incoming Prime Minister, Heng Swee Keat.
HSK fumbled in parliament on his own motion when question by Sylvia and needed coaching on the sides by PM Lee himself, who didn’t sound too happy in the recordings.
PM: No,(speaker speaking) this debate is premature … we’ll consider her point very carefully and we’ll give her a considerate response from that point whether to proceed or not
PM: Just say we need…. (mic gets cut)
You can watch/hear it for yourself here. It happens within the first 15 minutes.
I’m guessing the mic got cut out because it would have been too embarassing to let anyone hear what was said to HSK by PM.
And that was it.
Can you imagine how much more of a struggle/incapable PAP would have looked if Singapore had more oppositions in parliament. No wonder PM Lee said, “I’d have to spend all my time, what is the right way to fix them, what’s the right way to buy my own supporters over…”
If you really gave much thought to this sentence, you really can see what has been done to try to ‘buy supporters over’ and ‘the right way to fix them (opposition)’.
Never mind trying to fix the opposition, PAP now has their own problems amongst themselves to settle chief of all – PMD ban, Jurong-Clementi Town Council fire warning by SCDF, Ang Mo Kio Town Council corruption and Keppel Corporation corruption.
The PMD ban is the latest and hottest ongoing issue at the moment. An overnight ban costing the jobs of 7000 PMD delivery riders.
The government didn’t give much thought about it when they decided to issue the ban but are now constantly inundated by petitions and human interest stories are appearing all over the news of how physically disabled individuals depended on the PMD for sustenance, individuals who suffer from health conditions and illness depended on the PMD, individuals who needed the flexibility of the job to look after family members.
Good luck to PAP MPs trying to put a PR spin on this. There is no turning back. This is just going to snowball. The $7m package they put out to assist, was obviously an afterthought since it was only done after a surge of complains.
The government didn’t consult the food delivery companies beforehand, nor did they consult the PMD riders themselves!
‘With You, For You, For Singapore’ indeed. (Even they don’t dare to put it up anymore!)
Next, you have the fire that engulfed the home in Bukit Batok. SCDF had to issue a warning the Jurong-Clementi Town Council because a fire hose reel wasn’t able to be used when the house caught fire.
“Several of the hose reel cabinets had been padlocked, SCDF said in a statement to CNA on Saturday (Nov 9). Even after firefighters broke one of the padlocks, they were still unable to use the fire hose reel because there was no water supply, SCDF added.”
Can you imagine how scary that was for the residents who had probably tried to use the hose reels but couldn’t?
So much for SG SECURE. I don’t think those residents felt secure in a PAP managed Town Council.
Last but not least, we come to two corruption scandals that have rocked Singapore’s ‘clean’ government.
I don’t think much has to be said because not much was discussed in Parliament about these issues which tells you where the priorities of this government is.
So seriously, if the election was called today, I’m sure the opposition would win by huge margins.
With the Open Electricity Market or better known as OEM, Singaporeans can now make a choice of who they’d like to engage to provide electricity service to their homes.
At first glace, we’re all baffled at how these retailers have been able to charge much lower prices and/or offer discounted tariff rates against the SP Group prices. We’re being cheated is amongst those chief arguments that I’ve read and heard of, but does it really matter anymore now that there’s choice(s) for a change just like how the political scene is with Dr Tan Cheng Bock making a comeback.
I’m not one to jump into making decisions, not especially so when there’s a contract (tied down) and when there are significant costs involved.
So, I took my time to review majority of the retailers for their Fixed Price deals and came up with a chart.
The above comparison is very simplistic but provides a good enough comparison between several retailers.
Based on the above, in terms of overall costing, ESPower provides the best value but you do need to pay a security deposit and there’s also an early termination fee which if you do decide to terminate before the end of your contractual period would mean an additional $140 to be added into the overall cost.
The next best value retailer would be GENECO. Whilst there’s no security deposit required, an early termination fee of $130 is still cheaper than ESPower resulting in an overall lower cost on the whole over the contractual period.
But the big difference between the two retailers is GENECO has a tie-up with NTUC which gives you 4000 points. There are, of course, other retailers that have a tie up with NTUC but none gives you an instant 4000 points.
I didn’t review some of the other retailers because using the OEM calculator, these were the retailers that were on the top in terms of pricing. iSwitch no doubt offers really low prices but on the whole, they seem to be much more expensive.
I’m not sure if the other retailers charge a service fee as it wasn’t available/listed in their factsheet unlike iSwitch but even so, the termination charge for iSwitch is quite a headache to deal with.
If you were wondering on meter readings, I wrote in individually to all the retailers and SP Group is still in charge of meter readings and submission of your monthly meters is still to SP Group.
So, end of the day, the biggest player is still the biggest winner from a business perspective. All they have to do is to decentralise their work and give it away to others and they still profit from it.
It sure feels like even if the ruling party loses, they’ll still be in control.
Try new things in life and there’s a first for everything.
That’s the kind of person I am and when I got the call from Fresver Beauty for a complimentary ‘Classic Facial with Shoulder Massage with no obligations’, I decided “WHY NOT?”
I texted them back and confirmed a date for an appointment 2 days after my 34th Birthday at the Hougang Interchange outlet.
I was told to come 15 minutes earlier to do a skin analysis and 5 minutes before I arrived I was thinking about how horrible it was going to be if they messed up with my skin and I ended up looking worst. But as with all adventures, there was always going to be a risk, I took this visit to the beauty salon as one of my very own expeditions too.
I came in right on 1215hrs, 15 minutes before the appointed time and was asked for my NRIC. The lady over the counter then went, “I’m not sure how to pronounce your name”. And I was thinking, ‘I’m not sure how hard it can be considering you’re holding on to my NRIC’ and so I decided, “Just call me Up” and even after simplifying it, I didn’t get a response. So, I guess, even calling out ‘UP’ was just as tough as calling out Abdillah.
I was then brought into a small room where I was asked to fill in a survey and an indemnity form to absolve them from any responsibility should anything happen to me. I hesitated to sign until a different lady stepped in and asked that I sign before she proceeded to conduct my skin analysis after conducting a short interview.
During the skin analysis, I finally got the opportunity to be put under the powerful microscope and was shown on the 21 inch screen how my skin looked like. I had chosen not to wash or cleanse my face for 2 days so that I could get the most out of this experience and true enough, I was shown my blackheads and whiteheads, and I was also informed that I had sensitive skin.
I never knew.
The lady was also trying to sell me to use this other machine which cost $59 (UP $150) to soften my skin further before the extraction. Of course, I refused. I wasn’t going to pay anything. It’s my birthday!
From there, I was asked to keep my bag in their locker. My bag struggled to squeeze in there. For those of you who’ve seen my bag, you know it’s huge. It carries a 17 inch laptop, a folder and some other essentials to save the day for work and in case of emergency.
But it did get squeezed in and I was ushered into a room where I was shown the bed. The therapist closed the door and left me there. I wasn’t sure what to do. I mean normally when I go for a massage, I know I have to strip down to my underwear but I wasn’t sure if I should do the same for a facial and so, I opted to keep my clothes on and to cover myself with the ‘blanket’.
The therapist started with cleansing my face and then proceeded on to do a facial scrub and had a few other things going which I couldn’t hear clearly because she was mumbling to herself. But the next big thing I knew and heard was “EXTRACTION”. This happened right after she put some steam which was supposed to be for my entire face but ended up only on my forehead. The whole purpose of the steam was to open up the pores to make it easier to extract the blackheads.
The extraction was painful. It brought back memories of how my mother used to do extraction of my face because I used to have such horrible skin. I had acne all over and breakouts and my mother was eager to clean my face up and did her own extractions at home, with pleasure. I, on the other hand, didn’t enjoy it because I would rather just let my hormones do its job. Besides, I didn’t have a problem with having an acne breakout on my face.
So, the therapist pinched my face and used some device which I couldn’t see because my eyes were covered to extract. I’m guessing it’s some tweezers. Once that’s done, she dusted my face off with something and proceeded to clean it once again before she said, “HYDRATING GEL”.
She put some of that stuff on my face, propped the table at an angle and gave me a 30 sec shoulder massage before she disappeared for about what felt like 20 minutes before returning to clean it off my face, cleansing it again and ending it off with a light tap all over my cheeks and “Ginger tea”?
I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I wasn’t sure if what I just went through is normal for a facial and if my face would survive what it went through.The moment I stepped out of the room, the lady who initially interviewed me was ready to receive me and once again, questioned me on the size and contents of my bag before ushering me back into the same room to complete another questionnaire – this time on their service.
A few minutes later, she came in and started her sales pitch to get me to sign up for the second visit by offering me $59 for the second visit for what she described as usual price as $300, and letting me use the machine that I denied paying for earlier.
I politely declined and she gave me a sad thank you.
All said and done, I’m glad I had this experience all thanks to Try and Review for this opportunity!
Will I go for another facial?
I might consider it if I don’t have to pay anything for it! But I do have a question for those who go for facials:
ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO FEEL SLEEPY AFTER THE FACIAL??? CAUSE MY EYES FELT LIKE THEY NEEDED TO SLEEP AFTER THE FACIAL!!
The recent passing of Mohamad Fadli Mohd Salleh as a result of consuming tainted food catered by Spize River Valley outlet is not one to be taken lightly and one that is pretty close to home.
The deceased is a relative of my wife’s grandaunt.
My wife’s grandaunt was feeding my baby when she got the call about his passing, I was seated right next to her.
This post is not about who he is. I’ve never met him before but this post is about the possibility that such an incident could have been prevented.
About a week or so before the unfortunate incident on Nov 6 where 81 people had become ill having consumed food catered by Spize, my wife had ordered food to her office.
She too fell ill having consumed food ordered from there and the victim could have been her.
A report was lodged on NEA’s online platform and an officer subsequently called my wife back later to inform that they had conducted checks and informed that everything was in good order. No lapses were discovered.
But I have my doubts now that I’ve read the news report from TNP. It was reported by TNP, ‘Several hygiene lapses were found, including leaving food uncovered in a chiller, not providing soap for hand-washing and slotting knives in the gaps of food preparation tables.’
Now, these lapses are operational lapses.
Lapses that were committed as a result of habit by the staff, and failed to be enforced by the management on duty at the outlet. A team of individuals who have utter disregard for cleanliness and safety in preparing food to be served to paying customers.
I don’t want to cast doubt on the ability of the NEA officer who went down to check after our complaint or to cast doubt on the ability of NEA as an organisation but to have a major incident occur within a short span of our complaint for a similar case is too close of a coincidence.
Questions continue to linger in my head because I honestly believe that such an incident could have been prevented.
Learning from the 2009 incident that occurred to Geylang’s rojak stall, word on the ground from that incident that because the shops are so closely placed to each other, one man’s lapse could have affected the other. In that case, it was widely speculated that the cause of death was rat’s fecal matter (pee). The rat, wasn’t from that shop, but had traveled from another’s.
I’m of the opinion that in this particular case, beyond just Spize, NEA should, whenever a food poisoning case is reported, to also check on neighbouring food outlets to ensure the entire vicinity of food outlets is clean and safe from such lapses.
It will no doubt cause inconvenience but in such a case where life and death is at stake, and with such a precedence from 2 cases, I believe it’s high time that more stringent action is taken.
Have you watched Channel News Asia’s latest ‘Regardless of Class’?
The show attempts to discuss social class differences and how Singaporeans classify one another with the end product being – class is a huge divide between society. This, on top of Language, Race and Religion.
Watching the show, I was able to connect at a very personal with pretty much, almost everyone on the show; from the LOW SOCIAL CLASS to the HIGH SOCIAL CLASS. But before you begin to draw conclusions on me, I’d like to point you towards why I feel family upbringing is important to address this socio-economic class issue.
- Based on the interview conducted with young children in the documentary, it is parents who paint the world for the child. Therefore, what parents say and how parents choose to react/respond/act to what happens around them will affect their child’s perception.
And this is beyond just classification of individuals into socio-economic status, but more importantly in how the child chooses to interact with someone of a different language, race and/or religion.
That’s probably like a huge DUH, but more often than not, parents are the ones to be blamed for how children grow up to be.
Malays have a saying, “Melentur buluh dari rebungnya” in its’ literal translation means ‘To curve a bamboo, start from its shoot’. It’s meaning – the shaping of an adult begins from the time when he/she is still a child.
Now, back to the documentary.
Having had the opportunity to hang around high social class individuals whenever I attend events, one of the things I tend to notice when I engage in a conversation with them is the flow of questions follows as such:
– “What do you do for a living?”
– “What did you study in school?”
– “Which university did you study at?”
– “Which JC did you study at?”
– “Which secondary school did you study at?”
– “Do you drive?”
These questions seem to be the norm of conversation and I don’t blame them because as humans, we naturally want to form a connection with another person and so, we try to find commonalities with each other.
And it’s not just in Singapore that I’ve encountered such a line of questioning, even overseas when I’m visiting my parents or on holiday visiting friends.
So here’s the thing, social class is not a determinant of how a person is like, as a person. Social class is, for me, simply about how God dealt our cards in life.
So, how can we eradicate or minimize the gap between the classes?
I can only think of – SHARED EXPERIENCES and ATTITUDE.
What do I mean?
When I watched the documentary and it talked about cleaners and security guards. I could immediately connect with both occupations having worked as a cleaner when I was younger and being somewhat chatty, I tend to enjoy having chats with the first person whom I would usually come across whenever I have to enter a building.
That’s right, the SECURITY GUARD!
And yes, not all security guards were once security guards.
I’ve spoken to quite a number and they all have reasons for why they chose to be security guard. I’ve met one security guard who chose to be a security guard because it was 5 minutes away from home which saves him transportation cost and he used to be a flight steward for 25 years.
And what about cleaners?
My next door neighbour was an estate cleaner (before Town Councils began hiring foreigners en masse). I grew up in his house, playing with his grandson and I often saw how hard he had to work being an old man. But he enjoyed his job and always had a smile on his face.
That experience taught me not to litter on the ground because someone’s family member was doing the cleaning. So, I learnt how to care for the environment through that experience.
And what about my own experience as a cleaner?
Well, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I took time to talk to people I met to learn about their job while I was doing mine. For me, it was a lot about understanding what I had to do for them to make sure their job could be done easier.
I still enjoy talking to cleaners.
It could be as simple as just asking whether or not they’ve had their meals or what time they knock off from work. These things make their day. It makes them feel human.
The show also interviewed students from different streams and how it was challenging to interact with one another.
This was an issue on the show that I found it hard to understand because when I was a student, regardless of our streams, we were all hanging out almost always together. Exp, NA or NT, we were all playing soccer together and committing mischief together. And to a lot of peoples’ surprise, the express students in my school were almost as naughty or even naughtier than the NA or NT students!
The popular students in my sec sch were the gang members and since my exp classmates were gang members, they were popular for that. Not for how smart they were, but simply because they were ‘cooler’ as a gang member. These days, it seems that having branded good is a pre-requisite for being ‘cool’ rather than the personality and vibe that a person has.
Nonetheless, I never saw the divide growing up.
Up till today, I don’t feel the divide in class. Maybe because my friends who are more well to do than I am tend to share what they have in excess to ensure we can all enjoy the experience together.
But surely, it is just me. It was how I was raised and how I chose to live my life and live my experiences. And maybe, that’s why I often get mistaken to be a graduate or someone who is rich (money) but I’m neither, I’m just a guy who’s happily living life to the fullest within my means.
And no, I don’t come from a rich family either.
Born in a rental flat, grew up in a 3-room flat.
One thing I do agree about the show, luck COULD BE a determinant and that’s a HUGE COULD BE. Being connected to the right people is just as important too, this I would agree. Hence, networking opportunities are important. Even if you consider yourself to be from the low social class, there would be networking opportunities available.
As simple as participating in events in the community or attending courses or joining a group for a health activity.
So for me, the roadmap towards social mobility from LOW SOCIAL CLASS to HIGH SOCIAL CLASS is a stroke of luck, ample networking opportunities and of course, having good health. When you don’t have to spend on staying healthy, you can focus on working hard consistently without falling ill, saving up, spending within your means and wait for the right opportunity or luck to come knocking your way to send you up the ladder towards a different social class.
A change of health condition and luck could similarly send someone from a high social class down to low social class.
But what’s most important above it all, a positive attitude and a good outlook on and in life and having good manners. Having those things is true high social class and if you don’t have it, chances are, you’ll pass it down to your kids and no matter how wealthy you are, you’re just not classy.
Noah is turning 3 months in 2 days time and what an experience it has been. In the last posts, I shared about how to manage supporting your wife through her pregnancy and through her labour. In this post, I’ll talk about how to support your wife and how to support yourself in the area of expressing milk.
When I first bought my wife her breast pump, my female cousins and my sister (my support system), were surprised as they told me that usually in purchasing such items, the lady herself would want to check it out herself as she would be using the item and not me.
So, I was a bit worried about the purchase I made but too late for that.
The first breast pump I got for my wife was a Tommee Tippee single breast pump. I bought it because it was the only brand I knew considering my sister was using this brand of bottle for my niece and I was there through my niece early years.
Did she like it?
She loved it. Well, why wouldn’t she right?
Her first breast pump, could be battery operated, could be hooked up to a power supply and it was looking quite portable too! It was looking pretty good UNTIL THE TUBING BROKE. The tubing didn’t even last her first pump. It kept disintegrating for short of a better word and that was frustrating. Turns out, plenty of people had the same problem with the tubing!
So, I did some research and came across a brand that a friend had recommended when I bumped into him and his wife at the baby fair, SPECTRA. He was careful to mention that this was quite pricey, but it was silent and his wife loved it.
With a little bit of research on the internet and I discovered that SPECTRA was a hospital grade breast pump. So, that was really good to know. If I was going to get another one, might as well get one that would blow my wife’s mind away (ok, lying here. Blow my mind more like it!)
And so, we welcomed Spectra 1 into our lives. It was silent, had a night light, was a double breast pump and most definitely was a powerful pump that expressed milk really well!
But we had one glitch with the pump, it hung on us for one night!
It hung like how your mobile phone would hang and allow you to use it.
So, lo and behold, thankfully, my sister had given us her own set of breast pumps – LANSINOH Affinity Double Breast Pump!
This was an old model pump from several years ago but it did not disappoint! It worked, but it took longer than the Spectra 1. Nonetheless, it was still silent and expressed a good amount as well!
We are still using the Spectra 1 primarily, supported by Lansinoh (always great to have a back up!)
But we have reached our latest level of expressing journey – preparing for going back to work.
The criteria was simple. The pump had to be small and during the expression, it had to be concealable so as not to be a distraction to others at work.
We did our research and came across a handsfree breast pump – FREEMIE LIBERTY.
It did look like it would provide freedom for her, but it didn’t look like it would provide freedom for my wallet. The cost was a turn off and so we went back to our friendly Google who provided us with the next best option.
This wasn’t available in stores but it was available online, sold by a few private sellers and the best part is, it is much more affordable.
And that resolves our first issue – the discretion from the expression at work but we still had another concern. It is not possible to lug around the Spectra S1 to and fro as it was bulky, and thank god, Spectra also had a smaller more portable pump, Spectra S9.
Today, my wife and I celebrate her incoming journey back to work having successfully tested the Spectra S9 together with the handsfree.
So, for all the fathers-to-be out there, if you are planning to get a breast pump.
Don’t waste your time or your money, get a Spectra 9 with the handsfree pump kit. It provides mobility for your wife so she won’t be stuck in the room holding to the bottle or even if she was wearing the handsfree bra, she doesn’t have to be uncomfortable about moving around the house looking like Madonna in her cone tits.
My life hacks for you?
Get the Spectra S1, Spectra 9 and the handsfree if you’re looking for a breast pump that will provide comfort for your wife, and don’t bother getting a brand new set.
If you’re wondering why I didn’t get the Medela? Well, not everything they have is a closed system. So, that’s why.
PS: This isn’t a sponsored post