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. 

I don’t get the yellow boots though. Look at where the UTM tube is placed at.

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.

Singapore National Day 2016



Another eventful year for Singapore as we cross into 51 years of statehood independence and what a journey it has been for Singapore. Our forefathers have toiled this land to make this country a safe and prosperous one – a place where everyone can live, work and play (Pokemon GO) safely.

I am no doubt happy to be a Singaporean, as much as Singaporeans continue to remain in search for our unique identity. The debate between Singlish and English continues, and what do we make out of the strict ethnicity quota that hasn’t changed much as well as battling the evils of what globalisation has led us to (indiscriminate racism on social media and acts of terrorism through proxy funders).

But beyond the constant search for our Singaporean identity and mine (being of mixed ethnicity can get extremely confusing), the safety and security that this country has provided us all remains at the forefront of envy among others in the world. That is something that we cannot take for granted. We continue to be a place that is safe for our young and old to walk the streets at night compared to most countries regionally, our education system continues to be extremely rigorous in producing scholars and we continue to be a place where everyone can have freedom of worship.

True that there is a lot more that we could work on to become better than what we are today – a better pace of living, better work-life balance and to be a more affordable place to live in with better living wages to enjoy some of the best things in life when we choose to retire.

But as the National Day Parade yesterday has shown, we frequently still do travel back in time to revisit our historical past. We are a country of people that remains sentimental at heart, fillial to our ancestors and elders, and that helps to keep us grounded to who we really are.

Of course, while there were comments about the Badang narrative that was potrayed, I felt that what was more important is that there were those of us who knew the story and were trying to put things right to it. We believe in the right to potray what is truthful. There were contentions about Badang having tattoos, being a bit too muscular and flying at that but none of us were arguing about the legitimacy of his story because we know and we understand that Badang did exist.

So, I am proud and I am happy that Singaporeans were stepping up to defend Badang’s authenticity (looks, storyline, etc) and I wish that more people would step up to talk more about the other stories that we have in Singapore because the Singapore narrative is so much more beyond Sang Nila Utama and Sir Stamford Raffles, Singapore holds stories to so much more history that if one decides to venture out in search for it, you will be amazed at how much history there is (if you’re really keen on venturing out to these places and learning about them, give this a try Lumba Bahasa & Budaya Gerek).

More than just stories about Singapore, the stories that one can discover will make you realize how connected we are to our closest neighbours, Indonesia and Malaysia, and how much we actually share our history with theirs. It’s a lot like the prequel begins in Indonesia, then the plot thickens in Singapore, with the sequels in Malaysia.

But moving beyond our history and shared history, we need to create new stories, we need to create new heroes or have people stepping forward, we need to create new figures or have figures that we can all stand together behind and support. And I’m not talking about politicians or figures of state, but it’s the story of the everyday Ali, Muthu, Ah Tan or John that we can all connect with – the story of how a young Singaporean saves his country like the story of Hang Nadim, or the story of an immigrant who roots himself in Singapore and puts Singapore on the map like Badang.

We need this to move forward and to do that, we need to stop arguing endlessly over the small things, agree to disagree and start looking at the big picture, of how we are positioned in relation to the world and work together hand in hand, locals and foreigners, putting aside our differences but align our commonalities for what is most important to us all – and if you ask me what that could be, I’m guessing it’s HAPPINESS.

True to the words of Pak Zubir Said when he composed our National Anthem,

‘Mari Kita Rakyat Singapura Sama-sama Menuju Bahagia’

Let us all, Singaporeans head towards happiness

because if we aren’t happy, then really, what do we want?

Eventful March and April

March was a really exciting month and seems like April is going to look like a very long one as well. Every Saturday in March, I saw at the judges table, on invitation from National University of Singapore’s Persatuan Bahasa Melayu Universiti Kebangsaan Singapura or better known as NUS PBMUKS, to judge quatrains for a Pesta Pantun competition.

This year was the competitions’ 20th anniversary and aside from the regular local teams/schools that took part to compete, this years’ competition was opened to teams from across the causeway, Malaysia, and what a competition it was.

Competition was tough and clearly, standards in language and delivery were different between the two countries.

Nevertheless, one thing remained in the world of quatrains, ENTERTAINMENT VALUE.

Quatrains, always had one thing that I enjoyed the most, was its’ ability to send out subtle messages in the most entertaining manner. Of course, some messages aren’t so subtle but take pot shots at the other.

These days, not many people speak in quatrains and well, while we may have lost a small part of our daily culture, I am also thankful that we no longer speak in quatrains except on certain occasions or otherwise, it’d be really tiring to get a message across and if you’re someone who is unable to read between the lines, quatrains will leave you lost.

Pesta Pantun

Pesta Pantun 2016 judges (seated) with NUS PBMUKS Pesta Pantun Adviser (Standing Left) and NUS PBMUKS President (Standing Right) and Vice President (Standing Centre)

Aside from Pesta Pantun, By Definition Pte Ltd was also busy judging for a Storytelling competition organised by Tiong Bahru Youth Executive Committee (YEC). So, that’s two events in March.

No, I couldn’t do it so got one of the #TeamByDef family members to do it instead!

Story Alive

Hidayah (in hijab) together with the winners and judges from Story Alive!

And just yesterday, in support of a collaborative effort between Chong Pang CC MAEC, Woodlands CC MAEC, and Woodlands Galaxy CC MAEC together with Masjid Darul Makmur and Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang, we took up two booths at Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang, the last standing kampong mosque in Singapore for a ‘Jom Balik Kampong’ event, selling cold drinks and our traditional games.


Awesome friends volunteering their time to help out with the booth!

Response from the crowd was very encouraging as we marketed and sold many of our traditional game items, games that we usually conduct in schools. So yes, we are now also plying our wares to ensure that our traditional games can continue to be played even at home.


A very sporting Grassroots Adviser, Amrin Amin, who decided that he’d give the Tapak Gajah a try in socks, watched on by fellow Grassroots Adviser, Khaw Boon Wan.

So, if you’re looking for traditional games to play at home, look no further.


Tapak Gajah, Gasing Buluh (Bamboo Spinning Top), Batu Seremban, Yeh Yeh, Gasing and Lagu-Lagu Rakyat book all available for sale at the event and now, will be made available for public sales.

Of course, as these items are personally sourced out, we always keep a limited stock in supply. So, if you’re keen to get your hands on them, drop us an email ( to order and once the games arrive, we’ll let you know!

And finally, I’m really excited for the end of the month.

From Pesta Pantun in Singapore to PISMA, a regional pantun competition in Melaka held over 4 days and yours truly has been invited as one of the judges. All praise to God really for the opportunity. Without Pesta Pantun, I don’t think I would have received the invite at all.

So, I’m really looking forward to the 5 teams from Singapore Polytechnic who will be representing Singapore! That’s happening from 29 April to 2nd May. And yes, I’ll be sourcing out for more traditional games in my travels.

I Have Touched Dogs

Note: The original posting of this was first published on my Facebook. This post here comes with a few additions.

The recent ‘I want to touch a dog’ event in Malaysia has stirred quite an interest with the Malaysian Islamic authorities. Islamic authorities are claiming that such an event was an insult to clerics and were seeking to misguide Malaysian Muslims.

What has long been seen as a taboo topic, suddenly opened and thrown out in the open and has gotten the Islamic community in both Malaysia and neighbouring Singapore split and divided on this discussion. While most of the robust discussions have remained on online platforms, it is clear that we are seeing once again, a rise in the number of Facebook clerics, who make their appearance to share their knowledge of Islam to others.

And there are clerics on both sides, debating the merits of why it was a good and bad event. (I’m curious to hear MUIS position on this) (I came across this link on MUIS website with regards to Guide Dogs but is applicable to all kinds of dogs nonetheless)

But at the end of the day, as a Muslim, I think it is more important to ask of the intention. Even when you commit a crime, in passing judgement, your intention plays a very important role towards how the sentence is passed.

So anyway, Malay-Muslims (have to emphasize on this because I only hear from Malay-Muslims) LOVE to say this, “yang penting nawaitu” (what is most important is the intention) and the organizer’s intention I believe was clear when he mentioned education – to help overcome their fear of dogs and bring Malaysians together to promote tolerance and understanding that goes beyond culture, race or religion’.

Even for myself here in Singapore, it’s been close to 2 years that I’ve had plans to organise a similar event but hasn’t quite had the capacity or time to stretch myself to organise one.

The event would have the following objectives:

  1. To educate Muslims and non-Muslims alike on what sertu is and how one performs the sertu (I’m sure many of us wouldn’t know how to because we believe it’s better to avoid than to go through the hassle)
  2. Muslims to get over their unfounded fear of dogs (Muslim parents here have a habit of saying that it’s Haram to touch a dog)
  3. To clear misconceptions and to educate Muslims and non-Muslims on Islam’s relationship with dogs

I, for one, grew up never being scared of dogs and wouldn’t keep my distance from them. I was raised in a family that loved animals and I also knew that our family leftover food were being fed to the dogs at my dad’s workplace because he would often collect the bones of the chicken we ate and leftover rice to be packed and given to the dogs every single morning when he went to work. (May God bless my dad for his loving soul)

While we won’t be keeping dogs at home because we may need to sertu the whole house, this doesn’t mean that we cannot learn to love these animals the same as how we love cats or hamsters or birds or rabbits. And while I’ve been told that there is no need for such an event because Muslims could always go to an animal shelter to show love and care as well as to touch the dogs, how many Muslims would actually bother to go to an animal shelter to visit much less volunteer and volunteer specifically to care for the dogs?

We just happen to live amongst people who keep dogs as pets and the likelihood of us meeting a dog daily is much higher than the chances of us going to the animal shelter to care for the dogs there.

If sertu is our concern, then all we need is just soil. If soil is a concern, then buy the sertu soap (can support a fellow brother’s business also).

While we continue to debate this issue in Singapore, I believe that my other Muslim friends in the Arabian peninsular and in Indonesia are probably puzzled because they have dogs living in their household and have been living with them for a very long time.

Yes, we can argue and debate based on mazhab but none of the mazhabs ever said that touching a dog is haram. I just have the opinion that I will do what I feel is just and right in how I deal with people and animals because at the end of the day, what really matter is, as how everyone puts it, “nawaitu” (intention).

Just like how when my students like to ask me if I’m Malay or Chinese, Muslim or Christian and all I’ll tell them is that I am of the human race and it doesn’t matter what religion I belong to because what matters more is whether or not I am a good person and whether or not I am a good teacher.

As for me, ‘I have touched dogs’.

Sermons – Keeping it Lighthearted

As a Muslim living in Singapore, I grew up attending secular school on the weekdays and madrasahs on my weekends or in the afternoons after secular school ends. And every Friday, like every other Muslim globally, I go to the masjid for my Friday prayers.

Friday prayers for me, have always been some sort of a holiday. When I was younger, Friday prayers meant leaving school earlier and coming back to school slightly later. When I began working, Friday prayers meant shorter working hours on Fridays, which transitioned perfectly into the weekend.

Friday prayers, is also significant for the poor because it is considered as their day of celebration. A day where the congregation will donate to those who beg outside the masjid. In this day and age, even in Singapore, we still have people who beg and while I question the legitimacy of some of those who beg because I have seen them use a mobile phone, speak impeccable English and travel in a car to beg, I’ll save that for another day.

Friday prayers is also not considered to be complete if one does not arrive early or in time to listen to the sermon. The sermon, is considered to be part of Friday prayers and no one is allowed to talk during this period of time. You are expected to listen to the stories and advise given by the Imam.

In Singapore, our sermons are written and prepared by Office of Mufti. All sermons across all masjids in Singapore will speak to you of the same story and same message, except for one masjid which is owned by the Johor Sultanate.

In the years that I’ve travelled and attended Friday prayers in the different masjids across different countries, I discovered that between the different countries, sermons or Friday prayers were conducted differently. In Brunei, before the commencement of Friday prayers or even the call for prayers, a tahfiz would be reciting verses of the Quran welcoming the congregation. In Malaysia, when the names of Prophet Muhammad’s sahabahs are called, the congregation do not echo praises for them. In Indonesia, it’s a bit different as well.

And across these Southeast Asian nations, the sermons were always delivered the same way, one where the tone was always serious and I thought that this was the standard way of how sermons were delivered globally until I went to the US. I was living in Irvine and there were only two places I go for my prayers, one was at the Islamic Center of Irvine and another was at the University of California, Irvine itself, where prayers were held in a space shared by all the other religious groups.

In both locations, the sermons were delivered differently.

The Islamic Center of Irvine delivered its sermon much like how it is in Singapore but with personal stories. Given the fact they are not subjected to the same standards of Singapore masjids, minus the personal stories, the atmosphere was pretty much the same although the people in attendance were attired differently and had a different take on sermons.

People were more comfortably dressed in whatever and however they want to worship God – in bermudas which covered below their knees and even in basketball jerseys (sleeveless).

But the sermons at the University of California, Irvine, were the ones that I enjoyed the most because they were lighthearted and were filled with personal stories of the Imams, who were mostly students. The student-led or alumni-led congregation resonated deeply with me on Islamic issues without forgetting the lessons of Prophet Muhammad’s (Peace Be Upon Him) life. Congregation were tickled at times by the stories that were shared and it made Islam as a religion seem friendlier compared to how it was always perceived as.

Most recently, I attended a Thanksgiving Mass at a Catholic Church here in Singapore. I thought that it was similar to my experience at the University of California, Irvine. The Bishop was sharing the stories from the Gospel and also included his own personal stories at the same time. This made the sermon extremely lighthearted and connected deeply with the congregation, myself included.

The messages delivered were by all coincidence, my personal reflections through my “Before I go to bed tonight”, but most importantly, the messages and the way the sermon was delivered was in-touch with personal and recent events that everyone could relate to.

I couldn’t help but feel that this was the missing piece in the way our sermons were being delivered in our masjids. The way our sermons are delivered gives the impression that much should be focused on death and life after death when instead, we should perhaps try to give better focus on how a Muslim should live our lives, without losing focus on what comes in death and life after death.

Or maybe our sermons already do so but as how I was once told, “It’s the messenger, not the message”.

Surely, it would be awesome if we could experience how Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) delivered his sermons and how he gave advise to people. Though we read and we know how he did it, never having experienced it, we wouldn’t know how it feels.

Haze? Show Must Go On!

Haze has taken its first casualty in Indonesia and at this time that I’m blogging, PSI stands at 400!

It’s the average over 3 hours. So, chances are, the actual reading could be much much higher, possibly 500?

Anyways, a lot of people in Singapore are asking for Ministry of Manpower to issue a STOP WORK order for the health and safety of all Singaporeans.

No doubt, it is hazardous BUT there are many implications attached to issuing such an order because when issued, it must be adhered to and will affect MANY THINGS.

  1. Because you can now go home, you think you can go home or go catch a movie? People working in Cinemas also get to go home lah. So does all the other restaurants and shops. That means, all shopping centres must close.
  2. If you happen to fall ill or there’s a crime, no Emergency Services (Police, Ambulance) will be attending because they are also entitled to go home. Not fair right if you get to go home because you were pushing for a STOP WORK order and they don’t get to go home? Clinics and Hospitals must also close. Patients hang out on their own lor.
  3. Closure of airport. Seletar Airport has already closed. If STOP WORK order is issued, Changi Airport must also cease operations. Hazardous mah!
  4. Aiya, basically, whole country must shut down.
  5. NEA also must stop working. CNA also stop working. So, the only shows you get to watch are those that have been scheduled. If nothing is scheduled, nothing to watch on tv lor.
  6. Hopefully your mobile phones and internet can still work then cause even they have to go home.

Billions of dollars will be lost when this STOP WORK order is issued.

So, let’s all work on managing this haze by keeping ourselves fit and healthy.

  1. Wear a Mask, preferably N95. Singa-sports Academy has some stock of masks for sale. It’s not N95 though.
  2. Stay Indoors.
  3. Eat and Drink Healthy! I’m doing this by ensuring I have my stock of raw honey. $15 per bottle (530grams), $40 for 3 bottles. Islandwide Delivery (Singapore). Limited supply.

Limited Supply of Raw Honey

Limited Supply of Raw Honey

Why Honey?

  1. “And thy Lord taught the Bee to build its cells in hills, on trees, and in (men’s) habitations; Then to eat of all the produce (of the earth), and find with skill the spacious paths of its Lord: there issues from within their bodies a drink of varying colours, wherein is healing for men: verily in this is a Sign for those who give thought” [Al-Quran 16:68-69]
  2. It’s antioxidant and anti-bacterial properties can help improve digestive system and help you stay healthy and fight disease.
  3. Its use for centuries is as a treatment for sore throats and coughs, and according to recent research, may in fact be as effective as many common cough medicines.
  4. Thanks to its antimicrobial properties, honey not only soothes throats but can also kill certain bacteria that causes the infection.
  5. Honey mixed with cinnamon has been shown to revitalize the arteries and veins of the heart and reduce cholesterol in the blood by up to 10%. When taken on a regular basis, this honey-cinnamon mixture may reduce the risk of heart attacks and stop another from occurring in people who have already suffered one.
  6. The anti-inflammatory properties of raw honey will soothe lungs and the irritated airway.

Haze You Ever Wondered?

Before the haze episodes began slightly more than a decade ago, the weather never changed. Forests were still being burned to cultivate the land for the new season of crop cultivation, but it was never a problem to Singaporeans or Malaysians because it was small scale.

Fast forward to today.

Corporatization of the forests in Indonesia has occurred and is being managed by Singapore and Malaysian enterprises.

With corporatization, also means, large amounts of land purchased to meet the demands of the consumers (You and Me). Businesses exist because consumers exist.

To ensure profits remain healthy, overheads must be kept low.

So, here’s what led to the haze.

Consumers (You and Me) consume plenty of such products which require natural resources, in this case, Palm Oil.

Therefore, businesses adopt expansionary measures, and in order to keep cost low for consumers, they move operations to countries where resources (human and natural) are cheap. And to continuously ensure overheads are kept low, companies must only adopt the cheapest methods available to produce for the consumers. In this case, it’s the slash and burn method of forests to cultivate the land, and since they own large amounts of land, there’s more burning that occurs.

Unfortunately, because of wind conditions, the haze travels to affect nearby countries, who are also probably the main consumers of the end product.

To prevent the haze from occurring, companies must increase sale prices so that they have more money to invest in better equipment to avoid using traditional methods of crop/land cultivation. But when that happens, consumers aren’t willing to buy and will switch brands because the item has gotten too expensive.

The solution to this can be overcomed.

It is simple.

Consumers must cut down on their consumerist attitude. Driving down the demand, will drive down the supply. When there’s less supply, there’s less need to burn so much crops which leads to lesser or no haze at all.

In the meantime, just “Keep Calm and Carry On”

Now, this doesn’t just apply to this haze. It applies across all sectors of what you consume in excess.

It’s not companies greed but consumers greed which leads to a lot of issues.


Judging Cakap Petah 2013

Today, is another great day!

I was judging at National University of Singapore’s (NUS), Persatuan Bahasa Melayu Universiti Kebangsaan Singapura (PBMUKS) ‘Cakap Petah’ competition together with Haryani Othman (local celebrity) and Guy Ghazali (lawyer).

‘Cakap Petah’ competition is a Public Speaking competition with a unique format.

Students are first given a theme to talk about for 3 minutes. This is given prior to the competition and students are given a week to prepare for this, after their workshop (which I had conducted).

A week before competition

A week before competition

The theme for this year was ‘C.I.T.A’, Capai Impian Tinggi Angkasa. A literal translation in English would be ‘Reach For Your Dreams As High As Outerspace’. Sounds quite fun to have it translated, literally.

Having completed their 3 minutes speech, participants are then asked to select a card which includes a Proverb or ‘Peribahasa’. They are then given a minute to think through about the meaning and how it relates to their dreams before coming back out again to deliver their 1 minute speech.

So, having said that, there were 9 schools competing this morning.

It was very exciting to watch the students take to the stage to deliver their 3 minute speech. There were a few really outstanding orators and there were also a few who were extremely nervous. Well, that would be expected, especially if it was your first time on stage delivering a speech and facing a large audience.

I remember the first time I stepped up on stage to perform was when I was in K2 taking on the role of ‘The Big Bad Wolf’. The next time I got up on stage was to sing a Mandarin song with the rest of my classmates in Primary 2. I remember these events very clearly as they are memorable to me.

My mom had sewn my Big Bad Wolf costume from scratch, complete with the tail. Thank god for having a mom who’s a seamstress!

And how could anyone forget singing a Mandarin song on stage?

BUT the first time I faced the audience for the first time in my life to orate as an individual, was when I was in Primary 4 in a story-telling competition.

I remember I told the story of Rabbit and the Hare and had came in first place. How I had rehearsed almost every single night to memorize the story and also how to move about to bring my story to life, just like how some of the participants this morning had done so.


The competition only allowed 3 winners and had there been another option, I would have wanted to give prizes for a few categories:

  • Most Props
  • Best-Dressed
  • Most Entertaining
  • Most Nervous
  • Most Awkward
  • Most Demure
  • Most Convicing

I could have easily given away those titles to every single one of them.

You don’t need to win an overall championship trophy, you just need to win something and it’s all in the name of fun and building up their self-confidence.

Perhaps, the organisers for the next ‘Cakap Petah’ might want to consider giving more prizes and changing the format to make it less stressful for the participants, we could have more entertainment prizes to be given away.

At the end of the day, I’m just passionate about kids and as how I teach in class, I like to be encouraging and motivating, and will try to find as many ways as possible to ensure everyone feels important and valued.

They just need that morale boost to know they have what it takes to do well in life 🙂

On a side-note, if your school/organisation is looking for Developmental/Cultural Programmes, you can contact me directly, My company, By Definition Pte Ltd, conducts Developmental and Malay Cultural programmes to schools.

And if you are interested in something more Academic or Sports, do contact me at My other company, Singa-sports Academy conducts Academic and Sports Mentoring programme. We have also been featured in BeritaonSuria and Berita Harian.

Looking Back On 2012

Looking back on 2012….

It was definitely better than 2011! An improvement in a few areas whilst I cut loose on what weighed me down.

By Definition Pte Ltd

By Definition

If you don’t already know, I run this company with two other friends of mine. This was a year better than 2011 in more ways than one. (If you haven’t gone to our FB, go and ‘Like’ it!)

For a start, we had more business rolling in. That’s always good for business. I mean, why would you run a business if it didn’t make money right?

We also moved into an office cum warehouse to share a space with our trusted alliance company to ensure that we can have better collaboration and maximization of resources.

Not just that, we also had our first business trip to establish working relationship with partners overseas and also began sourcing out for materials and artefacts to help us deliver our programmes better!

Lastly, we’ve been receiving great *feedback from our Clients about our Products and Services, and most importantly, the people who help to make it happen – OUR FRIENDS, OUR TRAINERS!


*Between Feb 2011 – Aug 2012:

Primary School Programmes Statistics
(Based on criteria of ‘Tidak Setuju’ (Don’t Agree), ‘Tidak Pasti’ (Not Sure) and ‘Setuju’ (Agree))
‘Suka Dengan Program’ (Like The Programme)
73.2% Setuju
‘Belajar Ilmu Baru’ (Learnt New Skill/Knowledge)
78.8% Setuju
‘Tertarik Dengan Kandungan’ (Attracted To Content)
62.4% Setuju
Secondary School Programme Statistics
(Based on criteria of ‘Tidak Memuaskan’ (Not Satisfying), ‘Kurang Memuaskan’ (Less Satisfying), ‘Sederhana’ (Satisfied), ‘Cukup Memuaskan’ (Quite Satisfied), ‘Sungguh Memuaskan’ (Very Satisfied))
Programme Objectives:
86.9% feedbacked ‘Cukup Memuaskan’ and ‘Sungguh Memuaskan’  
Participants Expectations:
77.5% feedbacked ‘Cukup Memuaskan’ and ‘Sungguh Memuaskan’
Interesting/Unique Programmes:
89.2% feedbacked ‘Cukup Memuaskan’ and ‘Sungguh Memuaskan’
  • Community Work/Volunteering – YEC

Seems like some of my friends aren’t aware that I have been volunteering with People’s Association. Well, can’t blame them since I don’t talk about it cause I don’t really know who’s interested to know about what I do and I also don’t like to end up talking about myself. It’s enough that I have to bore people about what I do for a living (business), don’t think I want to bore people more with what I do without getting paid for it.

So, I’ll make this one as short as possible.

My Youth Executive Committee (YEC) organised the first ever run at the Gardens By The Bay at Marina Bay. Called the ‘Singapore Garden Run’, it was also a GRC event whereby we synergised with a few other YECs within our GRC to carry out this event. My YEC was in-charge of the run and the concert.

Singapore Garden Run

Singapore Garden Run

We know there were feedbacks about how it was conducted but nonetheless, for an event that big to have been organised by a group of youths made up of working professionals and students, I think we can afford to give ourselves a pat on our back for that. Nevertheless, we will work to address the issues raised and hope to be able to deliver a better run in the future!

  • Community Work/ Volunteering – SSEAYP

Yes, another type of volunteering.

I was really happy to have been able to contribute for this one not just in Singapore but again, in Indonesia!

Ship for South East Asia Youth Programme

Ship for South East Asia Youth Programme

Emcee for the Home Stay Matching Ceremony held at Orchid Country Club! I was initially asked to help take photos but I had to say no to that cause I really have no skill and I don’t want to screw photos up. I wouldn’t have enjoyed it too. I’m not quite the camwhore. I’m more of the motormouth and yes, I definitely enjoyed myself emceeing the event. To those who were there, I hope you enjoyed it as well.

Liaison Officer (LO) for Country Program Indonesia (CPI). My second year as LO in Indonesia for the CPI and I cannot be happier to have been able to contribute especially since my SSEAYP batchmate is also now the President of SSEAYP International Indonesia.

Not only did I get to contribute as LO, I was also the Emcee for the Welcoming Dinner hosted by the Governor of Daerah Kabupaten Indonesia Jakarta (Jakarta Province). It would have been awesome if I would have been able to meet and take a photo with the new Jakarta Governor, Joko Widodo, but alas, he didn’t attend.

Nonetheless, what made it more sweet was that some members of the Ministry of Youth and Sports who were in attendance later commented that they enjoyed my emceeing and loved my voice and would love to have me emcee their events in the future! Woohoo!

  • LOVE

I think this deserves a section of its own.

Yes, I am in love.

I don’t think I have ever loved God this much in my life. I’ve been reading the Quran more often albeit translation, to have a better understanding of God’s revelations to Muslims beloved Prophet, Prophet Muhammad.

If you’re wondering about love in the other segment.

Well, to answer that, it’s really connected to God. As my name suggests, Abdillah – Servant of God. I really need to serve him more diligently in 2013.

My dad has already told me to get married in 2013. I don’t think that’s going to happen. I’m not financially nor emotionally nor spiritually prepared for it. Anyway, my dad is very specific about who he wants me to marry – an Indonesian from his hometown. I think that will take time.


I don’t think the year can be complete without media appearances/invites.

I happened to appear on the news when BERITAonSURIA decided to cover my company’s programme during Bulan Bahasa (Language Month).

I was also interviewed in a discussion with then, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Education and Law, Sim Ann on TODAY on the topic, ‘Of Dreams, Realities and Opportunities’.

That aside, I’m still covering stories/events and giving reviews on my blog. Currently, I’m writing the reviews for MediaCorp Suria’s latest reality TV competition, RATU. So, if you have an event related to Arts and Education, feel free to drop me an email! If I have time, I will definitely cover the event and provide my most unbiased comments on it.

And lastly, my friends and relatives can officially call me, “Poster Boy”. The next time you visit or walk past a Community Centre, look closely. You might spot a familiar face.

Missing Out On RATU Suria

Two weeks I’ve been away from Singapore for a vacation of sort (I say of sort because I was still working).

During this time that I’ve been away, I’ve missed out on Singapore’s Malay Beauty Pageant, RATU Suria. Two episodes I’ve missed out on and two ladies have been eliminated and I bet the competition has heated up! I wonder if any catfights, bitchiness or simply sabotage attempts have erupted. 

I’m getting my weird ideas from watching America’s Next Top Model, which has now also moved to Asia to be Asia’s Next Top Model. 

Yes, the girls aren’t housed together during this period of the competition but I bet you that we will be able to see loads of drama unfold and possibly, the ‘Malayness’ of the girls (in this context I mean, ‘Minahness’.

“Apasal kau tengok-tengok matair aku semalam?” (Why were you looking at my boyfriend yesterday?)

“**** mak kau ah! Korang ajar punya perempuan!! Mulut takde insurance eh!” (**** your mother ah! Nobody teach you issit woman!! Your mouth no insurance eh!)

Okay well, seems exciting to me if you ask, though I don’t think such a concept could ever materialise due to many issues.

But anyways, because I have been away for two weeks and there has been two other ‘RATU Of The Week’ (Natasha Tan Week 3 winner) and ‘Most Sought Out Ratu’ (Ayura Week 3 winner) in my RATU Suria Blog Awards, I haven’t had any time to do any interview or even, to change the photograph and so… I think it’ll be unfair for me to move on to the next RATU to be posted as my ‘Display Photo’, so I’ll post up something else instead.

For those of you who were wondering where is it that I’ve been away to:

  1. Ship for South East Asian Youth Programme (SSEAYP) Indonesia Country Programme in Jakarta, Indonesia and FUJI MARU
  2. National Seminar on Muarajambi’s Temple Site in Jambi, Indonesia and
  3. Visiting my parents in Jambi, Indonesia

I don’t think I’m going to talk about my personal experience in Indonesia in this post, but to view photos of the Muarajambi Temple Site that the Jambi Provincial Government is pushing for World Heritage Status from UNESCO, you can click here to view!

Enjoy the photos!