TWO NATION QUARANTINE


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. 

BATAM, INDONESIA

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. 

SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE

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.

2019/2020 Singapore General Elections A Huge Win For Opposition


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.

AMK TC Corruption

Keppel Offshore & Marine Corruption

So seriously, if the election was called today, I’m sure the opposition would win by huge margins.

How to Plan an Affordable Outdoor Wedding


Following up from my last post, here’s a guide that you and your partner can work on, together planning for an affordable outdoor wedding.

Outdoor weddings can be pretty costly (tentages, fans, blowers, rain curtains, tables, chairs, etc) but it can also be affordable, if you know how to plan and if you are willing to cut corners! That said, if you’ve never been the type of person to plan for anything, this is a great start for you to start learning how to and to start saving money!

With that, planning for an affordable outdoor wedding is all about DOING IT YOURSELF! (well, for the most part!)

To begin, both you and partner need to be on the same page about how the wedding is supposed to look and feel like and how much you are willing to spend on it, keeping in mind family culture and traditions as well as any religious obligations to work around – if any needs to be adhered to.

Here are the 3 big criteria to talk about first before the nitty gritty details.

1 – ENVISIONING

Envision how your wedding is going to look like. Some things to keep in mind when envisioning that would add into the cost will be accessibility by public transport, special needs for invited guests, sheltered area(s), weather conditions, etc.

2 – TIME CHECK!

Some wedding functions can take up the whole day and night. The shorter your wedding, the lesser guests you’ll need to invite, the lesser food you need to cater for, the more affordable it becomes. Plus, you’ll have more energy for time at night – if you get what I mean!

3 – BUDGET

Needless to say, weddings cost a lot of money. Money that you’d rather not part with. Money that you’d rather spend on a holiday. Money that you could have used to pay off your student loan. Money for anything else except for an event that is essentially, a loss-making event.

So, set aside your budget beforehand and work around it.

Now that you’ve ENVISIONED, PLANNED YOUR TIME and BUDGETED YOUR MONEY, it’s time to get into the details of planning!

  1. Research & Book Venues

Having envisioned how your wedding is going to look like, the next step will be to research on all possible venues.

Singapore is a great city to hold outdoor weddings, provided you get lucky with the weather. Some venues are enclosed and air-conditioned which makes it wonderful, but could be pricier. Some venues have certain restrictions which could inhibit how the flow of the wedding runs.

Having decided on a venue, you’ll need to book it quickly once you have decided on  a date. Venues in Singapore are scarce. Affordable venues could be even rarer. Some venues need to be booked a year in advanced.

We were initially disappointed when several locations we had in mind were no longer available or were out of our budget. So, we were pleasantly surprised when we found Berlayer Shades at Labrador Park to not only be available, but also fit most of our checklist for an outdoor wedding.

One of the things we wanted to avoid, was the need to set up tentage as it would be too costly and we also wanted the space to be open enough for guests to move around freely. And of course, a toilet had to be close by!

We decided on Berlayer Shades, which is not listed in the list below!

Here’s how our research panned out! (Easy to use when you’ve got Excel sheet!)

Wedding Venues Capacity  Per Pax   Price   Remarks
Pavillion @ Angsana Green  $        800.00
Gurame Restaurant 1000  $  19,500.00 (All in)
Void Deck  $          50.00
Alkaff Mansion
Villa Halia @ Botanics
Piai Plaza  $        421.00 (Venue ONLY)
Tang Tea House  $    28.00
ACC – Poolside Pavillion 280  $    25.00  $    4,280.00 (With tables & chairs)
ACC – Poolside Pavillion 280  $    25.00  $    3,210.00 (No tables & chairs)
Gardens By The Bay – Flower Field Hall  $  15,800.00 (Venue ONLY)
SPGG 1000  $    25.00
NTUC Downtown East  $  12,500.00 (Before Catering)
Changi Cove 200
Joyden Hall 380  $    9,800.00 (Actual Day Rental)
Pasir Ris Viewing Plaza 800  $        421.00 (Venue Only)
Hort Park
Aliwal Arts Centre 120  $        600.00
Flame & Spark Event Spaces 200  $        250.00
Chijmes  $    2,000.00
Arts House  $    1,600.00
UE Convention Centre 500
Grassroots Club at YCK 1000  $  19,000.00
Balestier JOM Ballroom  $    2,100.00
Warung In The East
  1. Set a Theme

This isn’t a necessity but if you’re having an outdoor wedding, typical themes normally associated are garden, rustic or beach themes.

Having a theme could help you decide on all the accessories and decorations that needs to go along with your wedding. Plus, it gives everyone helping you out an idea on how to ensure it meets the theme.

We utilized Pinterest to help us with our theme. We had a mood board of sort to help our friends know how the wedding was going to feel like. That way, everything we planned for should follow the theme.

Mood Board

  1. Book Caterer

Caterers either make or break an event, what more a wedding, YOUR WEDDING. Choosing the right caterer is essential to the success and happiness of your wedding.

Guests may not remember how your wedding was like or what you wore or what went on at the wedding, but they’ll always continue to talk about the food they ate. So, choose your food caterer wisely.

Make time to try out their food, when invited, and get recommendations from as many people as possible.

Ours was decided pretty much from the start by my wife. She knew exactly what she wanted. She had tasted the food before and dead set on this caterer, Mayura Catering. Well, no qualms about that! Food is spicy and absolutely delicious!

Side dishes/desserts were catered from my cousin, Zaqiah Yunus, who also happens to be a pastry chef! If you need to cookies or cakes, she takes orders too!

  1. Book Solemniser

Solemnisers are probably the key to you having a wedding. Some solemnisers are extremely popular and are booked way ahead in advanced.

Know who you want, why you want them and book them early.

We just needed an English speaking solemniser who wouldn’t take too long with his sermon. I’ve been at several weddings where the sermons took quite a significant amount of time. So, I pretty much knew who would fit the bill and thankfully, he was available on the date and time that we wanted.

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Nuff Said. You know who he is. You probably do!

  1. Design & Print Invitation Cards

Wedding cards are the first information anyone receives about your wedding. The wedding card, if designed to the theme provides invited guests knowledge about how to plan to dress for the wedding.

Wedding planners for some companies charge a premium for design and printing as it requires additional work. Find a good friend who’s willing to help you design the card that you’ve envisioned and go to the printers yourself. If you don’t have a friend that’s willing to help or a friend talented enough, you could learn to do it yourself. Takes a bit of time but hey, you’ll pick up some new skills along the way which could prove to be useful in the future!

Sending the cards to the printers yourself is also a better option as you’ll get to feel the texture of the cards and choose one that meets both your budget and quality desired!

We were pretty lucky with this since this was done in-house at By Definition Pte Ltd. We do design work and printing, so my wife provided with the draft of her idea and I passed it on to my business partner who did the necessary to give us the beautiful design work. Next, I brought it over to the printers which was right next to my office to send it for printing! Talk about convenience!

So, if you need some design work to be done, email info@bydefinition.net

  1. Wedding Outfit(s)

You could tailor or you could rent.

Needless to say about the benefits of tailoring – fits you snuggly, you can wear it again in the future and it’s designed according to how you want it to be! Downside is, it could be pricey, IF you have an ‘atas’ taste and purchase expensive material or visit an expensive tailor.

Renting on the other hand could be considerably cheaper and more affordable but it might not be the design you wanted, nor would it fit you comfortably and you could never wear it again.

AND of course, the more wedding outfit changes you have, the more it’s going to cost. So, keeping it to one outfit change would be ideal but that would also depend on how long your function is going to be.

My wife had hers tailored at Tekka Market. I had mine done in Batam, apparently its by the same guy who does it for all the tailors in Singapore. You think your tailors in Far East Plaza tailor it themselves? They send it over to Batam for less than half the price! And we decided that we only wanted and needed one outfit since our event was not going to stretch more than a few hours.

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  1. Make-Up Artist

Selecting the right make-up artist is crucial to ensuring the bride looks gorgeous. With an abundance of make-up artists out there, how does on choose the right one?

Start asking for recommendations at the earliest time possible as they are booked quite quickly! Then, check their portfolios either on social media or request for one so you get to see how they work with past clients, who may have different skin tones and features.

And then of course, arrange for an appointment to meet up with them to have a trial so you can experience what it’s like to have their magic work on you and most importantly, to assess your comfort level working with them.

My wife knew who she wanted. She had already seen her work online and trusted this person enough without the need for a trial because even a trial will cost some money!

‘Looks Studio’ did make up for my wife but she also recommends ‘Sue Afad’

  1. Book Entertainment (if required)

Entertainment come in different forms; a live band, a DJ, an emcee or some other live performances that may require not only a space but also a sound console and speakers which may require a power generator if electricity is not readily available.

All of which, could add on to your cost significantly!

So, if you’re having it only for a few hours and don’t require such a technical set-up. I recommend going wireless on bluetooth stereo as how I did with the Audiobox 500. It comes prepared with a wired mic and can be wireless connected via bluetooth to a laptop that has my songs downloaded into a playlist on Spotify (another great recommendation to save cost on songs!)

Our venue was a bit unique as they didn’t have electricity available for us to tap into and bringing in a generator for a short few hours wasn’t feasible so we worked around it with a Bluetooth stereo speaker, AudioBox 500 courtesy of By Definition Pte Ltd and Faiz. We had one system hooked up to my laptop which had our songs all downloaded on Spotify and the other was for our Emcee to move around to use.

We had a ‘live band’ performance as well by my dear friends from poly who also happens to work with me at By Definition Pte Ltd. Guitars were hooked up to the speakers and voila! We had a live band performance going on. Unfortunately, while music is great to be played from laptop, it doesn’t sound as good once you have music equipments plugged in. But well, while it’s not an amp to begin with, the show’s not for a concert anyway!

If you need to know who they are, well look out for Reyza Hamizan, Jeffri Natawate and Irsyad Marican!

AbdKatWeds-481

  1. Book Wedding Car(s)

If you need to travel between locations, then a wedding car is needed. Booking a luxurious wedding car could be costly, not forgetting the cost to decor the car as well. And since most weddings are held on weekends, that also means you’ll need to book the car over the weekend and if you only need the car for a day, it’s going to be money not well spent.

So, try to check around for a friend who drives who don’t mind helping you out!

I was lucky with this. I had my groomsmen who for the most part, most had cars. So, we had 4 cars available on hand to help me out including the car for the bride and groom. So, I guess we were lucky with this. Many thanks to my wonderful groomsmen from The Good Boys Club (a gentlemen’s club made up of professionals from different background but with an interest for the community).

  1. Book a Hotel Room

If you were holding your wedding in a hotel, usually it comes in a package but if you’re booking an outdoor location, you might want to consider booking a hotel room for your after-wedding rendevous.

Great deals are available online these days and you should totally make good use of it!

My wife decided to use Booking.com to book for us a room. She got a great deal for 2 days 1 night at a hotel. We got a free upgrade and we were given first class treatment from the moment we arrived!

  1. Book Transportation (if required)

If your wedding location is not easily accessible by public transportation, then you might want to consider booking transportation to ferry your guests to and fro to the nearest public amenity.

Because our wedding venue was a bit out of the way. Guests would need to walk about a good km or so, we decided that booking 2 mini-buses over a 5hr period would be great. And well, I guess it helped most of our guests!

I highly recommend Poh Lee Bus Transport Pte Ltd. Great service and affordable too!

  1. Wedding Cake

Wedding cakes are not like birthday cakes, although they can be if you want it to be. Most couples would prefer a proper tiered wedding cake though so if you have a theme, planning for the type of wedding cake to have will be easier.

Finding the right baker is just as important as the rest of the items above – it must be a good match. Get recommendations from people about bakers who are able to bake the type of wedding cake you want. View their portfolio and read reviews about them. Get in contact with them and meet up with them. You must be comfortable to work with them.

If all is good, then work with them on the type of cake you want and work out the deliverables. I’ve been to weddings where the wedding cake became the cause of the disaster of the entire wedding – either it didn’t come out right according to specifications or it was delivered late or not at all.

For some couples, no cake means no cake cutting ceremony. So, decide on this together.

We had our wedding cake done by a great friend of mine. If you ever need a wedding cake or a birthday cake done, I strongly recommend you check BakesByMun out! Tell her you got the referral from me.

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Baked by BakesByMun

  1. Photographers/Videographers

Another list on the item that could make or break your wedding. Mementos from your wedding are important keepsakes that you want to have, to share with your friends and family.

Finding the right photographers/videographers also requires good recommendation. Things to keep in mind will be how well can they deliver what is promised – especially the turnaround time.

Most photographers/videographers  would require about 1 – 2 months to work on your photos/videos, edit/print and have them ready to be delivered to you. Most couples want to get their photos and videos fast to show to friends and family, so make sure you have deadlines agreed upon beforehand.

Most importantly again, be sure you are comfortable with them so meet them with them, have a chat with them and view their portfolios! Each photographer/videographer have their own style and treatment, so learn as much as you can!

We placed our trust in my poly juniors, Filzah and Safiah also known as Qitareqa. They gave us a great package price for 2 photographers and to have it printed in a book. The photos were passed to us in a thumbdrive and I brought them over to Batam to get one of the photos printed and framed up for my parents home.  And it looked wonderful even when blown up!

  1. Decorations

Decor is perhaps one of the first things you had in mind the moment you envisioned how your wedding is going to look like and decor could eat up into your budget, BIG TIME. If you’re thinking of fresh flowers to be propped up all around the room and on the table, probably curtains draping from the top and the sides – all that is going to cost A LOT.

The more items required, the more items needed to be hung up, the more manpower and equipment needed = more cost to pay for.

So, this is probably one of the few things that you may not want to DIY too much as it may take significantly a lot of time and energy. My suggestion is for you to work out a deal with the caterer. Most caterers already have contacts for decor and keep in mind that before the food arrives, the decor must be ready.

Therefore, it makes perfect sense for you to have the major part of the decor done by the caterer’s affliate which helps you save time and energy, and possibly money too! While its entirely possible for you to engage your own decor team, it may not be wise to have to juggle coordinating between two different groups of people who have different goals in mind.

So, get a caterer and decor person under one person whom you can liase with and make your life easier.

For the smaller parts of the decor, you can order those online and have your family and friends help you out with the decor.

We engaged our decor through our caterer mainly for the rain curtains, dais, tables and chairs. The accessories to spruce up the wedding were purchased online via Ezbuy (before it had problems with Alibaba) and of course, were also prepared by By Definition Pte Ltd and the set up was done by The Gentlemen’s Club (groomsmen) as well as the bridesmaids who helped make the event a success.

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My wife and her bridesmaids

Last but not least at No 16 – HENNA

Brides at Malay and Indian weddings are usually spotted with henna designs on their hands. The darker the shade of the henna, the more the wife loves the husband and for the Indians, hennas also serve as an ice-breaker for your first night!

We didn’t have to look far for someone we trust to do my wife’s henna as her very own sister is a henna artist!

So, if you’re looking for a henna artist, lookout for HennaBySharifah!

Henna

All said and done, the biggest takeaway towards having an affordable wedding if you haven’t already noticed is actually to DO IT YOURSELF!

It’s not that difficult to plan it yourself and hopefully, with whatever has been shared, you can save a lot of cost on hiring a wedding planner!

Parliamentary Privilege, A Loophole To Being Above the Law?


Singapore’s PM, Lee Hsien Loong’s battle with his younger brother, Lee Hsien Yang, has grabbed Singapore and the world by storm, and now, the whole country awaits for his Ministerial Statement when Parliament sits on July 3rd. It is the day when PM Lee has announced to Singaporeans that he has lifted the party whip and has allowed Members of Parliament to question him and the Committee which has been looking into the deceased, Lee Kuan Yew’s final will.

The final will, of which probate has been granted is suddenly deemed to not hold any legality, which is the point of contention made by Lee Hsien Yang and the cause of this whole national and international fiasco.

38-oxley-road---3

The specific portion of the will being debated being:

Mr Lee Kuan Yew wrote in paragraph 7 of his will: “I further declare that it is my wish, and the wish of my late wife, KWA GEOK CHOO, that our house at 38 Oxley Road, Singapore 238629 (‘the House’) be demolished immediately after my death or, if my daughter, Wei Ling, would prefer to continue living in the original house, immediately after she moves out of the House. I would ask each of my children to ensure our wishes with respect to the demolition of the House be carried out. If our children are unable to demolish the House as a result of any changes in the law, rules or regulations binding them, it is my wish that the House never be opened to others except my children, their families and descendants. My view on this has been made public before and remains unchanged. My statement of wishes in this paragraph 7 may be publicly disclosed notwithstanding that the rest of my Will is private.”

So we understand a few things from Lee Kuan Yew’s will:

  1. He wants the house to be demolished immediately after his death or, if Wei Ling wants to stay, to be demolished after she moves out.
  2. If there are changes to the law, and rules & regulations bind the 3 children, then Lee Kuan Yew doesn’t want the house to be opened to anyone else except his children, their families and descendants.

Based on the above, the main point of debate by Lee Hsien Yang is:

  1. Why is there a need for a special committee to discuss on this matter before Wei Ling is even dead or moves out?
  2. Is there plans by the special committee to change the law or to enact new rules & regulations to ensure the house cannot be demolished? (This brings into question PM Lee’s abuse of power allegations)

Now, we have many other MPs who have joined in the fray against Lee Hsien Yang mentioning a few things:

  1. Who drafted the final will?
  2. Did Lee Kuan Yew had the mental capacity to understand his final will?
  3. Did Lee Kuan Yew have enough time (5 mins) to fully comprehend his final will?

Above and beyond what the issue is about, I would like to bring your attention to the upcoming Parliamentary sitting on July 3rd whereby PM Lee will address questions regarding this issue, thereby possibly invoking his Parliamentary Privilege.

For most of us who are unaware of what Parliamentary Privilege is, the statutes clearly state the following (I’ve selected several important paragraphs to ponder):

Freedom of speech and debate and proceedings
5.  There shall be freedom of speech and debate and proceedings in Parliament, and such freedom of speech and debate and proceedings shall not be liable to be impeached or questioned in any court, commission of inquiry, committee of inquiry, tribunal or any other place whatsoever out of Parliament.
Exemption from liability in certain cases

6.

—(1)  No Member shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages by reason of any matter or thing which he may have brought before Parliament or a committee by petition, bill, resolution, motion, or otherwise or may have said in Parliament or in committee.
(2)  No person shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages by reason of any act done under the authority of Parliament or the Speaker and within its or his legal powers or under any warrant issued by virtue of those powers.
Exemption from certain duties

9.

—(1)  It shall not be lawful —

(a)
to require any Member or officer of Parliament to serve as an assessor on any tribunal; or
(b)

while in attendance on Parliament or any committee, to compel such person to attend as a witness in any court or tribunal or at any commission of inquiry or committee of inquiry or before any like authority empowered to summon witnesses.

[43/2007 wef 01/11/2007]
(2)  The production of a certificate signed by the Speaker or the chairman of the committee shall be deemed sufficient proof of attendance on Parliament or the committee.
Privilege of witnesses

16.

—(1)  No public officer shall be required —

(a)
to produce before Parliament any paper, book, record or other document; or
(b)
to give before Parliament evidence on any matter,
if the President certifies that the paper, book, record or other document or the evidence relates to affairs of State and that the public interest would suffer by the production thereof.
(2)  Every person summoned to attend to give evidence or to produce any paper, book, record or other document before Parliament shall be entitled in respect of such evidence or the disclosure of any communication or the production of any such paper, book or record or other document to the same privilege as before a court of law.
(3)  Sections 125 and 126 of the Evidence Act (Cap. 97) shall not be applicable in any case where a public officer is so summoned to attend before Parliament.
Immunity of witness in respect of evidence

17.

—(1)  Without prejudice to section 16 and subject to subsection (3), no person who gives evidence before Parliament or any committee shall be liable to any civil or criminal proceedings, arrest, imprisonment or damages by reason of anything which he may have said in such evidence.
(2)  Except in proceedings referred to in subsection (3), no statement made by any person in evidence before Parliament or any committee shall be admissible in evidence against that person in any civil or criminal proceedings or in any court.
(3)  Nothing in subsections (1) and (2) shall prevent or be deemed to prevent the institution or maintenance of any proceedings against any person for an offence under section 191 of the Penal Code (Cap. 224) or for any offence under this Act in respect of any evidence given by him before Parliament or any committee.
Punitive powers of Parliament

20.

—(1)  For any dishonourable conduct, abuse of privilege or contempt, on the part of a Member, Parliament may —

(a)
commit him to prison for a term not extending beyond the current session of Parliament;
(b)
impose upon him a fine not exceeding the sum of $50,000;
(c)
suspend him from the service of Parliament for the remainder of the current session of Parliament or for any part thereof; and
(d)

direct that he be reprimanded or admonished in his place by the Speaker.

[23/86]

(2)  Where a Member has been found guilty of abuse of privilege in respect of anything said in Parliament by him, Parliament may, by resolution and without prejudice to its powers under subsection (1), suspend him for such period as may be specified in the resolution from the privileges and immunities conferred by sections 3, 5 and 6 in so far as they relate to liability to civil proceedings.

[23/86]

(3)  During the period specified under subsection (2) such privileges and immunities shall cease to apply to the Member who shall be liable to civil proceedings in respect of anything said by him in, or any written statement made by him to, Parliament.

[23/86]

(4)  For any contempt on the part of a stranger, Parliament may —

(a)
commit him to prison for a term not extending beyond the current session of Parliament;
(b)
impose upon him a fine not exceeding the sum of $50,000;
(c)
exclude him from Parliament and the precincts thereof for the remainder of the current session of Parliament or for any part thereof; and
(d)
direct that he be reprimanded or admonished at the Bar of the House by the Speaker.
Okay, so that’s about it from the statutes about the Parliamentary Privilege.
So, what it looks at the moment is that PM Lee may be exercising his Parliamentary Privilege rather than to take this issue to court because:
  1. Whatever is being discussed in Parliament, cannot be tendered in court. This thereby puts Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling at a disadvantage.
  2. If PM Lee puts forth any evidence in Parliament, it cannot be used in court.
  3. It is going to be very difficult to find PM Lee guilty of abuse of power because if he was found guilty of abusing his power as alleged by Lee Hsien Yang, then Cabinet Minister who are sitting in the committee reviewing the Oxley Rd house may also be liable to the same offence and well, you think anyone in there gonna let that happen meh?

But the overarching question here is, and this is where I believe most Singaporeans are concerned with:

  1. The legality of the will – not in question.
  2. So, why not debate it in open court where the court can issue rulings on it when evidence is presented.
  3. If, this issue is debated in Parliament and nothing debated in there can be used in court, does this mean that Parliamentarians can be above the law? That exercising Parliamentary Privilege is a loophole to be above the law or to avoid actions by the court because if it can, then I don’t see how Singaporeans or the rest of the world can hold our Parliament and its Parliamentarians in high regard.

Singapore National Day 2016


HAPPY NATIONAL DAY SINGAPORE!

imgsingapore-national-day-parade-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.

JBK018

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.

JBK009

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.

JBK017

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 (info@bydefinition.net) 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.

Malay Language Responsibility


Today, I woke up and as per usual, I was scrolling through my Facebook updates when I came across a Berita Harian link which a friend had posted, I thought long and hard and assessed all angles possible as to why the journalist had decided to use the word ‘HANFON’ instead of ‘Telefon Bimbit’ to describe, handphone.

image

So, I took out my mobile phone or handphone and checked on my Kamus Pro app as to whether or not Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) had decided to adopt and accept  ‘Hanfon’ as an official Malay word.

I typed ‘handphone’ and I got nothing. I typed ‘mobile phone’ and I got nothing.

I typed ‘phone’ and I got 2:

  1. n (colloq) telefon: can I have your address and – number?, boleh beri saya alamat dan nombor telefon kamu?
  2. n (phonetics) bunyi, fon.

So, I saw the word ‘fon’ for the second one. MAYBE, I missed something out. I mean, I’m conducting Malay programmes in schools and it’s my personal responsibility to use the correct words and terms in the classroom. Perhaps, in the course of my busy schedule, I could have missed out on something.

So, I searched for ‘hanfon’ in the same Kamus Pro app, which is the official Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) Malay Dictionary application, the same organisation that researches, writes, prints and distributes Malay Dictionaries which Singapore students and teachers (and I hope those who use the Malay Language as part of their work) use.

The search was futile.

Okay, so maybe DBP isn’t updated so I google searched for ‘hanfon’ and the first hit I got was that it was a WELSH translation on mymemory.translated.net which meant, ‘SENT’.

So, at this juncture, is where I feel extremely angry because the reporter had not exercised personal and professional responsibility to ensure that they were using the right words to report in a national publication read by thousands and used by thousands of students and teachers in schools.

I cannot imagine the horror of Malay Language teachers trying to explain to students that ‘hanfon’ isn’t a Malay word and that it cannot be used in writing compositions but then again, how can the Malay Language teacher justify it when a professional writing for the official Malay newspaper in Singapore is using improper words.

For us, Malays and Malay Language Teachers to claim that Malay Language is not being used by students and the young properly, and have difficulty to teach it isn’t just the responsibility of Malay Language Teachers alone. It is and should be the responsibility of all who use the Malay Language, especially so if you are a working professional publishing the NATIONAL MALAY LANGUAGE DAILY.

To cut corners in view of space constraint and switch with using a word that does not even exist in the Malay dictionary is simply irresponsible, lacks integrity, lacks professionalism and clearly, shouldn’t even be allowed to in the first place.

If this improper and unjustified use of the Bahasa Melayu continues at Berita Harian, I cannot imagine how the future of Malay journalism will look like.

So, I’m appealing to all of you reading this, to not only share this post but also, to write in to BH to provide your feedback. That is about all we can do.

The Next Decade – 30 to 40


12265787_10153402709743668_7789368710127483646_o.jpg

At the turn of my 30th birthday, I reflected on my life and told myself that I had to do or achieve a list of 30 things before I turned 31. This list was of course, a list of goals for me to work towards, rather than something that I really needed to achieve.

At the start of 2015, I had my list. I knew exactly what I wanted and perhaps needed to achieve. These were the things that would keep me motivated, focused as well as kept me in good momentum for the next decade or rest of my life.

I lost my list along the way because I had hand-written them but I never lost the spirit of trying to achieve the list.

Now, because the list was finalised only in January and my birthday is in December, that gives me an additional month to finish whatever else that I’ve set myself out to do.

Though I can’t quite remember all the 30 things on my list and also because things took several changes along the way, here’s the list of things that I’ve managed to achieve or done thus far this 2015:

  1. Got myself a 400cc motorcycle, a Super 4 Spec 3 – awesome deal
  2. Invited as judge for NUS PBMUKS ‘Pesta Pantun’ competition
  3. Climbed ‘Danau Tujuh’ – an alternative to Mt Kerinchi as it was closed
  4. Launched By Definition Pte Ltd‘s first book, ‘Lagu-Lagu Rakyat – Belajar Bernyanyi Bersama’, the first fully illustrated phonic friendly Malay sing-a-long book in collaboration with my very good buddy, Reyza Hamizan.
  5. Conducted an overseas youth motivational programme
  6. Grew By Definition Pte Ltd’s clientele and number of projects
  7. Performed in ‘Semoga Bahagia’ production 🙂
  8. Emcee-ed several functions
  9. Watched Maroon 5 concert ‘LIVE’ in Singapore
  10. Joined a political party, Singapore People’s Party (SPP)
  11. Stood as a political candidate for General Elections 2015 as an SPP candidate in the SPP-DPP team at Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC
  12. Passed my IPPT
  13. Ran my first injury free 10km run (the first 10km in a long time)
  14. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle (balance of exercise and healthy diet)
  15. Met a gorgeous lady who became my partner
  16. Booked and God Willing, my mini pilgrimage to the holy land

I’m far short from my intended list of 30 things but I’m happy with what I’ve managed to do in a year.

To put everything into perspective, there’s only so much I can do in a year. 30 things may have looked too much to achieve given time and situational constraints.

Looking back on the past 3 decades of my life, I can’t say that I’ve had any regrets. I’ve done pretty much most of the things I really wanted to since I was young and while I’m far from the multi-millionaire appearing on FORBES and TIME magazine cover page by 26 years old that I had set my sights on since I was 12, I’m still on path towards that dream now that I know what needs to be done.

Moving forward, to start the next phase of my life on the right track, I’m really looking forward to my upcoming pilgrimage and because I’ve received several requests from dear non-Muslim friends who are interested to know more about this, I’ll be blogging my experience from time to time throughout my entire journey.

While my experience may differ from others, I hope that the information and journey that I will share with my dear non-Muslim friends (whom I hope will read la hor) will be helpful to them as since we may have shared experiences, it will be an emotional journey for us as well.

For now, I need to think about my 10 year plan before I break it down into my yearly goals.

PREPARING FOR THE NEXT GENERAL ELECTIONS – ROLES & RESPONSIBILITIES


This past General Elections provided me first hand, on the different roles that are crucial to the success of any candidate or party. Let me break it down for you in terms of the roles and responsibilities:

Campaigning

Campaigning

ELECTION AGENT

The right hand man of the candidate. The election agent plays an extremely crucial role and you need to have the following:

– GOOD ORGANISATIONAL SKILLS

– GOOD COORDINATION SKILLS

– GOOD INTERPERSONAL SKILLS

– RESOURCEFUL

– GOOD ADMINISTRATION SKILLS

Your job is basically to manage all expenses of the candidate which needs to be kept properly. To help organise the schedule as well as plans for the candidate. To coordinate the schedule that has been planned. To manage people that the candidate needs to be in touch with such as media. To be adept at finding resources and be good at negotiating to get the best deal out of it.

PRINCIPAL ELECTION AGENT

Same as above but this person is the OVERALL IN-CHARGE of ALL THE ELECTION AGENTS in the team. In the case of Singapore, we have the GRC. So, the Principal Election Agent’s job is to manage the other Election Agents and ensure things run smoothly and according to what has been planned.

Besides the ELECTON AGENT and PRINCIPAL ELECTION AGENT, the other roles which will go towards the success of the candidate and help ease the candidate’s stress level, as well as help the candidate conserve and focus his energy on the campaign are the following roles.

MEDIA MANAGER

Each candidate should preferably have a media manager. It is basically someone who will help to manage the media for the candidate. This person should help the candidate receive as much media coverage as possible and to ensure content on released by the concerned media is favourable to the candidate. Media forms include mainstream media as well as social media.

Preferably someone with experience from the media industry with friendly connections.

PHOTOGRAPHER

Each candidate should also have a personal photographer tagged with him. The job of the photographer is to take photos that the media would have otherwise missed as well as to ensure that photos uploaded to social media pages of the candidate are favourable and provides an alternative to photos that other media outlets may upload that may jeopardise the candidate.

SPEECHWRITER

The candidate is busy campaigning during the day and may not have time to prepare his own speeches. The speechwriter helps the candidate by going through the news first thing in the morning, updating the candidate on the news that may be of concern and preparing the speech that the candidate needs to deliver at the rallies that will address issues highlighted in the news by the opposing candidate or information highlighted by residents/constituents.

RUNNER

Each candidate should preferably have at least 2 runners. The job of the runner is basically to assist in any other duties that is required by the Election Agent or the candidate. This could be as simple as buying meals or being the advance party in block visits, to prepare constituents to meet the candidate.

CONCLUSION

With all these that is required for a candidate. Where does one learn and hone his skills in being an ORGANISER, COORDINATOR, MEDIA PERSON, SPEECH WRITER, RUNNER?

That’s where being in Grassroots Committee helps you hone the skills.

Being in Grassroots, you’d need to learn to be a runner, you’d also need to learn how to coordinate and organise events and if you’re really good with people and with words, you get to hone your skills to manage the media and be in the contact with the media frequently.

If you’re good with language, very likely you’ll get to the opportunity to write Press Releases and this is where you get to hone your skills as speech writer as well. Well, not exactly, but at the very least, you’ll know what kind of information the media needs and the knowledge to craft proper words is important as well.

And the photographer?

Well, the more events you’re used to, the more you’ll know how and when to position yourself to take those good shots that could tell the story for the candidate without any need for words.

So, when someone says preparation for the next elections begins now, it really does begin now. If you’re really keen to get started and prepared for the next elections in any of these roles, let me know!

GENERAL ELECTIONS 2015 – MY REFLECTIONS


If you believe in something, stand up and fight for it.

I’ve always been the kind of person with such a strong conviction in my beliefs. Like how when I was 5 years old and all my cousins said that it was impossible to go down a flight of stairs with two bicycles, I believed I could and I tried. It worked for the first 2-3 steps before I took a tumble and landed at the bottom of the stairs with two bicycles on top of me.

Stupid? Maybe or perhaps I just hadn’t figured out the right balance to do it back then.

Or perhaps like how someone once told me that I could never go to University of California Los Angeles. Well, I didn’t end up there as a student but I ended up in University of California Irvine as a teaching assistant and advisor to a student group. What made it even more sweeter was that it was on a fellowship by the United States Department of State.

So, now that the dust has somewhat settled on the recent Singapore General Elections, while my team nor party won any seats in parliament, I am certainly proud that we took a huge step to stand up for what we believed in – in Democracy, in speaking up for the voices of Singaporeans and in competing as fairly as we could, even if the decks were stack against us.

I remember when I was in Secondary School, my friends used to say, “Cakap tak guna, tembak tak kena” (No use talking, won’t hit the target when you shoot) or perhaps an easier term more familiar with most Singaporeans would be “No Action, Talk Only”. I always believed that if you wanted to make a change, you’ve got to be the one to make that first move. It has to be an action and not mere words.

Looking back on this experience, I am happy with my performance. I am happy with my team’s performance. In fact, I am happy with the performance of most, if not all the parties that came in to give the People’s Action Party a good fight. We gave options to Singaporeans and we let Singaporeans hear their voices.

Of course, the loss could be attributed to many factors as many have already mentioned, the sympathy over Mr Lee Kuan Yew’s death, SG50 celebrations, pay raises for the civil service, SG50 handouts and the ever controversial, New Citizens voting.

That said, I also realise that Singaporeans are perhaps a group of people that would choose safety and security – a believe that perhaps only a minority would disagree with (especially entrepreneurs) because businessmen like myself have the belief that in order to achieve greater things, one has to be willing to step out of their comfort zone.

Like how, if Bill Gates or Steve Jobs didn’t drop out of school to work on growing their projects, we wouldn’t have seen the Personal Computer or Apple products in the last two decades. But these are things are most Singaporeans aren’t willing to pursue because these are ideals from the west, not an oriental culture.

Most Singaporeans are comfortable with their full-time jobs and as long as they can come home, put food on the table and take well-deserved holidays once in a while, cafe hop and receive pay increments, they are a satisfied lot. Inconveniences like having more people living in Singapore, frequent train breakdowns, raises in GST/ERP, language barriers with service staff are minor inconveniences which most Singaporeans can live with by posting their rants on Facebook.

Moving forward, while most of my friends are devastated by how Singaporeans have voted, I hope those who turned up in support for Workers Party or Singapore Democratic Party rallies in huge numbers would look towards volunteering for these parties because without good ground support, every elections will remain the same.

People speak of machinery and they don’t realise that machinery comes from people. The PAP has a good machinery in place with mainstream media, PCF Kindergarten, People’s Association and PAP branches, all of which are activated the moment General Elections is called and which constantly engage the public throughout the entire 4-5 years prior to the next General Elections.

So, unless the opposition parties is able to build their alternative grassroots to counter what People’s Association has and to begin developing their own Kindergartens which also acts as a party branch, opposition parties will remain on the fringes and will never be seen, no matter how hard they work the ground because they won’t be seen at events and the mainstream media won’t cover their events.

The future of Singapore is really in the hands of Singaporeans, not the PAP nor any of the other political parties.

My suggestion is really for Singaporeans to take an active role in shaping Singapore to be what they want it to be through activism. Volunteering for causes they believe in and standing up for what they believe in beyond just simply expressing them online because clearly, online noise is only rants if it doesn’t translate to what is being seen on the ground.

So, take action for your own future, for the future of your children.

As how George Bernard Shaw put it, “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything”.