Questions to ask myself for GE 2015

After listening to so many rallies and the various parties’ questions and responses, I need this cooling-off day more than ever. The photo above was taken from the Punggol Park Connector Network (PCN) and this is an example of good planning. As you can see from the photo, the scenery is nice and I love it. But it’s not perfect. The river gets polluted occasionally with algae (boom) as in the photo. But after some cleaning up, it will be back to the little nice greenery corner in our concrete garden. I thought this is quite apt to illustrate the current political environment in Singapore where PAP has done a great job but still, there are problems here and there. Are we right to expect a perfect government (aka PAP) ? Are we wrong to demand a proper check and balance in the parliament for policies that are, hopefully, more sound ?

On this cooling-off day, I am going to think through these questions and cast my vote on 11 Sep 2015 carefully. I belong to the “sandwich class” where I am likely to get the least subsidies/benefits but pay the most taxes. Am I complaining ? No, I am not. I am more than happy to contribute to the nation’s building towards SG100. I am, too, worried about my children’s future, and my own future. I am also want to do my part to build a better environment for the future generations, and for myself when I retire.

What should I look for in a Member of Parliament (MP) ? 

Fundamentally there are 3 requirements that are important to me.

  1. Ability to plan and formulate sound policies
  2. Passion to serve the people
  3. In touch with the ground

Some people have the ability to lead but don’t want to serve. Some people have the passion to serve but lack the ability. Some people have both the ability and passion to serve but are out of touch with the ground. Most, if not all, PAP candidates possess #1 without a doubt. #2 and #3 may be questionable for some PAP candidates. For example, when Dr Lily Neo called for the government to increase public assistance handouts to the poor in 2007, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan asked “How much do you want? Do you want three meals in a hawker centre, food court or restaurant?”. It’s scary when these words came from the Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports. Dr Balakrishnan clearly lacks #2 and #3.

On the other hand, we have oppositions like Mr Tan Jee Say making irresponsible comments such as giving $300 monthly allowance to help the elderly in their retirement. He said the money will come from the additional “profit” that GIC have made with our CPF monies. I hope he doesn’t spend every single cent he has in his bank account and leave nothing for rainy days.

So if I see a candidate with all #1, #2 and #3, it will be a no-brainer for me to vote him/her into the Parliament, regardless of his/her party.

Party or Candidate ? 

I was constantly reminded that we should vote for PAP as they are proven ( for the past 50 years ) and only they have the qualities to form the government. There was even a note circulating around to warn voters on the possibility of having a freak result where PAP loses the majority of the seats. In the industry I work, we call this FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubts).

Am I voting for the party or candidate ? Is PAP going to lose the election ( and rights to form the government ) if I vote for opposition candidate in my constituency ? I can only influence the 1, 4, 5 or 6 seats out of the 89. How can my vote over-throw PAP ? If it really happens, then it can’t be a freak result as it means the majority of Singaporeans actually voted for the oppositions. With all the careful planning of the electoral boundaries, this freak result will never happen. Besides I also believe that the majority of the oppositions are not ready to win their constituencies (yet).

Thus, am I voting for the party to form the government or candidate to represent me in Parliament ? Like it or not, PAP will form the government with the majority of the 89 seats. I don’t see how PAP can lose AMK, Tampines, Pasir-Ris and many more. Surely we don’t have that many irrational voters ? The question is just how many seats will be taken up by credible ( I hope ) oppositions.

Voting for the past or future ?

For the past 50 years, PAP has done a fantastic job in governing Singapore. With the limitations we have, nobody could have possibly done a better job than LKY and his team. While we reminisce our achievements for the past 50 years, we also need to understand that the election tomorrow is about the team who will lead us to the next 50 years, not the team who had led us to success in the past 50 years. If the candidates standing for election today are LKY, Toh Chin Chye, Goh Keng Swee, Devan Nair, S. Rajaratnam, Ong Teng Cheong or Tan Cheng Bock, I will vote for them regardless of their party. These forefathers of Singapore served with passion and were always on the ground to understand the needs of the people. But seriously how many MPs today really serve with passion? How many really know what the people want ?

So I say, follow my heart and vote for the person with the 3 attributes mentioned above. If all the candidates don’t ( which is the case in many constituencies ), then vote for the lesser evil which should be PAP in most of the cases.

Check and Balance

I am a firm believer of “check and balance”. No matter how many times I check my work, there will always be mistakes ( some are even very simple and glaring ones ). Thus, I always believe in having a third party to provide alternative view and perception. We learnt in school that groupthink is bad, isn’t it ? However, we also don’t want to hinder progress with the endless and mindless debates as well. So where’s the balance ?

As far as I can remember, the oppositions in Singapore have never been very strong. Even if they were voted into the Parliament, they rarely make noise for they only make noise during rallies. Once in a while, we may get a credible and responsible opposition candidate ( with the 3 attributes above ) who will challenge status quo, provide alternatives ( not just empty talks ) and not veto for the sake of it. Chiam See Tong is a good example but oppositions like him are few and far between. Sylvia Lim and Dr. Chee Soon Juan are two whom I think also fit the bill.

Just-in-Time Learning

I am a JIT guy; never do homework way in advance and 临时抱佛脚 is my strength. This time is no different. My impression of Dr. Chee Soon Juan had never been positive. Though I don’t think he is the “madman” that the media made him out to be, I was skeptical about his character and even feared that he would create havoc in the Parliament much like  J. B. Jeyaretnam. *** Please do not get me wrong. I have huge respect for people who made sacrifices to build a better Singapore and JBJ is definitely one of them. ***

However, my impression of Dr. Chee has somewhat changed after hearing his rallies, doing some reading and research on him for the past week. Whether it is his sacking from NUS, his hunger strike, how he ousted his mentor, how CST denounced him in parliament, his acceptance of the invitation from the students of the Williams College to the so-called “alternative panel” discussion in 1995 or his imprisonments, I feel that I can give him the benefit of doubt that he was victimized. He is definitely not a saint but I feel I can trust his character, his belief for democracy and his care forb the people. I could be wrong but here are some links for you to judge for yourself what kind of person he is. ***  Please watch the video in link #1 and #4 below, at least. ***

  1. A video of his family life. This is what triggered my curiosity for this man.
  2. CSJ’s first rally in GE 2015. Skip to the 19th min if you just want to listen to his speech in English.
  3. CSJ’s lunchtime rally at Raffles Place
  4. A surprise video message to Dr Chee Soon Juan by his family. Can you sense the warmth and sincerity?.
  5. CSJ’s explanation of CST’s “sacking” from SDP
  6. A recent interview with CSJ where he shared a lot of his views, which I find them consistent with what I read

The road ahead

The Road Ahead
We have just celebrated 50 years of independence and the next 50 years will be more challenging.

I don’t want groupthink in the Parliament but not at the expense of synergy either. I want credible opposition to provide check and balance but not at the expense of mindless debates.

Much as I like LHL, I think his party is lacking in people who have the passion to serve. He put scholars to run ministries that they have no experience in. Is it fair for Lui Tuck Yew to take the blame for our transportation woes when he is a SAF Navy scholar with major in Chemistry? Dr Ng Eng Hen is a medical doctor and yet he doesn’t run Ministry of Health but the Ministry of Defense.  Gan Kim Yong was the CEO of NatSteel before he joined politics and now he is the Minister for Health ? These people are highly successful in their own areas of expertise but does it mean that they will also excel in any other fields ?

Why not give the people within each ministry a chance ? Even if they do not have the same number of aces in their academic certificates as these scholars, surely their experience can make up for them ? You need to be part of the system to know what nuts are loose, isn’t it ?

After the dust is settled, I hope LHL will put the right people to the right jobs and ministries. Ability and passion to serve are equally important to leave behind a legacy, as demonstrated by the founding members of modern Singapore. Majulah Singapura !

 

A Fun Activity with the Kids – Making Sushi Bread Roll

Sushi Bread Roll

First of all, here’s a wishing all mothers a Happy Mother’s Day. ◕ิ‿◕ิ

For my family, this year’s celebration is slightly different. This is a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Mother’s Day. The mommy of my kids decided to bake a cake, instead of buying one. My kids decided to wake up at 7am to prepare a surprise breakfast for their mommy, instead of waiting to be served. Personally, I don’t believe in Mother’s Day, or for that matter any other celebrations, including Father’s Day. To me, being happy or filial should be an everyday affair. I don’t believe in celebrating it only on special occasions. However, when the kids wanted to prepare something special for the special day, I thought it was a great idea to bond with them and agreed immediately.

This “Sushi Bread Roll” recipe is really simple and kids should be able to do it without much problems. First, let’s take a look at the ingredients. Carrots and Japanese Cucumbers are chosen because they are crunchy and refreshing. Most importantly, they can be eaten raw, i.e. there is no need for any cooking over the stove. Depending on your preference, you have a lot of choices for the filling; anything from peanut butter to tuna, sardines and hard-boiled eggs. We used ham and mayonnaise and the taste was great!

The Ingredients

Another key ingredient for this dish is the bread, which will be used to roll up the “Sushi”. First, cut off the crust and then flatten it with a rolling pin. Be careful not to over-flatten it as thin bread breaks easily during the rolling.

 

Before and After

Before you proceed to the next step, make sure you have the following items prepared and easily accessible or else things will get messy. You have been warned … 😉

  • Carrot, cut into strips of length about the width of the bread
  • Cucumber, cut into strips of length about the width of the bread
  • Bread with crust removed and flattened
  • Mayonnaise
  • Main filling, such as Ham
  • Knife
  • Chopping Board

Ingredients are easily accessible

Spreading the filling

Put some mayonnaise near the edge of the bread to seal the roll

Do not put too much filling on the bread so that it’s easier to roll up. Also, make sure that roll is tight and the fillings are nicely tugged inside the roll.

 

 

All Nicely Rolled Up

Cutting each roll into 3 equal pieces

The end product

What you need

  • Mayonnaise (or any other sauce such as peanut butter or jam)
  • Ham (or any other filling such as tuna or mushroom)
  • Carrot , cut into long strips
  • Cucumber, cut into long strips
  • Bread, with crusts removed
  • A rolling pin, to flatten the bread
  • A chopping board

Workload piling up – A good problem to have

It’s piling up!

Time flies. It has been six months since we came back from our last holidays in Taiwan and yet I am not even halfway through the blogging. I am currently on Day-Five of the eleven day holidays, to be exact. I wish I could be more efficient but I am afraid writing is not in my DNA.

Juggling between work, family and interest is not an easy task; even prioritizing them is as bad. I have been busy with work and family for the past few months and hence didn’t have much time for myself. I don’t forsee the family commitment will change anytime soon. Next week, I am going to Penang for a short getaway and yes, I intend to write something about it too. Hmmm … Will I clear up the backlog before year-end, our next holidays?

Breakfast at Jalan Kayu Prata Shop

Thasevi – Jalan Kayu Prata Restaurant

Usually we have home prepared breakfast on Saturdays (i.e. bread and ham) so that we need not spend too much time outside before the kids’ enrichment classes. Since today is a public holiday and the kids didn’t have to go for their classes, we decided to indulge ourselves with some “real” breakfast – Roti Prata at Jalan Kayu.I spent some good years in Jalan Kayu when I was still a primary school boy. Back then, Jalan Kayu was just a quiet road with two rows of shophouses. Twenty years on, Jalan Kayu hasn’t changed much except for the missing row of shophouses, where I stayed, that has been torn down. In those days, there wasn’t much in Jalan Kayu except for a stretch of shops which many of them were selling roti prata. Did I have roti prata every morning then? Seriously, I can’t remember. But for sure, I know I enjoyed them.

Road leading to Thasevi Prata Restaurant from Yio Chu Kang Road

Thasevi Prata Restaurant

The prata shops then served only the residents in Jalan Kayu, which were just a handful. Traffic and parking space were never a problem. Today, people from all corners flock to Jalan Kayu for its prata but the basic infrastructure remains pretty much the same. As a result, it’s not easy to find a carpark space in front of the shop. We were there at 8am this morning and already it was full. Well, it wasn’t really a big problem as there is a bigger carpark further up the road (towards TPE).

Egg and Plain Roti Prata

I went with high expectations (and cravings) but returned with somewhat disappointment or dissatisfaction. Maybe it’s because the shop is now open for 24 hours and I was unlucky to get a lousy chef today? Or maybe it’s because the shop has changed ownership and hence lost the original skills that made me yearn for Jalan Kayu prata for so long? Or maybe it’s time I stop being a victim of my own nostalgia.

The children probably enjoyed their prata more than I did


Useful Information – Jalan Kayu Thasevi Prata Restaurant:

Opening Hours:

  • 24 hours daily

Directions:

  • If you are coming from Yio Chu Kang road, turn into Jalan Kayu. You will come across a petrol station on the left. Drive further down and you will see a row of shops on the left and residential houses on the right. The restaurant is on left.
  • If you are coming from TPE, turn into Jalan Kayu. You will come across an open air carpark on the left. Park in this carpark and walk further down the road. The restaurant is on the right.

Resolutions for 2012

Now that we are into the year 2012 and also the lunar year of the dragon, I wonder how will the year turn out for me. It will be good, as always. I am a firm believer that there are always two sides to a coin and my focus should be on the brighter side. As the chinese saying goes “塞翁失马,焉知非福”, once a decision is made, you will never know if that is a right decision simply because the other choice could be worse (or better). I choose to trust my judgement and believe that every decision I make is the right one (for me then) and move on. This year, I decided to be more systematic and plan out my resolutions for the year. I hope that by penning down these resolutions, it will give me the extra push to turn them into reality. 😉

1. Be Healthy

No more phlegm!

I had checked my medical claims history and realized that I was quite healthy for the most of 2011, except for the last two months. In fact, it was always the same problem – Sore throat, runny nose and the irritating phlegm! As I am writing this entry, I am still recovering from the cough/phlegm. This phlegm problem have plagued my life and hence the top of my resolution list is really to be healthy – To be phlegm free.

After some consultation of my best friend, google, I believe that the common causes of phlegm for me are either cold/flu or dryness. Besides drinking more water, I should really consume more fruits such as pineapples, lemons and oranges to help to diminish the symptoms of cold. I also realized that fresh lemon juice in a warm water helps to clear my phlegm. Try it the next time when you have that irritating phlegm. It works!

Just as a reminder to myself, I also found some interesting articles that claim pineapples actually help to clear the sinuses from mucus and reduce swelling. I am not sure how true it is as this opposes my understanding that pineapples are actually “heaty” in nature and will aggravate the swelling.

2. Blog More

Blog Blog Blog

The challenge that I have with blogging is that it usually takes me a few days or even weeks to complete just one entry. I guess there are a couple of reasons to this. Firstly, composition (or essay writing) is never my strong subject. Secondly, I usually write my entries when I have some pockets of time between my schedule. These pockets are usually of shorter duration and are never longer than an hour. I really would love to set aside three hours a week just to pen down my thoughts but I guess there are things which are more important.

2011 had been a meaningful year for me. I started this blog in April and had published 29 entries since; at a rate of about 3 entries per month. I thought that’s not too bad for a beginner. Well, I am going to better that in 2012; Beginning with this entry.

3. Exercise Regularly

Jogging at least once a week will be good

I don’t like to take medication and the best way to avoid medication altogether is to have a good health. I guess regular exercise holds the key to good health.

It had been a long time (3 years) since I had an regular exercise regime. My children’s transition to kindergarten, to primary school and my change in job are some of the reasons why I stopped exercising…. Ok, I know. These are just excuses. Now I am resolute to get back to my regular exercise regime.

Actually I did make a few attempts previously, but I fell sick shortly after I started jogging. I am not sure what’s the correlation and it’s not important. I want to get back to the healthy lifestyle – period.

Happy New Year

Last but not least, I wish you great health, prosperity and happiness in 2012. It will be a great year!


FIA Formula One SingTel Singapore Grand Prix 2011

For the longest time, I couldn’t understand Formula One as a sport. I thought it was really silly for a car to go fifty/sixty laps round the same circuit before the champion was crowned. It was until last year, when a friend explained the sport to me, that I began to understand Formula One better. Although there are still many rules and strategies that I couldn’t really comprehend, I am beginning to appreciate and enjoy the sport.

This is the fourth year running that FIA Formula One was held in Singapore. Despite being a Singaporean with local access to the event, I had never attended one. Every year, I would tell myself that I must go but each time, I procrastinated. This year, I was more proactive and asked my friend if he would like to join me in the walkabout. He agreed and even got a nice ticket for me. This was really a pleasant surprise and here are some photos that I took during the Friday’s practice session.

Turn 2 and 3

Red Bull Mark Webber leaving the pit lane

Red Bull Mark Webber

Red Bull Sebastian Vettel – The ultimate winner

Ferrari Fernando Alonso

Ferrari Felipe Massa

McLaren Jenson Button

McLaren Lewis Hamilton

Mercedes Michael Schumacher

Mercedes Nico Rosberg

Force India

Virgin Timo Glock

Chicky Fellow

Cheeky gal

Clarissa: Daddy, I have a riddle for you …
Me: Ok, what’s the riddle?

Clarissa: Who gives presents to children?
Me: God?
Clarissa: No
Me: Santa Claus?
Clarissa: No
Me: OK … I know. The answer is …. “Me – Daddy!”
Clarissa: NO!
Me: I know the answer is “Me” … You cheater!

Clarissa: No … I didn’t tell you the whole question. The question is “Who gives presents to children … and gobbles them up!!!” All your answers are wrong. Hahahahaha …
Me: @#$%$@^@^@

BTW, Clarissa was born in the year of rooster, i.e. little chicky fellow, and the answer to the riddle is …. Santa Jaws