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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Nov 21, 2018

Short Speech in Chinese to Inspire


Thanks to China TV program and the video was posted to YouTube.

Watching this special program inspired me to post this blog to share with my friends here .

As I was curious to learn more about [人生七年] or 'Life in 7 years', I did a search on Google and found this video here .

The Up Series is a series of documentary films produced by Granada Television for ITV that have followed the lives of forteen British chidren since 1964, when they were seven years old.  So far the documentary has had eight episode every seven years) all of which were broadcast on ITV , apart from the 6th episode which was broadcast on BBC One.

Since its first instalment in 1964, the celebrated Up documentary series has  traced the fortunes of group of British children from a variety of backgrounds and different areas of the UK, returning at seven-year intervals to take snapshots of their lives. Directed by Michael Apted,the series reaches another landmar with the three-part 56 Up, in which a ll but one of the original 14 participants take part. Ironically, the missing one, Charles Furneaux , went on  to become a TV producer.  In April 2015, Paul Armond, the Canadian director behind the groundbreaking Seven Up! documentary, died aged 63.

The original of the original transcript in Chinese below:
她4分44秒的演讲,却让整个世界都沉默了!!

在这个演讲开始之前,我先间现场的大家一个问题。

你们当中有谁觉得自己是家境普通,甚至出身贫寒。   将来想要出人头地只能靠自己。你们当中又有谁觉得。 起码在奋斗的时候,可以从父母那里得到一点助力。你们当中又有谁觉得:人家的小孩自己是家境普通甚至出身。。自己是有鈛大家的小孩。起码在奋斗的时候可以从父母那里得到一点助力。

前些日子有一个在银行工作了十年的资深的人力资源筥理师。他在网络上发了一篇帖子叫做[寒门再难出贵子]。寒门的小孩。他想要出人头地想要成功。比我们父辈的那一代更难了。这个帖子引起了特别广泛的讨论。你们觉得这句话有道理吗。先拿我自己说。我们家就是出身寒门的。

我们家都不算寒门。我们家都没有门。我现在想想我都不知道当初。我爸跟我妈那么普通的一对农村夫妇。他是怎么样把三个孩子,我跟我两个哥。从农村供出来上大学上研究生。  我一直都觉得自己特别幸运。我爸跟我妈都设怎么读过书。  我妈连小学一年级都没上过。她居然觉得读书很重要。她吃再多的苦也要让我们三个孩子上大学。

我一直也不会拿自己跟那些。比如说家庭富裕的小孩去做比较。说我们之间会有什么不同或者有什么不平等,说我们之间会有什么不同。但是我们必须要承认这个世界是有—些不平等的。他们有很多的捷径。我们也没有。但是我们不能抱怨。我们也没有。有些人出生就含着金钥匙。有些人出生连爸妈都没有。

人生跟人生是没有可比性的。我们的人生是怎么样。那你的一生就是抱怨的—生。那你的—生就是感动的—生。你—辈子都在感受感动。你一辈子都立志于改变这个社会。那你的一生就是一个斗士的—生。

英国有一部纪录片。叫做[人生七年]片中访问了十二个来自不同阶层的七岁的小孩。每七年再回去重新访问这些小孩。到了影片的最后就发现,富人的孩子还是畗人。穷人的孩子还是穷人。但是里面有—个.   他到最后通过自己的奋斗变成了—名大学教授叫尼克的贫穷的小孩。变成了一名大学教授。是有漏网之鱼的。可贝命运的手掌里面。

而且现实生活中更是数不胜数。所以当我们遭遇失败的时候,更不能去抱怨自己的父母。井没有斩断—个人当我在人生中。因为家境不好为什么不如别人的父母。他成功的所有的可能。遇到很大困难的时候。我就会在北京的大街上走一走,看着人来人往。你在这个城巿里面,你有的只是你自己。刘媛媛。真的昰依无所依。你什么都没有。在这个社会上杀出一条路来。这段演讲到现在,你现在能做的就是单枪匹马的。我们大部分人都不是出身豪门的。我们都要靠自己。所以你要相信。是想吿诉你。让你用你的一生。这个故事关于独立,关于梦想。没有—点点人间疒疾苦。去苖斗出一个绝地反击的故事。关于勇气,关于竖忍。它不是—个水到柒成的童话有志者事竟成,破釜沉舟。百二秦关终。这个故事是苦心人天不负。卧薪尝胆三千越甲可夻吴。谢谢大家.


The facial expressions of  the speaker during her speech is the body language to convince the audience and the inspiration to share her personal experiences to learn from her.

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Aug 8, 2018

Singapore - City of Tomorrow

James Seah on a trishaw at T4,
Singapore Airport

National Geographic released a Singapore edition of the magazine - complete with an exclusive interview with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong - to commemorate Singapore's 53rd National Day.

Titled Singapore - City of Tomorrow, the complimentary magazine will be distributed 250,000.  The magazine is part of #WhatMakesSG, a partnership between National Geographic and the Ministry of Communications and Information (MCI).

The collaboration is aimed at celebrating "the passion driving Singapore's progress and how the city-state is taking steps to seize future opportunities".

Mr Lee shared his views on Singapore's future, and highlighted the importance of teamwork and collaboration in enabling Singapore's transformation to a city of the future.

In his exclusive interview with the magazine, Mr Lee shared his views on what he believes makes Singapore different, the country's future and the importance of teamwork.

"There are any number of cities in Asia which have three or four million people in them; probably dozens, many dozens.  Why are we different?  It's because of the way we have been able to make our people work together and to make the system work,"  Mr Lee said in the interview.

"It doesn't mean we're smarter than other people, I think we work as hard as others but we work together more effectively and so you produce something special," he added.




I collected a complimentary copy of the National Geographic special issue at Terminal 4, Singapore Airport on 7 August, 2018.

I am pleased to reproduce the interview with Prime Minister on this blog for the convenience of the readers and friends.

PRIDE OF THE LION CITY

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong speaks exclusively with National Geographic about the island nation's future by Mark Eggleton.

When Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong talks about his sense of warmth.  A warmth for his people and importantly, his and the Government's role as stewards of the future.  Rather than suggesting the Government owns the present, he emphasises the importance of taking care of Singapore right now and ensuring it's handed on in good condition to future generations.  It's this genuine affection for his whole country which immediately strikes you.

In the days preceding the interview, Lee had invited a National Geographic photographer to tag along on his engagements - including a visit to a newly opened pre-school, a stroll in the city's Botanic Gardens, a walk around his constituency's hawker market, and even the home of his constituents.  What was surprising was how each visit quickly turned into something more.  Reason being is unlike many politicians who can look awkward with their constituents, Lee revelled in simply being out and about.  Generous with his time and happy to take endless smartphone selfies, he chatted and laughed with a range of people and families.

On the day we meet in his private office at Istana, Lee is dressed casually and keen for a relatively informal chat.  Outside, the serenity of the property's vast pristine gardens is only broken by the low thrum of a lawnmower.  A green sanctuary in the heart of the city, Istana is the official Presidential Palace as well as the Prime Minister's office, and its sense of peace had made its way inside where Lee is in an avuncular mood.

Sitting in his relatively austere office and responding to a remark that our interview might go slightly off-piste, Lee jokingly replies "we're not very good skiers" before outlining why he is excited for Singapore's future as a digital economy hub that continues to deliver outsize opportunities for its people.  He is keen to point out that government is a team and while he can give orders nothing can happen "unless I've got teamwork", which includes Government ministers as well as the civil service and the private sector.

What excites him the most is while Singapore is still a young country of just over 50 years of age, "we have the resources, the people trained and the organisation, to plan our next 50 years, and remake Singapore substantially.  Not all of it but step-by-step we can remake the economy, the whole (economic) landscape, the way we invest in our people and I hope our standing in the world.  That's a big job.  I'm 66 but my successors, they will have to carry it forward."

The Lion City is already well on its way to transforming itself into a thriving digital economy as it already has some of the most advanced digital infrastructure in the world.  Government services are all migrating online and Lee says there is a huge focus on ensuring the whole population understands the opportunities afforded by the digital economy.

GOING (DIGITAL) NATIVE

"The young ones, they call them digital natives whereas old one like me, we're immigrants.  There's a lot we can do to make the internet easy and convenient for old people to use and we have all sorts of classes for them," Lee says.

Ensuring every generation is catered for starts back in primary school classrooms where the first four years of schooling focus on English, mother tongue, maths and science and the nature of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning is given top priority.  For Lee, who was the top mathematics undergraduate during his time at England's University of Cambridge, STEM skills are the key to the future and they're actively encourage in tertiary education.

"You don't have to become a master programmer, but you must at least have an idea of how computers and programming works.  Then it doesn't look like sheer magic to you and you will not be totally terrified by it when you are in a position of responsibility and you've got to make decisions."

Bearing in mind how the global economy is changing, Lee remains optimistic for the global economy and especially for Singapore, where he believes people will be able to adjust as automation and artificial intelligence fundamentally change the nature of work.  He suggests Singapore's value proposition is its geography and it can do quite a lot of things well and perhaps sufficiently better than elsewhere, such as being a financial services and data hub for the region as well as providing a strong regulatory and legal framework for business.

"In medical services, we have patients who come here from all over the region as well as from longer distances such as Russia.  I think if you are a first world-city with that concentration of talent, services and quality of life, people will want to live and work here."

As for Singapore's ever-evolving physical transformation, Lee speaks of moving the current military airbase at Paya Lebar in the central-eastern part of Singapore to Changi - freeing up an enormous amount of land for reuse and development.


"You can redevelop that land as a new township but most importantly all the surrounding areas, which is maybe one third of the island, has been developed in a height-constrained way.  Take the airbase out and you have completely different possibilities."

Lee also spoke of the current process of moving the port at Tanjong Pagar to the Tuas mega-port on the western edge of Singapore, which will free up "really prime land right in the middle of the city.  It's another opportunity for two-plus Marina Bays worth of redevelopment.

CHALLENGE AND OPPORTUNITY

Beyond Singapore, Lee speaks of the country's role as ASEAN Chair this year and the two ideas chosen as themes for the chairmanship - Resilience and Innovation.  Both underline the opportunities and challenges countries in the region need to confront in a globalised digital economy.  Lee ways resilience means dealing with shocks and problems and dangers, while innovation means looking for new opportunities to work together and to grow.

"On resilience, we're talking about things like disaster relief and cybersecurity co-operation while on innovation, we're talking about a smart cities network.  We have 26 smart cities signed up and we hope we can work together.  We are chairman for a year, it's rotating chairmanship.  It doesn't mean we are the commander-in-chief, we are just the co-ordinator for this year.  What it means is we have to work together to make ASEAN relevant in the world.  Work together economically and work together when it comes to political and strategic issues."

Lee is a great believer in a networked future where nations work collaboratively and he envisions a world where talent connects globally.

"There are any number of cities in Asia which have three or four million people in them; probably dozens, many dozens.  Why are we different?  It's because of the way we have been able to make our people work together and to make the system work.  It doesn't mean we're smarter than other people, I think we work as hard as others but we work together more effectively and so you produce something special."


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Jun 24, 2018

The Dove of Peace with Olive Leaf in Singapore


On 12th June, 2018, the 'Dove of Peace with olive leaf' and the holy angels were in Singapore to bless the historic moments of United States Donald Trump and the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea Kim Yung Un to meet and shake hands on their mission of peace.


US President Donald Trump (left) and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un walk together after a meeting during the US-North Korea summit at the Capella Hotel in Singapore on June 12, 2018.

Please watch this video clip with the courtesy of The Guardian here .

Kim Jong-un has pledged to disarm his nuclear arsenal and Donald Trump has given security guarantees in a joint statement at the end of a historic summit in Singapore.

The commitments were vaguely worded and did not represent an advance on similar agreements – which have proved hard to enforce – between the two countries over past decades, but the statement said there would be further meetings between senior officials from both countries to continue the momentum of the summit.

 The US president also drew attention to what he claimed was the warm personal chemistry established between the two leaders to argue that it represented a breakthrough.

The joint statement, signed by the leaders after five hours of talks, laid out a basic bargain.

“President Trump committed to provide security guarantees to the DPRK, and Chairman Kim Jong-un reaffirmed his firm and unwavering commitment to complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” it read.

Karishma Vaswani of BBC wrote:

After weeks of speculation it's finally been announced - tiny little Singapore will host the historic Trump-Kim Jong-un summit.

The "little red dot" beat the DMZ, Mongolia and even Beijing as a place for the meeting to be held.

President Trump has shown that you don't need China - North Korea's most important trading partner - to talk to Pyongyang.

Still, it does beg the question. Besides a great airport and some neatly manicured gardens, why Singapore?

Answer:  North Korea's Kim Jong-Un feels comfortable with Singapore.

Singapore's deft diplomacy in playing both sides isn't the only thing going for it.

It's known in the region as the banker to Asean - by that I mean a safe, discreet place where you can do business and not that many questions will be asked about what you're up to - as long as you stick to the spirit of Singapore's legal framework.

But while previous US administrations like the Clinton or Obama White House may have tried to persuade Singapore to stop doing business with Pyongyang altogether, ironically it is the close links between the two sides that may have helped cement Singapore as the choice of venue.

Ultimately, Singapore is where international business deals increasingly take place in the region.

So don't think of this meeting between Pyongyang and Washington as just a political meeting. Think of it as a business negotiation, led by two of the biggest deal-makers on the global political scene right now - with Singapore playing the role of arbitrator, and a glamorous host.

Speaking on the impact of hosting the summit, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the country stands to gain from the publicity generated over the next few days.

"The fact that have been chosen as the site of the meeting, we did not ask for it ... it says something about Singapore's relations with the parties and our standing with the international community.

It's our contribution to an international endeavour which is in our profound interest.

He said:  "I think if you calculate the price of everything in this world, you will miss out on the really important things.  We will be sure to be cost conscious, and we will also be sure that we will do what is necessary to make this a safe meeting."

PM Lee notes that path to denuclearisation is a long process, but historic meeting can be first step.

"That's a long process, but this is a first step.  And if the first step happens in Singapore, well, we are happy to be associated with it."

The two leaders' first ever historic meeting for the most keenly watched political meeting Singapore on June 12, 2018.

It was a surreal moment last when United States President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un shook hands in front of a global audience, heralding a remarkable thaw in ties between two of the world's fiercest adversaries.

History was made, and Singapore, as the host, would be noted for its small contribution to world peace and security.




In the days leading up to and after the summit, many headlines were focused on the quid pro quo for the host nation of staging an event that the world's spotlight would be trained on.

That, said analysts, is just scratching the surface, and the key benefit for Singapore is something less tangible, but much more important:

Another example of the country's oft-cited ability to punch above its weight, the value of even-handed, straight-talking diplomacy, and a buttressing of its soft power.

Singapore's role in the event is testament to its value to the international order and the effectiveness of its foreign policy, they said.

The Republic is one of the few countries that has developed deep and wide-ranging ties with Washington while keeping lines of communication open with Pyongyang amid tight international sanctions.


President Donald Trump strolled from the right, North Korea Kim Jong Un from the left with a 13-second handshake and a pat on Kim's arm, the two leaders set the stage for an unprecedented encounter between the sitting US president and the ruler of the world's most isolated regime.

While their talks tackle the serious aims of ending seven decades of hostilities and denuclearing the Korea peninsula optics ruled the show.  From the red carpets they strode in on, to who arrived first, Trump and Kim's meeting at a luxury resort on Singapore's Sentosa Island was a carefully choreographed affair.

Hero's Welcome for Korean Leader Kim Jong Un

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un returned home to a hero's welcome from his historic summit talks in Singapore with President Donald Trump.

He scored a major diplomatic victory by fending off US demands for his regime's immediate denuclearisation.

Not only that, by holding first face-to-face peace talks with the US president, Kim symbolically ended 7 decades of hostility with the world's most powerful nation.

Please watch the SBS 42-minutes Korean documentary on the Trump-Kim Summit in Singapore here .

Message of Peace and Goodwill to the World

The teachers of all mainstream religions on earth spread the message of peace and goodwill to everyone in the world.  The world leaders of all peace-loving countries which belong to the United Nation also spread the message of peace to their citizens.


During the visit of President Donald Trump to the Vatican in May, 2017, Pope Francis expresses hopes that Korea talks leads to 'a peaceful future'.

Pope Francis gave Trump a split medallion held together by an olive tree, which his interpreter told Trump is "a symbol of peace."

Speaking in Spanish, the Pope told Trump, "I am giving you this because I hope you may be this olive tree to make peace."

The President responded, "We can use peace."

Following the meeting President Trump tweeted that he was "more determined than ever to pursue peace in our world".

Lets pray that peace be to the world.

May 22, 2018

Where was the old harbour in Singapore?

A painting of the harbour in Singapore, 1887


Singapore Harbour Board - Lessons of the Past One Hundred Years


The story of Singapore's port

Singapore's port is not just one of the busiest in the world, it's also one of the oldest.  Elsen Teo walks you through it's history. [Source:  Straits Times, 20 February 2012].

400s:  Singapore is known to sailors as Temasek or "sea town" in old Javanese.  The island has an active port where goods, such as pottery and jewellery, are traded.

1300s:  Chinese sailors chart the entrance to a deep harbour in the south of Singapore.  They call it Long Ya Men or 'Dragon's Teeth Gate.  Today, it is the entrance to Keppel Harbour.

1819:  Sir Stamford Raffles sets up a trading settlement along the Singapore River.  It becomes one of the business ports in the Far East.

1852:  As the Singapore River becomes overcrowded with ships, companies begin to set up wharves and warehouses in the south of Singapore.

1899:  The two largest dock companies in New Harbour merge to form the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company in 1912, the government of Singapore expropriates it and forms the Singapore Harbour Board to manage it.

1900:  New Harbour is renamed Keppel Harbour to honour Admiral Sir Henry Keppel, who made his name by eliminating piracy in the waters off Singapore.

1964:  A statutory board of the Government is formed to take over the Singapore Harbour Board, it is called the Port of Singapore Authority (PSA).

1965:  Jurong Port was opened to serve the newly built factories there.

1972:  Singapore becomes only the second courtry in Asia after Japan to open a terminal to handle container shipping, in which cargo is moved in large metal containers.  Tanjong Pagar Terminal opens with three berths.

M.V. Nihon, carrying 300 containers from the Netherlands, is the first container ships to pull in on June 23.

1982:  Containerisation is a success:  Singapore becomes the world's busiest port based on shipping tonnage.

1996:  The Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore is formed to regulate the local port industry, protect Singapore's maritime interests and promote the country as an international maritime centre.

1997:  PSA is corporatized and renamed PSA Corporation Limited.

2000:  Pasir Panjang Terminal is officially opened.

When Stamford Raffles first landed in Singapore in 1819 by sea, there was no proper harbour in Singapore.


Stamford Raffles landed in Singapore on 29 January 1819.  Travelling on the Indiana with a squadron that included the schooner Enterprise, he anchored at St John's Island at 4.00 pm on 28 January 1819 before setting foot on Singapore island the next day.  The site on the Singapore mainland where Raffles landed is marked with the statue of Raffles (photos above), which is located by the Singapore River behind Parliament House.

Old Photos of the Singapore Harbour

The archived photos are shared on this blog with the courtesy of the National Archives of Singapore and the National Library Board.


Chinese coolies loading coal, Keppel Harbour, 1938


 Long Ya Men (Dragon's Tooth Gate)


Six hundred years ago, the great Chinese explorer Admiral Zheng He used a rock shaped like a tooth as a navigational marker when he voyaged through the Singapore Strait.

Long Ya Men, or Dragon's Tooth Gate, was located just offshore where Labrador Park is today and helped steer ships through Keppel Harbour.

In the mid-19th century, however, the British blew up the rock in order to widen the channel for large trading vessels.

The obliterated rock was recreated as a 7.5m-tall replica in Labrador Park.  The replica represented an important part of Singapore's maritime history.  [Source:  The Straits Times]



Apr 21, 2018

Only beggars wear torn pants with holes


I was told this story of a small family quarrel between a 60 year plus-old father and his 16-year-old son at home on a little street in Singapore.

The father was angry when he noticed that his son was wearing a pair of ripped branded jeans with holes. He told his son, "only beggars wear tattered and torn clothes with holes."

His son angrily replied in Mandarin :

"老爸,我穿的是我的选择。为什么使我穿我不喜欢的东西。我有我的个人权利和自由."

[Dad, what I wear is my choice.  Why do I have to wear things I do not like?  I have my own rights and freedom."]

Different generations of the young and old have different sense of fashion.  In fashion, there is no right or wrong for the individual to wear what they like.

This father would remember that when he was young, the fashion of his times was the wearing of 'drain-pipe' pants, hair-style like the Beatles or "curry pok" .....

What is "distressed jeans" fashion today?

They were popular in the late 1980s during the hard rock/heavy metal era and in the 1990s and 2000s during the grunge era.  The punk culture also have been known to be fans of fabrics with various blemishes.

Pants that are showing natural or manipulated wear & tear are often referenced as distressed.

Worn and ripped jeans remain popular as they are still sold in stores and manipulated by consumers currently.  In the early 2010s, ripped jeans came back in style, as a 90s revival, but were sometimes introduced as Distressed - similar to ripped jeans, but the horizontal sewing point was occasionally removed to look like it was distressed.

Crazy Ripped Clothing is Hottest New Fashion Trend


Parents should understand the fashion and trends of their children.  Please do not quarrel with them because their taste in fashion and trends would change as they grow older and learn whatever suits them.  They know how to make themselves beautiful and comfortable.

Please check out the related blogs here and here.

Mar 14, 2018

Grand Old Dame of Beach Road in Singapore


Pioneer generation Singaporeans would remember an old place in Singapore to remember vividly. Over the decades, many heritage buildings at Beach Road have changed, including this landmark posted in my previous blog here .

Raffles Hotel at Beach Road


The Raffles is one of the must-see places for every Western tourist, but especially for the British when Singapore was once upon a time a colony under the Great Britain.  To the rest of the world unfamiliar with Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling, who wrote "Feed at the Raffles when in Singapore", the Raffles is the home of the ubiquitous Singapore Sling.


The internationally famous gin sling was created by Chinese barman Ngiam Tong Boon in 1915, and served to British planters and merchants lounging in the marble-paved Cad's Alley, then the old entrance to the hotel.

Today, the same concoction of gin, cherry brandy, Benedictine, Cointreau and bitters topped with orange, pineapple and lime juice is still served in the cool dim Long Bar - by Ngiam's grand-nephew!

The Raffles dates back to the early 19th century when it was just a small tiffin room with a private bungalow.  It wasn't until 1886 that the restaurant and house were brought over by the Sarkies brothers, three Armenian hoteliers who came to Signapore in the mid-1880s.

In those days, the hotel business was concentrated at the Esplanade, High Street and Coleman Street (remember the old Adelphi?)


But the Sarkies obviously had foresight, and their site on Beach Road did have a terrific view of the harbour and the sea.

The brothers hired the architectural firm of Swan and Maclaren (the same architects who rebuilt the Sultan Mosque) to renovate the hotel, and it wasn't long before the Raffles became known as the "Savoy of the Orient".

Today, you can still enjoy a curry tiffin lunch every Sunday in the Tiffin Room, complete with soft-footed waiters in their crisply starched whites, ceiling fans whirling gently overhead, and dappled sunshine filtering through from high above.

You can explore the Raffles Hotel by yourself, or ask at the front desk for a free tour.  And, if you want old-fashioned high tea with cucumber sandwiches and scones, go to the Tiffin Room at 4 p.m. where they screen an audio-visual presentation of the history of the grand hotel daily.

While you're wandering along the cool corridors of the Raffles, don't forget to look in on the spacious suites facing the pool on the ground floor.

There is a whole row numbered 112 to 123 named after personalities such as Rudyard Kipling, Joseph Conrad, Herman Hesse, Somerset Maugham, and, more recently, Raymond Flower and Ilsa Sharp.  All of them have either written about the Raffles, or stayed and were entertained at this Singapore hotel which will be 100 years old in 1986.

Another reason, which reinforces our faith in human nature, might be described as literary although we see it as an appeal to the imagination.

For instance, Joseph Conrad was sitting in one of its varendahs when he read a report in The Straits Times of a crew which abandoned a sinking ship with hundreds of native passenters aboard, and the result was Lord Jim.

Not all the literati were complimentary.  Rudyard Kipling said:  "Feed at Raffles Hotel and sleep at the Hotel de L'Europe (formerly the City Hall building)."

Noel Coward, who was found naked in a corridor after a wild party, said that Singapore and Raffles by inference, was a first-class place for second-class people.  He was, of course, snipping at the colonials, but it must have hurt at the time.

On the other hand, Somerset Maugham, who spent much more time in South-east Asia, said Raffles stood for all the fables of the exotic East.

His short stories, such as The Letter, described a Singapore no longer recognisable, but its departed mystery lives on in the imagination of millions of people around the world.

In other words, man does not live by bread alone - or by satay or Peking Duck for that matter.

Modern Singapore looks like an Asian Manhattan, only cleaner, more efficient and orderly, but Raffles still conjures up the colour and excitement of the Orient which Conrad and Maugham helped to generate.

Raffles is a living reminder of the days when men lived dangerously and colonial wives were not as good as they might have been.

The architecture helps - white stucco of vaguely classical proportions softly corrupted by tropical vegetation and humidity.

We sat contentedly for hours in the Palm Court, with its traveller's palms and white balustrades, drinking and talking with old friends.


The Palm Court at Raffles Hotel in 1906, when the sea could still be viewed across Beach Road.


The curry served in the Tiffin Room has been modulated for the tourists, but with the many slow-turning ceiling fans.

It is a handsome and evocative room.  One can believer the story that a tiger was once found in the nearby billiard room.

One can also believe the story of how the staff buried the huge silver beef cart when the Japanese invaded Singapore.

A fifth-columnist, who turned out to be a senior Kempetai officer, questioned the waiters about its disappearance, but it remained buried until the British returned in 1945.

You can still order roast beef and Yorkshire pudding from that cart.  And many friends advised not to be deterred by the temperature and humidity outside; the beef and pud are always excellent.

They are as much a part of Maugham's exotic East as the trishaws in the forecourt, and the pirates who still haunt the waters of the archipelago.

Ilsa Sharp has captured this and more, but has not surrendered to nostalgia.  She knows there are more modern and better-equipped hotels.

But its atmosphere is incomparable.  Tourists who stay at the hotel do not say:  "It's Tuesday.  I must be in Singapore."  There is only one Raffles.

This is not to say that the management should not continue to improve its food and services.  The pursuit of excellence is now part of Singapore's way of life, and cannot be ignored.

That said, the romance of the past cannot be recreated, and tourists do not come to Singapore only to sample the air-conditioning.  The island would be a poorer place without Raffles Hotel.

[Source:  The Straits Times, 11 November 1984 with courtesy of NewspaperSG, NLB]

Raffles: Remaking An Icon

This is the behind-the-scenes story of a grand hotel undergoing the most extensive restoration of its 130-year-history.  The staff struggle daily to maintain the "Raffles standard" while the hotel is pulled down around them.  This is an extraordinary chronicle of a national monument and its makeover.

Please watch the video here , courtesy of MediaCorp Singapore.

About the show:

In the heart of one of the world's most modern cities stands an iconic structure synonymous with refinement, elegance, and service - unchanged for more than a century.

Raffles: Remaking an Icon is an exclusive invitation to this grand hotel in Singapore as it undergoes the most extensive restoration and renovation in its 130 years history.

Over the course of an extraordinary hour, we'll meet devoted staff - Bernd the poster boy - handsome front-of-house manager who manages guests disgruntled by the construction work, and an exacting general manager; Roslee, the gentle and quirky duty manager; Kaeley, the bubbly assistant had of housekeeping; and Chef Pierre, a volatile French man.  The staff struggle daily to maintain the "Raffles standared" while the hotel is pulled down around them.

This is a never-before-seen chronicle of a beloved institution that is both a luxury hotel, as well as a treasured national monument.

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