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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Nov 27, 2009

"Be A New Media Parent" Workshop

Before we begin, please note that the introduction of the workshop topic, event and speakers, placed within parentheses on this blog, are quoted from the publicity material distributed by NLB. The above poster is reproduced with courtesy of NLB too.

[Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, GoogleApps, YouTube and Flickr are more than buzzwords of the day! These are some of the popular tools used by children and teens. As parents, how do you catch up with your children in this ever-evolving cyberspace? Wonder how can you use New Media tools to better bond with your children? Take this first step towards becoming a new media parent].

I pre-registered online for the “Be A New Media Parent” workshop organised by National Library Board and IDA at the National Library Building on Sunday, Nov 22 at 2.00 pm.

The moment I entered the Multi-Purpose Room at Central Public Library, Basement 1, I could see some heads turned towards me, with smiles on their faces. They must be wondering whether I have walked into the wrong room which was filled with young parents and their children.

“What's a Senior Citizen Like Me Doing in a Place Like This?” (adapted from the title of a 1963 Black & White movie “What's a Nice Girl Like You Doing in a Place Like This” : )

Nonchalantly, I took my seat amongst the audience because I knew that I was in the right place.

My name was in the list of registered attendees at the counter and my application to attend the workshop was not rejected due to age criteria. I did not gate-crash : )

Although I was an “Old Media Parent” in an era when the Internet, Facebook, blogs, Google were unheard of. My children were born in the 1980s when the personal computer was hailed as the “greatest technological invention of the century". They took the computers for granted, I guess.

As a die-hard curious oldie who believes in the adage “live until old, learn until old”( 活到老, 学到老 ), I am forever learning new things which nourish me as “chicken soup of the soul” and to enable me to keep up with the New Media “thingy". (See, I can also use the Gen-X lingo ; ) and "no problemo". Its just a matter of adaptation.

It is timely and appropriate for NLB and IDA to hold this public talk on a topic which is relevant for “New Media Parents” to understand their “New Media Children”. It will help to narrow the perception and communication gaps created by rapid, advanced technology. Parents and children will then be able to “speak the same language” and bond the parent-child relationship in the modern age.

This was never an issue in the early days when both parents and children read books in printform instead of e-Media and write on paper instead of using SMS texting, Twitter and other forms of wireless communication; including the indispensable mobile phone. Everybody has one, it seems. Even Grandma, most likely hard of hearing, was heard shouting on the mobile phone in the train, instructing the house-helper: "Hey quick, bring in the laundry, its raining" !!!

On with the blog....

[Featuring three speakers of different backgrounds, each well-plugged into the world of New Media, the workshop offers parents an opportunity to learn about the essentials of New Media, how they can better bond with their children with these modern tools, and use them in a responsible and secure way.]

Photo shows Daddy Esman, Nyla and Mommy Nura.

[First speaker Nura J-Esman, a mother of one, a certified educator, celebrity and model. shares her own experience of how a parent can embark on new fun adventures with their children using New Media. She will speak about the joy of using New Media to play, study and have fun with her four-year-old daughter, Nyla.]

My first impression of Nura when she stood up to speak was that this is a home-bred Singaporean "personne confiante” modern mother who is energetic, knowledgeable and oozing with confidence.

(Photo shows Nura speaking to an attentive audience).

When handed a microphone, she said that she doesn't need one as she was a teacher and her power-packed voice could be heard by everyone in the room. Cool.

After her interesting talk, I had many questions to ask Nura, but refrained myself because time was limited and I saw several raised hands. I felt that it would be impolite and unfair to dominate the Q & A session and deprive others in the audience to seek Nura's advice and clarifications on her parenting experience using the New Media.

Nura is like our modern day Dr. Spock, author of "Baby Child Care" whose work and research influenced how Americans brought up an entire generation of young people.

However, Dr Spock's western methods of parenting doesn't go well with most traditional Asian parents, who do not believe that the wailing and cries of the babies are good for their lungs. ( I mean the babies' lungs, not their grandparents') Just let the babies cry their hearts out and ignore them. This was what the good doctor advised young parents, I was told.

Anyways, Nura is not a medical doctor. She is a certified educator who has found innovative ways using the New Media, nurtured with tender, loving care and discipline, to teach her 4-year old daughter. Nyla is responding well to the lesson plans and has shown positive signs in her intellectual developments. Well Done, Nura!

I needn't have to worry about the questions I didn't get the chance to ask Nura at the workshop. This bubbly, Internet-savvy mom has a blog of her own  here.

And she's on Facebook too. Amazing, isn't it?

The following are the excerpts from her blog. They somewhat answered the questions which I intended to ask her:

Mothering and Teaching.

“Every mom's challenge is to do something we love and at the same time have a fulfilling family life. I am feeling a great degree of happiness right now because the current work situation allows for that integration”.

“Teaching has been and will always remain my passion. To be precise, I am most effective dealing with children of low ability. I was still a beginning teacher when the school saw my potential and entrusted me to be the form teacher of a Primary Six EM3 class, which performed really well during the PSLE”.

“In school, I have a reputation of being that garang teacher who has no problems managing a class. I was flexible yet set boundaries, understanding yet firm, playful yet can have a serious temperament. Even the pupils were shocked when they realised I wasn't at all like the Kak Nura in KRAYON".

“Trust me, we have our tough moments. As in really really tough I had to put both my fists in my pockets just so I wouldn't be tempted to let them fly out and hit that oh so sweet face, her arms
and legs....And then we also have her moments of "I WANT ANOTHER MOMMMYYYYYYYY!" and how I was so terribly afraid she would burst a capillary in her eye!

Despite the tumultuous times, I love her. Duh. Siapa la tak sayang anak kan?”

Its wonderful to know that Nura is using her blog to express and share her journey of motherhood. It saves her the time and energy to repeat the same answers to different people on different occasions. She could jolly well tell them “Please check out my blog for the answers…hahaha!

The websites Nura recommended to preschool kids are:

Sesame Street


Disney TV

[Second speaker Matthew Zachary Liu, a blogger, student, host, actor, singer, songwriter and short film producer all rolled into one, introduces parents to some of the more popular New Media tools amongst teens, through lively demonstrations and step-by-step instructions. He encourages parents to take the first step to connect with their kids in the cyberspace with ease.]

Matthew Zachary Liu is one guy whom concerned parents would find it comfortable to discuss about their children's pre-occupation with the Internet, Facebook, blogging and online games.

He is a very open person...honest, frank and outspoken to the point of telling one parent who asked him how she could “stalk” on her son and check on his Facebook activities. Matthew hinted that this is tantamount to an invasion of personal privacy. He did not say it in so many words though.

Matthew mentioned about the advantages of the New Media for easy accessibility, expanding social network to connect with friends and family and immediacy: whatever you or others put up on the Internet could be seen immediately. He referred to the “YouTube Generation” and how people can view all sorts of contents on YouTube.

He assured the parents that Facebook is a global social networking website and there are security features which protect the privacy of the registered users to connect with people discriminately. Facebook users reserve the rights to accept or reject other users' request to be their Facebook friends. There are also ways to customise Google settings for parental guidance.

These days, some employers also use Facebook to find out more about their employees.

So its an open platform through which people have to express themselves responsibly in a civil “virtual” environment. "You can see me, I can see you too." Its an "open concept" with no walls or barriers to block communication..

This is good advice, I think. Peeps (which means people in the new lingo) ought to be able to take jokes. If they don't like it, they should say so to avoid any misunderstandings and miscommunication. We have to respect the individual's preference for the type of jokes that people crack. (The italics are mine).

Young people find it very fun; including posting pictures of “unglam" (unglamorous) moments of their friends to Facebook...just for gags!

Matthew shared an anecdote about a daughter and mother who are Facebook friends and they “talked” to one another on Facebook although they were in the next room in the house.

Twitter is even worse...imagine receiving a Twitter message: “I'm now in the toilet doing my business ; ) far will the New Media go???  &nbsp There are so many imaginative variations. Like, one day I noticed a young gal took a picture of her face with her mobile phone camera to check her make-up and hair-do; something which a handy mirror could have done the job. Yet again, she had found more ways to use her mobile phone.

Matthew gave a general overview and online demonstration on the use of the New Media tools...all of which he had dabbled with and is extremely skillful.

To add to the fun discussion when the audience were warmed up and more relaxed, I too poked (as in Facebook poking) Matthew with this question:

“Could you please help to introduce the New Media to Senior Citizens the way you introduce this very useful knowledge to young parents?”

He gave me a polite answer...

Please check out his "My Life, My Dream, My Story  blog to discover the extraordinary feat of this creative young man.

[Third speaker Kelvin Tan, Vice President of New Media at ServTouch ETi, encourages parents to take a positive and safe approach in using New Media. He provides insights on how New Media works, delves into some of negative contents that their children could be in touch with, and shares the precautionary steps they can take and how they can guide their kids to use New Media responsibly.]

Kelvin shared his views on “How safe is New Media?” “Are kids old enough to roam ALONE in the Internet world unguided?”

He highlighted that there is no privacy in the New Media world. There is increased popularity and accessibility as everyone is getting on board of this “mothership” called Internet.

Even President Obama of the United States of America is on the New Media. He used Facebook vigorously during his election campaigns.

According to Matthew, time control is very important.

The mobile phones could be misused as a new cyber-bullying weapon.

He also spoke on parental control tools for tracking of kids behaviour on the PC, content protection software such as Net Nanny.

Kelvin also dwelt on potential risks such as vulgarities, bad use of English, offensive and adult content, over-spending on virtual currency for online games and Internet addiction.

He described the New Media generation as one which lacks social communication skills.

In my opinion, the New Media is a double-edged sword. People have to learn how to use it with care, to apply the social networking devices discreetly for well-intentioned purposes.

The question is: "Do we use it to slay the cookie monster or destroy our fellow men?"

We have to selectively derive whatever that is beneficial and discard the harmful elements.

The poppy plant is not totally exterminated because morphine extracted from the plant could be used for medical purposes; whilst opium as a form of drug abuse is harmful to mankind.


Nov 25, 2009


School's out for the month-long year-end school holidays!

I could hear young kids shouting along the corridor "Yippee, school holiday is here! " as they rush home from kindergarten or school on the last day of school. They would be pestering their parents with holiday plans to bring them to places they would not have the chance visit during the school term or to do things they couldn't find time to do when they are busy with homework and studies.

Its a long-awaited break school children always look forward to every year-end.

Kids in Singapore these days are lucky that they have a wide range of fun activities lined up for them during the school holiday period; events and activities organised by the community centres, clan associations, public libraries and education-related organisations.

This year, the Asian Children's Festival runs from 21 - 29 November and the main event, KidsASIA! was held from 21-22 November (10.30 am to 6.00 pm) at the Plaza, National Library Building.

The purpose of the blog posted was event of over and new ones. The surprise will like ever changes, with new events, and whatever every one remember for the day.


The Asian Children's Festival from the  Rambling Librarian  blog  which Ivan Chew helped his colleague Haryani Othman, Programmes Executive with the National Library Board, to publicise the event.

[   Welcome to the 10th Asian Children's Festival and to our KidsASIA! event. Kick start your school holidays with us! Celebrate, play and have fun at the special activity zones created just for you! Groove to the cool and up-to-date performances by kids for kids, Creative your own masterpieces, Play exciting games within your family and Chill out with stories from all over the world!   ]


On the morning of 22 November, 2009 was at National Library Board where the KidASIA event was in full swing. The Plaza, Level 1, was crowded with parents and young kids. A carnival atmosphere was in the air, as you will see from the photos on the blog update.

The kid needs all book. Never a waste to learn. For safety and porter.


Once the day of the event is over, how many more can one keep the blogs to keep ever and ever for a longer time...not any more the ending again and again.

The gone is over...
tomorrow is another day...
the event is the ending...but forever in the blog !!!


Nov 22, 2009

Stamps of Merit

Photo Credit: Kevin Lim, Singapore Philatelic Museum.
(The Sunday Times, Nov 22, 2009)

Its been over a week since I last blogged about the "Do away with postage stamps" letter by Dr Lim Chong Teck to the Straits Times Forum Page on Nov 10.

Apparently the topic is still hot; as it was featured in the "hot" section of today's Sunday Times. Nicholas Yong of The Sunday Times wrote: "Young stamp collectors may be a rare breed, but the old-fashioned hobby is still thriving".


Undergraduates Sin Tong, 23, Sin Yong, 21, and Sin Yuan, 18, share an old-fashioned hobby passed down by their parents - stamp collecting. While the brothers have garnered trophies for their collections, they are a rare breed among their peers who are more used to e-mail than snail mail.

The appeal of stamp collecting to modern youths is perhaps best summed up by Sin Yong: "When I tell my peers that I collect stamps, they go 'huh?"

Retiree James Song, 59, a member of the Association of Singapore Philatelists, lamented: "When I ask kids, why don't you collect stamps, most will say, so boring."

His own son, who is in his 30s, has no interest in them, he added.

A debate on the culural and historical value of stamps was sparked by a recent letter to The Straits Times' Forum by Dr Lim Chong Teck, who proposed that postage stamps be phased out as a safeguard against counterfeit stamps and to keep postage rates low.

The letter prompted others to write in to praise the merits of stamp collecting. One of them, Professor Tommy Koh, chairman of the National Heritage Board, wrote that as a youth, it "opened my mind to history, historical personalisties, arts, culture and the wonders of the natural world".

The main stamp collectors' associations here include the Kreta Ayer Stamp Society, Zui You Philatelic Society and the Singapore Philatelic Society.

Kreta Ayer Stamp Society has about 500 registered members, of whom only about 50 are active. Their average age is 45. Vice-President Connie Tai said: "It is very hard to recruit younger members."

The stamp-collecting scene here consists mainly of casual collectors. About 15,000 people have a Standing Order Deposit Account with SingPost. This is a special service provided by the Singapore Philatelic Bureau to allow stamp collectors to obtain new stamp issues and stamped stationery through home delivery.

The Singapore Philatelic Museum (SPM) received about 100,000 visitors last year. General Manager Tresnawati Prihadi said: "We often see parents with their children on weekends, buying stamps. Many also come to our open houses."

One relatively young collector is Mr Charles Loong, 34, a credit manager in a securities firm who started collecting when he was in primary school. While he is an active member of the Singapore Stamp Club, he noted that "it is very hard to find fellow collectors around my age". The active members are mostly in their 40s and 50s.

Nevertheless, he thinks the pastime should be passed on to the next generation.

"It takes a great deal of patience, and is a good way to teach children geography and history."

The most he has paid for a single item is $20,000 for a three-cent revenue stamp issued by the Qing dynasty in 1847.

Other collectors such as contractor David Chang, 51, are doing their best to ensure that their children also take up the pastime. Mr Chang spends many hours with his son Johnson, 11, poring over stamps. He has spent about $60,000 on his collection in the last few years and is encouraging his younger son to collect them.

Johnson, who is the youngest member of Kreta Ayer Stamp Society,said: "Stamp collecting is fun. They hyave very nice pictures and I can also improve my knowledge."

The mother of the three undergraduates, Madam Au Yong Keok, 50, who works in the infocomm sector, said she and her engineer husband Sin Sia Bah, 55, taught their sons to collect stamps.

She said: "Stamp collecting helps them in their studies. They learn to be meticulous and it teaches them discipline and how to organise their work."

Sin Yong estimated that their collections combined are worth "a few thousand" dollars. As budding amateur magicians, they have even incorporated stamp tricks into their performances.

The Singapore Philatelic Museum houses the largest collection here, boasting stamps, philatelic materials and postal history artefacts from here and around the world.

Senior curator Lucille Yap estimated that there are about 100 serious collectors here who take part in competitions and exhibitions. She added that there are also many "closet collectors" who prefer to maintain their privacy.

One of the most well known collecors is founder and senior consultant at DP Architects Koh Seow Chuan, who has won prizes at philatelic exhibitions. "Stamps can be the doorway to something much deeper - a new world of discovery and creative exploration," said Mr Koh, 69, who has been collecting for almost seven decades.

Others such as retiree Mr Song, who has brought his collection to exhibitions and competitions here and overseas, estimated that he has spent up to half a million dollars on his collection in the last 50 years. Mr Song, a former stamp dealer, houses his collection in a cupboard equippedwith a special humidity rod to dry the air.

Many declined to put a monetary value on their collections, insisting they were driven by passion. As Mr Song put it: "Once you collect something, you like to keep on collecting."

Even younger collectors such as Sin Yong understand the need to have it all: "Sometimes it gets expensive when you want to complete a collection. But at time, you are driven to do it. It may be just one or two pieces missing from a set, and it's a pity if you don't have it."


I believe this newspaper article will generate more positive interest in stamp collecting; and create an awareness among the uninitiated, to learn about this age-old hobby, amidst challenging competition from other hobbies youngsters find "cool" - such as collection of mobile phones, electronic gadgets and computer game titles.

Unfortunately, there was an over-emphasis on "commercialised" stamp collecting in the published article.

Stamp collecting as a hobby doesn't have to cost a lot of money. Children could get their parents to bring home the used stamps (which would otherwise be thrown away as rubbish) from their office, and then exchange duplicated stamps for different ones with their friends, both locally and overseas.

The school curriculum for primary school students could also include a "Learning through Stamps" programme to make their lessons more fun and interesting. The teachers would also have more innovative ways to tell stories through stamps.


Nov 19, 2009

Stamps opened his mind to the world

The following is the letter written by Professor Tommy Koh, Chairman, National Heritage Board published in today's Straits Times Forum Page.


I would like to share with readers my response to Mr Lim Chong Teck’s letter, "Do away with postage stamps” (Nov 10).

I was an avid stamp collector when I was in primary and secondary schools. Collecting stamps helped to educate me and brought me joy. It was through my stamp collection that I became knowledgeable about world geography and excelled in that subject in school.

The stamps opened my mind to history, historical personalities, arts, culture and the wonders of the natural world. Collecting stamps also taught me to be disciplined, methodical and to find happiness in a wholesome hobby.

Collecting stamps is something which parents and children can do together and is a bonding experience.

Let me quote a section from a lovely poem, Stamp Collecting, by one of Singapore's best poets, Boey Kim Cheng:

Starting with Australia, she slides the
behind the filmy strip, the album
promise in its fresh gluey feel, the world
being collected and unfolding as it fills up
shelf by shelf. As her five-year-old
gingerly slip the countries into place, the
spill out, like the stamps from an old
I opened yesterday, forgotten pressed
of a time when the world arrived
in a philatelic queue, surviving
emblems from my stamp-mad phase

Tommy Koh
National Heritage Board


Thanks to Professor Tommy Koh for sharing his stamp collecting experience with readers of The Straits Times.

If you would like to share your personal experience and joy of stamp collecting on this blog, you are welcome to post your comments here or submit your contribution as a guest blogger to Thank you.


Nov 16, 2009

"Do away with postage stamps"

Extracted from The Straits Times, November 16, 2009 (Forum Page)

I received a mild shock of disbelief when I read Mr Lim Chong Teck's letter "Do away with postage stamps" in the Straits Times Forum Page of November 10, 2009 (reproduced below).

As an avid stamp collector in my primary schooldays, the first thought that struck my mind when I read the headline was: "Oh dear, this is going to be a killjoy for stamp collectors".

I then emailed the Straits Times the same day to express my personal concern.

The edited version of my letter appeared in today's Straits Times as shown in the image above.

The official reply from Ms Patsie Tan, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications, Singapore Post "Stamps are icons of nation's achievements, heritage" is a source of comfort for stamp collectors. Many international stamp collectors find the designs of stamps printed in Singapore attractive, colorful and unique. The Singapore postage stamps are the "icons of our nation's achievements and heritage" as aptly described by Ms Patsie Tan.

Ever since the first postage stamp, the "Penny Black" was issued on May 6, 1840, the postage stamp designs issued by every country has evolved for over a century. The artwork and designs of postage stamps today has become more creative and theme-specific.

It is heartening to note that SingPost understands the intrinsic values that stamps are collected and goes beyond revenue consideration with regards to the feasibility of replacing traditional postage stamp with computer-printed labels (as suggested by Mr Lim Chong Teck in his letter). The postal authorities are mindful to cater to the needs of stamp collectors worldwide.

Mr Lim Chong Teck's letter which appeared in The Straits Times, November 10, 2009 Forum Page.

According to the Universal Postal Convention 2004 Bucharest Congress Annex paragraph 8 of the "Philatelic code of ethics for the use of UPU member countries, "Administrations pledge to abide by this code of conduct in order to ensure the long-term survival of the philatelic market in each country".

The 2004 Bucharest Congress, in "Recommendation C 26/2004", also reaffirms its commitment to the production of high quality, ethical stamps, and to a vibrant philatelic market.

The "Philatelic code of ethics" is found here

I hope the article is not quoted out of context, as the constitution of the UPC, with its legal terminologies, is too complex for me to understand.

The fact that there is a "vibrant" "philatelic market in each country" appears to me that the Universal Postal Union recognises that "postage stamps are more than a mode for payment of postage" (as eloquently explained by Ms Patsie Tan in her reply).

The link to the   "ReTRIeVIA"  blog was also provided in the published letter. Please visit the blog to discover the wonderful world of stamp collecting.


Nov 15, 2009

Memories of Sembawang

When I first read Ernest Hemingway's "The Old Man and the Sea" about 50 years ago, I was around the age of Manolin, the young apprentice of the old man in the story, Santiago.

I'm now the old man...just like changing roles.

It is the touching story of an old fisherman who shares his personal life experience with a little boy.

The lesson: "Learn to fish" (figuritively speaking).

There's a Chinese proverb: "Give me a fish and I eat for a day. Teach me to fish and I eat for a lifetime".

In his review of the book, Bob Corbett wrote:

"The Old Man and the Sea" is a magnificent story. At one level it is the tale of a man and a fish, at another, a story of man versus nature, at yet another, the story of the culture of manhood, courage, bravery in the face of existence, and at yet another a history of what life was like when individuals were more the central actors on the human stage and not groups or organizations.

Hemingway's world is not my world. I am no Santiago, no macho man. And the culture of today has little place left for the radical individual whom Hemingway celebrates and Santiago portrays. Yet the power of Hemingway's telling is such that I couldn't help but be on Santiago's side, to admire him, to ache with his loss in the end to forces greater than he.

This great individual, the man who stands alone, is not alone completely by choice. He has developed a friendship, a working relationship, a love with a young boy who began fishing with him when the boy was only five".

The sea has always fascinated me. I've spent a great deal of my time at the seaside during my younger days.

At various times, I have lived near the sea...Sembawang, West Coast, East Coast and Changi Point.

After all, Singapore is an island, surrounded by water. (It sounds strange to state the obvious...but this is just to emphasise the point that water is life).

In my twenties, I was staying alone in a rented room in Sembawang when I was working at Woodlands Road. My buddies and I used to visit the jetty at Sembawang for line-fishing and to catch "flower crabs" during weekends.

This is the picture of the jetty at Sembawang Park as it appears many years ago when I was staying at Sembawang Road 13¼ milestone, near the famous "Patio" food street which was popular among the Australians, New Zealanders and British servicemen of the ANZUK Forces.

The row of bars along Sembawang Road near the "Patio" food street. Photo taken in 1967.

Sembawang, an idyllic, remote village, is located at the northern-most part of Singapore.

Chong Pang was the "town center" of Sembawang. I used to go to the "Sultan Cinema" in the evening to watch movies at only S$0.30. The movies are usually second-run, 2 or 3 months after their first screening in the cinemas in the city.

Photo Credit: Jerome Lim; Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

"My Home Town, Chong Pang" blog by the Story of Bing here .

The village folks in Sembawang are mostly simple, humble people who eke out a living in the Naval Base before its handover to the Singapore government by the British.

Whenever people who live in Sembawang goes to the city, they will say "I'm going to Singapore" if Sembawang is not part of Singapore : )

Perhaps its the proximity of Sembawang to Johor where travelling time is shorter to Johor than to the city areas in Singapore, regarded as a faraway place.

In the 1970s, the villagers of Sembawang were adversely affected by the withdrawal of the British servicemen and naval forces.


Open Letter from Singaporean Historian Dr Loh Kah Seng

Dr Loh Kah Seng, a Singaporean historian, is embarking on his new book about the British bases and their withdrawal from Singapore in the 1970s.

His open letter is reproduced below and on his blog.

Please contact Dr Loh and help him to preserve this important milestone of Singapore history for posterity; and to help future generations of Singaporeans to understand that the birth of our nation was not an easy one.

Thank you.


Dear fellow Singaporeans

I am a Singaporean historian looking to speak to people who remember the British bases and their withdrawal in the early 1970s. The withdrawal was the first major crisis independent Singapore faced. The 56 bases, contributing a fifth of the country’s GDP, were its largest industry, and the pullout threatened the livelihood of one-sixth of the labour force, including an estimated 8,000 amahs.

The pullout also transformed the economy, society and landscape of Singapore in the 1970s. Most of the bases were converted to commercial use, while many base workers underwent a 3-month retraining crash course. Technical and vocational education also expanded, as new laws sought to increase labour productivity and attract foreign capital investment.

These developments resonate with us today: the retraining programmes, the mobilisation of the young, the philosophy that ‘no one owes Singapore a living’. There is also a forgotten social history to unearth: how retrenched base employees coped with the crisis and how workers adjusted to new work routines.

If you remember the British bases and rundown, or have a family member, relative or friend who does, kindly contact me to lend your voice to an important episode of our national story.

Please pass this message along to those who might be interested.

Thank you.

Loh Kah Seng (Dr)
Visiting Research Fellow
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, Singapore
Mobile: +65 81981172
Loh Kah Seng
Visiting Research Fellow, ISEAS
Adjunct Assistant-Professor, NTU
New book, Making and Unmaking the Asylum


Nov 7, 2009

Are smart phones getting too smart?

Mobile inventor says modern-day phones are too complex

The inventor of the mobile phone says the devices have become too complex, with a range of features from cameras to music, since he made the first-ever wireless call over three decades ago.

"Whenever you create a universal device that does all things for all people, it does not do any things well," former Motorola researcher Martin Cooper told a conference.

"Our future, I think, is a number of specialist devices that focus on one thing that will improve our lives," the 80-year-old added.

Cooper, who was born in Chicago, was the lead engineer of the Motorola team that developed the handheld mobile phone. He made the first-ever wireless call from a busy Manhattan street corner on April 3, 1973.

"The first cell phone model weighed over one kilo and you only could talk for 20 minutes before the battery ran out, which is just as well because you would not be able to hold it up for much longer," he said.

"What we did with this mobile telephone was create a revolution. Before the mobile phone existed we were calling a place, now we are calling a person."

Since that first call was made the popularity of mobile phones has soared, with more than four billion people owning one today, Cooper said, compared to only 300,000 in 1984.

Source: Agence France Presse, 11/5/2009


Nov 6, 2009

Impact of Internet and Cellphones

Source: The Straits Times, Friday, Novemeber 6, 2009


Technology boosts social life: Study

Users of Internet and mobile phones have more active and wider social networks

WASHINGTON: Contrary to popular belief, technology is not leading to social isolation and Americans who use the Internet and mobile phones have larger and more diverse social networks, according to a new study released on Wednesday.

The study refutes reserach earlier in the decade suggesting that people's growing embrace of technology has come at the expense of close human connections.

"All the evidence points in one direction," said Dr Keith Hampton, lead author of the report by the Pew Internet and Merican Life Project.

"People's social worlds are enhanced by new communication technologies.

"It is a mistake to believe that Internet use and mobile phones plunge people into a spiral of isolation," said Dr Hampton, an assistant professor of communication at the University of Pennsylvania.


The Internet also has not pulled people away from public places like parks, cafes and restaurants - in fact, it is just the opposite.

The study, which has a margin of error plus or minus 2.5 percentage points and accounted for difference because of age, education and other factors, also found that people now tend to use cell-phones more than land lines to stay in touch with their closest family members and friends.

In fact, people now text these close friends and family members as much as they use traditional land line phones, about 125 days out of the year.

Face-to-face contact is still the primary way people keep in touch. The average person sees each member in his close group of confidants 210 days out of the year. If they have cellphones, they call each person in that group on 195 days.

Another interesting tidbit: Users of social networking websites are 40 per cent more likely to visit a bar, but 36 per cent less likely to visit a religious institution than those who shun Facebook, MySpace and the like.

Agence France-Presse, Associated Press



Nov 1, 2009

Games Preview at JRL

Uncle Yip and family registering for the games session.

On Saturday, Oct 24, I went to the Jurong Regional Library for the Games Preview Session at the invitation of Ivan Chew, the Rambling Librarian.

On the way to the library, I dropped in at the NTUC Foodfare below the Simei MRT station for a quick bite. Embossed on the glass doors was the slogan: "GO EAT, GO WORK, GO PLAY".

Oh yes! I will go play games which I have not done for a long, long time.

But why go to the library to play indoor games? Why is the Public Libraries organising this preview session? This is certainly something new, a novel concept.

I was curious too, so I decided to accept Ivan's invitation to find out.

The games preview was held at the "Verging All Teens Space" on Level 4 of the Jurong Regional Library.

Arriving at the library at 9:50 am., I was warmly greeted by Ivan at the entrance. A few minutes later, Uncle Dick Yip (also fondly addressed as Unk Dicko) arrived with his wife, 3 grandsons and their maid, just in time for us to enter the library which opens at 10:00 am.

It was the first time I have met Ivan and Unk Dicko in person. We knew each others through our blogs though.

A group photo with Unk Dicko and his family.

Although Unk Dicko is in his early seventies, he is still as fit as a fiddle (or rather a ukulele, his favorite musical instrument ; )   He is every inch a sportsman.

The players engrossed in the Nintendo Wii console games.

Without wasting time, we were quickly grouped into teams.

Each participant gets to play a mix of console games (Nintendo Wii, Xbox360) and also board games (e.g. Carcassonne). The session was facilitated by the librarians and volunteers.

Picking up a piece of real estate in the "Carcassonne" board game.

The first board game I played was "Carcassonne".

The Games Lead was Aloysius Chiew, President of the  NTU Board Games Society.  My team mates were Cheryl Chia from NTU and Raymond Liew from Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

This is a fast moving, strategic game and I like it.

The next game we played was Rat-a-Tat CAT, a fun card game.

Moving on to another game station, I played Blokus,  a Tetris-like game with a different group of players.

Sebastian Tan from NTU was the Games Lead.

It was not as exciting as "Carcassonne" though.

"Is this how you activate the bowling ball?" I asked my young friends.

Due to time constraint, the last game I played was the Nintendo Wii bowling game.

I found the Wii game the most fun of all. It is an interactive "virtual reality" game which I enjoyed very much. My young gamer friends also patiently demonstrated to me how the game should be played.

Unk Dicko, who has a Nintendo Wii system at home, gave me tips on the "Tennis" game console. He is a veteran sportsman, "real" and "virtual"!

My Verdict

The introduction of games as part of the library's enrichment programmes is a value-add community service to attract more youngsters to spend more time in the public libraries instead of loitering in the streets.

Similarly, senior citizens would also spend more time in the libraries with an alternative source of entertainment to while away free time.

If the young and elderly game players could be teamed and matched as in the game preview session, it would also help in bonding the inter-generational gap. The indoor games we played is suitable for all ages, as long as the players could understand the rules of the games.

It is wonderful to know that the public libraries are no longer just a place to loan or browse books and printed material. It has gone digital and soon to be an "edutainment center" when the pilot gaming project is rolled out and launched to the public.