Blog To Express

A blogosphere learning experience to express with blog

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Location: Singapore, Singapore

A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Apr 30, 2010

Queenstown Public Library - 40th Anniversary

Queenstown Public Library at 53, Margaret Drive, Singapore. Photo taken on 30th April, 2010.

The photo of the Queenstown Branch Library taken in the 1970s...same place, just different time.

The date on this plaque dated 30th April, 1970 exactly 40 years ago today on 30th April, 2010.

"This branch library in Queenstown is a milestone in our rising standards of life. First, they provide a convenient access to books which most people cannot afford to buy. Next, they are sanctuaries of peace and quiet where concentration and better work is possible, particularly when neighbours are inconsiderate. This branch library marks one milestone along the road up the hill towards a more educated society."

"One sign of an educated society is the number of books read by the people. We have had universal primary education for over a decade. Today, we have a literate society. But a literate society is not necessarily an educated society. One test of an educated man is his ability to continue reading and learning throughout his life."

"Unlike countries in the temperate climates, our homes have open windows. They let in noise. For some strange reason, most people insist that others in the neighbourhood should share their TV, Radio, Hifi, mahjong, or just loud conversation. Hence the need for a library."

- Mr. Lee Kuan Yew, then Prime Minister (now Minister Mentor), at the opening of the Queenstown Branch Library on 30th April, 1970.
Opening of Queentstown Branch Library.  Courtesy of National Library Board

"...sanctuaries of peace and quiet where concentration and better work is possible".

The 40th anniversary celebration to cut the birthday cake led by Guest-of-Honour, Mr Lui Tuck Yew, Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA), Ms Yeoh Chee Yan, Chairman, National Library Board and Ms Hedwig Anuar, the former Director of National Library who retired in 1988.

A group photo after everyone sang "Happy Birthday" with all best wishes to Queenstown Public Library.

A group photo of the pioneer "Friends of the Library" (FOL) of Queenstown Branch Library, a few of whom are veterans.

Some memories of Queenstown Branch Library:

The building of the library was originally painted in grey when it was opened in 1970. When the library was refurbished recently, the familiar external structure was repainted in bright and attractive orange. The internal design of the library was completely upgraded and renovated. It was almost ten years since my last visit to the Queenstown Branch Library until the 40th anniversary celebration today.

My blog in the first person experience and remembrance brings back fond memories of the first branch library in Singapore after the red-brick National Library at Stamford Road. I was in a sense of sentimental feelings and nostalgic memories to walk down memory lane.

In the early days, the libraries were stacked on metal racks. I could still remember the shelves of computer books beside the opened windows facing the road at Margaret Drive. The library was not air-conditioned. The fans were blowing from the wall; while the afternoon sunshine direct at us when browsing the books.

The Computer & IT books of the latest and updated information technology are now relocated in a more spacious and air-cond comfortable library in the second level of the building. The wooden shelves to blend with the modern, ergonomics design.

The obsolete computer books when I used to loan from the library on DOS, BASIC programming and personal computers of olden days are now found only in the Computer History Museum .

"People of any age can benefit from becoming educated about something new" - R. Knight Steel

40th "Happy Birthday" to Queenstown Public Library!

Updated sources excerpt:
Straits Times, Saturday, 1 May, 2010.
By Maria Almenoar & Bryan Toh

It may be the oldest in town but its pull is just as strong and revamps help keep it current

Mr Vincent Tan, who has been using the Queenstown Public Library since it opened its doors 40 years ago, recalls the excitement it generated when it was being built. -- ST PHOTO: LAU FOOK KONG

PASIR Ris resident Vincent Tan lives just five minutes away from the library in his neighbourhood, but he does not go there.

Instead, he makes the 40-minute trek to the Queenstown Public Library on Margaret Drive to borrow books.

'It's quaint and the newer libraries just don't have the same feel that this library does,' said the 52-year-old systems analyst.

Queenstown Public Library, the oldest standing library and the first neighbourhood library, turned 40 yesterday.

The National Library's former premises on Stamford Road was 44 when it was torn down.

Mr Tan recalled how he watched as the two-storey Queenstown library, which retains its original facade and fence, was built brick by brick by samsui women.

'There was so much excitement in the neighbourhood as it was being built. Most of our homes were cramped and crowded, but the library was cosy.'

Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts Lui Tuck Yew, who was the guest of honour at yesterday's celebrations, noted that for library visitors like Mr Tan, public libraries are more than just physical spaces for books.

'Our libraries form a social glue that binds members of our community together to enhance Singapore's cohesiveness and contribute to a culturally vibrant and gracious society,' he told the audience, made up of former staff members and members of the community.

The library network, he said, has grown from just one public library in 1970 to 22 islandwide.

A recent report by The Straits Times shows residents are borrowing more books. Almost 30 million books were borrowed last year, a 9 per cent jump from the year before. The Queenstown library alone loans out about a million a year.

Mrs Kiang-Koh Lai Lin, who worked at the library from 1980 to 1982, remembers how crowded it was in the early days, when it was one of just a few libraries in Singapore. Now the National Library Board's director of reading initiatives, she added: 'Nowadays, its quieter and not so hectic, but people still come, as it is a very family-oriented place.'

She noted how the library had also revamped itself to keep with the times. It was the first library to be fully air-conditioned, and also the first to computerise its services. It also has a cafe, workshop area for activities, and computer stations.

'The furniture is all different now but there is still that home-away-from-home feeling,' said Mr Tan.


Apr 28, 2010

"Readjust Our Time Zone"

"A moment in time; superimposed in the background a time of the future".

There isn't any scheduled or fixed updated topics on my "Blog to Express". At any time or topic of independence blogged, but not indiscriminately or irresponsibly blog to express. Not necessarily by weather or by mood, but mostly by memories circuited suddenly, seen on the TV, read in a book, heard from a nearby gossip people purposely speak loudly (eavesdropping), a thought strike my mind while doing some business in the "comfort room", by dream or god help me, not by nightmare!

An ad slogan somewhere reads: "We want to welcome you back before you readjust to your time zone".

"Time zone" in this context of the blog topic refers to a certain era or historical period of time; not time zone generally defined as a region of the earth that has uniform standard time.

I like that...somehow related to "A moment in time; superimposed in the background a time of the future".

That photo of my profile in a "blurred shadow" foreground and superimposed photo of the "Integrated Resorts"(IR) complex building under construction, taken a few weeks ago.

While watching the news on "Channel News Asia" , the IR is partially in business though. International investors are always watching how Singapore could deliver their parcel to promise, not simply by words of emptiness to business deals.

[Singapore threw open the doors of its second integrated resort Tuesday, giving a fresh boost to the city's tourism sector and raising its profile as a playground for the world's high-rollers.

The 5.5 billion US dollar Marina Bay Sands, built by US gaming giant Las Vegas Sands, opened at 3:18 pm local time (0718 GMT), which is associated with prosperity according to Chinese geomancy experts].

Just before going to bed while the images on the TV were in the process of unwinding my mind, the next shocking photos of tongkangs about Covent Garden in the 1960s received an email from "I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee" Group, Robert Yong on Facebook , an exchange of the following Facebook group discussions:

Yong Robert:

"James, the tongkangs you mentioned about Covent Garden.
Taken when I was at Havelock Sch.,1960. Sun at 5:39 pm" ·

James Seah:

"Its surreal, Robert. Thank you for a photo in front of this screen brought my memory to Covent Garden which I cannot imagine that it was the same place 50 years ago. Let others who grew up in BHS can remember about Covent Garden or studied at Havelock School".

My "dream of vision" last night was "koyak" (meaning "broken" in Malay) when awoke the next morning in a daze. Why?

As the title of the blog topic described:

"It was the readjustment of my "Time Zone"!

Have a fun at time and space zone, a virtual travel on this blog. Please share with us young ones, memories of old, of escapism and fun and what you have gone through in the 60's with us at:

Photo Credit: Robert Yong.
The tongkang shipyard in Covent Garden, Havelock Road.

Photo Credit: Robert Yong.
The Covent Garden attap settlement.

Photo Credit: Robert Yong.
Covent Garden attap on stilt.

The Covent Garden destroyed after the Bukit Ho Swee fire later.

The Indus Garden after development of the Covent Garden fire sites.

The "crooked pipeline bridge" beside the Havelock Primary School.

Kim Seng Community Club along Havelock Road. Could you imagine that the Covent Garden attap settlement was located 50 years ago.

The background sprawling skyscrapers as seen today in the former Covent Garden area in 1960s. In the forefront, HDB flats at Jalan Bukit Ho Swee after redevelopment of the 1-room emergency flats.

Please join me on this blog to "Readjust Our Time Zone". Thanks.


Apr 23, 2010

Public Libraries Singapore - "Spot A Reader" "Friends of the Library"

Public Libraries Singapore "Spot A Reader" group photo at Bishan MRT Station.

I had an "unusual adventure" with other "Friends of the Library" group today from 1:00 pm to 3:30 pm on a round trip from the newly opened Circle Line at Bishan MRT Interchange Station and back.

Many must be wondering who were worn with NLB and "Friends of the Library" logo shirts and a designated identity passcards in the train?

Please read on with photos to find out more.

We are "Friends of the Library" (FOL), similar to "Special Interest Groups" (SIG) of "Friends of the Museum", "Friends of the Zoo", "Friends of the Bird Park" and other SIG in Singapore. In a way, we are the "Evangelists of the Library" to encourage everyone to "READ! Singapore" and join the National Library.

The "Spot A Reader On The MRT" is initiated by Mrs Kiang-Koh Lai Lin, Director, Reading Initiative, Public Library Services, National Library Board and her project team in conjunction with "World Book Day 2010" - "世界书香日在狮城: 书香处处".

Obviously, our FOL participants wouldn't do something which an ordinary commuter were not allowed to do on the train. (NOTE: Please do not go around the MRT, or any other public places for that matter, with the "Spot A Reader" as an individual or any other groups on your own at anytime, anyday indiscriminately without the approval of the respective authorities).

With the consent from Public Libraries Singapore, special permission was given by the consent of SMRT for the purpose of this "Spot A Reader On The MRT" today only for 2 groups from 11:00 am and another from 1:00 pm time slots within the limited train routes. The SMRT Guides chaperoned the participants and to comply with instructions. The MRT train is a security and safety public areas not allowed for loitering or hawking business purposes. The participants were avoided to cause commuters inconvenience or privacy.

We were ensured not to speak too loudly to the commuters, seek their permission and with courtesy, considerate and public decorum. We were required not to disturb the commuters on their train ride, while commuters taking a nap on long journey (as seen some babies in arms). Not to cause unnecessary annoyance when commuters are left alone.

Please go on to view the photos:

"Spot A Reader" participants assembled at the Bishan MRT Station.

Briefing by SMRT Guides and staff of the National Library.

"Off we go..."

Entrance into the MRT Station with special pass access.

First "Spot A Reader" who obliged with an appreciative pose.

A curious gentleman with enquiry about National Library membership.

Another "Spot A Reader" delighted with a copy of the "Read! Singapore" booklet with compliments from National Library.

Young library member and his friends, surprised when presented them with free souvenir keychains.

The SMRT Guides, staff of NLB and our "Friends of the Library" volunteers with a group photo at the Bishan MRT Station. "Mission Accomplished!"

Please note that this is a personal blog to share my "Friends Of the Library" experience and an opportunity to create awareness of the "Spot A Reader for World Book Day 2010" project and other activities of Public Libraries Singapore.

DISCLAIMER: This personal blog contents are not written to represent the official comments of the Public Libraries Singapore, SMRT and other authorised organisations concerned.

Any inaccuracy of information remains the responsibility of the blog owner and to correct the blog as and when required.


Apr 21, 2010

A Page from the Past - Robinson's Fire

Photo Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Photo Credit: Derek Tait

The related blog topics are linked to "Robinsons Department Store" and "Raffles Place" written by Derek Tait and Jerome Lim respectively.

Robinson's Department Store at Raffles Place was destroyed by fire on 21 November 1972, with a loss estimated at over S$14 million. Nine people (eight of them employees of the company) died in the blaze which started at 9:55 am from a short circuit on the first floor of the four-storey building. (Source: Infopedia)

A page from the past of the Robinson's Department Store fire hazard which happened thirty-eight years ago is a grim reminder of loss of lives caused by fire to shoppers in public places.

On April 8, 2010, Little India's bustling Mustafa Centre was slapped with a court order to stop business on the ground floor with display counters and racks carrying items such as watches, toiletries and perfume. However, shoppers can still enter the building to browse and buy from the other three upper floors and two basement levels, including the supermarket.

The average daily visitors to Mustafa was estimated at 10,000 to 15,000 during weekends, based on the Straits Times reports on April 9, 2010.

According to the Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF), the order had obtained it because Mustafa had failed to fix its overcrowding problem and was a grave fire hazard.

This is the first time the SCDF had flexed its muscle this way, given that Mustafa had already imposed some crowd-control measures. An electronic people-counter was installed by Mustafa to control the over-crowding problems.

"SCDF does not tolerate behaviour which puts the safety of the public at risk...(it) will not hesitate to continue to take tough enforcement actions against recalcitrant offenders," SCDF said.

The Straits Times, Sunday, April 11, 2010 reported the headline "Ground floor of Mustafa reopens" after the end of a court-ordered "lockdown" of the 24-hour shopping mall's ground level.

Although the "lockdown" episode at Mustafa Centre is over, the authorities concerned are aware of the safety measures not to compromise the lives of everyone, including the employees.

In the fire at Robinson's at Raffle Place, those who destroyed were employees. My former colleague was working at Robinson's on the fateful day of the fire and was on annual leave. It was lucky to escape the blaze which nobody could know how it happened to him during the fire.


Apr 17, 2010

A History in Time - Circle Line MRT Station

MRT Circle Line's 11 new stations open to much fanfare
By Dylan Loh | Posted: 17 April 2010 2146 hrs (Channel News Asia)

Home News and more details from the Land Transport Authority.

The photos of the ramshackle, rickety buses in Singapore (1960) was the daily mode of transportation for the public.

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Eleven more Circle Line MRT stations in Singapore are opened today on April 17, 2010.

The websites to Channel News Asia "Home News" and the Land Transport Authority are linked above, so the colorful photos of the spanking new MRT stations are not displayed deliberately on this blog. The "now and then" daily lifestyle is intended to blog with shock therapy for fun among the young...unbelievable Singapore "nong nong ago".

For my elderly friends to reminisce how Singaporeans travel in public transportation over four decades ago, MRT was unheard of then. As a history in time, it was the past fashionable such convenience, air-conditioned comfort, speed, time-saving and more seats on buses and trains.

The "rickshaw-puller station" waiting for passengers in Singapore (1939).

The quiz above of a "rickshaw-puller" on the road. The clue: The building in the background of the photo was formerly known as "General Post Office" in Singapore (1939).

Derek with his mother and younger brother on a "trishaw-rider" (the later version of "rickshaw-puller"). Photo Credit: Derek Tait

The "mata cheng teh kor" (In Hokien translated in Chinese "古早时代警察穿短裤". "Mata-mata" is Malay meaning policeman with "eyes to watch") of a policeman riding on a bicycle.

Most of my younger friends and some tourists remarked that the policemen were like boy scouts: "Olden days policeman wore shorts" ("古早时代警察穿短裤").

Photo Credit: Ian_Ything

The policemen in Singapore these days are smartly worn uniform with pants though.

The lifestyle, fashion, communication, transportation and the demand of the people have to be adapted and changed in every country to the needs and aspirations of every generation. So who says there are no changes, no remaking in every social skills as the world moves on with the advance in science, technology, education, trade and various business and enterprise. All of conditioned existence, without exception, is in a constant state of flux, as wise sages have taught.

Younger, able-bodied gracious commuters on buses and MRT would appreciate the courtesy and kindness movement to assist their elders, campaigns with or without.

It doesn't matter whether "Phua Chu Kang" or "Rosie Phua" are staring from their posters everywhere or TV ad screen; seen, unseen, or "transparently invisible".

That is a social change of commuter manners and behaviour, to give up their seats on public facilities, buses and trains, to those who need them more. No automatic sensor devices to give up their seats to the aged people. Only fellow commuters to assist them.

Related Post:

"Masuk Dalam, Masuk Dalam" by Lam Chun See, Peter Tan


Apr 15, 2010

Remaking of "Blog To Express"

"A blogosphere learning experience to express with blog".

I must agree that the "remaking", or rather rephrasing, of the "Blog To Express" as described originally on the blog as:

"To share my learning journey on blogging with those who are doing it for the first time. I started as a beginner too...and learning new things about blogging along the way. Related topics by other bloggers will also be reproduced here to broaden our learning resources".

The purpose of the blog remains unchanged; and to improve the blog format style and presentation.

On the suggestion of my friend to avoid the verbose and long-winded previous description, the essence of its meaning to paraphrase simply, save less wordy and "lor soh" (translated as long-winded, which is subtle in the Cantonese dialect [口水多过茶], "saliva more than tea"!

Sounds good for me to drink more tea. Thanks for suggestions and comments.