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A "recycled teenager" learning to blog.

Aug 29, 2009

Book Talk by Felix Cheong


Finding New Villians for Tween Novels with Felix Cheong

Saturday, 28 August, 4:30 - 6:00 pm
Multipurposes Room, B1
Central Public Library

Bored with Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys' mysteries? Award-winning Singapore writer Felix Cheong has the answers for a new generation of "tween" readers.

In his two detective novels set in Singapore, The Call from Crying House and the sequel, The Woman in the Last Carriage, he gets down and dirty with new villians - terrorists.


Source: NLB
Photos courtesy of Miss Athena AZIZ, NLB

Felix shared his experience of writing the stories and reads extracts from the novels

Heard of Warren Barfield's "The singer not the song"?

The lyrics are found  here

Would "The writer not the story" be an appropriate poem title which Felix could write on?   It doesn't sound poetic though.

On a hot Saturday afternoon, I would usually be taking my siesta at home if there is nothing better for me to do.

Today is different. I made a trip to the National Library to attend Felix Cheong's talk about his books "The Call from Crying House" and the sequel "Woman in the Last Carriage".

I had already registered online at NLB'S  Experience Singapore Literature   website several weeks ago to attend the talk. It is open to the public and admission is free.

It is not every day that I had the chance to listen to an award-winning local writer speak in public.

Sleep can wait...but no, I don't have to lose sleep. I took a long distance bus ride and slept on the journey from home. I arrived at the library wide awake and still looking fresh, the heat not withstanding : )

According to Wiki, the definition of "tween" is preadolescence - the stage between middle childhood and adolescence in human development, generally in the age range of 10 to 12 years of age.

I am long past that age range, and detective stories do not have as much appeal to me now as when I was a "tween". I last read Sherlock Holmes detective stories decades ago. These days, scifi books by Carl Sagan is still my all-time favorite. I guess I am a futuristic person who wallows in fond memories of the past, but living in the present in real life because the other two realms exist only in the mind. Is this what they call "back to the future"?

Reading without thoughts can certainly affect the brain, and I am getting a little confused : )

Knowing that I would not live long enough to see the futuristic world of Carl Sagan's Cosmos in my lifetime, I am curious to learn how the new generation readers find intriguing in detective stories written by Felix Cheong as compared to the adventure and detective stories by Enid Blyton in a different era, during my young days.

British author Enid Blyton writes about the English countryside, the meadows and the farms, description of the children biking in the moonlight, and eating sandwiches as they rode through the night; a world where ginger beer flows and ham rolls are a staple diet. Some of her stories were based on Dorset's "Blue Pool". and other places in England which I knew nothing about. Reading these Enid Blyton books developed in me a craving for most things and chip, ginger beer, sandwiches and "God Saves the Queen".

Not any more. Its "Majullah Singapura" now!

The National Anthem, not the food, I mean. I still love the fish and chip, ginger beer and sandwiches though.

Local born and bred Felix Cheong writes from a Singaporean perspective.

From the talk, I understand that Felix did some groundwork and research on local places (Jalan Hajijah near Bayshore, Bishan), through people watching, props and also interviewed tweens (11 to 15 year old) in Singapore to understand their perceptions and NextGen lingo such as "cool" - and mesh them into the books he wrote.

Interesting, isn't it? Makes me feel like turning back the clock and be a "tween" again : )

More about Felix Cheong can be found here .

Felix Cheong reading extracts from his novel
Fortunately I was shot while jotting notes...not caught napping ; )

Sent from my Treo 650


Aug 27, 2009

PC Talk Session at Paya Lebar Kovan Community Club

The first PC Talk Session organised by the IT Committee was held at Paya Lebar Kovan Community Centre (PLKCC) foyer on 27 August, 2009 at 7.00 pm.

The idea to hold the PC Talk was mooted by Alvin Lee Ken Wah, Vice-Chairman of Paya Lebar Kovan CCMC when he was approached by trainees of the SIJ Basic Computer and Internet courses conducted at PLKCC to recommend them personal computers and notebooks which are suitable for their needs. Mrs Evelyn Lee, together with SIJ Trainers Lesley Tay, Eric Lee and Jonathan Lee then set out to organise the talk for the benefit of the trainees, family and friends.

The Silver Infocomm Junction (SIJ) is aimed at providing training and facilities for senior citizens to learn, upgrade and persue their interest in infocomm skills and knowledge.

Jonathan Ng, a young and knowledgeable computer nerd, presented the talk on "How to buy a personal computer" with a series of slides of various PC models and hardware components to the attentive audience in both Mandarin and English. He avoided computerese and jargons, in a no-frill and interesting way.

He even showed slides of PC/Notebook ads at unbelievable prices and gave helpful tips on how to read between the lines of the ads. Jonathan is indeed resourceful and had done a great deal of research on the topic.

As guest speaker at the talk session to speak about my favorite topics - "Blogs and Facebook", I was delighted to see some familiar faces of students who had attended Internet courses I conducted previously at the CC. Their interest in surfing the Net had not waned and some have become even more Internet-savvy than I. That's a good sign. At least they did not store whatever they have learnt in the fridge or freezer.

During the talk, I was posed a challenging question (well, challenging to me at least because I do not have a ready answer as most of my handout material are based on stuff I found on the Internet)

A gentleman asked me: "Can you please explain blogs in a simple way so that an ordinary layman can understand?"

That's tough! I've never been asked a question like that before.

What does he mean by 'a simple way'....what is simple to him is not simple to me...

I then tried to use an analogy:

Assume that 'BlogSpot', Blogger's hosting service for blogs is a huge public reference library which provide the brick-and-mortar facilities, amenities and space for publishers and writers to display their books free-of-charge 24/7 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week), and visitors could browse through the books at any time convenient. The publishers and writers have to be registered members though.

Some publishers and writers do not wish to have their works publicly displayed, so these books are kept in locked shelves and the keys will only be provided to those authorised to view the books.

So, the books are the blogs and the bloggers are the publishers and writers. is the owner of the reference library facilities.

Blogs which are protected with privacy settings are books which are kept under locks and keys.

I don't know whether he understood my analogy although he nodded his head. I hope I did not confuse him as much as I confused myself...

Facebook was slightly easier to understand when I mentioned that it is a "virtual community populated by real people".

How's that for simplification...or is it oversimplified?

I love to hear your views on the definition of blogs. Comments are welcome.

Thanks in advance.

Sent from my Treo 650


Aug 26, 2009

Defamation on the Blog

VOGUE cover girl Liskula Cohen has won a court order to identify the person who called her a skank on a blog.

Skank is a highly derogatory insult that means dirty and sleazy and usually refers to a woman.

The Manhattan Supreme Court has ordered Google, the hosting company of to reveal to Liskula the name of the person who wrote the blog.

SIGNIFICANCE: Bloggers are not immune to defamation or libel suits.

Even if they had posted their comments anonymously, the court here can order the Internet service providers or blog hosting companies to disclose their identities.

Blogs are read by everyone, so bloggers must not make frivolous, bitchy comments in the name of freedom of expression or to gain readership.

Source: The Straits Times
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Digital Life Section

Sent from my Treo 650


Aug 23, 2009

American Political Leaders Speak Mandarin

American Political Leaders Speak Mandarin

美国国务卿希拉莉2009 年2月访华时用了中国成语“同舟共济”。从那以后,我们经常听到奥巴马政府官员引用中国成语。今年七月,中美战略与经济对话在美国召开时,她又引用了一句中国谚语 “人心齐,泰山移”,来强调美中合作的重要性。美国财长则在开幕式上引用中国成语“风雨同舟”,来形容当前美中关系的现实。奥巴马却引用球星姚明的话。姚明说新旧球员之间需要时间调整才能合作。

During US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to China in Feb 2009, she quoted a Chinese proverb: “Tong zhou gongji”. Since then Obama's officials often quote Chinese proverbs and other Chinese Golden Sayings in their speeches.

In July this year, Hillary Clinton again quoted Chinese proverb “ren xin qi, Taishan yi.” to stress the importance of cooperation between US and America during the opening ceremony for the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. She began her opening speech by saying “good morning, zhong xin gan xie” to welcome the arrival of the Chinese delegates. Hillary also said , “At this moment of crisis, we acted together: 风雨同舟. ”

The US Treasury Secretary also said,“ Feng Yu Tong Zhou” to describe the close relationship between US and China 。

President Obama said: "President Hu and I both felt that it was important to get our relationship off to a good start. Of course, as a new President and also as a basketball fan, I have learned from the words of Yao Ming, who said, "No matter whether you are new or an old team member, you need time to adjust to one another." Well, through the constructive meetings that we've already had, and through this dialogue, I'm confident that we will meet Yao's standard".

What has this cultural phenomenon suggested? Now let's understand the meaning of the Chinese proverbs and phrases.

Tóng zhōu gòng jì [同舟共济] - “ pull together in times of trouble.” (Of people in the same plight). Tóng – the same, zhōu – boat, gòng – together , jì – crossing a river.

Rén xīn qí, Tàishān yí . [人心齐,泰山移。] rén – people, xīn – heart/feeling, qí- same, Tàishān – Mt Taishan in Shandong provision, as its height, it symbolizes the highest mountain. yí – move. “ When people think with one mind, even Mount Tai can be moved.”

Zhōng xīn gǎn xiè [衷心感谢] - "thank from the bottom of one's heart.”

Fēng yǚ tóng zhōu. [风雨同舟] “in the same storm-tossed boat –stick it out; tide over difficulties together.” fēng – wind, yǔ – rain, tóng – same, zhōu – boat.

This guest blog is submitted by Mr Ng Koon How ( 黄坤浩), BA of Chinese Language and Culture)Beijing Language and Culture University), a professional coach and tutor in Chinese Language to foreign students. This article was written for his students from US and Europe. Read more about his students here

For more information on Chinese culture and language training, please contact Mr Ng Koon How at or


Aug 18, 2009

Seniors Ambassador of Tsao Foundation 做个活跃的乐龄大使

Miss Cheung Po Chu (張宝珠小姐), the first speaker at the Tsao Foundation "Seniors Talkshop" Oral Presentation Evaluation Session on 17 Aug 2009. She kindly consented to film the video clip of my presentation which was uploaded to YouTube. Acknowledged with thanks.

I went back to class on 15 Aug 2009 and 17 Aug 2009 to learn how to be an active "Seniors Ambassador" (做个活跃的乐龄大使).

The "Seniors Talkshop" (乐齢讲堂) course in Mandarin was initiated by the Tsao Foundation at their training center at 298, Tiong Bahru Road, # 15-01/06, Central Plaza, Singapore 168730.

This is another new and creative activity of the Tsao Foundation. (另一项曹氏基金会的创新活动).

The TSAO Foundation is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for older people by alleviating the hardships of ageing through its community health services; promoting successful ageing; and pioneering new approaches to ageing and eldercare throughout Singapore and the region.

The 2-day course was conducted by Ms Serene Seng (盛雪靈年轻老师), an experienced and bubbly bilingual teacher in public speaking.

I plucked up enough courage to enrol for the course and scored several "firsts":

* First time to attend a public speaking training course in Mandarin;

* First time when the fire alarm was activated abruptly in the midst of a presentation;

* First time I created a YouTube account to post a video-clip of the course assignment for a 5-minute presentation here.

I thought the video-clip was quite funny and would like to share it on this blog.

Can you spot at which point during the presentation the fire alarm went off?

The Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Celebration in Singapore in 1953. Decoration of banner at the Hongkong Shanghai Banking Corporation Building opposite the seafront at Clifford Pier.


Aug 12, 2009

Memory Aid for The Elderly

The topic title "Memory Aid for The Elderly" and the photo of The Straits Times of June 3, 1953 headlined "The Big Jam After The Parade" does not appear to be related at first glance.

So what exactly am I blogging (or rather, rambling) about?

Please read on to find out.

For people like me who couldn't read the fine print below the photo without a magnifying glass, here's the photo caption:

"THE TIME IS 8.30 a.m. Singapore's great Coronation Parade is over. And this is the scene as crowds swarm away from the Padang. From the belfry of the Victoria Memorial Hall, Straits Times chief cameraman, Leon Shiu Hung, took this graphic picture as the crowds mill past the City Hall and the Supreme Court, into High Street and towards the Anderson Bridge".

At the NDP Live @ Changi Simei event on National Day, I met a former neighbor, Steven Tan whom I had not seen for about 2 years.

He is about my age and had also retired.

We were as excited about the NDP 2009 “live” broadcast as the many young families watching the direct telecast from Marina Bay on the giant LED screens.

When the colorful firework appeared on the screen, I asked Steven: “Do you still remember the first time you watched a firework display as a child?”

He gave me a puzzled look and replied. “How to remember something which happened about 60 years ago? Most of those people who brought me to watch the firework display are no longer around and I do not have any old photos to help me to recollect these events“. He has a point there. I shared his sentiments....and suddenly I became pensive and quiet with introspection, not remorse.

Why are there no devices to help the elderly to recollect happy memories of the past?

There are eye-glasses and hearing aids to help the elderly see and hear better. But there is no memory aid devices to help them to remember the funtime they had during their childhood days (when few people own handy cameras and portable video movie-makers was unheard of)...happy moments like watching their first firework display.

This blog will continue after the commercial break...

The Times Of Your Life
Words & Music by Bill Lane & Roger Nichols
Recorded by Paul Anka, 1975

Good morning yesterday,
You wake up and time has slipped away.
And suddenly it's hard to find the memories you left behind.
Remember? Do you re - mem - ber?

The laughter and the tears,
The shadows of misty yester-years,
The good times and the bad you've seen and all the others in between --
Remember? Do you re - mem - ber the times of your life?

Reach back for the joy and the sorrow,
Put them away in your mind.
For memories are time that you borrow
To spend when you get to to - mor - row.

Here comes the setting sun.
The seasons…..are passing one by one.

So gather moments while you may, collect the dreams you dreamed today.
Remember, will you re - mem - ber
The times of your life, of your life, of your life.

This song provided the background music for a Kodak commercial in the late 1960s.

[ Normal blogging is now resumed ]

That night after showtime was over, I pondered over the question I had asked Steven.

I, too, had happy memories of the first time I watched a firework display as a child; a little hazy now though.

It was my late mother who brought me to the waterfront at Clifford Pier one night many, many years ago. I was swept by a wave of nostalgic memories of my childhood as I replayed scenes in my mind and visualise the colorful firework emerging from the horizon and splashing into the night sky....the wondrous sight and the explosive noise was awesome!

It was an experience beyond description....the joy of a lifetime! (sounds so "suaku", isn't it? But then I was a street urchin from the kampong. I grew up in Bukit Ho Swee ; ).

As a child of five, words are superfluous. I had still not learnt how to express myself in words and would not know how to describe the happy feelings.At that time there were no nursery classes and kindergartens to attend. My childhood buddies and I were still having fun and enjoying our childhood freedom in the kampong, catching spiders and flying kites. I guess what I did at the firework display was just to stare into the brightly lit sky in wonderment, with mouth agape ...exclaiming and shouting wah!!! wow!!! clapping my hands wildly throughout those magical moments. Children do not need to express their happiness in words or high-level languages. Its shown all over their faces which are lit up with joy!

I googled for clues of firework display in Singapore during Queen Elizabeth II's coronation celebration in Singapore and found

Bingo! I found the answer.

It was on the night of June 2, 1953 that I watched the first firework display.

I went to the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library at National Library Building to check The Straits Times of June 3, 1953 issue to link the missing dates and details to refresh my childhood memories and to share them on this blog.

The NLB reference library resources is indeed an invaluable memory aid for the elderlies.

That answers my poser about the connection between the blog topic title and the Straits Times photo.


Aug 9, 2009

NDP Live! @ Changi Simei

Please check out this interview with the Chairman of Changi Simei CCC, who brings celebration to the Heartlands with the live telecast of the National Day Parade 2009:

Interview with Mr Koh Tong Seng

Photo No. 1
Photo No. 2
Photo No. 3
Photo No. 4
Photo No. 5

This topic is presented in "phlog" (photo blog) format. The photos (No. 1 to 5) show the sequence of events at the community happening when residents of Simei come together to celebrate the nation's 44th birthday.

The historic Pledge Moment at 8:22 pm (Photo No. 5) was synchronised with the pledge-taking at Marina Bay and all parts of Singapore and globally via 'live' webcast on the Internet.

It was a great National Day celebration with neighbors and friends!

For more photos of the NDP Live! @ Changi Simei, please check them out at Jason Ong's Photos


iRemember National Day Parade 2006

Photo Credit: NDP2006

Happy National Day!

As we celebrate our 44th National Day today, I remember our first National Day Parade on 9th August, 1966.

Please visit LaoKokKok's "Times of My Life" blog where he shared this memorable occasion in Reminiscing our Past National Day Parade with some heritage black/white photos. The National Day Parade more than 4 decades ago was a simple march-past at The Padang.

I remember that we assemebled as members of the Red Cross school contingent at the Beach Road PDF camp before the parade, taking salt tablets to prevent vomitting, standing under the hot sun at the Padang, listening to hour-long speeches in the 4 official languages.

The following is reproduced from the National Library archive -


NDP 1966: The first NDP was celebrated at the Padang with the theme of "National Pride and Confidence in the Future". A 23,000-strong parade was the highlight of the event. The eventful day started with a parade from the military contingents, dancing school children and cultural troops before President Yusof bin Ishak who took the salute from the City Hall steps. The military contingents marched for the first time through Chinatown. It was also the first time that three Cabinet Ministers of the new Republic donned uniforms and marched in the ranks of the Peoples' Defence Force. They were Mr Jek Yeun Thong (Minister for Labour), Mr Ong Pang Boon (Minister for Education) and Mr Othman Wok (Minister for Culture and Social Affairs). Television Singapura broadcasted the event "live" for those who were unable to join the festivities at the Padang.

Adding to the festivities, fireworks burst out at dusk over the city and at Fort Canning Rise, lighting up the city with coloured lights. The celebrations continued with a display of a giant floating dragon gliding slowly and gracefully across the waterfront to Tanjong Rhu. This magnificent float was illuminated by 12,500 bulbs towed out by six lighters from Telok Ayer Basin, and was clearly a highlight of the parade.


There was no simulated terrorist attack, floating platform stage at Marina Bay equipped with LED scene-changing screens, Presidential Gun Salute held on water, city march-past segment, Enhanced Night Visual Effects, Pledge Moment, mobile Combined Schools Choir, National Day Parade official theme song and other highlights featured in this year's NDP 2009.

That was 44 years ago...


Aug 7, 2009

Silat Club at Kg. Ubi Community Centre

As I was passing by the Kampong Ubi Community Centre (KUCC) this evening, I noticed a group of young people at the open courtyard beside the CC. The participants wore black training gear and there were a few young children in the group.

The Kampong Ubi CC is usually abuzz with activities in the evening and I have written about the "Qigong Shi Ba Shi" group in a previous blog topic.

I learnt from Che Kamariah Bte Hosni that members of the Silat Club at KUCC practise the Silat martial art at the CC every Tuesday and Friday evening from 8:00 pm to 9:30pm. Membership fees is $10 for the 3-month course.

The group instructor, Inche Mohd Hidayat Bin Hosni is Che Kamariah's brother.

Che Hirwati Bte Mustaffa (left of photo) is the mother of Hanis Bte Muhd Haizal (centre). Hanis is only 5 years old and the youngest member in the group. Isn't this amazing? A kindergarten child learning "Silat" at such a tender age :)

When I was at her age almost 60 years ago, I was still drinking milk from the bottle and sucking on a pacifier....hahaha "paiseh"...

In this photo (left to right) Alex Shroder, Che Kamariah, friend, Camille.

Alex Shroder is from Switzerland. The 25-year-old student at MDIS in Singapore, is a multi-linguist who speaks Malay, French, Vietnamese, English and several European languages. He has been in Singapore for over a year now and is interested in the Malay language, culture, and "Silat" which he studied for over 6 years.

Alex's friend, Camille is from France. She took up the "Silat" course about 3 years ago. Although she speaks mostly French, she could understand the basic instructions in Malay, such as belok kanan, belok kiri, belok di-belakang. Alex is always around to help her to do the translation if she doesn't understand, I am sure.

The following relevant excerpt is reproduced with permission from Caroline Chen-Whatley, BellaOnline's Martial Art Editor:


Silat, sometimes also called Pencak silat, panchak, or montjak, generally refers to Martial Arts styles that originate from the Malay. These people can be found spread throughout Southeastern Asia, more specifically around Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, and the Philippines.

Silat isn't just one style but is used to describe anywhere on up to a hundred different styles, or what they call alirans, and schools.

As with many Martial Arts styles, learning silat is not just about fighting. While learning Silat, one learns the mental or spiritual aspects of life, self-defense, the fighting techniques, and the culture of the people the art originated from. For more traditional schools, this includes having a uniform that is based off the Malaysia culture, rather than the Japanese or Chinese one that most people see in Martial Arts. In addition, the schools will have their own "dance", which is composed of movements from their particular style. It is a way to distinguish one style of silat from another.

Silat has a strong influence of learning from the environment. Many of the movements will reflect animals that you will find in nature moreso than some of the other Martial Arts. One of the most important animals to them was the tiger, being seen by the culture as a symbol of importance....


Sent from my Treo 650


Aug 1, 2009 Heritage Roadshow IV

"I Heritage Road Show IV" was launched by RADM (NS) Lui Tuck Yew at The Plaza, National Library Building today.

At the I  website, visitors are invited to share their experiences through photos, stories and other print materials.

This discussion thread captures the buzz occuring around the venue for "I Remember SG", the theme for Heritage Road Show IV organized by National Library Singapore.

We celebrate Singapore's 50 years of self-governance by sharing photographs and personal stories on memories of Singapore in the last 50 years at

The following are excerpts from the publicity material distributed at the Road Show:

[What do you recall of your own life against the backdrop of significant events in the last 50 years of Singapore's self-government?

Your experiences and stories form a part of the history of Singapore and we want to hear from you!

If you have written narratives, print materials or photos of these significant events and milestones in your life, do share your life experiences with us at I is the theme of this year’s heritage road show. reflects National Library Singapore's on-going efforts tocreate the world's first, one-stop repository of the people's memories based on the turn-key and nation-building efforts of the nation throughout 1959 – 2009.

Experience and contribute to the making of history via our activities, exhibitions and talks].

If humans were computers (an analogy which is frequently used these days when people talk about their memory capacity and physical capabilities), I noticed that there were many vintage personal computers at the roadshow today : )

They were mostly the XT, AT-286 and AT-386 model "Personal Computers". Some of these PCs may have been upgraded with higher memory chips or other hardware paraphernalia though. One cannot tell by the look of the computer's external design to determine the power of the system.

It is the motherboard that matters. Which version of the Windows or Mac Operating System is the PC running?

"Is the human brain like the memory chip in a computer" will be the blog topic for another post at another time. Thanks for your patience.

Sent from my Treo 650