Thursday, April 28, 2005

Casino Courses

I think I'm in a news-gathering mode, especially since Tomorrow started.

Since the casino decision and announcement was made at the top of our national hierarchy, everyone else below is expected to shut up and toe the line, whether one likes it or not.

Me and a few friends were joking about Ngee Ann starting a new diploma on Integrated Resort Management the next semester, and it seems like we weren't too far off.

The NP website has recently posted a press release:

27 Apr 2005: Ngee Ann Prepares Students For Integrated Resorts

Singapore, 27 April 2005 – Some final-year business and first-year Engineering students will become the pioneer batch in Ngee Ann Polytechnic (NP) to take up new course options to tap the 35,000 job opportunities in the upcoming integrated resort industry.

NP’s School of Business and Accountancy (BA) will give its final year business students the option to take up Resort Management (RM). These students will graduate in mid-2006, well in time to contribute to the new business sector.

[blah blah blah blah]

By the way, you won't find the word "casino" in the release.

I wonder if we get to go to Vegas for attachment.

P.S. I'm sure the other polytechnics will put up similar announcements soon. As of now, I couldn't find any fresh information on their websites. They should have an official blog soon.

* * *

Talking about official blogs, Tomorrow (this must be my 27th time linking there) has a new blog for its editors to rant about their sad lives as editors. Since I'm an editor and I lead a sad life myself, you can expect me to post there every once in a while.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Handling Online Criticism

If you've been reading, you might have noticed a post about a Singaporean blogger being threatened with legal action:

would like to claim the dubious distinction of becoming the first singaporean blog (that i am aware of) for being threatened with legal action over one of my most recent posts. was it something i said?

He has since closed down his blog, and has issued an apology on the site where his blog used to reside:

AAA would like to apologize in particular to XXX, Singapore, for having hosted or made remarks which XXX felt were defamatory to him and the agency that he leads. AAA promises to not make such remarks again on this website.

I have edited the names of the involved parties, since it's not really relevant to this post.

* * *

If you've been reading, you might have noticed a post about a British blogger who made some remarks about some of our top Singapore bloggers:

but go read the likes of MrBrown, Xiaxue and other certain blogs that shall not be named, and it is full of infantile concerns or pulling silly faces.

For some reason, mr brown did not take legal action against Steve (the British blogger); instead, he made a joke out of it and created a post entitled "Help Steve find more mature blogs than this one":

Steve of Singabloodypore laments the lack of mature blogs in Singapore and wonders where he can read blogs besides the infantile ones like Xiaxue's and mine.

* * *

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I think...

I think I'll start posting really short posts from now on, otherwise I'll never get to update this blog.

Blogging is hard work you know.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

There's Hope for Tomorrow

Yes, I'm still thinking about the discussions on creativity in the comments of my last few posts. If your tired of that, don't worry, this post will end with some interesting twists (I hope), so do bear with me.

Sanz commented:
Singaporeans criticise govt for stiffling the creative elements in SG. Govt attempts to change it. Singaporeans criticise govt for its weak attempts at promoting creativity.

The problem is, aren't creativity something that should be nutured by the population itself and not by govt effort?

Maybe it's still this concept that singaporeans have that govt has to do everything for us. And this is the concept that we have to change so that creativity can finally thrive in SG.

Somewhat in a similar vein, Warrior had this to say:
well u r being critical, perhaps u can try to be constructive instead of destructive... everyone can criticize, but when it comes to suggestions, everyone juz keeps quiet... typical singaporean...
juz my opinion after reading ur blog for sometime... no hard feelings =]

Reminds me of what JFK said:
Ask not what the country can do for you;
As what you can do for your country.

In one of my latter comment replies, I mentioned about me doing my part to "to create a creative culture".

One of the things I've been involved in towards this end is called Tomorrow. logo

I'll just steal mr brown's description:

Yes, ladies and gents, there is now a place online for you to read about Singapore-related stuff, be it blog posts, Singapore news, or foreign sites talking about Singapore.

How is that possible? Well, simple. YOU are going to provide the links to that content. You see, allows anyone to suggest a site or link. Your submissions will be fed into a queue and the editors of the site will approve the submissions based on strict editorial guidelines (like, we think the link is cool).

We realised early on that one person cannot do it all, and having all of you readers and bloggers involved in suggesting content to one site would be more powerful than just one of us bloggers going it alone. All we needed was a good infrastructure to build it upon (James provided this with Drupal, bless his high-tech soul), and some volunteers be editors to select and publish the content.

Think of this as a Boing Boing for Singapore, but (hopefully) bigger and better.

Now it ain't very pretty yet, and kinks will be worked out as we go along, but I think the site is pretty cool as it stands. So go forth and suggest away.

I was personally involved with from the start, and I hope you'll find it interesting and informative. And don't just sit there and watch, go contribute if you find something interesting relating to Singapore!

* * *

I was going to entitle this post "A Better Tomorrow", but James Seng beat me to it..
Then I changed the title to "Tomorrow Never Dies". Then I realise mr brown beat me to it too.
And CowboyCaleb called his post "Tomorrow Begins Today".

These are exciting times. There's hope for tomorrow.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Creative Singaporeans and Civil Servants

I enjoy the comments I get, but every once in a while, a comment gets me trembling in sheer delight. The last time I felt that rush of ecstacy was when I recieved that special hate mail (and even blogged about it).

Although I haven't been recieving hatemail of late, a comment in response to my last post (Creativity, Control, and Casinos II) has a similar effect on me.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present you that comment by shux:

perhaps we may not be as creative as, say, the americans, or the japanese, but u can give us points for trying? what's the point of slamming sincere efforts to get our youths to be more creative. if the top doesn't set the tone, who will?

This smells like something written by a typical civil servant. I may be wrong, but it certainly smells that way...

Enough personal attacks; let me take on the comment itself.

perhaps we may not be as creative as, say, the americans, or the japanese,

Are you saying that Singaporeans are not as creative as the 2 groups you mentioned? It is people with your mindset that we don't need, because it is people like you who don't give the creative Singaporeans a chance. You harbour an inferiority complex for the whole nation, because you are inferior yourself, kowtowing to the ang moh just like what your grandfather did, not realising that your own brother is actually creativer than the gwailo, even though he doesn't speak with a swanky accent and breaks English rules every now and then like in this sentence.

but u can give us points for trying?

I'm probably missing your point (not that it matters now), but give you "points"? Must everything have to be about scoring points? Must everything be measured, quantified, and ranked, just like every other aspect of the civil service, and every aspect of the rest our society, home of the world's number one airport and seaport and who-cares-what-else?

Sure I'll give the government some brownie points for finally recognising the importance of creativity (although it took them a generation to do so (Great Harry had to admit publicly that we need more mavericks)). Unfortunately, a great number of our creative cretins (as you thought they were) have become "quitters", while those who didn't quit in time are still serving time.

Sure, the government is trying. But they are realising that getting civil servants to be creative isn't about ordering them to do be creative. Or even adding a displayed-creativity-at-work component in their yearly appraisals. It's about loosening the controls. And they know that. But they can't do that. Because they are not creative themselves. (Fine, calling "casinos" "integrated resorts" is a little creative I admit.)

what's the point of slamming sincere efforts to get our youths to be more creative.

I'm not slamming those efforts. I'm just amused by the absudity of their attempts, except that it's so sad it's not so funny anymore, especially when you see that they are actually sincere in thinking that they will work.

And, you only mention "youths" as the target of their efforts. Which brings up a salient point - they think that they can have creativity in a vacuum, getting the youths to be creative, while thinking that they could remain comfy in their uncreative asylum. This is why you have situations like in my own institution where uncreative lecturers are trying hard to produce creative students. Very funky, in every sense of that word. Very funky.

if the top doesn't set the tone, who will?

I will. My friends who know they are better than the Americans or the Japanese will. Must we always look to the top? It worked for the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but they're finding that it's not working so well anymore.

Let's get the evil civil servants like you out of the way, along with the government they serve, and we will have made a good solid step onto the wobbly but exhilarating path (which we can't see) towards creative nirvana.

* * *

To shux:
Don't take this post personally. I just found that your comment was so convenient as a scaffold for those rants, I couldn't resist. =)

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Creativity, Control, and Casinos II

Read part I of this 2-part series.

* * *

The Ministry says we need to instill creativity in our students.

We need to teach our students how to be creative.

Let's start a subject to do that.

It should be compulsory for all first year students.

This will make our students more creative.

* * *

Uniquely Singapore.

* * *

Our students still aren't very creative.

Maybe it's the environment. We need a more creative environment. Anyone has any ideas?

Did someone say "graffiti"? You mean those horrid things they spray on the walls?

Can we control it? What if they spray undesirable words or pictures on the walls?

Do it on boards? So we can approve them before they are mounted on the walls?

Approved. This will show that NP is an institution that treats creativity seriously. It will also make our environment more creative, and help foster creativity in our students.

* * *

It's just too bad for Ngee Ann that they have someone like me there. It could easily have been any of the other polytechnics or universities, since they often have the same mentality.

And it's not just in education.

* * *

We have a problem. We need another engine to drive our economy.

And make sure we can sustain it, not like what happened to our IT dreams, or what is happening to our life sciences, or our attempts at art, or... you get the idea.

Did someone say "casino"? You mean the place where people gamble and commit other kinds of horrible vices?

It can bring in a lot of money? Heaps of money?

How about the social problems? We should be able to control them right?

Are the economic benefits greater than the social costs?

The numbers look good. But how many votes will we lose? You might want to get the numbers for this.

Will they forget the whole thing by the next election?

* * *

Creativity Calculations, Control, and Casinos.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Creativity, Control, and Casinos

An 11 year old boy was standing in the dark sewers, nervous, guilty, and excited.

In his left had was a spray can, his finger on the nozzle. His friend was looking on, equally nervous and excited.

Releasing the tension in the nozzle, a large, white "F" was formed on the grey sewer wall. Then "U", followed by two other letters. A release, so thrilling, so exhilarating, so illegal.

The can was passed to the friend, and soon "I LOVE TAMMY" appeared on the facing wall.

They didn't realise it at the time, but the common message that was released on the walls was strangely appropriate for the phallus-shaped tool they used.

Some years later, a boy was in a secondary school classroom, bored as always. If he wasn't surreptitiously reading the John le Carre on his lap, he would be decorating the textbook with doodles that would eventually entertain the younger kids in his neighbourhood who later inherited those textbooks for use during similarly boring lessons. Unfortunately the maternal authority got wind of the distractions, and doodling on textbooks was swiftly banned. The creative energies of the boy thus had to be channeled from the textbook onto the desk.

Which proved to be a frying-pan-into-the-fire move when the discipline master walked by one fateful morning. He stared at the graffiti for an excruciating minute, and just when the boy started to entertain thoughts that perhaps the discipline master was actually so aesthetically able as to actually appreciate the artwork,

"I want this gone by next week."

"When I become famous, you'd be wishing that you kept it instead!" the boy so wanted to shoot back.

Fast forward the clock again.

The boy in Ngee Ann Poly, and sees graffiti. Not the ones behind toilet doors, nor the ones on the classroom desks, but the loud and proud ones on the walls of the new classroom block (blk 56).

No one got in trouble for this graffiti.

Graffiti at Blk 56
"Graffiti" sprayed on boards, mounted on the walls of block 56.

Sure, this is graffiti, but something is missing.
Like a Madame Tussaud.
Like Frankenstein.
Like a body without a soul.
Graffiti under control.

* * *

Okay, I didn't mention anything about casinos, despite what the title claims. Stay tuned for part 2.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Speak Good Singlish

Updates below.

* * *

Some of us lose control of our bodily funtions when we hear an ungrammatical sentence.

Like the other day when I heard someone ask,

"Don't want lah?"


The annoying can't-speak-grammatical-Singlish-but-thinks-he-can ang moh really should have asked, "don't want meh?"

Some of these ang mohs have absolutely no respect for our culture, deriding us with their mocking and condescending attempts at producing phrases with Singlish particles, without any appreciation for the intricate nuances of Singlish or its grammar, as if peppering a "lah" here or a "loh" there would magically turn them into speakers of good Singlish.

I don't blame them entirely. We Singapore folk have not stood up against their cultural and linguistic tyranny. How many books are there on proper Singlish? How many courses can one attend to learn good Singlish? Even our great gahmen treats Singlish like some bastard stepdaughter who keeps asking for pocket money.

Granted that not all ang mohs are evil - some are genuinely interested in Singlish, and make an effort to learn it. But how many of us are equipped to teach or explain it?

I don't pretend to be a Singlish expert, much less a qualified Singlish teacher. But that won't stop me from attempting to show the economic elegance of Singlish with its use of particles like "lah", "loh", "meh", and others in the lesson below.

* * *

Note: In linguistics, a "particle" is

1. An uninflected item that has grammatical function but does not clearly belong to one of the major parts of speech, such as up in He looked up the word or to in English infinitives.
2. In some systems of grammatical analysis, any of various short function words, including articles, prepositions, and conjunctions.

* * *

The phrase we'll be modifying today is:

"Don't want [blank]"

where [blank] is a particle followed by a punctuation mark.

I'll also start the phrase with a personal pronoun (I, you, him, etc.) for clarity, although it is sometimes redundant, like in English.

* * *

Note on pronunciation:

"Don't" is often pronounced like the "done" in "condone" or rhyming with "own", and "want" often sounds just like "one". Sometimes, "don't want" is further contracted into "dowan" (pronounced like "dough"-"one").

* * *

Now let's get on with the the lesson proper.

lah -

I don't want lah.

In English:
Well, I guess I have to say don't really want it.

Used to soften the assertion.


leh -

I don't want leh!

In English:
I don't want it, so sue me!

Used with an air of defiance.


loh -

He don't want loh.

In English:
He doesn't want it, and that's it.

Used to imply resignation.


hor -

You don't want hor?

In English:
You don't want it right?

Used as a confirmation.


mah -

I don't want mah.

In English:
It's because I don't want it.

Used to express a reason (because).


meh -

You don't want meh?

In English:
Are you sure you don't want it?

Used to express doubt; can only be used in questions.


sia -

He don't want sia!

In English:
I'm surprised that he actually doesn't want it!

Used to express an element of surprise, possibly mock surprise.

* * *

Putting this down has proven to be more difficult than I realised. No wonder the ang mohs can never get it right!

Since, as I've mentioned earlier, I'm no Singlish nor linguistic expert, there are probably errors in this lesson. I'd be happy if you could point them out.

Whatever it is, let's join our hands together and Speak Good Singlish!

* * *


katongking actually had a very similar post which I only just discovered.

mr brown also joins in the scholarly discourse on Singlish. He also quotes a sociolinguist's article on Singlish, which I'll remember to read during those nights of insomnia.

This so cool loh.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Brain Burners

Updates below.

* * *

It's supposed to be the exam week in Ngee Ann Poly, when everyone's brain is supposed to be over-clocked and overheated.

But if your brain is still cool, let me help to warm it up with this little contrived story...

* * *

Part I

Once upon a time, the Calm One went to an interesting place called Ngee Ann.

Ngee Ann is interesting because there are only two types of people there - students (S), who always tell the truth ('S' for 'straight'), and lecturers (L), who always lie ('L' for 'lies'). And you can't tell them apart just by their looks.

Now the Calm One needed to go to Ngee Ann because he needed to borrow an important book from the library.

When the Calm One first stepped into Ngee Ann, he saw 3 people standing at the gates, presumably named Alice, Bob, and Chuck.

"Maybe one of them could tell me how to go to the library," thought the Calm One, "but first, I'll have to find out who's a student."

The Calm One first asked Alice, "are Bob and Chuck both students?"

"Yes," claimed Alice.

"Then is Bob a student?"

To the Calm One's surprise, the answer from Alice was "no".

After a moment's thought, the Calm One knew who exactly are the lecturers and the students.

Do you know as well? If you do, help out those who don't in the comments. Difficulty level: not difficult - just requires a little concentration.

* * *

Part II

When the Calm One reached the library, he knew he had to find the librarian (who happens to be a student). Now the library had only one librarian, but there were 3 people standing there, so he had to find out who the real librarian was.

"Which of you is the librarian?" he asked, without realising that it was probably not the most useful question to ask in Ngee Ann.

"I am," claimed one.

"I am the librarian!" claimed the second.

The third one just smiled like a Mona Lisa.

"What do you have to say?" the Calm One asked the third.

"You know," quipped the third one rather philosophically, "only one of us three tells the truth."

With that, the Calm One knew immediately who the librarian was.

Do you know who? Difficulty level: quite easy.

* * *

Part III

The librarian was obviously quite clever, and it became even more apparent as they chatted.

"Before I retrieve the book for you," said the librarian, "let me issue you a challenge. If you win, you can have the book; if not, you can come back another day."

"Tell me," said the Calm One quite eagerly, "I'm always ready for a challenge."

"Ask me a question to which I must answer yes or no," said the librarian, "but even though the question has a definite correct answer, and even though we both will know the answer, I will be powerless to give you the answer. I will not be able to give you the answer because it will be logically impossible for me to do so."

The Calm One wasn't feeling so calm anymore. Can you help him to think of that question?

Difficulty level: the answer is really very easy, but may require some creativity.

* * *

These are all logic questions, but they are hardly original. If you really want to know the source, email me.

* * *


Looks like I've just stumbled upon a novel way of getting hate mail. I'll bear that in mind in case I get another craving for hate.

Thanks to our Singaporean need for the "model answer", some of you will never be satisfied until it's given, even though the right answers are already in the comments.

Fine. I'll give in. Model answers are in the comments.