Doing it my way?

Like Petunia Lee, I found and still find it difficult to add to the tributes and sharings that since Monday have come into my consciousness like a tsunami via various Internet media, the print platforms, TV and radio.

It’s not that I don’t honour and respect Mr Lee Kuan Yew, my country’s first Prime Minster who released us from the yoke of colonialism, whether British or Malaysian.

I do. From the bottom of my heart.

But whatever tributes I have to make have already been made by more significant voices and in more meaningful ways.

On Monday morning, I went to the temple in Waterloo Street to remember Mr Lee in a way that’s meaningful to me.

On the journey, I made it a point to give way to drivers who wanted to change lanes or exit from side roads, despite it being my right of way every time. It’s not something I do willingly on normal days.

I gave way as a conscious small effort to thank Mr Lee for having led Singapore for so long and so successfully. For my benefit and my family’s.

But perhaps that’s the wrong thing to do? Dedicate road courtesy to the giant who has just left us? Like some consider it wrong of the MP who dedicated his work out to Mr Lee’s memory. Ditto the bakery chain for creating a bun to sell in his memory even when the proceeds are going to charity?

I wonder why it is more appropriate to queue for hours to pay respect to his remains or write condolence notes and send flowers?

Sure, those are the conventional routes to express respect and sorrow.

Still,let’s not diss all other well-meaning but less orhodox things done out of the pure desire to remember the father of independent Singapore.

K!

One S’pore with Lee Kuan Yew

auntielucia:

One country, one nation, one Singapore!

Originally posted on FOOD fuels me to talk...:

Below is the kind of photograph (taken on May 21 @ the Istana) that the likes of Temasek Review, Feed Me to the Fish, Singapore Notes, Singapore Statistician and the 1,001 one anti-PAP/Government bloggers would never dream of including, highlighting or even mentioning in their regular vitriol.

united we stand behind you

View original

I am dead serious!

Someone I know sent me this link about the columbarium brouhaha in West Sengkang and added for good measure: “by some accounts, this Lam guy
doesn’t seem to be handling this very well. sounds a bit like the HDB and URA functionaries of old. more trouble for Baby God.”

This is what I wrote in response: “Frankly I don’t know y these people r making such a fuss… Bishan, Takashimaya, even some good class bungalows in Kheam Hock Road r all built around or on top of old graves… soon it will be Bidadari.

So what if there’s a columbarium?

The people in landed prop around St Ignatius Church in King’s Road have not only a columbarium as a neighbour but also wakes day in and out…

The West Sengkang people are making a fuss now probably as an excuse because prop prices r falling and they want out…

If I were BG, I would say to those who want out: “Please take back yr deposits. And for good measure, I will offer those returned units to those in the Pioneer Generation, who have never had the benefit of buying a discount price home from the Government, who own private property and who would like the privilege of also owning a HDB home direct from the Government. As a special concession to this special group of Singaporeans.”

And I would be the first to jump at such an offer — as after all, with the best of effort, I probably won’t have more than 30 years to live and what better way to get daily reminders that I am not going to live forever than by living next to a columbarium!

I am dead serious about taking up such an offer, if it materialises.

I am also dead serious when I say that I hope our Government would re-learn how to take a firm stand when the occasion arises. Not try to accommodate more and more demands, especially when they aren’t reasonable. Otherwise why should caveat emptor apply to anything any more!

Misdirected largesse

OK, call me sour grapes but I think the government’s continuing “upgrading” of private estates is misdirected largesse.

So, $20 million will be thrown on another nine estates (see repro of Channel News Asia story below) after $167 million had already been spent on 54 private estates.

So, I don’t live in any of the estates that had or will be benefitting from another slosh of tax payers’ money. So pardon my jaundice.

But IMHO, I think the G should be more targeted in its generosity. For example, why not direct the money at pioneer generation members who live in private estates and whose home values hit the dreaded $21K annual value. “Dreaded” because that cuts them off from subsidies when hospitalised and prevents some health care services like hospices providing free care from turning to the G to ask for subsidies for this group of patients, never mind if they are severely ill.

I have raised this matter with highly placed individuals who believe it or not retort that if I felt so strongly about hospices missing out on subsidies when they treat my mum — who falls into the $21K category — then I should donate funds (such as the $100 per month which G provides with no means test to her since she can’t perform 3 self care functions) to the hospice looking after her!

Such a suggestion completely misses the point.

I will let that be. Yet I will not let that be.

Because while reading the latest private estate upgrading news on the CNA website, I also chanced on the internet a write up about Chiam See Tong’s victory in 1984.

I remember that occasion very well.

I was living in the Cairnhill constituency then and that night as we watched the election results being announced live on TV, the apartments in the blocks around me rang out with such loud cheers you would think it’s dawn of the New Year.

Later I learned from a sibling, there was a similar phenomenon in the Sixth Avenue neighbourhood where she lived. Such cheers of glee reverberated from landed property to landed property that one who didn’t know nothing about SG politics would have imagined it’s the defeat of a pesky small time opposition wannabe :roll:

SINGAPORE: Nine private estates will be upgraded at a cost of S$20 million under the Estate Upgrading Programme, the Ministry of National Development (MND) said on Friday (Jan 9).

The nine estates slated for upgrading are:

•Clover Estate

•Lentor Estate

•Thomson Faber Island Gardens,

•Toh Tuck Estate,

•Meng Suan/Springleaf Estates,

•Happy Gardens,

•Sea Breeze Garden,

•Toh Estate

•Jln Merbok, Jln Layang-Layang, Kln Kakatua, Jln Selating, Jln Rajawali and Shamah Terrace Estate.

The upgrading works will include providing footpath lighting or safety railings to enhance safety and security, covering drains to create footpaths, creating barrier-free access such as ramps, improving the estates’ landscaping and parks and enhancing the estate identity, the ministry said.

According to MND, these nine estates were developed more than 30 years ago. More than 4,800 households will benefit from the improved facilities when the work items are planned and constructed in three to four years’ time, it said.

More than 54 private estates have been upgraded under the Estate Upgrading Programme at a cost of S$167 million.

Prior to upgrading, the Neighbourhood Committees or the Citizens’ Consultative Committees will conduct surveys and/or dialogues with the residents to gather their views and ideas on the upgrading works, the ministry said.

Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman, Chairman of the Estate Upgrading Programme Committee and Minister of State for National Development and Defence, said: “This is truly a collaborative effort, with residents taking ownership and playing an active role in deciding what improvements they hope to see in their estates to make the living environment better for all.”

Celebrate SG50 by gifting needy with $2 or more?

Today is the day when many of us wish one another a good year ahead. I have received and sent out my share of wishes for sweet surprises for 2015.

Today is also the day when we are counting down to the 50th year of Singapore’s reluctant independence from Malaysia.

Today is the day when we are on the cusp of the biggest national bash in Singapore’s post independence history. It will be SG50 with everything within a few hours.

Today is the day when I recall again — have done so on and off over the years — where I was when I heard that Singapore was no longer part of Malaysia.

I was outside Victoria train station in London one late August afternoon when I saw a newspaper poster screaming “SINGAPORE OUT”.

As a teen-aged student who followed the news only sporadically, I wondered what it was all about. Bought a copy of the evening newspaper — Evening Standard or Evening News, can’t remember which — and found that Singapore was out of Malaysia. Couldn’t understand the implications nor did I really try.

In fact I learned how upset former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew was only years later — in 1968 to be precise when a colleague in the Straits Times newsroom in Kuala Lumpur waxed lyrical about Mr Lee’s tears.

This colleague was a Malaysian student in Perth and vividly retold what she saw on TV on the faterful day of the Malayisa-Singapopre separation.

“I admire your prime minister,” Yeoh Phaik Kim declared again and again.

Even that conversation and that colleague and I have been separated by more than 40 years.

Much has changed. Yet little has changed.

I returned from KL to work in Singapore. One day after work, I saw an old man sleeping on the five-foot way opposite where I was living (which incidentally like many buildings in Singapore has been demolished). I remember seeing him there when I left for work.

Asked him why. I was too young to understand that he might be hungry or had no home to go to. Or if I did, I assumed it was par for the course.

After all, when i was growing up in the same neighbourhood, I had witnessed beggars going from house to house regularly to ask for something to eat. My family always spared them a few cents which in those days could buy a bowl of noodles from the street cart vendors.

So I spared the old man some loose change. And even gave him some biscuits. And sure enough, he wasn’t there any more when I looked out my window later that night.

Wish I can say the same for the generic poor in Singapore. Today, although no one (other than scouts or other trick-or-treat rich kids) comes to my door to solicit something to fill his own stomach, the poor are very much with us.

Two weeks ago, one thundery wet afternoon, I saw a tiny waif of a woman picking up discarded cardboard outside the back door of the Fairprice outlet in Blk 280, Bukit Batok.

I had gone there for a GP-friend to give one of the family’s helpers her MOM mandated check up.

The cardboard picker was soaked even though she did wear a flimsy plastic poncho with hood. The cardboard she was collecting was soaked and disintegrating even as she tried to bundle the lot together.

I felt compelled to hand her a little something that would make her cardboard scavenging unnecessary — at least for that day.

But the pain of pervasive poverty didn’t leave me that afternoon.

I went to the OCBC ATM outside Fairprice to withdraw some spending money. Someone before me had left his/her withdrawal slip where the input keys were.

I am a kaypoh.

I picked it up and the numbers gave me yet another reality jolt.

The person before me (552XXXX203) had withdrawn $20. The available balance was just $34.49.

Fine if it was a domestic helper or a young student with employer or family to fall back on. Not so if it’s an adult, with no family support or worse, has a whole family of dependents!

So amidst all sorts of SG50 celebrations to spend money to mark the occasion, I would like to propose my favourite.

To celebrate SG50, let us adopt this habit to gift $2 (or more) to someone in need or looks in need we come across.

Of course, do respect their dignity. Make sure to smile and say “please let me buy you a coffee?”

A few may say no. Try to persuade. If they still say no, then say something like “another time? Bye”.

In my experience, persistence works in all cases.

So if they say no, try, try and try again. It’s not a waste of time to convince these aunties and uncles that someone out there actually wants to share a tiny something with them.

Coward & snob

… that’s what I am.

This is the conclusion I came to after I reflected sadly in recent days over how I let a high society dame swipe $50 from me in the name of charity when all I wanted was buy a book for $20.

Why didn’t I say “no” when I handed her a $50 note, fully expecting to receive my change, but she said, “Lucia” ever so sweetly and insincerely, “you want to donate the balance to the scholarship fund?”

I actually had no such intention or inclination but I was so taken aback at her audacity that I was at a loss for words momentarily. Then I said “OK” somewhat weakly and unenthusiastically. She, the brazen fund raiser, said a brief “thanks” and was already “charming” the next sucker before I could even gather my wits together to demand a carrier bag for the $20 book for which I had paid a reluctant extra $30.

Now contrast this with the firm folded palms “salem” and “no, thank you” I always dish out to volunteers at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital who invariably gather at the start or end of the hospital’s main escalators trying to sell stuff to raise money for needy patients.

Why can I say no to needy patients when I could allow myself to be intimidated to part with $30 ($50-$20 for the book)?

I can only put that down to cowardice. I was instinctively afraid to offend the high society dame. I was afraid to say “no” and make her lose face since there were many people around. And possibly I was also afraid that the people milling around would consider me mean or couldn’t spare the extra money.

Yup, like it or not, I want acceptance even from people I don’t particularly care about or strangers that I don’t even know.

Then why was I so brave to turn down fund solicitors at TTSH?

Guess I go to the hospital on such a regular basis that I have already grown callouses on my heart. I am less afraid of the volunteers thinking me mean since droves on either side of me also say no or just ignore them. At least I acknowledge their request — even if I don’t give in.

And worst of all, I probably value the opinions of the volunteers less than I do the fellow guests at the book launch, even though the majority were as unknown to me as I to them. But socially I most likely placed them subliminally above the hospital fund raisers.

Which makes me a snob of the worst kind. And a coward to boot!

Since I have for some time decided not to donate to organised charity — a decision taken long before the NKF and Renci sagas among others but strengthened in the wake of the scandals — I should have been as firm with the society dame as I am with knick knack fund raisers.

But I wasn’t.

So I resolve to do better the next time a well heeled tai-tai tries to intimidate me into parting with my money, or at least more than I want to!