Sunday, 31 August 2014


The thread has started. Degree or No No Degree?

Just give me a few seconds to clear off some irritants that are not very helpful, and are designed with ill intentions.

Talks have been around saying that university graduates are no longer needed in Singapore when the government made the announcement about ASPIRE....Applied Study in Poly & ITE Review.  In the same vein, the Singapore government no longer values your degree.  This makes no sense, but strangely many do buy in because they had all along believe or made to believed that the government has always been doing things against Singaporeans' interest, the increase of foreigners intake as an example.

The rumours had went even further to say that the government is now nudging employers to avoid employing or promoting degree holders and instead giving the post to Poly & ITE.

Talks like that do make us better, as an individual nor as a people.  Let's move on.

I have never stopped letting people guess whether do I or do I not hold a uni degree.  Some things I do quite evidently show that indeed I have one in my pocket, but other things indicated otherwise.  

When they saw how I analyzed matters, probed questions, and provided alternate views, they concluded that such attributes can only belong to one who have gone through a university education.  Those from another sphere who saw me mingling with lowly workers, doing what they also do..... alas he is just another blue collar worker; at most a supervisor.

There was a time when many prominent Singaporean entrepreneurs suddenly became PhD holders carrying a title of Dr before their names on the namecard.  I was told they paid about S$30,000/- for it.  One friend of mine promptly discarded all his namecards bearing that title as soon as he discovered that it is more destructive than being beneficial.

Other stories we have heard are those who pursued a degree even as they are nearing their retirement age.  One recent heartwarming story is about one who earned his law degree, was admitted to the bar despite having a criminal past, something rather unusual in Singapore.

Many years ago, I advised a friend who inherited a newspaper distribution business to go for MBA.  Private tertiary education then was not at all that popular and moreover he was already the only graduate in Singapore holding a Bachelor of Arts degree distributing newspaper house to house.  Then I wasn't thinking of the entrance of more graduates into that industry, either by way of inheritance or through investments.  It was just a simple thought that an MBA would put him at a better bargaining position when facing grads working in SPH.

Subsequently the life insurance sector followed by the real estate agency sector began to see more entrants who were degree holders.  Maybe we saw it coming, or maybe we didn't, but the privilege and prestige of holding a university degree has begun to spill over to domains of those who didn't have a mortarboard.  I forgot to mention remisers, though there was quite a balance of both degree and non-degree holders in it.

So it happened that sectors that required skills more than knowledge suddenly awaken to itself that they need knowledge on top of the critical skills of the trade.  The government, if you may want to call that helpful, raised the barrier by introducing minimum education criteria and periodical examinations in the name of enhancing professionalism.  Many who thrives only on skills, relationship, and honour but not exactly good at passing exams were gradually phased out of their lucrative trade.

I'm not sure if a poll was taken, but I am not exactly surprised if the results would turn out to be that most university graduates are not in the job that furthers what they had chose to study in the beginning.  I must reserve an exception for those who pursued medical degree.

Many questions left to be answered, maybe just for philosophical sake.  Is the university education a learning path of a just a passporting process into the world of money-chase?  If there is disparity between what the economy needs, and the places in courses provided by the universities, could they not be redefined or streamlined?  Have we be over providing for graduates and had neglected, or even unfairly penalizing non-degree holders in the process?

These days, my friend in the newspaper business don't even have a title behind his name.  It was just a plain Managing Director.

Competition for that wage-dollar will only get more intensive.  ASPIRE as I see it would intensify the competition but the better side of it is for those who are not that good at passing exams gaining the due recognition that they so deserved.  Bottom line is the need for a degree is only for a short moment, but how one learns, continue to learn and how one performs with what is learnt is a long and ongoing path of testing.

Saturday, 9 August 2014


In the simple past of Singapore, we lived simply, think simply, and there isn't much sophistication like today.

I participated in the famous 1968 National Day Parade and was drenched like everybody else, proudly donning the dark blue uniform of the Boys Brigade.  Years later, it became almost an annual affair to be part of the National Day Parade.

The virgin experience was breathtaking.  The thundering voice of the parade commander sent goose pimples popping, and the pulsation of the heart syncs rhythmically with each drum beat that is guiding every step of the march.  I was representing 2nd Company of the Boys Brigade, my company to be amongst troops and tanks rolling down the streets of Singapore.

I had loved every bit of efforts that led to this grand finale.  Not just the drill practices to fine tune our timing and uniformity, but also the hard starching and ironing of my cotton drill uniform making it still upright despite the heavy perspiring.  And there is the brass buckle to be Brassoed to golden shine, the belt too has to be Kiwied polished as with my leather boots.  All these were done meticulously and lovingly in great expectation of that big day.

Today, even the SAF has abandoned the ritual of hard starching in exchange for comfort and efficiency.  Where my boots was leather soled and fixed with metal studs that give out a sharp clang each time it hits the tarmac ground, military boots today have lost that intimidating sound of a killer force.

So when the press and social media were discussing about what it means to have lesser and lesser Singaporean homes flying the State flag, I can only say that increasing sophistication in Singaporeans may be the most likely cause.  Not necessarily so that Singaporean families will show their patriotic sides in other visible forms, the key issue in the debate, but that patriotism may not be easily interpreted with simple acts anymore.  Would you count those inside the crowd drowning themselves in the thick of parade more patriotic than those resting on their couch cheering the actions via live telecast?

I will be popping my bottle of Prosecco to wish "Long Live Singapore", and I am never inside the radar of those who are counting flags.

I guessed bottom line of any celebration that matters is that we are able to do happy things together, enjoy the good life, and we can still talk about what we want to achieve tomorrow.  This is the true National Day Celebration we are having.

Friday, 8 August 2014


No!  This is not about "Adults Content".  

In fact there were seven according to The LGBTpedia.

But it is Penang's Nude Sports Game 2014 that made top spot and resurfaced all the known public nude incidents that happen in Singapore.

The group of 18 from Malaysia, Singapore, India, Myanmar, Philippines and others apparently planned the get together at Pantai Teluk Kampi for a splashing time, wearing nothing.  The Malaysian authorities were understandably unhappy with the rendezvous and are calling in Interpol to help locate the foreigners.

For Malaysia whose national religion is Islam would find it hard to swallow. Moreover the event this took place in one of their best beaches.

Many Malaysians had expressed in social media utter disgust over the incident, while some with western names were more sympathetic, or even supportive.

Singaporeans on the other hand seems to show more tolerance.  One reason probably is this did not take place here.

But with past cases that happened here, Singaporeans were not that hyped up whether with resentment nor support.  They were treated as mere passing news to be forgotten by the next breaking.  Even the Straits Times reporter forgotten that a man had run along Jln Sultan naked, and latter slept on the road.  Are Singaporeans really indifferent to nudist activities?

In the ST report the incidents were treated as exhibitionist quoting IMH psychiatrist Ken Ung.  Is there really a difference between "naturist" and "exhibitionist"?  The naturist would argue that they are not exhibitionist particularly not as what Dr Ken Ung had described.

Naturists claim that they are behaving exactly what nature has expected them to be, and they do not get sexual thrills by being watched naked nor watching others naked.  It is hard not to believed that the group at Teluk Kampi were not exhibitionists.  The videos and photos were all for exhibition purpose.  

But what is in the mind and emotion of naturist by baring in public?  Is it a mental repose, a holiday of sort where the mind breaks free from tight wrappings of everyday life living inside textiles?  Or is it an occasional rebellion against human norms and inhibitions that had been over suppressive?  Or is there a deeper spiritual manifestation that is taking place?

Aren't human sexual beings? Thus it is easier to believe the story of a true exhibitionist than that of the naturist, even if they swear that they are gays and lesbians that they have no sexual arousal at all.  How they suppress their sexual instincts is amazing, and how they escape from one suppression into another is too amusing.