Tribute: Giving Honour to one of the Greatest Man Lived

When the news broke, I was overcome with grief. The thing is that, I was never a political observer. Neither have I sat through a PAP or opposition rally before. I have never listened to Mr Lee’s speech from beginning to end before either. But when news of Mr Lee’s hit headlines of all news platforms, I wept. Like many Singaporeans, I guess I cared more than I thought I would. I sat in front of the television right after work to watch the news with my mom. There was an air of sorrow, and we teared silently.

It’s true that credit cannot go to one man alone, but that one man had the vision of Singapore in her glorious state. A man who dared to dream. A man who would stop at nothing to ensure her survival and move her forward, even if her own people did not understand or could not completely complement.

It’s true that he did not single-handledly built Singapore, but he guided the nation like any patriarch would guide his family, built the best team to lead the country and created the right conditions to nurture future successors to take his place.

It’s true that he introduced hard policies, but look where it got us. We may be one of the smallest countries around, but we are definitely not pitiful or despised, having to rely on handouts and financial bail outs from other countries to save our own skin.

It’s true that some things was sacrificed to give way to nation building. But right from the start he knew that he had 2 million lives in his hands. He knew that it was not a game of thrones. He knew that division can rip apart not just a small island state like Singapore, but any other nation big and small. He knew that Singapore could not afford making mistakes like her neighbours for she did not have any backup plan – no resource. He knew that her neighbours want to see her fail, even today. And he wouldn’t let it happen.

Today, even as we grieve together as a nation, putting aside our political views and bias, we must understand that it was never about what ‘good’ or what ‘bad’ policies he has introduced. As Singaporeans, we grief the departing and celebrate the life of a man who was centered around each and everyone of us.

There will never be a country free of problems, but today our women can travel safe, our streets are clean, we don’t have to give coffee money to law and Government bodies, we can practise our own religion, education is celebrated, policies are in place to help those in a temporary fix, we enjoy a rather high standard of living, hard work pays off well monetarily, and we can indulge in trivial ‘first world problems’.

So for me, I will give honour where honour is due. I will pay my tribute to the greatest man Singapore has had the privilege to have. Thank you Mr Lee Kuan Yew.

Tribute: The Man Who Loved Singapore

As I wake up from a good night’s sleep to prepare for work, I check my Facebook app like every other Singaporean only to find out the news that Mr LKY has passed on last night.

My words will pale in comparison to the sea of condolence messages from countless Singaporeans young and old.

Mr LKY, as a 80s kid, I may not be aware to the fullest extent what you did for Singapore and the sacrifices you made… But what I do know is that I have a comfortable roof over my head and a job to make a living. For all these, I am grateful. 

Mr LKY, no amount of words can describe the measure of a man you are. Because you mean different things to different people. To the people of your generation, you were the hero who brought the country through the turbulent years. To our parents born in the 60s, you were the PM who introduced policies to help them get out of poverty and amass wealth. To my generation, you are the legendary figure who transformed a country within 1 lifetime.

As we mourn your departure, we celebrate as a nation 50 glorious years. We celebrate the things you have done. We celebrate the world class education of which you have a huge part to play in. We celebrate the world class transport you have implemented. We celebrate the CPF policy you had a hand to implement in order to safeguard every Singaporeans’ sunset years. We celebrate the robust financial state of our country yoy had built. We celebrate life.

Some may say that you are extreme, but you did what you thought was necessary for the wellbeing of our volatile, kuching-kurat nation. Only a real leader with red hot passionate love for the country can make the hard decisions to steer her to where she is right now. And because of that, whenever I travel overseas like every other Singaporean, I can lift my head up high and say “I am a Singaporean”.

The haters are gonna hate… But I can say that no man has loved Singapore the way you love her.

As I pen down these thoughts, I can’t help but feel waves of sadness. Thank you Mr LKY. There is no man who loved Singapore like you did, and I pray that there will be some after you.

Reconciling Social Media with HR Objectives in the 21st Century

As employees become more attuned and vocal over social media, there is an increasing concern of employees’ breach of HR policies and conflicting interests with company directives. How should 21st century companies and HR managers reconcile employees’ social media usage with their HR objectives?

“I hate my job” or “My boss is making life tough for me” – these are the red flags that are sure to get every HR manager fired up for an intense counselling session with the ‘culprits’ behind the hateful Facebook or Twitter post. The worry is valid though. Social media, a global phenomenon believed to have gain traction in the 1990s – a relatively short history by that – saw growth figures that swelled and multiplied at an exponential rate as more and more users hopped onto the bandwagon, be it for social, networking or marketing purposes.

In 2014, AdWeek published an infographic article put together by digital research company, Digital Insights with staggering figures pertaining to the global population’s use of social media. It was reported that as of March 2014, the amount of Facebook active users on the social media platform was standing at 1.28 billion and growing. Meanwhile, micro blogging social media platform, Twitter registers 255 million active users and an approximate 500 million ‘tweets’ ‘tweeted’ every day. That is a lot of conversations and opinions flying around in cyberspace even while you are reading this article.

Closer to home, National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) assistant director, Ms Amy Cheong caused a social media firestorm when she posted offensive comments on her personal Facebook account which also sparked a witch hunt for the company that hired the accused back in 2012. NTUC subsequently fired the assistant director much to the celebration of Singaporeans island-wide. And who could forget the infamous Anton Casey?

As professional and private lives becomes more intertwined than ever before with the advance of social media, it has become almost inevitable that an individual’s conduct on the social media is directly or indirectly linked to their company’s values, and reputation thereafter. While there are sufficient reasons to monitor the conduct of employees on the social media landscape as critically as their physical conduct in the office itself, how should HR managers manage this delicate issue which can also be viewed as an intrusion into employees’ personal life?

A ‘safe zone’ for sharing should be institutionalized such that employees can share their concerns without the fear of being reprimanded, including addressing tough questions like company intrusion into personal life.

Many companies adopt the ‘whip’ method, ‘upgrading’ their social media policies to cover more ground, punishing or even sacking employees for every wrong comment. But while it can be effective in keeping the employees in check, fear brings with it a very damning atmosphere into an office space; lowering staff morale and productivity all at the same time. Instead, companies and HR managers need to be ‘on the ground’ to address the concerns of employees. A ‘safe zone’ for sharing should be institutionalized such that employees can share their concerns without the fear of being reprimanded, including addressing tough questions like company intrusion into personal life.

Rather than going by the You-work-for-the-company-therefore-you-listen-to-me method, HR managers need to build the trust and empathy with their employees so that they understand that they are valued and their opinions –both good and bad – have a huge impacton the company’s reputation. That way, employees understand and will most likely take their grievances offline to a much safer platform where repercussions are minimal and much easier to manage. Also, instead of upsizing their social media policies, HR managers need to get started immediately on equipping their employees to become brand ambassadors to build the company reputation and attract potential talents. That can be accomplished by educating and guiding them on publishing brand-safe content. This also allows HR managers to engage in minimal employee monitoring; trusting and empowering employees to post Facebook updates or Twitter tweets that are not negative or damaging to company reputation.

People are still after all, every company’s greatest asset and HR managers must understand, empathize and leverage on every employee to become effective brand ambassadors on behalf of the company in the social media landscape.

It now takes 1,000 years to get a Singapore Driving License

20150226_173131It’s official.

It now takes 1,000 years to get a driver’s license in Singapore. Earlier in the day, I went down to the ComfortDelGro Driving Centre to apply for my Final Theory Test. As every aspiring Singaporean F1 driver (not) will know, passing the mandatory Final Theory Test is step 2 of 3 to getting a Driver’s License in the Cosmopolitan city state, the other two being the Basic Theory Test and the Practical Driving Test.

The order is as follows;

Basic Theory Test -> Final Theory Test – Practical Driving Test.

The three must be taken in sequence although one can already apply for the Provisional Driving License that allows him to starttaking practical driving lessons to prepare for the Practical Driving Test prior to passing the Final Theory Test.

Moving on with the story, I approach the counter and told the service staff that I would like to apply for the Final Theory Test. The friendly service staff told me to select from the list of dates stated in a laminated folder displayed before me. Ilooked at it and gave the zoned-out look for a good five seconds, or longer. The dates stated on the schedule were from the 11 to the 15 of May. MAY. OH. MY. GOSH. I have to wait close to three months to take a theory test.

I looked up at the staff and asked her again, “Errrr… I want to apply for Final Theory Test.” She said yes, these are the dates available. I asked how come it took so long to which she replied that the standard waiting time for Final Theory Test for both school and private candidates is a whooping two to three months. The next news was a double whammy. She said that the waiting time for Basic Theory Test, Final Theory Test and Practical Driving Test is two to three months respectively.

It was revealed to me that the Traffic Police institutionalized this mandatory waiting time across all driving centres since 2012 to standardize the waiting time in light of increasing number of people applying for the Driver’s license.

Procrastination kills, literally. Someone take a knife and stab me please. You see, I took my Basic Theory Test (twice, yes I actually failed the Basic Theory Test, lol) back in 2009. Waiting time then from booking to test was only…. ONE WEEK. How did that turned into THREE months?! So if I had gone on with the program, not only would I have gotten my license early, I would not have to waste wait three months to take my Final Theory Test and another three months to take my Practical Driving Test.

Now, I die die must pass that Final Theory Test in May. If not, it’s another three months wait which results in a ripple effect in the form of a further delay of three months to take the Practical Driving Test. OH MY GOSH. Talk about stress.

Analyzing what was told to me, is this three months thing really legit?

1. Car ownership was at its lowest in 2011.

The latest available figures from the Land Transport Authority show that there were 598,219 cars as of the end of last month – down from 600,176 last year. The number stood at 607,292 in 2013, and 605,149 in 2012. The car population is now at its lowest since 2011, when there were 592,361 cars on the road.

Fewer cars on the road as COEs play catch-up, The Straits Times, 2015

If car ownership was at its lowest even back in 2011, there is no basis to increase waiting time for potential F1 drivers. Hmm.

2. Singapore has a dwindling young adult population.

Going by logic, Singapore would have lesser applicants applying for the Driver’s License since the Government applied ‘cooling’ measures to reduce excessive mating procreation by Singaporean couples back in the 1980s. Hence, there is no way that there is ‘more’ applicants when we have lesser young people year by year. Unless of course if the hike in applicants is due to the influx of FTs who storm into our country, take away all the high-paying jobs and need to acquire a valid local driver’s license to drive their flashy cars. Ahhh, now it makes sense.

If this is a tactic employed to keep the amount of car drivers in check, I should say that it is too clever a tactic, my dear Traffic Police. Pissed.

To my fellow F1 driver comrades, make sure you do each test once, and do it good. If not, prepare to wait an extra three months. Enough time for you to repent for failing.

But Singaporeans should not have to pay for the consequences brought about by (vehicle) over-population due to FTs. May I propose that we stick back to the old booking schemes and impose a quota for the number of FT applicants?

Give us back our one week waiting time!

The above article is a satirical article and should be taken with a pinch of salt (and sugar). I love Foreigners by the way!

References:

Tan, 2015. Fewer cars on the road as COEs play catch-up. The Straits Times. Retrieved February, 26 from  http://www.straitstimes.com/news/singapore/transport/story/fewer-cars-the-road-coes-play-catch-20150226

Is It Ethical To Send Your Parent To A Nursing Home?

And so today I took the time to head down to the Institute of Mental Health with my mother to visit her mother, which is my grandmother. As we were making our way there, my mom told me she felt so guilty for not being able to visit her mother when she got admitted into IMH (She got transferred there from the nursing home because the nursing home couldn’t handle her fuss – she’s suffering from depression, please don’t judge). I wanted to comfort her but couldn’t find the right words to do so.

Over there, I once again witness my grandmother’s hands strapped to the bed she was lying on as was the case at the nursing home. This was so because she would frequently pull out those tubes that were placed on her if left untied. The brief time that we had, I watched my mom’s mom in tears. I witnessed my mom tearing before on several times too. My mom was clearly gutted that her mom had to be tied down but there was nothing she could do about it because that was what’s best for her. Even a blind person could see the love my mom had for her mom and vice versa, even though my grandmother had senile dementia and thought that I was her son. My mom may not be very educated, but she taught me the importance of filial piety and being respectful among many other life lessons.

So the big question is, is it ethical to send one’s parent[s] to a nursing home?

Well, the PhD answer would be, “It depends”.

Because it really depends on what grounds the son or daughter wants to do so. In 1994, the Government put into legislation the Maintenance of Parent Act, thus regulating that the son and daughter is responsible for caring for the parent. Assuming the worst, it could be because there is an increasing trend of children abandoning their parents when they are of no further use (sucked dry of their wealth), terminally ill (thus incurring high medical bills), are a liability (extra mouth to feed, extra bills to foot), can no longer ‘contribute’ (finances, etc), or are no longer easy to manage (being old does causes some to become emotionally and mentally less stable or worse, contract senile dementia). Just google and you find all these not-so-nice news about infighting for inheritance. Even news giant like Yahoo published a guide to Picking The Right Nursing Home For Your Parents; you know our country is headed towards a certain direction which could be either good (that people are just too busy to provide the proper care for their parents) or bad (they don’t give a sh*t about their parents). There is no need to look at the issue of the Government pushing the responsibility to citizens because it is not necessary over here.

As Singaporean Chinese, we still appreciate the values [or four virtues] that entails Confucianism such as filial piety, righteousness , loyalty and contingency along with other virtues like honesty, kindness, forgiveness, sense of right and wrong, modesty, respectfulness and so on. Humanism is the core of Confucianism. Be it Buddhist, Christian, Taoist, Atheist or Free-thinker, one doesn’t need to forsake his or her own values and beliefs to practice Confucianism. We practice Confucianism not because we have to as Chinese. We practice Confucianism not because it would be wrong not to do so, but because it is simply the right thing to do as a red-blooded human being.  These values do not define us as a human being but it certainly give us a context and a frame to navigating the world that we live in. And it is the root of which made us Chinese, well, a Chinese.

It is downright unethical to send one’s parents to a nursing home or in more morbid terms; an Old Folk’s Home when they are deemed unable to contribute, or are labeled a ‘liability’ to the household. This doesn’t just go against Confucianism; the thing that made us Chinese Chinese, this totally goes against our humanity (morality). Without any sugar-coated words, it is just downright inhumane and morally disgusting. There is no leeway to this.

The next question is, “I can’t afford to hire a private or home-stay nurse to take care of my parent(s) much as I want to, and I don’t want to send my parent(s) to a Nursing Home because it just doesn’t feel right, what should I do?”

Based on what I know, a private nurse (visit few hours a day, few days a week, etc) charges above $2,500 for her duties. Nothing wrong with that, I respect that because caring for the elderly is no easy feat when you weigh in the problems that she face in caring for the elderly – making sure medication is taken, ensure proper diet, bring them out for exercise, helping them to clear their bowels, carrying them on and off the bed or wheelchair, dealing with their tantrums especially, etc. And then there is the mental health issue to factor in. It is a highly stressful job in the first place and one has to really have the passion in order to stay long in this line of business [in which there aren’t many around]. Elderly with more complex problems that require the care of professionals with very specific skill-sets also increases the remuneration package of the private nurse in question. If that isn’t expensive enough, the services of a home-stay nurse will set you back at beyond the $3,000 mark. That’s like an entire month’s salary [and more] for some folks.

However, we can’t just leave an elderly at home unattended, because accidents do happen and we don’t want that [because they are our family and not because it is burdensome to clear up the mess!!!]. We are living in this fast-paced society whereby we have no time to stay at home and render the care that our parents need. Yet at the same time, there’s no way one can afford that kind of cutthroat price of hiring a private or home-stay nurse in this day and age whereby as middle income households, one’s hard-earned salary and its increments can hardly beat the bills and inflation as a matter of factly. You have to be in the high income earners in order to be able to acquire the services of these nurses. Either that or you have ten siblings who can contribute.

So that rules the option of private nurses and them staying at home alone, out. That leaves us with one rather awkward option; the nursing home. Even still, it isn’t cheap. A website managed by the SingHealth group puts the figures of securing a place at private nursing homes between $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the quality of care and stay. Although there are subsidy schemes which the Government offer for nursing homes under their subsidy, there are loopholes as well (like how subsidy is inversely based on household income but not taking in other factors and variables – correct me if I am wrong), and there are many households who fall into that category.

The average rate people are forking out for nursing homes is believed to be around $1,600 range. My grandmother is/was staying at a nursing home which cost $XXXX (slightly below $2,000 range) and the facilities aren’t fantastic. But still, there’s a comfortable bed to lie on, television to watch, interaction and companionship with other senior citizens, all-in laundry services provided, three meals a day plus snacks as and when required, someone to bring one one’s medication, and so on. Most importantly, there are trained professionals (nurses albeit many being foreign labor), doctors, dietitian (depends on the nursing home you have selected and paid) and physiologist to give proper care to the grey-haired individuals we so dearly love. It is not the best measure to take but it is now a viable option.

So is it right to send one’s parents to a nursing home on grounds of being financially tied?

Yes…. And no. You can’t just dismiss it totally like white and black. Is it the best practice to send one’s parent(s) to a nursing home? Certainly not, BUT if one can’t afford the pricey tag of hiring a private nurse and, the same if not similar levels of care is provided from that of nursing homes, I believe it is okay to do so. Only then should [nursing home] be a viable option. That is also provided one frequently visit his/her parent(s) at the home la, I mean they took care of you from tod to adulthood. That way, you could keep up with the care and health of your parent(s) – find out if they are mistreated – and maintain the touch-points with the family unit. Maintaining kinship is one of the fabrics that keeps families and society running. Be a good example to your next generation or you could live to live through the experience you put your parents in.

At the end of the day, whether is it ethically wrong to send one’s parent(s) to a nursing home really depends on our motive and intent behind the proposed move. It’s like how we view the home, is it a nursing home where they can receive the well-deserved and much-needed care that they should have as they celebrate their golden years, or do we view it as an old folk’s home – a place where we can chuck them away because they are a liability.

Did love caused my mom to put my grandmother in a nursing home? Yes and No. Yes, because the proper care could be rendered to the mother she so dearly loves. And no, love wouldn’t want a loved one to be far away but life sometimes dishes one with limited choices.

Personally, it will only leave me gutted if I have to one day choose between keeping my parent(s) at home or sending them to a home, of which I pray that I will make the right decision when the time comes. I love my parents a lot, I really mean A LOT. I can’t give my word on that I will never consider such an option because, what is man but flesh? Only God is constant and only He is truly capable of keeping all His word. But as best as I can, I will try not to let my parents stay in a home because I want them around my kids.

There is so much our parents can contribute to the next generation, I mean I learnt so much from my now-decreased grandfather and grandmother from my father’s side. And boy, they sure doted on me. My grandpa frequently brought me to eat wanton mee and my grandma is just a dear, she’s the best. Till today I still remember their faces and how they doted on me albeit losing them around a decade ago but telling you readers all that will only bore you out.

Before I end, I think the healthcare workers – nurses from hospitals, nurses from nursing homes and IMH deserve a sword salute, a standing ovation and honor of the highest merit for all that they have contributed to Singapore and the otherwise unseen spectrum of the high and mighty, prosperous Singapore so that Singapore can be who She is. You are our unsung heroes who do what many of us can’t do. Government, please la, up their salary can?

Writer’s Note:
This article is wholly presented in the author’s personal point of view and should be taken with a pinch of salt. This article exist to challenge conventional and changing mindsets in this growing society, thus readers are invited to not take the article in its entirety at wholesale value. Any part of the article can be used at no charge, but should be credited back to the right source.

References:
http://sg.news.yahoo.com/picking-nursing-home-parents-160000493.html
http://www.aic.sg/uploadedFiles/Individuals_Caregivers/Understanding/Care_Services_Available/Nursing_Homes/MOH-Supplement-on-Nursing-Home-Charges1.pdf
http://www.healthxchange.com.sg/News/Pages/The-nursing-home-crunch.aspx
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confucianism
http://singaporemind.blogspot.sg/2012/06/dire-consequences-of-policy-of-over.html
http://www.healthxchange.com.sg/News/Pages/Long-Term-Care-Nursing-Homes.aspx