13 Photos That Defined Citizens and Foreigners’ Love for Singapore’s Founding Father

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I was at the queue on Friday afternoon and later on at night. The view was unforgettable.

The City Hall area was never this crowded.

The young, the old, the local, the foreigners, the nation’s inhabitants showed up in force to send their revered founding father on his last journey.

Companies and their employees shuttered their doors to distribute food and water aid to the crowd at no cost.

There was an unprecedented show of kindness as Singaporeans and Foreigners alike looked after each other while queueing together.

The crowd soldiered on for hours through the sun and through the night with one singular desire to pay their respects to Mr Lee.

Even if all that queueing was just for a few seconds before him in the Parliament House.

Our Prime Minister came to thank the people for being here but was also comforted and gained strength by his people.

No man is greater than the country, Mr Lee would say. But for some people, Mr Lee is Singapore. For Singapore’s success, why we have safe and clean streets, clean tap water, sound education, island-wide greenery and enjoy the rewards of diligence at work, Mr Lee have played an immeasurable role from implementation to execution. For most, Singapore (and her success) and Mr Lee is synonymous.

These are 13 moments I personally witnessed that defined the people’s deep love for our late former Prime Minister, Minister Mentor and founding father.

Writer’s Note: In the interest of the subjects within the frames, the photos are not to be used for personal, commercial, editorial or any other purposes unless permission is given otherwise.

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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

Two Tissues for $1.20

I was walking towards the neighborhood’s Mc’s to get a ice cream cone before heading home when I saw a hunched elderly lady trying to peddle her tissue and TOTO coupons to a couple; the only people left at the Hawker centre. On instinct, I immediately stopped in my tracks, asked her how much in dialect while whipping out some coins to give to her. One hand holding two tissues and another holding TOTO coupons, she asked what did I want to get. I asked for the tissues, she handed two to me and I placed two 50cent coins in her hands. She uttered $1.20 in dialect. Immediately in my mind I criticized her for asking for $1.20 for 2 tissues. In my mind I was thinking “I’m trying to help you and you..!” First of all, the ‘market rate’ for tissues were 3 for $1. Both ‘conditions’ were broken. I handed her another 50cents and left. Few seconds later I was rudely surprised by how quick I was to condemn her in my head. Repented. Isn’t that how many of us behave?

1. We be nice to people while expecting people to ‘return the favor’. In business terms, that is called return of investment. Or we give, wanting people to react in a way that we would desire. In business terms, that is called sponsorship; there is conditions attached to the money.

2. We want to be a blessing to people in our own terms. We give something we think people will be blessed with (regardless if they might not be blessed by it). Conditional giving. That is not really giving either. Conditional giving is kind of hypocritical at the same time.

3. When things don’t go according to our plans, we judge, criticize and condemn the person in our minds. Without even getting the full story. Not very nice. Not that we should critic or judge in the first place. There is already so many haters in the world. And we think the world can do with less.

Sad to say, I have also at times responded or approached a matter in such ways.. While it is close to impossible to give without expecting anything in return (recognition, appreciation, rewards, etc), try to anyway. And give something that the person will appreciate. If it’s $1.20 for 2, then it’s $1.20 for 2. You can’t be a blessing by determining the terms and conditions.. It doesn’t work that way. Going back to the story, after getting my ice cream and proceeding to head home, I saw the elderly lady again. She was still walking around past 10.30pm hoping to get some more business.. It’s quite sad actually. Thank you for the tissues and bless you old lady.