Damned Either Way

It’s ironic how when Singapore gained independence from the British and was subsequently kicked out of Malaysia, naysayers said we were doomed to fail because we were such a tiny country. Now that we’re successful, people say that success was only possible cos we’re so small – as if hard work and good governance don’t count for anything. Seriously!

Posted by Wordmobi

In Defence of the Singapore Education System

Had my department Chinese New Year dinner just now. Was seated next to our Chief Operating Officer.

During the dinner, the conversation somehow steered to the pressure cooker education system in Singapore. My COO who’s from Holland was very against it. He said that children should not be straddled with stressful exams. One of the comments he made was, “Look at the children in USA or Europe. Do they grow up to be any worse than Asians?”

To Bubbs’ credit, she said that Asians are definitely much stronger in Maths.

Her boss, who’s Australian, then said (in what I felt was a slightly condescending tone) that Singaporeans are only strong in technical subjects.

I agreed with him but I also clarified that this was inevitable. Given that Singapore was a 3rd world country in the 1960s, there was a very strong push for locals to be technically trained in engineering & other subjects. The government’s emphasis was to groom a generation of technically sound people to build the country.

In a mere 30 years, we’ve gone from a back water village to a 1st world nation. Without the hunger, drive and pressure cooker environment, would it have been possible?

Although still as competitive as ever, now that we’ve become a developed country, our schools are more open to grooming talents in the arts. We’re also slowly grooming athletes to excel in sports.

I did not mince my words when I told my COO that one has got to understand that without relentless drive, Singapore would not have gotten where we are today – stamping out corruption, eradicating secret societies and making the leap from itinerant blue collar workers to degree holders in 2 generations.

Apart from the practical push for meritocracy, one also has to understand the historical & cultural aspects. Most of the early migrants to Singapore came from China. In a country faced with poverty and where the vast majority were engaged in agricultural jobs, the only way to a better life was through education. It’s no surprise that parents often push their children to obtain good results in order to secure a better future. Coming from such a background, is it any surprise then that Singaporeans place such importance on education?

While I do not agree with parents taking their children to multiple tuition & enrichment classes from a young age, I do not see anything wrong with having an education system based on merits. If our ancestors didn’t stretch themselves, we could not have achieved so much in such a short time. We must not go soft now & fail our founding fathers.

Posted by Wordmobi

Twitter Buzz

Despite the buzz surrounding Google’s latest product, the Google Buzz, I think I’m sticking to Twitter for now.  Here’s why:

  • Well established communities based on interest groups – I follow Mashable, Nokia Conversation, Engadget Mobile, All About Symbian and a couple of other tech related lists and it’s a must every morning to read up on the overnight developments in the geek world. 
  • Updates from celebrities – Hear it from the horses’ mouth.  Nothing gives you more instant updates on what your favourite singer / actor / public personality is doing.  What’s best, some of them may even answer questions you have.  It’s great being able to communicate with the person on the face of your CD cover. 
  • Privacy – As I strive to maintain a pseudo anonymous identity on the Web, it helps that apart from my Twitter nick, nothing else about me is shown.  In order to follow me on Buzz, users need to know my e-mail address and the last thing I want to do is to create a new e-mail account just to maintain a Buzz following.  Besides, that would defeat the purpose of seeing all the Buzz appear in your inbox…
  • Bugs – I suppose this will be resolved in time to come but there’re still some fundamental bugs in Buzz.  This morning, my friend requested that I add him on Buzz but Buzz kept giving me an error message saying “User not found”.  I don’t see any feedback / bug reporting mechanism in Buzz, which I think is important for any new product.
  • Great support – Yesterday, I tweeted this question – is Seesmic or Tweetdeck better?  Almost immediately, someone from Seesmic dropped me a reply saying if I needed help, they were a tweet away.  Now how cool is that?

There you have it.  So if you want to see what a tweetaholic like me does every hour (or thereabouts), follow me on @uptowngal.

Random Photos – Jan 2010

Here’re some random photos I took in Jan 2010.


My wedding band and engagement ring.  I was testing the macro mode of the Nokia X6’s camera and I must say I was impressed!



There’s this Ipoh Hor Fun place at Maxwell Chambers.  I can’t remember the name now – the business card’s in office – Weng Kee or something like that.  It’s pretty good.  The horfun’s smooth and very thin.  Delicious!



There’s this Korean coffee place at Icon Village called Tom N Tom’s.  The decor’s really nice but I thought the coffee was so-so only.  Maybe more aromatic than Starbucks but nothing to really shout about.



My new (above) and old (below) handphone straps.



For some reason, someone thought it was a great idea to celebrate Upsize’s birthday.  This is my 3rd year with the company and the first time it has happened.  I wonder if the fact we did our appraisals earlier this year, thus coinciding with Upsize’s birthday, had anything to do with it.


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My dad decided to get a new dining table so the set above has been given away.  Sigh.  I miss it.  This dining set was bought by my parents even before I was born!



Saw this at Ikea last week.  “Property of Coca Cola”.  I just thought it was interesting.