Thursday, September 11, 2008

SO bitten by an insect!

I just received an sms from SO that he is bitten by an insect and that he is presently in hospital.

The doc gave him a jab and asked him to be warded overnight.

My heart skipped a beat. Oh no....Not again.

This is not the first time that he was bitten by some insect and warded in hospital.

I think it happened twice already, or thrice? The last time was about 10 years ago when he was living at home. He was bitten by some creepy crawly and his father sent him to the hospital.

Anyway, this time he told the doctor that he refused to stay overnight.

I offered to go down to the hospital to meet him but the bitch simply refused, saying the doctor would review him in 2 hours time. And then he would come back.

And he asked me not to sms him anymore, cos he wanted to sleep!

I couldn't breath. My heart was heavy with worry. I wondered if the insect bite could lead to some severe allergy.

Hmmm...wondering if I should go down and surprise him at the hospital. But his colleagues are there......and he did not want me there.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Mommies matchmaking session

Gosh, is this for real?

Just cos the PM mentioned it in his speech did not mean people should take it as the holy word.

Frankly, thank goodness, I am not single. And that my mother would not do something like that.

And if she did, I dun think I would forgive her for poking her nose into my private business.

So where's your mommy yesterday afternoon? Matchmaking?


The Straits Times
8 Sep 2008

Matchmaking meet

They share CVs to find mates for their children at first such event here

By Goh Chin Lian

WITH a picture of her son in her handbag, housewife Wang Lianzhi mingled with some 150 parents at the Speakers' Corner yesterday for a mass matchmaking session.

'My son's 30. He's never had a girlfriend. He's working on his computer all the time and seldom goes out,' explained Mrs Wang, 67. So she decided to play Cupid, distributing his business card to other parents.

It was the first parents' matchmaking session, organised by dating agency Clique Wise which had taken up a suggestion by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. PM Lee had floated the idea of having parents play matchmaker for their children in his National Day Rally speech last month.

He described how thousands of parents in Beijing secretly sought out spouses for their children at such sessions, commonly held in parks, and suggested Singapore parents try it too.

Yesterday, they did. Parents took matters into their own hands, saying their children were too busy for a social life.

Many like Mrs May Jow, 60, came without their children's knowledge. 'I took my daughter's photograph from the drawer without telling her,' she said.

The matchmaking process was simple: Parents exchanged details of their children like age, education and current job, and asked to see a picture of the 'candidate'. Some whipped out passport-sized photographs, others 4R-sized pictures. One parent came with an 8R computer printout of the family posing with the candidate in a graduation gown.

Parents were not only scrutinising the candidate's looks, but also sussing out the candidate's parents to see if they came from similar backgrounds. If all goes well, they exchange phone numbers.

Some parents like Mrs Jow were on the lookout for candidates who matched their children's height and age. 'The age difference should be about three to four years and he has to be at least 1.76m tall,' said Mrs Jow, whose daughter is aged 30 and is 1.68m tall.

Parents hunting for a son-in-law also wanted someone with a higher educational qualification and a stable career.

Said housewife L.H. Heng, 55: 'My daughter has a polytechnic diploma. Her spouse cannot have any lesser than that.'

The session's organiser, Ms Lydia Gan, said the event was held at Speakers' Corner as the older generation was familiar with Hong Lim Park. It was also free.

All Ms Gan had to do was register online with the National Parks Board, since rules were eased to allow outdoor demonstrations at Speakers' Corner from Sept 1.

While the matchmaking session was registered as an exhibition, and not a demonstration, it did draw onlookers like odd job labourer Jeff Tan, 60. He had dropped by after shopping in nearby Chinatown, thinking he would catch a protest in progress.

But there was none. So far, only non-profit group Hearer of Cries has held a demonstration, staging a 10-minute protest against employers who abuse maids.

Mr Tan said: 'I wouldn't come here specially. I work in Changi and I'm living in Tampines. It's too far.'

Monday, September 8, 2008

I was drugged!


I think I was drugged by SO.

I have asked him but he simply denied it.

I have been sleeping more than usual. On Saturday night, I slept at about 3am and woke up on Sunday at 9am.

After breakfast, I went back to sleep from 11am to 5pm!

And all our plans for Sunday was ruined. I had planned to go to a movie but I was simply too tired.

That Sunday night, I slept at 11pm till Monday morning 6am.

And I still felt so tired.

I dun know what SO fed me but I have slept too much.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Winners of the SG blog awards

Below are the winners of the SG blog awards!

Best Youth Blog
Witch Yuki

Best Photo Blog
Eunice Khong

Most Insightful Blog

Most Entertaining Blog
Jimmy Lee

Best Design Blog
Shaun Chng

Best Blog Shop
Miss Loi

Best Individual Blog
Jane Chin

Popular Choice Awards Winners

1. Shaun Chng under Best Design Blog by Shaun Chng

2. Sparklette under Best Design Blog
only in fairy tales by Veron

3. 阿谁 under Most Entertaining Blog
阿谁的世界 by Jimmy Lee


The Straits Times
6 Sep 2008

1st S'pore Blog Awards

A MARATHON runner and a full-time mathematics tutor are among the winners of the first Singapore Blog Awards.

The awards, organised by Singapore Press Holdings' bilingual web portal, aim to showcase bloggers' creativity, and to popularise the form.

Mathematics tutor Loi Wai Ling, 33, won the Best Blog Shop award for her blog, . Unlike many blog shops which sell accessories and clothing, hers sells sets of exam questions.

Engineering student and marathoner Shaun Chng, 24, won for having the Best Design.

Blog awards Pictures, Images and Photos
Winners of the Singapore Blog Awards, organized by (clockwise from top left) Most Entertaining Blog, Jimmy Lee, Best Design Blog, Shaun Chng, Most Insightful Blog, Kenny Lau, Best Blog Shop, Loi Wai Ling, Best Photo Blog, Eunice Khong, Best Individual Blog Jane Chin and Green Apple Award Cheryl Thiam, with their trophies. -- ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

In all, 1,000 blogs were considered, and 10 were shortlisted in each of the seven categories: Best Youth Blog, Photo Blog, Design Blog, Individual Blog, Blog Shop, and Most Entertaining and Most Insightful blogs.

The winners received trophies and a laptop computer. They were given their prizes at a ceremony held at the Asian Civilisations Museum last night.

Friday, September 5, 2008

There's a new browser in town

I am a sucker for new stuff. Especially cyber stuff.

I am glad there is a new browser in town. Anything to break the monopoly of Microsoft.

Personally I have been using Mozilla Firefox and I have not been having much problems with it.

I have great faith in Google products. Their google maps are fabulous. So is their Gmail and Blogger.


The Straits Times
4 Sep 2008

Google browser shines

It shows off application's features in challenge to Microsoft's Explorer

By Alfred Siew

GOOGLE yesterday showed off a slick Web browser that promises to let users surf the Internet faster. Going by the name Chrome, it could shake up the industry as previous browser wars have done.

Google is eyeing much more: In the same way users access their e-mail on the Web now, it wants them to do their word processing and spreadsheets on a more advanced browser in future, forgoing the need to install Microsoft software.

A trial version of Chrome became available for download on Google's website,, on Tuesday, after the company inadvertently leaked information about it days ahead of time.

In a demonstration to reporters yesterday, Google showed off Chrome's smart features. For example, its Omnibox can predict what search term or Web address the user wants based on his past surfing patterns and those of other users online.

A user looking for Amazon, the online bookstore, may need to type no more than 'Am' to bring up the link to the site.

The new browser also comes with a privacy mode that lets a user surf the Internet without leaving a trail on a computer, a feature handy for those who share computers with others at home.

With Chrome, Google is taking aim at Microsoft's Internet Explorer browser, the browser of choice for three-quarters of Internet users and which is pre-loaded on computers running on Windows.

The last browser war, which pitted Microsoft's Explorer against Netscape in the 1990s, left Netscape beaten.

Battle lines have been drawn now between Microsoft, which made its fortune selling software for personal computers, and Google, which wants to overturn that dominance with online alternatives.

By developing its own browser, Google says it is ensuring that its online applications - alternatives to Microsoft's Word, Excel and Powerpoint - can be run optimally in future.

To show that Chrome was faster than its rivals, Google yesterday set up a computer and compared the time it took to download two Java Web pages using Chrome, Firefox and Internet Explorer. Chrome streaked ahead, completing the download ahead of its rivals. A webpage with, say, a 3D drawing loaded several seconds faster.

In a video conference with reporters at Google's offices, director of engineering Linus Upson said he expected power users to be Chrome's early adopters.

'But they will tell their friends...and we are confident it will get into the hands of millions of people,' he said. He noted that the browser, using open-source software code, would benefit from add-ons and updates created by the online community.

The question for Google now is whether users will bite. Early adopters such as undergraduate Chin Su Yuen, 22, are already sold. Noting that the software is faster, she said: 'I have opened Facebook with 2,000 items on it, and it took a longer time to load on older browsers.'

Before Chrome, the alternatives to Internet Explorer have been Apple's Safari, Opera from Opera Software and Firefox from the non-profit Mozilla Foundation, which Google helps fund.


Star features in new browser

GOOGLE has promised that its new Chrome Web browser will be faster and smarter than its competitors, including Internet Explorer from rival Microsoft.

The company is banking on three star features to lure Internet users. They are:

# Omnibox

This is the box where you type in a website's address. It also allows you to write any term, say, Felicia Chin, and it will bring up a list of websites on the actress.

Before you even finish typing, Chrome predicts what you are after by looking up websites you visited previously, and by referencing similar searches by other Web surfers. If you have visited, say,, the box also lets you search for things on that website, without typing in its address.

# Privacy mode

If you do not want others to find out what you have been surfing, there is a new Incognito feature. It ensures that traces of your Internet session are erased the moment you exit the browser.

This means things such as virtual 'cookies', which track the items you browse on, for example, are not stored on the computer, so others cannot access them.

# Smart tabs

Users often surf several webpages at once on multiple tabs on their browsers. In Chrome, these tabs run on separate 'processes', so if one website takes up too much of the computer's resources or causes the software to crash, each tab can be shut down individually.

The other pages, loaded separately on other tabs, can continue running.

With current browsers, a problematic website can sometimes cause the entire browser application to freeze up.

A dream of 2 doggies

Last night I had a dream of my 2 dogs.

SO and I were in this cafe and there were these 2 dogs caged right outside the cafe.

I recognise the dogs as Gin and Bell, whom in my dream, had gone missing.

A staff of the cafe was grooming the dogs, trimming their fur, bathing them etc.

So I asked SO to go over and ask how much they cost.

The response was $60 and $70. And I was thinking in my dream, so cheap.

However, SO was like this miser, saying that they are our dogs in the first place so why should we pay?

I was like, just pay for Gin. It's only 70 bucks.

So we got back Gin. She had gone from a silvery ashy silky to a poofy poodle. Well, in my dream, I know it was absurd and I remembered thinking, she turned white out of fear.

We were going to leave Bell in the cafe but after thinking over, decided to buy him also.

He got epilepsy and I dun think he would last long with any new owners. They would probably put him to sleep once he started foaming and twitching.

End of dream.

During the duration of the dream, I was turning and tossing in bed, moaning. Yeah, I was aware it was a dream and yet it felt so real. I woke up at about 4 am this morning and could not go back to sleep any more.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I need a dog

I so need a dog.

It has been about 2 months since my baby Gin died. And since then I have not hug anything fluffy and furry.

I so need a doggie hug right now.

Bell is so frigid, like SO that he growls the moment I carry him.

I want to get Bobby, my mom's dog over right now.

And oh yeah....I have not cried over Gin for some time. But it made me sad when I think of her.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Manila virus

SO spread the Manila virus to me.

I shared a moon cake with SO on sunday and we both used the same knife to eat the mooncake.

And by evening, my throat was all raw and dry and scratchy!

I thought that the bitch had recovered from his bout of flu virus he contacted in Manila and now he had spread the virus to me.

I was so tired these few days, sleeping more than usual.And after these few days of sore throat, I have been feeling better.

Now I would think twice before I share food with the bitch.

He is so contagious. Some weeks back, he spread this high fever to me. I had laid in bed for days, too sick even to move.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Fuglies going to Paris

I was at Watson with SO on sunday.

We were browsing at this hair care products when this 30 something fugly (fucking ugly) stood near us.

He was talking to this senior mature lady, whom I dun think was his mother or relative. Probably his colleague or church friend.

He was boasting to this lady friend that he is going to Paris next week.

The lady asked...And why you going to Paris and what would you do there?

And he was like....for the fabulous shopping...

And then he added....maybe I would send you a topless photo of myself to you.

SO and I were rolling our eyes. And I think so was his lady friend. He was so gay, so flamboyant and loud. And there were quite a few people around who heard that conversation. And that fugly knew everyone was hearing their conversation.

He then told his lady friend...and when I return, I would be all buff and tanned. And with that, he sashayed out of the store, swaying his hips!

Gross! What a show off! Attention grabbing slut!

And why are fuglies going to Paris?

Another fugly I know, who is actually SO's brother went to Paris some weeks back. And SO was biting his tongue in envy! He was that jealous of his bro going to Paris.

And the thing was that fugly did not brought anything back from Paris. Absolutely nothing. Nothing for his mother either. No souvenirs of whatever sort.

Made us wonder why he went to Paris in the first place and why fuglies like to go to Paris.

Nigeria Marriage Scams

Nigeria is like the con city of the world.

And this is not just any discriminating statement. I am not racist or discriminating against any countries but the name Nigeria seemed to appear regularly whenever online scams or cons are mentioned.

That is one of the main reasons that a lot of companies everywhere dun ship to Nigeria. Chances are that they wun get paid. This is backed by bad experiences.

And I repeat myself. I am not against Nigeria, but if I received any email or offers or whatever from Nigeria, I just delete them.

So beware of any cyber stuff originating from Nigeria. Chances are it's a scam.


New Paper
31 Aug 2008

I want to marry you, send me money

Woman's online search for love attracts 'suitors' from Nigeria. They claimed to be expatriates but asked her to send them money so they could come to Singapore to marry her.

Elysa Chen

WHEN a Singaporean woman went online in search of a life partner, she received several offers of marriage. But it was not wedding bells but alarm bells that went off in her head.

The reason: The proposals were from men in Nigeria.

And, rightly or wrongly, the mere mention of the African nation summons visions of scams.

The woman, a 47-year-old accounts executive who wanted to be known only as Josephine, is sure her suitors are con men targeting lonely women with false promises of love and marriage.

They claimed to be expatriates working in the oil industry in Nigeria but asked her to send them money so they could come to Singapore to marry her.

Ms Josephine recently posted her profile on the Singapore Expats forum, hoping to find a man who could commit to a long-term relationship and eventually marry her.

But when she received six e-mail replies from different men in Nigeria, each promising marriage, she became suspicious. She said: 'If I had never heard of so many scams from Nigeria, I would have been thrilled.

'I have never been popular with men and most don't take a second look at me. So, when so many guys were interested in me and telling me how much they loved me by their third e-mail, at the back of my mind, I found it unbelievable.'


First, these 'widowers' wooed her with poems and showed her pictures of their children. They also spun heart-wrenching tales of how their wives had died during childbirth and told her that she was 'the perfect mother' for their children.

Of course, she had no idea whether the pictures were real. But the stories, because they were so similar, got her suspicious.

Within days of getting to know her, they would ask her for money. Most asked her to send sums ranging from $2,000 to $3,000.

One asked her to buy him a laptop and ship it to Nigeria.

The most frightening request was from a man who went by the name of Houston. He claimed he was from the Cayman Islands and asked Ms Josephine to open a bank account in Singapore so that he could transfer millions of dollars to her.

With wide-eyed horror, she said: 'He could have been trying to use me to launder money.'

Even if she were unaware of Nigerian scams, Ms Josephine said she would not have fallen victim as she finds it 'too difficult to part with her hard-earned money'.

Emotional blackmail

When she did not accede to their requests, the men resorted to 'using four-letter words' on her or emotionally blackmailing her by asking her to send the money for the sake of their children.

One even went as far as to call himself her husband.

Laughing, Ms Josephine said: 'We haven't even met, and he's saying that he is my husband.

'They must have thought that I was one of those airheads whose heart would melt the moment they said they loved me and give them all my money.'

Although she had mentally prepared herself for fake offers, it was still 'devastating' that every suitor ended up asking her for money.

Her sister, Mrs Elaine Wee, 45, said: 'This is the cruellest thing that anyone can do to a single woman. I was so indignant for not only my sister, but all the other women that these men were out to cheat by playing with their feelings.'

Ms Josephine, who has spent about $8,000 on local and foreign matchmaking agencies, has one simple wish: To find a nice, honest man she can go home to after a hard day's work.

Smiling, she said: 'Somewhere out there, there might be someone for me. I'm not going to just give up.'




Conmen post advertisements on the Internet to sell iPhones, but unsuspecting buyers end up empty-handed after sending the money. A Singapore student was cheated of $1,600.


They pretend to represent top English Premiership clubs. Victims are duped into sending money in the belief that they are paying official registration fees to have a trial at Premiership clubs.


They hack into someone's Hotmail account and send e-mail to people in the person's address book. The recipients are asked to send money to help the Hotmail account-holder, who is stranded during a holiday in Nigeria.

Former Singapore Idol finalist Jeassea Thyidor had similar experience with her Hotmail account.


They pose as pretty and lonely women in trouble and ask victims to send them money so they can fly to meet them.

A tale of two press conferences

I used to organise press conference in my previous job.

And I missed that. The press invites, preparing the location, food, press kit etc. I missed it all.

It has been a long while since I organised or attended any press conference.

I included this article in my blog cos I see the humor in it.


New Paper
31 Aug 2008

A tale of two press conferences

PRESS conferences can be some of the most inane events on the planet.

By Ng Tze Yong


PRESS conferences can be some of the most inane events on the planet. They are often tediously formal and humourless, a long-drawn merry-go-round that leaves you more baffled than informed - cushioned, of course, by the nice folders and souvenir pens.

But this is a story of two interesting press conferences which took place this past week.

The first, held in a cozy function room at the Botanical Gardens on Monday, was held to announce the new rules at Speakers' Corner.

The second, held yesterday at the Grand Copthorne Hotel, dealt with the liberalisation of another place - cyberspace.

Both marked landmark events. Interesting, also, because if you watched closely, the body language told you more than the press release resting on your lap.

It is like a peek backstage, just before the curtains rise for a perfect orchestration.

The Speakers' Corner press conference was a brisk, efficient affair, co-chaired by the police and NParks.

On the plush chairs, the police officers sat erect, radiating competence. Beside them, the NParks officials sat, slouching just a little, perhaps a hint of reluctance on their faces: The new rules would require the handing over of that hot potato, Speakers' Corner, from the cops to the park rangers.


Just how - exactly - would it work?

You could see the spark in each reporter's eyes - they were waiting for the field day to begin.

'Would there be plainclothes policemen?' A polite laugh from the police, and a speech on the operational needs of police work.

Can protesters do this? Can they do that? The common refrain: Anything goes, except race and religion, but safety first.

Then, the killer question came: Can protesters burn effigies of PM Lee?

Silence. Then, COO NParks turned over his palms and explained in a mixture of exasperation and resignation. Sure, he said. 'Just don't burn down the shrubs and the trees.'

Later, back in the newsroom, I called the police and asked: Can protesters burn a Singapore flag?

The act is illegal. But could it be allowed, if considered as part of a lawful demonstration? There were 'hmmm's and 'erm's over the crackling phone line.

I was advised to seek clarification from somewhere else. The rest of the conversation was declared off-the-record.

Before we hung up, it was re-emphasised to me again, almost apologetically: Just no race, no religion, can already.

Later in the evening, a wag SMSed me: 'Would a demo to 'say no to racism' pass or fail the test?'

And 'haha :)' was my reply.

Which makes a nice transition to the press conference that came a few days later, whose target audience was not the shouters and the crazies, but the savvy eGeneration, who crave just as much to be heard.

In a hotel function room, they discussed Xiaxue, Facebook and YouTube, chaired by a panel with stern-faced members ranging from CEOs to a professor of philosophy.

Let's talk

It was not a briefing. It was an in-depth discussion. Their message: Loosen up. But caution - and consultation - were the key words.

Unlike the lightning PowerPoint presentation and slim press release at the Speakers' Corner press conference, this one came with a detailed 103-page report, with detailed bibliography and methodology.

We don't pretend to know the answers, said a member of the panel. It went a long way in tempering the scepticism.

There is black and there is white. PM Lee is leading us into the middle grey. But grey is a difficult area to straddle.

The two press conferences tried to do it. The cyberspace guys populated it with questions and suggestions.

The police and NParks broad-brushed it with vague allusions to catch phrases, and a sudden invitation to come create a ruckus.

I left it feeling baffled, doubtful and unassured.

The other one, I left feeling a little more hopeful.

Lewd University Orientation

Well, I have made my say over the issue of lewd orientation. Some activities are simply bordering on the sexually suggestive.

Frankly, I am surprised that some students actually find the orientation games harmless. Are you kidding?

And joining in almost sexual activities are suppose to help them and socialise with their peers? How is that suppose to help in building team spirit and instilling a sense of belonging?

Maybe I am too conservative and prudish? And kids these days are too liberal and open minded?

After all, these days, how many are still virgins by the time they reached university age?

There is still the element of peer pressure. These are not full adults. They are young, undeveloped adults and they tend to conform to the usual norms.

I came across a blog where a female student narrated her experience with lewd orientation at her university.

She said that most of these orientation forfeits seemed to involve the more private parts of the body like the face, buttocks, mouth, chest etc.

On the very first day, she was made to do this forfeit where she had to pass this sweet to a guy mouth to mouth. And you know what, he was actually using this as an excuse and she could feel his tongue in her mouth, groping about. She felt humilated and awkward. She had never kissed a guy before and here, she was, with this guy, who was swirling his tongue in her mouth. All in the name of fun and sport. And getting to know other people.

She felt violated but she dared not say anything. She did not wanted to be labelled a spoilsport, a wet blanket. So she continued.

Another forfeit she had to do was that she had to lie on the ground with her back facing the sky while the guy did push ups above her body.

This time, it was even worse. As he did his pushups, she could felt his dick pressing on her buttocks with each pushup. She was extremely disgusted. She really wanted to walk out but she couldn't. She did not want people to talk bad about her. And then the worst thing happened. He collapsed on her!

She was horrified. She could feel his erected prick pressing on her back!

She who had never had intimate contact with any other guys, had some guy's erected dick on her back. It was so sick and it felt so wrong.

She felt so sexually violated and thus made up an excuse that she was sick and skipped the rest of the day's orientation activities.

That very night, she was that terrified and tramatised that she developed a high fever. She was sick for the rest of the week and skipped all her orientation.

She wanted to complain to the university. This was suppose to be orientation activities to help new students socialise and break the ice. But she felt she had enrolled in in some sort of hell camp for sex slaves.

But a female classmate told her to grow up and stop being a whiner. She was also accused of being uptight, childish and sensitive.

In the end, she did not take any actions but she developed this fear of the opposite sex. Especially if a guy is too physically close to her in proximity.

End of story.

Frankly, all these orientation activities are just an excuse for bullying by seniors on freshmen. Bullying disguised as initiation. What crap!

And who know who thought of all these sexually suggestive activities?

Horny male university undergrads! Just in case, you dun know, boys at this age are their most horny or rather most sexually curious peak. And they thought of all these almost sexual activities to fulfill their sick sexual fantasies.

And SDU endorses universities orientation activities. Well, no one complained! Until someone wrote in the the forum, triggering this expose.

If such lewd activities are so ice-breaking, how come SDU did not incorporate these into their social activities programs?

So are we developing these undergrads into sluts and players? Is this the way to go to promote having more babies?

When the time comes to say no and walk out, can you actually walk out? Even when there is extreme peer pressure, when people called you names like, wet blanket, uptight, sensitive, spoilsport, not sporting etc?

Many cannot.


The Sunday Times
31 Aug 2008

Orientation - just fun or plain lewd?

Students, academics, freshmen and others weigh in on the sexual slant

By Shuli Sudderuddin

When National University of Singapore (NUS) freshman Rachel Lee turned up at an orientation camp in campus last month, she got a rude shock.

During one of the games, she was made to do a forfeit where the 'girls had to lie down and the guys had to do push-ups over them', she said. Ms Lee, 19, declined to comply - she felt the act was lewd.

Another game she observed required participants to pass M&M chocolates to one another using their mouths.

'I left after the first day with five or six like-minded friends,' she said of the five-day camp organised by the NUS Students' Union.

'Lewd and improper' orientation activities were the subject of a letter by reader Soh Eng Phang, who wrote to the Straits Times Forum page recently complaining about this. In a phone interview elaborating on this, Ms Soh, who is in her 40s, said: 'They are totally uncalled for and give youth a very superficial idea about making friends and finding a partner.'

Orientation is held at the start of a school year in July and August to welcome freshmen. This year, the three universities here welcomed 14,700 freshmen.

Most camps are run by students and attendance at most activities is optional.

In the past, the trend was to subject freshmen to humiliating treatment such as having one's head dunked in a toilet bowl or having to do chores at their seniors' bidding.

Over the years, however, orientation has taken on a more sexual slant.

Unlike Ms Lee, however, many other freshmen accept such games as a time-honoured ritual and do not find them objectionable.

Ms Yvonne Ho, 19, a freshman at the NUS faculty of arts and social sciences, attended a camp run by Sheares Hall hostel earlier this month. Forfeits included touching the chests of males.

'I don't see a reason to get agitated. This is in fun and we laugh about it. There's nothing sexual,' she said.

Students from NUS and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) said their orientation camps often included risque games and forfeits. At the Singapore Management University (SMU), students said games and forfeits were milder.

Dr Carol Balhetchet, director of youth services at the Singapore Children's Society, said the young today are more confident.

'They are bolder and some set up situations to break social barriers, especially since those between ages 18 and 21 are beginning to seek partners,' she noted.

Said Mr Sam Kuna, family therapist and executive director of volunteer welfare organisation Teen Challenge: 'Normal games and old-fashioned ragging just don't cut it anymore.'

But sexually-charged activities can backfire if they are too extreme, he said. 'At least 70 per cent of students are conservative and these games could make someone more inhibited.'

Universities said they put a firm foot down on any demeaning activities.

Associate Professor Low Aik Meng, dean of students at SMU, said: 'SMU does not feel that ragging will help our students achieve the objectives of building collegiality, team spirit and a sense of belonging.'

A spokesman for NTU said the university will take action against students who overstep the boundaries of decency.

Over at NUS, a spokesman said that if the university receives complaints, it will investigate and counsel or discipline students.

However, some students and organisers feel that activities involving physical contact are no big deal.

NTU Cultural Activities Club camp programmer Choi Wen Ting, 22, said: 'These games are only small elements and can boost the spirit of the camp. University students are sensible enough to speak up if they are uncomfortable.'

This sentiment is shared by Ms Nadya Huang, 20, who sits on the executive committee of the NUS Students' Arts and Social Sciences Club.

'It's just for fun and we're all adults. I've never seen people do anything against their will.'

Rain of Madness - The video

This has got to be the hottest video of the moment.

It's a a spoof of the spoof within the spoof.

This video is about 10 mins 30 secs long.


New Paper
31 Aug 2008

Tropic madness

We round up the Internet sites or videos that people are talking about

What's the noise?

Rain Of Madness is a 30-minute fake 'making-of' mockumentary of the feature film Tropic Thunder, about a group of actors making a war film.

This send-up of Hollywood war movies and its stereotypes stars Robert Downey Jr, Ben Stiller and Jack Black.

Rain Of Madness uses all the styles of a behind-the-scenes segment in a DVD extra feature and 'chronicles' the insanity of Tropic Thunder's fictitious cast and crew and their struggle to finish the film.

Essentially, this is a spoof of the spoof within the spoof. It has hilarious pseudo-interviews with the cast and crew, including some bizarre moments with Downey Jr.

Rain Of Madness was shot in Hawaii using the same locations as Tropic Thunder.

It is directed by the latter's co-writer Justin Theroux, who stars in the mockumentary as German documentary producer/narrator Jan Jürgen.

Paramount put Rain Of Madness online alongside Tropic Thunder as part of its Internet viral marketing for the film.

What we say:

It sucked that we could not download the film as it was available only on the US iTunes site, so we turned to other video-sharing sites as well as the mockumentary's website.

Who would have thought Hollywood could take the mickey out of itself and do it well?

Film buffs would recognise this as a send-up of the 1991 documentary Heart Of Darkness, which chronicled the making of Francis Ford Coppola's problem-plagued 1979 epic war film Apocalypse Now, starring Martin Sheen and the late Marlon Brando.

I do hope Rain Of Madness does make it as an extra feature on the Tropic Thunder DVD release.

What people say:

'If you thought Tropic Thunder was funny, you have GOT to check out the documentary showing the making of the film - Rain Of Madness.'
- be

'A twisted and well-done riff that manages to add to the value of the existing film while deserving a life of its own.'

Sex addiction

This actually reminded me of a joke.

It is kinky when you do it with a feather. It's SICK when you use a whole chicken.

So when is it actually classified sexual addiction? Is it considered an addiction, only when it interferes with work and life?

I read a comment in a forum, a guy wrote that it is addiction only when the sexual activities disrupts daily life. Otherwise it is not considered addiction even if the person has numerous multiple sex partners.

Frankly, I dun totally agreed with that.

I have actually know of some guys who are sex addicts. They have about a different sex partner or more a week. Well, that's about 52 partners a year. And that is a very conservative estimate.

Most actually average about 2-4 partners a week. Which means about 100-200 plus different sexual partners a year.

Gosh, is that normal or ordinary? That is so freakish!

And it is not sexual activities if it does not affects the person life and work?

Stop kidding. 100-200 sexual partners is simply not the norm! It is too perverted and sick. Just because it did not interferes with normal living did not mean it is not sexual addiction.

It is sexual addiction when you cannot stop thinking about it or doing it. It may not interferes and disrupts life but when that is beyond the norms of normal people, it is sexual addiction!

How many people actually have sex with 1oo-200 people in a year! Even one different sex partner a month is not the norm!

I know a friend of a friend who was a sex addict. He was this gay guy who liked to frequent saunas and gyms. Every chance he got and whenever he's free.

And each time, he would have several multiple sexual partners. And he claimed that he used protection in all his sexual encounters.

Now he has Hiv. He was diagnosed last year with Hiv after a bout of sickness. He could not stop his sexual activities addiction and thus contacted Hiv from some stranger in some sexual activities.

Of course, he was full of regrets and remorse for his actions. For the first few months.

And then life was back to normal when he realised that Hiv is not that fatal in the short term and that he was not going to drop dead in the next few years.

His partner (yes, he has a partner for years) said that he refused to eat healthy, take vitamins or even exercise.

And frankly, I suspected that he was going back to his sexual activities. I am not that close to him, so I dun really know for sure.

I mean, could he really curb his sexual urges? Just because he got Hiv did not mean that his sexual urges died with the surfacing of the disease. His urges are still there, his addiction is still there, he is still as horny as hell.

Frankly, most young male adults in some point of their life has sexual addiction. But not in having real actual sex with other people, but more of a pornography addiction.

With the rampant surge of the internet, it is now so easy to view pornographic material online these days. And well, young men are sexually curious. They cannot help it. It's in them, their constant sexual urges.

And they may not be experienced enough to experience multiple sex partners, but that does not stop them from looking at porn contantly.

So when is sexual addiction, an addiction? Only when it affects normal life? Or when is it is not the norm?


The Sunday Times
31 Aug 2008

Just can't say NO to SEX

Psychiatrists here are seeing more sex-addiction cases, mostly men. Stress can be a trigger for such urges

By Shuli Sudderuddin

Just three years ago, psychiatrists here hardly saw what may be described as sex-addiction cases.

The situation today is different. Three psychiatrists interviewed said they each see two to four cases a year, most of whom are men.

The disorder made the news last week when it was reported that Hollywood actor David Duchovny, 48, most famous for his TV series The X-Files, was seeking treatment for it.

'Before 2005, I saw zero cases. Now I see two or three cases a year,' said Dr Ang Yong Guan, a consultant psychiatrist at Paragon Medical.

Experts said sex addiction is a disorder similar to other addictions and dependencies like alcohol abuse. There is seemingly no genetic cause for it and it may lie dormant in a person for years, only to appear when triggered by stress.

It also commonly occurs in people who are vulnerable to other addictions like drugs. It can take several forms, ranging from a constant urge to view pornographic material to seeking out one-night stands with, say, prostitutes. Some even indulge in fetishes like sex with objects.

Although some addicts have partners, they often seek external stimulation at the expense of their relationships as they may find their partners boring. The affliction becomes serious when one's social life or work is noticeably affected.

Several factors have contributed to the increase in the number of people being identified with sex addiction.

Dr Ken Ung, a consultant psychiatrist at Adam Road Medical Centre under the Pacific Healthcare Group, noted that the Internet has led to chatlines and easily available pornography.

Dr Adrian Wang, a consultant psychiatrist at Gleneagles Medical Centre, agreed and cited cases in which addicts were able to satisfy their urges online, from viewing pornography to contacting people for sex. The Internet has also led to more people being caught for their addiction as partners or family members can track the addict's history of visited websites.

The experts said sex addiction is more prevalent in men and that it cuts across social classes.

Dr Ung added: 'It is seen more commonly in men as they are more open than women in dealing with their needs.'

Dr Ang said that people who have experienced abuse or neglect may be more prone to developing sex addictions. 'Often, it manifests in people with shy, introverted personalities who have social anxiety and are under some kind of stress,' he said.

Added Dr Ung: 'People with high sex drives who use sex as a way of coping with life's stresses are also more prone to addiction.'

In women, sex addiction usually takes the form of highly impulsive sexual relationships like one-night stands. Sex addiction can lead to crimes like molestation or the stealing of fetish items like underwear.

There are various treatments, lasting from six months to a year.

Dr Ung uses a combination of medication like anti-depressants and therapy. In the latter, the patient has to imagine his arousing behaviour alongside consequences like getting caught. 'Sometimes, practical methods help. A businessman travelling often can limit the opportunity to stray by arranging to share a room with a male colleague,' he said.

Dr Wang teaches patients to focus on the negative impact of their addictions and helps them identify the trigger factors, which can be anything from low selfesteem to relationship or work stress. It is also important to improve their sex lives with their partners, who they sometimes find sexually boring, he said.

He had a case of a young man who was addicted to seeking commercial sex but seldom had sex with his own girlfriend. The man later learnt that sex with his girlfriend could be more satisfying if he abstained from commercial sex.

He added: 'Sex addiction is probably more prevalent than we imagine because it is less socially acceptable than addictions like drinking or gambling. People are still less likely to seek help.'

The grass is not necessary greener - Retiring overseas

To be continued..........


The Straits Times
25 Aug 2008

Two-thirds of S'poreans think of retiring abroad: Poll

By Theresa Tan

ALMOST two-thirds of Singaporeans have considered retiring abroad, according to a new study.

They are attracted to a slower pace of life and a lower cost of living, said the survey, which gauged how Singaporeans felt about getting older.

Dr Mary Ann Tsao, president of the Tsao Foundation, which commissioned the study, said: 'What struck me was that so many young people thought of growing old abroad. Singapore has so much to offer and it's a desirable place to live.'

The foundation, a non-profit group dedicated to helping the elderly, released the results of the online survey yesterday. It queried 300 Singaporeans aged 21 to 55.

The desire to retire abroad was highest among Singaporeans aged 21 to 34, three-quarters of whom have entertained the idea. In the 45 to 55 age group, only one in two thought about spending their golden years overseas.

But Mr Guy Hearn from research agency TNS, which did the study, said it is hard to gauge the true intentions of respondents. 'We don't know how serious those thoughts are,' he said.

Australia is a popular destination for Singaporean retirees, said agencies providing migration services. Cities like Perth, Melbourne and, increasingly, Adelaide boast large numbers of retired Singaporeans, they say.

Agencies that handle migrations Down Under say Singaporeans are attracted to the relaxed pace of life, the gentle climate and the fact that big-ticket items like houses and cars are much cheaper.

'One house in Singapore can buy you two bungalows in Perth,' said Mr Phillip Sim, one of the bosses of Ntrust Australian Immigration Specialists.

He estimates that there are tens of thousands of Singaporeans living in Perth. 'There are entire areas...that are filled with Singaporeans. People there have time to chat, cook curry fish head and invite their friends over. How many people in Singapore have time to invite people over to their homes?'

Besides Australia, Malaysia also houses a sizeable number of Singaporean retirees.


Meanwhile, the study released yesterday also found that:

# 60 per cent of respondents say they are prepared for retirement.

# 57 per cent say they are saving 'a bit' for retirement, but do not know if it is enough.

# 50 per cent feel uncomfortable with the support Singapore provides for seniors. Their worries include things like housing and social activities.

# 92 per cent of respondents said they do not expect to live with their children in their old age.

Dr Tsao said the last figure was a shock. 'This is surprising considering we are an Asian society where children have lived with their old parents for thousands of years.' She said many seniors have told her they fear becoming a burden to their children and do not expect support from them in their later years.

Sociologist Paulin Straughan is not surprised, saying values of the younger generation are very different from those of their parents. 'Children are not so much seen as social safety nets now,' she added.

The findings have serious implications for society, said Dr Tsao. For example, the state has to examine if there are sufficient services for elderly people who live alone.

'I think for many people, the cost of paying for health care in their old age is a big concern,' said Dr Tsao. The 53-year-old was born in Hong Kong, trained as a doctor in the United States and is now a Singapore permanent resident.

'I think people considering retiring abroad is a very real issue. I'm not leaving Singapore, but I have considered moving to the US to tap the social security system there, which will pay for the bulk of my medical expenses.'


New Paper
31 Aug 2008

Retiring abroad ain't bed of roses

By Philip

THEY are day-dreaming, those young Singaporeans who said in a recent survey that they wanted to retire abroad. A make-believe Utopian world is always more pleasant than the real one.

Harmless reverie, I suppose. A form of escapism when all roads here seem to lead to ERP gantries. But we need to also get real. It ain't all hunky-dory in the US. G'days come with bad ones too in Australia. And there's no milk and honey aplenty in Canada, Malaysia or China.

Who needs this reality check? The poll result showed that a desire to live abroad was the highest among those aged between 21 and 34.

They probably had in their young minds attractive lures such as cooler climate, cheaper housing, lower cost of living, wide open spaces and so on.

Pardon me, while I burst a few bubbles.

First, housing abroad is not as cheap as we once thought, except perhaps for sub-prime property. Nor is the cost of living. And by the time these youngsters retire, costs would have soared even higher.

A change of weather? Yes, spring, summer and autumn are nice seasons, although in many countries early spring and late autumn are as chilly as winter. Winters can be so severe that old joints ache, parched lips crack and aged minds go into depression.

The last is the result of a phenomenon known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is believed to be caused by the deprivation of sunlight during the short winter days.

I was a sufferer when I lived in Vancouver for 10 years. Some are afflicted year after year and may need exposure to artificial sunlight. Some feel suicidal.

When one has reached retirement age, making new friends is not going to be easy. Set in their ways, they cannot discard their idiosyncrasies accumulated over so many years on earth.

Idiosyncrasies and new friendships don't mix. Don't believe that everyone ages gracefully. Many are cantankerous, irascible, suspicious and anti-social.

At a time when you most need the sight of the familiar faces of family and friends, you'll find yourself among virtual strangers - living in a strange land and feeling like a second-class citizen.

I know of friends who migrated to the West years ago after renouncing their Singapore citizenship, only to regret this after a few years.

Immigration: Many countries in the west and in Australia today prefer young, qualified immigrants, not oldies with money.

So the picture is not as rosy as the young imagine. Let's hope they wise up.

- The writer is a seasoned journalist with decades of experience in various newsrooms. His enduring columns have been compiled in a new book, Fridays with Philip, and it is available at Borders, Kinokuniya, MPH, Times the Bookshop and Harris.


The Sunday Times
31 Aug 2008


Message from the dark side

By Linda Collins

Sometimes, you can tire of Singapore.

An expat starts to view his old life back home through rose-tinted glasses. He hankers for the familiarity of kith and kin. Or some Singaporeans might think the grass is greener.

Yet, leaving can be a mistake. I ought to know - I am one of those who succumbed to this feeling.

It was post 9/11, a time when Westerners felt vulnerable and unsettled. I lasted only eight months back home in New Zealand. Luckily, I was able to return to Singapore.

The weeks before my ill-fated departure were focused, not on what my new life would be like, but on buying things for it. The spending frenzy included: linen sheets (from Chinatown), value-for- money furniture from Ikea (the Swedish firm isn't there yet), and a claypot from a mini-mart.

But for my Filipino maid, homeward-bound preparations were somewhat different. One day, I found her carving a hole in a pair of wedge-heeled shoes. She comes from the strife-torn southern island of Mindanao, and explained that it is common for mini-vans to be held up by gun-toting bandits. She was planning to hide jewellery and cash in her shoes.

I thanked my lucky stars that it was unlikely anyone would shove a Kalashnikov in my face and demand money back home.

However, while that did not happen, returning to my home city of Auckland was a shock.

Within days of moving into rented landed property in an upmarket area, I received a phone call from a cop asking if I was Linda Collins. 'Yes,' I replied, puzzled. He said thieves were going on a spending spree with a credit card in my name. Copious purchases of jewellery and watches had triggered a credit alert at the bank. Turned out that my bank had posted me new cards - which had been intercepted either by a 'bent' postal worker, or by someone keeping a watch on my mailbox.

It was creepy to think of a crook staking out my home.

But that was nothing. It was the nights I came to dread. The real estate in the area may have been worth multi-millions, but the city fathers stinted on basic services like street lighting. At night, parts of the road were pitch black.

Outsiders would come over under cover of darkness, prowling around for houses and cars to break into.

As I lay in bed late at night, I could hear the guffaws and calls of teenage guys - no doubt high on drugs - as they made their way down the street, setting off car alarms. Their scampering footsteps resounded on the nearby public footpath and even past my window - they seemed to regard my backyard, in fact all yards, as handy shortcuts.

It was futile to call the police, who were usually too busy with boozy brawls and knife attacks. Problems involving just property came further down the list of their priorities. Still, I'd sometimes hear the whump-whump of a police helicopter - copper chopper, as locals called it - on night patrol, and be dazzled by its spotlight shining on our houses.

What I really came to dread, what had me awake at night with a lump of terror in my throat, was hoodlums banging on the doors and windows of the house. I would pray that the locks held.

Singapore is a haven of safety in comparison. We moved back, even managing to rent the same unit as previously. And we tracked down our same maid, who agreed to return to us.

The decision nearly killed her, though.

She had to pick up her flight ticket at Davao International Airport a week before travel. Fifteen minutes after getting her ticket, she was leaving in a mini-van when a bomb blast ripped through the airport. At least 15 people were killed.

We heard news of the blast in Singapore and were in agony before her relatives were able to tell us she was unharmed.

Six years later, we are still in the same part of Singapore, with the same maid.

In Mindanao, government soldiers battle the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Artillery rounds are crashing into the hills directly above our maid's town as I write this. Thousands of people have been displaced.

In New Zealand, our worry now is not crime, but the effects of Mother Nature on a rural holiday cottage we own. Severe winter storms this year caused coastal erosion, and part of a main access route to it has fallen into the sea.

In Singapore, my thoughts are on the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival. The neighbourhood holds a lantern-making contest for kids. Have I kept aside enough egg cartons for my daughter?

Ah, the luxury of small concerns such as this.

The writer is a copy editor with The Straits Times and has been living in Singapore for 15 years.

Ms Lee and the Table Tennis Drama Part 2

Ms Lee is such a hot potato. She is too hot to handle. Even her boss, Teo Ser Luck had to admit that this was his most draining task by far.

Ms Lee made some mistakes, caused some miscommunication and misunderstandings, simply by over reacting. And she did all this without any help from others. All by herself.

She has caused so much trouble that the very top dog of the ministry, Sports Minister Dr Vivian has to personally take over to resolve the issues at hand.

This is however no small laughing matter. A nation is at wrath. A sport is in danger. If left to Ms Lee alone, she could have make the situation worse. She could be that spark that cause the nation displeasure with the government.

So the government had to step in and settle it once and for all, instead of dragging it further.

And now even Teo Ser Luck is implicated. After this article below was published, with Teo saying this was this most draining task by far, there had been harsh online criticisms of his handling of this matter.

Some felt that this was actually not that difficult a matter and wondered if he could cope with the stress and pressure that comes with the political job.

And if he found this table tennis drama be such a handful, how could he handle the Youth Olympics in 2010?

Anyway, I used to think that Teo Ser Luck was a very cute fella. That was before he joined politics and was working in the corporate world.

But now, gosh, he seemed to age so much in just a few years. Now his face is all wrinkly and dry and old. He just looks like some ugly uncle.


The Sunday Times
31 Aug 2008

Ser Luck's 'most draining task by far'

By Terrence Voon

Resolving the table tennis debacle was by far the most draining task that Mr Teo Ser Luck has had to do as Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

He, together with Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Singapore National Olympic Council vice-president Ng Ser Miang, had worked feverishly the past week to settle the disputes within the Singapore Table Tennis Association.

Speaking to The Sunday Times yesterday, he revealed that he went home exhausted after attending Friday's pivotal press conference at the STTA.

'When the whole thing was resolved, I went back home. I put on some music and sat on the floor, not moving, for half an hour,' Mr Teo said. 'Since I took office, I have helped to resolve different issues. This was, by far, the most draining.'

Only the aftermath of the dragon-boat tragedy in Cambodia last year, he said, was more emotionally-taxing.

Paying tribute to Dr Balakrishnan, Mr Teo said the minister's personal attention had been crucial in bringing the table tennis saga to a close.

'Like the good eye surgeon that he is, he saw the issue, dissected the problem, dispensed the medication, and restored everyone's eyesight so that they could see the road ahead,' he said.

As public outrage swirled around the association, Dr Balakrishnan, Mr Teo and Mr Ng spent time speaking to the players, coaches and STTA officials. During the mediation process, numerous meetings were held and countless phone calls made.

Mr Teo confessed that he lost sleep during this period.

Said Dr Balakrishnan on Friday: 'In the course of my interactions with the stakeholders, it's very obvious to me that there have been some mistakes made, there was a lack of communication, there were certainly some misunderstandings, there was some overreaction.'

But as the talks went on, one common ground emerged: All parties wanted what was best for the sport and the country.

Even Gao Ning, whose outburst sparked the initial controversy, cooperated in the discussions.
Gao, Singapore's top male paddler, had suffered a shock defeat in the third round of the men's singles, after his coach failed to turn up for his match.

Said Mr Teo: 'I don't blame him for being emotional, especially after the Olympic loss. But when he cooled down and thought things through, we were able to find a solution to the problems.'

Following the mediation, as well as investigations by Team Singapore's chef-de-mission Dr Tan Eng Liang, it was decided that a dedicated head coach would be hired for the men's team.

No one was disciplined over Gao's incident. Explaining this, Mr Teo said: 'Gao Ning's case is about improving the process, not about finding out who's at fault.'

Following Friday's press conference, the paddlers, coaches and officials shared dinner at a nearby restaurant with their mediators.

It was a fitting gesture to mark the end of a traumatic week for the table tennis fraternity.

Said Mr Teo: 'It wasn't easy. But now we have all managed to cross the finishing line together. 'What is more important now is that the players and the coaches can carry on with their good work in the coming years.'

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Poor does not mean stupid

I was apalled when I read the the article below. Especially the part where the father had the revelation that the daughter thought that poor people are stupid!

Frankly, are these the thinkings of those children who are born elite?

The Straits Times
30 Aug 2008

How just our meritocracy?

by Lydia Lim, Senior Political Correspondent

Singapore needs to find a better balance so that social inequality does not become entrenched

ONE of my friends was shaken to the core when he realised recently what his daughter thought of poor people.

They were stupid, obviously, she told him. In a bid to educate her, he passed her articles about the challenges that children from poor families face, and how these can hurt their performance in school and prospects in life.

Deep in his heart, though, he wondered: 'How can my daughter have these views when I am an egalitarian?'

Recounting the exchange over lunch one day, he quipped: 'I almost said, don't let other people know you're my daughter!'

I recall his words as the debate over how scholarships are awarded - sparked by a comment from top civil servant Philip Yeo - enters its second month.

Undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships awarded by the Civil Service, Government agencies and top local companies are among the most prestigious, financially hefty and sought-after rewards in Singapore society.

They are said to be awarded on the basis of merit.

But Mr Yeo provoked controversy precisely because he argued that merit alone is not a good enough measure, as scholarship applicants have different starting points.

Young people from poorer families would have had to struggle harder to achieve the same results as their counterparts from wealthier households, and that should be taken into account, argued the self-described 'closet socialist'.

'In any society, in the bottom 20 per cent, you will have kids who are very bright but who do not have the same opportunities,' he said at a dialogue organised by the EDB Society and The Straits Times.

'If you want to be reasonable, you need to find ways to help these kids cross the barrier.'

The Public Service Commission (PSC), however, stood by its policy of awarding scholarships strictly on merit, regardless of family background. It said it imposed no limit on the number of awards each year.

'The PSC therefore does not discriminate against one applicant in favour of another on the basis of family background if all other factors are equal,' PSC Secretary Goh Soon Poh said in the wake of Mr Yeo's comment.

'If they are equally deserving and both meet the PSC's high standards, PSC will offer an award to both applicants,' she added.

Still, the exchange exposed one of the inherent contradictions of meritocracy.

As a system built on the rule of merit, it is often tied to non-discrimination, that is, selection for scholarships, jobs and other honours must be blind to race, gender, age or class differences.

But in trying to isolate merit, 'it can be a practice that ignores and even conceals the real advantages and disadvantages that are unevenly distributed to different segments of an inherently unequal society', argues political scientist Kenneth Paul Tan.

Dr Tan, an assistant professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, poses some challenging questions about how meritocracy is practised here in his paper, Meritocracy And Elitism In A Global City: Ideological Shifts In Singapore.

He warns that if relevant social differences are 'hidden beneath an uncritical, even celebratory, rhetoric of meritocracy (as blindness to differences), then the problem of securing equality of opportunity and a reasonably level playing field will be severely underestimated'.

That should give those of us who are wont to unquestioningly embrace Singapore-style meritocracy pause.

The significance of such differences is set to grow as income inequality stretches with globalisation.

The problem is not unique to Singapore. Britain and the United States are two developed countries that continue to grapple with the effects of merit-based selection.

Last week, news broke that leading British universities such as Oxford and the London School of Economics used indicators such as postal codes to discriminate in favour of applicants from poorer neighbourhoods, in a bid to level the playing field for candidates.

Critics said the move unfairly disadvantaged middle-class applicants and would lead to a decline in academic standards.

But top US universities like Harvard are taking similar steps to expand their intake of low-income students.

These include placing less emphasis on the scholastic assessment tests or SATs, which carefully-coached affluent students tend to ace.

Harvard admissions officers also visit high schools in poor neighbourhoods to encourage students there to apply.

Here lies a second contradiction inherent within meritocracy: that the competition and efficiency it incentivises can pull in a different direction from concerns about equality of opportunity.

Here in Singapore, we need to ask ourselves what the right balance is between these competing objectives.

One question that refuses to go away is: How just is our meritocracy?

Given that we are a society that prizes efficient outcomes, how can we identify and address the inequities that may result from current selection processes?

Is it time to review how scholarships and other honours are awarded?

How can we enhance equality of opportunity without too great a sacrifice in competitiveness and efficiency?

Nobel laureate Amartya Sen described meritocracy as an intuitively appealing but 'essentially underdefined' principle.

It is underdefined because much hinges on what counts as merit. And in a meritocracy, as in any other system, the idea of the good, and therefore of merit, is defined by that system's winners.

Those who have scaled the ladder to reach positions of influence have a duty to continually review the practice of meritocracy, to ensure it still serves the values of justice and equity upon which much of its appeal rests.

We need to get to firmer grips with how meritocracy works in our society if we are to prevent it from enshrining inequity.

Paper Planes that can fly for 30 mins

Damned. I found out about the paper plane work shop too late. I would have like to join the workshop, but it was already full.

Flying paper plane has been a late, new found interest of mine.

It all started 2 years or so, back when I entered a contest to win a car. The criteria to get into the final few contestants was to fly a self folded paper plane from a certain distance of about 3-4 m? into one of the front windows of the car.

I did not have any experience of folding a paper air plane. It was not one of the stuff I did during my childhood.

The paper plane I folded that day failed miserably. It flew a very short distance before it nosedived into the ground, far far away from the car.

It was embarrassing, not to mention humiliating cos there were about 20-30 or more other people watching at that time. And out of about a few hundred people, I think only about a dozen people managed to fly their paper planes into the car window that day. Only one walked away with the car as prize.

And back home, plagued by embarrassment, I did a search online and found some great ways to fold paper planes, so that they can fly more accurately and longer.


New Paper
30 Aug 2008

His paper plane can fly for 30 minutes

Defence agency brings US expert here for workshop

By Andre Yeo

ALL he needs is a piece of cardboard to create his own wind to keep his paper plane flying for up to half an hour. Another works like a boomerang and flies back to him.

Mr John Collins, 47, has been designing and making paper planes for 35 years. He has written two books on the subject, been featured on CNN and the Discovery Channel, and held numerous workshops in the US.

Now, even military people take notice.

DSO National Laboratories, Singapore's defence research and development agency, which is organising a flying machine competition with the Science Centre, felt he was the right person to pique the public's interest in aerodynamics.

And so, Mr Collins has been conducting paper plane workshops for the public - all fully booked - at the Science Centre since 23 Aug. He is returning to the US tomorrow after one last workshop.

Mr Collins, a producer at an independent TV station in California, told The New Paper that he developed an interest in paper planes when he was 6, and in origami when he was10.

He said he was amazed at what could be done with a rectangular piece of paper. 'It's an economy of resource,' he said. 'That you can use a piece of paper and make something so complex and beautiful.'

He said a crowd favourite was usually the Follow Foil, where a plane made out of phone book paper is kept flying, with him walking behind and holding a piece of cardboard beneath it. Air travelling over the cardboard helps keep the plane flying.

He has managed to keep one flying for half an hour.

Another favourite is the Tumbling Wing, which he invented. A piece of tissue paper, used in wrapping gifts, is folded in such a way that, as it descends to the ground, he can push air towards it with his hands and keep it flying.

His mind is constantly thinking of new designs and it's not uncommon to have 20 planes scattered all over his California home.

Ironically, his wife, Suzanne, 58, is a freelance organiser who helps people get rid of clutter. Luckily for him, she understands his passion for paper planes.

He said: 'It drives her crazy sometimes. Once, I had to take 1,600 planes with me to an exhibition and they were all over the house. 'It drove her nuts. She is the organiser and I am the disorganiser.'

They have a 23-year-old son, Sean.

Mr Cheong Siew Ann, 39, assistant professor at the Nanyang Technological University's school of physical and mathematical sciences, was at the workshop with his 31/2-year-old son, Ernest.


Mr Cheong seemed to be enjoying himself as he joined Ernest and at least 60 other children in watching Mr Collins' planes take flight. He said he and Ernest had looked up paper planes on YouTube when they learnt of the workshop through the Science Centre, where they are members.

He said he was amazed at what Mr Collins was able to do with a piece of paper.

'I found the Follow Foil the most interesting,' Said Mr Cheong. 'Usually, when people make paper planes, they don't need any tools (to make them fly). 'He used a piece of cardboard to make it fly for a long time.'

Marjorie Lee, 11, who was there with her father and brother, was also intrigued by the Follow Foil. She said: 'I had never thought it was possible to do something like that.'

Ms Lee and the Table Tennis Drama

Just as a heroine has emerged in the form of Dr Lily Neo, so has a villain appeared. And she is none other than Ms Lee Bee Wah.

Ms Lee is the exact opposite of Dr Neo. Just as Dr Neo is classy, elite and poised, Ms Lee is common, crude and very emotional.

And presently, she is the locally most hated person on the net forums and the most flamed online! There are dark storms of harsh criticism for her actions and blood curdling screams for her resignation from the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA). She was also called a wet blanket and a party pooper by many online.

Ms Lee opened her big mouth too big, too soon and put her foot in her mouth. And now, probably under intense pressure from her "bosses/government", she had apologise in public to the public.

Before her Olympics fiasco, she was well known for her infamously crude and colourful one liner in conservative Parliament. She had then criticised the opposition's call to delay the GST hike as a case of "ai pang sai ka che jamban" (looking for a toilet only when one needs to pass motion).

Some constituents and citizens more accustomed to prim and proper, polite prose in parliament, sniffed at that pungent note she struck.

Her reputation took some beating. People forgot the real issue or what she was trying to say but could only remembered what she said about the pang sai and jamban (pass motion and toilet). People did took notice of her alright, but for all the wrong reasons.

She is what is called "New Money" as compared to "Old Money". Old money means that money or rather wealth that has been in the family for quite a few generations. Like Dr Neo.

New money has been associated with new creation of wealth and status. And the people who came across this new money and newly found importance or status did not have the experience of using them effectively and hence tends to be more flashy, vulgar and tasteless in their expressions.

Of course, the above is a very common generalization.

I dun think Ms Lee would last very long in politics. She is much too raw and too emotional. And frankly, she is just too "grassroot" and common. Some people may want someone like them to represent them in Parliament but the real society is made up of many class status, not just the grassroots.

Her Olympic fiasco outburst revealed to her "bosses" her severe weakness and lack of political capabilities.

Any other person with half a political brain or any brain for that matter, would not have acted so rashly and irrationally. If she had truly wanted to get rid of the coach and the manager, she should have waited for a few weeks or even months when the spotlight is off the Olympics, and then sacked them. No one would have known better. Gosh, she is so naive at her age.

Instead, she had to do it during the Olympics, when the country is celebrating its victory of the silver medals, when the coach and the manager were both still in China. She opened her big mouth and told a reporter that heads would roll. She did it in the public media without first informing any of the people involved. She did what is called an "executive decision", which did not exactly worked out in any body's favor. She did the worst thing anyone could do in this case, she over reacted.

And now her boss, minister Dr Vivian had to step in personally to save the day and to prevent the whole matter from escalating further and spinning out of control. In PR speak, this is called crisis management or damage control.

Ms Lee is such a rash spit fire. And I guess, her political career is about as far as it would go. I dun think her bosses would be that pleased with her performance and behaviour. And she was barely 2 months into the job.

Just take a look at the photo below of Dr Vivian looking at Ms Lee (disapprovingly). Behave! He seemed to say. He was there in the background, watching her, like an embarrassed father watching a badly behaved, naughty daughter, just in case she shot off her mouth during the apology. Well, better be safe than to be sorry.

And now she's in a spot and utterly embarrassed and totally humilated. The coaches and players of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) dun quite know what to make of her. Her bosses dun exactly trust her to make the right decisions or say the right things.

When her bosses appointed her in charge, they thought she would be a breathe of fresh air with her enthusiasm. Instead, she turned out to be such a stormy foul smell. And the whole country is in protest with that BW odour.

Who knows what kind of scandals she would cause next time she open her big mouth in public.

With what she had done, she probably is going to be some puppet in STTA with no real authoritative powers. In a matter of months, her bosses are going to find a better replacement and boot her off.

Her heart and mind may be in the right place but her mouth is obviously not. And that does not always work in politics. Besides wanting to do the right things, one should also need to say the right things and not rub people the wrong way. Saying the wrong things and offending people amounts to career suicide. And this is particularly sensitive in the political arena.

Next time she wants to open her mouth or make any important decisions, she should think over it at least twice or thrice before she open her big mouth, put her foot in and offend the country again.

Careful, Ms Lee, the bosses are watching you. So is the country and the public.


The Straits Times
30 Aug 2008

I'm sorry, Singapore

By Lin Xinyi & Terrence Voon

'I SINCERELY apologise.'

Ms Lee Bee Wah, the president of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA), had those words for the country last night. Her comments last weekend, that she would replace the Singapore table tennis team manager, unleashed a storm of criticism and calls for her resignation.

In a quavering voice, she said sorry for souring the country's brightest sporting moment in almost half a century.

Facing a throng of close to 30 journalists at a press conference last night, she said: 'It is regretful that this situation happened and turned out the way it did. 'I had made comments which had been misunderstood and had upset some Singaporeans. I sincerely apologise for causing any grievances and any stress.'

She also said: 'Our action has dampened the celebration mood of our fellow Singaporeans.' With that, she brought to a close one chapter of an episode that sparked unhappiness from all quarters.

Since last weekend Ms Lee, an MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC, has been criticised by many for spoiling the party mood after the country's first Olympic medal in 48 years.

'I sincerely apologise for causing any grievances, any stress.' - Ms Lee Bee Wah, acknowledging that the episode spoilt the celebratory mood after Singapore won its first Olympic medal in 48 years.
'I can announce quite categorically that the crisis is over.' - Sports Minister Vivian Balakrishnan, who said he spent the week in numerous meetings with all concerned to sort out the problem. -- ST PHOTO: TERENCE TAN

Just five days after the women's table tennis team took silver at the Beijing Games, she revealed that team manager Antony Lee's services were no longer needed, and that national head coach Liu Guodong's fate would be decided by a coaching committee.

She had been angry after Singapore No. 1 Gao Ning found himself with no coach for his third-round men's singles match and crashed out to a much lower-ranked Croatian.

Ms Lee took over as table tennis chief barely two months ago, on July 4. Though many called for her to step down, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Vivian Balakrishnan made it clear last night that she will stay, but she needs some time to get results.

Last night's press conference, held at the STTA's headquarters in Toa Payoh, also made clear that head coach Liu is in talks with Ms Lee to negotiate a new contract.

But team manager Lee will leave the STTA. His secondment from the Singapore Sports Council to the association will be extended by three months beyond the end of this month. He will then join the Singapore National Olympic Council.

Dr Balakrishnan said: 'He's gained a lot of experience in dealing in international sports, and I want to leverage on that as we go on in our preparations for the Youth Olympics as well as London 2012.'

There was no question of Mr Lee being sacked, he said. The minister began the press conference by saying: 'Categorically, the crisis is over.'

He acknowledged more than once that the table tennis controversy had soured the celebratory mood of many Singaporeans rejoicing over the Olympic medal win. 'There have been some mistakes made, there was a lack of communication, there were certainly some misunderstandings, there was some overreaction,' he said.

He described the timing of Ms Lee's comments as ill-conceived, and said he had received many reactions to them.

Flanked by a sombre-looking Ms Lee to his right, and by Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Community Development, Youth and Sports) Teo Ser Luck and chairman of Project 0812 Ng Ser Miang on the left, Dr Balakrishnan said: 'Over the past four days, both Ser Luck and myself - we've met all the players, the coaches, all the key officials. I've had numerous meetings with the senior management and committee of the STTA.'

Also present were glum-faced silver medallists Li Jiawei, Wang Yuegu and Feng Tianwei, as well as the head coach, team manager, Gao Ning and other members of the men's team. They were a sombre group, who said little when called upon to answer reporters' questions.

Dr Balakrishnan praised them all for doing their best in Beijing. Looking ahead, he urged Singaporeans to trust in what the association was doing. He and Ms Lee said the table tennis team had a bright future - its immediate challenge is the Volkswagen Women's World Cup in Kuala Lumpur starting next Saturday.

He said: 'This is a team which I believe has great potential for the future.'

Added Ms Lee: 'We assure Singaporeans we will work harder to achieve greater heights, and I hope for their support.'

The next step? Said Mr Ng, a Singapore International Olympic Committee executive board member: 'Let's go back to our celebration.'


Today Online
30 Aug 2008

No amputation as ping pong row ends

Tan Yo-Hinn and Low lin fhoong

THE eight days that shook Singapore sports ended on Friday with the good doctor saying: “We have concluded that this was a patient that did not need an amputation.”

Instead, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan announced that:

• Liu Guodong will remain table tennis coach;

• Antony Lee will continue as team manager for three months, after which he will be seconded to the Singapore National Olympic Council (SNOC); and

• Lee Bee Wah will remain as the president of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA).

The Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports said at a conference to bring the table tennis controversy to a close: “Over the past four days, Teo Ser Luck, myself, all the players, coaches and key officials of the association have met and I’m happy to announce categorically that the crisis is over.

“Yes, some mistakes were made, there were misunderstandings and some over reactions.

“STTA president Lee Bee Wah was dedicated to achieving organisational excellence. She’s very passionate, and sometimes a bit impatient to achieve a good system for the players. Mistakes were made, the question is how we respond to it and minimise it, how to maintain team unity.

Ms Lee, who was visibly tired, apologised and said: “The Beijing Olympics were very emotional for all of us and I made some comments that were misunderstood and upset some Singaporeans. I sincerely apologise for any grievances and stress (that was caused). On behalf of STTA, coaches and team manager, I convey my apologies to Singaporeans. Our actions have dampened the celebrations of all Singaporeans. I hope this will bring about a closure.”

It was Ms Lee’s comments — that action will be taken against those responsible for the absence of a coach during player Gao Ning’s Olympics Games match in Beijing — that kicked off a storm of protests among Singaporeans. Their main point of contention was that Ms Lee’s public outburst spoilt the party for a nation celebrating a silver medal in Olympics, its first in 48 years.

Since the team’s return from the Beijing Olympic Games on Monday, several rounds of meetings with players, coaches and team officials were held with Dr Balakrishnan and Senior Parliamentary Secretary (MCYS) Teo Ser Luck.

It is understood that the players, coaches and team officials had frank discussions and patched up their differences.

Feng Tianwei, the 21-year-old who was one of the stars of the national women’s team silver medal feat, said: “We had discussions about this over the past few days and we’re all satisfied with the outcome.”

Her team-mates Li Jiawei and Wang Yuegu added they would abide by whatever plans the STTA had for them.

Gao Ning, the player at the centre of the storm, said: “For me, it’s over, and I’m focused on getting back to training and competing, which is what I do. I want to do my best as an athlete.”

Also present at Friday night’s press conference were Lee, Teo, International Olympic Committee executive board member and SNOC vice-president Ng Ser Miang, team manager Lee, and members of both the men’s and women’s teams.

Dr Balakrishnan added that the sport could learn from this incident, and hoped that it would spur them on.

“Sports is a reflection of life and there are very few things in life that unify all of us on the same platform. There may be criticism about what we have done but the vast majority of Singaporeans is happy,” he said.

“I would like to urge the public: Trust us and trust the team to get on with the process. Increasing interest in the sport — that must be the ultimate harvest and I hope it can show parents that a career in sports is possible. Let’s give her (Lee Bee Wah) some time to put her plans into place.”


Today Online
30 Aug 2008


IF YOU knew a little about Ms Lee Bee Wah’s background, you would want to offer her a shoulder to cry on. Not that she will take kindly to that offer.

The big boss of Singapore ping pong is known to be hiong (Hokkien for fierce). Fiercely independent and overtly rebellious, she can also be deliciously pugnacious. These qualities made her defy her rubber-tapper parents in Malaysia, use colourful Hokkien language in Parliament, and finally, become a party pooper in Singapore’s coming-out Olympics party.

Ms Lee — who took over as president of the Singapore Table Tennis Association (STTA) just one month before the Beijing Olympics — found herself in the news for all the wrong reasons recently when she publicly chastised the table-tennis team coaches and manager after Singapore’s top male player Gao Ning was left teary-eyed as he lost his Olympics match without a coach by his side.

Expressing her disappointment to the Singapore media over the incident in Beijing, Ms Lee, 47, added: “Someone will have to be accountable for this.”

She kept her word. A few days later, she shocked Singapore by announcing that the services of team manager Antony Lee were not needed any more.

“I have a new team and will have a new CEO and technical director. It is best that the manager is chosen by them. Antony is welcome to apply for the position when we ask for applications,” saidMs Lee, who captained her varsity table-tennis team.

Ms Lee had earlier made known her intention to steer the STTA away from its heavy-reliance on imported sporting talents to developing home-grown ones. But her latest proclamation sent shock waves not just through the table tennis fraternity but ordinary Singaporeans swept up in the Olympics euphoria.

Letters — mostly criticising her action with a handful supporting her tough stance — flooded newsrooms. The Internet was buzzing with reactions as well. A public tit-for-tat ensued as the head coach and the team manager decided to air their views, too.

Ms Lee subsequently tried to clarify that the review of the team hierarchy was already on the cards before the Beijing Olympics — but the damage was done.

In the words of Community Development, Youth and Sports Minister,Dr Vivian Balakrishnan: “Egos have been bruised, emotional tears and sweat have been shed.”

Ms Lee, a first-term Member ofParliament for Ang Mo Kio GRC, maintained that she did not think “there was anything wrong” with what she did, though she regretted speaking to the media as it caused her intention to be “blown out of proportion”.


Yet, this is not the first time that Ms Lee’s public comments — in particular her colourful language and combative oratorical style in Parliament — have caused a stir.

Flashback to February last year: Referring to the Thai decision to cancel an ongoing exchange programme between civil servants amid diplomatic tensions between the two countries, Ms Lee said: “Shouldn’t the ministry cancel all such programmes and channel the money to better use, such as, for example, expediting the lift upgrading programme in Nee Soon South?”

A few weeks later, within thehallowed halls of Parliament, she criticised the opposition’s call to delay the GST hike, slated for July last year, as a case of ai pang sai ka che jamban (Hokkien phrase meaning looking for a toilet only when one needs to defecate).

Her comments earned polite rebukes within the House and were frowned upon by mainstream media political commentators. When interviewed then, Ms Lee, who runs her own engineering consultancy firm, shrugged off the reactions to her use of unrefined language in Parliament.

“This is who I am and that is the way I talk. When I speak, I like to inject some humour. The phrase came naturally and I didn’t expect it to have such an impact.” “It’s not necessary to always use statistics and figures to make your point. We should make it more interesting so that people can remember,” saidMs Lee, adding that she felt she had an important point to make.


Throughout her life so far, Ms Lee — whose story is a classic rags to riches one — has always had a point to prove.

Born in Malacca, her parents asked her to quit school when she was 11 years old, to find work and help make ends meet. She refused.

“After that I had to take on all sorts of part-time jobs, including selling pisang goreng (banana fritters) to factory workers, to show I could study and work at the same time,” Ms Lee said in a media interview shortly after she was unveiled as a People’s Action Party candidate for the 2006 elections.

Arriving in Singapore in 1981 with RM20 in her pocket, she paid her way through university by giving tuition.

And that defiance and determination were needed even in her professional life in a male-dominated construction industry. Recalling how a potential client refused to work with her because he did not like female engineers, she said: “I have had to work hard to prove myself to some of those in the industry.”

Her grit has certainly broughtMs Lee, who is married with two teenage children, a long way. She was recently elected as the president of the Institution of Engineers — making her the first woman to head the national body representing the engineering profession in its 42-year history.

Her first foray into political work began in 2000, when her friend from university and now fellow Ang Mo Kio GRC MP Inderjit Singh dissuaded her from becoming a Nominated MP and instead, roped her in as a grassroots activist in his constituency.

And she has since carved a reputation as an all-action MP who is willing to “fight” — a word Ms Lee frequently uses to describe her political work — for her Nee Soon South residents. She also offered to adopt a stray mongrel in her ward after residents petitioned for it not to be put to sleep.

A grassroots leader in Ang Mo Kio GRC told Weekend Xtra that Ms Lee was “very patient” with residents, and would not hesitate to fire off letters to the authorities to air her residents’ grievances. Commenting on the table-tennis fiasco, he added: “Maybe she was a bit impulsive, her words were a bit too harsh ... but it was done on the spur of the moment.”

In her last few public appearances, Ms Lee has refused to comment further on the incident that had dominated the headlines for a week, stressing that the STTA committee will work behind the scenes to resolve the controversy.

Behind the scenes. That’s one phrase that Ms Lee will surely remember for a long time.


The Straits Times
28 Feb 2007

"Ah Huay" MP on her Hokkien humour

Newcomer Lee Bee Wah shrugs off criticism of her remark in Parliament, saying she was making an important point in an interesting manner. -ST

By Peh Sing Huei

NEARLY a week after uttering the Hokkien word for defecation, Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah is finding it hard to live it down.

"People are still talking about it," she said in mock exasperation on Friday. "They forgot all about the contents of my speech."

That is perhaps not surprising. Given the prim and proper tradition of Parliament, Ms Lee caused a ripple of incredulous laughter when she criticised the opposition's call to delay the GST hike as a case of ai pang sai ka che jamban (looking for a toilet only when one needs to pass motion).

She felt she had an important point to make.

Non-Constituency MP Sylvia Lim of the Workers' Party had questioned the need to raise the goods and services tax (GST) rate while public coffers were still flush with funds.

Ms Lee, unconvinced, wanted to argue that it was better to do the needful while the economy was doing well, and not when things take a turn for the worse. Her pungent Hokkien-Malay analogy was later declared "colourful" by Second Finance Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam.

Even before that, she had drawn riotous laughter when she prefaced her verbal tussle with Ms Lim by saying she did not mean it to be an "Ah Huay versus Ah Lian debate", playing on their Chinese names (Lin Rui Lian for Ms Lim) and (Li Mei Hua for Ms Lee).

"I still had to deliver my last paragraph but I nearly couldn't do it because everyone was still laughing," said Ms Lee, a People's Action Party (PAP) MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC.

One of her constituents, businessman Poh Phien Seah, 60, told The Sunday Times that he just loved the remark: "It's not too crude or rude. It's perfectly all right."

But not everyone took to her remarks kindly. She admitted that some people told her that they were shocked by such language. As another resident, housewife Tan Chor Hoong, 55, remarked: "It's Parliament. Shouldn't the language be a little more refined?"

Some, said Ms Lee, also wondered if the civil engineer with her coiffed fringe did it just to achieve notoriety.

Even her PAP comrade, Senior Parliamentary Secretary (Education) Masagos Zulkifli, told the House that there might be a more "elegant" way to make the point.

But Ms Lee, 46, and a mother of two, told The Sunday Times that she has no regrets. She readily admits that she is a chu ren (Mandarin for rough person). "This is who I am and that is the way I talk. When I speak, I like to inject some humour. The phrase came naturally and I didn't expect it to have such an impact," she said.

She also does not think it is inappropriate for Parliament. "It's not necessary to always use statistics and figures to make your point. We should make it more interesting so that people can remember. "My colleagues said that it's a good thing. I used to be called 'auntie'; now I am younger, I'm Ah Huay," she said with a laugh.

After her maiden Parliament speech last November, The Straits Times tagged her as an "auntie" who bites: She had launched blistering attacks on utilities and transport companies.

Indeed, despite just five months in the House, she has already gained a reputation as a straight-talking first-term MP always fiercely on a lookout for her constituents. For example, she said last month that since the Thais had cancelled civil service exchanges with Singapore, the money would be better spent on lift upgrading for her residents.

She also offered to adopt a stray mongrel, Blackie, in her ward, after residents petitioned for it not to be put to sleep. She said: "We are waiting to see if any residents want to adopt it. If not, I will. I don't have a dog. It will make my residents happy."

Perhaps a new "grassroots" MP in the making?

Thus far, none of the rookies has taken up the mantle of PAP MPs such as the likes of Mr Ong Ah Heng of Nee Soon Central - better known for their easy connection with working-class Singaporeans than their technocratic mastery of policy issues.

Ms Lee, who arrived here from Malaysia in 1981 with RM20 (about S$9 at today's rates) in her pocket and paid her way through university by giving tuition, has no problems being branded as such. She said most of the topics she raised in Parliament were first brought up by her residents - who are mostly HDB heartlanders.

"I spend time eating at coffee shops; I can talk to anybody," she said. "I don't mind being called a grassroots MP."