Saturday, October 31, 2009

On Addiction, Medical Check Ups &........

The power of addiction is fearsome. It can over right logic and common sense. Let us just take the example of smoking. One of my uncle smoke his way to near death before he gave it up (he had since joined his creator some years back).

His health had been deteriorating over the years due to his habit. His doctor had warned him about it but addiction overcomes logic. It took a near death incident where he was gasping for breath before he gave up smoking.

Apparently to a smoker, the horror pictures of rotting lungs, tongue...etc have no impact. Scientific evidence relating smoking to health carries no weight either.

I have this friend who goes for 'tons' of medical examination every year - voluntary. The reason is - she wants to carry on smoking. Instead of taking preventive measure by having a healthy lifestyle, she chooses to have early detection instead.

Sometimes I wonder if some folks confuse prevention with detection. With medical advancement, there are so many medical tests available and being 'marketed' as part of healthy lifestyle. Now going for medical checkups is just like taking health supplement.

Do we really need all those health supplement if we are healthy and our diet is balance ? Do we need all those medical examinations (more tests done than necessary) if we are healthy ? Perhaps this is part of the trend and lifestyle of a developed nation.

Doctor And Specialist

This is a follow up post on my recent experience consulting a medical specialist. I heard from my friend and another colleague that they or their family member had similar experience.

They were told to do more medical tests and refer to other specialist for further medical examination. Are our doctors over 'concern' about our health or are they just 'playing safe' ?

My friend further medical examination by another specialist is still pending, while my colleague mum was wrong diagnosis inspite of all the checks. When his mum's condition did not improve, he consulted another specialist. He discovered to his horror and anger his mum has been given the wrong treatment due to the 'mis-diagnosis'.

Now our government is 'shortening' the path to medical degree by reducing the years required to qualify as a doctor. Wonder what will happen then - more check ups and probe by more specialists before the doctor can give us the correct diagnosis ?

The Haze Is Still Around

Another Haze Meeting by Asean Government, but the Haze is still here !

For many years our Asean government representatives have been meeting to discuss on the haze issue cause by Indonesia forest fire. Yet every year, we still have the haze ‘season’.

It is reported again in the media that members of ASEAN have agreed to hold a haze prevention forum annually to address the problem of land and forest fires. What is ‘new’ this time is that Singapore introduced the forum this year, bring together heads of local governments and international non-government organizations to share best practices in preventing haze.

Suffering citizens of ASEAN countries need strong legal action by ASEAN government against erring country and/or plantation owners, not just best practices. What we want is concrete action and not just talk year after year. The government of various nations is aware of the enormous health and economic impact of the haze and yet they let their citizens endure the haze for years.

To read that Singapore is taking the lead in the matter is an irony. It has just been reported that our government will not be one of the signatories to reduce global carbon emission.

One of the reasons given is that the scientific evidence of global warming due to carbon emission is not conclusive.

Is not the annual haze in Singapore evident of carbon emission causing global warming ? The temperature rises to uncomfortable level every year during the haze season due to forest fire in Indonesia, which releases tons of carbon dioxide. We experience it physically. We do not need rocket science to prove it.

S'pore Giving Lip Service To The Green Movement

Is Our Government Giving Only Lip Service To The Green Movement ?

I read with dismal that Singapore will not be one of the signatories to reduce global carbon emission. The reasons given by our government are :

1) being a tiny speck on the global scene, our carbon emission does not have much impact compare to other countries
2) it would affect our economy
3) the scientific evidence of global warming due to carbon emission is not conclusive

These are short-sighted and selfish views unbecoming of a developed progressive nation that claim to support the green movement. Here we have our MPs going around planting trees every year. But when it comes to concrete commitment, our government shy away from it. Is our government only paying only lip service to the green movement ?

These are my take on the reasons given by our government :
1) If every country holds such view, what will become of future of mother earth ? Besides,we have been taught that every little effort by an individual makes a difference in conservation of our environment.

2) If our economy is not doing well, it will affect the general election result. So perhaps this is the real concern of the government - their votes in the general election ?

3) Is not the annual haze in Singapore evident of carbon emission causing global warming ? The temperature rises to uncomfortable level every year during the haze season due to forest fire in Indonesia, which releases tons of carbon dioxide. We experience it physically. We do not need rocket science to prove it.

This whole event reminds us of the recent financial crisis. There were evidences that everything was not well in the financial sectors for years and yet everyone was in denial and did nothing until it was too late. So now we are heading for an environmental crisis in the near future due to short sightedness of the government.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Be Proactive When You Consult Your Doctor

I went for a medical consultation recently. After the visit to the specialist, it made me realise that we have to be active in our ‘discussion’ with the doctor attending to us.

What happen is that I suspected my hormonal level is unbalance as I notice that I am easily irritated and dead beat by the end of the day. What is more worrying for me is that my temper flares up too. Normally I am perceived as ‘cool’ by those who don’t know me well, though my friends know there is the other side of me. Besides, I use to be energetic and now I can hardly keep awake after 10 pm.

I just wanted to do a blood test to confirm my hormonal level. But the specialist wanted me to do a scan instead. I told him I will do so if the hormonal result is normal. Next he wanted to send me to another specialist for further checkup. I repeated my request, I wanted my blood tested first.

No point doing all these if the root cause is hormone. It will just mean the route to diagnosis takes a big loop and more $$. Sigh - forgot to mention, he recommended to do some other tests too.

The way I see it is- there are so many medical tests that can check for the well being of the various parts of our body and organs. How to do them all?

It makes me wonder if this is the trend - to get the patient to do as many tests and see as many doctors as possible.

To me taking care of our diet and exercising regularly are true preventive measures. Early detection through medical test helps but it is after health issue has occurred. Besides, it does not make sense to me to get ourselves probe all over if we feel fine and confidence of our well being.

So next time you or your family members consult a doctor / specialist, be proactive and ask questions. Take part in the decision making process and not just leave it to the doctors.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Mother Of All Hubs

There is this joke about Singapore - we want to be the Mother of all Hubs. There are so many over the years : Financial, Education, Semiconductor, Bio-Techonology, Life Science,.....etc.

Last Saturday, I just learn that we are now aiming to be the Human Resource (HR) Hub for the region. Well, we are indeed bless by our strategic location in Asia, so no wonder our government is forever 'aspiring' to be the 'Mother' of all Hubs.

Ms Low Peck Kem, Director from Ministry Of Manpower gave a talk at SIM annual convention regarding Managing Human Capital in the Perfect Economic Storm. The title sounded so interesting that I signed up for it. But it was a disappointment, I had problem keeping awake.

Her name sounded familiar to me. Ok - I am not too good with names. When she mentioned that she used to head HR in Agilent - then I recalled she was with Hewlett Packard when I was working there. Think when Hewlett Packard 'split' she went over to head Agilent.

Ms Low is using her experience from her years working in MNCs to raise the local HR profile by inviting a number of world renown HR experts to conduct talks and seminars and hoping they will set up 'shop' in Singapore.

I was thinking to myself - well, all these seems fine except that isn't it an irony that we cannot even get the basic right regarding minimum wage for low income workers and foreign workers getting a raw deal or cheated by their agents and/or bosses...and here we are aiming to lead the region in Human Resource development. It heightens my sense of awareness of the disparity within our work force. This is reflected in the widening of income gap in our working population in recent years.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Deja Vu - talk on S'pore landscape photography

Last night I attended a talk at National Museum. Have not been there for a number of years. It has undergone major renovation. The exterior looks the same, but the interior - looks very different - modern and has this futuristic look.

The talk is about early landscape capture through photographs of S'pore. The speaker, Jason Toh is the Curator of National Museum since 2004. It was an interesting talk. He chose the title Deja-Vu which in French means something in the past which seems familiar to us currently. This is how he felt looking at the old photographs of S'pore.

The speaker touch on the process of photography too. He spent some months oversea just to learn about the 'old' photography techniques. In the old days, photography used to be a profession more than a hobby as it was very tedious work developing photos in the past.

Photography is invented around 1830's. The French were the 1st to photograph S'pore landscape. Then later, the profession was taken over by Germans. There were no Chinese photographers until 1920's. The German left after the 1st World War. It was only then did Chinese photographers make their present felt.

In the old days, one could take photo between 11 am to 12 noon, when the lighting was the best. Could not take pictures of moving objects as the technique was not there yet - the images would all be just a blur.

Seems like S'pore has one of the earliest photos taken in Asia - just a few months before China. The reason is the French photographer stopped at S'pore en route to China.

The reason I like to attend talk /seminar is because just in an hour - we get to know things that the expert takes months or even years to research. Reminds me of the Chinese saying - 10 years of training /practise below stage, just to prepare for 10 mins of performance on the stage. Listening to Jason, I could tell the vast amount of research done. In fact, he has written a book on this topic.

We learn from experiences of others. Experiences take years to acquire. We only have one life time, hard to acquire experiences in many fields. But by listening to these professionals, we get to acquire knowledge in many areas.

I have discover since last year that we do not need to pay a bomb for professional talks. Some of these good talks are FOC - just like the talk I attended last night at the museum.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Esplanade - World Class ?

Anyone who has attended a concert or a play is likely to remember how closely pack are the rows of seats. There is hardly any leg room.

I often wonder how Esplanade theatre with 2000 seats and its concert hall with 1600 seats could be approved under fire / safety regulation. If there is any fire or emergency, there will be chaos and likely the fatality rate will be high since escape is hinder by the poor seats arrangement.

Those who are tall, once seated down, their knees will be touching the row in front. Even a small build person like me find it uncomfortable, with hard any leg room to stretch my legs for the average 2 hours program. It reminds me of the economy class seats in commercial flight.

Singaporeans have the habit of not arriving on time even for concerts. This causes alot of inconvenient to those who are already seated. Besides, late comers are endangering themselves too. Yes, it is a hazard just making your way to your seat. I often have seen late comers tripping over the feet of seated patrons and losing their balance in the process.

There is no doubt the acoustic and sound system are top-notch. But we are talking about a $600 million project - why so little consideration is given to fire / safety and audience comfort ?

Walk into any cinema under Shaw, Golden Village, Cathay....etc. the leg room between two rows of seats is wider than Esplanade concert hall and theatre. I am sure these private organisations are profit orientated too. At least they do not sacrifice patrons safety and comfort in the process.

I still wonder how on earth such seats arrangement could pass fire safety regulation. If such seats arrangement comes from the local cinema operators (which have much smaller seating capacity than Esplanade) would it have been given the 'green light' ?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Hard Sell As Cover Up

All the hard sell by the government on the lift upgrading program is to cover up the short sightedness in public housing planning. This is nicely sum up by WP's Sylvia Lim's reply to the recent unfair treatment of estates under non-PAP governance.

' is to rectify a design flaw in public housing which does not cater for an ageing society. Given this imperative, the public interest should trump politics.'

To read the actual write up, go to this weblink :

Seems like our government is pretty good in 'covering' up mistake with new policy which is suppose to be good for us. Is it ?

The policy on 'Stop At Two' resulted in drastic decline in birth rate over the years. To rectify the suitation, we have the foreign talent and immigrants policies. Our target population growth is 6 million. Can our basis infrastructure support the escalating population growth ? For example buses and MRT trains are so crowded that they are now design for more standing space. Seats are reduced as they take up more area - and here we are talking about an aging population. Is this not an irony ?

Do those at the top know what is happening at ground level ? In recent years, the trains are crowded even during off peak hours. During weekdays, only those at the 1st station like Pasir Ris could have a seat. The train is already jam packed at the 2nd station, which is Tampines.

So looks like what the government want is quantity. Is not quality of life more important?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Part 3 - Is This Acceptable ?

I have been in the Safety industry for more than 10 years. I have seen different standard of housekeeping. I just find it hard to accept poor housekeeping coming from the teaching profession.

The picture shows a teacher's workstation. Even the chair is used for 'storage'. How to work if one cannot even sit down ? So much accumulation of materials will only increase the fire load of the building.

The college has been given a warning during routine inspection by SCDF this year. As SCDF only does spot check, there are many areas in the college that are potential fire hazard which were not covered during the inspection.

The irony is - the Head of Dept room is the 'target' of SCDF warning notice.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Part 1 - Is This Acceptable ?

Lead, care and motivate.This is the directive set by MOE for the teaching profession. Lead by examples. Is this the standard of housekeeping practices an insitute of learning sets for its students ? It reflects the lack of discipline. How can we accept this coming from teachers who are suppose to instill discipline in students ?

Housekeeping is the foundation of fire and safety control
.This college is planning for 6 years comprehensive education program. This is a long window period for students either to inculcate good habits or bad ones. Having a future workforce lacking in safety consciousness is the nightmare of any company.

If this the 'norm' in schools, no wonder the industry has a tough time inculcating safety consciousness in the workforce.

Is This Acceptable ? (Part 2)

Students may ‘model’ after teachers they respect.There is no doubt that some of these teachers have great personality and are good teachers. But this does not meant that their poor work habit is acceptable.

It is troubling to note that those involved have no intention to improve the situation as they seem to be comfortable and accept it as the ‘norm’. This reflects on the attitude of the occupants. Is this the culture an insitute of learning wishes to perpetuate ?

Leaving Carbon Footprint While Promoting Green Movement

I read with amusement the feedback on "Parking cordon as bad as tissue paper reservation'' on 8/10/09. The tissue paper is in reference to S'porean 'particular' habit of reserving seat at crowded hawker centers...etc with tissue pack while they get their food. So now even our MPs are doing it, only the 'technique' employed is different.

A Member of Parliment and his Bishan/Toa Payoh GRC are planting trees as part of Singapore effort in the Green movement. 20 parking lots were reserved for them for the tree planting event. Is this not an irony ? They are leaving carbon footprints while promoting a green movement.

Besides, where is the consideration for the public by causing so much inconvenient ? So many parking wardens deployed just to reserve parking lots for them - is there misuse of manpower and public fund ?