Monday, October 28, 2013

PA's Headquarter is formal Victoria School

Formal Victoria School at Tyrwhitt Rd is now PA's Headquarter (HQ) with a new address - 9 King George's Ave. Perhaps the new address is because King George sound grand compare to Tyrwhitt, after all it is PA's HQ. It is a known fact that PA is link intimately with PAP. Its current chairman is PM, Lee (son). Their past 2 chairmen were our formal ex-PMs, Lee (daddy) and Goh.

The architecture reminds me of that of our National Museum, with the new building connected to the original one at the 2nd story by link way. The 2-story old school building is linked to the new 5-story one in similar way.

My 1st impression is it smells of insecticide - all the way from the building boundary to inside the building.  The place has lots of greenery, interior plants and landscape gardens.  This explains the generous spray of insecticide, to prevent any PAP 'big shot' gracing the HQ from being bitten. There are many folks attending PA organized activities and it would be embarrassing news should they get dengue from association with PA.  It is unthinkable that PA's HQ become another dengue cluster, just after the recent announcement that Orchard Rd - the popular shopping belt for tourists, has been infested by dengue mosquitoes. Matters not if human health is impaired by inhalation of poisonous insecticide and the killing off all other harmless insects, even if there is no mosquitoes around.

The new PA's HQ is tastefully landscaped.  This is a contrast to the formal Victoria School which was a gloomy dimmed building. The old school used to house the all boys secondary and mixed gender Pre-U students in one building.  After Victoria school moved to Marine Parade, it separated into 2 schools - Victoria Secondary and Victoria JC.

The old building was later used by some other educational institutions (Christ Church Sec School..?) for many years before being taken over by PA.  Hope the old school building would be preserved as part of our heritage for its architecture.  But then we never know, as the site is in prime location and with its large field, it is worth a lot of money should PA sells it for private housing development.  Perhaps this could be the reason PA 'invested' in it ?  Wonder how much PA paid for the site.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

1st upgrade of SMRT trains' motors since 1987 !

There is an article in The Edge magazine which highlights that Toshiba has secured a contract from SMRT to upgrade the drive systems of their 66 six-car C151 trains to PMSM (permanent magnet synchronous motors).

According to the article, it will be the 1st upgrade to the drive systems since the trains entered service in 1987.  Wow - that is 26 years long!  Wonder if the train services have not been breaking down so often in recent years, would SMRT plan for the upgrade ?

The impression we have of SMRT is that they will run their trains' parts and infrastructure to ground before spending money on upgrade.  Hopefully they have learned their lesson of saving pennies on maintenance and paying pounds in fine to the govt for public service disruptions.

We can look forward to quieter train ride in the near future as PMSM reduces heat generation, so there is no need for cooling fan or radiators, thus generating less noise. These new motors also consume 30% less energy. SMRT will have cost saving to off set their increasing operating expenditure due to bad management under their ex CEO and even under the current bunch of ex-army officers.

SMRT looks set to become a second career opening for army personals. What relevant engineering experience does army personals have in train operation ? Perhaps they can take over when times are good. In trouble time - likely they are just white elephants. The ex-CEO (with retail experience) who took over in good time, has run SMRT to its current pathetic state. So what chance does the current bunch of ex-army officers have in reinstating SMRT to its formal glory ?

As our govt is so supportive of foreign talents, SMRT should have gotten their key management team from train transport operators of Japan, Taiwan or HK instead of from our local army. It may help to resolve our escalating train woes.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Simple Pleasure in Life

ManuLife took up advertisement in MRT stations about planning to make sure we can enjoy simple pleasure in life after retirement.  A somber reminder that many S'poreans would not be able to do so in their retirement even if they meet CPF minimum sum requirement after working a whole life time.  The advertisement uses 2 examples - enjoying breakfast with your spouse and the couple going for annual holiday.

Breakfast : $6 x 365days x 25 year ~ $55k

Holiday :    $3000 x 25 years ~ $75k

With inflation, even skipping breakfast and just taking 2 meals (lunch/dinner) a day in heartland hawker center, $6 would hardly be enough even for 1 person in the near future.  What with household bills..etc, holiday is out of the question. The money has to go into food and other expenses to make ends meet for the retiree, especially if he/she has to support his/her spouse or elderly parent(s) as well.

This is the Hard Truth at ground level.

PM Lee's CC and FT

I lost my way while trying to locate Teck Ghee Community Center (CC) in Ang Mo Kio, as I am not a resident there.  I asked a passer-by its location, and was asked in turn if I was looking for Lee Hsien Loong's CC.

So now we have community center belonging to the PM ?  I suppose it just meant it is under his zone in the housing estate. Wah - this CC must be very 'famous' in Ang Mo Kio, I thought to myself, since it is referred to as PM's CC.

I was told to take bus 261 and asked the bus driver to inform me where to alight. I did exactly that, but unfortunately the driver is a 'foreign talent' (FT).  He told me he did not know and asked me to find out from the other bus passengers.  Sigh ! This is a common occurrence whenever we encounter FT bus drivers. We consider ourselves fortunate when he don't lost his way and drives around in circle.

Bus 261 is a loop feeder service with less than 20 bus stops, thus there is no excuse for any responsible driver not to know prominent landmarks (eg. CC, schools, polyclinic, market, shopping malls....)around the bus route.  Perhaps it is just that even a CC associated with our PM does not ring a bell at all to a FT. After all what is our PM compare to those leaders from Asian powerful country where our FT comes from.

What can be said with certainty is that if the driver is a local, he will be able to help me. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Burning of PSLE assessment books/paper

I read with disappointment that an adult could be so insensitive to the environment and the danger of fire to organize a books/papers burning session for children around his neighborhood.

Even after the bad spell of haze this year, it never occur to him that he is teaching the children wrong value.  There is a law prohibiting open burning. NEA should go after this man.

Besides, one of the things parents teach their kids is never to play with fire. This man who is father himself is setting a very bad example. If there is wind, and with so much highly combustible papers, the fire can get dangerous. Any one standing in the wind direction of the fire can be badly scorched by the flame. The ashes and dust could get into the eyes and respiratory track.

He should have think before he organized such foolish event for PSLE kids to let of steam. A better option is to gather the kids together in front of a recycle bin(s). Tell them to let of steam by tearing up the assessment books and papers before flinging them into the recycle bin(s). It is environmentally friendly, hazard free and does not compromise the children health.

Wonder why no kid challenged him on his suggestion of open air burning. After all, environment protection is one of the tested chapter in PSLE. 

Let there be more responsible adult(s) after next year PSLE, so that our neighborhood kids are not led astray by foolish ideas. Let there be more thinking kids who do not follow blindly stupid suggestion just because it comes from an adult.

What is the cause of fire at SingTel Bt Panjang Exchange?

I was curious as to the cause of the fire at SingTel Bt Panjang Exchange.  No wonder I was left in the blur, as reading Breakfast Network blog confirmed that the cause of fire is not reported. Is there some form of 'cover-up' by MSM ? Would not the cause of fire be one of the top priority of questions being asked by any decent professional reporter ?

If SingTel safety officer could not find the cause, surely SCDF is able to. So why the silent? Is the cause of fire too embarrassing to announce ? Poor housekeeping couple with infringement of no smoking policy? This is a sure recipe for fire. Or could it be poor safety practices on hot work procedure? Then again, if there no accumulation of combustible materials - a fire cannot start even with heat - so it points to poor housekeeping again. 

If I am not mistaken, the cable chamber should be relatively 'combustion free'. There should be nothing there except cables. Cable insulators do not burn so easily. There is likely combustible materials around it. So what is it ?

The standard of local news even in simple issue like fire reporting is disappointing. When it comes to govt policies and political issues - it will be worst as MSM tip-toe around these 'sensitive' topics. No wonder so many formal MSM readers have given up altogether and switch to internet for their daily news dose.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Came across 2 non-fictional books on the bringing up an autistic child.  Both the writers are female (mothers).  In both story, the autistic child is a boy and the setting is in England. They are born around the same time as both are in their mid to late twenties now.

The 2 books are :
- Living with Jonathan by Sheila Barton, who teaches and also works in other jobs.
-A friend like Henry"  by Nuala Gardner, who is a nurse by profession.

Jonathan was like any other babies but by the age of 7, he was locked in an inner world which seemed impossible to penetrate. This makes accepting his autism harder for his mother, Sheila. Though Jonathan is able to function with some form of independence, however one can still identify him as a handicap person. Sheila has 2 others normal children besides Jonathan.

Henry is a dog which helped to Nuala entered the world of her autistic child, Dale. She and her husband used the 'voice' of Henry to converse with their son. Besides their wonderful dog, they are lucky to have the right professional help. Dale functions pretty normal and one would not have guess he has autism. In fact, he is working with autistic organisation to teach and help autistic children now.

Nuala and her husband made use of Dale's obsession to teach him.  So when her son is obsessed with trains, they got him train set after train set and used them to teach him to recognize emotion -sad, happy, angry... faces.  Nuala has another girl who is also autistic. Dale is able to help his mum with his sister education as he has insight into his own conditions.

Both mothers had a tough time with diagnosis and getting their sons autism acknowledge medically so that they can get support and professional help. Both boys can turn violent and hit out at their mothers when they tried to help them. Their tantrum can last for hours. Their obsessions are often similar - with trains, cars - things they can line them up. They are fascinated with water. Repetition is the norm for these boys.

Early diagnosis cum intervention, right professional and family support can do wonders.  With Sheila, she was unfortunate to have met with 'damaging' professional help which might have accounted for the different outcome of the 2 boys in their adulthood in terms of functioning independently and socializing skills.

Dale has 4 grand parents who loved him and shared the burden with his parents. He is educated in normal schools and mingle with kids who did not even know of his condition. However, he struggled with Maths and English. Since English is a teaching medium, it means he had a tough time. This is because if a sentence contains just one unfamiliar word, it will throw him into confusion. For us, we can still guess the meaning of the sentence inspite of an unfamiliar word.

These 2 books are interesting read. In terms of style and narative skill, Nuala Gardner is a better writer.