Tag Archives: Singapore Matters

Singapore turning 50

2 Aug

Singapore is turning 50 on 9 August 2015! It is going to be a big celebration the coming weekend with lots of fireworks!

Did this sketch with markers of the various iconic structures, landmarks and things in Singapore which I like.

Make a guess what they are! Answers after the picture.

Sketching with Markers SG 50

From left to right.

Orchid flowers – Singapore National Flower is an Orchid. It also reminds me of the Singapore Botanical Gardens which has recently been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Esplanade – A place for the performing arts. Its exterior design looks like the shell of the fruit, durian. And we Singaporeans love durians!

Marina Bay Sands – I am still waiting for an opportunity to visit the Infinity Pool at level 57 of this hotel. The three towers of the Marina Bay Sands are spectacular pieces for the Singapore skyline and they provide free laser light shows!

Changi Control Tower at the Airport – The landmark that welcomes or bids me farewell as I go return or go overseas for a holiday.

Merlion – A mystical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. Singapore’s mascot.

SuperTree Grove at Gardens by the Bay

If you are visiting Singapore, do drop by these places!

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48th Birthday. Not Me!

10 Aug

Blowing Balloon

Yesterday, 9 August is Singapore 48th Birthday! Happy Belated Birthday Singapore! I did my first animated gif file for the occasion using Adobe Photoshop. Hopefully, I can do my own little animation in time to come.

For a nation, we are young. If we put it in human years perspective, it would be comparable to a young child perhaps. Hence, it is not surprising that we have yet to develop our national identity. We are still learning and exploring. Eventually, it will come to us!

I am thankful for being born and living in Singapore for so many reasons. Here are just some of them off the top of my head:

  • Clean tap water that is drinkable just from the tap
  • The lush green trees just outside my window and everywhere
  • A roof over my head
  • Peace and stability like safe streets, political and economical stability
  • Ready accessibility to the Internet so that I can connect to the World
  • International cuisine and local food that are conveniently located
  • A good education system so that I can read

Are there any shortcomings? Of course there are! The imperfections do irk me sometimes but it doesn’t stop me from loving Singapore. After all, I am imperfect too!

To more great years ahead, Singapore! 🙂

PS: This is my 101th post!

The bus that came late

5 Dec

Comic Strip: Strike in SingaporeLast Monday (26 Nov 2012), 171 SMRT bus drivers from China took absence from work in protest of unfair wages compared to their Malaysian counterparts and the poor accommodation conditions. More than half the number also did not turn up on for work the following day. This led to disruption in the bus transport services. For the background story, read this yahoo news.

The strike is definitely of interest to local and even international media as Singapore is generally a peaceful country, with the last strike in the 1980s. Because of the media reports, we are reminded that starting a strike in Singapore is illegal for essential services such as healthcare and transport services unless employers are given 2 weeks notice.

Five of the drivers have since been charged for inciting the illegal strike and 29 Chinese nationals who took part on both days of the strike were sent back to their homeland. Notwithstanding whether the issue lies with the employer or the employees, in my view, enforcing such laws against strikes are crucial to maintain the order and peace in Singapore. May this incident deter anyone from starting strikes in Singapore.

In my previous post “Cupcake Quotes: Ostracism and Discrimination“, you would have a sensing that I am receptive to foreign talent and genuinely hope that the negative sentiments against foreign talent die down even though the main point for that post is to express my love for cupcakes. Unfortunately, no matter where, there are going to be some people who likes to stir matters up, making things worse instead of helping to resolve matters and the five for inciting the strike belongs to this category.

I do hope that people who follow the news don’t see this matter as an incident of how foreign talent are disrupting lives in Singapore but rather to come to terms that certain services we take for granted like public transport are actually operated by foreign talent and we should be thankful for their presence. In addition, I hope people recognise that there are foreign talents who are marginalised in Singapore with low wages and living in poor conditions. We should practice compassion instead of discrimination.

I suppose the management of SMRT has quite a few areas to work on, from the simple ones like improving accommodation and room allocation to the tough ones like repairing the employer-employee relationship and trust.

However, there is more to that. What strikes me (pardon the pun) from this incident is the importance of communication and that is applicable to all employers and employees.

SMRT feels that it is fair to pay a lower wage to the drivers from China compared to the Malaysian drivers as free accommodation is provided for the former. However, the rationale for the wage difference is not communicated clearly across to the foreign drivers. The participants of the strike want to let their employer understand the grievances they faced but chose an extreme mode of communication that may not be in their best interests. It is poor communication from both parties.

How does this translate to all employers and employees?

For employers, I suppose the common human resource policy is for employees to keep their pay confidential to avoid wage comparison. But people talk so that policy rarely work. To me, it is really tricky to have different pay packages if employees are essentially doing a same or similar job. Unhappiness is bound to arise from the lower pay employees and if a reasonable explanation acceptable to the employees is not given, they may rationalise it negatively like in the SMRT’s case, that the wage is unfairly given because of their nationality.

Another possible area for employers to tread carefully is wage differences for fresh university graduates and poly diploma graduates that has years of experience doing the same or similar job. If the poly diploma employee is with the organisation for a few years and a fresh university graduate comes in with a starting pay that is higher, seeds of unhappiness is going to be planted. Sadly, this is the reason why some of my poly friends chose to leave the civil service as they feel their career path is limited in the civil service due to their education background.

Personally, if I am an employer, I would opt for clear and transparent communications to justify for the differentiation in pay for same or similar jobs and ideally the pay should be based on meritocracy. If as an employer, one cannot clearly explain why there is a difference for people doing the exact same job, then that is a problem!

For employees, I suppose if there is any issue that one feels strongly about, do take a few steps back from the emotions and do a bit more fact-finding to consider the perspective of the employer. There may be an underlying rationale for the issue which the employer may have failed to inform you. Choose an appropriate way to communicate and discuss the issues so that it is more constructive rather than destructive.

Well, the saying goes “it is easier said than done”. But in my view the art of communication is really not that easy!

Cupcake Quotes: Productivity

18 Nov

Cupcake Comic Strip

I hope you are not expecting me to leave cupcakes lying around. It is not my style. 🙂

Anyway, the Singapore Government is advocating for businesses to increase their productivity so as to reduce the businesses’ dependence on foreign talent. For the overall big picture, increasing productivity is a good thing for the economy, the businesses and the consumers.

But what does productivity mean to an employee?

Increasing productivity would probably require changes to be made by the employee. Tasks that an employee is used to doing and doing well may no longer be relevant. On the other hand, the employee would need to learn skills to cope with the new tasks to stay productive. The extreme would be some employees would be let go from jobs that are no longer relevant. While others who are adaptable to changes would be able to tap in the opportunities created from the new job functions.

So I’m jotting down these two points in this post to remind myself how to survive in this pro-productivity era. They are to remain flexible to changes and to create new value continuously. Failing either, I may be the one that is left behind.

Cake Quotes: Hiring Locals

16 Nov

Cupcake Comic Strip

Some businesses are definitely feeling the heat from the Singapore government’s policy changes on hiring foreign workers. Read more about it from this article on Channel News Asia.

From what I can remember from my Economics lessons back in school, if one meddles with the market forces, that is the demand and supply lines, the market forces would eventually correct itself. Cutting the supply to the pool of foreign talent is going to raise the hiring costs of businesses. Who knows for sure the businesses’ strategies for managing the higher costs. However, given that most businesses subscribe to capitalism, expecting businesses to accept lower profits is more like a comic strip ending. Unbelievable.

More real life possibilities are:

1) Maybe the costs are passed on to customers as higher prices? Come on, cupcakes are comfort food and should be priced similar to daily essentials like rice and water!

2) Or businesses bullies the existing staff to take on more job responsibilities without hiring a new staff. Cupcakes need to be made from love, not by tired and worn out chefs who holds a grudge against the company!

3) Or worse, businesses decide to relocate to countries with cheaper costs, doing away with jobs in Singapore all together. I need to air mail cupcakes in? No way!

While this may be a figment of my imagination, on the safe side, I think I better start learning on how to bake a good cupcake.

Useless fact about me: If I got the Economics wrong in this post, don’t flame me for it. I was never good at the subject and dropped out of it.

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