mental indigestion

AtoZ Challenge Theme Reveal March 23, 2015

Filed under: A-Z Challenge — mel @ 10:31 am
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The theme I’m setting for myself this year is probably the hardest one I’ve set yet. I am planning to write about my country, Singapore. It’s a place I don’t feel much for. This is an anomaly because as a highly sensitive person, I feel for so many things/people/animals/issues easily and can pretty much cry about anything if I just “reflect on stuff” or am having a bad day. But not Singapore. I don’t think I’ve actually felt a swell of national pride in my life. Why is this so? This is what I hope to explore during this year’s Blogging from A to Z Challenge.


Here are the parameters I’ve set for myself:

– Each entry will be 50 words. Firstly, because of time constraints. Secondly, because it ties in nicely with the fact that Singapore is celebrating 50 years of independence with a massive propaganda patriotic campaign called SG50.

– I’ll try to include a photo of Singapore with each entry (usually related to what I’m writing about), just so that readers popping by from other parts of the world will get a better sense of what this place is about.

– I anticipate that what I’ll be writing is poetic prose or proseish poetry, and possibly rather confessional and biographical. So, yeah, angsty stuff.

– I’ll be posting this on Instagram as well with the hashtag #sg50words. You can find me there @melanderings.


Stop being greasy about the oil spill May 29, 2010

Filed under: Mopey mops — mel @ 12:26 pm
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©2010 The Straits Times

While Crisis Communications 101 may teach you that it’s important to reassure and keep a lid on the panic pot, in the case of environmental disasters – there is simply no point trying to pretend that things are not as bad as it seems.

Widespread oil patches? Check. Cancelled water activities? Check. Stench of oil that reached beyond the coastal areas? Check. Lots of dead animals? Check.

With such apparent empirical evidence, and coupled with the fact that whatever is left remaining of Singapore’s eco system had already been in such a fragile state before 2,500 tonnes of crude oil spilled into the waters, no one is going to believe the motherhood statement that “environmental impact is minimal“.

For all that spewed rhetoric about environmental sustainability, renewable resources, garden city and “greening”, this incident has just shown that nature-related issues are only in the agenda of the authorities if it helps to boost tourism and the economy. What’s really needed at this point: good ol’ honesty about just how dire things are. And the whole nuclear energy thing may need to be reconsidered too since toxic waste disposal is obviously not one of the country’s forte as yet.

Post-rant note: Fortunately, certain members of the public are taking the initiative to lend a helping hand. Check this Facebook page on “ground-level”  updates on the situation, as well as upcoming clean-up activities.

Another case study of denial: Is Singapore the worst environmental offender? Yes says NUS study, No says the Government


In defence of Chinese teachers in Singapore November 29, 2009

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 11:07 pm
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Chinese teachers are the best teachers.

I get rather irritated whenever I read about the ‘sorry state’ of Chinese language standards in Singapore. Mostly because the blame tends to go all on the Chinese teachers themselves and how “boring” and “hopeless” they make the subject out to be. To me, that is absolute bull because I know that most Chinese teachers have a genuine passion for their culture and language and hence, are some of the most dedicated, nurturing educators I’ve encountered.

In primary school, I was put in this short-lived SPECHLL (no idea what that stands for, but yes, acronyms were already hip in the early ’90s) programme that was meant for students who did “considerably poorer in Chinese compared to their other subjects” i.e. jia kantang. This meant that we had to stay back every Friday for “enrichment” courses and sometimes, a moustached MOE inspector will visit and give us sparkly sharpeners. However, the biggest bonus of being in this programme was getting the best Chinese teacher in the school, Mrs Su, to teach us Chinese from Primary 4-6. I adored her. I LOVED Chinese lessons because she made lessons interactive and fun (e.g. teaching us to sing along to Faye Wong songs, watching “dramatic” Channel 8 Iraqi war news clips and getting our current affairs on par simultaneously) and took a genuine personal interest in our emotional and educational progress . I was totally motivated with her lessons and my Chinese composition skills improved so much such that one of my essays was even printed in the school magazine (before that my storyline was pretty much limited to a windy bright day with Xiaoming going to the market).

The point I’m trying to make is, it’s not so much the teachers but the system (as with most things in the world). I am still very much hopeless in Mandarin not because I hated the subject in school, but I just really wasn’t able to get much practice with the language thereafter. This seemed largely due to this not-talked-about-but-you-know-it-is-there-East-West cultural divide whereby:

a) My “kantang” friends take pride in how hopeless they are in Chinese (no guesses as to which schools they are from). Inversely, there is this subconscious condescension towards people who speak predominantly Chinese. Damn post-colonial hangups.

b) My “cheena” friends totally cringe when I attempt to speak in Chinese with them. There is this disdain of my “alien angmohness” and lack of pride/knowledge of my “roots”. So really, it’s not that I want to be “cheem-angmoh” but more like I don’t have the zi(1) ge(2) to banter in Mandarin with them.

I found that the only time I felt my Chinese improving in recent years was in Melbourne, where I made friends with PRCs who very patiently conversed with me in Mandarin (even when angstily bemoaning about dramatic relationship problems!) I truly felt a new intimacy with the language but that of course totally dissipated once I returned to Singapore and had the “don’t speak Chinese lah” label slapped back on.

The thing is, I really did and do enjoy learning Mandarin  and still read Lianhe Zaobao at my MIL’s place whenever I can. But if I’ve been relegated to “don’t even try being cheena” (with the exception to hawkers and taxi drivers), I think it’s going to be a while more before bilingualism truly succeeds in this country.


Flag this October 6, 2009

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 6:30 pm
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It’s amazing how two days of Singapore just swings you right back to busy-bee-dothis-dothat mode. However, refreshed buzzing is still better than pooped out flapping . You know that “pragmatic” is a severe underestimation of Singaporean practicality and efficiency when you see things like this:


Patriotic underwear

We thrive on simultaneous multifunctionality.


Pool of Pessimism April 2, 2009

Filed under: Life in general — mel @ 6:43 pm
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Why U So Liddat?

Why U So Liddat?

I read this article and was amused yet disturbed by the implications.

According to a survey by AXA, affluent Singaporeans are the most pessimistic in Asia when it comes to their future as compared to their counterparts in China, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand.  However, Singaporeans are also the least affected by the economic downturn as compared to the respondents from the rest of the countries.

The cautionary rhetoric spewing from local dailies has given this grey doomsday hue to almost every aspect of life. I know the employers love dangling these drippy dismalities to shut the traps of anyone who expresses dissent or possibilities of labour explotiation. I know the bank customers are getting aggressive, apparently to the point of bringing a chopper to wave at the manager if industry rumours serve correctly. I know of so many people who have switched motivational gears from raring -to go ambitious” to slumpy, shruggy just-don’t-retrench-me-can.

I just wonder if all this may be excessive.  I remember what CK told me, how in HK, life still seems pretty as-per-normal. It’s only when he got back here that he felt the despair and paranoia of the situation.

I guess this is just reflective of the worrywart kiasi culture that has given us the drive to be workaholics and got the economy running these past few decades. However, this culture is SO NOT suitable for surviving a recession. Just perpetuating this panic cycle  further through the media, the office gossip machine, the vicious online blame-everyone-but-ourselves-for-this-mess  is really toxic.

I kind of like how Khaw Boon Wan (go Sembawang!) told people to use this time to start exercising more. At least this is constructive and will give a nice punching bag outlet! I am not so hot about the going for retraining bit as I’ve been for TOO MANY useless courses to know what a waste of time and resources this can be and only makes one even more bored and sian with life (and the hellish e-mail load to clear post-training).

I think this is the time for (sincere) Oprah-wannabes, (talented) folksy singers with happy songs and (nice) gym instructors to come to the forefront  and give Singaporeans a bunch of reasons to have smiley faces.

Jaton, my happy Pinoy bro,  any other ideas?

I am no peppy Disney gal, but I will endeavour to write more Whee! category-type posts in the meantime. For sanity’s sake, if anything else.



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