Je Suis Singapourien

As with many others in Singapore, I wouldn’t have noticed what was lacking in the local rags’ reporting of the Charlie Hedbo massacre. Once I was alerted to it, I got really upset.

You had to scroll down at least three-quarters of any of the papers’ stories before you saw any mention of the murderers’/terrorists’ ideology driven motives. It’s very easy to think it’s ok to think, “this is a sensitive region, we’re in a sensitive time, some idiot wrote some shit on their Facebook and so we shouldn’t inflame things further, so let’s shut up about religion and ideology for now”.

It is a most shameful silence we are perpetrating if we don’t really come out and speak out against people killing and spreading hate in the name of their religion. So please, come off it, and know that saying it like it is will protect, not harm, our Muslim fellow citizens from people who will by all means take the Charlie Hedbo massacre as a reason to deny them of theirs and our right to practice our religion.

If our press keeps going on like this, you’d imagine they would have described the Holocaust as merely “six million civilians killed in conflict”.

Stand up, Singapore! “Regardless of language, race or religion” doesn’t mean we disregard them.

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Before We Got Kai Kai & Jia Jia

Stoned Kai Kai & Jia Jia - Haw Par Villa (via Expat Bostonians)
Stoned Kai Kai & Jia Jia – Haw Par Villa (via Expat Bostonians)

With so many new attractions every year, it’s easy to forget we have an awesome theme park in Pasir Panjang that’s been around since the 1950s. I last visited in 1974, and I think it’s got something to do with the theme of the theme park. It’s NSFW. Actually, it’s pretty much NSFAnything.

Here’s what Cory Doctorow saw in 2005 when he was in Singapore. Haw Par Villa was one of two hellish places he visited. The other was Sim Lim Square.

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Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas #4: Upcycled Licqour Bottle Glassware

A friend of mine has done several bars around the world a favour by taking empty alcohol bottles off them and turning them into up cycled glassware.

My favourite are the Grey Goose Vodka glasses, which come in two sizes:

Pretty tumbler
Pretty tumbler
Rocks
Rocks

Prices start from $20 and they can be bought by emailing for an appointment to check out the glassware.

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Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas #3: Xiao Ming (Chinese Compo) T-Shirt

The perfect gift for those who struggled with CL2 essays: A t-shirt with pre-filled first sentence.

Xiao Ming T-Shirt

Get them while stocks last at A Naiise Christmas Pop-Up Store: 72-74 Dunlop Street
Singapore

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Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas #2: A Great Singapore Novel

Marina Bay Sins – If you know Neil Humphreys’ writing, you’d know that one or two of the things in the book probably happened for real.

OK, this one’s too easy – you just point your friends to the link on iTunes to download the latest from Singapore’s best-selling novelist.

Really good if you’re looking to send someone living overseas something for Christmas, and especially when you’re looking for something really Singaporean.

Download it here.
Follow on Facebook.

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Last Minute Christmas Gift Ideas #1: Ang Ku Kueh

The colors make you want to sing Christmas songs, only you can’t if you stuff one of these in your mouth. They are by far the best roasted peanut filled Ang Ku Kuehs ever. Buy a dozen and put them in a nice box for the Christmas parties you’ve been invited to at the last minute.

Price: $0.80 each

Other flavours available (but not in Christmassy colors)

Poh Cheu Handmade Soon Kueh & Ang Ku Kueh

127 Bukit Merah Lane 1 #01-230 Singapore 150127

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What’s Made Me Feel Better After A Very, Very Long Week

Tonight, our son, who hasn’t asked for one in ages, asks for a ‘goodnight song’ to put him to bed. I scramble because I haven’t sung in a while, and manage ‘Rockabye Baby’, hoping he’ll fall asleep fast if I sang mournfully.

After I sing it twice, he mumbles, ‘Papa I think that you are one of the best singers ever. Really. Really’, and falls asleep.

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Thank You Paul La Grua, And See You Next Time

In 2003, a strange situation arose and led to my business partner and I helping to salvage a business that cultivated a love for children that I previously never possessed.

The two people I met while fixing up this business became fast friends, and they taught me the joys of teaching gymnastics to kids, and for the next few years, we had an adventure that I will forever remember fondly.

Paul La Grua, his wife Cassi and their two young daughters became a part of my daily life. Always incredibly resourceful, he somehow helped my business partner and I become the first two NCAP (National Coaching Accreditation Programme) qualified gymnastics coaches in Singapore.

I taught classes in primary and international schools, community centres and country clubs, always encouraged by the boundless energy Cassi and Paul brought to their lessons.

We finally made enough money one day to be able to afford a beer after a class at an international school on Orchard Road. And that was when Paul said he wanted to give back to the community by organising free gymnastics classes for special needs children.

We rented Bishan Sports Hall (one of very few gymnastics halls in Singapore) for a weekly Saturday session, and advertised by word of mouth, and the help of an ST journalist, free (after deciding to foot the costs ourselves) gymnastics for special needs children.

The response after the first lesson was tremendous. The line outside Bishan Sports Hall snaked around the complex. It was difficult to organise, and we were on our toes every single second – and to this day I remember how we had to have Spider-Man’s reflexes to handle two autistic children who ran up to commandeer a trampoline.

The programme ranks as one of the most rewarding things I have ever done, I remember mrbrown bringing Faith for a session too. The joys of the kids and their parents at these sessions were so palpable and simply freaking great that it made all the extreme exhaustion that followed later worth every ache and pain.

Paul La Grua was a champion youth gymnast in his day – he almost made the Olympic team in the 70s. But more importantly, he shared with me the same satisfaction of bringing the joy of movement to children who yearn the same, but have difficulty doing and enjoying so.

Paul passed away in the U.S. this week. He is survived by Cassi and their two children.

I hope to be able to remember him by reviving the gymnastics session for special needs children. I challenge Sports Singapore to give me Bishan Hall rent-free for this purpose. I will find the coaches who will be able to help. Parents of special needs children who are in support of my idea, please contact me here and let me know how you can help.

See you next time, Paul. I’ll get coaches who can catch two autistic kids on a trampoline when we organise classes for them again. And I’ll remember that the coaches need to have long arms.

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To Every Teacher That Taught Me

To every teacher who taught me, including:

The one who said the school’s chemistry lab was so old, the pipette was donated by Sir Stamford Raffles;

The principal who asked if the Head Prefect enjoyed his trip after the latter tripped and fell while walking to the microphone during morning assembly;

The economics teacher who insisted on pronouncing it KEE-NEE-SIEN theory, the history teacher who believed that “the more civilised we are, the donkey-er we become”, and the geography teacher who started every semester by drawing a perfect circle on the board and saying “The world is round, is it not?”;

The frustrated Chinese As A Second Language teachers, including the one who became less frustrated when we stood up in class and replaced our “Lao Shi Zao An” greeting with, “Lao Shi Ham Sum”, and giggled to himself for two Chinese composition periods;

The Math teacher who was so short-sighted that the class thought they pranked him good by replacing chalk with chicken bones, only to be pranked back when he insisted he could see what he wrote on the board;

The Additional Mathematics teacher who knew that the students nicknamed him – based on his initials F.S. Leong – “Fuck Spider Leong”, and didn’t care.

The teacher who made us recite, “I refuse to take out the refuse”, and “The police car could not patrol because it ran out of petrol”, so we would know the importance of emphasising the right syllable.

The teacher who told me I couldn’t use words such as “bitch” when describing Jane Austen’s characters;

The teacher who instead of assigning essay topics during two-period General Paper lessons, screened pirated VHS copies of Woody Allen’s movies, Monty Python episodes and the occasional rugby test match between Wales and everyone else.

HAPPY TEACHERS’ DAY, wherever you are.

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