Monday, May 31, 2004


I used to have a close friend, she was my senior in NJC, a nice girl. Our relationship was purely platonic, but I always find myself drawn to her. For a guy who was the eldest in the family and someone who always have to shoulder all the expectations, to really have someone who was a big sister to me was a refreshing change. She will always be there when I needed her, she tutored me in my Maths in JC, so that I could at least pass it; she would be my listening ear, when I was down with problems. At the same time I find myself being a constant companion to her, I tried to be a good brother. This relationship went on for years in fact almost 10 years. How time flies!

As we move on to our lives; we began to be buried by our work. You got married and I found my loved one. Our gatherings got lesser and lesser, replaced by the inanimated SMS and email. Our conversations seem to get shorter and lesser, more and more superficial. When we move on in our various phases of life, our perceptions had changed. When you decided to marry your husband, I objected violently; more to the fact that I was worried about losing my sister. I can still visualise the moment when we hugged during your wedding dinner, that I realised how childish I was and youwould always be my big jie jie, there to protect me, and there to care for me. However, over the years, we had arguments and we saw things differently. Nonetheless, we choose to ignore the differences; however deep inside us we knew that we were no longer the same persons we were.

It was sad to receive news via email about your plans for migration. As a "brother" for the past 12 years, I may have expected something more than that. It could also be an indication that deep inside your heart, I may no longer mean that much to you. do you still remember the time when we just talked over the phone for hours, sharing our dreams, our troubles and almost everything under the sun? I still remember those special moments... but things are all in the past now.

Now that you have decided to embark on another phase of your life, I can only wish you well. Perhaps you leaving is also an indication that I shoudl also move on with my life. But to let it go is to let a small part of me fade away, to wither away. You always have a special place in my heart.

Bye Sis and take care!
Great Balls of Fire

To tell you frankly, I didn't want to write this entry, but I guess I need to address certain issues on the tagboard.

An anonymous person wrote: "i don't mean offensive but i think it's unfair. the carnival held on wednesday is called NETBALL CARNIVAL. how can a class who got last for netball be overall champions" she added "although they did very well for the other catogories. but afterall it's called a NETBALL CARNIVAL." no offence but yeahh. just wanted to state my mine. they got LAST for netball and they won overall. ridiculous!"
Now my response to her:

In fact I totally agree with her. How can a team who got last(just to emphasize) can win the netball carnival? Absolutely ridiculous! We jolly well go and report this to the MOE for giving the students the wrong impressions!

Good gracious me, I am talking to an extremely sour puss with an affinity for sour grapes! Come on, this is after all a competition. To fan up/provoke the feelings of 3/4 by demeaning their win would in my opinion an extremely unwise thing to do. I have to agree that 3/4 might not be too tecnically inclined when it come to netball. But if you were there seeing them practise for the cheerleading and netball, spend time seeing them painting banners, you would be just as amazed at their drive and enthusiasm, and for that they deserve to win. I am not saying that the other classes don't put in effort. But I would like to say that it may be because the spirit of the class 3/4 is more apparent than the others. Perhaps what Anonymous need to do, is to really reflect on the reasons why they had lost rather than to do the unglamourous thing of hiding being an unrecognisable nickname and lambasting everyone. If you are an IJ girl, I seriously doubt if you have understand and internalised the IJ spirit of care and concern and respect for others.

The Longman dictionary define carnival as "an event held at a school in which students plays games for prizes". Is the carnival based on just winning the netball game? I seriously don't think so, in fact the purpose of this is to build up the class spirit and unity and I think it has achieved the objectives for 3/4! Come on we can have a Netball tournament with all the girls getting involved but yet we create a situation when all the girls can play a role, whether it is playing, or motivating their team with cheers and banners and that is what a class is all about: it is never about individuality, but rather it is about unity, unity as a class.

In the working world outside, the emphasis is on your passion and enthusiasm in carrying out your roles and duties. It is never about winning! And in school, this is the best place to learn them all.

But then again, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and I respect that. But then again, what I would even respect is that if you have the courage to say things without hiding in obscurity.

Thursday, May 27, 2004


Do you like holidays? I love them, it is the only time I can torture my students without being physically there. But however the drawback was that I can really see the agonised looks* on each of them. Call me sadistic. But students should be made to put their holidays to good use. And the first thing I can think of is doing Add Maths homework. While the saying goes, "all work and no play make Jack a dull boy", let me assure you this is only applicable to boys, for girls it is "all play and no work make you a true blue bimbo" There is a need to exercise your brain or it would turn mushy over a period of 1 month. And as teachers we are trying to do a good deed by constantly exercising your brain. No need to thank us, for we know the sacrifices we are making. It is never easy to see your face on the dartboard or see words like " insert your surname sux" in any forms of genre. (Swearing at the teacher in poetic language doesnt really make it lyrical)
*how does an agonised look look like, I don't know maybe something like when you are sitting on the toilet bowl trying to force out the hor fun you have eaten yesterday night

Do you remember the Cod Liver oil advertisement when two kids went around to look for friends to play and everyone came to the door with teary eyes and a bad bouts of flu that the two kids have no choice but play by themselves (not with themselves) I see it as the kids staying at home to do their homework, they found it totally meaningless to go out an throw a ball or ride a bike when they can do something more intellectually stimulating like Maths. If I were the parents of the two "playful" children, I would have seriously sat the two of them ( not sat on them, I am not a 400 pounder) down, gave thema lecture or two about not giving negative influences to others and drill them in something constructive, like "marvelling at the beauty of science" or "intrigued by the wonders of chemistry" blah blah blah.

While my 2 cents worth may not really strike a chord, I strongly advise all the students to down a couple of bottles of cod liver oil to increase their immunity and let the exercising of the brain begin. ENJOY!

Additional Mathematics Holiday Homework

Want to improve your maths? Your query is about to be answered.

Due to the disappointing Add Maths results, I have decided to give some "mission possible" homework for the Sec 3/2 and 3/4 girls in my class. A couple of smart "Alexis"es in my class suggested that I put my homework in my blog since I have build up an avid readership. However today's topics and assignment lies on the premise that all of you have friends, not fiends trying to sabotage you.

The homework is as follows
1) The set of 5 worksheets for the five chapters that was given to you. Please do them on foolscap paper. If you are as blur as a hamster, and wondering what worksheet I am talking about, let me give you a cyberslap before I continue *abish*. Now that your head and brain are in place, can you vaguely remember what I am talking about. In any case, if you did not get it because you were
i) not in school, rotting at home and missing out on the wonderful jokes by Mr Ng
ii) gallivanting, transiting in different classrooms
iii) feeding yourself silly at the canteen
iv) choosing to tap into your seletive amnesia
friends of the above would be able to enlighten you and pass the "gift" to you.

2) the Ten year Series 1st 5 chapters solutions
The chapters I mentioned are those that we have covered in the Add Maths textbook. These chapters may not be the same as those in the textbook but I guess all of you are smart enough to know what is what. Anyway this has to be done in an A4 hard cover record book which can be bought at popular bookstores known as Popular. The completed solutions has to be neatly written in this book that you have bought from Popular, and it must be according to the order of the questions in the TYS. If you have absolutely no idea what this booklet is all about, or which book to get, please ask any of your friends in either 3/1 or 3/9. As I emphasized the importance of this book to the classes today, I shall reiterate it: this book is going to be very useful for your revision in 2005 when you take your add maths O levels and it can be given to your descendants (daughters,granddaughters, great grand daughters etc etc and the list goes on) to help them with Add Maths.

The two sets of work has to be COMPLETED by the first Add maths lesson in the 2nd semester. and the term completed means no blanks. If you don't know how to do the question you can come to school to look for me or you can ask some of your more able friends. Just email me to arrange a time maybe 2 days in advance. Now I am going to be very serious about it, I want all the girls to do them and work on the solutions by themselves. This is the only way to raise your own Add Maths proficiency. If you do not have the book of solution with you on the first Add Maths lesson, you will stay out of my class until you show me that you have completed it. And I am going to enforce that.

Hope that this make it clear for everyone. Enjoy your June holidays!!

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

The Thin Orange Line and the Yellow Stripes

Are you an avid MRT Traveller? If you are, read on. If you are not, you better read on...

The issue on the MRT came about in my usual "zombie"ish mood after going through hours of meetings and manual keying in of results and penning poetic comments for the girls of my form class. Trust me, trying to add a tinge of sarcasm while showing a semblance of being nice to look at in the report books. I can proudly announced that the remarks have gone through 3 drafts before it is finally presented.

Anyway, if you travel on our MRT often enough, you might have noticed the thin orange rubber strips on the edge of the platforms. According a newspaper report, these are meant to reduce the gap between the train and the platform and thus reduce likelihood of accidents. (Put the rubber on: be safe, not sorry.) This measure did not come cheap: a song sung to the tune of six-figures!

I would like to know what normal person cannot board the train without stepping into the "chasm" that separates the platform from the train. Someone very important (who normally does not take the train but gets driven around instead) probably made this important observation.

If only that important person was in a wheelchair or otherwise disabled. Then the MRT stations might be more disabled-friendly. Ah, but we must take the majority of users into account, shouldn't we? Most have two sturdy legs, don't they? We don't want them to get injured as they rush to work in order to feed our ravenous economy, do we? If they get injured then they might become disabled, won't they? Heaven forbid!

I think someone was mentally disabled to allow something like that to pass. You might say he/she had a one track mind. The money could have been used to fund a more useful purpose. Sponsoring a BBQ perhaps?

Anyway on to my next point on the yellow lines drawn near the entrances/exits; did you notice that there isn't a slot for the disabled/pregnant/elderly. During the rush hour, people would be standing at the edge of the line, like sprinters waiting for the start of the gun and once the train arrive, the lines miraculously disappeared in the minds of the commuters, the ugly Singaporean take place and you can see the flow of traffic in all directions. There were some commuters who stand right at the centre of the entrance like Swiss soldiers guarding the Vatican City, not budging even when rude remarks were made and angry elbows shove. They remain oblivious of the jam pack entrance and continue their conversation/ listening to their discman/MD/mp3 player / fiddling with their phone / or basically just act occupied. if you are someone who is vertically challenged , you would realised the air near the entrance extremely pungent, with sweaty armpits and BO (Chanels No. 1 to 20). Smell a whiff of fart?..

Monday, May 24, 2004

Winners and Whinners

I should keep my blog untastefully short and plain today. Just to update people who were concerned with my disappearance over the past few days.

For the record, Saturday turned out to be one of the less eventful weekends I ever had. Waking up at six"ish" on a bright Saturday morning is hardly a good way to start the weekend. Being assigned to man the zebra crossing just in case some over zealous zebras decided to take time off to cross the road ( I know it is LAME), while being asked to put on a fluorescent yellowish vest which make me look like a mobile disco van. All we need are just brooms and we would be mistaken as doing CWOs. IN fact we are actually doing that, we are after all CHIJ Walkathon Officials. So was there a hidden agenda behind our role as road marshalls? ...Hm... that's food for thought. Together with the red cap which make me look lke a total mismatch, I decided to do the best of the whole attire and put the luminous vest away, assuming that my height and towering presence will be enough to stop any waylaid traffic, cars or girls.

I also discovered my niche as a traffic controller which I could do as a part time basis. All I have to do was to raise my right hand with authority, and I have the ability a-la-MOSES to part the traffic and allow the Israelites opps, IJ girls to cross the road. With my cool looking shades and floral beach bermudas, all that was lacking was a staff. I can just imagine myself in the traffic police uniform with a whistle in hand and wearing white gloves. A career that "commands" respect. At the junction of balestier road and thomson road, I can just experienced how Sir Stamford Raffles felt standing in front of the Victoria Theatre and along Singapore river, with his arms folded, bored and useless. Have you ever thought of what our dear man is pondering about?


After the walkathon, I actually spend the most productive part of the day with my girls playing netball, or should I say instructing them on how to better play the game. Easy said than done, for somebody who is not really an excellent player, all I can provide are pointer in theory. If it work, good, well, theoretically it should. We will know about it by Wednesday. I was also impressed by some fo the girls attempts to do the cheerleadering. It may seems totally unproductive for me, but I can say that this is the most relaxing period of time I had with the class since adventure camp, away from all the nitty gritty stuff of academia and administrative mind-boggle.

As for the fund raising, I think I will make good my promise of a BBQ for the class. They truly deserve it. In the beginning we set a modest goal of 3000 and we did not just hit it, we actually exceeded it! Make that $5290. We will most probably be the top class! How's that for exceeding the target! I hope the girls would hold fast this feeling of exceeding their goal and channel the same to their studies.

The netball carnival is on tomorrow and I believe that the girls are excited about it. I regreted that I would not be able to be there with the girls and I would love to be there to see them as a class. Deep inside I know that this will help to bond the class. had a talk with a couple of my girls; it was nice to see them getting upset and frustrated about the netball carnival. I am not sadistic but I see this as a genuine concern for the class and the desire to do well. As I mentioned in class and to some of you ( not going to be too lor suo ie looooooooong winded) Everybody is different in their own unique sense, and everybody see things in their own perspective. As a class, we need to understand that we work together as a team and we learnt to see each other viewpoint. Sometimes, in our preoccupations, for the matter, people get clouded by our own prejudices, beliefs and values that we failed to understand the basics behind the human - we are different! There is never right or wrong in a judgement just the consequences that you will have to face. Even in a judgement we can learn, develop and equip ourselves with experience that could be so valubale in your everyday life 5, 10, or even 30 years down the road. Maybe a month or even a year later you will all look back at this with fond memories and may even laugh the whole matter with a shrug of the shoulder. And that my girls, are what winners are made of!

I look forward to 3/4's victorious return!

Friday, May 21, 2004


On the tagboard, I receive something pretty psychologically disturbing... A girl (gender assumed) by the nick "Tee Hee" wrote "y r u always on policies? Different ones at that. isn't it suppose to be like a dairy?"

Firstly, to get the record straight or round for the matter, my agenda for a blog is quite different from many others out there; I am a mismatcher, which means I do things I want, not to conform to other expectations. Secondly, I don't own cows, goats or any cattle, and neither do I deprecate myself with sick cow/goat jokes. The other thing which I seriously cannot understand where in this blog did you find me arguing about milk?

I should write something about myself in this post. Anyway that was what blogs or should I say conventional ones are all about, right?

I should dedicate my post on my form class 3/4. As I tried to "teenagize"* myself by using what I always see on my girls' blogs "3/4 rock my sox" (Traumatising but quite a relief :S) In fact I was pretty affected by some fo the entries in the girls blogs regarding the IJ Netball Carnival and most importantly about the apparent lack of unity. The very fact that I was stuck at home, doing my readings so that I can start drafting my essay for my Master assignment didn't help. Driven by impulse, I decided to take time to sit the girls down and talk to them about how I felt about the incident. I should write this as an open letter, a follow up to the talk we had in the hall this morning.

* Shortwoman Dictionary, the abler companion of Longman Dictionary (yah that is a lame one) refers that to making someone perceivably old, young again by using the jagong (opps jargon) of the young through their words, written or spoken.

An open letter to 3/4

Dear girls of 3/4,

It came as a surprise to me, that I was made form teacher of 3/4 2004. My inital reaction was that of shock and uncertainity. I had established close bonds with my 3/3 and 4/3 classes and was wondering whether the whole lot of you will be even close to that.

However, my interaction with all of you for the past 5 months had shown me that 3/4 is a much united class than the 3/3 I had initially 2 years ago. Your camaraderie in the Sec 3 adventure camp, your enthusiasm in the many decorations competitions had made me sit up and look at this class with different eyes; though I must admit that I first look at the class with tainted lenses and never see all of you as new and exiting experiences but as ghosts that continue to haunt my past encounters with 3/3 and 4/3.

There are groups of girls who are keen to make the class a great one and tried their best to do so. I appreciate what they have done as that is what I believe education is all about. It is not just about academic excellence, it is about working with each other. Some girls commented about the lack of cooperation from a big/small/certain group of girls but I guess this is part and parcel of what it can happen in the real world. It is all about working with the people you don't usually work with and bring out the best of each other. I remember when I was in Victoria School Sec 1 n years ago (where n is a positive integer), I came from a class of only 19 students, a bliss for teachers but an absolute nightmare when it come to taking part in inter-class sports and games. How can you form a bloody soccer team of 11 players out of 19 when most of us are not that physically gifted? As a result it was a walk in the garden for the rest of the other classes when they were drawn to meet us, whether it is volleyball, or basketball, whether it is table tennis or soccer; for the result for us is always L-O-S-E. We were the perennial losers. However, we sent in a team for EVERY competition, we played every games even though we were subjected to physical and verbal abuse from the other classes who basically uses us as punching bags. Sometimes I wonder, if I was in a another class, would I have appreciate my friends/classmates/confidantes that much? It was when we cried (yes we did CRY) that we became closer to each other. After 2 years of being "bullied", I noticed that I have grown, (not puberty) as a person.

I feel that I had inherited a good class, and I believe it has the potential to be a great class. And to do so, every single member have to put aside their own differences and start seeing things from other people's points of view. It also mean that we have to help each other as a class, spiritually, emotionally, and academically. That's when we start growing as people. Only by helping others, then you will grow.

I would like to see the 3/4 girls getting together as a class. To make the teachers stand up and look and appreciate, to get the class to cooperate, to help each other grow as a class. I don't need 3/4 to win every competition available for I never see disgrace in losing; you learn from your mistakes and get valuable lessons in life. Besides it is never about losing, but how you lose. As a class, you win as a class, or you lose as a class. There are no individual identity just individuals having a class identity. Neither do I want 3/4 to compete to be the best class ever, because in my opinion you are already the best!

I hope that those in 3/4 who read this will relay it to your classmates, and hope that this will spur all of you to a common goal!

Good Luck!

Mr Ng
Form Teacher
Sec 3/4 2004

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Q(ueer) and A(nnoying)

I am dedicating this post to a courageous student who wrote to me in response "Save the Earth" blog on 12:51 May 16 issue:

At 09:56 PM 18/5/04 , "DumbAss" (for the safety of the girl, I shall keep her name anomymous) wrote:
"Psychologically insecure" and "racial hatred". How could you ever come up with such wonderful phrases. I love them. Where in the world do you get your ideas from? Pls tell me how I can inherit this super duper writing technique from you.

Profound question. I have a "profound" answer.
I do not know.

Let me draw a parallel.



OK, OK, that was a bad one. What comes next is worse. Go have a heavy meal first then come back and read it.

You don't follow instructions very well, do you? Anyway, my ideas are generated like a sneeze or excess gas. Both come naturally and are due to some input (what exactly that input is, you never really know). Both are difficult to hold back, but once released bring great relief. Some might even argue that they prolong life.

They must be released with venom. I am not talking about those half-hearted, girly little sneezes. I am talking about a rip-roaring sneeze that would 1) make the big, bad wolf proud and 2) water the garden at the same time. The burp or fart (chemical name: carbon dibackside) should be one that reverberates through a building, shaking its foundations and melting plastic as it moves down a concentration gradient.

I think I explained how I come up with my phrases and ideas AS ABOVE. ;P But here's a secret recipe for budding bakers. It's so secret even I didn't know until I cooked it up just now...

Ingredients for "Cooky" Cookie:
1. One cup Dementia (preferably fermented).
2. One teaspoon of Essence of Insanity. Can replace with Essence of Chicken, Sweat of Pig, or Saliva of Cow if not available.
3. Lots of "dough". (five cent coins stacked up in pairs.)
4. 2 tablespoon of crap ( not those found in the toilet)
5. Green Eggs and Ham (but leave out the ham otherwise, Dr Suess may ensue with some suing...)

Dump ingredients in large bowl (toilet bowl, green colour preferred) and mix well with toilet brush. Flush occasionally to add water. (Artificial colouring may be added in the water tank if desired.) Add any type of "chocolate" or "maple syrup" to taste. Wrap tightly in straight jacket and pop into laughing gas oven for one month (this refers to you, not the cookie dough which by now is worse than a barrel full of dioxin). Emerge laughing from oven and write down the first thing that comes to mind.

As you can see, I do reply fan mail, hate mail. I may even offer an autograph photograph for aspiring writers hoping to be a good writer. So flood my email if there are any burning questions you need help. :P

Today I shall continue my nonsensical ramblings on the Singapore youth of today. Just a warning, this is going to be a long post, so I will sincerely advise people reading this to get a pack of potato chips and a cup of coffee or a diet coke before you start reading. As I will also be generalising certain issues, it would be to my own sanity and safety that I issued a disclaimer before I actually start. The least I want is people flooding my tagboard with disdainful and disrespectful comments to say the least. I remember making a seeming innocuous remark on a Chinese organisation and was subjected to rude sarcasm by a 15 year old, in class, amidst sniggers from the other members of the class.

Today we shall discuss Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam's comments on Singaporean youth. As I quote from a reliable source, namely the Ministry of Education's website, Mr Shanmugaratnam's speech at the opening ceremony of Presbyterian High.

"Our schools face a particular challenge because of changes in the social environment over the years. Our principals and teachers observe that students are increasingly individualistic, lacking a spirit of wanting to help others. Nor are they encouraged to do so by their parents. They also observe that young Singaporeans are getting softer, and lack hunger. Success and improved living standards has reduced the appetite to take to difficult situations and learn to overcome them. They will find themselves disadvantaged by these attitudes as they enter the working world."

After I read his comments, I was literally standing up and punching my fists in the air with extreme joy. Even my last toes were gleeing with joy. Finally someone of certain authority are making valid comments about these precious little darlings. Students nowadays are SIN-ful.(This doesn't mean singing the National anthem and taking the pledge half heartedly) But what I meant was that the kids nowadays are S - Soft, I - Individualistic, N - not hungry enough.

Softies and Slurpees
Singaporean kids are a lucky lot; they had never encounter serious wars, riots or famines, neither were they deprived of their weekly shopping rituals. They basked in the sun in afresco cafes complaining about the service of the aunties or uncles serving them, and they nitpick all possible faults they can see/hear/feel in any perceivable events of discomfort. They eat in moderately priced cafes and frequent designer togs shops. Just to highlight an incident that happen yesterday, students were cramped in a small hall to practise for the Founder's Day Mass. However, without even showing any form of concern for the teachers or their friends who had painstakingly arranged for the mass, some of the students were keeping their mouths shut throughout the singing practice, and they even had the cheek and audacity to complain about the hot conditions in the hall. Well all I can say that with the recent economic situation, we can ill afford air conditioning in the hall. Just like the ice-cream in the 7-11 convenience stores, our girls will melt if they are in the heat for too long. It will be totally unthinkable to see the shocked look on the parents' faces, when their daughters returned with contorted faces and disjointed limbs as a result of the heat. Perhaps they will donate more generously to the school building fund to install new air conditioning in every nooks and corner in the school. Wow! imagine running your 2.4 km in the air conditioned hall.

To drive my point across, I would like to express my deep felt sympathy to the students nowadays; it is not their fault that they ended up like softies.(not the ice creams) The issue lies with their parents, who accomodate to their whims and fancies. It is human nature that the parents would want to give their kids the best but in so doing, you are creating a culture where the younger generation had difficulties in dealing with the stress and the trials of the future. Can you imagine a country where the people in 20 years time cannot defend a country without aircon, or that they can't carry a backpack more that 20kg as evolution had gone a further notch. This bring to mind an incident about this 2nd Lieutenant who was in charge of an exercise in the field. He was supposed to do a mock attack on the "enemy" by trying to capture their command post. At 1200hrs, he promptly stopped the exercise much to the confusion of his superiors. Upon asking his reasons for aborting a seemingly successful operation halfway, his reply was "Oh, it was lunchtime wat" It was not difficult to know what happen to the officer later.

All for one?
Individuality and unity seems to be of two different paradigms which cannot be reconciled. How can you be individuals if you want to conformed to a team? In today context, people cares more about themselves than any other people/team/organisation. It is always about I, Me and myself. There was also a disturbing trend that students feel that the teacher don't treat the students as individuals and they also hated the unfair comparision with other classes, streams and physical features. To tell you frankly, I still have difficulty trying to know the names of some of the girls in my classes. Sometimes, to call them other terms of endearment makes the relationship closer. People are known to give nice nicknames to friends to show their closeness and bond, (even among the teachers these name calling are common) and then when teachers used that, we are accused of not caring enough, and not treating you as individuals, why the double standards?
"You, the last girl with that huge pimple on the nose, can you answer this question?" "Don't know? The hiao girl with the "lian"ish specs, last row, can you help your friend?" "Ooi, that monkey at the back, this is not a zoo, stop jumping around like a gorilla.." "That vainpot, stop fidgeting and touching your hair, you are not Singapore Idol." "You are like how many thousand times bigger than the bee, can you stop screaming like a hyena!"

Another comment made was that teachers had bad first impressions of the class and this stayed. I guess the same applies to the students. As human beings (so what do you actually think teachers are?) we are subjected to our own personal bias and judgement. You try stepping in a class that look suspiciously like a dump, students sitting around like some dance routine of the the Ms Singapore Pageant Opening Sequence, and you will get an idea of how the teacher will react to the class. Coupled with the half hearted greetings "Guuu.......d mourning, Ms/Mrs/Mdm/Mr ....", any living soul would have difficulties trying to raise their morale to teach. Sometimes going to a class like this is like going to battle in fully equipped miliary wear.

Hungry - Get Nissin Cup Noodles!
Not to be mistaken with the biological consumption, Hungry in this context is the thirst for success ( Lunchtime is coming! Yeh!) Students are contented to have the bimbotic desire of a shocking pink halter neck or a Topshop demin mini-skirt. They are also hungry for love and relationship, "my honey-bunny sweetie pie, thank you for being there for me...*kisses and hugs*" The typing of the words on my laptop keyboard made my hair stand. even those who are moronic would know how the students nowadays think. They are only interested in material gains and they are not willing to put in the hardship to get the success that they want. I remember when I was still a student, I came from a not well-to-do family, I am given only a pittance ( compared to today's standard) of $2 per day, and that is in Secondary 3. When I was in university I was given $10 a day, which work out to be $50 a week. Looking at the students nowadays who don't bat a single or double eyelid on a $30++ skirt or top, I wondered how they can ever survive in adverse conditions.

The future do not bode well for those who want to depend on these youngsters. A piece of advice to those of my generation: better start beefing up your retirement and pension schemes. And if you find the article inspiring, a contribution of 2.10 cents to the Ng's Retirement Fund will be good. :)

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Much Ado About Nothing?

Today I shall take a small poke at Singlish, advertising and other recurring themes. As you can see at this late hour I am still online as I am all alone in the house. Pretty creepy though, with my wife in Penang and only my dog to accompany me. Anyway I shall focus on my blogs and not think that there is something or someone watching me at the back... *shivers*

Everyone I know (and don't know) seems to be talking about it... and most do it in Singlish. In the Straits Times, in Parliament, in schools and in the neighbourhood coffee shops. Oh, the evils of Singlish! Oh, the joys of Singlish. I sincerely Singlish should not be encouraged on TV vs it's a true blue Singaporean by-product to be proud of.

No offence to the English teachers, but the people who say that Singlish is bad English and want it stamped out are those that are obviously competent in English. The people that defend Singlish are just as competent in English (if not more so), but they value 'ploper" Singlish as much as proper English. So why is the camp divided? Are TCS programmes so boring or repetitive that we have to create our own mini-series, comedy (of errors) and talk show all rolled into one?

Of late, there has been a move to reduce the amount of Singlish broadcasted to TV screens all over Singapore (and JB... and some say Batam). I recognise that television makes an impact on the formative minds of our young: if they do not know what proper English is and only hear Singlish on TV, then they grow up thinking Singlish is English. Then teachers (especially those teaching English) get a big headache trying to right an ever growing wrong. But don't get me wrong! I do not think Singlish is all bad. I don't think that using proper English all the time is efficient*/appropriate either.

* If someone asked you whether you liked mr ng's blogs and you wanted to say yes emphatically, you could say in proper English, "Well, of course, my dear man/woman/undecided hybrid (delete where applicable)! I simply adore it for it's offbeat approach, skewed perspective and bracketed sentences. I absolutely love the subtly way that the message was delivered. The fact that it is so readily available is a boon too! Don't you just agree?" In Singlish, you could say, "Ah then?" or the now beloved "Ah-ber then?"

The man on the street or hawker who normally converses in a Chinese dialect/Malay gets by with some Singlish. (In fact, that may be all the "English" he/she knows.) Shenton Way types use it to spice up their lunch time banter ("Wah, dis wan dem shiok, man!") or give their water cooler gossip a splash of colour ("Eh, you seen the new girl or not? So hiao, one!). But when they go back to the board room full of bored people, they often revert to a better form of English... and in the process sound like American wannabes or Englishmen with mumps and swollen tongues.** But they try. Why try? Simply because they recognise that proper English is the language of commerce, of communicating with the rest of the world. Singlish is reserved for the home, the void deck, the staffroom, the hawker centre, even the National Stadium or the Padang on the 8th of August and sadly the school.

** By the way, have you noticed how often people from our part of the world adopt American/British accents when speaking to Yanks/Brits. Many visit the US/England, some only for a short holiday, and return home talking like they have marbles in their mouths. Some give the excuse that by doing so their foreign counterparts/bosses/friends will understand them better. I don't hear many Caucasians reverting to Singlish to communicate (except in jest). Are we that weak-willed or do we see ourselves as inferior? There is nothing wrong with the Singapore accent (this is not the same as Singlish), you just have to step down a gear or two so that your words are distinct and do not run into each other.

It's a simple case of "a place for everything and everything in it's place". I think that fact has to be recognised and while I think that it generally is in the minds of those who speak good English, there is a need to create an awareness among students that there is a time and place for Singlish and proper English. The importance of either cannot be underestimated nor should one be given an advantage over the other. Instead of pushing Singlish out of television or relegating it with the likes of bum boats and chewing gum, it should be recognised as being here to stay, necessary for day-to-day conversation and even contributing to nation building. Unfortunately creating an awareness is often not enough.

The measures that are taken to counter Singlish may seem extreme: sending teachers for re-training in English and moderating the Singlish/English in TV programmes. Which teachers? English teachers? Have you heard the teachers of other subjects speak in class?*** How about overhearing Math or Science teachers discussing formulae largely in Mandarin and the only English you hear are the numbers and certain terms or symbols? Do you still think that the measures are extreme? I can still remember my Add Maths teacher who keep telling us about the "tri-gor-nor-meh-tree lay-shio" and the ever classic "Pi-gor-rus Theorem"

*** A teacher I know related this incident. As she walked past a class, she heard a teacher ask a student for his homework. The student replied, "'Cher, I no bring come." In exasperation, the teacher screamed, "Why you no bring come?!"

But back to the original (and unrelated) questions. Are TV programmes that boring? An emphatic Yes. There is also a conspiracy (and Mediacorp and Mediaworks will deny all knowledge even though the truth is out there). Have you noticed how all the good shows have ended their runs lately and the way the different stations proudly announce their season finales? Then it plays re-runs of "the best/most popular episodes" like drawn out wakes at HDB void decks. It also shows re-runs of re-runs of re-runs, e.g. Mr Bean "specials" and various van Damme and Stallone movies****. Let just look at the TV guide and you see the re-re-runs of Lost in Space, "Nutty Professor" and "Ultimate bra". For someone who for once decided to rest his butt in foront of the television screen for a relaxing weekend night, these unpalatable programme is enough to drive me to my computer screen to give my 2 cents worth. Besides these, it also tries to keep us away from cinema halls by relentlessly showing movie trailers that reveal the entire storyline, punchlines and special effects. The thrill, suspense and "wonderment" fizzles out like a flat soda and soft popcorn when you finally haul your butt to the big screen.

**** Side track: ever notice how most of Stallone's movies have only 5 letters or/and 2 syllables: Rocky, Rambo, Cobra, Judge Dredd, De-Tox, Daylight, Copland?

But I digress as usual. The other question was why there were two main English speaking camps when both had the interest of English at heart. Well, everyone wants to give their two-cents worth every now and then don't they? I do, and just did... lah.

Save the Earth?

Something grabbed my attention while waiting in line at a pastry shop. The woman ahead of me had chosen five different buns - nothing out of the ordinary there. It was the way the employee who packed them that drew my attention. With the aid of metal tongs, she put each bun in its own tiny plastic bag. She then put all them into a larger plastic bag so that the woman could carry all of them. That was six plastic bags in all, not including the ones she was already carrying. I don't think that anyone else would bat an eyelid.

However, several things went through my mind at that point. Why did each pastry need its own plastic bag? Were they "psychologically insecure" so that they need their own space? Was there some "racial" hatred among buns? Perhaps the rationale was that the "flavours" of the buns should not mix. Who would want to eat a chicken sausage-coconut-egg custard-tuna-otak bun? Then why not put the sweet buns in one bag and the others in another?

If the packaging was meant to allow the woman to eat them without actually touching the bun with her hands, then why was the woman eating with such dirty hands? Did that employee (or pastry shops in general) assume that customers have filthy hands and therefore need protection from themselves? Thank you very much. Or were the buns so dirty that they could not touch each other (or the person's hands) but must instead proceed straight to a mouth and stomach?

When it was my turn, I insisted that my buns (the pastries, not the other set) be put in one plastic bag, a small one at that. I didn't even want a carrier as I believed my fingers had evolved sufficiently to actually grip a single plastic bag. As my reward, I got a quizzical look. In fact, every time I buy a bun or doughnut or curry puff or goreng pisang, I get that look. Actually, sometimes I get an incredulous look, while some look at me as if to determine if I am some alien life form. Yet others seek confirmation, "All in one only, ah?" Ah-ber, den?

This is not a matter of insecure buns, protective plastic bags or grubby fingers. That would be trivial! It about our attitudes, the way we think or accept things as they are just because things are always done that way. Using plastic bags like that is not only wantonly wasteful, it propagates ignorance. In the case of the pastry shop, it boils down to dollars and cents: they could save money by using less plastic. In doing so, they not only help reduce the demand for plastic in general but also lessen the amount of rubbish dumped on our planet.

I would like to know what that woman might do with five tiny plastic bags. Use them to collect her Chihuahua's doo-doo on his next walk-walk? If indeed this was the case, I have no objection as there is a good use for the bags. Turn them into some see-thru costume for her daughter's Barbie Doll? Ridiculous? Yes, but so is putting each bun in it's own plastic bag

Saturday, May 15, 2004

And the truth unfold...
It is official, the girls found my blog.

Great news for me though, that means that I will be able to make condescending remarks at girls whom I will and should criticise and hope her kaypoh friends would relay to her. It also mean that i am not subjected to even more possible complaints from parents and students and guardians, and MOE alike.

Anyway it gave me even the more incentive to update the blog since that last time I did so was like about 10 days ago.

Anyway to update, I took my driving test on friday and I .... FAILed. Hit the bloody kerb even before going to the road. And the most important thing was that I was already extremely careful. The stupid tester was sniggering at my lack of psychomotor skills and was even expresing mock concern of whether I would like to go on the road. Well seriously, short of pointing him the middle finger I really had no answer to the stupid question. But as a civilised civil servant ( That's why we are called CIVIL servants) I decided to swallow my pride, guts, and others and ask to stop the test. At least I know how the girls felt when they walk out of the Add maths paper totally distraught. I should pray hard for my next test which will be coming up in about the next month.

Talking about the above incident I decided to ramble on the courtesy and of course the bad english I heard today. Not that I am REALLY that good in English, (but ahem I did take English language in the University just to get the record straight) but the recent standard of English and courtesy is quite atrocious.

Just to highligh some examples in school, students walk past teachers as though we are phantoms or spirits, totally oblivious of what's happening. In fact their actions sometimes bring to mind the show the Sixth Sense, I was left wondering whether the teachers or students are alive as they seems to be totally absorbed in their own world. But then again being courteous is not really an outstanding trait of an IJ girl. Well for most of them except for a small, minute group.

As for the issue on the Bad English thingy, it was actually an incident that happen this morning. Some fo the teachers were doing some recee on the route of the walkathon. As we were doing the "Long March" back to IJ there was a young teenage girl who literally skipped towards me. She had a sweet smile and I should refrain from telling you which school she is from. But then I heard her say to me, "Kiss me, want to do it?" It was enough to raise the eyebrows (at the very least). Halfway up, they went down. Why? Perhaps it was because this took place in broad daylight and very much in the public eye. Perhaps it had something to do with the fact that she was in school uniform. More likely, it was because she had a bunch of stickers in one hand and a donation can in the other.

What she had said was "S'cuse me, want to donate?" An English teacher might have corrected this to "Excuse me, would you like to donate some money to [name of charity]?" But being efficient monsters, Singaporeans naturally abbreviate everything to a barely functional level. But then again if you think about it, if you speak too well in Singapore now, you may not be understood at all! (Why else does our PM give the National Day speech in as many national languages as he can?) If you speak really well, you may instead come face to face with the "HAH?!" monster more often than you like.But if that sentence was uttered in under different circumstances (and to a different person, of course), the outcome might have been quite different. That is my two cents worth (which is less than the girl got for her troubles).

Friday, May 07, 2004

She burns
The Secondary threes are having their exams now and finally I get to fill up my blogs with some more nonsensical blabbering!!

It had been almost 1 month since I started on this blog. I must say the experience is quite therapeutic, kinda of doing a whole entire Add maths paper in double quick time. Though this will meet with extreme criticism and protest from the girls. I shared in class about 2 days ago about my O levels days when I did my Add maths TYS thrice, front to back and back to front. I am sure there were a couple of surprised faces from the classes. Come on the very fact I am standing in front of the class and teaching Add Maths would be evidence of my credentials (*ahem*)

Since my last post on the incident of the principal ( please read previous post), the world in Singapore especially with regards to the teachers' well being remains relatively unsafe... A traumatised secondary school teacher had her hair burnt by a student who obviously had nothing better to do. Instead of doing constructive things like studying and copying down notes or even s-m-sing, the girl, apparently bored with the lessons walked up to the front of the classroom and set fire on the teacher's hair with the lighter she had been playing in class all this while. This got me thinking about the following questions:

1) what colour was the lighter? was it the cheap type or expensive one?

2) why was the girl allowed to bring a lighter to school, and even to class as it was claimed by the rest of the class that she was playing with it during the lesson? Does she goes to school early that she need to use a lighter to find her way around? Or is there going to be a birthday celebration and she was responsible for lighting up the birthday cake?

3) why didn't the rest of the students stop the offender? Were they really as what the newspaper stated "stared in shock?"

4) what shampoo and conditioner is the lady teacher using?

5) and of course the most important thing is why the teacher sport long hair, isn't it hot in Singapore?

The crux of the matter is nowadays teachers are not protected against possible means of assault from the students. With the autonomy of students to complain about the teachers at every conceivable situation, I am not surprised if there will be more of these stabs on the back (either literally and figuratively). There was an unfortunate incident of a teacher who got her blouse tainted with ink marks by students who decided to express their creative artistic talents on the seemingly white motif. The teacher was aghasted with the students' boldness and rudeness and of course the horrible drawings, that she came back to the staffroom sobbing, carrying the marker mark on her back like scars. The students were unrepentant. And the teacher quitted anyway.

I find it almost ridiculous to justify the "Joan of Arc"ish action of giving her teacher a new hairdo. As the people at the top expressed "concern" to the apparent inability/disability of the teachers to engage the students in an interesting way, so that they can be on task, it set me wondering whether they are hinting that is it the teacher's fault that she cannot engage the student, and it was HER fault that her hair got burnt. So I guess the maxim "The customer is always right" is right huh??

Need to keep the hair short and proper. And by the way, got to write it in my organiser to get a survelliance camera so that i can keep my eyes on the back of the classroom while I am writing on the whiteboard.