[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

[Dinner with YP]
I did not expect it to be so pleasant an evening. Being the fifth Tuesday of the month, there was no Meet-the-People Session (first and third Tuesdays at Hougang Blk 414 and second and fourth Tuesdays at Bedok Reservoir Blk 713). I had forgotten about this in the morning. When my secretary Lilian reminded me, I called up Bee Lan (my new branch secretary taking over from Terry who is moving on to higher things) and asked her if she could organise dinner for me to meet younger party members. Just one table of 10 at Bliss Restaurant at Punggol Park.

We had a good discussion. On behalf of the YP, Melvin proposed certain ideas for me to engage the young through informal chats. The YP Chairperson, Joy, couldn't join us. I suggested confining the talks to Singaporeans. No publicity. Just sharing hopes and concerns. Ephraim asked if any issue could be raised. I replied, most definitely, but I don't promise to have answers to all questions.

We had dinner on the wooden deck by the lake. It was a cool evening with a light breeze blowing. The food was good. I had fish and chips. So did three others. The rest ordered steak, lamb shank and chicken. The boss, Christine, came round to chat. Quite a lady. One child, another on the way. She served us complimentary aloe vera jelly dessert. She has another outlet at Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve. I told her that we liked Bliss and would be back.

[Guest blogger]
Just had dinner with Foreign Affairs Minister and he has suggested an ingenious idea - he will try blog here pretty soon.

So don't be surprised when you see a post by George Yeo - it is his personalised message.

Well i'm not sure how the response will be but at least he'll be the first Minister to start blogging.

It was probably one of the more exciting dinners so far and most of us, young people, had the opportunity to discuss topics face to face.

Do enjoy reading and give your views.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

[Mee Siam - harm or no harm?]
Discussions on mee siam are going well.

In fact, the ball has started rolling.

Perhaps one day, we even can find mee siam with harm in Singapore. We are a multi-cultural society, multi-ethnic and a great place for foodies.

Between mee pok mai tur kwa and mee siam mai harm which do you prefer?

Maybe the Singapore Tourism Board would want to promote our new dish mee siam with harm during the next campaign to visit Singapore. And the background? Use PM's rally speech lor.

A classic example to get the world talking. Communication just got easier.

Monday, August 28, 2006

[PAP information session]
Some 400 people comprising PAP members, people curious about the PAP and even opposition members gathered yesterday for an information session about the PAP.

Among the panelists was Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports.

Some of the topics discussed were the core values of the PAP and what sort of people the PAP is looking for.

The Minister pointed out that what new recruits can expect to do are to be in touch with reality - to see and hear the ground as well as to assist in weekly meet-the-people sessions to be the voice of the people. He also mentioned the various sessions with regard to the PAP Policy Forum. And the last point he made - to stand as a leader when approached.

The PAP, he said, is an ordinary party, not a mass party.

He also explained some of the core values in detail - a multi-racial party, one that is based on meritocracy, with members having equality of opportunity.

He believes that Singapore has to be a self-reliant population in contrast to the WP's push for a permanent safety net for Singapore.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

[Committee on National Education]
Devan Nair, S. Rajaratnam and Lim Kim San. Three great leaders. But yet young Singaporeans do not know of them. Lack of National Education (NE)? Purely bo chup (apathetic)?

Perhaps. After these three old guards passed away we have heard comments that many do not know who they were, what they did and how they contributed to the growth of modern Singapore. Not many know that S. Rajaratnam penned our pledge. Me included. I only know who penned out national anthem - Zubir Said, isn't that good enough?

Just recently after the Prime Minister's National Day Rally, the Ministry of Education (MOE) is reviewing the National Education programmes. I guess that they found out that national identity is important for Singapore to move forward just as important as our progress packages (but I shall not discuss that because I am not Mr Brown). So the MOE wants to address this problem and sets up a committee to seek feedback - from teachers, parents and students.

Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam likened the NE story to be a live story "written by each new generation of Singaporeans, not a collection of past facts".

Meaning to say that there would not be much emphasis placed on learning about Singapore's history but how to get Singaporeans involved in writing The Singapore Story. Get the students involved. Get them to do interesting projects. Make them want to do it. Don't force them to.

But the part that I found most interesting was the segment titled 'citizenship education matters everywhere'.

Here's an excerpt from Minister Tharman's speech extracted from SPRINTER:

We are not alone in wanting to do NE. Societies much older than ours have been implementing their own forms of NE or ‘citizenship education’ in their schools. They are in fact taking it even more seriously now.

In the US, every student has to complete Social Studies in order to graduate from high school. Schools place much emphasis on teaching American history, and on bringing up students to cherish American political and social values and ideals. But even so, they face challenges. According to National Center for Learning and Citizenship (NCLC), there is a growing need to nurture students with the values and skills to participate as active citizens. A national survey in 2003 showed that the “DotNet generation”, young Americans between 15 and 26 years of age, were less likely than older generations to understand the ideals of citizenship and were more disengaged from the political process.

In England, an even older society, the Government found it necessary as recently as 2002 to introduce Citizenship as a new subject in the National Curriculum for all students aged 11 to 16. Now, in response to last year’s London bombings and the continuing threat of home-grown terrorism, the government is reviewing whether to introduce a core curriculum emphasing British values and the British identity.

In Australia, the Sydney riots last year has prompted a refocus on the teaching of Australian history, and the values and lessons it holds. Just last week, a summit of government and academic experts agreed to make Australian history a compulsory, standalone subject for all students in Years 9 and 10. PM John Howard also announced a new $100,000 Prime Minister’s Prize for Australian History (for a substantial written work or documentary or film) In New South Wales, the Department of Education and Training has developed several units on “Australian values” to be taught in State schools, and will also be issuing them with CD recordings of the national anthem to be played at school assemblies.

The Japanese have long used their schools to nurture good citizenship and to instil a common identity among their young. But they too face challenges now. They are looking at how to evolve a model of education that was suited for a monocultural society to one which addresses the increasing numbers of minorities in their schools. They are also being challenged to overcome the limits of a traditional model that restricts divergent thinking.

In China, the challenge is different. Educationists see a burgeoning middle class and the single child policy as giving rise to increasing individualism and materialism. Schools are having to work harder to develop moral character and social responsibility.

So Singapore is not unique in wanting to instil in our young a sense of common identity, and commitment to country. Others are doing the same through their schools, and are trying out new methods to make their schools more effective in developing good citizenry. There is no reason for us to be shy about National Education, or whatever we wish to call it.

He summed up the Ministry of Education's NE forum with a quote from one of the videos by students featured in the rally speech, every grain of sand matters, just as every Singaporean matters.

How true.

Friday, August 25, 2006

[SMU Vie]
Week one of school has finally ended. Just Monday I was lamenting about the ungodly hour that I had to wake up cause school starts at 8.30am putting a new meaning to "Monday blues".

And while I only have 5 modules to take I have lots of other stuff to do in between breaks and lunch. Such time is not used for play but used to do my assignments with great mates or have project meetings for some modules.

The good thing about SMU is that in is located in the heart of the city. You can go shopping before class, take a nap on the long bus ride to town and indulge in an ice blended from Starbucks - the perks you don't get to enjoy when your campus is in the West of Singapore.

The down side however, is the price you have to pay to study in the city. For one, prices for food are exhorbitant - okay, SMU students do get discounts.

All in all, my first week has been quite fulfilling, meeting new faces, catching up with fellow friends in SMU and just getting used to life in SMU. It's a whole new schedule unlike work. And some days I'm in school from as early as 9 in the morning to 9 at night. Hopefully, time changes everything.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

[The end and a new beginning]
I don't have to say much as I do not have time to say much.

Monday, August 21, 2006

[Our Future, Our Home]
Was at Prime Minister's National Day Rally. An it was overwhelming but not as overwhelming as Istana. At least I felt more relaxed. Perhaps it comes with practice and attending more events.

So here you go. Here are the photos. And because school is going to take up a lot more of my time, I shall not give too long posts here.

During the Malay and Mandarin speeches we didn't get bored as on the large screen there was the English translation. So it was not boring at all. I was busy going through each and every Malay word that PM said. Perhaps I should take up Malay.

This is the entrance where the VIPs arrived. Close to 7.45pm when we were about to go "live" on national TV, Minister Mentor strolled in generating thunderous applause. Can you spot Education Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam in the picture?

To prevent myself from dozing off, I was busy taking notes. The guy who sat beside me was dozing off during the first two speeches. By the time PM delivered his English speech after the intermission, he was nowhere in sight.

The post-rally reception was great. Had lots of time chatting, observing the rest of the MPs, saying hi to familiar faces and just walking, watching and soaking in the atmosphere.

The most touching topic, which was also the most hilarious, was the digital age segment. It was heartening to know that the Government will be harnessing new technology to engage a whole new generation - well, it will be cool to be seeing some young MPs doing their own podcasts soon - which Mr White would it be? Or Mr Blue?

One thing for sure. NDP 2007 Singapore: Our Future, Our Home.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

[Singapore Biennale]
I spent the last few days doing my CIP, distributing flyers for the Singapore Biennale 2006 at various MRT stations around the island. And I will continue to do so for the next few weeks.

Last night was the pre-event party at Ministry of Sound - cool, priority entry and no queues!!!

But more important is some good news to share.

The Singapore Biennale 2006 opening party will be happening at the Padang on September 1 at 6pm. Do join in the fun. Did I forget to mention that entry is free and that there will be DJs spinning groovy tunes.

It is in conjuction with the contemporary art exhibition that will be held at several venues and it's organised by the National Arts Council and the National Heritage Board.

Catch several renowned artists at the opening party and exhibition.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The initiation to the SMU culture lies with the C.I.R.C.L.E Freshmen Orientation camp.

So I present the censored photos of my group. The rest all "tad glam", meaning not for viewing pleasure.

The whole group minus the MIA kias...

The number guessing game

9 L O A C
7 D I A W
32 I T T I F W I F

Go figure.

Monday, August 14, 2006

[Research on my name]
Was pretty bored so I surfed the net to see who the past and present Ephraims are and were.

Ephraim (Standard Efráyim) – "double fruitfulness" ("for God had made him fruitful in the land of his affliction").

One was a President...
Ephraim Katzir (born May 16, 1916) is an Israeli biophysicist and Israeli Labour Party politician. He served as the President of Israel for one 5-year term, from 1973 until 1978.

Katzir was born in Kiev, Ukraine with the name Ephraim Katchalsky. He changed his last name to the Hebrew name Katzir in 1973, after being elected President by the Knesset. Katzir was at Harvard University when Golda Meir contacted him about being the President of Israel. In 1925 he immigrated with his family to Palestine. He studied at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he received a Ph.D. degree. After studying abroad, he returned to Israel and became head of the Department of Biophysics at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot. In 1966 he became Chief Scientist of the Israel Defense Forces. His brother Aharon, an internationally renowned chemical physicist, was murdered in 1972 during the Lod Airport Massacre.

In 1977, Ephraim Katzir was elected a Foreign Member of the Royal Society. In 1985, he was awarded the Japan Prize.

One is a Prime Minister...
Ephraïm Inoni (born August 16, 1947) is the Prime Minister of Cameroon. He is a longtime loyalist and assistant of President Paul Biya and was previously the deputy secretary general to the presidency. He was appointed to the position of Prime Minister by Biya on December 8, 2004 as part of a cabinet reshuffle, and was sworn in that day. Inoni is a member of the Bakweri ethnic group.

One is a football player...
Ephraim Salaam (born June 19, 1976 in Chicago, Illinois) is an American football player who currently plays offensive tackle for the Houston Texans. He was a three-year starter as both a right and left tackle at San Diego State University, where he played in 31 career games. He was drafted in the 1998 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons and went to Super Bowl XXXII. He also played for the Denver Broncos.

One is an actor...
Ephraim Todd Ellis (born February 23, 1985 in Toronto, Ontario) is a Canadian actor. He is best known for playing Rick Murray in the television show Degrassi: The Next Generation.

He currently plays the character Danny on the television show Falcon Beach which airs on Global. As seen in the show's first episode, he is a decent singer.

Ephraim began acting while studying at Earl Haig Secondary School in Toronto, Ontario. His other television credits include an appearance in the television series Zoe Busiek: Wild Card for Lifetime. He has also starred in the Canadian Film Centre's 2004 feature White Out, which was entered in the Toronto International Film Festival.

One a musician...
Ephraim Owens (b. Nov 5, 1972 in Dallas, TX) is a musician, composer, and jazz bandleader that plays trumpet and flugelhorn.

He began playing trumpet in elementary school, after being urged by classmates to join the school band. He continued his music education by attending the Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas and was awarded a scholarship to study music at Southwest Texas State University. Ephraim studied classical music until he attended a Roy Hargrove concert, and switched to Jazz without looking back.

He moved to Austin, Texas in 1994 and quickly became a fixture in the Austin music scene. In 1997, Mayor Bruce Todd of Austin proclaimed June 14, 1997 Ephraim Owens Day, for his outstanding achievements in the Austin music industry. Ephraim has played all over the world, and with is adaptable to all styles of music, but mostly he plays his favorite music, jazz. Ephraim will be appearing in a movie called 'Before the Music Dies'.

So what will the story of Ephraim Loy be like?

Sunday, August 13, 2006

[B is for Biao Yong and basketball]
The following post may be quite lame but it's something I want to share. It's a bit like Xiaxue style but what the heck.

It was a boring day in the office, plus it's a Sunday somemore, so I chatted with diver. Biao Yong is also diver in case you didn't know. And so his nick in MSN is "[B is for Biao-Yong]".

Clever me decided to disturb him. Here's how the conversation went (for the uninitiated, Biao Yong is still in NS and he is currently doing BMT):

[ephraim.blogspot.com] i love my island home... says:
E is for Ephraim!!!!
[ephraim.blogspot.com] i love my island home... says:
O is for ORD!!!!
[ephraim.blogspot.com] i love my island home... says:
W is for where have you been???
[ephraim.blogspot.com] i love my island home... says:
L is for laugh out loud!!!!

[ B is for Biao-Yong] says:
[ B is for Biao-Yong] says:
J for Jaguar
[ B is for Biao-Yong] says:
B for BMT
[ B is for Biao-Yong] says:
T for Tekong
[ B is for Biao-Yong] says:
B for boooking IN
[ B is for Biao-Yong] says:

Okay. Quite lame.

I also managed to catch a basketball match yesterday at our very own Singapore Indoor Stadium. It was the Philips Singapore Cup 2006. Yup, complimentary tickets again.

It was the match between Argentina and Slovenia. At first, Slovenia was quite aggressive and offensive. But towards the later part, Argentina caught up and won.

There was also a breakdance performance at half time. Quite stylo if that word ever exists in the dictionary.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

This year's National Day Parade had more excitement in and out of the stadium.

Before the parade, there were the Fringe Events by Team Singapore.

And eight hardworking Team Singapore volunteers (thank you Chin Koon, Chrispin, Davin, Farhana, Haz, Jasper, Valarie and myself) were part of the co-ordination team - getting performers to gather at holding areas, compiling the disks for the dj and controlling crowd.

Also, eight photos for viewing pleasure hence the blog title "eight".

There were a total of ten different performances from hot acts to thrilling bike stunts. Three rounds of such perfromances from 2.30pm onwards at the East Entrance of the stadium.

Don't try this at home kids

The 987 Hollerback Crew

SAF Warriors cheerleading team in action

The bikers providing heart-thumping action

Dancers from Republic Polytechnic

Nanyang Technological University's ACES

Hip hop dancers

Photos are courtesy of CK because my Canon IXUS i conked out again. Yes, again. I just bought it three months ago.

Maybe Canon would like to sponsor me a new one.

It's a great first co-ordinating the volunteers with such an important task. Kindof felt pretty stressed at times.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

[My new school]
Great news to shout out.

I have finally made up my mind to further my studies and I have completed the first stage of this new beginning.

And I'll be going to Singapore Management University. If you haven't noticed, my byline for last week's YouthINK page was something like this:

"The writer is a first-year social science student at Singapore Management University".

And there you have it. Giving up a double promotion was tough. But for the future, it is a worthwhile decision.

Also, I have got new projects to keep me busy for the next year at least. I'll be writing for an online youth portal soon.

Now, life is looking pretty good so far.