[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

Sunday, September 03, 2006

[Mass at Punggol's Nativity Church]
I attended Mass at the Nativity Church in Punggol with my family this morning. It was the Feast Day and there was a food and fun fair with lots of good food. The kueh paiti was reputed to be the world's best. Someone said the laksa was almost as good as the one in Katong. My former RC Chairman Robert helped make the arrangements. I was delighted to bump into my old secretary Pauline from the RSAF and the parents of my security officer Anthony.

The Nativity Church with its elegant gothic architecture is a landmark in Ponggol where many Teochew Catholics live. They were Catholic in China before emigrating to Singapore. Without the Hougang boys and girls who became priests and nuns(including Archbishop Nicholas Chia), the Catholic Church in Singapore would face great difficulties. Father Augustine Tay gave a strong sermon during Mass about goodness coming from within us. We chatted over brunch. Fr Tay was ordained together with Father Lawrence Yeo and Father Joakim Kang in 1974, all local boys from the area. It was a special year. Fr Kang, sadly, is now in prison. I knew Fr Kang when he was the Parish Priest at Holy Trinity Church and was happy to learn that Archbishop Chia visits him occasionally.

Like the rest of Singapore, the Nativity Church is nurturing its next generation. The first and second readings and the collection for the poor were all done by schoolboys and schoolgirls. For the older folks, there is still a Teochew Mass at 4.30pm on Saturday. I think I will attend it one of these days out of nostalgia. I used to hear my mother say the rosary in Teochew but that was a long time ago.


Blogger Jt said...

hi, Mr yeo. i guessed your colleague, boon yang was wrong on commenting that ministers are too hard pressed for time to blog , and contrary to his opinion,i am sure blogging does not take you few hours and perhaps you can share with him some tips on how to strike a balance on blogging(which PM lee certainly encourage in his national speech) and his work.

Monday, September 04, 2006 7:50:00 am

Blogger Whispers from the heart said...

Mr Yeo,

I think you should start your own blog. At least, contribute your thoughts to aggregator sites like the Intelligent Singaporean which in my opinion is more befitting of your stature and worth. (I would not elaborate on why contributing here defeats your intentions of connecting with us, if it's one of the intentions).

I don't think Singaporeans expect Ministers to be regular bloggers. (Not to be disrespectful, but we'll probably think the peanuts are not well-spent if they do!).

However, we do look forward to chatting with our ministers in this way.

Monday, September 04, 2006 9:55:00 am

Blogger Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

Dear BG Yeo:

Congratulations for your brave little foray into the wild & woolly world of the Internet. Since PM Lee's rally speech, I have been waiting to see how the Singapore government will venture into the blogosphere and engage citizens in this space.

For a start, your first few posts are interesting. But my hope would be for you (or your minister colleagues) to write not so much about events in your/their personal life (eating kueh paiti; going to church etc), but about social, political, economic and legal issues that concern Singaporeans.

If you merely write about your personal life, I think you cannot compete successfully with the dazzling range of characters who inhabit the blogosphere, each with his or her own unique story to tell. PAP MP Penny Low might possibly have learned this, from her blog last year - it launched with more publicity than most blogs ever get, yet sank just as rapidly into obscurity. Occurrences like that don't do any good for PM Lee's newly-announced goal.

Why Singaporeans might be interested to read you or your colleagues' blog posts is because you are politicians and ministers. In turn, this means that they are interested to read what you have to say, as politicians and ministers. For example, they would be interested to hear what you, as Foreign Affairs Minister, have to say about Singapore's foreign affairs.

Furthermore they are interested to hear it in your own voice. Here I am not referring to podcasts, online videos and the like which MICA and PM Lee seems so distracted by - these are mere technological toys. When I say voice, I mean your unique personality - the real George behind the title BG Yeo, honest; authentic; human; a little raw; unedited.

That's the way we like it.

Otherwise we might as well read the Straits Times.

(I meant that in a bad way, in case you didn't get it).

Thank you for reading this far. I know your time is precious. A final note - as a ministerial blogging model for you (or your colleagues) to think about, I suggest you visit this (if you haven't already):


I think the name should be familiar. Good day.

Monday, September 04, 2006 10:53:00 am

Blogger Mister Wonky said...

Are you kidding me?
What in the world is the point of writing a post just for the sake to getting into the 'digital age'? Wake up and smell the coffee.

Monday, September 04, 2006 11:36:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

yo dudes, give the man a break!!

welcome the minister!!!

me gives *BIG HUG* to Mr. Yeo

see... bloggers can be very friendly :D :D :D

Monday, September 04, 2006 12:52:00 pm

Blogger Gilbert Koh aka Mr Wang said...

I didn't mean to be rude to George Yeo, if that is how it is coming across. I guess in cyberspace, I, like many others, often tend to communicate more directly and frankly, and come across sounding a little abrupt.

I do hope to see more of George Yeo's posts in cyberspace, and on more substantive issues than what he's been doing so far.

Monday, September 04, 2006 3:30:00 pm

Blogger ColdZero said...

I'm in agreement with Mr Wang.

As a minister Mr Yeo, I'd reckon that any significant sense of the citizenry that you might get goes through a long line of discretions before they are neatly written up by civil servants and that report ends up on your desk.

The blogosphere on the other hand presents you with the reciprocal opportunity to encounter the masses as their "raw...unedited" selves to use Wang's words.

So Mr Yeo, you shouldn't waste this fantastic opportunity with 'common man' stories and experiences because with all due respect Sir, you are not the common man. You are a minister in a govt with which the people of this country have precious little meaningful discourse.

This is however not to say that we didn't appreciate the effort. I think the last thing anyone expected was for a PAP minister (as if there's another kind :p) to appear in the blogosphere.

It is my fervent hope that this is the beginning of the end for one way public discourse in Singapore - that is, the PAP talking to itself through the MSM.

Monday, September 04, 2006 4:04:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been staying in Hougang (near Punggol) since I was young. Growing up, I wondered about Teochew Catholics. When I was a child, I had the impression that Christianity was ang moh religion. We were Taoists at home and my vague impressions of Christians/ Catholics were of them reading the bible and speaking English.

But there was a family of Teochew Catholics in our neighbourhood. I was good friends with the daughter who was my age, we played together, and I sometimes tried to reconcile why they were Catholics, but not the “typical” ones in my impression. The entire family spoke Teochew, and although they went to the church every Sunday, we’d also invite them to join in the 7th month Ghost Festival dinner.

I hadn’t realised the grandparents could have been Catholic in China before they came to Singapore. An interesting piece of information, finally I see.

I wish, though, I’d get more chance to hear teochew and my own dialect – hokkien. I used to speak quite good teochew when I was a young child, but now, only a smattering bit of “I have eaten” and “I’m going out” when I greet my old neighbours.

Monday, September 04, 2006 6:11:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeap, would be nice if our children can speak and understand dialects.

Is there a rehink in the policy?

Monday, September 04, 2006 7:21:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Yeo,

I think that you could set up a blog together with a few other ministers, with each of you blogging on different issues. I'm sure a lot of Singaporeans would want to know more about the viewpoints of our ministers regarding both municipal issues and major issues that affect the nation as a whole.

Monday, September 04, 2006 9:12:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr Yeo,

Do ignore the net trolls.

Are you a fan of political dramas such as "Commander In Chief" starring Geena Davis as the US president? The show is empowering.

You share the same star sign as MM Lee, which is Virgo. That makes both of you intellectual, insightful, industrious, clean-cut and perfectionistic.

PM Lee has the star star of Aquarius, which makes him very tolerant, very friendly, stable, intellectual, inventive and optimistic.

I'm awaiting for the age of knowlege, spirituality and enlightenment. The Age of Aquarius begins 2012, when the planets would align in a straight line. It should be a great event for humanity. :)

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 2:30:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm also virgo leh ....

Yep ... six years later and I hope all of us will not only be older but wiser too.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 7:49:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

mr wang isn't being rude. in fact mr wang is being concise, brief, and clear to the point - hallmarks of good writing. if the mr yeo george cannot take the heat, than he should get out and stay out of the kitchen.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 11:06:00 am

Blogger Vine7 said...

Dear Mr Yeo,
Thank you for making your foray into the blogging community. It is a symbolic gesture that you, as a busy minister, come to embrace the digital age and the internet that we are adapting to in this postliberal modernism era.
PAP has to rethink on its position on intenet. Whether you or I like it or not, internet is here to stay. Whether Singapore can remain relevant is how she responds to this digital age and the virtual world of IT.
Poor propaganda will always spread on the internet. Thus, ST and the other traditional media have a role in correcting perceptions and misconceptions of what the public thinks of the government.
Blogging is a nice way to interact with the commoners, to know about their thoughts and feelings, fears and hopes, aspirations and dreams.
Time is very precious, and we prioritise what is important. If PAP is to view the internet arena as important and significant and carrying clout and weight, then perhaps it is time to take internet forums and blogs seriously.

Thank you, minister, for your sacrifices for the country.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 12:55:00 pm

Blogger Vine7 said...

Adapting its core values of PAP for continued survival in the 21st century, and innovating without losing our sense of identity and roots is perhaps one of the biggest challenge that PAP is facing nowadays.
How to be global minded yet retain our unique Singaporean identity, how to foster racial and religious harmony, how to manage biotechnology with the aid of religion, bioethics and morals, how to integrate foreign talents into our homeland and not let a xenophobic spirit develop among Singaporeans are some of the challenges the government faces nowadays, not forgetting terrorism against radical and extreme ideologies etched deep into the hearts of people in the Middle East at least 5000 years ago.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 1:04:00 pm

Blogger pocky said...

Dear Mr Minister, why am I banned in stomp, when you guys encourage us to speak up? (I know is out of topic).

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 3:09:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

wah, got minister blog here ah? so cool! anyway, i think that it is a great step forward taken by mr george yeo. also, as this is one of the first few steps to be taken, i think that we should cut mr yeo and ephraim some slack. not everything done for the first time is perfect. it's the thought and efforts that count. maybe, as time shapes matter, things will be more like what mr wang wants to see, but for now, let's celebrate the fact that a minister is taking the initiative to share his life with the whole world. kudos mr george yeo!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006 4:02:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope Mr Yeo will take notice of all these comments.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006 9:20:00 am

Blogger shopaholic said...

Dear Mr Yeo

It's a nice surprise that you wrote in a blog, great start! It's especially nice to hear that you attended a church near my place.

Hope to see more coming!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 10:30:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope BooGer Yeo will take note of these comments.

And this is for you BooGer Yeo,
_l_ up yours!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006 10:36:00 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are not ministers people? Are they expected to work 24 hours a day? Are they expected to risk their jobs within the party and to cause party disunity by blogging something that sounds more radical or out of line of the line touted by the party? I'm sure that many of them, eat, play with their children, go golfing at their own "non-working" time so what's wrong with them blogging whatever they want during their relaxation time?

Until now, no one knows what really happens when the cabinet gets together and discuss stuff behind the scene? Who knows who pulls the strings of the decision that the executive finally comes out with. Would we expect BG Yeo to come online to blog that "blah blah blah refused to take my recommendation today and bi*vh about it?" Yes, civil law judges do go out and write an article when they are not happy about being overruled by their brother judges, but legal justice is different from politics.

Imagine if every ruling party member blogs about something that's different from the party line? The opposition will pounce upon it, foreign media will pounce upon it, they would be doing themselves a great discredit. Yes, even the party whip is down for blogging.

However, take heart, if more and more ministers like BG Yeo allows us a window into their lives, we'll start seeing the "human side of them" rather than they just being parts of the government machinery. We will start seeing their individual personalities that will allow us to see more of what they think than from just their "CV" or what they say in the press.

Maybe they may be bold enough to start writing in between the lines and only faithful readers who have started to learn more of their personality will soon realise what their real "heart" in the matter is. (when they apply of what they know to what is done by the government) In fact, simply by describing what they do day to day, might give a glimpse of what they are like as a person.

Take this entry for example, BG Yeo talks fondly about going to church. So from this could we draw the conclusion that he's a regular church goer? If he is, has he been one from young? If he has been one from young, is his mindset influenced by the Catholic way of thought with regards to governance and social/moral responsibility? If so, is he a positivist who believes that professionalism and personal morality is separate? (can this be picked up from future posts?) Hence, if there was another "abortion like" bill in the future, would he toe the party line because he's positivist or simply because the party whip is down (you can say what you want about the party whip)?

In closing, fear the party whip system. On the other hand, I welcome BG Yeo to blog whatever he wants, there's freedom in the blogger sphere, just that break the rules and you get hauled up by the police.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 4:28:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Mr Yeo,

I met Fr Kang recently in Changi Prison and told him that you mentioned him in your blog. I am one of the Prison ministry counsellors.

Fr Kang was very touched that you still remember him. He would like you to know that should you wish to get in touch with him, he would be most obliged.

Saturday, September 16, 2006 8:37:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi George, I used to see you as "someone-up-there" and not one of us. However, after reading your blog on going to Church and etc. It brings you much closer to us, you are just like one of us... human... and not the "untouchable".

By the way, I knew Fr Augustine Tay. He taught me Catechism when I was a small boy in the late 1970s (at Church of Saint Anthony - Mandai). He used to knock us on the head with his pipe when we got too noisy. He moved to Saint Joseph Church - Bukit Timah before his current posting. We used to joke that if Fr Tay is not a priest, he would be a successful businessman. :-)

Friday, October 13, 2006 9:42:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear BG Yeo,

At times when I attended the mass at the east coast Holy Family I thought I saw your silhouette from a distance. I guess I was wrong all along :)

He sure looked alike, albeit maybe slightly less hair. Do you go there sometimes? Could he be your brother? :)

Btw, wish you a good week ahead Sir
God Bless

Sunday, October 15, 2006 3:43:00 pm

Blogger Jackstraw said...

Er... So tempted to reply, but nevermind. Haha. =D

Keep blogging!

Monday, April 16, 2007 10:32:00 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi George,

My "heartiest" congrats to you for your recent HUGE payrise, courtesy of Singaporeans taxpayers money.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007 1:36:00 am

Blogger Thomas Lew said...


Enough Said

Wednesday, June 13, 2007 4:03:00 pm


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