[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

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

[Patron's Day party]
The organisers for the Patron's Day post party almost turned the T-junction into dbl-O.

But the social science people preferred a quieter and more spacious place to chill out and talk rather than the loud music and the "you brush me, I brush you" crowded surroundings.

I didn't have time to check out the action as I had classes till late. Maybe next year.

Monday, January 28, 2008

[Youth Olympic Games]

1. Singapore has quite a good chance of hosting the first Youth Olympic Games in 2010. Although the new sports complex will not yet be ready, we have more than adequate facilities. Singapore is also a wonderfully cosmopolitan city, and safe. I am sure Singaporeans will give a very warm welcome to all the international athletes and spectators. We have no aspirations to host a full-fledged Olympic Games because it is very costly. But the Youth Olympic Games is different. The idea is to avoid huge public expenditures and excessive commercialization. In some ways, the Youth Olympic Games will be truer to the original Olympic spirit.

2. But, wow, imagine us being given this exciting honour. We should think of ways to involve as many Singaporeans as possible and become like a national host family for all participants. In an email, Ephraim asked Harold for wacky ideas. We need lots.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG

Sunday, January 27, 2008

[Breathtaking view]
If there's any word to describe this week, it would be "recee".

Friday comprised two visits - one to Bedok Reservoir and the other to Kenny Yap's Qian Hu. Then it was another outing to The Pod at National Library.

This is in preparation for a dialogue session on rising cost of living amongst youth to be held on February 2. I guess I'll leave the pictures to speak for themselves with regard to the breathtaking view.

Last but not least, I shall attempt to generate interest for the event. I'll be the moderator for this dialogue so do drop by to support me at the National Library. Plus, you stand to gain some knowledge of what is being done to help the middle class cope as well as what other youths think about the topic.

Maybe I'll try to be cheeky and ask about the reshuffling of the Cabinet and whether Singapore can have the first female minister.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

[ASEAN Yodel]
1. ASEAN had a good presentation at WEF on Friday. Except for Myanmar, it was a full turnout. The three leaders (Singapore, Malaysia and Philippines) sat in front, while the other countries and the Secretary-General sat behind. The hall was packed with many in the audience standing on the sides and behind. The short video clip at the beginning gave them a good impressionistic sense of ASEAN.

2. PM Lee summarized what we are trying to achieve in ASEAN. President Arroyo reinforced the message. However, she made it clear that the Philippines Senate could only ratify the Charter if there were improvements in Myanmar and Aung San Suu Kyi was released. One could hear murmurs in the audience when she said that. PM Abdullah Badawi reflected on how China, from being a threat, had become an important friend of ASEAN.

3. Following the session, there was an ASEAN reception with ASEAN food (more or less) served on both floors. There were long lines although I didn't know whether the people came to learn about ASEAN or for the food. Expecting poor food at my dinner presentation on Asian integration afterwards, I picked up a plate to sample the fare which was not bad at all considering the circumstances. WEF would not allow outside caterers. Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt was at the reception. We chatted briefly. British FM David Miliband walked in a few minutes later. He, Kouchner and Rice had issued a statement on Myanmar. We lamented the lack of progress.

View the webcast of The Emerging Asian Community: The Role of ASEAN here

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG

[Getting closer to the water]
Very soon Bedok Reservoir can have its own national day parade of sorts. That's my daring vision.

I was there this afternoon for a site recee with more than 10 other people.

It's for our annual release of fish event. And it is a inter-agency collaboration - PUB, NEA, Nparks, town council and the list goes on. But that is not the most exciting thing. The most exciting thing is being one of the very first few to go onto the floating deck.

It's very much like the one at Marina albeit a smaller scale. Throw in fountains, fire machines and lights - and viola - it's almost like the parade (I know cause I covered NDP 07 and managed to tour the floating platform).

Little by little, step by step I tread onto the platform. The material for the ground is slightly different though. The one at Marina is a little slippery. But you really can get close to the water. Even got scuba divers underwater. Pardon the singlish.

Within the next two weeks, work is gonna get completed. Just in time for Chinese New Year.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

[Another week of news]
I'm learning. Really.

I know I shall not be so private with my life. The more you want to hide, the more poeple want to pry. So here goes.

As the weeks go by, I learn. I learn how to do my radio broadcast better. I learn to use the software with more style. It's all part of learning by doing. Unlike last week where I had to get help I didn't have the jitters recording my news today. And I added in a bit of my style.

I am becoming more vain too (the latter is not true). Actually not really vain lah. I wore shorts and slippers to record the news today.

I did try something new though. The curious me decided to listen to my broadcast. I realised I speak very fast. Okay, I know I should speak slower. I will try to next week.

Some things are like economics and public policy. You set it up and slowly modify the policy through its phase.

Recording for my news is usually done in Studio 2 - it's the not so glam one. I shall show you people Studio 1 next time. It's like those FM93.3 studios man - very very cosy compared to Studio 2.

Nevertheless, I love being a newscaster for campus radio. Really.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

[Final editing]
Apart from school, my ethnography project on Thaipusam, I've been going for my almost weekly meeting for various grassroots committees (that is the trouble when you sit on three commitees), doing my weekly radio news and editing my school's campus paper.

The last week was centered on the editing the black and white draft.

But today's has more colour. It's almost the final cut - I've been going through each article after discussing with my Art Director on the layout of the newspaper.

Perhaps a managing editor for each issue would ease my workload.

Stay tuned for the upcoming issue of The Blue and Gold this Friday. It rocks.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

[Duties and FTB]
Haven't been blogging. In fact, I think minister blogs more often than I do now!

Perhaps there's nothing really that interesting to blog about. For now.

For three Saturdays in a row, I've been having back to school fever - being holled up in school halls of primary or secondary schools - doing my emcee duty for scholarship and bursary presentation ceremonies.

My voice's almost gone. The final blow was last night when I was hit by a bout of flu. And I couldn't sleep due to my heavy dose of cinnamon latte earlier. Coffee almost always keeps me awake.

But I have been able to fit in a little bit of shopping. Went with Jesslyn to find Jasper at Paragon en route to my FTB gathering at Clarke Quay.

And after meeting my FTB group (people like Joseph, Jit, Jun Kwang, Evan and Caryn), we headed to that fish shop opposite Central (I think it is called Fisherman's Wharf or something) for Creamy Dory Fish - think the not so coffee shop or food court style of Fish and Chips. The lower grade version of Fish and Co. but still nice nonetheless. They serve crispy calamari with a tinge of garlic.

We were supposed to go to the Bondue bash (organised by the SMU business school) at arena but decided on a less crowded place instead. So we talked cock (stories about the movie Free Willy) at tcc at Clarke Quay while the rest of the SMU people were at the next door location.

Halfway, the fireworks danced in the sky like fairies. It was the Chinese New Year launch thing at Chinatown.

The day (or night) ended with bungee ogling at Clarke Quay.

I couldn't have imagined the consequences if I had gone clubbing. Maybe I would end up not even being able to blog now.

Every Thursday is my news slot on campus radio - it's quite fun to be recording in the studios.

The only thing that I gripe about is when I have to do the clip all over again just because on one word!

And I am so forgetful that I can't seem to get the steps right on the editing and the cue-ing.

News clips are titled in the studios as such: WEEK 02 THU 6PM NEWS.

The news repeats at 7pm and 8pm. But I rarely have the chance to listen to myself on campus radio.

Anyway, for the record here's the script of my debut braodcast.

Good evening and welcome to the news on Campus Radio.
I’m Ephraim Loy

Leading the bulletin this hour
The teenager who became a controversial global media star after a wild party at his parents’ house in Melbourne has been arrested. The 16-year-old decided to throw a party while his parents were on holiday. Police yesterday laid charges against the teen, who cannot be named under privacy laws. The charges include creating a public nuisance and producing child pornography. The teen is now out on bail.

Nearer to home, Malaysia is planning to bar Singaporeans and Thais from taking home staple foods like flour and sugar to avert shortages of the subsidized goods. The move comes after the government was forced to flood the market last week with thousands of tonnes of cooking oil and flour as shortages left supermarket shelves stripped bare and restaurant owners warning they faced disruption.

In local news
The first Singapore Airshow takes flight and visitors can indulge in a slew of treats. A total of 42 flying machines comprising warplanes, business jets and helicopters will greet visitors at the show’s static display area. Singapore’s very own Black Knights will also be performing.

The excitement over the upcoming Formula One races in September raced through the heartlands yesterday as Ang Mo Kio Secondary School held their own F1 race in their school hall. The event was organised as part of the school’s three-day learning festival.

On the sports front
Singapore’s most famous sports couple, Ronald Susilo and Li Jiawei, broke up amicably last week after a 4-year relationship. The couple were engaged after the 2004 Olympics, after shuttler Susilo proposed to table tennis star Li upon her return from Athens. The break-up was a peaceful one and both athletes maintain that they are still friends.

This news bulletin has been the courtesy of My Paper.

I just hope I get better and better at this.

Friday, January 18, 2008

[Neighbourhood Party at Charlton Park Estate]
1. It was nice of Mr and Mrs Tan to open their house at Surin Avenue for a neighbourhood party this evening organised by the local committee. About a hundred residents from Charlton Park Estate turned up, some meeting each other for the first time. The area comes under Mdm Cynthia Phua. Instead of a formal dialogue session, I went round from table to table, sometimes two tables joined together at a time, to chat about various things. There was a cool breeze blowing which made the evening rather pleasant.

2. Many of the residents who came had lived there from the time the estate was first built 40 years ago. Then it was about $40,000 per house, maybe less. Now each is worth much more. Nominally, the owners are now millionaires but they don't necessarily feel that way. A few told me that they intended to leave their houses to their children as an estate duty tax shelter. A number are retired school teachers.

3. We discussed issues big and small. One gentleman told me that his new Muslim neighbour complained about his burning of joss paper. Another about being summoned for parking a few minutes where the road had a while line. Means testing was a hot topic. Two residents asked about the recent multi-billion dollar investment by Temasek and GIC in international financial institutions. Some worried about how much the impact of recession in the US on us. Would there be lay-offs in Singapore again?

4. What I found heartwarming is the sense of a settled neighbourhood where residents looked out for one another. One resident commented that while the government had done well, there was room for improvement. I heartily agreed.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

1. Kumar? Kumar, the entertainer ..., that Kumar? Yes.

2. I was pleasantly surprised when told that my interviewer for the Arts Central programme on the Berlin Wall would be Kumar. I had of couse met him before at various events and knew he often cracked jokes about Singapore ministers. The programme was recorded at Temasek Poly on Tuesday. Kumar was dressed in fashionable all-white. When I shook his hand, I could not resist commenting that it looked PAP white.

3. He was polite (surprisingly) and funny (as always). On the Berlin Wall, he played 'buat bodoh', asking me basic questions for the benefit of viewers who might not be familiar with the history. Before I knew it, the interview was over. Kumar was the skilful interviewer who drew the interviewee out without him quite realizing it. I hope it turned out well.

4. Sheikh Haikal was next to be interviewed. I was tempted to stay on and watch his performance but took the hint from the producer that my presence wasn't needed.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG

Monday, January 14, 2008

[Scholarships and Bursaries]
1. I've been giving out scholarships and bursaries last weekend and the weekend before to students living in Bedok Reservoir and Hougang-Punggol, about three hundred at a time. I'll do the third and last batch next Saturday at Holy Innocents School. In addition to Edusave Scholarships and Merit Bursaries which are funded by the government, the CCC gives out additional bursaries to children of poorer. The CCC Education Fund has been built up over the years from private donations.

2. Education is the most important investment we can make for the future. We can lose the things we have but, with education, we can rebuild our assets. Conversely, we can have all the riches in the world but, without good education, we will lose them eventually. China made a wise decision years ago to pour resources into education. India made a big mistake by not doing so and is discovering that it is increasingly short of skilled manpower. But this is finally changing. When I had breakfast at the Botanic Gardens with Montek Singh, the Deputy Chairman of the Indian Planning Commission a few weeks ago, he told me that big monies would henceforth be diverted to education.

3. Singapore parents worry a lot about their children's education and our students are under pressure all the time to perform. The private tuition industry is booming. Although many aspects of our education system can be improved, we are doing very well on the whole. That is why our kids do very well in international tests in both science and mathematics. The scholarships and bursaries we give encourage our students to continue making the effort. This is the best way to secure our future.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

[School's in]
I have a three-day week this term and it means I have lots more time than before. But the time is to be used to study and enrich myself. To catch up on work, to do my readings and to climb higher. That's the way.

I recall in the first issue of The Blue and Gold, the SMU Students' Association President wrote a piece along the lines of I think. Suddenly, I just had such an inspiration too.

So here are 10 things that I think are important - to me.

I think the feeling of falling in love is great
Sends your heart through outer space
Like a race on the milky way

I think looking at bright stars is romantic
A hug that keeps you warm
Although there’s a brewing storm

I think happiness is in being content
It’s greater that what money can buy
It’s not easy to come by

I think having a great friend’s a blessing
Something that’s from above
Like a shadow by your side

I think music is therapeutic
Hides wounds that appear
And the glittery tears

I think studying is more than just grades
Straight ‘A’s but just for the money
Where’s the passion for the job, honey

I think technology is a cool and exciting thing
Helps to bring about social change
Only those that can adapt survive

I think compromise is what one has to learn
Being stubborn isn’t going to work
Pluralism is here to stay

I think it’s good to be emotional sometimes
Just to cry out and let the tears flow
Rather than keep everything locked inside

I think having hopes and dreams are fun
Like there’s something to look forward to each day
But also sends emotions to a high

Saturday, January 05, 2008

[From hip hop to rock]
First it was hip hop. Now, the P65 MPs have started to showcase their vocal prowess too.

Set to rock your world, the P65 MPs belted out to the tune of Queen's We Will Rock You at the Young PAP's 22nd Anniversary Celebration event as they called out to the guests to clap and stomp to the beat.

The YP's 22nd anniversary was marked with a cocktail reception party as well as an awards segment to acknowledge the contributions of YP members. It was held at a literally cool location - the National Museum.

The organisers ordered gobos, so the usually white walls of the museum were draped in shades of blue.

Apart from singing, there was a toasting session led by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Chairman of the YP, to usher in the new year. The was the usual performances - songs on the saxaphone and singers. No hip hop for 2008 though. Not this time.

During the event, the YP slogan "Your Place, Your Part, Your Party" was also unveiled in style.

Dr Vivian emphasised in his message that although the past year had been good for many, it's a cause for celebration. But he emphasised and urged those present not to forget that there may be others who are not doing too well. And those are the ones that have to be helped.

It was an interactive session. The P65 MPs, together with Dr Vivian, mingled with the crowd that consisted of party members and non-party members. Our group of four YP members had a long discussion with P65 MP Teo Ser Luck.

I felt that it was a very good opportunity to catch up with YP members all around Singapore. And also so fodder to mull upon. Until next year.

Now here's the fun part: Do you see what I see?

[The Kings of Freedom Launch]
1. On Friday morning, we had an interesting launch of the Berlin Wall project at Temasek Poly (TP). The entire event was organised by Youth Empire and students from TP which gave it an unusual character, at least to me. Sheikh Haikal, the MC, arrived on a lorry stage preceded by a percussion band (kind of modern kompang). Luckily, the weather was perfect, a beautiful bright, clear morning with a cool light breeze blowing. It was fun. TP students from the culinary department prepared the food. The German Embassy contributed beer and sausages.

2. Joining us were a number of European and ASEAN ambassadors who arrived in cars bearing their national flags. The German Ambassador has been an enthusiastic supporter of the project. He himself is from Berlin and naturally feels deeply about the symbolism of the wall. I hope the installation of the wall at Bedok Reservoir will help build a bridge between Singapore and Berlin, between Singapore and Germary, and between ASEAN and the European Union. The wall will be unveiled on 9 Nov 2009, on the 20th anniversary of the collapse of the wall, an event which changed the history of Europe and the world.

3. Speaking from the lorry stage, I explained how this wall came to be loaned to us for the long term. I knew the owner Robert Hefner, a natural gas businessman, from the early 90's. He is a most interesting person who saw China's development very early and became a major collector of Chinese oil paintings. When he offered to have the wall exhibited in Singapore, I grabbed at the opportunity. His wife, MeiLi, born in Singapore, was naturally in favour of this. Both the Hefners are now Singapore PRs and have an apartment here.

4. Sitting and interpreting the wall will be an interesting exercise. We need ideas, lots of them. To cast the net wide, a competition has been organised. The winning idea will get a prize of $15,000. Later, we will have a design competition, going into actual details. Please refer to this website for information: www.kingsoffreedom.com. Albert Hong of RSP architectural firm has generously contributed $100,000 for prize monies.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's 5am and I am still up.

It must have been that cup of coffee. I can't sleep.

And I am supposed to blog about countdown. Countdown? What countdown? As in previous years, this year is slightly different. I usually attend the New Year's Eve service in church. But this year, it's work. And I am not complaining.

Jade Seah is hot. And I spend New Year's Eve with her! Not a scandal. Let's just say it's work.

I also spent the night partying with the likes of Michelle Chia, Gurmit Singh, Joakim Gomez and lots more celebrities. I was at MediaCorp's Countdown 2008. It was a load of fun not squeezing with everyone else cause I have my media pass!

To the Catholic Junior College guys, Evergreen Secondary School guys and the girls from Riverside Secondary it was great know you people! I felt like I was a celeb shaking hands and greeting you people.

And here's Elvin Ng getting warm and friendly with the guys from Catholic Junior College. Study hard for your A-level exams if you happen to read this guys.

Elvin again. This time getting popular with the small boys.

It's not that bad to be working on New Year's Eve. After all, I've been working even on public holidays in 2007.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

[Happy New Year]
1. Here's wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous new year! Singapore is on the right track and should continue to do well. The US sub-prime market crisis bears watching as it might pull the US economy into recession. We'll be affected for sure if that happens. But the longer term trends in Asia are positive and good for us. With China, India, Vietnam and the Gulf states growing rapidly, we are riding a wave.

2. At the lighting up ceremony at Hougang Central on December 30th, there was a huge crowd. The mood was good and everyone responded to the performances by our media stars. Liu Ling Ling and Yeo Yann Yann's hokkien song from 881 (jit lan, jit pua) was a hit, reminding us to give and take. Whatever happens, let's keep an eye out for each other.

Photo credit: Lianhe Zaobao, Singapore Press Holdings

3. We had a modest fireworks display which turned out to be more spectacular than expected. I could never imagine such an event in our neighbourhood. See the clip below.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG