[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, November 30, 2008

[For once I am thanking God]
It's that time of the year again. Exams have ended.

I always enjoy the time after exams. For those who have been following closely, the time after my exams is used to write about politics and what I have learnt. Sometimes it applies to the Singapore model.

In a month, 2008 will come to an end. I am grateful and thank God for the many wonderful opportunities that I have been given, time after time, year after year. So God, if you are reading this: A big thank you to you!

Often, we get caught up with our lives, with our work, with the many many achievements that we want and aim for. And we neglect God and the people that we love around us.

I would really love to take a break from everything and just wander aimlessly and feel lost. Because it is when you are lost that you get found - it is where you find meaning in life.

One day I just wanna take the train and venture out there. One day, I like to give up all that I have, to find meaning in life. I hate to be in a rat race honestly.

There are many things that I thank God for. And I am looking forward to my week ahead - it's gonna be hectic (as usual), it's gonna be exciting cause I am attending a musical with a special person (I love musicals) and I am looking forward to participating at next year's visual arts exhibition at the SMU Arts Festival.

For the first time, I am revealing this. It is something that only people close to me and close to the arts know about this. And I am really excited to be working with some accomplished artists. Installation will be in December and the exhibition will open to the public in early January.

Is it over now? Do we really have to say goodbye?
Does it mean that we can't talk anymore?
Cause I still love you so
Cause I didn't mean to break your heart
If only you knew why I had to let you go

It's from Tanya Chua. Inspirational and very emo.

Friday, November 28, 2008

[Swimming with the Facebook wave]
I strongly remember a phrase that Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo used to describe the fast moving pace of Internet technology. "The changing landscape" was his phrase.

Yesterday, he changed his status to "George Yeo is very worried about hostage situation in Mumbai." A flurry of comments went up.

Had that comment been posted here, the response may not have been the same. By many counts, the interaction of Facebook is far more intimate that blogs. And because of that intimacy and privacy that Facebook allows, a small community network is forming. Further, Facebook is unlike a blog - not everyone can see every comment. It is not an open book but a protected community.

This blog, on the other hand serves a different purpose. It allows a different target audience to take a peek into the life of Singapore's Foreign Affairs Minister.

Once, I remarked about politicians (especially Ministers) on ivory towers. Facebook is one such tool that connects the ordinary citizen to the top. By the same token, it allows someone from the top to interact with the bottom - you could call it a network polity of sorts.

In a sense, Facebook is dynamic. It provides instant connectivity with someone with its myriad of applications and tools - chats, comments on status and direct access to someone who is not easily accessible. Perhaps our generation is one that is lazy, or instant which is not so much of a passive term - we like instant connectivity - mobile phones, SMS and the like. And as technology evolves, the way society interacts changes. And so will the political sphere.

No longer would the old methods work. But it does not mean that the old methods which have been tried and tested are redundant. There are still the laggards that very much prefer to stick to traditional methods. The same comparison can be made of mainstream media and new media.

For me, I prefer a combination of both because I feel that both forms of media can be complementary.

So they say: Different strokes for different folks.

We managed to adapt to the wave of technology and the onset of handphones. Can we swim together with the Facebook wave?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

[Brazil-Singapore Relations]
PM Lee had a short but productive visit to Brazil. At both Sao Paulo and Brasilia, he introduced MM's memoirs in the Portuguese language, complementing the Spanish version launched a week earlier.

President Lula received PM Lee warmly and said he would visit Singapore next year with a business delegation. With the growing importance of Asia, the countries of Latin American want to diversify their links beyond the US and Europe. Indeed the growth of the middle classes in Asia will bring about a new era of prosperity for all those countries in Latin America like the countries of Mercosur (Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay), Chile and Peru which has the land and coastlines to supply meats, marine products, grains and other products.

As they look towards Asia, their interest in Singapore grows. The translation of MM's memoirs into Spanish and Portuguese is therefore timely. The Paraguay Trade Minister whom I met in Brasilia during the ASEAN-Mercosur Ministerial Meeting was delighted to receive the Spanish version, adding that it was his hope that Paraguay could be like Singapore!

Arriving at the Brazilian Foreign Ministry (Itamaraty Palace) for the ASEAN-Mercosur Talks

ASEAN and Mercosur ministers at lunch

Class Pix

Signing Science and Tech Agreement

Signing Air Services Agreement

Do read my posts on Beyond SG and link up on Facebook if you have an account

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

[Too many wires]
It's my third day back at National Arts Council. I start work again officially on 1 December so I was back to prepare and attend the Singapore Biennale 2008 Closing Party.

But there's one thing that's bugging me - irritating wires that make my desk look untidy. If you know, I like to be so tidy that people think I have obsessive compulsive disorder.

I have to organise all my documents in files (see below right) and I got to make sure I know where each at every item is or else I get really annoyed. If someone touches my stuff I'd surely know.

Today was spent organising and sorting out all my documents and those left behind by my earlier colleagues. And I went through every single file to take a look at the content. Soon I will have to go through all the files on the server. I've also selected a few catalogues and books to read - Iskandar Jalil and Yeo Chee Kiong's books (one's a potter while the other's a sculptor).

I also took the opportunity to clear out all the old magazines - once they were the inspiration of design ideas but now the fill the dustbin. CATALOG magazine, I-S magazine and newsletters of other public service departments (now you know what magazines inspire).

And as I was going to leave the office for the party, I saw something really nice.

It's gonna be christmas soon! So cute. That's one of the volunteer manager's desk.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

[It's time to say goodbye]
For the last eight months it has been a long journey. But somehow, good things have to come to an end. For example September Sweetness.

I digress. The last time I revisited South Beach Development was a week before the Biennale officially closed. The Punggol CC YEC had brought a huge group to tour the Biennale and were guided in Hokkien. Wierd but it was hilarious hearing how the guide explain the artworks in a different language.

While trying to explain the political undertones to a resident, I asked her what she thought the work was and she replied that it looked like those crystal stones. Interesting. I looked at it and thought so too. It must have been the erosion of the sugar due to rain.

Mariele Neudecker's artwork in two gigantic tanks has taught a good lesson on Chemistry. Titled Think of One Thing, fog emerges among the mountains in her works based on a reaction between epoxy and some chemical.

Chaw Ei Thein, Rich Streitmatter-Tran and Aung Ko painstakingly, together with the Singapore Biennale volunteers, assembled September Sweetness, made up entirely of sugar which eroded through time. Moulds of the temple were created and liquid sugar was poured in and left to solidify.

Joshua Yang, a Singapore artist that I had met personally, with his Impossibility of the Superstring Theory. One could see how much space a single line could fill.

A cool artist from Italy who dropped by during my art class - Paolo W. Tamburella with his work 肥皂 made of many many soap bars. There was a point when he even ran out of soap for the installation.

An eerie video by Apichatpong Weerasethakul from Thailand which was shot in a famed Thai hotel. It was about memories of the past, quite ghostly but had specks of stuff floating in the air. It was shot in 2007 and is titled Morokot (Emerald).

Nadia Bamadhaj's series of drawings may look simple from afar but once you go closer, one could see the charcoal marks and the layers and layers of paper that make up the images. Not an easy feat.

One hot favourite at City Hall - Zadok Ben-David's Blackfield that has thousands of laser cut plants that are black on one side and in colour on the other. Made visitors go "Wow!"

One of the few artists from Kyrgyzstan is Aktan Abdykalykov. His series of films are like those you see on TV in the early days of Singapore's independence.

Alfredo Juan and Maria Isabel Aquilizan with their work Address is a piece that is assembled from personal objects given by Filipinos. The entire structure that resembles a room with a door was made of 140 different cubes of personal belongings.

And last but not the least, Issac Montoya's image that has two different views when seen with red and blue film.

It'll be two more years until the next edition of Singapore Biennale. I'm excited (but also excited about the Youth Olympic Games).

[Welcoming Leader From Distant Land]
The furthest country from Singapore is Ecuador. Singapore's antipode is the port city of Guayaquil. Almost as far away as Ecuador is Peru.

This morning, the Peruvian President Alain Garcia put on a lavish welcome ceremony for PM Lee Hsien Loong at the main city square of Lima on the site of the old Spanish Viceroy's palace. On one side is the grand cathedral which houses the tomb of the conquistadore Francisco Pizarro. Next to the cathedral is the official residence of the Archbishop which has an intricate Moorish facade. In the middle of the square is an old cast iron fountain which, once a year in July, spouts pisco rather than water.

PM's car (a Chinese Red Flag) went round the square taking the salute from what must be an elaborate honour guard of over a thousand men. His car was accompanied in procession in front and behind by ceremonial horsemen bearing pennants. Cannons boomed away twenty times scattering pigeons in all directions. When PM finally alighted onto a red carpet, there was the Peruvian President waiting for him on top of the steps. On both sides were guards in red and blue toy soldier uniforms with gold braids and epaulettes carrying long swords. The brass band played the Majulah in extra slow time but with feeling.

The Presidential Palace and the rooms inside are in baroque style and well-maintained. Lima was the seat of the Viceroy of the Spanish Empire in South America since the 16th century. In later centuries, new Vice Realms were established in Bogota and Buenos Aires.

After the bilateral meeting, PM was garlanded with Peru's national award and a big medal (with diamonds it was announced) was pinned on him. The lavish welcome ceremony and the award expressed a new friendship across the Pacific. A few months ago Singapore signed an FTA with Peru. Globalisation has made the world smaller.

Do read my posts on Beyond SG and link up on Facebook if you have an account

Saturday, November 22, 2008

[APEC in Peru]
I was happy to return to Peru after 24 years. After getting married in Boston in 1984, my wife and I toured South America for two weeks as part of an extended honeymoon. We travelled cheaply as students, staying in 2-star hotels and flying dangerous airlines (in hindsight). From La Paz, where we suffered badly from altitude sickness, we flew to Cuzco and travelled by train to Macchu Picchu. Those centres of Inca civilization left an indelible impression on me. When we arrived in Lima, the city looked as if it had been bombed. Buildings were run down; the streets were dusty; even Miraflores, the best district, looked tattered. Inflation was in double digits, becoming triple digits a year afterwards.

Lima has improved by leaps with beautiful hotels and charming restaurants. Peru is now one of the fastest growing countries in Latin America although the current crisis will slow it down. Alain Garcia who was a young President in the late 80's is back, this time wiser and more mature. Parks, public buildings have been spruced up for the arrival of world leaders. Walking through the old city last night, there was a carnival air. Pedestrians and motorists wave to visitors, grinning broadly and gesturing with thumbs up. At the Plaza Mayor, I saw the welcome ceremony for the Vietnamese PM.

Arriving in Lima

I visited a few old churches. Peru remains a very Catholic country, a legacy from its Spanish past.

At Franciscan Monastery

This morning, I took part in a panel at the APEC Business Summit, joining the newly elected NZ Prime Minister on stage. The economic crisis dominated the discussions. I talked about the need to respond both top down and from bottom up. Top down, we need better international coordination and a reform of institutions like the IMF. Bottom up, countries, companies, families and individuals have to go back to basics - hard work, education, not spending more than what we earn, building up trust and reputation. There's no shortcut to success and making money.

With Peru Trade Minister

With Peru FM

With Japanese FM

With Korean Trade Minister

With Australian FM

Group Picture with Foreign and Trade Ministers

Do read my posts on Beyond SG and link up on Facebook if you have an account

[Why I am not on The Online Citizen]
In September this year there was some controversy at The Online Citizen. Zaobao had reported some comments by people that The Online Citizen was a masked website by the PAP citing several of the members' links with the ruling party and government.

"这些匿名者还指出,创办人卢鸿佩是从行动党青年团跳槽到工人党青年团的,现在也已离开工人党。另一名创办人朱正熙(新加坡国立大学法律系学生)则曾经当 过西海岸集选区议员何玉珠的国会讲稿写手,连续五个月领了每个月500元的津贴。而”网络公民”的编辑之一黎传智(新加坡管理大学政治系学生)则是行青团团员,不但参与基层活动,也跟外交部长杨荣文经营同一个博客。"

Recently, if you have noticed, I am not on The Online Citizen's lineup anymore but it is not because it was an attempt to break away nor was it to show that those rumours were true.

For the past year as an editor at TOC, it has been an exciting experience. It was great to see the passion and the issues that were brought up. And it is not to say that I oppose their views. In fact, I think TOC is an excellent platform to raise serious issues. Not only does it dig deep into government policies, it shows the other views that the government may have overlooked and is a supplement to provide views on existing policies in a bottom-up fashion.

Recently I am heartened by the petition that polytechnic students have been signing - the one against the fares for poly students versus JC students. This reminds me of what I had learnt by organising the First George Yeo Blog Competition.

Youths are concerned with what affects them most - like bus fares. The competition had allowed students to express their thoughts about things that mattered to them. The next step is to show interest on current affairs that may indirectly impact them. Following that would be an interest in world affairs.

I think we did the right thing in organising the competition. It was the first step to getting the participants enthused about affairs that they normally would not bother about. And that is what youths should take interest in.

[I am finally on Facebook]
One of the reasons why I did not want to join Facebook was because of the intrusive-ness. But nevertheless, I started my own profile a few days ago. I must say it is addictive.

Have been busy preparing for my exams. Again, every semester is a great learning opportunity. This time is no different and this term I studied a lot about domestic politics and international politics.

Time and time again, I marvel at the amount of knowledge out there and the multitude of academic papers to read. Each one is interesting and reading papers is something one has to do to survive in the School of Social Sciences. That is the rigour of having to do a political science major.

I recall in 2006, Foreign Affairs Minister George Yeo had asked me why I chose to study social sciences. I know the answer now. For me, social science is an exciting new realm which not many people would want to study - who cares about poverty in third world nations or what policies in Thailand caused great development? Well, social science students do.

Having spent three years in Engineering school, I think the change to social science is refreshing. It is wholesome. First a polytechnic education in the sciences, then a university education in the arts. How much more all-rounded could it get?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

[Great Success!]
Before I flew off to Barcelona, I was relieved to received an SMS that all affected blocks (520-525, 530-533) at Hougang Ave 6 voted for lift upgrading. I was down in the afternoon persuading the second floor residents of Blk 533, leaving hand-written notes to residents who were not in. Another block I visited a few days earlier voted overwhelmingly in favour even though a straw poll conducted earlier showed less enthusiasm. Two blocks in other parts of my division had voted 'no' some years before (meaning less than 75%). The residents have come back to me repeatedly since hoping that they can be given another chance.

I thank Kent and his RC members and the good people of HDB for all the legwork they put in.

As the populations ages, lift upgrading has become the number one request all over Singapore. I'm glad that the upgrading has already been done or soon will be in most parts of my division.

Do read my posts on Beyond SG and link up on Facebook if you have an account

Friday, November 14, 2008

[Lift Upgrading at Blks 520-525, 530-533 at Hougang Ave 6]
I launched the lift upgrading programme on Friday evening after giving the cheque to Mercy Relief for the Yemen flood victims. It is important for affected residents to give full support because we need a super-majority of 75% for each block. Straw polls earlier had shown Blk 522 residents to be less enthusiastic. I had visited some of them last week and decided to visit a second round to speak to residents that I had missed the last time. The response was generally positive. I'm keeping my fingers crossed. It would be a great pity if there was not enough support because, with an ageing population, lift upgrading is a necessity.

Do read my posts on Beyond SG and link up on Facebook if you have an account

[Flood in Yemen]
While the Singapore Government contributed US$20,000 for flood victims in Yemen, various organisations in Singapore has been raising money as well. We passed the hat around in Aljunied GRC and collected $22,000. Then, this morning, a friend of mine who has been to the Hadramaut in South Yemen before said he would double it. God bless him.

On Friday evening, we had a small ceremony at Punggol CC to hand the cheque to Mercy Relief which has organised medical teams. Members of the Arab Association also turned up. I was touched by the attendance of Habib Hassan of Ba'Alwi Mosque. Mr Hassan from Mercy Relief had just come back from the Yemen and showed us pictures of the terrible damage caused by the flood. Normally, rainfall is greeted as a blessing in this arid region. But the three days of rain at the end of October caused a flood never seen before in living memory.

Do read my posts on Beyond SG and link up on Facebook if you have an account

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

[Blog Competition]

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,
Boys and Girls,

1. Let me say how pleased I am to be here this afternoon to be part of an unexpected event. I started blogging upon the encouragement of Harold and Ephraim. It seems a long time ago. It was a new communication medium for me which I knew very little about. They invited me as guests on their websites and it turned out to be less difficult, less onerous than I thought. It became a way of keeping a diary.

2. Later I was persuaded by another group of friends to also start a Facebook account and I find playing among these different media an interesting experience for me and one which somehow keeps me closer in touch with the younger generation. In any society at any point in history there is a generation shift. There are those who are mature, then there is a younger generation coming of age.

3. All great institutions have to recruit carefully whether you are the civil service, whether you are a church, whether you are a university. The admission office, whatever you call it, is very important. If you don’t take in the right people whatever you do you are not likely to achieve the outcome that you want.

4. A good teacher is one who is able to see the adult in the child. And not all of us can see the adult in the child. Some can see it better than others and they are a treasure because they are better able to reach out to the adult in the child, mould it and help it achieve its fullest potential. But if we turn it the other way round, in the minds of children, we see glimpses of the future. As we grow older, it is inevitable that we lose touch with new things that are happening in the world.

5. New things which are influencing young children. And by somehow peering into what’s going on in their brains, we ourselves stay young, stay more attached, and develop a sense of the changes taking place in the world. And it is interesting that in life, small things are connected to big things. We never expected when we chose this day for prize presentation that this is also the day when the election results in the US are known. It was only in recent weeks that we discovered this happy coincidence.

6. Just a few hours ago, America elected its first African-American president. By any measure it is a historic event and a deeply inspiring one for a Black to become the leader of the most powerful country on earth. How did that happen? But it has happened. And looking at it, we cannot but feel lifted that somehow, despite our cynicism or our sense of reality, there is a higher idealism among human beings that at critical moments can transcend differences of race, of language and religion. It is dramatic. And these are dramatic times. Whether you look at the times from the viewpoint of China’s epiphany which is expressed in the Beijing Olympics or the financial crisis that the world is going through now, or the election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the US.

7. We cannot but feel a certain transition taking place in the world. It will be years before it becomes clear what all this means but we know that it is a multi-polar world, a more diverse world, a more connected world. And that leadership is exercised no longer through hard power only but also through gentler methods of soft power - through persuasion - and increasingly much of it through the new media. And the use of new media was an important reason for Obama’s victory. Not merely in terms of being more efficient in reaching out or raising money but in getting through to segments of the electorate who might otherwise have stayed aloof from the larger mainstream process. And in this new media, in the effort reaching out to groups that may otherwise have not been included, there is a connection between what we do this afternoon and what has just happened in the United States. In that sense, we live in one world and it is an inter-connected world and what happens in one part of the world has an effect through technology, through our common humanity to other parts of the world.

8. I thank Harold and Vic Sent for sponsoring the prizes at this afternoon’s event. I thank them and Ephraim for helping to introduce me to the new media. It has been an enriching and an interesting experience for me. I thank the many students – primary school students, ITE, Poly, JC students, secondary school students, who have participated enthusiastically in this blog competition. In your essays written blog-style - not traditional style but blog-style -which I got to get used to myself, I am thrilled by what your hopes are for the future, not only for Singapore, but for the larger world. Thank you very much.

Do read my posts on Beyond SG and link up on Facebook if you have an account

Monday, November 10, 2008

[MFA-Wisma Games]
It is hard for us to match Malaysian hospitality. At the MFA-Wisma Games last weekend at Palm Resort in Johor, we were welcomed with great warmth and hospitality. Dr Rais Yatim and his wife Datin Sri Masnah were our hosts. At the welcome dinner, Datin Sri Masnah sang Shanghai Beach in Cantonese beautifully. She told me that Dr Rais, who speaks fluent Cantonese, taught her the pronunciation.

The following morning, my wife and I joined them for badminton. They had been forwarned that the standard of badminton my wife and I played was kindergarten level at best. We played not too badly only because the shuttlecocks arrived near where our racket heads were.

This was the 9th MFA-Wisma Games. Although Foreign Ministry officials have a duty to serve their country's national interest, it helps when ministers and officials know one another. It is easier to be creative and find win-win solutions when there is goodwill and trust. Dr Rais' predecessor, Syed Hamid, mixed the teams so that each team had Malaysian and Singaporean officials on the same side.

As Dr Rais had to rush back to KL for meetings, I spent the rest of the day visiting Iskander Malaysia, Pontian, Tg Piai and Kukup. Nusa Jaya is developing nicely. My wife bought white pomfret and black kurau at the fish market in Pontian where we bumped into the MCA Assemblyman YP Song. He greeted us warmly and made sure we were properly hosted for dinner at Kukup. Tg Piai, the southernmost tip of the Eurasian Mainland has a lovely mangrove park. At the jetty which faced Indonesia's Karimun island, I lay flat on the bench enjoying the cool sea breeze.

Do read my posts on Beyond SG and link up on Facebook if you have an account

Sunday, November 09, 2008

[Third week]
I am into the third week of recovery. Two weeks have passed since I injured my toe.

Last Monday, I went to the doctor's to collect my X-ray films.

Since I am seldom injured, I have never seen an X-ray of my right foot before. It was interesting when my classmates asked to take a look at the films and pointed out to me where the fracture was (the fractured bone was circled on the X-ray).

The pain has started to subside. Although that is so, I am still keeping both toes stuck to each other with tape when I go outdoors. The doctor says it will take four weeks before the pain finally goes away. By then, my exams would have ended.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

[Musings from a great man]
I have been thinking about Obama mania and the success of his campaign over the past week. I wonder what would happen if the Singapore opposition had someone like Barack Obama?

Last night, I stayed up late to watch the full length acceptance speech of the President-elect. It was heartwarming.

A call for greater support
To rally the country together

Sincere words without thorns
By not putting down his opponent

Charismatic to the ordinary
Not arrogant nor proud with success

A great orator
A great leader that

Hopefully will get America out
Of this mess it is in

And bring the united states
To great heights and further success

I remember reading a book on speeches that changed the world. Barack Obama's speech could be just the next chapter along the likes of Martin Luther King.

Friday, November 07, 2008

[Political theatre coming soon]
If there was one exciting finding from the group discussions during the National Youth Forum it has to be the call for political theatre - looks like we may one day see opposition and ruling party members debating right in front in one place soon.

Having such a theatre forum is like a small scale version of Parliamentary debates in front of us. However, such debates may be limited to the institutes of higher learning. That is the sense that I get from the Prime Minister.

Such a forum would allow the public to see the quality of arguments raised. The question now is when would we get to see such debates outside of Parliament? Will this even see the light of day?

Thursday, November 06, 2008

[When I Grow Up - the winners]
Yesterday, amidst all the US election buzz, Minister George Yeo and both the Minister's bloggers were out and about presenting prizes for the First George Yeo Blogging Competition.

It was a simple session at the Asian Civilisations Museum and I was greatly thrilled to meet the participants in person. It seemed that most of the winners were female. Maybe they are able to emote better. Well, you never know they could end up as a leader somewhere.

Photo credit: Youth.SG

Talk about women rights and development - something that is the topic for class discussion tomorrow. How apt.

Read the winning entries of the First George Yeo Blogging Competition here

[The masked socialist model of PAP]
By now, one would know what the ambition of the PAP is for the next 50 years - to win elections. As promised, I would share about what Dr Vivian Balakrishnan had shared on how the PAP can win elections for the next 50 years.

But first, he did mention that Singapore has some socialist traits - something which I had observed and wrote about when I was taking a module on Democracy. I had argued that as social factors around the world changes, the Singapore government wold adopt strategies and policies to suit the climate. Therefore, it would mean a marked shift from left to right and vice-versa. So when Dr Vivian had spoke about that, it struck a bell.

I would say it is not an outright socialist model but something along the lines of "masked socialism". At a party convention last Sunday, he reiterated that Singapore would not be like a welfare state - one which gives out incentives for anyone who applies. And that is why he says the model of having a social security net cannot work for obvious reasons. By saying that, he means that having a social security net would be equivalent to a welfare state. So while we do not have a social security net, we have the Workfare scheme. If you ask me, it is just the use of terms - Workfare is indeed a welfare scheme to help the lower income earners and there is no doubt about it.

Back to the main point of this post about winning elections.

The first question he answered was how to win elections. Perhaps he was referring to the rise of Obama mania - to win votes offer change. The second is a more pragmatic strategy - offer more. He did mention that such strategies can allow a party to win one to two elections. Maybe he was indirectly trying to tell the opposition something.

The way to win elections for the next 50 years is the PAP way (for a lack of a better term according to Dr Vivian). And how would the PAP do it? That is where the four goods that the PAP can deliver on - freedom, fairness, opportunity and security. Dr Vivian had asked those present to rank the four items. I am an individualist so no doubt about what I would choose - to each his own.

What made me think hard about was how we take things for granted. That is something all Singaporeans should learn not to do. And youths should not feel disillusioned - that what they say is not heard and not taken into consideration - because that would in turn lead to rebellion and maybe even extremism.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

[The year ahead]
Last night my YEC friends celebrated my birthday for me after our meeting. The actual day is today but I celebrated in advance with my family on Sunday.

At first, they brought in a slice of my favourite cake (I love cheese cake). After singing twice (in English and Mandarin), a larger cake was ushered in. Two more songs and finally I blew out the 26 candles.

I was really touched by the whole thing as well as the messages that they penned on a card specially drawn by Jesslyn.

It has been a really good experience managing a group of diverse youths ever since I became Chairman last year - working with younger people and teaching them skills which they will bring to them even after their YEC days.

So they say give a man a fish and he'll be happy for a day, teach a man how to fish and he'll have fish for his entire life. That is same with the skills that have been imparted.

The journey is long but it is worthwhile if I have like-minded people, willing to learn who are willing to walk this journey with me. At least even after my term is up next year, I leave behind with them a set of skills that they can carry with them.

So while the US is going through a change of leadership (my wish is for Obama to be the next US President), perhaps the YEC would need a change too.

Complacency sets in while one is too comfortable at the top. And that is what leaders should avoid falling into.

[When I Grow Up - the prelude]
Tomorrow afternoon Harold and I will reveal the winners in the First George Yeo Blog Competition. While doing research about audience participation in the biennale for a paper, I came across a film related to childhood which I think is interesting and very well produced.

According to the synopsis, the film is about decisions that a student has to make - studies, pleasure and a longing for piece. Three spheres that contradict.

I think, for me, I would like to have a balance - not too much of one thing but a bit of some things. But life is not like that.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I have finished the whole course of my medicine for my swollen foot but I have been running about so much that I think has made it more painful.

During a special tour of the biennale last week, I stepped on uneven ground and I think that worsened it. And then I attempted to run for a short distance and ended up hurting it even more.

It is the crunch time for me now because of tight deadlines and schedules to meet. It is a mad rush for time.

Anyway, I went for a YP convention this morning and Dr Vivian Balakrishnan spoke about the future of the party - another 50 years to go for the PAP. I think that is what he hopes for.

The PAP has been in existence for almost 50 years since its inception since 1954. So in another 50 years the PAP will celebrate 100 years of existence.

How can we achieve that? I will tell you more of what Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said in another post in his speech that he made as YP Chairman this morning. His successor, Mr Teo Ser Luck had promised to take the YP to greater heights will retaining much of what has been done urging fellow YP members present to forge on until the next GE in two years time.