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PEOPLE • PE RSPEC TIVES • POSSI B I LITIES

W W W.CH A LL ENGE.GOV.SG

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2010

URBAN LANDSCAPES DEFINING THE SINGAPORE SKYLINE SPACE ADVENTURES TELEPORTING PUBLIC OFFICERS INTO INNOVATIVE SPACES

APEC ON THE AGENDA HOSTING THE REGION’S LARGEST ECONOMIC FORUM

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Contents

JanFeb2010 01

Foreword LET’S TALK ABOUT SPACE, BABY

15

02 05 06 12

Challenge readers share their views.

AN URBAN COWBOY’S RIDDLE

32

Food APEC’S CULINARY ALLURE

There needs to be a more robust mechanism to tap into the public psyche.

Do we define our space, or does our space define us? I Say

Opinion

16

The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation community’s cuisine is as rich as its history.

Feature INSIDE THE UN

Musa Fazal jots down impressions of his first 45 days at the United Nations.

Short Takes

Public Service news and happenings at a glance.

18

SHAPING SINGAPORE

23

Backstage SPOTLIGHT ON SINGAPORE

A cast of thousands ensured that the events of APEC Singapore 2009 went without a hitch.

Face2Face PASSION AND PURPOSE

Mr Ng Lang talks about the National Parks Board’s mission to transform Singapore into a global green city.

SPACE ADVENTURES

Teleporting public officers into the innovation dimension through creative workspaces.

Cover Story

Challenge looks at the role that public agencies play in defining our physical landscape.

Feature

27

36

Snapshots AGENTS OF CHANGE

Capturing the PS21 ExCEL Convention 2009 in pictures.

40

Lifestyle BECAUSE WE CAN!

Challenge finds out what drives some to test their limits in the name of sport, and why they are so loving it. Training THE LITTLE RED DOT REDUX

THE LAST PAGE

The thrust of Singapore’s foreign policy is to create space for us on the global stage.

PEOPLE • PE RSPEC TIVES • POSS I B I LITIES

Trivia Quiz APEC FACTS

Find out how much you know about the region’s premier economic forum.

W W W.CH A LL ENGE.GOV.SG

JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2010

URBAN LANDSCAPES DEFINING THE SINGAPORE SKYLINE SPACE ADVENTURES TELEPORTING PUBLIC OFFICERS INTO INNOVATIVE SPACES

APEC ON THE AGENDA

COVER

HOSTING THE REGION’S LARGEST ECONOMIC FORUM

NG CHIN SIANG

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IFC-1 Contents.indd IFC2

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1

Foreword

Let’sTalkAboutSpace,Baby THIS YEAR, CHALLENGE CELEBRATES ITS 15TH YEAR IN PRINT! WE ARE EXCITED ABOUT HOW FAR WE HAVE COME, AND ARE IN THE MIDST OF REDEFINING

CHALLENGE SO THAT YOU, OUR READER, WILL LIKE WHAT YOU SEE AND BE PROUD TO CALL THIS MAGAZINE YOUR OWN.

DO WE DEFINE OUR SPACE, or does our space define us? Whether or not we are aware of it, we exist in and are confronted by space from the moment we wake, through the hours of the day. There is our domestic space, our workspace and our recreational space. For space we own, we tend to obsess over the details in order to stamp our personality and convictions on it. But what if your canvas was Singapore? Yup, our approximately 700 sq km island state? How would you define this space for the almost five million people who live, work and play here? What was once a humble fishing village has now become a throbbing metropolis of peoples, buildings and green spaces. We have changed our landscape considerably with iconic landmarks such as the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (or the “Durian”); sought to preserve our heritage by conserving our pre-war shophouses and ethnic districts; and yet managed to retain close to 10 per cent of our land for parks and nature conservation. Satellite pictures of Singapore show about 47 per cent of green cover. Incredible. Challenge brings you the architects and philosophies behind Singapore’s changing landscapes. We also explore how public agencies are beginning to experiment with space

Tay Li Shing PHOTO: WINSTON CHUANG

EDITOR

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in an attempt to enhance the way we work. A well-laid-out office not only enhances connectivity and collaboration, but providing well-designed, alternative spaces can also help get those creative juices flowing! The Challenge team can certainly attest to that! Uninspired by our grey meeting rooms, we took a recent time-out at La Salle’s 15 Minutes café to brainstorm for ideas for the new Challenge (watch out for our May/June 2010 edition!), and that certainly helped set those creative ideas flowing! And let’s not just stop at physical space. A new year brings yet another dimension of space and time for us to shape and create. This year, Challenge celebrates its 15th year in print! We are excited about how far we have come, and are in the midst of redefining Challenge so that you, our reader, will like what you see and be proud to call this magazine your own. Our new look will reach you in May this year, as we celebrate Public Service Week. On the personal front, I made space last year to try out new things I had never done before – baked that first pumpkin pie (a challenge I set myself when I wrote my first Foreword a year ago), grew my first herb garden, wrote my first lyrics to a hymn and even got myself off the top spot of my department’s list of mailbox quota busters (is it just me or do you agree that 55MB is just way too little?)! For this year, I am contemplating the marathon. For someone who used to chat through PE classes and drive her PE teacher nuts with excuses not to run, this will certainly be no mean feat. If you think I should try this, and are game for the challenge too, let me know at psd_ challenge@psd.gov.sg. So what else can you make space for this year? Try it! Have a comment, suggestion or feedback to share with the editorial team? E-mail us at PSD_Challenge@psd.gov.sg

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PEOPLE • PERSPECTIVES • POSSIBILITIES ⁄ WWW.CHALLENGE.GOV.SG⁄ JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2010

THE LETTER OF THE MONTH WILL WIN A DIGITAL

PUBLISHER

PS21 Office, Prime Minister’s Office

PHOTO FRAME WORTH $98. ALL OTHER

(Public Service Division)

The Treasury, 100 High Street #02-03 Singapore 179434 Tel: 6835-8350 Fax: 6333-4010 E-mail: psd_challenge@psd.gov.sg Website: www.challenge.gov.sg

PUBLISHED ARTICLES WILL WIN SHOPPING VOUCHERS WORTH $30 EACH.

EDITOR

Tay Li Shing ASSISTANT EDITORS

Wendy Goh and Edmund Soo EDITORIAL ADVISOR

Agnes Kwek EDITORIAL ASSISTANTS

Shaun Khiu, Ellice Wong and Amy Sum For enquiries or feedback on Challenge, Please write to the Editor at PS21 Office, The Treasury, 100 High Street, #02-03, Singapore 179434. Tel: 6835-8350 Fax: 6333-4010 E-mail: psd_challenge@psd.gov.sg

Have your say...

PUBLISHING AGENT

Do you have an interesting artifact or memento that captures what the Public Service was like in the past? Send us a photo of it and tell us about its significance. E-mail the photo with your write-up to I Say at psd_ challenge@psd.gov.sg. Please limit your comments to 300 words and include your name, e-mail address, agency and telephone number. All entries should reach us by Jan 29, 2010. You can also discuss this at forum.challenge.gov.sg.

SPH Magazines Pte Ltd MANAGING DIRECTOR

Dennis Pua GENER AL MANAGER

Christopher Tay GROUP EDITOR

Joanna Lee-Miller SENIOR EDITOR

Azreen Noor CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

Tan Ee Sze EXECUTIVE SUB-EDITOR

Esther Lew WRITER

Foo Yong Han ASSOCIATE CREATIVE DIRECTOR

Alex Goh ART DIRECTOR

Ginny Gay ASSISTANT MANAGER, CUSTOM PUBLISHING

Mavis Liang EXECUTIVE, CUSTOM PUBLISHING

Jessie Kek SENIOR COORDINATOR, PUBLISHING SERVICES

Wendy Ong CONTRIBUTORS

A former journalist with The Straits Times, Tan Ee Sze has extensive experience in developing and managing publications. She is also the author of several commemorative books and children’s publications.

When not doing freelance stories, Annette Pau’s erstwhile occupation is in corporate/marketing communications, from which she is currently taking a short hiatus. Her real job, however, is being mom to two kids aged six and three.

Previously a journalist with The Straits Times and The Business Times, Susan Tsang was also news editor for technology news portal Singapore. CNET.com. She was also one of the writers behind Singapore: The Encyclopedia.

Charles David has over 15 years’ experience in advertising and branding, having worked with clients in the pharmaceutical, oil and gas, information technology, health, property and finance sectors.

James Gerard Foo Challenge is published bimonthly by SPH Magazines Pte Ltd (Registration No: 196900476M) for PS21 Offi ce, Prime Minister’s Office (Public Service Division). Copyright of the materials contained in this magazine belongs to PS21 Office. Nothing in here shall be reproduced in whole or in part without prior written consent of PS21 Office. Views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of PS21 Offi ce nor SPH Magazines Pte Ltd and no liabilities shall be attached thereto. All rights reserved. Editorial enquiries should be directed to the Editor, PS21 Office, The Treasury, 100 High Street, #02-03, Singapore 179434. Tel: +65-6835-8350, Fax: +65-6333-4010, E-mail: psd_challenge@psd.gov.sg Unsolicited material will not be returned unless accompanied by a self-addressed envelope and suffi cient return postage. While every reasonable care will be taken by the Editor, no responsibility is assumed for the return of unsolicited material. All information correct at time of printing. Printed in Singapore by Times Printers (Registration No: 196700328H).

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Oops! In the article Slips and Tips (Challenge Nov-Dec 2009), the answers to two of the quiz questions were wrongly placed during production. Under Use of Prepositions: “Please fill in the forms” is correct. “Please fill up the forms” is wrong. Under Redundant Words: “It will start at 8 am” is correct. “It will start at 8 am in the morning” is redundant. Our apologies to Ms Audrey Lai, associate trainer with the Civil Service College, who contributed the article, and to our readers for any confusion that this may have caused.

12/24/09 9:53:14


3

I Say

AS CHALLENGE TURNS 15 IN 2010, WE WOULD LIKE TO HEAR YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE MAGAZINE AND THE MOST MEMORABLE OR IMPACTFUL ARTICLE THAT YOU HAVE READ.

LETTER OF THE MONTH

HopeRedefined

CatalystForCreativity One of the most inspiring articles for me was “Catalyst for Creativity” (Feb 2008) – a Face2Face interview with Dr Christopher Chia, Chief Executive Officer of the Media Development Authority. His novel approach in transforming the role and branding of MDA was truly remarkable. What was particularly intriguing was the rap video MDA created to communicate its future directions. Besides being an instant hit, it challenged many departments to seek new ways to engage and connect with the various stakeholders. The preceding article in the same issue – “Picture This!” – provided some concrete examples of various local ministries and organisations that used various less formal ways to communicate their messages. I recently experimented with using a series of photographs to inspire a group of pre-school educators using a very simple idea – the yo-yo. I wanted to communicate the need to look for creative ideas through common objects. The Creativity session was a success and the participants commented that the photographs helped to reinforce some key ideas they could immediately apply. Thank you, Challenge for always sharing with us new ways to challenge our thinking. Happy 15th Birthday and keep up the good work! e 2 Fac Face

PUBLI C SE RV I CE FO R THE 21ST CENTURY

W W W.CH A LL ENGE.GOV.SG

FEBRUARY 2008

GLOBAL TALENT

THE DIFFERENT FACES IN PUBLIC SERVICE PICTURE THIS! THE FUN APPROACH TO INTERNAL COMMUNICATIONS

WORLD•SINGAPORE CYCLE OF SUCCESS BUILDING A GLOBAL CENTRE OF RESEARCH EXCELLENCE

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08 PM 5:49:

HAN O: TOM PHOT TOM HAN O: PHOT

John Yeo

Ministry of Education

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08 1/29/

JOHN YEO WINS A DINING VOUCHER WORTH $100 FROM SWISSOTEL THE STAMFORD. ALL OTHER PUBLISHED ARTICLES WIN

I read the cover story titled “Hope Redefined” in Challenge’s Sept-Oct 2009 issue. It is heartening to see our younger generations being given an alternative route in pursuing their studies. Northlight School and Assumption Pathway School have done well in giving these students another path to education, and students who drop out from mainstream schools deserve special attention to bring out their interests, skills and talents. I recalled this cover story during my recent encounter with Northlight School when I attended the PS21 ExCEL Convention in November 2009. The financial board game that the school invented to introduce financial literacy to the students was such a great idea. Challenge has done well in featuring stories that are close to our hearts. I look forward to reading more inspiring articles from the ground.

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10

50 PM 2:20:

Zhang Zhiming Edwin

Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board

SHOPPING VOUCHERS WORTH $30 EACH.

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12/28/09 6:37:6 PM


People I Say

4

InPursuitOf Clarity The article “In Pursuit of Clarity” (Sept-Oct 2009), which covered the interview with Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean, was most insightful. The article gave practical pointers such as the need to build a solid foundation in grammar, finding good role models to emulate, checking the dictionary when in doubt, seeking feedback and practising until we get the basics right. More importantly, to learn, we need to change our mindset – from one of fearing mistakes to one which recognises that we can learn from our mistakes. Laura Lim Quee Eng

CPF Board

SeizeTheChallenge! The most memorable article that I have read is “Seize The Challenge!” (Sept-Oct 2009). Be it whipping out dishes like Briyani or staging a short film, it is truly so wonderful and exciting to read about public officers putting their minds and muscles to the task of raising money for President’s Challenge 2009… It’s not about the amount of money raised, but the spirit of volunteerism, thinking of others and taking time out to help the underprivileged. Reading this article has definitely made me more conscious and sensitive to the needs of the less fortunate. Zhang Shupei

TakeThePissOutOf GoodEnglish Mr Neil Humphrey’s article “Take The Piss Out Of Good English” (Nov-Dec 2009) wins my vote. Written in a lighthearted style, his honest take on Singlish being the flavour of Singapore is thoughtprovoking. I agree with him that there is a large number of Singaporeans who can differentiate between Singlish and English and who can switch between them when the occasion calls for it. Reading the piece brought to mind the debate over whether Singlish should be kept at bay, could be spoken with pride or should be reserved for local use. I gather from Mr Humphrey’s piece that Singlish can be likened to a badge of identity that Singaporeans should not think of as inferior. Personally, I regard Singlish as a version of English with its own unique characteristics. Hence, as long as we speak it in sound sentences, it should be fine. Regina Liew

Changi General Hospital

OurStories The first issue of Challenge that I picked up was the MayJune 2009 issue that I saw on my colleague’s desk. It was very inspiring to read about the various real-life stories of officers from other agencies and it made me wonder if I could also touch lives and at the same time achieve such high levels of work satisfaction (“Our Stories”, May-June 2009). It dispelled some of the stereotypes many people have about Public Service. I have also enjoyed reading about the recent happenings in the Public Service arena as it keeps a new officer like me updated and informed. Challenge has contributed to the vibrancy of my life as a public officer as it introduces me to other aspects of Public Service, which I may not have known about if I were to just do my job. Tan Cai Qing

Agency for Science, Technology and Research

HDB Bedok Branch THANK YOU for the overwhelming response to this issue’s topic for I SAY. To commemorate Challenge magazine’s 15th

year, we will continue to run selected letters on the most memorable or impactful article that you have read, so keep your letters coming. E-mail psd_challenge@psd.gov.sg.

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5

ShortTakes

MDA

MediaQuest The Media Development Authority of Singapore (MDA), which drew widespread attention with its corporate rap video two years ago, has upped the ante by including a video game with its 2008/2009 online annual report. The game, Media Quest, takes players on a drive through the city of Mediascape, where they have to answer questions at five pit stops to test their knowledge of Singapore’s media scene. More information is provided in response to the answer that the player selects. To skip the game, users can also go directly to an interactive index page presented as the fictitious city of Mediascape. To play the game or check out MDA’s annual report, visit www.mda.gov.sg/wms.www/ annualrpt0809/index.html. Public officers can also log on to a special web site www.mdalogin.com/mda09/index.html to play the game. Up to 20 prizes will be given away to public officers who get all the answers correct.

CCS

CSC/PSD

InnovativeOutreach

PublicServiceHeritageGallery

The Competition Commission of Singapore (CCS) is harnessing new and innovative channels such as movies and comics to explain its role to the business community and members of the public. These channels are part of CCS’s ongoing efforts to simplify an abstract subject such as the Competition Act to its target audiences. Through a newly launched comic book, CCS literally illustrates what it does in an easy-to-understand pictorial format. According to the Commission, the use of the comic book genre helps to communicate its role to a younger audience and to those who are interested in comics as well. On Nov 17, 2009, CCS also hosted the movie premiere of The Informant!, a dark comedy based on the true story of a senior executive who turned whistleblower to expose a cartel or pricefixing conspiracy between his employer and major competitors worldwide. Held in collaboration with Warner Brothers and Kinokuniya, the premiere was part of CCS’s ongoing outreach efforts to help businesses understand how cartels pose a danger to business innovation, and how CCS’s work in uncovering cartels can help them stay competitive. Guest of honour at the screening was Mr Lee Yi Shyan, Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Manpower.

The Public Service Division (PSD) and Civil Service College (CSC) are setting up a Public Service Heritage Gallery at the CSC to showcase Singapore’s public service experience. To this end, PSD and CSC are inviting public officers to contribute mementos and artefacts that capture this experience. These could range from old Public Service cards to a classical typewriter, nostalgic photos or personal anecdotes. To contribute to the Public Service Heritage Gallery, e-mail cscollege@cscollege.gov.sg.

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MINDEF

“IWill”Contest To commemorate Total Defence Day in 2010, Nexus is running an online contest in which Singaporeans are invited to share their commitment to protecting the Singaporean way of life. To take part in the online contest, simply log on to www.iwill.sg and submit personalised pledges in the form of text, pictures and/or videos. These should start with the two simple words: “I Will”, in line with the theme for next year’s Total Defence outreach efforts. The contest, which was launched on Dec 15, 2009, will run till Mar 15, 2010. Pledges with creative videos stand an additional chance of winning through public voting. Prizes to be won include Sony Vaio laptops, Apple iPods, and the latest game consoles.

12/24/09 10:49:25


Cover Story

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Challenge looks at the role that public agencies play in defining our physical landscape. By Susan Tsang

SHAPINGSINGAPORE

PHOTOS: NG CHIN SIANG

“SINGAPORE – a vision of green hills and red dust, a sickly odour of pepper, cocoa, nut-oil, and drains.” – Harry de Windt, From Pekin to Calais by Land, 1889. Much has changed on our island home since the days of Harry de Windt. During the 19th century, for example, the Orchard Road area was used for gambier and pepper plantations, then nutmeg and fruit orchards, and even cemetaries. Today, the road is lined with upmarket malls, and all that is left of the memories of cemetaries are a few names like Kramat Road and Ngee Ann City. These days, with a much larger population of close to 5 million people, all within an area of just 710 sq km, land use is also more carefully planned and coordinated, with public agencies working hard to shape Singapore’s landscape for a multitude of diverse uses, from living to farming spaces, from industry to recreation. “Singapore is a country with one of the highest population densities in the world, and has limited resources,” observes Mr Tan Tee How, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of National Development. “Yet

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“LAND SCARCITY FORCES DIFFERENT AGENCIES TO COME TOGETHER TO PLAN FOR THE LONG TERM, TO DEBATE ABOUT OUR DEVELOPMENT TRAJECTORY AND TO CONSTANTLY INNOVATE TO OPTIMISE LAND USE.” MR TAN TEE HOW, PERMANENT SECRETARY, MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT.

despite our constraints, Singapore is regarded as a highly liveable city, with one of the best infrastructures in the world.” Indeed, Singapore is often high on the list of international rankings for liveability – for instance, Singapore emerged as the top choice among Asian expats in ECA International’s Quality of Life ranking for the 10th year running. But while land is a binding constraint, it also presents an opportunity. “Land scarcity forces different agencies to come together to plan for the long term, to debate about our development trajectory and to constantly innovate to optimise land use,” says Mr Tan. Marina Bay is a good example of Singapore’s long-term planning approach.

“We planned ahead, reclaiming land some 30 years ago and investing in necessary infrastructure to ensure Singapore maintains our competitive advantage globally, says Mr Tan. Marina Bay was planned as a seamless extension of the existing Central Business District to support the nation’s growth as a major business and financial hub in Asia. Today, Marina Bay is shaping up very well and has attracted more than $20 billion worth of private real estate investments from both local and international investors. “Come 2010, Singaporeans can all look forward to a host of exciting developments such as the double helix bridge, Singapore’s first Art Park, the 3.5 km waterfront promenade and of course, the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort. It will be a place for everybody to enjoy,” says Mr Tan.

12/28/09 6:35:34 PM


JURONG LAKE DISTRICT

MS HWANG YU-NING, GROUP DIRECTOR (PHYSICAL PLANNING), URA

MARINA BAY

A quality living environment To ensure that Singapore continues to grow in a sustainable fashion, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) spearheads a multi-agency effort to review its long-term strategic growth plan known as the Concept Plan. This charts out how Singapore’s physical development will be shaped over the next 40 to 50 years. To complement this, URA also develops a more detailed Master Plan to guide developments on the ground for the next 10 to 15 years. In its last review of the Master Plan in 2008, the agency unveiled plans for the continued growth of Marina Bay and the city centre, as well as the development of new growth areas at Jurong Lake District, Paya Lebar Central and Kallang Riverside. “It is crucial that land and other resources are used prudently,

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pragmatically and with an eye on the future. We adopt an integrated and comprehensive planning approach in consultation and partnership with other agencies, to ensure that our current and future land needs are met in a sustainable manner,” says Ms Hwang Yu-Ning, Group Director (Physical Planning), URA. The goal in urban planning is not just to help sustain Singapore’s economic growth, but also to ensure a quality living environment for Singaporeans, to make Singapore a great city to live, work and play in. Beyond island-wide land use planning, URA also takes an active hand in shaping urban spaces. Urban design guidelines emphasise quality living and look at important finishing touches such as providing pedestrian connectivity

between buildings and to MRT stations, and creating attractive public open spaces and streetscapes. There are also opportunities for Singapore to capitalise on its urban planning and urban development capabilities to create economic value. For example, URA led an inter-agency effort to help master plan the SinoSingapore Tianjin Eco City. Come June, Singapore will also host the 2nd World Cities Summit (WCS). “We see the WCS as an excellent international platform for innovative urban solutions to build liveable and sustainable communities, and a good opportunity to showcase Singapore’s planning and development expertise,” says Mr Tan.

12/29/09 9:37:18


Cover Story

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THE TREETOP WALK AT THE CENTRAL CATCHMENT AREA

MR KONG YIT SAN, DIRECTOR OF PARKS, NPARKS

A park for everyone “Clean and green” is all very well, but green spaces only work if people make use of them. The goal of the National Parks Board (NParks) is, therefore, to make parks and green space relevant to the people. Close to 10 per cent of the land in Singapore has been set aside for parks and nature conservation. NParks, which manages a large part of this land, takes its responsibilities seriously. “In landscarce Singapore, it is a major investment on the government’s part to put aside this amount of land for green space and nature-related recreation. We have a responsibility to ensure that this space is well-used and appreciated,” says Mr Ng Lang, Chief Executive Officer of NParks.

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SENGKANG RIVERSIDE PARK

In the government’s vision to make Singapore a global city to live, work and play in, NParks’ aspiration is to make parks the preferred place for play. It aims to achieve this by catering to the lifestyle needs of the population, and has set an internal goal of providing “A Park for Everyone”. Singapore’s parks have come a long way from the simple old days of the ’70s and ’80s, when they featured “plain vanilla” amenities like playgrounds, exercise equipment, and as a special treat, fishing spots. A recent approach is to design and build parks with a clear thematic character, says Mr Kong Yit San, Director of Parks, NParks. The Sengkang Riverside Park, for example,

incorporates a strong water-based recreation component, while HortPark has been expressly built to cater to gardening enthusiasts and to strengthen the culture of gardening in Singapore. Park users today can also choose from amenities that include cable-skiing and extreme sports facilities at East Coast Park, the TreeTop Walk at the Central Catchment area, pony rides at Pasir Ris Park, and the Forest Adventure at Bedok Reservoir Park. The Gardens by the Bay, the first phase of which is targeted for completion by 2011, will have new recreational and lifestyle options in a lush tropical environment. To roll out such a range of offerings, the bulk of these amenities are operated by private individuals. According to Mr Kong, this “cooperative approach” with the

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“ONE OF THE KEY CHALLENGES IS TO GET THE BUY-IN OF PRIVATE OWNERS THAT THE RESTORATION OF OLD BUILDINGS IS VIABLE.” MRS TEH LAI YIP, DIRECTOR (CONSERVATION), URA

HORTPARK

private sector allows NParks to leverage on strengths and expertise beyond itself to make Singapore’s parks more enjoyable. Within the agency itself, there continues to be a strong focus on the diversification of its talent pool. Fresh talent with new areas of competencies are being recruited to support new initiatives and strengthen its lifestyle management and programming, without, of course, neglecting NParks’ core strengths in areas like horticulture, arboriculture and landscaping. “How we run, manage and programme our parks will contribute substantially to their character, vibrancy and sustainability,” says Mr Ng.

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CHINATOWN

Pragmatic approach to conservation The cityscape is constantly changing as buildings go up and down, and roads get widened and rerouted. However, since 1970, there has been a concerted effort to retain links to Singapore’s architectural past. URA has been rehabilitating stateowned pre-World War 2 buildings for adaptive reuse and gazetting buildings, even whole districts such as Chinatown, Little India, Kampong Glam and Boat Quay, for conservation. To date, URA has conserved close to 7,000 buildings and structures all over the island. One of the key challenges in these efforts is to get the buy-in of private owners that the restoration of old buildings is viable, says Mrs Teh Lai Yip,

12/29/09 9:41:12


Cover Story

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QUALITY OF LIFE IN SINGAPORE’S PUBLIC HOUSING

WATERFRONT LIVING AT PUNGGOL 21

Director (Conservation), URA. To address this, the URA has set up a legal framework for the designation of conservation areas, put the necessary infrastructure in place for conservation areas, provided technical guidelines for the private sector to participate in conservation and given some indirect financial incentives to owners such as allowing them to change the use of the building without paying a development charge. Conservation Singapore-style adopts a pragmatic approach and seeks out creative solutions to balance the need for development against the need to protect built heritage. “In terms of conservation guidelines, no one size fits all,” says Mrs Teh. “Instead, they are applied in different degrees to different groups of conservation areas, taking into consideration their relative historical significance, context of the surrounding developments and long-term planning intention for the areas.” In 2006, URA’s conservation programme was conferred the prestigious Urban Land Institute Global Awards for Excellence.

NEW RESIDENTIAL CONCEPTS TO MEET THE CHANGING LIFESTYLES AND ASPIRATIONS OF SINGAPORE

BOAT QUAY

The evolution of public housing

EXQUISITE WINDOW FRAMES ALONG SYED ALWI ROAD

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Public housing started as low-cost flats in the 1960s to house a growing population. However, as Mr Tan points out, for Singapore’s growth to be socially sustainable, the country must continue to offer a wide range of housing options to meet the different needs and aspirations of Singaporeans. Over the years, HDB has honed its town-planning skills to raise the quality of life in Singapore’s public housing. “Town planning started to consider factors such as urban form, town structure, community interaction and regional facilities such as parks and open spaces during the 1980s,” explains Mr Fong

12/28/09 6:46:40 PM


THE HEARTWAVE WALL AT THE UPCOMING PUNGGOL TOWN PARK

MR FONG CHUN WAH, DIRECTOR (DEVELOPMENT AND PROCUREMENT), HDB

Chun Wah, Director (Development and Procurement), HDB. In the 1990s, greater emphasis was placed on creating a quality living environment with distinctive identities for precincts, neighbourhoods and towns. Towns like Bukit Panjang, Sembawang and Sengkang got landmark buildings, landscaping, open spaces and special architectural features to make them instantly recognisable. The character of spaces within the housing precincts has also evolved. As Mr Fong points out: “In younger towns like Punggol, multi-storey car parks are integrated with housing blocks and roof

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gardens have been introduced on top of the car parks, enhancing greenery and precinct facilities.” The “Remaking Our Heartland” plan unveiled by PM Lee in 2007 is expected to improve the physical environment of old, middle-aged and new HDB developments to meet the changing needs of an ever-evolving community. Punggol, Yishun and Dawson estates will pilot this new vision for renewing public housing in Singapore. In addition, new upgrading programmes like the Home Improvement Programme and Neighbourhood Renewal Programme are structured to offer residents choice and flexibility in upgrading their homes.

The evolution continues. To meet the demands of the 21st century, HDB has launched Premium Flats – a new range of apartments with better fixtures, finishes and facilities and its first Eco-Precinct, Treelodge@Punggol, which will be completed by the end of next year. New residential concepts such as the “Punggol 21” waterfront town have also been developed in response to changing lifestyles and aspirations. Some of these concepts include developing intimately scaled estates with common greens, a diverse range of quality housing and a continuous waterfront promenade.

12/29/09 9:41:25


Face2Face

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How has NParks’ priorities changed over the past few years?

MR NG LANG STARTED HIS CAREER in the Foreign Service and served nine years there, including an overseas stint in New Delhi between 1995 and 1998. He also chalked up private sector experience in the insurance sector and played a role in the restructuring of healthcare in Singapore as the Chief Human Resource Officer of the National Healthcare Group, before joining the National Parks Board (NParks) as its Chief Executive Officer in 2006. What philosophy or management style did you bring to your role in NParks?

I think it is important to have a deep appreciation of the organisation you are managing. NParks is an old institution with more than 40 years of history for

We are deepening our work in a few areas. One is to ensure that parks continue to be relevant to people, especially at a time when the population is getting even more sophisticated and cosmopolitan. It is not enough just paying attention to maintaining parks and keeping them clean and tidy. We spend a lot more time now looking at how to better design, and better run parks to cater to a wide spectrum of lifestyle options. In addition to our traditional strengths in horticulture, we are now building up competencies among our staff for lifestyle management and programming in our parks. Another area we are paying more attention to is to find ways to enhance biodiversity in the city. Today, the notion of being a garden city is catching on. For instance, many Chinese cities have the

Mr Ng Lang lets us in on what drives the National Parks Board in its mission to transform Singapore into a global green city. By Charles David

PassionAndPurpose doing very good work. We have passionate professionals here who can be trusted to get the work done. As the person in charge, you must be mindful of the areas you need to manage, and the areas you need not over-manage, so that people can express their passion meaningfully. It is also important for the nature of the work we do to be inclusive. We have to get the community, the corporate sector and other government agencies more involved and to be part of the effort to make Singapore a city in a garden. When you achieve this level of involvement, you get a powerful product. For example, building the Park Connectors Network involves 10 government agencies working together. To succeed, we cannot do it alone.

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aspiration to be a garden city. Our next level of differentiation is to make sure that we have something much richer in flora and fauna diversity. The first step in managing biodiversity is to know what we have. We have been actively doing surveys to document the plant and animal species we have on the island. We are now working on implementing nature conservation ideas beyond the nature reserves. For instance, we have actively supported a project to help the Oriental Pied Hornbill breed in Pulau Ubin and elsewhere in Singapore. There is also a dragonfly study going on, to document the species we have and to understand their habitats.

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PHOTO: NG CHIN SIANG

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Face Face2Face 2 Face

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How does NParks ensure that it has the talents in place to take on these challenges?

The work in this area is gaining international interest. Two years ago, the Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Dr Ahmed Djoghlaf arrived in Singapore preoccupied with the question of how to get cities involved in his mission to reduce the global rate of biodiversity loss. He saw the rich biodiversity in Singapore and thought we were a good blueprint for other cities. We are now working with the CBD to develop an index, known as the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity, to help cities measure and benchmark their biodiversity. What are some of the challenges NParks faces and how are they being addressed?

Space is always a constraint on our small island. One way we are dealing with this is to integrate and optimise the existing spaces we have. A good example is what we have now at the Southern Ridges. By working with URA to link up Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park and Kent Ridge Park with a series of bridges, we have transformed it into an integrated space that is a very popular weekend destination. At the broader level, the park connector network is our ultimate solution to link up and integrate green spaces throughout the island. When completed, the 300km network will enhance outdoor recreational space in the city. PUB’s ABC Waters Programme is another project that will dramatically enhance our recreational space. PUB is now breaking down harsh concrete walls of water canals and landscaping them for better integration with surrounding spaces for aesthetics and access for recreation. This will add another layer of excitement to Singapore’s future landscape. The other area we are looking at is skyrise greenery, which allows us to create space vertically. HDB is doing very good work in this area. They have built flats integrated with rooftop gardens and converted the top floors of multi-storey car parks into beautiful green spaces.

We pay attention to letting the public know more about NParks and what we do. NParks is often misunderstood as an organisation that just looks after trees. So it is important to let people know that we do a lot more and need talents from varied backgrounds. There are career opportunities available for good people from different fields – from designing parks to building and running parks; from horticulturists to conservation scientists; and even business development. But I think what people ultimately want is a good workplace that they are proud to be associated with, and where they can pursue their passion. So it is also important

“WE ARE ALWAYS ON THE LOOKOUT FOR WELLROUNDED PEOPLE WHO HAVE A PASSION FOR NATURE, FOR PEOPLE AND FOR THE COMMUNITY. TO DO WELL HERE, YOU HAVE TO ENJOY INTERACTING WITH PEOPLE, AND THE PLEASURE OF CREATING SOMETHING FOR THE COMMUNITY TO ENJOY.”

to put effort into creating a great work environment where good people can excel and challenge themselves to do good work. We put in a lot of effort in doing this and the approach seems to work. We are attracting good people to join us, and we have a regular stream of bright youngsters taking up our scholarships. We also welcome foreign talents. Currently, about 10 per cent of our staff are foreigners from close to 20 nationalities. What are some of the essential traits that you look for in an NParks officer?

We are always on the lookout for wellrounded people who have a passion for nature, for people and for the community. To do well here, you have to enjoy interacting with people, and the pleasure of creating something for the community to enjoy. How do you “manage” this passion?

I think the answer is not to over-manage. Give space for passion to express itself.

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12/29/09 10:26:37


15

Opinion

AnUrbanCowboy’sRiddle Ravi Veloo is an awardwinning journalist who has worked on television, radio and newspapers in Singapore and Australia. He was on the Boston University Journalism Faculty as a visiting Fulbright scholar and has won numerous awards including the Press Foundation of Asia’s Journalist of the Year. He is currently Managing Director of The Media Campus, which conducts media skills workshops for spokespersons and journalism workshops for news organisations. He can be reached at ravi@themediacampus.com

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IT’S fascinating to think that the urban planning of the entire island was once in the hands of a 20-year-old, younger than some of our most famous laksa recipes. And that nearly 200 years later, we still have our Central Business District and civic area located on both sides of the Singapore river. The face of Singapore’s landscape was then in the hands of one Lieutenant Philip Jackson, a young British Royal Navy officer who was ordered to draw up the first detailed city plan for Singapore by an irritated Stamford Raffles who returned in 1822 for his third and final visit and found the colony growing helter-skelter. You can be sure that the people now planning where things go in Singapore have a few more years on them. Some are even as fond and sentimental as the rest of us about the places which we have grown up in and plan to conserve them. Yet the riddle of modern Singapore remains – that what is defined as public interest often overrides public sentiment. Yes, there is much effort in finding out from Singaporeans what they want, and in general terms, the government delivers. More nature areas and parks, and better access to them; it will materialise. But if you drill down to the specifics, that’s more of a pickle. For example, there was a loud clamour to save

the old brick-walled National Library building where every earnest student of a certain generation once spent many hours. It still made way for the shortest road tunnel in Singapore. A sensible public will just have to accept that in tiny Singapore, the planning will generally be driven top-down, with finetuning mainly based on public sentiment and feedback. There are just too many sensitive issues involving space and planning and we have grown so used to having it that way that we are now uncomfortable with candid discussion. It also doesn’t help when a loony fringe now and then makes demands out of step with the general public, like the group that once demanded the reclaimed Marina Bay area be declared a nature reserve because some migrating birds had built nests there. But there is still no great reason for a large gap between ground and ceiling when it comes to problem areas such as cyclists on sidewalks, void decks which are nothing but that on certain occasions, sleazy sex shops fronting some of our busiest buildings in Orchard Road and the civic centre, and a host of other areas. As a sometime grassroots leader myself, I realise there needs to be a more robust mechanism in place to tap into the public psyche, to rethink where necessary and to deliver on the shape of what is really about “how we live, work, play and dream”. On the broad strokes, a lot of things are like our main airport – they’re in the right place after they were rethought and relocated. On the details of everyday life, there still remains a lot to be gained by having an ear to the ground.

12/28/09 6:51:8 PM


Feature

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InsideTheUN Sept 14:

Musa Fazal jots down impressions of his first 45 days at the United Nations.

My first day at the UN. I have to say I was a little surprised. The United Nations (UN), for all it represents, is housed in a fairly dowdy and unremarkable building, and its people look perfectly normal – slouched over and a little grouchy in the morning, with a glazed look in the eye that says: I need a shot of coffee and a jelly doughnut. It’s the United Nations, not the United Colors of Benetton. I can relate to that. Outside the UN building, in a compound that’s under renovation, stands a statue of St George harpooning a metal dragon that is made out of recycled American Pershing II and Soviet SS20 missiles. The inscription at its base reads: “Good defeats evil”. Across the road stands the opulent Trump Tower condominium that caused a stir when it was built, because it broke the tradition of not having any building fronting the grounds of the UN that’s taller than the Secretariat building. Ah, the impertinence of capitalists.

Sept 16: I was walking to the cafeteria today and stumbled upon a passage from UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold’s last statement to his staff, which was delivered the day before he took that fatal flight to the Congo on a peacekeeping mission in 1961: “It is false pride to register and to boast to

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the world about the importance of one’s work, but it is false humility, and finally just as destructive, not to recognise – and recognise with gratitude – that one’s work has a sense. Let us avoid the second fallacy as carefully as the first, and let us work in the conviction that our work has a meaning beyond the narrow individual one and has meant something for man.” I can’t imagine more inspiring words for anyone working in public service. I scribbled it down and will keep it with me in my wallet every day.

Sept 22: Barack Obama chaired a Security Council meeting today, the first time a United States President has ever done so in the history of the UN. Afterwards, one of the political officers here at Mission told us he got a chance to shake Obama’s hand and said he would never wash it again. We all laughed.

Sept 25: There was a dinner get-together for Singaporeans in New York hosted by Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr George Yeo. Lots of students turned up looking hungry. I struck up a conversation with a friendly lady called Yvonne who was doing her masters at New York University. I found out that she was from the Inland

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Revenue Authority of Singapore. I told her I was from the Ministry of Finance. We laughed at how small the world was as we dug into our prata and curry in the middle of autumn in New York.

Oct 1 : I attended a high-level event on deforestation this afternoon. Many statements were made about how deforestation was a very bad thing and how we had to do something about it. I couldn’t really pay attention. There was a reception after the event in the Delegates Dining Lounge. I was thrilled to find out Waangari Maathai would be there. She’s the Nobel Prize Laureate who saw trees being cut down in her backyard in Kenya and decided to found a movement dedicated to the planting of trees. It was something of a Disneyworld moment to see her in person just five feet away from me, patiently explaining why deforestation was a very bad thing. I was riveted.

Oct 6: I attended my first Second Committee debate today. My initial excitement that things were finally kicking into gear soon waned when I realised there wasn’t going to be much debating – just a lot of reading from prepared statements by country after country. In all, 27 speakers took to the

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floor. One of the last speakers on the list read out the first two lines of his statement and said: “I will not read out the rest in view of the time.” which drew an appreciative laugh from the Hall. It was getting dark outside. Even delegates have families to go home to.

Oct 7: I had dim sum for lunch with the delegates from Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia. It made me forget for a while how far away from home I was.

Oct 16: I attended my first negotiations with the Second Committee delegates from the Group of 77 countries to discuss several draft resolutions. A motley crew if I ever saw one. I’m sure we’ll be great friends by the end of this.

Oct 19: My fellow delegate delivered his statement today from the pulpit of the General Assembly Hall in front of the gaze of delegates from around the world and UN TV cameras. We had joked about how he’d been practising for it for days, weeks even. I asked him afterwards what it felt like. He said the lights were very bright. Touché.

Oct 24: Negotiations on one of the resolutions were getting quite heated. As we tend to do in these situations, Singapore tries to play the role of the helpful mediator. It’s tricky when you can’t fully understand where people are coming from, and when they take hardline positions in the hope the other side caves in. There’s been a lot of whispering in the corridors and probing over cups of coffee in the café to try and understand underlying positions and uncover common ground.

Oct 30: The UN, to paraphrase the futurist Buckminster Fuller, seems to be a verb. Not a noun, but an evolutionary process, a laboratory in which nations come together to learn how to work together. I’m learning too. Ultimately, in spite of all the cynicism, people are trying to make it work. Musa Fazal is Deputy Director, Social Programmes, with the Ministry of Finance. He was in New York for three months as part of Singapore’s delegation to the 64th United Nations General Assembly.

12/24/09 10:34:50


Feature

18

Teleporting public officers into the innovation dimension through creative workspaces. By James Gerard Foo

PHOTO: NG CHIN SIANG

SpaceAdventures TODAY’S GOVERNMENT BUILDINGS are more than just places where public officers work. The current thinking is that the creative use of workspaces can stimulate creativity, inspire innovation and foster a collaborative and sharing spirit. Said Mr Ronald Legaspi, Senior Creative Director of interior design company DB & B: “Innovation, in spatial context, can be encouraged by the surroundings. We call it the ‘feel-good factor’, emphasising on creating wholesome, comfortable and in some cases, fun spaces for people to work in.” Communication and interactivity are key to this. “An open concept will encourage

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interaction and pull down the barriers to communications,” said Mr Legaspi, who also counts environment as a vital factor because “a healthy environment will increase productivity and is relative to the feel-good factor”. Finally, the design itself is all-important because primary and accent colours have been proven to get creative juices flowing. Mr Frederic Nitschke of M Moser Associates, specialists in innovative workspace design couldn’t agree more. “No matter how physically comfortable and spacious an office may be, if you’re staring at a sea of relentless grey or beige, it’s hardly going to inspire you to heights of creativity,” said the Head of Corporate Communications.

He believes that open-plan environments open up sightlines and allow for direct communication, letting “people engage more deeply in what’s going on around their workspace”. However, he stressed the importance of aligning design with business needs so as to strike a balance between form and function. “We approach the project holistically, analysing the business needs, operations and culture. It’s important for workspaces to be efficient, effective and aligned to clients’ values and brand.” Challenge finds out how these principles are borne out by the interiors of our public agencies.

12/28/09 6:54:58 PM


Energy Market Authority

EMA’S UNIQUE TWO-STOREY ACTIVITY HUB INCLUDES AN INTERNAL STAIRWAY CONNECTING TWO FLOORS.

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The open, expansive look of the Energy Market Authority’s (EMA) office encourages interaction and collaboration among officers. Communal areas have been introduced into this office space for brainstorming and collaborative sessions. They sport vibrant colours which are designed to get the imagination going. The unique two-storey activity hub, which includes an internal stairway connecting two floors, is flanked by informal spaces comprising a breakout area, an open mini library, and a “Smart Board” that enables officers to capture discussion points electronically into their laptops. These spaces are strategically located where the office traffic naturally gathers. Said Mr Ear Chow Foo, EMA’s Director of Corporate Development Division: “We believe the creative use of work spaces can inspire innovation. Space is one of the enablers in breaking down silos, connecting people and stimulating interaction and MR EAR CHOW FOO collaboration.”

12/24/09 11:44:15


Feature

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AT MOM, THE CONFIGURATION AMONG TEAM MEMBERS IS SUCH THAT A DISCUSSION IS “JUST A SLIGHT PUSH OF FURNITURE AWAY”.

Ministry of Manpower The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) also sees the work environment and infrastructure as a source of creativity and performance. “Cross-pollination of ideas, critical for innovation, can only MR ANDY HUE take place when frequent discussions and collaborations take place. Our workspaces thus need to be flexible and well-equipped to promote such discussions and collaborations,” said Mr Andy Hue, Assistant Director (Organisation Excellence). When MOM embarked on a building renovation project in 2007, it engaged its officers to give ideas on how they would like their work environment changed, and

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received almost 700 ideas. Most of these were accepted and implemented. The workstations, for example, feature modular furniture such that every officer can rearrange everything in the way that best suits them. The configuration among team members in a cluster is also fluid, such that a discussion is “just a slight push of furniture away”. Every level at the MOM headquarters has at least three cozy corners with flexible configurations to facilitate discussions and brainstorming. “The bottomline is to present officers with a whole new perspective of personal space where they can engage with each other and hold discussions in a more private environment,” said Mr Hue.

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Singapore Civil Defence Force

“USERS CAN QUICKLY BRAINSTORM FOR IDEAS, DRAWING INSPIRATION FROM ALL OVER THE SPACE AND QUICKLY PUTTING THEM ON THE CURVED WALLS ENCLOSING THEM. THIS WAY, IDEAS CAN BE BOUNCED OFF EACH OTHER.” MR NG CHEE KOON, SCDF’S CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER.

The InnoventureLand at the Singapore Civil Defence Force HQ provides an “alternative” space away from the drab office environment, offering officers a space to think creatively and without the distraction of computers and telephones. Set up in 2002, InnoventureLand stimulates creativity through brightly coloured spaces. The space is designed with a theme of metamorphosis and features the transformation of a butterfly from an egg. Adorning the walls of these brightly coloured spaces are projects and visuals of innovation projects. “The most prominent space – the egg – is a unique space as it defines an enclosure that propagates creativity,” explained Mr Ng Chee Koon, SCDF’s

Chief Innovation Officer. “The space is iconic of InnoventureLand as it is the space that strikes you most with its colourful curved walls as well as its relaxed cushioned seating arrangements.” “Users can quickly brainstorm for ideas, drawing inspiration from all over the space and quickly putting them on the curved walls enclosing them. This way, ideas can be bounced off each other.”

THE MOST PROMINENT SPACE AT SCDF – THE EGG – DEFINES AN ENCLOSURE THAT PROPAGATES CREATIVITY.

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12/24/09 11:45:41


Face Feature 2 Face

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NLB’S K BA WAS SET UP IN 2006 WITH THE AIM OF FACILITATING CONVERSATIONS.

MS AMY GAY

MR LIM KWANG KOK

National Library Board The National Library Board’s (NLB) K Ba was set up in 2006 with the aim of facilitating conversations. The name comes from “Knowledge Bar” and the use of Ba from Japanese, meaning “place”. It adopts an open concept, where furniture is easily moved around to create a preferred discussion setting. “The success of a space depends on a number of factors, which include the type of activity being organised, the role of the officers in planting seeds of discussion and whether topics selected for

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community discussions are interesting,” said Mr Lim Kwang Kok, NLB’s Deputy Director for Knowledge & Quality Management. At NLB, all these factors are important in developing a creative environment organisation-wide, and not just limited to K Ba. In particular, knowledge sharing in a casual environment helps to improve access to knowledge and promote continuous learning. Ms Amy Gay, NLB’s Deputy Director for Corporate Communications, agreed. “K Ba offers a good casual setting that allows staff to germinate ideas and form meaningful partnerships between divisions for corporate-wide projects such as marketing campaigns or exploring ways to tap on new media for our work,” she said.

12/24/09 11:46:22


23

Backstage

FROM LEFT: Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, United States’ President Barack Obama, Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and China’s President Hu Jintao.

A cast of thousands ensured that the events of APEC Singapore 2009 went without a hitch.

SpotlightOnSingapore

Ms Koh Lin-Net (right), Chair of the APEC Singapore 2009 Organising Committee, with Mr Alan Teo, Deputy Head of the APEC Singapore 2009 Organising Secretariat.

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TWENTY THOUSAND INDIVIDUALS, 40 public agencies and 330 private sector companies – this was the scale of the whole-of-Singapore effort that successfully put together the 123 events of APEC Singapore 2009. Formed in 1989, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) grouping brings together 21 economies from the Asia Pacific – Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Hong Kong (China), Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the Republic of the Philippines, the Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States and Vietnam. As chair of APEC meetings for 2009, Singapore hosted some 123 events between February and November 2009. These included meetings, dialogues, seminars and workshops. To handle this massive task, the Singapore government set up an interagency committee headed by Deputy Secretary (Trade), Ministry of Trade and

Industry (MTI), Ms Koh Lin-Net. The APEC Singapore 2009 Organising Committee comprised representatives from the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Infocomm Development Authority, International Enterprise Singapore, Land Transport Authority, Singapore Police Force, Singapore Tourism Board, and the Ministries of Defence; Foreign Affairs; Health; Information, Communications and the Arts; and Trade and Industry. The organisation of the APEC 2009 events was a whole-of-Singapore effort, said Ms Koh. “A team of about 700 officers from 40 government agencies, and some 17,400 personnel from Singapore and Singapore-based companies were involved in the various aspects of APEC 2009, including the organisation of the meetings and social programmes. We also recruited some 1,000 volunteers to play host to the international delegates,” she noted. The APEC 2009 calendar culminated in the Leaders’ Week, which took place from Nov 8-15, 2009.

12/28/09 7:00:34 PM


Backstage

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The wives of APEC leaders waving from a capsule on the Singapore Flyer. They are (front row, from left): Mrs Selina Tsang, wife of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Donald Tsang; Mrs Miyuki Hatoyama, wife of Japan’s Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama; Mrs Lien Fang Yu, wife of Chinese Taipei’s representative Lien Chan; Mrs Ani Bambang Yudhoyono, wife of Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono; Ms Therese Rein, wife of Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd; and Ms Kim Yun-Ok, wife of South Korea’s President Lee Myung-Bak.

Mrs Tan Li Lin Chairperson, Conference Facilities Organising Committee, APEC Singapore 2009 and Director, Customer Services Group, IE Singapore

The role International Enterprise (IE) Singapore was tasked with the responsibility of managing the Conference Facilities for the APEC 2009 Meetings. My role in the November APEC Meeting was to ensure that all were set to the highest standards and would not fail Singapore in our bid to impress the world as host of APEC 2009. We had a very lean team comprising

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only five officers – one full-time and four part-time. Our modus operandi was to outsource all the legwork to professional event management companies while my team provided the direction and supervision.

Cross-agency collaboration Managing the APEC 2009 Meetings was a whole-of-government effort, and cross-agency collaboration was prevalent in every aspect. We met regularly to iron out issues and resolve problems. The Conference Facilities Subcommittee was the provider of all meeting and support facilities and we had to work with other agencies such as the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) who managed the meeting content; Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to secure

meeting venues; the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) who provided infocomm support; Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) who provided vehicular support; Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts on overall branding at the venue; Singapore Police Force (SPF) who managed perimeter security and Ministry of Health (MOH) who provided medical support.

Learning points That the APEC experience was successful and smooth sailing can be attributed to the good leadership of MTI who ensured that each Agency’s interests were taken care of and issues resolved when they arose. It was important to have good leaders who were prepared to listen to your point of view.

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Mr Lewis Wu Chairperson, Infocomm Infrastructure Subcommittee, APEC Singapore 2009 Organising Committee and Senior Executive IT Manager, Economic Cluster, IDA

The role The Infocommunications Infrastructure Subcommittee staffed by IDA was responsible for deploying the infocommunications technology (ICT) infrastructure, ICT applications, telecommunications and ICT security.

Challenges The IDA team was given a tight schedule for setting up the ICT Infrastructure for the meetings. Suntec Singapore allowed us to take over the premises for setting up the ICT infrastructure only 10 days before the Leaders’ Week. The other challenge was that there were three different site venues – Suntec Singapore, the Esplanade and the Istana. The set-up time given for the two latter venues was only two

working days. The team had to work with the vendors round the clock. The warehouse at Suntec Singapore, which was to house the data centre and the back-end IT infrastructure, was not in a ready condition. Additional equipment such as high-capacity air-conditioners, shelter canopies and a raised platform had to be built within the short time frame to create an environment that was suitable for data centre usage. There were also many last-minute requests such as changes in the set-up, which were inevitable due to operational changes. Every effort was made to ensure that these requirements were met. The need to handle the communications for the 14 rehearsals that were conducted over weekends leading to the Leaders’ Week also posed a challenge to us. We had to ensure that there was adequate communication coverage at the meeting venues and at more than 20 hotel locations. In some instances, we had to negotiate with the venue operators and telcos to install additional base stations in areas with poor communications coverage.

The security monitoring of the IT infrastructure was also intense and continuous due to the heightened alert level and the high profile of the event. Round-theclock monitoring was necessary to ensure that the ICT infrastructure remained safe and secure.

Learning points There were three key learning points from the APEC experience: 1) Adopting clear communication with various parties to minimise miscommunication of requirements, and to respond swiftly and effectively to changes to ground operations. 2) Being adequately prepared with contingency plans so that the team can respond appropriately to disruptions and problems, and not allow these disruptions to snowball and become show-stoppers. 3) Leveraging on each other’s expertise and knowledge within the team as well as other subcommittees in order to respond quickly to changes.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and United States’ President Barack Obama; Opening address by Ravi Menon; APEC CEO Summit Chairman Ms Chong Siak Ching (left) welcoming the delegates at Suntec; Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Lim Hng Kiang chairs a media conference; APEC leaders attending a luncheon at the Istana.

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12/24/09 10:59:57 AM


Backstage

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Colonel Ng Tion Huat Co-Chairman, Transport SubCommittee, APEC 2009 and Chief Transport Officer, Transport Formation, SAF

large-scale transport operations, we leveraged heavily on IT systems to track the movement of the cars and buses. Traffic and weather information was also made available to the drivers to assist them in getting to their destinations expeditiously.

The role

Cross-agency collaboration

The Transport Subcommittee’s aim was to deliver a positive transport experience for all the leaders, ministers, senior officials and delegates of the APEC group.

We had to work closely with many agencies such as the Singapore Police Force (SPF), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the event organisers. For example, in organising the arrival and departure of the 21-member economy leaders’ motorcades, we worked with MFA on the protocol issues, with SPF on the control of motorcade movement on the road and with the event organisers on the announcement of the departure sequence. We also worked closely with the Liaison Officers, who were a key group of stakeholders in helping to coordinate the transport arrangements for the guests. For shuttle bus operations, we also had very good support from the Land Transport Authority (LTA) to advise us on the bus routes and on traffic management.

Challenges To achieve the aim, the transport arrangements necessarily involved many interfaces and parties. One of the key challenges was to ensure that all these interfaces were seamlessly integrated. We also had to manage a large fleet of cars and buses; to ensure that they were always on time and that the guests were brought to the correct places. In managing such

Learning points A major event like APEC Singapore 2009 required the different agencies to work together and to make things work. Sometimes, we needed to “give and take” in our approach to doing things, in order to meet a higher intent. I think all the agencies understood this and it worked out quite well during the execution of APEC events.

Most rewarding moments One of the most demanding requirements of the transport operations was to manage the leaders’ arrival and departure plans in a very tight and coordinated manner. The transport team felt very good after all these arrangements went according to plan. During one of the events, the guest dispersal did not go according to the original plan and all the guests rushed out to the departure points. We activated the contingency plan and the departure was eventually smoothly executed, albeit at a slightly slower timing than was originally planned.

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Part of the APEC Motorcade; Workers putting up the last of six welcome banners decorating the main entrance of the conference venue for Leaders’ Week; Chefs presenting exquisite dishes for APEC Leaders; Gurkhas standing guard outside Suntec Singapore during the forum.

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Snapshots

The call went out for public officers to “Be the Agent of Change”, and more than 9,000 responded with an overwhelming turnout at the four-day PS21 ExCEL Convention 2009 in November. Through a series of workshops, enrichment activities and learning journeys, the officers experienced first-hand the meaning and impact of change, and discovered more about the roles they can play.

AgentsOfChange EVENT STATISTICS • 9,000 participants • Four co-located events by the Building and Construction Authority, Ministry of Finance, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore and the Civil Service College • 32 awards presented to 15 Ideators, five Outstanding Activists and 12 Outstanding PS21 Project Teams • 44 learning journeys • 49 workshops and talks, including “Climb your Own Everest” by the NATAS-Singapore Women’s Everest Team, and “Benchmarking in the Public Sector” by Dr Robin Mann, Director, Centre for Organisational Excellence Research, New Zealand (in collaboration with SPRING Singapore).

Head of Civil Service Mr Peter Ho delivering his keynote address at the PS21 ExCEL Forum 2009.

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12/24/09 11:21:37 AM

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A. Visitors experiencing the difficulties faced by the handicapped during a visit to the Building and Construction Authority’s Gallery. B. A display featuring the theme of the event, reiterating the Public Service’s commitment to welcome and execute change. C. Head of Civil Service Mr Peter Ho viewing a poster of the Jurong Rock cavern, JTC Corporation’s underground hydrocarbon storage facility. D. Introducing public officers to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority’s “Encyclopedia of a Passport System”. E. Over 9,000 public officers attended the four-day convention, which was jam-packed with activities.

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F. Public officers learning the benefits of systems thinking through jigsaw puzzles. G. A demonstration of acupressure massage techniques to lift spirits and relieve stressed minds. H. Public officers getting an insight to delivering masterful presentations during a workshop. I. Learning about innovative designs and building technologies at Housing and Development Board’s Centre of Building Research. J. Bringing out officers’ creative juices at a workshop.

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A A. The Institute of Technical Education’s G-Robot, which is enabled by a Global Positioning System. B. Enjoying a makeover during the Image Asset Management workshop. C. Understanding Singapore’s urban transformation as a global city. D. Challenging minds through puzzle-solving. E. An interactive learning journey to Singapore Media Fusion@One North. F. Appreciating the acoustic and architectural features of the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay. G. Demonstrating Northlight School’s “Mind Your Money” – a fun tool for teaching financial literacy to children.

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BESIDES A GREAT VIEW OF THE SINGAPORE SKYLINE, THE HARBOUR CRUISE ALSO GAVE PUBLIC OFFICERS A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF MARITIME ACTIVITIES AND SERVICES IN OUR PORT WATERS (LEFT).

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12/24/09 11:10:50 AM

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Food

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The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) community’s cuisine is as rich as its history. Challenge scours Singapore for culinary representations from four APEC countries.

APEC’SCulinaryAllure Shashlik Beef Fillet

Borshch

Baked Alaska

RUSSIA SHASHLIK RESTAURANT This eatery was established in 1986 by the staff of the now defunct Troika Restaurant. Taking with them the culinary expertise they had honed under a Russian chef from their Troika days, the closely-knit band of staffers turned entrepreneurs and remained faithful to the cuisine’s Russian roots.

Our Picks

Fish En Papillote, $22 White meat lovers will love this dish. Comprising a baked threadfin fillet coated with a chopped tomato-based sauce and partnered with a mixed salad, it makes for a tasty, yet healthy meal.

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Chicken a La Kiev “Imperial”, $21 Dig into yummy deep-fried chicken meat with a butter filling and served on a piece of fried bread. Shashlik Beef Fillet, $25 Grilled on a skewer before it is served on a hot, cast iron plate with a Russian salad made up of potatoes, a wedge of egg, a piece of papaya, a slice of onion and many other healthy bits, this dish is certainly something to chew over.

Baked (Bombed) Alaska, $16 (2 pax) Those with a sweet tooth will fall in love with this dessert. A meringuecovered sponge cake that has flambéed ice cream as filling, it marks a blissful finale for any meal. WHERE: #06-19, Far East Shopping Centre, 545 Orchard Road OPERATING HOURS: 12pm – 3pm, last order 2.15pm (Lunch); 6.30pm – 10.30pm, last order 9.30pm (Dinner). Opens daily except on the eve and the first three days of the Lunar New Year.

PHOTO: DEREK KWEE

Borshch, $7 This creamy beetroot- and tomatobased soup with a variety of vegetables – cabbage, green capsicum, carrot, celery and potato with sour cream as an option – is the ideal appetiser to kick-start your meal.

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Beef Kare-kare

Rellenong Bangus

Food

Inihaw Kinilaw

THE PHILIPPINES 7,107 FLAVOURS Its name is a representation of the diversity of tastes associated with Filipino cuisine. The brainchild of a Singaporean and two Singapore permanent residents from the Philippines, it is the first Filipino fine dining restaurant here. The cuisine is a fusion of Asian, American and Spanish cooking styles.

Our Picks Rellenong Bangus (Stuffed Milk Fish), $22.50 This traditional dish is served during special occasions and it is only fitting that you should try it when you dine in. The deboned and sautéed fish meat is in its element when dipped into a rich pool of savoury sauce. Inihaw Kinilaw (Mackerel Ceviche topped with Grilled Pork Belly), $18.50 A unique hybrid of two highly popular Filipino dishes, this dish is made of fresh mackerel fish marinated in a special vinegar sauce and topped with slices of freshly grilled pork belly. Beef Kare-kare, $18.50 A bewitching Filipino stew made of oxtail, tripe and vegetables in peanut sauce. Best consumed when piping hot and smeared with home-made shrimp paste. Beef Caldereta, $18.50 A fixture in any Filipino celebration such as fiestas, birthdays or gatherings, this dish is made of tender meat slathered with tomato sauce thickened with chicken liver. Served together with potato wedges, bell pepper, onion and grated cheese, it is simply irresistible.

PHOTO: DEREK KWEE

WHERE: #02-02, Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard OPERATING HOURS: 11.30am – 10pm (Monday – Thursday); 11am – 11pm (Friday – Saturday)

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Food

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MEXICO CAFÉ IGUANA Hotfoot to this eatery for unadulterated Mexican indulgence. Here, foodies can take delight in the menu’s extensive offerings of fajitas, grilled meat and burritos. Expect nothing but fresh ingredients and condiments as the base of most Mexican dishes – tortillas, guacamole and salsa – are made fresh every day.

Steak Fajitas

Our Picks 1. Camarones al Diablo, $18.99 The dish is as unique as its name, at least to non-Mexicans. Prawns sautéed with fiery habanero chilli, capsicum, ginger, cumin and lime and served with cheese and poblano chilli quesadillas, this explosive mix gets you all fired up. 2. Smoked Salmon Soft Taco, $21.99 Handmade corn tortillas topped with traditional shredded cabbage garnish, smoked salmon, lime cream and pico de gallo and accompanied with beans and lime-scented cilantro rice, this spectacular spread embodies all that is good about Mexican cuisine. 3. Tequila Grill Choose from three kinds of limemarinated meat – Prawn Brochette ($28.99), New York Steak ($26.99), half chicken ($23.99) – glazed with smoky and spicy tequila served with grilled vegetables and poblano-scalloped potatoes. Prawn Diablo with Fajitas

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4. Green Chile Stew, $14.99 Tuck into the restaurant’s much talked about carne de puerco en chile verde (stewed pork), which comes with homemade flour tortillas, sour cream and rice. 5. Ancho Chile Chocolate Cake, $10.99 Round off your hearty meal with this flourless cake paired with a dose of margarita sauce and ice cream. WHERE: #01-03, Riverside Point, 30 Merchant Road OPENING HOURS: 4pm – 1am (Monday – Thursday); 4pm – 3am (Friday & Holiday eve); 11am – 3am (Saturday); 11am – 1am (Sunday)

Strawberry Frozen Margarita

Portobello Fajitas

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35

Crisp-fried Prawn Rolls

Sauteed Calamari

Wok-fried Beef Fillet with Garlic

CHINESE TAIPEI

Our Picks

SHIN YEH

1. Wok-fried Beef Fillet with Garlic, $24 Consisting of tender, generous cuts of beef, and cooked with garlic, this dish makes a strong impact with its multitude of flavours.

A joint venture between two established names in dining – the Taipei-based Shin Yeh and local restaurant group Tung Lok – this eatery brings authentic Taiwanese dishes to our shores. Gourmands are spoilt for choice. Over a hundred dishes, drawn from Taiwan’s gastronomic heritage, are on the menu. To ensure you get nothing less than the real McCoy, the dishes are prepared by three Taiwanese chefs, protégés of a Taiwan-based Executive Chef, who has been with Shin Yeh since it opened its doors in 1977.

Food

2. Sautéed Calamari with Ginger and Scallions, $18 Firm to the bite and garnished with strips of ginger and scallions, this is one dish you should not miss. 2. Crisp-fried Prawn Rolls with Yam Paste, $8 (2 pieces) Crunchy on the outside yet

succulent and sweet on the inside, thanks to the fresh prawns and creamy consistency of yam, you will find yourself going back for more. 3. Taiwan-style Braised Oyster Porridge, $18 Dunked in a savoury, soupy blend of polished rice, enoki mushrooms and bits of spring onion, the luscious oysters are a joy to taste. WHERE: #02-19, Liang Court Shopping Centre, 177 River Valley Road OPERATING HOURS: 11.30am – 2.30pm (Lunch); 6pm – 10.30pm (Dinner). Opens daily.

FOOD HERITAGE TRAIL: For our March issue, Challenge will be tracking down famous food stalls that have stood the test of time. If you know of any, do write in to psd_challenge@psd.gov.sg and tell us about it.

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12/28/09 7:11:8 PM


Lifestyle

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“HAVING LIVED THROUGH SOME OF THE MOST TRYING ENVIRONMENTS – SUCH AS ENDURING -20 DEG CELSIUS TEMPERATURES, SEVERE WINDSTORMS AND MORE THAN 20 HOURS OF NON-STOP CLIMBING – I’VE DEVELOPED A ‘CAN-DO’ ATTITUDE SUCH THAT IT IS POSSIBLE TO OVERCOME ANY OBSTACLE AND

PHOTO: DARREN CHANG STYLING AND MAKEUP: STEPHANIE TEO

CHALLENGE AT WORK.”

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i, Hu k i Y re im s, t nge nd S a in le s M nta hal ort, , u C p e im mo ils. of s t b tra e re pa climure nam s eir nn nt e th i Su dve in th n t i Phe er a its u b qu im ay Sim on eir l u d s d c th a y s b nd M an est te P r t s t e a fic ng hon to nne f o u at m A lic Ch ar the By b . pu Kok tra-mves g it e i l r r in g u y a ean un at d lov e e, g Th r Ch es, r wh e so le M ngl out ar ol m y C ju ds he or Tea i fin hy t un t w /J res

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n e tio Ev u s tit en’ s In s om e W fl af ore R r, gap e fic in Of S S I tion TA U H uca e NA I day. Finding time to train is not really a Y Ed th problem for me as I love the outdoors and f l M I tia r o would rather hit the trails than walk around S S rien ade in a shopping centre. M e Le p Highs and lows Ex Co The most significant is the feeling of d having gone through the toughest and an Favourite endurance sport

That would have to be trail running and mountaineering. I first started when I joined Make It Real, a student mountaineering programme in NUS in 2003. I am drawn to the aspect of challenging myself physically and mentally in an environment that is different from what we are used to in Singapore. Training routine

Currently, I train about four times a week – mostly doing trail runs and hitting the gym. I like to do my runs before work as I tend to feel more energised for the rest of the

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most challenging moments, and in the process gotten to know myself better. A definite high would also be the joy and feeling of camaraderie of climbing together with my team – the NATAS Singapore Women’s Everest Team. Well, I would count having to abandon the summit of Everest because of my chest condition as one of my biggest lows. Having trained so hard for five years, the decision to turn around from the summit was one of the most difficult decisions that I had to make.

focus on what is at hand. I also like to pay attention to the environment (landscape, geology, etc) around me when I climb so as to feel “in the zone” and more attached to the place that I’m in. Having lived through some of the most trying environments – such as enduring -20 deg Celsius temperatures, severe windstorms, and more than 20 hours of non-stop climbing – I’ve developed a “cando” attitude such that it is possible to overcome any obstacle and challenge at work. Support

My mum wasn’t supportive in the beginning. She felt that a girl should stay at home and mop the floor, and didn’t understand why I put myself through all that “suffering”. But she has since witnessed my dedication towards the sport. Of course, it’s also really helped that I actually came back alive and in one piece after every mountaineering expedition. Especially after Everest, she has been more encouraging, and knowing that she is more supportive puts my mind at ease during each climb.

What goes through your mind during a climb?

If I weren’t doing this, I would be…

On the more difficult sections, I try to

Paragliding!

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Lifestyle Style

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“NO TWO RACES ARE THE SAME, AND COMPLETING THE RACE IS A SATISFACTION IN ITSELF. THESE RACES PUSH ME TO DEAL WITH SITUATIONS THAT I AM NOT NATURALLY COMFORTABLE WITH.”

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Favourite endurance sport

Adventure races are like mystery bags. Challenges unfold as the race proceeds and there isn’t a pre-defined route. Beyond athletic prowess, participants compete over a wider range of disciplines including navigation, rope skills, team dynamics and even puzzle solving. No two races are the same, and completing the race is a satisfaction in itself. These races push me to deal with situations that I am not naturally comfortable with. I have had to deal with heights, such as doing rope obstacles up and down Sheares Bridge. I still don’t enjoy heights but at least now I know that it is possible to grit my teeth and go through the challenges if necessary, especially since such races are typically team events.

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I would have liked to say that training is integrated into my normal daily routine such that it does not tax my schedule, but unfortunately, that is not true. I try to achieve some integration such as bike commuting to work (my minimal daily dose of cardio work). Watching TV was one of the first things to go. Essential learning

A typical race has dynamic elements like navigation and order of checkpoints. There are also surprise elements, and participants can usually expect the unexpected. These races often demand on-the-spot decisions. Making sound decisions in the face of fatigue, stress, time pressures and in a team with conflicting views, it’s simply not easy. After paying the price for several bad decisions, you learn to have a much more disciplined decision-making process instead of just gut feel. Self-motivation

How about visualising calories being zapped while training? If I weren’t doing this, I would be…

Hunting for good Chinese desserts like walnut paste – another passion of mine!

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M S St S ra IM t

eg P is HE t, Fu I S tu UN re N s Gr ou p,

Favourite endurance sport

M in is tr y

My first love is long-distance trail running – I love the feel of cruising through a natural setting. I started 10 years ago. I ran my first marathon in 2003, and have completed countless marathons and four ultramarathons since then. I first started out wanting to lose weight, but soon fell in love with long runs. Running is also a great, cheap way to see the sights of any country. I also like triathlons. The cross training provides a more balanced workout to the body and adds variety. I recently completed my first Ironman race in Dec 2009, and it was an awesome experience. Progressing from trekking to mountaineering was a natural step. I picked up technical mountaineering in 2005. Mountaineering is a unique blend of many disciplines and is by far the most challenging of all the endurance sports that I do. I try to go for a high altitude climb each year. It is my annual escape and retreat. Training routine

When I’m not preparing for a climb, I run three times a week, mixing speed work and long runs of 10km to 30km. I also swim two or three times a week, about 1.5km each time, and do a long bike ride. Otherwise, I replace this with HDB stair climbing or going up Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Prepping yourself

I tell myself: “Just do it”. Confidence comes from knowing that you’ve prepared

of Tr ad e

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for an event, and you focus on getting to the finishing line safely. It is also important to break down a big target into more tangible goals that keep you on track. Support

Understanding colleagues and bosses definitely help. My parents have also been very supportive of my races. They used to drive me around in the early mornings and let me use the family car with minimal issues. My mum’s greatest headache is how to store all my gear at home. Each endurance sport requires its own set of specialised equipment. And I could probably set up shop with my three bicycles, large down sleeping bag, countless helmets, shoes, clothes and paraphernalia if I had to give it up someday. If I weren’t doing this, I would be…

Spending time on other sports, like adventure racing, nordic ski, rock climbing and multi-day cycling tours. I would love a chance to try a high-altitude or polar marathon, or an Antarctic crossing. To go where few have ventured, and see what few have witnessed.

“CONFIDENCE COMES FROM KNOWING THAT YOU’VE PREPARED FOR AN EVENT, AND YOU FOCUS ON GETTING TO THE FINISHING LINE SAFELY. IT IS ALSO IMPORTANT TO BREAK DOWN A BIG TARGET INTO MORE TANGIBLE GOALS THAT KEEP YOU ON TRACK.”

STEP UP!: Challenge is looking to unearth dance talents in the Public Service. If you are passionate about dance, or know of someone who is, e-mail us at psd_challenge@psd.gov.sg

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12/30/09 11:54:44 AM


Training

40

AS A SMALL COUNTRY, SINGAPORE recognises that while every country has one vote in the United Nations, we do not all carry the same weight. The thrust of Singapore’s foreign policy is to create space – diplomatic, political and economic – for us on the global stage. One way of creating this space is by engaging as many countries as possible to have a stake in the region, including the United States, China, Japan and India. At the same time, we have limited ability to exert influence over the policies of these countries towards the region. We are “pricetakers” on the international stage. This means that we must continually

Since joining ASEAN in July 1995, Vietnam has quickly become an active member in the Association. The former French colony has taken steps to ensure that its officials as well as students learn the English language in order to speed up Vietnam’s integration into the same Association which had challenged the Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia in 1978 and for more than 10 years was steadfast in isolating Vietnam from the international community. In November 2006, President Bill Clinton visited Vietnam, making him the first US Head of State to visit the country after the end of the Vietnam War, when America withdrew its forces in 1975. The streets along which the Presidential motorcade travelled were

while maintaining our freedom to be sovereign and independent. We also cannot change the fact that Singapore will remain in Southeast Asia, which as a region did not even exist until World War II, when the Allied Forces created the combined South-East Asia Command in August 1943. In his speech at the S. Rajaratnam Lecture in April this year, Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew noted that “Singapore is now more established, internationally and regionally. Forty years ago, many did not believe Singapore would survive, let alone prosper”. How resonant his words,

By Saifudin Hamjuri Bin Samsuri

TheLittleRedDotRedux maintain Singapore’s relevance to the rest of the world – something that we cannot take for granted. International relations cannot be a static exercise. Circumstances evolve and things change over time, often at a rapid pace. Then British Foreign Secretary Lord Palmerston said: “Nations have no permanent friends or allies; they only have permanent interests.” Vietnam, a fellow ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) member country, is a good example of how relations between countries, premised on evolving national interests, change over time.

packed with Vietnamese from all walks of life who genuinely cheered and waved both the national flag as well as the star-spangled banner. Bob Dylan’s song comes to mind: “How the times they are a-changin’….” Nonetheless, some things do remain the same. The fundamentals of Singapore’s foreign policy, forged during the vulnerable early years of Singapore’s independence, have remained relevant to this day. We cannot change the fact that with a land area of just over 700 sq km, and that as a small country, we have little power to change the region, let alone the world. As a small state, we seek the maximum number of friends

set against his speech in 1964 when as then PM he said: “External affairs are a matter of life and death.” As a country with no natural resources, external demand will always be the engine that drives Singapore’s economy. Our livelihood will always depend on selling goods, services and knowledge to others. In our international relations and foreign policy, we therefore need to constantly maintain and expand our network of extensive ties with other countries and regions, and to stay relevant to the rest of the world.

Saifudin Hamjuri Bin Samsuri is a Senior Researcher with the Centre for Governance and Leadership, Civil Service College (CSC). CSC has identified expertise in “International Relations (IR) and Negotiations” as one of the core capabilities that the Public Service will need to build up in order to perform at the leading edge of governance. IR-related topics are covered in both CSC’s milestone and related public policy programmes.

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25 The Short Takes Last Page

APECFacts FIND OUT HOW MUCH YOU KNOW ABOUT THE REGION’S PREMIER ECONOMIC FORUM.

Send in your answers today! Online: www.challenge.gov.sg E-mail: psd_challenge@psd.gov.sg Fax: 6333-4010 Post: PS21 Office, The Treasury, 100 High Street, #02-03, Singapore 179434

1. The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) is the premier forum for facilitating growth, cooperation, trade and investment _________ . A B C D

In America In America and Southeast Asia In Asia Pacific Worldwide

2. Which of the following is NOT a founding member of APEC? A B C D

Singapore Australia Canada India

3. The APEC Secretariat formed in 1992 provides coordination, technical and advisory support and information management, communications and public outreach services. It is based in _________ .

Include your name, e-mail, agency and telephone number. All winners will be informed via e-mail.

A B C D

Deadline for submission: Feb 17, 2010

4. The host economy for APEC 2008 was

COMPILED BY EDMUND SOO

A B C D

Australia Hong Kong Japan Singapore

Japan Peru The United States Mexico

5. The theme for APEC Singapore 2009 was A B C D

Sustaining Growth, Connecting the Region Sustaining Prosperity, Connecting Asia Sustaining Development, Connecting the World A New Commitment to Asia-Pacific Development

ll thse a t e G swer d an ct an cortraend toie s ov ! winum ers h vo c

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Challenge January – February 2010