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The future belongs to those who prepare for it today. – Malcolm X






Futures thinking offers new perspectives to consider possibilities for a surprising and unknown future




Singapore transforms itself into a living lab for cleantech



Fast forward through the work of a futurist with this boardgame






Your views on the Nov/Dec issue of Challenge



We asked readers for their thoughts



Matchmaker Anisa Hassan thinks otherwise



Dr Francis Yeoh talks about the need to see the big picture

Meet the Service’s most innovative thinkers who aren’t afraid of thinking big



Adrian Benepe talks about the transformation of New York City’s parks





Melissa Khoo, head of the team organising Our Singapore Conversation, says it’s not all talk, no action

MinLaw Perm Sec Dr Beh Swan Gin shares why he does not suffer yes-men gladly



A local think tank uses art to discuss the future of Singapore



Part 2 of a series on Unsung Heroes: Social Development Officers who shoot Cupid’s arrows in the Public Service







Two self-guided trails that will bring you through history and heritage



Januar y/Febr


uary 2013










BABY BOOMERS Born: 1940s – 1964 Characteristics: Optimistic, loyal, ambitious Work attitude: It’s a lifestyle Motivation: Money, titles

GENERATION X (MTV GENERATION) Born: 1965 – 1981 Characteristics: Pragmatic, individualistic, risk-taking Work attitude: It’s a necessity Motivation: Freedom


pages to help you bridge that gap

19-26 Are you tearing your hair out dealing with someone from another generation? Is the gap between you and Gen Y (or X or the Boomers) wider than the Grand Canyon? Fear not. This handy pullout is packed with tips and info about the various generations that will wise you up.

WTF MEANS… Messages (1)


GENERATION Y (THE MILLENNIALS OR GENERATION NEXT) Born: 1981 – 1999 Characteristics: Tech-savvy, confident, goal-oriented Work attitude: It should be interesting Motivation: Meaningfulness



you made a facebook? WTF!! What does “WTF” mean? oh it means welcome to facebook GENERATION Z (NET GENERATION) Born: After 1999 Characteristics: Individualistic, self-directed Work attitude: Freelance work is normal Motivation: Flexibility


Beat generation American author Jack Kerouac introduced the phrase “Beat Generation” in 1948 to describe an anti-conformist youth movement. It now refers to a group of American writers in the 1950s who embraced Eastern philosophy and non-traditional values. Generation of €700 Called “twixters” in America and “parasite singles” in Japan, the Generation of €700 refers to those caught between adolescence and adulthood in Greece. Educated but unemployed, this generation spends time in temporary jobs, earning the bare minimum of €700.


Edit Contact Info

Nov 30, 2012 7:30 PM Hi, I am fairly new to Facebook. Mind accepting my friend request?





It refers to differences in values and attitudes between people from different generations – most commonly, parents and children.

The older generation thought nothing of getting up at five every morning and the younger generation doesn’t think much of it either. – John J. Welsh


8 pages to bridge that gap

The Public Service Bingo is back – this time to weed out unnecessary words that officers love

Going Back to the Future WITH ALWAYS SO MUCH GOING ON, IT’S EASY to get caught up in the daily grind of life and lose sight of planning for our future. So at the threshold of this brand-new year, it’s useful to consciously take a pause from focusing on our immediate next steps, and gaze ahead to what lies on the horizon. Challenge kicks off 2013 doing just that with an issue that goes back to the future. In our cover story, Unfolding the Future, we catch up with five futures thinkers to demystify what futuring is (no, it’s not crystal ball gazing!) and what strange terms like “wild cards”, “black swans” and “wicked problems” really mean. We also ask them about trends impacting the work of their ministries, such as how technology is taking over white-collar jobs. Then if you need some work inspiration for the year ahead, take a leaf from some colleagues who are helping to shape our nation’s future by being at the cutting edge of innovation. A Clean Future tells the story of how Singapore is transforming itself into a living laboratory for clean technology through its first eco-business park while No Idea’s Too Big celebrates two winning projects from the recent annual Public Service innovation convention, ExCEL. If that’s not enough to get you dreaming big, you can also get some Lessons from a Park Ranger who helped transform New York into a city renowned not just for its skyline but also for its parks, through forward-thinking public-private collaborations.

As you ponder your future, what are some of your aspirations?

Dress Gap Shoes Forever 21

Equally inspiring is to read about the kaleidoscope of long-term aspirations that officers have for our country. In tandem with the nationwide Our Singapore Conversation dialogue, Challenge asked readers about the areas of change they’d like to see happen by 2030. The response was overwhelming in volume, length and ideas; so don’t miss this issue’s Your Say. As you ponder your future, what are some of your aspirations? What do you hope to see happen at work or in your personal life? Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” So go ahead, make 2013 a year where you reach for the stars!


Tan Hui Min



PS21 Office, Public Service Division, Prime Minister’s Office 100 High Street, #07-01 The Treasury Singapore 179434 Email : Web :

For enquiries or feedback on Challenge, please write to the Challenge Editorial Team at Editorial Advisor

Tay Choon Hong Editor

Tan Hui Min

Assistant Editors

Kaira Peh, Ruth Lim & Christopher Teo



Really like the Gamification (Fun is the future of work), DIY pullout (Hands On) and Principles for Procurement articles!

Mohammad Ridza Salim Principles for ProcuremenT

Editorial Assistant

Diana Lee

Tuber Productions Pte Ltd

298 River Valley Road Level 2 Singapore 238339 Tel : 6836-4030 Fax : 6836-4029 Email : Web :

Management Director

Lee Han Shih Project Director

Liew Wei Ping


Contributing Editor

Bridgette See Sub-editor

Bernice Tang Staff Writers

Chen Jingting & Siti Maziah Masramli Cont ributors

Douglas Chew & Jamie Ee Intern

Heng Yishi


Art Director

Yip Siew Fei

It’s always a challenge to put down Challenge and resume toiling after I pick it up.


Why do you have to make it so good?

Priceless! Feeling over-cautious because of recent developments in government purchases? There is no need to be if you follow these key principles of procurement. Text by Siti

I truly enjoyed Principles for Procurement.

It is HIGHLY accurate

and will enhance the understanding of the process for nonprocurement staff!

Awesome work!

Start Scenario:

Illustration by

Ng Shi Wei

Be Accountable To The Public For The Use Of Taxpayers’ Funds

They have value


Do you really need branded pens?

Your department recommends buying branded pens for gifts.

Maziah Masramli


Exercise Financial Prudence

No ink leakages


Long warranty





Do more market research

We just need pens

List Required Specifications Are the following really required? Don’t overspecify as doing so increases costs and limits the number of bids.

To be used as a gift?

High quality?

Chris Huang


Looks presentable?

Post Bid on GeBIZ

Be transparent: Make objectives, criteria and procedures clear to bidders

Quotation Describe the bid with relevant


Get competitive bids: A fair, level playing field will encourage suppliers to give their best offer

Minimum opening periods


Categorise bid correctly in GeBIZ

working days




calendar days

Inform more than one supplier of the procurement opportunity


Remember: not all suppliers may respond



Refer suppliers to GeBIZ and ensure they all receive the same information

Needs the pens sooner? Should have planned ahead!




Evaluating Results Y?!


Look for Value for Money: Be discerning in finding the optimal balance of costs and benefits





Officers must further justify to the Approving Authority on why the bid is competitive or reasonable

• Was the deadline too short? • Were the criteria too restrictive? • Are there other vendors who can supply?

Only ONE bid received

MULTIPLE bids received



Choose a supplier Not necessarily the cheapest source or lowest bid

The awarded bid should be Not justifiable


Procurement Integrity Intact!

Consider reviewing specifications (and cancelling procurement if needed)

Still confused?

Get a star of recognition

Attend the ‘Managing the Purchasing Function’ course at Civil Service College to learn more.

I really liked the Principles for Procurement feature – cute,

and it was an interesting way of elaborating on a laborious

It was my first time reading Challenge and I will be sure to read subsequent ones!

process. I also liked the article on Public Service engagement as it asks real questions. I could relate to it.


Grace Chen



Editor: Ganesha, who works in procurement, also shared tips on how we could improve the infographics! Thank you.

Graphic Designers

Ng Shi Wei & Ryan Ong


Cont ributing Photog raphers

John Heng ( Justin Loh ( Norman Ng ( Challenge is published bimonthly by Tuber Productions Pte Ltd (Registration No: 200703697K) for PS21 Office, Public Service Division, Prime Minister’s Office. 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 Office or Tuber Productions Pte Ltd and no liabilities shall be attached there to. All rights reserved. All information correct at time of printing. Printed by KHL Printing Co Pte Ltd (Registration No: 197801823M) 57 Loyang Drive Singapore 508968

Exclusively on Challenge Online at

Insider’s Take

Are You Being Called? How do you know for sure that this is what you’re supposed to be doing?

You are Creative

Duck and Cover

Say “Om” to Better Productivity Did you know that meditation could be a great productivity saver at work?

Buzz Words Daily The workplace is a breeding ground for waffle phrases; here’s Jonson driven mad by office jargon.


The World is Smaller than You Think With 200,000 Singaporeans overseas, you are bound to find a kindred spirit to share a cup of tea with.

To scan QR codes, please download any free QR code reader app available on iTunes Store and Google Play.

I’d love to see real change in our education landscape for disabled children and children with learning disabilities. Their education should be managed by the government and not left to the civic groups as they have limited resources. More needs to be done by the government for the better treatment and education of these children. Only then can the government claim that it is taking care of every single citizen and we regard our nation as a First World country.

I would like to see a Singapore where our children can have an enjoyable childhood and are brought up to understand that failure is just a learning milestone. I hope they will have the passion to learn, excel and share.

Alvin Tan IDA


Your Say03

I’ d like to see our societ y becoming truly cosmopolitan. The recent Amy Cheong case highlighted the pressing need to examine how Singaporeans view one another and the foreigners who live and work here. Singaporeans tend to stick with those who share their beliefs and lead the same way of life. This lack of exposure to other races is a breeding ground for skewed beliefs about one another. I hope Singaporeans will realise that a cosmopolitan society can emerge not just through the oft-repeated methods of tolerance and accommodation, but also through increased interaction and mutual respect.

Gavin Tay CAD

Sarifudin Bin Sapari NEA

In Our Singapore Conversation Special, Challenge asked readers to share one area of change they’d like to see happen in Singapore by then.

To many Singaporeans, being successful means being wealthy, powerful or even famous. We see so many Singaporeans work long and hard hours just for the sake of seeing the number in their bank account grow. If we ask them, “Do you enjoy your work? Are you fulfilling your passion?” Many will say, “No, this is just a job.” Many of us have dreams. I have a young friend who is going into customer service instead of pursuing his interest in writing because he doesn’t believe he can be successful as a Singaporean writer. Is that why I see so many glum faces on the MRT every morning? I’m quite sure we’re not worrying about an MRT breakdown. By 2030, it’d be splendid if Singaporeans dare to take risks, to break out of monotony and seek their true passion and purpose in life. Collectively, we will become a more driven societ y that has room for the incubation and i growth of dreams, for one ia Hu J k e and all. P CSC Congratulations Jia Hui! Thanks for sharing your vision with us. We’re sending you a $100 IKEA gift card so you can create a “dare-to-dream” corner in your home or off ice! Here’s to bigger, bolder dreams! Editor: For the OSC special, we received close to 100 entries from officers who shared specific areas of change they would like to see happen in 2030 like doubledeck train systems and integrated park connectors. To read more entries, check out!

I hope to see a more tolerant and appreciative society, where people are polite and pleasant. I hope to see Singapore soar on the happiness index, not where we are at present. I hope to see all drivers signal early and give way, And an efficient and safe bicycle culture that is here to stay. I hope to see neighbours of all ages and colours gathering not just to have a good time, But banding together to vigilantly fight crime. I hope to see a growing Singapore economy, But without losing our fresh air and greenery. What I hope to see, I cannot list exhaustively. But I hope to see One Singapore, a united nation, my home, forever more.

Jeannie Chew PSD

Are you bursting with thankfulness for the blessings or have a renewed zest for life? How will you live 2013? Share with us your goal(s) for the year. Tell us at


The best entry will win an attractive prize worth up to All other published entries will win book vouchers worth each. Please include your name, agency email address, agency and contact number.


All entries should reach us by January 23, 2013.

04 Highlights COMING UP...

NEWS from the

SERVICE LEAD FROM THE MIDDLE Civil Ser vice College will be conducting its flagship leadership programme “Developing Your Leadership Programme: Leading from the Middle” from March 18 to 22. Into its third run, this 7-day programme will include three 1-day follow-up Action Learning Sets. Designed specifically for middle managers in transition, the programme aims to develop critical competencies in leadership. Extending premium leadership content and supported by experienced facilitators, Leading from the Middle offers a dedicated space to focus on your personal leadership development. Please visit for more details. Singapore Polytechnic officers demonstrating their electricitysaving project, i-Save, at the ExCEL Convention.


The annual PS21 ExCEL Convention to showcase innovations of public officers at work was held November 15-16, 2012, at the Gardens by the Bay. Themed “Together, ExCELling with a Heart” for a united Public Service that values care and empathy for the people, in both policy formulation and service delivery, the learning event featured sharing sessions by exhibitors and 23 Learning Journeys (visits to public- and private-sector locations not normally open to the public). “ExCELling with a heart speaks to how we must always keep our citizens in mind in everything that we do, even as we go about doing our work efficiently and effectively,” said Head of Civil Service and Guest of Honour Peter Ong in his opening address. The 2012 Convention was organised by the Ministry of Transport and its statutory boards – Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, Land Transport Authority, and Maritime and Port Authority.

SENDING MONEY HOME BY MAIL How did Singapore’s Chinese immigrant workers live from the late 1800s to 1970s? A display of the letters they sent home to China, along with cash and other goods, reveals their stories. Free exhibition at the National Library ends January 27.


The S ocial De velopment Net work has launc hed “ L o ve Gif ts”, vouc hers that you c an purc hase f or your single fr iends and relatives, who c an use them to redeem fun group activities and prof essional dating ser vices. The vouc hers come in denominations of $10 and wil l be delivered to your lo ved ones in an attr active envelope.





SDN is holding a Love Gifts contest exclusively for Challenge readers. For your chance to win a travel adaptor, name one agency where Love Gifts can be redeemed. Email your answer, with your name, IC and contact details, and “Love Gifts” in the subject title, to

Learn about military stealth technologies, the science of flight, and other battlefield strategies at Singapore’s largest defence science exhibition, “Defence Science Revealed”. Held at the Science Centre Singapore, in par tnership with DSO National Laboratories, there will be multimedia exhibits, games, workshops and even a life-size tank on display. Runs until February 17.

GREEN LEADER CleanTech One is the first development to be completed in CleanTech Park, Singapore’s first eco-business park.

Singapore is transforming itself into a living laboratory for the clean technology industry. Text by Jamie

WITH ITS EYE-CATCHING LIGHT AND DARK green perforated facade, the CleanTech One building, located next to the Nanyang Technological University (NTU), is an edifice that is hard to miss. Equally striking are the building’s other green elements: the twin-towered building bookends a landscaped garden that is shaded by a sky trellis helping to lower the ambient temperature; up on the roof, neatly lined solar panels soak up the sun’s rays to help power the lighting in the building. Befittingly, the $90 million complex houses a mix of companies and research institutions that are developing clean technology, or cleantech. They include Danish firm DHI Water & Environment, energy solutions company Diamond Energy, Chinese solar company Yingli, Japanese water membrane firm Toray, the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) and the Energy Research Institute@NTU (ERI@N).


It is the first development to be completed in CleanTech Park, Singapore’s first eco-business park. To be fully running by 2030, the 50-hectare park is part of a master plan to advance Singapore to become a cleantech and sustainable development leader in the world. JTC Corporation ( JTC) and the Economic Development Board (EDB) are leading the park’s growth. In 2011, CleanTech One won the BCA Green Mark Platinum Award for New Non-Residential Buildings. CleanTech Park was also the first to clinch the BCA Platinum Green Mark for Districts Award in 2012. But the real measure of the park’s success will lie in the growth of Singapore’s clean technology industry itself, says Mr Leow Thiam Seng, JTC’s director for aerospace, marine and cleantech cluster. “We also hope that new technologies tested in the Park could be successfully deployed into our other industrial

A WINNING DESIGN CleanTech Park was the first to clinch the BCA Platinum Green Mark Award for Districts in 2012.

estates and other parts of Singapore,” he adds.

has in fact built up considerable cleantech capabilities over the years.

Why cleantech?

“Singapore focused on sustainability long before it became a buzzword,” Mr Goh says. “Since the 1960s, the country has had to address resource constraints, optimise land use, and develop new solutions related to urbanisation.”

As early as 2007, EDB had identified the clean technology industry as an area of strategic economic growth for Singapore, which is already a regional centre for financial services, petrochemicals, semiconductors, biomedical sciences, shipping and aviation. EDB aims to grow the cleantech sector to contribute $3.4 billion to Singapore’s gross domestic product (GDP) and provide 18,000 jobs by 2015. The global cleantech market was estimated to be worth US$1 trillion in 2010. This is projected to double by 2020. Mr Goh Chee Kiong, EDB’s director for cleantech, says the emergence of “mega trends”, like climate changes and the depletion of natural resources and fossil fuels, has added much momentum to the clean technology sector. Singapore, despite its limited resources,

Leow Thiam Seng, Director of Aerospace, Marine & CleanTech Cluster, JTC.

So far, the concerted effort to grow the industry is already reaping results. Take the water sector, a key part of the clean technology industry. There are now about 100 water companies based here, from 50 in 2006. Public and private research and development centres have also grown from three to 25.

Multi-agency effort

Growing the clean technology industry undoubtedly requires a “whole-ofgovernment effort”, says Mr Goh. Already, inter-agency workgroups such as the Energy Innovation Programme Office (EIPO) and the Environment & Water Industry Programme Office

Goh Chee Kiong, Director for Cleantech, EDB.

Feature07 (EWI) have been set up to drive and facilitate research and innovation in energy efficiency, environment and water technologies respectively. Another of EDB’s key strategies is to position Singapore as a conducive living laboratory where companies – in partnership with government agencies – can develop and test green solutions in real-life settings. This sometimes means inviting companies to use an agency’s facilities as test beds. “Naturally, there was some initial hesitation. For some agencies, to open up and allow the use of their premises as test beds, it requires a change from what they are used to,” says Mr Goh. “But most quickly come to the perspective that it ’s going to be a win-win situation for everybody, and Singapore as a whole will benefit from this effort.”

a charging station for electric vehicles that is controlled by demand response technology, which essentially allows users to reduce or shift their power use during peak demand periods. Mr Dallon Kay, president and group chief executive officer of Diamond Energy, which is behind the trial, says JTC’s openness to experimental research work was one of the main reasons that attracted his company to set up office at CleanTech One. “Most building owners will not be so bold to allow tenants to look at these new technologies because they are very new to Singapore,” he says.

Singapore focused on sustainability long before it became a buzzword. Since the 1960s, the country has had to address resource constraints, optimise land use, and develop new solutions related to urbanisation.

A case in point is PUB, Singapore’s national water agency. Its openness and willingness to tr y ne w solutions at its water plants has been a huge pull factor for global cleantech companies and research institutes, says Mr Goh.

“Water utilities around the world tend to be very conservative but PUB is very different. By allowing itself to be a reference customer and a partner in the technology development process, many companies have gravitated to Singapore to do research work,” he adds.

Test bed for ideas

Similarly, the concept of a living laboratory is being realised at CleanTech One. Under an initiative called the CleanTech Park Living Lab Programme, JTC is partnering industry players to test innovative but yet-to-be-commercialised green urban solutions. Among the trials being carried out is

The idea of bringing the industr y under one roof to foster innovation is also promising.

A s s o c i a t e Pr o fessor Tan Soon Keat, deputy executive director of NEWRI, another key tenant, says: “CleanTech One is about creating opportunity. We do not know whom we may run into in the elevator. It could be someone with the solution to a problem that we have had for some time.” Despite the current economic gloom, which has resulted in some countries pulling back their support for clean technology, Mr Goh is confident that the global clean technology market will continue to power forward over the long term. Singapore is committed to developing the industry as a new growth engine and will continue to provide companies with easy access to technology, markets, capital and talent, he adds. “We strongly believe Singapore’s competitive advantage – the partnership of the various agencies and our pro-business attitude – will set us apart from the competition,” he says.


Real Time Engineering, a system integrator, is testing a 1-megawatt hydrogen fuel cell system that is expected to supply clean energy for more than 20% of the building’s common areas.

NTU’s ERI@N and Royal Philips Electronics are testing a low voltage direct current (LVDC) grid network that automatically controls individual LED panels on the ceilings with potential energy savings of up to 45%.

Solar photovoltaic panels to supplement the building’s electricity needs have been set up jointly with German solar firm Phoenix Solar.

JTC has partnered building consultant Surbana to build a sky trellis in the building to test if the shade provided can reduce ambient temperature and save on the consumption of the building’s air-conditioning.

08 Cover Story


Maziah Masramli Photos by Justin Loh

NEARLY 12 YEARS AGO, TWO AIRPLANES crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City and changed the world forever. The unforeseen event led to two wars and a complete overhaul of airport security worldwide. The September 11 terrorist attacks could be described as a “black swan”, a shocking outlier event with an extreme, world-changing impact that tends to be rationalised later on with the benefit of hindsight. According to the 9/11 Commission Report, the events of September 11 might have been prevented. The Commission blamed the “failure of imagination” on the part of the American leadership to perceive the threat, and

intelligence agencies’ poor collaboration to connect clues suggesting an impending attack on American soil. While black swans like 9/11 and the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) pandemic are impossible to predict, countries and organisations could be more prepared for the unknown by using strategic foresight – also known as futures thinking – to anticipate future possibilities. Singapore first began using futures tools like scenario planning in the 1980s. The unit, incubated in the Ministry of Defence, generated narratives of the future so that planners could imagine how the world may evolve and what problems, challenges and opportunities could

Chong Teng Sheng Senior Assistant Director

Future & Readiness Division, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR)

Consider the optical illusion of the old lady and the girl. “If all along, you only saw the old lady, you would be surprised to find another way of looking at the same picture,” muses Mr Chong Teng Sheng. Fortunately for Mr Chong (and MEWR), he is used to seeing things in alternative ways all at once. It helps that he reads widely on the environment and water resources. But he reaches for literature on organisational management, behavioural sciences, history and paradoxes too. “When you learn about history, it helps you reflect about the future. Paradoxes challenge conventional thinking.” Mr Chong describes his work as encouraging communication between futurists and other experts to connect ideas. “Many scientific breakthroughs come from being able to find synergy between two totally different silos,” he says. One of the emerging strategic issues that Mr Chong and his team

is monitoring is the impact of nanotechnology on the environment and public health. Nanotechnology is the manipulation of matter on a molecular scale (10 thousand times smaller than the width of a strand of human hair) to build microscopic materials like drugs, or devices like robots. Nanotechnology has many beneficial uses in products such as cosmetics, cars and paint, as it can smoothen surfaces and make things waterproof. But international research and policies on the safe application of nanotechnology are still evolving and progressing. “So far, under normal circumstances, there is no evidence of harm to human health and the environment but this doesn’t equate to evidence of no harm,” says Mr Chong. “Ideally, we should try to uncover as much of the unknowns about nanotechnology as possible so that we can reap its benefits safely.”

MTI’s Mr Lee Chor Pharn points out that much of our current thinking about the future comes from the Anglo-Saxon world. Their strategic foresight think tanks are well established, and their findings, published in English, are more accessible.

Lee Chor Pharn Deputy Director

Futures Group (FG), Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)

We need to do ourselves a service and understand the future from the Asian and Southeast Asian perspectives.

But as Asia rises in prominence, “we need to do ourselves a service and understand the future from the Asian and Southeast Asian perspectives” for a more balanced world view, says Mr Lee, who considers South Korea and Singapore as forerunners in strategic foresight. The challenge now is to identify and connect with thinkers with an Asian perspective – a situation that may be helped with the emergence of futures think tanks in China and Japan. At the Futures Group (FG), much of the work involves synthesizing and translating information from research and interviews into meaningful insights that the MTI can work on. The group has made available online (www. all their articles and illustrated videos of their findings, with a Creative Commons license usage to encourage sharing and mixing of ideas. Communicating ideas is important, says Mr Lee, as reaching out to people and “having more ‘eyes’ out there responding with their own ideas” helps FG to consider different views.

One trend FG is examining is the role of automation in tomorrow’s jobs. While blue-collar jobs are being taken over by robotics and mechanisation, increasingly, algorithms are doing the same with white-collar jobs. Algorithms are clear, well-defined sets of rules often used in computer programmes to solve problems. The more they are used, the more accurate they are as they are programmed to “learn”. For example, legal analysts in the ’70s used to help lawyers in their research – and in turn gain job experience – by examining millions of documents. These days, law firms can do the same by hiring a single senior lawyer to do the same job, with the help of algorithms. This reduces the need for such midlevel, white-collar “routine” jobs. More worryingly, the middle rungs of the job ladder break when junior to middlelevel workers do not get to learn from experience or their superiors. On the other hand, two types of work not easily replaced by automation will be more highly valued. They are the jobs that require high-level, analytical skills; and personal service jobs that require empathy and human interaction, such as healthcare, beauty and childcare.

Cover Story 11

Foresight strategists are like court jesters, says Ms Cheryl Chung. “Their role is to tell the truth or a contrarian view”, even if it risks falling on reluctant ears, she explains. “People are uncomfortable with this because nobody wants to be challenged, right? Especially if you’re saying that the world going forward may not look like the world that we are prepared for.”

Cheryl Chung Lead Strategist

Centre for Strategic Futures (CSF) part of the Strategic Policy Office (SPO), under the Prime Minister’s Office

Unlike policymakers, futurists do not and cannot look at just one issue for a long, sustained period of time.

occur. Since then, several futures units have been established in ministries, with some 150 public officers engaged in futures work today. You can call this small group of strategic foresight officers futurists, futures thinkers or foresight strategists, but never call them clairvoyants or describe their work as “crystal ball gazing”. Their job is not to predict the future. Instead, futurists should seek to give the necessary input for decision-makers to come up with informed assessments, wrote former Head of Civil Service Peter Ho in Ethos, a Civil Ser vice College publication, in 2010. These scenarios should change as-

As professional challengers of prevailing world views, Ms Chung and her team present their cases backed by meticulous desk research, expert interviews and inter-agency workshop discussions. They also run FutureCraft workshops to familiarise public officers with futures tools and methods, such as scenario planning, and other skills like facilitation and communication techniques that are useful for futures work. As in-house trainers familiar with Singapore’s Public Service, they are able to share their own experience that public officers can relate to, unlike foreign experts. And unlike policymakers, futurists do not and cannot look at just one issue for a long, sustained period of time. “You need to build up expertise quickly, get out and then go in again,” explains Ms Chung.

sumptions of how the world works and compel people to think differently. Good scenarios are those that facilitate better decisions, not better predictions, Mr Ho added. Ms Cheryl Chung, a lead strategist at the Public Service Division’s Centre for Strategic Futures (CSF), points out that many governments, including Singapore’s, are inclined to think that things will continue to go well if they are going well today. To counter that kind of thinking, futurists consider alternative future possibilities within a realistic time frame of five to 15 years ahead. “Too far ahead, we’ll have things like jet packs and flying cars that won’t be taken seriously,” says

CSF, the central agency coordinating futures work in the Public Service, compiles a list of Emerging Strategic Issues (ESIs) to look out for. These are issues that have not become critical but would have significant impact if they were to occur. Futurists must therefore be prepared to have credible conversations with experts on these issues, which can be as many as 50. CSF has also been examining possible challenges facing the Public Service in a project on the future of the Service. One trend that has emerged is the increased competition that the Service faces in offering meaningful careers to jobseekers. Singapore’s largest employer has traditionally sold careers on the opportunity to serve the nation and improve lives. But now, it has to compete for new hires with non-governmental organisations and voluntary welfare entities, or even businesses with strong corporate social responsibility programmes. At the same time, as the Public Service faces an increasingly diverse and demanding population that wants a greater say in decision-making, holding a government job may seem less appealing than before.

Mr Lee Chor Pharn, a deputy director at the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) Futures Group. Futures work begins with extensive reading to gather information on major trends, and also emerging strategic issues that may not appear critical now but could have a significant impact if they occur. These include food and energy crises, cyber-terrorism and human augmentation. (These trends were covered in the May/June 2011 issue of Challenge.) With the abstract future yet to happen, futurists craft logical stories or scenarios to communicate these possibilities in highly visual forms such as concept maps, manga and illustrated videos.

Yeong Gah Hou Senior Director

National Security Research Centre (NSRC), Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)

The NSRC has two research units that perform futures analyses. The externally oriented Terrorism and Extremism Futures Group (TEFG) studies developments in terrorism and extremism, while the Domestic Security Mapping and Monitoring Group (DSMMG) maps challenges to domestic security. TEFG looks at a range of issues related to extremism in various parts of the world, such as white supremacy, Islamist extremism, xenophobia and anarchism, to complement the work of security agencies. It examines these issues with widely-available information and tries to relate foreign developments to possible impact on Singapore. To make sense of domestic security challenges, a “backcasting” process developed within NSRC is used. This involves imagining future negative events, called Feared Outcomes, and working backwards to identify the different factors that could lead up to these scenarios. From repeated backcasting sessions since early 2012, DSMMG has compiled a concept map of

40 pathways representing various challenges to Singapore’s domestic security. “This helps us to think about what can happen down the road and get a sense of where we are in relation to the issues and outcomes,” says NSRC’s Mr Yeong Gah Hou. Most of the NSRC’s work is hush-hush as they deal with security concerns but Mr Yeong highlighted one general issue on their radar – the rise of Gen i, today’s highly connected, tech-savvy teenagers who grow up immersed in social media and mobile devices. For national security concerns, Gen i’s world view and value systems are critical, especially as they begin to form the bulk of Singapore’s population over the next 10 to 15 years. Their wide exposure to diverse cultures and attitudes raises the question of how Singaporean values and experiences can be transmitted to them. “What happens if a riot erupts and members of our security forces are sympathetic to rioters or even actively aid the rioters?” Mr Yeong asks. Hence, Gen i will not only shape Singapore society in the future but also determine the nation’s response to crises.

Backcasting involves imagining future negative events, called Feared Outcomes, and working backwards to identify the different factors that could lead up to these scenarios.

Cover Story 13

Timothy Yap Planning Off icer

Corporate Planning Office, Ministry of Education

“Futures work is like walking backwards down an unknown path,” says Mr Timothy Yap, an education planning officer who handles futures work as well.

reviewing examinations to reduce excessive stress, MOE needs to be careful not to inadvertently introduce more stress in other areas such as Co-Curricular Activities.

This means a futurist may have a clear sight of past events in front of him (hindsight) but he won’t be able to see what’s ahead. Thus, to navigate, he would have to rely on different ‘senses’; in this case, different strategic foresight methods.

Mr Yap shares that there are social, economic and demographic trends that intertwine with and affect education. One of them is the rising affluence of society in general. Children from more affluent households have more learning opportunities, such as tuition and enrichment activities outside school, from a younger age. For a child from a less wealthy household, the advantage gap widens at an early age, as a result.

Keeping an eye on the present is also important as education today prepares students for tomorrow, he adds. Hence, futurists are part of the Ministry of Education’s (MOE) Corporate Planning Office where their work is “focused on what is important on the ground for our schools and teachers to prepare our students for the future.” “Education work today [means] thinking about the future all the time, because modifying each part of the system affects every other part of the system,” says Mr Yap. For instance, in

Education work today [means] thinking about the future all the time, because modifying each part of the system affects every other part of the system.

Since increasingly complex issues like climate change and energy security are not the sole responsibility of any single ministry, futurists collaborate with their counterparts from various ministries to tap their insights. Together, representatives from each ministry and some statutory boards have formed a Strategic Futures Network that meets regularly to discuss emerging strategic issues or new methodologies. To avoid groupthink and to gain varied perspectives, futurists also engage in wide networking so they can meet

“We want to make sure that education continues to be a fair enabler,” he says. That is why there is increased attention on quality, affordability and accessibility of pre-school education to close the gap as early and as much as possible. Also on the ministry’s to-do list is to maintain the public’s trust in the education system and its prestige, so that good teachers are attracted. “The system lives and dies by its good teachers. How do you attract good teachers? Increasingly, the answer is not pay. How do we make it an attractive job, one that people want to take up and be involved in? And while we can attract good teachers today, how can we do so given the demand for talent across various sectors of our economy in the future?” says Mr Yap, of the questions that his futures team often asks itself.

people of different expertise both within and outside government, such as international strategic foresight experts and academics. “As a futurist, you need to get out of the office to broaden your perspective,” says Mr Chong Teng Sheng, Senior Assistant Director at the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources’ Futures & Readiness Division. “I always tell my staff, ‘Don’t stay in your cubicle, because how can you think out of the box when you work in a cube?’ ”



facets of

A FUTURIST’S WORK INSTRUCTIONS TO PLAY 1. Download a QR code reader on your smartphone. Scan the image below to download a dice roller app.







nt o se s t ic e Pr ing teg d ra s fin St ure rk. 7 e t th Fu two o 3 t 12 Ne ve o M Hire a video consultant to help visualise findings, but the vendor turns out to be terrible. ALIENS! Go back to 10 11




2. Use small items (such as coins) as counters to represent different players.

34 Receive compliments on a (finally published) futures piece. Move to 42

Meet a new futures expert with similar interests. Move to 39


Ng Shi Wei

Spend too much time debating jargon definitions instead of getting into the real discussion. Go back to 33


Maziah Masramli

Illustration by



Now that you know what futurists do, how will you fare as one? Fast forward through futures work with this modified game of snakes and ladders: dodge the obstacles and boost up with rockets. Text by Siti


9 Blog weekly, share on SGFutures’ Facebook, and get friendly comments on how to advance ideas further. Move to 14


TERMS FUTURISTS USE Strategic foresight

Weak signals

Wild cards

Looking at possible future events and trends so we can plan and prepare for them now. Also known as ‘futures thinking’.

Early warnings of change or indicators of possible future developments. Example: A shift in how technology is used.

Low-probability, high-impact future events. They are highly disruptive should they occur, but there is not enough evidence today that they will occur. Example: Human augmentation.




Circulate what you think is a cutting-edge article, but everyone already read it yesterday. Go back to 35


Have to double-hat because your boss thinks futures work is not heavyweight enough. Wormhole! Go back to 24

Th re pu Spe e Ec b s wh ea lis cia on ile rch he l R om 32 e s i y Go wor ou you all t port st ba king are hav he ck o sti e to n it ll 16 .


The End

A successful project gets repeated but its original goals are no longer relevant. Go back to 29






Blast off!




An agency partner puts your foresight ideas into action. Move to 49

Invited to share ideas at an international conference. Move to 47

F on all b re re eh a i s th din ear nd Co e w gs f ch Go me eek or t . to bac s! 21 k



23 17 An important interviewee cancels a long-awaited meeting at the last minute. Comets! Go back to 8








Your counterpart on an interagency project leaves the job and there is no replacement. Go back to 6

Different agencies come together to collaborate on a futures project. Move to 45

Send the wrong article to senior management, but they love it and share it with colleagues. Move to 18



Gain new insights from a think tank workshop with local academics. Move to 28


Monthly meeting with senior management to help tweak existing projects to be more useful. Move to 21



Senior management gives strong support and encouragement. Move to 23


Black swan

Wicked problems


An unexpected, outlier event with an extreme impact. After the event, with hindsight, we concoct explanations to make it predictable and explainable. Example: The SARS pandemic.

Large, complex problems, which are perceived differently by multiple stakeholders, and have no immediate solutions. Example: Global climate change.

The connections, interactions, causes and effect of an event that can only be explained with hindsight, making planning more difficult. Examples: Cities and human societies.

They aren’t scared of thinking big. They don’t back away from tough challenges. These are the Public Service’s most innovative thinkers who won the 2012 Best PS21 Project and Best Ideator awards at the ExCEL Convention. Text by

Heng Yishi Photos by John Heng

The task was straightforward: connect two reservoirs – Sungei Punggol and Sungei Serangoon – so that water could flow from one to the other during storms to avert floods. The solution was utilitarian: build a conventional drain to link the two. But when the then minister of National Development, Mr Mah Bow Tan, saw the plan, which he described as “very unexciting”, he urged for something different, something that Singaporeans could enjoy. The Housing & Development Board (HDB) was appointed to create a scenic linkage that is now the multi-award-winning Punggol Waterway (PWW ). HDB’s idea was ambitious: carve out a massive 4.2-kilometre waterway that would function like a drain but look like a natural river. It would even have meanders to go around existing rail transit structures.

But the other public agencies involved in the development had their concerns. “There was a lot of scepticism … whether we (HDB) have the expertise to do this type of work,” said Mr Yap Tiem Yew, HDB’s Building and Infrastructure Group Director, who headed the PWW working committee. Would deep excavation of the land affect the existing MRT and LRT infrastructure? Could the soft marine clay soil destabilise the land? Would construction work pollute reservoir waters? The questions came fast and furious. But they were legitimate concerns,

acknowledged Mr Yap, as this had never been done in Singapore. The team was also proposing many new ideas such as the creation of the longest stretch of eco-drains in Singapore to filter and cleanse rainwater before it reaches the waterway, and the use of barrier plants along the waterway instead of railings, wherever possible, to soften the landscape. “As everything was new, we had to convince our working partners of the feasibility,” said Mr Alan Tan, project director for PWW. For several months, the HDB team carried out extensive environmental and geotechnical studies to convince the stakeholders (like PUB, URA, LTA, SLA and NParks) that theirs was a workable scheme.

We must always try to learn new things, and see on a localised area and if some things work, I think it benefits [the] whole Singapore.

“Doing this has proven that sometimes, what we fear is unfounded.

Feature17 : BEST PS21 PROJECT Team members of the HDB Punggol Waterway Project overcame scepticism to make their bold vision come true.

It was 2006. A video clip that was part of the syllabus was playing but the junior college class watching was struggling to grasp the scientific theories flashed across the screen. At that moment, their physics teacher, Mr Wee Loo Kang, had an epiphany: “This cannot be the right way to get students to learn... and there needed to be a change.” He explained: “Physics is abstract, and without any tools for [the students] to interact with these phenomena, it’d be practically impossible for them to have a deeper understanding.”

We must always try to learn new things, and see on a localised area and if some things work, I think it benefits [the] whole Singapore,” said Mr Yap. During PWW’s construction, an agency told the HDB team that the waterway’s level would vary during the wet and dry seasons. When the water level dips, the grass on the edge would dry up, looking unsightly. Mr Yap related: “We could react angrily, ‘Hey, how come you didn’t tell us [that] early’ or we could say, ‘Let’s find a solution together’.” So together, they found hardier plants that could tolerate the fluctuating water levels. This resolved the issue and also brought unexpected diversity to the waterway’s landscape. It’s all well that ends well for the team that now brims with pride when they talk about the jewel they have created. “We actually made it happen!” beamed Mr Yap.

Keen to create productive and interactive learning tools, Mr Wee, now Senior Specialist at the Ministry of Education (MOE)’s headquarters, began to explore building realistic and well-designed computer simulations. To do this, he tapped the Open Source Physics (http://www. research community that shares free curriculum resources, allowing users to modify and redistribute source codes. He didn’t have the Java programming skills at first but that didn’t deter him. Mr Wee spent hours of his free time mastering Java with the help of online tutorials and by posting questions to professors across the globe. His key project Gravit y-P hysics by Inquiry, which was developed over five years on his own time, won MOE’s top innovation award PS21 BEST IDEATOR Wee Loo Kang spent five years to develop an award-winning project to make physics more engaging for students.

in 2012. The judges described it as “a fundamental breakthrough in how physics was taught”. For example, in one of the simulation exercises, students are virtually despatched to the Earth’s moon to launch a rocket into space to calculate (and hence experience) the minimum kinetic energy required to escape from the moon’s and Earth’s gravity pull. Word of Mr Wee’s interactive and engaging teaching methods spread widely. Teachers from five other junior colleges now use his lessons which are shared freely on his blog ( So far, Mr Wee has created and adapted more than 65 physics simulations for the Singapore physics curriculum – leading the shift from the standard “drill and practise” approach to an inquiry-based model. Now, the ministry is extending his ideas to the new Teachers’ Handbook for Teaching Secondary Physics. So if Singapore were to have a surge in the number of physicists, we might have to thank Wee Loo Kang for it.

18 Thinking Aloud Matchmaker Anisa Hassan thinks otherwise. important, non-negotiable attributes you’re looking for in the next person. It would help if you list them down. Equally important is to be completely honest with yourself and ask if you were someone else, would you want to date you?

Have all the


really been taken?

SO THE NEW YEAR HAS rolled in again and Valentine’s Day is just round the corner. You know that this time, your search for that soulmate will be at the top of your resolutions list again, just like last year and the years before. In the past, you only had your boss to blame for inundating you with endless deadlines and assignments. Now, you’re panicking. You need to find another excuse for not living your happily-everafter just yet. And then it hits you: “Ah ha! All the good ones are taken!” Having been in the dating and relationship industry for almost a decade, I can share with you that this oft-used statement could not be further from the truth.

is a matter of finding them. There are other reasons why people stay single. They could be giving up without even trying. People (women particularly) love to huddle up to talk about the peaks and valleys of relationships. The problem is that others’ tales of misfortune could really dishearten you. Don’t put your love life on hold simply because your good friends have been emotionally bruised. Don’t rob yourself of the experience of dating and being vulnerable just because “others had it bad”.

Whichever of the above you are, once you have decided to look for love, leave no stone unturned. I stress again, don’t be embarrassed about being single at whatever age. Trust me, you’re not the first and will definitely not be the last single in your 30s, 40s or 50s to find love. Tell your closest friends – and even the dry-cleaners, masseuses, baristas, teachers, coaches and yoga instructors – you’re looking to meet decent, wholesome people who will be good for you. If they have your best interests at heart, they’ll help you in your quest. Do whatever it takes to improve your odds of meeting someone new and interesting. There are still millions of single people out there and chances are, they’re also looking. So go on, ask for help.

Trust me, you’re not the first and will definitely not be the last single in your 30s, 40s or 50s to find love.

If you think all the good ones are taken, you might have been looking in the wrong places. If you have been looking to find that someone special at typical hangouts like clubs, bars and pubs, my suggestion is, try the more non-usual places that may tilt in your favour demographically. For instance, the ladies may want to check out photography classes or join car-enthusiast clubs where there’s an overwhelming supply of men. The men may want to attend cooking or yoga classes where there is no shortage of women in attendance.

Then there are those who might have recently lived through a broken relationship tend to swear off dating as a way to cope with their pain. This knee-jerk reaction is understandable, but it should not be confused for a permanent solution. Instead, what you need to do is to acknowledge that the break-up was painful, frustrating or even embarrassing. After all, you had invested emotionally in it. Still, lessons could be drawn from that episode and you could emerge wiser from it.

There are plenty of people out there who are also looking for a partner, so it

Once you’ve found complete closure, have some time to think through the

Once you have met someone new, don’t take it for granted and don’t try to change that person. If there’s one thing I know about relationship, the harder you work on yourself, the better the relationship works! Anisa Hassan is an award-winning entrepreneur of the international dating agency, It’s Just Lunch Asia. She has changed the way her clients view dating and has successfully paired more than 200 couples in Singapore. Anisa is also an internationally certified relationship coach where she helps transform her clients’ personal beliefs and increases their attractor-factor.

Letters to aYoung Public Officer27

See the forest

trees for the

by Dr Francis Yeoh Advisor, National Research Foundation CEO, National Research Foundation (2006 – 2012)

DEAR YOUNG OFFICER, ONE OF THE MOST FASCINATing topics I learnt at the MIT Sloan School 20 years ago is “systems dynamics”. Originally developed by MIT Professor Jay Forrester in the 1950s to study the behaviour of industrial corporations, it was popularised in the 1990s as “systems thinking” by Peter Senge, bestselling author of The Fifth Discipline. Essentially, systems thinking is about seeing the world as consisting of many different systems interacting with and affecting one another, positively or negatively. Systems come in all sizes (large and small) and have different interactions with one another (independent or linked). Over the years, systems thinking has been used effectively to model complex systems, from manufacturing operations and property cycles to population growth and climate change. At a micro level, there is also great value in applying systems thinking to the projects that you encounter in the course of your work. In fact, each project that you undertake is a system, made up of smaller systems (or sub-projects). Your project is in turn part of a larger system, such as a programme, interacting with other projects and systems. You can be seen as a system too, interacting with and affecting other systems such as your team, department and agency.

Having such a holistic approach is especially important for organisations responsible for long-term planning. For example, in building infrastructure for housing and transportation, one needs accurate projections of population growth and user demand. These are in turn affected by economic factors, political consideration, lifestyle choices, etc.

A more comprehensive approach would be to trace the life cycle of a hightech company, from its genesis to a successful exit, and consider whether the right conditions are present at each stage for the company to thrive. Beyond this, other systems that work to support and sustain the eco-system must also be present.

You can be seen as a system too, interacting with and affecting other systems such as your team, department and agency.

These include having start-up-friendly legislation, professional support services (such as patent agents), a critical mass of experienced entrepreneurs, availability of “smart” money (venture capital), world-class scientific research, an environment conducive to academic entrepreneurship at the local universities and not least, a social culture that accepts failure and encourages risk-taking.

Each of these factors is governed by its own system, which is linked to other systems. You can see how quickly the planning model can develop into a huge, complex megasystem, with many forces interacting in complicated ways.

If properly developed, all these constituent parts would interact and mutually reinforce one another, over time creating a robust and healthy eco-system that fosters innovation. The policymaker’s responsibility is then to monitor this “system of systems” and intervene as necessary to strengthen those parts that are not working well.

To illustrate: the National Research Foundation introduced a series of programmes in 2008 to develop a vibrant eco-system for technology entrepreneurship in Singapore. Providing start-up companies with seed funding is an obvious thing to do but would be totally ineffective on its own.

So young officer, as you look at your projects, think “systems” and interconnectivity. I believe that if you look at the big picture and see the forest for the trees, it will help you to formulate and implement programmes that would be more robust, effective and sustainable.

“ Step Up and


Meet Dr Beh Swan Gin, the new Permanent Secretary for Law, who does not suffer yes-men gladly. He discusses this, the issue of the “Sticker Lady”, income equality and more, over kopi with Challenge. Text by

Chen Jingting Photos by Norman Ng

THE NEW PERMANENT SECretary for Law, Dr Beh Swan Gin, has turned up half an hour early for our interview at the iconic Tong Ah Coffeeshop at Keong Saik Road. He pulls up a chair and gamely tries an almost-forgotten way of drinking coffee – kopi O with a small square of butter melting in it. His cleanshaven looks belie his age (he’s 45) and his years in public service (20 and counting). Right off the bat, he describes his latest appointment as “coming full circle to the community of friends” that he grew up with. During his varsity days, Dr Beh (who was slated to read law but eventually trained in medicine) lived in Raffles Hall, a hostel populated with law students. His then-hall master is today a Supreme Court judge and his buddies are legal eagles. “Karmic coincidence,” said a friend on Facebook when Dr Beh’s new appointment was announced. Indeed, the former managing director of the Economic Development Board (EDB) believes his career has been one shaped by serendipity, “purely a function of luck – right time, right place [and] having bosses who believe in me”. As it happened, he realised that medicine was not his calling during his studies. The young doctor – who had a holiday job in the fashion industry in his hometown Kuala Lumpur after ‘A’ levels – applied to join EDB’s Creative Business unit soon after he completed his housemanship.

A Cuppa With...29 It turned out that the Ministry of Health had more medical officers than specialist training positions available, so Dr Beh was allowed to serve out his bond at EDB. The agency tapped his medical background by having him start out with the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare portfolio instead.

Team of Type A’s

That one move led to 20 years at EDB, a length of stay he attributes to a culture that encourages young officers to make a difference. Pointing out that EDB attracts plenty of “Type A” personalities (“I don’t deny I’m one”), but is also a place where everyone learns to play as a team, he says: “That ’s unusual because many organisations can attract good people, but few are able to harness their collective energies and talents to create a whole that is bigger than the sum of its parts.”

at EDB, A*STAR and the Ministry of Trade and Industry.

And the secret to how EDB gets it right? Teaching young officers to exercise situational leadership early on. “Even if you’re the most junior person in the room but if in that situation, you’re the best person to lead, you must be prepared to step up.” Conversely, officers must be willing to step back when the conditions call for it. This, he adds, is only possible when there’s complete trust in one another’s abilities and intentions: “You see organisations where people aren’t prepared to step up or speak out even when they know something is wrong. In EDB, we try our best to combat that.” Not surprisingly, it irks him when public officers second-guess their bosses: “Be intellectually honest – if you don’t agree with something, or don’t think that’s the best course of action, say so!” Managers, on the other hand, can limit yes-man responses by hearing their staff ’s views before articulating their own, he adds. While at EDB, Dr Beh was also juggling responsibilities elsewhere. At one point, he was triple-hatting

Even if you’re the most junior person in the room but if in that situation, you’re the best person to lead, you must be prepared to step up.

“That took a lot out of me,” he admits, recalling that busiest period so far in his career. Ironically, the many long-haul flights for work gave him the chance to unwind – he would catch up on his pile of unread magazine articles or watch in-flight movies. Upon landing, the sights, and not a luxurious hotel room, would energise him. “Compromise on your sleep, but don’t compromise on opportunities to explore the places you visit,” exhorts the energetic Perm Sec who gets by on five hours of sleep daily. His time at EDB may have shaped Dr Beh profoundly, but he is careful not to replicate what he’s learnt lock, stock, and barrel at the law ministry. Five months into the job, he is enjoying himself – not just because “the people there are great and smart ”, but because the ministry is taking on many legal reforms and new initiatives to strengthen the rule of law and to ensure its continued relevance to the changing needs of society. Take, for instance, making mediation mandatory for disputing neighbours. To those who disagree, Dr Beh offers a reality check: “If the gotong-royong (mutual assistance)

Meritocracy needs to be more inclusive and encourage different paths to success, to help address income inequality. the other hand, if you’re the regulator, you should always expect untidiness at the margins. It ’s part and parcel of living in a vibrant society.” spirit no longer exists, then let us not kid ourselves that neighbours today will continue to conduct themselves in that manner. If what you do interferes with other people’s freedom to enjoy their homes, we can’t just wring our hands and wish for the good old days.” But some laws, prominently those on graffiti, aren’t likely to be reviewed any time soon as they still reflect the views of the majority. “It is fine to push the boundary but when you cross the line, you have to accept the consequences,” he says, in reference to the arrest of the street artist known as “Sticker Lady”. “You can’t be a rebel and expect the establishment to say ‘ Well done!’ On

What’s usually in your cuppa? Good coffee with Splenda or Equal! When do you usually have your cuppa? First thing when I get into work in the morning, and after lunch.

Diversity bridges the classes

Outside the Public Service, Dr Beh is a familiar face at high society gala events. He has even made it to Singapore Tatler’s list of the 300 most influential personalities, of which he quips, “You should never ever take such things seriously.” What he does take seriously is the recent rise in racial tensions or “tribalism”, as he calls it. The issue lies not in the differences between racial groups, but in the differences between Singaporean Chinese and Chinese from China, and between local Indians and Indians from India, he says. Dr Beh, who came to Singapore at age 12, spent four years at Monk’s Hill Secondary School where students came from diverse backgrounds. “I had classmates from all races and income segments. We had that disparity and yet we were able to forge common ground and be friends. We experienced what multiracial harmony is all about.” But today, there is “greater segregation as new residents don’t have the same shared experiences. Even among Singaporeans, certain schools have become associated with certain socio-economic segments.” It’s a point borne by the results of a recent Straits Times poll of 100 students from five premier schools. Most have no close friends from low-income

homes and less academic education streams; four in 10 have no close friends of a different race. The lack of diversity in one’s circle of friends leads to a reduced sensitivity to discrimination, observes Dr Beh, and can result in careless action or hurtful talk.

Furthermore, he feels that Singapore’s society should expand its measures of success beyond academic excellence and wealth accumulation. “Meritocracy needs to be more inclusive and encourage different paths to success, to help address income inequality,” he says, explaining that a wider range of benchmarks would help subsequent generations of disadvantaged groups have a better shot at moving up the socio-economic ladder. The Public Service could spearhead this fine-tuning process of the meritocratic system, starting from its scholarship policy. “It may be time for the Public Service to revisit its scholarship policy and give greater consideration to applicants from the lower-income segment, as opposed to dogmatically insisting that scholarships are solely there to attract the best and the brightest. ... [The latter] can breed elitism over time. We need to combat elitism and make sure it never takes root in the Public Service,” he says.

TRANSFORMED Central Park, which was once a “disaster” in Mr Benepe’s words, has transformed dramatically in 30 years.

Lessons from a former


Former New York City Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe was in Singapore last July to receive the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize on behalf of the city. He shared his experience of growing up and working in the city’s parks with Bridgette See.

WHEN HURRICANE SANDY pounded the US east coast last October, its victims were not only the destroyed buildings and the residents who were left homeless in its wake. Many of New York City’s beautiful parks suffered widespread damage too. For Adrian Benepe, the former New York City Parks Commissioner and a chief architect of the city’s renaissance in parks, the devastation was a particularly painful lesson. “ We must learn from this incident, and begin the difficult work of adapting this 400-year-old port city to the new global climate realities. If we don’t, this city and others like it may not last long into the third millennium,” he told Challenge. Building more resilient cities to weather natural disasters can mean creating green infrastructure, such as rain gardens that capture storm water to prevent floods; as well as preserving salt marshes that act as coastal buffers against storms – projects that could help New York City in the future, he added. Last July, Mr Benepe was in Singapore to receive the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, which honours vibrant and sustainable cities. It was awarded as part of the biennial World Cities Summit. But for Mr Benepe, his earliest experience of the city’s parks was a “dispiriting” one. He was 16 then, and held a summer job at the Parks Department, cleaning public pools and picking up rubbish at ball parks. In those days, New York’s parks were run-down. Even the famous Central Park was a “disaster”, he said, monuments were covered in graffiti and there were no rules, regulations or park rangers. Still, the teenager had found his calling. Eager to make a difference, he applied to join the first batch of park rangers right after university. Except for a brief stint in journalism, Mr Benepe would go on to

spend a total of 27 years working with the parks. He was made the city’s Commissioner of Parks and Recreation in 2002: custodian of 29,000 acres (11,735 hectares) of parklands, about a sixth the size of Singapore island. During his 10-year tenure under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, Mr Benepe oversaw the city’s biggest parks expansion since the 1930s. He added new parks and planted more than 500,000 trees. About 84% of New Yorkers now live within a 10-minute walk of a park. These achievements contributed to the city’s transformation that has been widely recognised. But his proudest achievement, he told Challenge, was “the very dramatic improvement of the parks over 30 years, which I got to be part of ”, particularly that of Central Park.

Public-private partnerships

Much of this, he stressed repeatedly during the interview, is due to the many successful public-private

Clockwise from top left: A playground at Brooklyn Bridge Park; Central Park in autumn; a student interviews Mr Benepe at the opening of a playground on Manhattan’s Lower East Side; boaters in Central Park; park users soak up the sun at Riverside Park South, Manhattan.

partnerships that have blossomed in the city. As government budgets shrank, millions of dollars of private money were sought to maintain parks. More importantly, volunteers rolled up their sleeves to care and manage them, like their own. “People really care about their parks because most New Yorkers don’t have a front yard or backyard. We feel that the parks belong to us.” he said. The first public-private partnership, the Central Park Conservancy, was created in 1980 when the city was on the brink of bankruptcy and had scant resources for its parks. Since then, the Conservancy has raised a


“Thirty years ago… none of these groups existed, except for a handful. Now there are tens of thousands who are engaged in the life of every park,” Mr Benepe said. An independent study of New York City’s parks in 2011 found that the most successful ones had a strong volunteer network. The income levels of residents around the parks or the fundraising prowess of conservancy groups mattered less than the commitment of volunteers who plant trees, weed gardens, do landscaping work, and pick up litter, among other activities.

Creative use of land

During his lecture at the Summit, Mr Benepe pointed out that many of the new parks his department was able to add were a result of innovative re-zoning of land by the Department of City Planning. For instance, West Chelsea (where the High Line park is located) was originally zoned for manufacturing. The decline in the manufacturing sector led to a glut of underused land. City planners re-zoned West Chelsea to allow for residential development and the creation of the park. The new park then spurred the construction of more than 40 new buildings around it. The re-zoning led to a US$2 billion in private sector investment, more than 10 times the US$150 million the City had invested in the High Line park.

total of US$470 million, helping to transform Central Park from “disaster” to a leading tourist attraction. Today, the Conservancy manages all aspects of Central Park except for security. This strong sense of ownership has been replicated at parks such as the High Line, a new public park built on a historic freight rail line elevated above the streets of Manhattan. Slated for demolition, it was saved by a non-profit group, “Friends of the High Line”, that worked with the city to preserve and reuse it as a park. They now manage the park and raise more than 90% of its annual operating budget.

Thirty years ago none of these groups existed, except for a handful. Now there are tens of thousands who are engaged in the life of every park.

Today Mr Benepe, who left the Parks Department a few months after his Singapore visit, continues his lifelong association with the parks. He is now with the Trust for Public Land, a conservation organisation that creates parks and playgrounds in cities across the US. This is where he continues to promote the publicprivate partnership model that he so believes in.

This is the second of a three-part series on the World Cities Summit that was held in Singapore in July 2012.

Hear, Hear

Since Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) was launched last year, groups of Singaporeans, here and overseas, have gathered to discuss all and sundry. Will it amount to anything? And is anyone really listening? Melissa Khoo, the newly minted head of the Our Singapore Programme Off ice, throws light on the nationwide chats that her team’s been tasked to organise. Interviewed by Bridgette

See Photo by Justin Loh

Hair and makeup by Rina Sim using Laura Mercier Quinns Bar Chair from Gallery 278 by Esco Leasing

Melissa Khoo, who heads the Our Singapore Programme Office, says the Our Singapore Conversation won’t be just all talk and no action.

I was actually slated for another job so this came as a surprise. My first thought was whether this exercise would be meaningful and worth my best effort. Using a combination of beg, borrow and steal, I rounded up my team of eight from different ministries. Some came from operational backgrounds; others had experience in policy work, community engagement, media and public communications, and policy formulation. We started small in September last year but word  of OSC spread. After a month, officers were approaching us to help out. Now we have 70 volunteers from ministries and agencies – a sign that public officers want to help us forge a shared sense of ownership with citizens. We run this like a start-up. There’s no time to write lengthy submissions; ideas are penned down quickly and we have to act swiftly. For example, we prototyped our facilitation approach and refined the “product” as we learnt what works well and not so well along the way.  Our public officers are free to take part in the OSC – many officers are already doing so, either at internal platforms or speaking up as citizens at external dialogues. Before we took our facilitation format to the public, we tried it out at a public sector dialogue. We had only one month to get the first citizen dialogue going. Few would know of our midnight experience before the first citizen dialogue. We could only prepare the venue at night as an earlier event had ended late.  We were a bit nervous about how citizens would react to the format but the amount of positive energy in the room was satisfying! OSC brings to gether different people who otherwise would not have met to talk about the future. It’s not a giant Meet-the-People session with the government. The process is deliberately unstructured in the initial stage as we want the public to have a sense of ownership and shape the themes, rather than having the government determine policy themes upfront.   Not everyone’s used to this idea. Some feel it’s too unstructured and want to zoom in on specific issues sooner.  People also have to be convinced by action. We can reach out to cynics

Feature 35

by inviting them to dialogues but the question foremost on people’s minds is where the conversation is heading. Is it going to be No Action, Talk Only? Even as we accept there will be critics and online trolls, we also get emails from Singaporeans who appreciate what we are doing and this motivates us to keep trying. After the initial process, we’ll have more focused discussions. In March, we’ll move to thematic dialogues and there’ll be policy directions and programmes to substantiate the overall vision that Singaporeans have come up with.   All the views and suggestions will be consolidated by the OSC secretariat led by Mr Kwek Mean Luck, Deputy Secretary (Development) of the Public Service Division. An internal policy review process will determine which policies should be reaffirmed, recalibrated or refreshed.       But I wouldn’t judge the success of OSC just by a list of policy changes – they are not silver bullets.  A go o d out come would be if people walked away with a sense of ownership over where we want to go as a country; if it makes them want to contribute to our desired outcomes through volunteerism or ground up initiatives. One key lesson: don’t be afraid to prototype. Also grow a thick skin as you will not please everyone.    It struck me as I sit in on more of these dialogues, that everybody keeps asking for a more gracious society but the first step really starts with us. It’s really not a new theme, so why aren’t we there yet as a society? My reward at the end of the day is coming home to a one-year-old Energizer Bunny who can’t wait to see me. I do bring work home at times but it usually waits till after my kid is asleep.

The question foremost on people’s minds is where the conversation is heading. Is it going to be No Action, Talk Only?

To join in the conversation, go to

unched king portal, has la or tw ne al ci so e’s rvic -barred Cube, the Public Se sues in a no-holds is s us sc di to rs office ers who have a virtual OSC for ses from Cube us on sp re e m so e ar e r comments: environment. Her to reproduce thei on si is rm pe e th given Challenge e questions n my group, som “I u: Li ler rn Ea t?’ and ‘How School principal ve less governmen ha we n ca ow ‘H we wait for the brought up were shared that while I ’. n? io at re -c co e t them if we truly can we have mor ld try to implemen ou sh we n, io ct re di should encourage bosses to provide in co-creation, we ve lie be we If s. idea creasingly let believed in these y school, we’ve in m In . es tic ac pr licies or d teams guide co-creation of po ns, sentiments an tio es gg su ff sta operating ts and let ar and confident students run even ili m fa e or m e m vise our As we beco tter position to ad school decisions. be a in be d ul ent’, we wo ve had real-life with ‘less governm ea as we would ha id is th of ies let s of influence and bosses on the subt can in our sphere we at wh do ld ou experience. We sh ersations.” ns remain as conv tio sa er nv co r ou not let iz en dialogue: ua on the f irst cit Ch p ili Ph r ice f of ralisations of Foreign Affairs eviously held gene pr y an to d en an t ll thought “The dialogue pu s struck by how we wa I . ry en iz cit tic ight have a politically apathe ns were. Some m tio ra pi as d an s ey ’ view s wayang. But th out Singaporeans d thought this wa an y an all hu iti C in n al Ta tic eat and been scep ers Heng Swee K ist in ore M m ct d pe an ex , ’t ns scussio clearly didn s in the group di ur ho e fiv is od s go ay a takeaw Jin to spend mode. One of my ng ni te lis in se be pen our nse importantly, to portunit y to shar

luable op e make that OSC is a va ng, and will henc ki in th e ar ns ea for what Singapor more relevant and responsive.” s our public policie

Division said: the Public Service om fr u La in sm Ja ilip, reactions have been In response to Ph out OSC and the ab rs ce offi us rio to va ice should be “I’ve been talking ink the Public Serv th n’t do o wh cs ni tely energised d to cy mixed. I’ve listene those who’re absolu to en ok sp o als e e authentic ercise. I’v involved in the ex mething that ’s mor so g in do e ar we at ‘finally’ efforts.” by the thought th earlier ‘consultation’ an th n) io in op eir and sincere (in th

ared: nd Board (CPF) sh Fu t en id ov Pr l ra Cent oup of young Don Yeo from the OSC, I asked a gr of h nc ted lau e th r te ews on CPF-rela “Shortly af to express their vi e lik s ’d fit ey th ne if be s rs discus policy office own dialogue to eir th ld he rs ts ce en offi stm policies.” The n rates, CPF inve s, CPF contributio LIFE. en iz PF cit C ly r er fo y eld r lit fo and flexibi e nc ra su in t en m had fun from choices, unemploy rs benefited and

the office policies.” “In the process, ption of existing m su as e th g in question

e log on to Cu be co mm en ts, ple as po sts an d ot he r l ful e th d rea To e OS C ba nn er. g) an d cli ck on th (w be .go v.s

SEE, THINK, A IPS and Drama Box collaborate using art to discuss the future of Singapore. Douglas Chew reports after walking into the future through an immersive arts experience. Photos by John


PRO-SINGAPORE, PRO-SINGAPOREAN OR PRO-ACTIVE: which future do you want for the country in 2022? This was the important yet difficult question that think-tank Institute of Policy Studies (IPS) posed to members of the public at its week-long Prism event in November last year. Held at the National Library, Prism was a scenarioplanning exercise to engage the masses, through the arts, to think about governance and how they can actively create a future they want. Earlier in the year, the institute came up with the three scenarios through a series of workshops with a diverse range of participants. (See sidebar Prism Scenarios.) Dr Gillian Koh, a senior research fellow at IPS and the principal investigator behind the Prism project, said: “We show different models of governance in the scenarios, and they are pretty controversial. There is not one that is utopian or dystopian, each has good and bad, and highlights the choices we face.”

Above: The audience reacting to the interventions played out by participants at the forum theatre. Right: Drama Box Art Director Kok Heng Leun asks participants of the forum theatre what they would do to resolve the conflict. Below: Two participants (with microphones) interact with “Shaiful” , a character in the forum theatre performance.

The scenarios are meant to provoke thought and discussion. At Prism, they were intepreted by theatre company Drama Box through an immersive arts experience. It used a melange of multimedia installations, exhibits and forum theatre to transport visitors to the year 2022.

Women join the army while men work at preschools for their National Service; a new political party, the Seniors League, focuses on the needs of the demographically dominant elderly, due to a mass exodus of younger Singaporeans; citizenship lotteries are held for lower-tiered foreign workers. The audience is bombarded by these disconnected and yet plausible images.

Stepping into the multimedia installation, we are invited to take a seat and are treated to “flashforwards” from 2022. It starts slow, with everyday scenes of students during morning assembly and patients waiting at a polyclinic, accompanied with the sounds of coughing and babies crying.

Down at the library’s foyer, the crowd that’s turned up for the forum theatre performance – the capstone of Prism – is being warmed up by song leader Khairul Afwan Bin Rohizan. He leads them through songs that capture the essence of each scenario.

The tempo steps up: the news on TV reports Malaysia banning poultry exports because of bird flu and desperate Singaporeans scrambling for the remaining chickens at $30 per bird.

Familiar tunes were given a new spin, with titles like Count on Me SingaStore (“Today we work; tomorrow work some more, then we hit the store”) and Home, Jointly (“It’s not about the money, this is where I dare to be me,


Feature 37 Left: In the “Use-Less Exhibition”, participants view items contributed by the public that they thought would be obsolete by 2022. There were mirrors, school report cards, cup noodles and even state-of-the-art smartphones.

PRISM SCENARIOS Pro-Singapore: “” describes a pro-business, high-growth Singapore where the public trusts the government that emphasises creating economic value.

Pro-Singaporean: “” features a more egalitarian society. Pro-social values like solidarity and human development are prioritised, resulting in a low but inclusive economic growth. Pro-Active: “” has a weak coalition government ruling. The citizens drive the country, adopting a proactive stance towards governance.

Right: A member of the public is invited onstage to act as a commuter on a train. She laughs as an actor starts snoozing and leaning onto her, forcing her to decide how she should react.

for this is home and home is free”). Climaxing in Our Singapore to capture the scenario (“although our dreams are different, as dreamers we are free”), the audience pitched in with three separate voices singing different words. Is it possible for the three scenarios to come together in glorious harmony or will it be a cacophony of discordant noise? Having set the stage, the forum theatre performance “Wouldn’t It Be Nice?” unfolds. It explores what happens when nationwide flooding causes a food and water shortage. Set in a provision shop run by Makcik Maslinda, her son Shaiful and his unemployed friend Nick want to help their immediate community by giving away cartons of Maslinda’s bottled water. Maslinda refuses as she wasn’t consulted. Their argument is interrupted by civil servant Rahman who has come to appropriate the shop’s provisions on behalf of the government for centralised distribution. Meanwhile, rich entrepreneur Amy

is willing to pay top dollar for Maslinda’s bottled water to cool her overheated BMW engine, so she can hit the airport and fly out of the ailing country. Each character battles his or her fears and hopes – each wanting to pursue different courses of action. Their conflicting needs lead to a deadlock.

Drama Box’s Artistic Director Kok Heng Leun, who was a facilitator for the forum theatre, masterfully engaged the audience, inviting them to step onstage to act out their interventions, as “Spec-actors”. He later described the project as one of the most gratifying in his 13 years of working in the arts. “From my observation, governance is an idea that no one wants to talk about because it seems proscribed,” he said. “By using art, we are creating an imaginative space that makes you feel released from the inhibitions… The audience gets activated and their imaginations get triggered, and they start to want to talk, and talk constructively.” At that particular session, the partici-

pants tried out different ways to resolve the conflict – from arm-twisting to artful negotiation. One, who played Nick, succeeded in persuading Rahman to let them have just two cartons of the bottled water to give to their neighbours. The difficulty in making decisions that would please everyone was clear. At the end of the performance, participants were asked to share their views, through a survey on how Singapore will govern itself in 2022. IPS will analyse the results of the survey to develop a map of political attitudes, which will be presented at its annual Singapore Perspectives Conference in January 2013. “We will push the findings out to all stakeholders and invite them to act on it (the findings) as they see fit,” said Dr Koh, pointing that there won’t be “one” single outcome as it is up to the public and civil society – and not just the government – to use the IPS findings in their own ways.

PLAYING CUPID SDOs Jonathan Fong and Sabryna Tay plan ways to get the Public Service’s singles to meet.

TOUGHLOVE Meet the team that’s trying to get sceptical singles to mingle. Te x t by

Heng Yishi P h o to s by John Heng

Unsung Heroes 39

CUPID DOESN’T HAVE AN EASY JOB IN SINgapore. Just ask Social Development Officers (SDO) Jonathan Fong and Sabryna Tay. They are part of the SDO Network, which aims to get singles in the Public Service to mingle socially – hopefully leading them to friendship, and eventually, love and marriage. “Don’t come near me, I don’t want to be seen with you. I’m not single!” This was what one officer actually said as she scrambled to her feet upon seeing a group of SDOs approaching, related Mr Fong. The SDOs had been going around to ministries and agencies to introduce themselves to officers, when the team was newly formed in late 2009. “We have to be very thick-skinned. After a while, when they know that we are not there to push them, but to widen their social network… they will slowly open up to us,” said Mr Fong. The SDO Network falls under the Social Development Network (SDN), which reports to the Ministry of Social and Family Development. Here’s their modus operandi: The SDO Network works closely with public agencies to work out ways to engage singles. They map out work schedules and organise dating events so singles from different agencies can meet and widen

their networks – even when it means giving up their own weekends to organise these functions. While the SDOs are “the face” of the Network, there are other officers – more experienced in the dating business – who arrange one-on-one matchmaking sessions for those who prefer them. “We always change our strategy to suit different personalities. We’ve a wide range of programmes from hiking to dancing to coffee appreciation for people with different interests. We were touched when some [participants] wrote in to inform us that they appreciated our efforts and they had good time learning new skills and making new friends at the same time,” said Ms Tay. Despite being regarded as “the plague” by some, our unsung heroes say they are proud to have converted some sceptics, who went on subsequent dates after attending SDO events and have changed their attitude towards dating services. So the next time you singles see SDOs approaching, don’t run. Give them – and love – a chance. For more on the SDO Network, call Jonathan Fong at 9722 6408 and Sabryna Tay at 9711 9243.


Illustration by Ng Shi Wei

Walking doesn’t have to be boring, especially when you are traipsing through history and heritage. Challenge offers up two self-guided trails that will get your hearts a-pumping and your imagination racing.


This trail was extracted from Kampong Glam: A Heritage Trail by NHB, 2012. Estimated walking time 2 hours Download the comprehensive Kampong Glam trail booklet at

Kampong Glam’s eclectic mix of cultures, traditions and food is well known. But did you know that Malay royalty once resided here? You can now get acquainted with the area’s royal heritage with the National Heritage Board (NHB)’s newest trail. The first stop is of course the Malay Heritage Centre, a museum which was once the Istana (palace) of the then Malay rulers. When Sir Stamford Raffles signed a treaty in 1819 to set up a


trading post in Singapore, the Sultan of Johor and Singapore brought his family to settle down in Kampong Glam. He built a walled compound that included the Istana. Next to the museum is a distinctive, bright yellow bungalow, known as Gedung Kuning (Yellow Mansion) for its hue. The traditional Malay house, believed to have been built about the same time as the former Istana, is now a restaurant. For those who prefer a more laissez-faire approach, there’s no need to follow the rest of the trail stops in sequence from here on. Read the rich descriptions of Kampong Glam’s landmarks as you wander through its labyrinthine streets for a full-on assault of the senses. Have fun spotting the myriad architectural

styles of the conservation shophouses built in different eras; tuck into flavourful nasi padang at the eateries along North Bridge Road – one of the earliest roads built in Singapore; sniff out the age-old trade of crafting attar (non-alcohol perfumes) at some of the oldest attar shops in Singapore. Depending on the time of the day, you might even hear the muezzin call to the faithful to prayer at the nearby Sultan Mosque. The majestic national monument was constructed in 1924 to replace the original mosque that was built by the Sultan in 1824. Want a perfect ending to the royal tour? Have a teh tarik at any of the cafes lining Bussorah Street, which once upon a time was “Sultan Road”.

When Sir Stamford Raffles signed a treaty in 1819 to set up a trading post in Singapore, the Sultan of Johor and Singapore brought his family to settle down in Kampong Glam.

1. Malay Heritage Centre The centre was the residence of Malay royalty and known as ‘Istana Kampong Gelam’. 2. Gedung Kuning The “Yellow Mansion” is thought to have been built about the same time as Istana Kampong Gelam. 3. Sultan Gate Reputed for its blacksmiths, the road was commonly known as pakti koi (blacksmith street) in Hokkien. 4. Former Chong Cheng & Chong Pun Schools Started by the Hokkien community, these schools gave much-needed education when Singapore’s educational infrastructure was lacking. 5. Alsagoff Arab School Established in 1912, it is the oldest surviving madrasah in Singapore. 6. Muslim eateries along North Bridge Road One of the earliest roads built in Singapore, this road is so called because it runs north of Elgin Bridge. 7. Bazaar-style shopping along Arab Street The area was designated for the Arab community in the 1822 town plan of Singapore. 8. Bali Lane The population that lived here in the 1850s were mostly Javanese from Bali, Lombok and Sumbawa. 9. Haji Lane It is the narrowest street in Singapore. 10. Bussorah Street Famed for its food, culture and several distinctive kampongs, the street and its vicinity are regarded as the heart of Kampong Glam. 11. Masjid Sultan An important focal point for Muslims in Singapore and the most prominent landmark in Kampong Glam.


This trail was extracted from Singapore in World War II: A Heritage Trail by NHB, 2012. Estimated walking time 3 hours Singapore in World War II: A Heritage Trail can be downloaded at

Have you sometimes heard whispered tales of war sites in Singapore, but can’t quite put your finger on where they used to be? A World War II trail booklet produced by NHB may be just what you need. Launched in February 2012 to mark the 70th anniversary of the fall of Singapore, the booklet retraces the historic event with 50 war sites across the island described in brief. It’s unlikely anyone would attempt the entire self-guided trail in a day so the booklet breaks it down into six shorter trails. Among them is “City: Remembering the Occupation Years”, which covers 15 war sites in the central district. This trail brings

1. Sook Ching Screening Centre (Hong Lim Complex) The centre where Chinese males were screened to identify anti-Japanese elements. 2. Fort Canning Command Centre This became the headquarters for Major-General Kawamura Saburo after the British surrendered. 3. The Cathay The cinema was used as a centre to broadcast propaganda messages for the Japanese. 4. Kempeitai Headquarters (YMCA) This was the site of the original YMCA building which was used by the Japanese for interrogation and torture. The original building was demolished in 1981. 5. Raffles Library & Museum (National Museum of Singapore) During the war, the library’s and museum’s invaluable collections were preserved through a unique Japanese and British collaboration.

6. Former St Joseph’s Institution (Singapore Art Museum) This was the temporary barracks for the Japanese soldiers during the occupation. 7. Padang Thousands of surrendered British military personnel and European civilians gathered on the field in 1942 before marching to their prison camps in Changi. 8. Municipal Building (City Hall) The Japanese’s last major surrender ceremony of the Second World War took place on September 12,1945.

Life.Style43 you back to the significant events that took place in the heart of Singapore between 1942 and 1945.

Radio Syonan and those found with broken radio seals were punishable by death.

Some places of interests include Hong Lim Complex, which was the Sook Ching Screening Centre where the Kempeitai (Japanese military police) carried out mass screening of the Chinese male population to identify anti-Japanese elements. Those who survived the inspection walked out with “Examined” stamped on their faces. The rest were killed.

The City trail takes you to some familiar landmarks like the Lim Bo Seng Memorial but there are also lesser known sites such as the Indian National Army Monument dedicated to the “unknown warrior” killed in the war.

Over on Orchard Road is The Cathay, which was where the Japanese Military Propaganda Department operated to spread the Japanese language and culture. People could only listen to

Covering the 15 sites on foot can take up to three hours. But you can take plenty of breaks in between, or pick and choose certain sites to visit. If you time it well, you could top off your exhausting walk with a sunset finish at the old Kallang Airport, which was the last holdout for the Allied air force.

People could only listen to Radio Syonan and those found with broken radio seals were punishable by death.

9. St Andrew’s Cathedral When the Japanese attacked in February 1942, this church became an emergency hospital and a casualty clearing station for a week. 10. Esplanade Park

Lim Bo Seng Memorial Built in 1954 in memory of Major-General Lim Bo Seng who led Force 136, an anti-Japanese resistance movement.

11. Civilian War Memorial Commemorates the civilians who died during the Japanese invasion and occupation of Singapore.

Cenotaph Built in memory of those who gave their lives in World War One (1912-1918) with a second dedication added in remembrance of those who died in World War Two (1941-1945).

12. Singapore Volunteer Corps Headquarters (Beach Road Camp) The headquarters for the Singapore Volunteer Corps that contributed to the war against the Japanese. Many were executed or made prisoners as a result.

Indian National Army Monument Dedicated to the ‘unknown warrior’ of the Indian National Army, and also to soldiers killed while fighting in Burma.

13. Old Kallang Airfield The last operational airfield of the Allied air force was taken over by the Japanese in February 1942.

44 The Irreverent Last Page


Future plans


All plans are for the future, just as all experience occurred in the past.

It should just be “regardless”.

Double confirm This means to “confirm confirm”.


Revert Back

When it should be “calculating”.

Revert means to go back to the original form. So just use “revert”.


Leverage on

Bring it there

Give Feedbacks


Stop verbalising your nouns! How about “solve” instead?

It should simply be “to leverage”.

You should bring it here and take it there.

Feedback is an uncountable noun so don’t add an “s” to it. Same for equipments.

Rejig your work instead if you want to re-organise it. Jiggling it about won’t help.

Providing aids



Please advice

Unless you mean to spread HIV?

When you mean “deadline”…

It actually means the scale of something extremely evil! Muahahaha…

Currently ongoing

Browse through

Chronic illness

With regards to



Drop the “s” in “regards” as you’re referring to something and not sending good wishes or greetings.

When you really mean “to affect” something.

If you want to praise someone, use “compliment” instead.



Gift a present

Just use “ironic”.

Use “fewer” when you can count the quantity. Like fewer cars instead of less cars.

When you should really just “give” it. Don’t use your nouns as verbs!

Just use “browse” because it means to look through something.

This means long term, not “very bad”.

Recruit more staffs

Wreck your brains

Are you referring to sticks? Or your employees?

Just “rack” them instead.

Pick one word as both mean the same thing.

“Advice” is a noun so use the verb “advise” instead.

Hat tip to the Speak Good English Movement for contributing some words to this Bingo!

Need We Say More?

Here’s where we let the humour loose, and learn to laugh at ourselves a little more. Have ideas or jokes about the Public Service? Email us:

**For our first edition of Public Service Bingo, go to

The Challenge Public Service Bingo is baaaack! This time we’re on a mission to weed out misused or unnecessary words. Zap copies of this Bingo, pass them to your colleagues, and keep your ears and eyes peeled for these offending terms at the office! The first to get five words in a line wins!


HDB’s Punggol Waterway, also known as longest man-made waterway at 4.2 km long.

, is Singapore’s

a. My Waterway@Punggol b. My Waterfront@Punggol c. My Waterview@Punggol d. My Waterbay@Punggol Social Development Unit (SDU) and Social Development Services . The unit was renamed Social (SDS) were merged on Development Network (SDN). a. 26 January 2009 b. 28 January 2009 c. 24 March 2007 d. 7 February 2008 The Singapore government is pushing for the development of solar energy as a key clean energy source. Besides solar energy, . resources are also being channelled towards a. wind energy b. electric mobility c. energy efficiency d. All of the above A was formed for representatives from ministries and statutory boards to meet regularly to discuss emerging issues and risks, and share experiences of foresight projects and programmes. a. Strategic b. Strategic c. Strategic d. Strategic

Futures Network Overview Network Planning Network Partnership Network

The National Art Gallery which incorporates two national monuments, the old Supreme Court Building and City Hall, is . scheduled to be officially launched in a. 2013 b. 2014 c. 2015 d. 2016

Pairs of

Movie Vouchers to be won

Sub mit you r ans wer s by Feb rua ry 03, 201 3 at: Cha llen ge Onl ine www.cha llen ge.g ov.s g Plea se incl ude you r nam e, ema il add ress , age ncy and con tact num ber. All win ners will be noti fied by ema il.

CONGRATULATIONS to the win ner s of the

November/December 201 2 Triv ia Qui z

Sha ron Ang CSC

Tan Boo n Hen g MHA

Tan g Hon g Ying ITE

Ros lan Kem at MHA

Aloy sius Ting MOE


Challenge January - February 2013  

The future belongs to those who prepare for it today. – Malcolm X

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