mica (p) 113/10/2012
THE RIDGE MAGA ZINE
THE RIDGE MAGAZINE - A NUSSU PUBLICATION MARCH 2013 Find THE RIDGE on Facebook facebook.com/NussuTHERIDGE
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06 UPCOMING LEE KONG CHIAN NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM TO TAKE UP THE MANTLE OF THE RAFFLES MUSEUM OF BIODIVERSITY
14 WHY SOCIAL WORK?
26 AN EVENING OF POETRY AND MUSIC
15 A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME?
27 MOVIE PREVIEW
16 A TALE OF TWO CITIES
28 WHAT’S IN MY IPOD & BOOK REVIEWS
18 FORGIVE, FORGET, AND CARRY ON
30 DANCING IN THE LIMELIGHT
08 RUNNING RAGGED?
20 HOMOSEXUALITY AND MORALITY
32 THE ART OF THE BRICK
22 TAKING NATIONAL IDENTITY INTO OUR OWN HANDS
33 A JANE AUSTEN EDUCATION 34 THE UNIVERSITY SOCIALIST CLUB AND THE CONTEST FOR MALAYA – A HISTORY OF NUS’S FIRST STUDENT POLITICAL CLUB
36 SUPPER HOTSPOTS
48 5 APPS TO PLAY WHILE WHILING TIME IN THE TOILET
56 TABLE TENNIS AND I
38 NUS SPOOKY ENCOUNTERS
58 EDUSPORTS CENTER 50 EXCITING TECHNOLOGY TRENDS 2013
40 BRAIN BOOSTERS AND DISTRACTION TROOPERS
60 SQUASH 52 SMARTPHONE SECURITY: MUST DO’S 62 RUNNER TURNS GUNNER
42 SHOPHOUSE THE SOCIAL HOSTEL 44 THE BUSY STUDENT’S GUIDE TO FAST (HOME-COOKED) FOOD: PART II 46 WHAT WE NEED TO LEARN AT UNIVERSITYDE
EDITOR’S NOTE I
signed up for the 42km Sundown Marathon happening in May/June this year. It is going to be my first full marathon and it is, I highly suspect, going to be my last. I have never been much of a runner but I signed up because I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could last the distance. Life is full of these races that we must complete and it is in the striving that one will know one’s limits. In some ways, this issue of The RIDGE is also about races and running. This will be my last print issue as Chief Editor of The RIDGE and it has been a long and tiring journey. I cannot even begin to put into words how many times we have to run against time, trying to meet deadlines and rushing out article after article, trying to ensure that everything is in order for print. It is a bittersweet job. One that will require perseverance and tenacity but it is also one that is ultimately very fulfilling when I realize that I play a very important role in the student life on campus; thousands of
students read The RIDGE, if the pure distribution numbers are anything to go by. As with most student leadership positions, I will have to pass the baton come August. Unfortunately, I am unable to find a successor yet. I appeal to anyone who believes that they have what it takes (especially CNM majors!), to consider applying for the position of Chief Editor. Our feature piece this issue comes from Kwan Jin Yao. At the beginning of the academic year 12/13, I approached him to write an opinion piece about Rag and Flag. I believe, as he does, and I am sure many others who have seen the recent iterations of Rag and Flag do, that the event has many flaws. No one is discounting the fact that the event holds fond memories for many of the performers and it truly is part of the heritage (in the sense that it is a tradition that has been passed down through the years) of NUS students; it is a thread that connects NUS students from past to present – if you will.
Jin Yao has tried to piece together a history of Rag and Flag, together with an analysis of recent reforms, to try and argue for further change. He argues, and I agree to a large extent, that student leaders can do more to change a system that is often, rightly so, accused of wastage and unhealthy rivalry. There is a sense that many Raggers have ran themselves ragged and are weary and jaded. But it does not have to be this way, I do not think Rag is dead yet. Hopefully Jin Yao’s piece will spark more discussion about what needs to be done about Rag to improve it and to keep it going, at least for the foreseeable future. The rest of the articles are also worth your time reading, they are not your run-of-the-mill articles. We bring you news about the upcoming Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (p. 6) that is a mustsee for students interested in Singapore’s biodiversity. Zoe shares with us why she took up the Social Work major, a major
that must be one of the most misunderstood in NUS (p. 14). Learn more about National Arts Council (NAC) Scholar, Jocelyn Loong, and find out more about her life as a dancer (p. 30). Wired Desk serves up the quirky this time around with “Apps to While Time Away in the Toilet” (p. 48) while Sports turn serious with a commentary on the recent trial of Oscar Pistorius (p. 62). I think the RIDGE has certainly grown over the year with your support. I am confident that the RIDGE will continue to be the largest student publication in NUS but only if you, our readers, run alongside us. Continue to visit studentry. sg and follow us on twitter (@ nussutheridge) and thank you for supporting us over AY 12/13!
Augustin Chiam, Chief Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Chief Editor Augustin Chiam email@example.com
News Desk Philip Lee
Deputy Chief/Entertainment Desk Editor Nicole Kang firstname.lastname@example.org Creative Director Nguyen Son Tra email@example.com Head Designer Patricia Natalia Jonatan firstname.lastname@example.org News Desk Editors Gerrard Lai email@example.com Opinion Desk Editor Elliot Tan firstname.lastname@example.org
Kwan Jin Yao
Opinion Desk Zoe Tee
Ng Hui Ying
Entertainment Desk Anupama Hegde
Tan Mei Yin
Rachel Phua En-Lin
Lifestyle Desk Editor Rachel Ong email@example.com Sports Desk Editor Prateek Sinha firstname.lastname@example.org
Choi Yik Heng
Peh Yi Wen
Wired Desk Editor Lester Hio email@example.com Copy Editor Samantha Wong firstname.lastname@example.org
NUS STUDENTSâ€™ UNION
Lim Wei Di
Sports Desk Li ZhengRong Eric
Ong Hua Han
Loh Kai Ying
NUSSU Communications Secretary Gladys Yeo email@example.com
Social Media Manager
Lim Wei Di Online Copy Editor Ryann Stephanie Kwan
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
RESPONSE TO WIRELESS PREDICAMENT IN UTOWN Dear Editor, I refer to Gerrard’s article, “Wireless Predicament in UTown”, in the January 2013 issue of The Ridge Magazine. I would like to provide more details here. Representatives from Computer Centre, including myself, had met up with the committee leaders from UTown residential colleges on 22 November 2012 and subsequently on 21 December 2012 with regards to the use of personal WiFi routers in the students’ rooms. During the meetings, we had expressed our concerns on
the use of the unauthorized WiFi routers in the student residences i.e. the security breaches and incidents that arose from incorrectly configured WiFi routers. The use of such routers had resulted in instances of students’ data confidentiality being compromised and accounted for about 50% of service disruptions for network services in hall residences. The Acceptable Use Policy was put in place to safeguard all users from unauthorized use of unsecured equipment
or resources that may result in security threats to the NUS network and service disruptions to their own and others’ detriment.
on a solution that meets the students’ needs and also addresses our security concerns. With regards,
Nevertheless, we sincerely empathize with the students’ need for WiFi coverage in their rooms and are working progressively with the Office of Student Affairs, Office of Housing Services and NUS Students’ Union to avail WiFi services in all student residences by August 2013. We appreciate your feedback on this issue and are working
Tommy Hor Senior Director, Computer Centre National University of Singapore
upcoming Lee Kong Chian Natu up the mantle of the Raffles Philip Lee
US will soon house the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum (LKCNHM) dedicated to the unique wildlife and biodiversity in Singapore, as well as the rest of Southeast Asia. This museum will be the first dedicated natural museum to be opened in Singapore.
exhibits. However, due to the lack of funding, support and knowledge of the environment, the minute museum soon faced extinction when it had to temporarily close down in the 1970s.
Conceived in 2004, this project is the brainchild of Prof. Tommy Koh, Chairman of the National Heritage Board. He suggested that a building dedicated to the natural life in Southeast Asia should be built. However, it was not until 2009 that fund raising efforts started when it was confirmed that this building was to be built on the site which previously housed the Office of Estate and Development (OED has since moved to Ventus, the office building near the Kent Ridge Bus Terminal). The LKCNHM has its origins in the current Raffles Museum of Biodiversity and Research (RMBR). Unknown to most NUS students, the RMBR is tucked away in a secluded corner of block S6 at the Science Faculty. The RMBR, in turn, has its roots in the Raffles Museum, which was established by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles himself back in
Baby primate located in Southeast Asia Photo by Philip Lee
Thigh bone of an adult sauropod Photo by Philip Lee
1849. The RMBR was originally meant to discover, name and document the wildlife that dwelled in the tropical forests
Leatherback turtle found on the coasts of Southeast Asia Photo by Philip Lee
and swamps of Singapore. The collection grew in size as more and more flora and fauna were preserved and placed on
Over the years, the RMBR expands its collection of specimens by buying or exchanging specimens from museums over the world and even going to the natural habitats to gather living plants and animals. It is a constantly growing collection. The RMBR not only serves as a museum for the public, but also as a site for research and academic purposes. It offers modules for NUS students and conducts educational tours and workshops for schools as well as members of the public. At about 10 times the size of the RMBR, the LKCNHM will feature the living creatures and plants that inhibit Southeast Asia, namely â€“ mammals, birds, fishes, crustaceans, amphibians and insects. The current exhibits at the RMBR will be moved to the LKCNHM. These include specimens such as the largest of all living turtles - the leatherback sea turtle; the now extinct moa â€“ a flightless bird similar to the kiwi; as well as the giant grouper
Natural History Museum to take ffles Museum of Biodiversity that is now considered an endangered species. The 7-storey LKCNHM resembles a dark greyish cliff and was designed to imitate the cliff vegetation of Singapore’s offshore islands, along with plants and trees that were found on those cliffs. Visitors can also expect to see a mangroveto-freshwater swamp display, a phylogenetic garden, and some soft landscapes featuring local flora. Along with the current collection of preserved specimens, the LKCNHM will feature the skeletons of three dinosaurs found in western United States, which date back to the Jurassic Period about 155 to 148 million years ago. These bones belong to a group of sauropod dinosaurs. They had incredible long necks and were some of the longest creatures ever to walk the earth. It is believed that one of the sauropods is a juvenile measuring around 12m long while the other two were adults that were twice that length. Having been only recently excavated in 2007, 2008 and 2009, these dinosaur bones are said to be extremely rare as the entire skeleton was
Artist impressions of the LKCNHM Photo from nus.edu.sg
Artist impressions of the LKCNHM Photo from nus.edu.sg
80% complete at the time of discovery. Trapped under the earth for millions of years, it is likely that the pressure of tons and tons of rocks and sediments would have crushed most of the skeletal structure. The LKCNHM will expand the museum’s capacity for research and learning in the areas of biodiversity. Prof. Leo Tan, Director of Special Projects at the Faculty of Science said: “We can do much more when the [museum] opens [to the public].” Certainly, NUS students can get admitted free
Prof. Leo Tan Wee Hin, Director (Special Projects), Faculty of Science, showing a range of well preserved birds Photo by Philip Lee
of charge and more modules pertaining to biodiversity will require visits to the LCKNHM. The LKCNHM is expected to be open to the public in 2014. It is still making efforts to raise money to fund this project. Currently, the project is in its third phase and is still seeking donors to make the LKCNHM a world-class museum. Interestingly, the new museum derived its name from the very first Chancellor of NUS, Lee Kong Chian. He was also founder of the Lee Foundation,
which donated $25 million into this project. So far, $46 million has been raised to build a museum that houses Singapore’s historic natural history collection.
Running R Kwan Jin Yao
Rag and Flag is an annual charity project that is part of the university’s Orientation Programme. The first part of the project – Flag, will see undergraduates from the university asking for donations all around the island for various beneficiaries. In return, the school puts up a spectacular show – Rag, to thank the kind generosity exemplified by the donors.
he debate on Rag and Flag in the university is a longstanding one. Proponents – mostly participants of the project – point to the bonds forged, the tradition of the endeavour, and the remarkable pride associated
with float-construction, the performances, or the collection of donations. Opponents, on the other hand, are highly critical of the massive expenditures, the purported wastage generated, or the unhealthy competition
amongst participating bodies (PB). Here it is important to note that PBs are not necessarily constituent clubs of NUSSU. For example, Pharmacy participates in Rag, but it is not a Faculty Constituent Club.
Recently, decisions have been made by the National University of Singapore Students’ Union (NUSSU) Council regarding the conduct of Rag and Flag. Yet, how many people are aware of the decisions and, more
Some freshmen expressed dissatisfaction with the culture of “ragging” (with its associations of bullying and making life difficult for new students). There are calls for references to “rag” to be removed. Concerns over competition also emerged, when the losers lodged official protests following Temasek Hall’s victory. Nussu stated that there was a $6,000-cap for each float, and its President estimated that each hostel spent between $2,400 and $6,300 on expenses for the event. The executive committee, helmed by Mr. Anand Arumugam, makes the decision that the competitive element will be scrapped the next year. In its place, there will be a two-week charity drive, where students will engage in chores in at least ten welfare homes. The decision drew praise from then Minister for Community Development and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Wong Kan Seng. However, Mr. Arumugam was ousted in a vote of no-confidence, even though he had agreed to withdraw the proposed amendments. This sparked mass resignations of the executive committee. Representatives of the Council of Halls of Residences had disagreed with Mr. Arumugam’s changes, and contended that the expenses were “reasonable” compared to the overall takings and returns. The Flag and Rag procession went along Nassim Road, Orchard Road, Stamford Road, Cantonment Road, Neil Road, Hospital Road, and King Edward VII Hall. The floats and costumed students were also accompanied by flag-sellers. 1960
Six of twenty-four floats were required by the police to be modified or removed. The float constructed by the University Socialist Club carried a picture of a Vietnamese fighter, with a “stop the war in Vietnam” caption. The one by the Democratic Socialist Club expressed the desirability of Singapore’s reunification with Malaysia. Tommy Koh, then Legal Advisor for the University of Singapore Students’ Union, stated that the explanations for the ban were “unacceptable”. The prize-winning float “depicted the theme of over-population in Singapore”. 1966
One of the most prominent floats was one “depicting the dragon of inflation in combat with the consumer”. 1989
A ne floa spon will rais
Hav have six s the inte selv
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importantly, should we still expect more from our student representatives regarding the issue? The answer, I believe, is an unequivocal, yes. I believe that while Rag and Flag should continue to feature in the school’s annual Orientation calendar, proposals to further improve the status quo must be considered.
After having conversations with key student representatives in NUS, and conducting brief research on the background of Rag and Flag, I hope that this article will enrich discourse – one that, it appears, has been blighted by misinformation and hearsay – about the conduct of the events. For such a controversial topic, it is tempting to make snap judgements. However, as far as possible, for each question
A new limit was introduced for the construction of each float: $3,000 will be in the form of cash, with $7,000 of sponsored gifts. To encourage fund-raising, the floats will be judged in conjunction with the total flag sums raised by students. Having expressed the desire for the “rag” component to have equal weightage as the “flag” part of the event, the six student hostels announced they would withdraw from the Rag and Flag competition, “in the hope of reducing inter-hall rivalry and increasing unity among themselves”. The NUS Rag and Flag Day float procession was non-competitive. The most expensive float cost $2,000, and the event also yielded combined efforts by two hostels – a first in Rag and Flag’s history. A $7 float in the parade also drew applause and praise from the audience.
Before, I launch into the discussion, I must emphasise
that I bear full responsibility for the perspectives articulated in this commentary.
AG AND FLAG: GENESIS AND DEVELOPMENT
When The Straits Times penned that the 2012 version of Rag and Flag had “gone back to its roots”, what exactly are these “roots” (beyond the cursory
Four out of nine faculties opted out of the float parade, but some went ahead with the performances without the float. Money intended for the construction of the float was invested in different community projects and initiatives.
In the past, flag-sellers would accompany the procession of floats, cajoling and soliciting donations from passers-by for a good cause. However, with worries over road safety and general public order, this practice has been discouraged. The link between the rag and flag elements appears more “tenuous”. Environmental friendliness and cost savings featured in the judging criteria for the competition, with an award for the cheapest constructed float. The $3,000 cash-limit for sponsorship will now include materials too.
I pose, I first provide the facts and figures for the reader to form his or her own opinions. In particular, the info-graphics on the history and expenditure of Rag and Flag should prove to be interesting and compelling. Thereafter, I suggest specific solutions that, I argue, should be the way forward for Rag and Flag.
reminder that the event was held in the school’s campus)? Understanding the genesis and progress of Rag and Flag through the years is crucial, because the NUSSU Exco has consistently emphasised “tradition and heritage of NUS” as a primary justification for the continuation of the event (the other two objectives are “giving back to the community” and “student involvement and bonding”). And one would certainly find it hard to disagree with the original intentions. The first Welfare Week – according to the Secretary of the 1957 Committee, Mr. Donald Hyatt, who spoke to the filmmakers of the 2011 “Rags to Riches” documentary – was planned for college students to “work for the people”. While the undergraduates did collect donations through the sale of “flags” (little sticker badges given to individuals who donate to charity appeals), fund-raising was by no means the sole focus. Under the theme “help us to help our people”, the Students’ Union of the University of Malaya arranged community activities with an emphasis on “social welfare duties”, such as blood donation drives and community centre “adoptions”. Rag emerged two years later in 1959, as students took to the streets in processionlike fashion with floats and costumes, to encourage passers-by to make donations for various beneficiaries. University Rag societies are ubiquitous in Ireland and the United Kingdom, and although the charitable strategies and methodologies differ, fundraising features consistently.
Therefore, “ragging” in NUS could refer to the historical practice of highlighting the school’s Flag Day to the public, or the act of tailoring creative costumes and beautiful floats from rags.
ILL THE NEW COLLEGES PARTICIPATE IN RAG AND
Given that one of Rag and Flag’s aims is to promote “student involvement and bonding”, and to provide a common experience for the school’s freshmen, the immediate question would be whether Tembusu College, the College of Alice and Peter Tan, and Yale-NUS will be part of the Rag and Flag experience? Tembusu College participated in Flag last year, and has expressed that its Flag participation will continue this year. A source also mentioned that last year, the former Angsana College made it compulsory for its Year One students to participate in Flag, and students had to sell flags with the Residential College, not their faculties. Both Residential Colleges were not a part of the Rag experience in 2012. When it welcomes its first batch of students in August, will Yale-NUS participate in Rag and Flag? Will the NUSSU Exco encourage the colleges to embrace this unique NUS tradition? This question of whether the new colleges will join in the festivities is therefore important. The Exco finds itself in a curious Catch-22. If it actively seeks to get these new colleges
and its students to participate in Rag and Flag, significant investments in resources and manpower would be required for training and guidance. It would not be fair for these new entities to cobble the project together, since they do not have the technical know-how and seniors to tap upon. Last year’s Rag committee also acknowledged that space constraint in University Town is a limitation; if so, what will be the solutions, if the Residential Colleges do decide to build a float? On the other hand, a laissez-faire, passive let-us-seehow-things-eventually-transpire approach would undoubtedly undermine the Exco’s claim of Rag bringing together “a majority of the student population regardless of their discipline”. In a conversation with Mr. Jeremy Tan, President of the College Students’ Committee in Tembusu, he reveals that Tembusu will not be part of Rag this year, because “[Rag] is not in line with [Tembusu’s] key priorities as a college”. He explains that the six strategic thrusts or priorities include arts, sports, intellectual life, student development and community outreach, innovation and enterprise, as well as lifestyle and international students. Should the NUSSU Exco reinforce the perspective that the PBs have the right and prerogative to not participate in Rag in any particular year – that is, the decision for involvement is strictly up to them – the faculty clubs and halls of residences should take the call seriously. The major implication is that potential PBs should not feel compelled to feature Rag and Flag in their
calendars, when no members are willing to assume key roles and responsibilities. Of course, if the NUSSU Exco maintains that Rag and Flag are traditional enterprises worth preserving, and that participation should be maximised throughout the institutions, then a pro-active approach must be adopted with the new colleges: to hear their concerns, and seek to address challenges that may be highlighted. Hesitation and lethargy will render future engagement even more improbable. Communication is the first step. Henceforth, I will propose for the element of competition to be removed from Rag and Flag, for our student-leaders to be more informed about viewpoints from the student body, for tighter controls on float expenditures and caps, and for transparency from the PBs and the NUSSU Exco.
OMPETITION MUST GO (IN ITS ENTIRETY)
This is my stand: competition in Rag and Flag must go in its entirety. Given the Council’s desire to recognise Rag and Flag as a single, cohesive event (unlike the original procession where students travelled with the floats to sell flags, Flag Day is now held separately from the display or procession of the Rag floats), there is a glaring inconsistency in NUSSU Council’s own set of decisions last December, when it decided to keep the Flag Shield despite removing the
Rag and Chancellor Shields. Aside from the Shields, the PBs – halls and faculties alike – will still be judged, and awarded Gold, Silver, or Bronze prizes. Keeping Rag as a noncompetitive event is a more straightforward proposition, and the Council’s vote to take the Rag Shield out of the equation (11 for, 19 against, and 17 abstentions for a motion to keep the Rag Shield in the 2013 edition) will, I believe, place more healthy emphasis on the process and the construction of the floats. In 1989, there was tension when the losing PBs lodged official protests, after Temasek Hall had clinched victory. The following year when the competitive element was removed, the school witnessed the first collaborative effort between two NUS hostels. A $7 float also made its fabled appearance during the Rag parade. Certainly, it would not be fair to hastily conclude that a competitive Rag necessarily yields animosities and unhappiness, but it is difficult to oppose the view that a non-competitive event will be equally, if not more, beneficial. There is, I believe, a common perception that the Business Faculty is too competitive in Rag events. Yet peculiarly, in the recent vote on whether to keep the Rag Shield, four members from the school’s club voted against the motion. The stance maintained by Mr. Foo Shida, President of the Business Students’ Club, is that overly competitive behaviour “would definitely be detrimental to Rag”, and that “there is more to Rag than competition”. He emphasises that “Rag is a tradition, a
culture, and a heritage that binds and connects amongst many years of Bizaders”. While I concede that the motivation to win top honours could strengthen bonding within a faculty or a hostel, it does little to promote cohesiveness amongst students in general. In fact, when rivalries are dealt with poorly, competition can prove to be destructive. Without any form of competition – no Shields, no grading, no awards whatsoever – the NUSSU Rag committee and the PBs can then focus on enriching the participants’ experience, strengthening the concepts and messages brought across by the floats, and bridge the gap between Rag and Flag. Nevertheless, I disagree with the decision to keep the Flag Shield (31 for, 5 against, 11 abstentions), insofar as the Shield remains a symbol of perpetual contest and competition. The argument goes: without the element of competition, students would lose the incentive and motivation to solicit more donations, because they are not trying to out-raise one another. As a result, the school would collect less money for the beneficiaries. Intriguingly, Mr. Goh Ren Kai, President of NUSSU, was quoted as saying that “the C-Cube associated the competition in Flag with its ability to collect more donations for the beneficiaries”. The C-Cube, as Mr. Goh shares, comprises of the Presidents from the faculties. Prior to the Council meeting in December, the C-Cube members and the presidents of the respective
residential halls got together to define the three objectives of Rag and Flag, and identified the motions to be voted upon subsequently. Furthermore, last year’s Closing Report on Flag had a separate section expounding on the “Drop in Flag Donation”, which sought to explain the 3.8% drop from $482,500.50 to $464,072.75. In other words, students are assumed to be driven by competition, and that it is imperative for NUS to consistently raise huge sums of money for charitable causes. The end seems to justify the means. These rationalisations are ludicrous in my opinion. First, I do not comprehend the obsession with absolute figures. Are we assuming that the success of Rag and Flag can – and should – be equated to the total sum of money raised? Certainly, one of the purposes of Rag and Flag is to “give back to the community”, but this does not necessarily mean doing so in monetary form. It is time we expanded the domains of Flag, to go progressively beyond the pedantic sale of flags per se to be more involved in helping out with the beneficiaries. Second, we have – or the C-Cube has – too little faith in our students. They do their best on Flag Day not to win a silly competition, but for the benefit of the beneficiaries. Some will argue that the retention of the Shields and awards would nonetheless appease groups who might be driven by the intensity of a Flag contest, and that this is not incompatible with flaggers who are genuinely inspired. We need to change the way
students perceive Flag, even if it comes at the cost of lower donation and collection amounts. The status quo, one that places disproportionate emphasis upon competition and raising huge sums, is an unsustainable vicious cycle because current students will go on to becomes alumni stuck in this competitive mode of understanding what Flag is and continue to be preferential in their giving. A temporary dip in donations is wholly justified if we can change perceptions with regard to the sale of flags. Doing the right thing is often the harder option. Let me further the argument by stating that there have also been anecdotal instances when passers-by have quizzed tin can-toting students: “which faculty are you from,” or “have you seen undergraduates donning a particular arm-band” (students from the variety of PBs are differentiated based on their faculties or halls)? Clearly these individuals – mainly alumni of the respective schools – are more interested to donate on account of their past associations, rather than for the true benefit of the charity associations. These are attitudes that we can work to eventually eradicate. Nurturing an NUS student who understands the value of contributing to the community in itself (as opposed to doing so for the sake of winning or helping to win a competition) undoubtedly does more for the community at large.
RE THE VIEWS OF STUDENT-LEADERS GENUINELY REPRESENTATIVE?
$1,000 Costumes, Cheer-leading, and Dance-Related Materials $3,000 Lorry Rental Estimated Float Construction (based on the $10,000 cap)
$3,000 Merchandise for Float Construction
$3,000 Tentage Rental
Flag Donations The Rag event expenditure should not be subsidised by the amounts raised through the sale of flags. A maximum of 10% of the total flag collections was used to cover the “logistics and operational costs”: 8% went to individual operating costs, including “tin can labels, stickers, and flag shirts”, while 2% went to the other related expenses.
Who pay for the floats? $100,000 if the event is organised in the school ($55,000 in 2008 and 2009, and $100,000 in 2012).
$250,000 to $300,000 if the event is held in public locations ($300,000 in 2007 when it was held at the Padang, $62,000 in 2010 because of the Youth Olympic Games).
Who runs Rag and Flag? The events are mainly driven by student representatives in the Managing Committees and Rag Committees within the respective faculty constituent club and PBs. But how do our executive members of the societies and clubs vote on decisions regarding such events? Are their decisions reflective of the majority view within the student population they purport to represent, especially given the fact that general voting turnout rates have been dismal? Are they at the very least, in the best interest of the PB as a whole? I am not questioning whether they have the right to make decisions on behalf of their students; instead, I am curious if they had endeavoured to find out more about what has been articulated by their students. In other words, when these
$450,000 the estimated cost for the event held at The Promontory, Marina Bay (2011). This particular event was co-funded by the school.
student leaders present their viewpoints during meetings, on Rag and Flag for example, can they distinguish between their personal opinions, and the genuine sentiments of their constituents? I doubt so. While they cannot be entirely faulted for increasingly apathetic attitudes towards Rag and Flag, one would expect our student-leaders to communicate the meeting agenda beforehand to interested parties, to obtain feedback from their counterparts, so as to back their eventual meeting-points with more evidence and statistical data, if possible. Certainly there are PBs who have made an attempt at gathering feedback from their constituents, but they remain in the minority. Direct engagement with the student
In a Nutshell • Flag: the sum goes to the beneficiaries (less 10% administrative costs). • Rag: Floats: funded by the PBs. Event: paid for by NUSSU, but can be co-funded by the school.
populace is a constructive strategy that should be employed, for it allows the student representatives to be more informed about the issues at-hand. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) organised a Rag forum, together with a petition during its feedback project. FASS’s Freshmen Orientation Programme (FOP) Chairperson, Mr. Ong Jia Qiang, explained that most students were “against certain aspects of Rag”, but were not opposed to “the idea of Rag itself”. Out of the 223 respondents, those who were against Rag and Flag were primarily perturbed by the costs involved, and the perception that “Rag has lost its meaning over the years”. Those who were for Rag reflected “its tradition and ability to bond people unlike
any other FOP”. Mr. Derek Lim from the University Scholars Programme (USP) had also designed a survey, which reached over 200 respondents, before the project was discussed with the NUSSU Council. He reflected that “we wanted to know what the community’s opinion was in order to represent their interests better”. In addition, he replied that “[p]eople don’t like the project, or perhaps specifically the idea of it, but they seem to like what it accomplishes”. University-wide feedback exercises could be conducted to gauge sentiments, or to collate the perspectives of students towards Rag and Flag. The aggregation of ad-hoc polls, surveys and feedback would be useful when assessing the shortcomings and criticisms.
Even after gathering feedback from their constituents, the data is meaningless if student representatives choose to act in their own interest instead of what their constituents want. In the present system, there is no particular incentive to act according to the desire of the student population even if one disagrees with it as a student representative. The strengths of the previously mentioned C-Cube initiative are, thus, based on a few presumptions: that Presidents of the faculties and halls are aware of the viewpoints posited by their constituents, and that these individuals do communicate what has been discussed with their executive members. The ideal is that all the student representatives who vote during the meetings are in-the-know. However, I am not sure if all the student-leaders present at the Council meeting were sure about what they were voting for as well. Based on the meeting minutes, which charted how the session panned out, the context was poorly laid out: there was no summary of how Rag and Flag has evolved over the years, and no substantial information about on-theground sentiments, and no useful explanations on how the Council came to these decisions in the first place. The meeting proceedings seemed rushed, and questions asked, messy. One of the other ways to establish greater accountability would be for each voting member to explain how and why he or she voted for or against a motion. There
were 17 abstentions on the vote to keep the Rag Shield, and it would be meaningful to know their rationales for voting in a particular manner. While it might not be expedient to do so in the context of a meeting, the final, published version of the meeting minutes could have an accompanying addendum with the aforementioned information and standpoints. There are persistent queries on the entire expenditure of the event, and the general wastage of resources and finances involved with Rag and Flag. On that note, I think two Council decisions were steps in the right direction. First, in an attempt to reduce costs, the lorry has been removed (26 for, 7 against, 14 abstentions). The lorry has been part of Rag since its inception, but its inclusion will only be justified if the procession-tour element of the Rag is brought back to the event. Second, the decision to adopt a rotation system between NUS and the public is a good compromise. While we seek to minimise the huge expenses when Rag is held outside of school (4 in public places, 16 in NUS, 24 for the hybrid rotation, 3 abstentions), a well-planned public event could raise the profile of this NUS tradition. In the past, Rag and Flag has been plagued by a number of controversies. The most notorious practice involved rumours of participants emptying purchased soda drinks, so that the aluminium cans could be used for the design of the float. NUSSU has encouraged the PBs to be more conscious of the materials they utilise, and
hence included a recyclingenvironmental component to the judging criteria. There is another rumour that the Business School had a “bull head” laser-cut for its float in 2011, and this customised design service was provided by an external partner. At the time of writing, nobody from the Business Rag team of 2010/11 has responded with comment – specifically on the actual amount that was spent on the “bull head”, and how it was financed – but in the following year, NUSSU banned all forms of outsourcing concerning the construction of the float. I have faith that if competition was taken entirely out of the Rag and Flag equation, the many transgressions could be curbed, and the members involved with the Rag project would then search for more creative alternatives. More details would be given on the cost cap for 2013, but it should be significantly lower, given the removal of the lorry. On the transparency of the PB expenses, I maintain that it would be a good move for the respective PBs to disclose breakdowns on how much they have spent on the construction of their floats, as opposed to giving ballpark figures based rigidly on the caps set in place. They remain accountable to their constituents of the faculties or the halls. The NUSSU Exco, on the other hand, should let students know how much has gone into the Rag event. This will be in line with the Exco’s practice of responsibly furnishing the student population with the administrative and financial details of its overall operations, and I thank Mr.
Goh for providing the figures for Rag from 2007 to 2012. To my knowledge, such details are difficult to obtain for the average student; not many would know who to approach. Already for this article, the information was obtained from the NUSSU President and not from publicly available and easily accessible figures. It would be insightful to have an estimate for how the PBs manage their expenses, and the general costs of Rag and Flag.
Flagging Rag This commentary is not a call for Rag and Flag to be scrapped, for I have too much respect for its heritage and history, and recognise its value through my friends who have gained so much through it. Instead, this should serve as a starting point for discussions and discourse, to empower the reader with the requisite knowledge to form their own judgements. As a writer who asks the inconvenient questions and writes his thoughts, nothing would please me more than someone who disagrees with my point of view.
Acknowledgements Mr. Augustin Chiam, for his patience, recommendations and editing expertise Miss Loh Peiying, for her advice and guidance through the NewspaperSG platform Students, student-leaders, and representatives for agreeing to the interviews
WHY SOCIAL WORK? Zoe Tee
“Why do you have to study to help people?” “You could help people on a leisure basis, like voluntary work, why do you need a degree to help people?” “What are you tested for Social Work finals? “Should I help the old lady cross the road?”
Photo from trtf.org
hese are some of the questions that people have asked me about Social Work. The last one was meant to be a joke from an acquaintance, but it was a question that has been stuck in my mind ever since I declared the subject as my major. Most people seem to relate it with helping the underprivileged, which is not wrong, but does not cover the full scope of what we do. One of the first few questions that my Professor asked our class was, “What is your definition of ‘help’?” I used to think that it meant giving money to charity, or doing charitable work, but my Social Work classes have helped me realize that this definition is too superficial. Indeed, Social Work is about helping people, but doing so not just by donating money, spending time playing with children or talking to the elderly, but by empowering individuals—helping
them develop their potential to the fullest. The academic side to Social Work is often overlooked because people forget that it is a profession, in the same way that being a doctor is a profession. This means that we help not just based on the fleeting desire to do “good” or how helping makes us feel. Ethics, theoretical frameworks, therapy and development of relationship skills are some examples of the things that we learn that give a structure to how we can help individuals develop their potential. It gives us the head knowledge, so that we can apply some of these methods to make our interactions with the people we help smoother. Part of the academic course is a 10-week field placement at the end of Year 1 where we were trained by competent supervisors out in the field. It was a valuable and insightful learning experience that allowed me to better understand the different aspects of the
profession. It reminded me of how our projects in class were real-life cases. Even though I always enjoy my lectures, to the extent that it no longer seems like schoolwork, the experience made me realize how relevant they were to Social Work as a profession as they reflected and dealt with the very reality of our lives. I do hope placement at the end of our Second Year is equally enriching. Part of being in Social Work is belonging to the department, and I consider it a huge blessing to be a part of this group that exudes the warmth of a family. This is a department that takes great care in nurturing us, with educators that go the extra mile in preparing us for our future work while giving us adequate space for exploration and growth. It is definitely a privilege to have my budding years in social work molded and shaped by the pioneers and change-makers of the field in Singapore, and a
pleasure to work hand-in-hand with like-minded course-mates, who are equally passionate and committed to the community. That said, Social Work is as sobering as it is fun and enriching. I remember several instances where I left the lecture hall frowning, considering the social issues that were mentioned during class. Despite the laughter and the light-hearted moments, it is always a little unnerving to realize that our competency counts for more than personal education achievements but has a direct impact on the lives of the people that we have committed ourselves to help. Having said all of this, I do wish that acquaintance would read this and learn what Social Work is really about. The writer is a Year 2 Social Work major.
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME? Photo from stasiareport.com Yveena Mariel
s the semester started, a press release announced the renaming of Angsana College to College of Alice and Peter Tan. The University had done so in recognition of a substantial donation from Mrs. Alice Tan to support financially needy students and academic programmes. This caused some disgruntled students to do what disgruntled college students do best- bay for an accounting of said offending action. Mainly they wanted to know more about what ‘Alice and Peter Tan’ had done to warrant the renaming of the building. It is not uncommon for buildings in NUS to be named after donors or named after someone/thing dear to a significant donor. In 2001, the NUS Law Library was renamed the C J Koh Law Library after Mr Koh Choon Joo. Naming buildings after people may also be done in an attempt to “leave a mark” in society after they have left this world. Even as we leave this world where a majority of things are transient, many do so in a way that even after we have left, we still influence and live on in memories and history books. To some extent, we all want to be remembered, for our lives to have meant something and that it was not all entirely for naught. We try to do this in so many different ways, being remembered prestigiously by the public or remembered simply by that special someone dear to us. We want to honor the memories of
the ones who’ve gone on ahead of us and share their strength with the community. Will we begrudge those who wish to do so the chance to do so in their way? If we would, let us at least take the time to ponder why. One reason is that we have differing yardsticks as to what would constitute as ‘deserving’. In a world where many eschew to say there are absolute morals and values, we are thrown into confusion about deciding how and
FRAMING PHILANTHROPY AS BEING SOMETHING DESERVING OF RECOGNITION IS UNHEALTHY”
what to reward. There are those who feel that everyone ought to be equally recognized because they have all contributed and others who resent that they are not the ones being recognized. Another reason is that we hate to be reminded that we are in the charity of other people. “I don’t want your charity” is a common phrase that we hear and sometimes even ourselves proclaim. To have a building named after a contributor is a glaring reminder of our insufficiency and, for some, this pricks their pride rather painfully. Yet, there is the nagging concern that NUS may be seen as “selling
naming rights” and that NUS should not show preferential recognition to donors who make sizeable financial gifts. After all, as the parable of the poor old woman and her three coins teaches us, a smaller monetary donation may be of more value than a sizeable donation. There are those who clamor to know just how ‘substantial’ the gift was. They wish to somehow, from the amount given, judge how deserving the donor is to have a building renamed. How easily we judge from our ideals, refusing to see the realities and flaws of the systems we exist in and how we contribute to them. Given the spirit of goodwill associated with donations, it is not unreasonable to expect that each gift should be deserving of a similar level of gratitude and recognition. Similarly, I do not suspect that those who have given in a true spirit of altruism would lament about not have a building named after them. In an ideal world, donations stemming from pure intentions would flow in abundantly into whichever project is in need of aid. However, anyone who has worked for a nonprofit and has had to raise funds knows that efforts must be made to ‘court’ donors with the means to contribute significantly to the project. It would be a sorry state if we were to grow into a society obsessed with commensurate compensation, where good intentions take a backseat and
donors nitpick about receiving recognition befitting their gift. I am not saying that this was the case with the College of Alice and Peter Tan. What I am saying is that we need to look beyond our rose-tinted glasses. Framing philanthropy as being something deserving of recognition is unhealthy, for it reduces an act of goodwill into something that is merely transactional.
A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME WOULD SMELL AS SWEET”
Ultimately though, while I certainly hope that organizations need to be cautious in their recognition of donors, and that the administration could have handled this case in a less high handed manner (taking the time to seek the opinion of the residents of the college, for instance), the change in the college’s name does not affect the spirit of Angsana College. It ought to be no skin off our nose if the name is changed once. After all, as Shakespeare once wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.
A TALE OF
Joyce Xu, a spring semester exchange student from Hong Kong, is adapting to the new life at NUS, exploring different facets of Singapore and trying to spot the differences between the two Asian Tigers.
s an exchange student majoring in journalism and political science from the University of Hong Kong, I will be studying at NUS for the second year of my undergraduate study. I hope to be able to take this precious opportunity to explore the Lion City and venture into the unknown, learning more about Singaporean culture and meeting
more new buddies from all over the world. The two Asian Tigers, Hong Kong and Singapore have often been perceived as being very similar to each other. Both were former British colonies and have transformed from a small fishing village into a world-class cosmopolitan city, and both are
technology-advanced economic powerhouses with prosperous financial and trade activities. Naturally, there has always been a heated debate as to which place is the better gateway to Asia. I have come across some exchange buddies who said that they were torn between the two cities when they were deciding where to go for exchange. However, I have some
reservations about this perception of similarity. Indeed, both cities possess unique characteristics and complexities that made them stand out from the other, and each possesses its share of capabilities and charm.
LIVING ENVIRONMENT From my observations, Singapore is a very clean, safe and orderly city-state. Regulations that prohibit the import and sale of chewing gum and restrict smoking in public are strictly implemented here. To my surprise, I have rarely found any mosquitoes here even with the constant scorching heat and clinging humidity. Despite its small geographical size and lack of natural resources, I am very impressed by the island-state’s advanced infrastructure and rapid economic development. Its urban planning policies are praiseworthy indeed, particularly in the areas of housing, transport and recreation. In Hong Kong, property prices remain high and youngsters usually find it hard to afford the flats. In contrast, public housing at subsidized rates is guaranteed in Singapore. On the other hand, I have always taken pride in Hong Kong’s beautiful skyline, extensive rural landscapes and wetland reserves. In my opinion, while both Hong Kong and Singapore have developed efficient public infrastructure, the former’s living environment pales in comparison— for instance, air quality is always considered a serious problem. Hong Kong is a crowded metropolis, packed to the brim with people, shopping malls and towering skyscrapers. The lifestyle of a typical Hongkong-er is thus fast-moving and pressurized, and the high population density, hectic urban life and small living spaces have become significant sources of stress. Singapore, by comparison, does not have as many high-rise buildings as Hong Kong, and the whole city is covered with plenty of sunshine, refreshing lush gardens and parklands. On the whole, I feel that I have led a more
comfortable and relaxed life in this pleasant Garden City.
CULTURE Relative to Hong Kong, Singapore is a more diverse country with a wide variety of cultures, races and religions. What appeals to me most is the multiculturalism that you find here in Singapore. The population of Hong Kong is composed primarily of Chinese, whereas in Singapore it is a closely-knit community comprising of not only Chinese, but also other ethnic groups such as the Malays and the Indians, as well as a good mix of expatriates from other foreign countries. This harmonious embracing of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds can be easily spotted on campus in NUS. While wandering around the country, you are bound to come across a host of Hindu and Buddhist temples, churches and mosques, often in close proximity. English is widely practiced here, although I am still puzzled by the tone and cadence of the language spoken by some of the locals. Singlish does take some getting used to. Another significant feature about Singapore that captivates me is the incredible cultural diversity and variety of food that is available. Hong Kong’s cuisine is largely a fusion of Eastern and Western flavors: a wide range of Chinese dishes can be found, with Hong Kong-style teahouses (also known as “cha chan teng”), fast-food chains, dim-sum and seafood restaurants being the common food choices. On the other hand, food outlets are everywhere in Singapore, ranging from upmarket restaurants to bustling centres of local food like Bugis Street, Little India and Chinatown. I can easily
find different kinds of cheap and delicious local delicacies and exotic dishes here—char kway teow, kaya toast, laksa, nasi lemak, Indian mee goreng, Hainanese chicken rice, prata and bak kut teh.
AC A DE M IC L I F E I found that students at Singapore seem to adopt a rather dedicated and focused attitude towards learning. Furthermore, they adopt a more active and independent mentality during the lectures and tutorials, initiating thoughtful discussions with peers and professors. This contrasts with the academic culture in Hong Kong, which I feel is more passive and conservative. However, this passivity does not extend to matters of governmental policy and societal issues, where Hong Kong students tend to appear more critical and vocal—I have witnessed students initiate several movements to question policies which were felt to be lacking.
PA RT I NG T H OUG H T S Despite some striking similarities between the two dynamic Asian cities, I nevertheless feel that the time I have spent here on exchange is well spent. Going on exchange has led me to see how one can assimilate into another cultural setting, to broaden his or her perspectives about world, as well as to discover the strengths and limitations of your home country. Being able to adopt a critical mind and discover the intricate connections between different
nations, values and people is truly one of the greatest privileges of being an exchange student.
FORGIVE, FORGET AND CARRY ON! A
fter “NUS Memes”, the “NUS Confessions” page seems to be one of the most visited NUS-related Facebook page these days. Sadly enough, many posts are related to misunderstandings between friends and the anger that builds up as a result of perceived offences. It is amidst this growing environment of hurtful behaviour that we come to see the importance of forgiveness.
The benefits of forgiveness have been extensively explored in religion, the social sciences and even in the field of medicine. Perhaps what is most significant however is the restorative nature of forgiveness, not just for the one being forgiven but for the forgiver as well—for forgiving frees one from the torment of carrying a weighty emotional burden. This form of internal release is important as it influences how one subsequently acts towards others. Equivalent retaliation, or ‘tit for tat’ as some of us know it, is practiced by most of us, be it intentionally or unintentionally. It is human nature to repay like for like, particularly when one
feels being wronged. Hence the tendency to hurt a person who hurt us dominates our predisposition to ‘talk it out’ and find an amicable solution to the problem. Forgiveness is often associated with letting someone ‘get
ELSON MANDELA ONCE SAID, “RESENTMENT IS LIKE DRINKING POISON, HOPING IT WILL KILL YOUR ENEMIES”.
away’ with something they are responsible for. Pardoning someone thus seems akin to ignoring the fact that we were hurt. This could not be further from the truth. Forgiving and seeking forgiveness is a demonstration of personal courage and a necessary step to the restoration of relationships. When you bear a grudge against someone, you carry that person with you as a burden. It is akin to handing over the remote control for your moods to the person who
Better to forgive than to hold a grudge against those who gossip. Sreenshot from facebook.com/nusconfessions
Do you have someone you need to reconcile with again? Sreenshot from facebook.com/nusconfessions
caused you the hurt. Holding on to the grudge tends to drain one’s energy, enthusiasm and peace of mind. At any point in time, we have the right to change that. Peace and conciliation are built on the decisions we take in these moments of our life. Forgiving someone helps to bring back the peace that has been lost, so let us choose to take things in our stride and remain unshaken by the negative behaviour of others towards us. We all have a predisposition
not to accept things when they are perceived as unfair. It is this aversion towards unfair outcomes and a fear of vulnerability that leads us towards being unforgiving. Yet, at each moment of bitterness, we need to ask ourselves, “Do I want to give away any more of my time to the person who offended me? Do they really deserve all this energy and attention?” This question is enough to get us back on track. Dwelling on the hurt not only jeopardizes our peace of mind, but also results in us displaying
our frustrations on the friends around us. This in turn endangers our relationship with the others. Forgiveness is the knife that can sever heavy chains of emotional hurt, allowing us to focus our attention on other more important aspects of life. The art of forgiving is not an easy one and many a time, people need external support or guidance. One helpful approach is to differentiate between the wrongs committed out of personal failings and those that are done with malice. We forgive the former, while we show mercy towards the latter. There is an old poem which reads, “Do your best unto the person who you perceive harmed or wronged you; this will result in the person bowing his head in
shame and atoning his guilt”. This is easier said than done. One needs tremendous amount of courage, compassion and empathy to act in such a noble manner. The truth is, no one ‘deserves’ forgiveness, for very often the harm that has been done cannot be undone. Similarly, no one ‘earns’ forgiveness. It is we who ‘choose’ to forgive. It is a decision, a choice we make to heighten and brighten our lives. So forgive and forget, take a deep breath and concentrate on what demands your attention the most. Or as Po, the eminent Kungfu Panda, would say, “attain inner peace!”
HOMOSEXUALITY AND MORALITY Debra Chua Photo from christymcferren.com
he legalisation of same-sex marriage in the UK and the recent furore over comments made about Section 377A, a law which criminalises sexual relations between men, points to an underlying disconnect between the approaches that parties in the debate take towards the legitimacy of using legislation to regulate personal conduct on the grounds of its immorality. One of the fundamental tenets of political liberalism is that the moral conduct of the individual should not be policed by the state, on the basis that to do so would be to pass a normative judgment and hence privilege a certain conception of the “good” over others. The motivation behind this tenet is the accommodation of diversity in differing conceptions of what constitutes “good”, and how the individual may choose to pursue their ideals, thus upholding the inviolability of the principle of personal autonomy. A desirable effect of upholding this tenet is the prevention of statesponsored coercion of minority views.
It therefore comes as no surprise that pro-LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights supporters have traditionally appealed to abstract, “morallyneutral” values of autonomy, equality, tolerance, and privacy to justify the accordance of civil rights to LGBT individuals, particularly in societies in which the majority hold opinions which are not conciliatory towards the LGBT community. This is a mistake. It is undeniable that arguments focusing on “morally-neutral” values would carry much weight in countries which are committed to liberalism, and have these commitments enshrined in their constitution. However, As MP Thio Li-Ann rightly pointed out in her parliamentary speech in 2007 on the repealing of Section 377A, Singapore does not refrain from passing normative judgments through legislation on the basis of a particular conception of the good precisely because the state has never sought to emulate wholesale the liberal democracy of the Western nations. Hence,
within the Singapore context, it is misguided for pro-LGBT rights supporters to continue to appeal to the separation of morality and the law.
SINGAPORE DOES NOT REFRAIN FROM PASSING NORMATIVE JUDGMENTS”
A perfunctory review of debates over LGBT rights in other countries reveals a common pattern in argumentation for both sides of the camp. More often than not, the pro-LGBT rights camp appeals to “morally-neutral” values of autonomy, equality, tolerance, and privacy, while the conservative camp appeals to moral beliefs which arise out of their religious beliefs and/or social conservatism. Given the almost adamant liberal avoidance of broaching the issue of the morality of homosexuality, it is understandable that one would come to think that homosexuality cannot be justified, or would have a weaker case
to make if it appealed on moral grounds. This avoidance may be a conscious decision of the liberal camp, which might fear that they would lose out in the public debate over the morality of homosexuality—a fear which is perhaps not entirely unfounded, as literal readings of most religious texts and traditional conservative values view homosexual conduct as morally impermissible or at least severely frowned upon. In spite of this, I argue that it would be erroneous for the liberal camp to cede the moral high ground to the social conservatives. Prima facie, there is no obvious reason why engaging in consensual, sexual relations with a member of the same gender is less moral than engaging in a heterosexual one. To argue that the decriminalisation of homosexuality would be the catalyst which sets us down a slippery slope of morality, and open the moral floodgates safeguarding us from indisputably immoral acts like bestiality, paedophilia and consensual
cannibalism, would committing the fallacy of false equivalence. Certainly there are cases in which homosexual copulation occurs with minors, but such incidents do not occur by virtue of the fact that the perpetrator was a homosexual, but because the individual in question had paedophilic tendencies, tendencies which are not exclusive to either sexual orientation. Consensual cannibalism and homosexual copulation only share similarities with each other insofar as both acts take place with the mutual consent of both participants, and that there is a social taboo against cannibalism and homosexuality. Keeping in mind the principle of “harm”, a significant difference between the two however, is that cannibalism results in the direct physical harm of the individual, from which recovery is completely impossible, whereas homosexual copulation does not. The basis of the social taboo against cannibalism is hence well-founded, but the case against homosexuality is much less clearcut.
HOMOSEXUALITY AND FAMILY VALUES ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE ”
It is commonly argued that homosexuality is detrimental to family values and societal cohesion. And yet, homosexuality and family values are not mutually exclusive categories; it is not a conceptual necessity that homosexuals will engage in sexual promiscuity. There is nothing fundamental about homosexuality which entails that the individual will possess certain behaviours or values that are antithetical to family values. Indeed, if such were the case, there would not be calls for recognition of
same-sex marriages that are, by definition, monogamous. This is also evidenced by the push for allowing the adoption of children by same-sex couples, as well as the existence of a substantial number of same-sex couples who have formed families of their own, whether through adoption or through in-vitro fertilisation. There is too little public awareness of homosexuals in loving, long-term and committed relationships, precisely because their relationships are denied societal acceptance and side-lined from the mainstream, deepening the polarisation between both factions—anti-LGBT rights and pro-LGBT rights. In addition, when examining the anecdotal evidence given in support of the claim that homosexuality wrecks the family unit, one can often isolate more specific factors which leads to the break-up of these families—adultery, or the family member(s)’s inability to accept the homosexual individual. Needless to say, the correlation (if any) of homosexuality with such attributes should not be taken to be indicative of the behaviour of all homosexuals as a collective. Another prominent argument which claims the immorality of homosexuality is that it is unnatural and contravenes human nature. It is certainly true that homosexuals constitute a smaller proportion of the population than heterosexuals, and that without the aid of medical technology, homosexuals cannot conceive naturally. Nevertheless, neither the fact that homosexuals are unable to reproduce naturally nor the fact that they constitute a small percentage of the population, is a morally relevant fact. It might even be argued that granting same-sex couples the right to adopt children will lead
to a greater social good in that it will give orphans the opportunity to grow up in loving families, and frees up the resources of the social welfare facilities of the state which can be channelled to other areas in need. Furthermore, even if we granted that homosexuality is unnatural, a problematic assumption in itself, the fact that something is unnatural is not a morally relevant fact either. There are many things we do daily that are not “natural”. For example, is it natural that we stay in concrete blocks of shelter and chase after pieces of paper that determine our worth in society? Homosexuality does not preclude one from being a moral person who cherishes family values. In fact, greater societal acceptance of homosexuality may lead to a greater societal good. Many LGBT individuals experience a genuine and very palpable harm when faced with societal disapproval and even hostility towards their way of living and their choice of partner, which manifests itself in different ways, like the disproportionately higher suicide rates of LGBT adolescents in the US. This concrete harm is in direct contradistinction to a more abstract, intangible alleged harm to the collective moral fibre of society, and other claims of that ilk. It is difficult to see how one could justify the view that sexual orientation is a fundamentally crucial aspect to one’s moral status without resorting to stereotypes and misconceptions about homosexuality. Having a standing moral directive, whether through informal social reinforcement or enshrined in legislation, will not miraculously cure homosexuals of their homosexuality, or reduce
the percentage of homosexuals to more “tolerable” levels (even if heterosexuality amongst all people is a morally desirable quality). Homosexuality is not an aberrant social anomaly that will go away if we enact legislation that demonstrates societal moral disapprobation nor is it a disease we need to cure—homosexuality has continued to exist even in societies that have taken (or are in the process of contemplating) much more punitive measures against it, like Uganda, where the death penalty is under consideration. The shift towards a society that accepts, and not merely tolerates, homosexuality will help homosexuals struggling with their sexual and gender identity to not feel ostracised by their community, thus going a long way in alleviating the guilt, self-loathing, and self-esteem issues that the homosexual person might have, due to the perceived shamefulness or sinfulness of their sexual orientation. There is nothing intrinsically immoral about homosexuality. The societal ills purported to have been caused by homosexuality could arguably be partially attributed to the manner in which members of society perceive and behave towards homosexuals (like the viewing of homosexuals as sexual predators of children), rather than homosexual behaviour itself per se. Given that homosexuality does not justifiably pose a threat to the welfare of society, and that its acceptance is essential to the well-being of homosexual individuals, it would be immoral to deny such individuals the right to pursue meaningful and fulfilling lives in accordance with their conception of the good.
TAKING NATIONAL IDENTITY INTO OUR OWN HANDS Photo from flickr.com/cwetzell Ng Hui Ying
atching the debate over the Population White Paper unfold from halfway across the world, and having the chance to reflect on just how fortunate Singapore is, is making my heart tear a little at the edges. I watched the PMâ€™s speech on the White Paper recently, on Youtube. His heartfelt plea made
me wonder why Singaporeans are increasingly opposing the PAP so vehemently, when there are many things that the PAP is doing which is right, even if it is not perfect. The PAP may have shown a lack of foresight before, and may have little experience dealing with the sociological aspects of change, but a simple condemnation of their
failings is not going to address the many issues at hand. More importantly, I wonder why the negativity towards immigrants is rising so rapidly, especially when we know our birth rate is an issue and it is necessary to find a solution to it. It makes me wonder if we are not just shirking our
responsibility to address national issues together, and pointing fingers at the PAP just because they are the easy target. This line of thinking is never going to foster a civil society that can work with the government on issues its arms cannot reach.
PM Lee Hsien Loong made many good points in his speech. Not brilliant, but timely points that we need to keep in mind. One of these is that Singapore is an aging society. It’s easy to forget this, and to overlook the grey-haired amidst us. But it is obvious, and the possibility that there will be double the number of elderly to working population in future is a worrying thought. I am studying now at the University of Toronto, where I see more black hair on the college campus than blond or brown hair. Toronto itself has a lot of immigrants, in addition to students who come from other parts of Canada, or who have immigrated from China or India or elsewhere. I am mentioning this for two reasons: first, the visual spectacle of seeing more Asian students than Caucasian students makes a huge difference. You feel immediately more at home, because of the sheer diversity of people. Accents matter less, and people don’t even question if you are an exchange student – because everyone sounds marginally different from each other anyway. Now imagine a Singapore in which we see more elderly than working adults. Elderly homes would dot every street corner; exercise parks and walkways would have elderly mingling together—and this is really the optimistic view. There is always the possibility that lowerincome elderly remain shut up at home, because we are unable, or unwilling, to provide for them, whereas those with families or who had good jobs are able to access facilities through their own resources. The second reason I bring this up, is the effect of immigration on Toronto itself. Before arriving in Toronto, I stayed in America for
a bit, where the presence of the white majority is overwhelmingly felt. Coming into Toronto was a whole different experience—it is a much more multicultural space, not just because of its multiple culture districts, but because the racial imbalance is much lower here. People come to accept diversity; there is space to be culturally different – in both senses of the word. Toronto receives about 100,000 new immigrants every year, they come as students and working adults from both within and without Canada. The sense of vibrancy and life in Toronto, in its subdistricts and refurbished old buildings, would not be the same without this diverse population of mindsets and talents. A city in which different cultures can come together, overcome their differences and settle into something new and different creates unpredictable and exciting results. But these results are guided by much thought and action. Singapore now is predicting the sort of population imbalance that Japan is struggling with. An aging population means fewer active young minds to power innovation, ideas and change. Innovation and change are vital to Singapore; without our technology, our human capital and fresh ideas, we have no resources to fall back on. This is one of the PAP mantras that I unabashedly believe to be true—that our minds are the only resource that we own. Economic success and world-class city status are not resources on which we can depend; they are the fruits of our labour, and are completely dependent on how well we negotiate the regional and global playing field. In order to cope with our rising senior population, we need to maintain our human capital any way we can.
A L I E N S A N D NAT IONA L I DE N T I T Y Still, the real problem is not about immigrants entering but about short-term immigrants entering Singapore, knowing they are there on a temporary basis. How do we ensure these new shortterm residents will assimilate themselves into our culture? They do have an incentive to do so if they intend to find more job opportunities here, but the inherent uncertainty of having a temporary pass makes it less valuable for them to invest time in doing so. Another problem this new focus on immigrants and population is uncovering is the same issue that has remained a thorn in the side of Singaporeans for ages – our national identity. What is Singapore, and what is a Singaporean? Is Singlish a language and something to be proud of; do we have a national costume; what do we tell people we love about Singapore besides the food and shopping? It’s almost as if, as one friend says, “We don’t have an identity yet, so let’s just talk about food in the meantime.” We can’t stick to the same ol’ same ol’ placeholders and safe topics forever. At some point, we need to confront the problems that are associated with race but not spoken about. Why do ‘poor Malays’ appear in the news more often when there are poor Chinese and Indians around too? Why do we associate the poor Chinese population with elderly Chinese living alone? Is under-education linked to culture, or to other factors? Building a Singaporean identity means building up social relations within the community. There seems to be
a deeply entrenched belief – perhaps not acknowledged, but there nevertheless – that the government will find a solution to the problem. But why do we want the government to decide on new social policies for us? In my opinion, Singapore has been annexed and dissected thoroughly enough to strip away almost all claims to Chinese communism, Indian nationalism or Malay indigenous ambitions. HDB racial quotas, cultural enclaves and our racial identity on our ICs have made us numbers where we are people. We need to come back into our own, not necessarily by challenging authority outright (that isn’t my point) but by putting ourselves out there, in the community. Communities create history together, and history generates shared identity. There is no straight line to national identity, much less by defining ourselves against immigrants. But together, we can make sense of what being Singaporean means. As Singaporeans, we should ask ourselves: do we want a culture that remains static, with a strongly Singaporean core (do we even know what that is?) and strongly defends against foreign influence, or do we want to absorb other ideas and cultures in a way that helps us innovate, change and grow? We do not need growth just to compete with other nations, but more importantly, to keep our people’s dreams vibrant, in a city which offers the best opportunities to its citizens. Singapore is at the top now, and it’s all too easy to fall. But we have got to the stage where sheer economic growth is not going to sustain our social needs.
What we need is innovation, not just technological or social entrepreneurial, but communitybased innovation – when people work together, they unfailingly bring new, emergent, spontaneous ideas to the surface. And by working together, we take matters of national identity and Singaporean-ness out of the hands of the governing bodies, into our own. C OM M U N I T Y-BA SE D I N NOVAT ION That work can and should begin here, in Singapore. Social change requires us to learn through community: through growing “communities-of-practice”, a term coined by social anthropologist Etienne Wenger to describe the way learning takes place socially rather than just cognitively. Communities-of-practice build social capital and build up trust and mutual cooperation as well as the capacity to innovate. New ideas for social change require new ways of thinking about social structures, and relationships between people and between organisations. Community
innovation will deliver new ways for Singaporeans to relate to the world and to each other— learning together to build a more environmentally-sustainable city, to grow more local food, to make our city not just green but life-sustaining, to form links with migrant labour and reduce the growing hostility towards immigrants. It’s not about growing a gracious society. What does gracious mean anyway? Why be gracious, when our livelihoods are being taken from us? Rather, what is important is to retain our humanity. The Singaporean identity is growing stronger and clearer, but if this identity is built on a foundation of resentment, anger and words of hate against the immigrant community, then that identity seems a lot less desirable to me. Other countries might have grown their own sense of national identity by hating foreigners and people perceived as being “not like us.” That has led to ongoing trans-boundary and national ethnic conflict in countries around the world, even within Southeast Asia. There are racial
tensions within Singapore which are not talked about sufficiently, but our identity has never been linked to spite and hate towards foreigners. There are always new ways of creating a nation, and I am sending out a heartfelt plea: not to let our country’s identity grow strong only through groundless spite and racism against individual immigrants just because they symbolise a larger national phenomenon. It is not the individual’s fault; it is policy and we can solve policy while keeping our sense of humanity and care for other humans, not just other Singaporeans.
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AN EVENING OF POETRY AND MUSIC Nicole Kang
“If music be the food of love, play on. Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting.” While I realise that this beautiful quote has become cliché, it best expresses my feelings about an “Evening of Poetry and Music” (EPM) organized by the NUS Literary Society at the beginning of March. The purpose of the EPM is not merely to celebrate local literary talents (through the annual Creative Writing Competition), but to also showcase music performers. Last year’s EPM had really taken me by surprise, as I had gone only to support my friend, an organizer for the event, but ended up loving it on its own merit. I spent much of my time after the performances praising it. As for this year’s EPM, the organizers learnt from their past mistakes. Comments had been made about the length of the previous EPM - all the Creative Writing Competition finalists had recited their short-listed pieces to an increasingly fidgety audience. This year, only the first prize winners were given the stage. While the short-story and poetry prize winners’ readings went by quickly, the winner of the playwright genre, Goh Koon Hui, kept the audience riveted with his work, “On the Curry Question”. The piece was read, with much gusto, by some members of NUS Stages’ IMPROVables. Partially inspired by the curry saga in Singapore two years ago, his play touched on themes of national
identity and migration. It also touched the funny bones of the crowd. Next, Jonathan Meur serenaded the audience with his original songs played on the guitar and keyboard. Of French and Mauritian origins, Meur’s music mixes up folk, indie and pop-rock sounds. He has a genuinely good voice and instrumental skills that set him apart from your average “indie” offshoot. Meur performed “Strangers in Motion”, a song that aided him in the finals of the NTU Impresario song-writing competition. Despite having to turn my neck at an awkward angle to listen to him (I was seated right in front of him), it was worth the strain to see a man crooning his heart out. “For This Cycle” (Weiwen Seah) also did not fail to impress. Unlike Meur, his performance was a
For This Cycle from NUS Literary Society
NUS IMPROVables from NUS Literary Society
lot more spontaneous. As he rushed to UTown from the army camp, he had not prepared any specific pieces for us. However, his mild-mannered shyness really endeared him to us (or at least to me). Also, he sounds a lot like Teddy Geiger, one of my favourite artistes, which really worked in his favour. His rendition of Oasis’ “So Sally Can Wait” was a real crowd pleaser, which got members of the audience to sing the chorus together with him. Some may complain that the abrupt spontaneity disrupts the event, but I think it lends the event a cosy feel which the event orgnizers endeavoured to promote. To round up the evening, IMPROVables, NUS’s very own improv club, took to the stage. The improv group produced mixed impressions overall. Some may have felt like the improvisations were a little contrived and unprofessional, but I will give this group the benefit of being new to the local entertainment scene.
Overall, this year’s EPM would have been nicer if they invited the previous year’s poetry performers again, to add to the “poetry” that the event promises. It is a real pity that there was not much publicity promoting the event, because the EPM has a quiet, sparkling quality that is quite charming. This listener went home quite satisfied. Jonathan Meur’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/ jonathanmeurmusic For This Cycle’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/forthiscycle
MOVIE PREEEEVIEW!! Buried up to the neck with school work? Feeling bored and yet lazy to go out? Why not relax with a bag of popcorn plus a chilled drink to watch a movie?
PROMISED LAND Starring: Matt Damon, Frances McDormand, John Krasinski, Rosemarie DeWitt Hal Holbrook Release Date: 21st March 2013 Genre: Drama/inspiration/ethics Tan Mei Yin
PROMISED LAND is basically an inspirational film about two salespersons to seal a deal with a farming community. While that sounds simple enough, there are (always) complications that ensue, especially those involving ethical, and moral issues. This plot-line falls within the less covered genre of films about the living conditions of an unusual group of job-holders, whose livelihood is in close connection with the land on which they live. One of the biggest plus points of this thoughtful film is that it stars heavyweights Matt Damon and the awesome Oscar-winning Frances McDormand (loved her performance in Fargo) as the salespersons. There are definitely some light-hearted moments and superb comic timing on McDormand’s part. In the end, this film also makes you think deeply about the land (well, it is called PROMISED LAND after all): how it is farmed, how it is acquired. As Damon’s character remarks angrily in the film, “This community is dying!”; is it really the end of a farming community? I am sure the film will make you think otherwise.
BOOK REVIEWS Cloud Atlas
by David Mitchell
by Gillian Flynn
ix intertwining stories that last over 500 pages may seem like a chore to read; but I guarantee that you’ll be flipping through these pages as quickly as you can, hungry for more. The stories take place in a variety of settings, spanning more than several centuries, from an 1800s Pacific voyage to a post-apocalyptic rural village. Each story is distinct, but the message behind them is consistent: Solidarity is key, and don’t let the big guys bully you. Some fail, some do not, but the overall feel-good warmth in your heart after reading the book gives you hope for all its primary characters. Besides the fascinating plot, David Mitchell’s language in the novel is another reason to pick up this book. He manages to create a stylistic narration of older forms of speaking and writing, and creates an original language for future humans. It is intriguing to see what kinds of words and phrases Mitchell can come up with, page after page. One could agree, that though the novel is enchanting as a whole, if you took each short story out and read them separately, the stories would not seem as interesting. However, they aren’t meant to be read nor analysed separately, and the connecting themes fasten them together. Read the book, and don’t be surprised to see yourself picking up other David Mitchell books.
one Girl introduces us to Nick and Amy Dunne, a married couple who has recently moved to Missouri from New York. No. This book is not about a couple trying to fit into suburban life and relinquishing all the bad habits they cultivated in the city, but about the darkness that resides within people and how what you see is never what you get. The plot is surprisingly simple; on the day of their fifth anniversary, Nick goes home to find his wife missing. Despite constantly asserting his innocence, there are a growing number of signs that implicate him, causing everyone to doubt the town’s golden boy. Believing that Amy is still alive, Nick embarks on a journey with the only person who trusts him, his twin sister, to find his wife and prove his innocence. However, such a daunting task proves to be increasingly impossible as Nick’s own skeletons in the closet start rattling even louder. Like her other novels, Gillian Flynn does not shy away from delving into the twisted and gritty world that exists within people’s minds and the extents they will go to in order to achieve their desires. Under her careful guidance, the reader is made to meander through a shocking turn of events that might eventually leave them reeling. Gone Girl is not for the faint-hearted.
WHAT’S IN Tender Is The Night
MY IPOD Tay Dixin
by F. Scott Fitzgerald
by Beach Fossils
“One writes of scars healed, a loose parallel to the pathology of the skin, but there is no such thing in the life of an individual. There are open wounds, shrunk sometimes to the size of a pin-prick but wounds still. The marks of suffering are more comparable to the loss of a finger, or of the sight of an eye. We may not miss them, either, for one minute in a year, but if we should there is nothing to be done about it.”
Shuggie by Foxygen
Quote: “People living alone get used to loneliness..” The most poignant and autobiographical of Fitzgerald’s novels, Tender Is The Night centers on the story of Dick Diver, a promising young psychoanalyst and his schizophrenic wife, Nicole. Written in the early 1930s, the book was written during Fitzgerald’s darkest years, which also makes this novel one of his bleakest. Set against the charming French Riviera, the book charts the magnificent rise and fall of the Divers’ marriage. Dick and Nicole’s initial glamour and wealth suggest a fabled existence – the charmed lives of the seriously and breathtakingly frivolous. But, as with all confidence tricks, luck runs out and they soon find themselves plagued with the doldrums and aguish of day-to-day life. Nicole’s mental demons soon begin to take their toll as Dick struggles to hold their marriage together. Fitzgerald does much to address his long-standing theme of money’s corruption and destructive power. He also reveals how much betrayal and a lack of trust can ruin a marriage. This story of a disintegrating marriage and spoilt promise parallels Fitzgerald’s personal dive into drink and despair – and, of course, the insanity that so cruelly dogged his own wife, Zelda. Tender Is The Night was Fitzgerald’s first novel in nine years, and the last that he would complete. Though it was initially received with mixed reviews and sales, it has grown in reputation over the years. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Tender Is The Night 28th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th Century. Whether or not you’re a fan of the highly prolific author, it is definitely worth a read.
Heavy Feet by Local Natives
In Another Way
by Bloody Valentine
I Want the Heartbeat
by Johnny Marr
by James Blake
To the Playground
I Follow You by Melody’s Echo Chamber
dancing in the limelight Nurshahiylia Erdina
Jocelyn Loong Hui Ting. Photo by Matthew Seah, MS Photography
The RIDGE sits down with the young dancer and recipient of the NAC Management Scholarship, Jocelyn Loong Hui Ting, for an exclusive interview on what has shaped her strong calling in the arts. The RIDGE (TR): When did you first pick up dance? Jocelyn (JL): I first started in Primary One, but I did a different genre then. TR: Oh, what did you switch from? JL: I started with ballet but I think that as you grow older and have more contact with the arts you might find yourself wanting to explore other genres such as contemporary dance, modern dance or hip hop. TR: How did you start off with ballet then, was it something that your parents pushed you into? JL: Oh, my school offered
it to me as a paid CCA. So it was actually more of a convenience, I guess, but from what I can remember my mom actually mentioned that I did not want to go for it at first. She felt it was a good thing to push for though, saying something about how girls and ballet go well together. (smiles) TR: Are you still doing ballet now or are you specialising in another genre instead? JL: Hm, I wouldn’t really say specialise… I’m teaching at a primary school for the moment so that doesn’t really require me to do a specific genre. However, I am still currently doing ballet in NUS Dance. TR: What do you teach at the primary school then?
JL: I did teach ballet for a period of time but currently I’m doing modern dance. Actually, it depends more on what the school wants. If they request something like salsa, for example, then I would try to incorporate a few elements of that into the class. TR: Do you enjoy teaching there? JL: Of course! I’m teaching the lower levels so the kids are really cute. (grins) TR: It says here that you’re a recipient of the NAC Management Scholarship. What are some of the responsibilities involved in being its recipient? JL: I would have to say that
NAC has been more or less lenient with me. Most of my responsibility involves more in making sure that I maintain my CAP, so that would be my main concern. They count it on a year-by-year basis so though, so it gives me a little bit of leeway to explore the arts. I don’t just have to concentrate on my studies. There’s quite a good amount of freedom there in that sense. They did offer me an internship over the holidays so I would go back there to work for them if I can. TR: Can you tell me some of the opportunities that the scholarship has managed to open up for you? JL: I look at their 4-year bond as an opportunity to continue working in the arts scene. It
Jocelyn Loong Hui Ting during L’Amour de Danse concert in 2012. Photo by Matthew Seah, MS Photography
would have been more difficult to do that if I simply graduate as an NUS student without the bond. It provides a very good opening. Apart from that, there was the awards ceremony the NAC held with the recipients and this helped expose me to the other arts practitioners out there too. There were some who were interested in very specialised forms of arts, things that I didn’t even know existed, so that was great. TR: There’s always been a sort of stigma attached to the arts in Singapore. Certainly, this has eased off compared to the past, but what are your thoughts on this? JL: I still do experience that now. For example, whenever I mention NAC everyone will always ask me what the acronym means. It’s just not as well known. However, I’ve always thought that the arts scene wasn’t dead to begin with. It’s there. It’s just unrecognised and it’s up to
NAC Management Scholarship 2012 recipient - Jocelyn Loong Hui Ting. Photo from National Arts Council
you to jump into that pool.
TR: As a dancer is there anything in particular that you do to prep yourself before you get out there on stage?
TR: So it depends more on the surroundings for you?
JL: Yep, I usually make sure I at least have a minute alone to visualise the dance from start till end, including all the steps and any potential troubles that might happen. Say, if the lights malfunction or something, what would I do so I don’t get caught off-guard or panic. I will walk myself through the item. TR: Is there a favourite dance or performance so far? One that stood out in particular for you? JL: That’s difficult to say, but I’ve enjoyed working more under certain people because of the styles they work with and the way they teach… The way they carry themselves, I guess. It’s more about the journey and the people I dance with than
JL: Yes, a lot. I could be dancing something like the chicken dance, but if it’s with people who are passionate and there’s a good teacher, I still wouldn’t mind. TR: Have you received any valuable advice from a good teacher then? JL: My choreographer once said when you’re dancing: Don’t think about anything else. Don’t let anything distract you from what you’re doing - not your home, your handphone, or anything else. You should be whole hearted and commit yourself to the full 100%. Only when you’re able to do that would the time be worth it. TR: Any parting words for all the arts practitioners out there?
JL: Yes, a lot actually. (laughs) But I’ll try to control myself. I would have to say that it really is a journey, and if you start it with the right frame of mind, it won’t hurt you as badly when you get negative comments or criticism. I feel that for the performing arts, especially, there can be a lot of jealousy involved and the field can get quite nasty. Certainly, this is because all of the practitioners are passionate and they’re all vying for the leading role. They want to put themselves in a better position. This might be disheartening for younger artists though, so I always make sure to remind my juniors that so long as you’re happy with what you’re doing, there’s no need to care about what other people say. You can be chucked in the corner of the room, but if you’re passionate, you can still feel happy. Even if you don’t dance all that well, it doesn’t matter so long as you feel you yourself have grown as a better person.
THE ART OF THE BRICK
Photo from musingsonpenang.blogspot.in
Photo from thewackyduo.com
athan Sawaya is a genius. Do not worry if you have no idea who he is, by the end of this article you will have some grasp of his genius. Partly because I am a little obsessed with him, and also because his exhibition made me rethink the whole ‘getting a university degree thing’ and give up my education to play with Lego. Yes, you heard that right. Why would I be tempted to even think of making this ridiculously random life-change? (Well, it certainly worked for Nathan Sawaya!) But who is Nathan Sawaya? He is the mastermind behind the new exhibition in the Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Musem, ‘The Art of the Brick’. The exhibit is devoted to Sawaya’s sculptures, which he crafts not out of fancy art materials but a toy that we all grew up playing with – Lego! He gave up a lucrative career in Law to pursue his passion – a
passion that stemmed from the very first Lego set he received as a Christmas gift as a child. And judging by the throngs of people in the ArtScience museum when I was there (seriously, I could barely move), his passion is now his money-maker as well! The exhibit has 52 sculptures in total, but some interesting ones stand out. The star piece is the sculpture ‘Yellow’ – a bust of a man fully constructed with yellow Lego pieces tearing his chest in frustration, sending a barrage of loose bricks tumbling down. Does this signify release? Mental or physical breakdown? Sheer frustration? Well, according to Sawaya, his creations can be interpreted any way you want – that is ‘The Art of the Brick’. By now, you must be thinking that this exhibition is quite a pretentious one that probably requires more ‘analysis’ than you
do in your term papers! But that’s the great thing about ‘The Art of the Brick’. Just as your head is getting too heavy with themes of life, death and body image, you will enter a room that contains a 6 metre-long T-Rex skeleton – all made out of Lego, of course. And the inspiration behind this sculpture? Nothing profound here – it is simply Sawaya’s tribute to the thousands of children who have visited his exhibits all over the world!
while you neither have to be a kid nor an art student to enjoy ‘The Art of the Brick’, one thing is for sure – after this exhibition, you are no longer going to see Lego as just that silly thing you used to construct haphazard buildings when you were four!
I highly recommend purchasing the audio guide for six dollars, which comes in the form of an iPod. Yes, it is rather pricey, but totally worth it – you will not get such detailed explanations for each sculpture from the plaques placed beside them. I promise you that the audio commentary is not boring. In fact, it really helps you appreciate all of Sawaya’s creations – they are more than just pieces of Lego glued together! So
And even if you do not have time to check out the exhibition, you can read about the different Lego sculptures online at http://www. marinabaysands.com/SingaporeEntertainment/Shows/The-Art-ofthe-Brick-Exhibition-Catalogue/.
To learn more about ‘Art of the Brick’ (It is running till April 14, 2013), you can go to http://www. marinabaysands.com/SingaporeMuseum/Whats-On/.
A JANE AUSTEN EDUCATION Nicole Kang
wo hundred years ago, Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice was published on January 28. Sold for one hundred pounds to a publisher, her second novel was regarded a success, but Austen did not get to witness the massive following that would have developed in the next two centuries. Perhaps Austen may not understand the
like a feel of Pride & Prejudice without being burdened by too much cheem language, perhaps you could get started on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a YouTube vlog started by Bernie Su and John Green. This is one of the best versions I have watched so far and you will definitely not be disappointed by the plot and eye candy.
If you’re a closet Janeite or wish to saturate yourself in all things Jane Austen, here is a rough education guide to get you started on Jane Austen.
2. Watch plenty of period dramas!
1. Watch the different television and movie adaptations of Austen’s novels Other than the 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice (the one that most people are familiar with), there are plenty of choice adaptations of Austen’s novels out there. My personal favourites are Sense & Sensibility (1995 and 2008) and Northanger Abbey (2007) and can be easily found on YouTube! If you think that Austen’s novels were prudish or “daguerrotyped portrait of a common-place face” (Charlotte Bronte said that, gasp!), these adaptations are quite sexy and fraught with scandal. However, if you would actually
If you have completely devoured the DVDs and television series, you are on your way to becoming a period drama zombie. What better way to complete the process than to watch Downton Abbey? Based in the Edwardian era, Downton Abbey follows the fate of three sisters as the fate of their home is in the hands of a distant cousin. If following the ups and downs of the aristocracy is not enough to satisfy you, the servants’ affairs are enough to keep one glued to the screen or seat. 3. Attend a Regency Tea As a loyal member of the Jane Austen Circle of Singapore (JACS), I have had my fair share of tea, scones and gowns but have not grown tired of the decorum. Sure, it is an excuse to play dress-up
Photo from wallpaperen.com
Photo by Angeline Kang
but it is a nice way of escaping from reality. Not to mention that JACS also organizes dramatized readings that give the audience a chance to peer into her novels. They are not as good as the movies, but the intimate setting invites you to pay attention to the novels. The best thing about being a Janeite is that when two or more gather in one place, you will never lack conversation because you have a common passion. And even if you’re not that crazy about her novels, their enthusiasm is too hard to resist! Follow their activities on www. www.facebook.com/pages/JaneAusten-Circle-Singapore/, or e-mail email@example.com to add yourself to the mailing list.
Photo from berniesu.tumblr.com
4. Actually read Pride & Prejudice or her other novels There is no better way of appreciating Pride & Prejudice than reading the novel. Of course, I do not only say this because I am an English major. If you have read any book that has been turned into a movie, you will surely agree that “the book was better”. If you want to know more about Austen, you should probably start with Pride & Prejudice and slowly work your way through her other novels. It takes awhile to get into the groove of the language, but I promise that you won’t regret it. My education started five years ago, and I don’t think I have looked back since.
THE UNIVERSITY SOCIALIST CLUB AN A HISTORY OF N STUDENT POLITIC Edgar Liao
What do Professor Tommy Koh, Mr S.R. Nathan, Professor Wang Gungwu, and Professor Edwin Thumboo have in common, other than being distinguished alumni of NUS? The answer might surprise the recent generations of NUS students. Few know that they were, during their undergraduate days, members of the University’s first and most prominent student political club - The University Socialist Club (USC). It is a name more familiar to early batches of NUS students from the University’s earlier days as the University of Malaya and University of Singapore. The USC is the subject of a new academic work published by the Amsterdam University Press and NUS Press, and co-authored by four alumni of the NUS History Department, Dr Loh Kah Seng, Edgar Liao, Seng Guo-quan and Lim Cheng Tju. It is based on oral history interviews, foreign archives, student publications, and published material, including the the Fajar Generation – a book of memoirs and testimonies that members of the USC have published themselves three years earlier in 2010.
A BOOK OF MEMOIRS AND TESTIMONIES”
The book examines the Club’s founding on 21 February 1953 and subsequent activism and participation in the heady and volatile post-World War II climate of decolonization where the returned British colonial government’s efforts at managed decolonization converged and collided with the different strands of local nationalisms and visions of a post-colonial Malayan modernity advanced by a plethora of awakening and awoken nationalist groups, including the University Socialists. It is both befitting and ironic that the first political activists of an institution set up to train and nurture the future statesmen of the new postcolonial state, and of a student political club permitted by the British to be established as part of the latter’s attempt to inculcate liberal-democratic (but non-transgressive) political discussion and debate, should rise to the occasion by making the overthrow of the colonial masters one of their key objectives.
Other than colonialism, they identified communalism as a second problem, recognizing that change must come in the form of not just the political system, but also the political and economic relationships between ethnic communities in Singapore and Malaya. As they pursued their vision of an independent, noncommunal and socialist modern Malaya inclusive of Singapore, different generations of University Socialists attempted to assert leadership on campus and forged connections with other students, social and political groups within the pluralistic political landscape within the Malayan peninsula and Singapore.
FROM COLONIAL BEGINNINGS TO A NATIONAL UNIVERSITY”
For alumni and existing members of NUS, for student leaders and student activists, the book presents a slice of NUS’s history in its early years as it transformed from its colonial beginnings to a national university charged with the responsibility of leading
the new Singapore’s nation’s development. The focus is on student life and student politics, as the University Socialists and their other allies and opponents in the University of Malaya in Singapore and other educational institutions in Singapore and Malaya attempted to have a say and play a role in post-colonial nation-building. Student activism was certainly not the sole domain of the students from the Chinese-medium middle schools or Nanyang University. The University Socialist Club was part of a landscape of student activism in the University of Malaya (and later the University of Singapore), where the student publications of the day (e.g. the Students’ Union’s Undergrad and the USC’s Fajar) regularly featured both measured commentary and emphatic polemics on international, national and campus issues, and where student leaders and activists rallied and argued over causes (and not CORS) like political freedoms, student rights and welfare, and occasionally, the right to rag without recrimination or retribution (ragging meant a very different thing then).
B AND THE CONTEST FOR MALAYA OF NUS’S FIRST OLITICAL CLUB
Images of the FAJAR publication which got 8 student members of the editorial team in trouble.. Scans by Edgar Liao
For enthusiasts and students of Singapore history, the book is another contribution to the recent Singapore historiography that aim to recover and return pluralism, nuance and veracity to our understanding of the complex period and processes between the end of the Second World War and Singapore’s first decade as an independent sovereign nation. An important chapter in the book focuses on the Fajar Trial of May 1954. Eight student members of the editorial board of Fajar, the USC’s publication, were arrested by the local colonial authorities for alleged sedition. The evidence? An editorial in a Fajar issue entitled “Aggression in Asia”, which had criticized the Anglo-American initiative to form the Southeast Asian Treaty Organization then as a sign of continuing Western imperialism. One of the eight charged included a first year Arts student named Edwin Thumboo. The eight were subsequently defended and acquitted with the help of a Queen’s Counsel D.N. Pritt, assisted by a local lawyer named Lee Kuan Yew. This Trial proved significant to the eventual formation of the People’s Action
Party, whom the Socialist Club first supported but eventually collided and entangled with from the 1960s up till the Club’s deregistration in 1972. The book uses the complex history of the Socialist Club to understand and illuminate the complex party and student politics involved, as it found both friends and opponents, political or ideological, along its obstacle-ridden path of trying to bring about an independent socialist united Malaya inclusive of Singapore.
The book launch for “The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya: Tangled Strands of Modernity” will be held on 28 March 2013, Thursday at BookHaven (UTown, NUS) The University Socialist Club and the Contest for Malaya is also available for sale at a student’s discount at BookHaven, NUS Coop and NUS Press. For further enquiries or if you would like to place an order, please contact orders.nuspress@ nus.edu.sg.
SUPPER HO Choi Yik Heng
The Supper has more or less become a staple of your average universi (Singaporean) college experience. I suppose we just like our food! In a
n Ka y u F o od
Jalan Kayu is home to arguably, the most famous roti prata shops like Thasevi Famous Jalan Kayu Prata Restaurant and Jalan Kayu Cafeela Roti Prata. The former was dethroned as the best roti prata in recent years as the young crowd turn to the latter. Still, it remains a popular favourite! Besides roti prata, they also serve Malay and Indian cuisine! Other shophouses along the stretch include California Pizza and Mad Jacks. For non-halal restaurants, Jerry’s offers good old American fare while Spizza houses my
Craving some ice-cream and waffles? Why not head to the Udders branch at Upper Thomson Road, a local food haven in its own right. This Udders branch also closes the latest.
ta l J a d r y s e
241/241A Holland Ave
Fancy a xiao long bao (pork dumpling) buffet at night? Spend it with a group of (hungry) friends at this Crystal Jade outlet at Holland Village! They operate until midnight, although reservations are necessary. While tedious to call through, a few more times should do the trick! Besides the dumplings, their buffet package also includes a sumptuous steamboat buffet spread; all for just about $30!
M Ia n Xi a
g Ba o
233/237/239 Jalan Kayu Singapore 799493
S t re et
246D Upper Thomson Road Singapore 574370 “ Milking hours: Monday to Thursday: 12 noon to 1am Friday, Saturday, Sunday and eve of PH: 12 noon to 2am *Last order for pancakes and waffles: Monday to Thursday: 12.30am Friday, Saturday, Sunday and eve of PH: 1.30am ”
ah Chee 5 Dover Crescent
#01-02, Dover Court
Orange: Ch Green: Hal
a Ko r
17 Jiak Kim Street Singapore 169420
o K ko N a Kk r
by t h e R eM
Ho 12 Clementi Rd Singapore 129742
otd o g S kH
1 Nanson Road #01-05,
Located right outside Zouk, this hotdog stand will satiate your hunger, or at least whet your appetite after a night of partying!
The Gallery Hotel Singapore Singapore 238909 Besides serving daily brunch, they open till 2am on weekdays and 3am on weekends! There is a special for Mojitos on Saturday nights (9pm to 11pm), so perhaps have some drinks before hitting Filter right next door!
C h i c ke n
A favourite amongst those living in NUS, Ameen sells a wide variety of food ranging from local favourites like nasi goreng and naans (consumption recommended with steaming butter chickens), to Western fare!
n M a ka ee
Wah Chee is just a stop away from those living in UTown and serves all your delicious “zi-char” favourites! Popular dishes include their calamari with salted yolk and assorted variations of fried rice! Unfortunately, opening hours do not go beyond midnight.
57 Tras Stree #01-0 Singapore 07899
Kko Kko is located just along those shophouses near Tanjong Pagar MRT station. Nothing beats some cold beer and a serving of hearty Korean fried chicken! They open until 3am daily, with last orders at 2am.
HOTSPOTS Choi Yik Heng
185/187/189/191 Jalan Besar Singapore 208882
Swee Choon offers a sumptuous and arguably one of the most affordable arrays of dim sum from 6pm to 6am daily except Tuesdays. Favourites include the salted egg yolk -custard buns (liu sha baos), prawn and banana fritters, fried custard pumpkin and the house special, Swee Choon mee-suah kueh.
It can get crowded though, especially during peak supper hours, so head uphill to Serangoon Gardens Food Centre and enjoy their famous kway chap, fried kway
ize S u p p
This hawker centre is probably one of the most famous ones in Singapore! Besides their famous BBQ stingrays and oyster omelettes (Ang Sa Lee Fried Oyster), the hokkien mee stall (Ah Hock Fried Hokkien Mee) is also popular amongst regulars.
o o n Ti m
Fo o d Ce
Serangoon Gardens 20 Kensington Park Rd Singapore 557269
m R e s ta u
37/239 Jalan Kayu Singapore 799493
most famous roti u Prata Restaurant s dethroned as the turn to the latter. i prata, they also s along the stretch halal restaurants, pizza houses my
m p Cho
average university student’s diet. Call it a must-do for the quintessential like our food! In any case, here is a list of my favourite supper hotspots!
Simpang Bedok | 336 Bedok Road | Singapore 469512
207 River Valley Road | #01-57, UE Square | Singapore 239917
Spize is probably the most popular shophouse in Simpang, especially for late night suppers! Their menu comprises of all your local favourites like pratas and nasi pattayas to Western food like cheese fries and burgers, and even dessert! Cheap, good and spacious with just the right amount of buzz, this is probably the perfect place for supper with friends! They have another branch at River Valley as well.
D in in g Ba r
Legend: Red: Western (Non-Halal) Orange: Chinese/Korean/Japanese
e B e er M a
Besides being a national favourite in South Korea, Tom n Toms operates 24 hours and serves filling pastries such as filled pretzels and an assortment of thick toasts. If you’re near town, this café is a great alternative to the Starbucks at UTown for latenight studying and catch-ups.
located just along houses near Tanjong station. Nothing cold beer and a hearty Korean fried hey open until 3am last orders at 2am.
12 Gopeng Street Icon Village (Tanjong Pagar MRT)
r E a sy R e s t
57 Tras Street, #01-01 Singapore 078996
n To m s C o ffe
Green: Halal food
En Japanese Dining Bar’s River Valley Branch has an early bird discount from 6-8pm, where you can enjoy 50% off any sushi, sashimi and hand roll from the ala carte menu. They open till 3am (last order 2.20am) during Friday and Saturday, other days (Sunday-Thursday) are till midnight.
1 Fullerton Road #01-06, Fullerton Hotel Singapore 049213
3B River Valley Road #01-17/02-02, Clarke Quay Singapore 179021
OverEasy not only offers a wide variety of Western fare - enjoy an all-day breakfast selection, burgers and desserts - they also serve drinks into the wee hours in town! They open till 1am (last order 10.30pm) on weekdays and 4.30am on weekends (last order 3.30am).
At the Beer Market, as with a stock exchange, beer prices move according to the laws of demand and supply. Novelty aside, they serve a wide variety of beer from all over the world and a tantalizing palette of finger foods, pizzas and pastas! They’re open from 6pm to 2am on Mondays to Thursdays, and 6pm to 3am on Fridays to Sundays.
NUS SPOOKY EN Teresa Widodo
WA R N I N G : T H I S A R T I C L E I S N O T F O R
s a university student, many a time we have to stay on campus until late at night and walk home alone. Some of us who are ‘sensitive’ enough might feel goose bumps while walking in some areas in campus at night. It is not a secret that almost every place has their unique ghost stories to tell. NUS is no exception. The RIDGE brings you a few of the most infamous ghost stories and spooky places in NUS from various sources. T H E H E A DL E S S G H O S T A headless ghost is commonly seen roaming around various spots in NUS Campus. Best known as Pontianak in Malay, the
headless lady was once seen crawling on a ceiling of one of the canteens in NUS Kent Ridge Campus. Besides various sightings of Pontianak in Kent Ridge CampAus, one of the most infamous stories occurred at the Bukit Timah Campus (BTC). In 2009, NUS decided to put up a signboard warning people about the headless ghost wandering around the BTC after the ghost was exposed in the Sin Chew Daily. Some witnesses confirmed the existence of the headless ghost dressed in all white around the upper quadrant of Federal
Building. Along with the headless ghost, there are other spirits which are acknowledged through the warning. Lights were switched on and off repeatedly while some Japanese soldiers were believed to briskly march up and down the corridors. In some classrooms, chairs and tables were thrown about at night. There was also a story about a mystic elevator that operated on its own. Regarding the notice placed, a university spokesman, as quoted in AsiaOne, said that the signboard was one of nine signboards placed along Campus Heritage Trail that aimed to tell the history and major events reported in the campus in the past
to help visitors know more about the university. T H E H AU N T E D H A L L S The old Kent Ridge Halls building located in Kent Ridge Crescent was once haunted by a female spirit in search of her child. At night, some people would hear long, sorrowful wails and cries. Rumour has it that the hall office hired a Chinese shaman to stop the wailings. A door that opened up to the place of the spirit’s lost child was then built as instructed by the shaman. The steep slope surrounding King Edward VII Halls was also
KY ENCOUNTERS Teresa Widodo
Photo from gjrblogger04.wordpress.com
C L E I S N O T F O R T H E FA I N T-H E A R T E D
believed to be haunted. There are various versions of the ghost story. It is believed that an NUS undergraduate once slipped and fell to his/her death on the slope. Another version involved an undergarment thief who ran down the slope to escape the authorities and also ended up falling to his death. S OU T H BU ONA V I S TA ROA D Years back, a driver witnessed a ghostly sighting on South Buona Vista Road located near NUHS and Kent Ridge MRT. The driver was known to be a
careful driver and not drunk that night. She was aware of some dangerous bends along the road. As she was reaching one of the bends, she slowed down when a lady suddenly appeared in the middle of the dark lane. She did not manage to stop her car and drove straight into the lady. She quickly stopped the car and the driver of a vehicle behind her brought a flashlight and went down the road to help them. Neither of the drivers could find the victim. T H E WOM A N I N B LU E Numerous janitors witnessed
a woman dressed in blue regularly ‘visiting’ the female toilet on level three of the Oei Tiong Ham block, Bukit Timah Campus, at night. The janitor noticed strange sound from an occupied cubicle only to find that a woman with long and flowy blue skirt emerged from the cubicle after some time. Upon re-entering the toilet after a while, the janitor found the woman had vanished out of the blue. I sincerely apologize for making your night jogs around the school several times scarier than before (trust me; it is more frightening to write the article).
On the bright side, this can be your excuse not to stay on campus late at night and get a good night’s sleep at home instead. Have your own spooky experiences in NUS? Share them on our website (http://www. studentry.sg)
BRAIN BOOSTERS & DISTRACTION TROOPERS Photo from medinewsdigest.com
“I have the memory of a goldfish and the attention span of a three-year old.” Does this remind you of somebody? Is that somebody you? As we trudge further into the semester with more facts and formulas thrown our way each day, it gets increasingly challenging to remember every single nitty-gritty detail that we’ve been taught. Fret not, for there is always room for improvement -- even for your memory and concentration levels. Peh Yi Wen
et’s start with the basicsfood. Your brain requires an adequate intake of nutrients to function well and enhance its ability to focus. What you consume will eventually affect your overall well-being. NO G R A I N S , NO G A I N Opt for whole-grains such as oatmeal, whole-grain bread and brown rice as they increase the flow of blood into the brain. Blood transports oxygen and nutrients to cells in the rest of the body including the brain, which enhances the performance of the brain.
GO NUTS Nuts are perfect for students who like to snack while they study. Research has shown that the antioxidant power of vitamin E in nuts has shown to improve memory and prevent cognitive decline. Good quality fats can be found in nuts such as pecans, walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds.
Photo from freegreatpicture.com
E N T E R T H E DA R K SI DE
BE R RY U P
S W E AT I T OU T
Good news for all you sweet tooths out there! Dark chocolate contains large amounts of flavonoids, which boost blood flow to key areas of our brain for two to three hours. The increase in blood flow enhances cognitive performance and general alertness over a short period.
Besides being blue, juicy and sweet, blueberries contain flavonoids that may improve memory, learning and general cognitive function. Studies have shown that blueberries contain more antioxidants than most other fruits and they even offer protection against memory changes caused by ageing. If blue isn’t your colour, strawberries and blackberries are options too.
While it does wonders for your physical health, cardio exercises like running or cycling increases your heart rate, which helps to pump more oxygen and glucose to the brain. In addition, it aids in reducing stress while lifting moods and improving attention levels. Of course, even with alertness levels of meerkats, most of us grapple with the problem of distractions thanks or no thanks to the many sights and sounds that our senses pick up each day.
Photo from shape.com
Introducing these friendly elements into your diet is just the tip of the iceberg to boosting your brainpower. It’s time to meet and greet some healthy habits that may run along nicely with your new year’s resolutions.
E G G ON C AT C H T H E M Z S A good provider of the all important omega-3 fatty acids that protect against cognitive decline and memory loss, eggs contain the key chemical that has been found to boost memory in people -- choline. With apparently more than 100 ways to cook them, they are definitely great to ‘eggsperiment’ with. Boiled, scrambled, poached, coddled, fried -- your pick!
As difficult as it may be to clock in a good 7-9 hours of sleep every night with our busy schedules at hand, sleep deprivation will only compromise your creativity, problem-solving abilities and critical thinking skills. Sleep is vital to learning and absolutely necessary for memory consolidation. You snooze, you lose, they say? I beg to differ.
C H O O SE YOU R BAT T L E G ROU N D W I SE LY A conducive environment is key in battling unwanted interferences. Create your own concentration bubble by first choosing a quiet or comfortable place to study. If you can’t study at home like me, head to the library, a study room or a quiet café. Being surrounded by other students with that same purpose may induce herd mentality. Minimize audio and visual notices
Yes, that means preferably having your phones on airplane mode, keeping away from the blaring television and even disconnecting from the Internet. Combat your urge to refresh your Twitter feed and focus on your specific task till you are ready to move on. BREA K IT U P Avoid studying for 3 hours straight. Instead, take a fifteenminute breather after every 45 minutes. Taking mental breaks will help to focus for a longer period of time. Make yourself a refreshing cup of tea or take a walk and stretch those legs. However, be sure to keep your breaks short to keep the momentum going. It’s never too late to bolster your mind or kick-start these healthy habits to boost your productiveness during your academic journey. No harm in introducing good into your life either! Ultimately, these methods of boosting your brainpower and keeping distractions at bay are based on your personal preferences. If listening to music keeps you going, good! It is what works for you that truly matters.
Photo from cookingchanneltv.com
REVIEW: SHOPHOUSE T Sharifah Nursyafiqah
hophouse The Social Hostel is Singapore’s “first indie boutique backpacker hostel.” The brainchild of 28 year-olds, Calvin Seah and Mustaffa Kamal – both NUS graduates – Shophouse was inspired by their own travels and experiences. Located right along popular tourist destination Arab Street, getting to the Shophouse should not be too much trouble for locals, or travellers armed with a map. This is convenient for backpackers looking to settle in the heart of one of Singapore’s cultural districts, being just a quick walk away from the rows of textile stores selling cloth in kaleidoscope colours, and rich scents and flavors of the local food sold at every turn. The choice of location was a deliberate
one – according to Calvin, as Arab Street provides the “location, charm and less mess” associated with traditional tourists hotspots like Chinatown or Little India. Shophouse has five floors in total, with the first floor is rented out to nearby Café Le Caire, where guests can conveniently grab a bite at any time. Six different dorms are housed on the second floor onwards, outfitted with themes such as that of the six-bed mixed dorm called ‘Arab St’ – an Arabic themed room featuring kooky light fixtures and a cushioned lounge area. The third level comprises of exclusively female-only dorms. Quirkily termed ‘No Man’s Land’, requiring special key card access
to enter and features both eightbed and twelve-bed female dorms, as well as private bathroom facilities and powder room. The rooms themselves are spacious, fully air-conditioned and equipped with individual lockers and Wi-Fi (as the whole hostel is), as well as comfortable beds outfitted with clean sheets. What could be exhausting though, is tromping up and down the central spiral staircase, which cannot be helped given the nature of the place as part of a heritage site. Shophouse has a wide rooftop area – the ‘Social Terrace’, decorated with an eclectic mix of charmingly mismatched furniture (including a table fashioned from a door) – that encourages casual mingling among guests. This space is a
big selling point for the hostel – and one can easily see why. The open space offers a great view of the Kampong Glam area, and relaxed seating space encourages interaction between guests during the day or night. The pantry offers all-day breakfast food, while more communal spaces can be found in the ‘Social Lounge’. The Lounge is equipped with books on travel, movies, a couple of iMacs and even a PS3 for guests’ use. Nightfall is arguably when Haji Lane is most alive. From the Social Terrace you can hear strains of distant conversation and thumping beats of music streaming out from bars, and the heady scent of flavored smoke that tinges the air. The view from the rooftop is quite a sight
SE THE SOCIAL HOSTEL whose lives can be so different or similar in many respects to your own, and have that translate into the camaraderie of shared experiences.
- overlooking bright streetlights of the Arab Street district and being surrounded by towering buildings. This shows how the location of Shophouse works in its favour – being located in the heart of areas buzzing with activity at night lends to the electric feel of the place along streets that do not sleep. This could be both a perk and a drawback – guests can seamlessly delve into the bustling night scene Arab Street has to offer, yet those disturbed by faint traces of music filtering into the rooms can grab foam ear plugs readily available at the front desk.
Possibly the answer to the appeal of the place was right in its name. That the Shophouse markets itself as – and lives up to – being a “social hostel,” is an enticing draw. You meet a myriad of people and get glimpses into their lives – from the American man here for research purposes, to our Thai roommate in Singapore on her business trip, or the German boys that settled in after a day of sightseeing around the city. The appeal of such an open environment is that it fosters a comfortable and familial spirit in a place. Part of the thrill of travelling is meeting new people
For locals, the social experience is almost akin to going abroad – with creature comforts of home still at your disposal. Mustaffa told us of how some guests check in alone, and through engaging with other guests, they find like-minded travellers to explore Singapore with, and ultimately leave as friends. Friendly staff and owners that make it a point to learn the guests’ names add to this social experience. This is something that sets Shophouse apart from other forms of accommodation, being beyond just a cheap place to crash, and this contrast is most starkly felt as you have warm conversations on the Social Terrace looking out at looming hotels that seem almost impersonal in contrast. The place sees a diverse range of visitors from a myriad of places, as seen in the photos of past guests that adorn a ‘Wanderwall.’ While the targeted demographic of this place is young backpacking travellers, the place seems quite a lure for locals as well, with the Shophouse having seen bachelorette parties in the female-
only dorms. Calvin and Mustaffa have plans to further expand the social element of the Shophouse by hosting regular social activities – such as movie nights, festivals and the like. So why not have a go at being a tourist in your own country – Shophouse would be a wonderful place to consider doing so.
Shophouse the Social Hostel is located at 48 Arab Street Singapore, Singapore 199745 Prices begin at $28, with NUS students and friends enjoying $4 off published rates. Find out more on rooms and rates at www.shophousehostel.com.
THE BUSY STUDENT’S GUIDE TO FAST (HOME-COOKED) FOOD: PART II Rachel Ong
n January, The RIDGE showed you recipes that you can cook for yourself, even with the spatial constraints of the smallest dorm pantries. While we are on the topic of tiny cooking spaces, it must be acknowledged that the lack of space can be a real party pooper if you are looking to organize a dinner gathering. But it is possible to whip up enough food to entertain a small crowd. I once lived in a shoebox-sized apartment in Melbourne with my best friend, and our pantry consisted of one stovetop burner, a sink, and barely enough space in between to place anything else. Even so, our mutual love for cooking eventually grew into a weekly ritual of inviting friends over and making them a dinner that never failed to draw praise. The food was never fancy, but take it from the Italians—sometimes the best food is the simplest to make, and a few rightly combined ingredients can make absolute magic. This month, we want to give you recipes you can use to cook for your friends, family or even that special someone—recipes you won’t be struggling with even if you are or a tight budget, or have never picked up a spatula in your life.
covered with aluminum foil, and bake for 25-30 minutes. 2. For the soba noodle dressing, place all the ingredients for the noodles, except the soba, in a large serving bowl and stir well. 3. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Put in the soba noodles and cook for 6-8 minutes. Drain noodles and add to the dressing immediately. Toss the noodles in the dressing. Serve the noodles with the honey-roasted chicken. Skillet Lasagna Adapted from Cook’s Country’s Skillet Suppers, serves 2-3 Sesame soy soba with honey-roasted chiicken. Photo from difoodie.com
Sesame soy soba with honeyroasted chicken Adapted from Nigella Lawson, serves 2. This Japanese-inspired noodle dish goes from stove to stomach in under 30 minutes, and it is just as easy as it is addictive.
• • •
1 tablespoon honey 1 tablespoon sesame oil 5 spring onions, thinly sliced
For the chicken: • • • • •
2 boneless chicken thighs 2 tablespoons honey 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 garlic clove 1 tablespoon sesame oil
For the noodles: • • •
250g soba noodles 1 tablespoon rice vinegar (Mirin) 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Place all the ingredients for the chicken in a bowl and mix to combine. Lay chicken pieces on a baking tray
This is a fuss-free version of lasagna that takes half the time that traditional lasagna would take to make, but does not compromise any flavor. Serve it right in the pan and let your guests dig into it themselves. This is supposed to be no-frills cooking after all—the messier, the better! • • • • • • • •
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 medium onion, minced 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 garlic clove, minced 250 grams ground beef/pork 5 lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch pieces ½ cup tomato sauce/puree
• • • • • • • • •
Skillet Lasagna Photo from traceysculinaryadventures.blogspot.com
• • •
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese 1/2 cup cottage cheese/ cream cheese 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add the olive oil. When it begins to simmer, add the diced onion and salt and cook for 5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add in the garlic and meat, breaking it apart with your spatula. Cook until the meat is nicely browned.
Butter & Garlic Mussels Adapted from A Cozy Kitchen, Serves 2 Don’t be fooled by the fancy façade of mussels. They are one of the easiest shellfish to cook and the delicate taste of the mussels makes a good canvas for simple but indulgent flavors.
250 grams of mussels 1 tablespoon flour 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 shallot, minced 1 garlic clove, minced 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes ½ cup white wine Salt
open, they are done. Serve with hot toasted slices of baguette!
1. Place the mussels in a bowl filled with cold water. Mix in two tablespoons of flour and allow them to rest for 30 minutes. This is so that the mussels can release any trapped sand. Drain the mussels and discard any that are not shut. 2. In a frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until translucent. Add the white wine and crushed red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes. 3. Then, cover the pan with a lid or aluminum foil and cook for 3 more minutes. When the mussels are all
2. Add the broken noodles to the pan on top of the ground meat. Add the diced tomatoes along with their juice, tomato sauce/ puree and ¼ cup of water over the noodles. Do not stir the mixture. Cover with a lid or aluminum foil. Bring the liquid to a simmer and cook for about 20 minutes until the noodles are tender. 3. Turn of the heat, stir in the Parmesan cheese and drop spoonfuls of the cottage cheese on top of the lasagna. Sprinkle with the chopped basil and serve.
Butter & Garlic Mussels Photo from northendfish.com
WHAT WE NEED TO LEARN AT UNIVERSITY Sandeep Paul
he ‘A’ level results has just been released not too long ago, most of the new Junior College graduates will now obsess over two words - “university life”. The words trigger a wave of emotions; an unholy mix of excitement and fear for those yet to experience it, nostalgia for those who have and a swirly concoction of emotions for those who are currently living it. What purpose does university life really serve? Suppose the answer I give is that a university education is more than just learning from lectures or that university makes you a complete human being, you would say that I am using clichés. But what’s wrong with a cliché? After all, an idea that is repeated again and again should have some semblance of correctness. Here is this phase of our life that is so unique and so invaluable. It is unique because there’s nothing like it in the world outside the confines of the lecture halls and seminar rooms. Invaluable because this is where you truly learn and I’m not talking about knowing the Multi-Variable
Photo from ntu.edu.sg
Calculus or Black-Scholes pricing equation. University is where you learn about the business of life.
Read people. Learn people. The single most significant subject of study, in my opinion, should be the people around us. Let’s face it: we’re always going to be dealing with people. So, learn how to do it well. You are surrounded by friends, class-mates, lecturers, tutors. Notice their emotions and the patterns in their behaviour. Think about what you see, do this as often as you can and you will end up a wiser person.
Throughout your life in university, the less lofty goals like doing well in examinations, getting a good internship, boosting your CV might not only take precedence but also dictate your daily 2 Chase Excellence. Success Will Follow. routines, your passions and your OK, that’s a quote from an Indian college movie. But that does not existence. make it any less true. You want an ‘A’ in your essay? Make sure that your research, your writing and your arguments are top-notch. Make And there is nothing wrong in sure you are proud of the essay that you hand in. The grade will take it being that way. The world is care of itself. materialistic (it’s always been that way) and so are we. However, 3 Keep Calm. what we shouldn’t do is let these So you have seen the popular Internet meme, “Keep Calm and Carry worldly objects of desire take On” and its many versions. It’s one of the wisest pieces of advice that away the essence of university life one can take and/or give. The mind works best when unburdened. and infringe upon what we can Imagine this: You are sitting in the examination hall and staring at an and what we should achieve in extremely challenging question. The solution warrants the best use of our time at college. your mental faculties. Panic and anxiety prevent you from focussing. You can’t think straight and you can’t remember anything. Well, it’s It is a tightrope act, no doubt simple. Keep Calm. Better? about it. Here’s my take on how to power up your time at university: 4 There’s Plenty of Time. imbibe knowledge and wisdom Don’t be disappointed by failures. Mistakes are good. Rejoice in the while aiming for the conventional lessons that they teach you. Take your time. Remember that there’s goalposts that characterize always enough time to succeed. education and here are 4 ways to do that:
EAT SHOP PLAY F
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mother or a habitual buyer of all things wonderful, you will find different deals that suit your needs in one place – the EAT SHOP PLAY book set. The Essentials book is jam packed with offers like 25% off, 50% off and 1 for 1 deals at your favorite outlets. The Indulgence book allows you to enjoy the finer things in life far more often with our exclusive ESP Card. The EAT SHOP PLAY book set is available at major bookstores like Kinokuniya, Prologue, Popular Bookstores, MPH Bookstores,
Times Bookstores and 7-Eleven. It can also be bought online at http:// www.eatshopplay.com.sg/
Shop: Bella Lunar, E Link Sports, Crocodile, Zen Gifta, White Cottage.etc
Cost is $69.95
Play: Laguna Bintan Golf Club, Megazip Adventure Park, Sentosa, California Fitness, Blade club,etc
Eg of merchants: Eat: Keystone Restaurant, Café Mosaic, Sky Lounge,etc
TIONG BAHRU BAKERY
NA I L B L I S S Sometimes, what a girl needs is a good manicure and pedicure to take the stress off recess week revision!
The 1-for-1 promotion at Cuba Libre appears to be a good deal on paper. A friend and I ordered the Pork Fajitas and a Cubano Club Burger - both of which cost $24 each - and ended up paying $12 each for dinner which was a decent price for a restaurant at Clarke Quay. Prices are also nett, which is another plus point.
Nail Bliss at One Raffles Place offers a $50 package, which includes a classic manicure and pedicure session. With a wide range of colours to choose from, the package is a perfect way to relax, unwind and come out with your nails looking fresh-off-therunway gorgeous! -----
reviewed by Isaac Wong
Tiong Bahru Bakery never disappoints our palates. Whether it is for olive bread, raisin buns or just a simple cuppa’ coffee, customers never leave the place dissatisfied. A 1-for-1 voucher only adds to the delight as customers simply have to purchase any item and get another item at around the same price or less than the first item for free! Vouchers worth getting! reviewed by Angeline Tan
Cheryl Ong used a voucher from Eat, Shop, Play and enjoyed a complimentary classic manicure (worth $20) from Nail Bliss with every purchase of a classic pedicure at $30.
5 APPS TO PLAY WHILE W TOILE Lim Wei Di
oilet-hoggers, don’t think I don’t know what you are up to in that cramped dark room. You have your phone with you and you know why you are taking so long. I don’t want to sound like I’m encouraging this (ahem) unspeakable habit, but I guess it won’t hurt to share a few apps that would help pass the time while you’re… passing as well.
Candy Crush Saga (iOS, Android, free)
Flipboard (iOS, Android, free) Flipboard is awesome, and here’s why: You get a highly customizable newsfeed in a nifty magazine layout, not to mention the intuitive page flipping function that takes you from one article to another. Flipboard is content partners with many really cool sites dedicated to every category you can think of. so you will never be bored. Photography? Flip. Fashion? Flip. Architecture? Flip. For the social media addicts out there, don’t forget to sync your accounts!
Photo from developers.facebook.com
Warning: This game will suck your life away. I can’t make up my mind about how I feel towards Candy ‘Poisonous’ Crush. I get so annoyed when I can’t get pass a level but I can’t seem to put my phone down. It’s as if I have to pass it to prove a point. Withdrawal effects kick in when you fail five rounds consecutively and have to wait 20 more minutes to get your life restored, but maybe that’s also a sign that you should stop hogging the washroom.
Photo from coolhunting.com
LE WHILING TIME IN THE OILET 03
Pimple Pop (iOS, Android, free) This is rather controversial, but I know people who actually derive gratification from bursting their own zits. I will refrain from commenting on that but Pimple Pop was made for them. Try to keep this game within the confines of your washroom unless you want some dirty looks from your friends.
Instagram (iOS, Android, free) There’s no better time to choose the perfect filter and craft the perfect caption for the photos of your dinner. Don’t forget to #hashtag ironically, or (if you prefer) nonironically for likes. Better yet, find out what your friends are up to and leave witty captions and a footprint of likes. If you don’t already know, we have a #nus hashtag too. Sometimes it can be a meme goldmine.
Photo from toprankblog.com
Flipboard (iOS, Android, free) Watch a lot of TV shows and films? Put your extensive pop culture knowledge to the test with Icon Pop Quiz. You are supposed to guess which icon represents the show or character. Can’t figure it out? Rope in the help of your friends by connecting it to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. Bring out the trivia diva in you!
Oops, I hope I didn’t just contribute to longer toilet queues in NUS.
Photo from iplay.my
exciting technolog Rohit Mukherjee In the ever-changing world of technology, every year sees innovation and engineering excellence delivered to technophiles. Here is a look at what we can expect in 2013:
FIRE FOX OS Tired of using Android or iOS? The Mozilla Foundation is releasing a revolutionary new operating system based on open web standards - Firefox OS. The developer preview for Firefox OS was released in January this year. The most exciting aspect of Firefox OS is that it embraces open web standards, which will free users from the restrictions of existing proprietary platforms. Firefox OS also provides a high degree of customizability, allowing service providers to manage customer experiences and user interface designs directly. Developers are rejoicing as the release of Firefox OS unites two categories, web applications and OS-specific applications, and will also help in the evolution of a powerful set of web APIs, allowing developers to focus on application quality rather than cross platform compatibility. As Mozilla says on their website, “The web is the platform”.
An artist’s sketch of the “smart-skin phone”
‘SMART-SKIN’ PHONES Samsung has recently filed a detailed patent for a ‘smartdevice skin’ which has the ability to wrap any digital image around the phone as a virtual texture. A layer of film will extend beyond the device screen covering the external housing. This will allow the user to choose an image and wrap it around the entire device. Samsung is planning to integrate this feature into their upcoming devices and also package this technology as accessories for older devices. The concept is futuristic and is a breakthrough in user experience design. Although Samsung may release the basic version of this device later this year, it will take some time for them to harness the full capabilities of this technology.
Screenshots of Firefox OS by mozilla.org
ology trends 2013 WIRELESS CHARGING Ever wanted to charge your mobile device while enjoying a cup of coffee at your favourite cafĂŠ? 2013 will see more smartphone manufacturers provide wireless charging capabilities in their devices.
Google co-founder Sergey Brin demonstrating Google Glasses . Photo by elitedaily.com
GOOGLE GLASSES Google Glass is a futuristic concept that integrates an LCD or AMOLED display with the software app, Google Goggles. The underlying concept behind their newest offering is wearable computing. Although wearable computing has been explored in the past, this is the first large scale implementation marketed for a mass consumer base.
30 companies across the smart-phone ecosystem are joining the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) organization; PMA comprises government leaders and major companies such as Starbucks, AT&T and Google. The PMA is working towards a cable-free wireless power system. Duracell has started manufacturing portable batteries for wireless charging and Wireless Charging Cards (WiCC) which can be embedded into phone charging systems. Wireless charging has a high adoption rate and it has started its journey towards becoming a future industry standard for handheld devices.
Google Gasses will deliver an augmented reality experience to its users. When passing by restaurants, theatres and other areas, special offers and new products will appear on the Google Glasses. Users can also communicate with each other over video or IM chat using Google Glasses. The integration of satellite navigation increases the utility of the device. The Google Glasses will be running an Android operating system with 3G/4G data connectivity. Google will also pack in a front-facing camera with flash, primarily for video conferencing purposes. The developer preview of Google Glasses will be released in the latter half of 2013.
Wireless charging at Starbucks, Las Vegas . Photo by Mashable.com
SMARTPHONE SECU Siddharth Saoji
of the world population owns a mobile phone today and out of the 5 billion mobile phones in the world, 1.08 billion are smartphones. One interesting statistic is that Singapore has the largest percentage of smartphone penetration at 54%. With such abundant usage of smart devices leading to storage and transfer of massive amounts of (often critical) information through them, the perennial question of security remains vital. This article is an attempt to cover the simple steps a common smartphone user can take to maintain basic mobile security hygiene.
1. LOCK YOUR DEVICE.
2. DON’T TRUST (ALL) APPS.
Today, all smartphones come with a feature that gives the user the ability to lock his/her screen, so that some form of authentication would be required to get to the home screen of the phone after few minutes of inactivity. There are a number of mechanisms which make this feature convenient to use- for instance, a user can set up a traditional password or passcode, create a Photo from technewsplus.com visual pattern which has to be replicated to unlock the screen, or even use the front facing camera of the phone to recognize the persons face as a key to unlock the device. These locks can even go a step further in terms of functionality- the iPhone has a feature which will erase all data on the phone in the case of ten failed login attempts, while Android has a built-in feature to encrypt the data stored in your device.
Before downloading an app, check the permissions required for it to be installed. A board game app should not need access to text messaging, so if you see any apps requiring access to something it shouldn’t need, take the safer route and avoid installing it. Apps can push updates requesting more permissions at a later time as well, so don’t enable the automatically allow updates feature in your phone and monitor each update before applying it Photo from android-themes.com to the app. Furthermore, as far as possible, only install apps from vendors you trust. You can search for reviews of the app online for any reports of malicious activity involving it.
ECURITY: MUST DO’S
Photo from welovedigital.com
3. INSTALL SECURITY SOFTWARE. There are tons of mobile security apps from popular vendors that can be installed to enhance the protection of your smartphone. These apps not only provide traditional anti-virus and antimalware software but also come with features like remote data wiping and phone tracking in case your device gets stolen. Be sure to install one, if not more, such apps to give you more control over the governance of information in your device.
4. BE SMART ABOUT IT. a) Always keep your device up to date with the latest firmware updates. b) As is the case with any valuable item, don’t leave your phone unattended (even if it is locked). c) Text messaging spam is a big source of attacks on mobile phones, so be very suspicious when you get a text message which looks unusual (even if it is from a known sender), as these can be as dangerous as malicious emails.
d) Always backup your phone data. In the case that your device gets compromised and data stored on it is deleted, at least you have a copy to restore back. e) Only enable Bluetooth when needed. This step will close one route in for potential attackers and also extend your phone’s battery life. f) Lastly, never ever conduct any financial or critical transactions over public (untrusted) Wifi networks.
These steps won’t guarantee the security of your smartphone but will at least mitigate any risks. Take some time out of your schedule to follow these steps. After all, it is your digital lifeyour photos, videos, emails and identity
like spending hours on Facebook? posting on Twitter? putting up good articles to the web?
you may just be the one weâ€™re looking for
THE RIDGE is recuiting for the position of Social Media Content Manager. Send your application to firstname.lastname@example.org and weâ€™ll get back to you shortly.
GSportsBar – a iOS application was created by two friends in Singapore (Honey Mittal, an NUS Alumni, and Vinh Le, an alumni of University of Melbourne) with a common passion for watching live sports matches at the many vibrant sports bars and pubs across Singapore. After spending countless hours trying to find out which sports bars were televising particular matches and their special promotions, they decided to take fate into their own and started designing SGSportsBar literally on the back of a piece of some napkins. SGSportsBar was born and, like the approximate 100,000 sports lovers who visit bars across Singapore weekly, they now have an application that directs them to the right bars and pubs to watch their favorite matches. SGSportsBar is a free iOS application (available on iTunes application store) that connects sports enthusiasts with sports bar owner. With the use of an iPhone, SGSportsBar allows sports enthusiasts to easily search for their favorite sport match and locate the bars/pubs that will be intending to televise it, and also find out the special
promotions to go with it. For the bar owners, it means an additional marketing channel, with a view of expected customers ahead of time, and also having the flexibility to televise matches of people’s choice. With additional functionality such as a map to locate the closest sports bars and integration with Facebook and Twitter, watching exciting sports matches over a few drinks with good friends has been made easy with SGSportsBar. Since going live in late 2012, SGSportsBar has grown rapidly by attracting hundreds of sports enthusiasts to download the application and establishing partnerships with the largest and best sports bars and pubs across Singapore (none more prominent than Harry’s Bar and their chain of 25+ bars across the nation) to utilize and help market the application. Prince of Wales is another popular chain that recently joined the SGSportsBar bandwagon. SGSportsBar’s immediate focus will be to ramp up the marketing efforts and social
media presence to exponentially attract all sports enthusiasts in Singapore to download the application. Additionally, by the end of the year they aim to have all Singaporean sports bar and pub utilizing the application. SGSportsBar’s long term focus will be utilizing their experience and knowledge of their deployment in Singapore and continue to rollout the application to other well-known sports loving cities. If you love watching sports, this is the musthave app in Singapore. Download it for free from itunes! www.sgsportsbar.com
TABLE TENN Loh Kai Ying
NUS Table Tennis Team - The NUS team at the IVP Finals 2013. Photo courtesy of Loh Kai Ying
have been playing table tennis since an early age. I was accidentally introduced to the sport by my (un)athletic brother when he caught on the table tennis craze during the 2000 Sydney Olympics and dragged me to beginner courses with him. I still remember how after one session, he quit, and I, albeit feeling a little betrayed, remained with the sport till today. Just seven years of age at the time, never once did I expect that
twelve years down the road, I would have so many achievements under my belt, and that I would be so indebted to my sport, Table Tennis.
I was invincible. Every gruelling training session honed my skills to perfection, and the arduous hours I put in only made me stronger as a paddler and as an individual.
Flashback twelve years, to a puny kid with a tiny ponytail, I would happily bounce off to trainings at the Clementi Sports Complex. I would train in the mornings, stay for lunch with my teammates, and continue with afternoon sessions. I never grew tired of trainings â€“ With my table tennis bat in hand,
Of course, this sport taught me much more than the technique of playing. Through victories and defeats in the countless competitions I participated in, they taught me courage, determination, and how hard work takes you places. Perhaps to the average person, table tennis
is seen as just another ball sport, but it had a world of significance to me. Table tennis was my closest companion; it walked with me through thick and thin, taught me to toughen up in life, and moulded my overall outlook and character. It was my source of solace and comfort when I felt bogged down by schoolwork and personal problems. As clichĂŠ as it sounds, I can say that without this sport, I would not be the person I am
ENNIS AND I
Kai Ying in Action - Kai Ying in action at the ASEAN University Games 2012. Photo courtesy of Loh Kai Ying
today. I was tasked to write about a defining moment in my table tennis career, and I was stumped. Events in the past twelve years have become a blur. Mind you, not the kind of blur that comes with age and a quickly failing brain (nah I’m just kidding). It’s the kind of blur that leaves you confused, wondering what exactly happened, yet feeling warm and fuzzy inside because you knew it was full of good memories.
A few unforgettable moments do stick out though, such as when I won a particularly difficult match against a much stronger opponent, or after prize presentations at some local competitions my friends and I would run around playing hide-and-seek. Alas, there is in fact this particular event that happened not too long ago in 2008, something that when I look back at my life in my sunset years, it would stand out clearly – to be able to get into the National Youth Team (NYT). It was highly competitive and for those who got in, it was considered a proud honour. Many doors would open for them. Besides being able to travel overseas for competitions, those good enough would be “promoted” by the upper management to join the first national team (to train alongside the likes of Feng Tianwei and Gao Ning.) The competition was intense. I was up against ten of the best players in Singapore and had two internal trials to go through. I vividly remember how much preparatory work I did in order to be in top form for the selection trials. One month before the trials, I took up private training sessions and trained daily after school, and clocked about two to four hours a day. My coach and I painstakingly analysed my opponents, their
strengths and flaws, and what I had to do to beat them. I practised routine after routine and even sparred with players from China. For that entire month, the only thing that kept me focused was my goal of entering the youth team. The trials proved difficult but I sailed through them rather smoothly, all thanks to the tremendous amount of work I had put in before that. In fact, it was an emotional roller-coaster ride, something that I would not have been able to cope if not for my coach who mercilessly prepped me. From the two trials, I emerged third and was among the four girls who entered the team. From 2008 to 2011, I had an amazing experience, travelling to countries like Thailand and Indonesia for competitions, sparring alongside the best players, and winning medals for my country. It was an experience like no other, and something that will stay with me for a very long time. Many people seem intrigued when they hear I was a former NYT player (players who reached eighteen and are not going up to the national team are asked to leave.) A few of them, with pained
expressions, would sympathise: “You dedicated so many years to the sport. Don’t you feel that it’s a waste not to be playing competitively anymore?” Well, I did feel quite lost after I left the NYT. It’s a whole lot of difference training so hard every day and stopping almost completely, aside from the occasional school trainings I had. I once had a dream to represent Singapore as a fulltime player, but now that dream is impossible. Of course, that’s a story for another day. If I was asked to sum up my entire table tennis career in a sentence, I would say “It has a bittersweet ending.” Although I did not get to realize my childhood dream, you can have many dreams in life, and I am indebted to my sport for teaching me so much, and placing in me the strength to move on. It is with this strength that I shall fulfil my other goals in life.
EDUSPORTS Li ZhengRong Eric
Level 1: Restaurants, Convenience Stores and Visitor’s Centre Level 2: Food court and Gymnasium Level 3: Swimming Pool and Function Hall
ow, you may be thinking that I’m referring to a slew of facilities provided by the most recent hotelier development in town – and you’d actually be halfright.
while having staircase phobia? Well, sports climbing enthusiasts may now challenge themselves with the newly-built 15 metres high rock climbing wall. Always wanted to score a point reminiscent of that scene in the popular manga ‘Slamdunk’? There are now two indoor basketball courts in each Multi-Purpose Sports Hall which are flanked by seated spectator stands and an
The University Town has a new addition to its already expansive cluster of teaching facilities and residential spaces: the Edusports complex. Completed in December 2012, “the sporting and arts dimensions offered by EduSports complement the existing educational facilities at the Education Resource Centre” says Prof Tan Eng Chye, Provost and Deputy President (Academic Affairs) of the National University of Singapore (NUS), on his NUS Provost Blog. Following my own tour of the newly-completed Edusports, I must say I was impressed – and more.
electronic score board. Aspiring to have a body like that of Ryan Gosling in the movie ‘Crazy, Stupid, Love’? Fret not, Edusports also has that covered.
As the name would suggest, Edusports definitely has its fair share of sports facilities. Fancy scaling all 3 levels of Edusports
Boasting a fully air-conditioned gymnasium with a wide range of fitness equipment and its very own aerobics room, NUS
The 15m high rock climbing wall by Leong Mun Wai
The Edusports Building from blog.nus.edu.sg
students may supplement their workout sessions with a few laps in the swimming pool just one level above it. Furthermore, in an effort to incorporate its fabulous surroundings, both facilities have been built to face the fabulous Town Green itself. Whether you’re sculpting your body into shape at the gymnasium or simply having a relaxing dip in the pool, you can enjoy a clear and gorgeous view of the Town Green. And for all you skeptics out there, the gymnasium and swimming pool will be fully accessible by NUS students for free during operating hours while NUS staff will be able to utilize the facilities after applying for a membership. “Okay, so that fulfills the ‘sports’ part of Edusports. What else does it have to offer?” you may ask. Well, I’m glad you did, On top of the nine seminar rooms
and four lecture theatres that the complex has, there is also a Global Learning Room and an auditorium. What sets the Edusports auditorium apart from other campus auditoriums is not just its massive seating capacity of 470 people, including four handicapped spaces; but that it has both a stage and accompanying loading bay to accommodate small art performances. As the age-old saying goes, ‘practice makes perfect’, the dance studio, dance atelier and anteroom have been constructed to serve as performing spaces for dance, drama and music artistes alike to hone their crafts in conducive and favorable environments. The dance studio, for example, has been purposefully designed as a black box theatre – an intimate and flexible space which is only limited by the performer’s creativity and imagination. The dance atelier, which may double
ORTS CENTER as a function hall, provides a rehearsal space primarily for dancers but may be converted for use for other performing arts. However, while the above two art rehearsal spaces may only be booked and used by official student groups and societies, the anteroom - consisting of practice and studio rooms - are open to all students for usage. As these rooms are much smaller than the dance studio and dance atelier, they may be more appropriate for musicians to ‘jam out’ before their gigs. POP Quiz : Where can you enjoy a delightful slice of cheesecake with a brew of hot coffee while perusing the latest Stephen King horror novel? “Sure, I know! Where else but Star…” Let me just stop you right there before the name of the most ubiquitous coffee joint rolls off your tongue. Rather, I’m talking about the new lifestyle bookstore called Book Haven and its partner bakery café, Cedele. True to its name, the bookstore is a terrific refuge from the hustle and bustle of campus life. Time becomes an irrelevant commodity as everyone drifts around the store at their own pace. Whether you’re running your fingers through the newest John Grisham novel,
side-swiping the latest Samsung Galaxy Tab 2 at the Digital Lifestyle section or clutching that savoury smoked salmon sandwich at Cedele, it is evident that Book Haven has something for everyone. Seeing as how Book Haven even has its own Gifts and Novelties section, I’m sure you’ll know where to head to if you ever need to throw an emergency birthday party. “Edusports is the icing on the UTown cake. It really rounds off the entire experience as a resident, and with it, UTown becomes more and more like a home. The variety of food options available in Edusports is astounding. Especially for someone with dietary restrictions like me, having so many choices is a Godsend.” says Ikhsan Suri, a third year Physics major NUS student residing in Tembusu College. Indeed, when an online petition raising concerns on the lack of Halal food options at The Deck began circulating late last year, NUSSU and the Office of Estate and Development sprung into action to address these concerns. On top of assuring students that there’ll be a minimum of two Halal stalls at The Deck come June 2013, the foodcourt
The new bookstore on campus from blog.nus.edu.sg
at Edusports, Flavours@UTown, has opened with three of its food stalls certified Halal. With delicacies ranging from Western to Vegetarian, students have the choice of eating their meals while enjoying the day breeze or in an air-conditioned environment. Either way, patrons may soak in the view of the lush greenery that Town Green has to offer, which Flavours@UTown overlooks with aplomb. Without a doubt, Edusports is the perfect addition to UTown with its blend of performing arts, sports and teaching facilities. In line with its intent to enrich peer learning and enhance social and cultural interactions, the Edusports complex will play host to live performances and film screenings as part of the NUS Arts Festival
2013. And while the annual NUS Open House is traditionally held at the Sports and Recreation Centre at the Kent Ridge Campus, this year will see Edusports become the central location to showcase NUS to all prospective students and their parents on 16th March 2013. It sure looks set to be an exciting month of March! Lastly, you must have realized how often I have brought up Town Green in this article. As abundant as this space is, one thing it definitely lacks is privacy. So the next time you’re at Edusports, head up the staircase just next to the Si Chuan food stall at Flavours@UTown - and remember to bring your camera along!
SQUASH Hua Han Ong
The NUS Squash Team. Photo by NUS Squash Media division
WHO IS TEAMNUS S QUA SH?
ne of the thirty-eight varsity sports team in NUS, teamNUS Squash is a group of competitive players who have a deep passion for the sport. In total, the team is made up of twenty players and is trained by Coach Jazreel Tan. Driven by enthusiasm for the sport, the team works hard to constantly improve on their skills and techniques. During the competitive season, training can be as frequent as two to three
times a week. The frequency of the training is also matched by rigorous and competitive training, usually involving drills and matches with the focus on training particular strokes or key aspects of the gameplay. The hard work is not for nothing though, as the team actively takes part in key events such as the Singapore University Games, the NUS Invitationals, training trips and competitions overseas.
On top of the competitive players, the team has expanded to include a recreational unit as well early this year. Loke Yan Xun, teamNUS squash captain believes that the recreational squash team will be well received as more and more NUS students play the sport. â€œWe noticed a large number of social players frequenting the courts in small groups of two or three, and realized the squash community in NUS was actually very large, so we came up with the idea of starting this club. The main goals of the recreational club
are to serve as a platform for social level players who would like to get a good workout or game, and to meet more players in NUS and while promoting the sport and community, and also to offer an avenue for players who would like to improve their game but do not know where to start.â€? The recreational division is an exciting addition to the group, and is a great avenue for students who are interested in squash, but are not keen on playing competitively just yet.
The Players in Action. Photo by NUS Squash Media division
W H Y S QUA SH? However, with so many sports that NUS has to offer, one may naturally wonder, “why squash?” When competitive games get vigorous, one can expect gruelling rallies, punishing sprints and endless lunges for the ball. As such, up to 1000 calories can be burnt per hour, and it is no surprise that according to Forbes magazine in 2003, squash is the healthiest sport in the world. For those looking for a fast-paced and vigorous sport or just an activity
that can help shed a few kilos, squash is definitely the one for you. The most distinctive feature of squash is that it is the only racket sport where players share the same space. This provides a unique experience that is unlike badminton or tennis, where you literally have to face your opponent. What’s more, you don’t even have to have a partner to play with. Squash can be played alone, and it is in fact a great way for a player to improve and work on his
game just by practising alone. TeamNUS Squash invites you to join them in enjoying the sport, be it competitively or on a recreational level. Like their Facebook page at https://www. facebook.com/NUSSquash, and receive regular updates on the recreational club sessions, as well as exciting photos and videos of squash in action. The recreational club has also started lessons for individuals looking to pick up or simply
to improve on the sport, and welcomes you to contact them via their Facebook page for further details or enquiries. So what are you waiting for? Make your university journey a more exhilarating one by joining teamNUS Squash today!
RUNNER TURNS GUNNER Ashwathaman Muruganandan Oscar Pistorius at his bail hearing. Photo from abc.net.au
don’t see myself as disabled. There is nothing I can’t do that able-bodied athletes can do” , said the South African Paralympics Sprint champion Oscar Pistorius, after winning the gold medal in the 2008 Summer Paralympics in Beijing.
Oscar Pistorius exchanging bibs with Kirani James in the 400m semifinals at the 2012 London Olymics Photo from washingtonpost.com
Born on November 22, 1986 in South Africa without a fibula in both of his legs, Pistorius’s rare birth defect left him with two toes on each foot and a bone that connects the heel to the toes. Doctors amputated him below the knee when he was eleven months old. While growing up, he played Rugby, Water Polo and Tennis. During a Rugby match, he damaged his leg and doctors advised him to take up running. He continued to work hard which paid dividends as Oscar Pistorius claimed medals even in the ablebodied events. Pistorius uses J-shaped carbon fibre prosthetics, known as the Cheetah Flex-Foot which was developed by the Biomedical Engineer Van Phillips and manufactured by Ossur. The devices look like blades, so he has been nicknamed “The Blade Runner”. Pistorius is a champion in his sporting career but on the
contrary, his personal life was difficult from the moment of his birth. At the age of six, his parents got divorced and he was raised by his mother. He lost his mother when he was 15, a result of drug complications following a hysterectomy. Following this incident, he threw himself out of sports for a period of time. However, he made a comeback in the 2004 T43/44 summer Paralympics games, Athens in 100m, 200m and 4x400m relay events by securing two Gold medals and one bronze medal. His major sponsors were Nike, BT, Oakley and Thierry Mugler. In 2007, the International Association for Athletic Foundation (IAAF) claimed that the prosthetic leg which was used by Pistorius in the Olympics gave an unfair advantage compared to that of the able-bodied athletes. In May 2008, Pistorius re-appealed and the court rejected IAAF claims. In 2008 summer Paralympics in Beijing, the Blade Runner secured Gold medals in all three events. He also secured two gold medals and one silver medal at the 2012 London Paralympics. However along his successful path, he met with an alleged pre-meditated murder charge following the fatal shooting of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, at his Pretoria estate in early hours of Feb 14, 2013. Steenkamp, a 29 yearold model and law graduate died at the scene. The prosthetic athlete was taken into custody soon after the murder at his residence.
Five days after Steenkamp’s murder, Pistorius was taken to the magistrate court in Pretoria for his hearing on Feb 19, 2013. During that hearing Pistorius admitted to unintentionally shooting Steenkamp at his residence on Valentine’s Day. His account of the incident went something like this: “On Feb 13, Steenkamp came to my residence on the eve of Valentine’s day. Soon after we finished a soft dinner, we slept late that night. After some time I heard some noise from the bathroom and thought that some intruder or burglar has entered my house through my balcony window. I searched for my prosthetics but I could not find it in the darkness and I took [out] a gun under my bed. I remained alert as I sensed danger since South Africa is prone to burglars. I moved to the bathroom without prosthetics by sliding on the floor. I realized that the balcony door was open. I shot three times when I heard the sound in the bathroom again. I then went back to the bed and realized that Steenkamp was not in my bedroom. I wore my prosthetics after switching on the lights and went to the bathroom. I was shocked. It was my girl friend fighting for her life bearing bullet wounds on her head and arm. I tried to carry her shouting for help but she died while I took her downstairs”. Meanwhile the Chief Investigator Hilton Botha’s report said that Pistorius shot his girlfriend intentionally because of an argument between them. The
investigator claimed that the distance between the witness and the Pistorius house was 600m. But later he revised it as 300m. He was however removed from the case since he himself was facing murder charges in another 2009 incident and his false claims about the witnesses. After several discussions and hearing, Judge Desmond Nair granted Oscar Pistorius bail ahead of his trail for the alleged murder of Reeva Steenkamp. Bail was set at one million Rands (73000 Euros). Pistorius was ordered not to return to his estate where the shooting took place and was asked to report to the police station on Mondays and Fridays. In direct reference to this case, Nike cancelled its contract with him and the popularity of his autobiography scaled down. The main reason behind the grant of bail was that the Judge thought that Pistorius would not be a flight risk. Moreover, he did not think that the prosecution’s case was strong enough since the evidence provided was weak. Even though he stated some reasons for his unintentional firing, there are some questions which remained unanswered in the trial. Why was he unaware of Steenkamp’s presence? Why didn’t he verify who was in the bathroom? Why did Steenkamp not scream from the toilet? Several questions remain unanswered and more details are to be revealed at Pistorius’ next court appearance on June 4,2013. Stay Tuned...
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