JULY 2012 Vol.05
RAFFLES CREATORS ISSUE
The Raffles Institution Alumni Magazine
01. EDITORIAL 02. SCHOOL SCENE, SCHOOL NEWS + ORA + RPA 03. WE ARE ALL CREATIVE, SOH LISHAN 04. A PASSION FOR FASHION, VICKY TAY 05. PAINTING SINGAPORE, WONG CHOR YEE 06. CREATIVE MAGIC, AARON LEE, ALVIN PANG, & THEOPHILUS KWEK 07. A FEAST FOR THE EYES, DAVID YEO 08. FLOWERING AMBITION, LIM XUAN HONG & ONG CHONG REN 09. HOW A LIFE-SAVING GADGETEER TICKS, DR LIM JUI 09. BUILDING A NATION, HIJJAS KASTURI 10. FREE FOR ALL, OPENLECTURES 11. TEACHER FEATURE, HECTOR CHEE 12. RAFFLES REMEMBERS, MR A K SIGAMONEY 13. CLASS NOTES
JULY 2012 VOL. 05
A PASSION FOR FASHION Vicky Tay shares with us how she started Burgundy, a women's clothing label which combines high-quality clothing with contemporary chic.
EDITORIAL TEAM Lim Lai Cheng S. Magendiran Aaron Maniam Adeline Wong Inez Tan Peggy Pao Robin Chan Sabina Ahmed Zakir Hussain Dominic Chua CONTRIBUTORS Adil Hakeem Izyan Nadzirah Qiu Linan Soh Lishan Tay Eng Hseon ART DIRECTION & DESIGN Egg Creatives Pte Ltd PHOTOGRAPHY Edwin Tan, Lumina Photography To contribute an opinion or suggestion, please contact the editorial team at ONE@ri.edu.sg
Ong Chong Ren and Lim Xuan Hong crossed their love for nature with a gift for science to hybridise several orchids, one of which was christened ‘Hope of a Better Age’.
32 18 PAINTING SINGAPORE Wong Chor Yee chats with ONE about how her creative journey led her to resign from her job to become a full-time artist.
Lawyer-turned-restaurateur David Yeo treats us to a spread of gorgeously-crafted food and sumptuous decor.
COPYRIGHT & REPRINTS: All material printed in ONE is protected under the copyright act. All rights reserved. No material may be reproduced in part or in whole without the prior written consent of the publisher and copyright holder. Permission may be requested through the Singapore office. Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in ONE are not necessarily the views of the publisher.
This publication is printed on environmentallyfriendly paper.
A FEAST FOR THE EYES
RAFFLES CREATORS ISSUE
EDITORIAL / 03 SCHOOL SCENE / 04 WE ARE ALL CREATIVE / 11 A PASSION FOR FASHION / 14 PAINTING SINGAPORE / 18 CREATIVE MAGIC / 21 A FEAST FOR THE EYES / 26 FLOWERING AMBITION / 32 HOW A LIFE-SAVING GADGETEER TICKS / 36 BUILDING A NATION / 39 FREE FOR ALL / 44 TEACHER FEATURE / 48 RAFFLES REMEMBERS / 50 CLASS NOTES / 52
A WORD FROM THE PRINCIPAL. With the various issues of ONE thus far, we’ve wanted to challenge commonly-held perceptions about Rafflesians. Cut as we are from the same green, black and white cloth, we don’t all take the same routes in life, and not all of us end up as lawyers, doctors and civil servants. Our fourth issue looked at alumni who have traversed the globe and made their mark abroad. With this issue, the focus is on the Rafflesian capacity for invention and creation. We take for our theme Rafflesian designers in a variety of fields– art, fashion, medical technology, architecture, hospitality and even horticulture! We were particularly tickled (and wow-ed) by David Yeo’s Hullett House– that’s what he named his boutique hotel in Hong Kong. Look out for that, as well as the soaring buildings of noted Malaysian architect Hijjas Kasturi, and for the minds and hands of our younger alumni– Vicky Tay’s Burgundy label, and Qiu Linan and Zhang Yitao’s OpenLectures, a fast-growing online collection of lectures by a collective of top JC students. We wish you a pleasant read, and hope that the stories in here catalyse a creative chain reaction within you. Write to us at ONE@alumni.edu.sg and let us know if that happens– we would love to hear your creation stories!
LIM LAI CHENG Principal, Raffles Institution
04 School SCENE SCHOOL NEWS
9 January HOMECOMING Homecoming celebrates the Year 6 students' return to school. Besides reminiscing about 2011, they also caught up with friends over brunch at the canteen while being entertained by musical performances by their own batchmates.
10 January YEAR 5–6 OPEN HOUSE With the theme ‘The Raffles Tribe’, the event drew more than 2,000 students and parents. Visitors were greeted by huge ‘Griffles Totems’ planted all over the school, and were treated to lively performances, academic displays and campus tours led by the ‘Befrienders’ student ambassadors.
13 January KIWI CUP The Cup started in 1967 as a yearly playoff between the rugby teams of RI and Saint Andrew’s School. The guest of honour this year was His Excellency Mr Peter Hamilton, New Zealand High Commissioner to Singapore, and the Cup was won by the team from St Andrew’s.
8 February AUDIOMOB In the afternoon, at the Year 5–6 campus, hordes of students suddenly began trooping towards various locations around the school while plugged in to their music players. More and more Rafflesians congregated to form two opposing groups – one dressed in black, the other in white – before marching towards the entrance of the canteen and confronting each other. This was RI's first AudioMob. Inspired by flashmobs, it was organised as a publicity event for the upcoming Take 5 event.
15 February TAKE 5 Take 5 commemorates Total Defence Day by transforming the five pillars of Total Defence into a school-wide immersive experience. For the first time since its inception in 2003, Take 5 involved all six cohorts in a carnival with movie screenings, carnival rides, a non-stop five-hour concert, a wide array of games and sports, and a display by representatives from the navy and the army.
23 February FORUM WITH PROFESSOR MUHAMMAD YUNUS 2006 Nobel Prize winner Professor Muhammad Yunus, also known as the 'Father of Social Business', visited RI to give a public lecture on social business, where businesses aim to achieve social objectives while remaining financially sustainable. Over 400 staff and students attended the forum, which was jointly organised by the Raffles Entrepreneurs’ Network and Grameen Creative Lab@NUS.
29 February NO SHOES DAY Organised by Raffles Community Advocates, the inaugural No Shoes Day saw many students and staff padding around campus barefoot. The event aimed to raise awareness among students about the plight of children who have to walk barefoot for miles to attend school or who are deprived of an education due to a lack of shoes.
10 March GRYPHONS’ SOCIAL ENTREPRENEURSHIP SYMPOSIUM Over 150 participants from different schools attended this event, which aimed to educate and inspire youth in the area of social enterprise. The event was graced by Member of Parliament Ms Penny Low, and featured interactive panel discussions and focus group sessions led by distinguished social entrepreneurs.
12 March RAFFLES-WINCHESTER INTERNATIONAL SYMPOSIUM Held for the first time in Asia, this event brought together 40 participants from the ten schools in the Winchester Network. Students engaged in discussions on leadership theories and traits, while teachers and principals shared experiences and practices across different schools, thus forging stronger ties with each other.
23 April RI LECTURE SERIES Minister for Education Mr Heng Swee Keat chaired the 10th lecture in the series, and his address was themed ‘Nurturing an Inclusive and Stronger Singapore’. He focused on the need for Singaporeans to tackle class-based divisions within the society, and encouraged students to strive to contribute back to the community.
24 April PRIZE-GIVING CEREMONY The prize-giving ceremony honours Year 1–4 students who have achieved excellent academic and sporting results. It also recognises those who have contributed significantly to the school and the community. This year’s Guest of Honour was RADM Lai Chung Han from the RJC Class of 1992.
16 May 32ND STUDENTS’ COUNCIL INVESTITURE The 32nd Students’ Council Investiture saw the swearing-in of Council President Ashlynna Ng (13A01B), Vice-Presidents Antariksh Mahajan (13S06D) and Arjun Jayaraman (13A01A), as well as the rest of the student councillors. The Guest of Honour was Major Sean Wat, who was also the President of the 20th Students’ Council. The investiture was attended by RI staff, parents and councillors from other schools.
19 May YEAR 1–4 OPEN HOUSE Over 5,000 Primary 6 students and their families attended the Year 1–4 Open House, which was themed ‘Inner Fire—Unquenched since 1823’. It featured performances and displays by CCA groups, campus tours and classroom experiences, as well as a sharing session by the Principal of RI.
25 May STAFF DAY All 578 staff members of RI got together for a fun-filled day as they celebrated RI’s FIRE values and got to know each other better. This year, RI staff travelled around Singapore on the Circle Line MRT, using their specially-commissioned Gryphon ez-link card.
YEAR 2012 EVENTS
Jan - May
06 SCHOOL SCENE A RENEWED OLD RAFFLESIANS’ ASSOCIATION
A RENEWED OLD RAFFLESIANS’ ASSOCIATION The new ORA Council was elected at the Old Rafflesians’ Association’s 89th Annual General Meeting on 24 March 2012. Nick Yen, a Council Member, shares with us his thoughts on the new Council’s goals and directions.
At RI, we have been always taught to serve and, in so doing, to lead. Sometimes, with the passing of time, some of us lose sight of that compass. We are overwhelmed by our own commitments and succumb to indifference. Oftentimes, if not for some fortuitous event, we never awaken from this slumber. For the RI’s Class of ’85, 2010 was a watershed year, and the pivotal event that brought us together was the ORA Annual Dinner. An innocent email to celebrate the occasion of our 25th year of graduation snowballed into a massive class gathering. Although many of us had always kept in touch with each other, this was the big night when everyone got to re-connect after so many years. Since then, many of us have continued to keep in touch and in fact, several of us are now working to give back to the school. We came together because we were concerned that both the school and ORA were falling behind in terms of relevance. While RI was still turning out exceptional kids, there were areas of concern. For example, RI students tend to fare miserably at US college admission interviews because they lack skills that extend beyond the major examinations that they were constantly being prepared for. Granted, the numbers that do go are still disproportionately higher than many other schools,
but we felt that even more could be done to open up greater opportunities for everyone in RI.
business leaders and hail from graduating classes from the 1970s through the early 2000s.
reached out to them, most would be willing to help in some way.
The involvement of the Class of ’85 was set in motion by Png Cheong Boon, the CEO of Spring Singapore and who was already an ORA council member at that time. He roped in several of us to explore how we could become involved with the school. That brought some of us back into the fold of the ORA. As an outgrowth of that process, the Junior Achievement Company programme, a business knowledge programme, was introduced and subsequently several of us became involved in launching the Business Leaders Programme. Both programmes are supported by alumni.
Since the elections, Andrew has been actively courting RI and RGS in the hope of getting everyone to work better together. Already, a Youth Chapter targeting recent graduates and younger alumni has been launched. The ORA was also involved in formulating and kicking off the Business Leaders Programme, an elective for the Year 5s, this year. He has also been working to get more alumni involved with the association's activities, having already roped in several prominent alumni to spearhead different initiatives targeted at alumni from different backgrounds.
This story is much bigger than the Class of ’85. It is really about the renewed vigour and activism of the new ORA leadership. It is about leveraging and increasing the value of the Rafflesian alumni network, theoretically one of the most influential and powerful in Singapore. It is about exploiting this network to propel a new structure for support and engagement with the schools and the students. It is about helping the school fulfil its mission of educating leaders. It is about engagement with the community on multiple levels, through the 1823 Fund and other ideas currently being explored. It is about making a difference and about becoming the definitive leader in changing lives through education. Again.
Our involvement was subsequently expanded as a result of the last ORA election. Andrew Chua, the former VicePresident of the ORA Council, had already been working very hard with Cheong Boon and several others to actively engage the schools and the alumni. When he decided to run for President, Andrew tirelessly cajoled several like-minded alumni, including several members of the Class of ’85, to run for office. As a result of his efforts, the make-up of the current council is more diverse and more importantly, much more evenly-represented. Council members now include several entrepreneurs and
The ORA intends to launch several new initiatives over the next year and it is imperative that we engage the alumni in helping us to achieve our goals. I am convinced that there are many alumni who want to help but are just not sure how. For example, when we launched an appeal to the Class of ’85 to support the Junior Achievement programme, several offered to fund the programme while others actually volunteered to teach the class. While speaking with several other alumni over the past few weeks, the message we got was that as long as the school or the association
With warmest regards, NICK YEN
Nick Yen is a Columbian graduate with a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is the founder and Creative Director of a design company called Mad Scientist, the Director at Sunshine Engineering Service Private limited which specialises in extrusion, and the founder of Orgo, a rooftop bar located at the Roof Terrace of Esplanade. Nick is also a member of the executive committee of the Columbia University Club (Singapore).
07 SCHOOL SCENE A RENEWED OLD RAFFLESIANSâ€™ ASSOCIATION
INTRODUCING THE NEW ORA COUNCIL
2012-2014 President MR ANDREW CHUA Appointment: President Cohort: RI 1968, 1970 While in School: 01 Scouts Now: Managing Director of SME Care, a Finance Services company
2012-2014 Vice President MR PNG CHEONG BOON Appointment: Vice President Cohort: RI 1985, RJC 1987 While in School: Represented RJC in softball Now: Chief Executive, SPRING Singapore
2012-2014 Honorary Treasurer MS MONICA TUNG Appointment: Honorary Treasurer Cohort: RGS 1976 While in School: Arts Club, Maths & Science Society Now:
2012-2014 Asst Honorary Treasurer DR LIM KUO YI Appointment: Assistant Honorary Treasurer Cohort: RI 1985, RJC 1987 While in School: Softball, Science Council, Stamp Club Now: Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Investments
2012-2014 Honorary Secretary MS ELENA CHUA Appointments: Honorary Secretary; Chairperson, ORA Walk-A-Jog subcommittee Cohort: RGS 1972 While in School: Red Cross Society Now: Manager, Property Development firm
2012-2014 Asst Honorary Secretary MS LIM SOOK LUAN Appointments: Assistant Honorary Secretary Cohort: RJC 1985 While in School: Civics Tutorial Representative, Now: Chairperson of Homemakers' Club Assistant Director, Strategic HR in a Public Healthcare Cluster
2012-2014 Council Member MR CHOW KIA MENG Appointment: Council Member Cohort: RI 1979, 1981 While in School: Deputy Head (Prefectorial Board), 01 Scouts and Badminton Now: Head, Admissions in RI
2012-2014 Council Member MR DENNIS FOO Appointment: Council Member Cohort: RI 1972 While in School: Scouts, represented school in table-tennis, volley ball, swimming Now: CEO, St James Holdings Ltd
2012-2014 Council Member Dr Lan Luh Luh Appointment: Cohort: While in School: Now:
Council Member RGS 1981 School Swimmer, Youth Reporter Associate Professor, NUS Business School and Faculty of Law, NUS; Deputy Director, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, NUS.
2012-2014 Council Member MR DENNIS PHUA Appointment: Council Member Cohort: RI 2001, RJC 2003 While in School: 02 Scouts Now: Executive Director, Azione Capital; Chief Operating Officer, Ave & Partners
2012-2014 Council Member MR NICK YEN Appointment: Cohort: While in School: Now:
Council Member RI 1985 Softball, Computer Science Club Asst. MD, Sunshine Engineering Service; The Craziest One, Orgo Bar & Restaurant
2012-2014 RGS Chapter President DR JEAN ONG Appointments: President, RGS Chapter Cohort: RGS 1973 While in School: House Captain, Table Tennis Captain, Softball, Basketball, NCC (Land) Hospital Administrator Now:
2012-2014 ORA Youth Chapter President MR JACK REN Appointments: ORA Youth Chapter President Cohort: RI 2002, RJC 2004 While in School: RJC Basketball Captain, RI Chinese Literary Club Chairperson, RI Peer Support Leader Now: Management Executive, CapitaLand Limited
08 SCHOOL SCENE LETTER FROM THE RPA
LETTER FROM THE RPA Every year, anxious parents with children in tow will walk the halls of RI during the Open House hoping to catch a glimpse of what life is like as a student in this school. The same questions are asked year after year: ‘Is it very stressful? Is it very competitive? Is the curriculum tough?’ I can understand their concerns—not too long ago, I, too was also one of these anxious parents. Parent volunteers from the Raffles Parents Association (RPA) have been addressing these questions and concerns for many years during the RI Year 1–4 Open House. Every year, we set up cosy corners around the Atrium or outside the Hall where parents can gather round small tables with coffee, tea, cold drinks and snacks and chat with RPA members. It is always heart-warming to see these parents touch base with those who already have children studying in the school, and to see their concerns and anxieties being allayed when they listen to the experiences of those who have walked the path before. Then there is another group of parents—those who are alumni of the school. You can actually feel the fathers' pride when they show their sons the school they once studied in! Now, they hope their children can similarly share their experiences in this school. For these parents, it is not so much about the stress—because they themselves had already gone through it before— but more about whether their children can make it into this school. The Principal’s talk on the curriculum and plans for the boys in the six-year integrated programme never fails to impress parents and children alike. If you ever ask our boys why they wanted to come to RI, they will always tell you that it is because they love the large selection of CCAs, the planned overseas trips in Year 4, and the many other exciting and fulfilling programmes RI has. In time, I am sure your children will also find out how much they enjoy the camaraderie, the intellectual stimulus and the respect the students have for each other because they know that everyone comes to RI on equal footing and merit. Many children dream of attending RI, and as parents, we ought to do our utmost in inspiring and encouraging them to pursue this dream. Vaclav Havel, a talented playwright, essayist, poet and also the first president of the Czech Republic, once said: ‘Hope is not the same as joy that things are going well but rather an ability to work for something because it is good.’ I hope that I can soon welcome all of you into the Rafflesian Family! MRS GOH SWEE HONG Chairman Raffles Parents’ Association
MANY CHILDREN DREAM OF ATTENDING RI, AND AS PARENTS, WE OUGHT TO DO OUR UTMOST IN INSPIRING AND ENCOURAGING THEM TO PURSUE THIS DREAM.
IT IS ALWAYS HEART-WARMING TO SEE THESE PARENTS TOUCH BASE WITH THOSE WHO ALREADY HAVE CHILDREN STUDYING IN THE SCHOOL, AND TO SEE THEIR CONCERNS AND ANXIETIES BEING ALLAYED WHEN THEY LISTEN TO THE EXPERIENCES OF THOSE WHO HAVE WALKED THE PATH BEFORE.
Year 1–4 Open House Clockwise from bottom left: Principal's Talk at the Albert Hong Hall Principal Mrs Lim Lai Cheng quizzing eager primary school participants The Raffles Parents' Association Griffles, the school mascot
WE ARE ALL CREATIVE By Soh Lishan
11 WE ARE ALL CREATIVE SOH LISHAN
WHY CREATIVITY IS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND When it comes to creativity, it is staggering to ask people to make the mental leap from splashing paint on canvas to trying to solve, for example, the Icelandic financial crisis1. These days, whether you ask students or subordinates, colleagues or citizens to ‘be creative’, you probably only have standards of social acceptability to thank for not getting an insolent eye-roll or a look of desperation tinged with slight disdain. It wasn't all that long ago when being creative was spoken of as an otherworldly quality. It was a process reserved for a special few—the artists, inventors, writers and musicians—and clichés like ‘think outside the box’ and ‘paradigm shift’ were cast around as mantras to compel organisations to stay ahead of their competitors. But in the past four years, the world has changed so much that it is no longer just about competitive advantage. The clarion call for new ways of working, living and thinking grew louder and louder, and the word creativity was thrown into the mix of compulsory ingredients to help countries, companies, communities, and individuals navigate their way through new and unfamiliar territories. Suddenly, creativity sounded like a panacea, a prized state to be attained as well as a quality to be applied. But few really knew what creativity was, and what it entailed.
Given how tough it is to put your finger on creativity, there is valid reason for this frustration. Its workings have been extolled across the drug habits of poets to the development of the Post-It note. The autism of Temple Grandin and her invention of the squeeze box and the ubiquity of Steve Jobs and Apple products have all been lauded as the pinnacle of creativity. Complex mathematics has been described as a creative endeavour as much as molecular gastronomy. More recently, a collaborative culture in school and at the workplace has been said to give rise to, wait for it, creativity. While these statements may be true, they are not particularly useful in understanding what creativity is. I would argue that our understanding of creativity is at best nebulous, and at worst, crippling. The crippling effect is obvious—the speed at which many young people I’ve met disassociate themselves from
being a ‘creative type’ is notable. You can’t blame them; with no real understanding of creativity, people can only peg themselves against reference points in the existing conversation, and there few out there would raise their hand and call themselves the next Steve Jobs. The idea that there are people who are creative and that there are people who are not is ill-founded, I think. Many actors, writers, designers, artists, musicians I know would wince at being called a ‘creative type’. They are creative. But so are many doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, housewives, contractors, civil servants, secretaries, students, teachers and cab drivers in the world who are finding ways to make life better for themselves and others every day. There is the type of creativity that lives in the realm of self-expression, and then there is creativity that applies itself to solving problems. This kind of creativity happens all the time and it is not the domain of a chosen few, yet so many feel uncomfortable around it.
THERE IS THE TYPE OF CREATIVITY THAT LIVES IN THE REALM OF SELFEXPRESSION, AND THEN THERE IS CREATIVITY THAT APPLIES ITSELF TO SOLVING PROBLEMS. IDEO was invited by the Icelandic government to discuss how design and creativity could help navigate the country out of their financial crisis. IDEO has worked with the Obama administration on performance evaluation, and more recently the Singapore government on a number of projects, on top of our portfolio of innovation work in the private sector.
12 WE ARE ALL CREATIVE SOH LISHAN
CONSIDER YOURSELF CREATIVE Perhaps then, the best starting point to understand creativity is to be able to consider yourself creative. Creative impulses are hardwired into our operating systems from birth, but as we grow up, we seem to lose them along the way. David Kelley, founder of IDEO, a firm widely recognised as one of the most innovative in the world2, gave a TED talk recently on this very topic. He told the story of his friend Brian back when they were nine. He was making a horse out of clay. One of their classmates looked over and said, ‘That’s terrible! That’s not what a horse looks like.’ Brian wadded up the clay, threw away his horse, and never took on a project like that again. Sounds familiar? The truth is that we have become used to being corrected or told ‘no’ a lot of the time, or that there are certain ways of looking at the world or thinking or doing things, leaving little room for creativity.
CREATIVITY AND ME Instead of theorising further, I thought I’d tell a few stories about the environments that have helped me understand creativity better, and become familiar and comfortable with it. When I entered RJC in 2001, I heard a senior mutter jokingly: ‘There are only two kinds of people who get through RJ unscathed—the geniuses and the plain oblivious.’ Just to put it out there, I was no genius—having failed mathematics right up to my preliminary exams, I scraped through my A-levels with a ‘D’, which was practically unheard of at RJC. To my 17-year-old mind then, that senior’s statement actually made me feel a lot better about myself. I had full cognisance of the fact that I was no budding math Olympian or Angus Ross Prize winner. Unknowingly, this senior had given me permission to ‘find my dent’ in the universe as I knew it, instead of feeling Iike I couldn’t be good enough at anything. I interpreted his words to mean that:
1. IT WAS OKAY TO BE NOT-THAT-GREAT AT SOME THINGS
2. MANY TIMES I WOULDN’T KNOW WHAT WAS GOING ON AND WOULD HAVE TO MUDDLE MY WAY THROUGH
3. BY KEEPING MY HEAD UP, I WOULD FIGURE OUT WHAT I LOVED, WHAT I WAS GOOD AT AND, EVENTUALLY, HOW I WAS GOING TO MAKE IT ALL USEFUL The first two thoughts scared me but the third kept me going. What has all that got to do with creativity? Everything. Whether my unsuspecting senior meant to or not, what he was referring to when he said ‘unscathed’, was confidence.
TURNING FEAR OF CREATIVITY INTO FAMILIARITY That ‘seething cauldron of ideas, where everything is fizzling and bobbing in a state of bewildering activity3’, which is often referred to as ‘creativity’, can be scary. Imagine exploring without knowing exactly where you’re going, not knowing if you’re even making sense, not knowing exactly what the final outcome looks like, and not knowing the next step to take. People will find a million things to be afraid of. But it is confidence that turns that fear of creativity into familiarity with its processes and applicability. And I have realised, now more so than ever at IDEO, that being confident helps me navigate through and out of big, hairy, complex problems, instead of allowing my fears to become part of the ambiguity. With my work, a large part of success is being able to take clients on that journey as well.
13 WE ARE ALL CREATIVE SOH LISHAN
Another note on that senior’s famous last words— ‘hardworking’ and ‘driven’ were not mentioned; these qualities were assumed. Fast-forward to graduate school and my early years working in journalism and the performing arts; it was only then that I saw how those attributes, combined with superlative patience and optimism, became the basis on which creativity was truly brought to life.
THERE HASN’T BEEN A TIME WHERE PEOPLE HAVE NEEDED CONFIDENCE, PATIENCE, OPTIMISM AND SUPPORT MORE THAN THEY DO RIGHT NOW.
While working at the Esplanade, I observed plays being written and produced, directors and actors breaking down in pursuit of perfecting their craft through years of research and rehearsals. I watched dancers choreograph, disciplining their bodies with such precision, falling over, feet bleeding day after day. At graduate school, while shadowing fashion designers, I saw them obsess over whether the bottom stitching on a garment should be navy or black, doing all this without knowing if any buyer was going to pick up on their clothes. Some haven’t had buyers yet, but they’re still designing. My own experience as a journalist in London—using the right words, nailing the tone of voice, battling massive self doubt and not sleeping for nights on end trying to churn out a story I felt was worthy of public consumption, getting rejected or getting published—is literally blood, sweat and tears. (I have been told that the average amount of time taken to write a feature story for the New Yorker is two years.)
IN CLOSING The idea of being creative still strikes fear and discomfort in many, and it takes confidence to turn this into familiarity. The process of bringing creativity to life is also a demanding journey, and the discipline and tenacity required to stay the course, and the optimism to work through and learn from failure must not be underestimated. All people are inherently creative, and to those who divide the world into ‘creative’ and ‘non-creative’ types, leave your judgment at the door, because there is no room left for false dichotomies. Don’t tell people to be creative either, help them. There hasn’t been a time where people have needed confidence, patience, optimism and support more than they do right now.
Soh Lishan (RGS, 2000; RJC, 2002) is a design researcher at IDEO. A pioneering member of the Singapore office, she has worked on projects covering organisational, service, brand and product design across industries. In her past life she has also worked as a journalist and a performing arts manager.
Ranked #10 on Fast Company’s list of the Top 25 Most Innovative Companies (2009) and as one of the most innovative companies in the world in a survey of senior executives around the globe conducted by Boston Consulting Group (2005–2007, BusinessWeek)
A quote by psychologist William James, less famous brother of writer Henry.
14 A PASSION FOR FASHION VICKY TAY
A PASSION FOR FASHION A conversation with designer Vicky Tay (RGS, 1997; RJC 1999)
WHAT LED YOU TO ENTER A CAREER IN FASHION?
WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET INTO THE CREATIVE ZONE?
I’m an engineer by training; I went to Imperial College and studied electrical engineering. Fashion was something I thought of as a hobby throughout my time in RGS and RJC, where I studied mostly science and math. Engineering seemed a typical path to take, and I really enjoyed it as well. At the same time though, I felt that a career should be about something that you love so much that you still want to be doing it when you’re 60 or 70 years old. That wasn’t how I felt about engineering, but it is how I feel about fashion. I would really regret it, if I didn’t try to do it.
It’s the daily stuff around me that inspires me, especially other forms of art. I love listening to music, or eating a great meal. Food, especially with all the colours on a plate, can really put me in a creative mood. It makes me want to dash home to create my own masterpiece. I also, of course, get my inspiration from fashion. I look at vintage images of Balenciaga, or YSL, and also modern minimalist European designs from Prada, Chloe, Armani or Celine.
I started out with a course at the then Raffles LaSalle Institute (now known as the Raffles Design Institute) for nine months, during which I learned the foundations of design as well as how to sew and draft. After that, I just launched right into it—I started a label, set up a sample room and then opened my first boutique in Palais Renaissance. I was really starting from scratch; I didn’t know anybody or anything in the industry.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE ACCOMPLISHMENT. I don’t really have any one particular accomplishment; the fact that I’ve created a fashion line, which I’ve dreamed about doing, is my biggest success. The fact that I’ve succeeded in doing what I set out to do is enough; it almost doesn’t matter how it turns out. When I see somebody on the street wearing my design, I always give a gasp of recognition; it’s still so incredibly exciting for me. And it’s still as exciting now as it was the first time.
15 A PASSION FOR FASHION VICKY TAY
TELL US MORE ABOUT BURGUNDY. Burgundy is a women’s clothing label that I started in 2007. It caters to the woman of today, and combines high quality clothing with contemporary chic. I wanted to create something in the middle of the really wide space between H&M and Louis Vuitton, and that’s exactly where Burgundy sits. Burgundy clothes have a practical purpose—from a work meeting to a night out with drinks. It might sound clichéd, but our clothing revolves around the very real aspects of women’s lives. And we never compromise on design or on quality. I’m very particular about the quality of the materials we use. 90 per cent of materials we use are sourced from France, Italy or Spain. WHY THE NAME BURGUNDY? The word phonetically reflects a sense of elegant femininity— there’s something about the Burgundy wine that suggests womanly, not girly to me. And the Burgundy region in France represents the elegance and quiet luxury that I wanted the brand to portray. The look, sound and meaning of the word ‘Burgundy’ all fit right in with the aesthetic I wanted to convey with the brand, so Burgundy it is.
16 A PASSION FOR FASHION VICKY TAY
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE CREATIVE PROCESS? HOW DO YOU GET FROM AN IDEA TO A DRESS ON A RACK? The ideas for what I want to create are never too far from what I want to wear − effortless and unfussy clothes. (Author’s note: Vicky was wearing a romper from Burgundy on the day of the interview). I design by collections, and release collections a year. Usually I start with a colour palette, based on either trends or wearability. Following that, I think about fabrics and silhouettes. I start with designing the core pieces like dresses and jumpers, which really reflect the core values and aesthetics of the brand. Then, I move on to the highlight pieces that complement the core pieces, and these are usually embellished with something interesting, such as zippers or beads. At the end of it, I have a full collection, which is versatile and wearable and consists of pieces that can be worn together.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING TOWARDS WITH YOUR LABEL? The most important thing for me is to maintain the quality and the integrity of the brand. I’ve already expanded my label internationally, and we now export to the US, Japan, Dubai, Kazakhstan and I’d like to increase the reach of the brand. At the same time, I don’t have any real desire to become some sort of global brand; I’ve found my niche and am doing it well. The fashion business is quite different from other businesses in that it is a very long term commitment. The big brands have hundreds of years of history, so I’m not looking to compete with that.
17 A PASSION FOR FASHION VICKY TAY
THIS EDITION IS TITLED RAFFLES CREATORS. HOW DO YOU FEEL RAFFLES HAS HELPED YOU BECOME A CREATOR? I think Raffles doesn’t put you in a box. It makes you unafraid to try things outside your comfort zone, because you have the confidence to be able to take on different challenges and approaches to things. I definitely feel I’ve gained strength through my education, which gave me the courage to believe in myself; that I would float and not sink when I started Burgundy.
I’VE ALREADY EXPANDED MY LABEL INTERNATIONALLY, AND WE EXPORT TO THE US, JAPAN, DUBAI, KAZAKHSTAN AND I’D LIKE TO INCREASE THE REACH OF THE BRAND. AT THE SAME TIME, I DON’T HAVE ANY REAL DESIRE TO BECOME SOME SORT OF GLOBAL BRAND, I’VE FOUND MY NICHE AND AM DOING IT WELL.
18 PAINTING SINGAPORE WONG CHOR YEE
PAINTING SINGAPORE Ms Wong Chor Yee (RGS, 1967) studied Mathematics and Physics at the former University of Singapore and graduated with a BSc (Hons) degree in 1974. She was recruited into the Singapore Government Administrative Service to serve her bond for the Singapore Government Merit Scholarship awarded by the Public Service Commission for her undergraduate studies. After serving in the Public Service for almost 30 years, she resigned from her post of Vice-President (Human Resource) at the Nanyang Technological University to paint full-time. Since then, she has held two solo exhibitions and participated in various exhibitions to help raise funds for charity. Ms Wong is married to Dr KC Lun and they have two children, Kenneth and Katherine.
MS WONG, YOU ONLY FIRST LEARNT HOW TO PAINT IN 1999 AND DECIDED TO RESIGN FROM YOUR SENIOR POST IN 2003 TO BECOME A FULL-TIME ARTIST. WHAT PROMPTED YOU TAKE THIS COURAGEOUS STEP?
It had always been my wish to be able to spend more time pursuing my passion for art and his words came as a very timely encouragement. It was a very difficult decision for me to resign from my job but I am very glad I made the move.
My first painting lesson was essentially a rekindling of a passion for art that has been residing in me all this while. Before being streamed into a pure science class in Secondary 3 at RGS, I had always looked forward to art and craft activities in school and was elected the Chairperson of the school’s Junior Art Club. In 1989, I also took up sculpting lessons on a part-time basis conducted by well-known sculptor-artist Chern Lian Shan, and obtained a Certificate in Sculpting from the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.
TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR CREATIVE JOURNEY. WHAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOUR MAJOR MILESTONES IN THIS JOURNEY?
I first learnt to paint in 1999 under the guidance of the renowned watercolorist, Ong Kim Seng whom I found to be a very inspiring mentor. Three years later, he candidly asked me, during one of his classes with his students, if I had considered resigning from my job to become a full-time artist and realise my full potential as an artist.
I started with landscape painting lessons with Ong Kim Seng, using watercolor. After a year, I intuitively started to paint portraits on my own, and found that I could derive great satisfaction from painting portraits of personalities who inspired me. Gradually, I expanded my painting to include pastels, acrylics and oils, and explored and experimented with various materials, tools and techniques to create fine painting textures to achieve a more lively effect on the subjects in my paintings. My latest painting of the Singapore Zoo icon, Ah Meng, is an example of the use of such techniques in bringing out a life-like representation of our favourite orang utan.
TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE ACCOMPLISHMENT. I have some favourites, but let me share one interesting example. A few years ago, during an RGS class re-union, an ex-classmate whom I had not met for a long time told me that she remembered the drawing I did in class for the Secondary 2 Art examination, which took place about 45 years ago. She was still able to describe it to me. I was delighted with the accomplishment of the drawing that made such a deep impression on someone who only saw it briefly. IN THE DIGITAL WORLD OF TODAY, IS TWODIMENSIONAL PAINTING STILL RELEVANT? Painting, photography and digital art have rightly found their places in the fine arts. In painting, the artist transmits her feelings and imagination through the brush or other tools in her hand together with the palette of colours and other painting materials at her disposal. I personally feel that painting can further distinguish itself from other ‘2-D’ art forms through fine texturing techniques capable of evoking in viewers a feeling that they are beholding a subject with physical form.
19 PAINTING SINGAPORE WONG CHOR YEE
I EXPANDED MY PAINTING TO INCLUDE PASTELS, ACRYLICS AND OILS, AND EXPLORED AND EXPERIMENTED WITH VARIOUS MATERIALS, TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES TO CREATE FINE PAINTING TEXTURES TO ACHIEVE A MORE LIVELY EFFECT ON THE SUBJECTS IN MY PAINTINGS.
20 PAINTING SINGAPORE WONG CHOR YEE
I THINK PAINTING IS A PROCESS THAT INVOLVES THE WHOLE BRAIN— THE CREATIVE RIGHT BRAIN IMAGINES AND THE RATIONAL LEFT BRAIN FINDS WAYS TO EXPRESS THAT IMAGINATION. WHAT DOES THE PROCESS OF PAINTING FEEL LIKE FROM THE INSIDE OUT? WHAT SORTS OF THOUGHTS AND EMOTIONS DO YOU EXPERIENCE WHILE PAINTING?
2. 1. Ah Meng 2. Mother Teresa
When painting landscapes, I feel immersed in the mood of the scene, interacting with the lights, space and surrounding activities. For example, when I painted the Singapore River Taxis, I wanted the viewer in front of the painting to think that he could hear the roar of the engines and feel the movement of the waves, as I did at the actual scene. Painting portraits, on the other hand, is like a face-to-face interview with the subject. I hope to portray the subject’s mood and personality, which may be perceived or based on any prior knowledge of the subject. For instance, I painted the portrait of Mother Teresa after I read her biography and watched a documentary on her works. As I worked on the painting, I tried to capture the warmth of her compassion and convey it to the viewer.
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT DECIDING WHAT TO PAINT AND HOW DO YOU APPROACH THE CREATION OF EACH PAINTING? DOES THIS TEND TO BE A CAREFULLY PLANNED PROCESS OR IS IT MORE OFTEN SOMETHING SPONTANEOUS AND LESS STRUCTURED? I think it usually begins with inspiration and intuition, followed by the imagination of the visual statement to be imparted, and finally the application of techniques and problem-solving skills to materialise the vision on canvas. Being a meticulous worker by nature, I generally tend to capture a fair share of details in my painting. I think painting is a process that involves the whole brain—the creative right brain imagines and the rational left brain finds ways to express that imagination.
HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF GOING FORWARD AND PUSHING YOUR ENVELOPE IN CREATIVITY? Two things come to my mind. First, I will continue to study, explore and experiment with materials, tools and techniques that will open up new ideas in painting. Second, many of my paintings depict Singapore scenes as I feel very much connected with them. I find them particularly meaningful and intuitively appealing. I will continue to seek inspiring Singapore scenes to paint and aspire to produce original works that Singaporeans can identify with. It would be a bonus if, through such local paintings by local artists, foreigners can also have a better appreciation and a more lasting impression of our Lion City.
CREATIVE MAGIC SEVEN TIPS By Aaron Maniam
ENJOY THE WORK OF OTHERS. ENJOY YOUR OWN COMPANY. ENJOY NEW THINGS. ENJOY SILENCE. ENJOY YOUR OWN WORK. ENJOY THE FACT THAT WHAT YOU DO MATTERS. ENJOY TEACHING AND HELPING OTHERS WITH THEIR OWN CREATIVE ENDEAVOURS. The Rafflesian presence in the local literary scene has been wide and varied. Lee Tzu Pheng, Alfian Sa’at, Alvin Pang, Aaron Lee, Daren Shiau and Ho Poh Fun have made strong contributions to local creative writing, through both their own work and mentorship of younger writers. A new generation of younger poets also have Rafflesian roots—Singapore Literature Prize winner Ng Yi Sheng, for instance, and Theophilus Kwek, whose recent book They Speak Only Our Mother Tongue will be one to watch in the next round of national literary awards. ONE was fortunate to catch up with Alvin, Aaron and Theophilus recently. We explored their views on their work, the creative process and the writing scene in Singapore. Their views were diverse, but some broad principles emerged. In keeping with Harry Potter creator J K Rowling’s belief that ‘seven is the most magical number’, here are seven ideas for the magic of creating with words.
22 CREATIVE MAGIC Aaron Lee, Alvin Pang & Theophilus Kwek
CREATIVE MAGIC SEVEN TIPS
01 ENJOY THE WORK OF OTHERS
For writers, this means one thing: read. It makes creativity a little less lonely if we feel connected to a larger canon and community. Aaron (RI, 1988; RJC, 1990) observes: ‘I was a voracious reader since my childhood and in my teens this love for and awareness of the power of literary language naturally led to my first forays in writing: limericks, essays, short fiction, then poetry and plays.’ Theophilus (RI, 2012) clearly had similar experiences: ‘I've always loved reading and this naturally translated into a love of words and language by the time I tried my hand at writing when I w as fifteen. It began as one of the many things I tried out for fun, then stuck: both the wealth of expression that was opened to me and the sense of satisfaction from coming up with a line or phrase I liked made me want to keep trying.’
02 ENJOY YOUR OWN COMPANY
While the work of others helps to inspire and nudge our own writing, the moment of creation often occurs alone. As Theo put it: ‘Long walks help, both when I'm travelling and when I'm here in Singapore. But the actual writing never comes on the road: I have to be sitting with my laptop somewhere with few distractions, and usually at night—that's when the actual work gets done.’
Alvin sums this up wonderfully, in characteristically rich prose: ‘Travel, read, experience new things. Newness nudges newness; beauty begets beauty’. Somehow, exactly how this newness is found seems less material—sometimes just adopting a new routine, like leaving for work at a different time, highlights things little observed.
In one of my own poems, I explore the Jewish idea of ‘midrash’ or Talmudic interpretation, which some characterise as ‘black fire written on white fire’. The fascination of this image comes from its play with contrast: we need both black and white, light and dark, yin and yang, to reach balance and equilibrium.
ENJOY NEW THINGS
The natural corollary for the writer is that in addition to loving the black fire of words, we must love the underlying white fire of wordlessness. Aaron captures this beautifully when he writes: ‘I listen to music or read, try to sit still and enter a place of inner stillness and focus. And I always need something to write with—pen and paper, usually. I'm seldom able to get into the writing groove by sitting in front of a computer.’ [We didn’t have time for Theo and Aaron to explore the relative merits of laptops versus pen and paper. Perhaps in the next issue!—Ed.]
23 CREATIVE MAGIC Aaron Lee, Alvin Pang & Theophilus Kwek
It is tempting for writers to fall into the trap of excessive self-criticism. A good antidote is periodically to pick our favourites among our own works (similar as that may be to choosing among one’s own children!). The following page showcases some of the poems that Aaron, Alvin and Theo picked as their favourites among their own pieces.
Dan Pink, a best-selling author, observed that meaningful work comes from mastery, autonomy and purpose. This last aspect matters for writers, whose craft is often seen as soft and optional in comparison to hard-nosed economic indicators and bottom lines. However difficult to articulate, all writers operate from a deep belief in the significance of their work, and the struggle that comes from articulating the human condition. Aaron recounts a ‘wonderful, intimate, emotion-laden’ late-night reading with some Singaporean and Filipino poets at a bar in Manila in January 2001:
ENJOY YOUR OWN WORK
ENJOY THE FACT THAT WHAT YOU DO MATTERS
It was in the middle of the people power revolution that led to the overthrow of Philippine President Estrada; actually, it was the night before he was finally ousted. We were in that dim, cosy bar, reading and talking poetry and politics to one another, aware that the currents of history were converging at a unique moment in time, and somehow believing that what we were doing that night had something to do with it. It was awesome. Theo’s experience illustrates the individual, micro-meanings that complement those vast historical waves that Aaron felt plugged into: My favourite accomplishment, as a writer, isn't any particular poem or publication but the experience of writing poetry on demand at the Byron Bay Writers' Fest in 2010. Many would view poetry booths of this nature as commercialising or cheapening the written word, but that experience taught me to respond to others' stories instead of my own, which is always humbling and important for us writers.
ENJOY TEACHING AND HELPING OTHERS WITH THEIR OWN CREATIVE ENDEAVOURS
Alvin (RI, 1988; RJC, 1990) and Aaron have both mentored young writers under schemes organised by the Ministry of Education (MOE) and National Arts Council; Alvin served as RI’s Poet-inResidence recently. Theo was actually my own mentee, under MOE’s Creative Arts Programme, and has already started offering informal mentorship and guidance to his peers in a successful Facebook community, wordsmiths. All of them remember the impact their teachers had on them and, in turn, are now in teaching others. Alvin recalls his first Literature lesson in RI: [Current Senior Deputy Principal] Mr Mag was our teacher at the time. WWe covered a couple of poems in class, and I was utterly hooked. It helped, over the years, that I had peers who cared about well-wrought words as much as I did, and we were each other's support group through our school years. My very first publication, In Search of Words, was a collaboration among five RI boys, and we donated the proceeds to the school.
24 CREATIVE MAGIC Aaron Lee, Alvin Pang & Theophilus Kwek
NEWTON DISCOVERS GRAVITY AT 12
In fact at that exact moment he is not reclining under an apple tree as we are given to understand; he is neither serious with middle age nor heavy-headed with the ballast of a lifetime's learning.
After southern storms struck Alabama on 27th April, 2011, fragments of the victims’ belongings – including countless photographs –were deposited across Tennessee and Georgia. Some have been found and returned.
By Theophilus Kwek
By Aaron Lee
Instead he is a budding writer (& although not a bad student here he is, in the middle of the day,) leaning by a well a ½ mile from the village, having been sent home for falling asleep & dreaming of flying, as we all sometimes do. And so, telling his troubles to his reflection, he drops words at the inky disc in which his tiny head is haloed by blue sky and light, & understands for the first time that saying is a metaphor for seeing, that sound can plumb the meaning of a life. After this he goes home duly comforted (but not a little disturbed), laden with his books, a new-found knowledge & perhaps 1 round apple half eaten. He remembers how each weighted word had arrowed into the well; how he looked into its shadowy depths & it spoke to him. His eyes growing wide as he understands for the first time the secret truth that takes us by the hand & free-falls us into the heart of dying.
We never forgot the day he dropped in on our driveway, laughing, a hole in his heart. Before the storm was over a card had landed into the absence of his hand, its words woven over – when we found it afterwards – by fingers of grass. Out of the blue! it read, just wanted to look in on you and see how you were doing. Love, mom. Within a week it seemed like all the children of Alabama were falling from the sky. We picked them one by one from the lawn, the porch, Mother’s white rosebush; clambered onto the roof to retrieve their siblings. A few had lost limbs (like the last child who couldn’t follow in the Piper’s wake) but were lifted likewise, beyond volition, into the upper reaches of our home. Most were happy. Others had windswept smiles, eyes glazed and faraway, and wrapped themselves around scattered things: A whistle. Bits of string. A granddad, and pages from a family Bible: Father, You loved me before the creation of the world. On the last day of April, Mother took them in a gilded box to where Toby lay beneath the cross in the garden, knelt to give thanks, then buried them by his side. He’s got company now, don’t you think? We watched the rain fall unclouded to the earth, and knew.
01. No Other City Aaron Lee 02. Testing the Silence Alvin Pang
25 CREATIVE MAGIC Aaron Lee, Alvin Pang & Theophilus Kwek
CANDLES By Alvin Pang
A : oi, ah pa know you take candle from the church again, you going to get it. B : nevermind i bring them back when you study finish. you don’t say he don’t know. so dark how to read, how to study? A : got moon tonight can see a bit. ah leong house got light. i use mirror can borrow a bit of light. good enough. candle you bring back. i don’t want wait get scolding because of you. B : i bring all the way home you ask me to bring back for what? anyway tonight Good Friday. church got so many candles they where got notice nine less? A : notice don’t notice also wrong. you bring them back. B : don’t want. A : go now. late already, wait ah pa come home you die. B : don’t want. wait the sisters see me bring back so many candles they know i took them. A : just say you give them to baby Jesus lor. 03. Five Right Angles Aaron Lee 04. The Visitation of Sunlight Aaron Lee
B : so stupid, baby Jesus is Christmas lah. Good Friday is dead Jesus! A : anything lah. i not go church one how i know? you just bring them back there ok? ah pa always say people must be honest. cannot steal, cannot cheat, cannot lie. B : ah pa say that but he also lie what. last week health inspector come he also lie, say our house very clean. actually he hide two dead cockroach under one shoe. A : that was different. that was government. lie to government don’t count because they don’t care whether you good or bad, they just want money for licence. no licence we die they where got care. B : Jesus also like government what. he where got care whether you blind or not, house got light or not. he just hang up there all day for people to see, put money in box, give him so many candles for nothing. he also not taking exam. i borrow some candles to study why cannot. A : aiya up to you lah. say so much also no use. you better go study before ah pa come home.
B : say so much i hungry already. i go downstairs buy mee from Fat Girl, you want? A : don’t want, i full. ah ma see you eat some more she scold you. eat and eat, so stubborn and fat like pig. wait you don’t study fail exam then you know. you so fat and stubborn next time can do what? B : i can be driver like ah pa, or sell meat like ah leong or gangster like ah soon. then government come to ask for money i can call my gang beat them up. anyone bully you or sis i can beat them up. A : xiao, you become gangster get injured how? head kena parang chop one big hole how? B : then you better quick become doctor. then if i need hospital you can cure me. then ah por cough also can cure. also make money so can have light in the house. then no need borrow candle from Jesus anymore.
26 A FEAST FOR THE EYES DAVID YEO
A FEAST FOR THE EYES
WE HEARD THAT YOU’RE STILL IN CLOSE CONTACT WITH YOUR RI BATCHMATES. WHAT ARE YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES OF RI? Yes, I am still in contact with my RI schoolmates. Spending my formative years in RI really helped me to form very strong bonds with my peers. My fondest memory of RI has got to be the last year the school was in Bras Basah—we witnessed the construction of the Cenotaph. Everything revolved around the school and we did things as 2102 Scouts that present day RI students probably wouldn’t even dream of! For example, there was a small canal between the school and the then Capitol Cinema. We tied a rope across the canal and the scouts had to cross it while dangling from the rope! I think everyone was too scared to even think about what would happen if we fell into the canal!
I WANTED THE INTERIORS TO REPRESENT OUR DINING PHILOSOPHY: BRINGING OUT THE BEST IN THE FRESHEST SEASONAL PRODUCE AND NO-ATTITUDE DINING. WE’RE DYING TO FIND OUT IF THERE’S ANY LINK BETWEEN YOUR HULLETT HOUSE HOTEL AND THE HULLETT HOUSE IN RI—IS THERE? There is indeed a link between the hotel and RI. Richmond William Hullett, who was the Headmaster of RI from 1870 to 1906, discovered the Bauhinia flower which is the floral emblem of Hong Kong—hence the connection between RI and Hullett House in Hong Kong.
YOU’VE GOT A PHENOMENAL TRACK RECORD OF CREATING GORGEOUSLY-DESIGNED RESTAURANTS AND VENUES. WHERE DID YOU DRAW THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR FIRST RESTAURANT FROM? When I was helping to design the first aqua restaurant ten years ago on 49 Hollywood Road in Hong Kong, I wanted the interiors to represent our dining philosophy: bringing out the best in the freshest seasonal produce and no-attitude dining. Which means that, from the very beginning, aqua was always passionate about its food and a friendly personal service; our kitchen was an extension to our modest home. Hence we had an open-plan kitchen so that everyone was connected to the cooking happening right in front of them. I am inspired every day by things I see around me—it can come from the most mundane places and at the least expected times. So the decoration in the first aqua reflected our roots next to the Central wet market: the glass platters on our display shelves outside the open kitchen had neat bundles of trimmed Chinese chives (fresh from the market every morning!) standing upright like mini terracotta warriors, and the top shelves had pink joss sticks spiralled and illuminated by downlights to show our connection to the many loss paper shops still operating in the market lanes.
29 A FEAST FOR THE EYES DAVID YEO
Opposite: Vivo Restaurant Above: Armani/Privé Bar
WHAT ASPECTS DO YOU TAKE IN TO ACCOUNT WHEN YOU FIRST BEGIN TO PUT TOGETHER THE DESIGN FOR ONE OF YOUR OUTLETS? We are a small company so my first concern is always about budgetary constraints— how do we get the biggest bang from the smallest of budgets? Next, we always try to use products sourced locally and eschew expensive designer-brand products: firstly because they are beyond our means, and secondly most of these are not suitable for daily commercial use.
Our designs have to look good yet must be practical, functional and stand up to the wear and tear of a busy restaurant or bar operation. In short, the designs must stand the test of time and not look worn out or passé within a year or two of the outlet’s opening. And of course, the designs have to reflect our food and service philosophy and be connected to what we want to say about the relevant cuisine we are serving in that outlet.
OUR DESIGNS HAVE TO LOOK GOOD YET MUST BE PRACTICAL, FUNCTIONAL AND STAND UP TO THE WEAR AND TEAR OF A BUSY RESTAURANT OR BAR OPERATION.
30 A FEAST FOR THE EYES DAVID YEO
THE AQUA GROUP’S PHILOSOPHY HAS ALWAYS BEEN ABOUT A PASSION FOR OUR CUISINES DELIVERED WITH WARM, FRIENDLY SERVICE. HOW MUCH OF THE INSPIRATION FOR YOUR RESTAURANT DESIGN COMES FROM THE CITIES THEY ARE LOCATED IN, AND HOW ARE THE CITIES REFLECTED IN THE DESIGN? The aqua group’s philosophy has always been about a passion for our cuisines delivered with warm, friendly service. Hence our restaurant designs reflect those qualities and are not based on the cities the restaurants are in. There is perhaps one whimsical exception: Vivo on Elgin Street has a backdrop of backlit vertical wood and ivy strips; if you look at it from afar, the wood strips represent the skyscrapers of Hong Kong’s skyline at night, and the vertical ivy strips symbolise Victoria Park. In most of our other restaurants in other cities, the designs are predominantly influenced by their relevant cuisines. For example, we’ve opened three outlets in London that make up our aqua london group – aqua kyoto, aqua nueva and aqua spirit. In aqua kyoto, which opened on Regent Street last year, we had a giant handmade Japanese lantern adorning what is arguably London’s biggest high-end sushi bar whereas the entrance leading to aqua nueva, has a 1.2m tall Spanish bull head that appears to be emerging from a wall and charging down the corridor! As for our bar, aqua spirit, the round bar counter is a cohesive centre of Japanese glamour with a halo of hand-crafted charcoal and seating that uses Japanese kimono silk as backdrops. The charcoal theme at aqua spirit represents purification—key to the water that is aqua.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A YOUNG RAFFLESIAN TODAY? Auspicium Melioris Aevi—Hope of a Better Age. That’s what I hope Rafflesians all continue to do—building a better Singapore imbued with our values and traditions for the next generation to come.
David Yeo (RI, 1976) is the founder and creator of the aqua Restaurant Group. He graduated with a Degree in Law from the University of Kent and a Masters in Law from Cambridge University and was made a partner of Herbert Smith, one of Britain's top ten law firms. In 1993, David arrived in Hong Kong and headed Herbert Smith's Banking & Project Finance, before heading the legal department of Credit Suisse Hong Kong in 1998. In 2000, David and his business partner, Richard Ward, launched the flagship eatery aqua. Realising that Hong Kong was lagging behind the happening culinary scenes of New York, Tokyo and London, they set about introducing a restaurant concept that was fresh, contemporary and approachable. More restaurants followed, embracing different cuisines but always keeping true to their original vision. The aqua Restaurant Group now has, in addition to Hullett House, 22 cutting-edge bar, lounge club and restaurant concepts all around the world, including aqua, Hutong and Armani/Aqua launched in collaboration with Giorgio Armani in 2011.
31 A FEAST FOR THE EYES DAVID YEO
Founded in 2009 by David Yeo and managed by the aqua group, Hullett House is a design-led heritage hotel situated in the colonial white-stucco building in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong. It has received considerable acclaim for its blend of Chinese and British influences and its mix of old and new. The hotel is accompanied in its celebration of old Hong Kong by five popular dining and entertainment venues, as well as a performance area specially created as a venue for showcasing traditional festivals and celebrations. Hullett House’s suites, which range in size from 800 to 1,100 square feet, feature spacious private terraced balconies and breathtaking views of Hong Kong’s famous skyline, with sweeping gardens below. Each suite is specially designed to reflect a distinct period in Hong Kong’s history, and is named after one of Hong Kong’s numerous bays, in homage to the building’s history as the former Marine Police headquarters.
Clockwise from opposite: Loong Toh Yuen Restaurant, Hullett House Lido Suite Tsing Lung Suite
32 FLOWERING AMBITION LIM XUAN HONG & ONG CHONG REN
33 FLOWERING AMBITION LIM XUAN HONG & ONG CHONG REN
The Hope Of A Better Age is alive and well, flourishing in the school nursery located near Braddell Road in the Year 5–6 end of the RI campus. Occasionally, it even blooms in vibrant bursts of yellow, orange and dark orange. ‘That’s the interesting thing about hybrids,’ says Lim Xuan Hong (RI, 2005; RJC, 2007) happily. ‘Because one parent is reddish and the other is yellowish, the offspring comes in a variety of colours and you get different patterns, too.’ Xuan Hong and his senior, Ong Chong Ren (RI, 2004; RJC, 2006) had helmed an orchid hybridisation project with the Raffles Society of Biological Science (RSBS); Chong Ren was their president in 2006 and Xuan Hong took over the reins in 2007. Although Chong Ren initiated the project in 2005, with Xuan Hong joining him a year later, it was only in 2010 that their efforts bore fruit—or rather, flower—in the form of Brassocatanthe Hope Of A Better Age. The hybrid, a cross between Cattlianthe Rojo and Brassavola subulifolia, was registered that same year. One of its striking blooms now graces the front cover of the Year 5 Raffles
Academy Biology Textbook. To date, four other as-yet-unnamed Rafflesian orchid hybrids have also flowered. The plants are watered twice daily, fertilised and given a weekly dose of fungicide by caring gardeners from the school’s Estate Department. The current crop of students from the RSBS continues to propagate and care for the hybrids. The orchid hybridisation project was born when Mr Winston Hodge (then the Principal of RJC) and Mr Leong Yew Wah (currently RI’s Deputy Principal of Special Projects) saw an orchid tissue culture practical being conducted during an RSBS meeting. When they asked if RI could make its own hybrids, Chong Ren jumped at the chance. ‘I had been toying with the idea of raising orchid hybrid seedlings since I was in Secondary 4,’ he confesses, adding that it was also sheer good fortune that he had gotten to know Xuan Hong, who was as enthusiastic about orchids as he was. Under the supervision of teacher-mentors Mrs Selvamani Nair, Mrs Jeanne Wan and Mrs Christina Khoo, they wrote up a project proposal for the orchid hybridisation project.
ORCHIDS THAT ARE RELATED TO EACH OTHER CAN TYPICALLY BE HYBRIDISED, BUT SOMETIMES IT’S A MATTER OF LUCK AS WELL; WE DID IT BY TRIAL AND ERROR.
From left: Lim Xuan Hong Ong Chong Ren
The pair of gardening enthusiasts then began their avid search for potential parent plants at specialised nurseries in Lim Chu Kang and Choa Chu Kang. They have even contributed a few parent plants from their own collections. According to Xuan Hong, these candidates were picked based on compatibility as well as colour. ‘The proposal was that the hybrids would reflect or represent the school and its five houses, so we were trying to get plants in colours that matched the school colours and house colours,’ he says with a laugh. ‘Red and yellow were easy, but true black and blue were very hard to find; we actually tried to get them, but they’re either too
rare to be crossed with a lot of other species or didn’t turn out to be viable at that time. Very few orchids are black or green.’ Fortuitously, a nursery owner whom the boys knew offered to let them use a hybrid he had just registered. It was very promising; no one else had used it as a parent plant before, and it grew very vigorously. In fact, the species thrives so well that the Botanical Gardens later bought many of them for its own hybridisation projects. ‘Orchids that are related to each other can typically be hybridised, but sometimes it’s a matter of luck as well; we did it by trial and error,’ Xuan Hong recalls. ‘We actually made quite a number of
34 FLOWERING AMBITION LIM XUAN HONG & ONG CHONG REN
crosses—more than 20 crosses I think—but some of them died from fungal contamination.’ Germination had to be done with special care in a sterile environment, so the team carried it out in RI’s clean room (the institution is one of the very few Junior College-level schools in Singapore with such a facility). After much ‘fumbling around before getting used to particular techniques’, the orchid seeds that the duo had sown in petri dishes eventually turned green. It was a moment that Chong Ren remembers most fondly. ‘Up till that point, we weren’t even sure the whole thing was going to work!’ he says. ‘Orchid seeds basically look like a pile of dust because they are so tiny, so it was a relief that we were able to get them to germinate after months of waiting for the seed capsules to mature and ripen. The project also gave me a taste of what scientific research could be like—doing background research, looking for information, finding existing protocols (which are often confusing) and getting them to work for you. Moreover, I didn’t have much experience with aseptic techniques before we embarked on this project. Seeing the photographs that Mrs Nair and Mrs Khoo took of the hybrids when they finally bloomed made it all worth the effort.’ With help and support from Mr Tan Nam Seng (RI’s Senior Deputy Principal of Planning
and Resources) and the Estate Department, the orchids continued to grow in orchid sheds in the school nursery. Chong Ren and Xuan Hong kept in touch with their teachers even after their graduation, giving advice on how to name and register the hybrids. In fact, they continued to visit RI throughout their two-year stint as National Servicemen to introduce their juniors from the RSBS to the project, so that future batches of Rafflesians could carry on what they had started. Chong Ren is presently in his honours year, pursuing a Bachelor of Science at the Australian National University’s Department of Evolution, Ecology and Brassocatanthe Hope Of A Better Age
ORCHID SEEDS BASICALLY LOOK LIKE A PILE OF DUST BECAUSE THEY ARE SO TINY, SO IT WAS A RELIEF THAT WE WERE ABLE TO GET THEM TO GERMINATE AFTER MONTHS OF WAITING FOR THE SEED CAPSULES TO MATURE AND RIPEN.
35 FLOWERING AMBITION LIM XUAN HONG & ONG CHONG REN
Brassavola Singapura, which Xuan Hong and Chong Ren crossed with Encyclia tampensis var. semi-alba to form another as-yet-unnamed hybrid
I ALWAYS COMPLAIN THAT PEOPLE WHO HAVE GARDENS DON’T ACTUALLY MAKE FULL USE OF THEM. I MAKE DO WITH WHAT I HAVE; I GROW PLANTS IN THE CORRIDOR AND STAIRCASE LANDING.
Genetics. Xuan Hong, on the other hand, is currently reading Environmental Science and Policy at Duke University. Both boys say that while they have always loved plants and nature, gardening only became a big part of their lives when they entered secondary school. Chong Ren recalls a visit a Gardentech exhibition he had attended in his early teens: ‘I was dazzled by a display of Heliconia blooms of varying colours and shapes, and all I wanted to do at that point was bring some of that diversity into my own garden. My favourite groups of plants were Heliconia, gingers, orchids and bromeliads—exotic, strikinglycoloured plants which epitomise a tropical landscape.’ Xuan Hong says that it was his uncle, himself a gardening enthusiast, who helped nurture his love for plants. He had followed him to specialised nurseries during his secondary school years and was subsequently hooked on cultivating interesting and unique plants. Chong Ren and Xuan Hong were both active
participants on local horticultural forum Green Culture Singapore, where they got to know fellow enthusiasts from different walks of life. It was a fun and interesting experience, Xuan Hong says, especially because members of the forum come together in gatherings to share stories and trade ornamental plants. The pair contributed articles and gave talks on how to nurture plants such as Heliconia, bromeliads and orchids at horticultural fairs such as the GardenTech fair held in 2008. Xuan Hong has also given talks on how to do successful gardening in high-rise apartments. ‘I live in an HDB flat so I don’t have a garden, and I always complain that people who have gardens don’t actually make full use of them,’ he laughs. ‘I make do with what I have; I grow plants in the corridor and staircase landing. It’s more difficult, but it’s also another kind of experience.’ His garden is now home to many representatives of different types of orchids, as well
as carnivorous plants like pitcher plants which thrive in Singapore’s tropical climate. ‘They have very unique adaptations that make them more interesting to grow,’ he explains. Studying overseas means the two boys have to put their gardening hobbies on hold, but university life has opened them up to a plethora of novel experiences. Chong Ren’s course has taken him to places like the Australian Alps, where he studied rocks, and the southern Great Barrier Reef, where he learnt about corals and coral reef ecosystems. The beginning of 2012 saw him driving, hiking and camping in various national parks across the range of his study group to collect populations of Pelargonium from all across Australia for his honours project. Xuan Hong, meanwhile, is exploring liberal arts, sciences and ecology as well as environmental policy. ‘I think Singapore is doing very well in not just beautifying itself through greenery; it has implemented urban planning
strategies that are also good for the environment. I think the both of us will be going to go back to Singapore after college because we are on scholarships, and hopefully, I’ll be able to work with the government in environmentally-related fields and contribute based on my knowledge and what I’ve learnt,’ he says. Yet, Chong Ren and Xuan Hong have doubtlessly already set a precedent for their juniors. The boys’ teacher-mentors, Mrs Nair and Mrs Khoo, say that they are very proud of them. In addition to driving the orchid hybridisation project, the pair had also sought ways to beautify the RI campus. ‘They were so passionate about plants that they actually returned to school on Saturdays during their NS days with long lists of plants!’ Mrs Nair beams. ‘They’d tell us that the plants would make the landscape lusher, or attract butterflies,’ adds Mrs Khoo. ‘These are all legacies they’ve left behind.’
36 HOW A LIFE-SAVING GADGETEER TICKS DR LIM JUI
HOW A LIFE-SAVING GADGETEER TICKS
A pioneer’s journey through the biomedical industry By Adil Hakeem
I walked nervously into the office of Dr Lim Jui (RI, 1984) expecting to interview him, only to spend the next ten minutes in role reversal as he had me recall my own Raffles story. Outgoing, disarming, and energetic, Dr Lim was nothing like the stereotypical scientist cooped up in a lab, but then again he wasn’t very typical anyway. His educational experience was exciting enough: half his time at Raffles was spent at match supports rather than at school (the benefit of being a vice-head prefect), and he was heavily involved in the liberal arts scene while studying pre-med in Columbia University. It may be tempting to believe that innovators are born spouting ideas, but Dr Lim’s initial path in life was ordinary, albeit successful — he received his MD from Columbia University and completed his Residency in Anaesthesiology at NUS. But there were some things he did not like about his job: he had to spend most of his time in the operating theatre without seeing the light of day, and he was unable to interact with patients—‘if
the patient remembers you, it means you’ve done a bad job’. However, the final nail in the coffin was when he realised that he would be doing the same thing twenty years down the road—anaesthetising people— without anything new to tackle. Perhaps the mundane nature of the job was unbearable for a person accustomed to facing new challenges with much gusto and energy. So, he left. His first foray into biomedical technology was via Bio*One Capital, the biomedical investment arm of the Economic Development Board (EDB). But supporting the growth of an industry is one thing; being that growth itself is another. So when Merlin MD, a small private firm, came knocking, he went for it, serving as first its director and then CEO because, in his words, ‘[in such a new sector] there were few people who could do the job’. At long last, he had found his innovative outlet (or maybe his innovative
HE SEEMS TO RELISH THE CREATIVE FRENZY — THE SURGERY DEPARTMENT HAS NO SHORTAGE OF CUTTING-EDGE PROBLEMS TO SOLVE, AND HIS TEAM NOW HAS 17 DEVICES IN THE WORKS.
38 HOW A LIFE-SAVING GADGETEER TICKS DR LIM JUI
SUPPORTING THE GROWTH OF AN INDUSTRY IS ONE THING; BEING THAT GROWTH ITSELF IS ANOTHER.
outlet had found him), and the company’s gadget, a stent to combat brain aneurysms while maintaining blood flow to neighbouring blood vessels, made the headlines in 2007. Dr Lim is presently the director of the Medical Engineering Research and Commercialization Initiative (MERCI), a special programme within the NUS Department of Surgery. His compact team of six (all battle-hardened veterans of the corporate world) brainstorms ideas for new devices with the clinicians who use them, supervises their development and spins them off into start-up companies. He seems to relish the creative frenzy—the surgery department has no shortage of cutting-edge problems to solve, and his team now has 17 devices in the works. Dr Lim is optimistic about the biomedical devices industry’s future growth prospects, given the abundance of skilled doctors and engineers added to the workforce every year and the growing number of people receiving training in preparation for entry into the biomedical industry. A strong believer in the importance of acquiring business acumen, Dr Lim also directs the Singapore-Stanford Biodesign Programme, a post-graduate course created by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), EDB and Stanford University, to provide doctors and engineers with practical business training as part of the innovation process
DR LIM’S TEAMS HAVE DEVELOPED, OR ARE CURRENTLY DEVELOPING, THESE DEVICES:
1. POLYMERIC INTESTINAL LININGS TO MIMIC THE BENEFITS OF WEIGHT LOSS SURGERY WITHOUT HAVING TO PERMANENTLY EXCISE THE GUT (THE TRADITIONAL PROCEDURE)
EXISTING DIAGNOSTIC PLATFORMS TO MINIMISE PATIENT CONTACT AND HENCE THE RISK OF SPREADING HOSPITALACQUIRED INFECTIONS
3. STENTS AND STENTVALVES TO PRESERVE BLOOD FLOW IN VARIOUS PARTS OF THE CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Dr Lim’s dedication to his work leaves him with little time for photography and reading, his other hobbies; most of his free time is spent on his wife and three young children, as well as his other responsibility as the Deputy Commanding Officer (B2) of an infantry battalion in the Singapore Armed Forces. Much to my bewilderment (as a soon-to-be national service enlistee), he enjoys the latter role very much: it gives him the opportunity to meet young people and watch them develop. If creators owe their existence partly to the efforts of their predecessors, Dr Lim’s willingness to mentor future innovators is heartening indeed.
BUILDING A NATION
TO HIJJAS, IT WASN’T JUST ABOUT AESTHETICS. IT WAS ABOUT BUILDING A NATION, AND THAT WOULD REMAIN HIS SINGULAR FOCUS AND GOAL THROUGHOUT HIS CAREER.
Al Faisal University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
40 BUILDING A NATION HIJJAS KASTURI
Hotel Penaga, Penang
41 BUILDING A NATION HIJJAS KASTURI
ARCHITECTURE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN EXPRESSION OF THE TIMES, THE PEOPLE, THEIR CULTURE, AND WHAT THEY CAN AFFORD, AND IT IS IN THAT CONTEXT THAT YOU HAVE TO DESIGN TO SATISFY ALL THESE ELEMENTS.
The name of Hijjas Kasturi (RI, 1955) is often associated with towering skyscrapers and iconic architecture, but the internationally-renowned architect’s design sensibilities sprang from comparatively down-to-earth foundations— building attap houses. Born in Singapore in 1936, he helped his father build family houses in the then Kampong Melayu (which later became Jalan Eunos). He was involved in all aspects of construction, from digging, sawing and hammering, to stitching attap leaves and applying kapor paint. Eventually, he became interested in the structures of houses, and was especially drawn to the different styles of the houses of his Chinese and Indian friends. This captivation continued into his school days. ‘I used to observe people repairing doors and windows and how they scraped paint off with a torch before repainting,’ he recalls. ‘I was so fascinated that my teacher scolded me for not being attentive!’ This natural sense of curiosity spurred in him a desire to be
unconventional: ‘Throughout my life I always wanted to be different. In Raffles, I played tennis instead of the usual hockey, cricket and football, and for extra curricula I joined the air cadets instead of the sea cadets, scouts, or St John’s ambulance brigade like everyone else.’ Likewise, as he discussed his future career ambitions with his peers, he found that once again, he stood out from the crowd. While most of his friends opted for medicine, law, teaching and engineering, his passion for the building trade fuelled his aspiration to become an architect. Unfortunately, architecture was a relatively unknown profession at that time, so there was no architecture course available in Singapore, and his parents were unable to afford higher education for him. Undaunted by these setbacks, Hijjas set aside some savings from his part-time work, and when he had graduated from RI, he went to Indonesia in the hope of getting into Universiti Technology Bandung, which had a school of architecture. Alas, he could not gain entry into the school because he lacked Indonesian qualifications, but his first overseas trip alone opened
his eyes: ‘I saw the hardships and suffering that the people went through as citizens of a newly-independent country, yet they were high-spirited in their newfound freedom and were looking forward to a future that they would control.’ This insight would later go on to influence the development of his career. Back in Singapore, Hijjas worked for the government under the General Clerical Service, and later joined the then Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) as an architectural draftsman in 1956 to gain a feel for his chosen career. Nonetheless, his goal of obtaining a degree in architecture remained foremost in his mind, and he went to night school to obtain his Higher School Certificate as a pre-entry requisite for university. He tried multiple avenues in his pursuit of tertiary education— he enrolled for an architecture course with the International Correspondence School in London; at the same time, he sat for an intermediate examination with the Royal Institute of British Architects as an alternative way to enter the profession.
Menara Telekom Headquarters, Kuala Lumpur
42 BUILDING A NATION HIJJAS KASTURI
ARCHITECTURE HAS ALWAYS BEEN AN EXPRESSION OF THE TIMES, THE PEOPLE, THEIR CULTURE, AND WHAT THEY CAN AFFORD, AND IT IS IN THAT CONTEXT THAT YOU HAVE TO DESIGN TO SATISFY ALL THESE ELEMENTS.
Putrajaya International Convention Centre, Putrajaya
Hijjas describes how he goes about designing a building: His efforts finally paid off when he won a Colombo Plan scholarship in 1958 via the SIT to study in Adelaide and then Melbourne, where he graduated in Architecture and Town Planning in 1965 and returned to Singapore the following year. In 1967, he moved to Malaysia and became part of its pioneer generation of architects. Once again, he found himself in the midst of a fledgling nation striving to develop its own sense of nationhood. ‘We were entering a completely new time, and I wanted to incorporate this sentiment into my designs for Malaysian buildings—I call it my search for Malaysian identity.’ To Hijjas, it wasn’t just about aesthetics—it was about building a nation, and that would remain his singular focus and goal throughout his career. Among the many projects he has undertaken, he is especially proud of the educational institutions he has helped build:
‘Soon after I arrived in Malaysia, I founded the School of Art and Architecture at the Mara Institute of Technology—the first architecture school in the country—and that is still a great source of achievement for me, to have done something that the British had not.’ Hijjas went into partnership in 1969, and subsequently formed his own practice, Hijjas Kasturi Associates (HKAS) in 1977, which has designed many landmark buildings such as the Tabung Haji (1986), Menara Maybank (1989), Putrajaya Convention Centre (2003) and the 4G11 Tower (2008). Hijjas’ work has also received much recognition both locally and internationally: he received the Tokyo Creation Award in 1998; the Malaysian
Architects’ Institute Gold Medal in 2001; the Award in Urban Redevelopment, Conservation and Restoration for Kampung Glam, Singapore by Pertubuhan Perancang Malaysia in 2001; the Vocational Excellence Award for the recognition of outstanding achievements in the field of Architecture by the Rotary Club of Metro Kuala Lumpur in 2002; and the Anjung Seri Creative Council Award for the recognition of outstanding achievements in the field of arts and designs by Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd in 2002. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Architecture from Universiti Malaya in 2005, and received the Degree of Doctor in Humanities and Social Sciences, Architecture from the University of Adelaide and Degree of Doctor of Architecture (honoris causa) from the University of Melbourne in 2008. Recently, he was also awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Architectural Innovation in Universiti of Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) in 2010.
‘There are three main elements to design: rationale, economics and aesthetics. Firstly, one must determine if the purpose of the building matches the type of building, the environment, and the context of the site. Analytic research and scheduling of requirements for the brief have to be resolved too. This becomes automatic as one gains experience. ‘Economics of space planning maximises effect and minimises cost to bring out the optimum benefit for the project. One also has to resolve the economics of construction, to find techniques that are suitable for the manpower available and to find the right technology and materials to maximise the longevity of the building. ‘But in designing an iconic building, one has to go beyond mere functionalism and economic justification— buildability, maintainability and sustainability are all aspects that must be considered.
43 BUILDING A NATION HIJJAS KASTURI
‘Following these, we have aesthetics, which is the most important element. A boxlike building can satisfy all requirements, but it becomes dull and dreary, and it doesn’t add anything to the landscape. Architecture has always been an expression of the times, the people, their culture, and what they can afford, and it is in that context that you have to design to satisfy all these elements. Lateral thinking is critical to create something out of the box, but one still has to follow the basic design principles such as proportion, scale and mass. ‘For me, sketching and re-sketching provides the solutions for all these problems. Although much today can be accomplished by computers, the physical act of drawing does help me develop a range of possible ideas.’ Ambition and perserverance play a critical role in Hijjas’ successful, award-winning career, qualities that feature prominently in his memories of RI:
From Top: Tabung Haji Headquarters, Kuala Lumpur
Maybank Headquarters, Kuala Lumpur
‘What impressed me, when I first arrived in RI, was to be included amongst the best students in Singapore. The school had a great history and its size was intimidating. I remember how I once had to write an essay about how I cleaned my shoes. I was still struggling with English at that time and I was always trying to find metaphors that would impress my teacher.
‘Later on, I was influenced by the strict discipline and teaching of the headmaster, Mr John Young, who was kind enough to give me advice. I took as much as the school offered me, like tennis and special art classes on Saturdays, but because I was working part-time to help my family, I didn’t excel academically. On one memorable occasion, I was even told to “balek kampong” by Mr John Christie, my literature and geography teacher. It was a humiliating event, but it was also one that spurred me on to greater efforts. I became Mr Christie’s chosen student to draw maps on the board.’ To our young Rafflesians, he emphasises the same qualities: ‘Be grateful that you have been chosen to go to this great school; it is an institution that will give you the best education. Do not be disheartened if you don’t get outstanding academic results. I must admit that I was not a brilliant student, but I persevered and worked hard, and I was very ambitious in achieving my goals. ‘I often quote the words of Shakespeare (in Macbeth) that I learned during my time in Raffles: “But screw your courage to the sticking place and we’ll not fail.” Always try to find solutions to problems. If you persevere, you will find a way to achieve what you want. But you must always remember this— be true to yourself.’
44 FREE FOR ALL OPENLECTURES
FREE FOR ALL By Qiu Linan
Qiu Linan (RI, 2009), Founder and CEO of openlectures
45 FREE FOR ALL OPENLECTURES
START SMALL. START WITH WHAT YOU KNOW. READ UP ON WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW. TALK TO THOSE WHO DO KNOW.
BE FAST. BE NIMBLE.
FIRST, DON'T START BY BEING AN ENTREPRENEUR. By this, I mean that thinking ‘I AM AN ENTREPRENEUR’ is the best way to get a mental block. Start small. Start with what you know. Read up on what you don't know. Talk to those who do know.
I founded openlectures in July 2011 with the belief that education should and will be free and open to all. The team sat down for rounds of coffee, built a site, went for more coffee, and recruited many lecturers. Since then, openlectures has been helping students from all backgrounds in Singapore acquire quality education resources by providing online lectures delivered by top Singaporean students. Two months ago, over a chat with a friend, the topic of how openlectures was created surfaced. I found what transpired during the conversation rather interesting (and perhaps useful for the thinkers, leaders, and pioneers here). Singaporeans tend to view entrepreneurs as some sort of mythical creature because there seems to be no true formula for success. Here's to dissecting the Minotaur, or what I've learned about it:
However, you cannot just set out to be an entrepreneur. Ever wondered why sitting around brainstorming business ideas for entrepreneurship competitions is so hard? That’s because businesses are never made in that order. Products were made first, then developed and marketed. The term entrepreneur is but an empty shell. Sitting on a couch and declaring yourself an entrepreneur is not entrepreneurship—it is unemployment. You need products, concepts, ideas and you need them fast. I once knew a friend who told me ‘I want to be an entrepreneur!’ I then asked him, ‘So what's your idea?’ He gave me a disgusted look and replied, ‘None! But I like starting businesses!’ Consultancy would have been his cup of tea.
Back when I was in school, I tried to initiate a project. I was told to justify how it was a social entrepreneurship project, lay down the aims of the project audience, estimate the target audience, draft up a proposal, redraft the proposal, find a teacher and an organisation to back me and wait two months (and pray) for the deities above to approve it. Inspiration for openlectures was born most casually, during a round of drinks between Zhang Yitao and me. We went home, bought the domain and drafted a website by 3 am that night. Within a week, we roped in our Chief Information Officer (CIO), Kenneth Lim, while we filmed our first lecture. A week later, the prototype was ready. The team grew to include professional video producers like Tek Yong Jian who went on to become our Chief Operating Officer (COO) and public relations dudes like Law Kang Jie who is our current Chief Communications Officer (CCO). Within eight months, we had more than 400 lectures filmed and over 70 lecturers in the team. We didn't draft formal proposals full of jargon. Why would we bother wasting time since we already knew what we were doing? Our team only consisted of three people at the beginning anyway. We didn't wait for anyone to approve anything. If you strongly believe in your idea, throw your own money in and grow it. If you have to find someone to fund you, make your offerings to some other deity.
46 FREE FOR ALL OPENLECTURES
THE CUP IS NEITHER HALF FULL NOR HALF EMPTY—IT IS ALREADY TWICE AS BIG AS IT NEEDS TO BE.
Tek Yong Jian (RI, 2009), Chief Operations Officer of openlectures
Kenneth, our CIO, once told me: ‘Anything that looks professional does not cost money. A professional is an individual, not a piece of equipment.’ We started with a display-set camcorder mounted on an L-stand we built in an hour out of materials bought from the DIY shop near Hougang Mall. Right now, through creative positioning of equipment (that includes placing an army-grade torchlight behind a piece of tracing paper to simulate a light box), we produce 1080p HD lectures. When you start off, you will be short of funding. Be creative. Find solutions. We found ours—ghetto is good. Otherwise, you are not thinking hard enough.
WE PRIZE PRODUCTIVITY OVER FLUFF, PERSONAL GROWTH OVER SWEET WORDS AND HUMILITY OVER PRIDE.
BE RADICALLY TRANSPARENT. There will come a point of time when your company grows to be more than the three crazy people you started off with. That is not a cause for concern by itself—in fact it should never be—but how the large team works together might be. In the openlectures team, there are brilliant lecturers, programmers, photographers, writers and designers. We are encouraged to challenge each other regardless of rank, seniority or background. We criticise each other directly. When confusions happen, we discuss them openly, in what I call a culture of radical transparency.
47 FREE FOR ALL OPENLECTURES
DON'T WAIT TO BE TOLD WHAT TO DO AND HOW TO DO IT.
CREATION IS ONLY POSSIBLE WITH DESTRUCTION, BECAUSE IT IS BY BREAKING CONVENTIONS THAT WE FIND NEW AND MORE SENSIBLE WAYS TO RUN THINGS.
Challenge not just yourself, but others around you as well. Creation is only possible via destruction, because it is by breaking conventions that we find new and more sensible ways to run things. If the team at openlectures found the education system to be perfect, we wouldn't have started the entire initiative in the first place. ‘The biggest problem that humanity faces is the ego.’ This quote is borrowed from Ray Dalio, founder of Bridgewater Associates, the richest hedge fund in the world. In short, it means ‘be humble and learn’. Starting openlectures has been the most humbling endeavour I have ever embarked on. Every single person I work with in openlectures is clearly smarter than me in one way or another. I have met students who have won multiple Olympiads, a programmer who built the entire site by himself, and a lecturer who aced his ‘A’-Level Mathematics at the age of 12. One of our public relations dudes is the top scorer for the ‘A’-Levels last year. Admitting that someone is better than you is not conceding that you are worth less; rather, it is recognition of his capacity.
PAIN + REFLECTION = PROGRESS Many entrepreneurs think of their products as an extension of themselves. When they receive criticism, they take them to be insults on their intelligence, their abilities and their efforts. Then they pay hundreds of thousands for consultants to tell them the exact same thing. Harsh and blunt criticisms often hurt the feelings of people in the team, but that sensation is merely the feeling of one's ego being deflated. We never feared that it would create an unloving environment, because in our team, we are all masochists. We prize productivity over fluff, personal growth over sweet words and humility over pride. So technically, it is pretty loving and conducive. Let experience shape you and scar you.
Rafflesians have often been told that we are young, brilliant and promising. However, being young and brilliant alone is not going to get you anywhere. I used to lecture but now I have found 70 others who share my passion and now spend the bulk of my time managing the company instead. Law Kang Jie (RI, 2010), Chief Communications Officer of openlectures
So think big, think crazy, and make many good friends over coffee. That's always a good start.
48 TEACHER FEATURE HECTOR CHEE
EXPONENTIAL RELATIONSHIPS by Izyan Nadzirah and Adil Hakeem Mr Hector Chee, an exceptional teacher and a Senior Assistant of RI from 1960 to 1980, defined the way Mathematics was taught at RI. Get to know this man who forged a generation of Rafflesians.
Every photograph that hung on the history-stained walls along the RI Year 1–4 campus seemed to be dear to Mr Hector Chee’s mind. He would scrutinise one, tell us all about the event that the photograph had immortalised, and then move on to the next without skipping a beat. It was evident that the former teacher, famous for founding and introducing Model Mathematics in the early 1980s in Singapore, treasured his twenty-year stint at RI. When we came to the wall that held the pictures of notable alumni in the Public Service, he grinned and pointed to the many faces that he had taught and cheekily whispered, ‘Lucky for me, I didn’t really scold my students very much, especially those who are civil servants and doctors now!’ In fact, his visits to his current family doctor, who coincidentally is one of his students, come at no cost at all. He’s frequently had the same experience when visiting the hospital for a check-up. Sometimes he demands to pay for the medicine, conscious of the expense to his former students, but they invariably assure him that it’s the least they can do to express their gratitude to the teacher that got them interested in Mathematics.
Till today, many alumni still recognize Mr Chee and are grateful to have been under his tutelage. ‘Is there any graduating class that you still keep in touch with?’ we asked. ‘There are many! I recently received a phone call about attending an upcoming reunion. I told the boy to update me and I’ll come!’ He also shared with us how some of his former students would stop him in the middle of the pathway just to greet him whenever he goes about town. In fact, we got to witness it for ourselves right in RI. The moment he stepped out of the lift of the Administrative Centre, an alumnus who happened to be at the reception counter rushed forward and shook his hand. ‘Mr Chee! You were my Mathematics teacher in Year 3! How are you?’ ‘Good, good. Which batch are you from?’ ‘Umm … I can’t remember already. It was so long ago. It’s good to see you!’ We stood aside, marvelling at the fact that 30 years on, a grown man would rush up to shake his teacher’s hand with pride. With a chuckle, Mr Chee, clad in trousers and a
short-sleeved checked shirt, waved goodbye to his former student and re-joined us for the tour around the school grounds.
MY STUDENTS DESERVE THE BEST, SO I HAD TO LEARN TO THE BEST OF MY ABILITY IN ORDER TO BE A GOOD TEACHER.
THE HUMBLE TEACHER Mr Chee, who taught Mathematics and Geography from 1960 to 1962 and then focused exclusively on Mathematics from 1963 to 1980, explained that ‘all RI boys are good. They are very talkative, but they’re also very disciplined. The moment you scold them, they’ll feel very bad, but I try not to scold them because it dampens that inquisitive, daring spark that makes them stand out from the crowd.’
49 TEACHER FEATURE HECTOR CHEE
‘It’s not easy to teach good students in RI; before they come to class, they would have already read the ten-year series and they are expecting something extra,’ he continued. Nevertheless, he made it a point not to assume that every student understood what was going on, and would always reiterate the rationale for deploying a particular formula rather than just telling his students to accept its use on the basis of tradition. ‘A good teacher explains how the answer is derived even though all his students got it correct,’ he notes. ‘Some students may have got it right by luck and later become confused when they are revising. We cannot expect the student to understand what we know by heart so as teachers we must remember to explain, explain and explain. Mathematics is different—you can’t just read a textbook and ace the examination. It needs practice, explanation, and understanding.’ In 1969, he was one of two teachers who introduced Modern Mathematics, also known as Elementary Mathematics (Alternative C), to students in RI. It had been piloted with a smaller number of classes in 1968. This was a significant contribution to the way Mathematics was taught, as unlike previous Mathematics syllabuses, it focused not only on arithmetic, algebra and geometry but also set theory, matrices and transformation. ‘My students deserve the best, so I had to learn to the best of my ability in order to be a good teacher.’ THE BACKBONE OF RI Mr Chee was promoted to Senior Assistant in charge of the morning session in 1971.
Mr Philip Liau, who was the principal then, had absolute faith in Mr Chee’s version of discipline—whenever parents wanted to meet Mr Liau regarding discipline issues, he would tell them to arrange a session with Mr Chee. The patient Senior Assistant would hear the woes of the parents and then propose a course of action that never failed to work: ‘If you don’t like me punishing your son for doing the wrong thing, you can ask for a transfer any time.’ The parents would stare at him, wide-eyed. Most of them would apologise and assure him that their child would be more disciplined from then on. Mr Chee also conducted spot-checks with an extremely vigilant eye. Students treated him with reverence during these moments. Those who dared to defy him were treated to a sharp comeback. Mr Chee recalled how during one of the spot-checks, he spotted a Pre-U 1 boy with long hair. When questioned, the boy exasperatedly told him, ‘Sir, my grandmother just died so I must not cut my hair for a hundred days; it’s a Chinese tradition!’
THE BOYS TRUSTED HIM LIKE A FRIEND, AND OBEYED HIM AS A TEACHER, AND IN TURN, HE BELIEVED IN EACH ONE OF THEM WHOLEHEARTEDLY. students. During his time at CDIS, he contributed significantly to the development of Model Mathematics. This approach, meant for primary school students, involves pictorial representations as tools to solve word problems. Recently, countries outside of Asia have been interested in the way Mathematics is taught in Singapore, and we wondered if he had gone overseas to give talks on Singapore Mathematics, as other countries call it. ‘I don’t travel overseas anymore. These days I usually drive around, meet my students, talk a little and attend reunions when my students call me up.’
The next day, the boy came to school and looked for him. ‘Look, Sir, I cut my hair already!’
We remarked that he must feel very satisfied to be affectionately remembered by many of his students—young boisterous men whom he managed to discipline and who have become captains of industry in today’s society.
In 1980, Mr Chee was transferred to the position of specialist writer at the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore (CDIS) where he regularly gave talks to teachers and held Mathematics workshops for parents and
‘Do you have any advice for Rafflesians out there who may want to enter the teaching profession?’ we asked. His one-word advice punctuated the expectant air. ‘Passion,’ he firmly stated, staring straight at us to reinforce his point.
‘Okay, in that case, I give you special permission not to come to school for one hundred days.’
It was patently clear by this time why former principal Mr Eugene Wijeysingha stated in The Eagle Breeds a Gryphon that Hector Chee was one of the stalwart teachers who formed part of the backbone of RI in his era. The boys trusted him like a friend, and obeyed him as a teacher, and in turn, he believed in each one of them wholeheartedly.
The original published version of this article which appeared on the Raffles Alumni portal (http:// alumni.ri.edu.sg) included an error, specifically, a confusion between Modern Mathematics and Model Mathematics. Several old boys have alerted us to this error. We apologise and thank them for contacting us. We have spoken to Mr Hector Chee and have made the requisite changes to the article above.
50 RAFFLES REMEMBERS MR A K SIGAMONEY
REMEMBERING MY DEAR PRINCIPAL – MR A K SIGAMONEY By Dr Tay Eng Hseon (RI, 1981)
I am grateful for the opportunity to write a personal tribute for Principal A K Sigamoney, who helmed Singapore’s premier educational institution from 1978 to 1985. My cohort of ’76-’81 witnessed the departure of Mr Philip Liau and welcomed Mr Sigamoney as our new Principal in 1978, two years after we first became Rafflesians. At that time, RI stood immaculate, elevated on the grounds of Grange Road. From our breezy classrooms, which overlooked the grand stadium and swimming pool, we could survey Leonie Hill, Outram Hill and Singapore’s southern city centre. All students of our time clearly felt the inner pride of being called a Rafflesian, and I believe this continues to resound even in generations today. RI accepted students purely based on academic capability; transcending race, wealth and social status. RI was a melting pot of intellectuallypotent, highly-motivated and self-directed students both poor and rich, many of whom would come to contribute significantly to the country, in one way or another later on in their lives.
So what would have been in the mind of Mr Sigamoney when he was first appointed as Principal of RI? Likewise, what did Rafflesians who had spent their formative years in the school think of him as their headmaster? Every Wednesday after recess, more than a thousand 13 to 15year old boys in our trademark white uniform would gather in the school hall for our mid-week school assembly. We would sit on the dusty wooden floor in rows, by class, while teachers sat on chairs on the stage facing us. Presiding over the rostrum decorated with RI’s insignia, Mr Sigamoney would deliver his address to us. The school prefects would line the side-corridors, watching us, charged with the duty of ensuring no mischief was afoot. We would sometimes practise the school cheers and learn the national songs, and would always stand up and loudly sing the school’s anthem at the close of the assembly.
HOW SIGNIFICANT THE REUNION MUST HAVE BEEN TO MR SIGAMONEY, AND INDEED, A BETTER AGE AWAITS US RAFFLESIANS, AS WE CARRY ON WITH THE VALUES HE LEFT US WITH.
51 RAFFLES REMEMBERS MR A K SIGAMONEY
national sports finals. Lessons would frequently end early in celebration of RI’s victories, to much elation and applause. I believe many of us remember that in the initial years, Mr Sigamoney’s speeches would usually drag on for over an hour. As young pubertal boys, we grew restless and bored, taking delight in seeing some teachers fidgeting as well. We were never unhappy that we would lose the lesson following the assembly, because as RI boys, we never fully relied on what the teachers had to teach, but rather, were largely self-directed in our studies. It was from these long assembly speeches that we became acquainted with Mr Sigamoney’s thoughts and values. Mr Sigamoney was a conservative educationist who emphasised moral values and social behaviour. The 2101 Gryphon scouts would remember that he censored the ‘Hawaii Five-O’ dance item of our 1979 Gangshow, which had too many ‘pelvic sways and thrusts’. Nonetheless, he fervently nurtured the already strong Rafflesian spirit amongst the students. Classes would come to a halt and we would line the balconies of our classrooms and the stadium to cheer during the rugby finals. Mr Sigamoney would also give us time off from school to cheer for RI at the
This portrait of Mr Sigamoney in pencil was drawn by Dr Tay, who presented it to the Principal in 1981.
In 1980, Mr Sigamoney brought his son, an ACS boy, into RI. Rafflesians saw this as an affirmation of his dedication and belief in the Rafflesian environment and its successful education methodologies. Gunasegaran Sigamoney became one of us instantly, actively participating in ECAs and flourishing in his studies. He continued striving in true Rafflesian spirit, and is now a senior consultant in Cardiology with the Singapore National Heart Centre.
In the following year (1983), the geographical gap was further widened with RJC’s move to Mt Sinai Road. Regardless, the two brotherly institutions continued to share the same school badge, sing the same school anthem and celebrate the same Founder’s Day. The Rafflesian spirit, I am told, prevailed over these years, resounding ever so strongly.
Mr Sigamoney believed that RI’s six years of continuous education provided a holistic education to the boys, arming them perfectly for further studies in life. He tried to stave off the MOE-initiated proposal to split RI to create RJC. However, it was not meant to be. My cohort became the final cohort of the six-year Rafflesian education system ending in 1981; and my wife’s cohort became the pioneer Rafflesian cohort which spent Pre-University 1 in RI at Grange Road and then moved to the old run-down Patterson Road campus to complete their JC 2 year in the nascent RJC in 1982. The six-year Rafflesian bond was broken, functionally and geographically, and each institution had a different headmaster.
To many of us old Rafflesians, we were baffled by the splitting of a national premier education icon. After many busy years, I got to meet Mr Sigamoney again because of Mrs Sigamoney. She became my patient and attended my clinics regularly after I performed surgery on her. On one occasion, she asked if I was the one who drew the portrait of Mr Sigamoney, as she recognised my name on the drawing. On the following visit, my dear old Principal came with his wife. A strong, inexplicable mixture of nostalgia and gratitude immediately filled my heart, as I rose to my feet to greet and pay due respect to an outstanding, dedicated educationist who had so successfully led RI.
After 23 years of separation, the two premier schools came together once again when RJC shifted to Bishan in 2005 and were finally re-integrated as a single institution in 2009. By good fortune, the current Principal of RI, Mrs Lim Lai Cheng, has also become my neighbour two doors away. For Mr Sigamoney, he had lived to see this reunion, and must feel vindicated in his opinion that the school should not have been split at all. As I think back to the time when Mr Sigamoney saw his beloved RI split in two, I wonder how many of us could put ourselves in his shoes and still hold faith in the motto Auspicium Melioris Aevi, the Hope for a Better Age. How significant the reunion must have been to Mr Sigamoney, and indeed, a better age awaits us Rafflesians, as we carry on with the values he left us with.
52 CLASS NOTES
KUMARAN RASAPPAN (RI, 2000; RJC, 2002) summited Mt Everest on a two-month climbing expedition which lasted from April to May. This included one-and-a-half months of acclimatisation and the final summit push, which lasted six days.
YVONNE CHAN (RJC, 2001) was the first ever vocalist to perform at B28, a whisky and live jazz bar. She lends her own vocal stylings to jazz and bossa nova classics. Look out for her upcoming gigs on every last Saturday of the month. FARRAH SALAM (RJC, 2001) and SHAIKH ISMAIL (RJC, 1997) had a beautiful baby girl, Shaiza, on 22 October 2011. Congratulations to both on the newest edition to the family!
PUJA VARAPRASAD (RGS, 2000; RJC, 2002) married her longtime friend Rajesh at their wedding held earlier this year, which several of her RJC classmates attended. They are now fending off questions about when the children are arriving. Rajesh (the lucky man) has escaped to Chennai for work. Puja last scaled a mountain in 2006 and will not be voluntarily inflicting this upon herself again in the near future. While not slaying dragons, she spends her days (and sometimes nights) litigating disputes. This will not surprise her teachers.
SHU MIN LIANG (RJC, 2001) and her husband Jeremy Nguee are expecting a baby in July. We wish them the best of luck, especially with the sleepless nights ahead. MELISSA LWEE (RJC, 2002) left the Business Times to join the start-up digital publication Billionaire.com, which will be launched in August/September 2012. Championing authentic luxury, discernment, culture and social conscience, Billionaire. com is poised to become the indispensable lifestyle resource for high and ultra-high net worth individuals who think and act globally.
With great sadness, the School mourns the passing of its alumna and top thespian Emma Yong (RGS, 1991; RJC, 1993). Emma’s vocal and acting gifts were already evident as a student, and she brought much life and colour to the school as a member of the RJ Chorale and Punch, the school’s a cappella group. Her standout performance in a school musical, Chinatown Blues, was much remarked upon. Emma went on to clinch the prestigious Cambridge Angus Ross Award at the GCE ‘A’-Levels, which is given out every year to the top non-British candidate in the English Literature examination. The School extends its deepest condolences to Emma’s family and friends. It is with great urgency that we make a plea on behalf of a young lawyer who is battling cancer. She graduated from RGS in 1997 and from RJC in 1999. She urgently requires a bone marrow transplant (BMT). Her siblings are not matches. The only recourse is for an unrelated donor to be found. This is where she and her family need help. The test to see if you are a match is a very simple one. This appeal is for volunteers to get tested as soon as you can. The swabs that are taken require around two months to process and that roughly coincides with the time when she requires the BMT. The sense of urgency cannot be more real for her and everyone close to her. There are three primary donor centres in SingaporeKingly Building, NUH Blood Donation Centre, and Singapore General Hospital Haematology Centre. The testing process is simple and takes all of two minutes. More information can also be found here: http://www.bmdp.org/uCanHelp_donor_signup.php.
One Raffles Institution Lane, Singapore 575954 Year 1-4: T: 6353 8830, F: 6353 8357 Year 5-6: T: 6419 9888, F: 6419 9898