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JUL/AUG 2011


NATIONAL DAY! Students from Junyuan Secondary School join the nation in celebration




aving the means to provide our children with a hearty school lunch and being able to buy our daily groceries may be things that most of us take for granted. However, the reality is that there are underprivileged families who are often unable to afford these basic necessities. A number of community assistance programmes to help these families are currently in place. Two such programmes — which seek to benefit about 3,500 needy families living in the North East district — are set to receive a tremendous boost, thanks to an upcoming fund-raising initiative. The first of these programmes is the North East CDC Lunch Box Fund which aims to help students from 77 schools in the district who come from disadvantaged homes. The programme hopes to provide daily allowances for both primary and secondary students to buy food from

the school canteen when they have to stay back after school for their CCAs and other activities. Secondary school student Alicia, a 17-year-old recipient, said the fund helps to reduce her widowed mother’s financial burden. “Now I have this extra pocket money to buy food and won’t go hungry at lunch anymore,” she says. The other initiative is the Neighbourhood Provisions Assistance Scheme (NPAS) which allows families, students and disabled members of the community to buy essential household provisions from any NTUC FairPrice supermarkets through pre-purchased NTUC vouchers. The voucher amounts are targeted to be raised in the future. “The grocery vouchers have come in very handy to offset my grocery expenses,” says Madam Leong C F, 49, a mother of two whose husband is in poor health.

The Community Food Drive@ North East hopes to raise $500,000 in support of both these programmes. This charity drive is organised by the Social Responsibility Group of North East CDC, a team of volunteers that works actively to encourage affluent individuals and corporate partners to help improve the quality of life for needy families in the district.

For more information on how you can contribute, email:








ASSISTANT VICE PRESIDENT (BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT) DAN CHONG CONTRIBUTORS TAN GEK CHENG, PATRICIA FONG, JOHNNY YONG, AILEEN LAI, WILLIE YEO, GWEN LIN COVER GETTY IMAGES, WILLIE YEO SPRING Living in the North East is published bi-monthly by the North East Community Development Council, 300 Tampines Ave 5, #06-01, NTUC Income Tampines Junction, Singapore 529653.


4 NORTH EAST STAR Supercentenarian; Online, And Loving It! 7 XPRESSION Out Of The Darkness 8 KID’S TALK Kidz Rule, OK! 9 YOUTH POLL Five Stars Arising 10 BUZZ Rules Of The Game

FEATURES NE CDC is part of People’s Association Network Copyright is held by the publisher. All rights reserved. Production in whole or in part without permission is prohibited. The views and opinions expressed or implied in Spring Living in the North East are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the publisher. Printed by Times Printers ISSN 0219-3876 MICA (P) 210/10/2007 For advertising enquiries, call Azlin. Tel: 6424-4061 Email:

230,000 copies of Spring Living in the North East are distributed free to all homes in Aljunied, Pasir Ris-Punggol and Tampines GRCs, as well as Hougang and Punggol East SMCs. You can also pick up a copy of Spring at all community centres and clubs in the North East district.

12 FEATURE All Together As One; Ties That Bond


16 CAREER ON Gearing Up For Change 18 SPOTLIGHT Back To School For A Fresh Start


22 BYTES A One Stop Eshop 23 DID YOU KNOW? Once Upon A Time… MAKAN2 24 “Where’s The Fish In My Nasi Lemak?” 25 Veggie Good! 26 Feasting In Harmony 28 PLAYGROUND Celebrate Our Heritage – With A Bang!; 46, And Counting! 32 CULTURE SHIOK Comedy And Songs Galore 34 HEALTH Stay Healthy At Work 38 LIVING Get In The Mood


40 CONNECT Events Around The CDC

North East CDC is now active on Facebook. Do visit our page: Do like us there and stay tuned to the latest happenings in the North East district.





ife is about experiences, good and bad ones. No one has lived life without making mistakes. But because we live in an achievement and successoriented world, a popular rule of life is “Whenever you do anything, do it right.” Our parents, teachers, coaches and even friends help us learn the rule. But it is important to realise that to err is human and it is the process of learning from mistakes that makes men wiser. Letting go and moving forward is just as important a lesson in life than just realising you have made a mistake. As the saying by the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu goes, “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Being able to still continue to dream, and to take those bold steps towards pursuing these dreams you have planned in your life’s blueprint, is what differentiates a fighter from one who is simply resigned to fate. Johnny Chin and He Yongjie* are examples of those who have learnt from their mistakes, let go and pursued their dreams. At one point in time, 36 year-old Johnny led a life which looked like it was heading on a drugfuelled downward spiral but he realised before it was too late that he needed to make amends. With only PSLE qualifications, he successful graduated with a Diploma in Counselling Psychology and is now a counsellor. To top it off, he recently got married and is now living a wholesome life dedicated to helping others (read more about Johnny on Pg7).


Likewise, 24-year old He Yongjie is bent on changing his life and does not wish to go back to his old ways. Yongjie became a runner for loansharks when he was in Secondary Four and got involved in crimes like vandalism and harassment. He ended up being arrested and spent 28 months behind bars. Yongjie is now going back to school voluntarily as a private candidate with the assistance provided by North East CDC through its Education Pillar of Assistance. The CDC is providing for his school textbooks and exam fees. His ambition is to enter a polytechnic to major in Psychology or Counselling. He hopes to be able to help youths with similar experience as himself (read more about Yongjie on Pg 18-19). It is always heartwarming to see someone come back to the right path and encouraging to know that they would like to contribute back to society and guide those who may have gone astray. As we celebrate our nation’s 46th birthday, let’s us do more for the community we live in. There is always someone out there who can benefit from our experience and as a community, we should learn to accept the fact that people do make mistakes but they do make amends. If they have not, we should do our part to help them do so. Let’s celebrate the Community Spirit. Happy 46th birthday, Singapore! * Not his real name

— Mayor Teo Ser Luck



Ng Beng Kuan


Poh Yu Hui


Loe Kee Gek


Tan Lay Beng


Mohd Shadiqin Bin Sarnin


Ismail Bin Talib


Lim Swee Huan





Answer these questions from ‘Gearing up for Change’, (page 16), ‘Back to School for a Fresh Start’ (page 18), ‘A One Stop eShop’ (page 22), and ‘46, and Counting!’ (pages 30-31) and stand a chance to win an exclusive North East picnic gift set comprising two glasses, one chopping board, a set of cutlery and two napkins.


What is the name of the new programme recently launched by the Career Centre at North East to help professionals, managers, executives and technicians in their job search?

2 Name any of the Five Pillars of Assistance launched by the North East.

CONGRATULATIONS! 4 5 2 1 3 6 9 8 7

1 8 9 5 2 7 4 6 3



What are the names of the two newest reservoirs that have just been opened?

This contest is open to all residents of Aljunied, Pasir-Ris-Punggol and Tampines GRCs, as well as Hougang and Punggol East SMCs. Closing date is 25 Aug 2011. Fill in your details below and mail it to: Spring ‘Test Your Knowledge’ Jul/Aug 2011 Contest, NTUC Income, Tampines Junction, 300 Tampines Avenue 5, #06-01, Singapore 529653 Name

7 9 8 4 6 1 3 2 5

5 1 4 2 8 3 6 7 9

6 2 3 7 9 5 8 1 4

9 6 5 3 4 8 9 1 3

3 Name any two services offered at the eCitizens portal. b.

3 7 6 8 4 9 2 5 1


9 4 5 6 7 2 1 3 8

8 6 1 3 5 4 7 9 2

2 3 7 9 1 8 5 4 6

Sadari Bin Kambali SXXXX156G Alexeiev James Nanayakara SXXXX677G Muhammad Farid Bin Ismail SXXXX606H Selshar Siripuram SXXXX225F Leow Seow Jin SXXXX248E Sheetal Rakesh Sabharwal SXXXX773A Seow Lay Lay SXXXX199B Heng Hiang Choong SXXXX514A

5 2 3 9


7 8

4 2

3 8

9 6 7 8

4 2 3 7

Sudoku Challenge

HOW TO PLAY: Enter digits from 1 to 9 into the blank spaces. Every row and every column must contain only one of each digit. This also applies to every 3x3 square. Have fun! Complete this puzzle and stand to win one of eight North East picnic bags. The contest is open to all NE residents. Closing date is 25 August 2011. Send entries to: SPRING ‘Sudoku Challenge’ Jul/Aug 2011 Contest. NTUC Income, Tampines Junction, 300 Tampines Avenue 5, #06-01, Singapore 529653

NRIC Address

Name Email



Spring Scores!

In July 2009, the Magnum Opus Awards, which is held to honour exceptional work in print and online media, conferred Spring the bronze award in the Best Public Service Series or Article category.





spring NESTAR Teresa Hsu and her long time friend, Sharana Rao, at the Lake District in England last October th to celebrate the 100 Anniversary of the Royal Free Hospital Nurses League London, of which Ms Hsu was the guest of honour.


At 114, Teresa Hsu has devoted more than half her life to helping others, but she has no intention of putting the brakes on doing good TEXT Fairoza Mansor


orn to a poor family in Guangdong Province in China, Teresa Hsu Chih was 63 years when she came to Singapore in 1961. At an age when most people would be planning their retirement, the indefatigable woman had just qualified as a nurse, and had travelled around Europe and to Paraguay in South America helping refugee Jews as a member of the International Voluntary Service for Peace. That was in the late 1940s. Now 114 years old and Singapore’s oldest resident, the supercentenarian is still at the forefront of charity work. She heads Heart to Heart which she set up the year she came here. A welfare service which helps out the elderly poor and needy, it replicates one that Ms Hsu had established in Hong Kong in 1923 under the name ‘Friends of the Needy’. Located at Hougang Ave 1, this is where Ms Hsu — assisted by her co-worker and caregiver Mr Sharana Rao — sorts and packs public donations of foodstuffs and money for her recipients, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s. They come to the centre to pick up the donations, but Ms Hsu also travels to deliver to those who are unable to make the journey. “We give whatever we can, be it food and money for their rental and help them see the doctor. Sometimes


people hear my talks and donate money. We pass that on to those who need,” she says. Ms Hsu also set up the now-defunct Home for the Aged Sick with her late sister Ms Ursula Khow, in 1965. The sisters converted a bungalow (which Ms Khow bought) in Upper Serangoon and the accompanying servants’ quarters into dormitories. In 1970, the sisters handed over the deeds of the property to the Society for the Aged Sick, now located next to Heart To Heart.


The self-professed “head of beggars” was born the second of four children in 1898. She never went to school but at 27, she convinced convent nuns to let her sit in on some children’s classes they were conducting. That was where and how Ms Hsu learnt to read. A volunteer in Hong Kong and Chongqing during the Second World War, she enrolled — and was accepted — when she was 47 years old, into a three-year nursing course in London meant for students under 25. She became a nurse because of what she saw in the aftermath of the war. “Having witnessed a lot of bombings and people crying in pain, I realised that to be more useful to people, [I would] be a nurse,” she says. She then hopped on a cargo ship that took 49 days to reach London.

After that, she spent eight years at the Society of Brothers in Paraguay, a haven for Jewish refugees who had fled Europe to escape Nazi persecution. She worked in a hospital for free and her duties included giving medication, injections and attending to women’s health problems. In 1961, Ms Hsu moved to Singapore to live with Ms Khow, a former principal of the Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus in Bukit Timah. She has been helping the poor and underpriveleged in Singapore since than. What drives her? “There was a time when [my family was] very, very poor. I was so hungry. I looked around. Nobody was watching so I stooped down, got a handful of grass and shoved it in my mouth,” she says. “As long as I’m able to let nobody eat grass, I will do my best to see what I can get for them. This is my life. It is to share what I have with those who are hungrier than I. And even if [we are] equally hungry, we will share half a bowl.”


Dubbed by some as Singapore’s ‘Mother Teresa’, Ms Hsu still also travels overseas occasionally to share her experiences with others. In 2002, at the age of 104, She received an Honorary Doctorate Degree from the University of Southern Queensland in Australia.

Of that honour she says, “They’ve made a mistake. I have no education. I didn’t even go to school. I told them in my speech that I’ve walked by chance into a beautiful garden and they’ve given me a beautiful rose, but it is a mistake, a beautiful mistake.” Recently in May, she was in Taipei to discuss philanthropy with Master Cheng Yen, founder of Taiwan’s largest charity organisation, the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation. Master Cheng is reported to have described Ms Hsu as “not only a fund-raiser, but a heart- and love-raiser.” As Mr Sharana Rao, 62, who has known Ms Hsu for nearly 40 years, says, “[I’m] always learning from her. [She has] so much experience, wisdom and always sharing her hahaha ‘recipe’.” The recipe refers to Ms Hsu’s advice to people to lead a happy life. “If I eat food by myself, I alone “haha chiou” [laugh]. If I share with 20 people, 21 people “haha chiou”! You see, my joy is multiplied 21 times. In life, there are always problems. You solve the problem to the best you can and you accept the rest. Don’t think of the problems all the time and “sng sng sng” [cry]. “Because when you “sng sng sng”, you need money to buy handkerchief. When we “haha”, no need to spend money, no need handkerchief. “Haha” is better than “sng sng”.

On her soft spot for ice-cream “If I get any, I would ‘wallop’ it.”

On her beauty secret

“Every morning before I do anything else, I would take the white of an egg, smear it all over my face and leave it there all day.”

On doing yoga


“I started at 69 years young. I told myself, age doesn make a difference, I will do it.”

On God and religion

“I haven’t been introduced to God. I don’t know what religion means. Everyone has different explanations but I’m still ignorant as to what this word means. “

On reading

TERESA SAYS On her biggest influence

ber “My mother taught me a great lesson which I remem right r greate the has ier hungr is er whoev until today; to eat.”

On her daily routine

“I have no routine. I do what I like.”

“Now I’m reading [the Hindu religious text] Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the God) for the eighth time. I’m also reading Catherine Lim’s The Shadow of a Shadow of a Dream. Sometimes I forget to sleep because the book is so good.”

On her secret to a long life

“I’m laughing all the time. Maybe that’s why I’m still here. Enjoy every moment. You can make yourself happy or unhappy.”


spring NESTAR


Learning how to use a computerr not only gave Mrs Cheow Chin Wang new skills, it boosted herr self confidence as well TEXT Gene Khor PHOTOS Roy Lim


fter 30 years of nine-hour days behind the counter of her Chinese medicine shop, you would think Mrs Cheow Chin Wang would be content to simply take it easy in her retirement years. But the 60 year-old mother of three — who closed her shop in mid-2007 after growing weary of the long hours — had another game plan. She picked up computer skills and got so good at it that she now tutors fellow retirees in basic computer skills at RSVP, the Organisation of Senior Volunteers. “It’s not an impossible task for seniors to learn how to use a computer,” says Mrs Cheow. “Learning a skill that’s important to have in this day and age is also a great confidence booster.” Indeed, Mrs Cheow can relate to the difficulties faced by her students during the three-day beginner’s course. She was one such newbie herself when she enrolled in a similar course in late 2007. “It’s intimidating when you first look at the computer screen,” she says. “The many icons can be very confusing, and you don’t know where to start.” RSVP is a non-profit organisation that provides courses and activities for senior citizens to volunteer for. The computer class that Mrs Cheow teaches is an ad hoc one. When there are classes — once a week, for three weeks for which a minimum of eight participants are needed — Mrs Cheow commutes to the Bishan office from her Hougang Ave 3 home. The lessons focus on one aspect of computer usage at a time, like typing and sending an e-mail. “When writing one for the first time, my e-mail looked messy because the message was a long

paragraph,” Mrs Cheow recalls. “Only later did I learn that you could break up the sentences by pressing the ‘Enter’ button.” Though initially embarrassed, she didn’t give up, spurred on by the patience and encouragement of her tutors at RSVP. “To not forget what you’ve learnt, it helps to keep practising,” she advises. “It’s why I took the opportunity to teach when one of my tutors suggested it.” Mrs Cheow also took additional computer courses to enrich herself. She has learnt to research and book travel packages online, as well as use Skype, a program that lets an user make video and voice calls over the Internet for free. “I’ve saved a lot of money in phone bills applying what I’ve been taught,” she says. “My second daughter is an occupational therapist in London and I’m able to catch up with her a lot more frequently now.” IT knowledge has helped to bridge the generation gap between Mrs Cheow and her grandchildren too. “I help with their online homework or play computer games with them when my oldest daughter brings them over. They think I’m cool now because I’m as good as them at using the computer.” Technology bringing her family together in new ways has been a payoff, but it’s the overall experience volunteering at RSVP that Mrs Cheow relishes. “Volunteering doesn’t just give me something to pass the time with,” she explains. “It’s that even at my age, you’re still able to teach someone something new, and put a smile on his or her face. That truly is a wonderful feeling.” For more information on RSVP and their courses and volunteer programmes, visit



OUT OF THE DARKNESS A Att one point, poiint life lif for fo f Johnny Chin, 36, looked like it was heading on a drug-fuelled downward spiral. But before it was too late, he found the strength to turn his life around, and now helps others to do so as well TEXT Gene Khor PHOTOS Ealbert Ho


had a worry-free childhood and a loving family. But when I entered Secondary 1, my life took a turn for the worse. I joined a gang in the first week of school because I desperately wanted a sense of belonging in this new environment. To ‘fit in’, I started smoking and drinking and even got my first tattoo. Also that year I began doing drugs, starting with marijuana. I still attended school, but come Friday, I’d meet my gang members after. We’d loiter at void decks or go to a cheap hotel to do drugs. My family often wouldn’t see me until Sunday night. They tried locking me at home, but I always found ways to sneak out. After a few months, I dropped out of school completely. Life then became a drug-fuelled routine — I’d wake up, get high, and once it subsided, find ways to make money to buy more drugs. I’d do odd jobs that paid cash on the spot, borrowed from friends, and even stole from my parents. Even my mother’s death from lung cancer when I was 22 did little to affect me. On and off, I’d try to quit, locking myself in the house for around a week to endure the withdrawal symptoms or checking into halfway houses. But my mistake would be meeting up with my gang again. They’d be doing drugs, and I’d give into temptation and eventually join in. Their companionship was as much of an addiction as the drugs were.

How and when I’d get my next fix was all I cared about in the following years. I even started shooting through my neck because I couldn’t see the veins on my arms and legs anymore — the skin around them was scarred from being injected countless times. I was never arrested though. I kept a low profile indoors. I didn’t even care about food – a pack of six tau sar piah [black bean pastries] could sustain me for the whole day. Four years ago, I was standing in front of a bathroom mirror, about to shoot up a mixture of the sedative Dormicum and heroin substitute Subutex. I suddenly wondered how I could have chosen such a life. I stared at myself for at least 15 minutes, needle in my neck, asking that question repeatedly. Not having eaten a proper meal in years, I had lost so much weight that I looked like a skeleton. I put down the syringe and immediately called an old friend who was a counsellor in a halfway house. I had asked for his help before, only to go back to my old ways. This time, determined to break the habit, I endured 25 days of hell. I couldn’t stop yawning and my nose was always runny. My body would feel hot one minute and cold the next, and my joints felt like there were things crawling in them. And worst of all? As tired as I felt, I just couldn’t fall asleep. For the first 11 days, I think I slept a total of 10 minutes! Apart from cutting off my gang relations, what also helped my recovery was rediscovering God. My faith was reinforced when the halfway house’s executive director Pastor Don Wong sent me to do an Advanced Certificate of Theology in 2008. I trained at the School of Theology for six months. At a staff dinner that same year, I was introduced to a woman who was the friend of a counsellor’s wife. Bonding over our faith, I felt comfortable telling her about my past. We started dating, and got married in February this year. She’s been inspired by my work, and took up a counselling course a few months back. With my wife and Pastor Don’s encouragement, I also pursued a Diploma in Counselling Psychology at Lee Community College in 2009. I only have a PSLE certificate, but I’m proud to say that I graduated after a year. I’m now a counsellor and operations manager at the New Charis Mission and work with people who have problems. I want to give them the chance I was given to change their lives for the better.” For more information on the New Charis Mission, visit JUL – AUG 7

spring KID’S TALK


What would you do if you were the President of Singapore? SPRING NG finds ou out fro from possible future presidents… TEXT & PHOTOS OTO OS Fairozaa Mansor

“I don’t like politics.” - Jedd Laurence, 7, Sengkang

“I will fly and buy lots of toys!” - Geraldine Chen, 4, Punggol


“I will play with Barbie dolls all day.” - Emma Lee, 4, Rivervale Link

“I will give kids more school holid ays!” - Mohammad Fa iruz Bin Suhaimi, 6, Pasir Ris

“I will look after the country very well.” - Karthikkeyan, 7, Sengkang

“I will work very hard for the people of Singapore.” - Amalina Binte Sahrul, 7, Tampines



“Of course I know. It’s in the pledge! Democracy, justice, peace, equality, progress.”


What does the five stars on Singapore’s national flag represent? * Spring asks some youths INTERVIEWS & PHOTOS Fairoza Mansor

“Equality. Happiness? No, not happiness. It’s in the pledge, I know it’s in the pledge. (recites the Singapore pledge) Peace, progress, justice, have I said equality?”


“Oh my god, I know this. Meritocracy? No? Meritocracy is one of them right? Oh I know!! Democracy, peace, justice and equality. What’s the last one, ah?


“Justice? Yes! Honour? Purity? Humility? (Sarah eventually got all the answers right.)


(Look over to her (Looks friends) “Help, help, friend help! If I say it wrongly will yyou edit it?”


“Oh no! Purity? Integrity? No? Got unity or harmony?”

* The five stars on the Singapore flag represent the nation’s ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.


spring BUZZ

The PlanetCRUSH Cyber Wellness Centre

RULES OF THE They have taught proper computer usage to children in the North East as well as other parts of Singapore for the past decade, and TOUCH Cyber Wellness were recognised for their efforts with a Singapore Youth Award this year TEXT Gene Khor PHOTOS National Youth Council


Anthony Yeong (Left) and Chong Ee Jay with their Singapore Youth Award


ome of the best and brightest of Singapore’s youths were honoured at the Istana at the Singapore Youth Awards (SYA) on 3 July for their outstanding contributions to the community. And winning the award for Community and Youth Services (Team) were the members of TOUCH Cyber Wellness (TCW).

BUZZ spring

(L-R) Dr Teo Yik Ying, Boo Junfeng, Chong Ee Jay, Anthony Yeong, Terence Chia, Darius Cheung

MILESTONES I IN THE MAKING Recognised for their work in educating youths on proper computer usage, TCW shared the stage with fellow award winners filmmaker Boo Junfeng, youth leader Terence Chia, entrepreneur Darius Cheng and Associate Professor Teo Yik Ying. They were presented their awards by Mr Teo Chee Hian, Deputy Prime Minister & Coordinating Minister for National Security & Minister for Home Affairs. “We’re delighted to be in the same league as all the other SYA recipients, past and present,” said TCW Senior Executive Chong Ee Jay upon receiving the award. “It recognises the work TCW has been doing since it was set up in 2001. We hope it’ll create more awareness of the work we do, and also have more people interested in cyber wellness.” Working together with schools and the Media Development Authority, TCW’s efforts in promoting cyber wellness include giving talks and classes at primary and secondary schools, which have included Punggol Primary and Bowen Secondary in Hougang. “We cover a wide range of topics, like the dangers of excessive online gaming and pornography, what to do when a stranger approaches you online, and dealing with cyberbullying,” explained Mr Chong, 32. “We also give the kids project work to help them better absorb our lessons, like having them design desktop wallpapers with cyber wellness messages for their school’s computers.”

In many cases, the key to cyber wellness is managing the time spent on the computer so that it doesn’t become an addiction. “Although there’s no fixed definition of how much time is too much, there are signs to look out for,” explained TCW Senior Counsellor Anthony Yeong, who was present at the award ceremony. “How are these students faring in school — are their grades slipping? Are they skipping classes? Do they even leave their rooms?” According to the 31-year-old, more serious symptoms include stealing money or credit cards to purchase more games or online game currency via Internet transactions. “The most challenging part of our work involves dealing with people who exhibit these symptoms,” said Mr Yeong, who has been with TCW for five years. Three main approaches — namely authoritative counselling, peer interaction, and using computer games at TCW’s PlanetCRUSH Cyber Wellness Centre to help in bonding — are used to address these problems at sessions which last anywhere from three to six months. Mr Chong stressed that the company objective is not here to monitor and change lifestyles, as there is nothing to stop these youths from gaming continuously when they get home. “What we hope to do is change their mindsets and instil a sense of responsibility in how they prioritise their time — through counselling and their experience at the centre,” he said.

The Singapore Youth Awards — a salute to young people making their mark both locally and abroad Held on the first Sunday of July every year, this prestigious youth accolade recognises, commends and encourages contributions made by Singaporean youths — defined as persons aged 35 and below — to society’s progress. Formerly known as the National Youth Service Award (before being renamed in 1993) the awards are handed out in five main categories — Arts & Culture, Community & Youth Services, Entrepreneurship, Science & Technology and Sports & Adventure. Past recipients of the award, now in its 36th year, include singer Stefanie Sun, classical string ensemble T’ang Quartet and the National Women’s Table Tennis Team. For mo For Fo m more ore e iinformation nfforma n atio tion ti on o on n TOUCH Cyber Wellness, visit T TO O OUC UCH UC H Cy C Cyb yb be er We W ell llnessss, vi vis sit si ww w ww.p pllane ettcrush. h.o orrg

JUL – AUG 11

spring FEATURE


Each year, thousands of people from all walks of life work tirelessly together to put together the National Day Parade (NDP). Spring speaks to six of this year’s participants on what the Parade means to them TEXT Gregory Leow, Fairoza Mansor and Gene Khor PHOTOS Willie Yeo




“Being the first female Regimental Sergeant Major at this year’s NDP is a significant milestone in my 27-year career. I’m honoured and proud to be given this opportunity, and I hope to be an inspiration not only to women, but youth in general. This NDP will also be a family affair. My 21 year-old twins who are army regulars will be lance guards, protecting the president. My 18 year-old son, the youngest, will be volunteering as an audience ‘motivator’. I have always enjoyed the NDP’s parade segment the most, but this year’s personal elements make it all the more signifi ig g cant.”

KHAIRUL AMIR IN, 18 Ushering Le ader

“This will be my fifth year attending the NDP. I will be working with about 20 ushers and we will lead spectators to the audience stands at the Marina a Bay floating platform. I find the task sk challenging because I have to account nt for my ushers and brief them on how to sit the crowd. We have to know how to o respond to questions from the public and d also know what to do in case there is a medical emergency. My first time attending the NDP at the old Kallang Stadium was the most memorable. I remember reciting the Pledge, and feeling so proud to be Singaporean. My friends and I sometimess complain that life in Singapore is all study and no play, but each National Day reminds me that Singapore is the place that my family and I call home.” 12 SPRING

“I am really happy as my design will be seen by everyone at the parade because it’s also printed on the back of the Fun Packs. It’s a bunch of words commonly used in Singapore. I got the idea to put them together in the shape of Singapore because I am learning typography in school. The heart symbol in the middle of the image represents how words such as ‘CPF’, ‘lah’ and ‘shiok’ are at the ‘heart’ of all Singaporeans, and are what makes us unique.“

REBEKAH LEE, 16 Winner of NDP T-shirt Design Competition, 12 to 16-year-old category

, 66 LEO SEQUEIRMAarching Contingent “Out of the 46 NDPs we’ve had, I’m proud that I’ve participated in 38 of them, including the first one in 1965. As a student in the then Teacher’s Training College [the present-day National Institute of Education], I was in a marching contingent representing the Singapore Teachers’ Union. We followed the military contingent through different estates, covering about five kilometres. I love how the audience applauds us, but what really keeps me volunteering — even though I am now retired — is the camaraderie with fellow citizens.“


Participant, NTUC


‘Jellyfishes’ Tulsi Devi (left), and Peggy Tay


Junyuan Secondary School students Tulsi Devi and Peggy Tay encapsulate this year’s NDP theme of Majulah! The Singapore Spirit. They are part of the 350 students from the Tampines Central school which is staging a five-minute ‘fantasy’ sequence. Rehearsals started in March. “At first, practices were three times a week. As we got used to the steps, we practiced once a week. We’ve had about 30 rehearsals so far — in school, at the Kranji choreography camp, and now at the floating platform. But it’s been fun,” says Peggy, 15. The sequence, which depicts unity and racial harmony, will be performed in Act 3 when the stage will be transformed into a seaside kampung witth starfishes, crabs and stingrays taking centrestage. Tulsi and Peggy are part of the jellyfishes. Her costume is heavy and takes some getting used to but Tulsi is unfazed. She can’t wait for National Day to roll around. With all the on-going publicity, she says she already feels “like a celebrity” for doing her small bit. As for Peggy, she admits that she is “quite nervous but very excited to be performing in front of the country to celebrate Singapore’s birthday.” JUL – AUG 13

spring FEATURE


North East CDC’s FINE programme helps fathers and children empathise with each other through creative workshops





TEXT Aileen Lai


ather and son are at the hospital. They are saying their last goodbyes to the wife and mother who has lost her battle against cancer. It is a heartwrenching scene. Tears stream down their faces. However, the scene is an enactment. Eight years ago, the father and son did not get to say their last goodbyes to the woman they loved. But by acting it out, the pair succeeds in obtaining the closure they need to get on with their lives. Reflecting on and sharing the deep sense of loss help them come to terms with reality and further strengthens their relationship with each other. Bonding and empathy between a father and his children is one of the objectives of the FINE programme organised by the North East Ea CDC. CD Supported by theVoice Productions, a local loc theatre company, the CDC holds workshops which run from 9am to 1pm on w wor Saturdays, and which are held at various S Satu school locations around the North sch East district. Eas FINE — which stands for Family & Fathering in North East — is a father and Fat child bonding programme that allows chi ffamilies to bond through a series of fam activities including sports like floorball a act a soccer or theatre enactment. ‘Father’s and Love, Past and Present’, in particular, is L Lov designed to let them grow closer through de playback theatre concept. ap Facilitators employ techniques to draw

out from participants deep-lying issues and topics that are otherwise difficult for them to vocalise. In the process, the participants are able to review and reflect their thoughts and feelings. “We believe that fathers play a vital role in their families and they can be good influencers in their children’s lives,” says Ms Gwendolyn Tan, producer and director of theVoice Productions. “Through this programme, we want to create a strong awareness of the importance of a father’s role and to urge fathers to commit to being good role models for their children.” Since time began, fathers learnt from their fathers. Values and traditions are passed down from generation to generation. But as times change, can fathers still rely on these parenting tools? This is what the series of workshops seek to find out and nurture. ‘Father’s Love, Past and Present’ is a four-hour workshop (inclusive of a 30-mintue drama skit) that creates a safe platform for the father and child to communicate on various issues, as well as an opportunity for fathers to share with one other. As Mr Johnny Chng, one of the participants, enthuses, “I enjoyed special moments with my child through acting.” His sentiment is shared by Mr CS Rajendran who says, “Expressing myself helps me to also understand my child better.” For more information, visit or email or



spring CAREER ON


Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians searching for jobs can now count on a new programme by the North East CDC to better their chances


n today’s difficult job market, those looking for work often face challenges and stiff competition from others in their search for a desirable position. And in this hi-tech and fast-paced world, job searching is no longer limited to simply applying for a position off the newspaper advertisement. To help potential job-seekers in the North East district, the Career Centre at North East recently launched the Gear-Up programme to assist Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) in their search. The Gear-Up Programme seeks to help PMET jobseekers to find the best available job that matches their requirements. In this programme, job-hunters get to learn more about themselves and their strengths by undergoing a profiling process, signing up for training courses and using Facebook, Linkedin and Twitter to link up with potential employers. The profiling process helps people to explore

their strengths and weakness through the Career Discovery Workshop guided by a career consultant. In this way, PMETs can identify the good qualities that they never knew they had and look towards strengthening other aspects of themselves that may require improvement. Another aim of this programme is to expand the knowledge of job-seekers through seminars and workshops, refresh them on the basics of conducting a job search and educate them on current market trends. Topics such as cover letter, resume writing and interview tips are covered in monthly PMET Career Skills Workshops. Seminars with topics such as ‘Competency Based Approach — Key to Snagging a Hot Job!’ and ‘Finding Your Next Career Advancement Online’ have also been lined up. For more information on the programme, please contact 6876 5666.


Para ahli Profesional, Pengurus, Pegawai Eksekutif dan Teknisyen yang sedang mencari pekerjaan sekarang boleh mengharapkan satu program baru oleh CDC Timur Laut untuk memperbaiki peluang mereka


alam pasaran pekerjaan yang sukar hari ini, mereka yang mencari pekerjaan sering berdepan dengan cabaran dan persaingan sengit daripada ramai yang lain dalam usaha mereka mendapatkan pekerjaan yang diidamkan. Dan dalam dunia berteknologi tinggi dan yang bergerak pantas ini, mencari pekerjaan bukan hanya terbatas kepada memohon pekerjaan dari iklan di akhbar. Untuk membantu bakal pencari kerja di kawasan Timur Laut, Pusat Kerjaya di Timur Laut baru-baru ini melancarkan program Bersiap Sedia untuk membantu para Profesional, Pengurus, Pegawai Eksekutif dan Teknisyen (PMET) dalam usaha pencarian mereka. Program Bersiap Sedia ini ingin membantu para pencari kerja PMET mencari pekerjaan terbaik yang ada yang sepadan dengan keperluan mereka. Dalam program ini, mereka yang mencari kerja akan mempelajari lebih banyak lagi tentang diri dan kekuatan mereka dengan menjalani proses profiling, menyertai kursus-kursus latihan serta menggunakan Facebook, Linkedin dan Twitter untuk berhubung dengan bakal para majikan. Proses memprofil


ini membantu mereka meneroka kekuatan dan kelemahan mereka melalui Bengkel Mencari Kerjaya yang dipimpin oleh seorang konsultan kerjaya. Dengan cara ini, para PMET boleh mengenal pasti kelebihan-kelebihan yang tidak disedari mereka miliki dan melihat bagaimana menguatkan aspek-aspek lain tentang diri mereka yang mungkin boleh diperbaiki. Satu lagi tujuan program ini ialah untuk meluaskan pengetahuan mereka yang mencari pekerjaan melalui seminar dan bengkel, mengimbas kembali asas-asas bagaimana mencari pekerjaan dan mengajar mereka tentang trend pasaran sekarang. Tajuk-tajuk seperti surat pengenalan, menulis ikhtisar dan tip temu duga diliputi dalam Bengkel Kemahiran Kerjaya PMET. Seminar dengan tajuk-tajuk seperti “Pendekatan Berdasarkan Kecekapan – Kunci Mendapatkan Pekerjaan yang Baik!” dan “Mencari Kerjaya Lanjutan Anda Seterusnya dalam Talian” juga telah disusun. Untuk maklumat lanjut mengenai program ini, sila hubungi 6876 5666.

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BACK TO SCHOOL FOR A FRESH START Having learnt his lesson the hard way, ex-inmate He Yongjie* returns to school with help from a North East CDC education initiative



hile most youths in their twenties are relishing life as a working adult after more than a decade in school, He Yongjie is doing the reverse. The 24 year-old is going back to school voluntarily as a private candidate, and he sees it as his opportunity to turn his life around. “I want to change my life. I do not wish to go back to my old ways,” he states. Brought up by extremely strict parents, Yongjie developed a rebellious streak during his teenaged years and dropped out of school at Secondary Four with not a care for the consequences of forgoing his education. He then became a runner for loan sharks, getting involved in crimes such as vandalism and

I want to help youths with similar experiences as myself. Having been through it all, I can understand their needs


harassment — for which he was eventually arrested. Yongjie spent 28 months behind bars and was released this April. Tasting the freedom which he had lost once, he repented his ways and resolved to start all over again. He wanted another shot at completing his education but needed help. That was when the North East Community Development Council (CDC) stepped in. Yongjie found financial assistance to fulfill his dreams through one of the five pillars of social assistance the CDC renders to those in need. He is a beneficiary of its Education pillar.

In the two months after his release from jail, Yongjie sought financial aid twice and received first, $200 for purchasing text books; and later, sponsorship of his examination application fees. With financial matters settled, Yongjie can now focus on preparing for his upcoming ‘O’ Level examinations. One with great ambitions, he also hopes to enter a polytechnic to major in psychology or counselling. “I want to help youths with similar experiences as myself. Having been through it all, I can understand their needs,” he now says.

FIVE PILLARS OF SUPPORT North East CDC’s streamlined assistance schemes means getting help is now hassle-free


Yet all of Yongjie’s hopes and aspirations could have remained a dream if not for the financial aid received — and the situation could have been very different if he had applied for assistance before April this year. Before the launch of the new assistance structure by the North East CDC, there were no assistance programs targeting adults who wanted to return to school. Not fitting into any assistance categories would mean that Yongjie’s appeal for financial help may not have succeeded. The five pillars of social assistance announced in April covers five areas of assistance: food, education, healthcare, household and transport. As Mayor Teo Ser Luck says, “Yongjie is just stepping into a new stage of his life — this is his second chance — and North East CDC will be there to lend him assistance in all areas, to help him back to his feet and find his own place in society.”

etting help in the North East has been made easier. Once, you had to fill out multiple six-page application forms for assistance from schemes from differing agencies that often overlapped in aid. These schemes had varying criteria, too. Now, all you need to do is fill out a two-page form and approach a CDC manager at your nearest CC. The streamlined assistance schemes — announced in April 2011 — groups getting help into five broad areas: Food, Education, Healthcare, Household and Transport. These ‘5 Pillars’ of help are easy to understand, are flexible and have uniform criteria for eligibility. This is good news for needy families who besides being reimbursed for certain travelling expenses, can get aid in buying necessity items ranging from medication, school bags and even a new study table. If you think you might need aid, you can make enquiries through or the North East CDC’s main line at tel: 6424 4000.

* Name has been changed.



Limited help based only on 20 available schemes

Any help which falls under the 5 pillars of needs: Food, Education, Healthcare, Household and Transport

20 schemes with varying criteria and addressing overlapping needs

5 pillars with one standard guideline to meet any need

One-stop application

Community partners/needy residents had to approach several agencies to source for financial assistance

Community partners/needy residents now only need to approach CDC managers to render financial assistance (one-stop financial assistance)

Application Process

Multiple application forms for different schemes; 6-page application form

Single application form for National and Local Schemes; 2-page application form

Flexibility Ease of Understanding

JUL – AUG 19

Celebrating our

46 years of

Independence Happy Birthday, Singapore! 20 SPRING






MAY – JUN 21


spring BYTES


eCitizen allows you to access everything you need from government services from just one website, and in the comfort of your home too!


magine an average senior citizen — let’s call her Grandma Alice — who has learnt how to browse the Internet. Alice’s retiree friends have told her about the eCitizen portal and how useful it is. So upon their advice, she checks it out. She obtains a Singpass password, signs in with that, registers herself and then randomly clicks on the ‘Family & Community Development’ web button, zooming in on the Senior Citizens section. Grandma Alice is instantly taken to a personalised section, with all the relevant government services and a wealth of information for senior citizens like her. She learns about the interesting activities for seniors offered by the People’s Association. There are also articles for the elderly from the Health Promotion Board and retirement planning advice from the Central Provident Fund. First launched in 1997 and revamped seven years ago, the eCitizen website gives citizens access to every kind of government service available. Instead of going to individual government agency websites to find out what services they offer, the eCitizen portal serves as a one stop website that shows you their services in an easy-tounderstand format. Split up into seven broad categories — or ‘eTowns’ — the website groups government services into the seven key areas in a person’s life. Aside from ‘Family & Community Development,’ there is ‘Housing’, ‘Transport & Travel,’ ‘Health & Environment,’ as well as ‘Education, Learning & Employment,’ ‘Culture, Recreation & Sports’ and ‘Defence & Security.’ You can get SMS alerts on CPF transactions, renew your road tax online, book holiday chalets and even apply for a HDB flat. But more than just government services, the portal also shows you upcoming leisure and sporting events. Each eTown’s webpage also has the most current news and information about upcoming events.


HERE ARE SOME OF THE MANY OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO Browse old newspaper articles from as early as 1835 from the now defunct Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser as well as current newspaper articles. Apply to renew your passport or for NSmen, get your exit permit approved online. Search for a kindergarten in your area or look for enrichment courses for your child. Appoint a caterer for your party from a list of government-approved food caterers who have passed all the food health and safety checks. Find out where to exchange your expired parking coupons for new ones. Log into http://www



The ‘country house’ of the well-known Cashin family is now a shadow of its majestic self



TEXT TE T E EX X T Fairoza F i Mansor M MAIN MA M AI A I N PHOTO PH HOT TO Roy R Lim Li Li


t stands dilapidated in the middle of a large flat piece of land in Punggol. One of the oldest still-standing houses in Singapore, Matilda House was built in 1902 as a seaside retreat by Mr Joseph Cashin, whose family history in Singapore can be traced back to the early 1840s. The single-storey, six-bedroomed bungalow was then a pretty sight with its red-tiled roof and pristine white walls. There were entrances on both sides of the main building, an open balcony along the front facade, a long verandah, stables and tennis courts. In its garden were mangosteen, durian and rambutan trees, among others. Since it was left vacant 11 years ago, the area around it has seen massive development. A housing estate has sprung up nearby and the bungalow itself is now next to the Soo Teck LRT station. Cheang Yitshan, 24, who has lived in the area for five years, says,“It looks like it could fall apart any moment. My family and I think it’s quite eerie. Some people say it is haunted.” Matilda House had a long staircase which led to the garden and onto the sandy beach which was then just 200 metres away. The Cashin family, originally from Ireland, also owned about 350 hectares of land in the area on which there were rubber and coconut plantations. The building was gazetted for conservation by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in February 2000. Plans for Matilda House have not been firmed up but it has potential for community use or as a clubhouse.


Matilda House in its glory days. Thiss image mage first st appeared appea ed in n URA A News Archivess on 26 October 2010. 2010


spring MAKAN2

WHERE’S THE FISH IN MY NASI LEMAK? You wouldn’t mind going vegetarian for Ami Mehta’s versions of local dishes! TEXT Gregory Leow PHOTO Kelvin Chia


omemaker Ami Mehta had never seen meat up close until she married her husband Sanjay and came to live in Singapore 15 years ago. The 45 year-old, a lifelong vegetarian, was “a little shocked” when she got to Singapore. Mealtimes proved difficult at first — there were occasions when she had to leave the table when the sight of meatladen dishes got a bit too much. But from someone who once sat through a wedding dinner eating only raita (yogurt cucumber dip) and rice — because almost all the dishes had meat in them — Ami has gone on to enjoy local delights such as nasi lemak, mee goreng and tauhu goreng. Except that she has adapted these to suit vegetarians. In nasi lemak for example, Ami subsitutes the usual accompaniments of otah, fried fish and ikan bilis with vegetables such as ladies’ fingers, bittergourd, long beans, kang kong and eggplant. The vegetables are fried just like the traditional extras but she adds aromatic spices like lemongrass and curry leaves to make the flavours more complex.


In order to keep things healthy, Ami uses a mixture of coconut milk and milk in the rice when cooking it, to lessen the amount of saturated fat. The only condiment she keeps intact is the sambal chilli which, according to Ami, is the most important ingredient in nasi lemak. “Once you have that right, the vegetarian version is just as tasty as the real thing. The lemongrass and curry leaves gives the dish a little something extra,” says the mother of an eight year-old boy. Whipping up dishes with less fat and cholesterol is something Ami is very conscious of because a vegetarian diet has benefitted her husband noticeably. “Sanjay was a meat-eater up until 1999, [when he became a vegetarian]. Soon after, he realised he wasn’t feeling as sleepy and bloated as he used to be after meals,” says Ami. But her husband was only able to completely convert to a meatless diet when she started making tasty alternatives of his favourite local dishes like rojak, tahu goreng and popiah. “Making meatless versions of local dishes that are tasty are easier than what people might think,” says Ami. For instance, in mee goreng, she substitutes tofu, vegetables, potatoes and bean sprouts for the usual minced meat and egg. Two years ago, she started twiceweekly cooking classes at her home in Tampines West. For those interested in trying their hand at vegetarian cooking, Ami suggests starting with an easy dish like lentils, which can be whipped up in less than 15 minutes. “Boiled lentils and microwaved vegetables seasoned and mixed together with cumin, curry leaves and dried chilli fried in oil is very tasty with bread, rice or chapattis,” she says. Log onto www.amisveggieheart. com to find out more about Ami’s vegetarian cooking.


Vegetarian stalls these days serve a wide variety of food from Indian curries to Chinese dishes to even Western food “steaks.” Here are some to check out in the North East.


A 10-minute walk from Serangoon M MRT, this Chinese vegetarian restaurant is small s and homely. Netizens have singled sin ng out its claypot “pig’s trotter” and an nd sambal “fish” hotplate as favourites. Location: 37 Teck Chye Terrace L Opening Hours: 9am – 9pm Closed on Tuesday


This food court stall serves the usual T In Indian nd vegetarian dishes such as thosai, puri pu ur and bryani. According to online reviews, re evi the dishes use less oil and salt. Location: #01-12, Kopitiam Square, Loc Lo oca o 10 Sengkang Square Opening Hours: Daily until 10pm


Tucked away in a Buddhist temple, this t small teahouse serves a range of o hot and cold teas with a selection off v vegetarian dishes like mushroom noodles, no oo o o peanut tofu and their speciality, sp pe ec crispy ginger. Location: Fo Guang Shan Temple, Loca L 1 Punggol Place Opening Hours: Tuesdays to Saturdays, 10am-8pm Sunday and Public Holidays, 10am-6pm Closed on Mondays


Located in a coffee shop, this serves Western food minus any meat. m Everything from burgers, salmon sa al steaks and pork chops are made ma using mock meat. The dishes are m accompanied accco by baked beans, coleslaw and a French fries. an Location: Blk 462, Tampines St 44, #01-64 Opening Hours: Daily 9am-10pm Opens on alternate Mondays

MAKAN2 spring

VEGGIE GOOD! A meatless roast ‘steak’ ranks high on the llist i of delights Spring found in its visit to two v e vegetarian eateries TEXT & PHOTOS Gregory Leow

More variety for vegetarians

Almost lik Al like the h reall thing hi

With its chequered table cloths and an interior bathed in soft yellow lighting, Simple Food at Tampines evokes a relaxed homely feel. There is a 1960s Singapore coffeehouse vibe about the place with its deliberately mismatched chairs and piped music.The restaurant offers an impressive 132 dishes, from western-style baked rice and pastas to Chinese tzi char (Hokkien for cook and fry) dishes such as sweet and sour fish, soups and mapo tofu — Sichuan bean curd and minced meat in a spicy, fermented bean sauce. Sarah Slemat is a regular patron, dropping in for a meal whenever she visits the area to give tuition to some primary school pupils. The large selection of dishes at the restaurant is an attraction for her. “For example, there is bak kut teh, [Chinese pork bone tea soup] which is very unusual for a vegetarian eatery. It tastes pretty good,” says the 23 year-old student. On recommendation, Spring tried the Mexican Roast Steak, ($7). For this dish, the restaurant takes a seasoned steak of mock meat made out of tofu, coats it with breadcrumbs, lathers on a spicy tomato puree and sprinkles non-dairy ‘cheese’ on top, before roasting it in the oven. The steak is served with sides of potato fries, sliced tomatoes and cucumber, baked beans and coleslaw with egg-free mayonnaise. When you bite into the steak, it feels like you are eating a meaty mushroom or a soft chicken pattie, and the ‘cheese’ is so soft and gooey that you’d never guess it isn’t dairy. The steak is crunchy, and the spicy tomato paste gives it an added kick.The potato fries are well done and as for the coleslaw, well, you wouldn’t miss the ‘real thing’.

Kopitiam Square in Sengkang opened up eating options for residents nearby, but there were not many choices for vegetarians until Big Bites started business about five months ago. It has proven a boon for vegetarians like assistant food manager Shone Xavier, 28. “It is convenient because you do not have to go out of the area whenever you feel like Indian vegetarian, as the food centre is located right next to the MRT,” he says. The stall serves a large variety of Indian vegetarian dishes from thosai, (Indian rice pancakes) rice and vegetable sets, puris (fried Indian wheat bread) and a selection of Indian sweets. Unlike the thin and crispy ‘paper’ thosai — which are popular these days — the plain thosai ($2.50) available at Big Bites is more traditional, being thicker and softer to the bite. It is also an added novelty that you get to see the cook make the thosai fresh in front of you. Big Bites serves this with three chutneys, coconut, coconut and chilli, and onion and tomato, which are all nicely spiced and not over-flavoured. But the highlight is definitely the lentil curry which comes with it. Thick, rich and full of flavour, you will find yourself emptying the bowl and asking for more.

BIG BITES PURE VEGETARIAN RESTAURANT #01-12, Kopitiam Square re 10, Sengkang Square Open daily from 8am to 10pm o1 0pm 0p


Blk 462, Tampines St 44, #01-64 Open daily from 9am to 10pm. Closed on alternate Mondays

JUL – AUG 25

spring MAKAN2

FEASTING IN HARMONY Nowhere is multi-racialism more apparent in Singapore than in the array of popular ‘national’ dishes available island-wide. Here are two for you to recreate at home

Step by Step Chinese Cooking $25 (w/o GST

CHICKEN SATAY INGREDIENTS Chicken breasts, skinned and cut into 0.5 x 2.5 cm pieces. Deboned drumsticks pieces will also work well Thick coconut cream, extracted from 125g grated coconut Salt Sugar Bamboo skewers soaked in water for 1 hour Peanut sauce

BASTING MIXTURE Cooking oil 4 Tbsp Water 4 Tbsp Coconut cream 2 Tbsp


5 Tbsp 1½ tsp 70g

FINELY GROUND PASTE Shallots, peeled 9 Garlic cloves, peeled 3 Candlenuts (buah keras) 3 Fresh mature turmeric, peeled 3.5 cm knob Young galangal, peeled 2.5 cm knob Lemongrass, sliced 1 stalk Dried shrimp paste (belacan) crushed 1 tsp SPICES, TOASTED AND FINELY POUNDED Coriander 1½ Tbsp p Cumin ½ tsp Fennel ½ tsp

Best of Asian Cooking $32.65 (w/o GST)

MIXED GARNISH Cucumbers, cut into small chunks 2 Onions, peeled and cut into wedges 2 Light soy sauce 4 Tbsp Lime juice 1½ Tbsp Red chillies, thinly sliced 3 METHOD 1. Rub finely ground paste into the chicken, add coconut cream and season with salt and sugar. Sprinkle the toasted and finely pounded spices over the chicken and mix thoroughly. Marinate for three hours. 2. Thread chicken through the bamboo skewers and grill on a griddle pan or under a hot electric grill. Constantly baste with basting liquid to keep chicken satay moist. 3. Serve chicken satay with peanut sauce and garnish as desired.

CHILLI OYSTER CRABS INGREDIENTS Crabs Cooking oil Ginger, peeled and cut into strips Garlic cloves, peeled and sliced Shallots, peeled and sliced Red chillies, seeded, machine blended with 125 ml water Eggs, beaten lightly Spring onions, cut into 5 cm lengths Coriander leaves (cilantro) cut into 5 cm lengths SAUCE Chinese rice wine Chilli sauce Oyster sauce Sugar Sesame oil Ground white pepper

3 kg 250 ml 60g 7 7

10 5 6 2 sprigs 3 Tbsp 3 Tbsp 4 Tbsp 4 Tbsp 1 tsp

METHOD 1. Clean crabs, remove and crack pincers with a crab cracker. Cut crab legs into 4 pieces. 2. Heat oil in a large wok and stir fry ginger, garlic and shallots until fragrant. Put in chillies and fry for 2 minutes. 3. Add the cut crabs and stir briskly. Cover the wok for approximately 4–5 minutes. Uncover and stir briskly once again, then add sauce ingredients. When crabs are bright red and nearly cooked, pour in beaten eggs and spring onions. Stir well into the sauce. 4. Dish out and garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice or toasted bread.

¼ tsp

* The Best of Asian Cooking is published by Marshall Cavendish


Wishing all North East District Residents a

Selamat Hari Raya Aidil Fitri!


JUL â&#x20AC;&#x201C; AUG 27




A celebration of ‘Home - What We Love Aboutt It’, Singapore HeritageFest 2011 promises to be a nationwide extravaganza TEXT Aileen Lai


f you missed out on last year’s Singapore HeritageFest (SHF), be sure to mark it down on your calendar this time round. The annual festival — which turns eight this year — is set to be one of the biggest celebrationss in town, featuring three major events and six satellite hubs over the full 17 days — five more days than last year. Festival organisers the National Heritage Board (NHB) is taking the party from the heart of the city into the heartlands to reach out closer to the community. As a result, everyone will be able to experience Singapore’s multi-cultural heritage and enjoy the arts almost at their doorstep.


The tagline for this year’s festival explores the concept of ‘home’ and what that actually means to every one. To some, it might just be a physical shelter; to others it might refer to a place shared with family. Or it could be an association with a sense of comfort and security. “Our ultimate aim is to enable Singaporeans to rediscover the various elements of home,” says Mr Michael Koh, Chief Executive Officer of NHB. “This will be achieved through the festival’s line-up of specially-curated exhibitions, outreach events and community activities.”





Home Sweet Home@ @ Compass Point (18 - 24 July) In the past, when televisions or computers were not common in homes, family bonding activities revolved around simple joys like card games or craft work such as sewing quilts and doll dresses, or sharing of collectibles like stamps and matchboxes. At Compass Point, rediscover simple card games of the past, home crafts and outdoor adventures such as spider-catching and fishing. And while you are there, watch out for weekend performances that feature a range of talents such as Peranakan musical numbers, rock-and-roll and Malay theatre.


See, hear and experience the lesserknown sides of Singapore in this guided tour of the country’s hidden gems. Highlights of the trails include a colossal 10-ton Buddha statue, a 130 year-old British fort found buried under a park and food from the Eurasian and Peranakan Chinese communities. Mark Your Calendar: 15 – 24 July. Tickets are $18 per trail and can be bought at



Festival Opening at Ang Mo Kio Witness how the concept of ‘Home’ has evolved over the years. Reminisce or learn about the good old days, and be entertained by cultural dance performances and street theatre. On top of that, the Ang Mo Kio Community Heritage Trail — a trail documenting the heritage of Ang Mo Kio, its landmarks and memories of longtime residents and business owners — will also be launched. Mark Your Calendar: 15 – 17 July, field between Ang Mo Kio Central 2 and Central 3 (behind Ang Mo Kio Public Library)


SHF goes to the libraries! SHF 2011 is partnering with the National Library Board to run a series of exhibitions such as the Heritage in Photos and the Ang Mo Kio Community Heritage Trail, as well as stage programmes on traditional performances at the Ang Mo Kio, Jurong West and Woodlands libraries. Mark Your Calendar: 15 – 31 July, Ang Mo Kio, Jurong West and Woodlands.



Music lovers will get to enjoy a twonight mega concert titled ‘Home Brewed’. The three-day concert will feature Singapore’s music through the decades with a line-up of Malay, Tamil, English and Chinese music legends. During the day, Hilly Happenings will feature activities such as cultural and youth-centric stage programming, food and craft stalls, trails and workshops.

What better way to bring the festival to a close than to re-live the glory days of the Great World Amusement Park which closed in 1978. There will be exhibitions and activities to showcase past family entertainment. At the finale, SHF will launch ‘Close {encounters of the nice kind} — a publication featuring stories of neighbourly ties and friendships that transcend age and cultural barriers.

Mark Your Calendar: 22 – 24 July, Fort Canning Green

Mark Your Calendar: 29 – 31 July, Velocity@Novena Square

Hilly Happenings at Fort Canning Park

Festival Finale at Velocity@Novena Square

For more details on the Festival and the various activities, log on to


JUL – AUG 29




We celebrate Singapore’s 46 years of Independence with just as many snippets of information about the little red dot we call home TEXT Gregory Leow PHOTOS Istockphoto, Singapore Tourism Board


Singapore has 63 small ‘islands’ including the unusually named Violin Island and Junk Island.



Block 335, Smith Street, popularly known as Chinatown Complex, is Singapore’s largest hawker centre with 703 stalls.




Mr Lee Kuan Yew holds the record for the longest serving elected Prime Minister in the world, from 1959 to1990.


Market Street, built in 1964, was Singapore’s oldest multi-storey car park until it was closed recently. The world’s tallest man-made waterfall at Jurong Bird Park has 30 metres of continuously running water.

Singapore’s literacy rate is 95.9 per cent; 91.7 percent have secondary school education or higher.

The Float@Marina Bay is the world’s largest floating stage at 120 metres long and 83 metres wide.


Italian sculptor Cavalieri Rodolfo Nolli (1888–1963) is Singapore’s most prolific sculptor to date. He came here in 1915 and was responsible for the stonework for the old Supreme Court, City Hall and the former Tanjong Pagar Railway Station, among many others.


Singapore, with a population density of 7,126 people per sq km in 2010, is among the top five most populated countries in the world. These include Macao and Monaco.


Besides Rio de Janeiro, Singapore is the other city in the world with a primary rainforest — the 1.64 sq km Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.


Local comedian Jack Neo’s Money No Enough is the highest grossing local film so far, taking in $6.02 million in 1998.

Kampong Buangkok


A 1970s metal and stone bus stop along Old Choa Chu Kang Road is believed to be the oldest in Singapore.


The waters of a natural hot spring in Sembawang discovered in 1908 are still available for free.


Built in 1956, Kampong Buangkok is the last kampung on mainland Singapore.



The life expectancy of Singaporean men is 79.3 years, while women can expect to live up to 84.1.


UOB Plaza One, Republic Plaza and OUB Centre are the tallest buildings in Singapore at 280m — the building height restriction imposed by the URA.


In the North East, there is a Lim Tua Tow (‘big head’ in Hokkien) Road.


Singapore has 17 reservoirs, and the two newest are Punggol and Serangoon.


The first fast food outlet in Singapore was the A&W at the former Singapore International Airlines Building along Robinson Road. It opened in 1968.


The Singapore Flyer — the world’s largest observation wheel — used to spin counterclockwise, if you’re facing out to sea. On geomancers’ advice, it now spins the other way round.


Teresa Hsu is Singapore’s oldest living person. She turned 114 in July this year.



Hardip Singh, at 2.02 m, is the official tallest Singaporean male.


Opened in 1939, the old Cathay Building was Singapore’s first skyscraper at 17 floors. It was also the first airconditioned space in Singapore.

The current average wage of the Singaporean worker in fulltime work is $2,710 a month.









Sir Stamford Raffles, never liked the durian. According to David Brazil’s book, Street Smart Singapore, when Raffles encountered durians, he “held his nose and ran upstairs”.


Singapore technology company, CyberInc, holds the Guinness World Record for building the smallest optical mouse in 2008.


Chilli Crab was invented in 1950 by a Madam Cher Yam Tian, now 80 years old.


The Fountain of Wealth at Suntec City is the world’s largest fountain. It occupies an area of 1,683 square metres.


The 161 year-old grave of the wealthy philanthropist, Tan Tock Seng, is located next to the Jubilee Presbyterian Church at Outram Road.

It was 1932 when Singapore introduced its own brand of beer, Tiger Beer.

The old Kallang Airport was once dubbed “the finest airport in the British Empire.” Opened in 1937, it had facilities that were considered revolutionary for its time. For example, planes could land from any direction.

Television was introduced to Singapore on 15 February 1963. The first colour broadcast was on 1 August, 1974.


Semakau Landfill, an island made entirely of garbage incinerator ash, is located eight kms south of Singapore. A taxi gets hired for 25 trips a day on average, according to Land Transport Authority’s 2010 statistics.


The most common Chinese surnames in Singapore are Tan, Lim and Lee.

There are 40,000 species of plants and animals on our island.

The coldest day recorded so far was on 31 January 1934 at 19.4ºC. The hottest day was 36ºC on 26 March 1998.


The first ice cream was brought into Singapore by Cold Storage in 1923. The brand was ‘Paradise’.

The five stars on the flag of Singapore stand for the ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality, while the moon represents a young nation on the ascendant.

When the the number ‘6’ was added in front of telephone landlines on 1 March 2002, the numbering capacity increased tenfold to 60 million.



The USB thumbdrive was invented by Singaporean Henn Tan in 1999.


Henderson Waves is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore at 36 metres.


Our national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim same flower the is id Orch used in Hawaii’s famous garlands. A Dr. Harold Lyon took it there in 1925 and renamed it the Aloha Princess Orchid.


Orchard Road got its name from the nutmeg, pepper and fruit orchards that lined it during the 19th Century.



The first live broadcast in Singapore was of the National Day Parade at the National Stadium in 1980.

The above facts have been compiled from various sources, and are accurate at time of writing. JUL – AUG 31


The Toa Payoh MRT station was the first to be completed in Singapore, in August 1985. It was also the first with platform screen doors in the world. It opened in 1987.



Getai is popular during the Ghost Month. But there are do’s and don’t’s that must be followed, according to veteran entertainer Lin Ru Ping TEXT Gregory Leow


or long-time getai entertainers like Lin Ru Ping, there is one cardinal rule that cannot be broken. And that is, you do not make unflattering remarks about the spirits. “Those of us who have done the circuit often enough know that this is because you risk angering the spirits,” says Ms Lin, 60. According to Taoist traditions, the 15th day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar is when the gates of Hell open and the ho heah di (good ‘brothers’ or ‘spirits,’ in Hokkien) roam among the living. Known as Ghost Month, this is when offerings of food are made and traditional Chinese puppetry and wayang (Chinese opera) are performed to keep the spirits happy. Getai, which means ‘song stage’ in Hokkien, is also performed for the same reason. It is an outdoor show where performers, often in elaborate costumes, entertain audiences with song, dance and comedy in Hokkien and Mandarin. The stages are put up all across Singapore, usually in 32 SPRING


Getai is a popular form of entertainment during Ghost Month

Ms Lin Ru Ping has been involved with getai for 25 years

heartland areas and situated in a variety of locations from community centres to open fields. Last year, there was an estimated 300 stages, according to newspaper reports. Ms Lin, who has been involved with getai for 25 years, says those who make the mistake of talking bad about the spirits are usually novices. “They would crack jokes like ‘Tonight we have 6,000 people, one thousand we can see but five thousand we cannot see’. I would always advise them not to do it again as it is bad luck,” she says. The veteran performer, who started her career in 1984 with the then Singapore Broadcasting Corporation (now MediaCorp), has also appeared in the local movie 881 about a pair of getai singers. She remembers an incident years ago. The mother of a female performer complained that the monks praying on the stage were taking too much time, and that her daughter would be late for getai shows at other locations as a result. “’Aiyah, why take so long to pray,’ I remember the mother complaining. Later that night, she fell from the stage and was hospitalised. She claimed she was pushed by spirits,” relates Ms Lin. But that is not to say joking about spirits is not allowed, Ms Lin adds. Certain jokes are acceptable as long as they put the spirits in a good light.

The Ghost Month celebrations in Singapore differ from that in Hong Kong or Taiwan, where celebrations only take place on the first and last days of the Hungry Ghost Festival. This is unlike in Singapore where there are celebrations everyday. “So if we joke that the ghosts in Singapore must be very happy and lucky because they can eat every day until the last day of the festival, then that is considered acceptable.” Even then, Ms Lin says such jokes should only be made on stages on which prayers have been offered. Other than that particular taboo, the shows for the Hungry Ghost Festival run like any other staged performances. But what a busy month it is for entertainers! Most established performers will be working every day, sometimes doing up to three or four shows a night. For three songs, payments can range from $80 for new singers to $2,000 for the more popular performers, but that is not the highest amount by any stretch. “Some popular performers like Malaysian singer Zhang Xue Zhong can easily command five thousand dollars for a 45-minute set,” says Ms Lin, a mother of two. Getai is also extending its reach outside heartland areas. This year, a three and a half-hour show was held outside Ngee Ann City on 31 July to mark the start of the Ghost Month. In the North East, events were held in the weekend before that — there was one stage at the open field opposite Defu Lane 10 and another at Tampines Central community centre. Shows typically start at 7.30pm and end at 10.30 pm, and they have grown more elaborate over the years. “In the past, all that was needed were two big floodlights and a wooden stage. These days the shows have larger stages, disco lights, smoke machines and LED [light-emitting diode] projectors,” says Ms Lin. Also ever-changing are the songs. Hits from the 60s and 70s are being replaced by theme songs from popular Taiwanese drama serials and Hokkien pop songs. The theme song, Wo Wen Tian, (I Ask Heaven) from the popular Taiwanese drama series, Ai (Love) currently showing on MediaCorp Channel 8, is a current hot favourite. “Like HDB, getai must also go through upgrading every few years,” Ms Lin jokes.

This year, the Ghost Month falls on 31 July and ends on 28 August. The Hungry Ghost Festival starts on 14 August.

JUL – AUG 33

spring HEALTH


Most of us spend long hours in the office. ce. ments Here’s how you can keep common ailments at bay while deskbound TEXT Gregory Leow


ou may be productive, but being glued to your computer screen all day may lead to adverse health effects. According to a 2010 report by the International Labour Organisation, workers in Singapore are ahead of even the Japanese and Taiwanese when it comes to putting in time at the office. Two common ailments that arise from long office hours are bad posture and backache. Chiropractor Nelson Lim says that about 65 per cent of the 150 or so patients he sees a month at his clinic


are there because off work posture or office-related injuries. uries. “Eight years ago, o, these injuries only accounted for half of my patients, but the problem hass been growing because people are working longer hours at their desk these days,” says Dr. Lim, 35. There are many ways to prevent office injuries but the he important thing, says Dr Lim, is to take ke a holistic view. “Getting a good ergonomic desk and chair for your workplace is only helpful if you take the he effort to sit in a correct posture; otherwise erwise the problems will just persist,” he says.

SOME COMMON AILMENTS EYESTRAIN Eye problems usually result from bad lighting, like an overly bright computerr screen or a dimly lit office. Bad lighting can give you headaches due to eyestrain, double vision and just not being able to see clearly. Solution: A lamp on your desk will provide additional lighting, while a screen protective film for your computer monitor will help to reduce glare. Dr Lim suggests following the 20-20-20 rule, which is looking away every 20 minutes at an object 20 feet (six metres) away for 20 seconds.

NOISE-RELATED STRESS It has been shown that office workers find decibel (dB) levels of about 55-60 to be extremely irritating. As a gauge, a loud conversation is pegged at 55dB and a ringing telephone at 80dB. Noise can interfere with your ability to concentrate and produce tension and stress. Health studies have shown that prolonged stress causes your muscles to tense. Common sources of office noise include computers, telephones, printers and voices. Solution: Noise-cancelling headphones will enable you to still hear people so that your work is not interrupted.

FINGER TENDONITIS Constant clicking of the computer mouse while sitting incorrectly will lead to over usage of your fingers. The result will be swelling or inflammation of the finger tendons. Solution: Dr. Lim suggests wrapping an ice pack in a damp towel and applying it to the affected area two or three times a day, for 20 minutes each time. You may also need to take anti-inflammatory tablets if the ice pack does not work.

SHOULDER MUSCLE STRAIN Slouching and sitting incorrectly for a prolonged period will cause your shoulders to tense and lead to muscle strain in the neck, upper back, lower back and shoulders. There could also be loss of circulation and numbness and tingling in the arms, hands or fingers. Solution: Stretch the affected area periodically to relieve the tension, and drink plenty of water to rehydrate the muscles. Sit in a chair with proper back support. “Sitting straight and maintaining the natural curve of your spine while keeping your thighs parallel and feet flat on the ground are what you are trying to achieve while working,” says Dr. Lim, who also advises taking frequent breaks to stretch the muscles and help blood circulation.


DRY THROAT, WATERY EYES Typical office air conditioners are set to between 21 and 23˚C. While this provides a comfortable respite from the heat outside, the air also ends up being very dry. Low humidity can lead to a dry throat and cracked lips, as well as nose bleeds and dry sinuses. If your office environment is dusty, you are susceptible to hay fever, watery eyes and asthma. Solution: Keep a bottle of cold water handy, and sip from it constantly. Throat lozenges can help stimulate saliva production. Gargling warm, salted water helps a dry, scratchy throat. To protect against dust, wash your hands and face (if possible) throughout the day and clean your desk using a damp towel once a day. A small air purifier on your desk will help with dust in the air, while a humidifier can counteract dry air.

CARPAL TUNNEL SYNDROME Constant typing may result in pressure on the median nerve — the nerve in the wrist that supplies feeling and movement to parts of the hand. A pinched nerve can lead to tingling, numbness, weakness or muscle damage in the hands and fingers. Solution: Stretch all fingers as far apart as possible and shake your hands. Do both for 10 seconds every 30 minutes or so.

JUL – AUG 35



For advertising enquiries, call Azlin

Tel: 6424-4061

Jan/Feb 2011

Email: azlin_ mohamed@


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J – AUG JUL A 37 7

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Watch the parade on TV while lounging on this two-seater sofa in Dottevik Red. KLIPPAN two-seat sofa, $295.


Just the thing to display those snapshots taken at the parade. KNYTTA frame, $29.


Want to prep up a room? Simply change the lampshade to this paper and steel creation. VARMLUFT shade, $4.90.



5 6

Celebrate Singapore’s 46th birthday with these red and white additions from IKEA

When you need spot-on illumination for a dark corner, this siren-red torch will do the trick. LJUSA hand-driven torch, $9.90. This painted solid birch bench will come in handy for additional seating. SIGURD bench, $149. What better way to say “I love Singapore’ than with this heart-shaped cushion. FAMNIG HJARTA cushion, $9.90.


Your favourite corner of the room deserves this special touch. FILLSTA table lamp, white $19.


Add a touch of glamour to your living space at a downto-earth price. LAMPAN table lamp, $5.90.


Why stop at one? Grab a trio of these elegantly simple vases. LIVAT vase, $5.90/packet of three.

Look out for our exciting new catalogue in your mail box from 4 August 2011!


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Just right for sharing a cosy meal with friends. MELLTORP dining table, $59.


This shelďŹ ng unit makes a statement on its own. LACK wall shelf unit, $79.


Invite friends over to celebrate National Day now that you have lots of room with this sofa bed in Vansta Red. IKEA PS LĂ&#x2013;VĂ&#x2026;S two-seat sofa-bed, $685.

Sitting pretty has never been easier â&#x20AC;&#x201D; and so stylish. LAVER chair, $12.90. This photo frame lets you display two snapshots at one time. TOLSBY frame for 2 pictures, 10x15cm, $1.80.


We have 5 IKEA gift cards worth $20 each to give away. Answer the following question for a chance to win one. Question: How many pages are there in our new IKEA catalogue? Send your answers to by 7 September 2011. Type in â&#x20AC;&#x153;Spring catalogue contestâ&#x20AC;? as the subject header and include your name, contact number and address. Winners will be contacted on 9 September 2011.

MAY JULYâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;â&#x20AC;&#x201C;A JU AUG JUN J 39



(L– R): Dr Maliki Osman, Pin, Ho Mr Teo Mr Teo Ser Luck, Dr Amy Khor and Mr Sam Tan.

r o y a M r o F y n o m re e C t n e tm Appoin On 29 June, five district mayors in charge of Singapore’s CDCs were sworn in. North East’s Mayor Teo Ser Luck was among the three who were re-appointed for another term ending in May 2014. Besides him, West District Mayor Teo Ho Pin and South West District Mayor Amy Khor were also re-appointed. Swearing in for the first time were Mayor Dr Maliki Osman for South

Needy families of all races living in Tampines Central can now look forward to free lunches once every two weeks. The community lunch programme called ‘Soup Kitchen’ is a joint initiative between Darul Ghufran Mosque, the Tampines Central Welfare Committee and the North East CDC. The lunch is cooked at the mosque by volunteers and distributed by volunteers and Tampines Central grassroots leaders within the mosque compound. Besides providing community support to needy families, the programme also fosters racial harmony among residents.



East District and Mayor Sam Tan for Central Singapore District. Two priorities for the mayors are providing more targeted help for older Singaporeans and looking for better ways to connect the community. For Mayor Teo Ser Luck, the key is a flexible approach in disbursing assistance, whether under the Government’s Comcare scheme or local programmes.

Bonding over so up


Good Sports!

On the morning of 19 June, about 1,780 youth sports enthusiasts got together to compete in the local Youth Games organised by Singapore Badminton Association and supported by North East CDC, Berita Harian, Pilot Pen (S) Pte Ltd and Pacific Sports Pte Ltd. A total of 700 players took to the Tampines Rovers training field to participate in a 7-Aside soccer tournament under four age group categories — under 9

years, 11 years, 13 years, and 16 years old. Meanwhile, 1,080 badminton players thronged the Tampines Sports Hall. The impressive turnout is a multi-fold achievement compared to the Games’ humble beginnings in 2002 when there were only 160 participants. The objective of the local Youth Games is to provide a platform for youths to cultivate their interest in sports and to promote sportsmanship among the young.

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Spring ~ Living In the North East / Jul-Aug 2011  
Spring ~ Living In the North East / Jul-Aug 2011  

A Local Community Magazine produced for the North East district of Singapore