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Since 1958

March 2017

American Association..... 1-6 Member Discounts............. 3 CRCE & Business............... 7 Community News......... 8-13 Travel........................ 14-15 Female Focus............. 17-23 Living in Singapore..... 24-26 Health & Wellness........... 27

Travel 14-15

Living in Singapore 24-26

Health & Wellness 27

Female Focus 17-23

Exploring the Land of the Morning Calm

Have You Met the Pirate Queen of the China Sea?

How to Perfect Your Most Confident Smile

Inspirational Women Around the World

MCI (P) 116/04/2016

Suffrage March , New York City 1917

From Voting Rights to Equal Opportunity for All By Camille Dawson EDITOR’S NOTE: This issue of the Singapore American was planned before the far-reaching events of January 21. The content is a nod to Women’s History Month, celebrated in March by the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia. (Canada celebrates in October.) It traces its roots to International Women’s Day.


ach year on March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day. This tradition began when women seeking better pay and working conditions marched on New York City on March 8, 1908. The United States has made tremendous strides since that first march: women not only won the right to vote, but they now hold senior positions throughout the government and private sector; they make up about half of the workforce and they now earn a higher percentage of college degrees than men. As we carry on their legacy of striving for equality and empowerment of women, it’s worth

reviewing the history of how these achievements were reached. Starting in the early 1800s, women organized to gain the right to vote. Advocates argued that denying women the right to vote was not in accord with the founding ideals of our country. As early as 1848, suffrage movement leaders organized protests and acts of civil disobedience to draw attention to their cause. Eventually, their efforts led to the 1920 passage of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution that gave women the right to vote throughout the nation. While achieving voting rights for women was a major milestone, it was not the end of the struggle. The growing Civil Rights movement of the 1960s included a drive for women’s rights. Like the earlier suffrage movement, the women’s rights movement was a grassroots effort through which citizens challenged the government and society to obtain greater freedom and equality. The enormous legal,

social and political advances that women made during the 1960s and 70s focused on applying the fundamental rights laid out in the Constitution to all people. In particular, proponents advocated for ensuring that men and women were treated equally in the workplace according to the law. The first major achievement of the 1960s Civil Rights movement was the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited “discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.” However, just because this law was on the books, it did not mean that it was enforced or that society’s ideas had changed in regards to what jobs a woman could or should do. Civil society groups took on the job of changing social attitudes and ensuring that the government and courts were enforcing anti-discrimination laws. Continues on page 17

American Association of Singapore’s Centennial Partners


Singapore American · March 2017

A message from the President...


’ve written nearly 40 of these President’s Messages since March 2014; this is my last. I will step down at our AGM this month to become the ex-officio role on the AAS board after three years as President and two years as Vice President. I congratulate and welcome Stephanie Nash as she succeeds me as the first female AAS President in 15 years. I know she’ll do an excellent job. With help from AAS staff, Executive Committee and the Board, we’ve notched a lot of wins over the years and I can proudly say that we’re the strongest we’ve ever been in terms of our value to members and our outreach to and impact on our community and host nation. The hard part over the years has been saying goodbye to friends on our TeamAmericaSG community who leave for home or other assignments. This letter finds me doing it again to our General Manager Toni Dudsak, Office Manager Mary Ferrante and Singapore American Editor-in-Chief/Communications Manager, Melinda Murphy. Toni and I started together at AAS some six years ago. Working with her and seeing her dedication and love for this organization, staff and community has been inspiring. Toni, thank you for all that you’ve done to make AAS strong. Mary’s been with AAS for 12 years, guiding the office with her calm, steady hand. She is AAS’ verison of Google and the heart of the office. Mary, we will miss you and thank you. Melinda has done a wonderful job of revamping SAN, supporting the Living in Singapore book and jumpstarting our social media presence. Melinda, thanks for your boundless energy and creativity. Our technology proponent, Dr. Stephen Tucker, is stepping off the AAS Board after serving on our ExCo for five years He is our current Vice President, a Living in Singapore writer and speaker. Stephen, thank you for your sage advice and guidance all these years. Though we say goodbye to them, we also know that our staff is still strong with creative, smart, dedicated folks who will carry the torch forward. Please be sure to sign up for our AAS Annual General Meeting (AGM) on March 14. We will have online voting (for the first time) in advance of the AGM. Watch for the email notification and instructions. I also strongly urge all of you to attend the AGM and support our organization. This month is also our biggest event of the year: the George Washington Centennial Ball at the Capella Hotel Sentosa. Watch for the pictures in our April SAN. In February, the US Navy hosted our members for a unique, VIP tour of the USS Coronado Littoral Combat Ship, currently based in Singapore. Thanks very much Rear Admiral Gabrielson and your team. We also had a chance to view the classic 1970s movie Saint Jack, starring Ben Gazzara and filmed here in Singapore. What a blast from the past! Up ahead, get your tickets for our annual Ambassador’s Cup Golf Tournament on April 30, at our new venue: Singapore’s Orchid Country Club. Again, thanks to the AAS staff, ExCo, Board and, most of all, you. It has been a pleasure to serve you and to be part of our 100 year tradition. Best, Glenn van Zutphen twitter: @glennvanzutphen

SINGAPORE AMERICAN NEWSPAPER EDITORIAL Editors-in-Chief: Cath Forte, Melinda Murphy, Publishing Editor: Toni Dudsak,

DESIGN & LAYOUT Graphic Designer: Miia Koistinen,

ADVERTISING Advertising Manager: Valerie Tietjen,

CONTRIBUTORS Madailein Abbott, Hazlyn Aidzil, Helena Auerswald, Mona Board, Zara Branigan, Faith Chanda, Camille Dawson, Ada Fong, Lance Har, Richard Hartung, Amy Ho, Steve Kreutter, Bill Poorman, Laura Schwartz, Vidya Schalk, Marc Servos, Kinjal Shah, Eric Walter, Betty Warner For AAS: Cath Forte, Anne Morgan, Melinda Murphy, Sarah Walston

AMERICAN ASSOCIATION BOARD MEMBERS President: Glenn van Zutphen • Vice President: Steven Tucker Treasurer: Michael Borchert • Secretary: Shawn Galey Directors: James Arpin, Joseph Foggiato, Mary Beth McCrory, Ana Mims and Stephanie Nash Immediate Past President: David Boden • AmCham Chair: Dwight Hutchins American Club President: Scott Weber • AWA President: Tara Eastep SACAC Chair: Anne LeBoutillier • SAS Chair: Anita Tan-Langlois Non-Voting Members: US Embassy: Chahrazed Sioud US Military: Rear Admiral Donald Gabrielson

PUBLISHER – AMERICAN ASSOCIATION The American Association of Singapore (AAS) is a professional, not-for-profit organization established to enhance the well-being and living experience of Americans residing in Singapore and to promote relationships, both business and social, between Americans and those from different cultures and nationalities. 10 Claymore Hill, Singapore 229573 T: (+65) 6738 0371 • F: (+65) 6738 3648 E: • The Singapore American newspaper, a monthly publication with readership of 10,000+, has been published by the American Association of Singapore since 1958, with the purpose of enhancing the expatriate experience in Singapore.

SUBSCRIPTION A subscription to the Singapore American is complimentary with an AAS or CRCE membership. AAS annual family membership is just $70. CRCE membership is $160. To join, visit and have the Singapore American delivered to your home. Reproduction in any manner, in English or any other language, is prohibited without written permission. The Singapore American welcomes all contributions of volunteer time or written material. The Singapore American is printed by Procomp Printset Pte Ltd, 57 Loyang Drive, Level 3 Annex Building, Singapore 508968.


Singapore American · March 2017

AAS Saturday


March Tuesday

14 March


16 March


29 March

Upcoming Events

Past Events

George Washington Centennial Ball

Tour of the USS Coronado

The American Association of Singapore is turning 100 and we are celebrating in style! With a nod to 1917 when West met East, this year’s Ball will have a spcial theme, Red, White & Ritz, marrying the best of both cultures. Revisit the Roarin’ 20s and 30s at this not-to-be-missed evening. An AAS members-only event. Capella Singapore, 1 The Knolls, Sentosa Island, (S)098297

Annual General Meeting

Launch AAS into the next 100 years! Enjoy some wine and snacks, catch up on all the AAS news and help select our new officers. Watch your inbox for our special online voting ballot. Online voting is encouraged, but if you don’t vote online, you’ll be able to cast your vote at the AGM. Please note: Everyone is welcome to attend, however only AAS members holding US citizenship will be permitted to vote. 6-8pm The American Club, 3rd floor, 10 Claymore Hill, (S)229573 Open only to AAS Members (free of charge; $10 no-show fee applies)

Repatriation Talk

Believe it or not, moving back home can be harder than moving away. Join AAS, Allied Pickfords and Suzanne Anderson, MSS, International Counselling & Psychology Centre for an informative talk aimed at helping you understand the emotional and logistical impacts of moving back. Includes a glass of wine and snacks. 6:30-8:30pm The American Club, 3rd floor, 10 Claymore Hill, (S)229573 Free for AAS & The American Club Members ($10 no-show fee applies) $30 Non-Members

A group of 24 AAS members and staff adventured to Sembawang for an exclusive tour of the USS Coronado on February 9. Guests had the chance to walk the decks, meet members of the crew and learn about life aboard the ship. Thank you to the US Navy for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our members!

When Hollywood Met Singapore

AAS hosted a special screening of the acclaimed 1979 film, Saint Jack, at The American Club on February 22. Exclusively for AAS and The American Club members, the event allowed guests the unique opportunity to view a film shot and directed on the streets of Singapore by Hollywood legend Peter Bogdanovich and once banned in the Lion City due to its controversial subject matter. A special thanks to Geraldene’s Tours for its support of the event, as well as Ben Slater, author of Kinda Hot, who spoke about the making of the movie.

100 Acts of Charity A big thank you to our members and staff who helped at Willing Hearts, yet another of our amazing 100 Acts of Charity. USA Girl Scout Overseas Daisy Troop 69 raised money through a cookie sale to donate to St. John’s Home for the Elderly. The troop also visited the home in person and made drawings with some of the residents. Don’t forget to let us know about what you’re doing via our website.

Behind the Balestiers: The First American Residents in Singapore

Join us for wine and snacks as author Richard Hale tells us more about the fascinating story of Joseph Balestier and his family who arrived in Singapore from Philadelphia in 1834. Drawing from a newly discovered trove of letters written by Joseph’s wife, Maria, Hale’s book, The Balestiers, paints a powerful, vivid picture of Singapore life. 6:30-8:30pm The American Club, 3rd floor, 10 Claymore Hill, (S)229573 $25 AAS and The American Club Members; $50 Non-Members For more info and to register for an event:

American Association of Singapore

Notice of the Board of Directors Endorsed Slate of Officers and Directors-at-Large Stephanie Nash, Incumbent: President Shawn Galey, Incumbent: Vice President Joe Foggiato, Incumbent: Secretary Michael Borchert, Incumbent: Treasurer James Arpin, Incumbent: Director-at-Large Mary Beth McCrory, Incumbent: Director-at-Large Ana Mims, Incumbent: Director-at-Large Sammie Cheston: Director-at-Large Bill Poorman: Director-at-Large Brian Schwender: Director-at-Large Jenn Wood: Director-at-Large


AAS members enjoy discounts at a range of local businesses. Present your AAS membership card at time of purchase. Please see a full list of discounts at

AAS members enjoy two hours free handyman service (valued at over $200) on their moving day when booking a move with Allied Pickfords.

Present AAS membership card to receive 15% off total bill. Valid for dine in on a la carte menu at all Brewerkz and Cafe Iguana restaurants through December 30, 2017. Limit to one (1) redemption per bill, per table. Not valid on

concert days, eve of and on public holidays. Not valid with lunch menu, other set menus, discounts, vouchers, promotions or privileges. The management reserves the right to amend the terms & conditions without prior notice.

Book online using promo code SGAME17 and enjoy a 10% savings on regular fares or a 5% savings on promotional fares in Business Class and Economy Class to the United States, Europe and Colombo.

Get a six-month free membership to Expat Living magazine. Redeem:

Survival Chic Discovery Dining Program 30% off the table bill (including alcohol and guests) at 50+ top restaurants around the city. $25,000+ in savings, for less than $1/day. 10% off Survival Chic Membership for AAS members!

Present your AAS membership card and receive $10 in vouchers when you sign up for a Warehouse Club membership. Valid till December 31, 2017.



t was an evening to remember on January 21, when AAS kicked off its year-long centennial celebration aboard the gorgeous tall ship, Royal Albatross, docked in Sentosa. Harkening back to the early 1900s, when most Americans first arrived in Singapore by sea, Royal Albatross was the perfect setting to honor the many milestones of AAS since its inception in 1917. AAS members, partners, sister organizations and community friends dressed in their nautical best and spent a seaside evening of mingling and celebration amid the beautiful night views of Singapore. Guests enjoyed drinks and canapes, while live jazz music by Vannessa & The Music Men added to the festive atmosphere of the night. AAS President Glenn van Zutphen and Stephanie Syptak-Ramnath, Chargé d’Affaires from the US Embassy, welcomed the group with remarks, honoring the great accomplishments of AAS and thanking the partners and supporters who have contributed to the organization’s successes along the way. A special toast marked the start of an exciting year ahead. The wonderful evening ended with a lively performance by mentalist Tom DeVoe, who amazed guests with his talent to “read minds” and predict guests’ thoughts. Singapore American School continues to be an instrumental supporter and partner of AAS and our special thanks goes to them for making this event a memorable success. In its first 100 years, AAS has shown its dedication to enhancing the community and a commitment to charitable service in Singapore. 2017 will be a wonderful year to celebrate AAS’ long-standing history, while looking ahead toward the future of AAS and the next 100 years.

Photos by Erick Lo

Major Sponsor

Logistics Partner

AAS and 1930s Singapore By Marc Servos

Patriot Partner

Eagle Partners Trolleybus, Singapore circa 1930


Kallang Airport opened 1937.

he 1930s is often perceived as being synonymous with both the worldwide Great Depression and the build-up to World War II, which would ignite by the decade’s end. Singapore’s experience reflected both of these characteristics, with the economic impact of the plummeting price of rubber, for example, the British build-up of military defenses and a growing Japanese Empire. But life, for the most part, carried on as normal during this period. This was also the case for the American Association of Malaya, as it was then known, which expanded and founded associated groups, programs and functions that continue to this day. The American Association held a number of social and sporting activities. Venues such as Raffles Hotel, the Tanglin Club and even some private residences often hosted teas, cocktails, dinners and dances, some of which honored important guests. Tennis tournaments and baseball games continued to be popular, with the latter often pitting the American teams against Japanese teams. Golf tournaments began in 1932 and were held sporadically until the Ambassador’s Cup was later established after World War II. Independence Day was celebrated with a dinner and sometimes a dance, at varying locations such as the Adelphi Hotel, the Swiss Club, or the Seletar Grange. The inaugural George Washington Ball was held on February 22, 1933, at the Sea View Hotel. During that same year, the Association held a formal tea for outgoing Governor General of the Philippines, Theodore Roosevelt Jr, the eldest son and namesake of the US President from three decades earlier. Roosevelt would later earn the Congressional Medal of Honor as an army brigadier general for his actions on D-Day at Normandy’s Utah Beach in 1944, dying weeks later of a heart attack. The Association launched the American Women’s Association in 1935 and Home Hospitality began in 1936, hosting American servicemen from US Navy Asiatic Fleet ships, which often docked in Singapore. (See articles below and on page 10.) On June 20, 1937, Amelia Earhart stopped in Singapore for a 12-hour stay during her fateful attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Also around this time, the American Consulate General occupied offices in the sincerazed Union Building on Collyer Quay. The majority of Singapore was still rural in the 1930s. Plantations were in operation and most people lived in village settlements known as kampongs. Tigers had been a real threat to these rural communities, but the lastknown shooting of a tiger was in Chua Chu Kang in 1930. Suburban areas began to expand, with shop houses lining the streets, housing the growing population of local educated middle classes. Westerners took greater strides to be inclusive of Asians in their clubs and activities, as this had begun during the previous decade. Cinemas were making an appearance; among them was the 16-story Cathay Building and Cinema, which opened in 1939 as Singapore’s

first skyscraper. The amusement parks, New World, Great World and Gay World, came into being during the 1920s and 1930s, entertaining patrons into the 1970s and 1980s. Despite the greater presence of automobiles, ironically the number of rickshaws had doubled from 1920 to 1930, even though their days were numbered. Bullock carts were also still a common sight. Electric-powered, trackless trolleybuses carried passengers, while privately-own seven-seater “mosquito” buses were being replaced by larger buses. In aviation, the Straits Settlements government began allowing commercial use at the Royal Air Force Seletar Air Base in 1930, further facilitated by the opening of the Kallang Airport in 1937. In 1939, the British completed the naval base in Sembawang; Royal Air Force bases, including Seletar, and a Royal Naval Air Station were also established. These, in addition to the existing facilities, such as the coastal artillery installations at Fort Siloso, were part of the Singapore Strategy to deter the expanding Japanese Empire. The 1930s ended with the ongoing war between Japan and China, which began in 1937, and the beginning of World War II in Europe in 1939. Within a few years, Singapore was engulfed in it, eventually changing its destiny. Marc Servos is married to a Singaporean and has been living here with his family for a number of years. The Indiana native is a real estate agent locally with ERA and a US Army veteran, the latter giving him his first overseas experience in Germany during the mid-1980s. Photo by Marc Servos

Singapore Baseball Association 1934

Formal Tea hoasted by AAS for Governor General of the Philippines Theodore Roosevelt II

Home Hospitality By Steve Kreutter


he American Association Home Hospitality program has a long history in Singapore. The Americans Women’s Auxiliary, which was a part of the American Association of Malaya (as it was called at the time), now the American Women’s Association (AWA), started it in 1936. The goal was to provide general hospitality to US sailors of all ranks in the form of meals and home-baked goods. Today, the American Association of Singapore (AAS) and the Navy League team up to reach out to their respective communities to find hosts for the sailors. They coordinate with Navy personnel based in Sembawang to provide home hospitality or events for a ship’s crew and officers. Over the years, the program has successfully brought together sailors and families in Singapore to share a meal or spend time on a walking tour. Other fun events that have been organized include relaxed poolside barbeques, co-hosted by The American Club. Numbers aren’t available back to 1936, but in the past ten years, the

community has hosted an average of six to seven ships and anywhere from 100 to 400 sailors in a year. 2016 was no exception with more than 150 sailors hosted from six ships. AAS and the Navy League thank everyone who opened their homes for their generosity. The sailors who participate regularly refer to their experience with home hospitality as one of the most memorable things they do when coming into port. A touch of home and family helps our service men and women who give so much to our country through their service in the Navy. In February, some AAS members took a tour of the USS Coronado and got an inside look at life on board. We look forward to continuing our Home Hospitality program in the years to come. Photos courtesy of the Etz, Fei and Ferguson families

USS Kitty Hawk 2004


AAS’ Secret Weapon By Anne Morgan


t takes a very special person to be as loved and admired as Toni Dudsak, General Manager (GM) of American Association of Singapore (AAS), who is soon repatriating to the US. Described by the former US Ambassador, Kirk Wagar as “America’s not ‘so’ secret weapon,” her zesty spirit combined with a good dollop of New Jersey chutzpah makes her an indomitable force of nature. Fizzing with life, all around her are galvanized into action by her infectious energy. Hating the very thought of anything wishy-washy, she lives by her personal mantra of “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good, therefore, I can show to any human being, let me do it now.” And “do it now” she does. Her fearsome life force is channeled into a punishing work ethic and laser attention to detail. Many an events manager or supplier has quaked with nerves as she passes her gimlet eye over proceedings. She is also blessed with an encyclopedic memory. As lesser mortals scramble to recall, Toni merely raises a resigned eyebrow and recites the detail, pitch perfect. Having successfully navigated four international moves and a career which has seen her embrace roles as diverse as teacher, interior designer and head of two chambers of commerce, what advice does she have for expats finding themselves in a new country? First, don’t waste time feeling sorry for yourself. Accept things will be different in your new home and you may have to adjust your professional and personal aspirations to reflect this. Try to enjoy the moment and do things you wouldn’t be able to do in your home country. If you are the trailing partner, have a good idea of your transferrable skills and be flexible. This includes being realistic about local salary expectations. Know that every move involves compromise and you will need to work together as a family for the transition to be a success. Surround yourself with a positive team of people. You will benefit from their energy and together you will achieve more and your life will be enriched. Try to make friends with as many diverse people as you can. There is a tremendous joy in building a relationship with people who are local or hail from different parts of the world. By any professional standards, Toni can be judged to have been a superlative GM. Commercially, she has overseen some seismic operational changes, forged strong links with a myriad of businesses and organizations and AAS events have scaled new heights. Success such as this garners deserved respect, but for those who are part of the AAS family, she will be most remembered for her spirit, love and laughter. She opens her home, gets up in the early hours to cook lunch for her team, hosts weekends of epic cookie baking and always, always goes “above and beyond.” Yes Toni, to coin one of your favorite phrases, you are “truly unique” and we will miss you terribly. That said, we all look forward to hearing about your next adventure and consider ourselves truly blessed to have shared this one with you.

Photos courtesy of AAS, Erick Lo and Natalia Wakula

Singapore American · March 2017


“Sometimes you just have to jump in both feet first.” UNKNOWN

Up Close and Personal with Amy Ho CRCE Member since 2010 Tell us about yourself… My family and I arrived in 2010, when our children were one and three years old. My husband was working at Visa, whose international headquarters is in Singapore. What made you decide to move to Singapore? My husband received an expat assignment offer to work in Singapore and I had always wanted to live/work in Asia at some point in my life. Our kids were young so it was a relatively easy time for us to move. What were your experiences with CRCE? We first heard about CRCE through The American Club. I attended several workshops during my first few years, as I was trying to figure out if I would work while in Singapore and, if so, how I would go about doing that. When I decided to pursue a more entrepreneurial path, I attended workshops again (LinkedIn and others). CRCE was a great resource for me. Please tell us about your current position at The Stanford University. We moved back to the US and I recently joined the Stanford Graduate School of Business. I’m working in the MBA Program department as Associate Director, Strategy and Curricular Support. In this role, I am responsible for academic data analysis and feedback surveys to continually improve the MBA program student experience; providing academic advising to students and working with faculty and staff on the academic curriculum. I attended Stanford as an undergraduate more than 20 years ago so it’s been so nice to be back on the campus. Also, having worked in corporate and management consulting for the first 10-15 years of my career, then taken a career break to start a family and move to Singapore, it’s been so great to have now pivoted into higher education and to be working in a studentfacing role where I can feel that what I do has great impact.

CRCE WORKSHOPS Lunch and Learn: The Story of a Trailing Spouse: Make Your Own Space Speaker: Bidushi Bhattacharya Friday, March 3 12 – 2pm Setting Up Your Own Business Speaker: Asha Dixit Wednesday, March 15 10am – 12pm

What advice can you share with new expatriates looking for a job in Singapore or anywhere else in the world? I’ve learned that life is less a trajectory path and more like chapters in a book. Moving to a new country is challenging and you do leave a lot of what’s comfortable and familiar behind, but uncertainty brings opportunity. If I hadn’t taken the career break and then extended that career break by moving to Singapore, I might have still been in my corporate career. Instead, I got to try something entrepreneurial (and learn what “hats” I do and don’t enjoy wearing); work at the Asian Civilisations Museum as a docent with Friends of the Museum (where I “found my tribe” while in Singapore); spend some time with a life coach and learn to listen to my heart and less to my head. Once I started paying attention to what truly interested me, I started finding my way towards something that truly is a good fit for me and work that makes me happy.

Are you an employer with an opening to fill? Did you know employers can list jobs for free on the CRCE job board? Log onto to find out more.

Photo courtesy of Amy Ho


SPOTLIGHT ON JOBS Project Engineers (Piping) The key responsibilities include: assist Project Manager to oversee projects; provide technical interpretation of design documents in support of installation; develop project schedule and monitor/ update as project progresses; provide specific expertise for problem solving of mechanical and electrical issues; provide technical evaluation of subcontractor and equipment proposals. (job #3431) Electrical Engineer As an Electrical Engineer, you will prepare scope of work, sub contracts and customer proposals; manage multiple projects in various stages of activities; prepare and monitor project budgets; participate in engineering process to control cost and client budget requirements of project; develop project schedule and monitor/ update as project progresses. (job #3430) Membership Manager The role of Membership Manager is hands-on and involves working as part of a team. The Membership Manager must be able to complete a wide range of activities requiring clear communication and excellent organizational skills. The Membership Manager role has a strong procurement focus with an awareness of the value that new members and the retention of existing members will bring to support this organization’s initiatives. (job #3429) Marketing and Communications Associate (Intern) The intern will report to the Director of Marketing and be integrally involved with managing social media platforms including daily posts and monthly reporting and analysis; coordinate content creation for the company blog and newsletter (writing and editing original articles as well as liaising with members for guest contributions); support of events; assist with media monitoring and reporting. (job #3428) Concierge Admin Facilitator The role requires Meet and Greet of Clients and Guests and extending hospitality. Included in the duties is setting up appointments and general administration tasks of the Directors and Senior Management and assisting in managing small meetings and events related to the office from time to time. The role reports to the Vice President Operations. Prior experience in reception/general admin/ the hospitality/airline or related industry is desirable, but not essential. (job #3427) Events & Community Manager This role will be part of the Sales & Marketing Team and report to the Sales & Marketing Manager. A pro-active, outgoing, professional and team player with proven successful event organizing skills. Excellent hospitality, mentality and communication skills with an excellent command of English (native) and preferably one other universal language. (job #3426) Training Manager Responsibilities of the Training Manager include: to support and work directly with client on site for all training matters; accountability for KPI performance for the whole account; accountability for developing and implementation of training processes (standard operating procedures); to lead and manage annual Training Needs Analysis to plan following year’s training programs for publishing on client’s portal. (job #3425)


Singapore American · March 2017

#thePOWERof100 By Kinjal Shah


ive a woman $100 and 60 minutes. Now multiply that a 100 times over. 1 hour + $100 x 100 women = ? Inspired by a local chapter in Ontario, Canada, Kelly McFazden and Alison Cuthbert, faculty members at the Singapore American School (SAS), founded the Singapore chapter of the 100 Who Care Alliance in March 2015. 100 Women Who Care Singapore is part of the 100 Who Care Alliance, launched in North America and active globally. They operate on basic and valuable principles: identify needs in your local communities, gather together and give. At four meetings a school year, participants voluntarily bring $100, listen to presentations on behalf of local charities and then vote for the charity to receive the day’s donations. It’s simple, but it’s powerful. So far, the group has helped low-income mothers leaving the hospital with newborns, fed 300 displaced, injured and homeless foreign workers, offered support to foster families, made a sick child’s dream come true, provided a safe refuge for victims of family violence and supplied goods and services to an orphanage. Some of the charities selected to receive their support include the DaySpring New Life Centre, National Kidney Foundation and Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), among others. In spite of falling short of the 100 women mark, the group has made a strong impact on the community. Even charities that don’t get selected often benefit. Sometimes a charity needs books or clothes. While they may not have received

the money, individual members take it upon themselves to collect the materials. The group welcomes high school students and encourages mother-daughter teams to join the meetings. The transient nature of jobs as well as the fast pace of the school has made it difficult for women to go along. However, there are women who donate $100 even when they’re unable to attend. “Having charities come back and tell you how they have used the donation is the most powerful part of the meeting,” says Alison. “I think handing the money to our first recipient, TWC2, will always stick in my mind because they were so surprised.” Looking back to see how far they’ve come, Alison and Kelly would love nothing more than to continue to fill the room with people who care about Singapore. Because #thePOWERof100… 1 hour + $100 x 100 women = A difference in your community! Illustration by Nicole C.

Judith Fergin on Women in the Workplace By Hazlyn Aidzil and Helena Auerswald


rom 36 years in the Foreign Service to now serving as Executive Director at the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Singapore, Judith Fergin has traversed borders, experienced different cultures and lived a life rich with opportunity and adventure. In a recent interview, Fergin shared insights she has gained from this experience regarding how to be a good leader and what it is like to be a woman in the workplace abroad. She highlights that through gathering all available information and embracing the diversity of perspectives, leaders can be sure to arrive at the highest quality decisions. When asked about her time in the Foreign Service, Fergin cites her multicultural youth as her initial impetus for joining. A love of being overseas and experiencing new languages and cultures, she says, made the Foreign Service the ideal career path for her. Not every aspect of the Foreign Service was easy; Fergin says the biggest challenge she faced on that career path was constantly moving to a different country every two to three years. Stepping into a leadership role in a new country and understanding a new set of issues was a demanding task, softened only slightly by the consistency of State Department procedures across borders. Working as a woman in the Foreign Service, Fergin says she never explicitly experienced discrimination in the workplace, yet she is very aware of the discrimination other women face. As a leader in the Foreign Service, and now also at AmCham, Fergin strives to be a role model to the women she leads, and to show women that they can and should have an equal chance at success. As a leader, Fergin serves not only as a role model for women, but also as an advocate for personal growth and experimentation in the workplace. She says that, in principle, she motivates her team by giving them space to develop their own personal style to learn and grow. Fergin’s stance on women’s rights and encouragement of independent thought ultimately both serve the same end of proliferating a diversity of thought within the organization. It is from this diversity of thought that the best decisions can be made and the organization can continue to grow, Fergin says. So what is the key to developing this affinity to constant learning and growing? Fergin says a liberal arts education could be the source of this drive. She believes a liberal arts education allows students to approach problems from different lenses, enabling them to identify the heart of an issue and find the best possible solution. This education instills an appreciation for the importance of a variety of perspectives and a holistic approach to problem solving, both of which have served her well through a fulfilling career in the Foreign Service and as a leader at AmCham Singapore.

Photo courtesy of AmCham Singapore

“You must always look behind to see if anyone is following. As leaders we cannot lead alone.”


Singapore American · March 2017

A Brief History of the AWA By The American Women’s Association


n 1935, FD Harrison, President of the American Association of Singapore (AAS), suggested that the American women in Singapore have their own organization to work closely with the officers of the Men’s Association. Harrison asked Bertye Windle to be the Chairman of the Women’s Auxiliary, as she was “very popular among the women, cooperative in our various functions and active in sports.” In that year, the Women’s Auxiliary of the American Association of Malaya was formed with headquarters in Singapore with the stated purpose: “To unite its members for promoting fellowship, furthering cultural interests and participating in the community activities of Singapore.” The organization continues today as the American Women’s Association (AWA) with many of the same goals, activities and purposes as in 1935 and an updated mission: to be “a sisterhood of women from around the world, who come together to enhance their Singapore experience through fulfilling volunteer run events and activities.” One of the most important aspects of the AWA is to welcome newcomers to Singapore and help them get oriented in their new surroundings. This is done through the Newcomers Network, open to all AWA members and serving as a great resource for all things Singapore. After a hiatus from 1936 to 1947, the AWA was re-activated with the main focus of setting up a library (books from which would later form the basis for the American Club Library). The book rentals and late fees provided a source of income for the AWA. This income, along with funds

AWA rummage sale 1958

AWA Tea 1975

raised through fashion shows, bazaars and rummage sales, allowed the AWA to donate funds to local charities in Singapore, including the orphanage Children’s Aid. By 1955, well over 30 charities received funds from the AWA. As well as funds, the AWA secured volunteers to help with various organizations including the YWCA, Salvation Army and UN Appeal for Children. The community involvement of the AWA continues today as we donate funds and volunteer for our Featured Organizations, including HOME, Food from the Heart, Ronald McDonald House and the government kidsREAD program. From the start, the AWA’s goal was to organize a wide range of events and activities for its members. In 1935, it began with mahjong, golf, tennis and bridge. Today, the AWA has expanded to include a huge variety of activities. There are additional sports and games groups, social activities, arts and crafts, language groups, literary programs and a flagship event each month, such as the annual Fashion Show or Thanksgiving Picnic. The strength of any organization comes from its members. Through the dedication of its members in 1935 through today, the AWA has remained strong and committed to serving the needs of women in Singapore. The AWA is open to all nationalities and welcomes all women. You can find more at

AWA fashion show 1985


Singapore American · March 2017

Juliette Gordon Low’s Legacy

Girl Guides Singapore Turns 100

by Zara Branigan, Troop 63 Cadette

By Ada Fong

“Ours is a circle of friendships united by ideals.” – Juliette Gordon Low


uliette Gordon Low is an inspiration known to many as the founder of the Girl Scouts, but she is known to me as a sister Girl Scout who has done her best for the world and the people in it. Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon was born on October 31, 1860, in Savannah, Georgia. She was quickly nicknamed “Daisy,” a common diminutive at that time. In 1911, she met British General, Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts. He explained how the Boy Scouts were founded to teach young boys preparedness and defense, but also to have fun in the process. Naturally, Juliette was interested. The first female troops were known as Girl Guides and were led by Baden-Powell’s sister, Agnes. Juliette started troops in Scotland and London and they made such an impact on her that she decided to take the program to the United States, starting with her hometown of Savannah. On March 12, 1912, Juliette registered the first troop of American Girl Guides, which were later renamed the Girl Scouts in 1913. Juliette used her own money and the resources of friends and family to push the organization to new heights. She later died of cancer on January 17, 1927. She was buried in her Girl Scout uniform in Laurel Grove Cemetery in Savannah. She wanted her Girl Scouts to learn core values, like honesty and kindness, through the Girl Scout Promise and Law, but also to have fun at the same time. That’s where the 2017 Singapore Scurry comes in: the idea was to have older girls (Cadettes and above) do an “Amazing Race” throughout Singapore, learning skills such as collaboration and independence, as well as developing street smarts. As a contender, it was really fun to explore Singapore, while still being the competitor that I am. My favorite part was meeting new girls. I had not talked to the people in my group before, but at the end of the day, we all left feeling like sister Girl Scouts. Juliette Gordon Low would have been happy and proud that her legacy lives on in us today. She also would have been proud of Jaclyn C, the latest Girl Scout in Singapore to be awarded the Gold Award, the highest honor a Girl Scout can earn. Jaclyn organized a massive White Elephant sale, raising enough funds to buy new chairs for the residents of the Leprosy Home here in Singapore. Students at Singapore American School will continue to support her work with the home by visiting residents. Congratulations to Jaclyn! Photo courtesy of Jaclyn C.

World Thinking Day 2016 1950

Founder Lord Robert Baden-Powell & Lady Olave Baden-Powell


irl Guides is a sister organization of Girl Scouts and the Girl Guide program here in Singapore is turning 100 this year, just like American Association of Singapore (AAS)! Robert Baden Powell founded Boy Scouts in the UK in 1910. Two years later, Guiding was founded and quickly established around the world. In 1917, Guiding started in Singapore as a District of the Malayan Girl Guides Association (MGGA). In 1953, it separated from MGGA to become a Branch of the Girl Guides Association of Great Britain. Six years later (the same year that Singapore attained self-government) Puan Noor Aishah, the First Lady of Singapore, became the first Asian President of Girl Guides Singapore (GGS). It is now a full member of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS), the largest voluntary global movement dedicated to girls with more than ten million members in 146 countries. Today, GGS is the leading Co-Curricular Activity for girls in Singapore and its mantra is to be inclusive to girls of all races. It has more than 8,900 active members across more than 190 Brownie and Guide units run by local primary and secondary schools. International Guiding units, such as the Foreign Girl Guides and USA Girl Scouts Overseas (Singapore), have also set up here. A hundred years later, Guiding activities have transformed to be relevant to new generations of girls. However, its motto ‘’Be Prepared’’ and its founding vision, mission and values have remained unchanged. Through meaningful, fun and adventure-filled learning opportunities that inculcate knowledge, skills and values, our girls develop a deep sense of confidence, self-assurance and courage, all while making life-long friendships. Girls are empowered to confidently navigate and thrive in a rapidly-changing world. An example is the highly-interactive and engaging ‘’Free Being Me’’ program, which focuses on teaching girls to learn how to value their body and stand up to social pressure, enabling them to develop body confidence and self-esteem. Community action continues to be an important part of Guiding. GGS recently embarked on service initiatives, such as partnering with Tan Tock Seng Hospital to equip more than 100 Guides to become Befrienders and Patient Buddies to help elderly patients. The impact of Guiding can be seen in strong role models, past and present, including: Elizabeth Choy, a war-time heroine during the Japanese occupation, who was decorated with the highest Guiding award, The Bronze Cross in 1966 in England by our Chief Guide Lady Baden-Powell; Puan Noor Aishah, the first local Patron of Girl Guides Singapore; mountaineer Lee Li Hui, who scaled the summit of Mt Everest in 2009; and Brigadier-General Gan Siow Huang, who became the first female Brigadier-General in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) in 2015. Many special events are being organized to commemorate the Centenary. For more about these events and further information on Girl Guides Singapore, visit

Photos courtesy of Girl Guides (Singapore) Juliette Gordon Low

Jaclyn C. at The Leprosy Home.

SCOUTING IN SINGAPORE Boy Scouts Troop 07: Boy Scouts Troop 10: Cub Scouts Pack 3010: Cub Scouts Pack 3017: Girl Scouts:

Navigating New Waters By Petty Officer 3rd Class Madailein Abbott, Navy Region Singapore Public Affairs


t can be a daunting task for American citizens to pack up and move to Singapore. The tropical climate and culture are among many changes that await newcomers. While the tropical weather wasn’t much of a change for Dawn Szewczyk, a Hawaii native, the prospect of moving to Singapore was an exciting opportunity and she hasn’t looked back. A Filipino-American, born and raised in Hawaii, Szewczyk attended Punahou High School in Honolulu and studied at Loyola Marymount University in California. As a registered professional engineer, she entered the US civil service in 2010 and landed a job with the US Air Force at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. Her talent and ingenuity allowed her to quickly rise through the ranks of federal service. In 2014, with her husband Mike and two boys by her side, Szewczyk accepted a job with the US Navy in Singapore as a regional leader for the Naval Facilities Engineering Command, which oversees all aspects of US Navy facilities at installations across the globe. “I had a friend in senior leadership of the NAVFAC branch in Hawaii that recommended I consider taking an overseas tour,” said Szewczyk. “When he told me there was a vacancy for a new position here in Singapore, I went for it. I knew it was a great opportunity and it would be good for my career.” Szewczyk works as the Assistant Regional Engineer, supervising renovations and upkeep of offices and military housing while managing company contracts with local workers. Szewczyk said her work allows her to make a difference in the lives of US military members, fellow civil service employees and their families serving overseas. “Being in Singapore is very rewarding both professionally and personally,” said Szewczyk. “I’ve learned a lot about the business aspect of facilities management and contracting and it’s exposed me to working with people from diverse sectors. I’ve worked with more military and local national employees here than I have at my previous jobs, which I enjoy very much. It’s a whole different dynamic working with a wide variety of people here, but our individual strengths and shared experience only contribute to the mission and make my work very rewarding.” Two years into her Singapore journey, Szewczyk reflects on how the expat experience has enriched her family and career. “It was exciting, but also scary to move to Singapore. I won’t lie, especially heading over here sight-unseen” said Szewczyk. “This has certainly been a great opportunity for my kids. The schooling and education here is amazing. My husband is thriving as a personal fitness trainer and works in our gym facility that serves our service members and families.” Singapore offers a unique experience to those living abroad, from its rich culture and diversity to delicious food and distinctive architecture. Although tourists flock to the city every year, few Americans receive the full experience of what Singapore and Southeast Asia have to offer. “We’ve been exposed to so many different cultures traveling around the region such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Australia to name a few,” said Szewczyk. “It’s been great having access to so many cultures, which we wouldn’t have been able to experience if we hadn’t come here.” Between traveling Southeast Asia and experiencing the everyday life of Singapore, Szewczyk and her family have memories that will last a lifetime. “Moving here has broadened my horizons on the vast diversity and culture of Singapore and the region,” said Szewczyk. “I’ve met so many wonderful people here, both local and military, that make this tour very meaningful. I’m really grateful for all the wonderful experiences Singapore has offered my family and I look forward to what lies ahead during our remaining time here in the Lion City.”

Photos by Petty Officer 3rd Class Madailein Abbott, Navy Region Singapore Public Affairs


Singapore American · March 2017


Singapore American · March 2017

South Korea, Kimchi and All By Betty Warner


fter four years of travelling to and from San Francisco with a two-to-threehour layover in Incheon Airport, my partner guestimated that he had spent a total of one week in Korea without ever stepping outside the terminal. This year we decided to change that. Armed with a repertoire of two Korean words – annyong haseyo (Hel-lo Arrested Development fans) and kamsahamnida (thank you) – we exited Incheon’s arrival hall and spent the Christmas and New Year break exploring the Land of the Morning Calm. Our plan was to mix it up with a bit of country and a bit of city and a few days skiing at the end. Each day, we discovered something new that was not on our itinerary and “next trip” became our refrain, because Korea is worth a “next trip.” Busan & Gyeongju Using Busan as our base, we hired a car and headed up to Gyeongju, the capital of the 1000-year Silla dynasty and home to a number of UNESCO World Heritagelisted sites. The town is described as the Museum without Walls and our first stop was the Gyeongju National Museum that housed within its walls an incredible collection of crowns, intricate jewelry, weaponry and earthenware from an ancient time when Korea was known as a country of gold. The museum is a good introduction to the area’s unique, grass-covered royal burial mounds, 23 of which can be found in Tumuli Park. It was here we had our first introduction to the popular Korean pastime of wandering around historical sites in a hired hanbok (traditional dress) with your sweetheart and camera stick in hand. The next day, we drove north along the coastline to Haedong Yonggungsa temple. Established in 1376, the temple is a popular destination for the tourists staying at Korea’s number one beach resort, Haeundae. Skipping the tourist restaurants lining the entrance to the temple, we stopped for lunch at Cheongsapo, a small nearby fishing village. This was a great find: a local restaurant serving the freshest of fresh barbeque shellfish in décor best described as simple, yet colorful. The service, food and harbor view were excellent. Also worth a visit in Busan is the UN Memorial Cemetery, the final resting place of 2300 men from 16 nations that supported the South in the 1950-53 Korean War. We arrived just in time for the daily flag lowering (4pm October to April and 5pm May to September). The Temples of Jogyesan Provincial Park From Busan, we took a colorfully-decorated tourist train to Suncheon, a four-hour slow journey along the southern peninsula to the town of Suncheon where we overnighted at the Miracle Hotel. Checking in, my partner quipped that it was a miracle that I found it. It was, indeed, a love hotel, mirrors and all. Suncheon itself is unremarkable, but it’s a convenient base to explore two significant temples in Jogyesan Provincial Park: Songgwang-sa and Seonam-sa. The two temples are located at either side of Jogyesan mountain with a three- to four-hour hike between, depending on whether you decide to go around or over the peak. Songgwang-sa is one of Korea’s oldest Zen temples. It’s also incredibly peaceful and picturesque with beautiful prayer halls facing on to a large open square. Among

its treasures is the Bisari Gusi, a rice container made from a large tree trunk that can store enough rice for 4,000 monks. Songgwang-sa also offers a Templestay. Seonam-sa is a quieter hermitage made up of 30 buildings, giving it a village-like feel. It is also the starting point for a number of other hikes to smaller historical sites within the provincial park. As it started to snow, we abandoned our planned hike for a taxi, but visiting the two temples was absolutely one of the highlights of our trip. Seoul When I mentioned to friends that we planned to spend six days in Seoul, their response was a consistent: “Really?” I suspect that since their business trips in the 80s or 90s, Seoul has undergone a gradual, design-led transformation, turning itself into a walking city. And the choice of walks are many: from the ancient wall walk skirting the city to meandering through Seoul’s distinct neighborhoods, taking in the many specialist markets (textiles, cameras, lights, spare parts, etc.). There’s Gangnam for its expensive cars and abundant cosmetic surgeries; Insadong for traditional arts and crafts; Myeongdong for its shopping and night street food and the impressive Changdeokgung Palace and its Huwon Secret Garden. Cutting through the city is Cheonggyecheon Stream, a restoration of a once polluted stream covered by a highway into what is now a seven-mile walkway. At the time we visited, the stream was festooned with Christmas lights, lighting the way for office workers as they walked home in the evening. This year the Seoul local government will publish 40 themed walking trails and, inspired by New York’s popular High Line, will open the Sky Garden, a once ugly bypass that is being converted into a pedestrian park, connecting Seoul Station to Myeongdong. YongPyong Ski Resort In a little more than a year’s time, Olympic and Paralympic Winter events will be held across a number of resorts in PyeongChang County. We skied the county’s larger resort, YongPyong, which will host the alpine ski events. For some reason, the resort seems to be keeping this pretty low key with not a souvenir t-shirt or beanie in sight. YongPyong resort is made up of three ridges accessed by chairlifts and a gondola to the highest point, Dragon Peak, which is also the starting point for the 5.6km Rainbow Paradise intermediate run and the black Rainbow 1,2,3 and 4 run which was yet to open. If you’re in Seoul on business, you’re in easy reach of five resorts that offer skiing in winter and golfing or hiking for the rest of the year. YongPyong itself is a two and a half hour drive from Seoul and a perfect destination for a three-to-four-day ski trip. Betty Warner has been gradually ticking off Asian destinations with her photographer and publicity-shy partner during their near eight years in Singapore. Photos by Betty Warner

Recommendations Hotels Busan: Crown Harbor Hotel. Good mid-priced hotel and recently refurbished. Seoul: Orakai Insadong (formerly Fraser Suites). Undergoing a stylish refurbish by its new owners. App – Google Translate This App takes on-the-spot translation to the next level. Scan street signs to check that you’re going in the right direction or use voice record and translate when trying to communicate with your Hanok host. Flights An alternative to flying direct is traveling via Hong Kong, Vietnam or China. For an extra two hours in transit, you can save nearly half the price on the ticket. Websites for advance purchase of tourist pass


Singapore American · March 2017

Continued from page 1

This prompted the founding of the National Organization for Women (NOW), an organization that lobbied for equal rights for women. One of NOW’s first victories came in 1968 when the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission agreed, after much pressure, to bar gender-specific job ads. Because of this victory, job advertisements in the United States today cannot specify that only a man or a woman may apply for a job. Whether the position is for a maid or a bank president, jobs must be open to both sexes. Civil society groups and individuals repeatedly called upon the judicial and legislative branches of government to advance women’s rights in numerous court cases and through legislative action. In an effort to ensure that women had equal opportunities in the educational arena, NOW and other organizations pressed for Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in federallyfunded education programs and activities. Tremendous progress has been made over the past century. Since 1980, women voters have outnumbered and outvoted men. In 2016, women made up 54 percent of the voter turnout. Nowadays, 45 percent of American millionaires are women and 44 percent of American women are the primary breadwinners in their homes. More women than ever before are serving in our military forces, representing over 15 percent of our country’s sailors, soldiers and marines. However, women in America today still make only 80 cents for every dollar that men earn. Frustration over this and other issues led women to once again turn to protests to express their views on January 21 this year when several million women marched in cities in the United States and around the world with the stated aim of creating “a society in which women…are free and able to care for and nurture their families, however they are formed, in safe and healthy environments free from structural impediments.” The progress towards gender equality in the United States provides a window into the way that American democracy works. We find a constant interplay among individuals, businesses, civil society, courts and government in the pursuit of a more perfect union. We have not yet reached that state of perfection, but as Margaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

1920s suffragettes Women’s march January 21, 2017

Camille Dawson is the Counselor for Public Affairs at the US Embassy Singapore. This article was adapted from a presentation jointly prepared with colleagues at US Consulate General Shanghai in 2012.

A Woman’s Worth By Cath Forte


en outnumber women by around 62 million worldwide; however women live longer, so by the time they reach their 80s, 62 percent of the population is female. How is it that members of the ‘fairer sex’ outlive their male counterparts so significantly, when faced with the following statistics:

Child marriage: A violation of basic human rights, this practice continues with nearly 50 percent of women aged 20 to 24 in Southern Asia and 20 percent in sub-Saharan Africa married before the age of 18. United Nations Statistics, 2015 Education: Of the 58 million primary-aged children not attending school, over half are female. Women make up almost two thirds of the world’s estimated 781 million illiterate adults. United Nations Statistics, 2015 Working hours: Women work, on average, up to 50 minutes longer than men, when both paid and unpaid work are taken into account. Women are less likely to be employed than men, with only 50 percent in the workforce compared to 77 percent of men. United Nations Statistics, 2015 In the workplace: Furthermore, between 40 and 50 percent of women face harassment in the workplace, in the form of unwanted physical contact and/or sexual advances. United Nations Statistics, 2015 Pay gap: On average, women earn less. In full-time jobs women earn between 70 and 90 percent of their male counterparts. In fact, a study found that a woman with a bachelor’s degree will earn a third less than a man with the same degree during their working life. United Nations Statistics, 2015/WAGE (Women Are Getting Even) Project Violence: Worldwide, approximately one third of women have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. World Health Organization Health: An estimated half a million women die as a result of pregnancy complications and childbirth each year, approximately one every minute. Single parents: More than three-quarters of all single parent households are headed by women. United Nations Statistics, 2015 Inheritance: In almost a third of developing countries, women’s inheritance rights are not protected by the law, meaning that if a husband dies his family can take control of any property and land. United Nations Statistics, 2015 Politics: Just one in five members of lower or single houses of parliament worldwide is a woman and only 18 per cent of appointed ministers are women. United Nations Statistics, 2015

Carter signing ERA 1978


Singapore American · March 2017

Women Who Are Teaching Financial Independence By Lance Har


ven though she graduated from university during the depths of the financial crisis, The New Savvy CEO Anna Haotanto found a job in investment banking and then moved into the heady world of private banking. Her passion to help women manage their finances better led her to give it all up and start her own financial portal. Banker to the Wealthy Anna’s interest in finance started when she saw underprivileged women stuck in financially troubled families as a young volunteer and her interest grew stronger after she saw her own wellintentioned parents take on too much credit card debt. While Anna originally decided to learn about finance to make sure she would have a secure future, she soon found she was passionate about it. She majored in finance and quantitative finance during university, taking every finance module she could and then kept on reading to learn more. After graduating from university, she spent nearly ten years in banking, first with a short stint in investment banking and then managing overseas money for high net worth clients. Before long, her wealthy clients started asking her to teach their children about finance. “In Singapore,” she observed, “we were never taught how to manage money.” While she did teach her clients’ children, she still wanted to do more to help women. “In a lot of Asian societies,” Anna said, “women are expected to be the housewife. Women actually control 70 percent of purchase decisions.” What they lack, though, is financial knowledge. She initially started up a portal as a hobby, to provide financial information for women and help women understand financial concepts more easily. In 2015, she decided to leave the bank and strike out on her own to work on the portal full-time as an entrepreneur, providing financial literacy and career education for women. She had no marketing experience and didn’t know how to write content, so she learned everything from scratch. “Whatever mistakes you can make,” she said, “I made them. Twice” Before long, though, the start-up began to thrive. Media coverage helped readership and she increased the impact by starting to send out weekly updates. She’s gratified by the results. “Women tell me their stories, ask for advice. The impact is in changing someone’s life.” At the end of a talk she gave on entrepreneurship, for instance, a young woman came and told her “I am a big fan. My dad is retrenched. Mom is hospitalized. I need to know how to take care of my family.” The insights the young woman gained about how to manage the family’s money are what kept the family going. It’s stories like that which inspire Anna to do more.

Doing More While the website keeps her fully occupied today, Anna has big plans for the future. She’s organizing personal finance conferences for women later this year and is in the midst of coming up with other ideas to help women manage their money even better. The goal, as in the beginning, is to help women learn how to manage their finances so they can live a better life. Lance Har is a financial services professional with more than two decades of experience in multiple markets in Asia. He lives in Singapore. Photo courtesy of Anna Haotanto

The Road to Success: Mentoring By Richard Hartung


hile many people talk about a “glass ceiling” holding women back in their careers, what’s really important is doing something to break through. Louise Tagliante founded Protégé, a women’s mentoring program, to do just that and help women forge ahead. The Journey to Protégé Her path towards running Protégé literally started with a journey, when Louise hitchhiked around the world for three years after finishing school. She found a role at Visa International when she finally returned to Sydney and, following successful stints in Australia and New Zealand, moved to Singapore in 1993 to design and set up the Visa business school. After 14 years with Visa, she left to get married and ended up traveling again for a year-and-a-half. A fortuitous meeting during a stopover on her way back to Sydney led to her accepting a role running the training academy in Singapore at ABN AMRO Bank. She eventually took the training skills she had developed in her roles at the two companies and set up her own firm in 2003, providing leadership training and coaching to top executives. The business thrived. Yet despite that success, she was still looking for her calling. She eventually resolved to focus on helping women to get ahead, a decision that led her to set up a mentoring program informally for the Financial Women’s Association (FWA) and then to establish Protégé so she could focus her career on mentoring women. Mentoring Women for Success When she was conducting research while setting up the FWA program, Louise found that insufficient networking, a lack of skills development and not having a mentor or a coach are the three main factors that hold women back from success. She then designed a program to help women overcome the gaps in all three areas. After building the FWA program for women in banking and receiving excellent feedback, she decided to set up an organization for mentoring for women in any industry and established Protégé. From a cohort of 20 enthusiastic mentors and 20 mentees in its first year (2015), the program has grown and now has nearly 100 participants. Feedback has been positive, with many mentees telling her it made the difference in their succeeding in their career. One mentee, for example, joined Protégé because she wanted to become more assertive and progress upwards. When she told her mentor about a major meeting in the US and was asked if she was attending, she quietly said “no.” After the mentor encouraged her to ask to participate, she went back to the office and made the request. Along with getting approval and attending the meeting, she presented so well and developed such strong relationships that she was promoted and sent for the overseas assignment she wanted.

Another mentee, who had the opposite challenge of talking too much, learned from her mentor about how to listen and focus. Her newfound skills, along with the networking expertise she learned, led her to a promotion and a new role. It’s the stories like these that encourage Louise and motivate her to do even more. Beyond just running a successful start-up, she’s living her passion and making positive differences in the lives of dozens of women that will last for many years to come. Richard Hartung, the Managing Director of Transcarta, is a freelance writer for Today, gtnews, Challenge, OOSSKAnews, The Asian Banker and other media as well as the author of Changing Lanes, Changing Lives. He is also a consultant in retail banking, focusing on payments strategy and efficiency, with more than 20 years of experience in Asia. Photo courtesy of Louise Tagliante


Singapore American · March 2017

Making a Difference A Woman of Impact By Anne Morgan


uanita Woodward cuts an imposing figure. Her many titles span the spectrum of President, Founder, Executive Director, Board Member and Country Head. She also has a slew of awards including: AWARE Cause of the Year, Women in Corporate Leadership award, American Women’s Association (AWA) International Woman of the Year Award and The International Alliance for Women (TIAW) World of Difference 100 Awards, which honors women who have made an impact on the economic empowerment of women. It was somewhat surprising that our opening conversation focused not on her many achievements, but instead on the four rescue kittens she was fostering. She had traveled across Singapore to collect them and scoured local vets for formula to bottle feed them. This perfectly illustrates Juanita’s character and gives an insight into why she has been able to create such an impact for so many. Born in Atlanta into a family focused on community engagement, Juanita learned that contributing with passion and hard work was a natural expectation. Arriving in Singapore as a trailing spouse in 1991, Juanita began her international career in financial services, initially with Citibank then three other global institutions. Building a network wasn’t easy at first and she sought to find a place where international professional and business women met. She found a sub-group in the AWA that informally met monthly and chaired the group for the next five years, growing it from 25 to 300 members. Ultimately, it was decided to make it a separate entity and PrimeTime was registered as a society in 1997. Juanita was founding president of PrimeTime and, twenty years later, the association continues as a thriving international community, providing crucial professional networking and programs and life-long friendships. Her work with PrimeTime paved the way for Juanita to dedicate herself to two abiding passions: financial inclusion and women’s empowerment. A 2003 PrimeTime micro-credit initiative began her exploration into financial access for the one billion unbanked people in Asia. Today through her consultancy, Connecting the Dots, she focuses her professional work on financial inclusion activities including migrant worker remittances The projects in which she is involved are, frankly, too many to list. Suffice it to say, her drive to empower women from the bottom of the pyramid to the boardroom has been unstinting. She is an international speaker on financial inclusion with a view that access to financial services

and education can empower women as a critical driver of economic development, especially in emerging markets. To continue to contribute at this level across multiple groups and projects takes a remarkable focus, commitment and intellectual rigor. Her drive to positively impact the lives of others shows no sign of abating and, for this, many will always be grateful. Photo courtesy of John Yuen


Singapore American · March 2017

Nobel Women By Laura Schwartz


hen asked to name a female Nobel Prize recipient, most people would say Marie Curie, Toni Morrison or Mother Teresa. But their stories are only a few on a list of extraordinary women whose accomplishments rightfully earned them the prizes Alfred Nobel designated for people who confer the “greatest benefit on mankind” in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. Here are a few female Nobel laureates whose histories and work about which you may not know:

Gerty Cori (1896-1957) The first American woman to win a Nobel Prize in science, Cori and two colleagues discovered the mechanism by which glycogen is broken down into lactic acid in muscle tissue and then resynthesized in the body to become a source of energy. She even has a crater on the moon named after her.

Women have also made history within the history of the Nobel Prizes. Marie Curie is the only person to have won a Nobel Prize twice (for Physics in 1903 and Chemistry in 1911). The youngest ever Nobel laureate is a female: teenaged Malala Yousafzai, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her tireless efforts to promote education for girls. On the other end of the spectrum, at 88-years-old, Doris Lessing became the oldest person ever to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature and the third-oldest Nobel laureate in any category. There is no doubt that female Nobel laureates contributed much to their fields and to the world at large, but it is impossible to discuss their receipt of the awards without noticing the immense gender imbalance of winners. Between 1901 and 2016, Nobel Prizes have been awarded to 26 organizations, 833 men and only 48 women. This discrepancy is partly due to historical limitations on women’s education and careers, but also to longstanding bias, particularly in the STEM fields where women are still a minority. Note that of the 48 women awarded, more than half have been for Peace and Literature. For example, Lise Meitner (1878-1968) and Jocelyn Bell Burnell (born 1943)

Marie Curie

Rigoberta Menchú (born 1959) A political activist and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador, Menchú has spent decades promoting the rights of women and indigenous peoples in her native Guatemala.

were crucial players in the discovery of nuclear fission and radio pulsars respectively, yet were both passed over for a Nobel in favor of male colleagues on their teams. Unfortunately, this trend continues today, as all of last year’s Nobel Prize winners were male. Widely regarded as the highest accolade in the fields it honors, the Nobel Prize is nevertheless far from a neutral measure of achievement. In addition to gender bias, the committee has come under criticism in the past for favoring European writers for the Literature prize and for the strict rule that only three individuals can jointly receive a prize per year, which has entailed arbitrary omissions of members of collaborations. The prohibition of posthumous awards has also caused key contributions to go unrecognized, such as those of British chemist Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) whose male associates were awarded the Physiology/Medicine Prize in 1962, four years after her death, for discovering the structure of DNA, a discovery to which Franklin was integral. This exclusion, however, does put Franklin in company with the likes of Eleanor Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, Irena Sendler

Toni Morrison

Elinor Ostrom (1933-2012) The only woman to date to win the Nobel in Economics, Ostrom’s research demonstrated how common resources, such as forests, fisheries, oil fields and more, can be managed successfully by the people who use them rather than by governments or private corporations.

and John Lennon, all incredible people who weren’t recognized with a Nobel Prize and yet undoubtedly changed the world for the better. Marie Curie captured the heart of the prizes, the prizewinners and of passionate individuals everywhere when she said: “I am one of those who think, like Nobel, that humanity will draw more good than evil from new discoveries.” Laura Schwartz was born in Ireland and grew up in Japan, Singapore and New Jersey, finally becoming an American citizen at age 18. She graduated Bard College in 2010 with a BA in Japanese Language & Culture. When she’s not traveling or devouring a new book, she juggles her 9-to-5 as an Admissions and Career Consultant with freelance writing.

Malala Yousafzai


Singapore American · March 2017

All Female Nobel Laureates by Category Physics 1903 Marie Skłodowska Curie (Poland & France) 1963 Maria Goeppert-Mayer (US) Chemistry 1911 Marie Skłodowska Curie (Poland & France) 1935 Irène Joliot-Curie (France) 1964 Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (UK) 2009 Ada E. Yonath (Israel) Physiology/Medicine 1947 Gerty Theresa Cori (US) 1977 Rosalyn Sussman Yalow (US) 1983 Barbara McClintock (US) 1986 Rita Levi-Montalcini (Italy & US) 1988 Gertrude B. Elion (US) 1995 Christiane Nüsslein-Volhard (Germany) 2004 Linda B. Buck (US) 2008 Françoise Barré-Sinoussi (France) 2009 Jointly to Elizabeth Blackburn (Australia & US) and Carol W. Greider (US) 2014 May-Britt Moser (Norway) 2015 Tu Youyou (China) Economics 2009 Elinor Ostrom (US) Literature 1909 Selma Lagerof (Sweden) 1926 Grazia Deledda (Italy) 1928 Sigrid Undset (Norway) 1938 Pearl Buck (US) 1945 Gabriela Mistral (Chile) 1966 Nelly Sachs (Sweden) 1991 Nadine Gordimer (South Africa) 1993 Toni Morrison (US) 1996 Wislawa Szymborska (Poland) 2004 Elfriede Jelinek (Austria) 2007 Doris Lessing (UK) 2009 Herta Müller (Germany) 2013 Alice Munro (Canada) 2015 Svetlana Alexievich (Belarus)

Peace 1905 Bertha von Suttner (Austria) 1931 Jane Addams (US) 1946 Emily G. Balch (US) 1976 Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams (both Northern Ireland) 1979 Mother Teresa of Calcutta (India) 1982 Alva Myrdal (Sweden) 1991 Daw Aung San Suu Kyi (Burma) 1992 Rigoberta Menchú (Guatemala) 1997 Jody Williams (US) 2003 Shirin Ebadi (Iran) 2004 Wangari Maathai (Kenya) 2011 Jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia), Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) and Tawakkul Karman (Yemen) 2014 Malala Yousafzai (Pakistan)

Singapore American · March 2017

Women Leading the World By Melinda Murphy


omen seeking equality with men in politics is as old as time itself. Across the globe for decades women have held rallies and marches bringing light to issues that affect them: reproductive rights, violence against women, workplace equality and, of course, suffrage. Just earning the right to vote has been an arduous journey for women. New Zealand became the first country to allow women to cast their ballots back in 1893. The most recent country to open up the polls to women is Saudi Arabia, whose King Abdullah issued a decree in 2011, ordering that women be allowed to vote and stand as candidates. However, the first opportunity to vote did not come until December 2015, almost a year after his death. Becoming a head of state has been even more challenging. Oh sure, there have been queens over the centuries, going all the way back to 1806 BC when Egypt’s Sobekneferu ruled. After her death, it took 400 more years before another woman, Hatshepsut, would be named pharaoh. And guess what? She was referred to as a king and not a queen. The road for woman to run a country in modern times was paved by many extraordinary women taking on other leadership positions in politics. The first woman ambassador in modern history was Alexandra Kollontai, appointed ambassador from the Soviet Union to Sweden in 1932. Imagine what it was like to be her, negotiating between men back when women weren’t supposed to even have an opinion. Oh, to have been a fly on the wall during those discussions! In 1945, Eleanor Roosevelt became the American delegate for the recently-formed United Nations. A year later, she was elected as the head of the United Nations Human Rights Commission, helping draft the Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948. But for a woman to become a head of state, well that was a different story. In fact, more than 70 countries have had a female head of state (three-quarters of them have come to office since 1990), though many were appointed to or inherited the position. Rarely does a woman win the popular vote, somewhat the opposite of what happened in the 2016 US election when Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but did not earn the presidency. (American elections are decided by the electoral college and not the popular vote).


In 1960, Sirivamo Bandaranaike of Sri Lanka became the world’s first female elected Premier Minister. In 1974, Argentina’s Isabel Martinez de Peron became the first modern female president of any nation, inheriting the office when her husband Juan Peron died in office (she had been his Vice President). It took Iceland’s Vigdís Finnbogadóttir to break the ice, so to speak, to become the world’s first democratically-elected female president. She served from 1980 to 1996, making her the longest-serving, elected female head of state ever. According to an article in the International Business Times, if you want to rule a country in Asia, you’ll need some sort of nepotistic connection. Most have been wives or daughters of rulers. Indira Gandhi was pretty unusual. Even though she was the daughter of a Prime Minister, she refused to assume the role when he died. Instead, she chose to become a cabinet minister and, in 1966 (seven years after her father died), she won an election to become the Prime Minister. She served from 1966-1977 and again from 1980 until her assassination in 1984. Of course, the number of countries with a female in power is a bit misleading. Why? Because in some cases, these women have only remained in power for months – or days even. According to a study by the World Economic Forum, only 33 countries have had a female leader for four years or more since 1966. The top country may surprise you: Bangladesh which has had a female leader for 23 of the last 50 years! The same study found that gender imbalances in politics is greater than in health, education or employment. So how does the US compare to other nations in other government leadership roles? Not too good. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union, women make up roughly 20 percent of the US Congress and 12 percent of US governors. That puts the US 99 out of 193 countries, between Kenya and Kyrgyzstan, and it means there are fewer likely candidates for president. Then again, President Trump does not have a background in government. Perhaps the first US female president won’t either.


Women’s Suffrage

When and where did women earn the right to vote? • 1893 New Zealand • 1902 Australia • 1906 Finland • 1913 Norway • 1915 Denmark • 1917 Canada • 1918 Austria, Germany, Poland, Russia • 1919 Netherlands • 1920 United States • 1921 Sweden • 1928 Britain, Ireland • 1931 Spain • 1934 Turkey • 1944 France • 1945 Italy • 1947 Argentina, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan • 1949 China • 1950 India • 1954 Colombia • 1957 Malaysia, Zimbabwe • 1962 Algeria • 1963 Iran, Morocco • 1964 Libya • 1967 Ecuador • 1971 Switzerland • 1972 Bangladesh • 1974 Jordan • 1976 Portugal • 1989 Namibia • 1990 Western Samoa • 1993 Kazakhstan, Moldova • 1994 South Africa • 2005 Kuwait • 2006 United Arab Emirates • 2011 Saudi Arabia


Women Leading the Way By Bill Poorman


he knew she was ready to go. Gillian Griffiths, a Senior Tax Manager with Deloitte & Touche LLP here in Singapore, had already spent several years working in London. Now came the chance to expand her professional and personal horizons. “For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work overseas,” says Griffiths. “The idea of exploring exciting new lands, experiencing different cultures and gaining another perspective on life really appealed to me. I feel very privileged to have now had the opportunity to do this.” And along for the ride came her husband, Matt Griffiths. The Griffiths’ move is part of a growing trend of women taking the lead in international assignments. According to a recent paper published by researchers Yvonne McNulty and Kate Hutchings, women filled only three percent of international assignments in the early 1990s, but that rose to 19% in 2015. Based on an estimated 8.5 million corporate expats worldwide, that’s more than one-and-a-half million women globally. About half of those are estimated to be the primary breadwinner for a family. The exact number of female expat employees in Singapore isn’t available from the Ministry of Manpower. However, nearly 190,000 people here hold an Employment Pass, so if the global estimates hold, there could be more than 30,000. Samantha Bonamour is HP’s Head of Personal Systems Marketing for Asia Pacific and Japan. She moved to Singapore less than a year ago with her husband and son on her third expat assignment.

She says she jumped at the chance to gain professional experience in Asia. “China and India are key areas of growth for our business, as they are for many businesses. Having the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of these countries was certainly something high up on my list.” And as is true for many expat employees, Bonamour says she was also fortunate that her family was excited to make the move from San Diego, California. “Personally, I have restless soul syndrome (and) so does my better half! I love new experiences, adventures, the opportunity to experience and appreciate the people, other cultures and the beauty our amazing diverse planet has to offer. You can never truly appreciate a country until you have lived in it.” Bill Poorman is a part-time writer who, for the last several years, has been a full-time member of the unpaid economy – that is, he’s been a stay-at-home dad, raising two boys. The family moved to Singapore just over a year ago for his wife’s job. Prior to all of that, Bill was a radio journalist and media producer.


Singapore American · March 2017

The Women in Red Head Scarves By Vidya Schalk


hey carried heavy bricks and granite rocks, mixed cement, hauled water, dug ditches and worked many long hours in construction sites all over Singapore. Their bright red headdress was a familiar sight in construction zones and they played a vital role in literally building the Lion City. Two hundred thousand arrived between 1935 and 1939 from Guangdong province in China. They toiled in heat and humidity for 10-12 hours every day in backbreaking work across the island and earned around 50 cents a day. Who were they? These were the amazing gritty Samsui women! Samsui women were also known as hong tou jin (红头巾; Mandarin for “red head scarf ”). Samsui in Cantonese means three waters. They were female immigrants mainly from the Sanshui district of Guangdong province in Southern China. After the founding of colonial Singapore in 1819, the Chinese who came to Singapore were overwhelmingly male. In 1826, there were 5,747 Chinese males to 341 Chinese females. Women in China were discouraged from emigrating, and this imbalance of sexes continued for a long time. In 1928, the British authorities introduced the Immigration Restriction Ordinance to bring about the improvement of the sex ratio in Singapore thus resulting in quotas placed on number of Chinese males allowed into Singapore. Subsequently in 1933, to control the unemployment level caused by the Great Depression that swept across the world, the British introduced the Aliens Ordinance further restricting the number of males into Singapore, but placing no restrictions on females. This immigration policy along with the change in social attitude in China opened the doors for female immigrants to come to Singapore in large numbers. The desperate need to earn money to support families led many women to seek work often taking on debts to pay recruiters (sui hak) which sometimes took them around a year to pay off. By the 1930s large numbers of these Samsui women came to Singapore. They lived in Chinatown, near South Bridge Road and New Bridge Road and in rooms above shophouses along Upper Chin Chew, Upper Nankin and Eu Tong Sen streets. Each of these small rooms housed at least four women who shared the rent, which would have been around 80 cents to $1.20 per month at that time. They were a ubiquitous sight in Singapore and played a big role in the construction of HDBs and other buildings that started replacing the kampongs in Singapore in the 1960s and well into the 1990s. One would have seen them working as general laborers, carrying building material, scrambling over huge sand piles laden with heavy buckets tied to poles and slung over their shoulders. Samsui women usually wore a dark blue or black samfoo comprising of blouse and trousers; the dark colors ensured that the stains would not show easily. The trademark red, or sometimes blue, headdress worn while at work served many purposes. The color red was chosen for its ability to stand out in construction areas so they would be visible. A single square piece of stiff, starched, red cloth would be folded into a square-shaped hat providing a bit of shade under the sweltering hot sun. While shielding them from blowing cement and sand, it also served as a safe and convenient storage spot to tuck away matches, money and cigarettes. It was a means of recognizing the other Samsui women and the red color also held propitious meanings. On their feet, they wore pieces of rubber cut from used tires held together by strings as straps, which created makeshift sandals.

Sculpture at Haw Par Villa.

They lived very frugal, thrifty and simple lives. In a time when the ratio of men to women reached 15:1 and prostitution was rampant, these women steadfastly rejected jobs that involved prostitution, opium peddling or other vices. Instead, they chose to work in grueling, back-breaking, hard labor jobs alongside men. Most of these women took vows of celibacy and chose not to marry while they were in Singapore. They would sometimes plait their hair in a towchang (pigtail), which signified their spinster status. They were a tight sisterhood and helped each other survive the hardships of their tough and lonely lives, saving every penny to send back to their families in China. Many of these tough and tenacious women worked well into their seventies and these awe-inspiring women were instrumental in creating some of the modern landmarks like the Toa Payoh Estate and the very first stretch of MRT. They have been portrayed and memorialized in National Day parades, theater productions, TV series, many artworks, public sculptures and even collectible dolls. The resilience and strength of these amazing Samsui women continues to inspire awe in all of us to this day and their contributions to building Singapore’s infrastructure is truly a remarkable story in the history of Singapore. Prior to coming to Singapore Vidya Schalk worked as a Cancer Biologist Research Scientist at Oregon State University. Since coming to Singapore she has taken the opportunity to indulge in her passion for history and travel. She is currently an active volunteer docent at the National Gallery, Asian Civilisations Museum, National Museum and STPI. Images courtesy of Ang Cheng Chye and Jnzl’s Photos

25 Singapore American · March 2017


Cheng I Sao: Pirate CEO By Eric Walter


ith all of today’s talk of glass ceilings, perpetual pay gaps and “leaning in,” it’s easy to get the impression that, until recently, women have always been shut out of the highest realms of business, war and government. There have always been exceptions, however. One spectacular example was active right here in the South China Sea. Consider the case of Cheng I Sao, an incredibly successful 19th century corporate raider in one of mankind’s oldest industries: piracy. So successful was she that the term “pirate captain” falls short of the mark. Pirate admiral, godmother or CEO is closer to the truth. In the book Bandits at Sea: A Pirate Reader, researcher Dian Murray states that Cheng commanded 400 junks and between 40,000 to 70,000 pirates, split into six to seven fleets under her control, active all over the China Sea. As Murray documents, hard facts on Cheng’s life are hard to come by. What is known is that she started out as a Cantonese prostitute before marrying the infamous pirate captain Cheng I in 1801 (Cheng I Sao means widow or wife of Cheng). In what was very likely a remarkable power-sharing agreement, the two worked hand-in-hand to unify the pirate gangs of the South China Coast into one unified group. After Cheng I died in 1808, Cheng I Sao (by persuasion, coercion and, quite possibly, murderous violence) took over as sole leader of the fleets. Given her leadership style and business acumen, it isn’t hard to see why she was so successful. In addition to piracy in its traditional form, she pursued what today’s corporate-types might call “diversified revenue streams.” Among these were what might euphemistically be thought of as “risk management services” (though a more accurate view would be “protection racket”) selling papers guaranteeing safe passage from her forces to fishing vessels, merchants and others. She also hired her vessels out as armed escort craft to the Canton salt fleet. To help manage cash flow, she even established offices all along the coast where potential clients could pay their fees. Cheng also introduced and zealously enforced pirate codes that mandated everything from how prisoners were to be treated to how her pirate crews were to be compensated from the plunder they collected. By some accounts, consequences for breaking the code included execution by decapitation. Given that the types of people generally attracted to piracy are notoriously unaffected by performance improvement plans and HR lectures, this makes sense. As successful as Cheng I Sao was on the business side of things, she was equally successful in action, repeatedly defeating or avoiding various Imperial Chinese naval forces sent against her as well as hired British and Portuguese taskforces. She eventually reached a settlement with the Chinese government, stepping down to nice, relaxing retirement running a gambling house where she died at age 60.

Eric Walter is a freelance writer and editor currently based in Southeast Asia. He writes about technology, innovation, business, cybercrime and entrepreneurship for Gannett Newspapers, the Rochester Business Journal, Dolan Media and King Content. He appreciates a good bowl of noodles and likes Huskies.


Singapore American · March 2017

Unsung Heroes By Faith Chanda


or most Western expats, the concept of full time (say nothing of live-in) domestic help is a foreign one. In other parts of the world, it is viewed as a necessity of everyday life for those who can afford it. Singapore’s foreign domestic worker (FDW) industry is highly regulated, unlike many other countries, which serves to educate prospective first-time FDW employers and protect the workers themselves. And it seems to be working out quite well for both ends of the spectrum. As of June 2016, the Ministry of Manpower reports there were 237,100 approved work passes for Foreign Domestic Workers in Singapore. According to a confidential survey commissioned by MOM in 2010 (the most recently published), more than half of FDWs rated their job satisfaction as “ten (extremely satisfied)” and about 65% of FDW employers rated their satisfaction at seven or above. Interestingly, 85% of FDWs who had been employed elsewhere before they came to Singapore rated their role here as more satisfying. Some expats describe the experience of having a live-in helper as life-changing. “My helper is so organized. I sometimes tease her and say it’s like having a wife! When I’m running out the door she says, ‘Ma’am, don’t forget to buy milk for tomorrow morning.’ Or she’ll remember to put my daughter’s library book in her bag when it’s library day at school. The kids’ clothes are always neat and ironed and the house is clean and tidy. It’s fantastic. I’m not the exhausted, haggard full-time working mother I was before,” says Lia Testa Teismann. Other employers credit their helpers with allowing them to pursue priorities that were being ignored when housework fell on them. “It has taken the pressure off immensely from managing the house and children so we are able to focus on our well-being, our interests and our jobs.” states Gayatri Singh. Rebecca Hick says knowing her kids were in good hands has allowed her to advance her career without worrying about the effect it would have on her family. Valerie Cheng is grateful to be “able to go out occasionally with my friends for brunch and also have date nights with my hubby without the kids.” One aspect that many employers find pleasantly surprising is how their helpers work hard while maintaining such continuously

positive mindsets, caring for their homes and families as though they were their own. Born and raised in Manila, Cheng knows “Their main reason [for working as an FDW in Singapore] is because they earn more than double here compared to what they would likely be getting in Manila. They chose to be a helper to be able to send money back home for their families.” In talking with helpers, one will hear a variety of life-changing priorities of their own that motivate them. Most use their salary to support not only their immediate family, but extended family, as well. Building a house can be done in many places on an average of one year’s salary. Most importantly, many helpers see their role as allowing the next generation greater opportunities. One of the more inspiring stories comes from Kylee Smith, whose helper has given their family more than they ever expected. “Without a doubt, the thing I most appreciate my helper for is saving my little boy’s life! Almost a year ago now, my 22-month-old was sick with a fever and I left him with my helper to sleep while I picked up my daughter from school. While I was gone, she was worried because he was so sick, so she waited outside his bedroom door to check for any noises. Lucky for us that she did because he had a febrile seizure. He had turned a blue/black color and she had to perform CPR to get him breathing again. She alerted the neighbors for help and, once he came around, she wanted to give him Panadol to help with his fever. She didn’t know his weight so she weighed herself holding him, handed him to the neighbor, weighed herself again and calculated his dosage based on the difference. She wet his little lips with a syringe of water to keep fluids going in and she told him she loved him and begged him to stay with her like he was her own child. All the while, she was trying to call me, but as luck would have it, my mobile broke that day. I didn’t know all this was happening until I got home and found my very sick little boy and all the neighbors around. I then took him to the hospital and, thanks to our helper, he was perfectly fine a few hours later. We can never repay her for what she has given us. Our little boy would not be here if she had not reacted so quickly and sensibly that day. As a mum, the gravity of that is not lost on me... I will forever be indebted to her.”

Kylee Smith’s son and their helper on vacation in Australia.

Whether it’s as simple as cleaning the house or as heroic as saving a life, Singapore’s helpers play a vital role in our private lifestyles as well as the whole of Singapore, from social life to economic prosperity. Faith Anna Chanda has written for SAN since moving to Singapore from New York with her husband and two children in January. As a trailing spouse, Faith has reinvented herself as a writer, after spending most of her career in Marketing Communications and Event Planning, spanning multiple industries and roles. She enjoys exploring food, culture, nature and design through her travel adventures and looks forward to many new discoveries throughout South East Asia. Photo courtesy of the Smith family

Add Confidence to a Beautiful Smile Dr. Mona Board of Expat Dental, Dental Surgeon, BDS London


here is no doubt that going to the dentist for regular treatment is vital for people of all ages for their health and wellbeing. Aesthetic Dentistry is a term that commonly refers to procedures that can help enhance the appearance of your teeth and smile; however aesthetic dentistry is more than just braces for teenagers and Invisalign. Did you know that dentists are trained on the anatomy of the head and neck and how the facial muscles work? That is why some will perform cosmetic treatments as well as traditional dentistry to further enhance your total look. Such procedures are undertaken using products like muscle relaxants and dermal fillers with an aim toward projecting health, vitality and confidence, as well as a beautiful set of teeth. It is well known that muscle relaxants, like Botox, are used to reduce the appearance of crow’s feet and frown lines on the forehead, as well as deep lines around your mouth, but it can also be used to give definition to your jaw line and help shape your face to achieve the slimmer V-shape. Botox can be used to reduce high smile lines and relax the larger jaw muscles. Clenching these muscles often results in headaches and grinding teeth, Botox can reduce the associated ill-effects on your teeth and on your daily wellbeing.

Dermal fillers are used to smooth the appearance of lines and provide volume and structure to the face. As we age, collagen is often lost and this can produce a sagging and sunken look in some facial areas. Using fillers around the mouth, in cheeks, jawlines, lips and eyes, can help to boost lost volume and possibly reduce lines and sagging. Careful use of these fillers can rejuvenate your facial appearance with surprising results. Living in Singapore provides us all with wonderful opportunities for travel, leisure and outdoor family fun, but the tropical, sunny climate can often take its toll on your skin’s health. So many people like to take a conservative approach to facial aesthetics as part of their overall wellbeing. It’s important to discuss your concerns and all available options with a qualified practitioner before deciding on the most appropriate treatment plan. It is much more affordable than you might think. At Expat Dental, we like to provide a holistic approach to your wellness and will advise on skincare and lifestyle in order to maintain your newly found confidence. Visit our website to make an appointment or find out more about our approach to aesthetic treatments for you.

Singapore American newspaper March 2017  
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