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The Love BLUE AND GOLD Issue 12 • February 2011 • MICA 254/07/2010

the issue of

NOT JUST ROMANTIC LOVE! - School and students - The environment - And a whole lot more!



Senthil Sukumar Deputy Managing Director

Owen Tan Managing Director Nadim Ali Kapadia Editor

other credits Communications secretary Bryan Lim Deputy Editor-in-Chief Aashna Nasta ADVISORS Michael Ng Ephraim Loy Editor Talisa Kaur Dhaliwal

Ankita Prasad Managing Editor

DESIGN & LAyout Melvin Tiong Angeline Teo Nikita Sinhal Owen Tan Photographers Chen Junyang Benjamin Ng Leonard Neo Carol Lee Models for cover Grace Marcia Hadiputri Dhanny Ruslie Lie

Another issue proudly sponsored by Prudential

Deborah Lim Deputy Managing Director

Tobias Yeo Editor

Editor’s note


his issue coincides with Valentine’s Day - what is known today as a festival for romantics - but while our issue is named the “Love” issue it almost certainly does not focus on the romantic type of love. Instead, we try to explore the different dimensions of what constitutes love and hopefully provide some good thinking points as well. We talk about love for many things - for students, for the environment, and for the school. In the meantime, January has been an eventful month for both the school and for us: Patron’s Day, the Bondue Bash, and SMUSA’s Awards Night and Annual General Meeting all happened, and are all covered by us (not all of them appear in this issue but will be available online). Cover story photography has been kindly and excellently put together by the amazingly talented Mr Chen Junyang and team. Enjoy this issue! Owen Tan, Managing Director & Editor-in-Chief


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Shobana Nadaraja Deputy Editor in Chief

00 04 22 33 36


Cover story Love ■ An exceptional case? ■ Exchange students ■ Chinese New Year ■ The environment ■ Movies, books, songs ■ Campus arts

On campus

Patron’s Day ■ Candylicious - The Bondue Bash ■ Nachle - the Indian Dance Club ■ Professor Kirpal Singh ■ Analytical Skills, anybody? ■ To earn or not to earn?

perspectives Global Entrepolis 2010 ■ ASEAN Chair 2010 ■ The Wharton experience



Behind the scenes for our photo shoot ■ Thumbsup! - Soup Broth Asia

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the issue about

Love “For this is Saint Valentine’s Day, where every bird cometh there to choose his mate,” wrote the poet Geoffrey Chaucer in the early 13th century. We all know the Valentine’s period to be a time for the expression of romantic love. Prior to his words, however, Valentine’s Day was not known

to be romantic, much less about love. In this issue of The Blue and Gold, we try to find out what are the other “loves” of SMU and its students. We find some interesting answers - but, perhaps fittingly, we also find some questions about that love that students might find interesting.

Love for community service? Acts of kindness in SMU Love for students? An exceptional case Love for Chinese New Year? The Chinese student’s escape from solitude Love for Singapore and SMU? Exchange students share their views Love for the environment? Verts share their story Love for the arts? Showcasing Caderas Latinas’ Nueva Vida in pictures And more!


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Love for community service?

Cover Story

The Challenge of Being Challenged

Shobana Nadaraja interviews the person behind 2010 SMU challenge - Irene Ong (President of SMU challenge) with additional insights from Wen Ting (Marketing Director) and Pei En (Operations in-charge)


MU Challenge was first established in 2008 under the Special Interest and Community Service Solidarity (SICS). The mission of SICS, combined with the effort of Student’s Association Council (SAC), was to foster stronger community bonds and to provide a platform where all community service groups could come together.

ly, in the third, the project ended with SMU participants and even the members of the public enter-

“participants walked

a total of 6.88 km ... carrying food and items raised in the fundraising activities”

Irene explains that “in 2009, there were confusion as to who (SICS or SAC) should take charge of the respective activities. We had to work harder on this project and brand ourselves, but at times what we thought was in conflict with the agenda of higher authorities.” There were altogether three phases to this project. In the first phase, fundraising activities were held in heartland areas where food and money were donated. In the second, participants walked a total of 6.88 km from SMU campus to the Geylang East Home for the Aged, carrying food and items raised in the fundraising activities. Final-

taining the elderly by giving performances and interacting with them. Citing a survey conducted in Singapore, Irene mentions that usually only retired people are willing to volunteer their services. “The commonly given reason by students as to why they do not volunteer is because of time constraints. But time is not an excuse,” said the passionate community service leader, who has served as the Vice-President of the Balloon of Bliss Project and is engaged in external organizations such as the People’s Association.

The trio has often volunteered for community service without counting it towards the school’s CSP requirement. “We are lazy to do reports. There is no need to document everything. Some things we do for the experience and to simply be inspired by the small ways that we can contribute back to the society” said Wen Ting. Pei En, in charge of operations, felt that “projects that are being marketed in a way to clear 80 CSP hours” should be avoided. Irene added, “we would gladly wash toilets for the elderly if the need arises. Now that I think about it, we may have not even have done that in our own homes.” Irene concludes, “at the end of the finale, the sweat and tears that the team of SMU challenge have shed seemed nothing when compared to the knowledge that not only have we brought smiles to the elderly but also to the volunteers who felt pleased with their contribution back to the society. Irene felt glad of the overwhelming response from the faculty, staff, members of the public, and SMU students. She is confident that they had lived up to their tagline, “there are not many institutions that carry weight like SMU does.”

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Cover Story

Love for students?

An Exceptional Case

Even with extenuating circumstances, a special bidding policy applies to students who enrol for courses out of the bidding window. Owen Tan reports.


amien Lee (not his real name) had the worst two days of his life just before the much awaited and celebrated New Year. An accountancy student who is interning at the time of writing, he was preparing to go for his exchange programme in February. Then, in the wee hours of Friday morning, his father suffered a heart attack, and passed away on New Year’s Day. “Nothing in life prepared me for this,” Damien said in a phone interview with The Blue and Gold, on the condition that he remained anonymous. “The only thought I had was to make sure that my mum was okay.” He cancelled his exchange, and subsequently decided against applying for a leave of absence. “My father wouldn’t have wanted me to do that,” he said simply. Against the advice of friends, he applied for Modified Term 2, which starts on 21 February and is specially tailored for accountancy students for them to complete their internships.

Bidding Every semester, each student goes through the challenge of bidding, which quantifies in e-dollars how much you really desire to enrol in a particular course. Courses are bided for through a system known as the Bidding Online System, or BOSS. “Everybody is supposed to bid,” said Mr Tan Lee Chuan, Director of the Office of Registrar, during an interview with The Blue and Gold. The current and former presidents of SMUSA, Ryan Tan and Sophia Lo, were also present. “No student should be exempt from bidding, except in very special circumstances”, he said. The first phase for bidding of courses, called BOSS 1, closed on 22 November last year. In order to secure his courses for next semester, Damien had to request for courses to enrol in from the Registrar. Under the guidelines stipulated in the BOSS Handbook, students who need to enrol “off-line” - meaning, not going through BOSS – need to have their respective schools approve the student’s request before Registrar can proceed with enrolling him in the particular class. He sent an email to Prof Themin Suwardy, the Associate Dean of the School of Accountancy, to assist with his request.


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Damien mentioned that the School of Accountancy’s administration contacted him a few days after his request to inform him that the request to enrol in three courses - all advanced accountancy classes - had been approved, with a total e-dollar cost of $153.10. It was then when he learnt that there was a university-wide policy that states that any student who successfully enrols for any class off-line is charged an e-dollar amount equivalent to the highest bid, as well as an administrative levy equivalent to 20% of that bid. (As of the time of this writing, however, this guideline was not found on OASIS, the student’s online portal, but is still available in the BOSS Handbook, which is available for download.)

Cover Story

Dr Gillian Phua, his cousin - also a medical doctor who was on duty the night his father was admitted to hospital - believed that he had been unfairly treated. She then wrote a letter to the Straits Times forum, criticising the school’s strict adherence to a set of rules that showed the student no compassion. “We can understand if the [20%] penalty was imposed on someone who procrastinated till the last minute to arrange for module selection,” she wrote, “but my cousin’s circumstances were entirely unforeseen”.

Special case bidding To guarantee enrolment in a particular class in special circumstances, Registrar places a bid on your behalf into the system equal to:


Highest bid of previous window


Administrative levy of 20%

This means that all bidding records, whether normal or exceptional, are recorded in the BOSS system, for transparency and accountability.

Although the Straits Times did not publish the letter in its print edition, it was published in the online edition. Since then, it has been shared by over 400 people on their Facebook walls, as of the time of writing. The letter also triggered Akesh Abhilash, a law student, to write a letter to President Arnoud de Meyer, requesting him to look into the matter. Prof de Meyer replied that there was “clearly a need for [the university] to improve its service level”, and that they would look into the matter.

The levy and how it works The 20% extra in e-dollars that has to be paid in the basket of events classified as exceptional circumstances is officially called the administrative levy. Every student has to go through the bidding system, even in exceptional circumstances, in order to enrol for the class. “The 20%, in fact, is based on the historical trend of bidding data that we have,” said Mr Tan, the Director of Office of Registrar. He clarified that the levy is not a “penalty”, but more like a fail-safe to ensure that the student gets the bid for the class which he intends to enrol in. Since every student must go through the bidding system to ensure that he can get his courses, the administrative levy is like the expected e-dollar extra that a student has to pay to ensure that he successfully gets the course in the next bidding window. “There is no way to tell, at the end of BOSS 2 [the next bidding window] if you will be able to successfully enrol in the course,” said Mr Tan. “So, the levy is to ‘guarantee’ that he will be able to get the

course.” In fact, the 20% levy is an arbitrary figure in some courses, students in these exceptional circumstances may have a higher levy, he said. In one of the email correspondences to Damien, said Mr Tan, the levy was mistakenly interpreted as a penalty, when in fact this was not the case. The reason for having such a policy, he said, is simple: there is transparency and accountability. All enrolments are recorded clearly in the BOSS past results database.

Since all students must go through the bidding system to enrol in the class, this is fair to the rest of the students, since his enrolling in the class is through orthodox means and does not deprive another person of a seat unfairly.

Resolution Damien subsequently met with Registrar, and after some discussion, was refunded the administrative levy that had been imposed on him, which was e$22.55. “This may not seem like a lot of [e-dollars],” he said, “But it is crucial to me, especially because I am approaching my final year and the courses are only going to become harder to bid for.” When asked if he was happy with the situation, Damien believed that the refund given to him was a fair result, but wondered if there could have been an alternative to the bidding system for students who might find themselves in such circumstances. “It won’t be fair if I had been slotted into a class in SMU and subsequently deprived another student of their rightful slot,” Damien said. “But is it necessarily fair that I have to pay an extra 20% for my course as well as paying the highest bid, when I might have bid for that same course for a lower price if I had bid for it in the first window?” For Damien, the answer to that question makes scant difference to the fact that his father had passed on. “You have no idea,” he said, “how much I would rather be on exchange and be happy, rather than talk about e-dollars right now.”

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Cover Story Love for Singapore and SMU?

Singapore: In the eyes of an exchange student By Deborah Lim


hen having lunch with a fellow Singaporean student, our conversations would usually be lamenting about the disgustingly hot and humid singapore weather; (especially how our makeup melts away as soon as we step out of the house), and complaining about the challenges of school life with our competitive fellow SMU students. Mostly, the little complaints that we have, may not put Singapore in the best light. A recent lunch with my exchange Buddy, Cecilia Viroli from Bocconi University in Milan, however, made me realise that our little island does have some things that we should be appreciative of. The Singaporean weather, for one, is actually adored by many exchange students, especially those who experience severe winters almost six months of the year. In Singapore, bBeing blessed by the sun all year round allows one to go for a run in the park or go swimming in the warm waters of the beach anytime one feels like it. Such an option would not be possible in other countries with their cold snowy winters. In Europe for example, students who wish to swim would either have to take a plane to another island faraway or make do with a couple of hours in the heated swimming pool. The Singaporean beaches, may neither be as pristine nort tur-


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quoise as we wish it to be, but they add to the beauty of the island and are very accessible to us. They are the exotic venues for of fantastic beach parties such as the Siloso Beach Party on New Year’s Eve or the music concerts that take place throughouth out the year. Cecilia attended the NYE party this year; iIt was her

Singaporean students, for some of my friends and me at least. For Cecilia however, she was really impressed by how focussed each and every student was, in seminars and in doing assignments., In her home university where classes are bigger,only a handful of students are really focused on what they are studying, while

thing to eat. In Italy or other European countries , one cannot guarantee that when you come back your stuff will still be there. As Cecilia admits “Maybe it will be, but if I were you I will bring my laptop and wallet with me even if only going to the toilet for five minutes.” This respect and safety which we take for granted in Singapore, allows us to leave our things alone without a pinch of worry,or reach home safely at 4am in the morning after a great night of clubbing. However, it is perhaps one of the most important yet underappreciated aspects of Singaporean life.

In Singapore, Being blessed by the sun all year round allows one to go for a run in the park or go swimming in the warm waters of the beach anytime one feels like it. first time at a countdown party at the beach, unlike back in Italy, where the cold wouldn’t permit it.she usually spends it with her friends in their apartments, drinking wine, before a hot fire. As recounted by Cecilia , “The only moment in which we try to get out from a closed environment is probably when we make fireworks, but in half an hour the cold is really unbearable. Spending the New Year’s at the Beach was really sensational for me, I still cannot believe that it is January and I am going out in Shorts and T-Shirts. In Italy, now it’s time to wear fashionable boots, skirts, coats and woollen jackets.” The Singaporean students. The competiveness among Singaporean students has frankly been quite a turn-off among fellow

many seem to only want to have fun. “Learning in such small classes facilitates paying attention and keeping up to date with the subject. Nobody wants to lag behind or feel less prepared than the others. That’s what is stimulating me in studying every day, doing my best, being curious, asking, reading more and more. Being competitive stimulates efficient studying, and also, because you know that you are dealing with other students who are very prepared, working in groups becomes a pleasure”, says Cecilia, about her experience studying in SMU thus far. The Singaporean safety. When Cecilia first came to SMU, she was very surprised to see students leave their bags and laptops in the seminar rooms or library while they go grab some-

We’re accustomed at looking at the glass as half empty;.Those are just some of the many aspects of Singaporean life which I found interesting when seen from a different perspective, and I haven’t even touched on the topic of Singaporean food yet. For most of us, having lived in Singapore all our lives, we perhaps only have a skewed view of what the Singaporean life is like: hot, humid, stressful. However, perhaps when we choose to look at it as half full or from the perspective from an exchange student, we will be able to better appreciate Singapore for all that it is.

Cover Story

Reflections of SMU and Singapore By Prianthi Roy


ast semester, I was very lucky to have become friends with Serena, an exchange student from Berlin. Since we both did not know anyone in the class we were in, we ended up sitting next to each other. We began talking during the break and I casually asked her how her experience in Singapore had been so far. “It feels wonderful!” said Serena, “This is actually my first trip to Asia. I’m so excited! I’ve read so much about the rich and diverse culture of this continent, that I knew from the very beginning that this is where I wanted to go for my exchange program. And Singapore is an awesome place to start exploring Asia.” “So what do you like most about Singapore so far?” I asked. “Let’s see,” paused Serena, “Changi airport, the beaches, the tropical weather.” She began ticking off points from her fingers. “Do you know what a change it is from the cold and the snow of Central Europe?” she said grinning from ear to ear. “Also, the people here seem really friendly, everyone from the airport staff to the random stranger on the street who I ask for directions.” “What do you think about SMU?” “It’s nice. It’s really modern! The faculty here is quite impressive. I mean, I have an Italian prof, a Japanese prof, an Indian prof and a Chinese prof! It’s nice to see that SMU has professors of such different nationalities, and it’s very interesting to get to know their perspectives. Plus, it’s such a relief to be taught by actual

professors and not TAs like some of the universities back at home. The classes here are quite big! I mean in my home university in Maastricht, Netherlands, there are never more than 10-12 people in one class.” “What?” I said, “I thought SMU was famous for its low studentteacher ratio.” “Maybe as compared to other Asian universities. Oh, you know what I like best about the classes here? The professors actually allow you to eat here!” The semester progressed. Serena and I became very good friends. We always helped each other wherever we could for the class we were taking together. We studied for pop quizzes and midterms and even for the finals together. Not to mention, we had two sets of group presentations which we had to work on together. Before we knew it, the fall semester came to an end.

people here seem so stressed out. So far as SMU is concerned, I am very glad I had an opportunity to study here for a semester. Interacting with so many students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds was quite an experience. From the outside, the students seem equally stressed and fiercely competitive. No one seems to want to help one another and for some exchange students, it was really hard making friends with Singaporeans in the beginning. But once you get to know them, they’re so nice! I like how they don’t let the stress of university get to them and end up dancing in the concourse or playing the drums or getting together for a game of floorball! I made some really good friends here. And I had many unforgettable experiences here. In fact, I’m thinking of coming back next summer...” I hope Serena had a good time in Singapore and at SMU, and I hope she’ll consider coming back again. We’ll be more than happy to welcome her back!

“Remember how I asked you how you liked Singapore in our very first class together, Serena?” I asked. “Yeah.” “So has your opinion of the country changed, now that you’ve been here for nearly six months?” “Well, I still love Singapore. I think it’s a really lively and vibrant city due to its ethnic diversity, and it has a good mix of tradition and technology. But the

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no idea,” he said, “how much I would rather be on exchange and be happy, rather than talk about e-dollars right now.”

Love for Chinese New Year?

Our Secret Mission: Escaping From Solitude By Wang Sha


he topic on how to spend Chinese New Year’s Eve is not common. Renren, a social networking site, was created by Chinese overseas students. An updated status in that social networking site is as follows, “Attention to those who will spend New Year’s Eve at home: please behave yourself! Don’t show off the gourmet food you enjoy, don’t upload the photos describing the crazy night you spent. Couples, don’t flaunt the honeyed words your conjugal felicity. At this point of the time, on the other side of the ocean, frontline fighters like us--aging, lonely, miserable--- are striving for something.” This reflects the yearning of International Chinese students to spend Chinese New Year back in China. Singapore’s New Year traditions are different from ours. Examples of such differences include serving Yusheng as a symbol of “good luck”, the presence of brown Niangao (usually white in China) and so on.

“I had never heard of it [Chingay parade] till my friend invited me to help distribute rice to the spectators” said Hu Nianbo, a year 2 student. However, there are always some students who are ready for the mission to combat this solitude. Ren Yu has just made a booking to Malaysia with two of her friends. “I need to force myself to escape the suffering,” she said. They are going to visit the ‘Twin Towers’ and shop to their heart’s content. Similarly, Li Zhen and Hu Nianbo have made plans to go to karaoke with their other friends. Sun Ya joked that she would love to rent Marina Bay Sands so that she could have the swimming pool all to herself. Some others choose to participate in festivals where they meet other international students. In a Chinese Scholars and Students Spring Festival held in NUS on 16th January 2011, Xu Zhaoxi, performed Guzheng as a member of the ensemble of traditional instruments and mentioned that it was tough preparing for the show. Despite the challenge, she says, “This is my first time joining such an event in Singapore. I have always been seeking for an opportunity to display my knowledge on Guzheng, and thus performing during this gala was a very meaningful celebration to me.” However, Lanlan, a year 3 scholar, preferred a quiet celebration by watching the spring festival at home. ”When I woke up the other day, I could not help but feeling like going back to my home town to celebrate New Year with my family. When searching for air tickets, the cheapest single flight to my hometown Nanjing was nearly 2000 dollars,” Qi Siheng sighed. However, some fortunate ones like Du Fang, would be flying back to their hometown. Despite the many options of how we could choose to spend the New Year, including circumstances when international students such as Chen Zhe, are invited to their distant relatives’ houses in Singapore, it is simply not the same when your family is not beside you. Without having homemade dumplings, the noise of firecrackers on New Year’s Eve and getting our red packets, Chinese New Year does not feel the same.

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Cover Story Love for the environment?

Are Singaporeans doing enough?

By Phoebe Luo (SMU Verts)

Photo: Chen Junyang


very day, we get inundated with campaign messages about what we should do to save the Earth. “Take the public transport instead of drive”; “Bring your own bag instead of using plastic bag”, and some less conventional ones like “Don’t eat the shark’s fin served at Chinese weddings”. Pick any random person on the streets and he is most likely to be an expert on environmental awareness. But has the increase in awareness translated into more actions taken by Singaporeans? Two local activists, Olivia Choong from Green Drinks Singapore and Wilson Ang from ECO Singapore, feel that despite the surge of green hype, Singaporeans are still not doing enough. Speaking at SMU’s inaugural Green Roundtable last Friday, Wilson argues that Singaporeans are still stuck in the ‘broken escalator’ mentality. The ‘broken escalator’ is an anecdote about two people who were on an escalator when it suddenly stopped working. They waited, not moving an inch, for someone to fix the broken escalator. All they had to do was to walk up the escalator. This simple anecdote neatly encapsulated the mentality of most Singaporeans towards environmental activism. “We think that environmental problems are too big for us to solve, but really, all it takes is simple actions such as changing your own consumption behaviors”, says Wilson. According to Olivia, Singaporeans are enthusiastic in wanting to do something for the environment but usually the enthusiasm fizzles out after some time. She says, “Often, I get people telling me that they love what I’m doing and that they want to get involved, but after a while these people get busy and I don’t hear from them”. She believes that the problem lies with people thinking that being environmental activists involves too much ‘sacrificing for one’s art’. But Olivia insists that such thinking cannot be further from the truth. As a founder of Green Drinks, all she needed was to find a rental-free space to host her events and publicize them for free through social media. Only on a few occasions did she have to pay out of her own pockets. She says light-heartedly “if a lazy person like me can do something, anyone can do the same”. The speakers also fielded questions about whether the Singapore government is doing enough to support the environmental groups and their causes. Having collaborated with government agencies on several projects, Wilson offered a few interesting insights about the government’s modus operandi and how NGOs can convince the government to do more.

“Singapore government likes to play it safe. They prefer to underpromise and over-deliver. When they see that something is successful, they would want to join in the action. If not, they will adopt a wait-and-see attitude”. His advice was then to “prove that your idea will benefit Singaporeans, such as helping them to save costs. Then you will have a higher chance of getting the government to support your cause.” The SMU Green Roundtable is an informal forum where local environmental leaders are invited to speak on pertinent, and sometimes controversial, environmental issues. It is jointly organized by SMU Verts and individual activist-students. The next Green Roundtable will be held at the end of the term.

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Favourite Love Movies

Looking to spend a quiet evening with your better half? Bored, or looking to take a break from schoolwork? Manmath Goel, our movie writer at The Blue AND Gold, presents five of the most popular romantic movies of all time.

5. Pretty Woman

She walked off the street, into his life and stole his heart. Pretty Woman is a 1990 film of a man in a legal, but hurtful, business who needs an escort for his social events. He ends up hiring a beautiful prostitute he bumps into along the street... only to fall crazily in love with her. Best quote - Vivian: “I want the fairy tale.”

4. Sleepless in Seattle

What if someone you never met, someone you never saw, someone you never knew was the only one for you?

A recently-widowed man’s (Sam) son calls a radio talk show in an attempt to find his father a partner. Thousands of miles away, a reporter, Annie, hears the talk show and immediately falls in love with Sam. She subsequently sets out for Seattle to find her love. Best quote - Annie’s mother: “...then he held my one point I looked down and couldn’t tell which fingers were his and which were mine. And I knew. Ya know? Magic. It was magic...I knew we’d be together forever and that everything would be wonderful.”

3. The Graduate

This is Benjamin. He’s a little worried about his future. The Graduate is a 1967 film about a young and talented college graduate who embarks on an affair with the wife of his father’s business partner. Along the way, he becomes increasingly disillusioned with the adult world and the future his parents have planned for him, and finds himself falling for his lover’s daughter. Best quote - Benjamin: “Mrs. Robinson, you’re trying to seduce me... aren’t you?”

2. Jerry Maguire

Everybody loved him... Everybody disappeared. Jerry Maguire is a 1996 film starring Tom Cruise, about a sports agent who has a moral epiphany and is fired for expressing it. He then decides to put his new philosophy to the test as an independent with the only athlete who stays with him. Best quote - Dorothy: “Shut up. Just shut up. You had me at hello.”

1. Love Actually

The ultimate romantic comedy. Love Actually is a 2003 film that follows the story of eight very different couples. It deals with their love lives in various loosely and interrelated tales, all set during a frantic month before Christmas in London, England. Best quote - Judy: “All I want for Christmas is you.”


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Favourite Love Songs

Love songs have been flooding the airwaves ever since we could remember, and many of them are the backdrop to an epic love story we once had or that special memory we still cherish. However, not all of them are particularly pleasant to the ears, and some are just downright cheesy. Being the self-proclaimed experts that we are, THE BLUE AND GOLD presents to you (in convenient Venn diagram format) which songs are romantic winners, which songs ply their romance with a bit too much cheese, and which songs should just stay out of the picture altogether.


The Man Who Can’t Be Moved by The Script

by Travis

Closer is a song that embodies that sweet warm feeling you get when you’re with the person you love. The lyrics are not overboard to the point of being tacky and overall melody is smooth, pleasant and, in a word, SWEET.

One of the few boy band love tunes that can actually stand the test of time and tackiness. The musical accompaniment to the song is very romantic and its lyrics also tell of commitment and everlasting love. A popular song choice for weddings these days.

Best In Me


This I Promise You by N’ Sync

What could be more romantic than a guy who continuously pines on a sidewalk for the girl he broke up with? As absurd as the whole notion may be, it’s the way Danny O’Donoghue brings out the exasperation of his love, his wanting to reunite with his beloved, and his willingness to stay at the same spot for another chance to meet. Definitely The lyrics say it all. Backed up by tugs right at your heartstrings. good vocals from the boys of BLUE, Best In Me could easily be used as a statement to the great friendship and relationship that you share with that special person.

by Dashboard Confessional

by Blue

Dashboard Confessionals did a good job blending alternative rock and indie music to produce a beautiful love song that should be popular among young hearts. A perfectly sweet way to express your feelings to that special someone.

Ain’t Gonna Lose You by Brett Dennen Blessed with a unique voice, Brett Dennen masterfully expresses feelings of longing and determination. The beautiful, slightly emotional melody is a great complement to entire arrangement. A slightly bittersweet song that would be a perfect accompaniment to This song is one we all would love to hate, but snuggle in on a rainy day. it’s on every playlist. Despite the unimaginative

You’re Beautiful

by James Blunt

Total Eclipse of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler Great for a karaoke session with your best mates, but it’s perhaps a good idea to steer away from this song if you are planning to serenade a loved one. If the music arrangement isn’t scary enough, try watching the music video.

lyrics, Your’re Beautiful still manages to captivate listeners with its dreamy, romantic, and addictive guitar melody of guitar strings accompanied by James Blunt. Although we would never did figure out what his plan was to attract the beautiful creature he saw on subway, we don’t care, and continue to play it at our weddings.


by Enrique Iglesias Enrique huskily whispering “Let me be your hero” at the beginning of the song unleashes a wave of cheesy goose bumps down your spine. Overall though, it’s a pretty good. The arrangement is well thought out to include all the hallmarks of a good love song – a soft, gentle melody; and a latino hombre like Enrique Iglesias serenading it to you.

My Heart Will Go On by Celine Dion

Few will fail to recognize the signature song from Titanic, and the tragic love story between two lovers. Probably not the ideal end for a relationship, but the lyrics are romantic and powerfully delivered by the ever excellent Celine Dion..

Eternal Flame

by The Bangles

By Deborah Lim Design by Melvin Tiong

Some say this is a classic, but Eternal Flame does not seem to burn with quite as much passion as before, perhaps because our generation generally appreciates gentler vocals.

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Cover Story

The Top Five Books on Romance Is your Valentine a bookworm? Wondering what to give her this February? Don’t know what books to read or buy during the season of love? The Blue and Gold’s Prianthi Roy gives some recommendations.

Daddy Long Legs

Daddy-Long-legs by Jean Webster is a must read. Written in 1912, Webster traces the story of the blossoming of first love between an orphaned college student and the man who changed her life through a series of letters. Jerusha ‘Judy’ Abbott was raised in the ‘John Grier Home’. At the age of eighteen, one of the orphanage’s trustees decides to pay for her college. In return, Judy must write monthly letters to her anonymous benefactor who she affectionately addresses as ‘Daddy-LongLegs’. Judy narrates all her experiences in college, in the hostel, and during the holidays, which she spends at Lock Willow Farm, where she meets the charming ‘Master Jervie’.

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is one of William Shakespeare’s most celebrated tragedies. The play revolves around two young, ‘star-cross’d lovers’ determined to be united in love and fight a world determined to keep them apart. Romeo Montague and young Juliet Capulet belong to two feuding families of Verona. Forbidden as their love is, the young couple resolve to overcome the many obstacles in the way of their love. Unfortunately, things don’t go accordingly to plan, culminating in a tragic climax. The Montague-Capulet feud is finally resolved, but at a terrible price. If Shakespeare’s original play is too heavy for you, we recommend the simplified version by Charles and Mary Lamb.

Love Story

‘Love means never having to say you’re sorry.’ Erich Segal’s short novel will forever hold a special place in our hearts. Published in 1970 on Valentine’s Day, Love Story is the touching tale of Oliver Barrett IV, a boy from a rich and influential family, and Jennifer Cavilleri, the daughter of an Italian-American pastrymaker. The couple fall in love and get married without the approval


the blue and gold

of Oliver’s father. Shortly afterwards, Jenny is diagnosed to be terminally ill, and the two struggle financially and emotionally to cope with her impending death. The story concludes emotionally, as Oliver and his father are reconciled over Jenny’s death. This one is a tear-jerker, whether you are fifteen or fifty. It is a short novel that speaks volumes in every line. We also recommend the sequel “Oliver’s Story”.

Gone With the Wind

This 1937 Pulitzer Prize Winner needs no introduction. A timeless classic by Margaret Mitchell, the story revolves around the young Scarlett O’ Hara, tracing her tumultuous relationship with the ever-charming Rhett Butler and her undying, unrequited love for Ashley Wilkes, all against the background of turbulent times during the Civil War in America. Scarlett is portrayed as a strong, wilful young woman unafraid to take drastic steps to preserve her beloved Tara plantations. The complex and layered character of Rhett Butler is sure to leave the reader baffled and wanting more, as will the chemistry and growing romance between Rhett and Scarlett.

To Sir, With Love

What better way to experience a romance than through E.R. Braithwaite’s autobiographical novel about a black teacher gaining acceptance in a white-dominated school in London’s East End? Written in 1959, To Sir, With Love tells the touching tale of how Ricky Braithwaite, a young black RAF pilot takes up a job as a secondary school teacher. His innovative teaching methods are initially rejected by students and staff alike, but soon prove to be popular. He develops a strong filial bond with many of his students as well as a romantic relationship with one of the teachers, Gillian. The book has a surprising feel-good effect, and explores the multiple concepts of love beyond race, love between a man and a woman, and, most importantly, the love between a teacher and his students.

Simply Se7en-sational


riginating on the street corners and byways of New York and California during the 1970s, Hip-hop has taken the main world by storm, growing into the global dance phenomenon it is today Here at SMU, Eurhythmix gives us a taste of all the excitement Hiphop has to offer, including a sensational performance in their latest production, Se7en. We convinced a few performers to give us an exclusive behind-the-scenes peek into the making of Se7en. By Lydia Toh Photos: Chen Jinfu/Julian Ong

Cheryl Ho Cheryl Ho is a 3rd year Accountancy student and the outgoing Finance Secretary of Eurhythmix. She has been with the club since her freshman year, and agreed to share her thoughts on se7en with us. 1) This is your 3rd dance production with E-mix. How does se7en compare to the previous 2 (intersect10n & RAW!)? The concept behind Se7en was quite different from the rest, where we worked the items around the story instead of the other way round, like we did with Intersect10n, and RAW did not have a storyline at all. There was a lot more acting and characterization involved, which was quite a novel experience, and it was pretty fun seeing the dancers taking on their various roles. Although Se7en was shorter in length than the other productions, I think it made up for it in terms of entertainment value! 2) Se7en was more of a dance musical (or dance-ical) adapted from Disney’s famous Snow White, as opposed to the usual dance concerts we’ve seen. What was your favorite part of the performance? Pretty sure some of the acting by the dwarves, Queen, and Prince was quite epic, but one particular scene that stands out for me is the shoes scene, because of the awesome shoe costumes that the dancers wore (made from scratch!) and the hanging shoe display. The music was also really amusing (“I don’t know much about clothes, but my shoes are fierce!”).

Nicholas Phua

The outgoing President of the 8th Eurhythmix executive committee, year 3 Economics student Nicholas Phua played the role of ‘pseudo emcee’ in Se7en. The audience will recall his wacky appearances between scenes and nifty dance moves, gamely donning various outrageous costumes including afros, dreadlocks, and cowboy hats. 1) The concept for se7en was different what we would expect from Hip-hop concerts. What was the inspiration behind it? We wanted to put up a Hip Hop Dance musical instead of just dance performances. So we tried something fresh, and challenged ourselves by adapting the ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarves’ fairy tale into a modern setting. We also believe that dance should be something that is enjoyed, so we injected humorous elements into our production. 2) You wore a couple of pretty loud & interesting outfits during the show! Which was your favorite? Any apprehensions on your part? My favorite outfit was definitely the first one, the gold top with the afro. Nope, I did not have any apprehension, nor did I feel awkward. On stage, I am a performer and entertainer regardless of my role, and I felt happy that people found it comical. I received good feedback after the show, and I was more than happy to bring my ‘afro’ around to take pictures with my friends after the show, and strangers were still laughing!


Melvin Tiong A 3rd year double degree student in Social Science and Business, Melvin Tiong is a member of Eurhythmix, previous Music Director for Samba Masala, junior designer for SMUSAIC’s Darkroom, and a designer for the Blue & Gold! Aside from CCA pursuits, the Arts veteran still finds time to pursue freelance graphic design, video editing, and mixing and producing dance music. For anyone out there in need of that extra creative edge, be sure to contact him! 1) You clearly have a passion for the Arts. What draws you to it? I’ve always found joy in evoking emotions – making the audience say ‘wow!’. Both creativity-based and performance-based art allow me to do that. Having been at it for so long now, I’m certain I’ve found my calling in life. 2) Any future dance aspirations? No, because honestly, I’m not spectacularly fantastic at dance. But I definitely want to work as some kind of artiste. Since that’ll likely include musical or theatrical performing, the dance experience will really come in handy. 3) A question just for fun: Was improving stage presence a contributory reason for your bleached hair? Improving life presence was the overarching reason for bleaching my hair.



the blue and gold 15

Cover Story

Love for the arts

Nueva Vida - in pictures Above, and bottom left: Caderas Latinas with dance performances. Far left, top: SMU President Arnoud de Meyer with Amanda Khoo, SMU alumnus Left: Stephanie Chen, 4th year student, dances with Sim Chin Ta, recently graduated from SMU. All photos are courtesy of Hans Stevanus Maryo

16 the blue and gold

Cover Story

“Love Wisely!”

a young age, Mr Vadi agreed to take up a role in his elder brother’s play, but only after a cast member had fallen ill prior to

was saved after she cleverly covered up for a professional co-actor who had forgotten his lines. “I decided to direct her in life

“Don’t take life too seriously, cause you aren’t going to get out of it alive anyway.” the actual play. It was that fortuitous introduction which turned out to be an enlightenment process leading him to realize his love for the arts. His passion has also inspired him to organize and execute a charity drama, an event that may help him to clear his 80 CSP hours in SMU.

Shobana Nadaraja discovers more about the ‘love guru’in SMU.


hat better way to conclude the “Love Issue” than with the insights of our resident love guru, Mr Vadi. Let me attempt to summarize the accomplishments this extraordinary individual has managed to achieve thus far. Mr Vadi, who used to be a fulltime economics lecturer in Raffles Junior College, is now pursing his Juris Doctorate in SMU. Not only has he ignited his love for learning, but he also remains a prominent figure in the arts scene, where he has acted, scripted, and hosted numerous shows. Some of you may remember the famous line from his M1 advertisement that won the Gold Award for viewer’s choice in 2007 – “Dei! Mumbai da! India!” He recalled, “I always wanted to pursue law during my undergraduate years in National University of Singapore. However, I was rejected, probably because I spoke too much during the interview,” he joked. He explained that practicing law has always been a childhood dream for him,

and his role model, lawyer Kala Mohan, inspired him to one day become a lawyer who would make the law accessible for the common man. When asked on the difference of being a student and a teacher, he replied that “teaching is easy; you give students advice. It’s the learning which is harder because you have to follow the advice that you previously gave to students, such as doing their

However, he does concede the challenges of being a full time actor, “jobs in the arts are usually on a contractual basis, and other talents like directing and writing are necessary to supplement one’s income. At the end of the day, arts can be a passion but we must always have that one other job.” Growing up with 6 siblings, Mr Vadi is a family-oriented person. Besides teaching, learning, and being involved in the arts scene, he has one other great love – his wife Ms Vikneshwari. He was constantly praising his wife during the interview, and we learned that she is also involved in the arts scene as a classical dancer, singer, and Indian orchestra conductor.

“Teaching is easy; you give students advice. It’s the learning which is harder because you have to follow the advice that you previously gave, such as doing work consistently.” work consistently.” However, it was mere coincidence that he became involved in drama groups such as Ravindran Drama Group, Blue River, and Pictures Mirror Theatre. At

also after directing her in that play,” he says, but laughingly adds, “but it is more like she is directing me!” He is also contemplating on bringing his wife to Sentosa Resorts World or Marina Bay Sands for Valentines’ day this year; on how he usually plans for Valentine’s Day – “I like to bring my wife to places that we have never been to before” he replied enthusiastically. With so much on his plate, we feel it must be difficult to manage his time so efficiently. Mr Vadi, however, takes a more philosophical approach – “Time manages me rather than me managing time. Sometimes there are so many things to do in a day, and I wonder how I am going to handle them. I just let time take its course and things will fall into place. Sometimes there will be hiccups here and there, but I feel that some things are predestined” As we conclude the interview, he leaves us with a favorite quote, “Don’t take life too seriously cause you aren’t going to get out of it alive anyway.” To the SMU students who are out there complaining about all their problems with school, let us remember Mr. Vadi, – teacher, student, artiste, loving husband, and a man who lives his life on this principle.

When did he fall for his wife? He relates an incident when he needed to convince his wife (then friend) to act in a play that he had directed and scripted. She relented to his request, and he proudly tells us how the play

the blue and gold


Cover Story

Grading SMU’s Makeout Spots By Sukanto Lakson Chanda with additional reporting by Shikhar Swarup

Campus Green GRADE: B

Your feelings are only natural, so why shouldn’t your surroundings be?


- Great natural environment. Works really well if your significant other is one of those outdoorsy tree-hugger types (Rare, but they do exist in SMU)

Seminar Room GRADE: A-

Just to make that moment truly a class apart.

- Can be accessed at anytime. [I was going to say ‘Just like your Girlfriend/Boyfriend’ but I realized that this is a nice newspaper and that would be inappropriate].


- The closest thing that you will get to those romantic outdoor picnic dates you plan which eventually end up being a movie at a seedy theatre followed by McDonalds.

- Can’t always be accessed during the day due to the number of classes, and it is closed by 12 PM. You can try and squeeze in 15-minute sessions between classes if you want though.

Big Steps

- Scientifically proven to increase your confidence for class participation in that very seminar room for a period of 24 hours.

- Partner might be reminded of the meeting / class / graduation ceremony they are missing in order to make out. This may lead to second thoughts or worse, that long talk about OMG-what-amI-doing-with-my-life-you-haveruined-me-[Insert sobs here].

- Great natural environment and amazing ‘climate control’. You can feel all outdoorsy and old school romantic without the pneumonia and hypothermia.

- As long you check the class schedule, chances are low that someone is going to see you and upload a video of you and your significant other engaging in baby talk.

- You need at least 3 people to book the seminar room. Make sure you’re comfortable with the third person, or it’s just going to be awkward. Plus, what do you fill in for the reason?


- Spacious and clean, unlike your apartment. - Great climate control and lighting. Lighting is adjustable for those romantic situations, or if you aren’t too proud of the person you are making out with. - Cheap date location because you can turn it into a temporary movie hall. Warning: Doing this too many times will induce murderous rage in partner.

- This has to be on the list of every college student around the world: Make out in a college seminar room, possibly to get rid of bad memories created there like the time you flunked a final exam, or farted just as the Prof muted the video.

18 the blue and gold

- Only third on the list of ‘Worst Places for a Romantic Date’ after McDonalds and of course, your apartment.


- No privacy. You might think you’re into PDA now, but wait till that video hits YouTube and goes viral. And ‘YouTube’ is being optimistic, if you know what I mean. - Extremely dangerous during student rush hour. You have no idea how much momentum an SMU student late for class can build up, and you don’t want to be at the receiving end of it. - No climate control. You don’t want your partner getting wet; at least not because of the rain.


Have your own “starry night” here, anytime you want.


- Always accessible. Great for those late-night secret romances (whether said romance is alcohol-induced or not). - Musicians are always practicing here, so you might just have a solid background score to your remake of that 80s college movie you always wanted to live out. - A lot of space. Even the benches are mammoth sized, so you won’t feel guilty about eating the last meal of every month at McDonalds. - At night, the lighting looks and

feels amazing. Sorry guys, no sarcastic joke or sexual innuendo here.


- Can make you feel really small in comparison. Trust me, neither of you want certain parts of you feeling small in this situation. - Not exactly the most comfortable place. I mean, it’s wooden benches and stairs (but somehow still better than your apartment.) Not the best place to wake up the morning after either, in case things go further. - Not much privacy and it’s right at the SIS building: meaning that the video’s going to be up on YouTube before you can say “wait-a-minute-is-that-dude-video-taping-us?”


GRADE: A+ When people in SMU tell you to “get a room”, this is the one they’re talking about.


- You only need two people to book it, and trust me; two is the magic number here. It’s also accessible after midnight. (No ‘Your Girlfriend/Boyfriend jokes here.) - A lot of privacy. TIP: Place your laptop in a manner such that people can see it through the GSR window. Have it open to a page containing a lot of mathematical equations. No one will disturb you, ever. - You can use the TV and set up a cozy and cheap movie date. Please refer to ‘Seminar room’ for hazards in doing so.

Cover Story

- Great view (through the window, you pervert), depending on which GSR you book. My recommendation? PR 4.15 in the library.

SMU often leads to pent up rage. And on average, there are about 2.7 sharp objects on a college student at any time. You know the implications.

- Pretty comfortable. I’ve heard some GSR rooms in the SIS even have couches. Now I’ll forgive you if you stop reading this and speed-dial your loved one to meet you there ASAP.

- Most GSR rooms are pretty small, and as close as you’ll get to your apartment when you’re on college grounds. In this case, home away from home probably isn’t a good thing.


Sofas in the Library GRADE: C+

- Some GSR rooms aren’t completely soundproof. And some people are actually trying to study. And study pressure in

Add your story to the collection.


When people in SMU tell you to “get a room”, this is the one they’re talking about.

- Really comfortable. I got the best sleep of my life in the two weeks when the library was open 24 hours. Just make sure you don’t go to sleep while your girlfriend/boyfriend is waiting for you to compliment her/his kissing skills.



- The Cool Factor. It’s a pool, and you’re making out. If you ever had the secret dream of becoming a rapper, this is the closest you’ll get without the exaggerated accent, unregistered handguns and tax evasion.

Swimming Pool GRADE: B+

Getting a little hot and heavy? Here’s the way to cool off.

- As long as the weather’s nice, you’ve got the perfect make-out environment. Plus, the chairs around the pool are pretty comfy and inclined at just the perfect angle. - If anyone sees you, you can always say you were performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. - If you can sneak your other half into the same locker room as you, you’ll be happy to know that the shower cubicles can accommodate two people.


- No privacy WHATSOEVER. People don’t exactly like a front row seat to two people inspecting each other’s oral cavities with their tongues. If your friends tell you otherwise, you need to find new friends. And file a restraining order.

- Not the best place to come if you aren’t exactly fit. It’s pretty tough to impress your partner with your beer belly when there are guys around who benchpress Volvos and girls who have an hourglass figure you lose track of time with.

- Get ready for a lot of judgmental looks, snickers (not the chocolate, you idiots), ‘woo-hoo’ noises, unplanned high-fives/ people whispering slut under their breath (Note the double standard here), and/or camera flashes.

- No climate control whatsoever. If it rains, your day is done.

- People who are regularly in the library are also the ones who carry 4.0 GPAs. As a result, they are the ones who are going to graduate and bag a salary with a lot of zeroes on it. I’m not saying that your partner is a gold-digger; I’m just saying they could realize that they can do better.

- Poor accessibility. Can’t be accessed after 6 PM on most days, and closed on weekends. Your 5’ x 3 ‘ bathtub is not a substitute. - Very little privacy, unless you come at some weird hour. And calling your better half at 7 AM in the morning to come to the Admin Building to make out will lead to you crying yourself to sleep over Ben & Jerry’s for about a month or so after the break up.

Photos are courtesy of Hans Stevanus Maryo

the blue and gold 19

Special Feature: PrUdeNTiAl

The Human Face of Financial Consulting It’s not all numbers for Tan Shao Pin, it’s about heart


ou must have heard it said many times before: buy insurance while you have a clean bill of health. and there is good reason for that; it is a standard industry

practice for insurance companies to exclude or apply loading on pre-existing conditions. the unfortunate fact is that most people have given up the notion of buying insurance at this juncture. Not if prudential’s tan Shao pin can help it. this is a man who turned down an attractive overseas training award with the Singapore armed Forces, and instead joined the insurance industry to fund his university education. to tan, becoming a financial consultant is not merely a channel for him to help people plan their finances and meet their financial goals; it is also a means to challenge himself to achieve his fullest potential. “Some financial consultants don’t enjoy the more complex insurance cases which may require time and additional checks to complete. However, i enjoy them for two reasons. Firstly, a competent advisor can perform due diligence and research to better assess a client’s medical recovery or remission. this in turn leads to my second passion: producing the required information to underwriters to enable my clients to receive the insurance protection that they need. to my clients, having the assurance that they are adequately covered is critical. to me, knowing that i have helped them in the process makes my job meaningful.” tan continues, “i make the effort to understand my client’s current and past medical status, the type of medical treatment he is undergoing, research his condition, and help build a case to get him the necessary insurance coverage.” Financial consultants such as tan, certainly make people see this profession in a different light as he goes the extra mile to do his job; and it is fulfilling one. “Yes, it is a rewarding job,” tan says,”but only if you put in time and effort for your clients. Some clients have become my good friends and i’m glad i play an integral role in their financial matters. i’ve never regretted my decision to be an insurance professional and i look forward to taking my career to the next level as i move into management role in the coming year.” looks like 16 years of paying it forward has finally paid for tan Shao pin.

20 the blue and gold

Source: AUGUST MAN Singapore, 2011 JANUARY 2011 AUGUSTJanuary MAN 177

Q& A


Tan Shao Pin 1) How did you get to know about Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Limited and why did you choose to join it? Prudential has always been one of the leading insurers in Singapore. It has always been on the forefront when it comes to innovative new products and has a young, vibrant and professional agency force. After narrowing down on the choice of industry that I had decided to go into, Prudential was the natural choice as I believe that it is the best insurer around. 2) Any advice to provide to the SMU graduates? It is a fulfilling career as it enables me to provide financial planning for people who are looking for financial solutions to meet their lifestage needs. The career has also brought me to many places all over the world via the conventions qualified for and rewards based on performance. For graduates who are enterprising, this is one of the few businesses that they should consider embarking on as the start-up capital is very low. 3) Any pressure from peers and family members in terms of income stability? When I first graduated, my family (especially my mother) often questioned my choice of career as they felt that I should have a relatively stable income with my computer science degree. It was only when they saw that I was doing well for myself and regularly going on convention trips that they eventually set their mind at ease. I am glad that I had remained steadfast in my decision, as I am now enjoying the fruits of my labour.

Profile of FC Tan Shao Pin Shao Pin is a Premier Financial Consultant with Prudential Assurance Singapore and has won numerous awards within the company. He joined the financial services industry whilst still an undergraduate pursuing a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) degree from the National University of Singapore. With more than 16 years in the industry, Shao Pin has vast experience in providing financial planning solutions to both individual and corporate clients.

4) What is your career aspiration? Earlier in my career, I had always been mentoring fellow consultants and I find it very rewarding when I see them flourish and do better. Now that I am in agency management, my immediate aspiration is to recruit another 50 new financial consultants, impart to them my success formula and to have at least half my consultants be more successful than me. This is what keeps me going.

the blue and gold 21

On Campus

Patron’s Day: A Student’s Perspective By Lim Yi Hui


hen I attended Patron’s Day 2011, students certainly seemed to be enjoying themselves. There were queues of students trying their luck at the various games booths, or waiting to grab their free food and drinks (more so for the food). The various competitions were also a big draw, as students pit themselves against each other in fear factor, tug of war, and jousting. The competitive events were clearly a favourite among students, and I was quickly immersed in the excitement and (quite bloodthirsty) atmosphere. Who says competition isn’t a good thing? As the sun set, the nocturnal events of Patron’s Day began to unfold. As we headed towards Arts and Cultural Centre, I was awed by the spectacular array of lightings, couches, and games that had been set up along the stretch of the concourse. The lights created a festive atmosphere in the concourse, so different from its usual mood. As I neared the Arts and Cultural Centre, I could hear the band playing, adding a new dimension to the festive atmosphere. Food booths (always a good idea) were also set up, filling the air with the aroma of roasting lamb, and predictably attracting crowds of students, myself

22 the blue and gold

included. It is an established fact that great food and awesome music is the best way to chill from all that studying, and there was plenty of both. I asked the students around me, but they were too busy attempting to eat and dance at the same time, so I am forced to assume they agree with me. It is unfortunate that Patron’s Day 2011 was not as crowded as it should have been, given its significance to SMU. A quick survey led me to conclude the main reasons for this were due to the lack of publicity and the busy schedules of students (bah). Besides greater publicity, many actually suggested that Patron’s Day 2012 should be held on Saturday, when students are free, which is sadly impossible on a weekday. To further increase the turnout for Patron’s day, there were further suggestions such as having more booths, more events, having faculty join in the fun, and activities that teach us more about the history of SMU. I was especially intrigued at the last suggestion. I admit that although I have been an SMU student for almost two years, I don’t know anything about our school’s history. Perhaps teaching students about our history will indeed foster a greater sense of belonging and pride.

Night or Day, It’s Fun Anyway

On Campus

SMU recently celebrated its 11th Patron’s Day, with festivities stretching from noon till night. The Blue and Gold interviewed the Day Events I/C Wilfred Lau, Night Events I/C Haja Mohaideen & 2I/C Crystal Chua. By Clayton Chong

Wilfred Lau, Day Events I/C How does the carnival tie in with Patron’s Day? Carnivals are associated with a younger self. The carnival symbolises the reinvention of ourselves at the start of SMU’s new year and sets a precursor for the rest of our schooling year. What experience did you want to create for the school population? I didn’t actually place that much emphasis on the President’s arrival, because he would only be around for two hours or so. I had to spend most of the day making sure that students stay around for his arrival, so I had to make the event as student-centric as possible. That’s why I had all these challenges, activities and, of course, free food. Free food is always a crowd puller? (laughs) What about the President and other VIPs? The President and VIPs coming down all just want to feel like they’re a part of the school. Because they’re separated from the students the majority of their time, having all these events make them feel like they’re part of the student community as well. It makes them feel young again. What was your personal experience in organising this event? Personally, organising Patron’s Day has helped me understand the student body better. Basically, the biggest take was that free food is good. Despite the fact that I didn’t want to formalise everything, still some things had to be cast in stone, unfortunately. Any words for the future organisers of Patron’s Day? We try to do new things every year, but in the end it always goes back to being a carnival. For future organisers, they can think about taking a whole new direction on it. Honestly, if I’m the Patron and I see the same thing for ten years straight I will get quite bored. (laughs)

Haja Mohaideen & Crystal Chua, Night Events I/C & 2I/C What’s the difference between the day and night event? The day part is really just the formal part of it all; it’s where the VIPs and the Patron come down to see how much we have grown within the one year since he came over to see us. The night part is pure fun, we don’t care whether you are student or staff, we just want you to enjoy yourselves! So the night segment is just an excuse to have fun? What relevance does the night segment have to Patron’s Day? I find, when we’re celebrating our own birthday, the cake-cutting is the formal part and the part we start to drink and party is the informal part. So it’s the same thing here, when the President comes, that’s the formal part; we have to show him a serious side. I mean, you can’t let him see people drinking and getting drunk. What did you consider when planning this event? When I started planning for this, I wanted every kind of student to come down. That’s why I didn’t limit it to food and live music, but also a variety of games. You wanted to make this event more accessible to a range of students? Yes, that’s right. A lot of school events organised by students are like, “hey, let’s go to the club and enjoy”. I mean, how many students really enjoy going to a club. So you have to give them variety. At the end of the day, Patron’s Day is for the students and everyone should enjoy, not just the group of people who like to party.

the blue and gold 23

On Campus


rganized by Bondue, SMU’s School of Business Student Society, the third Bondue Bash since 2008, was held in Zouk on the 13th January. The organizing committee, which toiled hard day and night for this event, was especially elated over the sudden surge of ticket sales at the door, close to midnight . “It feels surreal to know that all the months of hard work and preparation for this one night has come to such a fulfilling end” gushed Jasmine Liao, the everdiligent Events Director of the Bondue Executive Committee who was responsible for spearheading this show to its dramatic success. Says Jasmine, “At first we were facing a situation of not being able to break even, but eventually we overcame all odds and raised a total of $6,456 (ticket sales) and $6,200 (bar sales)”. The


The sweet success of Bondue’s “Candy” Bash By Janarthanan Krishnasamy

proceeds of this party go to the Straits Times Pocket Money Fund. The “Candy” bash was centered almost solely on the pageant itself, where there were nearly two hours of stage games from around 10 plus to midnight. The ten pageant contestants themselves displayed great talent and showmanship, delighting the audience with their performances. Ruth Chee Min Yi, the winner of the “Miss Bondue” title and Joshua Samuel Arokiyasamy, who grabbed both “Mr. Popular and Mr. Candylicious” deserve special mention for their concert item, performing the mellifluous Pachelbel’s “Canon in D major”, a fusion of the violin and the electric guitar. Nicholas, another pageant contestant, impressed the crowd with his bass, throaty rendition of Bruno Mars’ “Just the Way you are” impressively while playing the guitar. The pageant winners were Ruth and Desmond Lau Jiahao, who were chosen by a panel consisting of the local celebrity singer Nathan Hartono, Bondue president Glenn Ang, faculty member Mr. Ang Ser Keng and the previous winners of the Bondue Pageant, Kwan Li Jia and Chan Choon Kai.

24 the blue and gold

On the whole, there was an astounding crowd size of 656 ( compared to the previous Bash last year which had a meager turnout of 170) and many came close to midnight and after, when the pageant was drawing to a close and the dance was about to start. The fun-filled mood, the screams and cheers were confined largely to the people who knew the contestants. Many, who did not know the contestants personally, expressed that the very idea of a pageant was clichéd and has grown insipid over many SMU parties following this practice. Yet, this particular pageant was unique in terms of its continual engagement with the audience, instead of being the usual passive spectacle, along with the contestants’ visible commitment to making this event a success. The hosts of the events, Julia Bensily and Devathas Satianathan invaluably embellished the Candy Bash pageant with their usual wit, liveliness and punch that was relished by the audience. This event is certainly a milestone for Bondue and promises much for the quality of future events organized by them.

Looking for a milliondollar idea

On Campus

Owen Tan finds out how Prof Soon Loo’s TWC classes have transformed students.


ver 20 ideas were presented by a group of mostly freshman students during the inaugural Innovation Symposium last year, an event organised by Professor Soon Loo and his team for his Technology and World Change class last semester. “For us, this is only the beginning,” says Tompang Taxi, a team looking to create the first taxi-sharing app that will be available for download on the Apple App Store as early as next year. Some groups were exceptionally eloquent, while some have the occasional stumble, as with typical pitching sessions; the judges sitting in the middle of the hall listen, and then provide feedback about their product, while over a hundred students look on. But it was the innovations that these groups came up with that impressed me the most: the fact that most of them had limited resources and just seven weeks to bring these ideas into being. Guns, Germs and Steel takes a backseat in this course: the emphasis is on the Boy Scout-like approach of “learning by doing”, not theoretical ideas of technology. Ms Chew Mok Lee, the Group Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at SPRING Singapore; Mdm Lillian Tang, the Regional Marketing Director of Motorola; Prof A. Desai Narasimhalu, the Director of the Institute of Innovation & Entrepreneurship at SMU; and Associate Dean Francis Koh, of the Lee Kong Chian School of Business were present. Ideas The beginning of a business story seems imminent for some of

the teams: Triumph International contacted the group who designed the “Le Luscious”, a sizeadjustable bra that is customised for fluctuating breast sizes especially at different ends of the menstrual cycle. Other ideas arose from traditional customs: Kimzhuatiam, which translates to “incense paper shop” in Hokkien dialect, wants to establish itself as the first (and possibly only) online supplier of incense paper, through creating an online community of people who will give advice on how and when to burn these papers. Prof Soon’s classes have a track record of producing winning ideas: some of the groups that were under his guidance have already clinched funding of over $30,000, won business plan competitions and started their own businesses. This does not mean, however, that every team that Prof Soon guides will eventually have million dollar ideas. Lee Jun Kiat, part of the teaching team under Prof Soon, as well as the mastermind behind the Innovation Symposium, agreed. “Instead of waiting till the end of the semester to showcase these ideas, we decided to create a platform that would allow them to present them, not just in front of the other project groups, but also in front of a whole audience.” Jun Kiat is also a TWC alumnus under Prof Soon. Prof Soon is cautiously optimistic that some of his TWC class graduates will eventually strike gold with their ideas. “At the end of the day,” said Prof Soon, “if just one of the teams here make it to becoming successful, this course will be considered successful.”

(From top to bottom) THE TRIUMPH OF A BRA: the team that created “Le Luscious”, a bra that with adjustable cup sizes, is in contact with Triumph International. THE START OF THE WIPEOUT: Prof Low Aik Meng, Dean of Students, looks at the “Wipeout” mop that is customised to use for easy cleaning of windows. BE W.O.W.ED: The W.O.W. Modular Table is a clutter-free, convenient solution for cleanliness freaks. BURNING IT RIGHT: Kimzhuatiam is an online retailer of incense paper and supplies.

the blue and gold 25

On Campus

NachLe! Let’s keep grooving as the Bollywood dance inundates SMU with this new CCA

By Aashna Nasta

Bollywood in SMU! Bollywood has penetrated through the boundaries of other countries and Singapore is no exception. From Bollywood award shows to musical concerts, it has

ing out the performance: lack of participation, lack of funds, no discipline in terms of attendance, last minute practices and song mixes. We realized the need of putting together a proper system, so that we have enough participants, professional training, and are prepared beforehand” explained Sweta Jain, NachLe Director and co-founder.

“Bollywood dancing is meant for those want to enjoy, let down their hair and to have a fun time.” filled the streets of Singapore with much exuberance. Tarang, Singapore’s tri-university Indian cultural fest, encompasses both Bollywood music and dance. SMU however lacked a solid base where students could pursue their interest in Bollywood dance. This was reflected in the preparation for Tarang. “There were so many problems carry-

26 the blue and gold

What is NachLe? NachLe, a wing of the Indian Cultural Society, was established in August 2010 by Priya Panse and Sweta Jain. Their passion for Bollywood, along with the support from friends, enabled them to create a platform for students to explore this dance genre and to display their talents. Despite the enthusiasm, they were ap-

prehensive about getting members to enroll. Their booth at Vivace reduced their worries, where they got plenty of sign ups even from non-Indians. “Bollywood dancing is meant for those want to enjoy, let down their hair and to have a fun time,” commented Priya Panse, co-founder of NachLe and Vice President of Indian Cultural Society (ICS) enthusiastically.

The Journey so Far But the road to success wasn’t an easy one for them; they faced a lot of administrative and financial troubles. The budget was tight which conflicted with the high choreography and costume fees. To a certain extent, the exco forked out their money to provide for the members welfare. They wanted to set up this club as a separate club but due to administration issues it is currently a sub club under ICS. Nevertheless, commitment and perseverance drove the way and Nach Le successfully staged a number of performances in term

1 at SMU Challenge, Diwali Night and Eve 2010 where they danced to songs like Pump It up, Haddippa, Paisa, Salaame (Indian Salsa), Khwaab Dekhe and Ni Nach Ley.

Coming Soon NachLe has lined up some major performances for this semester. Under the guidance of the Prabhudeva Dance Academy, they plan to put up some great Bollywood pieces like Marjaani, Mauja hi Mauja and Dil Mein Baji Guitar at Arts Fest’11 and Tarang’11.

Future highlights NachLe aims to spread the culture of bollywood dancing to all students of SMU and take Nach Le to the next level where they can compete in competitions at inter-university level. Nach Le hopes to have a good reputation that is looked up to not only by SMU, but also by other institutions in Singapore. In the long run, Nach Le aims to be brought to a level where it can compete internationally and showcase its performances abroad.

To Earn or Not to Earn?

On Campus - Viewpoint

Ng Wei Lin revisits the love for success in an increasingly capitalistic world.


o most of the older generation, especially in the eyes of parents, university undergraduates are considered to be unpredictable. Those whose whole life revolves around giving their beloved children the best education possible (even if it means costing them four prosthetic arms and legs) never seem to understand why their bright, intelligent young nestlings have sprouted a mind of their own to want to pursue degrees like Forensic Science, Philosophy, or some form of unorthodox education. Why couldn’t they pursue degrees with seemingly brighter prospects, such as Accounting, Banking and Finance, or Biotechnology? As a SMU undergraduate with extremely pragmatic and traditional parents, my parents and I had very different ideals. My parents are the complete antithesis of normal Singaporean parents; they expect me to finish my degree in economics, have a respectable (read: stable upper income) status and climb the corporate ladder without many hiccups along the way. What they do not say is how they are praying fervently that my singularly opinionated mind will not get me into deep trouble and mess up my life by going in a completely different direction than what the toothless fortune teller with the unibrow told them. Do any of these sound familiar to you? List of things to love: Money, Brands, Condominiums and Mansions, Exotic luxury vacations, High-flying lifestyle. List of things to fear: Salary Mediocrity, Failure, Rejection. Are most of us doing what we are doing because we genuinely love status and wealth, or simply because we are trying to avoid being failures in the eyes of our social circle, friends and family included? Are we doing what we want for our careers, or what this society wants? Some-

how, we have been taught to believe that only by being economically efficient units can we attain happiness, and we never once questioned that premise.

ties and readily accepting what others define as an ‘easier’, ‘safer’ life, instead of questioning what’s out there, like educated individuals?

The best professors I’ve had were not simply the ones from whom I achieved a great final grade, but the ones who were genuinely great teachers and mentors by getting me to question what I thought was right and wrong. Many of us do not have the courage to look deep within our hearts and ask ourselves what we truly love, for fear of what it entails. Some of us have already resigned to fate and repeat what everyone tells us about pursuing our passions; they are not practical, meaning, lucrative and financially rewarding. Those are the career choices that will not give us that country club membership or gala premier advantages. It is better to continue studying to become a lawyer than to think about playing football professionally.

I propose a new list of things to love: Laughter, Meaningful Relationships and Simplicity. I also propose a new list of things to fear: Blindness, Indifference and Losing yourself. The fact is, when you are truly happy, you need less. Material possessions, most of the time, are used as replacements to fill an emotional void, whether it is the lack of quality relationships, or inner hollowness. They exist to convince you into believing that all those sacrifices are worth it; spending more hours with your diabolic boss than your hysterical wife, being on-call 25/7, being at a job which you have zero passion for. And all of that makes perfect sense, because your Rolex watch and Paris villa will give you the greatest comfort on your deathbed, not your loved ones holding your hand. Maybe one day we would finally realize, that when it comes to running after money, there is only lust, no love. And we all know what lust leads to.

Yes, practicality is important. To meet one’s primary needs, one has to find something that pays the bill. But when choosing between one’s ability to pay the bill (a degree usually helps with that) and getting that private jet, a whole universe of sacrifices lies ahead. Are those sacrifices really worth it in the pursuit of wealth? Just a statistic for you to think over: In Singapore, the highest number of graduates in 2009 belongs to the engineering sciences and business administration for men, and the humanities and social sciences and engineering sciences for women. One can argue that it is simply because those are booming industries with more employment prospects, but are there really as limited opportunities in other areas as people think there are? Since when have we started rapidly losing faith in our abili-

the blue and gold 27

On Campus - Viewpoint

Analytical Skills, anybody? Nikita Sinhal believes more improvement is needed for Core courses to be fully appreciated.


he November 2010 issue of Blue and Gold reported that ‘AS/CT modules were consistently ranked as the ‘Worst 5 first impressions’ that students have in SMU.’ The article explained that many students thought these subjects were a waste of time and did not contribute to their learning. This analysis extends beyond freshman subjects like AS/CT but to other, less conventionally academic subjects, not directly contributing to their chosen discipline. For instance, Work and Family (compulsory for law students), counselling skills or even LTB. I felt this issue warrants a deeper look. What causes this animosity for subjects that don’t contribute directly to our chosen degrees? Is our contempt misplaced or justified? If so, what steps can the school authorities take steps to make these subjects more useful to her students? Why the animosity? We need to uncover the real issue behind our begrudging attitudes. Perhaps it is the notion that university should teach challenging academic subjects- those that will go a long way in securing for one the keys to an executive suite. However we know that SMU promises a ‘different’, more wellrounded experience and thus the variety of mandatory courses are an integral part of the different experience promised. Perhaps a more valid concern is that the broader subjects are not at the time expense of those that provide tangible qualifications. Otherwise the broad scope of our curriculum is a major bonus/privilege, as even top universities in Europe and UK have highly restricted curriculums that allow only the study of courses related to the students’ degrees. What the Alumni Think A survey of working graduates on the usefulness of the less academic courses in work/life presented a broad spectrum of responses. The perceived usefulness seemed to be linked closely to the career of the graduate. Jasmine Neubronner, a financial consultant, shared how taking Counselling Skills under career skills complemented her interests and personality and led to her tak-

28 the blue and gold

ing up a career in financial planning. While her economics degree helped her understand investment and markets, it was the interpersonal skills honed in the counselling skills module that aids her in her work of helping others. These skills have further made her more approachable to her friends when they have problems. Analytical skills received a seal of approval from most alumni as being helpful in the workplace as it enables deeper and more logical thought. However, creative thinking did not score as well. While creativity is important in business development and managerial contexts, a CT professor shared an example of how even lawyers need to apply creative thinking. In cases with unprecedented situations and thus no records to refer to, lawyers have to think of creative ways to argue their case. Creative thinking, when used diligently and deliberately can address many problems and enhance processes. Creativity was also declared as the ‘The Most Important Leadership Quality for CEOs’ by Fast Company magazine. Many law students might feel compelled to study Work and Family, and feel that they cannot appreciate the lessons, being students. Ironically, many lawyers and professionals end up attending such similar courses outside lives years into their professions, when they face problems managing work and personal lives. In my own experience, CT offered a chance to work with a real company in their marketing efforts and learn and apply eclectic principles of creativity. Specifically, I can be more confident that instead of relying on mind-numbing PowerPoint slides, I can use vivid stories and more dynamic forms of presentation to get the point across more successfully. A survey of working alumni revealed that AS was deemed useful in work/life context. Other respondents also appreciated the knowledge of making ethical decisions in difficult situations and the interpersonal and leadership training acquired from LTB. One respondent shared that these skills gave SMU graduates an edge over those from many top universities with more traditional curriculums.

Making Non-Major Related More Relevant and Appealing The school administration could explore the option of offering more subjects o these subjects with pass or fail criteria, similar to the Counselling Skills course. To retain quality in learning however, the passing criteria would require a fair amount of effort. Furthermore, work done from this basket of courses could contribute to one’s portfolio. Everything from our LTB project and Creative creations could be documented and shared with potential. The effort and achievements involved in these courses might be better reflected than through GPA. In a pass/fail grading setting, a special mention could be awarded from the faculty for extraordinary, (A+ worthy) work. This will motivate those who are passionate about the subject to work harder and not stop at the work level of a pass grade. Designing and CT and other career skills courses for final year students By the final years, many students have completed the challenging degree related courses and thus face less pressure academically. They might appreciate certain courses such as CT and career skills more as they more applicable to work/life than academia. Finally, we could also look into better linking the courses to each other and the students’ own courses of study. Similar to how course content intersects and builds upon each other in our chosen majors, the university core and others could also be linked more tightly such that they do not feel as discrete. In a twist, there are students who place great value on career skills electives and have done many more than the required number. Many of the contentious courses that SMU offers under like these cannot be read and absorbed from books, and are mostly learned in a group setting and interaction with the instructor. Both the school and students have to work in tandem to make them as meaningful as they can be.

Because we aren’t just the student’s voice. We are the students. We’re a student publication intent on making a difference to students by providing them with the right channels to express their opinions and for them to find out what they need to know. If you are looking for opportunities to master critical thinking, ask questions on your feet, and write clearly, The Blue and Gold is the right place to be. Drop us an email:

The Blue and Gold

On Campus

“We should pay our student leaders” In a special interview with Professor Kirpal Singh, the author, poet and one of the first professors of Creative Thinking in SMU shares his thoughts with Owen Tan.


he words sounded ominous, even prophetic.

“I believe the time has come for this thing I’d like to call ‘paid students employment’,” Professor Kirpal Singh, one of the most recognisable academics in SMU, started off in an exclusive interview with The Blue and Gold. Prof Kirpal, who was one of the first professors to join SMU, remarked that in some of the top universities in the world - Cambridge (that Cambridge, yes), the University of Western Australia, and the University of Warwick having student leaders on a payroll as a full-time student leader for a semester or two is accepted, not exceptional. Having students on full-time employment, earning “real money” - not just a token sum, he said - will raise the profile of student leaders who are employed. The paid students employment scheme, he suggested, will apply to who he believes are the “key persons” of the students’ association: the general manager of students (the SMUSA president, in this case), and the editor of the school magazine.

30 the blue and gold

“In a way, [this proposal is] going back to the what SMU’s vision was about - creating an allrounded graduate,” said Prof Kirpal. “I think over the last few years we seem to have been moving away from that - I’m seeing a lot of students that are trying to graduate as fast as possible, rather than exploring and discovering more about themselves.” But does this proposal, if implemented, have the ability to only

“In fact, this makes the students sensitise themselves to the politics and also the responsibility of the job, because now they are paid.”

attract those who are looking for money? Prof Kirpal disagreed. “I think no student will be easily willing to put aside one or two semesters,” he said. “In fact, this makes the students sensitise themselves to the politics and also the responsibility of the job, because now they are paid.” And when they are paid, there can be “no more excuses or masquerading reasons” where Prof Kirpal is concerned. Freed from the typical responsibilities that students now face - where excelling in school and having a vibrant school life is of-

ten a dichotomy and not a complement - student leaders can now be gauged accurately for their effectiveness. “It requires super people to be able to do both extra curricular activities and be able to excel in school as well,” said Prof Kirpal. The paid students employment scheme would, in his opinion, bring SMU closer to the next level, and differentiate itself from other institutions here in offering a more complete education.

Prof Kirpal: Are we narrowing in robustness? >>

On Campus

Are we narrowing in robustness?

Students need to be more inquisitive, says Prof Kirpal

By Owen Tan


here has been a remarkable decline in the quality of participation in class as well as the level of inquisitiveness among students over the years, Prof Kirpal also commented. When asked about how the students of the previous batches matched up against the students of the current batch, he said that there had been a shrinking of that “energy” that he noticed among his first few batches of students. “I still find that students are certainly way ahead [compared with other institutions] in terms of commitment and energy in what they do,” said Prof Kirpal. What worries him, however, is the “creeping insidiousness” of the goal in scoring as many As as possible, and always keeping an eye out to keep an above average GPA. Academic genius, he believes, is not the way to the future. The ideal way of measuring a student’s aptitude was also raised. Prof Kirpal believes that GPA remains a good indicator, “but not the best indicator” of a student’s ability. “We try to get [a good measure of ability] in our GPA, by including more holistic forms of assessment like Analytical Skills, Creative Thinking et cetera,” he said. Unfortunately, he add-

ed, the focus in recent years has shifted to getting good grades, instead of learning how to convey one’s ideas. And it is the quality, not the quantity, of class participation that he is concerned about. “Obviously, now that there are more students, there is more noise,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean that they are participating.”

Inquisitiveness Students, it seems, are not merely participating less, but also are less inquisitive than their seniors. Prof Kirpal lamented about the lack of activities and events that enrich the mind. Although the number of clubs and societies have increased in diversity over the years, he is disappointed that only few intellectual forums and discussions are organised. “I long for the day when SMU will be the leading academy of intellectual capital,” he said. He noted, however, that people come to Singapore more often for the real, physical capital money - rather than intellectual capital.

success has put appreciation for literature firmly down the priority list. Students who have the time, he believes, would rather read the “do-it-yourself books that teach you how to make enormous amounts of money overnight” instead of literary works. Poetry reading sessions in SMU have attracted only lukewarm attendances at best, he said. “If 40 people attended a poetry reading here, it would be considered a bonanza,” he joked. Over double the number attended a poetry reading session where he was invited to in a school of engineering - not traditionally known for literary appreciation - in America. Prof Kirpal hopes that his 55 years of living experience - “if you consider that I really appreciated living when I was 7” - will have an impact on the younger generation, as much as the younger generation has had an impact on him. “One of the best things that can happen to a human being is to be constantly kept young by interacting with bright young minds in Singapore,” he said. “And I consider that a real blessing.”

There is also a general lack of interest in reading and writing in SMU, and Prof Kirpal - who first introduced a Read SMU campaign only to see its support dwindle due to a lack of participation - believes the culture of

the blue and gold 31


The next hot market? Owen Tan finds out where the experts think the next economic golden goose might be.

Indochina, Taiwan, and Indonesia,” said one; “Asia, for sure,” said another. “Explore all alternatives,” another was keen to say. The exchange between four renowned figures in the world economy might well have sprung from a group attempting to find a gold mine. Indeed, this was closer to the truth than what you might have expected: during the Global Entrepolis 2010, where a panel debated on which economies were next in line to be branded as the “next hot markets”. Moderated by Professor Annie Koh, the Associate Professor of Finance and Dean of the Office of Executive & Professional Education at SMU, the panel comprised four established figures from the banking, political and legal sectors. The debate started off with Mr Sandeep Ghosh, the Managing Director and Head of Commercial Banking Asia for ANZ. To him the answer was clear: the expanding markets lie in Asia, and especially Southeast Asia. It is in the “greater Indochina area”,

32 the blue and gold

which comprises Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos; he also believed that Indonesia, with its huge population, and Taiwan, with entrepreneurs driving the economy, had the advantage in moving to become the leading economies of the future. Mr Douglas H. Brooks, the Assistant Chief Economist of the Asian Development Bank, described the whole of Asia as the next hot market. “Asia encompasses one-third of the world economy,” Mr Brooks said. The key economies of the future will lie within the continent, he said, emphasising the vast potential that Asia has. (Mr Brooks’ economic data can also be retrieved from Surely, the market is not all rosy and all Asia, is it? One question asked by the audience was whether Asia’s growth could possibly be derailed. Professor Michael Enright, the Sun Hung Kai Professor of Business Administration in the University of Hong Kong, said that a lot hinges upon the bigger economies, especially India, and whether it has the capacity to develop in a manner that is beneficial for

the world economy. Interestingly, he provided a counterintuitive claim into looking at which economies will become the hottest: “The place where the economy is down today,” he said, “Is where the next hot place is.” Mr Frank Lavin, who is a renowned politician who served as Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade at the United States Department of Commerce, and also was the ambassador to Singapore till 2005, provided a more balanced, cautious take on the next hot markets. He believes that one should “think about the path of least resistance”, and that one should not move blindly into the market. “Every market is worth something,” he said. “Explore all the possible alternatives.” Perhaps the fact that four experts could not decide on which were the next hot markets suggests that there may not be a golden goose to be found - there are no easy answers, even in our shrinking world.

From left: Professor Annie Koh, Mr Sandeep Ghosh, Mr Douglas Brooks, Mr Frank Lavin, and Prof Michael Enright.


A different kind of similar Ian Lim (first from right) shares his exchange experience at The Wharton School.


t is well known that SMU was founded in collaboration with The Wharton School. Our style of education is based on the Wharton model, which emphasizes not just the acquisition of technical business skills, but also the attainment of a holistic, well-rounded education. At Wharton, students complete 49% of their degree in non-business disciplines at the College of Arts and Sciences. At SMU, regardless of our field of study, we complete core courses such as Business, Government and Society; Technology and World Change; Ethics and Social Responsibility; and other General Electives. Both institutions stress the importance of having a holistic education, and each has their own unique ways of addressing these requirements. The best testaments to close links, however, are the people we meet on our travels. As SMU exchange students, we had the privilege of having dinner with Professor Janice Bellace, founding President of SMU and Professor of Legal Studies and Management at Wharton. Besides sharing with us the history behind SMU, she also drove us around Philadelphia and intro-

duced us to the rich culture behind the city. I was also glad to meet SMU Professor Lau Hoong Chuin from School of Information Systems, who was there on a joint research project, as well as several SMU alumni pursuing their MBA degrees. I was also pleasantly surprised to discover that my UPenn International Partner, Wharton student Mindy Zhang, had completed her exchange program at SMU a semester earlier! In line with a strong reputation for innovation, SMU has developed over the past ten years to suit our unique circumstances. For example, SMU has also cultivated partnerships with several other renowned institutions around the world such as Carnegie Mellon University (known for its prowess in information technology), and leading law schools in the United Kingdom and Australia. Comparing the US and Singapore tertiary education systems Both Wharton and SMU integrate a strong element of real world experiences into the class-

room. For instance, guest speakers regularly feature in both schools to complement learning. At Wharton, I had the privilege of interacting with business personalities such as real estate tycoon Sam Zell, a 25-year-old entrepreneur who sold his company, InviteMedia, to Google for USD70 million; and a high-flying General Manager of Cosco Americas in his early thirties. SMU has likewise recognized the importance of incorporating real world insights into the syllabus. We have management consultants, investment bankers and senior corporate leaders critique our final presentations; regular CEO talks by prominent international and local business leaders; and adjunct faculty roped in from the industry to teach courses like Advanced Tax Planning and Business Law. There are also some interesting differences between the US and Singapore systems. For instance, several US professors I spoke to were intrigued that Singapore stressed the attainment of professional qualifications in accountancy and law at an undergraduate level; in the US, these are usually granted post-graduate. I explained Singapore’s goal of becoming a global profession-

al services hub, and hence the need to train and develop professionals at an undergraduate level. Nevertheless, SMU has managed to marry the best of both worlds, providing students both professional specialization and a holistic education at the same time. Benefits of a United States Exchange Program SMU’s growing international links provide significant benefits and exposure. I had the opportunity to work on projects with students from Australia, Belgium, Brazil, China, Germany and the United States. In fact, the student responsible for the welfare of past several batches of SMU exchange students, Mr Georg Wiegel, is from Germany’s Goethe University, and I’m glad to say we’re now good friends. SMU students have the best of both worlds: a school in the heart of Asia’s growth, while international exchange programs to other leading universities around the world which help us gain different perspectives, learn new best practices, and appreciate our unique SMU system of education.

the blue and gold 33

Perspectives - World

ASEAN Chair 2011: Can Indonesia lead a new phase for ASEAN? T

he Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) looks ready to take on the new decade with a new phase-the “democratic” phase of the organization. Unlike earlier years, which have been focused on establishing peace, security and stability within the region, this decade may witness a shift in focus to issues such as human rights and democratic values.

the international legitimacy and the global appeal to draw tremendous support and attention from around the world to the ASEAN community-building efforts that we are all engaging in now.”

In his recent statement, Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Marty Natalegawa outlined three priorities his country had as new Chair of the 10-member association: to achieve an ASEAN Community, to ensure that regional architecture and environment remain conducive for development, and to deliberate on a post-2015 vision for ASEAN.

As the only member of the G-20 Summit in South-East Asia, Indonesia, with its vibrant civil society and established think-tanks, holds an important international reputation that can help push the ASEAN agenda forward and overcome several of its shortcomings. Forming an ASEAN community by 2015 hinges on the role of civil society organizations that can coordinate and work together on a set of shared goals and values. Unlike past government-based cooperation, community and people-based cooperation can play an important role in realizing the dream of a shared ASEAN community.

Indonesia’s outward-looking role in addressing prolonged regional challenges and discovering new opportunities to promote peace is one that needs to be welcomed. ASEAN Secretary-General, General Surin Pitsuwan remarked: “Indonesia has the weight,

On Indonesia’s role as Chair, Natalegawa highlighted the promotion of human rights as Jakarta’s top priority. This comes to light because of a growing discourse the field has received in recent years. The shift to human rights, democratic values and tolerance, while viewed as

“Indonesia has the weight, the international legitimacy and the global appeal to draw tremendous support and attention from around the world to the ASEAN community-building efforts that we are all engaging in now.” - General Surin Pitsuwan, ASEAN Secretary-General

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Perspectives - World

contentious by some, is one that needs to be cultivated. As ASEAN states shift towards democracy, models of how human rights can be fostered, through dispute resolution mechanisms , and enforceable regional frameworks will be important. The ASEAN pact will gain further international credibility by affirming universal respect and fundamental freedoms to all people, honoring their civil, political, social, cultural and economic rights. Human rights in Southeast Asia stand at an important crossroad. Positive developments in the promotion and safeguarding of human rights include the signing of the ASEAN Inter-governmental Human Rights Charter (AIHRC), the drafting of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration as well as the establishment of national human right commissions in member states (only Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines have their own national commissions on human rights). However, the lack of confirmation, institutionalization and enforcement of these initiatives hinder the progress towards a regional norm that honors and defends human rights in any active or substantial way.

General Surin Pitsuwan

Moreover, the principle of non-interference, a default mark of ASEAN politics, has prevented an ethos of collective responsibility from forming amongst member countries, allowing countries such as Myanmar to deflect criticism and external scrutiny. This lack of coordination and collective responsibility has also led to other human right violations involving migrant workers, organized crime and corruption. Indonesia’s promise to play a more outward-looking role, particularly in human rights promotion, is an optimistic step for ASEAN, given that it keeps to it. As Chair, it can lead the movement through diplomacy and consensus building, strengthening regional frameworks and mechanisms to better protect the rights of citizens in member states. For example, it can also make advancements on the ratification process for agreements on the protection of migrant workers, who are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation in many parts of SouthEast Asia. Such developments require multi-lateral diplomacy and an able steward to mediate them. Indonesia is well placed for this role, given its past efforts in managing the regional architecture, such as negotiating the disputes on claims to parts in the South China Sea and pressing for the release of Nobel winner Aung Sa Suu Kyi in Mynamar. Aside from promoting human rights, Indonesia can help break the deadlock by creating a common platform to tackle regional problems and by extending a welcoming hand to states, which want to move beyond conflict and join the ASEAN fold, such as Timor-Leste.

Marty Natalegawa

Indonesia, in many ways, can be the catalyst for a progressive peoplecentered politics that prioritizes human rights and justice in ASEAN for the coming decade. This will be contingent upon Jakarta keeping to its promises and member states cooperating with it.

the blue and gold 35



Behind the Scenes (From right in clockwise direction) Right: The B&G Exco make sure they got the right angle Facing page: some great shots that were not included in this issue. Bottom right: from right to left, Ephraim Loy, advisor of B&G, Deborah Lim, marketing director, Chen Junyang, photographer. Bottom left: Junyang and his assistants set up the props for the shoot.

36 the blue and gold



Right: SMU Verts, comprising Sruthi Srinivasan, Ananya Deshpande, Ankita Prasad, and Vanshika Khemka. Far right: Best Friends, comprising Amanda Low, Danson Ang, Shiao Song Biao, and Melissa Lim. All photographs taken are courtesy of Chen Junyang, Carol Lee, Benjamin Ng, and Leonard Neo respectively. For more exclusive pictures of this photo shoot, please visit

the blue and gold 37


And... Thumbsup!


re you sick of going to the same places to eat around school? Want to try something new at reasonable prices? Fret no more! A new eating outlet, ‘Soup Broth Asia’ has recently opened in Basement1 of Raffles City Shopping Centre.

Soup Broth Asia: a review By Shobana Nadaraja

As I was greeted into the eating outlet to sample some of their food, I was very impressed with how technologically savvy the place was. There was an electronic board with the choices of soups and appetizers on sale. The images of the dishes were enticing enough to invite me into ‘Soup Broth Asia’. The ambience was perfect to chill out with friends after a stressful day in school. To all my female friends who are concerned with their calorie intake, I have good news for you. Every food item - appetizers, soups, desserts and even drinks- in the menu has its calories count stated. The soups, which are specially prepared for health-conscious customers, are traditional home-made recipes by Chef Anna Lim. An important thing to note is that the ingredients for the soup base are slow cooked (for approximately 8 hours) to ensure that their nutritional value is not lost. ‘Soup Broth Asia’ prepares various soups according to one’s own preference. Soups are categorized into Chinese, Pernakan/Indonesian, Japanese and Thai categories. The price ranges from $7 to $10 for a soup dish. Some of the different soups sold include the ‘Herbal Pork Rib Soup’ (@$8.20), the ‘Indonesian Chicken Opor Soup’ (@7.20), the ‘Kimchi with Beef and Soft Bean Curd Hotpot’ (@$8.60). I specially recommend the Chicken Daikon Leek Soup (@ $7.20). Although the gravy is thick, this is a healthy choice with a reduced coconut milk content. The chicken pieces are tender and mouth-watering. I recall being swept away by the irresistible aroma even before tasting the chicken soup. Moreover, this soup has a calorie intake of only 230 calories – a healthy choice indeed! Another highly recommended soup is the Salted Vegetable with Duck Soup (@$9.60). This soup may be slightly over-priced, however, its delectable taste trumps everything. Served with a whole piece of marinated duck leg, alongside healthier options like vegetable, tofu and tomato, this soup is well worth its price.

38 the blue and gold

Above: The interior of Soup Broth Asia is refreshing and technologically savvy. Left: Goreng pisang banana split, putting a local twist into the all-time dessert favourite.

Soup Broth Asia also specializes in a select range of appetizers. The cold tofu is a definite must try for all tofu lovers. These tofus are served soft and are not deep-fried. The wasabi prawns are my personal favorite. For those who are not too fond of spicy food, do be cautioned that the wasabi may get your tongue stinging a little. As for the stir-fried baby kalian, it is not very bitter but has a slight tinge of sweetness. It is mildly hot and is recommended for those who do not enjoy spicy food. To end your appetizing meal, the restaurant offers some very good desserts, which range from just $2 to $4.80. I was impressed with both the desserts that I tried. It was the first time that I tried such

dishes. At first, I thought I was offered a banana split ice-cream. However, I soon realized that the bananas were actually replaced by goreng pisang (fried banana). The Asian twist to this dish was admirable. If you are looking for something healthier, the lemongrass jelly with longans is a perfect choice. Soup Broth Asia is definitely a must visit for all SMU students. The eating outlet, situated right next to our school, is ideal for those who want to treat themselves to a sumptuous and delectable meal. And the best thing is that you no longer have to feel guilty about the calories that you might be unconsciously consuming, as the calories intake is clearly stated in the menu itself.

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the blue and gold 39

Our people make us who we are. Reproduced from advertisement to be featured in AUGUST MAN Singapore Magazine in 2011.

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Premier Financial Consultant

We’re looking for passionate, motivated individuals who seek fulfilling entrepreneurial careers. What is freedom to you? Freedom is the ability to take control of your own time and having the flexibility to choose your most productive hours. If you are someone who thrives on challenges, likes to do things differently and has the passion to excel, then join us as a Financial Consultant today! Please email or send your resume with full particulars to: Ref: SMU Blue & Gold Recruitment Centre, Agency Distribution Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Limited (Reg. No. 199002477Z) 51 Scotts Road #01-01 Prudential@Scotts, Singapore 228241 Email:

The Blue and Gold - Issue 12 - February 2011  

Issue 12 of The Blue and Gold

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