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Issue 16 • Apr 2012 • MICA (P) 255/07/2011

THE BLUE AND GOLD The SMU bucket list SMU’s student publication

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THE BLUE AND GOLD 81 Victoria Street Singapore 188065

A publication of the Singapore This issue of The Blue and Management University Gold is proudly sponsored by Prudential Singapore Students’ Association

Editor’s note

When I came to Singapore 3 years ago, I was warned about the hectic SMU life, the importance of grades & the lack of time to pursue passions outside academia. One of my seniors advised me to make a list of everything I want to do in my 4 years at SMU. So I created a list (a rather long one) of what I wanted to achieve, and as I started ticking off the list, managing the SMU rigor became easier. The 1st item on My SMU Bucket List was: Become a journalist for the college magazine. This issue of The Blue & Gold shares with you what the typical SMU Bucket List is like. Our cosmopolitan population is clearly reflected with the variety of items on the list: From going on a road trip to pulling an all-nighter in the SMU Library. We’ve also created a few guidelines, which you could follow to create your own Bucket List. Our cover girl, SMU Ambassador, Shu Hua shares with you her Bucket List, where she’s completed a major chunk. Looking back at the semester, we’ve had a variety of events, both on campus and across the world, which created waves of conversation. The SMU Apolitical Ministerial Forum with former education minister Mr Heng Swee Keat was a rich discussion on the future of Singapore’s education system. Curating events from around the world - Are the citizens across the world becoming apathetic to the events occurring around them? TBNG looks into this issue in ‘Looking back & Moving forward’. Our CCA pages unearth the joys of dancing with the dance clubs of SMU’s Arts & Cultural Fraternity talking about their performances and the days of training that’s behind every show. TBNG brings to you The SMU Bucket List.

xoxo, Aashna Nasta

Deborah Lim Hui Li managing director

Stephanie Yow acting managing director

Ariel Nguyen head designer

Shobana Nadaraja deputy managing director

Talisa Kaur Dhaliwal Nadim Ali Kapadia Jananitha Sri Rengarajoo Sim Wei Xuan Prianthi Roy

Tran Dac Trung Shara Khoo Goh Ying Ying Zeng Yingyu Astha Jain designers

Aashna Nasta editor-in-chief (print) Senthil Sukumar editor-in-chief (online) Ankita Prasad managing editor


Tan Jun Yang finance director

Ananya Prithvi Deshpande Hans Stevanus Maryo

Owen Tan Wah Chen Ephraim Loy Melvin Tiong advisors Leonard Li Yuan Jiun communications secretary Yong Shu Hua SMU Ambassadors model


All rights reserved. No part of this publication should be reproduced without the prior permission of the authors concerned and The Blue and Gold. The Blue and Gold does not necessarily endorse the opinions put forth by its writers. Printed by KHL Printing Co. Pte Ltd BNG main 16.indd 2

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• • • •

Shu Hua’s Bucket List 6 The SMU Bucket List 8 How To Make Your Bucket List 10 Ticking Off The Bucket List 12

• • • • • •

People For Animal Welfare 15 Every Student’s Conundrum 16 A Major Decision 17 SMU Green 18 Journalism With A Cause 19 Apolitical Ministerial Forum 20

• • • •

Ditch Your Mobile Phone 24 20s: The New 30s 25 The A-List 28 Politics And The Elderly 29

• • • •

World News In A Flash 32 2012: More Than Just A Date On The Mayan Calendar 34 Arab Spring 36 Looking Back & Moving Forward 37

• The New SMUSA ExCo 40

• One For The Books 43 • Singapore Writer’s Festival 44

• • • • • •

Arts & Cultural Fraternity 45 Ardiente 46 Ballare 47 Indancity 48 Emix 49 Caderas 50



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We’re burdened with duties, responsibilities and expectations. While juggling academics and job aspirations, we block out our imagination and thirst for doing activities ‘just for fun’. We get so engulfed in chasing that A grade, that reading a book out of the course readings is almost never considered. But college isn’t only about grades and jobs, its about the experience, doing what you always wished you could. It isn’t easy to find time or even keep track of all your desires. We suggest, you make a list of everything you want to complete before you graduate; it could be as trivial as visiting the museum across the street or as extravagant as bungee jumping in New Zealand. Write it down, keep ticking off the list as you go along, and try your best to complete it. The Blue & Gold shares with you the typical SMU bucket list and students who are on the road to completing their bucket list.

By Aashna Nasta

Section design by Tran Dac Trung

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“Go on an OCSP Lead an OCSP Join Caderas Latinas to learn and perform salsa Join ASMU Go on an exchange programme to South Korea Intern at a hotel Travel to Europe and Israel Go bungee jumping in New Zealand Be a tourist in Singapore and record my experiences/reflections in a journal Paint and sell my paintings on eBay Learn to play the violin/ guitar again after I graduate Be a wedding photographer or a portrait photographer for children Be a Korean Celebrity (haha just joking)”


SMU Ambassador, Yong Shu Hua talks to TBNG about her Bucket List and how she’s successfully completed most of it. At the very top of my Bucket List, as I was approaching my senior year, was to go on an exchange programme before I graduate. Initially, I had wanted to go to USA, but financial concerns made me switch my decision to an Asian country instead. I then explored the option of going to South Korea and thought that it would be a good chance for me to learn a new language at the same

time. Thank God everything fell into place nicely. I was also very blessed to get a scholarship that made my exchange possible. I had a lot of time to myself and learnt a lot on exchange. It was truly an awesome journey. Entering SMU, I had wanted to learn a new skill, and because it was a dream for me to be able to dance and perform, I auditioned to join Caderas Latinas. I remember that when I first got through the auditions and officially joined the club, even my parents were worried for me! Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun performing, and have learnt so much more than just danc-

For my O of Proje and late for Proje project , ity of the the simp camarad and som my fellow 2. I am portunit

As told to Prianthi Roy


Bucket l

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fell into y blessed de my exf time to xchange. journey. o learn a a dream and perCaderas en I first and offiy parents theless, I and have ust danc-

ing. Though I am no longer in the club, I’ve never regretted my decision to join back then in year one. For my OCSP, I first went as a member of Project Touch 1 to the Philippines, and later went back as a co-leader for Project Touch 2. During the first project , I was touched by the hospitality of the people and was humbled at the simplicity of the life they led. The camaraderie in the team was great, and some of them eventually became my fellow co-leaders for Project Touch 2. I am also very thankful for the opportunity to establish relations across


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borders. In fact, I am still in contact with some of the Filipino friends I made during the OCSP. It feels like I have another family in another country! I also realised how blessed I am to be here in Singapore and as cliché as it may sound, we really shouldn’t take these blessings for granted. I’ve also served as the Head of External Relations of ASMU and this has been one of my greatest learning experiences in SMU. It is always refreshing to hear different perspectives from the people I’ve met, ranging from my seniors, peers, and even to foreign dig-

nitaries like the King of Lesotho and former Foreign Minister George Yeo. Also, I’ve always been curious to learn more about the Hospitality and Tourism industry, so when an opportunity to intern at the Fullerton Hotel came along, I thought, “why not?”. As for the future, it is not a must but if given a chance, I would definitely love to be able to accomplish the other things on my bucket list. I was in a team that got through to the semi-finals for the L’Oreal Brandstorm competition this year, so initially I held the hope that if we made it through to the grand finals, I would then have the opportunity to visit Europe! Unfortunately we didn’t make it through, so I guess I will leave it for the future then. I may even explore taking a gap year, take on part-time jobs, travel or even work in a missionary. It would be a bonus if I can pursue my interests in photography and painting. The Bucket List is a really fluid concept, so I definitely want to leave some things on my list and perhaps add some other wishes to it in the future.There is no point in achieving everything on the list right away because then, the Bucket List would cease to exist! Many people make the mistake of having a fixed list, as well as wanting to complete it asap, but I think that might mean losing out on the many other unique opportunities along the way. Though I believe that The Bucket List is a great way of keeping me on my toes and giving me the drive to keep going in life, it would be good for me to remain open-minded and to always hold it with a loose hand.

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The Bucket list


Road trip

Travel overseas alone

This is for those who believe that the means is equally important as the ends. Get a car, grab a few close friends, and make a drive to Malaysia. Use the travelling time to bond as a prequel… to more bonding at your holiday destination.

This option is for those who are independent or in the path of ‘finding themselves’. Explore the country of your choice at your own pace and spontaneity. For those who are more adventurous or rather flamboyant, combine this with the road trip, and go to an exotic location like New Zealand. This would be an extra dose of fun!


Have a picnic at campus green.



Start your own business Dress up to school for Halloween What a sight the campus will be if a sizable portion of the school is agreeable to the idea. Unleash your inner superhero, or simply be who you want to be!

The spirit of entrepreneurship is very much alive in SMU; there is a sizable portion of self-starters among us, and it seems to be inspiring many others in the community.

8 Host an exchange student in your house. Every term there are hundreds of exchange students in our campus. Show them some good old Singaporean hospitality by inviting them to lodge during the period. Who knows, you might need the same when you head to their home country.

Overnight in the library during study week

Do something crazy. Get a Mohawk, five colors in your hair, or simply do a Britney. College life is all about experimentation, so why not let your hairstyle do the talking?


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Get a funky hairdo


Donate blood.

You are not a true blue SMUgger if you have never made full use of the 24 hours library service during study week. Do it once at least before you graduate!


We are sure that you have seen those SMU campaign posters which depict students sitting around at campus green and wonder to yourself, “Since when has that ever been a common sight?” We dare you to re-enact your own moments by having a picnic at our lovely grass patch.

Eat nothing but fast food for a week. This idea must have sparked off after watching Fast Food Nation. While we only live once, we warn you to do this at your own risk.

There is a blood donation drive which occurs every term at the library but the response from the school population can definitely do better. If you are afraid of needles, it helps if you go along with your friends.


Go overseas for CSP. We hear nothing but good things from those who return from overseas CSP – about humility, about creating new social relationships and about teamwork. We believe that this is should be a ‘rites of passage’ for SMU students.



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By Rahmat Sulaiman

On the first day of school, I remember telling myself that my university life will be painstakingly long. But now, I often wonder whether I have unknowingly walked into a time machine. Where have the past 3 years gone? What have I done so far?



Visit the museums f.o.c It is utterly absurd to hear that there are lots of people who have not stepped into the two museums even though they are less than 500 metres away from campus! Admissions into all museums are free for students. Walk over and immerse yourself in wonderful art when you need a break from school work.

Read a book which is not a required text. No, ‘Guns Germs and Steel’ does not count. There is a small corner of the library which has several shelves of non-academic books.

Enjoy whatever remaining time you have in school. Simply because you do not want to look back and tell yourself that varsity life was living hell.

13 It is even more absurd to hear that there are people who have never attended a school event. Support your schoolmates who have worked so hard to organize these events. Trust us when we say that these events are worth your time. So don’t delete all event mails as spam, and go buy tickets for at least one of those innumerable parties!

With slightly more than a year left before I graduate, I have made a promise to myself that I shall find ways to make my remaining time here more memorable – and we believe that you should too. Through the help of fellow students and informal polls, we have compiled 21 things that we should do before we graduate; we present the SMU ‘Bucket List’:

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Attend a school event

Many of us have the mentality that the duration of our university education is just another phase in our live. This is untrue, because there will never be another period like this. Sure, almost all of us are considered adults in the eyes of the law by the end of our sophomore year; but due to our full-time engagement in scholarly pursuits, we are taken less seriously by society. This is the period of our lives when we are hovering in between adolescence and full adulthood – a sociological term called early adulthood – and we should take advantage of it. Because once we graduate, society will be more critical, mistakes are magnified and life becomes more rigid.

16 Visit the school gym Have you ever walked past the school gym and snigger at how silly some people look while running on the treadmill? Well, at least they are exercising! Have you ever used the gym since your first day in school?

Start a savings account We think that varsity life is the best time to train ourselves to save money. Besides, as the saying goes, “When it rains, it pours.” You might never know when that lump of cash will come in handy.

Ask a girl/guy out on a date. There is always that one guy or girl in campus whom we each think is hot. There is also always that possibility that you are not his/her type. But everything is worth trying, at least once.

20 Make up with a friend. Throughout your time in SMU, we are certain that you would have at least one friend whom you have had a misunderstanding with. Let bygones be bygones and graduate in peace.


Complete a marathon. Marathons are on the rage right now as seen in the increasing number of participants over the years, and the number of students who wear the finishing t-shirts in school. Complete the grueling course with your friends; we assure you that your friendship will strengthen multifold after the race.

21 Learn a new skill eg. foreign language, musical instrument


There is always that one new skill that we each want to learn but we always push back to the next day, next week or next year. We say do not delay it any longer, do it now before you graduate.

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The Bucket list


Think The first thing you should do is give yourself some time to sit down and think: about people, things and activities that make you happy, and who you want to be. You need to define your values and life’s purpose. Ask yourself questions like: • If you know you are about to die in 6 months, what would you do? Where would you go? With whom?

• How would you like people to remember you?

• What were your long-lost dreams?

Your answers to these questions will become a foundation to your bucket list. One person I know is a very philanthropic person, so, he based his bucket list on community service activities complete with a timeline. Another adventurous person filled his list with adrenaline-rushing sports and activities to try. Most other people approach their bucket lists by means of life goals and interests.


Read Read about other people’s lists and do research to get more inspiration. There are a few ideas such as “Set up a foundation in my name”, “Publish a book”, “Swim with dolphins”, and “Fall in love!” just to name a few. Also, ask your loved ones their wishes. Besides inspiration, you might also get to fulfill your bucket lists together in some ways. However, it is not necessary that you make their wishes your own.

List down everything that comes to your mind, be it wishes or goals. Don’t evaluate their possibilities just yet, and don’t limit yourself on how many items you should put in the list as long as the number is reasonably achievable in your lifetime. Be prepared to get out of your comfort zone because a big part of the bucket list is about gaining new experiences. While you make the list, you can also group them into categories. For example, under “Travelling”, you can write “Visit the 7 Wonders of the World”, “See the Northern Lights”; under “Financials”, write “Make my first million”; under “Family”, put “Bake a cake for Mom’s birthday”, etc. Although it is optional, you will see a better picture with your list all categorized.


Write it down


How to



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The Bucket List


s and do research e are a few ideas on in my name”, h dolphins”, and ew. Also, ask your es inspiration, you cket lists together not necessary that wn.

One thing you could do is to set deadlines for your list. That way, your list will become more targeted. For example, “Travel around the world someday” sounds nice. But “Travel to 5 countries in Europe before I turn 30” give you a better sense of purpose. Instead of “Learn a new language”, write “Learn Spanish in 2015”. If it’s too much for you, you can break them up into short-term and long-term lists.

Set deadlines and be precise


Review, add, and delete items in your list often. Adjust constraints such as time, money, etc. to meet your wishes. Moreover, if you don’t want to do something that you put on the list before, don’t hesitate to remove it. The change in numbers doesn’t matter as long as you are living your life to the fullest.

5 Go over your list regularly

Keep it where you can see It’s no use writing down a bucket list and leaving it to rot in a dusty corner. Keep it somewhere you can see so that you’ll remember it and can easily update the list.

Again, this is optional. But consider sharing your list with others to make your commitment stronger. You can even blog your journey, ticking one by one off your list.

7 Share 9

Time for action Last but the most important of all…start doing everything on your list! And start now.

Making a list isn’t difficult; following it is. You just need commitment. Make it a point to check things off because the sense of accomplishment is so great!



A bucket list acts as a plan to carry out the purpose of your life, filled with fun and dreams. I have done mine, and experienced the joy of striking out quite a few. Remember, it is never too early to start. So, make your own list today and embark on a journey of new experiences that would make your life worth living.

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TICKING OFF The Bucket list


Meet Astha. She’s a second year student in SMU, majoring in Economics. She isn’t sure about what she wants to do after she graduates, but she does have a wish she wants to fulfil while she’s still here. “I wanted to find a passion, a new hobby. Something far removed from the world of academics. And I found photography,” she says happily. Astha has taken a step forward to fulfilling her perfect bucket list of things she wants to do before she graduates from SMU. Now she spends a great deal of her free time taking pictures with her Digital SLR camera. Her subjects are a constant changing interest. Everything from post monsoon shower rainbows to Deepavali lights to her group mates working in a GSR catches her fancy. Ask Suresh. “When I first came to Singapore, it was my first and foremost wish to go bungee-jumping. Last semester, during the midterm break my roommates and I went to Clarke Quay for bungee-jumping. Some of us were hesitant in the beginning, but it turned out to be much more fun than any of us could have ever imagined!” Suresh is thrilled with the adrenaline rush that accompanies bungee-jumping. And he’s fulfilled his first wish. He’s looking forward to the next semester; he wants to go on a flying fox ride. I know college is a crucial time. It’s four years of hard work coupled with some monumental life-changing decisions. But it is also a time to enjoy your early adult life without the burdens of responsibilities. It is a time to make a list, of the most random and seemingly unimportant things and accomplish them, and see what joy it brings to your life. I am in my third year now, and I’m proud to say I’ve ticked off two of my bucket list wishes. The first was to travel abroad, alone. It was a challenge because I was both excited and nervous at the same time. After convincing parents, booking tickets and arranging visas, I found myself, nose buried in a Lonely Planet on a flight to Beijing


to spend my winter vacations. What followed seemed like a page out of someone else’s book, as I explored the great capital of China, cherishing every sight, sound and taste. Sightseeing, exploring the Forbidden City, hot-pot on a cold day, taking the bus to see the Great Wall, and since it was December you can just imagine the snow! I have never had so much of fun. Travelling abroad wasn’t the only thing on my agenda. I wanted to, in some way; reciprocate the hospitality we are offered when we choose to travel abroad. And I found the perfect way to do that by hosting an international exchange student in my house. Serena was a German law student, studying in a university in the Netherlands. She was in SMU for a semester and the two of us became fast friends. Over the holidays I invited her back to my home in India. She spent a memorable three weeks with me and my family, seamlessly fitting into our culture and way of life. She even accompanied us to a short family trip to Sikkim, where we had the opportunity to attend a talk by the Dalai Lama, and to Darjeeling. It was the first time Serena had ever seen the Himalayas and I was glad that I had a chance to show it to her. I was speaking to a friend the other day, a fourth year, and she happily informed me that she too had fulfilled her bucket list wish. “Two words – road trip! A road trip across Europe over the summer,” she said. “The best thing I’ve done in college so far. I started from Spain, travelled all the way to the South of France and then all the way to Italy…”

their own bucket list wishes that they are working to complete before they graduate. The sense of personal satisfaction when you fulfil your bucket wish list… well I hope everyone gets to experience that before their time in SMU is up! Not to end on a philosophical note, but the time given to us is a present, and we should make the most of it. There is a life outside the four walls of the classroom and now is the time to rediscover it.

“If you haven’t already started ticking off your perfect bucket list wishes, start today!”

I looked at her amazed. It was a change to see college students, especially SMU students being so interested in the other, smaller things in life. Some of them have the most creative bucket list wishes I have ever come across. Stretching from volunteering at an old age home, to dirtbiking to reading a new story book every month, your class mates all have

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Campus News

Section design by Zeng Yingyu

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People for

Animal Welfare

The Blue and Gold brings to you an exclusive interview of the new executive committee of People for Animal Welfare (PAW) in SMU. The new ExCo hopes to discuss SMU’s animal policies and spread awareness about our furry friends. By Prianthi Roy SMU does not allow animals or pets on its premises. So if your parents want you to watch your dog for the day, sorry, your dog cannot tag along to the seminar room with you to attend classes. But this isn’t specific to SMU. Universities in general have a blanket ban on the admission of pets on their premises. In Singapore, this legislation follows reason given the climate and hygienic factors. I am sure neither you, nor your pets nor your class mates would appreciate being locked up in a GSR with a hamster! Also given the multi-ethnic and multi-racial society that we live in, it is in the best interest of all our fellow Singaporeans if we didn’t bring our pets to school. Having said that, most SMU students will recall Animal Day that is celebrated on Campus Green, in which animals and pets are most certainly allowed, and in fact encouraged to attend. It is a day wholly dedicated to pampering animals and at the same time giving SMU students a chance to mingle with a variety of animals.

ing their coats. In addition, they will of course be allowed to walk the dogs and play with the cats and the other pets. Singapore faces an enormous shortage of student and youth volunteers when it comes to taking care of animals in shelters. Hopefully, with the initiative taken by PAW along with the support of SMU students, this will change. For the next semester, PAW has some exciting events lined up for SMU including Animal Day in Week 2 on Campus Green, external events, and a string of workshops, especially for SMU students on animal care. In addition, PAW is in the middle of talks to of getting seeing-eye guide dogs from Australia to spread awareness among Singaporeans about the

plight of handicapped citizens who use the aid of guide dogs and yet are unable to board public transport or taxis due to the anti-pet policy and regulations of Singapore’s transport system. There’s a lot to look forward to from PAW and it’s new ExCo. In the meantime, watch out for their emails, they are recruiting a new SubComm for their various events, including the upcoming PAW Week. Also check out their facebook page www.facebook. com/smupaw for more information on PAW, their pictures, and events and information on animal adoption.

Right now, PAW is in the process of revamping their image and introducing PAW Week into SMU. Expected to launch in Week 10, PAW Week will cover a welfare drive and end in Animal Shelter Day on 17 March 2012, where PAW will be coordinating with local animal shelters to give SMU students hands on experience on working with animals. The Welfare Drive will essentially be a fundraiser where PAW will be selling t-shirts in order to raise funds and collecting old animal toys and collars and leashes to donate to animal shelters. The Animal Shelter Day will raise awareness and draw attention to the fact that there is more to animals than a cuddly face. Student volunteers will learn how to help out in shelters. They will work for the animals, help in cleaning their cages and groom-

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Every Student’s Conundrum

Picking the right class and professor can prove challenging for many students, but Dustin Ng presents some food for thought for your next bidding round Professors play a crucial role in every student’s life. Especially in SMU, where the expectations and level of competitiveness are high, it is without a doubt that everyone seeks to be in the right professor’s class. A very important question comes to mind though, how do we determine which professors are ideal and a cut above the rest? Different people have different sets of criteria for choosing the right professor. Bidding prices, on the surface, may reflect how well a professor is regarded among the student population. For instance, in a module where there are 3 different professors all teaching the same content, a professor whom students bid for at a price of $30 may be perceived as better than a professor whom students bid for at a price of $15.

examinations, as they believe that learning does not come from merely taking a test. Having said all these, it is apparent that there is no clear-cut mould of what the “right professor” looks like or is supposed to embody. Criteria are often combinations of existing personal preferences, hearsay, intuition, and judgment. Understandably, professors are not perfect beings, be it in methods of

teaching, class requirements, or even style of examination. Perhaps the most important thing a student should consider in selecting his professor should be the potential gain to knowledge and experience by enrolling in the course.

Bidding represents a demand-and-supply mechanism, even if it is a vague representation at best. Prices can be fueled via seniors’ advices regarding the way the professor has taught or given requirements in the past year. In other words, word-ofmouth is potentially very powerful here. More often than not, teaching methods and requirements given do not change immediately after the past year, so this gives students a relatively good indication of how the professor conducts the class. Sometimes choosing the ‘ideal professor’ is more of an existing personal preference. Several students believe in professors who are very passionate about their topic of expertise, and are able to share firsthand experience and practical knowledge. Others more averse to a heavy workload would generally like a professor who is very lenient with grading and does not demand the completion of a major project. Then there is the another school of thought that better professors are those who engage the class through more projects while generally trying to avoid


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A Major Decision By Madhura Chaudhuri The deadline to submit this article is at midnight tonight. It is three hours to midnight now, and all I have written is this line and the one before it. This has been happening far too often. It does not matter if I have been given five days, 10 days or even two weeks to complete something, I find myself automatically calculating the exact amount of time I would need to complete it and then do so a few minutes before the deadline. I am sure you have been in the same. Whether such procrastination is right or not, I think, really depends on what exactly is the task at hand. For example, the worst that could happen if I fail to meet my deadline for the article is that it would not be published in the coming edition. This is not as severe as in comparison to missing out deadlines for major applications such as school projects, internship or exchange. Such opportunities might be hard to come by again. My Management Science (MS) professor terms such behaviour as the ‘mini-max approach to procrastination’ – delaying most what is least important. After submitting my exchange application at about 11pm on 27th January (the deadline being midnight), a good friend of mine gave me a call to ask if I had declared my major. She urged me to do so by midnight, as it would help with my application. It took a whole minute before blind panic set in. I had always been reluctant to declare my major; the very thought of declaring a major felt suffocating and binding, and I equated it with giving up the freedom to change my mind. It took me a while to unfreeze and I did the first thing that came to mind – I called my father. Predictably he told me to go with Finance (I had already to his despair decided not to pursue engineering or medicine, Finance he thought would be my saving grace, nothing else would be acceptable to him as my first major). By midnight I had declared my major in Finance (International Trading Track) as my donor company (I’m on scholarship) had a well known reputed commodity trading wing and I had planned to intern there. Amazing how I had just made a (perhaps) life changing decision in a few minutes, when I ought to have taken a few months to think about it. After that night, I was interested in learning how exactly other students made their decisions, and I decided to go about asking.

When I asked my friends about their decision making process for declaring a major, their answer typically fell into one of the following 3 categories: The first were long speeches of either how they were born knowing what they wanted to do in life or how the subjects called out to them. I am quite envious of these Joans-of-Arc of SMU, if only I had known my calling in life I would not have had to panic that night. On a more serious note, these are the people who either are genuinely interested in the major they have chosen, or who at least believe that they are genuinely interested and are good at justifying their claim. The second reaction was bewildered faces - faces that seemed to say ‘We-had-to-declare-a-major?!’ After assuring them that they still had time to do so, I must admit I felt good about myself – at least I was aware of that much. These are the students who will probably declare their major after they receive an email ordering them to do so by the administration. The third category was probably the most common. They included students who knew they had to declare a major, had a major in mind but were still unsure. They would start with a defensive ‘Why?’, and then go on name which major they had in mind and listed down its pros and cons. Those who were still unsure would masterfully find ways to avoid the question throw the ball in my court and would seem to develop a keen interest in what major I had declared and why. I am not going to end with some mushy line about how you should search within yourself and find what your inner passion is. Truth be told, most of us are going to be influenced by our family, by the decisions of our friends, by the market, by the money to be made or any other such things you can think of. It is not possible for all of us to get hands on experience, and to know for sure whether we are making the right decision. At the end of the day it is an educated guess for the most us, and all we need is a little bit of faith, a little bit of courage, and a great deal of common sense.

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SMU Green

is not just a patch of grass Prasanthi Nair finds out more about SMU’s Carbon Footprint

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is often not of utmost priority for most universities, especially not for institutes that are just slightly more than a decade old. Nevertheless, Singapore Management University (SMU) has cleverly made its strategic commitment to environmental sustainability in its day to day operations. Although there are no official guidelines set for the school, Mr James Jian, from the Office of Facilities Management (OFM) shared with me that SMU has an annual electricity consumption reduction target of 3%. These reduction targets are detailed in the Sustainability Plan for 2011/2012 which is currently not accessible to shareholders of the school. However, we learnt that this may soon change during a lunch meet with our President, Professor Arnoud de Meyer. Plans are underway to compile an Annual Carbon Footprint Report for public perusal, in the likes of UPENN and other prestigious institutes. Despite the current lack of transparency, SMU abides by the regulations set by the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) with regard to the overall safety of the school’s operations, as well as guidelines that are set by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) and National Environment Agency (NEA) for a greener community.

there are no classes on Sundays, students will have to prepared for a hike in tuition fees to support this substantial increase in operating cost. Interestingly, air conditioning constitutes about 70% of the total electrical expenditure; emphasizing why we should be more prudent with its usage. Skeptics may pass off SMU’s valiant efforts as mere green-washing, but accreditations do not lie. In addition to meeting the BCA Green Mark Platinum standard for development of new building, SMU has been awarded “Water Efficient Building” by the Public Utilities Board and “Energy Smart Office” by the National Environmental Agency.

While the OFM has done a commendable job in its role in maintaining SMU’s environmental sustainability, its students have a part to play too. For example, SMU Verts is SMU’s official student platform that engages the SMU community in eco-friendly and sustainable activities, with a mission to encourage students to adopt an environmentally-responsible lifestyle.

*We thank Kevin Lim, Senior Member of SMU Verts, for his contributions to this article.

If you haven’t already noticed, our state-of-the-art campus is designed for environmental sustainability. Recent changes include replacement of physical switches with motion sensors for lights in Group Study Rooms (GSRs) and toilets in all SMU buildings. Mr. Jian said that the cost savings from the installation outweighed the initial cost incurred when students left lights on for long periods of time even when they were unoccupied. While there is a lack in rigorous calculation of our carbon emissions as a university, SMU’s decisions have had a positive impact on the utility bills. An issue that SMU students feel strongly about is the lack of air-conditioning on Sundays (a privilege many might believe to be an entitlement given the higher school fees we pay relative to other public universities). The explanation is simple; air conditioning on campus costs about $17,000 per day, and since


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START NOW Calcy Tay introduces the next big thing in championing volunteerism.

The call is for everyone to Start Now. This renewed urgency comes from two go-getting, fresh-faced entrepreneurs, Ivan Chang and Keith Tan, who recently launched a social enterprise of the same name. Driven by a passion for volunteerism, the founders conceptualized Start Now as a powerful online portal (, which connects non-profit organizations (NPOs), students, companies, and other volunteers. In other words, Start Now provides ease to parties and individuals who wish to find, propose, or engage in volunteering activities- all via a common platform. To create greater awareness surrounding the application, their inaugural ‘Rethinking Volunteerism’ Dialogue was held on 30th January 2012. Renowned social-sector thinkers, including Mr Jeremy Aw of

Conjunct Consulting and Mr Jack Sim of the World Toilet Organization, were invited to speak during the event to share their insights regarding volunteerism. “Tools should be in place to make it easier for volunteers to share their decisions and feedback, and for organizations to share their testimonials. Such partnerships and understanding between the organization and volunteers encourage volunteers to keep coming back,” says Mr Jeremy Aw. Start Now is the solution for that need. Its web application was created easy-to-use, with sufficient functionalities to manage the flow of events and participation between organizations and volunteers (corporate and individuals alike). Other functions and professional features are continually being

added and integrated into the system to serve its users better. The other guest speaker, Mr. Jack Sim, left the audience with a nugget of wisdom on time, volunteerism, and the pursuit of material wealth. He said, “It is very unlikely that money is worth more than time. Be it volunteering or not, do spend your time wisely and live life to the fullest!” So what are you waiting for? Be it a non-profit organization or a volunteer; sign up today to get plugged into a wide network of helping hands. Start participating in active volunteerism now!

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MR HENG SWEE KEAT EDUCATION-WHITHER SINGAPORE? By Siraj Shaik Aziz The setting Amidst the large, diverse turnout of 300, the proximity of the subject matter to the minds of all present was evident. With an audible buzz of excitement filling the Mochtar Riady Auditorium, the anticipation was rife. In this dialogue of firsts, SMU Apolitical’s inaugural ministerial forum and Minister for Education Mr. Heng Swee Keat’s first visit to SMU, a rich discussion that took stock of aspirations and surfaced a blueprint for the future took place. A few insights can be extrapolated from this insightful forum.

Aspiring for opportunity At the onset, the Minister pursued an inquiry of what the aspirations of students were and the common thread binding them. The emergent commonality was the desire for opportunity which manifested in many forms among the audience of students. These included the opportunity to pursue what one is passionate about, to be able to pursue a career of choice without worry of disproportionate respect, to have avenues to develop and be recognized for soft skills and for social mobility. The Minister also shared his aspiration for creating opportunity in Singapore and concluded that the development of a more sophisticated economy was vital to increasing the country’s capacity to accommodate grow-


SMU President, Arnoud De Meyer with Minister for Education, Mr Heng Swee Keat

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ing and more diverse aspirations.

Changing mindsets

mass can be created for various industries. This in turn enlarges the economic pie for all Singaporeans.

Evident in the discourse was an imperative articulated by the Minister for stakeholders of the education system to change their mindsets to improve it. He spoke about how, though social stratification cannot be wished away, changing the paradigm of what constitutes a good school will mitigate it. He affirmed the good job of neighbourhood schools and the value of mixing with people from all walks of life . He stressed that the transference of values, which cannot be accurately measured, will be predicated on the conviction of both parents and teachers to impart them as opposed to a ministerial imposition. Teachers should be using Civics and Moral education to teach precisely that as opposed to subsuming it under a substantive subject agenda, and parents should bear onus in deterring their children from juvenile delinquency. With regard to concerns on social mobility, the Minister alluded to the need for introspection by society at large to effect greater involvement on its part. Underlying his call for changing mindsets was his explicit recognition that the education system will not be able to live up to all that society aspires it to be. Thus, other stakeholders must play a part in delivering the fulfillment of aspirations.

Adaptability is key Outlining the changing global economic landscape and the immutable reality of competition, the Minister took time to squarely address how our graduates could compete in the dynamic climate. He articulated, as a summation of his interactions with business leaders around the world that the underlying trait which will be sought after is adaptability. He elaborated that this entailed a willingness to be less risk-averse and to step out of comfort zones to pursue diverse opportunities ,whilst sustaining the drive for this pursuit. He cited these exact traits in the international employees in Singapore and encouraged students to emulate them. The above acknowledgment also alluded to the worth of a degree and the direction charted for university education. In highlighting the inevitability of competition, the Minister also defended the need for grade differentiation by way of the bell curve to spur the drive for excellence. In the same breath, by advocating the primacy of adaptability, he further buttressed his caveat that a degree was not just about grades or a possession of one. A degree in itself does not guarantee jobs or imply finality to job security. Recognition of the above value also underlined the impetus for the Minister’s approval of creating new pathways for education to adapt to a more diverse global demand. He assuaged fears of dilution by affirming that any decision made to expand the educational landscape will be a measured one as it was with SMU’s and SUTD’s establishment. He added that ultimately it was not about arithmetic of demand and supply but creating economic vibrancy so that a critical

Minister for Education, Mr Heng Swee Keat

SMU Apolitical thanking Minister for Education, Mr Heng Swee Keat In a nutshell As the forum drew to a close, two nascent propositions were acknowledged. Firstly, to change the landscape of education in Singapore for the better, a total systems approach wherein all stakeholders are engaged in the process is prerequisite. Secondly, making this systemic change expeditiously is not a luxury but a survival strategy.

Minister for Education, Mr Heng Swee Keat with SMU students The Blue and Gold Issue 16

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ask the financial expert a feature brought to you by Prudential

1) When I graduate and start working, how should I manage my finances? You should first take stock of your financial position. A few key pointers are to take note of your liabilities and to start setting aside different ‘accounts’ for different needs. Some of us may have take up tuition loans to finance our tertiary education and would need to pay off the tuition loans while building on our savings and emergency funds. Be careful not to fall into the trap of drawing down on your credit facilities excessively. Many young people get excited with the idea of drawing their own pay cheque and owning their first credit card and as a result, end up in debts after excessive spending. A good way to curtail your spending is to first plan your savings, liabilities and fixed expenses before you spend on other ‘wants’. It would be useful to to monitor your own fixed expenses for a few months before committing to any long term or big ticket items.

Upon graduating with a Diploma in Engineering, I started my first job as a Sales Engineer. However, shortly after, I wanted to be in a career which could give me a more satisfying career progression and development. Through a friend’s recommendation, I got to understand more about the insurance industry and decided to make a career switch. I find the work we do meaningful - not only do we better clients’ lives with financial planning, we also enrich and inspire the people whom we lead when we become agency leaders. True leadership stems not from one’s ability to get others to do what you want them to, but rather, empowering them to believe that they can achieve what they set out to do. I rose to become a Director after 7 years in the financial services industry. Currently, my agency strength stands at about 50 people with 5 agency leaders working under me. I am proud to say that we have achieved the Million Dollar Agency Award for consecutively 2 years and this year, my agency is ranked one of the top 5 among Prudential’s 300 agencies.

2) I normally try not to spend too much money when I buy things but still realize at the end of the month that I do not hit my target savings amount. What would be a fast and easy way of tracking down where my money goes and are there any ‘traps’ I should look out for in my spending? As tedious as this may sound, you may want to keep a notebook or use your smartphone to track on your daily expenses. This is a disciplined and good way to keep track of unnoticed expenses that you have incurred. You may be surprised that some “inconspicuous” expenses such as taking cabs daily could potentially be straining your budget. Hence, it may be advisable to seek professional financial planning advice from a qualified financial consultant.

3) I am only in my 20s. Is it really important for me to be concerned about my expenses and savings? Yes! Financial planning is a habit and the earlier one starts to plan, the easier it is to cultivate the discipline. If we have not been planning, it is difficult to meet milestones like planning for marriage, housing and family, not to mention for emergency needs.

I take the lead where productivity and training of my agency is concerned so as to spearhead my agency’s growth and direction. I believe wholeheartedly in bettering ourselves everyday so that in whatever we do, we can be at our very best.


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Section design by Goh Ying Ying

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Ditchyour mobilephones

during bedtime By Melody Tan

It is bedtime. I slide under the covers. I gently swipe my finger across my phone to check if I have any unread text messages. It turns out I do not. I rest my phone on the bedside table and close my eyes. I drift off into dreamland, a comfortable darkness… and then I hear the ever-so-familiar “doo-doo-doon” coming from the phone. Without hesitation, I reach for my phone and read the message. I reply. I receive a reply. I reply to the reply. A series of messages would ensue and it would be another ten minutes before I finally settle down again, crossing my fingers, hoping the phone would stay silent for the rest of the night. Does this scenario sound familiar to you? I bet it does, because this is what most of us do when we’re alerted to a text message. We instinctively reply. Texting has become second nature to most of us; day or night, we cannot resist the urge to text. But do you know that this innocent ‘finger exercise’ is known as sleep-texting? Yes, I repeat, sleep-texting. Before you raise your eyebrows and question the existence of “sleep-texting” (and this writer’s credibility), let me briefly introduce you to this intriguing phenomenon. Sleep-texting is a rare medical condition which affects mainly young adults, especially those who are perpetually glued to their phones. Sufferers of sleep-texting, or “sleep-texters”


as they are called, wake up in the morning only to discover that messages have been sent from their phones in the middle of the night. The problem? They don’t remember sending these messages. To make matters worse, these messages invite replies such as “Are you ok?”, because they’re typically a string of random alphabets and numbers which make no sense. Sleeptexting started to catch the attention of medical professionals only last year, but it is a worrying condition because as technology advances, our dependence on mobile phones will only increase, and so will the occurrence of sleep-texting. According to experts, sleep-texting has two main causes: stress and the habitual use of mobile phones just before going to bed. Since stress has commonly been blamed for traditional sleep disorders such as insomnia, it is not surprising that experts have also linked stress to sleep-texting. On the other hand, the habitual use of phones before going to bed can affect us unknowingly. With our minds tuned in to phone-related activities such as texting, our fingers subconsciously race across the keypads to churn out text messages even when we are asleep. As it seems, our fingers sometimes have a mind of their own; they don’t necessarily sleep when we do. We know the causes of sleep-texting, so all we have to do is to eradicate

them from our lives and we will be (relatively) safe from the evil claws of this unusual sleep disorder. It is as simple as A-B-C, right? Well, maybe not. As much as we would like to deny it, guarding against the causes of sleeptexting may pose a challenge to many of us. Stress? Think about schoolwork, exams, CCA, relationships. We are stressed practically everyday! Using our phones before bedtime? It is a habit so deeply ingrained in most of us - it has almost become a religion. But wait a minute; we do not really have to resign ourselves to fate. While we can hardly control an external factor like stress, we can change our habits. It is hard, but not entirely impossible. If you cannot resist the urge to text before bedtime, imagine checking through your history of sent messages the next day, to discover that you had texted “iunmfb^eowos u!bnoa3nfe &skfkap” at four in the morning. On a more serious note, there have been reported cases whereby sleep-texters ‘sext’ (sex texting) in their sleep. The consequence of sleep-texting should be a good enough reason for us to guard against it.

tant that it cannot wait until the next morning? If there is, then by all means, go ahead, check your phone, and reply to the text. If not, it is time to change our habit. It will greatly reduce our likelihood of joining the world’s growing army of sleep-texters. So the next time you hear “doo-doo-doon” during bedtime, ignore it. I know I would. Or if you are drawn to “doo-doo-doon” like moths are to light bulbs, there is another solution: Exile your phone from your room. It takes some getting used to, but it is definitely worth a shot.

As they say, prevention is better than cure; surrendering our phones before bedtime is a small price to pay in ensuring that we do not fall prey to a rare, but serious, sleep disorder like sleep-texting. Let us ask ourselves, is there usually any message so impor-

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THE NEW 30s By Rachna Raghupathi We are tired. And I am not talking about the kind of tiredness sleep can cure. Too many of my friends have come to me lately talking about jobs they need to get, money they need to save, deadlines they have set for themselves for before they turn thirty. A Year 4 student recently told me that there was so much that she always wanted to do, but never got around to doing so because she needed to stay on track with things like her career, parents, and relationships. Chances at fulfilling her aspirations were slipping away by the second. On the other hand I have adults sharing with me stories about road trips they took after graduating from college. A friend’s father had to insist on him taking a break for a few months after graduate school before starting to work. And this is not unique to Singapore and Asia - a friend in the United States had to take a break in between semesters because the pressure was too much, and she could not hit the ‘pause’ button after college due to the sheer amount of work she had to get done. Something is not right here.

Have we been sapped of our energy? Ideally, our twenties are meant to be the beginning of our independence. We finally step out of school, and the thought of settling down is still rather far away. There is almost nothing to worry about. It is in their thirties that people get weary, going, “Is this all that’s left?”, getting bored of doing the same things while knowing that they still need to be done. Why are we already facing the ‘midlife crisis’? I think our generation, more than anyone before us, is hyper-aware of the responsibilities we have. I believe we are bogged down by the knowledge of not just everything there is that can be done (that is, the limitless possibilities of what we can dream of achieving), but everything that needs to be done. And more than that, we acknowledge how little time we have to do it all. I think we all realise just how limiting some decisions are, and how hard it is to avoid making them.

more conscious of the necessity for a real plan, especially as you get older. It is probably even for the best. My question is: why can’t your plan accommodate more of what you want, and not just what you know you need? Here are the facts: People who are already feeling tied down are much more likely to become dissatisfied. These people are also likely to do something drastic and messy just to “gain control again”. Don’t do that. Do this: create a list of things you need. And then create a list of things you want. Work on both. We are far too young to be feeling this old.

To make matters worse, these things are good to know if you want your life going in a good direction, and it will help you do well - but will you be happy? There’s nothing wrong with being forced to be responsible, or with being

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This is an advertising feature brought to you by Prudential

Low Li Qi

Financial Services Manager Length of Service: 5 years Age: 27 Academic Qualifications: Bachelor of Business (Nanyang Technological University)


Sometimes, detouring from our dreams – may lead us right to them

Do you feel that sometimes, we walk down a path which is different from our ideals because of life’s circumstances? Here are two individuals, Kenny Low and Low Li Qi, who find themselves not pursuing a career where their first passions lay, but pursuing unexpectedly different careers from their interests which they derive great fulfilment from. We sat down to chat with these two individuals, interested to hear their stories on what led them to become Prudential Financial Consultants.

As for Kenny, he shared his childhood desire of becoming a chef. This aspiration soon became a fleeting thought as he picked up a new passion in his young adult years – running. “I used to be a terrible runner. During National Service, I trained tirelessly and doubled my running speed to eventually achieve an IPPT gold. But I know that competitive running is not a very practical career option for me as it is not a lifelong career.”

Career choices Kenny decided to join Prudential as he was impressed with the organisation’s pursuit of excellence and its offering of innovative products.

Younger days

For Li Qi, she felt challenged that this career could potentially offer her a very competitive remuneration package based on her work performance.

Li Qi has loved travelling since she was a child. Flying to faraway lands, interacting with the locals and experiencing a brand new world has always been an exciting and invigorating experience for the young lady.

She said, “I met my manager at a roadshow and was impressed by his passion for his work. His work passion excited me to find out more about being a Financial Consultant and hence I decided to join his team.”

Recalling her days as a student, Li Qi was her group’s de facto “travel agent” and “tour guide”. She would be the one planning all the travelling details such as researching on travel options, comparing prices, et cetera, which she always took on with a smile.

Shaky beginnings

Given her passion for travel and her affinity with meeting new people, we wondered why Li Qi didn’t choose to become a tour guide. “Though I love travelling, I would rather travel for leisure than work to



Jumping into an unfamiliar territory (both have non-financial academic backgrounds) could be challenging, and so it was with Kenny’s and Li Qi’s careers as Financial Consultants. Kenny recalled encountering over 30 rejections in his first 4 months on the job before closing his first deal. He shared, “Every night, I would review my day’s work and refine my marketing techniques or strategies. I know that as long as I seek to improve

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This is an advertising feature brought to you by Prudential

Kenny Low

Financial Services Manager Length of Service: 7 years Age: 33 Academic Qualifications: Diploma in Intelligent Building Technology (Temasek Polytechnic) and have a “can do” attitude, I would succeed.”

cated to succeed in our careers.”

Li Qi added, “Early on in my career, I struggled as I faced numerous rejections. With my confidence bruised, my manager gave me an important piece of advice – When things aren’t going your way, have the right mindset, execute your strategies well, and the momentum will soon swing back in your favour.”

Coming full circle

Weathering the early storms, Kenny and Li Qi started seeing consistent success half a year into their careers, and have since seen their careers take off. Both have been promoted twice to reach their current rank of Financial Services Manager.

Pleasant surprises “This career will see you grow in so many ways.” as Kenny recounted his past few years with Prudential. “When I first started, I had trouble convincing a single person to ink a deal with me. Today, people come to me for their financial planning. Clients have become close friends, and their friends are now my friends.” “There’s a fantastic feeling of accomplishment whenever I am able to help make a difference to my customers’ financial planning.”

Having “given up” their passions for another career, Kenny and Li Qi now find themselves in a unique place in their lives. Kenny, the running enthusiast, now finds more time to engage in his favourite activity than before – thanks to flexible working hours, which gives him more time for himself, friends and family. Traveller Li Qi is now able to travel to destinations of her choice for leisure and meet new people wherever she goes. On a final note, Li Qi shared her thoughts on a career as a Financial Consultant. “If you have an affinity for meeting new people and making a difference in their lives, you can be in this career for years – and never feel like you’ve worked a day.” These are their stories and their career chapters are only beginning. How do you want to write your life’s story?

Li Qi chipped in, “Financial Consultants aren’t bound by working hours or desks. In fact, my friends are envious that I can choose to wake up past 9am every day while they have to be up for work at 6am!”

Interested in this career?

“This career has also taught me the value of being focused. It’s easy to get distracted with so much work flexibility, and I’m thankful my manager instilled a strong sense of professionalism in our team, keeping us dedi-

If you wish to join Prudential as a Financial Consultant, or simply find out more about the career, please contact today.

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A-List Stephanie Yow wanders into a world of demanding students, grade inflation, and alphabet feverto explore the situation in SMU.

For the longest time, students, myself included, have been ill with what I would call ‘alphabet fever’. In a feeble attempt to explain what ‘alphabet fever’ is, it is like drinking a bowl of Campbell’s Alphabet Soup with different pasta letters floating around, but only eating the letter A. This selectiveness, or strange aversion to anything less than the first letter of the English Alphabet at university, makes me wonder why our kindergarten teachers even bothered with the other 25 letters. Alphabet fever is inextricably linked with concepts like ‘grade inflation’ and ‘pain-in-the-neck students’. The former term means that for a given quality of work, the grade earned now will be higher than what would have been previously assigned a time period ago. Grade inflation is a topic greatly debated about in the United States, notably leading to colleges like Princeton University imposing a limit on the number of A’s across departments in 2004. The latter term, ‘pain-in-the-neck students’, refers to disgruntled students who bang down professors’ doors, requesting for a better final grade at the end of the semester.


For example, in an article for the Washington Post by an American University (AU) professor Alicia Shepard, she dryly describes horror stories of students who were ‘relentless’ in hounding professors to give them A’s, the parental pressure faced by students to obtain A’s, and how almost every professor at AU had a tale to tell about grade harassment. Researchers Rojstaczer and Healy proposed a link between grade inflation and pain-in-the-neck students. They argue that the emerging ‘consumerbased approach’ to education has compelled professors to grade students more generously, in order to obtain better reviews or boost graduate employment success. This is a very sad situation. Some consolation can be found in the fact that the research is ultimately American-based. Maybe SMU students are a more placable bunch. We may be high from alphabet fever, but perhaps the general sense of regard towards academic authority is better in SMU.

School of Economics shared that there were ‘not many students [who did so] after [the] process was formalized’. Transparency is also another major factor here. Sunlight is the best disinfectant after all, and this dual-pronged approach of transparency combined with a formalized procedure seems to be working well in SMU. The issue of grade inflation appears to be lacking in our campus as well. If we re-examine Rojstaczer and Healy’s suggestion behind grade inflation, professors in SMU do not seem to face pressure to grade more generously. “I work for you”, Professor Andrew White from the School of Law said. “[But] my job is to teach you effectively, not to give you an A”. He went on further to add that grading is a ‘huge responsibility’, which is why he meticulously marks exam scripts and takes extra care in ensuring that his

students receive grades that they deserve. What started out as a grades-focused article is now pointing me to something else- Life. Sure, receiving anything less than an A- may cause us to wince in pain, but the eventual journey in life is bigger than our transcripts. The B we got last semester will become a faded memory in time to come. And honestly, I think we will be as right as rain after a couple of Kleenex boxes, a night out with friends, and a comforting tub of triple chocolate fudge ice-cream. *professor declined to be named

The formal process for grade appeal, for example, and the grade component breakdown in SMU has minimized the number of students seeking re-grading. A professor* from the

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Politics &

the Elderly By Fariha Imran The youth play a very important role in politics today. Starting with the campaigns and ending with votes, they are seen almost everywhere during election time. Obama’s Youth Movement was very popular during his campaign in 2008 and some might even say it led to his win. So why are the youth so well repre-

sented in the field of politics? Two reasons are possible. Firstly, they are usually the most active members of our society and politicians feel that they would be a wave that is effective to ride on. Secondly, they are an impressionable bunch who are the future of tomorrow. However, there is a group of people that has been overlooked in societythe senior citizens. We do not see many of them during the elections. Candidates, while campaigning, pay

very little attention to them or, in some cases, forget to address them entirely. Why should we address them anyway, you may ask? How many of them are actually active voters? The answer may surprise you. Very few of us seem to realise the importance of the role senior citizens play in politics. It is a little known fact that the most consistent and dedicated group of voters in any society are the senior citizens. It is even a more of a little known fact that in most countries, senior citizens make up more than 50% of the voting public. For example, in the 2004 United States presidential elections, 79% of the registered voters were aged 65 and above. Thus, are presidential candidates doing something wrong by not addressing their largest target group? The Germans seem to think so. German politicians have, since 2009, started gearing their strategies towards their elderly. In Germany, the average age

of registered voters is increasing. It is said that every third voter there is aged 60 or older. Thus German politicians have decided that it will be beneficial for them if they try to win the senior citizens’ votes by creating specific campaign strategies or guaranteeing policies for them in the future. All in all, I feel that many politicians and candidates are missing out on an important area of their campaigning. Without a stable source of income, the elderly have needs that are best taken care of by the government, including pensions, healthcare and transportations. Thus they will care more about who takes over the next government. It is also more ethical as a community to give back to the people that helped build in the past. By winning their votes and delivering any promises made to them, they can be sure to create a loyal group of followers which will be beneficial to both the candidate and the party in the long run.

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By Khatija Begum

US Six years after its comeback from near collapse, Ford Motor Co has come up with a new slogan that displays its confidence of full recovery – “Go Further”. The slogan is intended to be a warning to the company after three years of profits. The slogan will replace the old “Drive One” and “Feel Different” slogans. Ford has depended on its slogan as a way to increase sales and unify internal operations. Its ‘sloganeering’ goes as far back as 1914 with the slogan “Ford: The Universal Car”. The social networking titan, Facebook, has raised the “Facebook fever” among the investors when it announced its IPO. Facebook has filed to seek $5 billion, the largest flotation by an Internet company on Wall Street. At $5 billion, Facebook’s IPO eclipsed the $1.9 billion raised by Internet search engine mogul Google when it went public in 2004. This $5 billion target is only preliminary and Facebook is held to be able to raise at least $10 billion, according to initial estimates. Facebook’s value is estimated to be $75 to $100 billion. A market capitalisation of $100 billion will put Facebook at par with McDonalds ($101 billion) and way ahead of Boeing ($55 billion) but stillbehind Apple ($426 billion) and Google ($189 billion).

Asia/Africa Lavish banquets for the auspicious Lunar New Year are now slowly missing a delicacy – shark’s fin. Increasing numbers of shops and restaurants have started to say no to shark’s fin due to the increase in awareness through campaigns worldwide. The global luxury hotelier Shangri-La International took shark’s fin off its menu in an attempt to support the campaign. Although many countries like China still consume shark’s fin in large quantities, these efforts are seen as a stepping stone in protecting the sharks. Revenues from Egypt’s essential tourism sector dropped by almost 30% last year, said government officials. As unrest following the ouster of the former President stunted economic growth, Egypt has turned to the International Monetary Fund for support. The near daily protests and strikes have caused the decline in the revenues, amidst the military rulers and interim government’s efforts in handing over power to an elected civilian administration. The unrest has resulted in the fall of the number of tourists to Egypt, causing revenues to fall from $12.5 billion to $8.8 billion.


Singapore SCDF and CNB chiefs have been replaced after investigations on ‘serious personal misconduct’ by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB). Pending disciplinary proceedings against the two men, they have interdicted from their duties and their responsibilities have been taken up by their deputies. CPIB confirmed that the two officers were arrested under the Prevention of Corruption Act. This investigation has been preceded by investigations on corrupt practices of LTA officers and various other officers of the public service. A piece of good news for the techies is that Singapore is going to host the first ever Transformers Cyberton convention in SEA this March. The four day convention, at Resorts World Sentosa, will feature exhibits of video games, artwork and toys

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Europe The EU has formally adopted an oil embargo against Iran, in light of Iran’s refusal to resume talks on its controversial nuclear program. While Iran suggests that its nuclear program is peaceful, other countries including the US suspect it of building nuclear weapons. Some 80% of Iran’s foreign income comes from oil exports and this embargo is expected to hit its economy hard. The European plane-maker, Airbus, has acknowledged that the internal manufacturing and design flaws have caused the cracks that arose in A380 planes. In the meantime, they insisted that the world’s largest airline is safe to fly. More cracks in the planes have been found from inspections that have been carried out amongst fears over the “flaw”. Airbus officials say that having understood the problem, they expect that most of the aircrafts tested will show evidence of such cracks, but repairs are simple. To deal with this “cracking” problem, Airbus has looked into changing its manufacturing process to ensure such problems from reoccurring.

Australia/NZ from Transformers. Among the main highlights of the event is the eight metre tall statue of Optimus Prime, the iconic and most recognisable character of the series.

A super giant crustacean has been discovered by scientists in the waters of New Zealand, measuring 10 times more than the normal size of related species. The crustacean, or the “super giant amphipod”, resembles a giant prawn. Normal amphipods are about 3 centimetres long while this giant has a stunning length of 28 centimetres. Imagine a prawn as big as or larger than a 14 inch laptop on your plate!

Is there a lack of academic freedom in the National University of Singapore? Apparently an exchange student who studied there thinks so. In an article posted in the Yale Daily News, he stated that NUS was not a “free” university as the students there were ruled by self-censorship. According to Vincoli, the exchange student, his experience in his political science class at NUS showed that students change their arguments against the government and “button their lips”, explaining the self-censorship of the university. The outspoken views of Vincoli have sparked major debates amongst NUS students, who mostly disagreed with his views.

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Adam Tan and Ben Lim (SEIC Vice-President-Publications) discuss what 2012 has in store for us As many professional Mayanist scholars suggest, December 2012 may be the end of the world. However, this won’t come to pass until we get through the initial 11 months of turmoil that sets to rebalance power and influence on the global stage. The following paragraphs shall detail the many economic and political uncertainties and opportunities, going

forward in the year 2012. Political transition If the Arab Spring in 2011 is a reminder of how quick and radical changes can be effected in countries with unhappy citizens, 2012 may be a sequel to this. As

shown in the timeline below, 2012 will not only affect the citizens of Taiwan, Russia, France, China and the United States (US), but also will recast the roles that these nations play in the international arena.

Timeline of key events in 2012 Taiwan Elections

France Elections

US Presidency Elections




Russia Elections

Saving the best for the last may be true for this case with the highlight events set to be the US Presidential election and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership change. With President Obama struggling to regain the confidence of disillusioned American voters as America struggles with tepid growth and high unemployment, the race will officially heat up after the Republican presidential candidate is nominated in May. Different tax approaches concerning both individual and corporations proposed by the Democrats and Republicans on tackling escalating public debt will be a point of contention that affects both Wall Street and Main Street voters. We will possibly see a decrease in top corporate tax rate



Chinese Leadership Change

from the current 35% to 25% to increase the competitiveness of the US economy if a Republican candidate eventually lands a spot in the White House. With Mitt Romney’s recent victory in solidifying his position as the front-runner for the Republican presidential candidate nomination, it will not be a surprise if this former private equity baron is giving President Obama a run for his money in November.

capital rules is expected this year as the current leaders at the helm aim to shelter China’s growing economy from the global slowdown before handing over the party’s leadership. New trade policy changes to engage current stakeholders in China and her major trade partners, notably the US and Japan, may pose a challenge for rumoured Presidency successor, Xi Jinping, who is currently the Vice-President of China.

China’s highly anticipated leadership change will add a new dimension to how conservative policies will be this year. Fears of a hard-landing and high inflation have plagued the Chinese economy for the past year and looks set to continue. A relaxation of

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Strong headwinds persist

will be proud to look back at in years to come.

Looking at how financial markets have behaved for the past year, capital preservation remains to be the clear theme going forward with some major challenges up and coming from Japan and Europe, alongside saving grace from America and China.

Religious proselytizing aside, following this article’s analysis of the risks and opportunities 2012 has in store, it may not be as bad as what many Mayanist scholars suggest. After all, creating the life one wants has always been up to oneself. No amount of bad luck or superstition has been scientifically proven. Thus, in a way, regardless of what happens in December this year, fearing the inevitable is a futile and unproductive task. Perhaps our outlook should be that of what the late Economist John Maynard Keynes said, “In the long run, we are all dead.”

As the Japanese Yen is seen as a safe haven for investors, the currency has soared to a decade high (see chart below) against her major trade partners. This implication is huge for Japan’s export-based economy, boasting the likes of Toyota and Sony. This new found strength in the Yen has seen declining profit margins for Japanese companies, causing Japan to post her first trade deficit in 31 years. This issue cannot be solved by currency market intervention efforts of the Bank of Japan alone. Such risk-averse mindset can only be overcome when people are generally positive about the global outlook.

Sources: IMF, Bloomberg, The Wall Street Journal

To tip the global outlook back to the positive scale is challenging with the on-going Eurozone crisis dominating the headlines daily. Repeated efforts by Germany and France to contain the crisis have seen little accomplishment even after numerous EU summits. With this crisis having begun in Greece since 2010 until now, the lack of a resolute solution over the past two years has continued to disappoint the financial markets repeatedly and looks set to continue for the rest of this year. As the saying “every grey cloud has a silver lining” goes, we can take some positive encouragement from better than expected recovery shown by the world’s largest economy, the US. Over the last few quarters, average corporate earnings continue to beat expectations and as shown below, the unemployment rate has started to ease, fuelling investors’ optimism that the world’s largest economy may be the unlikely candidate to outperform the other developed economies this year. America may be a wounded giant since the collapse of the housing markets in 2009, but she still remains a key contributor to the proliferation of world trade and growth for emerging markets. Closer to home, China’s path to greatness continues to depend largely on the global economic and trade conditions. However, with large foreign reserves and relatively stringent fiscal policies, as expected from the conservative Asian culture, reaching the expected 8% growth rate this year will not be an impossible mission. Higher adoption rate of Chinese Yuan as a form of transaction currency due to relaxation of capital rules later this year will also boost bilateral trade between Asian neighbours looking to cash in on this prized opportunity. The year of the Dragon may truly be a year of greatness for China that many

Source: IMF World Economic Outlook

Source: Bank of Japan

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Chhavi Kotwani takes you through the recent events in the Arab world

Friday is a sacred day in the Arab world. This past year, there has been another reason for its significance. It’s a day of rage. Mohamed Bouazizi, a jobless graduate, set himself on fire after he was banned from selling fruit to earn a living. The country was Tunisia and the date 17 December, 2010. He died a few days later, but his actions sparked a furore in the Arab world that has engulfed several countries and is yet to lose its fire. Every Friday after prayers, it burns a little brighter as some of the largest and most organized demonstrations take place. It’s a revolution with a cause that’s central to the governance of every country; it’s a fight for democracy. The movement has since then gained momentum across the Arab world, with large scale protests and demonstrations in many countries, including but not limited to Syria, Yemen, Egypt and Libya. Ash-shab yurid isqat an-nizam, ‘the people want to bring down the regime’, says one of the major slogans of the demonstrators. This is a revolution to rally against the repression and censorship by the governments ruling these Arab countries, regimes which have been characterized by oppression and fear. Leaders who have ruled for years with impunity have been targeted, and have been shamed for their crimes against their people and humanity. Some have been ousted, including Tunisian President Zine El Abidine, Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, while Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi was killed when rebel forces finally took over his hometown. Yet, some remain stubborn and refuse to give up their fiefdoms, while the world clamours for them to step down and receive justice for their transgressions. The governments have unleashed tremendous force and firepower to suppress the people and to silence them, but the people of these countries have


not relented. Social media networks have played a key role in organizing demonstrations and spreading the message of solidarity against oppression. Facebook and Twitter have acquired an important meaning in this context. The women of the Middle East have also come forward. They took to the streets fearlessly in Tunisia, demanded the freedom of their husbands and children in Syria and marched shoulder to shoulder with men in cities all across the region. As the Middle East undergoes a revolution, the long-oppressed women of this region hope to defy the norms in place in the patriarchal societies and achieve the freedom and equality that has till date remained elusive. They are apprehensive about whether this dream will become a reality postrevolution, but they are also hopeful. Today, even though some countries are cited as the ‘success stories’ of the Arab Spring, the transition is still not over, the region is still not stable and some countries still have a long way to go. Tunisia Tunisia saw the most dramatic wave of social unrest and demonstrations in three decades. Tunisians protested against the poor living conditions, corruption, high unemployment and the lack of freedom of speech and other fundamental freedoms, which eventually resulted in President Zine El Abidine fleeing the country. The nation was then democratized and saw successful free and democratic elections. Egypt January 2011 saw Egypt’s people gather in protest against President Hosni Mubarak’s government- one which had allowed the Emergency Law, in place since 1967, to continue during its regime, citing growing terrorism as a reason. Freedoms of speech, rampant corruption, lack of free elections, economic issues

and police brutality were the reasons behind the discontentment of the people. Protests, which were initially largely peaceful in nature, did turn violent in several instances. President Mubarak ultimately resigned but the transition for Egypt has not been easy, and protesters against the interim government have continued expressing their grievances regarding the unchanging conditions of the country. The Parliamentary elections have seen Islamist parties achieving overwhelming victories, while the Presidential election is slated to take place before June 30, 2012.

after a U.N. attempt to end the violence was vetoed by China and Russia, it is being speculated that the only way to prevent outright civil war in the country is by using military force to topple Assad. Today, the war is still raging, blood is still being shed but we haven’t lost hope - hope for a world where the voice of the people is heard and where freedom is not elusive.

Libya Anti-government protests began in Libya in February 2011, demanding the ouster of the county’s leaders. The opposition rallied to gain control over major Libyan cities and did succeed but was later thwarted by government forces, and the situation devolved into an incessant battle for control between the rebel forces and proGaddafi forces. However, it came to an end in October 2011 when fighters under the siege of the National Transitional Council invaded Sirte, hailed by Gaddafi as the new capital of Libya, and killed the national leader, ending his autocratic rule of 42 years. Syria The movement in Syria began in March, inspired by the revolts in the North African and Middle Eastern countries. The rebel forces, called the Free Syrian Army, comprising civilians and soldiers who defected, held peaceful protests at first but grew bolder and attacked regime troops in pro-opposition areas in the recent months. The government forces, commanded by President Bashar Assad, in turn, retaliated with a heavy hand, triggering violence and contributing to the death toll, with the number of deaths since March being more than 5,400. The turmoil has escalated, and

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LOOKING BACK AND MOVING FORWARD Fu Yingliang reflects on the year gone by

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“You better spend all your money Mummy, the end of the world is coming,” my eleven year old cousin told her mother during a shopping trip. Ridiculous as it may be, my cousin’s feeble excuse to get her favorite anime books was not entirely baseless. In fact, it corroborated with the Doomsday Clock, which measures how close the world is to catastrophic destruction. Less than two weeks into the New Year, the Doomsday Clock moved a minute closer to midnight. Inaction on climate change and nuclear weapons eradication were reasons why ‘The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ tuned the clock forward. Looking back at the headlines in the past year, inaction can be said to be a key theme. The “Yue Yue” Incident Two year old Chinese toddler, Yue Yue, was killed in a ghastly hit-and-run traffic accident in Foshan, China. The van driver paused and drove away. A surveillance camera captured 18 passers-by who ignored her. As Yue Yue lay seriously injured on the road, a second vehicle, a truck, ran over her. Although she was then helped by an old rag collector, Yue Yue eventually succumbed to injuries in the hospital. Some blamed this lack of compassion on deficiency in legal protection of Good Samaritans in China. In the well-known “Nanjing Peng Yu” case, Mr. Peng Yu, was slapped with a law suit by Ms. Xu Shoulan after he went


to her aid when she fell. Although Mr. Peng maintained that he helped Ms. Xu out of kindness, the Nanjing court ruled against him, arguing that Mr. Peng would not have provided assistance if he had not caused the fall in the first place.

richest and job creation for the unemployed. Protest contagion resulted in the world-wide targeting of financial institutions whose irresponsible lending has led to one of the largest sovereign debt crises that the world is now facing.

There is a need for new laws that can help protect the liability of Good Samaritans who help strangers in need. However, attributing the lack of compassion to deficiency in laws is unjust. Bystander indifference is not only limited to China. In 2008, a Jamaican woman Esmin Green rolled off a waiting room chair at Kings Country Hospital in Brooklyn. She was left convulsing on the hospital floor for one hour and died after being ignored by hospital staff and patients.

As President Barack Obama seeks reelection this year, one of the burning issues he has to fix would be unemployment. President Obama is seeking to bring back jobs that America has sent abroad, also known as insourcing.

The unwillingness to help cannot be plainer as the pressure of the modern society erodes social morals and mutual trust. The rush for economic growth has come at the price of weakened social fabric as the quest for material gains is seen as a zero sum game. Occupy Wall Street Protests Exasperated at the inefficiency of governments to tame reckless financial institutions and angered by the concentration of wealth in the top one percent of the population, the “Occupy” protestors took their displeasure to Wall Street in New York. Protestors attacked rising income inequality levels and pushed for higher taxes on the

seek a positive transformation for the well-being of our country. As we rush about our daily routines, we are often oblivious to what is happening around us. Despite being close, we are actually miles away. This year, let us strive to be more aware and sensitive towards people, places and things. When you think quietly about 2012, how will this year turn out for you?

At a dinner in California with Apple’s founder Steve Jobs last year, President Obama asked why Apple products could not be manufactured in America. He received a stark reply from Steve Jobs who responded upfront saying ‘those jobs aren’t coming back’. Given that mid-wage jobs, in addition to low wage production tasks, are increasingly being taken over by ‘middle-skilled’ workers in China, whether President Obama’s plans would be successful remains something to be seen. Moving Forward Whether it is lending a helping hand or voicing out policy concerns, these events have allowed citizens to reflect on what is happening in the society and to strive for a change. By being cognisant of the environment, we can use our stake in the community to

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I have a simple goal for the year - that every single SMU student should receive welfare, either from the SMUSA Welfare Department, 6 school CBds or 4 CCA CBds! Furthermore, besides the usual giveaways, I’ll be looking into student outreach which means I want to hear more from you! So please email me if you have any suggestions to improve students’ welfare or feedback about school facilities at

Our *BABY* this year will be Freshmen Experience (FE) 2012! It comprise of 5 signature events, namely: Freshmen Teambuilding Camp, Convocation, Vivace, SMU Challenge and Freshmen Bash. Summer’s gonna be a blast! Next semester, we are looking at an event called the SMUCH (SMU Chillout Hour). This event aims to ‘seduce’ all SMUggers from their textbooks and laptops, to chill out with other fellow SMUggers. Fun, Food, and Friends on a Friday night. Nothing gets better than this.

This year I’ve set up a STUFF Committee. STUFF is our SMU Merchandise store, which is made by the students FOR the students. We will be working with Bizcom to bring cool/funny T-shirts that circumvent an SMU theme. Other items we plan to bring include polo tees, letterman jackets and matric card holders. SMU STUFF is working in collaboration with the Office of Communications and Marketing to set up our very own brickand-mortar shop to sell our items. Feel free to email me if you guys have any ideas for STUFF or feedback about what you want! Email:

My plan this year is to focus on three central objectives: Profits, Welfare and Reputation. Bizcom aims to generate profits by organizing new events and by doing so provide a difference experience for the school community. We raised awareness among students that funds earned by Bizcom are directed to funding student activities and providing welfare through the recent student welfare event Whaddup Tuesday. The Events wing is committed to making student life more vibrant and the Univantage wing aims to source many more quality merchants to participate in its privilege card scheme.

I will assist in the introduction of our new student run cafe that will replace Glassroom. My hope is that this cafe will not only serve good and affordable food but also be a catalyst for student life in SMU. In addition I will be handling the Vivace account for FE this year. I would like to end by saying that the SMUSA ExCo is here for you and we will do our best to be committed and compassionate student leaders!

We are one body! This year, the SMUSA ExCo has pledged to be one that represents all students effectively and to have something for everyone. We’re working together to make sure that every student, regardless of faculty and CCA, receives welfare and opportunities. The SMUSA ExCo this year aims to be committed and compassionate towards students by providing resources and information to the best of our abilities. We are doing this by holding more frequent informal surveys and the SMUSA Assembly, a bi-annual dialogue between students and the ExCo.


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Ever felt the hassle and inconvenience to head down to an event booth just to make a payment? Worry no more! With the incorporation of PayPal last year, we can now look forward to making online payment for events this year. With this new mode of payment, purchasing tickets for school events is now made convenient and hassle-free. Please feel free to email me if you have any ideas or feedback about PayPal or if an event organizer is looking to employ this service. I can be reached via email at


This year the Assets committee will be initiating a mega stock-taking which will involve all CCAs and faculties. The aim of this stock-taking project is to work out a central data system which comprises information and condition of all the assets available in SMUSA. In addition, we will also be revamping and enforcing guidelines of the loan of SMUSA Assets. The guidelines will be posted on the SMUSA website

This year ICON welcomes the Japanese Cultural Club into our family. With the increasing diversity of students and cultures, we seek to collaborate efforts across the different sub-clubs. We started 2 Business and Cultural Exchange trips to China and Vietnam last December, and this year we are looking into India and Korea as well. This year also sees the newly instated position of International Students Director of the school CBds. We will be working with the FTB committee and the Hostel Management to make the Freshmen Experience a more enjoyable transition for the international freshmen. Feel free to drop me an email if you have an idea how we can serve better at

Our plan this year is to fine-tune policies and guidelines pertaining to emails and posters and to hone student life and increase community spirit through initiatives such as the ‘Student Life Board’. This board will showcase the vibrant student life in SMU through the eyes of students as well as give recognition to achievements and honors earned by our various clubs and societies.

We will be leveraging on and CBd websites to reach out to students. This means that if you are looking for student life, these websites are the place to go for the latest news. At the same time, we will aim to reach out to CCAs to leverage on the infrastructure that we have to build websites. IT Solutions will continue to collect feedback on IT infrastructure. Email:

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ONE FOR THE BOOKS Melanie Phay lists reasons for one to cultivate the culture of reading for leisure’s sake Shopping at H&M between classes and catching the latest movie with the girls. Wining and dining with your significant other at Glassroom. Releasing all your pent up frustrations by exercising at the school gym with your best buddy. These are just a few examples of what most SMU students might do when they are not studying. Time spent away from our textbooks is short and precious and we have the tendency to pack them full with social activities with our friends. Even on short breaks, we would be checking out hotties on Facebook, playing Tetris Battle or trolling for funny memes. The last thing anybody wants to do after completing the set of required readings for class is to read again, albeit for leisure. However, there is a case to be made for reading for leisure’s sake. These are not your conventional pleas: expand your vocabulary, improve your language skills and fight against the decline of proper English. A Different Realm Reading transports one to another time and place. You can physically be in some corner of a SMU GSR, but in your mind you could be in Hogwarts, learning how to make potions from Professor Severus Snape. Or you could be at Mount Doom, witnessing the cli-

matic battle between Frodo and Gollum for The Ring. Or your tear ducts could be working in overdrive as you take in the heartbreaking love story between Noah and Allie in The Notebook. The point is that reading takes you to places and through experiences that you may not necessarily go through in your own life. A book is a ticket that takes you out of your everyday life and into an alternate universe. Movies and books are similar in that aspect, but the experience of reading is richer, more intense and often a lot more personal. This is why people who have read a particular title before watching its movie adaptation often exit out of the cinema declaring that the book is way better! Learn

While at the charming bookstore Littered with Books located at Duxton Road, I chatted with two shop assistants, and one of them, Huimin, said the most amusing thing: “Even from the most shallow of chick lit, you can learn something from it!” Huimin learnt from a fluffy female-centric novel that she need not settle for less in a partner and to have faith that Mr. Right would come along someday. While it may sound insane to some to be able to gain insight from chick lit, I believe Huimin felt that way because she could totally relate to some of the

things the main character was going through, hence that particular novel had an impact on her. The key point illustrated here is that through reading, you learn. Avid readers can read and re-read their favourite literature over and over again, because each time when they do, they discover and draw out new lessons that gives them a greater understanding of their own lives, and the world around them. And that, in itself, gives the reader an immense satisfaction. That satisfaction of reaching a greater understanding of life is not strictly limited to ‘serious’ literature like ‘Great Expectations’, it can be gained through not-so-serious reads too, as shown by Huimin. Cool factor Simply walk around with books with titles like ‘Fight Club’ or ‘Norwegian Wood’ nonchalantly tucked under your arm, and up your indie-chic cred by tenfold!

Just be sure to validate that perception by at least reading the book! Something different At the end of the day, reading simply is another form of leisure. After getting accustomed to the more stimulating forms of entertainment like C.S.I and Facebook, books just don’t seem to appeal to us in they way they did in the past when we were children. However, when your normal entertainment routine starts to feel too repetitive and when you get bored of the eighth season of Grey’s Anatomy (though my Ma says she cannot imagine anyone ever getting enough of McDreamy), my hope is that you will think about how wonderful it would be to curl up in bed with a good book and choose to read.

Reading and discussing pertinent contemporary literary works is undeniably part of the true blue indie lifestyle. Be sure to pick an edgy, on-the-fringe title though – your battered old Sweet Valley High wouldn’t make the cut. Of course this is a tongue-in-cheek reason to pick up a book, but it remains a reason nonetheless. Besides looking cool, you come across as an intellectual, and having other people think of you in that light never hurts.

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Shreeya Chatterjee describes her perspective as a volunteer at the Singapore Writers Festival




What struck me were the backstories that these writers came with. They weren’t the Dan Browns and Jeffrey Archers of the world. They were writers but anonymous. While some had just launched their first book, others were coming up with their first few. But they all were struggling to make it; some were making a big switch from being a professional something to a professional writer, balancing both jobs by writing during the night after a hard day of work. Some were decided writers, still dealing with criticism and success after having taken their first step into the world of literature.

Singapore Writers Festival (SWF) is one of Asia’s annual premier literary events, showcasing multilingual works of literature in all of Singapore’s official languages; English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. This time it was held from 22nd to 30th October in our very own SMU campus. There were large tents put up in Campus Green, serving as a “transaction pavilion” that housed book launches and panel discussions. SWF had a unique combination of high profile celebrity authors and firsttime writers debuting their works. To name a few, this festival saw Steven Levitt, the acclaimed economist-writer, British philosopher Julian Bagginni, Vikas Swarup, author of the novel ‘Q&A’ which the movie Slumdog Millionaire was based on. To think that literary forces from all around the world came together in our very own SMU! I was lucky enough to be a volunteer for this festival, a task I undertook to gain extra credits in my Creative Writing class. Initially I was apprehensive, deeming it a boring school event I would never be a part of. My first half an hour into being a volunteer, I was a changed person. Firstly, the festival was on a much larger scale than I had ever imagined it to be. It was almost the literary equivalent of an Asian Cannes film festival minus the immense turnout. Secondly, I found myself watching professional writers launch their books and talk about their work; an invaluable experience to an amateur writer like me.

I got to see Bernice Chauly, an Indian origin Malay writer launching her novel ‘Growing up with Ghosts’ – her narrative about her own mixed origin childhood, her father’s death and her conflicting cultural identities. There was Natalie Hennedige, an acclaimed Singaporean playwright who made her foray into children’s books with ‘Koko the Great’, the second title in the Dreaming Art Series where important works by Asian artists formed the inspiration for original and new children’s illustrated stories.

the books, the turnout for individual events was dismal. The SWF was a learning experience for me. It was a chance to see the current literary world in action. While I have always fantasized being a witness to the rich literary world of the 1920s and 1930s and what not, this was the present; something future generations would fantasize about being a part of. SMU has a prevailing culture of working hard and I do think that will take us a long way. Yet somewhere down the line we need to strike a balance between nourishing the mind and nourishing the soul. Sometimes things need to be done for reasons other than a high GPA. For instance, we sometimes need to do things for the sake of a good experience. Years down the road we won’t be telling our grandchildren about how well we did in some module. Instead we would be telling them about how we got to hear Steven Levitt talk or how we went skydiving or other such cool things. Sometimes you have to stop, look around and smell the flowers.

There was O Thiam Chin, the Frank O’Connor Award long-listed author with his novel ‘The Rest Of your Life And Everything That Comes With It’ which was about love and its strange facets. Aside from launching his book he also gave honest insights like what it was like to be a professional writer, how one had to respond to criticism and the long wait associated with calls from publishers. As a volunteer I was in charge of managing crowds and therefore I got a firsthand view of who came and who didn’t. These events were held right next to the Li Ka Shing Library. Yet in all the book launches and panel discussions there was always a dozen empty seats. Most of the crowd comprised of people who knew the writers and other affiliated people. SMU has an active student population. Yet the turnout from SMU was barely a handful of 60 students, most of whom were students taking the Creative Writing module for that particular semester. While a few wandered in and out to check out

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CCA Pages

Section design by Astha Jain

The Arts and Cultural Fraternity (ACF) is a family of 26 clubs specializing in various arts forms comprising, but not limited to: visual arts, classical music, contemporary music, and dance. We currently have 5 dance clubs, and it all began with Eurhythmix (Emix) 10 years ago. Emix started out as a group of 20-odd dancers who experimented with various dance genres, eventually evolving into the present-day club with a focus on hip-hop dance. Over the years, more dance clubs were formed with each focusing on specific dance genres. Ballare specializes in ballroom dancing, Caderas Latinas focuses on Salsa, while Ardiente, which branched off from Caderas Latinas, explores other forms of Latin dance. Indancity is our only dance club that performs contemporary and modern dance. Our dance clubs have been successful in their own areas, garnering numerous awards at both local and regional competitions, and many groups have also had the chance to perform and train overseas. These clubs have certainly grown over the years in terms of technique and membership, because they always welcome students to pursue new interests or nurture existing passions in dance. Our dance clubs also conduct workshops regularly during the school semester as part of our outreach to the school. This is something that ACF strongly believes in – that everyone should be given a chance to experience the arts!

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About Us Ardiente, which is Spanish for “Fiery”, was established in August 2010 as the newest dance club in Singapore Management University (SMU). Comprising 37 dancers from the 6 faculties of SMU, Ardiente participates in Latin Ballroom competitions and stages performances while fostering a culture of camaraderie and mutual respect. In doing so, we hope to achieve our long-term vision of becoming the premier tertiary Latin Ballroom club in Singapore. Bi-weekly trainings with our instructor have exposed us to the different styles of Latin dance such as the Paso Doble, Jive, Rumba, Cha-cha and Samba, while occasional weekly Saturday trainings with the seniors hone our technique. Our Achievements Although many of our dancers join with no prior dance experience, Ardiente has shown that it can produce dancers of high caliber. What they have achieved together is nothing short of impressive. Earlier in 2011, members took part in the 19th Come Dancing Hong Kong Dance Sport Championships and went away with 6 medals in 4 categories, thus clinching champion positions in the Solo Open, Beginner, Novice and Pre-Amateur categories. At the 12th Stardust Dance Sport Grand Prix 2011, our dancers did SMU extremely proud by clinching a total of 22 awards. In the Pre-Beginners category, Ardiente took top 3 positions in all four events. We did exceptionally well in the Novice Rising Star


category, earning a respectable first and second runner-up position, and in the Novice events, we attained all the champion positions.

Ardiente will be conducting auditions for new dancers to add colour and vibrancy to our warm family. So keep a look out for us!

Our Breakthroughs Ardiente represented SMU for Show Dance competitions and won the Champions’ trophy on four occasions. The recent 11th Sabah Open International Dance Sport Championships 2011 was indeed a phenomenal success for us, where a team of freshmen with less than a semester’s worth of dancing experience retained Ardiente’s championship title in the Group Showdance category with their perseverance and strong guidance from the seniors. In February 2011, Ardiente organized Para-Empieza: Breakthrough, Singapore’s first ever-tertiary Latin Dance showcase. This two-day large-scale production was indeed an impressive breakthrough for Ardiente, and the positive feedback from our performance was an affirmation that our Club was headed in the right direction. Future Ahead... Ardiente continues to be one of the most highly regarded performing groups in SMU, and is regularly invited to perform at school events such as Convocation, Open House, and Vivace. We will be holding recreational Latin classes in school at discounted rates to encourage the SMU community to share our love for Latin Ballroom. We are extremely pleased with our current progress, and with the expansion of the Club, we hope to continue with greater and more promising results to do SMU proud.

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Ballare For most people, ballroom dancing seems to be out of date and boring. Little do we know that it has been a part of our lives ever since childhood. Consider this- in every classic fairytale, there is always one iconic scene where the handsome prince takes the hand of the beautiful princess. As the princess accepts his hand, she moves forward in a gorgeous flowing gown. They glide around a beautifully lit ballroom, surrounded by friends and loved ones, as the scene fades into a happily-ever-after. This is the beauty of the Viennese Waltz. Such beauty also transcends to the other types of standard ballroom dance– the romantic Waltz, the passionate Tango, the smooth Foxtrot, and the lively Quickstep. Each dance portrays vastly different emotions and is unique. Ballare is one of SMU’s youngest dance clubs, founded in 2008. However, despite its short history, Ballare has grown from a group of less than 20 students to its current size of almost hundred members. It has continued to grow in acclaim within SMU, from its numerous performances for school events. Beyond SMU, their dancers have taken part in both local and international competitions in cities such as Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta, clinching the top prizes across numerous categories.

Ballare also hosts its own independent performances such as Nocturne and its main annual production, gl’Amour. The club’s creed has always been to show the beauty and grace of ballroom dancing to everybody, and the collegiality of its members. Regardless of height, gender, or prior dance experience, anyone can dance with Ballare. Thus until today, it remains the only dance club that accepts members without auditions. The only criterion for membership is the passion and love for dance. Ballare practises on Friday evenings and hosts dance workshops within the year. Students are more than welcome to come down every Friday to experience the beauty of ballroom dancing. In life, dancing is indubitably one of the finest complements. As they say, “Work like you don’t need the money, love like your heart has never been broken, and dance like no one is ever watching.”

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INDANCITY Have you ever wondered what contemporary dance is about?

Unlike ballet which places heavy emphasis on body posture and delicate footwork, contemporary dance focuses on using the body’s natural lines and energy to create movements with fluidity and dynamics. It is also important to establish mind-body connection and pay attention to the quality of movements. During our weekly technique class, we do exercises that involve articulation of the body, elements of ballet techniques, floor work, body conditioning and sometimes improvisation.

INDANCITY is SMU’s contemporary dance club established in 2006. Our mission is to nurture our dancers’ passion for contemporary dance through the mastery of techniques and expression of the art form, while at the same time promoting an appreciation of contemporary dance amongst the school community. Now into its 5th year, the club has grown significantly under the artistic direction of our resi-

dent choreographer Dan Kwoh. As the club grows from strength to strength, we have cultivated technically strong dancers, united in their passion for dance.

temporary and Modern Dance Category. Last year, the club participated in the CSTD Perth Festival and was awarded ‘Honourable Mention’ in the Open Age Novelty Troupe Category, as well as the first and second place in the Open Age Lyrical Solo Category. In the local dance scene, the club has received invitations to perform at the 2010 Singapore Arts Festival’s Platform Campus, the inaugural Youth

Olympic Games City Celebrations, as well as Republic Polytechnic’s Momentum 2011. Besides these achievements, INDANCITY is also a proud recipient of SMU University Student Life Arts Excellence Award 2010, Outstanding Achievement Award 2011 and ACF Best Dance Award 2011, all of which are testimonies to the club’s continuous

pursuit for artistic excellence. On 3 February, INDANCITY’s production STEPS: Frozen in Motion was a resounding success! There’s more to look forward to as we bring you exciting open classes. This is your opportunity to learn contemporary dance and other dance styles, dance with your friends, and most importantly, have fun! Also, stay tuned for INDANCITY’s

production, Beyond 2012, coming to you in September.

The club has been actively involved in the performing arts scene both locally and overseas. In 2008, the club had its first public competition at the CSTD 10th Asia-Pacific Dance Competition and was awarded ‘Champion’ under the Modern Group Open Category. Moving into the international arena, the club participated in the New Prague Dance Festival competition in 2009, and came in First in the Con-


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EURHYTHMIX Since its inception in 2001, Eurhythmix has been grooming talented dancers in our trademark street style. As the official hip-hop dance club of Singapore Management University, we strive to be a premier tertiary hiphop dance society known for our professionalism, showmanship and technicality. Eurhythmix has earned accolades for our accomplishments in our past productions, and we hope to continue this success under our resident choreographer, Gin Lam.

Achievements Attitude (2012) Following the theme of SWITCH for this U+ARTS season, Eurhythmix brought forth a museum tour unlike any other in our recent annual dance production, Attitude. The production took our audiences through a dynamic and three-dimensional tour of a one-of-kind art museum where fashion, graffiti, sculptures and surrealist paintings live alongside one another. By exploring the deep intricacies of art, Eurhythmix pushed boundaries in meshing hip-hop with art forms, taking elegance and fine art to the streets. Audiences were wowed with explosive hip-hop items, as well as a diversity of street jazz and funk styles! RAW II: Homeground (2011) RAW II: Homeground showcased the talents of Eurhythmix dancers through a lively dance party held at THE ARENA. With the help of our resident choreographer, Gin Lam, 14 student choreographers held the helm of production with unique choreographies to depict different parts of Singapore. A rousing success, RAWII: Homeground attracted a full house audience of 500 people, consisting mainly of hip-hop dancers from all over Singapore.

WAR II (2011) Brought back in mid 2011, War II provided Eurhythmix a platform for our club dancers to gain exposure in free styling at dance battles. Guest judges Alex and Rachel graced the event as our dancers showcased musicality, showmanship and technique while battling it out at two stages (The Grid and The Area) with dance tracks by DJ Smoke. Korea – Singapore Dance Project: Floor the Love (2011) Floor the Love (FTL) has been a feature in Eurhythmix’s annual calendar since 2007. It was initiated as a nonprofit dance culture project between Korea and Singapore, and has been based on the concept of “Knowledge, Foundation... Love” (FTL’s mission statement). Eurhythmix has been the organizing club for the past years. The event’s “dance battle” concept focuses on improving the street dance scene in Singapore by fostering an international dance community spirit, and building the general dance skill level in Singapore. While the previous years have seen up to 200 participants and audiences mainly from Singapore, FTL received competitors and audiences from Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia and Hong Kong in 2011. What to look out for! Floor the Love 2013 will be taking place in June this year. Be a part of this event and see dancers from Singapore and other parts of the world gather for the love of dance. In conjunction with our 10th Anniversary, Eurhythmix will push the boundaries of hip-hop and come to you bigger and better in our 2013 annual production. It will definitely be the event to look out for!

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CADERAS LATINAS “Caderas Latinas has undertaken its very own annual production, Bailamos, Singapore’s Largest Inter-Tertiary Latin Dance Extravaganza.”

SMU Caderas Latinas (“Latin Hips”) was started by a small group of dance enthusiasts who wanted to share their passion for Salsa. Founded in 2004, the Salsa Performance Team has since performed in prestigious international events such as the West Coast Salsa Congress 2008, and won awards in competitions like the Showdance category of the Singapore International Ballroom Dancing Championships 2008. Caderas Latinas has also brought glory to SMU by clinching several top-notch positions including the Championship titles from the Inter-Tertiary Salsa Competition for 2 consecutive years in 2010 and 2011. Within SMU, Caderas Latinas keeps the Salsa dance fever alive with regular recreational classes for the SMU community as well as social dance nights like Una Noche Solomente which is open to the Salsa community. Since 2008, Caderas Latinas has also undertaken its very own annual production, Bailamos, Singapore’s Largest Inter-Tertiary Latin Dance Extravaganza. Recently, in January 2012, we conducted our second annual SMU Salsa Festival (SMUSF), an event held to promote the Salsa scene within SMU. Featuring the performance team, the event consisted of showcases put up by both juniors and seniors and also included a social dancing segment at the end of the night for the audience to get up on their feet and salsa the night away. This year the production, titled Noche Silencio, encompassed the theme of silent films such as Charlie Chaplin and Phantom of the Opera.


It was through dance and movement alone that Caderas Latinas showcased the fiery passion of Salsa. As a welcoming family, Caderas Latinas embraces the participation of all students from SMU. We believe that dance is something that should be shared and enjoyed, and thus we find great joy in sharing this with both freshmen and seniors alike. This passion and love for Salsa is also evident in our strong pull of Alumni support, which have continually helped us develop our strengths as dancers and knit us as a family. Caderas Latinas is more than just a dance club; it is a diverse blend of individuals from various backgrounds and disciplines coming together to revel in the experience of Salsa. The freedom of expression, the richness of flavor, and the manifestation of emotions are but some of the incredible experiences that each member enjoys. Moving from strength to strength, Caderas Latinas is one family that never stops growing and dancing.

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Hey, The blue and gold wants

We are looking out for: • • • • •

Photojournalists Print Layout/Graphic Designers Web Designers Photographers Journalists/Contributors

you .

If you are interested in any of the positions above, or simply want to experience putting together a college magazine, then write to us at

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SMU Blue & Gold Issue 16