Happy 51st Birthday Singapore

9th August, the day where Singapore celebrates her birthday. Today in 2016, she is 51 years old, crossing her 50th Golden Jubilee year with many big celebrations and events throughout the year. Celebrating 51st birthday seems to be toned down after a massive Golden Jubilee celebration year, that is totally understandable, just like a ball reaching its peak at the top, it would drop down and bounce up again.

Many things can happen in a 1 year time frame, year 2016 has been a turbulent year till date, on a personal basis and Singapore is facing some challenging economic times currently and times ahead. SG50 was an achievement and also a reflection on how much Singapore had grown, changed and transformed in the past 50 years, sometimes too fast and furious, putting a lot of strain on our many different infrastructures and society. We had also seen the good, in people coming forward to be the change and make the changes for society.

Year 2016, SG51 is like a turning point for Singapore. We are facing more challenges, domestically and internationally. The economy is slowing down, not just in Singapore, around the whole world too. This might be the time for everybody to reflect and look ahead, how we can change as an individual, as a society and as a country, to prepare, change, innovate and adapt for the future? We might have transformed from version 1.0 to 2.0 in 50 years of modern Singapore history. However, are we doing the necessary things for our future? The decisions, the actions that we must and need to do, for us to reach version 3.0 and beyond? Or have we become too complacent, comfortable and lazy, totally bo-chup?

The rise and growth of social media has allow us to read, see and learn a lot more about the good and bad of Singapore, sometimes on the extreme ends of the spectrum. Hopefully, this would allow us to move away from the ugly and working towards more of the good.

In Prime Minister Lee National Day 2016 Message, he spoke about unity, we have to unite together and meet the upcoming challenges and difficulties that Singapore face. This is a message that I resonate with deeply. We have to unite together for the future growth of the country, we need to innovate and change.

As we embark on another new chapter in our modern history, another new journey has begun since we turned 50 during our Golden Jubilee year. We are still a very young nation in the world today and it’s up to everyone of us, to help write the new chapters, the new version 3.0 of modern Singapore.

We still have a long way to go, if we make the changes, innovate and adapt for a new era ahead.

Happy 51st Birthday Singapore!

22nd February – Happy Founder’s Day!

22nd February, to everybody in the Scouting movement, it is Founder’s Day or World Scout Day. Even though I am not as active as before in the Scouting movement, I am still connected with my alma mater Gan Eng Seng Dragon Scout Group and the Dragon Chapter (for us Old Boys to stay connected).

Looking back at my photographs that I took of my alma mater Dragon Scout Group during their special events and projects, it always feels great to be back to a family of great heritage, history and culture, with our roots dating back to 1922! The role now that I play and support to my alma mater is of mentoring and guidance in their special projects, it is where I learned a lot of life and outdoor skills in the Dragon Scout Group family. This is something that I have to Pass It On and Pay It Forward, the Dragon Scouting fire and spirit!

Time to find and allocate time going back to my alma mater!

If you would love to connect with my alma mater, you can find their links below and connect with them –

Dragon Scout Group website

Dragon Scout Group Facebook Page 

Dragon Chapter Facebook Page

Wishing all a Happy Founder’s Day to all in the Scouting movement! 

Old Playgrounds – Personal Project & Adventure

My personal project and adventure with the Old Playgrounds started around August 2010 when I first watched Royston Tan first documentary titled Old Places on Okto channel. After watching it, the memories came coming back to me, it was very nostalgic and heart warming. It seems like that was something missing inside me and I was searching for it, searching for the purpose somewhere. The Old Places documentary inspired me to do something different with my photography shooting and story writing. I wanted to go and explore all the locations listed in the Old Places documentary, photograph them, document, tell and share my photo stories to everybody. In the process of searching for all the Old Places, the journey took me over 3 years and still counting, making new friends who loved the nostalgia and wanting to explore their childhood memories or growing up memories of the Singapore they knew and looked back fondly upon.

My main Old Places adventure trail got me more into writing about our history, heritage, conservation and preservation matters, I dare not profess that I am an expert nor an historian or even a specialist in them. I am doing my small part to document, photograph and share my photo stories and my adventures to be part of a bigger memory pool by fellow enthusiasts to remember our Singapore Memory. The Old Playgrounds was part of the a few locations inside the Old Places list of locations and it was part of my bigger adventure to explore Singapore all over again. During my adventure and exploring Old Places, I started to discover my Old Playgrounds and they were iconic cultural locations that shaped Singapore in her early independent years, a place where children had their fun, leisure, recreation and play time, long before the arrival of the internet and IT gadgets. I always remembered playing at the Old Playgrounds, the joys, the laughters, the tears, the sweat, the pain if we fell down or knocked ourselves. Our memories of playing at the Old Playgrounds were priceless and pulls many heart strings inside me, that got me more in-depth into discovering the Old Playgrounds that are still remaining in Singapore’s history.

I confessed that I slacked off and deviated away from Old Playgrounds Personal Project and Adventure, it was very embarrassing for me considering how much I wanted to do it and complete this particular adventure. I was around the half-way mark based on my research and reading up of the Old Playgrounds in Singapore, through Singapore Memory ProjectMosaic Memories ~ Remembering the Playgrounds Singapore Grew Up In and the Google map showing the Old Playgrounds locations produced by Justin Zhuang. There were a few more Old Playgrounds that were not inside the Google map, that I discovered when I was exploring other Old Places and areas with my friends and spotting them. As the time gap got bigger, I woke up and decided, it’s time to complete my Old Playgrounds, I want to and I will finish where I started and left off. I will first finish up visiting, photographing and documenting the remaining Old Playgrounds on my list. The selected photographs will be uploaded into my Flickr Collection on my Old Playgrounds first. Every Old Playground in Singapore is unique and special therefore, I will dedicate and write for each Old Playground location on my list. The older photographs that I took will reappear from my hard disk database and prepare them for the recognition that the Old Playgrounds deserve. Their photo stories are already on my Photography website/blog!

While it may be easier for readers (and Search Engine Optimisation) to read and find all the Old Playgrounds in one lengthy post, I want to give each and every Old Playground that is on my list a unique post/page on her own. This is my Old Playgrounds Personal Project and Adventure.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

Let’s Contribute Your Photos & Memories to Singapore Memory Project !

Dear all, First thing First, I would like to think of the following questions below before you close your eyes …

~ Do you remember the times when you were young ? 

~ Do you remember the fun and laughter during your childhood games, memories, activities, toys ?

~ When you were a teenager, how was it like ? What were your memories during your childhood, teenage years and young adult days ?

~ What comes to your mind ? The photographs & memories ? What was the fashion like last time ? 

There are many many more questions that you can ask yourself to bring you back in time, through your own personal timeline, through Singapore’s timeline, through your parents and grandparents timeline, there is an enormous vacuum space, for everyone of you to fill it with your different photographs and memories, into this project, a portal known as Singapore Memory Project.

What is the Singapore Memory Project all about ?Let me refresh your memory here with my post! It’s simply collecting your photographs and memories, collate it together and sharing it with fellow Singaporeans and friends from around the world, a time capsule of photographs and memories, in your family and Singapore’s growth and transformation, for your future generations and beyond!

The contribution of photographs and memories to Singapore Memory Project is a natural ongoing extension to what I have started and continuing, an Ongoing Movement – Preservation and Conservation. I would be starting my contribution of photographs and memories to this movement – Singapore Memory Project.

You can do it too and be part of this wonderful, meaningful, heartwarming and memorable Singapore Memory Project. Why not start it now and start the ball rolling ? Let’s visit Singapore Memory Project ! Tell your family members, loved ones, relatives, friends, Pay-It-Forward, share this Singapore Memory Project and you can make a positive impact and difference to the future generations of your family and Singapore!

Saving Bukit Brown

The key words – Conservation, Heritage, History, Preservation and Conservation versus GDP Growth, country’s growth and expansion, building new infrastructure and housing development. Which comes first ? Which should have first priority ? This golden debate is not just peculiar to us in Singapore, it is probably happening worldwide too.

From my previous short summary post on History, Heritage, Preservation and Conservation, I mentioned briefly about Bukit Brown inside my post and recently on 24th December 2011, I went for Nature Society (Singapore) Public Walk at Bukit Brown and started to get myself more involved and understanding behind and within the roots of Saving Bukit Brown, it goes beyond the key words of Conservation, Heritage, Preservation and Conservation.

With a rising population in a limited and small land space Singapore, a thirst for more cars and expected heavier traffic, Bukit Brown Cemetery was slated for re-development, not just for roads, it’s also being planned for housing development too. This caused quite a stir too, with people stepping up to write, share and document down. This cemetery is iconic because of Singapore’s early pioneers, who helped to build up Singapore’s economy and society, some of them were buried there. Removing them is like tearing what builds up Singapore in the first place, way before independence during the British Colonial days. There is a public outcry and there are civic groups activities, social causes, social movement, sharing and telling, to Save Bukit Brown.

Saving Bukit Brown is also the time to learn more about our culture, heritage and history, we can do so much more in this few areas, it was an eye-opener for me, a reminder to myself, we must always keep on learning and never stop learning, in one area, learning from the forefathers of Singapore, with their entrepreneurship, philanthropy and giving it back to society is something so precious that no amount of monetary value can be placed on it and many of them are there at Bukit Brown.

There is also a thought that came to my mind regarding Bukit Brown – some of the graves / tombstones are neglected, some are abandoned, not visited by their future (current) generations. I hope that with the Saving Bukit Brown movement, this would be able to invoke feelings, filal piety and gratitude, to help families reconnect with their ancestors buried there at Bukit Brown.

When I was talking to my big auntie (my mum’s eldest sister-in-law) from my mother’s family side on my recent photojournalistic adventures, I realised that I have ancestors buried in Bukit Brown that I never knew about! They are from my Maternal Grandfather family tree line

– My maternal grandfather ~ 3 elder brothers

– My maternal grandfather’s parents ~ My 2 Great-Grandmothers and Great-Grandfather

My case study would be an example of how the family tree and information were not passed down to the future/current generations,  something probably lacking in extended family traditions nowadays, instead of finding excuses and laying blame, I would be working on chatting more with my eldest auntie to get more information and details from her on the tombstones/graves locations, something that she doesn’t have detailed information on. From then on, I would try to recce and locate the tombstones, find back my uncles, aunties and cousins, hope to be able to bring them all together and pay respects to our ancestors, along with supporting the movement of Saving Bukit Brown.

You can do a part too, support the movements to preserve and save Bukit Brown, follow them on these 2 sites on Facebook

Save Bukit Brown Cemetery – The Roots of Our Nation

Heritage Singapore – Bukit Brown Cemetery 

You can also Sign the Petition – Save Bukit Brown, Save Our Singapore

However, with the inevitable quest and thirst for more land, space and housing, where does the balance lies ? This is a question that is not a million dollar question as some people would put it, there might be no answer that fits everybody.

Those Were The Days In Singapore (For Ages 20 and above)

Globalisation, commercialisation, rapid growth and expansion in Singapore, many changes to our landscape, surroundings, many new tall skyscrapers and malls, replacing many old places. The fast pace of modernisation and expansion is not just kept to Singapore only, it’s happening around the world too! We are expanding that fast until have we asked ourselves to slow down, take a look behind and reflect on our history, cultures and practices, how many of them are still retained today ? How many are already lost in history ?

I went back to my email folders and dug out an email that I saved in 2001, yes, that’s 10 years ago, and it’s something very meaningful, heart warming and it’s a very special that really touched my heart and soul because it’s my childhood … It’s those little things in life, for me, it’s my childhood, for some, it could be their teenager days.

Before you read this, this was not written by me, if you happen to know the author who composed this, drop me a comment and I will acknowledge this wonderful person !

50 things, Singaporeans aged 20 something would identify with. 

1. You grew up watching He-man, Transformers, Silverhawk, Ultraman, SuperFriends 4, Woody WoodPecker, Tom & Jerry, Smurf and Mickey Mouse. Not to forget, maybe Ninja turtles too.

 2. You grew up brushing your teeth with a mug in Primary school during recess time. You will squat by a drain with all your classmates beside you, and brush your teeth with a coloured mug. The teachers said you must brush each side 10 times too.
3.You know what SBC stands for.
4. You know what it means by the Centrepoint Kids, breakdance etc. 

5. You were there when the first Chinese serial, the Awakening was shown on TV.

6. Internet? What the hell is that? So you thought a decade or more ago.
7. You find your friends with pagers and handphone cool in Secondary school.
8. SBS buses used to be non-airconditioned. The bus seats were made of wood and the cushion was red. The big red bell gave a loud BEEEP! when pressed. There were colourful tickets for CSS buses. The conductor will check for tickets by using a machine which punches a hole on the ticket. All SBS buses used to be manually operated, with a huge gigantic gearstick to the left of the driver.
9. Your favourite actor and actress were Huang Wenyong and Xiangyun. Next were Lee Nanxing and Zoe Tay and the Aiyoyo woman (Chen Liping).
10. You’ve probably read Young Generation magazine. You know who’s Vinny the little vampire and Acai the constable.
11. You were there when they first introduced MRT here (Yio Chu Kang to Toa Payoh). You went for the first ride with your parents and you would kneel on the seat to see the scenery.
12. Movie tickets used to cost only $3.50. Tickets were scrawled across using big red pencils. Ushers brought you into the cinemas using big metallic torchlights.
13. Gals were fascinated by Strawberry Short Cake and Barbie Dolls. You also collected Care Bears stickers, trying to complete the impossible task of filling up the sticker book.
14. You remember some taxis were green in colour. Taxis had gearsticks behind the steering wheel, with a transparent knob and little colourful flowers inside the knobs.
15. You longed to buy tibits called Kaka(20 cents per pack), and Ding Dang(50 cents per box), that had a toy in it and it changes every week not forgetting the 15 cents animal crackers and the ringpop, where the lollipop is the diamond on the ring.
16. You watched TV2(also known as Channel 10) cartoons because Channel 5 never had enough cartoons for you.
17. All that you know about Cantonese is from the Hong Kong serials you watched on TV2. In ?Man in the Net?, you watched Ah Chan eat 30 hamburgers.
18. You grew up reading ladybird books? READ IT YOURSELF? Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, The Three investigators, Famous Five and Secret Seven were probably the thickest story books you ever thought you had. Even SweetValley High and Malory Towers. You also love Enid Blyton’s Enchanted Wood, Magic Faraway tree…
19. Civics and Moral Education was ?Hao(3) Gong(1) Min(2)?.
20. KFC used to be a high class place and let you use metal forks and knives.
21. The most vulgar thing you said was asshole and idiot and… you just couldn’t bring yourself to say the hokkien relative.
22. Catching was the IN thing (a.k.a. Police and Thief) and twist or “choap choap” was the magic word.
23. Your English workbooks was made of some damn poor quality paper that was smooth and yellow. 
24. Some part of your school was ALWAYS haunted, like the toilet or clock tower or a certain block. You walk fast to avoid them.
25. The only computer lessons in school involved funny pixellised characters in 16 colours walking about trying to teach you maths. You printed with noisy dot matrix printers and use computer papers with two rows of holes at the sides. ?Mouse?? What’s that?
26. Waterbottles, with your favourite cartoon character on it, were slinged around your neck and a must everywhere you go.
27. Boys loved to play soccer with small tennis balls in the basketball court.
28. Hopskotch, five stones,chateh and zero point were all the rage with the girls and boys too… Remember 5 times, highest, one-inch…
29. Science was fun with the balsam and the angsana being the most important plants of our lives.
30. Who could forget Ahmad, Bala, Gopal, Sumei, Peihua and John, eternalised in the textbooks. Even Mr Wolly, Mr Yakki.
31. You did stupid exercises like seal crawl and frog jumps.
32. Every children’s day and national day you either get pencils or pens with ‘Happy Children’s Day 1983′ or dumb files with Happy National Day 1984’.
33. In Primary six you had to play buddy for the younger kids like big sister and brother.
34. Chinese teachers were always old, boring and damn fiercelooking. Your form teacher taught you maths, science and english.
35. The Scouts used to wear shorts, and the NCC uniform was a plain green colour without camouflage.
36. The worksheets were made of brown rough paper of poor quality.
37. You went to school in slippers and a raincoat when it rained,and you find a dry spot in the school to sit and wipe yourself dry. Then you wear your dry and warm socks and shoes.
38. You listened to Xin(1) Yao(2). Remember Eric Moo’s Kopi ‘O’, ‘Sunglass’etc?
39. After exams, you brought game and watch to school, and play card games like ‘snap’ and ‘donkey’, and you also play pick up sticks and snakes & ladder and the aeroplane board game. Either this or you would play those cards comparing aeroplanes, warships, or tanks; who would have more firepower or speed or weight, etc.
40. You remember you uncles, big brothers and father screaming and shouting in front of the TV when the S’pore soccer team (always in blue jerseys) play against the Malaysians.
41. Your friends considered you lucky and rich if your parents gave you $3 or more for pocket money everyday.
42. During class gatherings, parents always tag along in case someone gets lost at Orchard Road.
43. You freak out when the teacher tells you to line up according to height and hold hands with the corresponding boy or girl.
44. Handkerchieves were a must for both genders.
45. Collecting notebooks, erasers and all kinds of stationery was a popular thing.
46. Autograph books were loaded with ?Best Wishes?, ?Forget Me Not?,and small poems like ?Bird fly high, hard to catch. Friend like you, hard to forget?.
47. Class monitors and prefects loved to say ?You talksomemore,I write your name ah!?
48. You remember songs sung by a huge group of people, like the Chinese Ming(2) Tian(1) Hui(4) Gen(4) Hao(3), and the English ?We Are The World?….In Sec Sch, you listen to Bananarama, Jason Donavan, Kylie Manogue, New Kids on the Block, ABBA, and Tommy Page (Remember ‘A Shoulder to Cry On’?…
49. Large, colourful schoolbags were carried. And fanciful pencil cases with lots of small tiny drawers, trays, sharpener or thermometer, that pop out at the push of a button were the ‘in’ thing.
50. You brought every single book to school, even though there was one thing called the timetable, written on the inside cover of your little blue notebook.

Spread this heart warming message around, you don’t get something like very often. Remember, you come from a generation worth remembering.

I had kept this for 10 years in my mailbox folders, never deleting it and I sincerely thank the author/composer who wrote the above 50 points for you had summarised my childhood days. I hope to be able to acknowledge this wonderful author/composer! The pace of life in Singapore has gone so fast and it’s not that we are caught in the past and not looking forward to the future.

It’s that while we embraced changes, growth and expansion, we do not want to forget our roots, cultures, heritage and history, the fun and laughter, peace and joy. Let this be a kickstart for me to start capturing back my childhood memories and if I can still find them, I would showcase them and share it with the world and for the future generations of Singapore, something to learn and remember!

Preserve Heritage & History ? Or Earn Profits ?

On this day, 1st July 2011, this marked the start of a new chapter, a new era in Singapore, yet it also meant the end of a chapter, history, heritage and era in Singapore’s history too. It was the end of the KTM Railway operations in Singapore with the return of the Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station and Bukit Timah KTM Railway Station to Singapore and the KTM trains no longer operate from these 2 railway stations.

On the last day of the Grand Old Dame operations, it was a grand occasion to send her off away in style and passion, that unites both sides of the countries, Singapore and Malaysia, together, signifying and showing the close inter-relationship that both countries have over the centuries. The photojournalistic adventures of the Last KTM Train in and out of Tanjong Pagar KTM Railway Station can be found here on my photoblog.

What lies ahead ? The railway stations Tanjong Pagar and Bukit Timah will be preserved and restored for heritage purposes. However, the rest of the whole stretch of the railway tracks/line from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands, is of great debate, concerns and discussions, from the people who are passionate and advocating preserving The Green Corridor, flora and fauna, to the history, heritage and culture, to the government bodies and non-profit organisations. The fate of the entire railway track is still unknown at this point in time of writing.

It’s a delicate issue, with land scarcity and increasing population versus preserving the greenery, tranquility and a green belt to keep the spirit and history of the railway tracks alive for the future generations. It’s also an opportunity for Singaporeans to get closer to nature and wildlife, along with outdoor recreational activities such as cycling (mountain biking) and trekking.

What is the answer ? Preserve Heritage & History ? Or Earn Profits ? What is the price of capitalisation ? Lost and erosion of Heritage and Culture … forever …

The railway tracks, along with parts and components of the railway lines, will be removed and returned back. While that is understandable, we might need to think how we can do something more, to rebuild back the tracks ? Or transform it into a Green Corridor Belt / Connectors for walking, trekking and cycling ? Or will we see more private properties being built on the land that the railway tracks once occupy ? I personally do not wish to see more private properties being built at the expense of the greenery being destroyed forever. How beautiful is The Green Corridor ? Check out my photos here!

Many people have stepped forward, with ideas, thoughts, pouring out of emotions and stories, through traditional media and social media. From the newspaper forums, letters to editors, blogs, facebook notes, websites, twitter and flickr, a lot more people are getting more involved and voiced out their inside to their fellow people. An individual effort maybe a small effort, no doubt it is small, remember, a tiny drop makes an ocean when they all combine together. Likewise, every individual’s effort to help spread this noble cause to preserve the heritage and The Green Corridor, the message will get across to the relevant authorities.

This is the power of social media channels and networks, harnessing them for a social and noble cause, showcasing the positive impacts and network outreach to the wider community, encouraging their fellow people to step forward too, to Pay-It-Forward, a collective effort to make this noble cause even bigger and wider.

What solutions can be implemented for the railway tracks/line a.k.a The Green Corridor ? Lots have been discussed and a summary of the various discussions/ideas by different people is here –

  • Transforming it into a unique railway track connector for cycling, trekking and walking
  • Linking to the various Park Connectors of the different nature reserves, parks of Singapore along the railway line
  • Some segments of the railway tracks can be gazetted into Nature Reserve especially Clementi to Bukit Timah stretch
  • Heritage and cultural museums for Tanjong Pagar Raliway Station and Bukit Timah Railway Station
  • Along some parts of the railway line, small scale gardening and farming can be allowed for the residents
While this is non-exhaustive, let’s keep this whole exercise, noble cause going! We all can make a difference, no matter how big or small, for our future generations, to remember and learn about our railway heritage, history and the friendship between Singapore and Malaysia.