Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Disabled People granted new lease of opportunities :)

This morning newspaper put a smile on my face - have been encouraged by the articles that have shown their willingness to integrate disabled people into their work place
Have always felt that Singapore should help disabled people be independent - this way they can not only feel like a contribution to the society but also learn to help contribute to the family - which I believe is a dream for them - Hopefully I will be able to integrate in my company a system to help the disabled as well - in the process , May it come true

MCYS provides funding for the support of this cause!

Society for the Physically Disabled have their candidates for internships or freelance jobs!

And I am so proud of Singapore being lauded as one of the best countries who have pushed for the disabled people accessibility and transformation
"One of the most commented about countries regarding strides it has made in addressing disabled persons specialized needs is Singapore. Though many developed countries have specific laws for disabled persons, Singapore is one of the countries that have rapidly changed many of its access systems to recognize the specialized needs of its disabled population and workforce." Link..

Home > Singapore > Story
Dec 18, 2010
Hiring disabled: More firms open door
Many tap scheme that provides internships, funding for job re-design
By Judith Tan

PEOPLE with disabilities are no longer being sidelined in the job market.

They are now very visible as executives in various sectors like information technology, hospitality, and banking.

This year alone, 50 companies in the various sectors hired people with disabilities. These firms tapped into the Enhanced Open Door Fund, where these people are offered internships by firms under a funded apprenticeship programme, which may then result in them being hired.

One such firm is City Developments Limited (CDL). In September 2008, it began collaborating with the Asian Women's Welfare Association in its Teach Me Inc programme, to provide employment to people with disabilities.

Ms Sherine Toh, head of human resources at CDL, said the company initially hired two of them as interns for about six months. 'Subsequently we converted one of them into a permanent employment position. The same processes apply when it comes to hiring those with physical disabilities. There is no differentiation,' she said.

Mr Liew Chong Heng, 25, who has spinal muscular atrophy, was eventually hired as an internal audit officer and has been with CDL for two years.

He went through the Teach Me programme, which provides support services to the physically challenged to integrate them into the mainstream workforce. These people attend a four-month workshop that covers communication, personal effectiveness and work skills before they are placed at firms as interns.

Programme manager Tarin Ong, 35, said: 'We also help employers with integrating them at the workplace by conducting full-on workshops and lunchtime talks. We also perform accessibility audits to see if the infrastructure is friendly (to people with disabilities).'

Employers can be given up to S$100,000 by the Open Door Fund to implement job re-design and workplace modifications, as well as train people with disabilities. The fund came into effect in May 2007.

Set up by the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports and administered by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF), the fund encourages companies to look beyond a person's disabilities and recruit based on merit.

In October last year, it began helping firms take in apprentices. The firms then decide if they can be employed.

Said a spokesman for the SNEF: 'Most companies we engaged are not against the hiring of people with disabilities but they lack the knowledge of how to integrate them, or they may have certain stereotype assumptions of what they cannot do.

'We work with employers to highlight what they can do and sometimes do better than the able-bodied.'

He added that many employers who attended SNEF-run workshops on the issue went on to hire more people with disabilities. To date, 115 companies committed to hiring these people have tapped into the fund.



The disabled is just like us

More companies tap Open Door Fund to hire disabled

Friday 11 June 2010
reported by Jeremy Koh

SINGAPORE : More companies are tapping the Open Door Fund to hire the disabled.

Since it was set up in July 2006, 79 companies have tapped the fund, which provides subsidies of up to $100,000.

Of these companies, 22 came on board in the last eight months.

26-year-old Eddlie Neo sustained head injuries seven years ago in a gang fight.

He slipped into a coma for seven months and thought all was lost.

"Gone, (my) future all gone, because I was lying on the bed, I can't move, (though) can talk & see, but I cannot work," said Neo, a physically-disabled job seeker.

Neo can now look after himself and get around on his own.

Last year, he picked up IT skills at the Society for the Physically Disabled but is still looking for a job.

"I see a lot of people who are worse off than me, and I decided to carry on with my life. I hope companies' bosses will accept (workers who are) wheelchair-bound, that's the main thing. If they don't accept this, those who are on wheelchair can't (find) work," said Neo.

Neo's dream is to open a bar that hires those who are physically-disabled.

"I was a bartender before, so I'm interested in this kind of jobs. (I hope to) give them a chance to support themselves and show that people with disabilities can work and lead a normal life," said Neo.

36-year-old Juraimi Jafar, who was born with cerebral palsy, is also working to land a permanent job.

He has never worked full-time and gets by with a $100 allowance as a trainee packer.

He knows he has to earn his own keep with a secure job.

He said: "If my parents (are gone), then I need to take care of myself. Otherwise, who's going to take care of me."

Juraimi and Neo are among the disabled in Singapore who badly need a job.

While more companies have been tapping the Open Door Fund to make this possible, the numbers do not appear encouraging.

Only 79 companies have done so over the past four years.

"A lot of time, the misconception or the fear of not knowing how to react, how to talk to a person on a wheelchair, for example, or how to talk to a person who's blind. It's this poor understanding of how to relate to a person with disability," explained Chia Woon Yee, director of Technology and Vocational Training at the Society for Physically Disabled.

About 400 physically-disabled people have found long-term employment, thanks to the Open Door Fund. - CNA /ls

Copyright 2010 channelnewsasia.com


Areas for improvement
It was toilet humour, of a sort. "There are 'wheelchair toilets' that are too small. When you wheel it in, you can't close the door," Mr Julian Wee, who has cerebral palsy, observed wryly.

Then there was another public loo meant for disabled persons that he'd encountered - sporting wheelchair-unfriendly steps. Such little ironies capture, in a nutshell, the stops, starts and partial advances over the last few years in improving life for the physically disabled in Singapore.

Friday marked the annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. And with the Government's Enabling Masterplan in its penultimate year - after being launched in February 2007 as a blueprint for expanding disability services in Singapore - it is perhaps timely to take stock of how far persons with disabilities feel they've managed to merge with the able-bodied mainstream.

By the Government's estimate, the disabled make up 3 per cent of the population here - there is no official figure as disability "is a complex phenomenon", a spokesman said.

And, on the one hand, the signs of progress are reason to raise some cheers.

"Things have improved quite a lot in these few years. There are now buses for the handicapped and lifts at the MRT station," said Ms Tan Li Li, a wheelchair user who works at the Society for the Physically Disabled's (SPD) production workshop.

Those who have achieved successful careers, like Mr Wee, 33, an economist at a Shenton Way research firm, also help dispel outdated stereotypes about what the physically handicapped are capable of and, just as importantly, increase the "visibility" of this group in everyday society. The rousing sports successes of Singapore's Paralympians also have won the community new levels of respect.

On television, disabled characters are finding their way into popular culture here - besides the wheelchair-bound Artie in the hit American series Glee, they have been protagonists in Channel 8 dramas too.

So, if Singapore has come some way in being more inclusive for those with physical disabilities, why do some things still feel the same? There are still lifts with buttons too high for wheelchair users to reach; ATMs with raised platforms; disabled-friendly toilets that are locked or used as storerooms, cited Ms Joyce Wong, an assistant director at SPD.



NOT QUITE GETTING AROUND

Even though buses and the MRT are becoming more disabled-friendly, Mr Wee mostly takes taxis to get around. He found getting across the massive Wheelock Place/Tangs junction at Orchard Road - including navigating the warren of underpasses - so difficult a few months ago, that he "had to take a cab around".

These gaps in accessibility prevent persons with disabilities from being fully part of society and render them relatively "invisible", he feels.

Then there is Mr Lee Ling Chuan, a wheelchair-user who sells TOTO lottery tickets near his home in Bedok, who had never been on a wheelchair-accessible bus (WAB) as he hadn't seen any where he lived, he said. (The first WAB service was launched by SBS Transit in June 2006; six more services launched on Thursday have brought the total to 61.)

For disabled persons who don't live near an MRT station or bus stop with WAB service, they must depend on taxis or arranged transport - which comes up against the issue of affordability. "A large proportion of our clients are from the lower-income group," said Ms Wong of the SPD, which serves about 3,000 disabled persons and caregivers.

"Transport is a holistic thing. You can't have it piecemeal," Mr Wee argued. "In the last 10 years ... (the authorities have) flattened down kerbs, they've introduced tactile surfaces for the visually handicapped ... but ultimately, there are still many places which aren't very accessible."

Ms Wong added: "Connectivity from point to point - from transport to buildings, buildings to public areas, from transport to housing ... must be there, in the next phase to improve 'visibility' for persons with disabilities."

There is also a social and economic cost to factor in, Mr Wee noted. When disabled persons can't get around, their social life is curtailed. "These days, how you do in a job interview matters quite a bit ... Even able-bodied people get nervous at interviews, what more a disabled person who has not had much contact with able-bodied people, or in a social setting - it's going to be quite nerve-wracking."



TARGETS TO MEET

On an encouraging note, national targets are in place. All public buses are to be wheelchair-accessible by 2020 and more than 70 per cent of MRT stations will have at least two barrier-free access routes by the end of next year, according to a spokesperson from the Ministry of Community Development, Youth and Sports.

The retrofitting of MRT stations with disabled-friendly features has taken over a decade, while work to make all bus routes accessible to wheelchairs has involved bus interchanges, kerbs and other infrastructure.

In addition, a $40-million Accessibility Fund incentivises the upgrading of private buildings, while Town Councils are upgrading all HDB precincts with barrier-free accessiblity features by next year.

Though it was made mandatory in 1990 for buildings to provide such accessibility, "there remains a large stock of buildings built before 1990 that are not barrier-free", said Mr Chin Chi Leong, the Building and Construction Authority's Commissioner of Buildings. In this, the public sector is taking the lead and about 98 per cent of key Government buildings now have "at least basic barrier-free features", said Mr Chin.

One factor has given vital impetus to the drive to make the island more handicap-accessible: The silver tsunami.

It used to be argued that, as the number of disabled persons was relatively tiny, accessibility features were not cost-effective. In the 1980s, disability advocates like Mr Edmund Wan, a polio survivor, called for special needs to be considered in the MRT system. "The reasons given then were that we are just a minority, we are difficult to handle in an emergency," said the retiree, a committee member of the Handicaps Welfare Association.

The tune has changed, observers note, with one in five persons expected to be aged 65 or older by 2030, and the needs of the elderly overlapping with those of the disabled. The BCA promotes the adoption of Universal Design, giving access for the widest possible range of needs from the elderly to families with prams, persons temporarily handicapped through illness or injury, and even foreigners who don't speak the lingo.

In retrospect, Ms Wong noted: "It's more expensive to retrofit a place that has been built than to put in those features at the start."



TYPECAST AS SUPPLICANTS

Another apparent sign of progress is that the disabled are making inroads into mainstream jobs. Bizlink, a Government-appointed job agency for persons with disabilities, placed more than 600 in jobs in the past three years. In the latest financial year 2009/2010, it put more in mainstream employment than it did in sheltered workshops that employ only disabled persons.

Weekend Today also spoke to teachers, engineers, accountants and professionals who just happened to have physical disabilities.

But there is still a fair way to go for disabled persons to become visible, familiar members of society who aren't pigeonholed as "victims" or helpless.

"Cab drivers are very surprised when they learn that I work and that I can speak English," said Mr Wee. "For the most part, you only see disabled persons in the mass media when they're appealing for donations ... There's that typecasting that happens, inadvertently."

Televised fundraisers like the laudable President's Star Charity raise substantial funds for Singaporeans with disabilities, who in turn often perform on the show, displaying their musical and other admirable talents. Even so, stereotypes of supplication - however inadvertent or well-intentioned - accentuate the status gap between those who give and those who receive.

Meanwhile, local TV has featured the disabled as, for example, among the underprivileged who get home-makers in the Channel 5 docu-reality programme RenovAID. There was also Beyond The Physical, in the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, on the "lesser-known world of disabled sports and athletes through the eyes of their able-bodied counterparts", said Ms Kim Wong-Nathan, VP Network Commissioning, Channel 5.

Channel 8 Mandarin dramas such as Your Hand in Mine, Taste of Love and The Shining Star have featured disabled main characters.

But sometimes raw nerves are touched when TV shows feature disabled persons. When the BBC chose one-armed presenter Cerrie Burnell to co-host a children's show on the CBeebies channel, a handful of parents claimed she scared children - one squeamishly complained she should "pull her sleeve down a bit more". American series Glee also got brickbats - for hiring an able-bodied actor to play the wheelchair-bound Artie.

In general, SPD's Ms Wong said, TV dramas featuring the disabled "often portray a person who is helpless" and in this respect, the media could do more to fight stereotypes.

It could also perhaps help educate the public. Mr Lim Chin Heng, a deaf maths resource teacher in a mainstream school, said he was once asked why he and his friends were using sign language - was it because he had a short tongue and couldn't speak?

Certainly, there is much more that would help the physically disabled be more visible in Singapore life. Accountant May Low, who is deaf, said the small pool of interpreters made it difficult for deaf persons to fully participate in society.

In the assessment of Mr Ron Chandran-Dudley, who is visually handicapped, and has been working on disability issues for close to six decades: "Awareness of the capabilities of disabled persons is increasing".

For his part, Mr Wan hopes that one day, disability will be considered like "race - nothing particularly significant", just part of the fabric of Singapore life.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Refund Bus Fare

Seeing Mint get her refund and the newspaper article below just made me so curious about mine

SINGAPORE : Saturday is the first day commuters can start getting their refunds if they had been overcharged due to distance errors between bus stops.

As at 3pm, a total of S$3,000 was refunded to some 9,600 cards.

Commuters were overcharged some S$300,000 since distance-based fares were introduced in July.

Commuters can get their refunds at any TransitLink Add Value Machine, by placing their CEPAS card on the card reader and selecting the "Bus Stop Distance Refund" icon on the screen.

But some commuters are unaware it is this easy.

One commuter, Teresa Chan, said: "If there are some flyers going around, they have to let us know what it is all about, where to go and what to do. I think that would be very useful."

Some commuters were baffled by the amount they got back.

26-year-old Pau Chun Chun, who takes bus number 36, which has the second highest distance errors between bus stops, got 34 cents back in her CEPAS card.

She takes the service about three times a week.

She said: "I expected a few dollars in refund...Given the frequency I travel, I only got 30 cents plus. I am not sure about how they calculate the refund. But I just take it. "

Commuters can also approach the TransitLink Ticket Officer to check and credit the total eligible refund amount into their CEPAS cards.

Commuters can check for refund eligibility via telephone hotlines (1800 2255 663 and 1800 2255 582) or the public transport website.

Refunds are available till 17 June 2011.


Check how much you are eligible for a refund

Results -

You are eligible for a refund.

Refund Amount
$ 0.08

The bus operators will donate any unclaimed amount after the refund period to the Public Transport Fund, which will benefit needy families.

-> Kindly donate mine to the needy families

Haha considering from the previous article. I had also expected more from each refund. Well, everyone! Just let SBS donate all to needy families k :)

SINGAPORE: Bus commuters have been overcharged some $300,000 since distance-based fares kicked in on 3 July.

This was revealed after an island-wide bus stop review by the Land Transport Authority (LTA) found errors in actual distances measured between bus stops.

Commuters have also been undercharged some S$100,000 in the same period due to these mistakes.

About 150 bus services have been affected by the errors. They ply routes passing some 100 bus stops across the island.

LTA says all errors will be corrected by Friday.

Commuters who have been overcharged will have a six-month window from 18 December to obtain refunds.

Notices will be put up at affected bus stops and bus interchanges from Tuesday on how commuters can get the refunds.

The public transport operators will bear the costs of undercharging.

- CNA/ir

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thats's just life

Been reading a number of entries these days - which help me add on a few resolution for 2011

1. Do a Full Triathlon in 2011
- Join training if possible


Got inspired after reading my friend's entry on his Ironman

Ironman 70.3 Asia Pacific Championshio Phuket - My Toughest Race So Far
by Eugene Lim on Tuesday, December 7, 2010 at 2:05pm
8 months ago, I decided to go for my 2nd Ironman 70.3 distance after I found out that i am able to qualified for the APAC championship in Phuket with my results at Singapore Aviva Ironman 70.3 2010. I was determined to do much better and i reflected on my weaknesses during Aviva. My swim was ok, bike was slow and run was less than satisfactory. There were just too many ‘grievances’ that i want to address in my next big race. I told myself, i must swim faster, bike stronger and run better in Phuket.

From then on, i trained hard. 6 days a week, often double sessions, huge investment on a new time trial bike and other equipments, mental barrier of solo training on morning rides, runs and pushing myself ever further in each training. I was glad that Wilson, who is a super experienced triathlete himself, was willing to coach me. His programme was tough but I told myself to grind my teeth and take on the challenge. After all, nobody said it was easy.

Leading up to the race, under the guidance of Mr Kang and Wilson, i felt that i was getting stronger. I learned a lot as an athlete during my build up. Being a triathlete is very different from being a pure swimmer, cyclist or a runner. Each sport demands different muscle groups to work but also commonly tax your cardiovascular system. Pacing was of utmost importance. In previous races, I usually slow down as time goes on and that was because my pacing was super off. To have better pacing is to train frequently and let your body know automatically what pace you are going at. Rhythm and momentum is crucial. I used to think that cadence in cycling was not important but Wilson taught me that cadence is actually one of the key in cycling. As I lack the muscle mass of a typical cyclist, having a high cadence would prevent me from tiring out my muscles prematurely. The starting phase was hard. My legs were tearing apart as i try to attempt to reach 90rpm on the bike but as i get used to it.. i was doing 90-95rpm with good effort on relatively harder gear ratios. My confidence for my bike grew and as much as I know i would not be among the fastest for bike splits, I could at least manage better than before. Likewise for swimming, Mr Kang’s rigorous training routine (think 1.5km ‘warm-up’ swims’, then all sorts of sets, and end off with 3 sets of 8 x 50m) pushed my swimming capability way beyond what i thought i could do. Mileage on the run and drills given by Wilson was beneficial and i felt my form for running is coming back gradually.

December 2nd came. Just days after my exams which sucked the soul out of me. I shook off the fatigue of exams and concentrated on the race. Bike packing, race preparation and nutrition were just part of the game plan.

Off we go, on the Silkair flight to Phuket. The hotel rooms were awesome (sort of entice us to sleep earlier and earlier every day!). Meals were great. It looks all set that a good race is on the way. Then came the route recee. Mr Kang insisted that we rent a vehicle to take us on the whole 90km route. So we did. During the route recee, we were shocked at how ‘bad’ the route was. There were climbs that could make our ears pop, descends that are freaking dangerous with hairpin turns and almost the entire route was undulating. Towards the end of the recee, we were all quiet. I began to have doubts. Can i finish the course? will i crash? how do i conquer the slopes? (which we come to realise that they could be as steep as 16%) is my preparation enough? I was scared. like very scared. I have not worry about completion before because it was all about timing.. now it is different. This inaugural race incorporated one of the toughest bike route ever and it was meant to challenge the best there, given its title as the APAC Championships. The swim ain’t easy either, as it consists of a sea swim and a lagoon swim. Two different bodies of water with different buoyancy and thus different style of swimming. The run was the ‘easiest’ as it was relatively flat but we cannot look down on the heat and humidity of Phuket.

We checked in our bike/run bags and bike the day before. I went to sleep with race jitters. I did a lot of mental training, tried to visualise the route as much as i can and planned my nutrition in take (before the hard parts). off the lights, and i hoped, quietly for a good race.

The next thing that happened was the sound of the start horn. Along with my fellow teammates, i sprinted into the relatively clear and nice water of Phuket and set off on my 70.3 miles of journey. Backed by my confidence was the rigorous swim trainings back home, i quickly found pace in the swim and maintain a good tempo. I felt extremely good exiting the sea and enter the lagoon. Mr Kang told us that instead of jumping straight into the lagoon, we should run on the left where there was a sea bed which stretches at least 50m out further into the lagoon. I took that route and while the other competitors were swimming that length, i was running through shin-high level of water. i plunged in almost 3 body lengths ahead of this guy who exited the sea with me. The water was green with a bad algae stench and taste. I couldn’t care more. I aimed for a 34min swim and i will do it. Once again, Mr Kang’s sound advice of kicking more in this mix of fresh/sea water lagoon helped. I propelled through the water and at this point of time (unlike previous races), i still feel very very fresh. The 1.5km warm up swims really made my body used to long distance swimming and it was not as tiring as before. Touchdown on mat and it was 34 mins! A big “YES!” sounded inside me and i did a PB by taking 3 mins off my swim as compared to my 37min in Aviva.

I ran along the mat to grab my bike bag, put on my aero helmet, race belt and shades and off i went. My strategy was to go steady on the bike and not be too overly aggressive. On hindsight, i maybe over conservative. Ben soon caught up with me on the bike and Xander later. I kept a tight watch on my nutrition and make sure i get my calories before my body get drained. Salt tablets, power gel, water, electrolyte.. it was a feast (i used to ignore race nutrition pretty much before Wilson told me otherwise).

Then it was the hills. It was my lowest point of the race. I couldn’t even spin up the first hill with the easiest gears. I was going up at 6kph and losing my balance. I knew i had to push up.. it was a moment of despair. I saw many zig zag up the 16% crazy steep slopes and i asked myself why i couldn’t. Was that the end of me? This was to be repeated on the 2nd set of climbs.. once again.. i was off my bike pushing.. it was really disheartening. The descends were extremely dangerous as expected and i was extra careful when i was going down.. I admit i am not a very good bike handler so this was tough for me.. i felt that i was almost flying off my bike.. at the same time, i was also hoping my teammates were tackling them safely. The course was extremely technical. At the back of my mind, i really though this was a super mini tour de france. It tests your climbing abilities, bike handling skills, cornering, descending and also time trialling.

Jiajie was sort of on and off with me since the start of the bike leg. He was a great companion and i’m glad he was there. i dunno why also... probably a friendly face in the midst of Phuket crazy hills was comforting. He passed me eventually and said “come on Fabian Cancellara!”.. that kind of spurt me on.. i was fading.. real bad.. a lot of things went through my mind.. the previous day, we were watching Chasing Legends and the phase “it’s time to eat shit” got into my head..

It was then.. probably 50+/60 km that i recovered and speed up. In Xander’s term, i switched on my ‘Twin Turbo”. This is the relatively undulating terrain of the course. I kept my cadence and a steady comforting pace of approximately 36-38kph.. I dunno what went into me but i couldn’t care more. I cornered hard and went manageably hard. I found strength to spin up the last Naighton hill. It was long but i spinned up! It was the home stretch of around 10km more.. I just went.. refusing to get out of aero position and tight turns, cutting every inch of a corner.. i was visualising how Cancellara was time trialling in the 2009 World TT Championships. Cadence was 90-95... I was feeling strong again.. Then i saw the turn into transition.. I smiled and dismount my bike, pass it to the bike catchers and grab my run bag. Game Time.

To my surprise, i saw Ben in the changing tent. Then i knew he got a 4 min penalty for drafting violation (kind of lame but anyhow still kanna).. He left the tent before me. i wore my shoes, visor, grab a drink and ran. Although the bike was the toughest physical part of the race, the run, for me, was the toughest mentally. I knew Ben and Lionel were in front of me because Ben was a better bike and Lionel was stronger in the swim and the bike. I felt very good when i first started out. The many brick trainings Wilson gave was helping.. my tights were not burning and my legs were not seizing. Weather was great, cloudy though still humid. I chased. Like my life depended on it.. People who raced with me before know how i look and usually don’t react to supporters or cheers (not that i am tao but i am just concentrating). In my head, i was just thinking of chasing up to Ben before i try to catch Lionel. Then at the turn into the Outrigger estate, i saw Lionel exiting. That means he probably got a 1-2km lead on me. I was a bit demoralized because it will not be easy to catch him. i shook it off and concentrated on catching Ben. I was going strong, sponges and water points were great. The race support for this race was nothing sort of awesome. There was cold water, power gel and electrolyte at EVERY aid station. It helped negate the pain a little.

After 3-4km, we came to this long stretch of sand dirt path. All i could hear was my shoes running on the sand and i was using that to pace myself. I keep looking for Ben and Lionel. It was not until the aid station at the 7-8km mark that I saw the two of them. I ran past them with a friendly pat on Ben. I didn’t care about time.. i was just running.. then a few guys was running with me to the end of the 1st loop. 10.5km done.. another 10.5km to the end of this... GO EUGENE...

Then, the sun came out. it was almost noon. It was baking me as well as everyone around. I felt my energy leaving me.. i ate my gel at 5/10/15km.. sponges weren’t as helpful anymore.. then GY caught up with me.. i ran with her for a good 2-3km before she powered off.. i was dying.. drained.. the bike course, heat and humidity are taking their toll on me.. All i could do now was to keep running and not stop to walk.. DON’T WALK.. EAT SHIT NOW.. it was tough.. i didn’t know where i was.. i was just running.. the heat wave were fuzzing on the roads.. the sand dirt path was like a sandstorm. My world went silent.. i couldn’t hear cheers from outside.. all i could hear was my body screaming to stop and walk.. i kept on going.. keep asking myself to move my legs and swing my arms..

The 19km sign came up. I dunno where this place was.. this is the 2nd loop and i am suppose to recognise this place.. but i couldn’t.. im shutting down mentally. I was trying to think of other things other than the pain.. Yimei is waiting for me to get home, mr kang and auntie elsie were at the finish line. I hit the dirt path (the elephant park) and i ‘regain’ consciousness. It was less than 1 km.. i ran.. and ran more.. i saw the clock.. ran towards the banner.. past the mat. YES I DID IT!!!!!!! I grabbed the banner, lift it up like how Macca does it at the finish line.. pose for the camera.. and with 2 hands on my thigh.. I waited for my teammates..

The race was done. my hardest and most mentally challenging race ever. All fears left and only the strongest can survive. We all did. The feeling of euphoria came.. and as Ben came past the line, i gave him a hug. We did it.. i could almost cry.. months of prepartion for this single day. I didn’t clock my personal best (5:24 in Aviva 2010) and obviously sub-5 was out of the picture in this kind of course. Yet i was contended with a 5:34 and felt that i really matured as an athlete.

The journey wasn’t easy. This race is a big part of me now. Whether i will come back or not is another issue but this experience is something that i couldn’t get anywhere else. And without the support of some, i wouldn’t be here.

I may not be on the podium or did a PB in this race. But finishing this race was, to me, a great achievement and racing among the cream of the crop was a unique experience. For now, it’s off season and i will be preparing for my exchange programme in Stockholm. The APAC Championship Ironman 70.3 made me love triathlon even more and i will (mark my words) break the 5 hours barrier one day.

With Love,
Eugene


2. Carpe Diem - Live life to its fullest
- Make sure the life I am living now brings me joy, brings joy to my family and eb a support to my dear friends all around me


Traveling has been a topic between me and a friend for years. Back then was just a dream, day dreaming in fact. We will be planning the starting and the ending point of the route, to what we do, where we stay, etc. But years past and we are still where we are, struggling to pay debts, money is never enough. Maybe it was enough.. but never enough to save for a major trip.

Money is just an excuse, i realized. It is an important factor but it's also the least to be worried about. Its pay day every month end. And its "pay day" indeed. Paying everyone except myself. At the end of the day, i left probably just enough for survival. Instead of talking about how much I want to travel, and how broke i always am, i took the brave step and bought the first ticket in 2010. Whats the difference of being broke in Singapore, and being broke overseas?

Well.. at least i'm overseas. =)

Commitments. Thats another word i hate. There are too much things at home that i can't ignore. Debts.. cars.. family.. job.. And every other few months, i screw up one of those. People coming after me for payments; Dad's yelling at me for God-knows-what reasons; i fucked my job; my car died on me. Im sick of everything around me that is silently telling me that i should not leave, work hard and pay my bills. Logical? Sensible? But it never once gives me the smiles that i should have. On the contrary, i was starting to lose myself in this world of debts and payments, and dealing with people i deem brainless.

People see me as an insensible kid. I think it's a part of me to know how to totally ignore anybody and how people thought of me. Yeah.. if i can be bother, i won't be me anymore. And of course, this unique trait of me landed me into troubles, big and small, over the years. I decided to put this trait into good use - To stop pleasing people who are undeserving, ignore them, and do what i really what. There's only two i need to please in this life i have, God and myself.

Somehow someone will say.. Whatever you are doing is not responsible at all. I AM responsible of myself. And of cos, bills and debts are not to be compromised. If i could do this much with debts, what's more i could do without debts. I won't be here blogging. Probably at some unknown islands, whale watching, saving turtle eggs... yea, that's what i want to do.

The world is too big to stay in one place for too long.



3. Treat my family better
-Listen more. Time is too short to be unforgiving or angry. Love!


Aug 29, 2010

Difficult to accept a loved one’s suffering

Feeling compassion with a detachment is wise, but tough when it comes to Mama

By Lee Wei Ling

I awoke with a start, a while ago, from a dream. I looked at my watch. It was 4am.

It was a dream worth remembering, so I decided to write it down immediately. If I had not done so, I would not have been able to remember it later.

In my dream, I seemed to be simultaneously at home and outdoors at some unfamiliar place. Suddenly, a monster appeared and attacked me. I struggled with the monster but it matched me strength for strength. I did not utter a sound, nor was I frightened. Instead, I wrestled silently with it.

Suddenly my mother appeared. She walked towards us, but did not say anything either. Instead, she made a dismissive gesture and the monster turned tail and ran away.

That would be Mama’s way of tackling problems, I thought: no need for unnecessary words or actions; just do things quietly and effectively.

At that point, I woke up. I got up from the floor where I was sleeping and went into my mother’s room to see how she was doing. She was sleeping peacefully. I am now back in my room recording what I can still remember of my dream – for a ‘dream’ indeed it was, as it cannot be classified as a nightmare.

For two years and three months already, my mother has been too weak to get out of bed. But in that brief moment in my dream, I saw her again as she had been – physically normal.

I wished I could have dreamt on, and after some time, together with Mama, vanquished the monster in the dream and then walked off together.

In dreams, everything seems possible. That my mother appeared magically in my dream did not surprise me – either while I was dreaming or when I awoke. This is because between Mama and me, there was always some form of telepathy.

Once, when I was staying with my brother Hsien Loong, my toothbrush was worn out and needed to be replaced. I hardly ever shop, so I did what I had always done before: I told Mama I needed a new toothbrush.

Since we were in different houses and I did not want to wake her if she was sleeping by calling her on the telephone, I e-mailed her: ‘Ma, I need a toothbrush.’

She e-mailed back: ‘I am telepathic. I just got a toothbrush for you. But one day, the commissariat will not be around. If you don’t know the word ‘commissariat’ go look it up in the dictionary.’

She was correct: I did not know what the word meant. And since I did not know where the dictionary was kept in my brother’s house, that evening at dinner, I asked him what the word meant.

He knew, of course. ‘Commissariat’, he explained, is a department in the army charged with providing provisions to soldiers.

Now Mama is no longer in a position to be my commissariat. Worse yet, she is bedbound and no longer able to read – a favourite activity of hers.

Mama had wide interests. She knew things that even many highly educated people would not know or be interested in, as would be obvious if one rummaged through her bookshelves, as I did recently.

There were several books on the flora and fauna of Singapore. There was a hardcover book of children’s nursery rhymes, which she had used to read to her grandchildren. Of all her grandchildren, my albino nephew enjoyed reading the nursery rhymes with her the most.

There were several books on Buddhism and Hinduism. There was a King James version of the Bible printed in a large font so that she could read it even without her reading glasses. There were many books on the Indian caste system, and a book describing the ancient city of Harappa in the Indus valley. The city dates back about 4,600 years ago, and was an important trade centre in the ancient world.

Mama was interested in the Silk Route long before it became a fashionable subject of interest. She had a book chronicling the travels of a Victorian lady on the Silk Route.

There were six Malay kamus, or dictionaries. There was a book on Chinese customs and symbols. And of course, there were many books of poetry, including a collection of Rudyard Kipling’s poems.

There were also books relating to the early days of Singapore, including The Battle For Merger, a collection of radio talks my father delivered in 1961, detailing the early history of the People’s Action Party’s struggles with the communists. It is now out of print.

There were many books, too, written by others about my father, including Lee Kuan Yew In His Own Words, excerpts of his speeches from 1959 to 1970, edited by S.J. Rodringuez.

Mama also had the kinds of books one would expect to find on the bookshelves of someone so cultured: among other things, The Tale Of Genji, Ruth Benedict’s The Chrysanthemum And The Sword, Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto’s The Daughter Of A Samurai, the novels of Jane Austen, and a book I enjoyed tremendously as a child, Anne Of Green Gables.

Mama didn’t just collect these books, she read them.

It is now 5.30am. I popped into her room again a while ago and she was still sleeping. I comforted myself that at least when she was sleeping, she was unaware of her unfortunate situation.

Now I am trying to go back to sleep myself, but I cannot do so – not because of the dream but because of Mama’s unhappy predicament. It is acutely felt by her three children, my two sisters-in-law, and my cousin Kwa Kim Li, who is my mother’s favourite niece. But the one who has been hurting the most, and is yet carrying on stoically, is my father.

It is easy when thinking in the abstract, to conclude that being born, growing old, falling sick and eventually dying is what happens to all of us. I accept these facts with no resentment that life is unkind. I have had more than my fair share of bad luck, but I never resented it, for I think suffering built up my resilience.

But I find it difficult to accept my mother’s suffering. The Buddhist principle of feeling compassion but with detachment is wise, but it is not an attitude that I find humanly possible to adopt when it comes to Mama. I cannot see her suffering with detachment.

But there is nothing I can do to get her back to where she was before she suffered a massive stroke on May 12, 2008. She has been suffering since then, and so has my father. But that is life, and we all plod on, fulfilling our duties as best we can. Indeed by focusing my mind on my duties, I manage to temporarily block Mama’s suffering from my consciousness.



4. Volunteer at a girl's home / Orphanage - we have our parents to guide us so lets lead those who are lacking


From Chen Diya blog

What you see is merely the tip of everything else,Like Icebergs.Which in scientific figures, is only 1/9 of the whole portion...

Being a human being made out of flesh and bones myself,being a daughter,being a sister,being a Christian,being a singer,being a friend,being more than a friend,being me.

There really is so much to discover and learn about myself,more so for you.

Mothers, the mother of icebergs.My mum is one big one,with 1/9 of all her worries and concerns showing up,and the rest of the 8/9 of them underwater...

My family gave me a good foundation,I wasn't the smart one, and always had to survive the endless comparisons between me and my brilliant brother who aced all his exams with ease, who read books at the speed of lightning, who solved my maths questions in his sleep, who picked up the guitar and drums all by himself, and passed the grade 8 piano exam.

I was the one who played truant, ran around the house when my mum wanted to cane me, scraped my knee when out playing, fighting with a particular powerful Lee's son on the bus, and subsequently getting thrashed, joining gangs in primary school, selling packets of coloured twisted stapler bullet barb wire, cheating in class (well, in my defence the whole class did it together during a social studies test.), excelling only in things which couldn't be graded like acting, singing, and hosting.

My mum brought us up strictly, never allowing herself a break from it all.Uptight, Stern, and... loving.

I remember how she used to scream at me like a lunatic,throw me out of the house in the middle of the night,after giving me a good thrashing and throwing out a bag of clothes in anger,unafraid of what the neighbours might say,regardless of the kind of rumours people in church passed around about her abusing her children. (some even threatening to alert the police. what to do, we were too cute.)

Not because she was truly a lunatic.But only because she loved us so dearly.
Every red,blue,black stripe on my skin,was a deep cut into her heart.And I always remember the time she hugged me after,and I pushed her away, in anger and in a bid to retain some of my so called dignity.

I know of some friends who have hip and happening mothers,mothers they can tell anything and everything to,mothers who are more like friends.
I sometimes envy them,but as always, the grass looks greener on the other side.

The little iceberg that is me.Is a big chip of the mother iceberg,so much more than I can imagine.

I sometimes lament and question the fact that I am so much like her,in more ways than a thousand.

But as I was unlocking my gate today to come home,with slight annoyance,and with heavy feet because of a couple of incidents over the past few days.

I had an epiphany.I'm like my mum.Which means, I should understand her better than anyone else,the things that go on underwater,the maze that her thoughts wind around in,the emotions her heart echoes,the tears that roll off her dry wrinkled eyes.

When i get annoyed and frustrated with her,its like how people close to me get annoyed and frustrated with me.We're not good at expressing our thoughts and feelings,very careful not to hurt,and yet curious and very concerned.

But there's just too much in my life,too many things that could and would worry you.Reassurance is like a cup of coffee that would last you for only a day.But remember, you did a good job with this iceberg.The foundation has been lain.I'm strong enough to sink even a titanic ship.In his greater purpose, and his timing,our steps ahead are planned.

I may fall along the way, scrape my knee, play truant, lose my front teeth,but really, the foundation has been lain.And I could stray off, but never far.

I ask for your trust.I ask for all mothers,to trust and love us with also the remaining 8/9 of your heart.Leave the judging to God,and start living and being a light that warms every heart you meet.

I ask for all daughters,to never forget you are a part of someone you are unique to,to love and cherish with also the remaining 8/9 of your heart.

Too many unknowns in this world,everything is of face value,words are but words,actions don't always fit the exorbitant bill of expectations.

Because I may never be able to be the person you want me to be,but I'll always be a part of you,and will always want to be there to catch you when you fall,bring you a cup of water when you fall sick,make you laugh when you get angry,simply because no matter what you do or think of me,I will always be here.

I really hope you know,because I want to open my wings to fly and soar beyond the heavens,and face my own demons and the occasional lightning in my path.but I can't when I look down and I see you in pain,in pain because of the path of flight I took.

I'll do good. I really will.And my friends are great people,even those that take advantage of me.They do it simply because God gave me more than I needed.

Patience, and trust, and a pinch of faith.I love you, mum.I just don't know how to tell you all this face to face.

"Pain throws your heart to the ground, Love turns the whole thing around."- John Mayer "heart of life"

5. Go back into dancing - its a passion that I have disregard for close to 6 years - time to go back into dance training

The videos that inspired me

Professional




My past dances brought me many treasured memories






And lastly inspired by those who have lived their dreams - strive on! :)
Mint - whose having her concert soon


My friend Sara of 53A - who made music her passion


My cousin Adeline - who live for dance

Monday, December 20, 2010

Movie Review" Never Let me go"

Watched the movie" Never let me go" in SQ
Its just a fantastic movie - been ages since I watched such a good movie


Directed by Mark Romanek, it was re-enacted from the acclaimed novel by Kazuo Ishiguro. ( After the movie, I cannot wait to get my hands on the book! ) The plot was acted out by Carey Mulligan ( a great actress!) , Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley ( absolutely gorgeous) as Kathy, Tommy and Ruth, three kids who have been brought up in a boarding school and at the age, sent out to the world out of the safety boundaries, freeing them to explore what is real and what is not.

The film is set in a world where medical advances in the mid-20th Century have allowed humans to live as long as 100 years on average at the expense of “donors” – test-tube babies created from the genes of junkies and hobos. These unfortunate individuals are raised at facilities like the Hailsham House (essentially upper-crust English boarding schools) where they are controlled, cut off from society and kept healthy and clean so their organs are in tip-top shape to fuel the failing bodies of the general population. Some donors qualify to become “Carers”, who tend to the others when the surgeries begin. Upon “completion” the Carer moves on to the next subject until they receive their notice and become a donor themselves.


Flash forward to 1968 and Hailsham boarding school where the youngsters are brought up to believe that they are special.It reveals a love story between Cathy and Tommy however Ruth (Cathy's best friend) uses a man's sexual desire to snatch Tommy over.

The kids eventually grow up and leave Hailsham for the “cottages” where they spend their young adult years. Tommy and Ruth are now a full-fledged couple and, although the three remain friends, it is made clear (especially by Ruth) that Kathy is on the outside. To hold onto Tommy, Ruth uses sex to upset Cathy. The trio eventually go their separate ways and we learn that Kathy has become a carer who works with those who are in the process of donating their organs, leading up to their death/completion. (Most dies after the 3rd donation)

And it’s at the caring facility where she eventually reunites with Ruth and eventually with Tommy. It reminds them that true love cannot be seperated and Ruth apologies, bonding Tommy and Cathy together again. Tommy had already gone through 2 donations and the last one would be his last. Together they form a friendship with another couple who tell of a story that if two clones can prove they they are in love, they will be afforded the opportunity to defer their donations. They went to realise all was a fraud.

The truth is that they are clones being raised so that they can one day donate their organs to prolong the lives of those on the outside. There was no escape from it.

In terms of performances, the 3 characters were amazing and the plot of true love and the pain of being created for selfish purpose , tore my heart into shreds, making me sob uncontrollably.

A movie not to be missed!
"Never let me go"

Social Enterprises - Giving back to the community

Been away for 2 weeks already. Will update more on my trips to Thailand and China this weekend.

Recently came across a few social enterprises which I would like to emulate.
Really inspiring to see how there are people on care who not just talks about it but creates a project and reach out proactively to help the needy people in the world.
Reminded me my promise to myself to make a difference in the world - and where I have been thinking of it for years - but other than volunteering - have not done more than that.
2 years back, when I entered the working world, I told myself that all the blessings God has given me I want to bless back to the community and at the same time, develop in my working place - the selfish giving and volunteering attitude, create a project to use what I have learnt in the work place for the less fortunate, and build a community like that in the business. Thoughts and ideas fill my booklets, yet I have not moved forward with the plans. Time to do so - and all these following people are my inspiration and models to follow from.

SINGAPORE



Project Selfless Shoe
Effort: Shoes for needy and poor children locally and overseas
(They sell their shoes and take a portion for donation to the children)
More on the Selfless Shoes story => ....


Chinatown Social Enterprise
Efforts: Provide opportunities for elderly and training for those who needs jobs.


Bloomerang
Effort: Save the earth - one hanger at a time : replaced plastic hangers with its recycled and 100% biodegradable paper board and cardboard eco-hangers.
(By putting advertisements on it as well, the cost is distributed)
More on the Bloomerang story => ....

Attached here is a blog that shares on some of the expeditions and projects that are held to raise funds for charities.



OVERSEAS


Pakistan
YES -Youth Engagement Services
Efforts: Train youths to lead service projects and micro social enterprises -reintegrate youths back into the society

US
Its a breeze
Efforts: Helps her clients identify everything in their homes they no longer use, then donates these items to charities that desperately need them.- Residential relocation

UK
Thrive
Efforts: Help recovering drug addicts who are homeless

And also meaningful inventions! :)
Neonurture
Efforts: Use car parts to make incubators for babies in developing countries - easy to repair, cheaper to make.

Time to do something about it.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A blog shop not to be missed! Foundrey :)

Last week was a trying week and I would like to do a loud shout-out to God " THANK YOU!" God has been so good - God will not let us bear beyond what we cannot bear.

So this week, I'll be sharing with you a wonderful thing.
My friend's beautiful clothes blog (She's the beautiful model)
She's such a sweet thing with such a sweet heart - keep living and make your dreams come true dearie!
And for each selection of clothes, she chooses with great effort and her dedication to Foudrey is amazing :) Support her ! :)

My friend's Shop Blog "Foundrey"
I have always loved her style of clothes! :)Its simple yet look so elegant and nice!

Have picked out the few that I love :)

Dresses - Especially adore the colorful dots dress





And the blouses - I love the black lacey blouse!And the pencil skirt!







Her clothes are lovely right?
I like! :) So do support her k :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Daily Events :) Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Cheng San Market

Lots to update :)
Last week have been mostly about eating - food and more food. But its good food! So no regrets! hahahaha..And I also watched Harry potter and the deathly hallows. And I did my regular 3 month blood donation :)

First up: The review of Harry Potter Movie - By the courtesy of SMU Alumni.


Its so weird to see them all grown up. Its like we accompanied them on their journey of childhood - Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.



The plot sees Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) on the run from Lord Voldemort and his henchmen. They must sever ties with home - and Hogwarts - and go it alone. Along the way, they embark on a quest to track down various things which will help them fight the evil forces - a horcrux containing a sliver of Voldemort's soul, the sword of Gryffindor, the meaning of a pendant that holds the key to the deathly hallows ( From http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

Lord Voldermort

The Elf


Unlike the usual Harry Potter show where magic, evil vs good is a strong theme throughout the movie, This time, there's love, friendship and family. And in this movie, I find similarities between it and Lord of the ring - where instead of the ring, its the evil locket this time. And the appearance of the 'elf' who whispers - is similar to that of Lord of the rings. Absence is the feel of magic with a mixture of fairy tales. This movie seemed more catered for the adult crowd where less laughter but with more dread and reality - such as the torture of Hermoine and the death of the'elf' and the murder of the teacher of magic and the jealousy of Ron because of the closeness percieved between Harry and Hermione..

Its still a nice watch though. The effects were good - it kept me reveted to my seat.


The following day I did my 3 month blood donation.
Look how cute. They changed their squeeze balls for the deepavali celebration :)



And I think silkair is doing a good job in connecting with the public. Every Sunday when I see the Silkair corner for the pictures shown as well as it having the period where you can log into their site and decorate and have a online diary where you can put your pictures and arrange it in the diary format and also have designs where you can insert. And that day while walking around, saw that Silkair had its booth. And it had the character standing on it. Interesting right?


And on the weekends, I went on a food spree!
Let me share with you the good and cheap food that I had! The hawker at Cheng San! :)


From Sarawak's Kitchen :)



The Kolo Mee!
( Ate it for continuously 3 weeks)




Its also famous for its Laksa - Thinks its ok~



From Da Mu Yu Yuan Mian!

Their Fishball noodles!
( They make the fishball themselves! And the noodles were just right!)


Dried one

With Soup


And on the weekend, I went to Brotzeit - The German Restaurant.
Was amazed by how much pork Germans consume.
Though I am not a meat fan ( prefer vegetables) I decided to try the sausage since its suppose to be famous in Germany.

The sausages I ordered were so freshly made and the mixture of pork and veal just melts in your mouth.

And the pretzel was baked and chewy - though a little too much salt on top.

And the atmosphere was nice. Did not know the place existed. Its in Raffles city. At the back North Bridge area. Also saw a Japanese cafe open beside it. Looks so nice! I'm gonna try it next.

And to end off my favorite drink from 7-11. I like the mixture of green tea with the flavorings - and how its not too sweet.




Okay I'm very sleepy. See you soon!
Some bloggers went on a star cruise today. Wanted to go too but had work!
Next time! hahahahaha...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MNET ULTIMATE IS COMING!~!~

Ah....!

MNET Ultimate! Can't wait. And everytime I log onto OMY.SG I see it in the heading ad.

Also reminds me sadly that 2am has not gotten an award on Music Bank /Inkigayo for their newest songs- You wouldnt answer my calls and Like Crazy.

Also liking 2pm I'll be back and Miss A Breathe - now that they are going to venture into the other Asian market - wish them all the best!

These days been caught on two of SNSD new songs!
Here it goes!
Hoot

Best Friend

And one old song


The Hallyu wave! - All over the world.
I hope one day the "Kallang" music world wave (of Singapore) can also be such a phenomenon and give our Singapore local musicians a wider platform :)

(haha- maybe there would be a class teaching Singlish - Kidding! )

Thursday, November 11, 2010

BMW Series 8 Launch Invitation

Recieved an invitation card for the BMW 8 Series launch - so today I made my way to Marina Bays Sands convention center for the display- it was magnificient and a very well designed concept that lulled people into what BMW Stands for.



And then we were given a pass with the instruction to wear it all times - if not, might be mistakenly ushered out.


Then the speech from the BMW Director of Asia and Managing Director of Performance Motors - Which though short expressed their desire to see the brand continue growing and their passion for it.


After the speeches, we began the mingling and eating.
Guess what did they serve?
Fresh Big juicy Oysters freshly detached from their shells with lime provided
People were slurping one after another - Just looking them really tempted me to also try it - but my dislike for seafood related - prevented me from doing so.


Thankfully Chocolate Fondue with amazing marshmallows and shortbread were also prepared.

And the highlight for the event! - the showroom of all BMW series
Pictures up in a minute....
They had guides to bring us around - together with headphones that allows explanation for each car design


And I was shock to see bicycles and motorcycles


And T-shirts, Wallets and belt buckle bearing the BMW sign - I thought only ferrari had that?



And of course to end this blog entry are the amazing designed BMW Cars
First revealing the BMW 8 Series



BMW Car 1 (and so on)















And what I love about this whole event was how well-planned it was. Even the design of the showroom were aligned to their brand




BMW
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