Are School Teachers your childrens’ parents?

Singapore is a booming meritocratic city with more than half the population once decedents of migrants from different parts of the world.
Education then was not compulsory, limited in material, and very dedicated to specific racial and religious groups. With majority being originators of the Asian or the “Eastern” side of the globe, naturally thought of the greener pastures, the West, for better education. So there we were then, becoming “westernized” and saw the benefits of unifying the residents of the island colony as one independent state, after we taste the defeat and the witness the helplessness of the protectors of the colony to the Japanese.
So 48 years has past, and we are deemed one of

The richest country in the world – The Straits Times, Singapore. 2012

We have indeed achieved a lot, and in a short amount of time. Rather, this is the achievement of our forefathers, who came without fear of the unknown, and built what we can call our home now.
Now all this does sound a little like what you would study in history and social studies from the time of independence to now. Education soon after became compulsory, and since has always been a core of every citizen born and bred here in Singapore. From this core, lies the educators, who forms the pillar which the foundation of education is laid out for the future of Singapore’s well being and prosperity. We are who we are today; where we are today, if not for these educators, or teachers as we call them. They are well respected, and shaped the otherwise lazy, cheeky, rebellious us into respectable citizens today. And where they are unable to reach us, we have our ever stringent parents who will with a rattan, shape us up further into individuals who are independent, reliable and responsible for the society.
But as the society prosper, material wants kicks in, and every Singaporean starts to work the extra mile to gain better social status, better quality of life. We thought that by doing this is for the sake of our children, that they can live a better life. But are we forgetting the values our parents taught us?
Children are born innocent; an empty vassal, waiting to be filled with whatever he/she is being taught. As the saying goes: Rubbish in; rubbish out. Children are good emulators of their parents, and if the parent sets a bad example such as being ungracious when shopping in a mall (cut queues), or filling up more than one can consume at a buffet (kiasuism), that is how his/her child will be when he/she grows up, unless he/she relearns new values from other influences. So when a child misbehaves in school, not knowing what he/she has done wrong, the teacher may first reprimand the child, but ultimately the real discipline should come from the parent, and such teachings should be done privately at home. But of late, this doesn’t seem to be the case. These days, the parents expect the teachers to take on the role of the parents, to discipline their children at school, a public sphere. I guess some of the reason being: No time at home; paid higher school fees, therefore expected more out of the teachers.
For the first reason: Having no time to discipline a child at home is a poor excuse to skive off the duty that is expected for the parent. You have a child, you are responsible for them, and therefore responsible for their actions until they reach adulthood. You, the parent, therefore should be the primary discipline master in both the public sphere, as well as private sphere. You don’t push your responsibilities to some strangers (in general), and then blame them for not doing a good job, because they definitely can’t mold your child to look like themselves. My opinion: Teachers/Educators primarily can only instill societal norms and conformity to your child. Cultures and behaviors are learnt at home.  So if you, the parent expects the teacher/educator to teach your child not to poke his/her chopsticks in the middle of the rice bowl, or not to squat on the toilet seat, the teacher/educator won’t be able to do that, but they may very well teach your child to be less respectful to their parents, because that really shows your failure at parenting. There is no formula to discipline your child, and I don’t think I am qualified to give any suggestions, but just firmly inform your child, be serious about their actions and correct them, and your child will understand you. That would not take you too much your time, right? Check out this page in Parent-Child Social Development.

The second reason: You think you pay a high price for your child’s education, you should be expecting more out of your investments, right? You think that when your child complete s his education years a well-polished, well-chiseled individual. That is not going to happen, and raising a child is not like making a business work! (if it does, well you just created a new crop!) Cost of living goes up, and everyone drives to attain a better standard of living. No less when it comes to paying for an education. You work and got a pay rise, so does the teacher/educator. They work; they get a pay rise, and how to justify for a pay-rise? By increasing education fees. But there are things that just cannot be learned in school. As mentioned in the first reasoning, education institutions can only impart social values and social norms (Pretty much in line with the societal needs). Other forms of social skills such as social interactions on a personal level and communications are basically learnt at home.  That is where parents play a part in ensuring their child is well prepared to face their peers and to network. Such skills are priceless and will shape the unique character of the child, and no better institutions than at home, with their parents. Therefore, if there isn’t enough interaction and communication, or whatever that is played out at home is negative, you will have a child that is so full of negativity; he/she will become imbalanced, and may not be able to reach their fullest potential. So it boils back to the first reasoning.  Wait, Do you even think that money can get you everything? Check out Daniel Wong’s page and you might find some pretty good tips to turn your life (as well as your child and anyone else affected) around.

I’ve said so much.  It is pointless to rant on more when the trend has been present from 2012 (I actually started this post from 2012, and it took me 2 years to come up with appropriate words to sum up my observations and reactions). If you are a parent and finds some of what is written here similar to your current situation, there is still hope! The help links that goes into this post is very useful.

<Ranting ends.>

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The Singapore Proposal

The past few years have seen numerous weddings taking place among my friends and family. This is a joyous occasion to learn of their happiness, to share in their joy and be a part of their new life. No doubt about that, at least, until the process that climbs up to their eventual nuptials.

Typically a boy meets girl, they date, they feel very good with each other, and finally a proposal, usually on the guy side, and eventually planning their new life with a house and some celebratory events, provided she said ‘yes’. Well, this is somewhat different in a country where your finances shift faster out of your hands than you see actual results, and that is putting things mildly in perspective.

The process of a happy marriage takes on a slightly different process in Singapore: Boy meets girl; they date, they feel very good with each other. Up to this point, all is well, but when it comes to taking the next step forward, is when things start to become complicated, or rather in my opinion, redundant. Instead of a pure surprise of a proposal with the lady either screaming with joy at the top of her lungs, or simply crying tears of joy when her significant other half pops the questions out of nowhere. The Singapore way will see the couple take a queue number to get an apartment, settle all necessary formalities, perhaps getting their keys to their apartment, and one fine day, he just pops the question to ask for her hand in marriage. Of course, she will also be showing the same kind of expressions as what I have mentioned previously, but at the back of the mind: it has become a sure ‘yes’ thing, or she would not be in the queue line with him in the first place, queuing to get a house, right? One of the clauses of securing a public apartment in Singapore is to have the couple’s eventual marriage in a stipulated time. Then would it not be obvious that by applying for the flat together, eventually will be the path that the couple will be taking? If that being so, shouldn’t the proposal be done years earlier before the couple get a queue number?

Let’s face it: since the wait for a home is going to take 5 years (on average), and the couple is sure (or the feeling of it) that they want to be together for all their lives, the guy should be popping the question and asking her to marry him 5 years ago, before they go to the HDB office for a queue, get keys, and maybe in these 5 years, strengthen their relationship as well as plan their celebration. 5 years will pass in a blink of an eye. And the surprise when he pops the question: really priceless; not when everything is already a done deal, and then pops the question where you already know what the answer would be. If you really want to surprise her at this point of time, maybe a surprise party with a tagline “We are getting married!” that would be more logical, and just as surprising.

In any case, this is just my opinion, and each couple has their special way of informing the masses of their intention for celebration. Good luck, guys!

The excessive use of the word ‘Revert’ in local context

When you see the word ‘Revert’, what is the first definition that comes to your mind? It is quite possibly different definitions, depending on where you are from, and what your profession is.

According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, ‘Revert’ basically means to return back to a previous or original state, be it chemically or conditionally. But the abuse of words just doesn’t warrant an arrest, neither is it chargeable in the court of law (unless it being a result of contractual breech or whatever).

So why am I saying this? Having worked for a decade or so (don’t ask me where), I have come across words in emails that absolutely made or broke my day. For example,

“Hi.

Is there any update on this issue we discussed last week?

Please revert.

Thanks”

Let us analyze this highlighted word in the above context. The sender was asking for an update for an issue that was raised a week ago. So I am supposed to reply with updates regarding the issue at hand. An update is a change of condition from a current state to a new or next state. So when this sender reiterates his/her intention with the word ‘Revert’, the whole condition changes. So instead of asking me for new information, he/she now wants me to go back to the original or a previous agreed update, from its current status. But is that his/her true intention? As it turns out, it was newer data that he/she requires, because he/she called me back immediately when I replied thus:

“Hi XX.

To answer your query in 2 conditions:

1) New update: Panel 2 requires a new set of drawings.

2) Reverted update: Panel 2 has a set of drawings in the 3rd revision. FD is using it to check the panel.

Please pick a choice and let me know what you require exactly.

Thanks”

Now this phenomenon is a rising trend in emails, especially profound in Singapore.  It is the wrong word to use when you are asking the other party to reply back to your enquiry, but perhaps the word ‘Revert’ makes the sender feels he/she is a well-learned or well-cultured individual. But it confuses me and everybody else who knows the meaning of the word ‘Revert’.

So just a gentle reminder to senders who may think that the word ‘Revert’ would give you a straight reply to your query, please stop using it! It is not going to give you an upper hand in your current state of situation, but you may create more confusion when you do not make your intentions clear. A rule of thumb: Use simple words to convey your intentions. You do not need to sound like an academic, and risk making an idiot of yourself.

What of Friday the 13th, December 2013?

Friday the 13th

“is considered an unlucky day in Western and Eastern superstition. It occurs when the 13th day of the month in the Gregorian calendar falls on a Friday”. (Wikipedia)

For myself, I never considered this day to be any more unlucky than any other day. In fact, the following information just put relief to some of the tension that was rising in the middle-eastern countries.

An unexpected winter storm swept the eastern Mediterranean that includes Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian territories and Egypt. The storm, named Alexa, is expected to last from 11th December to 15th December. The storm brought with it a colder-than-usual winter draft, harsher winds and heavier snow fall, causing hardship especially to Syrian refugees staying in Jerusalem. Insulation from the cold is important, and getting that warmth might not be as easy for them, being so far away from home. But it also brought about temporary relief and enjoyment to some people as all anguish and hatred suddenly came to a halt, and everyone have fun playing in the snow, which perhaps does not fall that much usually. Here are some of the photos taken that shows that Friday the 13th, doesn’t always have to be a black Friday all the time. Credits to reporters from REUTERS: Ammar AbdullaH, Mohamed Azakir and Nour Fourat.

ImageFree Syrian Army fighters play with snow

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 Free Syrian Army fighters smashing snow on their fellow fighters

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Even the refugee children finds the cold a delight as they played in the snow.
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Nobody should be denied the fun and joy of something that comes by so rarely.ImageTo live the best of the situation, into a wonderful memory, and leave the rest of the fight to another day.

What Jackie Chan did, what rights you netizens have?

Jackie Chan made headlines again: this time for his plans to open a theme park that focus on Chinese culture that is so commonly seen in Chinese films. Being an avid collector of Chinese antiques and many interesting collectibles, it will be no surprise that this theme park will allow people to see and feel “Jackie Chan”. Indeed a park like this will be a great draw for tourist all over the world, since Jackie Chan is a well known figure from both the Chinese entertainment scene as well as Hollywood entertainment: a la Bruce Lee.

His contribution of antiques and old collectibles will indeed allow tourists to also see and learn about the Chinese culture, which is one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Without a doubt, it should be welcome news to the Chinese government, as well as appeasing to the local (Chinese) netizens, because this would meant no more “country’s treasure” will be leaving their homeland, correct?

Now about the four pieces of antique buildings that Jackie has generously donated to a Singapore University; that has drawn numerous criticisms from Chinese netizens. Their main concern for the relics are simply because “treasures” are being “stolen” and put on display in a foreign country, which may seem like a huge insult to them. But from a CCTV source, it was claimed that Jackie has tried to seek sponsors to help him with the preservation of his collection relics, but no one is willing to offer him the assistance with no ulterior motives. Until some Singapore scholars came, and offered to help with preserving a culture that is also a part of Singapore’s multi-cultural origin (remember Singapore was once a well-known trading port between Asia and the Westerns, thus the multi-cultural nature of the country). Then Jackie was slammed by Chinese netizens for donating something that is originally representative of China’s history to a foreign land.

My opinion on this issue would be: What rights do these netizens have to criticize Jackie when they didn’t bother to offer genuine assistance when it was asked for? To have to wait until someone from another country offering to help, that they feel that they are losing something precious to them, and blaming him for what he did. That is just hogwash, and I believe what Jackie did, he did it with his best interest in the preservation of his precious collection. If a place can offer to help him lengthen his collections lifespan and can allow people to see and learn a bit about its history at no extra charge, why should he give it a miss? Shouldn’t these netizens who made no effort to help be ashamed of themselves that Jackie has to take up offer from another country, because his homeland locals are unwilling to help unless it benefits them? They should take a good look of themselves at a mirror and evaluate on their actions. It’s not to say that it should be totally free-for-all to view, but perhaps a sales booth with proceeds of the sales going to the continued upkeep of the relics, would have made Jackie a very happy person and proud to be Chinese in his homeland. But given what has transpired here, I feel that his enthusiasm could dip a few notches. And I can hardly blame him for that.

Faith and Ideology: binds or divides?

Professed as a travel junkie, I will try my very best to go on short trips and visit the many places I can afford, all around the world if I can! When travelling, it is never the bustling cities, nor the numerous malls that attracts me. The beauty is in the simplicity, the tradition and the rusticity of their rural to suburban areas that really draws my attention. It is such places that lessons can be learnt, and to understand their culture and their roots.

I visited Eastern China, and learnt about their traditional burial ritual, their emphasis on returning all back to Nature, is simply awesome, and indeed no matter now advance we are in terms of technology, how can we forget to repay Nature of her wonderful gift of life? What amaze me are the advanced skill sets they applied to their daily work and way of life, which we can only achieve now with machines. And they are no different from us in any ways! What happened to us?

I went to northern India, and I am treated to a sight of wonderful artistry, colors bright and beautiful, scattered everywhere in their towns, villages, even on the clothes they wear. Shrines that keeps the tradition of Nature. Worshiping others that otherwise provides us with a staple diet, a message reminding us in a subtle way to never forget who we owe our lives to. Utilizing what nature provides them, and reusing the waste products that can save both money and the environment, they are the ones who we should look up to learn the essence of recycling! And such actions are parts and parcels of their daily life, passed down from one generation to another. Less schooled and simpler in life, but they are blessed with the knowledge of nurture and love to Nature. We on the other hand, seeks self fulfillment and disregard the pleas of Nature.

I travelled to Northern Sumatra, and learned of Batak culture and tradition. Much of it was lost, but from the artifacts and bits of history still upheld by the old and aged, I learnt about their way or natural selection, and rituals that celebrate the cycles of Nature. Putting nothing to waste, they too recycle in any way possible, respect the old, and have a sense of justice that return what is not needed back to Nature. We take away whatever Nature gave, but never show gratitude nor did we return in kind. We did not show the respect to Nature where it is due.

There is one similarity these three places showed me. They have a faith or faith that is centric only to them, and owe it only to one name: Nature. It may be spelt differently, celebrated differently, but the root of it echoes the same intent. Peace was much attainable, and wars then were small scaled, centered between only two groups or tribes, and mainly for food and territory for hunt. Life functions no differently from any other animals in the world, just slightly better at using simple tools and knowledge. Uninterrupted by the introduction of what I considered to be mass-marketing faith, whose base intention is to spread like a virus, to influence and conquer the hearts and minds of many to believe in one man’s story of his/her life. When a faith began to spread its ideology towards other groups, in a way it binds the groups to form a cluster, and spread further to form a territory. So when one ideology is formed, a few more feels the same and starts their own ideology. What happened these few thousand years is the product of such parasitic faiths, seeking lands unlearned and virtuous, and began to preach, eventually swallowing the whole village. When a time comes one faith meets another and neither giving way nor compromising, has war started again, only on a larger scale and over nothing. A peaceful place with many villages and each an individual faith, now divided by clusters of a few faiths, and feuds are frequent and bloody; simply because each party is convinced of their own piece of story, usually about a life of a person who thinks highly of themselves.

This experience is deduced into the above theory when I came to understand based on the example of a particular village that have their own beliefs before the mass-market faiths came. It was peaceful, quiet and just in their rights, but with the “invasion” of foreigners who were enticed over the opportunity of exploited resources, came with their shovels and guns, and together with minds clouded by their beliefs, began infecting the peace and tranquility. When more came, the space for further preaching reached a ceiling, and in a bid to stay in power, violence took place over reason and compromise.  So my question now: if every individual beliefs and faiths is simply isolated among themselves, and even if others where to know of it, to only understand it as a piece of history, talking about “his-story” (or “her-story” if it is a matriarchal group), will the world be much more peaceful, with lesser and unnecessary feud over a story?

I would say yes, based on my theory that a faith, acts very much like a story, told about a person on his or her experience, and concludes with their own theories in life. Then they expect you to take their story, or theory, no matter if it is a proven truth or no, as a norm to follow through. What adds on to this theory that significantly causes the root of unrest is the factor of time; as a faith passes through a period of time, and from one person to another, the ideology changes and perhaps some were modified to better suit the person who is preaching about it. And therefore whatever feelings that person who preaches will be added into the story conveniently. This will result in a new testimony and a new ideology.

To conclude, I would like to put forth my understanding of how faiths play an important role in the life decisions of every individual, and to carry the question of truth in such a story to be made a faith. The spread of ideology based on one source of information is further manipulated by individual preachers, and the likely consequences of non-compromising each different ideology. It was further explained about the scenarios that play when a group feels to take the ideology or to refute it, and what happens when reasoning is left behind over feelings and the want to be in control.

Are you ‘Man’ enough to read this?

What is the definition of Man? Has it even been stated as the dominant half of the human species? Can you find one article that states squarely that man (in the male sense of the species), is the rightful dominant half of the human species, without any implication of chauvinism or misogyny whatsoever? I however, do not deny the many literary texts that sing praises of the male species more significantly superior than female. I do not deny that there are many reasons why they are being termed as more superior. This mainly is because male human species genetically built to endure heavier manual work load due to muscle structural enhancement; the interference of the SRY gene on the Y chromosome interferes the default process of producing a female, and in turn, a male is created. But as it points out that genome mutation led the prevention of further growth to the default female reproductive structure, specifically in the 3rd to 4th month of human pregnancy, so I can assume that all humans were created female initially. If this theory stands, then ancient cavemen were right to worship a female as God, for they brought life to this world, and created man.

This coming March the 8th, the world celebrates the recognition of women contribution to society, no matter how small. The notion of birth is to me the greatest contribution a woman makes to society, and to all females, the greatest contribution to the world. I take this opportunity to salute all mothers, no matter if they are human, or animal, to thank them for their contribution, and to put forth a very serious crime made against them in many ways, by the supposed “failed-default female” or Man.

I read an article recently about the life of Pakistani and Afghanistan women after they were reported to be involved in an acid attack by someone like their husband, or a suitor seeking revenge. What I saw saddens me. Some are too poor to seek medication and by the time help arrives, it is too late to remedy the scar. Now it becomes part of their life. The pain, the endurance and the discrimination against these poor women, who are struggling all their lives since they were born to stay as far away from trouble as possible, who can understand them but only among themselves, trapped and shunned away from society. It was due to the kindness of social workers and documentary filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy that these ladies finally have their dignity restored. A new law passed down from Pakistan impose a mandatory prison term of 14years if found guilty of acid attack.
I applaud the Pakistanis for this movement. But the question now: is it enough? If you are a man (or any form of male species before or after medical mediation), ask yourself the same question. Think about it. Who is it that got you to where you are right now? Who carried you lovingly for 10 long months through all pains to ensure your safe delivery? If you are one who holds a dislike to the women in general, or had done something that caused injury and hurt to them, think of your own mother. Without her, and the sheer intervention of genetics, you would never have been here, or you would be born a default: woman. If you are one who involve yourself in acid attack, think: what if you are her? What if that victim is your mother? How would you feel? Helpless? You can laugh and mock all you want now, but you will suffer the same fate in the end. If you believe in reincarnation, pray that you won’t be the default in your next life, if you are one such male.

So please, there is a reason why is the Earth round; be respectful to all.