Dec 11, 2010


As someone who follows a bit of local soccer, the Suzuki Cup elimination could have been a bit more dignified. Vietnam has 80+ million people, so they will definitely progress further. But what about us? Something also has to be done about the S-League, which seems to be serving largely the interest of gamblers.

We are in the thick of December, but for me, this is so unlike Decembers of the past, which typically allow for down-time and spending more time with family and friends. It’s not just due to the impending GE, but various writing projects and work exigencies too. But God bless my students, both full-time and part-time. They keep me sane in the madding crowd.

Last night my team and I visited a block in my favourite GRC. Due to the fascinating and varied conversations, we could only finish half the block. But among the 50 odd households was a microcosm of the diversity of Singapore and people’s expectations and aspirations.

There was a young undergraduate, who had literally just come home from his reservist ICT. He was sharing how his unit was deployed in field exercises, in his opinion to remind them of the basics of what a `1G SAF’ was like! He was articulate, and overall had every reason to be optimistic about the future.

For another tertiary student, the recent teen gang slashing at Downtown East affected him deeply, as he knew some of the suspects now in police custody. The events came as a shock, and he was still trying to cope psychologically with their enormity and implications.

There was an ex-offender who had been released from Prison. He was very cheerful and confident by disposition, which to me was rather unusual for an ex-offender. Nevertheless, he had found the job search daunting and unsuccessful, and reintegration difficult. He was embarking on a vocational training course, and believed it was one of the few viable options left.

A mother with young children had been diagnosed with a terminal illness. Her husband worked nights as the sole-breadwinner. She shared with us how they had just sold their flat to downgrade to a smaller one which was more affordable. She had been training the children to assist their father in household administration e.g. bill payments, and detaching herself from them to make the final parting less painful. It was heart-wrenching.

A 60+ year old Chinese-educated man felt that Singapore was now a place for only the English-educated. In addition, he felt that at the rate costs were rising, it was incumbent upon parents to spend less on themselves so as to save/provide for their children, who would otherwise not be able to meet future costs of living.

A 50-ish resident, whose home was clearly his refuge, came to the conclusion that `something is wrong’. While the government had done some good things, why do older people (40 and above) have to worry so much about jobs and healthcare costs, he asked? “I’m not a big thinker in these things”, he said self-effacingly, “but something is wrong”.

And so in just 2 hours, a snapshot of our society emerges.