Archive for March, 2006

Buying of GP papers

Sometimes I wonder if these folks are still living in the era of the pre-internet days. Buy what buy? Get it for FREE ONLINE. Is this an April Fools’ joke or what?
BTW, I don’t recommend memorizing ‘model essays’. Reeks of academic dishonesty.

The Straits Times
April 1, 2006
Curb sale of GP prelim-exam papers

VENDORS of school examination papers now have a new target group – students of junior colleges.

The hot subject is General Paper and a set of past years’ preliminary-exam- ination papers from the various junior colleges, which includes answers, costs around $35.

If the Ministry of Education could allow junior colleges to place their past preliminary-examination papers on their websites, it would go a long way to create a more level playing field for all JC students.

It would also recognise JC lecturers who make an extra effort to set thought-provoking examination questions. JC websites would also have more vibrancy and online participation.

Our teachers and schools should be lauded for creating educational ‘intellectual property’ and the fruits of their labour should not go towards profiting a few people out to make a quick buck.

Colin Ong Tau Shien

Here are two good sites to start off.

Selected questions from RJ and VJ are already available to those who are willing to search.


March 31, 2006 at 5:25 pm 3 comments

The Asia-Asian : Asian-American Divide

Unknown talked about her surprise in encountering Asian intra-racism in her college. I am even more surprised to know that she is new to this phenomenon. Part of it I guess, stemmed from the fact that she “hardly hang around Asians at school, or any American born Asians”.

My initial encounter was in the first year of Grad School. None in undergrad because I mostly hung out with the international students (including some Europeans, but mainly from the Asia-Pacific region), and my college was overwhelmingly white (>90% for my major; not surprising given the racial make-up of the state).

There was this pair of Asian-Americans (AAs), one Chinese and the other Korean amongst the first-years. The other Asians in the entering class were like me, holding non-US passports and with one exception hailing from S. Korea and China. (I am not counting in the Indians here.) So you know the department tends to pack first years with a heavy course workload, and we need to form study groups to tackle the homework assignments as well as the mid-terms/exams. The pair of AAs started to spend lots of time with me and another ‘international’, who also did her undergrad in the US. They were frank with us about the reason though – “We tend to stick with you rather than the others because you are culturally closer to us and comfortable with English.”

I was also close to the PRCs (aha! Despite my love-hate relationship with the Chinese language, grad school is the time I thank my lucky stars for being *quite* bilingual). They don’t like to mix with the AAs too, and tend to view most of them with contempt – something along the line of “rootless bananas” or “whitewashed”. Many feel that the Asian Americans have this air of “superiority” when dealing with the non-American Asians simply because they speak better English or are integrated into the mainstream *white* culture.

It feels weird at times, to see and listen the views from both sides. Sometimes I wonder where I stand. “Surfactant” comes to mind.

Interested readers can also refer to a previous post about the roadblocks I encountered when it comes to interracial mixing.

Just like football. House Divided

Edit (Mar 29): loiseaurebelle comments in her blog.

March 28, 2006 at 9:08 pm 7 comments


There is something very wrong with this picture, and coupled with the wording of the cover story (on Chemical & Engineering News, Mar 20 edition) makes it funny.

Indian lab
Hint: Look at his hands and his clothing.

This is what C&EN had to say:

…In many of the photographs, the chemists pictured are not wearing protective eyewear that would be required in the U.S. C&EN does not condone this inattention to appropriate safety standards. However, C&EN, as a newsmagazine, has a responsibility to portray situations as they exist, not as we wish they might be.

Those of you who think lab safety is just a piece of annoying crap better read this.

善于泳者溺于水。How true!

March 27, 2006 at 7:30 pm 4 comments

Of behavior in the US versus those back home

You know you have been away from Singapore for too long when you have your fellow compatriots (both male and female, and FOB aka fresh off boat) saying “thank you” for holding the door open and allowing them to enter the nice, warm building from the bitter cold outside. They had been half-expecting me to slam the door shut in their faces. They were equally surprised to see me press the ‘door open’ button in the elevator and to wait to allow a person from Facilities to push a goods-laden cart in.

Excuse me?

Apparently, such basic acts of courtesy are quite rare back in Singapore. I remember reading through blogs deploring the lack of social graciousness especially amongst Singaporean males. Choice quotes are given below. Hmm, the main reason is perhaps best summed up by Unknown: …I also think it has to do with society. Over here (in the US), there’s more room for introspection and self-reflection.

What some women say about Sg guys:

Too funny!:

I usually don’t depend on strangers to hold the lift for me. Most of the time, I’d rather wait for the next lift if I had to run in order to catch one. This is because you can’t bet your life that anybody inside the lift will hold the “door open” button for you even if they see you running. I’ve GIVEN UP on Singaporeans on this aspect. Whenever I’m with Ophelia, either she’s walking on her own and I’m holding her hand or if I’m carrying her, I will just saunter slowly up to a lift and press the call button to summon a lift. No point running and possibly hurting Ophelia when the bunch of idiots in the lift won’t hold it for you anyway.

So just now, the same thing happened. This guy entered the lift at B3 ahead of me. He could see me walking towards the lift and I was quite near it already. I saw him jabbing at the lift-buttons panel – most probably to get the doors of the lift to shut. I just ignored him and walked slowly to the lift while the doors closed in my face.

No Romance..:

Read from The Straits Times that SDU actually came up with a guide of social graciousness for males. In it, it actually states that bad breath is a big turnoff. It is indeed amusing that a guide like this actually existed. Some of these facts are so common sense. Are the males here really lacking in social graciousness? Sadly, my friends and I all agree so. Literally slamming doors into our faces, pretending to be digging for their wallets when the bill comes, not even a single ‘thank you’ when we drive them to their doorstep (yes, girls sending guys back), rushing into his house as he was afraid of getting wet by the the pouring rain without bothering to guide us in reversing as his house was at a dead-end street, walking by himself without even bothering if the girl is next to him etc. How do guys expect females to get any sense of security from them if any of these are being portrayed? Alright, it’s a bit unfair to say that all Singaporean males behave like that. All I want to point out is that females generally want to feel protected and well-taken care of. If a guy can’t even provide a female the basic needs or display proper mannerism in public on the first date, what more about the future? Therefore, never under-estimate the importance of first impressions.

Where did all the gentlemen disappear to?:

it really speaks volumes you know, to not hold the door, and let it slam into the girl’s face; to not have the initiative and wait for the girl to say “alright, I shall do the compilation for the presentation.“; to not respect a girl’s reputation and write slanderous stuff that are untrue. The list goes on.

Actually, even if there should be equality of the sexes, at the end of the day, a girl would appreciate gentlemenly gestures from the opposite sex. After all, 女人都是口是心非。 Unless you are really dealing with a hardcore feminist. Then I would advise you to back off.

Anyway, girls like to be pampered lo. Girls like to be taken care of. Even if it’s plain platonic friendship, I think the guys can be more gentlemenly, and send girls home after an outing or something. I think gentlemenly gestures are the way to a girl’s heart.

Malaysian, but close enough for this discussion:

I am not talking about Asian guys in the US, but rather, in Malaysia.

Many Chinese guys wonder why all the Chinese women are taken in by the guai-lo.

One of the reasons may be that the guai-los are actually more emotion oriented, if that’s what it is.

But really, after my last visit to see my relatives in Sabah, I noticed my young guy cousin’s character. He’s more concerned over his things rather than making sure people are doing well.

It’s not that there is a big difference in terms of guys and their characteristics, but from what I’ve experienced, the Chinese men that I’ve known in Malaysia, many are concerned over trivial things, or rather, they talk aimlessly about things that do not progress their lives.

But I also think it has to do with society. Over here, there’s more room for introspection and self-reflection, whereas in Malaysia, it’s all about what we’re going to do tomorrow. Trust me, I’ve experienced this as well.

PS: This is not a post to bash Sg males, since I am one myself. I am just wondering if those Courtesy campaigns (with that yellow lion smiley face) have actually any positive impacts on our social behavior.


I also have something to say about the differences in driving behavior between the two countries, but it is probably not a very fair comparison since drivers in the metro areas (especially NYC and DC) are as bad if not worse than those I encountered on Singapore roads. Midwestern drivers on the other hand, are amongst the most friendly I have seen so far.

Edit: loiseaurebelle talked about crowded (NY) city living and the associated social behaviors.

March 27, 2006 at 1:42 pm 2 comments


The title says it all.

March 23, 2006 at 8:22 pm 4 comments

Where is home; Elite Twats; Recruitment Weekend; Russia anyone?

Recurring themes I have been chewing on, if you are a regular follower of this blog. Choice quotes taken from elsewhere in the Sgporean blogosphere:


But it’s a question that has been put to me rather frequently of late; by my friends, myself, and most importantly, my parents. To my friends, I tell them blithely, “I’m a citizen of the world”; to myself, I scratch my head and try to banish the question into the depths of my mind; to my parents, well, I make non-committal, guilty noises.

How to tell my parents that Singapore isn’t really my home anymore? I mean, yes, they are back there, I grew up there, they took care of me there, but how do you call home a place where you haven’t lived in years, and do not intend to live in for the next few years? How do you call home a place where the only constants are your parents – a place where the landscape is always changing, a place where your friends are moving on, have moved on, and are living their own separate lives?

How do you call home a room you stacked with furniture you did not lovingly procure, but hastily assembled together from the amongst the cheapest you could find?


A few months ago, when I first told L about the best friend moving to London, she remarked about how everyone seems to be coming to our part of the world now.

So, the best friend arrives tomorrow with plans to conquer the world through creativity, and also start an experiment in domestic familiarity with his legal-eagle. Another friend of ours is already here and was showing her work at London Fashion Week, and has had her heart conquered by an architect ex-neighbour residing in London. Someone I’ve known for a long time, but have never met up with properly, is going to settle in the Midlands with her boy.

My related entry here.


Elite Singaporeans overseas; they existed, exist and will continue to exist. Social stratification occurs in every society. The key is social mobility. In the Singapore context, education used to be the social leveller. I am not so sure about now though.

Throughout the entire evening, all i could hear were whispers and questions of “what school is he and she is from?” or “which investment bank are you working for?”. Its akin to the irritating noises that crickets make in the night. *twee twee twee twee twee twee twee*

You probably heard this many times from me, i believe we shouldnt be judged by where we worked, what schools we attended and the scholarships under our belts. And it sounds almost ironical when the country and our national pledge exalt harmony regardless of race, language or religon. But they forgot to add ‘social standing’.

I dont know what kind of reality our so called “future leaders” and the “bright sparks” of our country subscribe to. Would these lofty creatures understand the needs of the real people? With the currently educational system of direct JC entry from top secondary further breeds this gap? Or sending your kids to expensive branded nursery to meet equally rich kids breed a tight knit group of elite that would ultimately hang out together at Zouk members bar at their reserved couches and bottles of Martell?

I am shocked. Shocked that there are more to harmony than just race, language or religon.


1 lousy asshole can spoil your entire day. Geez. Why are most twats i meet from JCs, when i always hang out with non-JC people. To makes things worse, they are often from the top 5 JCs. BAH.


And you know what I did last weekend:

Dear all,

I would like to thank everybody for their efforts to make the Graduate Recruitment Weekend a success. Graduate recruitment is one of the most important annual activities of (our department), and I am glad to report that everything went well. A few of the visitors commented to me that they were very impressed by the level of engagement of faculty and graduate students.

The participation of graduate students, staff members and faculty was essential and is highly appreciated. In a month or so we will know how successful the recruiting effort was, but I feel very good about the whole weekend. Thanks again!

Kind regards
(Faculty coordinator)

Several of the prospectives were hot. I wonder if they would enroll here. 😛


Russian Studies (for NUS students)

“Dear Students,
The Russian MOE is offering scholarships to NUS students (both postgraduate & undergraduate) for full time studies in the Russian Federation…


Edit (21 Mar): Eileen’s thoughts about “home”.

March 20, 2006 at 7:02 pm 3 comments

Of (War) Leadership

On this 3rd anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, a dead Nazi’s statement still disturbingly rings true.

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Incidentally, in another six months’ time he would be dead for 60 years.

March 19, 2006 at 7:50 pm Leave a comment

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