Tourism and Conservation

Some notes…

Facing greater competition for tourist dollars, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) initiated the ‘Uniquely Singapore’ campaign in 2004. It portrayed Singapore as modern yet maintaining tradition and local culture. This has attained some success. Frommer’s (tourist guide books) in its Introduction describes Singapore as ‘Pint-sized Singapore is a mosaic of contrasting cultures’ (accessed 31 Oct 2016).

As of 28 July 2016, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) has conserved more than 7000 buildings (beginning in 1973). Some of these are at Cairnhill near the shopping district of Orchard Road. One building taken down along that road, however, was the Specialist Shopping Centre. In its place are Somerset 313 and Orchard Central (which has the unique Orchard Library – a very nice touch if I may add – different from its predecessor housed in Takashimaya).

I had the chance of using the old National Library near Doby Ghaut MRT station and the two storey Singapore Armed Forces Non-Commissioned Officers (SAF NCO) clubhouse on Beach Road (opposite the Raffles Hotel). Both no longer exist. The former made way for a road tunnel. The latter for a mixed development including the South Beach Hotel (up to 45 stories) and offices among others. 3 blocks from the neighbouring Beach Road Camp were nonetheless preserved. Block 1 according to the Straits Times has become a ‘a hip lifestyle spot‘ (21 Nov 2015). If the takeup rate for the residential units are high, then the vibrancy of the area is likely to be expanded and sustained. In this example, we could safely say that the URA has retained our ‘distinctive character’ and ‘sense of history and memory’.

François Mitterrand

Image result for Dying Without God : Francois Mitterrand's Meditations on Living and Dying

The original title would have been directly translated as: <The old man and death>. Mitterrand (died 1996) was French President for 14 years. (The term was 7 years each).

He read alot; and had many women in his life. History was a constant theme between the journalist author and the cancer stricken president. (Look at his face… to see cancer waste him away brings one sadness and sorrow…)

One is reminded of how small each individual is… perhaps not even a footnote in history…

And only in acknowledging death can we truly live…

A sense of history… Australia

Image result for randolph stow merry-go-round-sea

I read the republished version. The above is a cover of a prior print. Penguin New Zealand describes it: “…what many regard as his finest work“. (Two days after Stow’s death in 2010, The Australian published an obituary). It was a book that I went back searching for… and I was glad to have found it. (Unexpectedly, Singapore was mentioned several times in the novel. It alluded to Changi ‘university’ too – some Prisoners of War had taken to providing some education for the inmates under the Japanese Occupation).

Through the story, you were (eventually) transported back to pre-World War Two Australia. The sights and the sounds… It is part autobiography, thus on hindsight, it could explain why he went back to the United Kingdom.

Family was a very big part of the story. This contradicts the general view that Caucasians are mostly individualists. Based on anecdotal evidence, it seems quite a few women stay home to look after their children. The other thing for me was that some verses were quite magical. (Stow wrote poems as well…) There was another hilarious portion where (I believe) Didi, the cousin of central figure Robert (Rob) Coram yearned to be more than human – she yearned to be a horse!

I have not quite figured it out yet, but perhaps the title is one big allegory referring to Australia itself as the merry-go-round in the sea…

Further reference:

Jacinta Halloran. (26 Jul 2016). The nostalgia of place, the treachery of time: Randolph Stow’s The Merry-Go-Round in the Sea. Bibliotherapy Australia.

More Knee aid : )

Nicholas A. DiNubile. (2010). FrameWork for the Knee : A 6-Step Plan for Preventing Injury and Ending Pain. Rodale.

The author based on research is a top notch and well publicised orthopedic doctor. (See his bio on the Huffington Post). But apart from that, his writing conveys sincerity and professionalism. He and his wife suffers from knee problems themselves. (His being more severe).

Further, in my assessment of medical advice, he does not propose invasive surgical options easily. That is a very good sign. He also says things like:

We need to do better with ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) surgery. The ACL re-tear rate of 15 percent is too high for my liking…” (p.54)

He comes recommended by director M. Night Shymalan (director); Arnold Schwarzenegger (actor, bodybuilder, politician); Kenneth H. Cooper, another doctor who likewise has his considerable legacy (such as the Cooper Aerobic Center); and sportpersons.

From what I read, most of it aligns with my earlier research.

So do consider reading it! The self check test confirmed a deficiency in flexibility and core-body strength for me. Dr DiNubile was right in suggesting that I would probably have tight hamstrings for instance; runners tend to get that he wrote. [It appears my Iliotibial Band (see entry from Runner’s World) too is tight]. So I am proceeding to work on that (some of it at least). I have already cut down on my running/jogging – life is still fine in that sense.

For your informed decision making; and do seek qualified medical advice! (Seek a second opinion if you need to!)

Poverty and individual responsibility

In the book <When the Iron Lady Ruled Britain> (reprinted 2012), author Robert Chesshyre, picked up on a thread of Victorian thinking seemingly prevalent during Thatcherite Britain – the poor had themselves to blame.

But what if the poverty was injected from outside forces?

Corruption was something that hemmed people into continued poverty. In one example, then Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, created companies to enforce a monopoly of the sugar sector. He severely restricted the prices of sugar sold to his Philippine Exchange Company. He went on to take hold of the shipping firms for sugar. Finally, he pre-empted the minimum wage for the 500,000 sugar labourers. These workers thence earned below $1 a day. The comprehensive magnitude of corruption made the escape from poverty next to impossible. In this case, the poor can hardly be blamed indeed.

Natural disasters also play a part. Such events destroy entire homes, businesses and roads – leaving people with a shadow of their former prosperity. The 2011 Fukushima tsunami and earthquake caused 15,880 people deaths and the meltdown of the regional nuclear power station. The spectre of radioactive contamination on fishing; agriculture; and tourism led to an economic downturn. Some farmers killed themselves as they lost their means of economic survival. Similarly, the 2010 Haiti earthquake hit road, government offices, hospitals, and almost 300,000 homes. (Worse still, there was a cholera epidemic later on in the same year.) Many Haitians have to sell their things to access medical treatment; some conceivably have to borrow and fall foul to debt bondage. It would be unfair to pin the responsibility of disaster affected peoples for their poverty.

Over the longer run, external forces in both these examples should bear the blame. The reconstruction funds have somehow not reached the needy Japanese and Haitians… One can do further research on the obstacles…

Singaporeans Reading!

Hmmm…all the earlier talk about the end of reading (especially hardcopy books) seems to be greatly exaggerated…

Indeed, the National Arts Council (NAC) ran a survey involving more than a thousand people (citizens and permanent residents) 15 and above which showed otherwise.

Some highlights:

  • Approximately 30% of the sample purchased a minimum of 1 book in the last year (2014).
  • “1 in 4 readers read literary books by Singaporean writers. Around 2 in 5 readers cited lack of awareness of Singapore writers as one of the key reasons for not reading Singapore literature.”
  • 59% read for pleasure and relaxation!
  • 44% read a literary book in the last year (2014).


For more information:

Singaporeans Have an Interest in Literary Books – Inaugural National Literary Reading and Writing Survey 2015 Shows. (11 Mar 2016). Singapore. National Arts Council.

May Seah. (15 Mar 2016).  S’poreans still prefer physical books, survey shows. Singapore. TODAY.

[Reflections] Reportage – 2008 Subprime Crisis

Swimming with Sharks

I began reading this for two reasons – the sensationalist title and (perhaps less importantly) trying to understand the financial earthquake that took place.

I ended up though with sociological/anthropological insights into banking. Luyendijk apparently researched electric cars via the “idiot’s” or “dummy’s” approach earlier. It is replicated here. He went through an excess of 200 sources from the front, middle to back end; the regulators (none other than the Bank of England); and even partners. It is largely a British/European angle (the author is Dutch).

The book reads somewhat like an emotional roller coaster; and no, not all of the bankers are like sharks; neither were all of them responsible for the breakdown in 2008 (or 2007 depending on your timeline). If what the bankers described were true, then we went really near the (financial) abyss.

Read it yourself – especially if you plan to go into banking. It is also rather recent and up to date; published in 2015.

A related post on the American banking scene here. For the generic Singaporean banking context, consider <The Ultimate Banker> by Edwin Lim and co-authored with Leong Kaiwen and Edward Choi. (2012). Lim, the banker, was diagnosed with ‘motor neuron disease’ (fatal) in 2010.

Further references:

Marcello Estevão. (Dec 2015). The Jaws of Finance. Finance & Development. International Monetary Fund.

Review in The Telegraph by Nicholas Blincoe – Swimming with Sharks: My Journey Into the World of the Bankers by Joris Luyendijk, review: ‘prophet of doom’.

The original blog by the author (last update 1 Oct 2013) – The Joris Luyendijk banking blog. The Guardian.