Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Pensive Reflections

December 5, 2015 Leave a comment

2015 is closing shop soon.

2016 will bloom in a bit.

I’ll be one year older – 38 to 39. What have I achieved?

Not much honestly. More than that, I’m at the age where I am quite nostalgic (although not as hairy) about easier older times. I suspect that most of you would be too.

As such, I’m casting eye back on my ages to see what I’ve grown into.

Ages Main Activity Looking Back Regrets
21 to 25
University. Got a girl, lost a girl, made out with some. Fresh out of the army and into NUS (Computing).

Hung around the pink tables and yakked the day away. Felt proud that I could hold my alcohol. Lots of parties – whee!

Decided on three things to try after I graduated: teaching, IT, and writing.

I wished to have learnt how to think, dissect and construct arguments, hypotheses and experiments.

I had focused too much on University being the “it’s the last stop before the real working world”and hence played too much after my first (most intense) year.

26 to 30
Worked as a programmer & teacher. Did a writing internship.
Took 6 months off to travel.
I couldn’t figure out code. It felt dry, lifeless and lacked humanity. (Ironic that I now see people as the problem mostly.)

I was – and still am – curmudgeonly, stand-offish and wanted to be a leader, regardless of whether I am correct.

Best parts of this period: 1. Writing internship at I-S
2. Travelling from Singapore to China overland
3. Paid off my student debts in 1.5 years

This was one of my best eras – I was rocking a power-packed body that could do anything that I asked of it.

Again, I wished that I had spent less and invested more.

I wished that I had taken all those relationship red flags seriously. It would have helped me to deal with people.

And perhaps I’ll be less stressed out in the future.

31 to 35 Returned from travels. Became a travel writer. Became an online editor. Stepped into an Account Director’s role

Buried myself into work

My first foray into advertising and marketing with Saatchi and Saatchi as a social media guy. I kept on working with editorial but soon I was disillusioned by the amount of work for very little pay.

Hence I supplemented it with freelance work. I took on anything and everything. Sometimes working up to 12 hours a day for months on the end. Resulting in a nice nest egg.

But by the time, 35 came around, I was burnt out from working and working and working.  

Unlike previous eras, I started investing – even though it was haphazard, clearly too ambitious, and hopelessly emotional.

I wished I had gone out and made more good friends, not just drinking buddies.

I wished kept all of my dividend stocks. And I wished that I had experimented with getting my writings out there instead of just writing to a brief.

36 to 38 Retrenched. Joined a digital agency. Doing Strategy and Inbound Marketing. Learning data science I’ve researched and made pitches, and did some data analytics.

My investments are paying off now – they cover my monthly cost.
Most folks whom I speak to decry Data science (or analytics). It seems like a foreign/alien object to them. And it’s hard to articulate the value in one sentence. Anyways, it’s hard going learning this topic on my own.

I wish that I’m doing something useful instead of marketing.

I wish that I don’t have to deal with clients or people in general.

I wished I could take a few years off.

Categories: Thoughts Tags: ,

What is a Singaporean identity?

May 23, 2015 Leave a comment

A colleague asked: "What is a Singaporean identity? You eat, shop, drink."

ST-Luis Mistades-Defining S'pore

Image source: If Only Singaporeans Stopped to Think

I couldn’t answer immediately. On reflection — and listening to Grace Fu on the news — I thought back to when I left Singapore. 

The Singaporean is someone who speaks with a staccato inflection; who knows bashas, leopard crawling, CSMs, M-16s, and walking around with a shaven head; who knows that having a bit of everything — prata, lontong, chicken rice, bak kut teh — is better than just one type of food available to most people; who lives, drinks and chats with Tamles, Mats, and Mungens.

The Singaporean is a varied bunch. Some hound kids to the tuition centers; some are big losers with big hearts; others guzzle beer while five-tenning another; while many of us slave in florescent-lit offices and catch up with other cubicle mates now and then. 

The Singaporean has played on big stone slides in the heartlands; who cusses, lim chius and sits with a leg up at the hawker centre. Their favourite pastime being the many complaints about cabbies, rain, MRTs and the government; and what is a Singaporean without the lah, leh and horscorrect or not?


That’s the Singaporean Identity


It isn’t about race. It’s about the things that are meaningful to us — part experiences, part people, mostly memory.

My parent’s conception of a Singaporean identity is quite different from mine, and my grandparent’s view is vastly alien from mine too. Regardless we will have shared experiences that binds us together (like reservists bitching about their in-camp training or ah-lians in the latest Lao-beng joint), and these are experiences that we discuss and bitch about fondly and sometimes otherwise.

I am Singaporean because of them. Not because of a government, or this piece of land, or a vague notion of Singaporeaness.

“What is essential to the growth of a nation is a common history — common sufferings, common memories, and, it may be added, common aspirations." – H.A.L Fisher

In fact, we can go further. 

It’s Disheartening



There are so many people coming in at once. So much so that they overwhelm. They bring their own foods, experiences, lingo and ways of thought here. In Chinatown I see a multitude of Mainland Chinese restaurants springing up to cater to new immigrants from China (apparently there’s 1 million Chinese Nationals now), and Chinatown has quite literally become China-town.

That was similar to Lucky Plaza in the beginning of the maid era. But it was a drop in the ocean as compared to the the influx of China nationals. 
Change is inevitable. The old will give way to the newly accepted — like Chinese opera, colour television, and now mobile internet streaming. 

It’s OK… no, not really.

All I can do is say: To the many who will arrive in Singapore to work, study, turn a quick buck, or perhaps nest, please fit in. Please share. Please receive. Please be good.

But do not expect us to bow to your sensibilities…like this ex-colleague of mine.

Categories: Thoughts Tags: ,

Week 01: Alternative Exercise

July 25, 2011 Leave a comment

  Injured again. There’s a  clicking in my left shoulder after I’ve lifted 25 kg. It’s been going on for 2 weeks. Now I’m not able to lift weights. Annoying.

I’ll give it a month to heal up. But I’ll need to do something, otherwise I’ll get remarkably fat. Like what’s happened to me now. Sad smile

I’ll focus on my core (I know I’ve said this very often), pylometrics for power, body-weight exercises for strength, and runs to build stamina. 




Pylometrics: Done

Core: Done

Bodyweight: Done

Run: Done



  •   + 1 to Core

Training Routines

Dates: 23-25 Jul


3 Sets

  1. 10 X Lower abs
  2. 10 X Side to Side
  3. 10 X Lower back (Ball)
  4. 10 X Crunches (Ball)
  5. 10 X Bridges


Exercises (3 Sets)

  1. 10 X Squat to Jumps
  2. 10 X One-Two Hops
  3. 10 X Spilt Squat Shuffle
  4. 10 X Mountain Climber
  5. 30 X Single Ankle hops


  1. 10 X Shoots
  2. 10X Roundhouse kicks


Exercises (3 Sets)

  1. 10 X Squats
  2. 10 X Single-leg Squats
  3. 10 X Lunges
  4. 15 X Single Leg Calf Raises


    1. Run (2.4 km) 
      Timing: 17:00; Speed: ??.?? km/h
    2. Slope Runs (3x 0.38 km)
    3. Cycle: KIV
      Timing: 64:00; Speed: 21.5 km/h


    1. 15 X Single Leg Calf Raises (+10 Double Leg Calf Raises)
    2. Single-leg Isometric Deadlifts
    3. Single-leg Isometric Squats
    4. Isometric Squats
    5. 10 X Inclined Inverted Rows
    Categories: Thoughts, Writing

    Really Bad Copy

    July 24, 2011 Leave a comment

    This writer should be shot, drawn and quartered. Or at least left to drown in cough syrup.

    ‎”Play a lead role in working with the digital agency to execute the communications strategy, taking into consideration cross-touchpoint integration to ensure that the synergies between the touchpoints are fully leveraged.”

    As a friend of mine says, “Someone tell me what the fuck does everything after the comma mean? Sorry but my communications skills are unable to decipher such gibberish. Guess my touchpoints aren’t fully synergised. Oh well.”

    Read also: Pet Peeves, Words I Mislike

    Categories: Thoughts, Writing

    Don’t Reply to All, Please

    June 16, 2011 Leave a comment

    I’ve recently received an email blast on Spa Sauvignon’s latest promotions. Normally, I’ll just trash it.

    This isn’t a negative indication of their massages – they’re really good and oh-so-relaxing – but of their email marketing tactics and know-how.

    In this email blast, instead of hiding their email list addresses in the BCC field, they’ve left it out in the open in the email’s CC field.

    Still not a big deal…that is until some fool Replied to All with an “UNSUBSCRIBE ME” email.

    Naturally everyone got that email, which led to a flood of “UNSUBSCRIBE  ME” email spam from folks who don’t know how email lists work.

    What is an Email List?

    Email lists are placeholder email addresses that point to a list of email addresses. It’s like chucking a bunch of email addresses onto the email fields, but cleaner and neater.

    So if you reply to an email list, everyone who’s on that list will get YOUR reply.

    This simple type-type-type, Reply All action led to said flood of “UNSUBSCRIBE  ME” and attendant “Screw you! Don’t spam me!“ and “Don’t reply ALL” emails over seven days.

    It’s annoying as heck and Spa Sauvignon should be responsible for their small (but impactful) email marketing oversight. But really, these “dumbass, soft-in-the-head” customers have to differentiate between bots, spammers and email lists.

    Hopefully I’ve done that with this post. 

    So don’t reply all, please. Just reply to sender. Or better yet, let it die quietly… like you should as well.


    Categories: Thoughts Tags: ,

    It Ain’t Right.

    April 20, 2011 Leave a comment

    A letter writer to The Straits Times Forum had his letter entirely edited, and reorganised (“Towards a Native Democracy” at ST Forum).


    The dude complains that the meaning of his letter was changed by the edits. Which is kind true upon comparing the original (“A young first-time voter’s view of the General Election” at TODAY) with the edited letter – an entirely rewritten piece that’s more forgiving and vague than the original.

    If you read it closely, you’ll see that the meaning really doesn’t change. But it’s been so obfuscated that it seems different (that’s the problem with condensing information –you lose detail).

    Rationalisations aside, why did the editor cut, paste, slice and dice the poor writer’s letter into something else? That’s just bad and if they get ass-reamed for it, well, they’re just asking for it.

    And what the heck is a “first world parliament”?

    Nah. The original versus the edited

    A young first-time voter’s view of the General Election

    by Chua Sheng Yang

    It is undeniable that the Government has done an amazing job in raising Singapore to the status of a first-world country in a short space of 40 years and that they continue to implement sound policies to ensure the economic engine drives us forward.

    However, there is always the danger that the overemphasis on policies designed to fuel economic growth could result in the sidelining of policies that might improve the welfare of citizens at the expense of growth. (As one participant at a recent forum with the Prime Minister put it, Singaporeans no longer just want a competent Government but also one that shows empathy.)

    This scenario is more plausible should a “group-think” mentality emerge within the Government, with no Opposition voices to provide a different perspective. It is interesting to note that of the new PAP candidates introduced, few felt that any policies needed review or change, despite many Singaporeans having recently raised numerous issues affecting our lives.

    Does this suggest that, if elected, they would vote along party lines instead of what they personally believe to be in the best interest of their constituents? Or do they think that the Government is doing a perfect job without room for improvement? Either way, both scenarios could have negative implications for the country.

    The detractors of a two-party system are right in saying that it can lead to an inefficient system of government, where differences in ideology result in an impotent Parliament.

    I personally have been a strong opponent of two-party systems as implemented in the West. I feel this is where Singaporeans need to define the two-party system some say they want. It is not unthinkable that a two-party system can result in cooperation between both parties to achieve the best result for Singapore, if Singaporeans make it clear that is what they want from their political system.

    As a young Singaporean likely to have the opportunity to vote for the first time and have an impact my country’s future, I have paid close attention to the candidates unveiled by each political party.

    While the PAP has revealed candidates of unquestionable pedigree, both in terms of educational background and careers, the nagging feeling remains that they are candidates I cannot fully identify with. Would they be able to identify with my concerns on the cost of housing, transportation and the general cost of living?
    For example, one candidate remarked that lowering public transport fares could lead to the operators being unable to cover operating costs, as is the case in many countries where transportation is subsidised. Yet the company he mentioned reported a net profit last year of more than S$50 million. Perhaps as a layman, I cannot understand the intricacies of finance.

    On the other hand, the Opposition has revealed a slew of candidates comprising Singaporeans from all walks of life and ones that I can identify with more closely. Yet internal strife dogs the parties and they seem unable to coordinate their efforts to run an effective election at the moment, with disputes over how to carve up the battleground.

    A more unified approach, such as each party contributing one member each to run in a GRC, would appeal more. However, such thinking is simplistic given the many different political agendas.

    Another concern is the repeated caveats by the Opposition that they are not yet ready to govern, which causes people to hesitate in voting for them as they do not want an unexpected election result where the Opposition is put into power.

    Either way, this is shaping up to be a watershed election that I am eagerly looking forward to.

    This Today reader is a 31-year-old management consultant and a voter in Yuhua.

    from TODAY


    Towards a native democracy

    A TWO-PARTY system can lead to an inefficient system of government where ideological differences result in an impotent Parliament (‘WP’s fictional First World Parliament’ by People’s Action Party MP Indranee Rajah’; yesterday).

    I firmly oppose Western-style two-party systems, but we must define the system of democracy we want by being selective of MPs.

    We should define how we want our electoral system to work. It is not unthinkable that a two-party system can result in inter-party cooperation to achieve what’s best for Singapore, if we make it clear that is what we want.

    While the Government has done an amazing job in raising Singapore to First World status within a short span of some 40 years, and continues to implement sound policies that drive us forward, we should not assume that the Government can do no wrong and that all policies will always lead to public good.

    The latter is even more plausible if a group-think mentality emerges within the Government, with no opposition voices to provide a different perspective.

    For instance, few of the new PAP candidates felt that any of our policies needed review or change, despite many Singaporeans having recently raised many livelihood issues.

    If elected, will PAP newbies vote along party lines instead of their personal convictions about what’s best?

    Or do they think that the Government is doing a perfect job and has no room for improvement? Either way, both scenarios may have negative national implications.

    It is not desirable to have an antagonistic opposition whose main aim is to prevent the functioning of government.

    I hope Singapore’s system can evolve so that the opposition serves to provide valuable input on policies in the public interest – and that such input will be seriously considered by the Government instead of being dismissed out of hand.

    Hopefully, we will make fact out of fiction and develop our own version of a First World Parliament that will benefit the world as well.

    Chua Sheng Yang

    from ST Forum

    Categories: Thoughts Tags: , ,

    We Can, Singapore

    March 17, 2011 Leave a comment

    Every so often, we bash Singapore and Singaporeans with incredible amounts of vitriol. Just read the comments in The Online Citizen.


    I’m guilty of that as well.

    But every so often, I come across posts that talk about the good things in Singapore. Most of it is written by expats – I can see your eyes roll up already –, but there are truths in them and I’m struck by how we take it all for granted.

    Here’s an example:

    – 3$ lunches that don’t include hotdogs

    – dragonboating OUTSIDE all year round

    – perma-tan

    – affordable massages

    – taxi uncle talks

    – “can” and “cannot”

    – “hmmm…it’s a long weekend, where should I fly to? The beach, the jungle, a cool Asian city…”

    Yes, this little red dot (and sometimes her leaders) could do things better, but let’s not can ourselves, can?

    Source: Things I will miss about Singapore when I move back to Canada

    Categories: Thoughts Tags:
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