Do You Know How Much Our Security Officers Are Paid?

Sari Pan Pacific Jakarta

I stayed at Sari Pan Pacific Jakarta over the weekend and was amazed at how security is pretty tight at the hotels and malls. Apart from the metal detector everyone has to walk through outside my hotel, they also have the handheld devices to scan your bags, sniffer dogs and more guards at the gate who will check the taxi’s boot and also the underside of the vehicles!

Have you ever thought about how much our local security officers are being paid to guard our homes and offices? I recently had the opportunity of finding out what their job and salary is like…

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If you’re offered the option of working full-time six days a week in Singapore, and you’re only going to be drawing a salary of S$800 – S$900 a month, would you take the job?

Your answer might be an outright “no”, like mine was. But this is a reality for over 30,000 security officers in Singapore. How does one survive on an S$800 monthly salary? The truth is, we can’t. And therefore these officers work up to 12 hours a day to get overtime pay.

So that’s 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. And their jobs are not as simple as just sitting behind a desk and staring at CCTV monitors.

Security Officer in Singapore

What Do We Think Security Officers Do?

When I enter buildings, the security officer is the person who gives me a pass in exchange for ID. And when I need directions, whether I’m in a mall or trying to get to one, I ask the security officer. And at the airport, they are the ones who decide what I can or cannot bring with me.

But beyond that, what do they really do?

What Does A Security Officer Really Do?

Before he retired, my Dad was a security supervisor in one of our major hospitals. And it was quite a stressful job. Sometimes, there would be ministers coming for their checkups, other times scuffles between anxious relatives of patients and hospital staff, and the occasional unreasonable person who lost a bag or phone and demands that Security finds it, like that doctor who brought $10,000 in cash and placed it in a bag in the locker room and has it go missing. (Why bring that much money to work anyway?!)

In general, security officers screen the people and vehicles seeking entry into a property, they patrol and prevent thefts, checks for leaks and signs of fire or smoke, prevent unauthorized entry, check that the security system is working and not tampered with, manage vehicle parking allocation, check lighting is working, operate gates / doors / barriers, do traffic control, maintain access records, and escort visitors, among other things based on the company they work for.

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Security Officers

I had the opportunity to speak to a condominium’s security supervisor about what his job really entails, and what job hazards come with it.

It seems that residents staying in that condominium expect much more from him and his team than what is stated in his job description. In cases of encroachment, e.g. if someone’s bicycle is left in what another resident thinks is his space, then a security officer will be called in, when it should come under the condo’s management’s jurisdiction.

To make matters worse, security officers have been accused of taking bribes and damaging property. Some (crazy, maybe?) resident has accused officers of accepting a bribe and damaging his/her car, without any incriminating evidence.

I can only imagine how upsetting it would be if I’m working 12-hour shifts just to earn a decent wage to support my family, and doing my work as best I can, and yet be wrongly accused of damaging property when I would never do something like that.

Too Little Pay, Too Much Work

Security officers are definitely not paid as much as they deserve.

As it is common for service buyers such as condominium and building managing agents to choose the cheapest quote, security agencies compete on price and depress wages as a result.

[Read: Minimum Wage Disaster – Cheap Sourcing Risks Security Officers’ Pay]

Security agencies should think of ways to make the jobs of security officers easier, safer and smarter. For example, instead of making the officer walk throughout the premises five times a night, why not install motion-sensor CCTVs that the officer can monitor?

Service buyers who choose the security agency shouldn’t look at security officers as an expense and choose the cheapest, but learn how to best-source based on quality, experience and good service level, for example.

The good news is that things are about to change. The Progressive Wage Model (PWM) for the security industry was launched in October this year, seeing a good number of security agencies jumping on the bandwagon, but for the laggards, they have up still September 2016 to implement PWM within their company.

According to NTUC’s Zainal Sapari, “PWM would ensure there will be a baseline for wage-setting when security firms bid for contracts. The model will also offer a career path for security officers where the salary earned will commensurate with level of responsibility, productivity and training received”.

In its efforts to protect low wage workers, the Labour Movement has established that security agencies who do not comply with the requirements may not have their licences renewed. While it may sound harsh, but for the benefit of the workers, I am glad that something is being done at least to protect them.

Security officers can expect to earn more as they undergo training and greater opportunities for advancement to Senior Security Officer (min. S$1300), Security Supervisor (min. S$1500), Senior Security Supervisor (min. S$1700) and eventually Chief Security Supervisor.

PWM Security

Also, let us also stop taking these security officers for granted. It’s a tough job. Most of them are on their feet much of the day, not all have the luxury of working in an air-conditioned environment, most don’t have a proper pantry to rest their feet and get a much-needed coffee break, and many are thrown challenges daily by demanding “customers”.

If there is a security officer whom you meet daily but have never really spoken to or thanked for a good job done, why not speak with him or her today, or even take it one step further and give the person a thank-you note or a cup of coffee? You know you’ll love it if you’re in his/her shoes. :)

LEGO-themed Cafe: Bricks ‘n’ Cubes at The Cathay

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I had dinner with some members of my Blog Club at Bricks ‘n’ Cubes Cafe yesterday. :D I love the decor though the food and service leaves more to be desired.

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Thankfully, I had some food before leaving home and all I needed at this cafe was some ice cream. Each scoop of ice cream costs S$4.50. I ordered the Belgium Chocolate ice cream – it was a fairly large serving but served to me with a plastic fork. I have never eaten ice cream with a plastic fork before! (@_@)

The rest ordered pasta which took really long to be served. Half an hour, to be exact. Even though there were few customers at that time.

(The quality of the food is not quite consistent. Steven ordered the wild mushroom pasta and found it wildly flavorful. But Flore showed up late and when her mushroom pasta arrived, the sauce was at least 2 shades lighter than Steven’s)

And strangely enough, the iPads on each table were *not* for ordering food. They are just for customers to play games on. What a waste.

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I think kids would love coming by and building LEGO creations here. I thought the play area was, strangely, rather big. It would have made more cents to convert this into a dining area to serve more customers and keep the till ringing.

Pricing: $10.90 to $12.90 for mains

Address: The Cathay, 2 Handy Road, #02-12

Tel: 67357571

Hello Kitty Run – The Best and Worst Run EVER!

Hello Kitty Run Singapore

[Picture Credit: CNA fb]

I took part in the 5km Hello Kitty Run on Saturday and can safely say it was the best and worst run I have ever taken part in. It was a Hello Kitty fan’s dream come true and a runner’s worst nightmare. Let’s start with the horrifying bits first:

1) 17,000 runners of all ages and varying levels of race experience

I was in the second ‘wave’ of runners and it was frustrating having to wait till 8.14am before I could finally move. Flag-off for the first wave was at 8am, then the emcee tried to “entertain” us while we waited and perspired.

I could not see what was happening on the stage – I could hear talk about cupcakes and Kitty and Daniel and whatnot, but it was such a pity. I did not see any of it!

And when we were FINALLY ready to go, some people with their selfie sticks and phones and cameras were just refusing to budge till they took their photos with an inflatable balloon kitty.

THEN, when I finally get my chance to escape from that sauna among a throng of people, there are kids and inexperienced runners getting into my way. Someone running in front of me would suddenly stop and turn around to look for a friend/family member/Kitty(?!) and I have to do my best not to run straight into him/her.

2) That ambulance

I have never been in a race whereby an ambulance suddenly comes from behind, with sirens blaring, and I have to give way to it. Utterly ridiculous. And those fans with their selfie sticks were definitely not going to give way till they had gotten their pictures.

It was definitely not a good time to have a heart attack or some life-threatening injury, because by the time the ambulance reaches the person, he/she would most likely be gone.

3) Hello Kitty balloons, sculptures, arches, distance markers, etc

Hello Kitty Run Singapore

People were just stopping for pictures at ALL of these “attractions”. I have NEVER seen anyone stop for a picture with a distance marker before, but it was commonplace at the Hello Kitty Run. There was definitely no way to clock a personal best timing for running, and I was doing more running sideways, by trying to dodge people who suddenly decide to turn around for a selfie.

4) Really icy cold water

I stopped at both water points. And was given really cold water. I pity the folks with sensitive teeth.

5) Inexperience in handing out medals

The organizers have absolutely no clue as to who has taken a medal and who hasn’t. I am not surprised at all that some runners had the chance to take more than their share of medals.

In other runs I’ve taken part in, someone would put a tick on our race bibs to signify that we have collected our medals. For the Kitty Run, you can take a medal, then go queue again for another. No way that could be stopped. ;)

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I managed to complete the run pretty fast, even overtaking some of the people in the first ‘wave’. I collected my medal without a hitch. There were kitty cookies and mineral water and a canned drink for each runner too.

When I emerged from the (portable) toilet, it started to drizzle, then it really poured. I decided to just run back to the bus bay where there were shuttle buses to take us back to Vivocity.

I got totally drenched and decided not to wait for the bus, and to take the tram back to Vivocity instead.

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What was amazing about the Hello Kitty Run:

1) The tee, the Hello Kitty plushie and the medal

It is definitely the prettiest, cutest and most treasured medal I have in my collection. I think the only thing the organizers got wrong was the naming of this event. It should have been called the “Hello Kitty Big Walk” or something like that.

It was definitely not a “Run”. It was a massive gathering of Hello Kitty fans in celebration of Kitty’s birthday with many photo opportunities along the route.

2) The amazing decorations!

Hello Kitty Run Singapore

I have never taken part in a more ‘kawaii’ run. There were kitty balloons, bubbles and even some (Japanese?) Kitty song being played. And there was supposed to be an awesome Beach Party, which I did not stay for because of the rain.

Hello Kitty Run Singapore

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And now, for the millionaire dollar question: Will I take part again if there is another Hello Kitty Run / Walk?

Sadly, yes. I’m a sucker for these things.

What would I do differently next time?

1) Get to the starting point as early as possible so I am ahead of the pack

2) Carry a bag to contain all the Kitty goodies at the end, and include a poncho in case there’s bad weather

The Purge Prank by MerlionTV – Utterly Immature & Absolutely Repugnant!

I’ve only just watched the 2-minute clip called “THE PURGE PRANK!!!” by MerlionTV and found that it is absolutely distasteful. People who find the video hilarious are quite frankly, sick in the head! And the producers should definitely spend some time behind bars for this stupid prank.

For those who have not watched the video, don’t! Adding to the number of views will simply inflate the egos of the producers, and spawn similar pranks. In essence, a masked person wearing a hoodie and wielding a long knife AT NIGHT scares a couple at a busstop, a worker chatting on the phone at the entrance to a construction site, a woman seated a short distance away from an escalator, and a man seated at a void deck (he runs away upon spotting the masked idiot).

I am upset with this video mainly because of two things:

1) It reminds me of the murders on the Taiwanese subway this year. I could have very nearly been on that same train, and probably ended up dead after that Taiwanese undergraduate went on his slashing spree. I’ve watched the videos regarding that incident and I really DETEST this prank one. Seriously, the people behind MerlionTV should NOT be celebrating how their video went viral; they should be ashamed of the unnecessary fear they have caused to the people they scared in their video.

MerlionTV

The producers are crazy – “support” from your fellow Singaporeans?! The video has 395 thumbs up, and 1067 DOWN! The overwhelming majority hate this video. And I hope their “CRAZIER pranks” get them locked up. I, for one, will be happy to throw the key away.

2) Even if it’s Halloween, you don’t have the right to scare people who did not sign up to be scared. If you love scaring people, go work in one of those horror house tourist attractions. Don’t scare that unsuspecting lady – she might already have had a really tough day. Don’t alarm that worker – he’s probably on the phone with a loved one back in India or wherever. Just don’t scare all those innocent folks!

If I’m in that horror house ‘cos I paid to go in, and knew exactly what I was “signing up for”, then yes, you have every reason to try and scare me. And yes, I might (accidentally) punch you in the face because I freak out easily. BUT, I will not sue you. If I was one of the people in that prank video, I’d definitely sue the producers for every cent they have (or don’t have).

Singapore is generally a safe place to live and work in. Singaporeans do have a good sense of humor. There are some pranks which do scare people, but in a good clean fun sort of way. For example, I’ve seen a clip from ‘Just For Laughs’ in which people reach for a doughnut in a shopping mall, thinking they can sample it for free since no one is at the booth, are pranked. A hand pops out from under the table and smacks their fingers just as they are reaching for that doughnut. Scares them, but no one was in any danger of dying from fright. But if a masked man comes towards me at night, and he’s wielding a long knife, that would truly be scary.

And if one day, we do have a knife-wielding murderer, like the guy in Taiwan, and the public here just laughs it off and thinks “Oh it’s the guys from MerlionTV”, then what the hell is going to happen?

MerlionTV, don’t screw with us ok? It really isn’t funny.

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And If Anyone Still Thinks It’s Just A Silly Prank / It’s Halloween / Take A Chill Pill, No One Was Hurt

Well, let me just say that the producers, if fully confident that this prank would hurt no one, is likely not against the law, and is just for fun, would not have picked those victims. That masked idiot should not have tried to scare an unarmed worker at a construction site, he should have gone towards the guards outside the Istana, or a bank, or even walk right into a police station.

You have the balls to scare unsuspecting, defenseless people, but dare not scare an armed police officer? Why? ;) Because you look freaking scary and they’ll shoot you on sight?

So the public become sitting ducks for your stupid pranks, right? And you humiliate them further by putting the video on YouTube!

You know who are the real cowards? It’s not those people who ran away in fright.

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But you know what really sends a chill down my spine? How most of the people in the video were oblivious to that masked fella’s presence. It’s like he needed a loudhailer to tell them “Hello folks! Masked guy with a knife coming towards you! HELLOOOOOO”. If it wasn’t a prank, those people would have definitely been slashed at. Only the guy in the void deck would have gotten away in time.

It definitely is a reminder to always be aware of our surroundings. Yes, Singapore is safe. But no, it is not 100% safe. We have people who mutilate cats and other animals, murders once in a while, and stress levels in this country are not exactly low (some people snap just like that). So, watch out for yourself and your loved ones. Don’t be so preoccupied with that stupid phone all the time, look out for people behaving strangely and make sure you exercise regularly so you can run whenever you have to.

I think the police really need to take this more seriously. A warning to the producers will not suffice. They have tasted a bit of popularity (I wouldn’t say ‘fame’), they are unrepentant, and I believe they will be back for more. Mark my words.

100 Doraemon Secret Gadgets Expo: JB City Square – Now Till 4th Jan

I went to City Square last week to check out the 100 Doraemon Secret Gadgets Expo. I have been to the one in Hong Kong some time back, but I still enjoyed this expo in JB (actually, I enjoyed this one more than the one in HK! LOL!).

Located on level 1 of City Square mall (a favorite of Singaporeans), it is easily accessible via public transport into JB; very near the checkpoint. Or if you’d like to drive there, it’s a bit of a roundabout to get to the carpark but still fairly easy to find.

Tickets are at RM25 for adults and RM15 for kids. Really young children and senior citizens get to enter for free; do check at the ticketing counter. You can buy tickets when you get to the venue. The best part is, there is free re-entry on the same day. You get a stamp on your arm when you leave the exhibition so you can head for some food and come back again! :D

Beyond the exhibits, there is a gift shop, a whole area dedicated to Doraemon merchandise and even a cafe on level 5. Don’t miss the game booths too – they are really difficult but offer loads of fun!

Here’s a sneak peek…

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

Doraemon Secret Gadgets Doraemon Secret Gadgets

And guess what, I never knew Doraemon was originally yellow in color. I’d thought he was blue all along…

Doraemon Secret Gadgets Doraemon Secret Gadgets

The exhibition offers more than just photo opportunities with the many Doraemon figures on display. There’s also a gift shop and a lot of Doraemon merchandise waiting for you at the end.

Doraemon Secret Gadgets Doraemon Secret Gadgets

You’ll definitely enjoy visiting because there is something for everyone! There are photo opportunities at every corner, and kids and adults alike will be sure to find something they want to get a photo taken with…

Doraemon Secret Gadgets Doraemon Secret Gadgets

*My Fav Pic*

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

You can also approach the official photographers at these two booths to get a photo within these homes – RM 25 for 1 photo, RM 40 for 2 photos:

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

Doraemon Secret Gadgets 15

And for some Doraemon-themed food, head to the cafe:

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

Here’s what I purchased that day at the expo:

Doraemon Secret Gadgets

An eyemask and some postcards which totally made me smile! :D

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For more information:

FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/DoraemonMY

City Sq: http://www.citysqjb.com/index.php/component/content/article?id=337

Chatuchak Weekend Market, Terminal 21 and Nana Square

[Day 2 in Bangkok – ‘Live’ report :D]

To get to Chatuchak, take the BTS to Mo Chit station, head out of exit 1 and literally, “follow the crowd” right to Chatuchak Market. ;)

*Keep an eye on your belongings! Police patrol the area but it does not necessarily stop all crime! If you need a map of Chatuchak (and some air-conditioning), head to the police post.

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We reached Chatuchak at about 12 noon. And the heat was amazing. I was just sweating buckets! It’s a miracle we didn’t get heatstroke. (Bring a handheld fan if you are coming by Chatuchak)

We were done shopping in about 4 hours’ time. Here are some pictures:

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I bought a pair of shades for 39 baht. A ridiculously low price! That’s not even 2 Singapore dollars!

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(Above) Big guy cooking a big pan of paella. He was throwing ingredients, such as long beans, into the pan as he was walking away from it. Inevitably, many of them fell to the ground. But it still attracted many tourists.

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Hand-painted shoes at 350 baht. I really like colorful stuff. The first pair caught my eye.

Bf bought many shirts on this shopping trip. I didn’t even buy any dresses and shoes!!! Shopping skills gone rusty. Lol.

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Then we were off to Terminal 21 next to Asok BTS station.

We had a steamboat dinner at MK Restaurant (level 4 of Terminal 21). The bill came up to 676 baht.

When we got tired from exploring the huge mall, we stopped at a dessert place specializing in matcha desserts for a Matcha Latte Float (110 baht) which was yummy! The vanilla ice cream is really good! 
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We then walked all the way to Phrom Phong station where a mall – Emporium – was supposed to be. Sadly, it was under renovation. :(

On the way back to our hotel, we made a detour to Nana Square and had pizza at The Pizza Company cos the place is packed. It’s open till midnight too.

Bbq chicken wings and Seafood Cocktail pizza cost us 528 baht. Both items were dripping in oil. The pizza had lots of butter, strangely. I like the chicken wings, don’t quite fancy the pizza.
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Time for bed… and MBK tomorrow? :D

Quick Guide To The Five Cat Cafes in Singapore (Cat Cafe Comparison Chart)

It was in January this year that I visited Singapore’s first cat cafe. Read my first cat cafe blogpost here. And now, we have FIVE cat cafes in Singapore! Quite hard to believe actually, with SG being so small. It’s amazing how, in a span of barely 9 months, cat cafes have popped up like bubble tea stores. So here’s a quick guide to the five:

singapore cat cafe

Best value for money: Definitely The Cat Cafe as they charge on a per entry basis. And you get a drink too. I think students will have a lot of fun camping here and studying for exams while surrounded by wonderful cat energy.

Cuddles Cat Cafe has 20 cats (more than any of the other cat cafes) but I am concerned about how the cafe is open daily. Don’t the cats need a break from adoring customers? And how about for grooming of the cats and general maintenance of the cafe??? The cafe is open from 11am to 11pm. There’s not much time for cleaning work, it seems. Hmm…

I think cat lovers are certainly spoiled for choice now. It’s good such pet cafes exist as many animal lovers may not have the time or space to keep these pets at home. I, for one, know that keeping a pet is a huge responsibility, kind of like caring for a baby, I guess. I’d happily pay pet cafe owners who take good care of the animals so I don’t have to.

Which of these cat cafes have you visited? Leave me a comment or drop me an email! :)

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Update: Cuddles Cat Cafe is being investigated for the death of 8 cats, as CNA reported.

Raising Productivity: How a Small Change Made a Big Difference

Megazip Sentosa

Last month, I went for a Megazip ride after almost 5 years or so since my very first ride there. :D I still remember vividly the ex-boyfriend screaming and shivering, which got me so amused that I forgot about my fear of heights. LOL! This time round, I had no boyfriend in tow and it was a little scarier than I remembered.

You basically go from above the treetops, past the trees, fly over the beach, the waters, and finally ‘land’ on a little ‘island’ at the end. I guess it was also scarier this time because I had read about the accident on the Megazip in 2011, when an Australian tourist broke his back after his crash landing when the braking mechanism did not work. So, this time, when I was racing down Imbiah Hill faster than the other two people on the ziplines next to me, I panicked and wondered if the brakes had failed again. Thankfully, they are much safer now as the company has learnt from and moved on from that unfortunate incident.

The operations manager shared with us that previously, queues would snake from the ticketing counter at the top of the hill all the way down, as the ticket processing was slow and inefficient.

Megazip was using a manual system. It was tedious and time-consuming for staff to pre-assign the wristbands to the customers by tallying it with the sales receipt. Also, at closing time, staff had to count the wristbands! Previously, the staff would have to pay for the difference if they issued the wrong wristbands.

The old wristbands in this filing cabinet:

Megazip Singapore

SO many price options – easy to get confused with a manual system:

Megazip Singapore

And where service standards are concerned, what’s different now?

Registration was a breeze as wristbands get printed very quickly:

Megazip wristband

Now they don’t have to do the unnecessary paperwork, as wristbands are printed on demand, and with the time saved, this allows for more focus and time on customer’s safety and improves interaction by 50%. They can now also track visitorship and activities which the customer has signed up for with ease.

So with improved productivity levels, does the company up wages too?

The answer is YES! With an increase in productivity, more customers could be served and thus profits soon increased. In fact, there has been a 24% increase in pay for lower level staff. They also believe that all staff should have equal opportunity to progress up the career ladder, hence internal promotion is also highly encouraged. This concept is not something new. This follows the Progressive Wage Model that NTUC has been advocating for quite some time. With an improvement in productivity and skills upgrading, salary can then increase and career advancement can take place. It may sound complicated, but it’s relatively simple really. The video below will help you to understand it in less than 3 minutes!

Megazip Pricing:

If you are curious about how much the Megazip ride costs per person, it is S$39. You can find the other pricing options and packages here.

Directions to Megazip:

Find out how to get to Megazip here.

Disabled Theatre: Disabling Misconceptions, Enabling Dreams

Disabled Theatre

Earlier this month, I had the most interesting theatre experience ever. I went to watch ‘Disabled Theatre’, whose director is the renowned French choreographer, Jérôme Bel, at the Singapore International Festival of the Arts (SIFA). It’s not everyday that you get to see professional actors with learning disabilities on stage. Plus, the way that Disabled Theatre is presented gives you surprises at every turn. Starting from the beginning…

11 seats are placed in an arc facing the audience, and the translator, Chris Weinheimer, explains that Jérôme Bel would like the 11 actors to stand before the audience for a minute, one by one. So each actor came on stage, and then left, one at a time, to stare at (or stand before) the audience in utter silence.

People started shifting in their seats, some cleared their throats, most just didn’t know what to make of it.

The actors just came on stage and stared at us, and us back at them. Some took close to a minute, while at least one came up to the front, did an abrupt about-turn and marched right off, providing some comic relief.

I can only hazard a guess at what Jérôme’s intention is. But I came to understand that these actors with learning disabilities are not that different from us. Are we able to look upon them as equals? If you have to avert your gaze, or stifle nervous laughter, or find yourself shifting in your seat, then you have something to think about.

Then came the round of introductions. One by one, they told us their name, age, and occupation (which was either actor or actress). After that, they each performed a dance solo and you can see the immediate transformation of each actor and the unbridled joy in each performance. I love the pieces imitating Michael Jackson and Psy (in Gangnam Style)! :D

And that got me thinking, there is so much potential in the Singapore arts scene, great musicians, actors and actresses, sculptures, and the list goes on. Yet, theatre and acting has never been a flourishing industry in Singapore. Recently, the hot topic on ASPIRE addressed issues about moving away from this “paper chase” mindset to one that focuses on skills and experience. Also, it is not the first time we hear about the emphasis on skills and experience. The Labour Movement in Singapore has also been pushing for Singaporeans to respect every job and worker regardless of their paper qualifications. Mr Seah Keng Tia, Chairperson of Young NTUC once said “The Singaporean society must be one that respects every worker and every job. We must strive to create a culture that supports the pursuit of happiness and balance, as success is more than economic growth and wealth alone.”

Not So Different From Us After All

One actor shared that he has a fear of asking questions because he doesn’t know what the answer might be. And I thought that’s not too bad. Many students, even in University, don’t speak up in class for fear of asking what could turn out to be a stupid question.

These actors are not that different from us. We have similar fears, similar aspirations (get famous and travel around the world) and we just learn things differently.

Standing Ovation

The audience was, simply put, blown away by the cast of Disabled Theatre. In 90 minutes, we were made to confront our perceptions of people with learning disabilities, marvel at their unique skills and talents, and come to the realization that we each have our own weakness and there is no need to think any differently about people with Down’s Syndrome – they are just like us.

I noticed, too, that some of the actors had a really good sense of humor, delighted in making the audience laugh, and in general, just loved to have fun. One lingering thought remains though…

With ages ranging from 21 to 43, the actors truly succeeded in making us wonder – “Are these selves presented on stage fictionalised or real?” (Germaine Cheng / The Straits Times 5 September 2014)

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It’s truly wonderful how people with learning disabilities can turn to theatre as an avenue to display their talents. I think parents of children with Down’s Syndrome would be comforted, after watching Disabled Theatre, in the knowledge that their children are not disabled, they are simply able in other ways.

I hope more opportunities open up in the arts scene in Singapore, especially for this community so that the next time we see someone with Down’s Syndrome, we’ll think ‘He/She has Down’s Syndrome. So what?’ and know that we are all the same – humans with our own fears and weaknesses.

What Makes Happy People Happy?

Some people I meet are just so happy all the time. And I can’t help wondering what’s the secret. Are they on drugs? Can we bottle ‘happiness’ and sell it? So I’ve asked a couple of them, discovered my own secrets to happiness, and in this blogpost, I’m HAPPY (hur hur) to share with you the 4 keys to happiness I’ve discovered. Let’s go…

#1: Have Many Things Which Make You Happy

If you have just 1 thing that makes you happy, you might not be happy very often. For instance, if ONLY becoming a millionaire will make you happy, then for the number of years you take to get to that level, you’ll be unhappy. And if you die without becoming a millionaire, you’ve just led a sad life.

Find joy in as many things as you can. Little kids who smile at me make me happy. Eating ice cream makes me happy. Eating soggy fries makes me super happy. Great books, wonderful conversations, good food, a yummy cup of bubble tea, a funny movie, comments from readers and fans who love what I do, clients who love me, travel, shopping, etc – all these things make me happy.

#2: Be Happy For No Reason

Most people don’t know this. But I was a teacher at an enrichment center before I started work at Adam Khoo’s company. And I taught the most adorable 4 to 6 year olds, who came in to class every single day just brimming with joy. And they can’t tell me why. I ask if it’s because they went to McDonald’s before class. The answer is no. They’re just happy to be in class, happy to be with their friends, and maybe, happy to see me too. :D

#3: Allow Yourself To Be Happy

Then, of course, I have met some people who are unhappy or just stuck in that middle zone (between feeling happy and feeling unhappy). Some don’t give themselves permission to be happy because of something that happened in the past, something someone (or a fortune teller) said to them, something they are still beating themselves up over, or because they just don’t think they deserve to be happy.

Truth is, all of us deserve to be happy. And in the search for the meaning of life, we are given clues into our life’s purpose. If something isn’t what you’re meant to be doing, you’ll likely not be very happy doing it. Take that as a clue to move on to something else, till you find one that makes your heart sing.

#4: Help Someone Out, Even When You Need Help Yourself

When you help someone, even if you don’t meet the person, you instantly feel good about yourself. And good things will start happening too, miraculously. Give to charity. Volunteer your time, even if you have no money to give. When you are feeling down and out, being able to help someone else will immediately help ‘elevate’ your position. You don’t feel powerless anymore. You feel empowered.

Give – every time you get an opportunity.

~

Someone bought my $22 ‘Blogging For A Living’ book today and gave me $30. I didn’t have change for him – I said I can do a bank transfer to him later. He told me to donate the change to charity instead.

 House Of Joy

Later on, I spotted a booth at Vivocity selling these handicrafts made by the elderly at House of Joy in Mounbatten. And I just wanted to support them in some little way for providing these elders with meaningful activities in their centre.

So I bought $24 (multiplying the book change by 3) worth of gifts for my friends.

It made me happy knowing that I’m contributing to a meaningful cause. I believe it’ll make the book buyer happy that I not only gave away the money on his behalf, but tripled it! Also, I’m sure the elderly folks who pop by House of Joy daily will continue deriving joy from the workshops held at the centre. And I believe the people who receive these handicrafts as gifts will get a slice of the happiness pie too.

Make someone happy today. You cannot put a smile on someone’s face without putting one on yours too. :D Go be happy!