That ‘Littering Incident’ On The Bus. SBS Transit’s Reply to Me…

Sweet Wrapper Incident

Late last month, I was on the way to the airport when I noticed an ‘uncle’ littering on the bus. He was seated just across the aisle from me, and I was sitting right behind the bus driver.

The gist of it: I requested that he pick up the sweet wrapper he had thrown to the ground but he refused. He even had the cheek to call me “kaypoh” before he exited the bus. The bus driver was of no help at all when I told him about the litterbug; he just nonchalantly drove on.

SBS Transit’s reply:

SBS Transit's reply

I sure hope the company gets the message to the Bus Captain. I was *NOT* being ‘kaypoh’. I was ensuring the cleanliness of our environment. The sweet wrapper, due to its previous contents, would likely attract pests, and bus 34 serves passengers heading to and from the airport!

Despite what you may think, Singapore is NOT a clean city. It is a cleaned city. It is cleaned by an army of cleaners and civic-minded folks who pick up the trash that other people leave behind.

Let us all do our part. If you see someone littering, or worse still, defecating in a public place, STOP the person and notify the authorities. Sending pictures to STOMP or any other website does nothing to protect the environment. And last I heard, you won’t even get $50 from STOMP. So take more constructive action! ;)

Hair For Hope 2014

Hair For Hope 2014   [Notebooks and Tulips I bought at the event]

I went to Vivocity this afternoon to support my pal, Terence, at the Hair For Hope 2014 event. After deliberating for seven years, he has finally taken the step of making that bald statement. :) I’m not sure when my time will come. Hmm.

Spot the difference:

Hair For Hope 2014

I was definitely surprised at the turnout. The place was just jam-packed with shavees and their supporters. All these people (below) were queuing to get their heads shaved. The atmosphere was amazing. When so many people get together for a good cause, the ‘energy’ in this place is just mind-blowing. Say all you like about the nasty traits of Singaporeans, but there are some people who will take that bold step of showing their support for cancer patients and their plight.

Shavees also help in fund-raising efforts. Terence, through his network of friends, has raised over S$3000 online! If you’d like to contribute, click here: https://hairforhope.org.sg/shaveeProfile/395

Hair For Hope 2014

And I was rather surprised that some young ladies actually parted with their long tresses! This girl sat down wearing black-rimmed (nerdy) glasses. Then, before long, her ponytail was in her hands:

Hair For Hope 2014

I’m definitely not ready to take this step. But I’m happy to help out with donations. Perhaps, like Terence, I’ll need 7 years. Haha!

If you’re a Hair For Hope shavee, I salute you. :)

He Got On His Knees In A Hawker Centre! Seriously?!

It was supposed to be a leisurely, late breakfast with a friend at the hawker centre at People’s Park yesterday. I certainly did not expect to get such a rude shock. And I can safely conclude that it was partly my fault too. Sigh.

What happened was, basically, that a tissue peddler came up to our table while we were chatting. I didn’t even notice him approaching (I’m not quite a morning person).

He asked if we would buy his tissues. Just one look was enough to size him up: able-bodied, taller than average guys, no visible injuries or impediments, doesn’t even look or sound hungry.

But he claimed to have no money for food. And just simply refused to leave. He seemed to know I would relent eventually so he focused his ‘attack’ on me, instead of my guy pal.

tissue peddler singapore

[Here he is pestering other diners. The auntie in the orange top gave in too]

I had forgotten to keep my wallet in my bag, so it was on the table, lying in plain view for everyone to see. Naturally, he zoomed in on our table like a bee to honey. Sian.

I usually have no qualms about giving a donation to old aunties, the handicapped, or just about anyone sitting in a wheelchair and selling tissues, lottery tickets or any other thing. But this guy was obviously able-bodied. He needed a job, not handouts.

I said no so many times, tried to explain I already have tissues (again, on the table for all to see), but he just refused to leave.

Then (cue dramatic music), he got onto his knees, and I told him in Mandarin “Uncle, don’t do this!”

Took out 2 bucks and gave it to him. I just wanted him out of my sight, seriously. A man does not get down onto his knees in public unless it’s a marriage proposal. I really couldn’t understand how this able-bodied guy had no dignity at all.

He put 3 packets of tissues on the table, and I moved them closer to the edge so everyone could see I’d bought tissues already, and not approach us anymore. He took it as a sign that I didn’t want the tissues.

So I let him take them back. Good grief.

He then went on to pester two other ladies. The auntie in the orange top (pictured) was smarter. She took him to the chicken rice stall and ordered food for him. He took the plate and went off into a corner to eat his meal.

Before long, he was back. And asked her to buy him a drink. OMG! The audacity! This time, she told him to buzz off.

He then went on to pester other diners.

One man was tucking into his meal of fried beehoon when this tissue peddler came up to him and kept nudging him in the arm to give him some money. The diner was obviously pissed off because he was trying to put food into his mouth but this persistent fella kept nudging him in the arm. He eventually took five dollars out of his pocket and handed it over, before the guy would leave.

My goodness. It’s an encounter I will not soon forget.

If you happen to get approached by this guy, I’d suggest you just take your stuff and move away. If you stay put, you’ll have to endure the drama of having him kneel before you, and you’ll be so embarrassed (for him as well) that you’ll hand money over just so he’ll stop his antics.

#JustAnotherDayInSG

“Should We Sue Bloggers Who Write Nasty Things About Us?”

I was a panelist at today’s New Media Relations Conference, and one of the hot topics was about whether one should sue bloggers or not. Together with me on the panel were Steven Gwynn-Jones (Executive Editor from Mediacorp) and Ryan Huang (Market Strategist from IG Singapore). The moderator was Maura Fogarty.

Blogger Grace Tan

To answer that question, I brought up a recent example – Data Register Pte Ltd. Because of a blogpost I’d written, they sent me a legal letter of demand to remove the blogpost and publish an apology they had crafted for me. After my email correspondence with the lawyers, and not removing the blogpost, I was sent another letter. Here’s the letter and my response.

I was content not to say anything else about the company after the first blogpost, but since they had engaged lawyers who sent me less-than-friendly letters, I wrote to the PM (and got a reply!), DPM, Ministers, MPs and even went on national TV (Channel 8 news) to speak out against this company. And of course, I made a police report too, and have received letters from the police and Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in response.

So… has threatening bloggers been beneficial for this company? I think not.

Always approach the blogger personally and seek to rectify the issue or misunderstanding. Once you take the legal route, you may get more than you’ve bargained for. ;)

Punggol Ebi J Prawning: A Lobster, At Last!

[ Read my previous post about Ebi J Prawning here ]

Lobster and prawns

[ Last Month's Catch; Today's Lunch ]

Last month, we decided to give Ebi J Prawning a second chance despite the really lousy catch rate the first time we went there. We reached the venue at around 10pm and it was past 1am before we left.

This is what he calls his “surreal moment”:

Ebi J Prawning Punggol

That day, we caught just this one lobster and over 20 prawns. Most of the prawns were not caught using the rod and line. In the 3 hours that we were there, prawns were attracted to our net. It was pretty easy to just dunk them into the net this way. Other people just fished prawns out of the water because the catch rate is really bad still.

The lobsters are pretty small, no doubt. But the thrill of fishing one out of the water is an experience I’m still seeking! :D

~

The prawning rates are as follows:

Freshwater Prawning: 1hr S$18, 2hrs $28, 3hrs $33

Saltwater Prawning (with Lobster) : 1hr $20, 2hrs $30, 3hrs $35

Ebi J Prawning Centre

Punggol Marina Country Club

Singapore 829734

https://www.facebook.com/ebijpunggolprawning/timeline

NDP 2014 Tickets: WIN 4 tickets in a Fun #IYFSG Photo Caption Contest

In celebration of the International Year of the Family (IYF), NDP 2014 organizers have collaborated with the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) for a fun yet simple caption #IYFSG contest. Lucky winners will get a set of 4 NDP 2014 tickets EACH!

NDP 2014

Don’t bother with balloting, try winning the NDP 2014 tickets with your own efforts! :D

From 4 to 24 July, a different NDP Family Photo will be posted up each week for 3 weeks on MSF’s FamilyMatters Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/FamilyMatters.sg). You just have to put on your thinking cap and come up with creative captions for the photos.

Each week, the top 3 winners will take home a set of 4 NDP actual day tickets each, while 2 lucky participants will be picked from a random draw to win a set of 4 preview tickets each. WOW! :D

I have already submitted my entry!

NDP 2014["Marmeeeeee, I want an upsized gun for my birthday! Prissss!" :D #IYFSG]

*Remember to include the #IYFSG hashtag in your entry, otherwise it doesn’t count! ;)

Submit your entry now! And tell your family members to submit theirs too! The more entries, the more chances to win! :D https://www.facebook.com/FamilyMatters.sg

IYF logo

ABOUT IYF 2014
Singapore will be celebrating families in 2014 in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the International Year of the Family (IYF). Singaporeans can look forward to numerous engaging family-oriented events, activities and special deals, as the Ministry of Social and Family Development works with like-minded partners to celebrate and promote family bonding in joyful and heart-warming ways.

IYF was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 1994 to celebrate the importance of the family. IYF is officially celebrated once in ten years and 2014 is its twentieth anniversary. The core values underpinning IYF 2014 are love and respect, commitment and big-heartedness. These values help strengthen the foundation for a strong and closely knit family.

Grass-Cutting: Labor-intensive JOB or Skill-Based PROFESSION?

On 24th June, I had the opportunity of witnessing the Robocutter in action. It has nothing to do with the Transformers movie, but it did transform the lives of a number of workers in the landscaping industry!

As part of Minister Lim Swee Say’s push to make jobs easier, smarter and safer, companies like Ho Eng Huat Construction Pte Ltd have been given grants (of up to 50%) to purchase machinery under the Inclusive Growth Programme (IGP).

This video helps explain how the company and the workers have benefited:

This is how grass-cutting in my neighborhood usually happens:

Grasscutters

I will often try to avoid these workers because I’m afraid the blades will fly off and hit me. Irrational fear, I know. But better to be safe than sorry. And they tend to work in groups as well because grass-cutting is a labor-intensive task.

But look how they are all covered up on such a hot day – from the face masks to the PCK-boots! On top of that, they will always have to be on the lookout for people passing by (in which case they will halt the grass-cutting and let the people pass first). It is definitely tedious.

However, the Robocutter is set to change things. I witnessed first-hand how workers can now shed all that protective gear and even stand in the shade to operate the machines like they would a remote-controlled car!

Robocutter

They can even operate the Robocutter from a height. Here’s Minister Lim Swee Say (in white) lifted way up high by the Leguan 160 – another investment by the same construction company.

Minister Lim Swee Say

The Robocutter caused quite a stir recently as netizens speculated if the cut grass was the work of aliens. Hur hur!

Aliens

Aliens

Alien jokes aside, the Robocutter really helps improve productivity levels, and instead of the 5 workers each site usually requires, the company now needs to send only 2. Such adoption of technology can help ease the pressure that companies are facing from the labor crunch. As work gets done faster, the company can bid for more jobs. Competitors which refuse to take this route will lose their competitive edge fast.

Other machines, such as the Toro, will still require the worker to be on board. I do think it gets the job done, but the Robocutter takes the cake as the worker can be standing under some shade instead of being under the hot sun.

Minister Lim Swee Say

Ultimately, with wages going up by 12.7% for this company’s workers, coupled with the productivity gains, it is a win-win-win situation for the worker, the company, and the customer! And if I may add, I definitely feel more secure being in close proximity to these machines. At the very least, the machine parts don’t look like they’d fall out or fly off like the regular blades would. :D

NDP Joyride on the Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) WOOHOO!

[Check out my earlier blogpost about this year's NDP Funpack! Lots of goodies inside!]

Besides the NDP rehearsal, us bloggers got to experience a ride on the Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs). These crafts can go at such speed (40miles per hour, it was said) that my false eyelashes were at danger of being blown off at any time. And when they create ‘waves’ with their maneuvers, you’ll definitely get drenched if you’re sitting on the ‘wrong’ side.

Daddy Blogger, Andy Lee, who blogs at sengkangbabies, took a video of the ride. Check it out:

I had the “fortune” of sitting on the side with the “showers of blessings”. We did the same ride multiple times because it was a rehearsal after all, and everything had to be fine-tuned. The first time the ‘splash’ came, I was unprepared and my camera got wet. Thankfully, it was sturdy enough to withstand the soaking.

For the next 4 or 5 times, I would use my body as a shield to prevent the water from getting onto my camera. :D

It was definitely a memorable joyride. Many thanks to MINDEF/SAF! :)

NDP 2014 Funpack – What’s In The Bag? :)

NDP 2014 Funpack

I was invited to the NDP rehearsal (thank you, MINDEF/SAF) and got my first funpack ever! I have never succeeded in balloting for NDP tickets, so thankfully this time round I got invited to go! Another of those perks of being a blogger. :)

I love the riot of colors at this year’s NDP! From the volunteer tees to the stage costumes to the funpacks. Our country is celebrating its 49th birthday but it definitely is still as vibrant as these lovely bursts of color.

The funpack IS pretty heavy, and only upon emptying the bag when I got home did I realize why.

There are two bottles of water and two packet drinks, a bun, lots of biscuits, peanuts, and chips. Candy too, in case you scream yourself hoarse! :D

Then there’s the visor, clapper, glo sticks, handheld fan, flag, scarf, raincoat, plastic bag, tattoo stickers, badges, discount booklet (which is awesome), wet tissue, face wash, and a fold-your-own-sea-games-mascot sheet. Yup, I think that is it.

I’ll be blogging about the NDP rehearsal in a bit (all info has been embargoed till Wednesday!) but I definitely think watching the parade ‘live’ is WAYYY more interesting than watching the televised version at home. But you know that already. #KeepOnBallotingForTickets

#NoCleanersAtNDP Next Year – You Read It Here First! Dialogue with Minister Grace Fu

Minister Grace Fu

I was invited to attend a focus group discussion on Public Hygiene and Cleanliness, organized by the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, this morning. :)

Some truly excellent suggestions surfaced during the discussion.

The one I really like is about having #NoCleanersAtNDP2015. :) I think sentiments of national pride are at their strongest during the National Day Parade. And citizens who watch the parade and pick up their trash after would remember it for life. This is our home and it is everyone’s responsibility to keep it clean. Also, since it is televised, the whole of Singapore gets to ‘participate’.

We were told that the Ministry will speak with the organizing committee for NDP2015. Something to look forward to! :)

Other ideas include:

1) Volunteer Enforcement Scheme – volunteers should receive adequate training, have attachment opportunities with NEA officers, and undergo character screening before being able to issue warnings and/or fines upon witnessing an act of littering.

2) Just as the Traffic Police stop motorists who display good driving behavior and give them awards, so can the NEA officers who see the public picking up trash voluntarily.

3) Have our public education efforts customized to be relevant to different segments of society, e.g. housewives, transient workers, students, working adults, corporations, etc.

4) Have CCTVs installed in remote areas which are frequent dumping grounds for industrial waste.

5) Have an online platform for submission of pictures and videos of people caught littering.

6) Following in the footsteps of the Pinnacle@Duxton ‘peeing’ incident, let us ‘shame’ litterbugs without showing their faces in photographs being displayed.

I think we should all play our part in not littering, ensuring the people around us do not litter, help pick up and trash the litter we spot, and also ensure that people who come to our country do not dirty it by bringing their littering habits with them. We need to point out to litterbugs (whether they are locals or foreigners) that Singapore is our home – we keep it clean, and we do not allow people to mess up the environment. Our home extends beyond the ‘4 walls’ we live within. The public spaces are our ‘home’ too!

Participate in an Online Survey and Personality Quiz at www.sustainablesingapore.gov.sg.

Find out what sort of Environmentalist you are :)

Environmentalist