“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


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

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:


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!


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!



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 :)


Is Singapore Clean OR Cleaned?

Cleaners are often taken for granted and I guess we won’t really appreciate them till we are able to see what happens when there are no cleaners around.

Here’s a picture my pal, Clarence, posted on facebook. It shows the mess at a hawker centre in Chinatown at night:

Dirtied tables at hawker centre

As you can imagine, cleaners will have to clean up this mess in the morning. And by the time you head over for your breakfast, you will have no idea that such a mess had occurred just the previous evening!

And here’s a question: If the first thing YOU see when you reach your ‘office’ is THIS mess, and your job is to clean it up, what sort of thoughts will run through your mind? To make matters worse, your monthly pay is an average of $1000.

Singapore’s cleaners really do not have an easy time. They have to help uphold Singapore’s reputation as a clean and green city, but have to combat the messes that Singaporeans and other residents make.

One Friday, I attended Ngee Ann Poly’s Cleaners’ Appreciation Event on their Low Wage Workers’ Day 2014. Organized by the polytechnic’s Current Affairs Club in collaboration with Young NTUC, the lunch was enjoyed by about 70 of the cleaners who serve in the school.

Students got the opportunity to show their gratitude by serving these low wage workers and forging closer ties with them through the chit-chat over lunch. The cleaners were also given goodie bags containing t-shirts and other items.

Students serving the cleaning staff:

Serving the cleaning staff

A student cleaning up after the cleaners, to the latter’s amazement:

Cleaning up

MP for Nee Soon GRC, Mr Patrick Tay, commented in his opening address that “Singapore is more of a cleaned city, than a clean city.”

MP Patrick Tay speaking with the cleaning staff:

patrick tay

He also spoke about the Progressive Wage Model and the government’s serious commitment in helping workers in the cleaning industry upgrade their skills, improve productivity, and make their jobs safer to do. Ultimately, wages are supposed to go up, and soon, there will be a minimum basic salary of S$1000 for cleaning staff, under a new Public Health Act law in which cleaning companies must submit a progressive wage plan in order to obtain their business licence.

Thereafter, cleaners can expect wages to increase upwards according to their skills, productivity and career responsibilities.

Progressive Wage Model for Cleaners

progressive wage model

On top of that, the National Wages Council just recommended a minimum $60 increase for workers earning below $1000 each month, although unions wanted the monthly salary threshold to be higher so more workers could get the pay hike. $60 may not be a big deal to PMEs, but for someone working a back-breaking job for less than $1000 and knows how to stretch his or her dollar, $60 can go far in helping household expenses.

How can we help them?

Let’s start by showing our appreciation to the cleaners and by being better customers:

1) Say “thank you”, with a smile, when cleaners come by your table to clear the trays and dishes.

2) Keep your ‘mess’ contained within your bowl or plate. Do not leave chicken bones, prawn shells, tissue paper and the like, all over the table. Spare a thought for the cleaners who have to pick up after you, thus preventing quick turnover times so other patrons can take the seat after you.

3) Whenever possible, return your tray and utensils to the cleaning stations or tray receptacles.

If you know of a cleaner who has made a difference in your life by keeping your office, neighborhood, or favorite hangout cleaner and more conducive, how about helping him/her win $100 in Fairprice vouchers?

Take part in the Cleaners’ Selfie Competition on Facebook HERE.

EasyCard 悠遊卡: Getting Around Taipei Is Indeed Easy!


{ Picture cred: EasyCard }

If you are holidaying in Taipei, this is one card you MUST have. You can use it for travel on the Taipei Metro, on buses in most parts of Taiwan, some sections of the TRA network and on the Taiwan High Speed Rail (non-reserved). [A full list is available HERE]

I’ll always get mine from the EasyCard machines located in train stations. The (refundable) deposit is NT100, and usage of the card gives you 20% discount each time you travel via the Taipei Metro, thus its attractiveness over the single trip tickets.

EasyCard Refunds: To get a refund of the balance in your card, plus the deposit, head over to the Information Counter of any Taipei Metro station. The handling charge is NT20. [More details HERE]

I’m glad I got my refund during my recent trip to Taiwan, as I don’t think I’ll be heading back again in the near future, certainly not after the recent metro stabbing incident.

Punggol Ebi J Prawning: Poor Catch Rate, Lobster If Lucky

Just returned home from a prawning session at Ebi J Prawning at Punggol Marina Country Club. As this blogpost’s title suggests, the catch rate was quite bad but some folks did manage to catch lobsters.

The place has 3 ponds – 1 for saltwater prawns and lobsters, and the other 2 for freshwater prawns.

The saltwater prawns are notoriously difficult to hook. Only the extremely patient can catch a few prawns from this pond. After trying our luck for quite a while, and catching only 1 saltwater prawn, we went over to the other two ponds instead.

At the end of the three hour session, we caught 15 prawns. The session cost S$35, plus S$3.21 parking charges. Each prawn thus costs S$2.55! We are not prawning newbies, so… head over only if you are feeling extremely lucky. [We didn't catch all 15 prawns using a hook too. But *ahem* there are notices stating that fishing a prawn out of the pond with your bare hands will incur a fine of S$50, so I shall not go into detail here...]

I dislike how the ponds have multiple underwater pipes which hooks can get stuck in. However, the place is well-sheltered indoors so there is no fear of rain ruining your prawning session.

The prawning rates are as follows:

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

Saltwater Prawning: 1hr $20, 2hrs $30, 3hrs $35

Some folks managed to endure not catching any/many prawns, and eventually got rewarded for their patience with a lobster.

I do think paying S$35 for a small lobster is not quite value for money.

In any case, lobster prawning is a dream come true for many prawning enthusiasts. ;)