Celebrating 20 Years Of Community Support For The Anti-Drug Cause

Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival 2015

(From Left to Right) Mr Victor Lye, Chairman, National Council Against Drug Abuse, Guest-of-Honour Minister Masagos, Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs and Mr Ng Ser Song, Director, Central Narcotics Bureau launching the Official Opening of the Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival 2015

Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival 2015

(Top row, left) Mr Ng Ser Song, Mr Henry Tan (Senior Director, Singapore Polytechnic), Mr Daniel Tan (Director, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, Singapore Polytechnic), Mr Victor Lye, Minister Masagos, taking a selfie with student volunteers from Singapore Polytechnic during the VIP Tour of the carnival

(Pic Credit: Central Narcotics Bureau)

~

I attended the celebration of the 20th Anniversary of the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign last Friday and had so much fun at the two-day Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival that I popped by Suntec City Convention Centre Hall 403 on both days! :D

If you weren’t at the Carnival over the weekend, here are 3 things you missed:

1) The Anti-Drug Abuse Carnival

I applaud the organizing committee for doing a fantastic job in making what sounds like a potentially boring carnival into one which was a lot of fun. I have to admit that I was surprised at how much I enjoyed visiting the Carnival!

I found it to be a good mix of Education and Fun. We danced, shot hoops, fired Nerf guns, took a quiz and even learnt a bit of skateboarding! :D

Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign 2015

Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign 2015

Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign 2015

I’m hopeless with a Nerf gun but my fiancé is really good at this. He made the Drugs Shootout look too easy!

And it’s always fun to spin these wheels and win a prize, eh? I won the Folder Speakers! :D #solucky

Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign 2015

The highlight of the carnival is a special 20th anniversary photo and timeline exhibition showcasing how the community and government have worked together since 1995 to raise awareness about the dangers of drugs and to rally support for the anti-drug cause.

Anti-Drug Carnival

I definitely learnt a thing or two from these information panels!

Did you know there’s a Clubs Against Drugs (CAD) Campaign? It was started in 2000 to “counter the increasing abuse of synthetic drugs, especially in night entertainment outlets”. Club owners are updated about the drug situation and receive collateral for dissemination within their outlets.

2) The ‘Nelzon’ App

Nelzon app

‘Nelzon,’ a preventive drug education mobile game application developed by students from Nanyang Polytechnic’s School of Interactive and Digital Media, was launched at the opening ceremony of the carnival by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister, Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs and Foreign Affairs.

The Preventive Education Unit (PEU) in Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) has been working with Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP)’s School of Interactive & Digital Media to enhance two mobile phone game applications created by NYP students in 2013. The game applications are targeted at youths between 13 and 21 years old.

‘Nelzon’ is a runner game based on the life of a troubled schoolboy Nelzon. Players assume Nelzon’s role to evade and battle the Evil Conscience who constantly appears to tempt Nelzon into taking drugs.

Guide Nelzon into jumping and sliding across the 5 different game scenarios and avoid drugs and collect rewards (Coins, Books and Power-Ups)…

Nelzon app

Nelzon app

Go ahead and download the app now – available in iOS and Android versions.

3) The DanceWorks! Competition 

DanceWorks competition

The carnival is also held in conjunction with DanceWorks!, a dance competition involving youth participants from schools and institutes of higher learning.

DanceWorks! is Singapore’s only anti-drug dance competition and it is into its 17th year. It aims to engage our youths in the anti-drug cause through dance and encourage the development of a healthy and drug-free lifestyle. The theme for this year’s competition is “Dance for a Drug-Free Singapore”, with 338 participants from 25 schools/organizations.

More pictures and the list of winners can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/lifedoesnotrewind

~

Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign 2015

It’s easy to overlook the importance of such anti-drug campaigns if you have never met people whose lives (or that of their families) have been destroyed by drug abuse. I have encountered a few of such ‘victims’ before and I believe in the cause of the Anti-Drug Abuse Campaign. What is alarming is that there has been an increasing number of drug abusers arrested who are below 30 years old –  the figure has increased by 34% from 826 in 2010 to 1,110 in 2014!

Also, there are drug clusters forming among young people (when one drug abuser influences his friends into joining him). And contrary to popular belief, there has been a changing profile of youth abusers (especially cannibis abusers) with many of them performing well in their studies and coming from middle class families!

Some think cannibis is not harmful, mistakenly believing that it is a “soft” drug and that it is less harmful and less addictive than tobacco. Unfortunately, cannibis (aka marijuana, weed, or ganja) is addictive and harmful. It has been linked to impairments in teenage brain development, lower psychomotor skills, development of psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia, and even cognitive decline with a drop in IQ!

Spread the anti-drug abuse message and submit an anti-drug pledge now at http://bit.ly/1Fi2Tx8

If You Know CPR, Would You Save Your Enemy?

CPR Class

Photo from hcdps.com

Went for a Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and AED class today. And a question that came to mind right after I’d signed up for the class was “Would you save your enemy if the person had a cardiac arrest and collapsed in front of you?” In all honesty, that question stumped me, and I hope I don’t ever find myself in such a situation. ‘Cos those moments of deliberation could literally make the difference between life OR death for someone.

So, I’d love to pose the same question to YOU: Would you save your worst enemy? You know… the one who’s a thorn in your side, who makes your life miserable, and whom you wish would just disappear from the face of the earth? Yeah. That one. If you are the only one around who knows CPR, and that person collapses in front of you due to a cardiac arrest, would you save him/her?

Did you know that if no one does anything, and everyone waits till an ambulance arrives, only 1 in 30 would survive a cardiac arrest. Not very good odds of survival at all.

Ok, perhaps that first question is not quite fair. When I’m angry at someone, I might say there’s no way I’d ever save the person from certain death. But when placed in such a situation, I just might put the enmity aside and try to save the fella immediately. I may regret it later, but what the hell, saving a life is more important than petty differences, right?

Now, here’s a question that’s easier to answer: Would you save a loved one if you know CPR?

Do I hear a resounding “YES”? Good!

In Singapore, about 1,800 cardiac arrests occur every year. Only about three per cent of these patients survive the cardiac arrest compared to 20 per cent survival rates in Tokyo or Seoul, according to a Channel NewsAsia report yesterday.

And I believe more people can be saved if more of us know how to perform CPR. And in case you are wondering, after all those channel 8 dramas you have watched, that CPR involves mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, there is simplified CPR which only involves chest compressions.

And there is now a credit card-sized device* which can aid responders by indicating whether the rate of compression is good or too fast or slow. It can also tell if the compressions are of the right depth. Yes, sometimes applying too much pressure can lead to cracked / fractured ribs.

But as our trainer shared, which is better – broken ribs or death? Doctors can help fix broken ribs but they cannot do anything to reverse death. *wink*

(*The device is still in its trial phases, and yes I do own one, but hope I don’t ever have to use it)

And when it comes to the AED – the Automated External Defibrillator – which sends a controlled electric shock to the patient’s heart, it’s a lot less work as compared to chest compressions which can get pretty tiring very quickly especially if you’re not using your body weight correctly to assist you.

Do look out for those AED devices in community centres, schools, shopping malls, the airport, etc, so that you can be of assistance by fetching these devices even if you are unable to perform CPR.

And in the event of an emergency, please don’t take photos or videos with your phone. Use it to call 995 and get an ambulance instead. And, if possible, try not to hang up untill the ambulance arrives. Switch your phone to speaker mode and allow the dispatcher to communicate with the responder to keep tabs on the situation.

If you are trained in CPR, there’s also a free ‘myResponder’ app which you can download. Besides alerting you of cases requiring your assistance, it can also show you where the nearest AED is located. :)

If there’s no one in your family who is trained in CPR, well, you might want to go for a 2-hour or 4-hour lesson. I have no doubt that you will want to save your loved ones if they collapse due to cardiac arrest. They have just a 3% chance of survival if you are not equipped with the knowledge and skills to revive them! So… don’t wait.

Be Kind To Taxi Drivers

Comfort Delgro

Pic credit: taxisingapore.com]

Have you ever wondered why there are so many taxis on the road, and yet, when you desperately need a cab (when it’s raining, or when you are almost late for an appointment), there are absolutely no cabs in sight?

Have you ever felt frustrated when a seemingly empty cab just zooms past you without stopping? Or when the driver just makes some weird hand signal at you supposedly because he wants to convey the message that he needs to go elsewhere or for some other reason cannot stop his vehicle and let you board?

I thought I might be able to find some answers yesterday, as I was going to meet many taxi drivers in one place. But… by just observing, and by letting the cabbies do much of the talking, I got to know more about this profession. :)

You might already know this, if you read my blog regularly: In my free time, I volunteer with the Health Promotion Board as a Health Ambassador. And yesterday, by 8.30am, I was at Comfort Delgro’s workshop in Sin Ming Drive, where the drivers send their vehicles for servicing and repairs. My duties? To direct cabbies to the Health Screening area and also to provide them with information about the CHAS program if they’re keen.

I’ve long suspected that taxi drivers might be at higher risk of certain diseases because their job is a tough one – driving long hours, staying in a seated position, having to hold their pee when they don’t have access to a toilet while ferrying a passenger, stress brought on by unfavorable traffic conditions, etc.

What I observed, however, was that many taxi drivers experience eye fatigue and some of them have blood pressures outside of the normal range. One female driver even shared with me her concerns about liver and kidney issues that might come about due to her long working hours (before she managed to find a relief driver) and how she’s worried about getting diabetes. Also, being the sole hirer means she doesn’t get very much rest, and there’s no time to exercise too. Her relief driver thus comes almost as a lifesaver.

And I also noticed that some cabbies walk with a limp, but we won’t be able to tell as passengers.

So the next time a taxi goes past without stopping for you, perhaps it’s because the driver just did not spot you. And if he did, and makes weird hand signals, he might just need to visit the restroom (and how does one communicate via hand signs that one needs to pee?) so don’t get too upset. Despite being in an air-conditioned “environment” all day, the job of a cabby is a tough one.

If you know of a taxi driver who works for Comfort Delgro, share with him/her about the free health screening at the Sin Ming workshop – it’s available from 8.30am to 11.30am (Mondays to Fridays) and they should also fast for about 8 hours before doing the blood test. :) Likewise, if eligible for CHAS (e.g. per capita household income is S$1800 and below), they should also be encouraged to apply for a CHAS card for subsidies at CHAS GP and Dental clinics islandwide. More information here: https://www.chas.sg/

And if you ever meet a grouchy cab driver, know that you have the power to make his day (and your day) brighter; just wish him a great day ahead and share your best smile. :D Try it!

Ride A Fliker At Punggol End – It’s For Adults Too!

Have you seen kids riding this before?

Fliker

[Photo from here]

Well, there’s a bigger version for adults!

Thanks to a recommendation by a mommy blogger, Phoebe from BPDGTravels, I got to know about Fliker rentals at Punggol End, specifically at this bike rental shop called “Jomando Adventure & Recreations“.

It is located right next to Giant:

Jomando Adventure and Recreations

At Punggol End, there are a number of activities for families with kids to enjoy. Besides that row of seafood restaurants, there is a place for horse-riding (click here) and now the dads and moms can also enjoy Fliker rides while their kids cycle.

And because the weather is SO HOT lately, I’d highly recommend you pop by Giant for at least a small bottle of mineral water first. Costs only 40cents, but it will keep you hydrated.

Bike rentals are priced differently from Fliker rentals, so you might want to take note… Fliker rental costs S$10 per hour, but you get an additional hour free if you pay for 2 hours, i.e. S$20 for a total of 3 hours.

Bike rental rates as follows (*Accurate at point of writing) –

Punggol End Bike Rental

And Suzuki car owners get 20% discount – don’t ask me why:

Punggol End Bike Rental

We rented the Fliker for 3 hours yesterday, and got thoroughly sunkissed. XD (Please apply and re-apply sunblock!) The verdict: It’s a lot of fun, and a great lower body workout to help tone your hip, butt and thighs.

How To Ride A Fliker:

Fliker

Just remember that it’s largely a lower body workout so put one foot onto the fliker and push off with the back foot, as if you are getting onto a skateboard. Once you have that momentum, put the back foot onto the fliker and move your feet together in a gliding motion, left and right.

Ask Uncle Jo (or is it Joe?) at the bike rental store to do a demo for you if you’d like.

And at the end of your Fliker ride, I’d recommend you head upstairs to Wayne’s Chill Out and grab some ice cream and a waffle:

Wayne's Chill Out

Yesterday’s waffle was a tad too crispy and the passionfruit sorbet was really sour. Pink grapefruit was nice though. Because business was really good during the Public Holiday yesterday, they’d run out of my usual favs: Chocolate and Mango.

Address for both:

3 Punggol Point Road, The Punggol Settlement

Opening Hours and Contact Details for Jomando can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/JomandoAdventureNRecreation/timeline

National Cancer Centre Singapore – Happy Staff Delight Customers

National Cancer Centre Singapore

I have a few friends and family members who have succumbed to cancer, yet I’ve never been to the National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS) before. The NCCS is one of the finalists for this year’s Singapore Service Excellence Medallion Award, and I was invited to visit the Centre and discover for myself how the care for patients is their staff’s top priority. In the picture above, I am reading one of the many ‘thank you’ cards given to staff by their patients. I was also brought on a tour of the premises.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

Contrary to popular belief, it is not just patients diagnosed with cancer who go to the NCCS. Dr Terence Tan from NCCS shared with me that some people come here for genetic testing, for instance, so as to get peace of mind if they are at high risk of getting cancer. Early detection and early treatment helps save lives!

NCCS receives about 135,000 patient visits a year and provides purely outpatient service – there are no beds here. If patients have to be hospitalized, they go to SGH next door and the doctors go over to look after them.

The NCCS has the most advanced radiotherapy equipment in this part of the world and while Clinical Quality is important to them, they hold Service Quality close to their heart as well.

I was surprised to note that Patient Relationship Officers greet and welcome patients at the entrances to the clinics. In fact, the NCCS has an in-house service quality program ‘NCCS Cares’ which they developed together with the Disney Institute. The aim is to keep staff happy and satisfy their customers. Thus, their Service Quality mission is to provide the “Best Experience through Compassionate Care”.

Dr Terence Tan shared with me that patients are with the NCCS for life – they do not get discharged, and do still come back even after the end of the treatment cycle. “We have a unique opportunity to develop a long-term relationship with them, and that’s what our staff do.” For instance, patients who require radiotherapy come to the NCCS every day for 7 weeks, and develop a bond with the people who help treat them.

I also had the privilege of speaking with a Senior Staff Nurse, Audrey Quek, whose animated gestures and infectious bright smile, along with cheery chuckles, clearly helps lighten the atmosphere in any room. Audrey has 35 years of nursing experience!

My photographer pal, Max Clyne, sent me a hilarious caption for the photo below:

Nurse: “I know Kungfu ok”

Grace: “I note it down”

National Cancer Centre Singapore

Audrey was actually explaining to me about how doctors can sometimes get too taxed with the patient load (there is an increase in the number of new patients year on year) so nurses help spend time with the patients, befriend them, share about surgical procedures, let the patient know what to expect in the operation, and also how to cope with the pain after, etc.

The aim, she says, is to help the patient feel relieved and assured of getting good service and anything else they may need during the course of their treatment, e.g. financial assistance or counselling. There is also a Cancer Helpline they can call.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

[Me, Audrey and Dr Tan]

The NCCS sends the top 3 or 4 staff each year to Disneyland to see a world-class service organization at work, so they can come back and infect the rest, according to Dr Tan. Audrey was one of the winners of the annual trips.

She shared…

“I asked myself why is everyone so happy there? I compared the two different clientele. Disneyland is for pleasure; people go there to enjoy themselves. Patients here hope somebody can help them in all aspects – finance, mental and emotional support, and hope that they can get comfort and assurance. The principle is the same – find out what is the client’s objective.”

~ Chemotherapy Unit ~

There I met another two of NCCS’s staff: Chia Chor Hoon and Simon Chen.

Chor Hoon shared with me that the place can get quite cold sometimes so the staff will offer patients some warm water and blankets – “We cannot take away the pain, but we can give them some comfort and reassure them that we will take good care of them.”

Simon, who has worked in NCCS since 2010 shared…

Our mood can influence our patients’ mood. Why not make a difference in their lives by suggesting ways they can cope with the disease, how they can lift themselves up? Bring in their family members to encourage them e.g. by sharing about the positive things in their prognosis. Whenever I see any signs of good news, e.g. a decline in cancer markers, straightaway I will tell them so they have something to look forward to… A glass can be seen as half-filled or half-empty. Even if the doctor tells you there is only 30% chance of recovering, tell yourself you are 1 of the 30% instead of focusing on ‘oh dear, the odds are against me’.

Simon’s belief is that besides treating patients, staff have to help give them hope too.

~ Radiotherapy Unit ~

At the Radiotherapy unit, I got to meet Yusnita Bte Omar, the Assistant Manager for Education and Training. She has been at NCCS for 19 years! She showed me how they prepare patients for the treatments.

National Cancer Centre Singapore

In radiotherapy, patients have to be immobilized, e.g. for treating brain tumors and such. The sheet she is holding has to be warmed up, and quickly placed on the patient’s face, and contoured to the shape of the patient’s head, and made into a “mask”. This is especially tricky when the patient is a child or is claustrophobic. Yusnita says they have to first understand the patient’s fear and demonstrate to them the procedure first – either on other patients who have given their consent, or on one of the medical officers.

Mask-making takes 20 minutes and patients have to wear the mask every day of treatment. Yusnita shared that during training, they have all undergone the mask-making procedure and know that the contouring around the neck region feels like someone is strangling you. This helps them empathize with patients, and they will sometimes hold the patient’s hand, put him/her at ease, and once the mask hardens, cut it open around the eye region so the patient can ‘see’ and feel less afraid.

With kids, they use play therapy. They will wrap a piece of the material around the child’s wrist first, “like a Ben 10 super watch”. They will also print cutouts of the cartoon character and paste them over the “watch”. This process helps the children feel how warm the mask will be, and how it “grabs your skin”. Only as a last resort will general anesthesia be used.

Because they have made what is a usually-scary procedure fun for the children, Yusnita shared that “some run in and say I’m ready. Can I have my mask today?” as it makes them feel like superheroes.

Radiation Treatment Room:

National Cancer Centre Singapore

The radiation treatment room has in-room music, and sometimes patients bring in their own music selection too. Each treatment room comes with a ceiling in a special theme – garden, waterfall, sky, etc.

The beautiful ceilings play a role in helping to calm them down. One of their patients was a diver. Before starting her treatment, she went on a holiday then she came and laid down on the treatment bed and made the comment that “oh, I’m still holidaying”. :)

Yusnita shared with me about the importance of Passion in her job – “Know why you are here, who you are working for, keep on track. Burn that passionate flame. It’s important to love what you are doing.”

And because her department is located in the basement of the NCCS, colleagues who work at level 1 and above joke about not knowing they exist. Yusnita shares with a smile:

“There’s no sunshine so we bring along the sunshine with our personality. If not, the place will be cold. We need warm people around.”

Indeed, the staff that I met at NCCS are warm, cheerful and optimistic people. Like Dr Tan shared, “it takes a special kind of nurse to work here”.

Key Takeaway: I found the visit an eye-opening experience. I had expected an atmosphere of ‘doom and gloom’ but what I noticed was an upbeat, cheerful atmosphere. And staff selection is so crucial for organizations handling patient care – you need motivated, friendly, and optimistic people to spread a message of hope among patients who could be feeling very helpless. Thus, the company culture of care and respect among the staff, and the shared mission of delivering the best experience through compassionate care, has resulted in a situation whereby happy staff continue to delight and serve patients every single day.

Would You Pay S$260 For An airweave Pillow?

airweave singapore

I attended the official launch event of the airweave futon earlier this week, and was given the airweave pillow you see above as a gift. It also happens to cost S$260. *gulp* Gracing the event that day was the gorgeous Paula Creamer, the golfer who won last year’s HSBC Women’s Champions. (Sadly, after this event, she did not go on to defend her title, losing out on the US$1.4million prize)

[ Paula, Mr Takaoka and the media folks :D ]

airweave paula creamer

This company ‘airweave’ was founded in 2004 by Mr Motokuni Takaoka who was inspired by his uncle’s company which made injection moulding machines to produce fishing lines and nets. The 3-dimensional resin fibres in the airweave products helps you to “turn over easily whilst sleeping and promotes a deeper sleep”

airweave singapore

Also, it “helps to dissipate heat and moisture generated by the body during sleep…[and] helps keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter.” The cover is machine-washable while the core can be rinsed with water.

My old pillow (which probably cost less than S$20) and the S$260 airweave pillow:

airweave singapore

The Verdict: I slept on the airweave pillow for one night, and woke up not noticing very much of a difference. My old pillow is more ‘squishy’ and I’m obviously more used to sleeping on it than on the airweave which is firmer and offers more ‘bounce’. The airweave doesn’t get as warm as regular pillows so I guess it is great for people who are bedridden, whether in hospitals or otherwise. I’ll need to spend more time with this pillow before I can tell if I’ll shell out S$260 for one. The boyfriend borrowed it for a night too and did not notice any difference in sleep quality. Perhaps it takes time.

There are also other airweave products. This next picture contains the pricing of the individual items. They are available at Isetan Scotts (Level 4) and at Takashimaya (B1).

airweave singapore pricing

http://airweave.sg

Get Some Cash After The Train Breakdowns

Have you noticed how the trains in Singapore tend to break down pretty often during rush hour? Could be due to a signal fault, train fault, track fault, whatever fault.

The silver lining to this is the possibility of making some cash out of taking off-peak trains. I, for one, LOVE avoiding peak hour (human) traffic and I travel off-peak pretty often. Hence, I’ve taken full advantage of the Travel Smart Rewards program which rewards commuters for taking off-peak trains.

Here’s a screenshot of my actual CASH earnings:

Travel Smart Rewards

Yup, I’ve made a total of S$58 so far. Not bad eh?

Here are the Frequently Asked Questions:

1) How do I earn points?

You earn points by taking train trips using the CEPAS card registered in Travel Smart Rewards. You will automatically earn 1 point for every 1 kilometre you travel on the train all day during a weekday, Monday through Friday. Weekend and bus travel does not count. If your trip on the train begins during a designated decongesting hour on a weekday you will receive 3 points per kilometre instead of 1 if you are Bronze, 4 points if you are Silver, 5 points if you are Gold and 6 points if you are Platinum! Decongesting hours are between 6:15 – 7:15am and 8:45 – 9:45am.

2) What are “decongesting trips”?

Travel Smart Rewards targets peak-hour commuters by offering them additional credits for shifting their schedules to less congested trains before or after the morning peak commute hour. Specifically, a “decongesting” trip is initiated between 6:15am and before 7:15am, or between 8:45am and before 9:45am on a weekday. You will receive 3, 4, 5 or 6 points per kilometre travelled if you are Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum respectively, when you tap into the train station during one of these decongesting hours.

3) What are “peak” trips?

A “peak” trip is any trip Monday through Friday initiated between 7:15am and 8:45am. You will receive 1 point per kilometre travelled when you tap into a train station during this hour.

4) What are “off-peak” trips?

An “off-peak” trip is any train trip Monday through Friday, which is initiated after 9:45am and before 6:15am. You will receive 1 point per kilometre travelled when you tap into a train station during these hours.

5) How many points do I earn on weekends?

Train travel on Saturdays and Sundays are not part of Travel Smart Rewards at this time and no points are earned for travel on weekends.

In short, all you need to do is sign up for a free account, link your ezlink card with your account, and you will automatically start collecting points each time you travel by train on weekdays. You can have the system auto-spin the wheel using your points, and when you earn any amount of cash, you will receive an email to notify you to either get the cash credited to your ezlink card at any top-up machine, or be credited to your bank account. I’ll always get the $$ added to my ezlink card balance. Free travel. :)

Sign up here -> https://travelsmartrewards.sg/r/8Lv7vtMx/

What Does Your Ang Pow Say About You?

I don’t usually feel ‘old’. And even when people tell me things like “I know it’s not right to ask a woman about her age, so I won’t ask”, I say “No, it’s perfectly fine. I’m 28! :D” (And that’s my real age too – I’m not like some women who like to say they are “always sixteen” or eighteen or insert-some-other-ridiculous-figure.

But when I see how my cousin‘s son (aka my *ahem* nephew) is already in NS, hmm, yes I kind of suspect I might be ‘older’ than I think / feel. :D

And just so you know why this blogpost was put together, I was reading the book ‘The Reputation Economy’ during my CNY visiting yesterday. As usual, my family got to the eldest aunt’s place earlier than anyone else. I get my ‘punctuality streak’ from my Dad, I tell you. And since the book is a lot about predicting one’s behavior and trying to ‘make some meaning’ out of what people do, I thought I shall open all the ang pows I received yesterday (from my relatives) and see if there are any obvious trends.

[*This blogpost is meant to be all tongue-in-cheek good humor. Because it involves $$$, I KNOW some people may get all sensitive. So, if you don’t appreciate my humor, stop reading now and go juggle some mandarin oranges, or whatever else you want to do. :P]

Almost #SG50ShadesOfRed:

ang pow singapore

I received 15 ang pows; 2 were from my parents – I’m taking those out of this ‘study’.

And while I’d thought that people would have stopped giving out 4 dollar ang pows, I’m wrong. Of the 13 remaining ang pows, 6 contained 4 bucks each:

ang pow singapore

Interestingly enough, the only 2 DBS ang pows I received are in this 4-dollar category, together with 1 from TNT, one from StanChart, 1 from Sheng Siong and 1 from OCBC.

Do the places you shop at and bank with have a correlation with how much money you’ll put into ang pows?

The 4-Dollar Ang Pow says “What? Cannot put 4 dollars only?! :P”

*Important Note: I don’t really mind the amount of money in an ang pow. I pay more attention to the person giving out the ang pow. Some of my relatives keep a straight face, say nothing, and just hold out an ang pow to me.

I don’t say ‘no’ to money gotten through legal means. Despite the (obvious) lack of any kind of blessing, I’ll just take the ang pow. Why not, right? Even if I’m 30, if you give me an ang pow, I’ll take it. I’ll just give your kids ‘bigger’ ang pows after I get married, so no need for that obviously black face ok?

And there were those 6 dollar ones. Just two red packets. 1 from UOB and 1 from SPC.

ang pow

The 6-Dollar Ang Pow says “I’m not kiam siap enough to put just 4 bucks but 8 is too much. Compromise. 6 is just nice.”

And yes, despite how some people might say the number ‘4’ is not auspicious or whatever, I think it is fine lah.

People who give 6-dollar ang pows probably have a tough time in trying to take the middle road as much as possible.

And then there are those who give me 10-dollar ang pows…

ang pow

These people also bank with StanChart and UOB and are customers of Caltex and Union Gas. I obviously don’t have enough ang pows to say I have a significant sample size. But this is just for fun ya?

The 10-Dollar Ang Pow in 10-dollar denomination says “Aren’t you lucky I’m so generous?”

The 10-Dollar Ang Pow in 2-dollar denomination says “Ha! You thought it’s another of those 4-dollar ang pows, right?! But it’s not 4, it’s not 6, and it’s not 8 either! It’s a perfect 10!” 

[In other words, these 10-dollar ang pow in 2-dollar denomination givers like to make your heart skip a beat. These cheeky fellas have a good sense of humor]

And I received just ONE 12-dollar ang pow, with my name on it as usual. Well, if you give out an ang pow that has the words “Infinity” and “Treasures” on it, you get people’s hopes up.

The 12-Dollar Ang Pow says “I don’t disappoint.”

ang pow

Some might ask me why I’m still accepting ang pows at the grand old age of… 28?! Firstly, I don’t say ‘no’ to money derived from legal means. Even if I find 10-cents on the ground, I pick it up. Learnt this from Warren Buffett. (And all that one-refusing-and-the-other-insisting nonsense is just that – nonsense)

And secondly, I gave my Dad a decent sum of money before CNY, so he could get them changed into smaller denominations for ang pows that he’d give out to our relatives. So, if my Dad gave your kid an ang pow (with money I gave to him), I see nothing wrong with taking an ang pow from you too. :D It’s the same with those mandarin oranges, right? Just a way to exchange blessings.

In previous years, I used to give my Dad all the ang pow money I’d collected from my relatives too. Because he’s been a retiree for a while, with no obvious active or passive income streams, I did not feel it is right for him to have such a huge ‘expenditure’ every year at Chinese New Year. Some people have 3 kids, you know?

So yes, I’d take all the money out of the ang pows and give them to my Dad. I ‘collect’ the blessings (intangible) and give him the cash.

This year, I thought I’d take it one step further and give him a decent sum upfront, and after deducting the ang pow money he gives out, he can keep the rest. And I’ll keep this stack of *ahem* two dollar notes.

And if you are wondering how much money I’ll put into ang pow packets in future, after I get married…

I’m not telling. But anyone above the age of 12 will get an ang pow like this one:

Durex ang pow

Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2015: Things To Note

Marina Bay Singapore Countdown 2015

(Photo credit: Max Clyne)

It’s New Year’s Eve!!! :D Will you be heading to Marina Bay for the Countdown? Here’s what you can look out for, and some things to note:

1) Video Projections on the facade of The Fullerton Hotel and the Merlion. Look out for images from the past and the present, such as the kampongs, samsui women, MRT, etc. The final showcase is at 11.55pm, followed by a countdown showcase to midnight, culminating in a special 8-minute fireworks display. Tune in to 92.4FM to listen to the accompanying music while watching the display.

2) 5 Buildings with Themed Lighting: Catch the lightup (5 mins) every half hour from 8pm to 11.30pm – Ocean Financial Centre, OCBC Centre, Maybank Tower, One Raffles Place, Millenia Tower.

3) Plan Your Route: Note the road closures and plan your route beforehand!

4) Stay Safe: The police will be conducting random bag checks. Still, the onus is on you to keep your belongings safe – don’t leave them unattended.

For more information: http://www.marinabaycountdown.sg/

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. :)