Archive for August, 2010

Soft Drink Bottle Cap – Hor Lan Shui Koi

Every year after the National Day, I will get to see many pages about who and who getting the PBM and BBM awards or National Day Awards in the newspaper.

Credit : The Straits Times

Of course the PBM and BBM are part of the National Day Award and is given annually to those who have made outstanding contributions in public service or community work. You will be surprised that 3,195 individuals will be awarded this year 2010! But what does PBM and BBM means and what the awards about?

The Pingat Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Medal) or PBM in short, was instituted in 1973. The medal may be awarded to any person who has rendered commendable public service in Singapore for his achievement in the field of arts and letters, sports, the sciences, business, the professions and the labour movement. Recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters PBM as shown below;

Credit : The Straits Times

I remember when I was staying with my parents, there was this RC (Resident Committee) chairman who was very active and enthusiastic in his role that you were able to see him appearing in very events held at the neighbourhood. I asked my father is he trying to get his “Hor Lan Shui Koi” (荷蘭水蓋, soft drink bottle cap) – and why is it called Hor Lan Shui, you may see my previous post. True enough, after some years of hard work, he was awarded the PBM. After that, he seems to have taken a back seat (a more leadership role than a doer role).

The PBM award;

What I remembered most about him was he would go round door to door selling the National Day dinner tickets. Once he knocked on our door and my mother answered it. She paid for the National Day dinner ticket for the dinner that held just below the flat (not at the restaurant or hotel). I thought it was just a few dollars or the most $10 but my mother told me it was much more than that, if I didn’t remember wrongly, was it $50? (my goodness, at that time for $50 I can watch Anita Mui Concert or have a buffet lunch at the top of Mandarin Hotel). Initially I thought the National Day dinner was a treat by the constituency MPs to reward the residents for supporting and voting for them…but….

OK when the dinner day arrived, I saw the workers roasting the piglets below and I told my mother that she was going to have roast piglet for dinner too (at least quite a consolation for the $50 paid). But my mother told me that not all tables were served with that and only the VIPs tables were served with roast piglets. Since then, I do not bother to open the door whenever someone trying to sell us the National Day dinner ticket (not because my mother don’t get to eat the roast piglet, but I felt that it was unfair treatment and it showed a class differentiation).

The Bintang Bakti Masyarakat (Public Service Star), instituted in 1963, is awarded to any person who has rendered valuable public service to the people of Singapore, or who has distinguished themselves in the field of arts and letters, sports, the sciences, business, the professions and the labour movement. Bars may be issued for further service. Recipients are entitled to use the post-nominal letters BBM just like the PBM. One thing I wonder - must one get the PBM first before one is awarded the BBM?

The BBM award;

Now why do the Cantonese said “荷蘭水蓋” when referring to those awards? I think the phrase came from Hong Kong people when they referred to those awards as “荷蘭水蓋” as the awards shape resembles the soft drink bottle cap;

Don’t you find the shape similar to the real awards;

or

or

Of course those who have been through the Singapore National Service will get their military decorations too, like mine;

Sometimes I find the Hong Kong people very creative – how they can relate the awards to soft drink bottle caps ‘荷蘭水蓋’. I think this must be some of the cultural differences that we can see in Hong Kong. Of course when we were young, many of us were playing with the bottle caps ‘荷蘭水蓋’. One of the most common games with the bottle caps is;

Do you still remember the above game?

 

What my father wrote;

“A little bird whispered it to me.” (Guess my father wrote the whispered wrongly)

“告密于我.” or “有人私下告诉我”

Holland Water – Hor Lan Shui

Have you ever wonder why the Cantonese usually called soft drinks as “Holland Water” (Ho Lan Shui, 荷兰水) in the past?

I remember Victor had a related post  on this in his blog, and he mentioned something like “originated from a Hokkien who while entertaining a visiting guest, called out to someone in the house to ‘hor lan chui’ which means ‘serve the guest water’ ” which Chun See dismissed it as plain nonsense. Of course there are some that think “Hor Lan Shu” was first produced or invented in Holland…

Credit : 现代快报

Here is a bit of the history on soft drinks. It all depends on how you look at soft drinks – “non carbonated water” or “carbonated water”.

The first soft drinks to be marketed appeared in 1676 (17th century) which is a mixture of water and lemon juice sweetened with honey. The company “Compagnie de Limonadiers” was formed in Paris and granted a monopoly for the sale of its products. Vendors carried tanks on their backs from which they dispensed cups of lemonade. This is the first version of “non carbonated” soft drinks.

Soft drinks are also referred to as carbonated drinks that are non-achoholic and thus the term “soft drinks” is employed in opposition to “hard”, i.e. drinks with high alcoholic content by volume. In 1767, Dr.Joseph Priestley (an Englishmen) invented the first drinkable man made glass of carbonated water.

Dr.Joseph Priestley

His invention was meant as a cure for scurvy (a kind of disease caused by lack of vitamin C) for the crew in James Cook’s second voyage to the South Seas.

Dr.Priestley did not exploit the commercial potential of this carbonated soft drinks, but Johann Jacob Schweppe, a German-born jeweller but amateur scientist, did in 1770 (late 18th century).

Johann Jacob Schweppe

J.J. Schweppe moved his business to London in 1792 but was not successful and failed in 1795. OK, so much for the history of soft drinks.

In fact this post is a bit related to my previous post on “Holland or Netherlands“. Remember I mentioned about The Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC) established in 1602, and was granted a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia. The Dutch East India Company beat all of its rivals in the Asia trade. Of course Holland was not the first to trade in China, in the 13th and 14th centuries, a number of Europeans mainly Christian missionaries sought to penetrate China. One of the famous one was Marco Polo then, but all these had little permanent effect on the East-West trade.

Marco Polo

The Portuguese succeeded in finding new sea route for a cheaper and easier access to South and East Asia goods. The first Portuguese ships reached Canton on the southern coasts of China in 1516. By 1557, they gained a permanent base in China at Macau. But the Portuguese maritime supremacy still lose out to the Holland in the 17th century. This posed a serious challenge to Portugal with the establishment of Dutch East India Company.

Below shows the Dutch East India Fleet in 1599;

Credit : National Maritime Museum, London

The Dutch East India Company colonies or outposts were also established in Canton, China and Taiwan (1624 – 1662). But in 1662, Zheng Chenggong expelled the Dutch from Taiwan. By 1669, the Dutch East India Company was the richest private company in history, with a huge fleet of merchant ships and warships, tens of thousands of employees. They were confined to trade only in Canton and Macau from the 16th century to 18th century.

Below shows ships off Canton circa 1847-1856;

Credit : National Maritime Museum, London

By the 18th Century, the number of merchants who came to China increased. As you remembered, the soft drinks were already commercialised during this period and were brought into China via Canton by the Holland merchants.

So the people in Canton termed such soft drinks as “Hor Lan Shui” (荷兰水).

Below shows selling of Mint drink “薄荷水” passing off as “Hor Lan Shui” in China;

This “Hor Lan Shui” (荷兰水) was mentioned in a 1876 book titled “沪游杂记” in Shanghai.

The book “沪游杂记”;

Along with soft drinks, potatoes and snow peas were also brought into Canton by the Holland merchants.

Thus the word “荷兰薯” for potatoes and “荷兰豆” for snow peas. It was a common practice to term the products or goods from the countries that brought them in – in this case Holland.

But now, are there potatoes and snow peas really from Holland? Guess….But when someone said you “饱死荷兰豆” (literally translate – full until die snow peas) it means you are really stupid and silly. When someone said something silly and stupid, we said “饱死” to ourselves in cantonese. As to how “荷兰豆” also means stupid and silly, it is actually translated into “Holland Bean” which means “好伦笨” in Cantonese tone and that “伦” is rather vulgar in Cantonese. So “好伦笨” also means “very stupid”. In full, “饱死荷兰豆” means you are silly and stupid. This phrase was very popular in the 80s but not so now.

Now do you think that we Cantonese really like to relate a lot of things to Holland? Before I end, just to let you know that the Cantonese also called playing cards as “荷兰牌”, why?

Haha why is it known as  “荷兰牌”, I really don’t know – do you?

 

What my father wrote;

“He who pays the piper calls the tune.”

“出资的人作主.”

1st National Day Parade At The Padang

This year marks Singapore 45 years of independence and the 2010 National Day parade will be held at the Padang and old City Hall once again. Of course this year my Pri.5 daugther has the opportunity to watch the National Day Parade preview on 24 July 2010.

2010 NDP at the Padang.

This is probably part of the National Education but when I asked her about the words “Majulah Singapura” pinned on the top of the old City Hall mean, she replied “dunno”….and I wonder how many know what “Majulah Singapura” about. I’m thinking that’s bad, I better start teaching her social studies!

Part of the Funpack given during the National Day preview show.

“Majulah Singapura” (in Malay language) means “Onward Singapore” and is our Singapore’s National Anthem composed by Zubir Said in 1958. When Singapore attained full independence in 1965, “Majulah Singapura” was officially adopted as Singapore’s National Anthem. There are a few occasions where the “Majulah Singapura” words are pinned on the top of the old City Hall as you can see in the following posts.

Of course in this National Day post, I’m going to blog about something unique about those National Day parades held at the Padang and in which year the past Presidents had their first National Day Parade at the Padang.

The venue of the parade is usually at the Padang and the old City Hall, where the declaration of Singapore’s independence was held. In fact the old City Hall and Padang was used for the National Day parade even before Singapore achieved independence in 1965.  Below shows the photos of our National Day parade in 1963;

National Day parade in 3 June 1963 held at the old City Hall;

Credit : National Archives of Singapore, PICAS

Credit : Above 2 National Heritage Board

See the words “Majulah Singapura” pinned up on the top of City Hall in the above photos. Can you identify the Head of State in the 3rd photo? In case you have forgotten why are we celebrating National Day on 3 June, pls see my previous post here.

Below are our Singapore past and present Presidents first National Day Parade at the Padang and City Hall:

1. Late President Yusof bin Ishak first NDP in 1966 at the Padang;

The above 2 photos showed the Late President Yusof bin Ishak in full military attire attending the NDP in 1966 (our 1st NDP after full independence). Note that the NDP started at 9am sharp at that time!

2. Late President Benjamin Henry Sheares first NDP in 1971 at the Padang which was also his very first NDP as Singapore 2nd President;

3. Late President C. V. (Chengara Veetil) Devan Nair first NDP in 1982 at the Padang;

4. Late President Wee Kim Wee first NDP in 1987 at the Padang;

5. Late President Ong Teng Cheong first NDP in 1995 at the Padang;

6. President  S. R. Nathan first NDP in 2000 at the Padang;

I hope thru the above photos, we can remember some treasured moments our late presidents shared with us on National Day. As this year National Day is back to the old City Hall and Pandang (of course it’s no longer at 9am sharp), I wonder how many know the historic City Hall building was designated as a National Monument on Feb.14 in 1992.

BTW, this year National Day theme is “Live Our Dreams, Fly Our Flag”, did you fly the Singapore Flag?

What my father wrote;

“A small leak will sink a large ship.” or “A small leak will sink a great ship.”

“一个小漏洞可能弄沉一艘大轮船.”

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