Archive for the 'Events & Festivals' Category

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

About 55,000 tourists visit Liechtenstein every year. This blog was viewed about 190,000 times in 2012. If it were Liechtenstein, it would take about 3 years for that many people to see it. Your blog had more visits than a small country in Europe!

Click here to see the complete report.

My Wedding 19 Years Ago Was A By-Election Year

Come this 7 May 2011 is Singapore General Election again! It’s polling day on this Saturday and it’s probably the first time for many young residents in Marine Parade GRC too. For almost 2 decades (19 years ago) since the 1992 By-Election, the Marine Parade GRC had been a walkover. My parents in their 80s this year, who are still staying in Haig Road (under Marine Parade GRC), will be going for poll this Saturday finally.

Why was there a By-Election in 1992? The 1992 By-Election was called after Lim Chee Onn of PAP, retired from politics to return to the private sector. What’s so special about this By-Election then?

– It’s the first GRC By-Election.

– It was called by the then Prime Minister Goh C.T. At that time, both the DPMs, Mr Lee Hsien Loong and Mr Ong Teng Cheong, came down with cancer at the same time.

– To allow WP chief J. B. Jeyaretnam to contest an election upon his 10 years ban ending just after the 1991 General Election. But on nomination day, WP failed to file its nomination due to the tardiness of a candidate.

– For SDP, we saw Dr. Chee Soon Juan (30 then) first introduced to Singapore politics, while Teo Chee Hean (37 then) came into PAP Marine Parade GRC via this By-Election.

Credit : 新明日报, SPH

The PAP won that By-Election in 1992 with 48,965 votes (72.9%) against SDP, NSP and SJP. In 1991 General Election, PAP won with 51,685 votes (77.2%) against just SJP only. So how will this year 2011 General Election result be for Marine Parade GRC? It will be interesting to watch NSP vs PAP in this GRC especially with their young candidates Nicole Seah and Tin Pei Ling respectively.

Credit : 新明日报, SPH

We had our traditional wedding planned a year ago (need to book restaurant in advance, etc) and didn’t expect the By-Election to clash with our wedding. Of course we had to re-schedule and made preparation for going to the polling centre. My wife and I both had to go to a different polling centres as she was staying at Geylang Road and I was at Haig Road.

We went to my wife’s polling centre at Maha Bodhi School located at Geylang Lor 34 first.

After that, we rushed back to Block 4, Haig Road where my polling centre was;

We were then interviewed by the reporters after the voting;

Well General Election may be once every 4 or 5 years, but By-Election is not very common and to have it clash with your wedding…I think it’s really something very memorable.

What my father wrote;

“A little man may cast a great shadow”

What My Father Said About Chinese New Year

Wishing all a Happy and Prosperous Chinese New Year. I wonder how many of us are familiar with the traditional Chinese way of telling time of the day? Most of us have come across such ways of telling time in old Chinese movies or dramas.

Never mind, let me go straight to the point. My father said that when he was young (teenager probably, he is now 80 years old), those who set off fire-crackers at Zi hour (子时) on the eve of Chinese New Year were usually the Cantonese. The rest of the dialect groups usually set off fire-crackers later at 12am or maybe even later at Chou hour (丑时). How true is this, I”m not sure as I cannot find any “evidence” to support this, but my father said he is very sure about it as he had even read about it in the Chinese newspaper articles in the past. So anyone heard about it too?

I’m only very sure that Chinese regard Zi hour (子时) as the beginning of the day but as to the different dialect groups marked the start of Chinese New Year at different times – I”m really not sure. My father said that in the past, Guangzhou was like the first door opened to the foreigners for trade. This is true as around 618 to 609BC, many Arab, Indian and Persian merchants set their feet on Guangzhou. So Guangzhou may be more established and advanced compared to other places in Chinea. As such, people living in Guangzhou may be using the above method to tell the time of the day and then later spread to other provinces.

Believe it or not, up to you haha.

Note : Sorry for not updating this site for quite some time due to my son’s O level exam last year 2010. Glad he did very well – All As for all his 8 subjects (4A1s and 4A2s), much better than me….what else can I ask for? As for this year, I’ll be preparing my daughter for her PSLE…sigh…..

What my father wrote;

“I smell a rat”, “可疑”

Remembering Our Teachers On Teachers’ Day

For those that have left school more than 30, 40 or 50 years, it’s difficult to remember all our teachers that had taught us before. But somehow, maybe like me, there are always a couple or a few teachers that will leave a lifetime memory in our life. Anyway let’s take some time to remember and appreciate our teachers on Teachers’ Day – 1st September.

Before I talked about the 3 teachers that I still remember till now, let’s take a look at the below Teacher’s Day card some 29 years ago;

The above card was given to my mother who was a primary school teacher then in 1981. This card leave a very deep impression in me because the card portrayed the so called “Oriental way” of respecting the teacher with the students kneeling down and bowing to the teacher. I hope the student that gave this card to my mother didn’t hint that my mother wanted her students to ‘greet her like an Empress’. Now it’s even more humourous when you see the inside of the card;

Here is what the student wrote “Dear teacher XXX, I will still forget to bring my books. Thank you.” Instead of writing I will never forget to bring my books, she wrote “I will still forget to bring my books”. Amusing right, I wonder if she is trying to make my mother remember her forever…by the way, my mother still keeps this card till now. Even the drawing of the lion dance performance inside the card for a Teacher’s Day card seem rather amusing.

I have never given any teachers a card or a simple present. Don’t ask me why, I really don’t have the answer to it. Frankly I thought Teachers’ Day is celebrated throughout the world on 1st September until I google on it. Now I knew that different countries celebrate Teachers’ Day on a different date and different ways. The World Teachers’ Day is on 5 October annually.

Now back to my 3 most memorable teachers, first my Pri.4A form teacher Mr. Lee Chee Kong (if I didn’t remember wrongly). I wonder why he was not in the class photo taken in 1972;

He was a young man then and the type of teacher that most will termed as “Mr. Nice Guy”. Coincidentally he was also my gymnastic teacher then, and I remember how he walked with us from Beatty Pri Sch to Farrer Park ECA centre for the gymnastic lesson. He even brought us to see the Inter School Gymnastic event to bring out the interests in us. He himself was a gymnast as he used to show us the finer movements when teaching us. The last time I saw him before he left for overseas study was at a class gathering probably in the 80s. Since then, I have lost touch with my primary school classmates and teachers…

Next was another Mr.Nice Guy – Mr. Boh (sorry I only remember him as Mr.Boh because my class nicknamed him as Mr.Boh Tea). He was my class form teacher as well as Maths teacher. I have progressed well in my results because of his teaching and encouragement. I wonder if he is still teaching. Mr. Boh my Sec.2G form teacher;

Mrs.Lee Kian Soon was my Sec.4T1 form teacher in 1978 as shown below;

She also taught us Chemistry. She was very patience with us and helped us a lot in our Chemistry lesson. After 32 years, she is still in Victoria School now as a Larger HOD. With her as my form teacher, I enjoyed my last year in VS and did well in my ‘O’ level too.

Though I’m not a good student (I must admit honestly), I would like to thank the above 3 teachers and appreciate their hardwork and their love for teaching. Happy Teachers’ Day!


What my father wrote;

“Do not weary Heaven with prayers.”

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;



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”

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.”


Holland Or Netherlands?

I must admit I didn’t pay much attention to those countrys’ names until the recent football World Cup. It was also the first time in my life I bet on football (Singapore Pools) probably influenced by the prediction by that octopus Paul.

My World Cup 2010 bet slip that didn’t win hehe;

Credit : Singapore Pools

I first got startled by the Channel 8 news when it showed “Holland vs xxxxx”, then the next moment it showed “Netherlands vs xxxxx”.  My mind suddenly went ‘blank’ and quickly refleshed my mind to think if they meant the same country like what I’ve learnt in primary school then – Sri Lanka is the new name for Ceylon. I checked with my son who is in Sec.4 now (probably his teacher might have taught him), and he said he was not sure and his teachers have yet to touch on that….(maybe after World Cup final). I’m wondering why from the same source (Channel 8 in this case), 2 different names were used? Is Netherlands the new name for Holland like Sri Lanka?

A check on the 11 July 2010 (just before the World Cup final) Sunday Times;

Credits : Singapore Press Holdings

As you can see, even on the same page – Netherlands and Holland, 2 different names, were used! Now check the Singapore Pools website;

Credit : Singapore Pools

It stated Holland instead of Netherlands, which is the same as my bet slip shown above.

First thing to verify is – Do Holland and Netherlands mean the same country? Second thing – when do we use Holland and when to use Netherlands?

OK, first thing first – very simple : Holland and Netherlands mean the same country. Most of us use Holland to refer to Netherlands as a whole but in actual fact, Holland comprises of North Holland and South Holland which are the 2 of the the 12 provinces in Netherlands. So to be more precise, Netherlands is the country’s name and Holland is the province’s name. Now the name Holland and Netherlands are used interchangeably without one realising they are referring to the same (at least to some people like me). Now after knowing the truth, I would preferred to use Netherlands when I’m referring to the whole country.

So have I forgotten what my teacher taught me? A check with my primary school Geography texbook “New Primary Geography For Singapore” in 1971;

Credit : McGraw Hill Far Eastern Publishers (S) Ltd

Yes I was taught Netherlands at that time but I don’t remember why I wrote the word “Holland” in bracket.

To add to the confusion, Netherlands is usually referred to as “荷兰” (Holland) in Chinese. Very seldom you can hear one said “尼德兰王国” (Netherlands) – and this is very true as I’ve asked my parents and both answered me 荷兰 is the country’s name. But one thing they told me that I’m not aware of is Holland was also known as “低地国” in the past. This simply means “Low Country”, but why? This is because geographically, Netherlands is a low-lying country and thus in Dutch (the language of Netherlands) “Nederland” means “Low Land” literally. So how “low” is it – 27% of it lies below sea level and the average elevation for the whole nation is only 11 meters above sea level.

This is confirmed by my son’s Sec.1 Atlas book;

Credit : Pearson Education South Asia Pte Ltd 2002

Maybe we should learn from the Netherlands on how to prevent flood and build better drainage system (OK maybe our Marina Barrage pumps already from Netherlands, right?). Flood control and land reclamation have been ongoing in Netherlands and they are among the world’s leading experts in hydraulic engineering.

So “Netherlands” in dutch is “Nederland”. One of the best ways to learn about a country is via stamps. I took a look at my stamps and realised that I only have Nederland stamps and not Holland stamps;

Now where the name “Holland” comes from? The name Holland ultimately stems from the term ‘holt land’ which means ‘wooded land’. Do take note of another incorrect, fake etymology holds that it is derived from ‘hol land’ (‘hollow land’), inspired by the low-lying geography of the region. In the past, two-third of Holland’s land lay below sea level and made up mostly of mud flats and shallows, salt marshes, blackish lakes, and flood banks, and also with patches of “woodland” (“Holt Land”).

The purpose of this post is not to go into detail history of Netherlands but just a very brief explanation why the confusion on the word “Holland” and “Netherlands”. But for those who are keen to read more about Netherlands, here is a very good read “A Brief History of Netherlands“.

From the 10th to 16th century, Holland was a county ruled by the Count of Holland. After independence around circa 1581-1795, Holland became a province of the then Republic of the Seven United Netherlands. By the 17th century, Holland had risen to become a maritime and economic power, dominating the other provinces. Colonies and trading posts were established all over the world.  The Dutch East India Company (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie or VOC in Dutch, was established in 1602, when the States-Generarl of the Netherlands granted it a 21-year monopoly to carry out colonial activities in Asia. This will lead to my next post…a very interesting one…

Thus we can see that the term “Holland” is more popularly used than “Netherlands” because most traders were from the Holland province in the past. Holland was the richest and most powerful province then.

What my father wrote;

“Beggars must not be choosers” or “Beggars cannot be choosers”


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April 2020