Saturday, 20 March 2010

Art Portfolio

Tiger Tiger Burning Bright

Tiger claws are de rigeur amongst the superstitious and apparently readily available in several Singapore outlets. This disturbing piece of news was featured in the Straits Times today.

Just why one would wish to destroy a beautiful and endangered animal like a tiger simply to become the owner of a tiger claw amulet is beyond me.

Evidently 59 outlets were found to have been trading in tiger body parts last month and only seven claimed to have known anything about the trading ban. Such collective amnesia is hard to believe. Some 320 items were seized.

The government meantime continues to gets its claws intom the prickly subject of productivity. With the recession-proofing subsidies being phased out the emphasis is switching to innovation and increasing the productivity of Singaporeans.

Alongside this is the ongoing battle to get the birth rate up. The latest ploy is a combo meal which comes with a free card game. You have to be a couple, preferably married or about to be, for the game to be any fun according to the promotional advertising.

And even you are feeling so inclined after a straight flush, I have it on good authority that tiger will not be featuring on the combo menu.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Own Goal

Welcome to the world of SingHub; an amalgam of two separate telcos who in the process of vying for the Soccer World Cup rights, managed to alienate most fans and FIFA.

The upshot thus far is that most of soccer-mad Singaporeans will not be able to see the World Cup.

Enter the government with a new set of rules to try and avoid this type of situation ever happening again. The new law means that even if one of the telcos will have to carry exclusive content purchased by another player.

The forces of the open market have not been in the best consumer interest so it will be interesting to see what impact this law has. At the very least it will mean one less box on top of the TV.

Not that any of the above is much interest to me, as I have studiously avoided subscribing to any cable offering, either in New Zealand or here in Singapore.

I hold out for free to air television although the entertainment fare here in Singapore is very patchy and the acting pool severely limited.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Chilly In HK

These past two days I have been revisiting Hong Kong. After the very hot and dry weather in Singapore it has come as quite a shock (and a thermal shock at that) to experience an unseasonal cold snap here.

Hong Kong Grey Day - Roger Smith March 2010

Regrettably I came little prepared for this eventuality and according to a gleeful cabbie, tomorrow will be even colder. The prediction is a minimum of 8 degrees and a maximum of 14.

This is entry has been made in the comfort of my hotel room, with the airconditioning gauge set at a balmy 26 degrees to thaw out my outer extremities.

A drop of 25 degrees in the ambient temperature between the two countries sure puts a dampener on things.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Poles Apart - The Rise of the Litter Lout

Something seriously needs to be done about these litter bugs. There has been some publicity in the press lately explaining how the Council are going to use a non stick paint on its poles, to make it difficult for these tear-tab posters to be glued up.

Non stick paint is not the answer - strict policing is.

If all of the population did as we do and rip down and bin this litter then it would act as a deterrent. Regrettably the local citizenry seem loath to assist the authorities and this apathy (non engagement) seems to be ingrained.

The biggest disincentive though would be to apply a more rigorous campaign of prosecution; after all Singapore has strong laws against littering and it is just a question of policing and following through with the fines.

It is not for the lack of evidence, which is clearly visible on the pole such as the one pictured which was one of many by this litter lout at my bus stop by Forfar Heights in Commonwealth Avenue.

Here are some campaign ideas to curb this plague:
  1. Take photos on your mobile phone of the poster and send it to the Environment Ministry. The email address is contact_nea@nea.gov.sg and their customer service line is 1800 225 5632
  2. Ring the number on the poster and tell the person that they are litter bugs and should be ashamed of themselves for breaking Singapore laws.
  3. Whenever you come across one of these pole posters pull it down and put in in the nearest waste paper bin - do this after you have done numbers 1&2
These pole advertisers are a public nuisance and their activity scars the environment.

It is time to get serious and get rid of these pests.

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Monday, 1 March 2010

Please Stand Behind The Yellow Line

Queenstown MRT Station
Roger Smith 3 /2010

Sunday, 28 February 2010

The Panda's Daughter

For several months I have enjoyed the Sunday Times articles of Lee Wei Ling. She coincidentally happens to be the daughter of LKY - Lee Kuan Yew to the unitiated.

She is clearly a person who knows her own mind and has inherited a large chunk of the intelligence and directness for which her father is well known. LKY is reported as saying to her "You have all my traits-but to such an exaggerated degree that they become such a disadvantage to you.”

No doubt this sets up some interesting debates around the family dinner table. It is clear that she is not afraid to state her own point of view even though this might put her at odds to the government's stated position or action, which is under the stewardship of her brother, Hsien Loong.

Preferring to remain single, Profesor Lee has chosen to dedicate herself to medicine. Her maritial status has been a point of paternal concern for her father apparently and he referred to this in a speech last year. She, in typical fashion, chose to respond with an essay "Why I chose to remain single"

Her frankness has earned the respect of her fellow Singaporeans and in a recent public survey she was ranked fifth out of the ten most trusted people in Singapore.

Based on what I have read so far (including today's article "The Panda's Daughter" where she talks aboout how people link her with her father), I would have to say that their trust is well placed.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Should that be Curry Oh's?

I am mourning the death of a Singapore icon, or to be more precise a Singapore brand icon.

The pudgy, convoluted profile of an Old Chang Kee curry puff was a sight to behold. The Curry'O, to give it its correct title, was a hand crafted cholesterol-rich, masterpiece.

Each offering took on a distinctly unique look but all could be guaranteed to be copiously filled with a curry potato mash and a quarter of egg.

They were the benchmark for commercial curry puff production in this country and had a long history. While maybe not the crème de la crème of curry puffs but they weren't far off it. Even the illegal puff sellers at the MRT couldn't better Old Chang Kee.

You will note that I have been using the past tense as yesterday our purchase of Curry'Os was a major let-down!

Gone was the distinctive bulges of a well filled morsel and the hand crimped edges with their irregularities.

In its place there is now a machine produced object with a thin hard crust and about half the filling of the original. Try as I might, I could not find any reference to egg in the mixture.

No doubt the company has won a Singapore innovation award and multiplied its profits but they have (in my humble opinion) committed the cardinal marketing sin; tinkering with their anchor product.

Even the larger Cola companies have learnt to their cost that this does not pay. Mind you, I doubt that we will ever see a Curry'O Lite.

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Out With The Old



I have a fondness for Asian ceramics, particularly Chinese ceramics. Up until today I had a small collection that I had put together over the past 20 years (see above).

Not all were all 'quality items' in the eyes of a connoisseur but there were some gems, such as the small Ge Ware bowl (#2) and the blue Ming plate (#3).

However as with all collecting there comes a time when one needs to make a decision about retaining or selling. So yesterday I decided to contact Toh Foong Antiques at 5 Temple street from whom I had bought the best pieces all those years ago.

I can still recall old Mr Tan going to the rear of his shop and bringing back a box with the Ming plate inside.

The old man has since retired and it was his two sons who came this morning to assess my modest holdings and make me an offer I could not refuse.

So now the Ikea glass cabinet is looking somewhat bare, but I am pleased with the financial result and comfortable with the idea that some other lucky person will have many years of enjoyment from these antiques.

Such are the joys of the collector.