28 December 2008

For The School Or For The Students?

I shared the same frustrations with Mdm Wang about being enrolled into one of the "top" secondary schools. I was in the top 10 percentile in my primary school and managed to be enrolled into one of the "elite" secondary schools. Well, I maintained in the 10 percentile, only this time , it's the bottom 10 percentile. It was easy to be discouraged and disappointed. It did not help also that you have classmates who come from wealthy families where their parents can provide whatever extra resources to help them cope, including good and sound advice on how to manage their studies, choosing the right ECAs, what to aim for higher learning etc.

However, one difference between my school and Mdm Wang's was that my principal did not request that students drop weaker subjects "so as not to pull down the school standard". When some students really did badly in their exams and failed to make the bare minimum to promote to the next level, they were asked to be transferred - not because the school was afraid that the standards would drop. It was for the interest of the student - to place him in a more compatible environment. To help him re-build his confidence.

Indeed, one of my classmates was transferred in that way and when I met him a couple of years later, he told me that his confidence had improved and managed to stay focus on his studies. He would have given up on his studies had he remained in that top school.

Well, my school achieved the intended objective of helping this ex-classmate of mine. However, was the school worried about students pulling down standard? I am one of those who contributed to the school standard drop yet I graduated. The best part is, my form teacher continued to be encouraging on the day he handed my nothing-to-be-proud-of certificate and told me to continue to give my best. I'm sure I disappointed him.

Anyway, that was almost 20 years ago... I wonder if it has changed to be like Mdm Wang's.

18 December 2008

Foreign Workers Abandoned

I just cannot understand how could companies be so uncaring?

Left to their fate - Group of 179 foreigners among a growing number abandoned (Today, 18 Dec 2008)

According to their report, their registered employer is Tipper Corporation, a marine company. Tipper claims that Mr Uthayanan (whom the foreign workers though is their "boss") was supposed to look after the workers and train them before placing them on a project next year.

Ministry of Manpower clarified that "Tipper Corporation remains responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the workers, and if they fail to fulfil their responsibility, they will be committing further breaches of the law."(Today, 18 Dec 2008)

I wonder how many of such cases will surface in the coming months in view of the economy downturn.

-----------------------Updated on 24 Dec 2008-------------------------------------------
Seems like there may be hope yet... at least for some of the 179 workers. Apparently, while waiting for MOM and the employer, Tipper Corporation to investigate and resolve the issue, some members of the public and some NGOs came forward to provide food and alternate lodging for the workers.

Also, according to a report in Today, 23 Dec 2008, their owed wages will be paid. However, the fate of the workers, or at least some of them still remain unknown - will they be repatriated or gainfully employed long enough for them to pay the debts they took to come here to work?

May people be more giving, not only in this festive season but all the time, whenever we can.

07 December 2008


Just the other day, I overheard a discussion between 2 guys at the local coffeshop. I heard them addressing each other as TC, Endu (I supposed they meant Andrew, spoken in Singlish) and KS.

TC:"Eh, Endu, I'm thinking har... now that market drop, perhaps it's time to start business"

KS:"What! Siao ah! How can?!?! Where got money. Big banks no more bang and you still think of business?..."

Endu:"Hear him out. I think the prospects are there. You see ah, now everything burst, everything drop, so it will be easier to start bisness. Anyway, bisness always take time to kick start and by the time we're ready, the market will also be ready and we can ride the wave to the next peak!"

KS:"Or sink deeper into the abyss..."

Endu:"Don like that la... anyway,what bisness you think of huh?"

TC:"Hotel. You see har, private property has fallen. So it's not difficult to acquire some place to start our hotel. Orso, many people will sell their house, recession mah... people always sell house, wife and children when in recession, right? So,where to stay? Park? Cannot la! Take nap only kena nabbed by warden and pay $200 orkong, imagine stay in park, wa lau! Sure sent to jail and cane somemore. So they stay Hotel, la! As long as you don charge more than $200 per night!"

At this point,I can't resist the urge to look at the trio and saw that Endu was clearly beaming, KS kept shaking his head and TC was staring into the sky, perhaps visualizing his dream hotel. KS seemed about to speak up but Endu cut him short.

Endu:"Hotel must have name la... so what to call it?"

TC:"Gahmen Approved World Klass Hotel!"

KS:"How the hell do you expect the government to endorse our hotel and a world class one!"

TC:"Hello, you're not listening... I said gahmen...not government, spelling not the same. And just because our hotel's name is World Klass, doesn't mean it has to be world class standard. I said approved, not endorse. We need approval to register our business right? We need approval to build or convert our flat to a hotel right? We can even invite a minister or two to our opening ceremony but that doesn't mean it is approved, accredited or endorsed right? Name doesn't matter one la. Like Layman minibonds are not bonds and not for layman, right?"

KS:"It's Lehman, not lay man..."

Endu:"Whatever... hmmm Gahmen Approved World Klass Hotel... GAWK! In short! Wow, we'll have people gawking at our hotel!"

At this point, my coffee has turned cold. I took a last gulp and left the place. But I'll keep in mind to avoid any hotel by the name of GAWK.