#241 food poisoning

The hygiene rating for local food centers is questionable.

Previously under the HDB, complaints lodged that the food centers were not as clean and rats found visiting certain areas at dark but there was no case of death reported.

However, recently two elderly died after eating rojak (a local salad) and many had food poisoning at Geylang Serai food center. Two days ago, people had food poisoning from eating steamboat. (Steamboat is diners cooking uncooked food — meat and vegetables — over boiling hot soup under gas flame laid on the table.)

Rats were caught at night– around 70?

Today, foods sold in the wet markets or supermarkets are generally fresh.

Has the level of environment cleanliness dropped?

In the past, when locals were employed to do such menial tasks, there were no cases of emergencies reported except complaints. Today, are we depending too much on foreign workers? Mind you their level of cleanliness differs that of our locals. Who is to blame then?

#240 thai red-tees

Sad indeed to see and hear that the red-tees protestors (of ousted and exiled Thaksin) stormed into the venue where the Asian Summit leaders were to meet over the weekend. The leaders were evacuated and the meeting cancelled.

These protestors appear to become bolder and bolder as the day passes…

“The government can’t do anything,” said Lada Yingmanee, a 37-year-old protester. “We will show them what tens of thousands of unarmed civilians can do. The people will finally rule our beloved Thailand.”

Speaking to the crowd at Government House, the prime minister’s office, a protest leader, Jakrapob Penkair, said a state of emergency was “a declaration of war against the people of Thailand.”
He added: “They will try to disperse the crowds, but we will remain at Government House. We will start a people’s war.”

They became lawless to the point of attacking the car of the prime minister! Have they disregarded the Parliament which appointed Abhisit as their prime minister?


 “I believe the people have seen what happened to me,” Mr. Abhisit said on television shortly afterward. “They have seen that the protesters were trying to hurt me and smash the car.”

Do these protestors have an alternative person in mind if they had wanted the present prime minister out? Or are these protestors fighting air?

Have the red-tees fallen into the hand of Thaksin who had been making nightly broadcasts (according to sources) from Dubai, UAE?

In the midst of the global financial crisis and economic downturn, are those without jobs joining in these groups hoping for a miracle? Or, is this one way of making a few bahts to survive for the moment?

“We need reconciliation, and I don’t see any sign that it is coming,” said Thitinan Pongsudhirak, director of the Institute of Security and International Studies at Chulalongkorn University. “Signs are pointing in the opposite direction, which is that things are going to get worse.”

It is a situation that Mr. Thaksin may be hoping to exploit, Mr. Thitinan said, in which he could return as the only person to bring the red shirts under control.

“Right now the red shirts are on the resurgence, and we don’t know where they are going with it,” Mr. Thitinan said. “But the pendulum is likely to swing to very suppressive tactics and brutal and harsh reactions from the right, the establishment.”

#239 oldest person in the world

Can you imagine living to 130 years old?

From the news on the BBC, I read and viewed this — Sohan Dosovah from Kazakhstan, the oldest person in the world — her eyes still bright and alert:


Kazakhstan’s famous ‘130-year-old’

By Rayhan Demytrie
BBC News, Karaganda, Kazakhstan

Sohan Dosova pictured on the front page of a local newspaper

“Do you remember Tsar Nikolai’s era? When the Red Army came and when Vladimir Lenin died? Well I do. So take a guess how old I am.”

Meet Sohan Dosova – the newly found treasure of Kazakhstan. She is 130 years old, at least she is according to her documents.

The Soviet passport issued in the early 1980s states that Sohan Dosova was born in the Karaganda region on 27 March 1879.

Now after a new national census in Kazakhstan, she has been “rediscovered”.

“This is a truly unique case,” says Ludmila Kolesova, the head of Karaganda region statistics agency.

“According to international standards we do not usually seek proof of ID when collecting census data, but when it came to Sohan Dosova we had to check her documents and verify this information with the social services department. They confirmed her date of birth.”

Tea with butter

Sohan Dosova can still walk, albeit with great care, assisted by a walking stick.

She eats slowly, and her favourite snack is bread soaked in tea. Sohan chews her food with a single remaining tooth.

Sohan Dosova
Sohan says she can no longer dance, but she enjoys singing

“My secret is to add butter to my cup of tea; this is how Kazakhs like their tea,” says Sohan, speaking a mixture of Kazakh and Russian.

She can still see, but has hearing problems, so most of the communication is done via her granddaughters – and there is no shortage of them.

Sohan had 10 children, and three of them are still alive. Her son had seven children. One of two daughters had six children, and the other, 22.

“There is a small tribe of great-grandchildren,” says 53-year-old Gulgoim, her eldest granddaughter. But when pressed, Gulgoim was unable to say just how many.

Sohan Dosova has lived her entire life in Aul, a village in the central Karaganda region, the industrial heart of the country.

Most of the population work in the coal mining industry. Semipalatinsk, the first Soviet nuclear test site, is nearby.

Some of Sohan’s grandchildren are mentally ill. They are among thousands believed to have been victims of Soviet nuclear experiments.

But Sohan has stayed healthy.

“She is in good shape, alert and active,” says Valentina Shamardina, a family doctor with 40 years experience.

“In my whole career I never came across cases like this. When I first arrived to do a check-up I demanded to see her passport and it all looked correct.

“I’ve never heard of anyone living that long.”

Frequent visitors

If Mrs Dosova really is 130 years old, that would make her the oldest person in the world. But if she ever had a birth certificate, it no longer exists.

Sohan Dosova's Soviet passport issued in the early 1980s
A Soviet passport issued in the early 1980s makes Sohan Dosova 130

In fact few rural Kazakhs born in those days are likely to have been registered. It was common for people to make up their date of birth.

Her true age is simply impossible to establish. But the local media is satisfied she’s the oldest woman in Kazakhstan.

Since the results of the census were made public, journalists have become frequent visitors to Sohan’s fifth floor apartment.

“This place is small, I need a bigger flat,” says Sohan. “There are too many people living in this crowded apartment, there is not enough room.”

Certainly her family appear to be hopeful that all the media attention might result in an improvement to Sohan’s living conditions.

But up to now, no benefactor has been forthcoming. So Sohan continues to live a simple existence in her old age, watching television, laughing and smiling.

Her granddaughter Nuken claims she loves dancing, but Sohan says she is too old for that now.

“I can’t dance, my knees hurt… But I can sing.” And so she gives a gruff rendition of her favourite Kazakh song.

#238 offering directions when asked

I had an interesting encounter this morning during my morning walks.

A Chinese China gentleman asked in Chinese language, “Do you know where the school for safety first is?”

My first thought was the driving school nearby…I asked, “Safety first…what do you mean? I don’t know of such school.”

He continued to ask, “A school?”

“I know of many schools around here,” I replied without understanding what he was asking. He persisted and I gave him direction to the nearest school.

He walked on and I was heading for that direction. After a short distance, he turned around and we met again. I asked, “Is that not the place that you’re looking for?”

He said, “No, I’m looking for a school that teaches safety-first to foreign workers in building and construction work.”

I still didn’t understand him but decided to ask an Indian elderly man passing by while interpreting for him. To my horror he was asking for direction to an institute that trains foreign workers on industrial safety-first.

I gave him the wrong direction…did that out of goodwill!!!

I reflected: For such matters, would it be prudent if he approached a man rather than a lady passerby for direction?

Would it be better had I said I didn’t understand him and walked away rather than giving wrong direction?!

If I had walked away, would I give the foreigner the impression that I was callous and unfriendly? If I gave him the wrong direction, this would exasperate him even more!

#237 earning power

Can one’s earning power reflect how capable a person is in management of a corporation? Is one’s earning the gauge of his capability in running for offices in politics?

Recently theonlinecitizen.com posted that the Singapore Prime Minister gets $2.7 million per annum, topping the list of being the highest paid politician in the world — the US President, a token sum of $400K and many of the Western counterparts get much less!

You see in the West, if one wants to run for the top job in politics, one needs to be a millionaire first but in the Singapore context — if one  wants to be a millionaire, then join the existing political party and of course after stringent scrutiny on qualifications to office.

The rationale to reward high salaries to the governing leaders in Singapore is to attract good and able people into governance and to prevent leaders from using illegal means and ways of accumulating one’s wealth!

Mind you, Singapore is a tiny state to govern by contrast to the US or UK or France!