#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!

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#220 graciousness on mrt

I was somewhat embarrassed when a girl in her late teen gave up her seat for me when I got on at the Jurong East station on one MRT ride towards town yesterday afternoon.

At first I thought she was getting off at the next stop but to my dismay when I lifted my eyes from my book, she was standing around the pole between the two doors of train carriage. I asked the boy seated next to me to reserve the seat while I went up to the teen and asked, “How many stops more before you’re getting off?” She replied, “A few more.” I showed my gratitude and waved her goodbye when she got off at Tiong Bahru station. She made my day.

Three cheers for the new and younger generation. This was not the first time I encountered such graciousness from the young but on several occasions.

However I watched disbelieving at some middle-aged men who would fight for a seat with a lady! At times, when a pregnant lady was standing next to one, the middle-aged gallantly took the seat! Sic! Sic! Sic!

While I was in Taipei (Taiwan), I was highly impressed by the fact the young automatically stood up for their elderly on MRT.

At the Bangkok MRT, commuters lined up to get on the train even at peak hours. By contrast to Singapore, before you could get out of the train, people were pushing their way into the train even when the train was quite empty.

#213 european rights prize

Hu Jia, a prominent activist and currently serving jail sentence from China apparently won the European rights prize. What does this prize stand for?

Will this prize given to Hu Jia encourage more dissent in China?

When people are given the housing and food, will they rise up against the leadership of a country?

Will any nation in Europe give a red carpet for Hu Jia & family to live there? If they had given him the prize, surely they could go a step further in offering political asylum! That surely is freedom of expression for people like him — an opportunity to express his freedom then!

Then, he & his wife will discover if there is…

Is the West using this human rights weapon to minimise and causing dissent in a country that is a rising economic power?

There is great poverty in India yet… However India has a Ghandi proponent for peace. Yet in his lifetime, no one in the West took note of him!

Human rights issue is relative. What is democracy?

Where has democracy brought the West today? Drugs, promiscuous sex, guns, gay rights…whatever social ills there is.

The latest financial crisis is a result of greed of a few. The few squandered the resources of many? Living on borrowed money? Resulting many are having to live on the streets soon!

Today, anything and everything can be turn into weapon of discontent and dissent!

#210 school lessons boring

“How’s school?”

“It’s boring!” remarked a teenager from a good school.

Sadly students think that teachers can teach…but the truth is, many of us who had gone through the mill discovered the qualified teachers were average. They could hardly impart knowledge. Some teachers read through the text with us during lessons and they expect us to perform. We must be the intelligent to have gone through schooling with such teachers!

I recall in the past when teachers have time, they would gossip and naturally creating more and more discontents. Some teachers took their frustrations out on the students…I reckon that was abuse! This unhappy and cantankerous mood of teachers was resolved when the education ministry made teachers attend extracurricular courses and given opportunities for upgrading their skills.

However today, a new phenomenon has emerged. The young think they are smarter than the grown-ups…especially those in the primary schools!

There is seeming lack of humility and unwillingness to learn. If children resist learning in every situation or think they know more than adults, the society is heading for…I don’t know what! 

Is this the frog-in-the-well mentality…or, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

#209 learning to live within one’s means

Man has short memory indeed! The last recession was about 6 years ago here in Singapore?

Have we picked up since then? Or are we gliding further? Up a little and slide further?

Have we learnt our lessons since?

Recession, panic selling in the stock market, credit crunch gale force sweeping Europe might be blessing in disguise — though painful!

This is perhaps a time when man is forced to wake up to learn living within one’s means — no more borrowed money or assumption to making easy money!

A time to be true and honest with self…no more living in pretense or deception!

#199 domestic maids pregnant?

I read this interesting news today:

Maternity perks urged for maids

The proposed changes to the Employment Act may see more local workers coming under its umbrella, but two non—government organisations (NGOs) want the protection extended to domestic workers too — including the provision of the latest maternity benefits….

Domestic workers here, most of whom are women, number about 180,000, and the NGOs said that Singapore should take the cue from Hong Kong in ensuring that these workers have a statutory weekly rest day, public holidays, maternity leave and the right to a minimum wage.

I believe Hongkong requires the maid to look for their own accommodation and paying for their own housing! Whoever suggest this ‘take the cue from Hong Kong’ has supplied half-truth. I wonder how many members of these NGOs have experienced having domestic help.

There was champion for the domestic maids by the human rights group but there were some glaring truths they did not highlight.

Some maids abuse the master’s home when the master and family were out of town and turning the house into a sex den or for their own private affairs! Who champion for master of the house?

There are maids who do not want days off…as they do not want to join in the discontents gossiping about their bosses. Furthermore, if the maids decided to run away as some young ones who did not adjust well to new environment, who takes responsibility for their whereabouts?

The writer knows of a Filipino maid in the past requested that she not be given day off to go out. If she had a day off, she would remain in the house but when she was around, she felt uneasy not helping around the house. She went out once but found she couldn’t adjust to the gossips! The family wanted to treat her like a member of the family but she requested eating separately as she preferred her own cooked food.

I recall an interview on BBC where this domestic maid, claiming she had a master degree, came to Singapore to work as domestic maid who subsequently wrote a book. She gloated over an incident when she answered back her boss. Her boss glared at her and didn’t answer her as he was shocked to find this maid rather rude. You see there is cultural difference in getting things done. Would she answer back if her master was a caucasian?

Singapore has had prosecuted those who abuse domestic maids, so why a wanting to champion for them…unless some Singaporeans want to bring shame upon themselves by championing for the sake of championing!

When a domestic helper is pregnant, can she provide the necessary domestic help to the master and home? She is hired to work in the home. Mind you, if she had morning sickness, could she provide the same service? If the master decided to make demands, will this be construed as abuse — a case for the human rights group to champion!?

Why do Singaporean families need domestic maids?

Those who had experienced having one will know that the maid’s standard of cleanliness is different from our local demands. Furthermore, many of them do not understand what is required of them, partly language barrier. Mind you, the PUB bills go up and virtually every expenditures increased!

I wonder how many women in the workforce who hired maids paid out their hard-earned salary to the maids!

Is this a show or flaunt they are rich! Or a case of running away from reality?

Unlike yesteryears those ‘amahs’ dressed in black-and-white from China, these were dedicated domestic helpers. In some cases they literally run the households and raised the children for their masters. They became part of the family. When they became old, some of them returned to their motherland to die or went back to their own families. Those who grew up with these amah saw the great difference in having one today!

#193 bloggers detained

Can bloggers be detained under the Internal Security Act? Is the ISA applicable to those blogging?

The latest in Malaysia: a blogger had been detained under the ISA. Was the blogger writing in official capacity…like a journalist? Sources given: he was warned by the authorities before.

Yikes…what is a blog? What is blogging? This has given a new twist or face to blogging today.

Self-censorship might be required but to be detained under ISA where that written could be evidence to incriminate self?

If that written by a blogger could come under criminal act? scrutiny, this proves then that whatever the blogger had written must be true. Otherwise the government would not go to the extent of detaining bloggers. Self-fulfilling prophecy on governing leaders? Hm…so there is truth to the words of bloggers! Arghhhh… Where is opinion? What is fact?

What is freedom of speech or written words?

Is the state or government taking too seriously that blogged?