Saturday, September 12, 2015

General election 2015 - Why we voted for People's Action Party

According to my sister (Jia Yi), We are a PRO-PAP family. I was laughing away when I heard her because this is so true, if you know each and every one of us.

And so... the conversations that happen during meetups with friends lately evolved around the topic on General election, voting for the government in Singapore which happens once in every 5 years. To foreigners, you have an extra day of public holiday. However, to the locals, this is a very special day to us. As I ponder and ask Hans if I should write a blog entry about election, he told me, 'You can, if you want to, but people who want to vote for XX will find one reason to fault against YY and people who are voting for YY will do the same, so basically, don't need to get involved into this entire online-sharing hooha". Well, I am a hooha person :-) So, here are some of our thoughts on why we support the People's Action Party.

This is what my parents educate me on in the past and what I have decided on my own over the years. 

The former part is crucial because everyone comes with certain prior understanding or context about Singapore and how she was founded and built. For me, a huge part comes from my family and even my religion. It is strange that I cannot exactly pinpoint anyone who said something meaningful or state any incident but I guess this is what the growing up process is. It is vague, complex and importance because it really shapes someone. With that, your inclination and decision impacts people around you.

On the latter part, I was reminded of the previous election four years back. Ours was a walk-over for voting (Tanjong pagar) but of course, I knew how I am going to vote then if given a chance. However, for the president, I rang up my mum and asked her which picture I should take note of. She then told me (like all other nagging instances, haha) and highlighted, Ah Jie ah (meaning elder sister), you need to put a cross, not a tick, remember that! No offense to the president hor, anyway, you are welcome! haha! (Thank you mummy, next time I know what to highlight to my kids).

Which one do you think is most important? The heart or the brains? 

In my humble opinion, it is both the heart and the brain. Perhaps I have tons of confidence in human nature. I truly truly believe that Singaporeans want the best for themselves, their families and their neighbors (aka everyone here in Singapore). Thus, I do not doubt their intention to do something good. But, the question is, do they know how to?

I remembered that during our studies, we learned theories, concepts and big ideas from books, videos and lectures, which is like the "What" and "Why". Of course, this fundamental is very important because we need the right people with the mindset in field.


Then comes "HOW". The 'how' process would be another level up because one need to apply what they learn into practice. In the education field, it would be crafting lesson plans, formatting assessment tools and standards and so on. To be able to accomplish this is no easy feat because it requires deeper understanding across all the modules such as children's developmental milestone, teaching approach, subject area etc. Then, to assess the child's ability - would it be fairly well, good, excellent or require support? How would all these look like so you can observe these signs during assessment? Eh, really not easy leh.

The unaccounted for/missing funds in certain GRC made me very fearful. What does it mean for my friends or loved ones living there? Hans and I will not be living in Tanjong Pagar GRC next year onwards, with that, we have a right to be concern about other areas that we will be in or beside us.

Over the years, I have seen Ms. Indranee during many community events and a particular one stood out. She came to my secondary school during a concert as a guest of honor and the arts students (me included) presented her a piece of dyed fabric as a gift. Many months later, she attended another community center event and my friends and I represented the Taekwondo club and demonstrated Taekwondo aerobics and kicks. And there she is, wearing a sari that was made of the fabric that we gifted her. This means a lot of to me because it depicted that she valued that piece of fabric, a gift from students, in the school under her care. Plus! She didn't only appear during election period hor, or to get votes during G.E period (We are Tanjong Pagar). I was so moved by her very simple speech last night when PAP won Tanjong Pagar. The sincerity was heartfelt as she blinked back tears. Having said that, I feel that If both of parties have the heart, I would pick someone with the brains too (meaning having the skill and capabilities). People's Action Party - Take action (not only use mouth hor). You think it is so easy to manage a nation? Ms. Indranee and many current MPs learn directly from the late MM Lee. Some said Mr. LKY is himself, 'we love LKY but hate PAP'  I would say otherwise because the party that he leads very much validate his beliefs, planning and vision, in my opinion.

No room for trial and error 

And leading to this next point, there is no room for trial and error when it comes to nation-building. Yes, there is no prefect government and everyone is cracking their brain for solutions. But the standard and level cannot be too far-fetched from high-quality practices. The 'Why', ’What' and 'How' does not appear over few nights. It takes years and years and years of immersing one self into the community, studying policies and so on. I remembered from one recent conversation, a friend shared that her colleagues defended a particular candidate's dress sense (think bodycon dress) because they think that she dresses up just like you and me (usual youngsters) in Singapore. When I heard it, I am like whattttt... (haha), Exactly, just like you and me, you think we can be MPs? Here we are, sitting in Spize (great world), eating and watching movie later at Great world. The potential MPs are volunteering their time somewhere, doing something other than this.

The mister also shared that if people are capable, they can work hard towards becoming MPs wearing white because they know that they can make a difference in people's lives. I wonder is that part of the reason why some candidates named their own party names wrongly? *sings-what is deep inside your heart? And there are sayings that the other parties also shared that they do not want to be the main government (is this true?) but only taking roles of being checkers in the parliament. Can we then decide how many checkers there should be? Surely, it is obvious we need to have many more doers than checkers.

About the 15k monthly salary that MPs receive, to be honest, both of us do not think that 15k is too much an amount. They are people who earns a lot in their career even before taking on politics. And I also do not think that MPs need to live (or rather, earn little $) like us. It is like, I love those wide straw hats my entire life but I have a small frame/head/face so naturally, I am unsuitable to wear one. You get what I mean. We wanted our MPs to be successful people in life as they are our role-models, people who are tested and proven to excel, really excel, in their career, profession, personal and family life. They are of certain standards before taking on the role of being the giants in Singapore.

I am very happy living in Singapore, a very proud Singaporean 

Having all these said, I think the most important reason why PAP is getting our votes is because we are truly happy being Singaporeans and they play a vital role in this (till date and going on...). One of the reasons is having the freedom to choose. Simple things like, I get to take the train, bus or cab when I travel within the island. Not many first-world countries allows middle-income citizens to do that. When I need to travel to NUH (han was warded then) from Suntec, the different colored trains allows me to take multiple routes to reach my sweetheart in the shortest time. When I was in Boston for a 5 weeks summer immersion, the interns there told us that they text most of the time and only call when it comes to urgent matters. At 29, I also get to choose a 3, 4 or 5 room flat or an E.C (I will put on high heel on one leg and sports shoe on another to be a Superwoman. Please hor, don't argue hor, it is your own choice). We can choose to mix and match with size of the flat with location. With CPF issue, I was sharing that Han and I are savers-kind-of-people. We are conscious with spending and grateful with the CPF system (e.g. Healthcare and housing). I cannot imagine if the CPF system is being compromised with no subsidies for healthcare. If savers like us are very careful with the balance scale, what about people who do not have the habit of saving for rainy days + no more CPF? Lastly,
Take a look at our neighboring countries, what are some of your thoughts?

FB update: The silent majority – those who do not express views online – appear to be behind the swing towards PAP, says former NMP Siew Kum Hong. I agree because as what Han mentioned, PAP supporters don't need to go rallies, we already know what they will be doing and we have the conviction that they can accomplish. 


To end off, perhaps han and I are the more-lucky ones amongst many. As the mister shared with me, sometimes, people are unhappy because they encounter certain situations first hand or from others that they knew. Well, that sounds more reassuring, rather than 'I don't know who to vote for, but I know who I am not voting for'. Suddenly I remembered a certain candidate's famous saying 'I do not have to answer to you, I only answer to my residents' (along this line). Seriously, it almost sounds like an immature teenager saying 'Whatever' in a certain tone to concerned others. Please hor, go listen to the song 'One people one nation one Singapore'.

Seems so not my style to finish in a bad vibe hor. To do better, let me share Ah Tan's sharing, I just want to vote for a party that makes me feel proud whenever I show my red passport during overseas trips. 
Count your blessings, we are blessed, truly blessed. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Bookworm Club Sept 2015: 《我这样大幅提升日本幼儿的智能 - 脑科学阿妈的73个重要观念》

5th Sept 2015: To honor teacher's day, I am doing up a book review on parenting and kids!


 《我这样大幅提升日本幼儿的智能 - 脑科学阿妈的73个重要观念》(Loosely translate: 73 early educational concepts from a neuroscience-grandma)

What is this book about: For parents; related to children's development under the age of 3. Key concepts about parenting, parenting partnership and development milestone for children. On a side note, I love buying good books and in this context, parenting books, and write a little note in the book for my future kids. I got this in year 2012, oh! how time flies!

Downside ... But....
This is a Mandarin book, written by a Japanese grandma. But the entire book contains 73 concepts and one concept is only 1 page. Thus, it is very very very easy to understand. (Please refer to pic to see how short that 1 page is, haha). There is one highlighted point in each page, that would be the key statement.

Enlightening, even to someone (me) from early childhood background: 
Author being a grandma (also a professor researching on cognitive/brain development hor!), her perspective is from a home-based view instead of a school setting. I love the idea that it is a concept kind of book, it talks more about big ideas and key concepts in life, not solutions, so every parent can understand, tweak and apply it in their respective situations.

Enough said, let me share some interesting key points about the book with all of you. First few pages begins with brain development and how education is very crucial to children under 3 (tells me that she is not any Tom and Jerry hor - no offense if your husband is Tom or Jerry hor, Haha)

Concept 11: Let your child (0-3 years old) cry loudly once in a day
If the crying is loud, the baby have good lungs and breathing system. I totally agree with this, as an educator because people tend to be afraid of children's cries thinking that they are hurt or upset etc. Thinking deeper, isn't crying the only way of communicating with others? Yes, infant/toddler cries when they need immediate attention such as when they are unwell. However, they also cry when they are bored or sleepy or curious etc so try not to be overwhelmed whenever they scream. (Good luck to future me).

Concept 12: It is the quality of time spend with your child that matters, not quantity
Being an educator, I have the thinking (in the past) that I wish to home-school my child all the way to 5 years old because education is very important. But my perspective changes over the years. I see how important it is for children to attend school, to be surrounded with peers of the same age, communicating in their bababa language and not in our adult ABC123Doremi language. In their own way and at their pace, as well as, understand social rules in a large group setting. They will pick up concepts and skills along the way as they grow old but social-emotional aspect is difficult to teach, isn't that so? They need to observe and pick up from surrounding people. I wonder do you, early educators, also feel the same way as me? I am curious, hehe.

Concept 15: Learn to control your emotions and the way you reprimand
Talk with your eyes before your words. Give warning to your child before taking actions.
When your child throws a terrible temper tantrum:
"If you do that again, I won't be polite with you"(direct translate from Mandarin-> from Japanese) and if the child continues "If you do that again, I will use a big spoon and hit you". And if the child continues, please follow through your words and deliver the consequences.
*I am sure everyone has their own disciplinary methods. But that is not the key takeaway. Just change your consequences according. From my interpretation, giving the child warning provides 2 chances to consider, reflect and change for the better. By doing so, it significantly increases their success rate! If one handed punishment straight away, it is more likely that the child receives punishment and experiences failure every single time.

Concept 30: Try not to say no
I can (almost) see many shaking heads now, hahaha! The author states that it would be best to not say 'no' to a young child as you might hinder their sense of curiosity. If your child draws on the wall, provides an easel - drawing on vertical surfaces is crucial in fact. Perhaps it is a good time to bring your child to the garden if she starts jumping on the sofa? Try to create a "JUST PLAY" environment for your child.    
Concept 46: For children under 3, curiosity is more important than memory
Of course, don't even get started. Many would be keen to teach children colours such as red, blue, yellow and so on. Instead of only focusing on that (and for them to correctly name the colours etc), her suggestion is to introduce different shades of red yarns. A pale shade of red can be pink, what about a even paler shade of pink? What does it reminds us of? Totally reggio! (An educational approach that I personally believes in).  

Concept 25: Let your child remember the 'Smell’ of food
By talking about food, it makes the eating experience more fun and meaningful. Example in the book: The strawberry is overipe and it smells a little weird, let's smell it. Please refrain from using words such as 'Smelly' and 'Dislike' on food because those words connect bad thoughts to the dining experience/food items.
Concept 27:  You can use a spoon to develop the brain (This is interesting!)
 She suggests giving a spoon for infant/toddler as a toy for them to lick and manipulate. The size of the spoon would be the size of your child's tongue, with a long handle (the child can hold onto the spoon better). Licking involves the lips and tongue. These movements will in turn lead to children's speech development such as articulation. AND, if you notice that your child becomes bored after a while, put a little salt or sugar on the spoon and let them rediscovery the experience. Please let your child focus on the experience and refrain from cleaning up the drool on the face, hands, or the spoon (rein your inner ocd okay).
This also reminds me of what Lisa said, when children munch on food, the muscle movements stimulates the brain! Food is good, feast on!
Concept 34: Use Seaweed to teaching the importance tooth-brushing (I LOVE THIS IDEA)
We all know how Japanese are huge fans to seaweed. Sprinkle some dry seaweed bits on top of your child's rice and after mealtime, you may point out the seaweed that are stuck on the teeth and suggest to brush them. For a start to educate the importance of brushing teeth lah, not all the time. As young children learn from concrete (child can see the seaweed) to abstract experiences.     

Concept 41: Daddy will scold the children only after mum requests it
This is interesting! Author shares that most mums spend a longer time at home, taking care of the child thus, at times, she loses effect when reprimanding the children. Taking the above disciplinary method allows children to see that mum and dad are partners. *To my future kids, are you scared now? You should be. Hahaha!  
Concept 43: Daughter in law make use of mum in law, mum in law takes a step back, husband backs wives up 
Well!!! I think she just want to win favor over her daughter in law lah, hahaha!
Jokes aside, in a nutshell, husbands need to back wives up, wives enter bedroom, and husbands go and pacify their mothers - hahaha! More importantly, she suggest that daughter in laws to utilize their mum in laws strength and mum in laws to take a step back and for the husband to support their wives. Your son's wife is also your daughter.


There are other interesting concepts such as The importance of 'Stopping' rather than 'Walking', 'Teaching your child not to pee on the bathroom floor' (Also applies to adult --> I add in this myself hahaha!), 'Teaching filial piety'. I am dangling carrots right now. If you would like to find out more, please borrow/purchase the book. If you can't read Chinese, let me know, I will help you on it for sure!

AND PLEASE, if all above fails, please refer to her concept 2.
Concept 2: 尽量采用“自由发挥幼儿法” - Use your own parenting style. 
Aka JUST DO IT and don't need to be guilty. If she uses this as concept 2, I think it is essential right? Hahaha! Seriously, JUST DO IT, your child, your way.

Hmmm...What are some of your thoughts???