On the Socialism of Cycling Lanes, Public Transport and Subsidised Transit Part 1

19 09 2008

Just last year, I headed out to one of the cycling specialist shops and got myself a nice bike and kitted it out with skinny road slicks and disk brakes for on road commuting. I figured that, with the kind of frequency that our public buses are scheduled (according to SBS’ online bus tracking service, over 20 minutes between buses during off-peak hours) I can probably out-cycle the bus to most destinations within a 10km radius of my place. On top of that, it is probably an excellent way to fight the flab as well as ¬ dare I say it this year’s flavour-of-the-month, save the environment.

Indeed as it turns out I arrived for appointments earlier that I would had I waited for a bus, and I had quite an adrenaline rush from the commute as well. On the latter point, it was not only the speed that a well tuned gear ratio and slick tires enabled the bike to do (an average of close to 30km/h over the course of a journey, which is not too shabby when you compare that to the frequent start and stops of a bus), but the yobs behind the wheels of their corollas and their lancers. More than once I had nearly cycled into taxis swerving in to pick up fares, or drivers who come too close to the curb-side, forcing one to take evasive manoeuvres. Over the span of 6 months, I had numerous opportunities to test out the enormous stopping power of those disk brakes. Things came to a head when a cycling mate of mine had his front wheel of his bike dented by a car that came too close to him as he was evading the large chunks of debris that litter the side of our public roads on top of the double yellow lines, and in that moment of epiphany I went back to taking the bus, declaring that it is way too dangerous to cycle on Singapore roads. Read the rest of this entry »



13 03 2007

Fuck. I can’t think of a better word to say. It is one of those days when you crave a cigarette, not for the nicotine rush but for the moment when time slows down as you drag on the fag. I need time so stop right now so that I can reflect on the state of my design.

When an idea is thrusted into your unwilling arms by a tutor desperate to have something to show for when a foreign visitor arrives, you know you have a recipe for disaster in your hands. I have no ownership of my design, not when preconceived notions are already formed in the mind of my tutor; any design gesture I make is panned and scarely given a hearing, dismissed with nary a comment, or demeaned with a caustic remark — “there is no excuse Eng Kiat”.

I am not one to engage in verbal sparring. I rather show my disagreement by executing in action what I think is right instead of wasting verbose effort. But when that is interpreted as submissiveness on my part, I think it only shows the depth of empathy on the part of the other party. When whatever counterproposals I come up with is ignored and scarcely looked at (and be passed off as a juvenile attempt) in light of a preconceived notion not made known to me, I think it is impossible to design.

How does one design, when whatever is proposed is judged against a mental picture in the mind of the critic of how it SHOULD look like, or how it SHOULD be done? Is pluralism not acceptable? Or is it because I am already judged to be incompetent, henceforth whatever move I make will not be judged in a fair light?

Am I incompetent?


Global Warming

30 01 2007

Yes I know I should post my Shanghai and New York pictures soon. I will I will. But this pissed me off big time so I want to post it today.

OSLO (Reuters) – Thirteen percent of Americans have never heard of global warming even though their country is the world’s top source of greenhouse gases, a 46-country survey showed on Monday.”

And 2 years back I posted this about the US.

Still no change. US is still out of the Kyoto convention, and now Bush is saying that environmental change is a big issue. Only because the south endured the harshest winter in a long time while the north was so warm the trees thought it was spring and the flowers bloomed!

We’re doomed.

I’m Back

20 01 2007

I’m back. I’ve been back for 2 weeks but I’m still too tired from school work to blog a word. Maybe next week. I don’t want to see my computer. I just want to slack and stone and sleep. I’m not getting enough sleep. SIGH.

First World Nation of Third World Citizens

9 11 2006

Previously I have made a comment on the littering in foodcourts and coffeeshops. Look what’s published in today’s papers.

Sometimes I wonder if we deserve to be paid better when our social consciousness is worse than animals. Even cats know how to use the litterbox when they take a shit. We can’t even pee properly in the public toilets, lest say take care of our own litter. it’s not this country I’m sick of, it’s the people. And don’t you dare call me elitist.

Towards A Better Future?

7 11 2006

Yunxi posted an article today about the old people of today’s Singaporean society.

It is only unique in SG that we see the unique phenomenon of our elderly slogging at the food courts or the public toilets. In other parts of the world, say for example US, Korea or even Malaysia, I do not see such treatment of the elderly.

When everytime I see the poor grandma/grandpa cleaning away at the table, my heart breaks. The mess that the users leaves behind is simply horrible and hideous at times. How many of us dare say that we actually do make it a point to clear our own plates after consuming our food? If it’s one of your loved ones thats doing the cleaning up at a public food court, would u then behave in such a manner?

Sometimes, at the end of the day, when the poor cleaner is tired out and hungry, he/she gets too disgusted at the sight of food even to eat it. Why? Because he/she has faced the horrible stench and sight of rotting food and drink(swill) for the entire day that even looking at fresh food reminds them of the horrible conditions they faced at work. This is certainly not a glamorous job.

Maybe you say that they do not have kids to support them, maybe they are just at the lower rungs of society. The hard truth is, they do have kids, but their children themselves do not even earn enough to feed and clothe their own children, much less be said about supporting their elderly parents.

The plights of the cardboard/can drinks collectors are not any blessed either. For each piece of cardboard or used drink can that they pick out from the rubbish dumps or the rubbish bins, each is worth only a few cents. Together, an entire bag is worth $5, which they lug around the whole day until their shoulders aches and backs are bent, is roughly enough for them to buy their lunch/dinner for that day.

We do not have a welfare state, nor do we hand out charity money for the homeless and the jobless. We are a society that rewards merit. However, there is a big divide between the rich and the poor. The rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer. This situation warrants our attention.

We can help the next time when we are at the food courts, a simple thank you, a little more consideration keeping the table clean when eating. Little things like that helps make their jobs more rewarding, letting them feel more appreciated. I know this sounds cliche, but a little smile goes a long way.

For my beloved readers, if you have read this and I had managed to evoke feelings inside of you, please, I beseech you to leave a comment, be it ways to make their lives better or a personal pledge to do something starting from yourself. I would greatly appreciate it if you could pass the link around/be an advocate and open our fellow Singaporeans eyes to this situation. The more people that realizes this, the higher the level of awareness would be.

We are not just saving our elderly’s situation, we might also well be saving our own’s futures.

In reply I made a comment that it’s a mixed bag. Yes we can have a welfare state. But the reality of a welfare state is that the welfare system is often abused by junkies, drunks, hobos and other undesirables. Take a look at the UK, or the US. Look at Australia. The number of homeless is appalling.

Why? Because when you have people who are unmotivated, they will take anything that comes their way. And when subsistence is no longer a factor with the government dole-outs, everything that would have been meant for food or rental will be traded for a meal ticket, a night at the shelter and coke to snort.

It is a harsh reality. Yet, at the same time, the current system of CPF contributions isn’t exactly perfect either. It is essentially a mandatory savings bank, with nominal interest rates. And it undercuts self-employed citizens: your coffeeshop uncle, your newspaper auntie. And eventually it is these people who have to struggle to survive once their savings run out. And with the measly sum in the CPF, how can anyone live till 80 with that kind of money?

Hence you have the elderly coming out in droves to clear our plates, pick our trash, and perform tasks that even the Bangladeshis today balk at. And some of them are housewives, who have never worked in their lives, and nothing in their CPF. When their children have all grown up and left to set up their own families, there they are, their elderly husbands unemployed or ailing, and their children hardly contributing because, like you said, they can hardly make ends meet themselves.

What can be done? Have the government match dollar for dollar the CPF contributions put in by the employer? Maybe, but it still leaves out the self-employed and the housewives. Contribute to the CPF of the self-employed as well? It will definitely be open to abuse. I don’t think there is an easy solution.

Just today the taxi driver commented that the government doles out millions (I personally think billions is closer) in foreign aid, most of them going to the pockets of corrupt indonesian officials. He feels that the money should be used as welfare. I think that is a fine-line to tread: foreign policy vs domestic policy. You have to help your neighbours, especially inherently unstable countries like Indonesia, because if their economy collapses, the repercussions within the region would be great. Yet at the same time what does the man-on-the-street care for foreign policy? I can tell that many wouldn’t have cared less what happened to Indonesia.

Anyway this is getting WAY too long. It is an issue that cannot be concisely dealt with. What I can say is that cost of living is high, and that cost has yet to be offset by any government aid to the poor and needy. Singaporeans are paid miserably as compared to other workers in devoloped countries. Look, we’re still drawing wages of a developing nation. How do you expect the citizens to save enough to live comfortably? Baloney.

Really, in what direction is this aging society going? I find it alarming.


26 10 2006

I am so damn sick of architecture school and the pressure-cooker, work round-the-clock till you’re burnt out and drained environment. Design is no longer fun, no longer interesting. The creative process is no longer a creative process; it is coming up with a design that will be least criticised and the easiest to build. THe simpler a building one comes up with, the better, so that there is less to draw up. I’m sick of all this shit.