Sunday, July 31, 2005

I Love Globalisation 2: Untitled

There was a story:

Once, there was a China Chinese, an India Indian and a Singapore Singaporean. (The country's names have to be added, if not confusion may arise.) All were men. They were on a lifeboat of a sinking cruise ship and three children were waiting to board the lifeboat.
So the captain told the China Chinese, "Your country honours execution rather than insults". So the China Chinese jumped for he rather die than be insulted.
The captain turned his attention to the India Indian and said, "You love the world." So the India Indian jumped for he wanted to be honoured.
The captain then instructed the Singapore Singaporean by commanding, "Look, the China Chinese and India Indian are doing it."

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Conspiracy Theory 6: What Fear?

LRWC Press release – July 18, 2005
SINGAPORE: Government uses fear to stifle freedom of _EXPRESSION

Singapore police used plain clothes officers to seize a video screened at the July 9, 2005 launch of the latest book by opposition leader Dr. Chee Soon Juan. Dr. Chee has long been an outspoken critic of the government, and the recent release of his book, The Power of Courage: Effecting Political Change in Singapore through Nonviolence, was no small step toward exercising a meaningful right to freedom of _expression in Singapore. The attendance of the police at the event was a disappointing indication that the Singapore government, while professing to "open up Singapore" and adhere to democratic values, continues to use heavy-handed methods to rein in peaceful political dissent.

The book launch was held indoors at Singapore's Grand Plaza Parkroyal Hotel and attracted about 50 people. Plainclothes officers videotaped the proceedings, which included various speeches and a question and answer session. As the event drew to a close and Dr. Chee was signing copies of his book, a 2003 video clip of Hong Kong residents protesting peaceably against a proposed anti-subversion law was projected on to the wall behind him.

At that point, the police demanded to know whether the organizers had a permit for the video clip. They questioned Dr. Chee, then seized the CD and said that it would be used for further investigation. Police spokesperson ASP Victor Keong asserted that the CD was seized under the Films Act for investigation because it did not possess a certificate for public exhibition. Licensing rules were eased last year with respect to indoor public talks, but restrictions remain for public assemblies.

The officers also demanded identifying information from two activists who had spoken before Dr. Chee's presentation. Charles Tan and Jonathan Siow, both in their twenties, had said that they found non-violent action to be an effective tool in helping to empower Singaporeans.

Dr. Chee is Secretary General of the opposition Singapore Democratic Party (SDP). The Singapore government is led by the People's Action Party (PAP), which has held power, uninterrupted, for the last half-century. The PAP has repeatedly targeted Dr. Chee throughout his public career. In 1992, three months after he joined the SDP, he was forced out of his university teaching position and faced charges of defamation when he attempted to dispute his dismissal. He was forced to sell his home to pay legal costs. In 1999, he served jail time on two charges of violating the Public Entertainments Act, which required police permits for public events involving more than five people. Dr. Chee had made public addresses, without a license, protesting the lack of freedom of speech in Singapore. In 2001, he faced a second lawsuit by government officials for allegedly defaming them during an election campaign, and subsequently signed an apology in order to avoid becoming ineligible to run in the election. for more information from Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada regarding those incidents, please see In The Matter Of An Addendum To The Report To Lawyers' Rights Watch On The Trial Of B. J. Jeyeretnam As A Result Of Observations On The Trial Of Chee Soon Juan; and, Newsletter VII, item I.3The Singapore Constitution guarantees every citizen of Singapore the right to freedom of speech and _expression, the right to assemble peacefully, and the right to association. The PAP, however, has a history of using fear to stifle those very rights that the Constitution guarantees. For example, in May the government refused entry into Singapore to international non-violence expert Yeshua Moser-Puangsuwan to prevent his interfering in Singapore's domestic politics. On another occasion, the police disrupted a forum on the death penalty by demanding the particulars of the moderator, Salbiah Ahmad, a lawyer from Singapore. On that occasion, uniformed officers were summoned in an apparent attempt to cause alarm to those present. The authorities also barred an Amnesty International spokesperson from speaking at the forum. In the past, Singapore has also silenced dissent by using its draconian Internal Security Act - ISA, which allows for detention without trial. In 1966, opposition politician Chia Thye Poh accused the PAP of harassing opposition leaders, and staged a boycott of Parliament. Soon afterwards, he was arrested and detained under the ISA. He was never charged and never received a public hearing, but nevertheless remained in detention for 23 years. Selective application of an array of criminal laws against government critics is a display of force by the state that serves to intimidate anyone who wishes to publicly express a dissenting political opinion. By doing so, the Singapore government strips meaning from its citizens' fundamental human rights and demonstrates its lack of commitment to a free and democratic society.

Besides fear of not getting a seat on the bus, or fear that the air-conditioned would not work, or fear that I cannot perform what is deemed by others as most desirable, I simply do not feel nor see that the authorities uses fear on their citizens.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Spa Online 3: Mahjong Series (iii) Theory of 'Mahjong is good for you'

Why is playing mahjong (with real money) good for you?
From the last 2 issue, what Spa Online has show that playing mahjong can allow you to bring the 5 main qualities to the test or to develop them (except for luck).The 5 qualities are: dexterity, decisivenss, alertness, some luck and a keen photographic memory. When the reasons that these qualities are considered important for life are explained, the theory of 'Mahjong is good you', can be fully comprehended.

It is utmost important to be able to recognise that this applies to a capitalist society and tiny Singapore is a capitalist society.

Capitalism has been defined in various ways. In common usage it refers to an economic system in which all or most of the means of production are privately owned and operated (commonly for profit), and where investments, production, distribution, income, and prices are determined largely through the operation of a "free market" rather than by centralized state control (as in a command economy). Capitalism contrasts with socialism where the means of production are owned by the state or by the community in collective, contrasts with feudalism where land may be privately operated but is owned by the state and held in fee, and contrasts with fascism where statist control over the means of production is exercised while maintaining a facade of de jure private ownership. All modern Western economies contain some degree of capitalism.
From wikipedia.

After understanding what capitalism is about, we should note that by achieving substantial amount of dexterity, decisivenss, alertness, some luck and a keen photographic memory, you can be fairly sure that you are going to survive in a capitalistic society relatively well. (This will be explained below.) Since profit is one of the main aims of a capitalist society, it is similar to the aim of playing mahjong, in the way that all players seek to win as much in their game.

In mahjong, no one should be slow, otherwise it will lead to lesser amount of rounds played, which in turn means that less money can be made from winning the games. When others have to wait for one player's slow actions this is wasting everyone's valuable time and is therefore considered inefficient.

Similarly, in a capitalist society, no bourgeoisie can accept any slow working employees. They can be easily be replaced by other people who do mind slogging for the company. In examinations, time is so essential that no wasting of time can be afford. Similarly, by being slow, it can be certain that one will be the last to board a crowded train and thus, not being able to reserve a seat.

Synonyms: Efficient, Profitable, Useful

As explained in the Spa Online 2, decisiveness is an important component of mahjong. This attribute not only saves time but also prevent one's strategy to be exposed.

This skill is extremely important whether it is making decisions for a business deal or choosing one school over another. We make all sorts of decisions in our life and playing mahjong is a game with concentrated amount of decisions to be made within a short timespan.

Decisions also have to be made when the situation change. For example, in Singapore's case in the earlier years of the 1900s, the tiny colony or country have to rely mainly on the Western world to gain and boost its economy. English was then become the most important subject in schools and the use of other Chinese dialects have to be limited. Unfortunately, the situation does not remain constant and that now Mandarin is becoming more and more vital, although English is still very essential.
This is followed on the point whereby the Asian dragon and phoenix are rising, which very soon will overtake the domination of the West who are facing some problems with economy matters. Upon this, Singapore's attention seems to have turn to its home continent instead of the West, for instance promoting 'double cultures' or from the following situation:
On its 20-year target to rank in top10, Prof Shih said the rise of China and India and their growing contribution of top academia in the United States shows the dynamics of higher education are changing in favour of Asia."NUS is in a great position to move forward because we are in a multi-cultural society. We can tap on the vast pool of talent in China and India," he told reporters.
This, we see that Singapore is making decisions and changing its plot so that the situation turns favourable onto itself. Importance should be emphasized on making the best decision, in order that one will benefit the most from the given situation.

Synonyms: Rational

This is a tactic where one must be vigilant to plans being drawn by opponents.

In making money, this skill is important for there are many capitalists who seek for maximum profits out there. By being vigilant, one is alerted to different plots the others is setting so that one can prevent from lossing money or reducing monetary losses. One example is being alert enough for the cashcard to be slotted before entering the CBD. Another example can be seen when buying shares, where one needs to alert enough to buy the profitable shares.
Moreover, the authorities tell their citizens that by being vigilant, they can can help to keep our neighbourhood safe and free from terrorist. Therefore, we can understand that alertness is so important.

Surely, instead of taking the defensive role, one can also take the offensive role, where one seeks to seek maximum profits out in the buisiness market or around the town. (This is parallel to the game of mahjong.) One should wear a mask to hide the blood-thrist mouth with sharp fangs, in order that the proleteriat and the unknowing man fall into the scheme. The wolf fur is obscured behind the cloak. Making business includes work like entertaining of customer, whether one likes it or not, one has to show much politeness, with much gratitude and sincerity, regardless of how one feels inside. This is where the fulfilling of maximising profits comes about, which the capitalist society is about.

Very often, in mahjong, players have play the role of acting, in order that one is able to keep their tiles a secret. In the same way, when people interact with people, they would be trying to say and do what is the most correct, although by dissecting their thoughts, actions and thoughts may not often tally with each other at all.

Synonyms: Vigilant, Proficient acting-skills, Reciprocate, Social pretensions

Some luck:
Luck cannot be calculated, nurtured, attained nor forecast, although luck is required in getting good tiles at hand or discarding the most correct tile.

Luck is also important in a capitalist society. Buying shares and stocks do require skills and background knowledge, but some form of luck is involved. Meeting and be able to know the correct business partner or signing the correct deals, all features some form of luck. Sometimes, chances are not entirely earned, but some luck is involved. For example, when a CEO happens to notice one, and give him a chance to perform and proof himself worthy.

Synonyms: Opportunities, Social networking, Business deals

Photographic Memory:
Without any memory, one is not able succeed in mahjong or in examinations or remember to do the correct things at the right moment.
Basically this means that having a poorer memory, one chances of survival in a capitalist society is close to null when compared with one with a photographic memory. The digital technology goes in this way whereby more and more memory is needed for more and more advanced digital gadgets. Certainly, with the influx of higher loads of information, one's memory requirements need to be increased as well otherwise the survivability rate decreases.

Synonyms: Talented, Prodigy

On the whole, the 5 qualities are essential for one coupled with a sane mind, for continuing one's existence in a capitalist society. The theory of 'Mahjong is good for you' is the result of testing one's abilities for existence, but also to stretch one's 5 qualities further for even better chances of surviving in a capitalist society. Therefore, the 'Mahjong is good for you' theory holds true.
On the next issue, counter arguements will be investigated.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Food Review 7: European Experience i

Date visited: 11/6/2005

General Information:
Name: Peperoni Pizzeria
Location: Greenwood
This restaurant focus mainly on pizza, obviously.

Food: 7.5

Portabello with chicken ($15): A unique dish. Mushroom covered with bread crumbs alongside with salad and chicken fillet. However, the mushroom picked up too much oil and the real mushroom taste is almost non-existent.

12' pizza ($22): The pizza is not the everyday-pizza hut. It probably resembles much closer to the traditional origins of Italy. 2 pizza chefs, relatively young ones, make pizza live in front the restaurant and uses a furnace instead of a microwave to bake the pizza. They are several sizes and a variety of flavours to choose from. The crust of pizza is soft, with a well-balanced portion of mozzarella and sweet tomato sauce, although more would be desirable.

Tiramisu ($8) One of the better tiramisu around. They did not add in any liquor to it, which makes it less refreshing than expected.

Service: 8

The service was pretty average and acceptable. However, to my delight, when the bill comes, they did not have any service charge nor any GST. Attention is turned to some places with worse service than Peperoni, and yet have the cheek to charge for their service. Although Peperoni's service is not any where near excellent, but considering that they did not charge their customer for it, their service is really commendable.

Ambience: 7

There is this candle holder that holds solidified candles over a long period of time which forms a massive wax structure. Although it is one-of-its-kind of art, it seems to be a little unhygienic. The restaurant is divided to an indoor and outdoor dining area, where the outdoor in beneath is between 2 shophouses where they hang their clothes out. There is also a pub area specialising in alcoholic drinks.

Overall: 7.5

Total bill amounts to exactly $20 person (no service charge nor GST) which is considered very acceptable for the food, service and ambience they provide. Location is a bit hard to reach (in Singapore's context), unless you own a vehicle. It is worthy of a second visit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Food Review 6: Noodle Delights


General Information
Location: City-Link Mall

Misfortune has prevailed. Having successfully shuned away from 'Nooch' for a period of 5 years, I had no other option but to step into 'Nooch' once again, this time unwillingly.
However, after 5 years, I guess it would have changed for the better and that probably is timely for another review so that it would have another chance to redeem itself. Analysis of Nooch is done using an objective view which utilises the SRGS, Standard Restaurant Grading System.

Food: 4.5

Chasiew Ramen ($12) and Szechuan Ramen ($12)
This ramen comes with generous portion of fresh spring onion. The chasiew is nicely chopped, tender and contains little fat. Unfortunately, the soup base is bland, not expected of what a ramen should be. To make matter worse, the temperature of the soup could be best describe as cold. It is likely that the kitchen is so far, that by the time the bowl reaches the table it had turned cold. Or perhaps it could be the chef did not want to burn the hands of the seemingly pretty waitress. I think that alone had caused it to be disaster.

Service: 6

The waitress who took the orders and serveed our food did an average job. I asked for noodles with tempura, but she thought that such combination is of no existent, until later that I took a closer look at the menu and discovered that it was on the menu.

Ambience: 7.5

The only redeemable fact was that the place is spacious, clean and evoked a modern atmosphere. Although the chairs and tables were not too comfortable, the place was actually above average, where one could observed the crowds passing by through the glass covered surroundings.

Overall: 5.5

The current experience added with what occurred 5 years ago, would equate to me turning away from 'Nooch' as long as possble. I guess it receives much patronage would be that its interior is comfortable, other than that no good reason to visit Nooch.

Friday, July 15, 2005

I Love Globalisation 1: Zheng He the Great

'The uprising of China and India.'
'We need to attract talents all over the world, especially China and India.''
The world must look positively at the rise of China and India.'

These are only some of the quotes, I absorb subconsciously, whether I read the papers or watch the television, every single day.
One of the current events in tiny Singapore:

Singapore Set To Mark Zheng He 600th Anniversary Celebrations In A Big Way
Singapore, 15 April 2004 - Singapore is planning a slew of activities to be held next year to commemorate the 600th anniversary of the maiden voyage of the legendary Chinese voyager, Admiral Zheng He.
The renowned 15th-century navigator made a total of seven epic voyages, spanning over 30 countries throughout the South Pacific, the Indian Ocean, the Persian Gulf and Africa. 2005 marks the 600th anniversary of the Admiral's maiden voyage, which began in Nanjing, China. Zheng He's navigational map (郑和航海图) contains references to Temasek, as well as the Long Ya Men (Dragon's Teeth Gate). The Long Ya Men is widely believed to be a rock structure, located close to Labrador Park, which Zheng He is said to have used as markers during his voyages.
To commemorate this momentous historic event, Singapore is planning an exciting line-up of celebratory events, which will be coordinated by a multi-agency committee chaired by the Singapore Tourism Board's Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive, Mr Lim Neo Chian. The committee comprises representatives from the National Library Board (NLB), the National Heritage Board, the International Zheng He Society and the Friends of Admiral Zheng He society, among others.

The International Zheng He Exhibition, a collaboration between the NLB and the National Library of China, will showcase the explorer's contributions in the areas of maritime history, world culture, economy, religion and science and technology through displays of Zheng He-related artefacts and historical documents. To be held at the NLB's new corporate headquarters in Bras Basah in August 2005, the exhibition will later be relocated to a permanent site.
The public can also look forward to the Zheng He Festival, a one- to two-week carnival which promises an exciting array of activities, including cultural performances and the screening of Zheng He movies, for Singapore residents and Zheng He enthusiasts. Locations for the festival are still being evaluated, but it is likely to be held in a central location, possibly at the Marina Promenade or The Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay.

Added Prof Wang: "Singapore's central place in global trade routes today has its roots in its place in the historical maritime Silk Route connecting China with India and Arabia. The Zheng He celebrations will be a celebration of not only the achievements of this amazing voyager but of our colourful maritime history as well."
From here.

There is no evidence thus far that Zheng He ever landed in Singapore. As towhether he did pass by Singapore, it remains debatable as to how far or how near.
From here.

Singapore holds big celebrations marking the 600th anniversary of the Chinese great navigator, Zheng He. On account of justifying just activities, some of the reasons where given:
Zheng He passed by Singapore during his voyage, and Singapore is an important link between China and India.

What has Singapore really got to do with Zheng He?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Food Review 5: Quick Restaurant Grading System

This is the concise guide on how to grade a restaurant on your next visit.


0-2: I had better dog food.
2-4: Depressing. You thought you can certainly do a better job.
4-6: Pretty average food, that blends in the typical mass production food that promises fulfilling of hunger desires only.
6-8: Food for life, enough to crave for but not enough to die for.
8-10: A 'wow' in every single bite. Truly uniquely and amazing that assures permanent rememberance.


0-2: You now appreciate how crying children can be entertaining. Third-rated.
2-4: You are better off serving yourself.
4-6: Average impression do not last.
6-8: If only all people are so polite.
8-10: You wish you had more money for the extra tips truly deserved.


0-2: It reminds you of the maggots infested toilets.
2-4: Your enemy's home feels better.
4-6: Come and go, just any everyday place.
6-8: If time allows, you would not mind staying longer.
8-10: Fit for the royalty.


0-2: Even if the meal is free, you reckon that you that you might die inside.
2-4: Time to whisper to your friend on where not to have their lunches at.
4-6: You were satisfied enough but probably would not want to have a second visit.
6-8: Above average restaurant, just some 'wows' . Good enough.
8-10: A truly incredible restaurant experience that always comes to your mind. A second visit will be on the next line of your wish list.

The following touches on criteria in selecting restaurants into 2 categories. The 'Condemn List' and the 'Top Favourite List'.

Condemn List:
-Scores below 4 in at least one category.
-An 'Overall' rating of below 3.
-A vow not to visit the place again.
-Tell at least 10 people about your horrible experience.
-Advertising does not change your opinion about it.
-Even if the place is filled with crowds, you are glad that you are not so naive.

Top Favourite List:
-Scores at least an 8 in the 'Food' category.
-Scores at least an 8 in the 'Overall' category.
-At least make 2 visits.
-Do not necessary have to tell to the world.
-Location does not matter.
-Commercial advertising plays no part.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Conspiracy Theory 5: 600K is Peanuts

SINGAPORE : The National Kidney Foundation's (NKF) defamation suits against the Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) came to abrupt end on Tuesday at the High Court.

This, after its CEO TT Durai admitted during intense cross examination that some of the fittings in its headquarters, which were highlighted in a Straits Times article, were indeed extravagant for a public charity. The article spoke of a glass panelled shower, a pricey German toilet bowl and a gold plated tap.

Mr Durai finally withdrew both his and the NKF's case against the SPH and its journalist Susan Long.

The court also heard the NKF had a fleet of eight cars and drivers, which Mr Durai and its visiting guests and VIPs could use. NKF also paid for the road tax, repair and maintenance for Mr Durai's personal Mercedes Benz.

On NKF's reserves, the court was told it stood at $262 million as of July 2005. Mr Singh argued that if the NKF stopped all fundraising activities and concentrated on treating kidney patients, it would still have enough money to see through its operations for 30 years, based on its expenses scheduled for 2003.

For that year, the NKF received $24.4 million for patient fees for dialysis but spent some $31 million for these operations. So even if it was out of pocket of $7 million to $8 million per year, NKF's current reserves were sufficient for at least 30 years.

But Mr Singh says the organisation has been telling Singaporeans its reserves won't last more than three years, according to statements made by its officials.

Another issue that arose during the cross examination was that of patient numbers. Mr Singh argued that NKF had overstated its patient numbers and this would have given the impression to the public that more funds were needed to run its operations.

Mr Durai agreed they were expensive and extravagant for a public charity and withdrew his and the NKF's cases. The trial which was to have lasted for ten days ended in two days.

He said the NKF has struggled to be perfect and he himself has tried his best for 37 years. He maintained that the NKF did not hide the truth in any way. And there's no running away from the fact that NKF has discharged its obligation to the people of Singapore with a world class kidney programme.

In a separate statement, the NKF Board says it has discontinued its proceedings against Singapore Press Holdings and its senior writer Ms Susan Long. And the decision to withdraw was a considered decision made in the best interests of the NKF, its supporters, donors and patients.

CEO TT Durai has done a great job in the progress of NKF to become the biggest charity organisation. He do deserve such great benefits, like receiving 600K, although he is quoted as saying 'peanuts'.

Perhaps, TT Durai should be paid, so that he will continue to do a better job. From kidney patients, to children's funds, to cancer charities, NKF can certainly expand its boundaries to hair loss patients, to obese people. Furthermore, pains have to be made for designing of his new state-of-the-art offices and toilet fittings.

One can imagine how much efforts he will be taking to furnish his own homes, and that surely this requires lots of cash backup. This is a capitalist society, with profit-driven minds, so there is certainly nothing wrong in paying more peanuts to those CEOs, whether it is Singtel or NKF, for they have worked so efficiently for their companies. They truly deserve it.

People should keep on calling the 1900 hotline, not just for charity itself, but also for the legal costs NKF have bear when they tried to sued SPH and now that they have loss terribly. Fees into the thousands and thousands, they need more people to call in. What might happen to NKF if they are unable to pay for the legal costs? 5 million each for 2 charity shows are just not enough (if 600K is considered peanuts). Keep calling! NKF needs the support of all loyal and new callers. Nevertheless, do not forget about Singtel, where they are blissfully charging a mere 21cents for every call made. It is only 21cents. When considering that almost one million calls were made per charity night, it is only close to one-third of peanuts-600K. Certainly, people think that Singtel is so supportive of local charity shows, for they charge a minimal fee of only 21cents per call, and that by providing such a useful service to all callers, 21cents is too small an amount.

Perhaps, helping others is not enough for many people. Then they should think of the prizes that one might win from those lucky draws. Whether it is $5000, trips, cars, you just need to start calling. The earlier one calls, the earlier one wins. Actually, people should not feel that these prizes are of any big a deal. After all, 600K is peanuts.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Food Review 4: Standard Restaurant Grading System

This restaurant grading system will allow one to give judgments on a restaurant in the most objective view. It applies to restaurant visits solely and is named Standard Restaurant Grading System, SRGS.

The appeal of food is one of the main drawing factors and purpose of visiting a restaurant and perhaps the most important and fundamental factor to consider when marking a grade for a restaurant. This consists of several sub factors which are:

Taste- freshness, flavour, texture, aftertaste

Freshness is especially important and any self-respecting restaurant will try to use fresh ingredients for cooking, which directly affects the outcome of the food served with disregard of the skill of the chef. Not only that, the use of fresh ingredients should ensure the safety of one's health as well.
The knowledge of seasonal ingredients is essential to ensure the best quality of ingredients at that time of the year. Unfortunately for tropical Singapore's case, the application of seasonal ingredients is relatively limited.
Flavour, texture and aftertaste will come under one sub-factor. When the taste buds in that order. One will taste the flavour, how salty, how sweet, whether it is honey-sweet or sugary-sweet. After that texture is felt, whereby the teeth and the tongue will feel for the appropriate hardness or softness. The aftertaste gives a feeling of what the food left behind in the mouth; some soothing, some do not exist, some sickly.

Technicality- well-cooked , temperature

No food should be overcooked nor undercooked and should satisfy the customor's need, especially for game dishes. Temperature of food served is crucial as it directly affects the taste and freshness of the food being served. Using pre-heated tableware is a bonus to ensure food is kept at the optimum temperature for maximum time.

Appearance- smell, display, cleanliness

Sense of smell also plays a part in the overall experience in a restaurant. A exciting, colourful display is sure to whet the appetites of the hungry customer and provides a visual experience as well. The function of clean utensils needs little explanation.

Creativity- combination of ingredients, method of cooking

Cooking not only only test one's cooking techniques, but also employs the great use of creativity. Background knowledge is crucial so that creative combination of ingredients or method of cooking will not result in disastrous result. The experience of a chef comes into play as well.


Too much or too little affects the customer's mood, although this may be due to the customer's own fault.

Service can indirectly affects the customer's mood and his 5 senses which will determine the overall experience.


A smile and a gesture of welcome can brighten up a customer's mood immediately. Similarly, a rude waitress can ruin the entire restaurant's reputation, such as ignoring the or showing favouritism or engaging in handphone activities rather than focusing attention on the right stuff. A simple 'Sorry' or 'Thank you' cannot be look down upon.


Serving the customer timely and disallowing customers to have unnecessary waiting, counts in as well.

Answer to needs-

The ability to satisfy customer's need, such as extra servings or request for well-done beef can be the deciding factor on the quality of the aspect of service.

A self-conscious restaurant will take note of the little details and the build up of their restaurant.


Live music will certainly be appealing. If not available, blasting the appropriate music at the suitable volume is to ensure that waiters can hear the customers properly. It can also affect one's mood.


Lighting not only creates ambience but also allow customer to see what food they are eating or whether they need any sunglasses.


In tropical tiny Singapore, most people would prefer the well-cooled environment. Blaring the air-conditioned directly on customer does not work too well. The great use of fans could come in handy, for example, can harmonise with an old colonial ambience.


From finger markings on glass windows, to litter on the floor, to flies and cockroaches and especially vomit-inducing toilets are not good examples of how hygience should be.


This can exudes the characteristics of the restuarant, whether it is formal or funky. They should complement each other.


Easy reading, with clear price list, with a well-designed menu, will ensure customer's satisfaction.


Design of the interior or the exterior can lure passing people and convert them into customers. It can certainly bring in the 'wow' factor if the restaurant is well designed. Materials used is a key point to consider.

Other determining minor factors would be accessibility, parking spaces, advertising and quality and quantity of crowds.
As an overall experience, the three main factors play more or less equal roles. One of the another important factor will be the 'Price Vs Quality' theory which shall be discussed soon. The 'Quick Restaurant Grading System' will be on in the next issue if you find this guide too comprehensive.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Spa Online 2: Mahjong Series (ii) Expanding Abilities

Previously, mahjong is being introduced to Spa Online. The following qualities are of great importance which can bring you on the track in winning the game- dexterity, decisivenss, alertness, some luck and a keen photographic memory.
As a whole, it is essential to play the game of mahjong with real money. This is a must. Due to stake of using real money, all players will not be in a sluggish state, instead, they will treat the game seriously. Please note that playing mahjong without real money is equivalent to wasting time and none of the qualities will be seen as necessary at all which means the entire great meaning of playing mahjong is lost.

These are some guidelines to improve on playing mahjong. By attempting to learn at least a few of them, is the road to the understanding the 'Mahjong is good for you' theory. They are systematically catergorised.


Practice makes perfect. So play the game more in order to gain speed. Of course it makes awfully great sense to play with more accomplished players so that your speed level can rise due to pressure exerted by them. Always make decisions before your turn comes, so that no unnecessary thinking time will be present to waste time. After being a quick-enough player, you can start barking at slower opponents so that no precious time is wasted. Time is precious and so is money.


Quick decision should be made at the snap of the fingers.

Make up your decision before your turn comes and think quickly before acting. This is to avoid errors due to missing a 'pong' or discarding a wrong tile or even 'chowing' a wrong tile. Inevitably, should an error occur, make no signs of regrets, whether it is through expressions, sounds or actions, do not expose your mistake. The watchful eyes of your opponents are scrutinising your every moves that can cause you to lose the current round.
Certainly, when real money is at stake, alertness will be on top form. When fatigued ever set in, which can affect your mental ability in playing your game well, have enough sleep, some caffeine or any stimulant before engaging the game. This is vital in order for the brain to crack and decide well.

Decisiveness allows one to decide which form of tiles to play quickly. For example, playing for a 'pong pong set'. However, when the situation turns unfavorable, for instance, when an opponent is about to win big time and that continuing with the strategy will prove to be fatal or that the probability of winning your hand is very low, you need to make quick decisions for changes in strategies that need to be taken in order to guarantee maximum survival rate.


Be sure to have the right amount of tiles on hand. By being alert, it ensures that you will not have one more or one less tile that can cause an instant lost of the current round. The advice should be always count the number of tiles for the correct amount. After enough practice, you should be able to determine whether you have the right amount of tiles just by scaning at the length of your tiles at hand.
Look out for opponents who make the silly mistakes by having one more or one less tile. You can be sure that he is instantly out of the game and your guard of him should be reduced. However, if your opponent is to discover his terrible mistake, he will be on a defensive mode, meaning discarding the less useful tile so that no one will be able to get a chance to 'pong' or to win. This implies that he will be unlikely to assist you in completing your win.

Watch out in not exposing your tiles accidentally to your opponents. With nimble and yet careful fingers, play your game with grace that none of your tiles will be exposed to your opponents. Clumsiness is a quality that is deemed undesirable and should be overcome as soon as possible.
Look out! I cannot emphasize this more. Be alert on your opponents. Watch out for accidental exposure of your opponents hidden tile and memorise them. This will come handy when making decisions on which tile to discard. This includes exposure of tiles from the wall as well. Subsequently, use your eagle eyes, observe for signs, whether it is facial expression, mannerism, position of hand or movements, you can probably determine what your opponent's tiles are or what they require.

Give no clue to what your tiles consist of or what tiles you require. Be wary of your opponents who may lure or fool you into discarding a wrong tile that can cause them to win. Try to differentiate between the right or the wrong signs. Of course, you cannot be entirely sure.
Obviously, you can fool your opponents into believing the wrong information. Let them believe that you have a tile that you do not have at hand. Such tricks may be able to stumble your opponent on their road to victory. Your opponents could be wary of this tactic so be ready to launch reverse-psychology or double reverse-psychology at your opponents and bring confusion to them.

Some luck:

Luck is neither inherited not acquired through learnt nor predictable. However, luck shall be discussed on the next series of Spa Online.

Photographic Memory:

A good memory can be inherited or be attained through life. For those scholars who get good grade in their examinations, you can be sure that they have a keen memory. Either they inherited by birth or they get it through constant memorising of their textbooks and notes. Thus, such people with good grades got their grades through brief reading and able to memorise all the stuff or they spend their entire day mugging through. By mugging through and memorsing stuff, their brain can soon adapt to in-flow of great amounts of information. You can extend your memorising skills by playing more mahjong as well.

One must be able to memorise the tiles thrown by the respective opponent. This can be useful in deciding which tile to discard. By knowing this, you can discard the unwanted tiles to your oppoenents in order to hinder their win. This memorising of tiles is also essential for memorising your opponents' accidental exposure of their unknown tiles, or the covered tiles from the wall.

Finality: This issue of Spa Online, shows you a greater insight into increasing the chances of winning in mahjong. On the next issue, you can look forward to opening of the puzzle of 'Mahjong is good for you' theory.
Disclaimer: The above information can only be used as a guide.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Food Review 3: Minute Maid

The Minute Maid advertisement has been dominating
(other than the prompt to call the 1900 line to win prizes) the television advertisement recently. They introduce their 'lemonade' and 'limeade' with Sharon Au and Michelle Chong drinking these products after their shopping trip, as though it is very fashionable to drink their 'lemonade'. While they were showing another version of their 'minute maid' advertisement with some Caucasians playing volleyball on the beach, did any viewers notice that they were show casing more than 2 flavours? I suspect this is the advertisement that is shown in U.S..

Product Information:

Name: Minute Maid Lemonade
Manufacturer: F&N Coca-Cola
Place of Origin: Singapore

Nutritional Information:
(per 100ml)
Energy 40kcal
Carbohydrates: 10g

Quantity: 500ml bottle

Price: $1.20
Packaging: 5
A very typical, what-you-would-expect-packaging from a local producer product. The wrapper, when it is bought, is in a crisp and slouchy condition. It does not look too appetising.

Taste: 4.5
Make sure you shake it, for there is sediments at the bottom of the bottle. It does taste like lemons, except that their lemons picked are off-season. Not exactly soothing and the aftertaste does not leave an impression of what was being drunk just a few moments ago. There is a lack of sweetness, either because I added to much ice or the product is just not too appealing.

Overall Rating: 5
This new product does add a little more variety to the beverage choice available in the Singapore market. Considering that it is locally made and that it cost $1.20 even in NTUC, I would not be attempting to try out the 'limeade' flavour in the near future. I understand why Sharon or Michelle are choosen for the commercial. They are actors.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Conspiracy Theory 4: Self-identity

This is the search for Singapore's identity. Is it true that Singapore has got no self-identity. Let's investigate:
First of all, we need to take the following ratings as examples and for reference:

Sports: Football
Brazil is synonymous to football, who can doubt that?

London, England
Building: London Bridge
We sing that, we play that, we know that.

Nature: Panda
The endangered cuddly animal can only be found there. China has put in much efforts to protect the pandas. They had tried to present a pair of pandas to Taiwan, who kindly rejected them for they think that by accepting them is to accept the mainland.

After getting an idea of what real self-identity is, Singapore shall now be explored.

What Singapore has to offer:

National Flag
We get flags flagging around the city during National Day Period. People can be seen wearing red or white to celebrate National Day. Students get to see them every morning but cannot tell what red and white repersents. They sing a song with it, and do not understand most words.

Flower: Vanda Miss Joaquim
That Vanda name is too long, sounds like an old hagged spinster. Most people cannot differenciate between them, whether it is Vanda or Panda. It seems that it does not matter anyway.

Food, Singaporeans love their food it seems. Or is it that the authorities are trying to create an identity for Singapore in order to attract tourist? Maybe they are right that food represents us, but what food is representative of Singapore? Laksa? Prata? Chicken Rice? All of them? Cannot decide? Perhaps, it is just an illusion.

Building: Merlion
This mutated combination of a fish and a lion, discharing water from its mouth when tourists arrive. It represents Singapore's history of lion sightings of Sang Nila Utama and growth from a fishing village. Tourists are delighted by this alienated clone, but which local even in their most insane minds will go and view it? A self-identity building need do with only 1, and not 4! I say that it is ugly. I cannot feel any thing for it even when someone piss on it or some terrorist blast it away.

Building: Esplanade
A poseur. Seeing what other countries have achieved, Singapore wants to own an iconic building that represents herself. Amid it resembles the tropical fruit king, it is somehow quite unique for Singapore's skyline and probably reflects the tropical climate that Singapore has.

Building: Casino, IR
(Under Constuction)

Famous People
Lee Kuan Yew, the most influential political figure in Singapore's recent history, wrote 2 volume set of memoirs and just this month, published Keeping My Mandarin Alive. Leading the country to prosperity under his leadership in the dominating political party of PAP.
Li Jiawei, a Singaporean convert who placed 4th place in the 2004 Olympics in table tennis.
Phua Chu Kang?
Blame it on Singapore's size, Singapore does lack of influential people in the wider world.

What music represents Singapore? Singapura? or Rasa Sayang? No, I cannot sing them, I do not understand what it means, I never like them. Other than the national anthem, I really think that none of Singapore's music do really exist.

Musical Instrument
Singapore does not really have a musical insturment that it can claim uniquely Singapore, other than the merlion instrument (do take a look at it). Recently, a local craftsman have specially created this instrument because he felt that Singapore should have a musical instrument of its own, since he saw that other countries also have their own musical instrument. Other than being a geeky piece of clay that is set to lure foolish tourists into digging their own pockets, I can hardly not be embarrassed if this has to become part of tiny Singapore's own national musical instrument.

Laws & Order
This, I think probably speaks most about Singapore. It is uniquely Singapore. Banning of chewing gum, ERP charges, having a need to tell people where to urinate, and the list continues. Singapore is famed for its safe streets even late at night. The authorities have done well to make the inhabitants of Singapore obedient and law-abiding.

Singapore is in a great hunt of searching her own identity. I do not think that by drawing figures on a t-shirt is creating a real identity. I should emphasize that by purposefully attempting to create a self-identity will not become a real identity of the country. It is just creating an illusion only. Perhaps, the true self-identity of Singapore is that it has none.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Spa Online 1: Mahjong Series (i)

As spa parlours mushroom around the island, it is now the time for the online version. What other better ways to improve your quality of life just by sitting and staring at the computer screen?

The first part series shall focus on the great game with more than 100 years of Chinese history-mahjong. Why is mahjong considered a healthy activity? In order to understand this, we need to learn how to play effectively and successfully. (The basic rule of the game will not be taught here, for anyone can learn that easily here.)
Winning in mahjong requires dexterity, decisiveness, alertness, some luck and a keen photographic memory.

Why are all these qualities are important?

Dexterity- Everyone wants to win their tiles fast, so no fair amount of waiting is tolerable especially by the more experienced players who cannot understand why is there such a need to ponder for so long.

Decisiveness- This is important because no player can afford to allow opponents have a hint of his tiles. Sometimes by showing signs of regrets on the tiles thrown or tile 'pong', it is an obvious clue to what tiles one is holding. Thus, by being decisive, it can reduce such errors and increase chances of winning a hand.

Alertness- By being alert, is to ensure not to miss an opportunity to 'pong' or 'chow'. It is also essential to be sure to have the correct amount of tiles at hand. For such a mistake will cost an instant lose of the game while opponents get continue in search of the winning of the current round.

Some luck-No matter how experience a player is, without luck, one is doomed to lose. Similarly, a beginner, with a fair amount of luck, even with lack of skills can be on the way to victory.

Photographic Memory- With a sharp sense of mental remembrance, it promise a better decision made when discarding tiles, hence reducing the chance of opponents winning.

With these tips at hand and acquiring these qualities, winning your opponents is made more certain than ever before. Look forward to the next issue where more detailed tips and why is mahjong is good for you is published.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Conspiracy Theory 3: NUS

I chanced upon the website of this famous, amongst the World's top 20 Universities of National University of Singapore website one day.

Why is there not a Melayu version or Tamil version? These are also the official languages of Singapore. Why was Mandarin choosen only?

Monday, July 04, 2005

Conspiracy Theory 2: What's With IOC?

One of Singapore's highlight events, hosting the IOC from 3rd to 6th of July, draws attention on the five competing cities. Of course, being Singapore, Singapore will not forget to miss the chance of showcasing Singapore to the world-wide stage. The first time a hosting city for IOC, displays not only the biding cities, but also the city's own unique culture as well. Uniquely Singapore, indeed unique.

SINGAPORE : Singapore's economy is expected to get a S$40 million boost from hosting the IOC Session, with S$19 million coming from tourist receipts alone.

Tourism experts say the IOC Session will also serve as a dress rehearsal for more international events making their way to Singapore in future.

The Raffles City Convention Centre is the venue for the IOC Session and a group of workmen have spent hours under the sun putting up welcome banners.

Inside more workers are setting the stage to transform the venue in time for the meeting.

About a billion viewers in some 200 countries will be watching the decision on which city will host the Olympics in 2012.

Hosting the session also means more tourist dollars with some 5,000 visitors expected.

Elaine Ang, Assistant Director of Business Travel & MICE at the Singapore Tourism Board said: "The hotels stand to benefit most. The delegates are expected to patronise food and beverage establishments, shopping, visit various attractions and so on. All these businesses will have the chance to host the overseas visitors."

Analysts agree this will mean mileage for Singapore's international profile, but what about the future?

"The longer term effect is when we think of Singapore as a venue. If we host these kinds of events, there will be potential for future events to be hosted in this city because we have the facilities for such things. And because of the media, such events places Singapore in the minds of audiences worldwide," said Associate Professor Ho Kong Chong at the National University of Singapore.

And the rewards seem to be bearing fruit even before the session has kicked off, with inquiries for Singapore to host other major events and the World Scout Jamboree bringing in 30,000 visitors here in 2011.
- CNA /ls

Journalists will also get a digital media kit, a guide on the IOC Session, and a 'Uniquely Singapore' booklet from the Singapore Tourism Board.
- CNA/de

Singapore shall put in the best effort to host this great event so that this will promote Singapore to the world as a unique island nation while attracting more and more tourists that will ensure the cash keeps rolling in. Just like the five biding cities contesting for the race, Singapore shall also pursuit its own race for the place to win the title "International Tourism Hub".

Friday, July 01, 2005

Food Review 2: Meiji

Product Information:

Name: Rich Fran Green Tea
Manufacturer: Meiji
Place of Origin: Tokyo, Japan

Nutritional Information:
(per pack, 15g)
Proteins: 1.2g
Fats: 4.9g
Carbohydrates: 8.5g

Quantity : 12 sticks (3 sticks X 4 packs)

Price: $2.20
Packaging: 8+
Japanese products are known for their detailed packaging. This product is no exception. It opens smoothly and easily with indications marked in English. The box is of above average quality paper decorated attractively, even though it indicates that recycled paper is used. (showcasing Japan's efforts for a greener environment).

Taste (Texture, flavour): 7+
Green tea is only for green tea, other than that it is crap. This product does change my mind a little for the green tea fragrance blends well with the chocolate. I find it quite satisfying. However, green tea facial foam or green tea shampoo is still a total crap. The biscuit may feel a little empty within. Perhaps this is the reason why the time to munch it down is relatively short.

Overall Rating: 7+
A little expensive. While considering its quality, I think it is worth a second try. Definetely not a snack for the hungry stomach but a treat during the quiet afternoon with your favourite beer.

Rating Scheme: Out of 10+. (From 1984)

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