Friday, July 29, 2005

Kranji War Cemetery I

Their Name Liveth Forevermore

I've finally visited Kranji War cemetery, something that I have been telling myself to do for a year now. The place so intrigues me as we pass it by so often but never seem to get more than a glimpse of it's green lawns and neatly arranged grave stones from a distance. Visible from the MRT line between Kranji and Yew Tee, this site of commemoration for the soldiers of the WWII sits on a small hill facing the bustling city of Johore Bahru.

The grave of the unknown soldier: there are hundreds of graves marked this way. Their occupants died without a name, known only unto God.

I went there twice to take photos, the first time, I drove there on a Sunday afternoon all by myself. The place was empty when I got there, except for the sparrows and lizards, I was the only living soul in sight. Feeling like and intruder on hallowed ground I stepped onto the green lawn. It was an uneasy feeling at first but I soon got used to it as the eerie-ness wore off and the peaceful feeling of the cemetery grounds calmed my senses.

Walking past the endless rows and rows of graves, I stopped to look at some of their names and places they were from (some didn't have names). Many of them were only in their teens, many in their early twenties. These were people of my age. How did they die, I will never know. Makes you feel small, insignificant. Makes you wonder if there is more to life than our petty differences.

They Died For All Free Men: The centre piece of the Kranji War Memorial

At the top of the slope, stands the War Memorial. Shaped like the wings of an airplane, there are many walls with names of people. 24,000 names of people whos mortal remains were never found or given proper last rites. Names from all over the region can be found here, English, Australian, Gurkha, Malay, Chinese, New Zealand... etc.

At this point of time, I noticed a family coming to visit. Finally, some mortal company. The man was from Choa Chu Kang, he told me that he had always passed by but never dropped in, curious Singaporeans like me. They came and left, then some asian tourists arrived and a couple of caucasian tourists. They come in dribs and drabs, keeping the guest book constantly updated.

The Memorial

I've done enough shooting for today, the sun was setting. I felt that I've learnt something that day, I don't know what but it was a humbling feeling. A feeling of sadness for the loss of youth and innocence perhaps, the unimaginable scale of the amount of death and destruction that war brings.

I leave, crossing back into the present, grateful that we don't have to live through such a time of hardship and horror.

To view the rest of the photos, click here

A second series of pictures will be up in a week or two, stay tuned

Thursday, July 28, 2005

The Emperor and the Gentleman

One of my favourite movies: The Last Emperor

Pu Yi, was the last emperor of China, installed as a young boy, he was a puppet ruler of sorts. The movie takes place within the walls of the Forbidden City. Sheltered within these walls, the young Pu Yi does not know of the changes happening to China. The emperor and the staff go about their daily lives in the palace as the threat of revolution and war loom on the outside.

R.J. is Reginald Johnston, Pu Yi's tutor from England. Apart from teaching him the normal subjects, they talk about life outside the Forbidden City, Western cultures, the advancement of technology etc.

From their many conversations, I've extracted my favourite portion from the screen play which I borrowed from the National Library. RJ tells Pu Yi about the importance of words...

siyang: Nabeh, I'm also trying la...

no really, if you have the time.. go and watch this film :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The HYPE Gallery

I went to the Arts House at Old Parliament Lane yesterday to submit the following two photos to be on display at the hypegallery!!! They should be printed and put on display within the next few days, and when the exhibition at the Arts House ends in early August, the pieces will be moved to the new National Library

These photos are now on sale and if you like them, you can purchase them online. Photos are available in A2,A1 and 40" x 60". From now till the end of the year, 30% of the profit will go to the Business Times Budding Artists fund.

If sufficient, I will use my share of the profits to finance a Digital SLR to bring you better photos, so do support me! thanks alot and happy viewing :-)

Photo #1
(A smiling school girl in the middle of the crowd, taken at the National Day Parade rehearsal 2005, NE-National Educations show 2, 16 July 2005)

Title: Her smile: Youthful and Proud Singaporean
(click to buy artwork)

Photo #2
(A rag and bone man arranging his cans to be recycled at the foot of my block, the cans are then mashed one by one)

Title: Hardship: Years of Pain Etched on his back
(click to buy artwork)

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Photographic aspirations

A friend of my, RYAN, from back in BMT

has recently taken up photography

Do check out his lovely pictures of Phuket

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Mango snatchers

Last month, I asked "what is this uncle doing"?


atrophy said: poking my ass - wrong
gi said: plucking fruits - Correct!

The geriatric pole vault

One evening when i looked out the kitchen window, I saw a group of uncles prodding the tree, what a curious sight. I thought someone's underpants or bra had fallen from their flat and got caught in the trees. But i soon found out that they were robbing the tree of it's fruits!!! The tree was full of Green mangoes. And so I ran to the room to grab my camera...

prod prod

The spirit of teamwork

The fruits are "harvested" by collecting them in a cut open soft drink bottle and lowered to the ground, how ingenious

Guarding the loot. I did a count from where I was standing and I think they ended with about 15 or more mangoes by the end of the day

The mango snatching team hard at work

It all ended before the sun set, they gathered at the table for a smoke, divided the stash and parted ways. Job done.

Too bad they don't have durian tress growing down stairs...

Monday, July 18, 2005

Whenever flames may rage

IT's Monday night,

I am so Frickin tired... it has to be the Monday blues

Today was a cool and rainy day, excellent conditions for sleeping and few people came down to the pool to swim

But I tried to stay awake in the office, a torturous affair indeed and it dosen't help by getting up at 5 in the morning.

Currently reading a book about a Fire chief's first hand account of the happenings at the World Trade Centre 4 years ago on September 11, the title: Last Man Down.

In one of the front pages is a poem;

When I am called to duty, God,
Whenever flames may rage;
Give me strength to save some life,
Whatever be its age.

Help me embrace a little child
Before it is too late
Or save an older person
From the horror of that fate.

Enable me to be alert
And hear the weakest shout,
And quickly and efficiently
To put the fire out.

I want to fill my calling
And to give the best in me
To guard my every neighbor
And protect his property.

And if, according to my fate,
I am to lose my life,
Please bless with your protecting
My children and my wife.

The Fireman's Prayer
- Author Unknown

I have great respect for people who save lives, people who are trained to put duty before self, people who run in the opposite direction while others are fleeing. It's hard to find that kind of dedication and compassion in many people.

I myself (as a civilian) don't know how I would face up to the situations the firemen had to deal with on the morning of 9/11 if I was faced with a similar task. But let those words inspire you as they inspire me and say a prayer for their safety(in what ever faith that you may follow) for these brave men who risk their lives on the job everyday.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

People Power

What do you know! I managed to get passes to sit in the Grandstand for Saturday's NDP rehearsal. For the past two weekends I've been outside the Padang where I could not see the parade, for this last photo feature on the NDP rehearsals, lets go into the heart of the Padang where all the action is...

The bulk of the audience came from the Primary schools of Singapore as it was the 2nd NE(National Education) show for the school children. Encouraged to dress in red, the Padang seats were filled with red T-shirts and waving flags.

Departing from the theme of 'men and machine' as I have featured in my last two NDP posts, I have decided to have 'People' as the theme this time round.

(click on photos to enlarge)

A proud young man waving the flag. His flag. Our flag.

A face in the crowd, the brightest of smiles

A cheerleader doing her part to drive the crowd

A salute by Singapore's finest, The free-fallers who call themselves the Red Lions

Under the watchful pillars of the city hall

The lovely Vernetta Lopez being ferried off the scene.

Also making her exit after the pre-parade segment is Kym Ng

It threatened to pour, but the rain came down in a drizzle. No way any rain is going to spoil MY FUN!

Guarding the President

The parade commander gives the orders to present arms

Leading the Mobile column

Look out for the dozens of colourful floats at this year's NDP

Raffles was a chinese guy?

Members of the mass display doing a dance routine

Human operated float

A fantastic light show awaits the audience of this year's NDP

I hope you have enjoyed our little journey without having me reveal too much. If you have spotted yourself in one of these pictures, do drop me an email or comment.

Friday, July 15, 2005

My Graduation

Thursday was convocation day

Thank you all, My family and friends,

for all the support through out the years...

I wore my Singapore Poly Tie underneath the robe.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Underdog Kidney Foundation

Excerpt taken from Channel News Asia's website

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.

NKF's CEO was in the witness box for the second day and he was to be the only one.

Senior Counsel Davinder Singh's cross examination focused on several areas.

First, the business relationships Mr Durai had with NKF board member Ms Matilda Chua.

These were through two companies - Proton Web Solutions, a call centre operations based in India, which NKF had contracted its tele-marketing work to - and Global Net, in which Mr Durai himself had a stake.

Mr Durai also said he had held several directorships in addition to his work as CEO of the NKF.

Asked if he had informed the NKF Board of these appointments, he replied that it was not consequential and the Board gave him the liberty to do so.

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.

click here: for the complete article

Lesson of the day: DO NOT PISS OFF THE PRESS by trying to sue them

Your face might be on the papers the next day with your $600,000 a year salary being announced to the world. Not very good publicity if you are the CEO of a non-profit organisation dealing with public donations.

For those of you hesitating on/or giving up the idea of donating to NKF, for those who are not contented with the idea that your money intended for kidney patients was used to finance a gold plated tap among other things. There's another Kidney foundation...


Kidney Dialysis Foundation

KDF was set up in 1996 and they have a centre in Kreta Ayer. They "serve nearly 75% of the poorest kidney patients in Singapore". I think these guys are the ones who need the millions to help these patients.

Just check out their management policies:

A number of policies have been implemented to ensure transparency of all commercial transactions.

Cost Effectiveness
To keep cost under control, KDF uses the principle of managed healthcare and subcontracts its dialysis services to a third party through an open tender. KDF pays the subcontractor a fixed fee to handle all dialysis treatment, nursing and ancillary staff and the maintenance of equipment.

Pre-determined Costs
To exercise absolute cost control and minimise administrative and overhead costs while delivering quality care, KDF has benefited from subcontracting because the subcontractors have to work within a given budget. Commercial and accounting records are transparent as costs are pre-determined.

Lean Operation
To keep costs low while providing quality treatment with state-of-the-art machines, KDF keeps its management team lean and trim with a large team of volunteers.

Funds raised and money collected are utilised largely for patient treatment, and not for costly overheads and miscellaneous expenditure. Accountability extends to our financial statements that are easily available for scrutiny, and upon the request of donors.

The fact is, I've never heard about KDF until recently. I only found out about it's existence when we passed a road sign pointing to the KDF compound in I can't remember where now (some ulu place in Singapore).

At first thought, I had the impression that it was related to NKF. Pardon my ignorance, because I don't have much exposure to charitable organisations but aren't they supposed to help out their poor cousin the KDF by sharing some of their wealth? Apparently "KDF is an independent organisation and is not affiliated to any other kidney organisation in Singapore". I guess no one is going to their aid except the public and I say we help the underdogs...too.

Monday, July 11, 2005


I would like to order a FULL MONTY BRAZILLIAN WAX... and I would like DIANA the FASTEST WAXER IN THE VILLAGE to do it for me please... how much?... yes, does it come with a drink?... no don't upsize... having here

Sunday, July 10, 2005


I won't tell..
it's our little secret!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Of Men and Machine Part II

I was at the Esplanade/Suntec Area again on Saturday. After a morning of taking photos in my graduation gown with some friends I stayed back to catch the NDP rehearsal. Last week I was at the Esplanade Bridge, this time, I positioned myself on the roof terrace of the Durians during most of the show.

After the long day ended, I came home and switched on the TV, there was a report that one of the freefallers in the Red Lions team was badly injured as he landed badly after losing control of his parachute. I hope Master Sergeant Chua Koon San makes a full recovery. I guess this shows that no matter how easy they make it look, the dangers of parachuting are still very real.

A sea of red; this week the rehearsals were watched by students from all over Singapore

Victory; one of the vehicles of the mobile column

You look a bit green today sir

The SM1 tank

The red lions; at this point I saw them coming down sharp and fast. It was a downward spiral at breakneck speed.

Something you don't see on TV; Here you see 2 flags, the one separating from the main formation just before it flies over the Esplanade is, I presume, a spare flag. Just in case anything happens to the main one.

F16s doing a burst... Deafening

KC-135 Stratotanker being flanked by F5 tigers; you can see the refueling 'thing' sticking out from the tail of the plane.

An ang moh couple enjoying the sights, jolly good show!

Something terrible has happened on the bay! So many Fire engines and EMS vehicles!

Due to my retarded-ness, most of my fireworks pics has gone to the dogs, this is probably the only presentable one.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Bravo Company

"Warrant Fernandez?" I approached him as he climbed out from the side of the pool.

A familiar face. I was by the pool side under the mid-day sun at my camp attending to some other business when I spotted him.

"Sir, I was from one of your SISPEC batches" I said, my face beaming as I stuck my hand out to shake his as if meeting a long lost friend.

SISPEC is the abbreviation for School of infantry specialists, the place where they train Infantry section commanders.. a place in Pulau Tekong where they churn out Sergeants for the Army.

"That was a long time ago" he replied

MWO (Master Warrant Officer) Leonardo Fernandez was the OC (Officer Commanding) of Bravo Company back in 2001. He was there for many years prior to my stint there as a trainee. Back then, Bravo company was known to be the most dreaded place to end up if you got posted to SISPEC, it was as good as telling you to go to Hell. Getting posted to Bravo company was a death sentence. Rumours were abound during basic training about the tough training and conditions in Bravo company and it was this man who gave Bravo company it's reputation.

They sat us in the multi purpose hall, waiting to be called.. Private Tan ah kow, Alpha company, Private Goh ah Seng Golf company.... and I waited and waited to be called as the people around me got lesser and lesser. Finally it hit us like a ton of bricks... "The rest of you left here are going to BRAVO COMPANY"....... die.......

I actually missed my BMT days during the first few weeks at SISPEC. The training and discipline was totally different, i guess you could call this a culture shock... an especially rude one. I thought the trainers were crazy, I'm serious. MWO Fernandez is a disciplinarian, an old school military man. He was very harsh and firm towards his men such that all those in the company feared him.

His version of welfare was NOT of long canteen breaks and early book-outs. On the contrary, he would often say that the best form of welfare a soldier can get is 'tough and realistic training' Which, after reeling from the shock of what I have just mentioned appears to be quite true, because tough training is the best way to prepare us to react in times of war.

Warrant Fernandez set his standards high, very high. The company was always on it's toes, in terms of safety, training and discipline.

I remember one incident when I almost got myself seriously injured/killed when I ran into my buddy's line of fire during section live firing. He was supposed to provide covering fire by shooting while I was to run for cover in front, but in the confusion, I crossed into his lane. Thankfully.. he was not firing at that time. My first thought was not of how I narrowly escaped being killed, neither did my life flash before my eyes.

I was afraid that my OC saw me cock up by getting myself into such a dangerous position. I was afraid of the punishment for such an infringement of safety. At that very moment, I was more afraid of him than death.

I spent six months in Bravo Company. We survived the training and we survived our OC. Throughout this time, we learnt to be responsible, we learnt to be tough, to stand up for ourselves and the true meaning of welfare.

We were put through shit and we were whipped into men

and in my opinion, we were the finest that came out of SISPEC.

So we exchanged greetings and updated each other on what happened since 4 years ago, something I wouldn't dare to do/consider as a trainee back then.

"It's nice to see you again, Sir"

"same to you"

He got dressed in his clean, pressed and seasoned Army No. 4, the best way I remember him.

What dosen't kill you, only makes you stronger

Monday, July 04, 2005

A place I like to go

There is a place in the north of Singapore I like to go... A bicycle ride away from Yishun and you would have reached Lower Seletar reservoir. There is a bridge that connects Yishun to Seletar Island country club and Seletar Airport. On one side of the bridge is reservoir and on the other side, the sea.

I used to cycle there, to the bridge to sit and relax. Sometimes my bicycle would take me across the bridge and all the way to Jalan Kayu. I was only in secondary school then. I would go there to feel the sea breeze and let my worries melt away.

Now I've moved to Ang Mo Kio and sometimes when I'm driving my Dad's car, I would drop in...

Many people would go there and fish...

The Tidal gates; used to release reservoir water into the sea to prevent it from overflowing. The horn would be use to warn of the release.

A teenage boy drowned here a week ago. I guess he must have tried to swim from one bank where the fisherman is standing to the far bank where he got pulled under midway.

Father and daughter

simi? (wassssssssup?)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Of Men and Machine

I was in town on Saturday to photograph scenes from the NDP 2005 rehearsals. What so different about it this year is that it is held at the Padang, in front of the steps of the Supreme Court and City Hall. It's held here once every five years. And two things I'm quite excited about are the mobile column of military/police/civil defence hardware as well as the fly past.

I tried to get as close to the Padang as possible but was held back by the endless cordons and army personnel blocking off all routes there. So, I could not get close to the parade venue. However, the surrounding roads were abuzz with moving people, contingents, security personnel, tanks and trucks forming up. I caught some of the action....

(click on the images to enlarge)

Gurkhas as well as the Police armed with mp5s and shot guns creating a security seal around the Raffles City Shopping centre. Mainly due to the IOC coming to town.

Rover with the "top down", part of the mobile column.

Bionix Infantry Fighting Vehicles forming up along Nicoll Highway, waiting for the signal to roll in.

Soldiers look on as these green armoured beasts (SM1 tanks) spew thick black smoke.

These Airmen walking to the parade form up area make up the Airforce supporting contingent.
They wield the new SAR21 rifle

Many young boys dream of being fire men; Civil Denfence fire fighters on the way to the parade form up area.

Do Re Me Fa; these four kiddos took over my seat as soon as I got off.. %$&#@

The state flag being flown by a formation of Chinooks as the National Anthem plays after the arrival of the President.

The Flypast; clockwise from top left,
1. The KC-135 Strato-tanker air to air refueling plane is flanked by four ageing F5-E Tigers,
2. A C-130 Hercules is flanked by an E2-C airborne early warning plane on the left and a Fokker on the right,
3. Three F-16 Fighting Falcons thunder across the skies,
4. A Super Puma Helicopter trailing red smoke as it appears to be "checking in" at the Swissotel

The armoured column rumbles past the crowd on the Esplanade Bridge

Armoured JAM; Not even these guys are spared the traffic jam.. tsk tsk

Will be covering more from the padang/city area in the next few weeks.. do stay tuned!

Website Counter
Free Website Counter