Saturday, August 27, 2011

Singapore Presidential Election 2011

The results of the Singapore Presidential Election 2011 is out.

Tony Tan – 744,397 votes [35.91% of valid votes]
Tan Cheng Bock – 737,128 votes [34.85% of valid votes]
Tan Jee Say – 529,732 votes [25.04% of valid votes]
Tan Kin Lin – 103,931 votes [4.91% of valid votes]

Rejected votes – 37,826
Total votes cast – 2,153,014 votes

Note: The above does not include the overseas votes. Overseas voters are numbered around 5,504. [Note: It does not include mine because there is no polling station in B.C.]

Tony Tan, the PAP indirectly endorsed candidate, won by a whisker of 7,269 votes [0.34% of valid votes].


Someone with the moniker of "iworkhardsometimes" posted a succinct comment [the 5th comment] on 28 August 2011 to The Online Citizen "Presidential Election Polling Day" article.
TT% – reflects how much hardcore PAP voters+ppl with vested interest in the status quo we really have.

[My 2 cents note: Plus those who are politically apathetic. See the last few lines on Yawning Bread's blog entry. Afterall, TT had the most scandals dug out about him during the campaign period.]

TCB% – the number of moderates comprising of both PAP and opposition voter we have

[My 2 cents note: this group want change but are not comfortable with argumentative challenges. Also in this group are those that want a mostly ceremonial president but not the PAP-endorsed one.]

TJS% – reflects how much hardcore opposition voters we really have.

[My 2 cents note: And those who want to challenge status quo, or they are concerned about freedom, equality/discrimination, justice and transparency e.g. ISA, and they don't care if it takes confrontation to get it.]

TKL% – a bit difficult to classify, most likely making up mostly of non-pap voters & some moderates.

[My 2 cents: Moderate supporters concerned about personal finances, investment and retirement. And those who want transparency e.g. CPF vis-a-vis GIC/TH investments and Singapore's sovereign wealth fund.]

as we can see each have their own niche appeal (with overlaps of cos), no need to speculate on what-ifs.

I like the Singapore Presidential Elections 2011 better than the Singapore General Elections 2011. With 4 candidates to choose from, each with his own niche, the result reflects better the true socio-political sentiments of Singapore citizens. In addition, perhaps awakened by the GE2011, [IMHO] more Singaporeans are taking an interest in politics. For example, there is a significant increase in number of Facebook comments on the PE2011 (compared with the GE2011) amongst the Facebook people that I'm linked to. Perhaps there is hope for Singapore to move towards a more democratic society, maybe in 1 or 2 generations.

Well, the Singapore citizens have spoken. It's time to move on.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Opportunity knocks

It is coming to the end of my 2 weeks vacation. I have to admit that despite my earlier blog entry, I had spent a significant amount of my vacation time surfing online for news, videos, and commentary about the Singapore Presidential Elections 2011. And of course, commenting on my friends' comments on Facebook too.

Aside from the above, I have been running errands, doing some reading, interacting online, sending in my application for another theatre project, volunteering for a day with an ethnic/cultural group, checking out the "Back to School" deals, re-organizing my room and attending some social gatherings. Not forgetting, of course, I cooked some curry for the "Cook and Share a Pot of Curry!" event.

Yesterday, Wednesday 24-Aug-2011, the person that I (surprisingly) have a crush on suddenly replied my emails. He was caught up with the hectic pace of life once he returned to Singapore. From the tone of his email, it seems like he still cares. I was so excited reading his email that I was crying tears of happiness. I know, I know, silly girl! Right?
But consider that the last time he visited, I turned away from his attempt to kiss me after our dinner date. And on our final brief meet-up here in B.C., I pulled my hands away when he held them after our friendly hug. It is a miracle and a relief that he still cares. I only realized that I have a crush on him after his departure. Especially when I still think about him daily -- 2 months after he had left. Yes, I'm one of those blur-sotong. That "don't realize I am in love" type. Thus I am glad that it is not too late. Fingers crossed!
Today, Thursday 25-Aug-2011, I received another piece of good news. The nursing school decided to introduce an additional intake of students in January 2012. Thus they offered me the option to join the January or May intake. That means I can start 4 months earlier than previously expected. I would call this a miracle, because it seems that an additional intake like this has not happened for several years is unprecedented. [Addendum 26-Mar-2012: Apparently, the Minstry of Advanced Education gave Kwantlen Polytechnic University a once-off funding of $425,000 (click here for an online news article) to run an additional intake of GNIE classes.] After I read the letter, I skipped and hopped around for joy.

I'm glad that Opportunity comes knocking! And not just once, but on 2 consecutive days! ...Albeit in different aspects of life. I hope that all goes well. Fingers crossed.

Monday, August 15, 2011

No curry, no kampung spirit

The following is extracted from TODAYonline news. Click here to skip to my commentary.
Number of neighbour disputes hit high
Neighbours lack communication and increasingly intolerant: CMC
By Quek Sue Wen Carolyn, 04:45 AM Aug 08, 2011


Out of the 498 cases seen by the CMC [Edit: Community Mediation Centre] last year, 67 per cent were neighbour disputes, an increase from the 2007 where such disputes only made up 50 per cent of the centre's caseload.


Madam Marcellina Giam, 54, a CMC master mediator, told Today: "I feel (neighbours) are less tolerant these days and they are bringing very small neighbourhood disputes to the CMC like disputes over a few pots of flowers or washing the corridor, which never used to happen."

Fellow master mediator Thirunal Karasu Palaniappan, 49, added that unlike in the past, when the "kampung spirit" was strong and neighbours ventured into each other's homes freely, many neighbours now do not know each other.


Most of the cases the mediators have seen are between neighbours living in public housing, though they have handled some cases involving residents of private estates. About 80 cases the CMC saw in the past two years were also referred to it by the HDB. This is out of the 1,700 complaints on inconsiderate neighbour behaviour the HDB receives on average in a year.

Mediators are also seeing more disputes involving new immigrants. Both mediators felt that most of the cases they see could be easily solved by the neighbours themselves but the latter choose not to.


When neighbours disagree ...

Case 1: A family, who had just moved here from China, had resorted to mediation because they could not stand the smell of curry that their Singaporean Indian neighbours would often cook. The Indian family, who were mindful of their neighbour's aversion, had already taken to closing their doors and windows whenever they cooked the dish, but this was not enough.

"They said: 'Can you please do something? Can you don't cook curry? Can you don't eat curry?'," said Madam Marcellina Giam, a Community Mediation Centre mediator. But the Indian family stood firm. In the end, Mdm Giam got the Indian family to agree to cook curry only when the Chinese family was not home. In return, they wanted their Chinese neighbours to at least give their dish a try.

Case 2: A 40-year-old sales manager was shocked to find a note posted in one of the lifts of his Telok Blangah block. The anonymous writer had complained that his children were making "ear-piercing screams everyday and making the environment very unconducive for resting". The writer said the screams were "hurting the ears" of the residents and called on the children's parents to be "socially responsible".

The sales manager, who wanted only to be known as Mr Su, said he thought of responding and finding out who the letter writer was. He decided against it eventually. "I don't know why the writer had to do that, he could have approached me directly," Mr Su told Today.

He has also told his two sons aged three and five not to make too much noise when they play. Mr Su also said he will let the matter rest - provided it does not happen again.

My 2 cents...

Case 1 cited "a family, who had just moved here from China" asking an Indian family not to cook curry -- an Indian staple food. Perhaps the recently-arrived China Chinese family does not understand that their request is akin to asking the Eskimos not to eat fish?

Case 2 did not mention the nationality of the writer of a complaint note since he/she is anonymous. Nevertheless "ear-piercing" [“刺耳”] is a typical PRC Chinese Mandarin description of loud noises. Localized Singaporean Chinese tends to use the descriptions "noisy" [“吵”] or "sharp screams" [“尖叫”]. It is such minor linguistic differences that were parodied by yet another PRC Chinese in Singapore. IMHO, the reason for complaint may be valid, but the delivery could have been improved for better neighbourliness as remarked by Mr Su in the article.

Someone commented online that Singaporean (i.e. local born) Chinese are different from the recent flood of Chinese immigrants from PRC. I guess it boils down to the question: Where is the kampung spirit?


Massive immigration in Singapore has caused much strain in the social fabric. According to Department of Statistics population estimate in mid-2010,
  • Singapore population is 5,076,700 (100%)
  • Singapore citizens 3,771,700 (74%)
    [Includes 90,000 (2%) newly minted citizens between 2006 and 2010.]
  • Singapore Permanent Residents 541,000 (11%)
  • Other foreigners (workers or temporary visas holders, excluding tourists) 754,524 (15%) [2000 data estimate].
According to the United Nations report World Population Policies 2005, 42.6% of Singapore's population are foreigners.

Occasionally, I read/hear of people in Metro Vancouver complaining of massive immigration too. According to Citizenship and Immigration Canada data for Vacouver urban area during 2006-2010, there were
  • 37,336 permanent residents,
  • 25,520 foreign workers [that is, temporary visas] and
  • 20,488 foreign students.
This makes a total of 83,344 (4%) foreigners out of a population (2006 data) of 2,116,581 for Metro Vancouver. Perhaps I am missing some numbers somewhere. According to the United Nations report World Population Policies 2005, 18.76% of Canada's population are foreigners.

On the other side of the same coin, I sometimes hear of fellow immigrants complaining of the increasing difficulty of immigrating to Canada, or the challenges faced when attempting to return to the equivalent of their previous professional levels in Canada. For sure, the challenges faced are not trivial. Nevertheless coming from Singapore where the impact of open-door immigration policy is felt, I do not share their wish for more open Canadian policies. I prefer a controlled immigration pace that pushes new immigrants to adapt to their adopted land and gives the locals time to embrace the trickle of diversity into their lives.


[Addendum on 16th Aug 2011]

The news of case 1 above has inspired a Facebook movement "Cook and Share a Pot of Curry!". Details of the event below is copied from the FB page.
  • Time: Sunday, August 21 · 11:00am - 11:30pm
  • Location: Everywhere in Singapore and in the World!
  • Information: "COOK and SHARE a Pot of Curry" - to celebrate Curries as part of our way of life - and to share this celebration with those who are new to our shores!
  • Currently: 63,214 52,867 49,443 Attending (including Singaporeans overseas), 8,394 6,606 6,052 Maybe Attending
Woah! I love this social network movement.

It even inspired "The Curry Song". Haha!

And Mr Brown Show's "Curry Curry Night". [Note: "Chou toufu" is "smelly bean curd".]

Sunday, August 14, 2011

This is home, truly!

9th August 2011 is the first time that I spent Singapore National Day overseas. Near the date, I surfed the internet to catch up with news and updates from Singapore. [Aside: I would venture to guess that many overseas Singaporeans do the same too.]

A brief history of my migration process for those new to my blog: I first applied for migration back in Nov-2006. 2 years ago on Singapore National Day, I completed the forms for migration. 1 year ago on Singapore National Day, I counted down my final days at work at my previous unhealthy work environment. [Click here and here for more on my nursing experience in Singapore.]

While surfing the net for Singapore updates, I came across the following.

"RunThruSingapore" captures so many familiar sights all over Singapore that bring back fond memories of time spent with friends.

And then there is "Home", which, IMHO, is one of the best Singapore National Day songs written.

So there I was, humming and singing along with Kit Chan on Youtube, when suddenly it hit me... hard! The "this is home, truly" chorus while moving, rang hollow for me if "home" referred to Singapore. Perhaps I am still enjoying the "honeymoon" phase of adjusting to my adopted country. Or perhaps the loner1 in me is having a blast of a time. Perhaps, perhaps...

It came as a surprise to me. Just 2 months ago, I changed my lines while acting in a theatrical play because I kept saying "my home country" instead of "my country of origin" as per the original script, which is the Canadian norm. I thought then that it was a Freudian slip, and that Singapore was still "home" in my heart and mind.

What changed? Not much, and that is precisely the point. IMHO, Singapore remains rather stagnant where it matters, e.g. social justice. Despite the much touted watershed General Election on 7th May 2011, the dominant political party is still calling the shorts and trying to control every power base in Singapore. In fact, the 12th Parliament of Singapore has not held its first session since the May-2011 elections. Yet the dominant political party can still significantly impact the average Singaporean's life through its proxies, e.g. the Public Transport Council. [Addendum on 01-Sep-2011: Or through the People's Association admission that it is not a non-partisan organization despite being run on public funds.]

Recently, I have a middle/high school acquaintance (i.e. secondary school in Singapore terminology) who once again renewed her Green Card although she is already very much integrated into the USA society. When asked why she does not apply for USA citizenship, she cites the difficulty of letting go of the place one grew up in. I understand where she is coming from. Singapore still forms the bulk of my memories. In addition, I have to acknowledge that being born a Singapore citizen and growing up in Singapore has brought me many opportunities and advantages. Nevertheless, my pragmatic side -- groomed by years of Singapore culture -- is also showing me the (likely) potential problems ahead should I choose to return to Singapore. The same issues that set my resolve to emigrate.

Compare this with my Canadian life. With laws, policies and social norms that ensure liberty, good work conditions, affordable public transport, housing, health care, recreation and retirement. The pragmatic in me knows which side of my bread is buttered2.

So speaking as a Canadian Permanent Resident -- this is home, truly!


Note 1: To potentially worried friends reading this blog. Ok, ok, I still organize and/or attend social events from time to time.

Note 2: Btw, I am writing this on my 2 weeks of paid vacation. Yes, I get paid vacation despite being an adhoc, part-time employee in Canada. When will this ever happen for the Singapore labourers?

p.s. All this from me -- someone who used to share "my Singapore" with pride to my foreign colleagues and friends. Someone who, back in the early 1990's, defended the option for LHL to be promoted to PM based on meritocracy when my foreign colleagues ridiculed GCT's promotion to PM as a seat-warmer move. I guess a lot can change in one's thinking, even in adulthood.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

CRNBC IEN SEC assessment possible outcomes

Disclaimer: This post is not based on the official CRNBC information. It is based on my understanding and my encounters with others on the path to getting their Registered Nurse (RN) qualifications/experience recognized here in Canada. Thus, the information below may or may not be updated or factually correct. I do not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of any information provided by me. Under no circumstances will I or anyone related to this content be responsible for any loss or damage resulting from any reliance on the information or other content posted or linked by me. For the official information, please go to the links below.

CRNBC website

Nursing in BC website


After the CRNBC IEN SEC (College of Registered Nurses of B.C. - Internationally Educated Nurses - Substantially Equivalent Competency) assessment there can be 4 possible outcomes.
  1. Can start immediately - Provisional license is granted for immediate employment as a provisional RN. I have not personally met anyone under this category but it is a possibility.
    [Addendum on 13-Feb-2012]
    One of my classmate's spouse is a Filipino-trained nurse who did well enough to be in this category. She did her supervised practice but failed in the CRNE. Thus she plans to re-attempt the CRNE at a future date.

    [Addendum on 02-Apr-2012]
    Today, 2 South Asian classmates told me about a Singapore-trained RN whom they both know, who has only 2 months of nursing work experience in Singapore. The Singapore RN passed the CRNBC SEC assessment, obtained her provisional licence and started her supervised practice immediately.
  2. Can start after completing a few short courses - Provisional license will be granted after the applicant completes a few short courses (some may even be done online if preferred). I have recently met a registered nurse from Philippines with 3+ years of Medical/Surgical ward experience who said that he has only 3 short courses to complete, including one on the B.C. health care system.

  3. Can start after completing a 1-year re-entry course - Provisional license will be granted after the applicant completes a 1-year full-time nursing re-entry course. My case.

  4. Not accepted for registered nursing in B.C. That is, the applicant is required to complete an entire basic nursing education program before being considered for provisional registration. Again, I have not personally met anyone under this category. [Addendum on 20-Jan-2012] I just learned from a GNIE classmate that there are those who failed the SEC and had to re-do the entire 4 years of basic nursing education as their next step.
I have a friend who originated from China, did her initial nursing education (in Mandarin Chinese) and practiced as a registered nurse in China. Thereafter, she migrated to Singapore and practiced as a registered nurse in a Medical/Surgical ward for 6 years. In 2010, she migrated once again -- to Canada. She did the IEN SEC in Alberta earlier this year (spring 2011) and fared pretty well, requiring to complete only a few short courses before she can obtain her provisional license from Alberta. The short courses include Professional English, the Canadian health care system, physical examination & health assessment and O&G courses. As B.C. recognizes nursing registration from the other Canadian provinces, my friend plans to practice in B.C. after applying to transfer her registration.

Based on the above, unless one fails the IEN SEC assessment (i.e. situation 4 listed above), entering registered nursing in B.C. is a good possibility, albeit one that may take time, patience and some financial resources. [Click here, here and here for more information.]

10th month's expenses

My total expense for the 10th month (1st to 31th July) is around CAD1,824, broken down as follow.

Amount (CAD) : Category

Once-off expenses

*  40 : Nursing re-entry course application fee2
*  28 : Human torso kit3
* 168 : First Aid and CPR training & certification2
*  65 : Food safety training & certification2
*  10 : Emergency Response Bag supplies

Yearly expenses

* 238 : 180 pairs of daily disposable contact lens (for 1/2yr)1

Monthly expenses

* 500 : Room rental
*  40 : Mobile phone bill
*  61 : Medical Services Plan
* 110 : Transport - Monthly 2-Zone Farecard
* 110 : Transport - Monthly 2-Zone Farecard for next month4
* NIL : Transport - Others
* 229 : Food/groceries5
*    7 : Clothings
*  65 : Household Items (including toiletries)6
*  77 : Recreation/Entertainment/Restaurant7
*  19 : Meals/Drinks
* NIL : Personal Grooming & Make-up
*    1 : Stationery/Postage
*  56 : Others (Lottery, Souvenirs, etc)8

Note 1: There is a $20 (almost 10%) increase in cost compared to the last purchase of the same item in February-2011. That illustrates why it is important in retirement planning to create source of passive income that will be inflation-hedged.

Note 2: I will get partial refund for these under the Skills Connect program.

Note 3: I bought this to help in my future learning as I am a Visual-Kinestatic person when it comes to learning.

Note 4: In the same way that Medical Services Plan is pre-paid (i.e. pay in July for August's coverage), I decided to buy my Transport - Monthly 2-Zone Farecard using credit card in advance. This allows me to gather credit card reward points for this significant monthly expense.

Note 5: I stocked up on some long shelf-life food supplies as they were on promotion. I reckoned that jacked up my Groceries expenses by about $30.

Note 6: My universal travel adapter plug broke, so I had to buy a replacement for $22.39. I finally bought a plastic laundry basket that was on sale for $11.19. I had been using several large reusable bags previously. In addition, I stocked up on sanitary napkins and tampons as they were on sale, roughly 3+ months supply.

Note 7: The bulk of this cost is from a colleague's farewell dinner. I decided to give myself a treat and spent $30.82. In addition, I watched 3 movies (including the 3-D Harry Potter finale) and 2 other restaurant dinners.

Note 8: Majority spent on lottery and and scratch-n-win cards. However, this item also includes 2 farewell cards for departing colleagues, several small change donations, a Christmas gift bought in advance because it was on sale ($5 after a $10 gift card was used), and the MoneySense "Guide to Retiring Wealthy" magazine (the actual cost is $11.15 but it cost me less after using my credit card reward points). I felt that the MoneySense "Guide to Retiring Wealthy" magazine is totally worth it because it gave me a sense of where I stand if I decide to retire in Canada -- which is a decent middle-class lifestyle if my plans work out.